Sunday, December 3, 2017

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree...

I subscribe to the philosophy, "Anything worth doing is worth over-doing."
When I signed up in July for my third Run Santa Run 5K, I opted to run in the new costume - a Christmas tree. The race fee includes a shirt and hat/headgear to fit each costume. The event, held the first Saturday of December in Madison, draws a large crowd to Capitol Square.

Other costume options included elf, reindeer or Santa. I ran as a reindeer my first year. In my second, I tried snowman. Each year I embellished a bit, adding a blinking red nose to play Rudolph and a snowman print dress, snowman jingle bell earrings, a scarf and an orange (carrot) nose my second time out.
Inspired by the creative costumes of others from my first two years of participating, I decided to bring it this year.

I went full Christmas tree. 

Or as close as I could get. 

Who knew that the brown leggings I sought (to represent a tree trunk) would be so hard to find?
I opted for candy cane striped socks. 
Or that the race shirt for the tree costume would be white?
I bought a tree costume online, complete with a gold star on top and round "ornaments." Then I added gold garland and two battery operated LED light strings. 
I secured the garland and lights to the costume with safety pins, and stuffed the star topper with plastic bags to try to keep it upright. Wearing the tree hat included with the race package also helped me keep it up. I wormed my way into the costume, asked for help from my friend to adjust it and turned on the light packs.

When one appears in public dressed up, the best option is to just own it. I smiled and greeted those who smiled back. 
We swapped holiday greetings or I thanked them for complimenting my costume. I accepted high fives, and loved it when another race participant, passing me on State Street long after the run ended, told me, "You won today." A barista at Starbucks, where we stopped for a post-race refreshment, told me that I really knew how to light up a room. My favorite reactions came from children. Their eyes would get wide, and some would tug on their mom or dad's hand to point me out. I received a few shy smiles, a some cute little waves. I distributed holiday-themed wristbands to children participating in the race.
There are those who pretended not to see me, and I suspect they may be inured to the spectacles common to State Street.
State Street offers such an amazing window on humanity, bringing together people of different races, ethnicities, gender identification, spiritual beliefs and more.
There are coffee bars, candy stores, shops offering funky and unique items, and great bars and restaurants offering cuisines not found in the small town where I live. One also runs into people who are down on their luck, too many who appear to live on the street.

So when several thousand people showed up in costume for a fun run, they fit right in.

Now, I acknowledge that part of my personality is attention seeking. It falls in with my horoscope sign- Leo. That side of my personality wars with my inner introvert, who would prefer to be a wallflower (or just stay home and read.)
Fourteen years at my former job helped me tamp down that more introverted side and learn to embrace meeting new people. I still talk to strangers, offering sincere compliments.

I've battled depression and anxiety for most of my life. Accepting that faulty brain chemistry causes many of my emotional swings helps. So do the meds that help keep those swings on more of an even keel. I learned to accept and love myself and all my quirks, and discovered the best weapon when fighting darkness.


I embrace the weird, and try to find ways to bring smiles. I soak in positive energy and do my best to radiate it back out as joy.
Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Delayed humble brag

My work earned several awards from the Wisconsin Newspaper Association's Better Newspaper Contest. The awards were announced on Feb. 24.
Citizen staff earns awards

My feature story, "Saving grace" earned a second place award.
Saving Grace

I submitted three Lifestyles issues: January 30-31, 2016; March 12-13, 2016; and July 9-10, 2016. I serve as the features editor, and Lifestyles has been my responsibility since 2009, so it was lovely to see the section earn second place. I can't share the full issues here, but can include links to stories and columns that ran in those issues.
Capturing the light
Bicycle tour helps tell a story

Please pick up after pets

Early childhood educators offer advice
School offers childcare
Athlete serves as inspiration

I submitted these three columns, which received third place:
Five years gone by
Great educators inspire students
Make a reading resolution

 For the first 10 years on the job, I did not submit entries to the contest because I am my own worst critic. While the best feedback for my work is a response from the subject of the story, other journalists serve as the judges for the contest, and it feels good to be recognized by my peers.