A very big thank you

image

At a luncheon today, I received a wonderful honor from a group of PR professionals that I love and admire. The experience was humbling, and the award was greatly appreciated.

For the past few weeks, I was overwhelmed by the daunting task of writing and giving a speech for a group of people who write and give speeches for a living.

After trying the serious approach and the oh-so-humble quick thank you approach, I settled on just being me and sharing some of the great failures of my success. They are the ups and down that come with being in a career for nearly 20 years.

There were a few people and family who weren’t at the event and wanted to read the speech. So, I am sharing it here.

Let me say a HUGE thank you to my nominator, the Dayton Area PRSA chapter and the indulgent crowd who laughed at all the right times! Today was a very special day I won’t forget any time soon.

(On a side note, my little date Dylan had a great time filling in for dad who got called away to work. He also wants to say thanks for all the goodies!)

Thank you!
image

image

Communicator of the Year Speech
May 7, 2015
PRisms

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of listening and learning from past winners of this award. They are some of the brightest minds in PR and brilliant in their ability to further not only their clients’ reputations, but also the profession at the same time. Their experience, intelligence and candor were appreciated and certainly inspiring to me. And I think of many of them as colleagues, mentors and friends.

So you can imagine my surprise when I got the call that I was going to receive this honor. I really couldn’t believe it. I turned to my husband and said, “This can’t be right. I mean, I’m not old enough. I haven’t experienced enough. I don’t have anything to teach this crowd. I think it’s the gray hair. They must just think it’s time.”

He, in his infinite wisdom, looked at me and said, “Honey, sometimes it’s not the years; it’s the mileage.”

And after I got over my initial shock, I realized he’s probably right. Because let’s be real, I have had some wild rides in this industry over nearly 20 years.

I have worked with astronauts and the national press corp and a few celebrities. I have had some Fortune 500 clients and can keep a lagging dinner conversation going with talk of everything from funeral coaches and nuclear waste to podiatry and, of course, Wright Brothers trivia.

So maybe, over the years, I have collected a few bits of knowledge and helpful information that could be useful to some of you. And if you’ll let me, I would like to share my top three lessons learned in this crazy career.

Let me start with this – Murphy’s Law says, “Anything that can go wrong – will!” There is no one who knows the full truth of this statement better than me.

Whether it’s having a pop-up thunderstorm from Hell blow down over 350 hot air balloons, hail on the Air Force Band of Flight and send 25,000 people running for their cars at an opening night event.

Or getting a call that your one-named, uber celebrity guest of honor will not arrive in time to take photos with your patrons who have paid $1000 per ticket to do so. In her defense, it was three days after Katrina and she was there filming her show live. So, we cut her some slack.

Or nearly catching the Mead Theatre of the Schuster Center on fire five minutes before your guests are to take their seats for dinner thanks to an intern who put the votives just a little too close to the center pieces.

I’ve been through it all.

The lesson ti learned from these experiences and many like them is that flexibility, being the calm in the storm, and wine, lots and lots of wine, are the best ways to deal with crisis. Learn from my chaos and mistakes.

Second, Neil Gaiman, author of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Coraline and many others, said, “The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.”

Are there any truer words out there for a PR professional? I mean it’s what we do. Find and share the stories of our clients, our organizations and ourselves.

Telling stories is why I made the transition from PR to the dark side serving as editor for the Dayton Magazine. I love sharing the new and old and hidden gems of this Gem City.

Telling stories has become one of the best parts of moving my family from the suburbs to life on the farm. With nearly 100 head of livestock, several miles of fences that always need repaired and a whole lot of…well, let’s call it ‘mud’, I have all the material I need for one hell of a memoir. I just need the time.

But the point of all this is that I did it. I jumped in with both feet and spent nearly everyday since then learning something new. I tell my students that learning should never stop and the same applies to you. Don’t be afraid of change. Do the things that make your story more interesting.

Third, I want to talk for a minute about the people in this room. Take a look around your table and the tables next to you. You are looking at some of the best resources available in this industry and they are only a phone call or a PRSA luncheon away.

Whenever I have called, whatever the issue, no matter what they are dealing with, the PR pros in this room have always been there for me. They have supported me through crisis, provided feedback on plans, even jumped in and carried boxes, manned tables and made name tags. And they will do the same for you.

