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For seven years, we lived in a tiny house halfway down a side street that ended in a cul-de-sac by the river.

Our neighborhood had old houses and trailer houses and empty lots, young neighbors and old neighbors, and one crazy guy on the corner who cavorted in his garden naked at night and yelled a lot. Not kidding.

One hot stormy night there was a tornado that uprooted the big cottonwoods and took out the power lines and left our street piled with debris. We were standing in what was left of our yard when the news came down the line that an old woman in a trailer by the cul-de-sac had had a heart attack and the ambulance couldn’t get down the street to get her. Within minutes, in the pouring rain, neighbors were wielding chainsaws and dragging tree limbs and pushing cars out of the way so the ambulance could inch its way down the street and get her.

What neighbors do in times of trouble is what my June 5K is all about.

I don’t know Chris Boxley personally but I know his mother-in-law. I’ve known Sarah Deters since she was a teenager. One lives in my community, one used to but doesn’t any more. But I still feel like they’re part of my neighborhood, an area in which I live that while it may not be geographical is still some place where you help people when they’re in trouble.

If you live near my actual neighborhood, there are a couple of special fundraisers coming up for Chris and his family: Thursday, July 5 at the Bill of Rights Brewery in Pierre, SD and Wednesday, July 11 at the Pizza Ranch in Fort Pierre, SD. Donations can also be made through the family’s GoFundMe page and at Oahe Federal Credit Union in Pierre, SD.

Want to show your support for Sarah and her girls? Take part in the Love Her Back event.

I’m at the halfway point of my Year of 5K’s with six months to go. I’m also on the lookout for a cause, event, or place to walk about for the month of July so if you want to point me in a new direction, post your suggestions in the comments.

 

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How important is it to be happy where you work?

No, I wasn’t fired.

Just about a year ago I quit being a Director of Advertising and Public Relations to become a Senior Secretary.

When news spread that I was making the move, I got the firing question a lot. Legitimate ask. In the sector in which I work, people seldom go from management to the secretarial pool unless they lost the upper job and had to settle for the lower one. That wasn’t my situation.

I’d had the Director position for 8 years and while there were many things I liked about it (and some I still miss), overall I was enjoying it less. The paycheck was great but I worked damn hard to get it, and physically and emotionally, it was taking its toll. My oncologist said it best: “You didn’t survive cancer to kill yourself working, did you?”

No, I didn’t. So I started thinking about moving on.

Then three things happened. The opportunity came up to buy into the shop where my husband Jeremy worked. There was a chance to go back into radio full-time (my first love, as you’ll note from previous posts). And I hit my one year anniversary of being in remission from cancer.

So I took the leap.

The landing was not as soft as expected.

The seller backed out of the shop deal and eventually closed the business, putting Jeremy out of work. The radio station gig went to someone else (who recently quit and I’m just bitchy enough to find that funny). And three months into my new normal hours/less stress job, Jeremy got cancer.

When you jump off the cliff, you don’t think about how to climb back up it. You’re already in the valley – why not just walk out? Poised to make a leap like I did? Do these things:

Have some money in the bank. Less hours and responsibility meant a hefty pay cut for me, and the shop situation suddenly made us a one-income household. Fortunately, we had savings and investments to fall back on. Don’t underestimate the importance of a nest egg.

Take a good look at what you can do and where you can do it. I thought I was leaving to go back to radio. When it turned out I wasn’t, I had to consider what else to do. Being a secretary had never crossed my mind. Just because you’ve always used your skills and experience for one type of job doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable for something totally different. Be open to possibilities.

Realize that who you are in your new position is not who you used to be. It’s been harder going from a manager to a worker than I thought it would be. I don’t miss the management headaches. I do miss having the authority to make decisions without asking, to lead a team, and to voice an idea without vetting it through a higher-up. The lesson here? Look for ways to make a positive impact with whatever power you’re given.

