The 4th of July is a time of celebration.  We celebrate shared values, a belief in freedom, the bravery of people who stood up for what they believed in, and a people who came together to form one of the greatest nations in the history of the  world.

Today with the challenges we face and the division that seems to fill the airwaves, perhaps this 4th of July it makes sense to take a minute to remember what the land of the free and the home of the brave is all about. 

When I was a young girl, the 4th of July often meant a family picnic on the peaceful rolling hills of the Valley Forge Encampment.   The Mom’s would lay out a picnic feast while we kids would climb up the hills to roll down again in the sweet summer grass, climb on revolutionary war cannon, and wander through cabins and stone houses that were once, for a time, the headquarters of Washington and Lafayette. 

It was not until I was a bit older and had studied my history that I understood the real meaning of Valley Forge, a Revolutionary War site that never saw battle but still cost the lives of 2,000 brave soldiers.  They did not fall to cannon fire or the bayonets of the Red Coats.  Instead they lost their lives to cold and  other hardships that many of us could not imagine today.  Yet they stayed there by choice, coming together as a fighting force and a country. They were fathers and sons, wives and mothers, children and old men, farmers and shop keepers, free men and slaves, descendents of the Mayflower and immigrants who barely spoke our language.  They shared a  dream of freedom and left their warm homes to await the next battle though a cold Pennsylvania winter. 

“To see the men without clothes to cover their nakedness, without blankets to lie upon, without shoes…without a house or hut to cover them until those could be built, and submitting without a murmur, is a proof of patience and obedience which, in my opinion, can scarcely be paralleled.”

George Washington at Valley Forge, April 21, 1778

Many of their hardships that winter were due to inexperience, a lack of provisions, poor sanitation, and the new government’s inability to properly provision the troops.  Yet, the troops persevered.  They did not do so quietly.  Many grumbled as they trained in the cold and wet winter.  At times the conditions were so bad that a mutiny was feared, but in they end they came together as a unit and many who weathered that harsh winter would ultimately stand on the field at Yorktown on the day the British surrendered and the the last battle had been fought.   

We did not win the war on the strength of our government but perhaps in spite of it.  Congress long ago was often as in effective as it is today.  As they squabbled and debated, the men shivered in the cold and held on.  They looked to their leaders for inspiration, to their comrades for support, and inside themselves for strength.  

The challenges we face today are different than those that were faced at Valley Forge, but the lessons they left us can still serve us well.  We live in a nation that was born of their thirst for freedom, their commitment to a goal, and their willingness to sacrifice and persevere to reach it. 

Last week, I traveled back to the Valley Forge area for some meetings and decided to detour through the park on my way back to the Philadelphia airport.  As I sat in my rental car looking out across the park, it was quiet in the early morning.  Turning off the engine and the radio, I took the time to remember and to listen.  It was almost as if the voices of the children we once were echoed in the breeze along with a faint whisper of voices from days long past.  This was a place of freedom, of friendships forged, and of challenges faced and overcome.   A place where leaders walked and brave men  and women perished so that we could have the opportunities we have today.  The 4th of July is not just about picnics and fireworks.  It’s about freedom and the people who believed in it.  It’s about innovators who envisioned a new nation and everyday people who believed in something and saw it through. 

They bravely committed to make our county a better place – perhaps this 4th of July, we might want to do the same. 

Thanks for stopping by for a little life story.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Twenty-five years ago, on June 8, 1985 I got married.  Now twenty-five years later, I guess that makes me a “silver” ball and chain.

Here’s a flash back from that long ago day.

We’ve come a long way from those two kids in Connecticut.  Since that day, we have crossed the country to California and then later settled in Arizona.  We made two beautiful babies who have grown up to become two fine young  men.  We made a home and wonderful friends along the way but most of all we’ve made a life together. 

People have asked “What’s the secret?”  You’ll have to look to yourself for that answer. Here’s some things that I have thought about …

Last summer I wrote a post about our parents.  Both my Mom and Dad and Chris’s Mom and Dad celebrated their 50th Wedding anniversaries last August.  Maybe the example they set and the commitments THEY made rubbed off on us – at least a bit.

We’re very different people, but we share similar values.  We know what really matters to us – each other, our families, our friends.  But most of all we respect each other for who we are and what we can do.  And, we support each other in reaching our personal goals as well as our shared ones.

