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From the Publisher's Desk – Kind words go a long way (Sept. 9, 2015 issue)

Proverbs 16:24 says “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
It’s not often that people will go out of their way to express kind words. Unfortunately, they are usually prone to speak out if something is not to their liking.
Being publisher of a weekly newspaper, I’ve had both. But, I must say that the pleasant words over the last few years have far outweighed the bad. In fact, it is a rare week that I don’t hear something pleasant, and I truly appreciate all who take that time.
More times than not, the comments are concerning the column I write here each week. It isn’t always easy to come up with a topic. I try to show you a bit of who I am or the world as I see it. I hope it helps you feel a personal connection to this newspaper and to me. You’ve seen my humorous side, sensitive side and things that stand out to me in our everyday life.
You may not always agree with my views, because they are my personal thoughts. I may fall flat at being funny or not interesting at all some weeks. But if you are a loyal reader and you smile now and then over these words, connect or stop to think about something or someone in your life, then it was worth it to me.
I think you would agree that at this point you must know far more about me than I know about you. Often people will comment when I am in the local stores because they recognize me. Many times I don’t know their names. However, every kind word is truly a blessing and an encouragement.
I have kept several cards of praise and I have saved voice mails on my office phone for years now because I hate to lose them. I go back from time to time and replay them and smile. I take courage and encouragement from them.
One special message is from Judy Moss after I became publisher. She wanted to tell me how proud she was of me. I have one from a dear friend, Caroline Jackson, who recently passed away. I mentioned her in a column and how much she had meant to me over the years from my time at ETSU to present. Her message was partly in tears of gratitude. I have a message from Gene and Sally Ramsey, where they sang “Happy Birthday” to me.
Last week I received a message from Connie Willis about a recent article I wrote concerning my step-dad and memories. She said she reads my article every week, but that one was particularly touching to her. She ended the message with “Keep up the good work. We love you.”
A dear friend and talented poet, Gloria Casteel, told me that particular column also meant much to her and inspired her as well. Last Tuesday I was feeling more than overwhelmed with work and life and honestly, a bit down. Gloria dropped off the following poem.
Longings
Our mind is our storybook we must open each time
We wish to receive a memory that come tumbling to our mind.
Where can we turn when our forefathers pass?
When we wish to remember to whom shall we ask?
When we long to connect for a moment of time
When life was good and everything seemed sublime.
Wisdom, knowledge, companionship and care
Art history and music no longer to share.
No one to consult at the closing of day
For these moments of life have been silenced away.
My storybook is all I have left
My memories, my treasures all bestowed as my gift.
My mind remembers my lips for a smile
My heart is requited just for awhile.
My deepest longings are assuaged with my memories.
Gloria is so talented and you can tell what she speaks verbally or in writing, comes from the heart.
The very same day I had a visit from a former Erwinite Martha Crane. Martha was in town visiting. She now lives in Lincoln, Neb. I had never met her before, but she stopped by to tell me how much she enjoyed reading this column. She held my hand for a good while as she told me how it was the first thing she reads when she gets the newspaper in the mail. She said she just wanted to come in and meet me in person.
Now, I don’t write this week’s column to brag on myself. I write it to say “thanks” to the friends listed in this column and the friends who say something pleasant in the community. It stands out to me when someone takes the time to say something good.
It is also a reminder for me to give praise along the way to others. You never know who needs encouragement. Let’s all try to slow down and give a word of praise to someone each day. It may be at the grocery store, a restaurant, work or on the street. Make someone smile. I challenge you.