Grocery Store Bonding and Singing in Safeway: Two Stories

Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 2.41.41 PMI’m going to attempt to tell these stories as they happened, exactly as they happened. I live in the town of Severna Park, and the closest grocery store is Safeway, which is walkable. I’m over there constantly, as I’m not a big “do the grocery load for the week” kind of person. I pretty much figure out each day what we will eat, and run over and get whatever I need since it’s so convenient.

In the last several months, I’ve had two hilarious Safeway Moments, as I shall call them.

The first happened a few months ago when I was standing in line to pick up a prescription. The line was long. There was a middle-aged woman at the counter being helped, but there was something holding up the process, something the clerk was trying to figure out. Behind her was another woman, tanned with blonde hair, about my age, who had just moved from Florida. Then, there was me. Behind me was a man in his 50s and another man in his late 50s to early 60s.

We were all waiting.

And we were all in our fifties, because, let’s be real, you need a lot of prescriptions, vitamins, supplements, or probiotics in your fifties.

When the problem at the counter was finally sorted out, the woman was getting ready to pay. “And I’d like to use my AARP card for my discount,” she said.

The woman from Florida, whom I had been chatting with, and I both looked at each other. “Did she say she’s using her AARP card for a discount?” I asked.

The woman who was paying turned around and looked at us both, ready to straighten this thing out. “I use my AARP for discounts everywhere. I just used it at Bill Bateman’s (local restaurant) the other night and got $40 off my big bill,” she said.

We were astounded.

It’s been a running joke in my family that when I turned fifty two years ago, that I should immediately sign up for the AARP card. My dad claims you get discounts on lots of stuff. I’ve avoided the reality of the AARP card, because, quite frankly, it’s admitting your age, something I don’t like to do unless pressed, or must be honest, as in yesterday’s post.

I asked the woman if movie discounts were included. I’m all about discounts for the movies, as I refuse to pay full price to see outspoken, condescending, opinionated celebrities when I can wait to get them soon for free on cable.

“Yes…and so many other discounts!” she said. “You’re crazy not to get one.”

The man behind me piped in. “I use my AARP card all the time. Lots of discounts, dear.”

The woman from Florida and I, clearly both not wanting to utter our age, agreed that, perhaps we should look into it. Then the man all the way at the end of the line shouted, “You really need to sign up for one. You’re missing out.”

I felt immediately connected to these fellow people of AARP age. We were communing in the prescription line, discussing membership to the club.

The “I’m old enough for the club card” club.

Needless to say, after the encouragement from my peers, I’m looking into it.

If only for the discounts.

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Yesterday, my daughter and I had to run into Safeway for a quick errand. If you’ve been in a Safeway store recently, you know that blasting from the speakers in the store are typically songs from the 70s and 80s, or lighter current stuff by my buddy, Michael Buble. I can’t tell you how many times Buble is playing in the store.

Anyway, yesterday’s featured song as I walked through the door was Lionel Richie’s “Endless Love.” As I am often wont to do when I am with my 15-year-old daughter, I began singing along with the song, quite loudly and on purpose, just to make her wonder about her own mother’s sanity. She is always amazed that I know the lyrics to songs when you could actually understand the lyrics to songs. I knew every word of “Endless Love,” and as such, I was singing it and smiling as I looked at her. As we picked up what we needed and made our way over to the self-check area, there was a man, about my age, singing the song as loudly as I was. And, in front of him was a woman about my age, who was bagging her stuff and singing too.

“We’re all singing along with song!” I said to him as we got in line.

“I’m singing it, she’s singing it, you’re singing it. We’re all singing it,” he said, smiling. “How can you not?”

The woman in front of him looked at me and smiled.

“Exactly,” I said back to him, smiling back and laughing.

“Exactly,” I then said, looking at my daughter.

I figured it was my birthday and I could sing whatever the hell I wanted.

Stephanie

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Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

 

 

The Birthday Post: 52 Life Lessons

Yup. It’s that time, I’m afraid.

It’s time for the annual birthday post. It’s the one day of the year that I allow myself to feel blessed and old at the same time.

It doesn’t make it easier when your own brother sends you these GOOD MORNING images with “Happy birthday” written across the top of the text.

