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A friend posted a wonderful message on Facebook a bit ago called Why Teach Music . When I asked if she wrote it, she said that she had not.  But that did not make the message any less meaningful to her.  It made it more.  Because like a song the message resonated with her, with me, and  with so many others.  Music is powerful. It celebrates the times of our lives, it teaches us structure and it fuels our creativity.  So I asked my friend, a life long music lover and teacher of music to share with me why music makes a difference and here is what Lynne Kearney had to share.

Lynne is a recently retired public school music teacher who taught elementary music for twelve years in the Danbury, CT public schools and ten years at the Middle School and High School in the Region 14 Woodbury Bethlehem, CT school system While she may have retired from public school teaching, she is still helping students prepare for their regional music festival and All-State auditions and performances. Then she attend the festivals to support these fine young musicians.

JKW: When did YOU discover your love for music?

LK: My love for music began when I was very young. I was blessed that there was always some kind of music in our house. We would always be listening to records or the TV, where we watched and listened to concerts, Lawrence Welk or Ed Sullivan. My mother took my sister and I to many concerts of the Danbury Symphony and whatever else we could see for free. We all took piano lessons. Richard played the accordion. In school, my sister Ysabel learned to play the trumpet and I learned to play the clarinet. We sang in the church choir. In eighth grade I started to accompany the glee club at Main Street School and I became the organist at my church. In high school, my music teacher and mentor was Mr. James Humphreville. He is also the person who encouraged me to study music education. After getting my teaching degree many years later, it was he who hired me as a music teacher in the Danbury School system.

JKW:  There is something magical about sharing what we love.  How do you share the magic? 

LK:  A few weekends ago, I took a friend, who is at the tender age of 2 ½ , to see a New Haven Symphony’s children’s performance of a world premiere, Greta’s Dream. This is a new work about a hippo who wants to learn to fly. The ensemble for this adorable story consisted of a story teller and four double basses. They had my little friend, and all of the other wee ones mesmerized. And this is where it needs to start, if indeed it has not already been started.

My three best friends, Susann, Sandy, and Nancy are all musicians. We met between thirty-seven and forty years ago, doing community theater. Music is major in our lives and we celebrate each other’s birthdays in song. I can’t imagine our lives without song.”

JKW: How has music made a difference in your life?

It is my life. While in college I accompanied many of my fellow students’ recitals. I taught music in a nursery school. I also played the piano for a ballet school and started music directing musicals at the Brookfield Little Theater and other local theaters. I gave private piano lessons for many, many years. While in high school and college I was a fifer in the Connecticut Rebels of ’76 Ancient Fife and Drum Corps. Every guy I dated was a musician. I met my husband, Jack, doing musical theater.

While in the active years of my teaching I was President of the Connecticut Chapter of the American Orff Schulwerk Association. This organization shows the wonderful process of how to teach  children the joy of learning music through singing, dancing and playing of simple instruments. I was also Choral Representative for Connecticut Music Education Association and on many Connecticut State music committees that helped develop music curriculum and evaluation of music teachers. I was festival chair and choral chair of the Berkshire League Music Festival several times. I was active in both middle school and high school music festivals throughout the last ten years of my teaching. I took thirty credits, beyond my sixth year, of music courses that would make me be a vital music teacher to my students. I love music and I wanted to share that joy with them. I wanted to plant seeds to help them grow into life-long participants of music, audience members, appreciators of what music gave them, humanity, sensitivity, and feelings.

JKW: How have you seen music make a difference in the lives of others?

LK:  Well, it certainly was a part of my children’s lives. They both studied piano. In school Josh learned to play the trumpet and Betsy learned to play the clarinet and bass clarinet. They were both active in their schools music programs. Betsy sang with the Litchfield County Children’s Choir for several years. (I ultimately co-conducted that group for about five years.)

Over the years I have sung with the Danbury Concert Chorus, the Connecticut Choral Society, Alamanda, and am now singing with the Waterbury Chorale. I was music director for the Thomaston Opera House for several years as well as Minister of Music in three different Lutheran churches for over forty years.

JKW:  Why is music education important?

LK:  Just read Why Teach Music. I can’t say it any better. That is why I was compelled to share it.

