Talks too much. Gabby. Chatty. Loquacious. These are all words and expressions that have been used to describe me from the very young age of four. My mom boasts that I was talking in three and four word sentences before I was ten months old. Some say it’s the gift of gab while others simply think I talk too much. It’s no surprise then that I stand before you at a Toastmasters meeting.
I’m the wife of a Soldier, a winner, an author, and a baker. I’ve been in the military my whole life, I was born in and now I’m married in. Dave and I moved to Auburn in 2003 and we love it here. Shortly after we got settled in, I had Mason and in the same month, Dave got the call that he was being deployed to Iraq. To say it was a tough time would be putting it mildly. But being the optimistic sort, I put my sights on Dave’s homecoming and thought about what I could do with him while he was deployed. In our early telephone calls, Dave asked me to send him new release movies. “Are you crazy?” I asked him. I couldn’t afford to spend $24.99 every Tuesday on a new movie. The problem, Dave explained was that the movies that were available to him to watch, had to be viewed in the MWR (Morale, Welfare & Recreation) tent. He couldn’t take a movie back to his bunk and relax. I contacted Pat and Tom at KNCI country radio station and with News 10, Starbucks and Tower Records we launched Operation New Release, sending thousands of DVD’s, CD’s, and video games to Dave’s unit in Iraq. As the media was collected and sent over, Dave worked with his Battalion to put up a tent and build some shelves to create a rental station for Soldiers to check out a movie or CD, take it to their bunk to watch it, and return it to check out another. It was operated using the honor system and it worked! It worked so well, that the MWR facility at the nearby larger base, asked if they could take control and operate the shop. The answer was yes as long as they let the Soldiers take the media back to their bunk. What started out as a grass roots movement to get new movies and music to Dave, turned into a media library for all branches of the service from all over the world to use.
Having worked on ONR and knowing how important getting mail was to Dave, I realized that the time had come to resurrect a project I worked on nearly ten years ago. I’ve always been a talker, story teller and writer and I wrote a book called Creative and Memorable Ways to Keep in Touch. I’m the kind of person that sends little gifts through the mail. A few of my favorites are the classic care package, the “what if I won the lottery” letter, and even a comic each day for an entire week ending with the full color Sunday strip. We live in a world of instant this and immediate that and it seems to me that we need to touch each other more. When you send something through the mail, it has “you” on it. When it arrives, you arrive, too! I’ve written other things as well, like industry columns, company policy and procedure manuals, a weekly e-mail column for the last 10 years called The Monday Motivator, I manage multiple blogs, and many stories for Chicken Soup for the Soul. Speaking of chicken soup, I think what’s better for a cold is cookies!
I’m a baker but not so much with bread, I bake cookies and cakes. I worked as a cake decorator for years when I was first out of high school. I loved learning the tricks of the trade like freezing cake before you ice it. It makes it nice and firm so it’s easier to slice, fill, and ice and it actually makes your cake moister when it thaws out. Decorating cakes was a great way to feed my creative urges in addition to making a living. As I moved on in my life and on to other careers, I’ve found that my baking and decorating skills have served me in other ways, most notably as a mom. My mom always made lots and lots of Christmas cookies. When I was old enough to help her, my favorites were the kinds we cut out with cookie-cutters and then decorated with colored icing. It’s no surprise that now Mason loves to decorate cookies with me, the big difference is in our tool and techniques. My mom made basic butter cream icing and we would spread it on the cookies with a butter knife. The icing never got hard so you couldn’t stack the cookies or even let them touch each other. The butter knife didn’t allow much in the way of detail, either. Mason knows how to drive a pastry bag, when to use dragees and when simple sprinkles are better, and he knows that a little meringue powder in our icing makes it “set” so we can wrap, stack, or pack our cookie masterpieces for gifts. All of this information is really great, but nothing is as good as winning the praise of a 5 year old who boasts to all who will listen that his mom makes the prettiest cookies on our street! Has he seen anyone else’s cookies? I don’t know but winning Mason’s praise is right on target with the last 25 years of winning I’ve come to know. I win things.
I have an incredible history of winning things, primarily on the radio, but in drawings, all kinds of contests, and I even won a winning lottery ticket. People who know this about me often ask me how I do it. I tell them I win because I intend to win. I know I can, I play, I see myself being the right caller, or ticket number and I win. But don’t misunderstand, winning is like success, you don’t win every time and you have to play to even have a chance. You can’t succeed in business if you don’t set up shop or open your doors. Same same with winning. You can’t win that CD or those concert tickets if you are not listening and calling in when it’s time. I’ve won many things through the years that include trips to Hawaii, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Mexico. I’ve won skis, dinners, expensive hand bags, backstage Meet & Greet passes with many artists, special events, and the list goes on and on. I’ve met Don Cheadle and had lunch with George Clooney, and one of my favorites, I was in studio with Sammy Hagar. That one took 10 years to pull off! I even won in my sleep once! Honest to goodness, I did! By far my biggest and best prize, the one that can never be beat is the day I won my husband on the radio. Dave called the radio station with an extra concert ticket and no date. He thought he was going to get to play a dating game and instead, he got me! That was in April of 1996, one of my luckiest days. I’ve been telling that story and talking about it ever since, lots of other things, too, but that one is a repeater…like me, it keeps going, and going, and going! Talks too much? Maybe. Has something to say? Definitely!