 

So, with those lovely images in mind, and with life lessons I’ve learned over the course of all my (yes, 52 years), I thought I’d share them with you today. Please know that these life lessons are in no particular order and were written with full honesty.

52 Life Lessons Thus Far

1. People will surprise you (both in a good way and a bad way).

2. You are smarter than you think you are.

3. Life moves fast.

4. Good intentions do matter.

5. Women can be bitches.

6. You can spend a long time missing someone.

7. Hard work pays off.

8. A sense of humor is vital to survival.

9. Forgive those who hurt you.

10. No matter how hard you try, you will never understand every bit of everyone.

11. A hug has healing powers.

12. Talking politics can be poisonous to friendships.

13. Patience truly is a virtue.

14. Traveling helps you understand yourself and the world around you.

15. A kind word never hurt anybody.

16. Apologize quickly.

17. Life is not always fair.

18. Some people take far more than they give.

19. If friendship is a one-way street, take a detour.

20. Steer clear of negative people, judgmental people, and gossips.

21. Be persistent in pursuit of what you love.

22. Trust your instinct.

23. Remain calm when you want to scream.

24. Be a good listener and a good friend.

25. Read constantly.

26. Be as organized as you can be; it saves time.

27. Stop and smell the roses often and with passion.

28. Tell people you love that you love them, and often.

29. Give yourself permission to fail or make a mistake; it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world.

30. Be polite; look people in the eye.

31. Perfect your handshake and your smile.

32. Forgive yourself.

33. Allow your kids to make mistakes.

34. You can’t—and shouldn’t—always pick up other people’s pieces.

35. Write down your family stories.

36. People make time for you if they want to.

37. The best thing you can give your kids are happy memories.

38. Jealousy and envy fracture and break relationships.

39. Make time for your hobbies and the things you love to do.

40. Writing letters still matters.

41. Teaching keeps you young.

42. Having a mentor is crucial to success.

43. The sacrifice bunt is still baffling.

44. Allow people to chase their dreams.

45. Friendships can be disappointing.

46. Success is whatever you want it to be, as determined by you.

47. Rainbows and ladybugs are lucky.

48. Parakeets in the home can be pretty darn noisy.

48. Things are not always as they seem.

49. A good marriage takes work.

50. Joy comes from within; no one can find it for you.

51. Jesus’s teachings of kindness and love can guide your actions in all circumstances.

52. Remember: you have the ability to impact someone else’s life.

Stephanie

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

 

How One Photo Inspired Our Porch

Over the weekend I was cleaning out a bunch of files on my computer, and I came across the image below.

Favorite Porch copy

It’s the picture I saved when we moved into our home four years ago, and the photo that ended up inspiring the look of our own porch that we added on to our 40-plus-year-old home. This was the image I had pinned on Pinterest that I kept coming back to over and over again.

I remember showing it to our architect and builder and saying that we’d like something similar to this, that we loved the feel of it, and it gave us a homey vibe. And while that table certainly seats a ton of folks, we didn’t need all that much in the way of a ginormous (love that word) table as we are a family of four with small extended families. But, just recently, I found a table at a nearby consignment store, chalk-painted it, bought chairs and cushions from Lowe’s, and now, finally, four years later, our porch is almost exactly the way we imagined it. It easily seats 10 people when we have guests over now.

It’s fantastic how one photo can be the vessel for someone else’s vision. I’m so thankful for the image and the way it led us to our current design.

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Stephanie

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

 

 

Sunday Casual Brunch | What I Wore

Time for a little fashion on the blog…

Sometimes going out to brunch can be a very formal occasion. Other times, it’s a casual affair. When sitting by the water having Sunday coffee and a scrumptious meal, an outfit like this is just perfect. There’s no need to overdress; white pants and a cute top, a little bag, some gold hoops, and some sunnies are all you need.

Love the detail on the top.

Stephanie

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

 

The Annual “I Hate Making Dinner” Post

Wall-Sticker-Dinner-Choices-Wall-Vinyl-Sticker-Decal-font-b-Cute-b-font-Kitchen-Decor-fontHonestly, if I had known how much time I would spend preparing and making dinner, I might have given the whole domestic thing a little more thoughtful consideration before I signed on. Or at least I could have put a clause in the marriage vows, perhaps something along the lines of this:

I, Stephanie, take you, Anthony, for my lawful husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, completely exempt from making dinner 300+ nights a year, until death do us part.

