Feel-Good Story of the Year

With so much negativity in the news these days — everything from Putin’s invasion of Ukraine to Will Smith’s bitch-slap-heard-‘round-the-world—it’s rare but refreshing to read something positive.

Writing something positive is even better.

I don’t often get that opportunity. I’m not saying the articles I write for CenturyCo aren’t informative or entertaining. Profiling a children’s book author, teaching people how to avoid becoming cybercrime victims, and sharing the history of a B&B assembled from a Sears-Roebuck kit on the South Dakota prairie 100 years ago are all interesting in their own way. But calling them uplifting would be a stretch.

So, when the opportunity arose to share the story of a Lakota teenager who won a national 4-H award, was named state rodeo queen two years in a row, volunteers at a vet clinic, owns and operates a coffee shop on the reservation to help raise money for her college expenses, mentors youth across the state, and was recognized as an outstanding role model by a South Dakota congressman, I jumped at the chance.

It turned out to be one of my favorite articles I’ve ever done. Her accomplishments are inspiring and speaking with her was an honor. She was enthusiastic, funny, smart, respectful, and outgoing. This girl is going places.

We featured her on the cover of our March newsletter, which was mailed to 33,000 subscribers and shared across social media. The outpouring of feedback and support has been phenomenal. Kinda blew me away, actually. Her story quickly became our most liked and shared Facebook post ever. The best part? One of our readers was so moved, he stopped by our office to deliver a cashier’s check to help pay for some of her college tuition costs, which I promptly forwarded to the family. Much to their delight.

“We need to make more of an effort to share stories of the Lakota people,” he said, and I could not agree more. Living in a city where 12% of the population identifies as Native American, and social and cultural issues frequently make headlines (often for the wrong reasons), I am cognizant of that need and want to do my part whenever possible. Which is why I’m so proud of this article. It’s a great feeling to be involved in creating something that touched so many people, corny as that may sound.

And to think I once worked in a soul-crushing call center job explaining to angry members why their health insurance claims were denied while barely earning minimum wage and wondering whether the quickest route from my cubicle on the sixth floor to the lobby might be a leap out the window instead of the elevator. How far I have come.

The only downside is, how do I top a story like this one?! Our next newsletter, in May, will feature an angus bull sale. I’ve got no beef with that, but I’ll bet you three bitcoin no politician is going to be raving about a cattle auction on the floor of the South Dakota State Capitol building.  

I was originally supposed to attend the sale in April, but my schedule that week is already full. And honestly, the idea of a six-hour roundtrip drive to see a bunch of cattle get auctioned off didn’t sound particularly enticing. Since we already have one staff member and a photographer going, I suggested to my supervisor that my time would be better spent in the office, and she agreed.

I really dodged a bull-it there.

Can I just say I’m in awe of my wife’s craftiness? She may not know how to get dressed properly, but by god, she can turn something drab and uninspiring into a creative showpiece. Take this beat-up old black trunk we had in the guestroom.

“I want to change that up,” Tara said one day.

My idea of changing something up means lugging it to the dump and buying a nicer, newer replacement. Hers involves fabric and scissors and paint and Mod Podge.

Other than helping her haul down the trunk, I wasn’t too involved. While she spent a week’s worth of evenings down in the basement working on the transformation, my ass was parked on the recliner watching Dateline and Naked and Afraid, because of my affinity for true crime and true nudity. So, when she declared yesterday that she’d finished her project and needed my help bringing it back upstairs, I was quite surprised to see how beautiful it turned out.

Yes, by the way, that is a crazy number of plants. And it’s only the tip of the iceberg. But I’ve already discussed Tara’s houseplant obsession.

Can’t wait to see what she decides to “change up” next.

34 thoughts on “Feel-Good Story of the Year

  1. I love that, and I’m inspired. You read all these articles about the increasing percent of high school graduates that don’t have proficiency in reading, of increased violence, bullying, and apathy, and then comes a story like yours about this awesome young lady, and you just feel 2″ taller and happy and that there’s hope! I used to read about the winners (or runners up, they’re still amazing 🙂 ) of the Regeneron Science Talent Search just to see what magnificent young folks are out there. Your story is spectacular all around.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I’m glad you were inspired, too. Young people get a bad rap, so it’s nice to share something positive. Makes me feel a little better about the future being in good hands after all.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That trunk is almost as beautiful as your Lakota teen cover story.

    It is nice to hear an inspiring Indigenous woman instead of the South Dakota hotel that refused to allow Native Americans to stay there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And that’s exactly the “wrong headlines” I was referring to. Luckily, one racist old white woman is not indicative of the city as a whole. She’s been vilified by the entire community and I doubt the hotel will be able to weather the controversy.


  3. What a great story. Good thing that teen is going places and can be a possible treasure trove of stories to come! Which also reminds me of the trunk which does look like a treasure trove in and of itself now. Good work, Tara!

    And as always, you had me laughing – “dodged a bull-it” and “I’ve got no beef with that” being my favorites!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Stories like this are inspiring and wonderful and I bet there are so many more teens/young adults doing the same sort of things and we’ll never know. There’s hope…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yep, the world needs to take a break from all the bad things going on right now. Oh, how to hit pause. Thanks for sharing something positive.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Tara did an amazing job on that trunk. I especially like the trim. The Indigenous people are the most overlooked and downtrodden Americans.I’m glad your story gave her some well deserved attention.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t believe how detailed she got with the trim. Each rivet was hand painted purple. I just don’t have the patience to be able to pull something like that off!


  7. Wow, that trunk looks fabulous. I’m always jealous of crafty clever people. I was clearly born without that gene.
    Wonderful about the article. And I agree, we need more positive news to balance out the constant onslaught of bad.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The story of the young Lakota woman gave me chills; I’m glad you were able to feature her and then share some good news with us.

    I LOVE the trunk! What an amazing transformation.
    I believe that a person can never have too much fun or houseplants. Never.

    Liked by 1 person

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