The video might also give you a few extra insights if you look closely.  You can see that we care about each other, but that does not mean we let the other person push us around.  Even in tux and tails or satin and lace, with hundreds of people looking on, we don’t take ourselves too seriously – and we give as good as we get. 

Now, these are OLD videos and the audio is starting to fade.  But if you did not catch what the Married Ladies wished for me at the end, here is what they said:

Joan Bates:  “Joan I wish for you to have success in training your husband WELL so that when you come home from YOUR job, the beds will be made and the dinner will be on the table …

Susan Ryan:  “There is no way I can top that.  Ditto Joan.”

Patti DeVito: “Ditto Three Joan”

Phyllis Flynn:  “Ditto FOUR Joan.”

Well ladies – it’s now a quarter of a century later and most days the beds are not made – unless I make them.  But, many a night I have come home to find that dinner is indeed on the table.    Perhaps that compromise is the true secret.  Understanding that you don’t always get EVERYTHING.  But if you have what’s really important, it’s enough.

Thanks for stopping by for a little life story.  Stay tuned… 

Joan Koerber-Walker

P.S. Happy Anniversary Chris!  Tonight, let’s turn off the cell phones, the laptops, and the TV to go OUT to dinner – that way no one has to cook OR clean up.

One of my favorite books for graduation day or any day is the classic poem from
Dr. Seuss – Oh, the places you’ll go.

It starts like this:Product Details

Congratulations!
Today is your day,
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.

This Thursday my youngest son, Nicholas graduates from Desert Vista High School. That day is his day!

But, as I look forward, he’ll have many days.  He’s smart and he’s funny. He’s kind and he makes a great friend.  The choices he’ll make will be good ones –  at least a mother can hope. 🙂

Graduation’s are bitter sweet – for Mom and Dad – the days of nagging about homework and setting week night curfews are over.

For the Graduate – it’s a day of celebration – and perhaps some trepidation too.  Never again will life be so ordered or structured – as much as our kids may complain – there is a safety in the structure of our school days that once it is gone does not come back again.

Our kids have so many choices today. They have many challenges too.  As parents we can set boundaries and examples, but eventually the ultimate choices are theirs.

Success – however we define it, or they do, comes from trial and error and a bit of luck.  As adults we’ve learned those lessons.  And as graduates, so will they.

But at the end of the day, just as at the end of the classic poem, a positive outlook and attitude makes all the difference.  So, to again quote Dr. Seuss…

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed!)
KID YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!
So…
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Alenn O’Shea
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So… get on your way!

Nick and Beau 2006 MrThunder1 nick and girls Chris and Nick Clowning Around Nick and Dad Nick Walker-2009

We’re Proud of you Nicholas!

Congratulations on your High School Graduation

Love, Mom

The full text of Oh, the places you’ll go is available on line.  Buy it here on Amazon – it’s a great map for whatever direction you choose to go.

The signs are appearing.  This May they started to come faster.

It started the week of May 9th when I headed out to NYC for the launch of Amilya Antonetti’s new book, The Recipe: A fable for leaders and teams. As publisher, it was my job to host the festivities, coordinate with the book stores (the team at Barnes and Noble Lincoln Triangle were terrific to work with thank goodness), and keep everyone moving from place to place and meeting to meeting as we jaunted around the Big Apple.  By the time I dragged my suitcases back to JFK Friday and settled into my seat on USAIR Flight 17 to Phoenix, all I wanted to do was sleep!

My loving husband picked me up at the airport, brought my tired body home, and there on the counter was a HUGE pile of mail.  Sitting right on top, was the next sign – a welcome envelope from the AARP.

Hey Mom – look –  they think you are OLD!

Hmmm.  Could it be true?  I have been noticing that I drive closer to the speed limit these days.   Pulling all nighters when working on a deadline are not quite as easy as they used to be.  My youngest child graduates from high school next week and next month on my 25th wedding anniversary I will have been a Mrs. longer than I was a Miss.  OMG – I am old!

As I sat bemoaning my fate, I got a call from my friend Francine Hardaway.  Perfect timing.  She has a few more years than I have – she’ll know what to do!

As I poured out my tale of woe, she started to laugh.