I’m feeling funny this morning.

Truthfully, I’m lucky because my hubby helps by shopping for the groceries and helping to clean up said 300+ dinners per year.

But, it goes without saying to those of us who do the cooking, the pressure is STILL on US.

We have to do the most challenging part of all: use our creative energies to determine what exactly will be served EACH NIGHT.

Please understand—I’m not talking about a special occasion dinner; I typically love to design and prepare those types of meals when I entertain. I’m talking about the five or six nights a week that we eat supper together as a family. You know, the monotony of it.

You get to a point where you’re just sick of the whole dinner thing. Being inventive and researching recipes takes so much time. I know. I see my friends pinning their life away on Pinterest, one recipe right after the other. One healthy guacamole recipe at time, one healthy taco and low-carb meal and lemon cheesecake pinned to the boards of “getting healthy” and “yummy desserts” over and over again.

Pin. Pin. Pin. I honestly wonder how many of those pins are ever made.

When people ask the universal question, “If you could have any wish granted, what would it be?”

Gosh, you guys, it’s such an easy one for me. A layup.

I would wish for a freaking chef to make the 300+ meals a year, that’s what I’d wish for. Nothing else even comes close. And I’d want the most innovative, fun-loving, inventive, patient, and energetic chef who took into consideration all of our likes, such as, “I hate when the Brussels sprouts aren’t done enough,” “I get tired of red sauce,” “I don’t like chicken prepared this way,”—all quotes from my darling family members that I’ve heard at one time or another. This magic chef would, of course, get it just right every time. If she could pull that off, it would be one of the most amazing miracles ever witnessed, on par with Moses’ parting of the Red Sea.

Like right now, I’m already thinking about dinner for the weekend and week ahead.

What’s up with that?

Hope I run into you at a local restaurant sometime soon.

Stephanie

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Beaufort, South Carolina

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It was one of those places I’d seen highlighted over and over again in magazines: Beaufort, South Carolina. As we’ve recently made Hilton Head, South Carolina, our new vacation spot, we’ve been visiting some of the towns nearby each time we go. This past year, after we left Charleston where we spent three days, we mapped our drive to Beaufort and decided it was the perfect place to spend a few hours before checking into our condo on Hilton Head Island.

I’m so glad we took the time to visit. The town was everything I imagined it would be: small, quaint, full of Southern charm, hospitable and friendly, and the best part of all, it was right on the water. (And, a very nice lady in a clothing store let us use their restroom.)

We spent some time strolling the main street with the shops and restaurants, and then took a turn off of the street and explored the quaint, historic town with picturesque homes and white picket fences. One resident had the best Fourth of July decorations I’ve seen, and I wanted to assume that Beaufort’s most happening party would take place at his house.

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My favorite part was the waterfront walkway along the water; restaurants with views of it make for perfect spots to sit and relax. There were also big swings that looked across at the boats as they passed by. Scenes from Forrest Gump were filmed in Savannah and in South Carolina, and the scene where Forrest is running and interviewed by the media was supposed to be Mississippi, but it was actually a bridge crossing the Beaufort River on the Richard V. Woods Memorial Bridge in Beaufort pictured below.

If you like visiting small towns, I encourage you to stop for a bit in Beaufort. Eat outside on the water, and just take a load off. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon. And the shopping was good, too.

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Stephanie

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

 

 

When People Reach Out and Remind You of the Advice You’ve Given? Blessed.

1481048898823Yesterday, I received an email from a former student of mine. She said she is an avid reader of my blog and encouraged me to keep on going having read one of my posts I wrote about needing a break from writing. She’s clever, this one. She asked if I remembered advice I had given in class, and stated that she remembered me offering it to students on one pretty, spring day. The advice I had given was this: to step away sometimes from things we are working on and come back to them with fresh perspectives.

Yes, I do remember saying that. It’s one of my mantras for writing. Put it away, and then look at it again later.

I can’t tell you how touched I was to receive that email that cheered me on and told me to persevere.

