A Friday Thought to Chew On: Say It…NOW!

A Friday Thought to Chew On: Say It…NOW!

When we say to a good friend, ‘it’s been so long, we really need to get together,’ how many of us go back to our little worlds after the conversation and get lost in the madness that is our lives? It’s a common recurrence for me, and I know I’m not the only one who looks at the calendar three months later and wonders what the heck happened to sincere intentions gone awry. The other night, my friend Shelby and I finally got together, and because it had been a while since we last met, it was a marathon dinner — wine, appetizers, dinner, and lots and lots and LOTS of talking (and laughter and tears and reminiscing). It was a blast! You see, though I’ve only been friends with this wonderful lady for seven years, when I met her, we connected instantly. She was one of those people who I felt like I had known my whole life.

During dinner, she shared something with me, told me something that immediately led to one of many displays of waterworks on both sides that night. She told me that an article I did about her very early on in our friendship changed her life. Actually, she said that I had changed her life. I was dumbfounded. I wrote a lot of articles over that year, and I had no idea how that one piece I wrote had such a significance to her personally. Her words moved me. She told me that she had taken a step back to examine her life and discover where her life had transitioned.

I began thinking more about what she said and put it into perspective for my own life. When I think back to certain individuals and hiring decisions they made and how much those single actions transformed my life, it dawned on me — to these people, they were not significant at all, just one of many decisions they have made during their careers and when they look back on their own lifetime, it will not stand out in their lives but for me, those little decisions were monumental milestones for me.

That night, my friend told me she wanted to tell me in person that I changed her life. And I thought later — how many of us never do that? At all? We may rave about how wonderful someone was or how much they meant to us after they’ve gone. Or sometimes we simply get disconnected from people who move away, and then we can never tell them how much of an impression they left.

Have you told people who believed in you when no one else did how much they mean to you? Personally thanked those who hired you years later for helping you launch a career? Told someone that they inspired you? I think sometimes we are reluctant to share with others how much influence they’ve had on our lives, that it might make us appear weak or vulnerable, or even too emotional. I say… what are you waiting for? Hell, what am I waiting for? Since I can remember, my world has been all about words, words, and words. But it was a  special group of people that helped me discover this passion, stretch that creative muscle and continue to grow as a writer.

So while it’s not in person… *clears throat*

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I know some of these people will probably never get to read this but I put it out there, because, well, you just never know, right? It’s a big universe.

So going back in time…way, way, way back there… I thank my 6th grade English teacher Mrs. Cunningham for pointing out that my love of words might be something of value for other people to read. She was the first person in my life who ever made me feel like my writing held value. In 9th grade, I arrived a wallflower and though I stayed a relatively shy, quiet girl until I graduated, I experienced a brief flicker of freedom and artistic expression in the late Mr. Bechtol‘s awesome Drama I class. Where else would I be not only encouraged but complimented for everything from Tennessee Williams and Eugene Ionesco scenes to Richard Pryor routines and classic Saturday Night Live sketches?! By 10th grade, I discovered the school newspaper and found my ultimate home (as well as this new thing called.. the computer…hmm) thanks to Mrs. Sneed and Mr. Sauer. And in my early junior college years, Ms. Pendleton at Edison Community College persuaded me to take my writing seriously, encouraged me to continue pursuing the craft on a grander scale and even influenced me in my decision to attend my eventual alma mater, FSU. I wish she knew how often I think about her composition classes and our conversations.

Claudia Childs, you hired a junior account coordinator (aka glorified administrative assistant to a trio of account managers) and gave her a chance to discover the world of marketing…for the first time…EVER! It was the perfect landscape to truly experience all that words could do and the most important achievement of all: to motivate people to take action and BUY! I moved into the world of healthcare technology, and who knew at the time that your hiring decision would lead me into a career and business sector for the next seven years of my life. I learned so much over those next seven years — my first tradeshow, my first brochure, my first website content, my first press release, my first media interaction, my first product branding, my first national ad campaign, … heck! I even learned that I work as an INFJ, a discovery which continues to fascinate me to this day. (Google “Myers-Briggs Type Indicator” to learn more about that!)

