More changes…

WHAT I BELIEVE…

Barbara with Mothers PearlsMy goodbye party at the White Mountain Independent is today, Friday, June 30, 2017. It is bittersweet, but to coin a popular phrase, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

On November 3, 2014, I slid into the reporter’s chair at the White Mountain Independent, being given the privilege of covering the communities of Snowflake and Taylor, Navajo County Government, and Northland Pioneer College. The day that Publisher Brian Kramer hired me, he said, “I want you to write like you talk,” to which I replied, “Do you have enough room?”

It wasn’t long after I started working there that I was given a bi-monthly feature called “Movers & Shapers,” the title coined by our Advertising Manger Wiley Acheson. For those that followed the column, you know that I actually did write like I talk. My surprise was they gave me enough room to do that. Movers & Shapers ran for 15 months and I was trusted to tell the story of White Mountain people whose actions have shaped our community. I loved that column because I love promoting people. Feature writing is certainly something I have enjoyed. The day came, however, when I had to do some real investigative reporting. The first big story I broke later won me third place in that category in the Arizona Newspaper Association’s annual recognition awards. After that, it seemed I was destined to find those stories that made news. The part I disliked about those kind of stories is that because the written word never goes away, people often blame the messenger. I only reported the facts, but it is human nature for people to blame somebody, and I discovered, to my dismay, that it is most often the reporter who gets blamed.

In April 2016 due to the forward thinking of our publisher, myself and Videographer Laura Lollman began preparing to do our tri-weekly video news broadcast for our website. I became the news writer and the news anchor for the broadcasts which have now been airing for over a year. I did my best to ensure that each area of our Mountain received coverage, and even added a bit of good news so people would know what a great place we live in.

When I did my last Movers & Shapers column, I began the article by writing “There is a quote from the movie “Uptown Girls” which is so apropos for this article: “Every story has an end, but in life, every ending is just a new beginning.”

I have resurrected that quote because my end at the paper is a new beginning for me. I was the chamber director for Show Low from 2002 to 2007, a radio talk show host for 16 years, and a local TV host for 11 years and a newspaper report/anchor for nearly three years. The position I have accepted is chamber, radio, television and newspaper all rolled into one – allowing me to use all of my skills to benefit a different industry – I will be the Communications Specialist at Navopache Electric Co-Op, Inc. in Lakeside.

Farewell is a term generally used when you are not going to see someone for a long time, or perhaps never hear from them again, so to my colleagues at The Independent, and to you the readers, I only say goodbye, because WHAT I BELIEVE is that I will be seeing you again, around town, and… in the news.

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Father’s Day…

Daddy & I n jan 2017

What I BELIEVE…

This is my first Father’s Day without my Daddy. It is the first Father’s Day I have not bought him a present since I was old enough to either make one or buy one. This is the first Father’s Day I will not make a call to him to wish him “Happy Father’s Day,” but it won’t be the first Father’s Day that I do not think of him and remember the impact he had on my life.

This Father’s Day, I am going to sit down and think about all the things he taught me. I am going to write down some of the things he said on a regular basis, especially those words of wisdom I will draw on from time to time, knowing I can count on them because he said them.

There’s a book I read called “The Dash.” It talks about the day a person was born and the day they died, but it is not about those two dates – it is about the dash, those years between birth and death and what you did with them.

From time to time, especially during the last months of his earthly existence, I recognized and appreciated many things about my Daddy that I never want to forget. Some are big things and some are epiphanies that hit me square between the eyes, and I wondered how I ever missed them.

I smile as I think of some of those things – he loved apricot jam, fresh honey, hot peppers, black walnut ice cream and Klondike bars. He loved gardening. He could grow anything. He had me bring him pinon nuts from Arizona and though Auburn University Extension Center told him they would not make a tree in Alabama, he planted one in a large container on his sun porch and nurtured it and nurtured it, and it grew. He even transplanted it in his yard. He was a country boy and like the naturalist Euell Gibbons loved the land, especially the woods and streams he roamed while growing up. He could name every tree and every herb there was. He really did walk to school in the snow, not sure it was five miles, but it was a long way. He grew up during the Great Depression and learned how to live simply. He was non-materialistic, worked hard and had gratitude for everything. He wanted us kids to be good citizens and to do what was right. He wouldn’t use the A.T.M.; he didn’t trust it. He loved the U.S.A. and served as a tail gunner in the Army Air Corp in WWII. He served as the State Chaplain of the Alabama V.F.W. and I always remember on special holidays how he taught us to revere the flag and those who served our country. He made up songs and sang them and he loved to hunt. He played a game or two or three of Solitaire every day of his life that I can remember. He loved Sci-Fi and believed in U.F.O.s. He was also a stern disciplinarian, short on giving praise, setting the bar so high that we are still trying to reach it today. And, unlike many of the Greatest Generation, he was able to hug us and say, “I love you.” I don’t have to wonder about that.

If you still have your father, treasure him. One day he won’t be with you. Until then make memories and pay attention to things he says and does – it’s part of his dash, and I BELIEVE that the dash matters.