This organization brings together the best in this field and they are all willing to share and support you. So get to know them.

Last I just want to say thank you. Thanks to the Dayton Area PRSA for not only this award, but for the years of support and encouragement. I couldn’t imagine a better group of people to call colleagues and friends.

Also to some of the most caring, supportive and best mentors a girl could ask for – Jamie Kenny, Beth Whelley, Brenda Gibson, Patty Sorrell, and so many others. By both word and deed you have been pillars of ethical, intelligent, thoughtful public relations professionalism. I thank you for every time you picked up the phone, scheduled a lunch, listened to a crazy idea and laughed with me through all those ups and downs. You have made me a better PR professional.

Finally, I want to say thank you to my family, some of whom are here today. When I decided to change majors from music education to communication, my uncle said, “Well that took long enough! You’ve been talking 90 miles a minute since the day you were born!” You have always been there for me, supporting every career change, and providing last minute babysitting services, even after the twins came. For all of this and so much more, I thank you.

And to my husband, who has always had my back and been my cheerleader for the past 25 years, I love you.

Thank you, all, so much for this wonderful honor.

It’s hard to take a decent mug shot

image

First, I need to say this is ALL my fault.
Second, I need to thank my husband for his support and patience and refrain in saying, “I told you so!”

Over the weekend, I finally got around to renewing my driver’s license. It was due on my birthday, but I kept forgetting to get it done.

I came into the local office, took my number and waited my turn. All was going well until the clerk quietly leaned across the counter and said,

“Ma’am? I’m going to give you back your old license and pretend like you were never here. Your license and registration are suspended. Technucalkt, I could call the sheriff and have you arrested for driving yourself here.”

Wait. WHAT??!!

She gave me the number for the regional Ohio BMV office and wished me a nice day.

I was in shock. After nearly 30 minutes on hold, a nice lady informed me that the Xenia Municipal Courts placed the suspension back in May of 2014 over an unpaid speeding ticket.

I knew exactly which ticket it was. It had been my first and only ticket in 20 years and the fine was $160! I also remembered paying the ticket on time. I told the lady this. After checking again, she let me know that I had paid with a personal check. Apparently, that’s not allowed. Only cash or money order.

Crap.

So on Monday, David had to spend all day chauffering me from the Xenia Courts to the BMV Regional Reinstatement Office in Cincy and then to a BMV office (not to mention spending $250. I am finally legally licensed to drive again with the state of Ohio.

Note to self: Get your foot out of the pedal and always leave five minutes early!!!

She knows me a little too well

moms and wineWhile grocery shopping with Makenna at WalMart last week, I picked up a couple bottles of wine. I always like to have a few on hand. You never know who might stop by and one must be hospitable.

At the check out, I got carded. Makenna’s first response was to look at my ever grayer hair and laugh. Then the lady said, “Ma’am, your license is expired.” Oops! I forgot that it expired on my birthday.

“No worries,” I reply. “My birthdate hasn’t expired.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am. But I can’t let you have these with an expired license,” was her reply as she forcibly grabbed the bottles and put them under her register.

The look on my face must have said it all, because Makenna immediately told her.

“Well, you gave her all the incentive she needs to get it renewed now!”

Ha Ha. Next stop BMV!!

FARM PHILOSOPHY: Time to expand

cropped-294218_10150309431283503_1100976255_n.jpgFrom the start, our farm plan included:

1. Have an incredible environment in which to raise kids and teach them the value of hard work

2. Grow fresh, natural food to feed our family and maybe a few others

3. Provide an opportunity for David to retire from his day job

So far, we have been successful at achieving goals one and two.

I love seeing the kids out working with the animals. They don’t always do it the way I think they should and never in the amount of time it should take, but they are doing it. Every day. Twice a day.

Pulling food that you raised and grew from your freezer is an amazing feeling. Having your kids refuse to eat eggs at restaurants because they are just ‘not like ours’ is fabulous. Having other people tell you how much they enjoyed their roast or chops, ribs is a great feeling.

Number 3 is proving to be a bit more challenging. We knew going in small farms like ours are rarely profitable. Who am I kidding? They rarely break even. Knowing that, the plan was to look for opportunities to expand. But as it usually goes, we’ve gotten comfortable and busy and overwhelmed at times. Just keeping up with the everyday chores and the ongoing, never ending list of things to do is proving a challenge.