“Welcome to freedom” she exclaimed.  “You are not old, you are free. This is the best time of your life – enjoy the freedom!”

As I turned back to my laptop, to tackle the next thing on my to do list, I smiled.  I will have to share THAT with my kids.  I have been officially granted my freedom – not to mention discounted travel rates from the AARP.  I guess being young is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Thanks for stopping by for a little life story…stay tuned.

Joan Koerber-Walker

Betsy-Koerber

It’s almost Mother’s Day and here we go again.  After all, what DO you get for the Mom who already has everything?  Take my Mom for instance.  She has a lovely  home that is already filled with stuff, NO ROOM in her closet for more clothes (at least that’s what Dad said), the respect of her peers, a place in her community, a husband who adores her, five fabulous kids (wink), oodles of grand kids, and ….

I have this same challenge EVERY year. What do you get for someone who gives you every thing, rarely asks for anything, and has lots of STUFF.

Last year, out of desperation, I decided to get creative and with the talented help from my friends at Metro Studios I made my Mom a video thanking her for all she had done for me over the years and finally admitting that the things she taught me so many years ago were the things that really mattered.  (It took me a while to figure it all out – but she knew all along.)

She liked it, so I’ve left it up on My YouTube Page for all the world to see – or at least the folks that go there to see my videos on life, leadership, and innovation.    So here you go… this is last year’s Mother’s Day message.

 

But oh my goodness, it’s that time again. Now what can I do?

I started to think about something unique something that was for her and only her and then it came to me.  I’d get her a “Kolbe A” for Mother’s Day!  You are probably thinking, a WHAT?   Well, if you read the post from my CorePurpose Business Blog at the beginning of the year about Kathy Kolbe, you might remember that the Kolbe is a great set of tools that help people identify and and make the most of their unique talents and instincts.  Kathy pioneered the work in conation (the science of why we do what what we do) that has grown to be known as the Kolbe Concept and helped thousands to be the best people they can be by embracing who the truly are and making the most of it.   What better gift for my Mom.   

So that’s what I’m doing this year. I’m sending my Mom a Kolbe A for Mother’s Day.  After she takes it, we can compare notes.  My Kolbe Score is a 4-2-9-3.  I wonder what she will be?

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned….  

Joan Koerber-Walker

Want to get your Mom a Kolbe A for Mother’s Day?  Here’s a link to the site where you can get them.  Purchase Kolbe Index Coupons (You can get a Kolbe Coupon for $49.95, email it to your Mom, and then give her a call to compare notes  too.)    Want to treat yourself?  Just click here to get started.

 

I was born in 1960.  Over the last 50 years there have been many memorable moments.  Some were personal while others were watched around the world.

Some of these memories are of great happenings:

  • Man’s first steps on the moon.
  • The first heart transplant in 1967 by Christiaan Barnard.
  • The “Miracle” of Team USA taking Men’s Hockey Gold at the 1980 Olympics.

Other memories are of great tragedies:

  • The Senator Robert F. Kennedy lost his life to an assassin’s bullet ( I was only three and too young to remember the day that President Kennedy died.)
  • The loss of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the riots that followed.
  • The Challenger Disaster of 1986
  • The 1989 San Francisco Earthquake and watching the city in flames and the highway collapse.
  • The fall of Towers One and Two on September 11th.

To this day, I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing as I watched history unfold.

Today, on a March Sunday evening, I sit at my laptop preparing for the week.  As I write this I continue to listen to Members of the House of Representatives in the final debate on the Healthcare Bill.  And as I am watching, so is the world.  That we live in a country that can have this debate is a blessing.  There are many countries where this could not and would not happen.

The Bill AND the problem are both incredibly complex.  There are good things and bad in it.  The process has been long and at times not the best example of our legislative process.   But no matter what side of the issue you stand on this too is a historic moment.  Some portray The Bill’s passage as a great and historic happening while other’s foretell a great tragedy.

The speeches are almost over and the vote is about to begin. 

What the true outcome will be…only time will tell.  But today is a historic day – will you remember where you were?

Thanks for stopping by for a little life story.  Stay tuned.

