This Thursday, I, along with 31 friends I made this year, will graduate from Leadership Prince William. We are the fifth class to graduate. Each class self-selects a catch phrase to identify their year, turning a phrase with clever intent. Our class coined the title, “Quint-Essential Leaders”, combining the fifth year, “quint” with the word “essential”, meaning: indispensible. The two combined words equal a new word: “quintessential” defined as: “representing the perfect example of a class or quality”.
We’ve been exposed to parts of our county in ways that most people don’t have the opportunity to enjoy. We’ve taken historical tours and tours of the landfill and the adult detention center. We’ve had sit down conversations with leaders in many fields, including health and human services and the arts. We had demonstrations by the SWAT Team. We had lunch with the superintendent of schools. We worked on planning exercises, we participated in team building and problem solving. We learned when to lead and when to step aside and let others lead.
We also learned about ourselves. We identified our own strengths and weaknesses and how to improve the first, while minimizing the latter. We shared parts of our lives, our talents and our minds with our classmates and team mates.
This has been an experience that I am profoundly grateful to have shared. To have traveled from a small town, a life of poverty and little opportunity to my life today is nothing short of amazing to me. Marrying my husband, Bill, and spending 20 years with the Air Force gave us both the ability to rise from minimum wage and little chance to be successful to our current situation of better than average wage and modest success.
My mother was a waitress for most of her life. She worked late hours and developed foot problems from standing and walking on concrete floors. My father had varying jobs like working on a line at a biscuit company and painting houses. I have no doubt, had I remained in Indiana and not been able to break from that mold, I would never have attended anything as wonderful as Leadership Prince William.
So, I am a weepy, emotional Italian, given to embarrassing displays of affection. I often make remarks or tell stories that people are a little taken aback to hear. I believe conventional thinking in a polite society prefers one keep your personal thoughts to yourself. I can’t! I am grateful!
I’m grateful to be sitting in my comfortable chair, in my air conditioned house, surrounded by things that I love, writing this column. I’m grateful to finish this and head to the commuter lot to tend our beautiful rosebushes that our friends and volunteers supplied to grace our community. I’m grateful for so many things there is not enough space to list them all.
One of our county supervisors, Marty Nohe, posts each week three things that made him unexpectedly happy on Facebook. Then he invites the rest of us by asking: “What are three things that made you happy this week?” I’m going to purloin his excellent idea, but ask you to reflect: “What are you grateful for today?” Just write one each day. I bet they will also be the things that make you unexpectedly happy.