Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Have a Nibby Thanksgiving

In Texas they have no idea what being nibby means.  I remember the first time someone asked me what nibby meant.  I said, “You know, it’s when someone is a  nibnose”.  Yeah, they didn’t know what a nibnose was either.  The urban dictionary defines nibby as:  Midwest country-folk slang for nosy or prying as in Gladys Kravitz from Bewitched.  Ah, it’s a Midwest thing…who knew?  Apparently, there are many unique things about our Hoosier home, all of which we should be thankful for because it’s…our home.

As we prepare Thanksgiving dinner this year, I won’t be surprised if we chop up a few mangos.  My mom forever called green peppers mangos.  I was 22 before I realized there is another mango.  It’s a fruit, not a pepper.  Try to explain that to a non-Hoosier.

Of course, we’ll make some noodles.  Church ladies across the state have been preparing homemade noodles to sell at bake sales since the first cold spell.  And, you can’t go wrong with homemade, churchlady noodles.  They.  Are.  The.  Best.  But, one thing you won’t find outside the Midwest is a heap of those starchy noodles atop a heap of carb-filled mashed potatoes.  Double carbs, are you kidding?  Honestly, they just don’t know what they are missing.  

And don’t even try to buy a sugar cream pie down south.  Heck, don’t even ask for one at the store unless you want to get ‘the look’.  And might I add, if you haven’t had a sugar cream pie from Concannon’s Bakery in Muncie, Indiana, you just haven’t lived.

After dinner, if you join some family members in a few games of euchre, you just might be from the Midwest.  I wonder what they’re thinking when, in everyday language, someone says that one idea trumps another.  Maybe they think it’s a Donald Trump reference.  

I love all of those things about the Midwest, Indiana, and Grant County.  The more I’ve traveled, the more I value those little things that make my hometown special.  Yet, you don’t have to travel further than your Thanksgiving table to see what’s truly special in your life…even if they’re a little nibby.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Find The Pony

Holidays are bittersweet.  Some like to shop.  Some don’t.  Some are good cooks.  Some aren’t.  Some have family to spend those special days with.  Some are far from home.  Many of us are blessed to have it all.  We are surrounded by people that love us, have gifts for everyone on our list, and a buffet of all the goodies one could imagine.  Yet, the stress of being Martha Stewart is overwhelming.  My advice to you all in this time of holiday madness is this:  Find the pony.

I heard this profound advice just a few months ago from a wise woman in my field.  She’s a delightful person, full of laughter, with a bright smile.  And, I remember asking her if she was always so positive.  Actually, it’s rather sad that I would ask someone this.  Are so many so grumpy these days that we are surprised when someone is cheerful? 

But, apparently, I was surprised.  So, I asked.  When she replied that she is typically positive and chipper, I continued…”How do you do that?”  Her answer was as odd as it was genius, “I find the pony”, she said.

I remember the group breaking out in uproarious laughter just because it was such a funny response.  But, what did it mean?

She went on to explain how her life had been marred with some major tragedy and disappointment.  That she had experienced many years of major sadness.  Then one day, she sat down and had a little talk with herself.  “Self”, she said.  “If there is this much manure in my life, then there just has to be a pony somewhere.” And, from that day forward, she has always looked for the pony.  Brilliant!

And this is my advice to you today.  While life may not always be perfect or easy, look for the pony.  One way to start is by helping someone else.  It’s really hard to feel bad about yourself or your circumstances if you’re reaching out to help someone else.

Several local non-profits need volunteers this time of year.  Food pantries are always in need of food.  Santa needs elves.  Someone might be alone, ask them to break bread with you.  Heck, even the guy behind you in the Starbucks drive-thru might appreciate a coffee on you today.  

Generosity begets generosity, and generous people are typically happy people.  We see this through donors every day at the Community Foundation.  It’s the reciprocity principle of giving.

The bottom line is this…sometimes life does give you manure.  Worst case scenario, look for the pony.  Best case scenario, be the pony for someone else. 
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Thursday, November 1, 2012

The New and Improved Flat Stanley

“Leaders are Readers”, that’s something that Tim Sanders always says and I agree.  As a former first grade teacher, I have literally taught hundreds of children to read.  That’s a really big deal to me because knowing how to read will impact your quality of life.  Having a love of reading will change your life in immeasurable ways. 

One of my favorite books that many students read is Flat Stanley.  Some of you may be familiar with this little guy.  Students get a photocopy of Flat Stanley, color him, and mail him to a variety of locations near and far.  The recipient of Flat Stanley takes him along on an adventure and snaps a picture with him at a unique place or special event.  Then they would either send him back to the student or pass him along to someone else who would do the same.  It was a great way for children to ‘see’ the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls, an NFL football game or the Olympics, or the President of the United States.  This book literally took them to new worlds they had never before explored.  Books always do.

I had a Flat Stanley moment this week.  Due to a little thing called Jury Duty, I was not able to attend a conference on Tuesday to hear one of my favorite leaders of all time, Seth Godin.  Needless to say, I was very disappointed, until my Seth Godin action figure began to show up on my phone throughout the day to share the conference experience with me.

This immediately took me back to my Flat Stanley days.   While a child may never have been to New York City, the wonderment of a child’s first view of their Flat Stanley at the top of the Empire State Building made it seem like they had.  That, MasterCard, is priceless.

I honestly don’t know where I’d be without books.  They teach me things, they take me places, they broaden my perspective, they relax me.  But, if children can’t read, they can’t experience any of those things.  And, because of that, their quality of life is severely limited.

Fortunately, the Community Foundation has a fund that helps to solve this very problem.  The Imagination Library Fund provides one book per month to any Grant County child, from birth to age 5.  This means that by the time the student enters kindergarten, they would have their own personal library of 60 books.  The books are all age-appropriate, are mailed directly to the student at home, and provide the reading readiness that is often lacking with many of our Grant County young people today.  The only problem is that the fund is sorely depleted, yet the children love the books.

If books have impacted your life, if you believe that reading is a fundamental skill that all children deserve, please consider a donation to The Imagination Library Fund.  One month of support for all of Grant County costs $2,500.  But, a donation of any size can help to change a child’s life forever.
Think about this as you ponder your vote for the leaders of our city, county, state, and country next Tuesday.  If “Leaders are Readers” like Tim Sanders says, then a donation to this fund today would be like a ‘vote’ for one of our great leaders of tomorrow.  That’s sure to get bi-partisan support.

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