Joan Koerber-Walker

They say that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.  Grandmas-100th-Christmas

I guess I get to make the claim – I’m at least 50%.  My Mom is ‘pure blooded’ as they say and comes from a long line of Kennys, Gleasons, Fagans and Carmichaels.  Mom married Daddy – he’s not Irish. (Koerber is German and Daddy’s a mix but we love him all the same and after 50 years of marriage to Mom ’tis sure he’s wearing green today.)  I guess I’m just a mutt.  But today, I’ve got my green on too.

Now Grandma Carmichael, SHE was IRISH all the way.  Including mass everyday – wearing of the green and Irish eyes that were always smiling.  Grandma passed away at the age of 99 in 2009, but you can bet she is dancing a jig with St. Pat today – he’d better get ready;  she was quite the dancer! 

There are always lots of stories written about the Irish this time of year.  We Yanks have made the holiday our own in our unique way.  (This article on St, Patrick’s Day Myths from the Omaha Herald has some interesting myths busted.)

Now according to the article – one of the broken myths is that St. Paddy did not drive the snakes from Ireland –  they did not have them in the first place – Oh – say it isn’t so!

I’d like to think that maybe he did after all. Perhaps, we are just being a bit too literal in our thinking.  You see not all snakes have scales… if you catch my drift.  You might find a minute to read the listing in Wikipedia on St. Pat.

For all the good people that are out there, there are the occasional snakes…and if that’s who he chased out of Ireland during his time as Bishop – I’d say he earned his place in history. 

After all, ‘snakes’ are out there and folks who use their life and talents to make life better for others and save us from the ‘snakes’  are needed every day of the year – not just on March 17th.

So – that’s a bit of St. Paddy’s day history and wisdom for this March 17th.  Beware the green beer – enjoy the parades, and to wrap it up, here’s a bit of an Irish blessing that you may not have heard before…

“May the roof above us never fall in, and may we friends gathered below never fall out.”

Thanks for stopping by for a little life story.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

PS. Here is Kimberly Ripley’s recipe for Corned Beef – mine’s in  the crock pot already.  And as with the true Irish fare – boiled potatoes – I DO NOT like cooked cabbage – there’s a story behind that too – but that is one for another day.

One evening, after work, I drove down the California coast to a fabled resort on the Monterey Peninsula.  I sat in the crowded lounge waiting for my husband to finish playing in a charity golf tournament, nursing my Diet Coke and reading a book.  Two men came over and asked if they could share my table.  They weren’t friends, but I knew who they were.  Happy to have some company and conversation, I agreed.

It turns out that they too had been playing in the tournament and they were recapping how it had gone.  One had had a difficult day. (To be fair, it is a difficult course.)  Soon his description of the play became peppered with  four-letter verbs. (You know the ones. Your Mother would threaten to get the soap out when you used them as a kid.)

This was not what I expected when I welcomed them to share my table.  Finally, I had had enough.

“So” I asked picking up my book again, “Didn’t your Mother ever teach you that it’s unwise to use verbs as adjectives?  It sends the wrong message.” 

His companion, a bit older and wiser, started to laugh. 

“So true, young lady” he said with a glance at his companion. 

“You look familiar, have we met before?”

“Not officially,” I replied.  “But you might remember me from your Stock Holders Meeting last week?  I was sitting front row center and taking notes.”

Twitter is a medium of Words and Ideas. Of Out-Takes and Experiences. What do yours say about YOU?

This story happened long ago, but it came to mind today when reading the #BeOriginal stream on Twitter.  It’s a great place to share ideas and have them remembered and re-tweeted.  I even go back through once each month and capture some of them on the #BeOriginal Blog to give extra recognition to people who share quality original ideas.  Soon you will see the recap from January 2010 of the top 10%of the #BeOriginal Tweets.  (That is over 300 quotes.) I do this every month.

In the stream there are others using the #hastag #BeOriginal.  (This happens. Hashtags are not exclusive by their nature.) And what they say about the sender may also send the wrong message. 

Social media tools from Twitter, to Facebook, to blogs, have a long tail on the Internet.  You don’t know who’s reading and you don’t know who is taking note. 

Whether you are having a conversation, sharing ideas, building a personal brand, or building a business, it’s worth taking a moment to think about how you use your words and images.

HOW you express your ideas reflects on WHO you are.

WHAT do you want people to think of WHEN they think of YOU?

Thanks for stopping by for a Little Life Story.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

I can’t take credit for the list below.  It’s from one of those emails that people who care about you send to bring you a smile.