Understand that not all benefits are tied to a paycheck. My wallet is now leaner but my life is richer. My Director job had long hours, too many meetings, a work cell phone I constantly had to monitor, and a combative work environment. Now I have time to spend with those important to me, I’m not up all night trying to solve work problems, my mind is clear at the end of the day so I can get back to doing things I LIKE to do. And my friends and family tell me I’m nicer. I THINK that’s a compliment.

“Never leave a job unless you’re going somewhere better”. We think that means a bigger paycheck, fancier title, roomier office. If those things don’t make you feel better about who you are, maybe climbing a few rungs down the corporate ladder will put you in a place that does.

Have you ever stepped back from a bigger career? Was it the right move for you?

The first veterans memorial I remember seeing was a statue of Francis Marion on the lawn of the courthouse in Marion, South Carolina. His nickname was “the Swamp Fox”, which as a kid I thought was funny so the memory has always stuck with me. Marion fought in the American Revolution not the Civil War but I thought of the statue again when war memorials began being removed from public places in recent years. I asked my dad, who was born and raised in South Carolina in the 1940’s thru early 1960’s, what he thought of the removals. He said, “I suppose it depends whether you think a statue memorializes the event or the person.”

Since 1971, on the last Monday of May, we memorialize the men and women who died in service to their country as members of the U.S. military. We also honor and celebrate others we have lost in our lives, friends and family, but Memorial Day became a national holiday to honor fallen soldiers.

The remembrance and recognition of the holiday takes place largely in cemeteries but in many places the sacrifice of our military men and women is acknowledged every day. Which is the focus of my May 5K as part of my “Year of 5K’s to Raise Awareness”.

Veterans memorials in our part of the country likely don’t face the same controversy as in other places but are really meant to memorialize the people. Men and women who join the service do so knowing they may lose their lives as a result. The families left behind know that, too. But if that possibility became the sole focus of the decision, no one would sign up and their families wouldn’t let them go.

When you’re at the cemetery today, look for the American flags. Think of the people buried beneath them. And if you want to remember them after today, visit your local veterans memorial. To find them in South Dakota, go to vetaffairs.sd.gov.

Next month will be the halfway point in my 12 months of walks. Got an organization, event or cause you’d like me to highlight? Post a comment with your ideas and details.

Happy Memorial Day.

 

 

When I was a kid, misbehaving could get you a swat on the butt, and mouthing off, the threat of tasting soap. It was considered discipline and the practice was fairly common among everyone we knew. We considered ourselves punished, not abused. Abuse was breaking a child’s arm, burning their hand, leaving them out in the cold with no jacket. That wasn’t happening to us.

Under the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, child abuse and neglect occurs when a parent or caretaker takes an action (or fails to take an action) that results in the death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation of a child.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and it’s why I was walking the streets this morning:

I cannot conceive of the horrific things parents are doing to their children in our world. I’ve known since I was 20 that I couldn’t have children and I’ve often wondered why God has granted that privilege to monsters that hurt, maim and kill their kids instead of to someone who would love and protect them.

Despite not being a mom, I’ve been fortunate to always have special kids in my life – nieces and nephews, the children of friends, kids I’ve come to know through where I live, work and volunteer. When I hear the terrible stories of children being neglected and abused, I think if anybody did that to a kid close to me, I would beat the hell out of them. I get the irony of that statement – punishing violence with violence. But it’s hard not to feel that an abuser deserves the same treatment they’re dishing out.

So how can we help? Pay attention to the kids you know. Watch for signs of abuse. And if you see them, report it. If you missed the numbers in my video, the National Child Abuse Hotline is 1-800-422-4453 and in South Dakota where I live, you can also call the Department of Social Services, Division of Child Protection Services, at 1-877-244-0864.

I’ve no shortage of causes to walk for in my “5K A Month” challenge for 2018, but if there’s a group, organization or event you’re passionate about, give me a shout and some information and I’ll add it to my list. Logging miles that have meaning is kind of my thing and I’m happy to help.

Some of the best times in my memory involve fire.

Relaxing with Jay beside the fire pit on our patio. Laughing with friends around a campfire. Blowing out candles on a birthday cake. The “warmth” of fire – inviting, glowing, happy.