It’s not the only one I’ve received (which makes me feel super good that people are actually reading my blog and what I write!) I had another former student of mine tell me that my words saved her years ago in one of her darkest moments. Yes, I remember that, too. Her email brought tears to my eyes. We were both going through some tough times and we shared that with each other.

Many people have reached out to me to check on me. I find it sweet, touching, and encouraging.

Let me assure everyone that I am fine. Perfectly fine. Think of me as Elizabeth Gilbert, only without the year-long traveling to three different countries to reconnect with herself in Eat, Pray Love. I just needed a few weeks to sit back and take a look at what I was doing and ask the question why? (You can blame it on the book Start with Why by Simon Sinek that I’ll be using in the new course I’m teaching this fall). Clearly by reading this post and others I have written since that day, I am not giving up blogging. As I said in a previous post, it’s not the writing that is most challenging. I love that. I will keep on doing that. It’s the decision to just take a break from intense book marketing for a bit. It eats up a ton of your time and doesn’t allow you to do the thing you love most: WRITE.

Have no fear: I’ll be back at it. Why? Because I care about my published works too much not to give it all I’ve got.

I just hit the pause button the DVR.

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And that clever student of mine also reminded me of another discussion we had in class, as my post hinted at those people who want to see you fail (which, truthfully, we should never take into consideration—ever—although thoughts of them can make you work harder). She said that this notion really resonated with her, and that was “to celebrate other people’s accomplishments.” She said she thinks of our talk all the time, and we shared examples in class of people not always being supportive of our endeavors. As she said, and I quote her, “Learning to celebrate others’ successes showcases a person’s quality, and sometimes an opportunity can arise from that interaction.” In other words, yes, boost them up. Give them a high five. To tell them that the work they have done was well done. As she indicated, it’s a sign of someone’s maturity to be happy for another person’s success. It’s not an indication of our own failure.

And this lack of support is something we notice. We notice when others are not happy for our success (and sometimes they honestly don’t know just the amount of grit and sweat and tears and grueling hours we have that put into it—it can be downright maddening.) As difficult as it may be sometimes, it’s your duty as a friend or family member to extend congratulations when someone else does something awesome and to help in any way you can. We all agreed that we must always try our best to be congratulatory always when someone we know has worked tirelessly to achieve a goal. I’m so glad my student remembered this bit of advice, too.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: it’s been wonderful to hear from people who actually do want to see you continue on your path and hope you reach your goals. And, it’s been pretty cool to have people reiterate some of the discussions we’ve had in the past. Therefore, to my former students, friends, colleagues and family who have reached out to have a side conversation regarding these latest thoughts, THANK YOU. I appreciate you more than you know.

Stepping back to re-examine is a good thing. I’m blessed to have so many helpful encouragers in my life.

And a fresh writing and book promotion perspective is just what the doctor ordered.

I’m working on that.

Stephanie

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

 

 

Reconnecting with Simple Pleasures

There are only a few weeks left of summer, and I made an agreement with myself when I decided to pause for a bit from book promotion that I would reconnect with the simple pleasures of life for a few weeks. There’s something to be said for being able to do this, and to do it in a meaningful way. Taking the time to enjoy your favorite things is important to your psyche. This idea was reinforced on Saturday morning when we lost a pet.

She wasn’t a dog or cat, she was our parakeet, Holly, and we brought her home on Christmas Eve in 2010. She was white with blue feathers and she had a sweet disposition for a parakeet. Moreover, she was my daughter’s bird. My son’s parakeet, Poe, lived to see Holly passed away at the bottom of the cage. My daughter and I gasped when we saw her. She had been ill a couple of months ago and had made a miraculous recovery. We’d seen no signs she was sick again, except for a little labored breathing sometimes.

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That little parakeet brought us joy. We always marveled when, as soon as you would turn the water on in the sink, the pair of them would begin to sing. If you put music on in the house or you played the piano, they would chime right in. She was the one of the two who would let you pet her tummy and she’d step onto your finger. She would also eat food from your hand, a Cheerio or piece of spray millet seed.

My daughter has never lost a pet she loved. Tears came as soon as she saw Holly, lifeless, her eyes closed, at the bottom of the cage that morning. I was sort of in shock, too.