JKW:  What can readers do to help keep the love of music alive in their communities?

LK:  Be proactive. Join local music organizations, be it a choral group, a band, a music or concert association. Attend public school performances. Support our young musicians. Give them a pat on the back for a job well done.

Donate used instruments that you no longer use, to your local schools. If you play the piano or an instrument, ask if you might help accompany a group or play in a musical selection that might call for your instrument. Let the teachers or directors know that you are available. Help with logistics of programs, whether it be to write out the program or help set up risers.

If you have a child who is learning to play an instrument or is taking voice lessons, (or dancing or painting), encourage them to practice, but remember not to take away the joy of their new adventure. Share their excitement. It will only get better and better.

We are fortunate in our community in that we have founded the Woodbury-Bethlehem Community Music Foundation. We are a public charity that seeks to enhance consciousness and enthusiasm for music activities and experiences for music activities. We want to provide our community with valuable life learning and appreciation of music. This organization has funded the local school region to start a full-fledged string program. We are very excited about that! You can find out more info on Facebook and on our website.

JKW:  What is one of your favorite music memories?

LK:  In March of my last teaching year, I had a concert with all of my choral students, current and previous members, faculty, former college music colleagues and a professional opera singer. Even my mentor, Jim Humphreville was there. This concert raised over $1200 for the music foundation, but even better than that we all had such fun making music together. That excitement and commitment to the passion of the music performed that evening is what music making is all about.

celebrating-the-love-of-mus

JKW:  So what’s next?

LK:  My life’s goal is to share my love and joy, my passion for what music can do for the soul with everyone I come in contact with.

I currently sing with the Waterbury Chorale and the St. Rose of Lima Festival Chorus in Newtown, CT. I am active on the Worship Committee at Our Savior Lutheran Church and have added music in various ways to our services and  have plans in the works to form a Hospice Choir.

“Viva la musica! And remember, always keep a song in your heart!” – Lynne Kearney

Music touches our lives in so many different ways.  Lynne Kearney first touched mine with her music as musical director in shows I performed in, then as a friend, and in a very special moment as organist and musical director for my wedding 25 years ago

Valentines weekend is a time when we share what we love with the ones we love.  Lynne does this every day of the year.  Her story is a great reminder that we can too.

I hope you enjoyed Lynne’s Little Life Story.  Stay tuned and as Lynne likes to say.. always keep a song in your heart.

Joan Koerber-Walker

About the Joan:

Koerber-Walker-056 An entrepreneur, author, speaker and corporate advisor, Joan Koerber-Walker’s journey has spanned from corporate America to entrepreneurship and non-profits as well as to community leadership and into the halls of Washington D.C.  Equally important, she is a wife, a mom, and a friend  to many around the world keeping in touch through her blogs, with over 150,000 social media friends, and of course face to face.  Today, she is the chairman of CorePurpose, Inc. which she founded in 2002 and works to make a difference in her community as the Chairman of the Board of the Opportunity  through  Entrepreneurship Foundation and as an advisor to The FUSION Foundation and The Healing Trees Humanitarian Project.  To learn more about how CorePurpose and the CoreAlliance can help you grow your business in 2011, you can contact her by clicking here.

CorePurpose  is a registered trademark of CorePurpose, Inc.  CoreAlliance is a  service mark of CorePurpose Inc.  All rights reserved

ICE-CAVERN3

Each morning I start my day

outside with my laptop

checking to see what has happened

in the world while I slept.

I watch the sun come up

over the mountain.

It’s so peaceful and quiet.

I can gather my thoughts

and listen to the fountain

bubbling away.

Hummingbirds play

in the fountain’s spray

as the sky is painted

in hues of gold, blue and mauve.

But what’s this?

ICE-CAVERN-1

When I came out this morning

it was eerily quiet and oh so cold.

The fountain was silent.

No water glistened in

the dawning rays of the sun.

Instead, pillars of ice were glowing in shades of gold…

painted by the sun’s early rays.

During the night an arctic wind

had blown through the desert.

Its breath silencing the water’s babble

creating icy fingers reaching down

to touch the pool

where humming birds were wont to sip

from the fountains stream.

ICE-PILLARS

They encased the fountain’s tiers

like an icy wedding cake

stretching from layer to layer.

