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Lowercase w’s

Lowercase w’s

I was having lunch with my friend Paul last week and he reminded me of something I hadn’t thought about in a long time.  Nearly 18 years ago, my husband and I had a happy, healthy baby boy.  He was perfect in every way.  Ten fingers. Ten toes.  An adorable round head.  What a happy day!  I’m sure big business deals were being made that day.  Missed those.  I bet someone got married that day.  Missed that, too.  Happy were we, nestled comfortably on Cloud Nine at Marion General Hospital and all was right with the world…until it wasn’t.  A mere week later, things weren’t going so well.  Our son wouldn’t eat and was losing weight rapidly.  Dropping five pounds might seem great to most people reading this, but it’s not great when you start life weighing in at just a tad more than that.  That’s when we learned what ‘failure to thrive’ meant and when our three-month stay at the hospital began.

Now, just so you know, the story has a happy ending.  That almost-18-year-old is in Indy today testing for his entry into the United States Army and has made us very proud parents along the way.  But, during that elongated hospital stay, the world got quiet.  One day I vividly remember looking out the window, down Euclid Avenue.  I saw cars passing, neighbors chatting, and families cycling.  I couldn’t believe how their lives were moving forward when our lives were at a standstill.  It seemed rude.  Unfair.  Life was going on without us.  I’m sure that situations like this were covered somewhere in Life’s Terms and Conditions, but I failed to read the fine print.

Today, someone’s life will be celebrated at their birthday party; others at their funeral.  Someone will get the job; someone will get fired.  Someone will get the proposal; someone will get dumped. Each of those highs and lows are happening somewhere…today.  I’ve always thought that employees at both hospitals and airports see the highest of highs and lowest of lows each day.  How wonderful would it be to witness someone from the military greet their family at the airport after a long deployment in a foreign land?  How sad to see that same family say goodbye.  Life is filled with ups and downs; laughter and tears; hope and heartache.  Every life has a backstory; some you’ll know, many you won’t.  That’s why I’ve always loved this training video that Chick-fil-a made to remind their employees that’s it’s about more than just chicken.

The point is…you just never know what someone’s going through.  So, we might as well err on the nice side.  (My friends Sara, Suzanne, and I always remarked how much we liked nice people! 😉 ) If you really think about it, it’s hard to be negative when you wake up each day with an attitude of gratitude.  And, you never know how much a smile, an open door, or an emoji-filled text message could make someone’s day.  There’s no real recipe on how to live a happy life.  But, if there was, I think having a spirit of positivity would be the secret ingredient.

After the Cubs won the World Series last year, I remember reading an article that said they had a mini-celebration in the fieldhouse after every single winning game last year.  In the spirit of positivity, they decided that they wouldn’t worry so much about flying that capital “W” that a World Series win could bring; instead, they’d only prepare for, worry about, and celebrate each lowercase “w” along the way.  They made an intentional decision to celebrate every small victory along the way.  And with that, they finally won their capital W.

Perhaps, like the Cubs, Grant County is due a victory or two.  The recent public forum announcing our collective impact initiative, Thriving Families, Thriving Grant County, is certainly a good step in an intentional direction…but not without your help.  We are seeking community input for 12 individual workgroups that will begin meeting in March.  They are:

  • Group A—Community Development Network: Qualify of Life & Place
  • Group B—Community Development Network: Leadership & Engagement
  • Group C—Community Development Network: Government Innovation & Local Control
  • Group D—Community Development Network: Entrepreneurship
  • Group E—Talent Pipeline Network: Early Childhood Age 0-8 (prenatal to 3rd grade)
  • Group F—Talent Pipeline Network: Youth Grades 4-12
  • Group G—Talent Pipeline Network: Post-secondary Completion & Retention
  • Group H—Talent Pipeline Network: Adult Education & Workforce Training
  • Group I—Thriving Families Network: Basic Needs
  • Group J—Thriving Families Network: Healthy Living
  • Group K—Thriving Families Network: Parenting
  • Group L—Thriving Families Network: Neighborhood Engagement

If you or someone you know is interested in participating in one or more of the workgroups listed, please email us at ThrivingFamilies@GiveToGrant.org and follow us on Facebook on our Thriving Families, Thriving Grant County page to keep up-to-date with our plans, progress, and all of the w’s along the way.  Once we have your contact information and group designation, we can invite you to upcoming meetings to participate.

The time is now to change Grant County’s narrative.  Everybody has a backstory…even a community.  But, we can all be intentional in making someone’s day, or our community, just a little bit better.  The collective impact model helps us to be intentional together.  Now, let’s use that teamwork to fly some w’s, both lowercase and uppercase.

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