Challenge: #spreadkindness

15 Dec

random-notes-of-kindness-2016It started as a simple challenge. Would you be willing to spread kindness to strangers by sharing simple, but impactful messages on post-it notes?

Personally, I know this works. When one of my nieces visited several years ago, she left positive notes everywhere – throughout our house, cars, and any place we visited. I remember how I felt every time I found one, too. These notes made me laugh, smile, and served as a good reminder to be proud of your choices. It also made me really proud of her, as a young adult. So, when this recent challenge popped up on social media from DreamBank Madison, my interest in sharing random notes of kindness was rekindled.

I started writing and leaving my own post-it notes on December 1, with the goal of sharing at least one every day for the entire month. Sounds easy, right? Well, remembering to post a random note can be a bigger challenge than expected. Finding a special spot, then “getting away with it,” are the exciting parts of the challenge!

It is now December 15, and I have left a positive post-it note or two (or three) every day since the beginning of the month. If you are looking, you may find #randomnotesofkindness in gas station bathrooms across Wisconsin, in various places around the Kohl Center in Madison, at the customer check-out in the McFarland Walgreen’s, and most recently in several spots at the Great Dane in Fitchburg. It’s gratifying to do, but the best part is hearing the reactions: a giggle, an “awww,” and maybe even an unspoken spark re -ignited. I will keep this going and share an update as we start the new year.

It feels right.

And if it feels right for you — join me. And let me know how your effort to #spreadkindness works out for you.


Help write how it ends: #WeNeedTheAT

25 Jan

The conference call was expected, but by the time I hung up, it hit me:  journalism has always been part of my DNA. And while I started this blog several years ago as a place to collect and easily share the writing of my post-television news career, I (fortunately) became so busy, blogging fell to the bottom of the priority list. But an important issue needs attention, and I’ve rebooted my blog with hopes of writing the storybook ending.

Do you remember – what placed you on the path to where you are today? We all have those defining moments; where you can see the possible direction of your journey. Mine displayed signs of “future journalist” a long time ago, and here’s a few formative examples:

  1. watching the news with my family as a kid, and discussing some of the events of the day
  2. revealing in an 8th grade autobiographical paper, “I want to be a news reporter when I grow up”
  3. enjoying a current events class in high school focused on issues in the news, and earning an “A”
High School Newspaper and Staff List

Our high school newspaper, “Equus,” along with the staff listing (I was the news editor for this particular semester) 

Some steps in what became a long road, yet it’s what initially led me to work on our school newspaper and yearbook. By my senior year, enough students were interested, and volunteer efforts became part of a credited publications class. We learned the finer points of interviewing, writing, editing, lay-out, and even developing photos. Seeing your name in a print by-line was beyond exciting! But there was something more to it. Maybe it was realizing you had to earn the right to tell someone’s story, or dig to tell it fairly, or understand you could make a difference through journalism.

The Advance-Titan holiday edition included this photo and staff listing for the semester

The Advance-Titan holiday edition included this photo and staff listing for the semester (I am in the second row, behind the guy wearing the star glasses)

This interest carried into college, where I majored in Radio-TV-Film, and minored in journalism and political science at U.W. Oshkosh. I joined the Advance-Titan (A-T) staff, and for four semesters was part of a wonderful newspaper team. We were using real-world skills to put together a product we were not only proud of, but knew would also open doors to a job.

Along with working on the paper, I was also featured in it a few times, including as part of a review written about “The New Music Show.” It was a Titan-TV project, and all-student produced, which meant lighting, sound, and camera crews — working as though it were a live show. The bands were booked, but usually didn’t have time for more than a single shoot, and as one of the hosts, it demanded time, talent, and a lot of energy. Some of my favorite people on campus recently found this review in the A-T archives, and shared it with me. Evidence of my love of music and media, colliding on the pages of our school’s newspaper!


UWO save the AT story about The New Music Show

A-T review on one of the Titan-TV productions I hosted, “The New Music Show,” and recently found in the archives(I am on the show’s set, left side of the bottom photo)

It’s a long-time success story, yet could this be where it ends? The conference call was informative, the A-T had fallen on hard times, and needed support. A donation-matching challenge was recently issued, but the deadline was hard, and fast approaching. Thinking back to the hard work, the hands-on learning, the fun – I wouldn’t be where I am without it – and future journalists may no longer have this opportunity?

Will you join me to help write the way this story ends? Please make your gift, today:









Freedoms not being taken for granted..

5 Nov
(Note:  This story was first published in the print-only version of the Wisconsin State Journal, Neighbors section for November, 2012.) 
The Presidential campaign ads seem non-stop.
But there’s one Madison man I recently met who is paying attention to all the commercials, along with taking time to do his own research on both of the candidates.  He wants to know how the election may impact the dreams he has for his life.
Semere is a proud American citizen

Semere is a proud American citizen

Semere and I first spoke when he came into the radio station newsroom.  I was monitoring one of the national convention speeches; he was there to collect the garbage and vacuum.  I looked up from my notes to say hello and he asked about my interest in the campaign.  I told him as a long-time journalist, I didn’t feel I should share an opinion, but explained I’ve always been interested in the politics surrounding our government and the process of picking our leaders.  Then I asked for his thoughts.

Turns out, Semere came to the U.S. 11 years ago to find and live the “American Dream.”  It hasn’t been easy and much of his family still resides in his homeland of Ethiopia.  He’s lived and worked in various places, eventually finding a job with a cleaning company in the Madison area.
He is also proud.
Very proud to be a citizen of the country he calls the greatest on earth.
This is when I stopped tracking the words of those speaking on the big stage– and instead, listened to what he had to say about it.
Semere doesn’t understand why this great country is lagging when it comes to the economy and what he feels is a huge divide between the rich and the poor.
Yet, he says there is nowhere he’d rather be.
And while he is undecided about his choice for President, he says he sets aside time each day to learn more about the men running for this important office and where each stands on issues he considers critical.
I asked Semere if he is surprised so many people here choose not to vote.  He says he is, especially since residents in some other countries end up being killed while trying to go to the polls.  And he feels he will never take this privilege for granted.  He then says he also shouldn’t take his work for granted– and wishes me a nice evening as he moves on to the next room.
It is truly one of the best discussions I’ve ever had regarding an election, and in particular, this one.
And Semere is also one of the best reminders about what it means to have the freedom to work toward living what you define as your own “American Dream.”
By the way, I ran into Semere again a few weeks after our first chat.  We talked briefly about the upcoming election and I also asked if he was enjoying his job.  It’s when I learned he no longer works for the company hired to clean at the radio station.
He owns it.