Ice cakes don’t come often

to the Valley of the Sun.

I grabbed my camera

to capture the moment

so my family could see this rare event.

For surely once the sun has risen

the icy fingers would disappear

and the hummingbirds would return

to sip from the fountain and

dance around the ears

FOUNTAIN-3-CROPPED

of the little boy

who watches it

night and day.

Now, in the sun’s early rays,

he looks confused.

His little feet are white with ice

and the pool they normally play in

frozen solid.

Instead there are only pillars of ice

creating a landscape

he can not see

for the magic wrought by nature

is hidden from his view.

Nature is a wondrous thing… especially when it surprises us.

Thanks for stopping by for a little life story.

Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

My kid taught me something yesterday. Determination trumps it all.

Chris Nationals 2008 005From the time he was 8 years old, my son Chris had been pursing a dream to be a professional athlete and play in the NHL and he put everything he had into it.  His dream took him places with leadership roles on teams in the WSHL, the BCHL, and the EJHL.  By the age of 20, he had competed in 5 USA Hockey Junior National Championship Tournaments and was talking to colleges about next steps. Then, at the end of 2009, something was not right.  He lost 75 lbs in three months (not a good thing for someone with hardly any body fat to begin with) and landed in the hospital.   The doctors diagnosed him with Crohn’s Disease and told him to take it easy and give himself a chance to recover.

He recovered alright, but he did not take it easy.  He was determined to succeed.  He hit the gym and the ice.  By spring of 2010 he was back.  In prime condition, he had his first a minor league pro try out.  He blew  the scouts and the coaches away.  But not the front office.  To them a player with Crohn’s was too much of a business risk. “Yes, there are NHL players  who have successfully played the game after getting the disease,” he was told, “but they were not going to sign one on as a rookie.”

Not long after that, he made a decision. As a certified personal trainer, he had helped others for several years.  He would focus on that as a business and find a sport that would allow him to use his skills and talents to succeed and reach his goals while completing his college education in Criminal Justice at the University of Phoenix.    Not willing to set his pro sport dreams aside, he shifted his focus to a new competitive sport.  Cross Fit.  He began to train and learn everything he needed to learn about this new sport.  On January 15th he entered his first Cross Fit Competition, The Hammer of AZ in the Achilles event. Take a look.

 

Less than one year after being told that his Crohn’s Disease made him too much of a business risk for professional hockey–Chris enters his first Cross Fit Competition and places 12th in the Achilles Competition at The Hammer of AZ. The event involved running 400 meters and then lifting 135 pounds as many times as you can in a total of 4 minutes. Then repeat the process three more times.

Video at YouTube.com – Chris at Cross Fit – The Hammer of AZ

The Next Goal

Now it’s back to business and training.  He’s determined to succeed, compete., and win.

He’ll get there.  He’s determined.

And his Dad, brother and I will be there to cheer him on to victory again.

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

Joan Koerber-Walker

 

Note:  The sport of cross fit is catching on with people  of all ages.  Not everyone needs to be an “Achilles”.  You might enjoy learning more in this video.

 

A short video on the sport of Cross Fit

YouTube.com: What Is Cross Fit? Full video by CrossFit by Overload

Part 1 of the People Making a Difference Series

running between now and the end of 2009.

In 2002, I left the corporate world to start my own business.  I knew a lot about running BIG businesses, but like many before me, I found I had a lot to learn about running a small one. As I made my way around the Phoenix community, one name kept popping up. 

People kept telling me to call Francine Hardaway.  Eventually, I listened.

We met on a summer’s day at a local restaurant, me in a ‘corporate suit’ and high heels, Francine in a peasant skirt and sandals.  We may have looked like an unlikely pair, but when it came time to talk about what we thought was important, the differences fell away quickly.  Now, years later, she remains one of my dearest friends.  Over the years, I have watched her bring hundreds of entrepreneurs together to share contacts and ideas through her company – Stealthmode Partners.  On the education front, she traveled to Kansas City to meet with the Kauffman Foundation – got certified on FastTrac® and brought the programs to Phoenix for the very first time.  She’s a blogger of note, a maven on Twitter (@hardaway), and one of the first to experiment with the latest new social media platform.  She even got ME to doing it.  It only took about three years of gentle prodding.  🙂 When she decided to launch her own entrepreneurial foundation and asked me to be Chairman of the Board …well it’s hard to say no to Hardaway…

So, what better person to interview for my People Making a Difference Series.