That said, my husband really wants to look forward to the future. To a time when he can farm full time and be outside every day. To working with his hands and with really big equipment.

But I am holding him back.

I am terrified of taking on more responsibility with less income. More debt with less income. More everything with less income – including so much more work.

But I am holding him back.

He needs to be in the sun everyday. He needs to come in from work smelling of dirt and fuel and even manure. He needs to drive tractors and combines and Bobcats daily. He needs to work on his own schedule without the fear of a client call at any time day or night. To be truly happy, he needs these things.

I need to do what I can to make that happen because I love him, and I want him to be happy.

So, we are expanding. This summer you will find BA Farms at the Springboro Farmers Market. I don’t have a clue what we will sell or how we will fill our booth every weekend, but we’ll be there.

If you visit our farm, you will find more cows, more chickens, more pigs and few new additions like turkeys and meat goats and maybe sheep. You will see me out and about at events less and in jeans and mud boots more. I will sport one fantastic farmer’s tan and drink more coffee at home than Starbucks. I will work more on the farm blog than my own. I will learn how to drive the tractors and back up with the trailer attached.

And pretty soon, you will wonder what I ever did before being a farmer’s wife.

 

Share the love

I think I have a new fan. 

Anyone who knows me knows that the saying, “If I’m sitting, I’m knitting” definitely applies to me.

So as we sat at a family gathering last Christmas, catching up and eating too much, I started a new knitting project –  a beautiful silver, high-neck cowl project. It looks very much like the top of a sweater.

As I sat talking and stitching away, I noticed that one of my cousin’s sons was quietly watching me from his mom’s lap. He seemed fascinated at how two sticks and some string were making this soft scarf.

Finally, he worked up the courage to ask what I was doing. I explained that it was called knitting and that it was how lots of clothes got made. He looked at the yarn and needles in my hands, then at the pattern, then back at my hands.

“You are making a real sweater?”

“Well, I am going to try to make part of one.”

“Looks hard.”

After a few more minutes of looking on, he had another question for me.

“Do you think you could make me something?”

We decided on a scarf out of a camo-looking yarn for him to wear duck hunting with his dad.

I finally finished the project a few weeks ago and sent it off to him. I was thrilled to get this note from him today.

image

I’m glad you liked it, Kole!

Makenna Writes for DaytonLocal.com & VTA

Check out Makenna’s latest post for the Victoria Theatre Association National Geographic Series. You can find the full post at DaytonLocal.com. Tickets are still available for the March 23 show at TicketCenterStage.com.

Nat Geo Down on the Farm

The National Geographic series is returning to the Victoria Theatre! From amazing animals to incredible people to real life struggles around the world, National Geographic tells all the fascinating stories.

Teagan, Paul Nicklen and Makenna

Makenna with Paul Nicklen and my niece, Teagan, at the Victoria last year.

My brothers and I love to look at the photos, and I read the articles. So when the Victoria Theatre Association asked me to cover the National Geographic events last year, I couldn’t wait. The Nat Geo series keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time. Thanks to the series, I have become a huge fan of Paul Nicklen, a Nat Geo photographer, and I follow him on Instagram.

I have come to the conclusion that Nat Geo should come and do an article on my family’s farm! We have it all – amazing animals, interesting people and real life challenges. It’s perfect! Farm life is both exciting and hard. You always have to be ready for anything – from birthing new animals to big storms and even predators. Being capable of handling these challenges makes you a stronger person.

Find out why Makenna thinks Nat Geo would love our farm in her full post at DaytonLocal.com. And thanks to the folks at Springboro Farmers Market for sharing. We can’t wait to be a part of the action this summer!

 

 

 

3 bags, 12 projects and 1 hour every Sunday

At the beginning of the year, I took the time to go through every bag of unfinished knitting I had in my house. What I found was surprising.

First, there were three whole bags of projects. Not small, easy to carry, throw in your purse bags, either. These were actual tote bags stuffed with projects on needles, extra yarn and instructions!

image

Yikes!!!

