Connector Beth

Non-profit professional. Care deeply about family, friends and community. Love to problem-solve. Love to laugh. Love to read. Love to learn.


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Easter, Other Holidays, and the Love My Parents Have Always Given Us

Two things about me. First, I grew up in a very traditional Christian family. Secondly, my parents always provided fun and magic (for lack of a better word) to us, no matter what.

Several years, during Dad’s active-duty Air Force gigs, we moved or traveled a lot. Often, these trips or adventures coincided with religious holidays.

We went to church every Sunday (and sometimes on Wednesdays; we siblings always attended evening services or youth groups), no matter where we lived. (And, every summer, we attended up to three weeks of Vacation Bible School, but that’s for another blog post….)

The churches we attended were always Protestant, but the denominations occasionally changed – from ELCA (Lutheran), to Methodist, to Baptist, to Evangelical. Sometimes, we attended services at multiple churches, of multiple backgrounds, during a single week. And – sometimes – my family provided the musical portion of the service (singing, piano, and/or other instruments).

Tonight, the night before Easter, I remember how we always had treats on Easter morning. Mom was the architect of this, but Dad was always supportive.

In other words, the Easter Bunny ALWAYS found out where we were and made sure to leave treats for us.

Consistency is important for kids. It’s important for them to know that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny (or whatever other mythical, yet amazing and strong characters) know how to find them, no matter where they are. Huge kudos and props to my parents for recognizing this!

A couple examples of consistency on our Easter mornings, thanks to the Easter Bunny (or, my parents? Can anyone prove the complete truth?):

  • The year we were on Jekyll Island, Georgia. We attended a sunrise church service on the beach. Those in charge of the services placed three crosses in the sand exactly where they would be lit up by the rising sun. That year, the Easter Bunny brought our gifts in Frisbees. Amazingly enough, this allowed us to all throw the Frisbees on the beach that afternoon.
  • The year we were in Virginia Beach, VA. Our rental cottage was just a few houses from the beach, where we found baby sharks and baby stingrays. Church was traditional, but the Easter Beagle “sniffed us out, because he knew where to find us” and left us treats while we were gone.
  • The year we were in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. That year, the Easter Badger found us! It was awesome.

Another (random) note….. Among other yummy treats and items, the Easter Bunny (or whatever animal appropriate to the terrain) always left my sisters and me a new pair of nylons, to wear to church with our Sunday-best dresses.

Cheers to my parents, for always making us feel comfortable and safe, no matter where we were.


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We Weep Tonight For A Man Who Made Us Laugh

Wait, what? Robin Williams is dead? What? And it was suicide, death by his own hand? What?

That seems to be the reaction we all had today, the reaction of people across the country. We can’t believe that one of our heroes, our laugh-makers, our comedians, our connectors…. is dead. And we really can’t believe that he is dead by his own hand.

But that’s what the news people are saying. And that’s what’s being reported on all sorts of news outlets. And that’s the information that is flying around the social media world. ROBIN WILLIAMS IS DEAD AND IT APPEARS TO BE SUICIDE.

We are stunned. We take a deep breath when we see the breaking news. We can’t wrap our minds around it. Because, we say,……. why would he, of all people, take his own life? Why would he, one of the funniest people we know, take his own life? Why would he, a person who everyone LOVED so much, take his own life? Why would someone so loved take his own life? The questions will probably never be fully answered.

We are all stunned. We have no words, no answers. Our social media sites are lighting up like so many fireflies. We are sad.

What we do know is that our comedian friend and hero had been battling depression. And we do know that’s a significant factor that often leads to suicide. It doesn’t make our loss any easier, though. And it definitely doesn’t make any losses we may have suffered of people closer to us any easier.

But, we do know that depression is an illness that can strike any of us at any time. So, what can we do about that, especially since it might mean that we lose fewer loved ones, or heroes, or both? 

It’s both easy and hard…. We can listen. We can ask questions. We can pray/meditate/do yoga. We can call for help when we or someone we love needs help.

I thought I had a good handle on this post. Then I read the FB post of my son, which showed me that all of us collectively, and across generations, are mourning… not just those of us who remember “Mork and Mindy.”