A Conversation with Francine Hardaway

“It’s not what happens to you; it’s how you come to it.”

Carl Hammerschlag, MD and spiritual healerFrancine Hardaway

Who are You?

F.H.~ I’m a wacko, who was bred to be one.  My father told me when I was little that in order to succeed in life you  had to be a little different. To demonstrate that, he wore white ties, pale blue Italian shirts and cuff links specially made with the image of Billy Daniels, his client, singing “Old Black Magic” on them. I still have one of them.  He had a carefully constructed image.

My father also educated me far beyond the norm for women: I got a PhD, and he paid for the entire thing, not worrying about whether I’d get married. When my mother said I wasn’t helpful around the house, he told her I “was not born to change diapers.”

Foster Mom: A Journey Of Self-discovery, Francine Hardaway, 0595314317 I got my Ph.D., taught English in college for ten years, and left to start a business, almost unheard of for women back then. For years I was the only woman in the room in business discussions.  At the same time, I was never one to position myself as a feminist — more as one of the boys.

I adopted technology early and often. I got pregnant inadvertently and it transformed my life into a symphony of children, stepchildren, foster children and grandchildren.

What are you up to?  What’s your favorite Project?

Francine Hardaway with the AZEC09 team - photo by Mark Goldstein - pictured: Merlin Ward, Joan Koerber-Walker, Francine Hardaway, Steven GrovesF.H.~ My favorite project, OTEF, grew out of my child raising and foster parenting experience.  My own children grew up and left Phoenix, correctly assuming there were no high-powered jobs for them in town. My foster children, at the other end of the spectrum, are stuck in low wage jobs because they’re not educated and one is a former felon. Although he’s been out of prison for four years, he’s last in any competition for jobs because he was in prison as a teen. Because of all of them, I believe strongly in opportunity through entrepreneurship, and in the need all people have to create the tools for their own survival. OTEF teaches entrepreneurship skills, which more and more have become survival skills and hosts the Arizona Entrepreneurship Conferences each year as our major fundraiser.

Who Inspires you?

F.H. ~ Ed Robson and Mike Lacey. Both of them have been my business mentors.  Lacey told me to start my public relations business after he started New Times (now Village Voice Media) and Ed started Robson Communities. Ed grew up an orphan, was an Olympic hockey player, and built every one of his active adult communities by doing something we now call “engaging with the customer.” He played  tennis and ate meals with all of his early buyers.

WHY do you do what you do.

F.H. ~ Because I love it. Period.

If you had 3 wishes – what would they be?

F.H. ~ To see my grandchildren grow up and my foster children succeed
To remain healthy for the rest of my life
To live long enough to see all the technologies I know are coming arrive. 

JKW ~ She may call herself a ‘wacko’ while I’m a bit buttoned down but she’s an awesome person to have in your corner, as part of a team, and in our community.  Take it from me – I KNOW.  When it comes to inspiring people to get involved and start making a difference, few do it as well as Francine.

Thanks for stopping by for a little life story.  Stay tuned this December. I’ll be bring you more interviews with People Making a Difference.

Joan Koerber-Walker

p.s. Do you know someone who is making a difference?  Send me a note about them.

scan0118

My Mother-In-Law is a witch and my Father-In-Law is a cowboy – or at least that’s what they were one long past Halloween when they came to visit and took my then little boys trick or treating.

Sandy and I went to the craft store to get goodies for costumes.  Pulled out my old Sears sewing machine and like magic created matching cowboy outfits for Grandpa and Christopher.

A little more magic and the smell of cookies filled the house – orange pumpkins and grinning ghosts fell prey to little fingers while Dad fitted the cooler of wine and beer for the grown ups  and a box for the collected candy into the kids’ little red wagon.  (It’s also a great back up plan  when little legs can’t walk another step.)scan0133

And as the sun began to set, off they went – a witch, a set of cowboys – six shooters in had, and Superman in the stroller while Dad followed behind with a wagon-load of beer and wine for thirsty grown ups and the camera – of course.