My son and husband were at my son’s golf tournament that morning, so we had to execute the burial ourselves. In an “ode to coffee” moment, we placed her in a little coffee box and buried her among the big trees in the back yard. May that sweet little bird rest in peace. We will certainly miss her sweet songs.

Listening to her sing was one of the simple pleasures of life, something that made us happy. But there are so many more. If you had to list your top 10 simple pleasures, what would they be? It’s probably worth attempting to write your own list to see if you can identify those things that make you the happiest. Just jot down simple, everyday things that bring you joy.

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I’d love to see your lists. Today, I’ll share mine (in no particular order). Remember, these are simple pleasures we do OUTSIDE of work, no matter how much we love our jobs (and I do love mine!). No working items are allowed here.

  • Sitting on my porch writing or reading or relaxing.
  • Watching my son enjoy the game of golf.
  • Watching my daughter dance in her dance company.
  • Eating crabs on date night with my husband.
  • Hanging out at my parents’ house, walking in their neighborhood, or sitting by their pool.
  • Shopping by myself.
  • Taking long walks in the neighborhood.
  • Getting completely lost in a really good book.
  • Eating a good dessert and watching a movie or series on television with my family.
  • Drinking a perfect cup of coffee and writing a blog post for you.

Hope your day is full of lots of simple pleasures. See you next time.

Stephanie

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

 

 

 

5 Pieces to Build a Modern Audrey Hepburn Look

Looking to update your wardrobe and create that classic look that lasts? Buy some pieces that have the ability to enhance your wardrobe and extend it. Start with these five piece, and you’re on your way to creating a wardrobe that can expand easily. By adding solid pants and skirts, a simple LBD, solid colored tops, sweaters, and a variety of shoes, you’ll use this suggestion as your starting point and go from there. Starting with some basics will inspire you to look for more pieces that can go beyond just one season. Here are my picks for starting that Audrey Hepburn-inspired wardrobe for our times.

 

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Trench Coat by London Fog

Nordstrom Rack

$89.97

 

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White House Black Market

$80

 

Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 12.29.19 PMSteve Madden Pump

Lord & Taylor

$109

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White House Black Market

$61.60

 

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Black and White Satchel

Michael Kors

$158.97

Stephanie

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

 

 

 

 

 

Poetic Candor (And the Best Advice You Ever Got)

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: sharing poetry is similar to walking around naked. You truly do bare your soul when you share your thoughts.

Poetry allows writers to release feelings that may have been kept inside for too long, and it’s a way to let these feelings go into the universe so you don’t have to hold on to them any longer. It’s quite freeing, actually. Writing poetry has incredible power to make you feel better. And let’s agree–not all poetry comes from us at a time when we are feeling angry, alone, bitter, frustrated, heartbroken, or misunderstood; it can come from us when we feel joyous, enraptured, or euphoric, too.

But alas, today’s poem is snide, I’m afraid. It’s reflective and tastes of bitterness. And ultimately, it’s about people who judge you, even when they don’t walk in your shoes. I wrote it a few years ago in a moment of utter frustration as it touches

What the hell…it goes with the new feel of the blog. Let it rip.

xx

THE BEST ADVICE YOU EVER GOT

The best advice you ever got—
And over the years you’ve heard a lot—
Didn’t come in the way of a bang and pop!
Didn’t come among a fertile crop.
It didn’t call out in the dead of night
When creepy crawlers come out to bite.
It wasn’t seen among the stars—
The moon, Jupiter or dusty Mars.
It didn’t have legs and walk away,
It stayed to face interminable days.
It helped you survive the bleakest of clouds,
When you wanted to scream, but then said aloud,
That what you’ve lost wasn’t meant to be,
In pain, you cry, the dichotomy.
One side, a coin; do not to toss aside,
The other, a symbol, shouts run and hide.
The best advice you ever got—
As it quietly emerged from beneath the rot,
And from disappointing people who vanish a lot,
Who dare to aim, but miss the shot—
Was to heed your heart, for it’s the glue,
What others believe may not be true.
What others say, you pay no mind,
Some things are better left behind.
—© Stephanie Verni, Poetry

Stephanie

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

When Did You First Fall in Love…with someone & with reading?

The Bowie Branch Library – where my mom would take us to check out books when we were little.

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My mother recalls my disconnect as a young kid with books.

