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.