And me, I stayed back at the ranch, sitting in the cul-de-sac with some of the other Moms, passing out treats to hoards of tricksters – princesses, cowboys, hobos, and kings, as they made their journey from door to door.

There are lots of different theories about the exact origin of Halloween.  Howard Bennett, in this Special to The Washington Post article from has some insights as to Halloween’s History.scan0134

But however it evolved, and where ever it came from, Halloween is a time for fun, for sharing with friends and neighbors, and for the creating of memories.

So Trick or Treat – here’s wishing you and yours a safe and Happy Halloween!

Thanks for stopping by for a little life story.

Stay Tuned….

Joan Koerber-Walker

I live in a pretty serious world most of the time. My day is filled with meetings and con calls, reports and numbers.  And in this economy, finding numbers that make you smile is rarely an easy task.

One of the things that helps as a pick-me-up is to remember the times when – it wasn’t funny then – but now looking back at it from a safe distance can bring a smile…

Times like when I CRASHED on the day of a BIG important speech at a new job.  I was rehearsed and dressed in my best, only to hit the one thing I was NOT prepared for – a broken step going up to the stage.  It was my one and only live acrobatics act act, and what I must of looked like as I went flying – with no safety net.

Oh, My…

Or when I overheard the guys in the office taking bets on how long I would last and calling me a Cream Puff

Or, when as an adult, my Parish Priest sent ME to Time Out!

But with each of these stories and hundreds of others, I can look back on them and laugh.  These experiences taught me good lessons and when I stopped taking my self so seriously – and had the luxury of a little time and distance – they really were not so bad.    As they say –

That which does not kill us makes us stronger…

Friedrich Nietzsche

and maybe in the future we might even be able to laugh about it!

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

Joan Koerber-Walker

One early morning this week, I saw a tweet from a Twitter friend (@JDHenry09) it read:

I’m buying a house today!!!!!!!!!!

Can’t wait for this to be over.

Cinnamon-SpringsThat  reminded me of the day, many years ago, when I bought my very first house or in my case, a condo on a little private pond in South Windsor, Connecticut.  I remember touring all the properties with my real estate agent, picking it out, and then bringing my parents back to see it.  Then came the experience of getting my first mortgage, waiting and worrying, and then hearing the magic words… congratulations, we are ready to close. 

When the big day arrived my Dad and I drove up to the office where we would sign all the papers.  I was sooo scared.  I was about to borrow $50,000 from the bank!    My Dad, a home buying veteran (inside GM employees all knew GM stood for Gonna Move rather that General Motors) was there to help me understand the process and to make sure I understood it, but he was not co-signing – this was my house – and the bank’s too! But soon I was handed the keys to my own home.  It was not very big, only two bedrooms and one bath – but it was mine.

Fremont0001A few years later I got transferred to Fremont, California and having heard horror stories of what it was like to find an affordable home in the Bay Area, I was pretty worried.  Could I find a new home?  Well with help from a wonderful realtor – and my boss who pointed us towards neighborhoods that might work, we did.  Not only that but the new house was even bigger – almost twice the size – with three bedrooms AND two baths – something every married couple should have.  ;o)

The next 6 years were spent in a wonderful neighborhood with wonderful people who became more family then friends.  We planted roses, and harvested bushels of oranges and tangerines from our OWN back yard.  When I was pregnant, our wonderful neighbors were there to stand in for parents and grandparents since our folks were far away on the East Coast.  My two little boys were the favorites on the block – OK they were the ONLY kids on the block.  Even in the late 1980’s it was pretty hard for a young family to afford a house in the Bay.

HouseBut the day came when a new job meant a new state, it was time to move again – to Arizona.  It was also time to find a new Realtor® and a new home. 

It was a lot more affordable to buy houses in 1992 in Phoenix, and we found the perfect house on a quiet cul-de-sac with a big front yard, a pool, a garden park across the street, and a view of the foothills of South Mountain.  Lots of room for toys for all the boys in the three car garage – and best of all lots of kids to play with.  Even though we actually paid less for the Arizona house than we got for the California house, it had doubled in size – again!  We moved in on my birthday, and our realtor brought me a bucket of chicken and a cupcake to enjoy as I unpacked boxes, while Patty our faithful nanny rode herd on the boys then age one and three.

