Stray Thoughts

Dusting off the Reporter’s Hat!

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 18 years since I turned in press badge, hung-up my microphone, and tossed aside my reporter’s hat. Although my career path has wound around to new destinations in technical publications and marketing, I have found that the skills I developed long ago as a reporter have proved useful over the years regardless of what job I have. Skills such as being able to conduct an interview, asking the right questions to get to the all-important answers. And, of course, there’s the skill of a solid writing ability—a MUST when I need to take those answers and weave the data into an informative outlet, whether that be a technical manual, a press release, or an advertisement.

Yep, no matter my job title, every now and then, I get to dust off that old reporter’s hat and have a little fun. The latest is when I got the chance to interview a remarkable young man and write his “user story” for Sound Devices, a Midwest company specializing in professional audio and video equipment.

Click Image to Read Full Story

Reproduced with permission. Copyright(c) 2015 Sound DevicesHope you enjoy reading the story as much as I did in writing it!

Best wishes for a creative year,

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Tis’ the Season…to Reflect & Plan

As 2014 draws to a close, I can’t help but look back and reflect on all of the many exciting things that have happened this year! And I’m already eagerly anticipating the coming new year.

I truly am blessed and sincerely grateful for all that’s happened in my life! For instance, in 2012 three major events occurred:

  1. I had my second child after raising my first son for 17 wonderful years! (Yes, my boys were born 17+ years apart.)
  2. After 16+ years with the same company, I was laid off as part of a global reduction in force.
  3. I was hospitalized with several life-threatening bacterial infections.

No doubt, most would wonder why I back-track two years to point out one wonderful event followed immediately by two terrible ones…and why would anyone be grateful for all three as if they were all blessings? Truth is, they all had a profound affect on me, and I believe (with the power of hindsight two years later) all three changed me for the better. First, the birth of a child is a life-changer for obvious reasons, but beyond that, having him in my life is a daily reminder to look at the world around me with the innocence of a child. Everything we do is “new” for him, and that’s an incredible thing to be able to experience something you might’ve done a million times as if it’s the very first time! Secondly, the loss of my job taught me how to stay focused amid adversity. Had I panicked, we as a family could’ve lost everything, but I’m proud to say we were able to achieve financial stability and decrease our debt substantially despite the HUGE hit to our overall income. How? Sacrifice. Flexibility. Family solidarity. And Commitment.

Oh, and about that third item in the list… Being hospitalized after living for years with hardly a blip in health issues can shock anyone’s system and give you a new perspective on what’s really important. I value time spent with family more than ever before, but I’m also very thankful for each day.

So, now, two years later, I can’t help but smile when I think about all of the worries and fears I experienced back then. I’m glad my parents didn’t raise a quitter, but rather a stubborn, hard-working woman. Since being laid off, I’ve started my own contract business that’s thrived for two years (thanks in part to garnering a contract with of all companies, my own former employer!). I got to be a work-from-home Mom and raise my baby boy while still contributing to my family’s overall well-being. My husband, despite being a disabled veteran, and having to work full-time to support the family, graduated from college, earning a bachelor’s degree…at the same time our oldest boy graduated high school. Then he followed his father’s footsteps, became a U.S. Marine, and started college. (Yes, I’m very proud of them both!)

Just this month, I’ve had several contracts renew for the coming year, but I’ve had to introduce my little one to daycare because, shockingly, I somehow landed a new job in August with a company that recruited me…and this happened when I wasn’t even actively seeking full-time employment! What’s more unimaginable is that in less than two months, I received a promotion. So, in two short years, I’ve managed to lose my job, start a business, reduce our family debt, and land a new job, increasing our income despite nationwide news coverage of a “poor job market and struggling global economy.”  All without one penny in government hand-outs; I did not receive unemployment, even though I surely qualified for it after the lay-off. No WIC. No food stamps. Just a little help from family plus hard work, long hours, and a lot of prayers. Yes, life can be good if you put in an honest effort and keep a positive attitude even in the face of adversity.

I can testify to the American Dream still being very much alive, and this holiday season, I’m grateful that it is.  I can’t imagine what the next two years will be like, but at least I know I can rely on inner strength and familial support to get through anything headed my way.

God bless you all. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Things I’m Thankful For…

I know it’s just a holiday, marked on calendars, a fancy name for one day in the month of November…a Thursday like so many before and after it. Just one day to be thankful.

