“You never know what a day will bring. You never know what your life will bring, for that matter.” These words, spoken to me recently by the illustrious editor in chief of our humble magazine, instantly brought to my mind vivid memories of mile markers that stand along the path of my journey toward today. Some of the markers are joyous ones, when hard work and planning or even just a bit of luck bears fruit that is positive, refreshing, and strengthening. Some are painful and hard to bear, but they too have led me to a better way that, in the end, and sometimes in strange ways, proved to enrich my character and change my life for the best.
In the context of our conversation, the marker I remembered was a joyous one. We discussed how incredibly blessed we are to be a part of Paducah Life Magazine. My mind flashed back 19 years. There I stood in my kitchen with my mom. She held a magazine up for me to see. “You could write for something like this,” she said. She placed it in my hand, and I read the title: Paducah Life Magazine. “It’s new, and I think you can write just as good as anyone else in there.”
I had been one of the lucky ones. You know, one who had the privilege of having that special English teacher who seemed to spark a world of creativity that I had not known before. It was Mrs. Ladd, my freshman English teacher at Tilghman. I’ll never forget the day she brought in a record player and Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles on 45. “Listen to this!” she said. “This is great writing!” She knew how to inspire and encourage. And I loved it. My mother, seeing my enthusiasm and proclivity to stringing words together, encouraged me all the more. I was happy my mom thought so much of my writing, but I was just a senior in high school, and at that moment, I couldn’t imagine that I had anything to offer.
So on with life I went, collecting more mile markers, forging a way that was sometimes smooth and sometimes rocky. I forgot all about that moment my mom and I had with Paducah Life Magazine in our kitchen.
Flash forward 12 years. I am sitting in a classroom at Murray State, listening to Dr. Bob Lochte (another inspiring teacher) give instructions on writing a paper for the History of US Journalism and Broadcasting class. He encouraged the class to submit our completed works to be published. I couldn’t imagine too many publications being interested in my work on the history of Paducah radio. Then, I thought of Paducah Life Magazine. Once finished, I sent a quick email with the article attached to one Darlene Mazzone. I thought she wouldn’t be interested, but hey, at least I tried. She was interested, however. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
For the last 7 years, I have been privileged to write for the very magazine my mother encouraged me with back in 1993. I do not take it lightly. When I say I am blessed by the opportunity, I genuinely mean that in every sense. The term “you deserve it” is used much too loosely in our lives, whether it be in politics or advertising. In all honesty, I don’t deserve what I have, which makes me all the more thankful for it. Little did I know my mom foreshadowed a major part of my life. It didn’t seem like much of a mile marker at the time, but now I look back on it with amazement. You never know what a day will bring. You never know what your life will bring, for that matter.