We’ve lived in our house now for 17 years and I have always loved it.  But, our boys are grown and the need for play rooms, swimming pools, and storage room for bicycles and  hockey gear is coming to an end.  I don’t think our next house will be as big as this one.  We might be ready soon to go back to a simpler time and about HALF the space.  Just the rooms we actually use – a nice big kitchen – a Great Room to live in.  Three bedrooms are more than enough.  But Chris is firm – ONLY if it has a three car garage – and more than ONE bathroom. 

So, Miss Jessica Henry – @jdhenry09 – I hope you will be as happy in your new home as we have been in ours.  As you can see, buying a home is the first step in a journey.  Have fun, and Congratulations!

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

Joan Koerber-Walker

Author’s Note:  For all you real estate professionals who are scrambling to find our number, my husband Chris is our Realtor® these days.  He works at Keller Williams here in Phoenix.

Rubber Duckie” is a song sung by the Muppet character Ernie (voiced by Jim Henson) on Sesame Street. The song is named after Ernie’s toy, a rubber duck affectionately named Rubber Duckie.

The song became a surprise mainstream hit by reaching #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September 1970. (Source: Wikipedia)

Did you smile when you watched the video?  Did it bring back memories?  Did it reinforce feelings about how it is fun to be clean, to take a bath, to relax with good friends that you can count on even if you are a funny green frog and a plastic yellow duck?

Within the  professional speaking community, there is a well known maxim that goes like this:

Q.  Do I have have to use HUMOR when I speak?

A.  No… only if you want to get paid!

There is a lesson here.  If you want your message have an impact and be remembered, HUMOR is an important component.

But why is it that the lesson from an amusing story or vignette is remembered long after the memory fades of a dry lecture or a serious, businesslike discussion? 

Perhaps it is the way the story makes us feel that helps us remember.  I’ll have to ask my friends that study the science of how people learn.  I am sure they can tell me again, maybe this time with a story or some humor to help me remember.

As leaders, we often are called to speak and share a message with others.  Yet, too often, we forget to add a touch of humor to our message.  I wonder why that is?

Often, the answer lies in our own experience.  Too many times, we have watched others fall flat when telling a joke or or worse had that embarrassing experience happen to us! 

Some people have the knack of delivering a punch line and others DO  NOT. 

On top of that, in today’s world of professional and political correctness, no matter how well the joke is delivered, saying the wrong thing to the wrong audience can be disastrous.  So, a word of warning, unless you are a professional comedian or humorist, you might want to avoid the jokes that single out any group of people, be they Italian, Polish, Men/Women, Red Necks, or Blondes.  It is just not a good idea. 

I remember a time when a group of us had gotten together after work.  People were sharing ‘blonde jokes’ they had heard.  Each one was worse than the last.  It became a sort of informal competition to see who could top who.  Finally, our boss, a devoted family man, shared his.

“What’s BROWN, black and blue, and red all over?”  ……

“A brunette that has told too many blonde jokes.” 

I can’t remember ever hearing blonde jokes in the office after that. 

The boss’s wife and daughters were all blondes.

All jokes aside, effectively using  humor and reinforcing stories in a professional environment is a communication skill that can be learned and improved with practice.

Here are some tips you might want to keep in mind:

1. Use your own stories.    Don’t get your material from emails or the Internet. If you have seen it, odds are millions of others have seen it too.  Unless you are using it in a new and unique way, it is best to steer clear.

2.  Don’t get a laugh at the expense of others.  Sharing a bit of humor highlighting your own mistakes can be very effective, especially if it ends in a way that shows how you, and perhaps the listener, can learn a valuable lesson from the experience.   But, using humor to get a laugh at the expense of others is not the way you want to be remembered.  

3.  Humor should bring a smile, no a tear.  Don’t be hateful.  You may get a snicker, but rarely a true laugh.  Really effective humor makes people feel good.

4.  And if you are in a professional environment, Keep It Clean!  Off color jokes, sexual innuendos, and bathroom humor are a great way to destroy your professional image and reputation.

So, keeping these tips in mind, take a chance and inject a little humor into your speaking and writing. 

People are much more likely to remember your story AND your message when you do.

