Making the most of your talents, whatever they are

What talents do you have?

Really think about that for a moment. Can you draw beautiful pictures? Are you able to write moving poetry or flowing prose?

Maybe you can juggle or do complicated math problems in your head. Or, perhaps you have a special knack for calming little children or for helping others to understand complicated lessons.

This past week I had the good fortune to be on hand while several local folks either shared their talents or were honored for using those talents to benefit others. Those experiences reminded me that people all around us have talents of many sorts, and that helped me to notice and appreciate such gifts when I saw them at work around me throughout the rest of the week.

On Wednesday evening I visited the Parlor Theater in New Martinsville. The new venue was packed as families gathered to enjoy a free magic show.

Four magicians took the stage that night – Joe Hindman, Bill Stokes, Kerry Blair and, of course, my husband, Michael Strough. Both Joe and Bill are from New Martinsville, while Kerry hails from Marietta, Ohio.

Joe now resides in Japan with his own family and was only in West Virginia for a visit. He and my husband, who was raised in Bridgeport, have known each other and practiced magic together since they were children.

On Wednesday these four men came together and shared their talents with the public in an effort to bring some joy to the community. Each had their own approach, sometimes stunning and amazing the crowd and other times making the audience roar with laughter.

Some of their stunts were geared toward children, fooling them about the location of a handkerchief or making them giggle about antics performed with the simplest of props. Others were meant to surprise and delight everyone in the standing room-only crowd, sometimes with a little ornery humor slipped in to amuse the adults.

They performed free of charge, giving their time and efforts out of their love for the art. That is a very good way to make the most of a special gift such as the ability to perform magic.

Earlier that same day, I attended the annual YMCA Light of the Valley luncheon at the White Palace at Wheeling Park. There, Jay Adams received the 2018 Dr. Lee Jones Patron of Youth Award for his contributions to the local soccer community.

As he accepted the honor, Adams said he knew almost nothing about the sport when his son decided to take up the game. Adams stepped in as a youth coach, launching a 35-year commitment to helping grow the sport of soccer in Ohio Valley.

Adams had a knack for coaching and connecting with young people. He started coaching in 1983 for the Wheeling Area Soccer Association, and later helped form Wheeling’s first travel soccer team. He later got involved at the high school level as the commissioner of the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference. During his tenure from 1990-2004, he helped the number of local high school teams grow from six to a combined 44 boys’ and girls’ teams. He also created the OVAC Cup Tournament and all-star games.

Adams was inducted into the West Virginia Soccer Association Hall of Fame in 2015. He and his wife, Chris, have three sons – Jamie, Jason and Chad – who all played soccer for The Linsly School and then for Princeton University. All three also were inducted into the West Virginia Soccer Association Hall of Fame.

Speaking to the audience Wednesday, Adams urged those present to identify their talents and find ways to put them to good use for the community. It appears that is exactly what he has done for more than three decades, appreciating the gifts he’s been given and putting them to work to benefit local youth.

Today, Jay Adams spends his days helping with the C3 Soccer Camp, a free soccer camp held in the summer for boys and girls ages 4-10. The camp teaches soccer skills and helping with spiritual guidance.

As you begin a new week today, take a little time to reflect and consider what your own gifts are. How can you put your own skills and natural abilities to work?

Whatever your talents are, I encourage you to employ them to benefit those around you. I think you will find the experience very fulfilling. The talented individuals I observed last week certainly seemed to enjoy sharing what they had to offer.