My son said,”Robin Williams taught us all so many life lessons growing up, through his characters and through himself. For those we will be forever honored and grateful. What did he teach you?” And his friend Tom replied that Robin Williams said, “I used to think the worst feeling was feeling alone. But the truth is the worst is being with people who make you feel alone.”

And then Tom told his FB family, “So I have amazing friends who fight that. And make me laugh and love life daily.”

What a legacy from a funny man, a man who made us laugh until we cried tears of joy. And whose death today made us cry tears of sorrow and of pain. RIP, Robin Williams. And may our wish be that no one else is so sad they end their own lives.

 

 


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In Case You Didn’t Know It, Networking Is Really Important…

So y’all…. .don’t know if you knew this, but I happen to be the Queen (or at least the Duchess) of Networking in southeast Minnesota….. AKA….. A stranger is just a friend I haven’t met.

For the purposes of this post, please take a few minutes to read what I have written, then feel free to come up with your own conclusions…. 🙂

This has always been my creed, my strength, my motto……

Gallup (you know, the people who publish all those polls….) put together something called the Strengths Finder several years ago. I took their online test. My biggest strength – no surprise to those who know me – was Win Others Over (WOO)….. in other words, I am the person that sits next to you on the 2-hour airplane ride and learns your entire life story by the time we land. 

Some people have criticized me for this, have called me “bossy” and “intrusive.” Funny, though, I am neither. In fact, I would prefer to retreat into reading a book or a magazine on the afore-mentioned flight. But that doesn’t usually happen. Generally, people want to be heard, or understood, or known.

So, often, it takes only a couple simple questions like, “How are you doing? Where are you travelling?” for people to open up and completely dump their guts, for lack of a better phrase…..

Sometimes, I really don’t want to hear people’s sacred and deep stories. Most of the time, though, I do….. 

In 2007, I was named the Spirit of Winona, a huge honor from several local businesses, organizations, etc. – it was based on my efforts of helping our community recover from a violent flash flood…… During that time, I had many opportunities to reflect on how important relationships are and how important networking is.

And the answer is….. “Relationships are Key, No Matter What You Do.”

Fast-forward a couple years to when our son joined an international student organization…. he came home during spring break and said – with a straight face – “Mom, I don’t know if you know this, but networking is very important.” Yes, I earnestly agreed with him, and only started laughing hysterically about 10 minutes later. Son and I still agree – with rueful laughter and grins – that this is important.

And, fast-forward again to today….. son sent me a link to a free webinar about how to make 6 figures in your consulting business. Of course, this is something I would be interested in – I hope and want to be successful in my new business of consulting for and with non-profit organizations!!! – so I dutifully signed up, and logged in. 

The great thing about webinars is that they can play on your computer while you accomplish other tasks. Good thing I did that yesterday…… the webinar about “Making 6 Figures While You Sleep” (or something)….. told me, after 51 minutes of my life (while I was making to-do lists and e-mailing people I wanted to connect with)…. that building relationships is the key to building a business.

Wow! I am so impressed… that I have actually held this key to success myself, for all these years! The great news is that I hold this key, and that I don’t have to start from scratch. And, son Nic, thank you for being so honest and earnest with me during your early AIESEC years!

Don’t get me wrong… I am grateful for the opportunity to take part in this free webinar…. Overall, though, it will be fantastic when I am able to truly start trusting myself and my instincts when it comes to my business of helping non-profit organizations become even more successful in what they are doing to help their clients and to improve our communities…..

 


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Batter Up! (Cue Up My Most-Loved Summer Sound.)

(Up-front disclaimer: My least-loved summer sound is that of tornado sirens wailing. That eerie sound punches me in the gut. Every single time.)

My most-loved summer sound – on the other hand – is happy, and simple: baseball games on the radio.

Tonight, I’m so glad to listen to the Major League Baseball’s (MLB) All-Star Game on the radio. Sure, I could stay inside the house and watch it on TV. But that wouldn’t be quite the same. To be authentic, in my memory, means I need to listen to it – or hear it in the distance – on the radio.

We are not, and never were, a sports-oriented family. But, we always loved our baseball.

My brother played this game for several years (and was really good at it!); my dad LOVED it. The rest of us grew to enjoy it as a great summer past-time.