Not the “heat” of fire – destructive, ravenous, terrifying.

I wonder which of the two a wildland firefighter thinks of when they see a flame.

I’m on month #3 of my 12 months of 5K’s to raise awareness about organizations you may not be aware of that are doing good in our world. For March, I want to tell you about a group that helps protect the people who work to protect us when the world literally goes to hell:

Fighting a wildfire seems impossible, doesn’t it? Trying to contain a roaring blaze in an area with few if any boundaries where everything is combustible. But they do it, time and time again. In a volatile world, the people holding fast the front line can make all the difference.

Want to thank them and their families? Visit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation at wffoundation.org. The organization not only offers services on a national level, they also support local events like the Run for Ruhl fundraiser coming up in May in Rapid City, SD in memory of fallen wildland firefighter Dave Ruhl.

So far my 5K quest has highlighted a program that provides travel and lodging funds for cancer patients, a center that offers education and career resources for those just starting out or starting over, and a foundation that reminds us that even the invincible can use our help. Nine months to go – who will I hit the pavement for next? I’d love to hear your suggestions!

Some years ago I was among a small group of people interviewing a woman for a job. When we asked about her computer skills, she hesitated. Then she explained that she’d been out of the workforce for a while but had been proficient in Lotus and WordPerfect at her previous job.

The interviewer across from me rolled their eyes and snorted.

That ticked me off.

We didn’t know the circumstances that had kept that woman from working. Or what had thrust her back into the job market again. But I knew it took guts for her to tell us that.

Ours is a world in which we need to keep up. Not just to get ahead but even to be where we’re at. Knowing where to get the skills you need is crucial. In my community, a good place to start is the focus of my February 5K:

The circumstances that bring people to the Right Turn vary. Maybe you’re recently divorced or widowed and need a job to support yourself and your family. Could be you’re a high school student who had trouble fitting in at a conventional school but still want a diploma. Perhaps you were raised in a home where English wasn’t spoken and having it as a second language will help you to communicate.

Nobody there will judge you. But they will empower you. Find out more at therightturn.org.

Who will I be hitting the streets for next month as my Year of 5K’s continues? I’m still undecided – what do YOU think? Drop me a comment with your suggestions.

If you ever see me running, I’m either escaping from danger or trying to get somewhere that’s closing in 5 minutes.

I’m a walker. Which is the same as a runner except it takes me longer to get there.

We all walk a certain distance every day to get from one place to another to do whatever it is we need to do. I also walk for exercise, physical and mental, mostly alone or with the dogs, but sometimes in groups to benefit causes.

Our community plays host in the spring and summer to a variety of runs and walks to benefit local organizations and events. If it’s a cause I support, I sign up, pay my fee and walk. The longest benefit walk I’ve ever done was the Breast Cancer 3-Day in St. Paul, MN, which was 60 miles walked over the course of 3 days. It’s one of the things I’m most proud of doing in my life.

Planning a walk/run takes time, money and good promotion. While many organizations do it successfully, there are other groups who could benefit from the exposure but may not have the resources. In 2018, I’ll tell you about 12 of them.

Each month this year I’m doing my own 5K to highlight one program or organization that’s doing good in our world. It’ll just be me (and whoever wants to join me) walking 3.2 miles to raise awareness. No entry fee, no tee shirts, no time limit. My first walk was this morning in 8-degree South Dakota weather with barely any wind or ice (which you’ll appreciate if you live in snow country). This is who I was walking for:

Maybe we don’t all have the opportunity to do good things on a grand scale affecting millions of people but as long as you’re upright and breathing, you have the ability to do SOMETHING. Even if that something is telling a couple of people about something good that’s going on in your corner of the world. They could tell a couple friends who tell a couple friends and so on and so on and so on. It worked for selling shampoo – why couldn’t it work for raising awareness?

If you missed it in the video, the program is the Pennies for Robert Bed and Breakfast Program through Countryside Hospice in Pierre, SD.

One month done, 11 to go. If you have an organization or event you’d like me to highlight in the coming months, drop me a comment and some information. I’m always up for a GOOD, long walk.