But there’s so many other days in the year when things happen that are worthy of gratitude. I think I could talk from sunrise to sundown on Thanksgiving Day and still not be able to list all of the blessings I’m thankful for. I certainly don’t have enough space on this blog to list everything, but on this day dedicated to such things, I will list a few:

  1. My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Without his love and sacrifice, I would be without hope.
  2. My husband for his warm hugs and daily example of strength in spite of pain and adversity. I love you, Doug!
  3. My son, Nathan, for his dry wit, precious smiles, quiet resolve, and in spite of his obsession with “wires” (aka video games). LOL
  4. My son, Brandon, for his hugs and kisses, his sweet giggles, and for showing me how to face life each day with bright eyes and childlike innocence.
  5. My parents. My dad is gone, but his legacy of honor, love, and humility remains. And my mom for teaching me what true devotion and inner-strength is really all about. (And for her fig preserves! *wink*)
  6. My extended family…for always being there via phone, Facebook, or when really needed, in person.
  7. Peek-a-Boo. My Chihuahua with her doberman-like fierceness in a 5-pound package and all her silly quirks that make me laugh or roll my eyes.
  8. The creators of Words with Friends, Scramble, and Sudoku games. I know not who you are, but I just love those games! *grin*
  9. Great food and opportunities to share it with family and friends.

God bless, and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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Wow.

Occasionally something happens in life that makes you say, “Wow!”

Today was one of those days.

…Feeling really blessed.

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Busy Summer …

I know summer is usually a time to sit back and relax, but honestly who has time for that?

My schedule has been swamped with writing/editing projects (on the contract work side of my life) and landscaping projects (on the home front).

Over the past few months, we’ve:

  • begun painting the outside of our home,
  • had two concrete patios poured off the back of our house,
  • built a covered deck off the side of the house along with replacing a window with a door to gain access to that deck,
  • had crews increase our parking area by laying new asphalt,
  • and built several retaining walls and raised flower beds (including hauling more than 5 tons of landscaping rock and pea gravel!)

My muscles hurt, my back pains me, and my hands ache! LOL
But I wouldn’t change a thing! I love the new look around home-sweet-home, and my freelance work has helped finance the whole thing. Yep, life is good… Thank you, Lord!

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Happy Independence Day

On vacation, visiting family, during the hot summertime…

I’ve truly enjoyed shooting fireworks off to celebrate the nation’s 4th of July holiday, and more importantly having the freedom to do so!

Happy birthday, USA!
God bless, America!

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New Year…New Opportunities

No doubt about it, 2014 is off to an incredibly hectic pace with so many things to do. As usual, I have multiple projects going on, not just “work-related” but also “personally”.

On the “work” side…I’ve redesigned a website for an existing client, sort of giving the company’s online image a face lift. I’m continuing technical writing work with my former employer/current client.

But on the “personal” side…things have really picked up the pace because I spent part of January traveling to California to see and celebrate my eldest son’s graduation from Marine Corps boot camp. The rest of my time has been working with crews remodeling portions of my home’s main living space. I’ve had new hardwood (actually bamboo) floors installed in the great room, dining room, and kitchen. I’ve had a pair of folding “closet” doors used for my kitchen’s pantry replaced with etched glass & maple french doors as well as new lighting inside the pantry. And I’ve had a new hearth built in the great room on which a pellet stove has been installed along with a new custom log mantle with and underside led lighting feature.

With all the craziness going on around me, I haven’t had time to make a New Year’s resolution, but I guess if I were to make one, it would have to be to take some time to simply enjoy recent achievements for a while before tackling the next thing on my never-ending To Do List.

Yep, it’s a new year. Time for new opportunities to enjoy life!

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Wishing You All Christmas Blessings

The holidays are always a hectic time. In addition to the usual daily responsibilities…

  • Feed the family – check
  • Clean house – check
  • Do laundry – check
  • Pay bills – check
  • Work – check
  • Read mail & email – check

…one also shops for gifts and groceries (check), decorates a tree and home (check), or travels to visit family. This year I’m foregoing the travel plans in favor of a quiet, relaxing holiday week at home—probably a good thing considering the winter storm advisory in effect for this area of the country.

So, while I hibernate for the holidays, I want to take this moment to extend a virtual Christmas card of sorts with best wishes for you all. May you find this time precious and filled with memorable blessings among family and friends…a happy, prosperous, and peaceful time to extend all through next year too. Especially to those serving in the military who cannot be with their loved ones this time of year; to you, I send my deepest thanks and sincerest prayers for a safe return home.

God bless,

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PS. Remember the reason for the season. John 3:16

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BRRRR!

I have never been so glad to be able to work from home as I have been this week. With snow everywhere and temperatures dropping to zero…and wind chills making it feel closer to MINUS 20…I’m tremendously grateful that my commute to work consists of a mere walk upstairs, all within the confines of my heated home!

Bundle up and stay warm America!

God bless,

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Happy Thanksgiving

As I entered this week with Thanksgiving only days away…I found myself reflecting back on this past year and all the wonderful things that have happened in my life. No, it hasn’t all been sunshine and daisies, but without a doubt I know I have so much to be thankful for—my children, my husband, my extended family, my home, my health, my work….

I pray each of you are blessed with good health, a safe home, and a loving family with whom to spend the holidays.

So here’s to wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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