This one is a bit of a group thank-you but it’s every bit as sincere… Gail Schomers, Trisha Randall, Elissa Nauful, Diane Egner, Bonnie Walters, and Angela Ardolino, thank you for trusting in me to tell your stories — for your readers or for your company’s clients. When I was let go from my full-time media job back in spring 2009, I wanted to crawl under a rock. But I knew I wasn’t alone. Unfortunately, many of my friends went through it the same day, and others had already gone through it before me and many since. When I decided to take what was for me a HUMONGOUS leap and decide to go freelance full-time, it was you, all of you, who took the leap of faith with me that I would be the right scribe for the job. I still do work for some of you and continue to be grateful, but whether we work together anymore or not, nothing will change the impact you’ve had on my path as a writing professional. And I’m happy to also call you my friends. So, thank you… for saying “yes” that first time you hired me.

Sometimes you just need someone to believe in you, especially when you’re not convinced your words are making any sense. It might mean talking it out or walking it out, over tea, coffee, smoothies or really bizarre-looking or tasting healthy drinks with veggies in them and other “stuff.” I’m not sure how many laps we took around Wiregrass but Nancy Vaughn, every single one of them was worth it when I was walking with you because that was where dreams became ideas and ideas became objectives. Thank you for helping me see through all the muck (which sometimes resembled some of those drinks you ordered at that place across from the bookstore…eww) And thank you for helping me take some of these dreams from objectives to milestones. You know better than most that I keep a small circle around me. I want to always look out and see you in that trusted ring.

And finally, Andrea Daly, thank you for seeing a media person at heart when I arrived at your door with not a lick of professional media experience to support it yet you hired me to be your promotional writer. Not only did you become my lifelong friend that day but your decision to choose me for the job singlehandedly placed me smack in the middle of the world of words for a living. You can ask anyone what I wanted to be when I grew up. I used to tell people…a reporter. Barbara Walters. Similar responses to this. And no, I didn’t become a reporter that day, but I truly believe if it were not for you, I would never have achieved any future bylines, my editor position or the word author next to my name. It all started by you enabling me to set my foot in the door at a metropolitan newspaper. I’ll never be able to repay you for that. A single decision that was probably not a big deal for you that day, not really. But for me, it changed my life.

This list is far from complete, but it is a start and it is sincere.  May I suggest you do the same? Pronto! Oh, and get your calendar out this weekend and schedule those dates to see the people you’ve been meaning to see. Do it. Say it. NOW. ~ Chris

5 Comments

  1. What a lovely post, Chris. And for the record, it was enough laps to burn out a Fitbit, but whose counting?! I feel honored and blessed to be in that circle of yours and to have you in mine. Thank you for the reminder to cherish all the people and moments in life, and to let them know the impact they’ve made. You’ve been a beautiful friend to me, and I am grateful for you. Thank you! xoxo

    • chriskuhn

      I’m really glad you saw this blog. Thank you for your beautiful words in response. I’m so happy that I finally got to convey these thoughts, and I sincerely hope that it inspires other folks to do the same through whatever means feels right to them. Thanks again for the sweet comment. xo ~ Chris

  2. Right back at ya, Chris Kuhn! Thank you for taking a chance on 83 Degrees when we were toddling along, still learning to walk while taking a few falls. We lifted our heads up together, learned to stand up and then to walk and then to run. Life is a journey filled with so many people who make a difference in so many ways along the way. You made a difference for 83 Degrees, for the Tampa Bay region and for our collective future. Keep on writing! Words matter. Choose them well.
    Forever friends,
    Diane

    • chriskuhn

      Thank you so much, Diane. Very proud to be a part of 83 Degrees and its launch in the Bay area. I looooove that e-pub and all that it represents, so thanks for that single decision. So happy to be in your orbit and I look forward to the next time I get the opportunity to write for you 🙂 xo ~ Chris

  3. Andrea Daly

    Just seeing this for the first time. Thank YOU for being YOU! You nailed everything you wrote, from the very first interview to the final story. You really have a gift, and I’m so glad I played a part to help you share this gift with the world. Love you, Chris. xoxoxo

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