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

Joan Koerber-Walker

 

Do you remember your first day of school.  Or maybe the day you got your child ready for that big, important day?

It was exciting but a little scary too.  There were so many unknowns.  What if my teacher is mean?  What if no one will like me? What if I get lost?  What if there are no cookies!

Take a few minutes share in a special first day of school as Kermit the Frog helps his friend Cookie Monster get over his trepidation on that most momentous day.

Yes it’s fun and a little bit silly, but there are also great lessons here.

Fear of the unknown can be put to rest or reduced when you have a friend to show you the ropes, answer your questions, and show you that you are not moving into unfamiliar territory all on your own.

In youth we often call these people ‘buddies’ while as grown up we call them mentors.

But one thing’s for sure… having one can make all the difference.

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

Joan Koerber-Walker

It’s been said “you can tell the difference between men and boys by the cost of their toys.”  I know at my house that is certainly true!

This week I have been musing on change – that ever present fact of life.

In an earlier post, I shared how the times of our life and the circumstances reflect in the color of my hair.  But as I pondered longer, I found another way that life is funny.  The toys we surround our selves with say a lot about where we are in life.

As a young mother, my kids discovered Barney – a six foot, singing and dancing purple dinosaur.  It was the age of the VHS- Tape.  We had every Barney video, crates of Sing-Along Songs, and every Disney Classic we could get our hands on.  But in the end, if my youngest had his choice – it was Barney every time.  Barney was a giant – his happy hero.  Now, baby Nicholas is 6’6 – having grown into our own happy hero.  My guess is today he would look down on his giant purple friend in more ways than one!

Power Rangers 5 inch Guardian Action Figure - Blue Lion -  Bandai - Toys

As the boys grew older, plush cuddliness and happy songs made way for Pokémon and Power Rangers.  Play evolved from imaginary friends to completions between imaginary creatures and saving the Earth from outer-space villains and creatures.

And the toys grew more expensive!  Gone was the  luxury of a $12 plush toy.  Now the Christmas lists included swords and costumes, Rangers of different colors, and Megazords to fight the major battles.

Not to mention the shoe boxes full of Pokémon creatures on cards.  I still remember returning from a several week trip to Asia in the early 90’s.  My return was a BIG hit with my two boys – not because Mommy was finally home – but because in Mommy’s suitcase they found packages of Pokémon cards in Japanese!  (My youngest child was thrilled to play with them – my oldest wanted to sell them to his friends!)

Halo: Combat Evolved

But time moves on and preferences change – or do they?  Soon Dads and boys alike were huddled over X-Box controllers playing Halo.  The price of the X-Box and games was nothing compared to the GIANT TV they just had to have so that all three of them could play at once as a team to save future worlds on the Halo Megastructure.

I once thought the constant repetitiveness of Barney songs might drive me mad – but that was nothing compared to the cacophony of machine gun fire, grenades, and exploding monsters in surround sound!

imageToys morphed into ‘equipment’ for baseball, basketball and soccer before both boys settled into Ice Hockey Year round. For eight years it was constant trips to Behind the Mask – for pads, skates, sticks and the like.  Chris at 20, is still in the game, this year Playing D for the New Jersey Hitmen.  Nick stopped playing in High School when his feet got to big for his skates.

He moved on to bigger toys yet again – CARS!  Working with Dad, he’d tune up and repair his car and his brother’s on a rotation basis as boys are want to do.

Simple Green in a spray bottle is now my favorite laundry aid to get the grease out of shorts and T-Shirts!

Girls come and go.  The boys have yet to discover how expensive THOSE toys can really be.  But Dad has learned, for girl friends become wives – and YES – we’re expensive!

Then come babies and bigger houses to make room for them, Dad’s toys take a back seat to the array of treasures the little men will need.  Not to mention saying good bye to toys like power boats – why keep one  when you spend every weekend at the hockey rink – or motorcycles – “You’re a Dad now – those are too dangerous!”

But again – times change – babies grow to boys – and then from boys to men.

Now it’s up to our sons to choose – and pay for – their own toys.

It’s Dad’s turn to play again.  And so, one day, it appeared – the big red motorcycle – but then that is another story.

Thanks for stopping by for a little life story.

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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