One of my first – and most long-lasting – summer sounds is baseball games being broadcast on the car radio, as we traveled through various cities and states.The radio also played the games as background in the various places (on the deck, in the backyard, etc.) we lived as I was growing up.

During my middle-school years, we lived about an hour outside of Baltimore, MD. So, of course, we were Orioles fans. We often made the trek to Baltimore to see them play. This was in the grand days of Brooks Robinson, etc. A favorite childhood photo is that of my brother with Mr. Robinson, while he was signing a baseball my brother brought him.

If we didn’t go to the game, but were driving somewhere, Dad would play it on the radio. Remember the days of the station wagon, and the way-back? Those of us in the way-back would drift off to sleep with the sound of the game lulling us off to slumber.

Mom liked going to the games, but she found them a little tedious. So she would knit something during the game… scarves, afghans, whatever. She could pay attention to the game, and to all of us, and keep herself busy at the same time.

The year we spent an autumnal week in New England was amazing. Not only did we get to partake in our country’s foundings (and yummy food!), the World Series was happening. I remember a couple nights in hotels; the lights would be out, we would all be drifting off to sleep, and Dad would have the TV on, watching the World Series games. A memory I will never forget, or never give up.

A little later, when we moved back to Fargo, we spent a lot of time at our family’s lake place. The Lake, The Mythical Lake….. Always, the radio broadcasts of the baseball games were part of our background noise. We always got a daily newspaper at the lake. Mom and Dad used it as a way (a fun way, for us back then!) to teach math. Looking at the baseball team standings, we would always wonder…. how many games will the Twins need to win to be in first place? What about the Orioles? I remember many mornings looking at the paper and trying to figure this out, while eating a bowl of freshly picked blueberries or peaches, covered with cream and sugar.

What makes tonight’s All-Star Game so special to us is that it is in Minneapolis, the hometown/home-city we have all adopted over the years. This is the first time it has been played there since 1985 (the year Bill and I graduated from college, and got married). They have done it in a grand fashion…… all the events leading up to the game, today’s parade, etc. Tonight, they had Idina Menzel (from “Frozen… Let it Go” fame) sing a ballad to the rock-star teachers picked by each team (“Forever Young,” by Minnesota legend Bob Dylan) and the National Anthem, followed by an Air Force flyover.

Really, it doesn’t get much better than this. Hope the best team wins. More importantly, though, hope everyone (teams, fans, friends) has a wonderful mid-summer experience.


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Have Fun. Be Good. Stay Safe.

These are six very short words. They encompass all we care about when dealing with our adolescent and young adult children….

I tried for a long time to figure out the best way to send our son and his friends off for the evening, for a weekend adventure, for a mission trip, to college, etc, without placing un-needed( or -wanted!) guilt or angst on them, while at the same time letting them know how much we care about them. These six words seemed to always cover our concerns and communicate our wishes for wonderful adventures for the kiddos.

Have Fun……. have splendid adventures, our kids! We hope and want you to have great times and amazing discoveries. You don’t need to share all the details with us (unless, of course, you choose to)…. but we want you to explore and make memories.

Be Good…… don’t do things that will land you in hot water or legal trouble (among other things), dear ones. Don’t make choices that are harmful, dangerous, or illegal. It’s simply not worth it. Pushing the boundaries…… as long as it’s age-appropriate, that’s one thing. Beyond that….don’t do things that will jeopardize your health or future.

Stay Safe…. this is the most important one. As you are making your way through your life adventures, please take care of yourselves and each other. Be diligent about safety – whether it is recreational, outdoors-adventures-related, relationship-related… I could go on and on, but you don’t need me to. You know what I am talking about. Make sure everyone around you is safe. No experience is worse than a parent getting a phone call from law enforcement officials, informing them of something horrible that has happened to their child.

My community of adults salutes our community of the young adults we care about and love. Don’t forget…. we have been in the same place as you, even if it seems like a million years ago to you. But we worked hard, made sure we made good choices….. and, in the end, we were rewarded by having you as our children! Life is so good……

So in closing, my dear young friends…. Have Fun. Be Good. Stay Safe. Tonight, tomorrow, and every day……