Inside all these totes were a total of 17 unfinished projects. 17!!! I was able to discard and unravel four of them for various reasons. Another project was only five rows from completion and I quickly completed it and put it away.

image

That left me with 12 unfinished projects. The idea of competing them all was daunting. Some are halfway done. Some are on the “world’s tiniest needles” and will take forever (probably why I stopped working on them.) One is missing the necessary yarn to complete. Etc., etc., etc.

I decided that I would need a plan of attack. If I spent about an hour every week, I would eventually get there. And if I vowed not to start a new project until these were complete,  I would be even more inspired to stick with them.

So every Sunday morning, I work on these previously discarded projects. For the past several weeks, I have done a minimum of two rows on each project.

It’s slow progress, but it’s progress. In fact, I have already finished a scarf and a wrap! Only 10 to go!

3 bags, 12 projects and 1 hour every Sunday

At the beginning of the year, I took the time to go through every bag of unfinished knitting I had in my house. What I found was surprising.

First, there were three whole bags of projects. Not small, easy to carry, throw in your purse bags, either. These were actual tote bags stuffed with projects on needles, extra yarn and instructions!

image

Yikes!!!

Inside all these totes were a total of 17 unfinished projects. 17!!! I was able to discard and unravel four of them for various reasons. Another project was only five rows from completion and I quickly completed it and put it away.

image

That left me with 12 unfinished projects. The idea of competing them all was daunting. Some are halfway done. Some are on the “world’s tiniest needles” and will take forever (probably why I stopped working on them.) One is missing the necessary yarn to complete. Etc., etc., etc.

I decided that I would need a plan of attack. I decided to spend about an hour every Sunday morning on these projects. For the past several weeks, I have done a minimum of two rows on each project.

It’s slow progress, but it’s progress. In fact, I have already finished a scarf and a wrap! Only 10 to go!

Ads with a mission

image

We love some football around here.

Throughout Sunday’s big game, David and I kept looking at each other. Sometimes we were near tears. Other times we were smiling. All of the time, we were impressed.

The number of brands that chose to make a statement about major problems facing our world today was surprising and inspiring. Our favorites included:

NFL on domestic violence

McDonalds on showing love & happiness

Dove on caring dad’s

Nissan on absentee parenting

Coca Cola on bullying and hatred

Dodge on living every day

Always on how great it is to be a girl

Nationwide on preventative accidents

Yes, we watch the game for entertainment. Yes, we all enjoy a good laugh. And there were plenty of those commercials, too (Doritos, Fiat, Esurance and T-Mobile just to name a few.)

How refreshing was it to see these brands using their millions of dollars to spread awareness of some serious social issues facing our world right now? Some of them were hard to watch (I’m looking at you, Nationwide), but that doesn’t mean they weren’t powerful and necessary.

Maybe the reason they bother so many of us is that it’s easier to pretend these issues don’t exist if we never talk about them. We would rather watch frollicing, writhing, half-naked women drinking beer with screaming goats and fast cars. Through those, we can escape reality.

I’m not saying that every Super Bowl commercial should get maudlin or that the same tactic should be used next year. However in our house, the fresh approach was well received and much appreciated.

On a side note,  many thanks to Katy Perry for an entertaining and clean half time show with costumes that actually covered you and the dancers and a few fun surprises. We enjoyed it!

Avoiding the tax man

Yesterday, I had promised myself I would spend the day getting our taxes done and ready to send off to the accountant today.

Tax prepapration is probably my least favorite chore every year. In fact, I will do just about anything else before doing taxes.

So here are the 10 things I did instead of my taxes:

1. Cleaned the house. I mopped floors, cleaned toilets, even washed windows. Ugh.

2. Put together puzzles with Jack. He’s totally gotten into them lately. I mean could you resist this face?

image

3. Went to Rural King. Sure we needed a few things, but nothing that couldn’t wait.

4. Searched Pinterest for an outfit to wear on Living Dayton today. Check me out at noon!

5. Graded papers.

6. Made fun Super Bowl snacks. Like these tasty little guys.
image

7. Reorganized my craft room.

image

8. Laundry. Ick.

9. Cleaned livestock pens. Bleh.

10. Thought about trying a different tax system for next year.

I finally got around to working on them during the Super Bowl and am about halfway finished. And my house is clean and organized.  So that’s something, right?