Monday, April 24, 2017

The Joys Of The First Day Back At Work

After eight weeks on maternity leave, I returned to my desk for the first time Easter Sunday.And it looked just like I left it, piled high with stuff and kind of dusty.

Since my first official day back was a paper night, I spent my time helping to do up news items and laying out pages. Then, I tackled cleaning off my desk (including the dusting) the first part of the week.

With Charlotte arriving two weeks ahead of schedule, I did still have a few stories to work up while I was home on maternity leave, but for the most part, I stayed home with the girls and enjoyed my time adjusting to life as a family of four.  I'm not exactly sure how adding one seven-pound human to the mix adds so much else to do, but I definitely stayed busy.

It sure seems like those eight weeks flew by in a hurry, and though I was sad to leave the girls, I knew they were in good hands. We are very lucky that Kyle's mom and dad keep them on paper nights and my mom watches them three afternoons a week, which makes going back to work just a little easier.
Plus, I really love my job.

When I worked for a daily newspaper in Indiana, my editor told me once that you either have to pursue a career in something you love or pursue a career in something else, which will allow you to do what you love.

I can't say that I have always thought I would love journalism. In fact, I spent most of my adolescence telling people that I would not be working for The Hillsboro Journal.
I had decided I wanted to be a teacher, preferably early education. Since then, I've decided that God probably did not give me enough patience for that profession!

It was after I started working as a darkroom technician for the newspaper when I was in high school that I really fell in love with photojournalism. I had big aspirations to travel the world taking photos for National Geographic or another large media outlet.

But somewhere along the way, I found out that I'm much better suited for community journalism, and I've never looked back.

My first job after graduating from Mizzou was for a small, daily newspaper in southern Indiana, in a rural county, roughly the size of Montgomery County. I discovered how much I loved sharing people's stories and being part of the community.

Through covering things at the schools, kids would see me at Walmart and stop to talk to me. Most of the time, I didn't know their names, but they sure remembered mine.
It's a good feeling, knowing that you can make a difference in your community through what you do each and every single day.

You get to know the people who serve on the school boards you cover or the people who plan community events.

Yes, it's a much different feeling covering news in your community rather than in a big city. You realize that you're going to run into the people you write stories about, and that it's always someone's neighbor or relative.

But to me, the biggest reason I love community journalism, is the community.

I love seeing our community come together time after time for those in need. Whether it's raising money for local sports teams or families facing medical expenses, our communities come together over and over and over again. It sure seems like there's never a need that's too big.

And though I spent a decade writing stories about the people in our communities, I got to know first hand their generosity when Grace was diagnosed with INAD.

Together, our communities have raised substantial funding for INAD research in the past two years. It's truly humbling to have people call and ask how they can help, plan bake sales or other fundraisers. It's been amazing.

There's sort of an unwritten rule in journalism that you don't make the news, you cover it. I would have to say we've broken that rule at least 50 times with Grace's photo in the paper. But as a mom, I also know you use all the resources at your disposal to help your child. And we feel lucky to have such a wonderful community to support us.

Yes, there were times I envisioned taking my talents to a bigger newspaper or media outlet, covering bigger stories. But my heart lies in Montgomery County and being able to share the stories and values of the wonderful people who live here.

It's great to be back on the job.


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