As much as I had struggled before I joined the church, once I submitted my little life, I wanted it to count. I hadn’t yet given up on the dream of becoming big. – Shirley Showalter, Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World.
In her memoir Blush Shirley Showalter shares stories from her childhood, including how she negotiated the emphasis in her Mennonite community on being “plain” and the admonition against feeling “big.” In a new episode of the NetVUE podcast series, Callings, Shirley talked with us about writing the memoir and what that process taught her about narrative and story. She relays some of the twists and turns in her own life, including the call to the presidency of Goshen College. With a new book coming out next year on grandparenting, co-written with Marilyn McEntyre, Shirley also talks about what it means to embrace becoming an elder. When asked what advice she would give to young adults today, she warned against listening to pre-fabricated advice from others: “Your vocation to yourself and to your own spirit is your highest vocation.”
Readers of this blog may recognize Shirley as the author of many pieces from over the past few years:
- Now and Later: A New Way to Imagine Vocation
- The Deepest Wells of Vocation
- Alma Mater and Vocation
- Stories that Inspire Courage and Hope
- Looking for a new tool for reflection? Make a list!
- Vocation, Art, and Activism: Parker Palmer and Carrie Newcomer
- Naming Avocations: A Lesson Plan for the Vocation Classroom
- Listen Up! How Good is Your Listening Quotient?
- Transitions: A Powerful Time for Vocational Reflection
- Vocation & Vacation: Challenging the “Culture of Competitive Martyrdom”
Shirley’s essay “Called to Tell Our Stories: The Narrative Structure of Vocation” appeared in Vocation Across the Academy: A New Vocabulary for Higher Education, ed. David S. Cunningham (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017).
You can also read her occasional musings on her website at www.shirleyshowalter.com.