Thursday, April 18, 2013

42 Wallaby Way, Sydney

A dozen years ago I worked for Universal.  I had a nice home office upstairs which completely eliminated any issues of traffic besides an occasional Tonka truck on the staircase.  I’d fly to the corporate office in Los Angeles or various other states for my weekly appointments.  In 60 short minutes, I could make it from my driveway in Marion to my seat on the plane in Fort Wayne.  But, more than anything I remember that amazing feeling of traveling back home each week to be with my family again.  Smelling the fresh-baked Archway cookies from the factory across the street each time I’d step off the plane was pure bliss.  That sweet smell told me I was home.  Because despite what people might tell you, business travel isn't glamorous.  Not.  One.  Single.  Bit. 

That’s why shortly after 9/11 that I decided that the traveler’s life just wasn’t for this wife and mom of two anymore.  Something had to give.  And that’s when my company offered me a promotion with limited travel and a few perks that sounded pretty hard to turn down…but it would require moving to Boston.
So, I ventured off to the tightened security of Logan International Airport.  I spent the next day meeting with the Boston team and discussing what my new role would be if I opted to take the job.  That evening a few of them kindly invited me out to dinner at one of their local hotspots.  The place was beautifully decorated, had great service, and featured the largest array of sushi that I had ever seen.   Sushi.  Ugh.  I’m not a sushi girl.  In fact, I’m allergic to shellfish and have a general rule not to eat fish if I can’t see the ocean…and, well, I grew up in landlocked Indiana.  Enough said. 

Now I know that one sushi dinner shouldn’t have been a deal-breaker.  But, there was something about that night that told me the big city life of Boston just wasn’t for me.  I’ve been thinking about that decision since the bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday.  As you probably recall, my husband’s a police officer.  If we would have made that move, he would be one of the more than 2000 officers that have been handling the mass destruction and devastation at Copley Square.  I have always been in awe of people like my husband and countless others who are simply wired to run toward the destruction and devastation, instead of away from it.   Something in their DNA triggers a gut instinct to go to help instead of run to safety.   As Fred Rogers so eloquently said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping.’” 

It makes me so proud of the funds we hold at the Foundation in honor of the men and women who sacrifice so much to protect America’s honor, freedom, and safety.  The Captain Brandon Barrett Memorial Fund, The Lance McGregor Thompson Scholarship Fund, and The David Austin Kirkpatrick Fund all in memory of local fallen soldiers.   The Marion Police Department Chaplaincy FundThe Glen ‘Bilko’ Eltzroth Fund,  The Law Enforcement Safety Fund, and The Robert and Anita Moulton Scholarship Fund which all support the police force or students pursuing a career in law enforcement.  Where would we be in this world without our helpers?

It’s just like Marlin and Dory in Finding Nemo!  They forged their way toward the unknowns of a massive ocean, struggled with a bloom of jellyfish, met up with three sharks supposedly on a ‘fish-free diet’, and boldly faced the treacherous East Australian Current, all to save the precious life of young Nemo at 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney.

In America, acts of terror like we’ve witnessed on the news the past two days can scare us, crush our spirit.  We can’t let it.  As Patton Oswalt put it, just look fear in the eye and say, The good outnumber you, and we always will."  Or as simplified by Dory, “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim, swim."

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Friday, April 5, 2013

What Does Success Look Like?

There’s a big different between what people think success looks like and what success really looks like,  This past month the Community Foundation has had the opportunity to hang out with the six Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Award Nominees and their teams.  By teams, I’m not talking about football, soccer, basketball, or tennis.  I’m talking about their encouragement teams.  These people included parents and counselors, principals and administrators, teachers and employers, best friends and siblings.  Not one of these students trekked their path of success alone.  As the famous philosophers, the Beatles (J), once said, we get by with a little help from our friends.

I was reminded of this recently when my oldest son, Griffin, was in the last week of his 9 week semester and was on the verge of a ‘B’ in one of his classes.  Now, don’t get me wrong, a ‘B’ is a great grade. A fantastic grade.  I had a few ‘B’s’ over my educational career.  My husband had more than a few…and was thanking the good Lord for them!  But, this would have been Griffin’s first ‘B’.  <<Insert dramatic music here.>>  Of course, we encouraged him, praised him for his hard work, and certainly let him know that a ‘B’ isn’t the end of the world as we know it.  Then, one of his amazing teachers, Senora Anna, sent him a card.  Addressed to him.  In the mail.  At home.  It’s hard to describe the look of joy on his face before he even opened the envelope.  Then came the gleam in his eyes as he read the card she had written in Spanish.  And, that was followed by joy in his heart as he translated to me what she had said, “Your grades do not define you.”  Wow, I’m tearing up just typing that.  But, it’s true.  And Griffin needed to hear it.  And he needed to get some encouragement like that from someone besides mom and dad.  Senora Anna is on Griffin’s team.  And she was our MVP that week.

As much as we’d like to think success is a straight line from where we are, progressing upward…it just isn’t.  It’s up.  It’s ǝpısdn uʍop and winding around.  It’s a ‘B’.  It’s an all-nighter.  It’s Calculus and Chemistry.  It’s downright messy.  Griffin knows it.  And so do Christine Harper, Abram Fleming, Logan Dooley, Joel Kiers, Jennifer Daniel and Nithia Chowattukunnel. Success is a team sport.  And now, our six Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Nominees have the Community Foundation joining their team as first string cheerleaders!  Because we all need as much encouragement as we can get.

Griffin needed it when he thought he might be getting a ‘B’.  (He actually didn’t, by the way.)  You need it when you’ve had a bad day.  The crabby cashier needs it even if you don’t know why.  Encouragement is fuel for the heart.  Besides, I’ve never seen anyone who had been encouraged too much, have you?  No one deserves to have their “Encouragement Tank” running on ‘E’.  So, fill-r-up!

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