Monday, October 17, 2011

Published in...

Fall edition of her magazine for women! The issue is a bonus to all Courier-Times subscribers.

The Courier-Times is my hometown paper.  Many years ago, before I ever went to school to study writing, I whipped out a column and submitted it to the woman who would become my editor.  My first piece for her was about a live nativity scene put on by my church.  As it often is in December in Indiana, it was bitterly cold that night.  I wore a white choir robe over bluejeans and hiking boots and sweatshirt.  I thought the angelic robe would be long but as it was, it ended far above the hiking boots.  I flapped my "wings" and sang the words to "I'll fly away oh, glory!" 
The nativity scene was a hopeless failure.  Few cars came, fewer people got out of the cars that drove by to come to see us in our effort.  We made jokes akin to "if a tree falls in the woods..." changing the words to "if we have a living nativity and no one comes..."  Near the end of the evening, a young mother came, her little daughter by the hand.  We all fell silent as we watched them approach.  The look on the little girl's face told the story.  She looked to Baby Jesus (a plastic doll wrapped in a receiving blanket).  Her face was enraptured, looking to the scene before her.  Suddenly the cold of night, the too-short choir robe, the frozen fingers and noses mattered.  It mattered to a small girl as she looked on with belief on her face.

This was my first story for my hometown paper.  Back then, I probably scribbled it long-hand on a yellow legal pad and handed it to my editor.  Fortunately for me, she loved it.  And, soon after, she believed in me enough to offer me a column. 

I was newly divorced and feeling kicked about by life.  I had taken my two children and moved from the nice house we lived in with their dad to a rental.  We lived in the downstairs and the landlord lived upstairs.  He was a drug dealer.  A drug dealer who partied a lot.  When he partied to the extent that he woke my sleeping two year old son,I asked to be released from my lease and he agreed.  While living in that house I was approached by the police to give descriptions of those buying drugs.  I had refused.  We were in danger.  We moved back into the neighborhood that I had grown up in and lived in a simple, nice rental for the rest of my children's growing up years.  My children ended up going to the same school that I had gone to.
I say all of this to show in those years, my life was not easy.

But this woman, my editor, believed in me.  Everything I've ever written for her she enthusiastically accepted.  She and I slowly got to know one another and became friends.  I watched her as she frequently mailed letters to another friend.  I envied the friendship that the two shared and how often the editor wrote to her.  I would learn later that the friend was her mother.  I felt this told so much about her.  That all of the letters that I saw addressed to this woman in her curved, rounded script was her mother.  I thought it was beautiful how frequently she wrote to her and mailed fat envelopes.

The editor, whose name is Donna, gave me so many opportunities.  I once had a front page story.  I remember the day that paper came out.  I picked up my children from daycare and sat with the paper before me, staring at the by-line.  My name.  My words. 

A recent opportunity Donna gave to me was to interview the author of Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson.  I had read the book and gushed to her about how much I loved the story.  When Mortenson came to Indianapolis, Donna asked me to do the interview and to write the piece on him.  I was nervous to the point of being sick, but thrilled beyond belief. 

Through the years I would go on to work for another paper, to finish a degree in English, to move to another town.  When I left the newspaper that Donna worked for, she and I began to write letters.  The envelopes flew back and forth between us.  We both have always had a lot to say.  Then we both got on the Internet.  Oh dear.  The emails have been constant. 

Recently, the hometown paper, The Courier-Times, started a magazine for women called her.  It was given to Donna.  The second issue came out today and I have a story in it.  The story is about you.  It is about the relationships and friendships that come out of blogging.  I will share it with you, soon. 
Donna is a journalist who has never lost her drive.  One of the things I love about her is her inquisitive mind.  She is always thinking about that next story.  She is always asking questions.  She has never lost her excitement for each and every piece she has ever done.  She was one of those people who knew early in life what she wanted to be when she grew up and she went after it. 
She had always encouraged others.  She has always encouraged me and she has always encouraged a lot of other people.  She has always believed in me.  I have always been appreciative of all that she has helped to happen in my life. 
Today the second edition of her comes out.  The bonus is today is Donna's birthday. 
Whenever I've introduced Donna as "my editor," she has said "friend." 
Happy Birthday, friend!


ain't for city gals said...

The thing I like best about blogging is that I have "met" so many women that encourage one another. Like your friend did for you...everyone needs someone to believe in them

Sandy, Sisters of Season said...

Hi Cheryl, Your first story about the nativity scene was beautiful . . very special. I'm excited for you, wow your own column. God's blessings on you with this new adventure. Sandy:O)

Donna said...

I am speechless.
And humbled by your kind words.
How can I thank you enough? For years of your columns, articles, emails, wonderful conversations, time, energy — all of that, yes.
But most of all, thank you for being MY friend. And for believing in ME. You'll never know how much it meant when I came to New Castle to work and besides the two people who hired me and knew my work from a sister paper, I knew no one. I was taking a job that was vacated by a very popular, vivacious lifetime local resident who was moving on to another job. WHO was I? Could I do the job?
You were probably the first person to tell me that I could and that I was doing it -- dare I say it -- well? I sure needed to hear that and I sure needed a friend.
Twenty-two years later, I'm proud to be your "editor" but much happier still to be your friend.
Love you. Donna


I can relate to this so much on so many levels. I have a BFF that I've written letters to once a week for the past twenty-five years. The two of us are seperated by many miles and have maintained our friendship this way out of necessity. I find snail mail so much more gratifying than email. I too was a writer for a hometown paper until I got laid off. I remember fondly my first assignment and article, and all the pieces that followed. I have found a new home online, blogging. But I never had a mentor and friend like you found in your editor. That makes for a unique relationship. It's a wonderful thing. You both are blessed. May the bonds you share last forever. I look forward to reading more of your stuff.

Joan said...

Congratulations to you and yo Donna too. =)

Kris said...

Oh Cheryl, what a wonderful story!!! I have always been interested in writing. What a thrill to get to live your dream. And what a wonderful thing, that you had someone like your friend Donna, who believed in you. Isn't that what so many of us really wants? Your wrote this post beautifully. Truly...beautifully!

msdebbiea said...

Love this post! You are so deserving my friend. . .cannot wait to read the article! Love you~Me

Brian Miller said...

nice...back when i first started blogging i never would have guessed the people that i would meet and what they mean to me....good stuff...i agree we all need someone to believe in us...

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