This one came from my Mother-in-Law, Sandy Walker, by way of my sister-in-law, Tracy Gorecki. 

When you first become a mother – it’s exciting and new – but the real impact is when you look at it years later as your children are growing and then are grown…when they marry and have their children of their own, and so on, and so on.

My Mom, Betsy,  and Chris’s Mom, Sandy, both got married in August of 1959 AND both of them went on to raise five kids.

This summer, both families had 50th  anniversary parties – just look at what these two Mom’s started…

Sandy Walker started this… with a bit of help from George.

walkers

Betsy Koerber started this …with a bit of help from Richard.

koerbers 2009

Now on to The List.  According to the email it came from the mouths of second grade school children.  Here’s what they had to say about their Moms…

Why did God make mothers?

  1. She’s the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
  2. Mostly to clean the house.
  3. To help us out when we were getting born.

How did God make mothers?

  1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
  2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
  3. God made my Mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts

What ingredients are mothers made of?

  1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
  2. They had to get their start from men’s bones. Then they mostly use string, I think. 

Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom?

  1. We’re related. 
  2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people’s moms like me.

What kind of little girl was your mom?

  1. My Mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff. 
  2. I don’t know because I wasn’t there, but my guess would be pretty bossy. 
  3. They say she used to be nice.

What did mom need to know about dad before she married him?

  1. His last name. 
  2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer? 
  3. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores. 

Why did your mom marry your dad?

  1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my Mom eats a lot. 
  2. She got too old to do anything else with him. 
  3. My grandma says that Mom didn’t have her thinking cap on.

Who’s the boss at your house?

  1. Mom doesn’t want to be boss, but she has to because dad’s such a goof ball. 
  2. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed. 
  3. I guess Mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

What’s the difference between moms & dads?

  1. Moms work at work and work at home and dads just go to work at work. 
  2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them. 
  3. Dads are taller & stronger, but moms have all the real power ’cause that’s who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friend’s. 
  4. Moms have magic; they make you feel better without medicine. 

What does your mom do in her spare time? 

  1. Mothers don’t do spare time. 
  2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long. 

What would it take to make your mom perfect?

  1. On the inside she’s already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery. 
  2. Diet. You know her hair. I’d diet, maybe blue.

If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be? 

  1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I’d get rid of that. 
  2. I’d make my mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it and not me. 
  3. I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.

So are you laughing?

To my Moms (Betsy and Sandy) and to Moms everywhere – thanks for what you do and for making the biggest impact of all.

Thanks for stopping by for a Little Life Story.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

I’ve been thinking a lot about about  the things I learned at Grandma’s knee these days.

Some of these thoughts apply to business, as you will  find  in my recent post on the CorePurpose  Business blog titled Free… Isn’t.  Some are about life.

Grandma was a big proponent of the maxim…

“If you can’t say anything nice – DON’T say anything at all.”

This came to mind today when Ruthie Appleby (@YoRuth) sent me a note asking for help on #StopTheHate Day on Twitter. 

I researched her request on her blog, the original post by @FilmLadd and @JayLink and read the companion post by @ChrisVoss.

Then I wrote this post to share it with you.

The message is pretty simple – nasty, derogatory, hateful messages fall into the category of things that need not be seen, stated, repeated or re-tweeted.  And for many of us – we’d be happy to leave them unheard.

For whatever reason, some people seem to see social media as a perfect platform to say things that few would have the guts to say when speaking face to face.  It is as if cloaking themselves behind the safety of their laptop gives them the right to be rude, nasty, insulting, or worse.    

It is not that we all have to agree or be chirpy little tweeps – but some messages are just going too far over the line on the hateful scale. 

If enough of us make the statement that we are not interested in being exposed to these hateful messages – perhaps we would see a little  less of them.  

So the choice is yours, send the message or don’t.  But if we all speak up and say ENOUGH – maybe we can start a conversation towards change.

Thanks for stopping by. Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

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Welcome to Little Life Stories


What happens to us.
What is said to us.
What we experience.
These are thing things that shape our lives.

Here at Little Life Stories, I will share some of mine with you.

Just the stories. You get to draw your own take aways.

Want a little more?
Visit the links section to find my other much longer blogs and posts.

Thank you for stopping by for a little story.

Joan Koerber-Walker

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