“You were too busy doing other things–you were a doer.” This statement comes despite my mother’s genuine love for books and reading and the library. If ever there is a role model for someone who likes to read, it’s my mother. She’s been a voracious reader since she was a kid. There’s always a book open at her house; she conquers, on average, a book a week or two, I would guess.

I remember my mother taking my brother and me to the Bowie Public Library as a kid, where I’d check out books and bring them home. Don’t get me wrong—I did read. I remember reading lots of books as a kid and enjoying them.

But it was not love yet.

I remember that I was active and hard to pin down. I was busy playing, being involved, taking some sort of lesson or another, practicing the piano, cheering on teams in high school, and finding any excuse not to sit down with a good book and take a load off.

I fell in love with reading the same year I fell in love with my first boyfriend. I was 16 going on 17. And maybe that’s what made me fall head over heels in love with reading—I could finally relate to love and a love story on a more intellectual level; I could connect with first loves and breaking hearts. I understood unrequited love. And then I understood a much deeper, meaningful, selfless love.

I started out reading Lucky by Jackie Collins (she was the rage back then), and I couldn’t put her stuff down. I wanted to read more, and I did. I was bitten. But perhaps the most poignant book I read that thoroughly transformed me happened in 1987, when I realized what the combination of masterful storytelling and strong writing was. It came in the form of The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher.

That book sealed the deal for me. I’d already fallen in love with reading, but that was the turning point. There was no going back after that. It was also the moment when I thought to myself, someday I want to tell a good story. Someday I will write one.

I’ve done that now, three times.

And while my first boyfriend and I didn’t make it past my first year of college, my affinity for reading did. However, my relationship with him made everything I read much more meaningful and deeper.

It’s funny how that happens, how things become relatable though the magic of books, and how relationships force you to see the world from new perspectives. I’ll always be grateful for that.

Can you recall the moment you fell in love with reading?

Stephanie

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

 

 

The Case for Teaching: Inspiring Students AND Inspired by Students

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One of my students wrote this piece about my blog for our campus newspaper. So cute.

It’s Sunday morning, and I’m sitting on my porch writing this post and looking at this glorious day sipping my cup of coffee from my Yeti (which keeps it INCREDIBLY hot, let me just say). In a little while, my daughter and I will head to my parents’ house and sit by their pool and spend time with my brother and his family who are visiting. My son and husband will go play golf–a ritual they’ve tried to do on one day of the weekend. I love that they do this, as my son has one year left of high school before he enters college. I love my summers; they afford me a lot of writing, reading, and family time. That’s for sure. And, they allow me time to plan for the upcoming academic year.

In less than a month, I’ll be back on campus at Stevenson University teaching classes for my 17th year there (my 24th year of teaching overall). I started teaching when a neighbor of mine, who worked at the community college, asked me if I could teach an adjunct course in public speaking. As I had a minor in speech communication and a master’s degree, I told her I could, and a year and a half later (yes, it took that long!), I taught my first course at night.

I fell in love with teaching right then and there.

I was incredibly lucky, as I already had a full-time job I loved working for the Baltimore Orioles. Now, I had a part-time job I loved, too.

When I was hired by Villa Julie in 2000, and then became a full-time faculty member in 2008 when the college changed its name to Stevenson University, I was ecstatic. Somewhere in the back of my head even as a college student myself, I knew I wanted to teach. My mother taught middle school English for 30 years, her uncle was a teacher, my uncle is a professor, two of my aunts were teachers…so you get the picture. Sometimes, honestly, a profession may just be in your blood. And sometimes a profession feels more like a passion.

I probably don’t say it enough, especially to my students, but I love working with them. And to my former students, I loved working with you all, too. I enjoy watching them grow from quiet and unsure freshmen to confident and self-assured young people ready to take on the work force. Some of their transformations are downright amazing, while others of them confidently continue on their trajectory to success. I am so proud of what they have become and what they continue to do out in the world today.

Being in the classroom with students is one of my favorite things. In my writing courses, I especially love when we have meaningful discussions and I get to hear from them about their lives or how a particular piece of writing affected them. In my advertising class, I get to see them make a final pitch—trust me when I tell you, some of those pitches would knock your socks off! In my public relations class last year, the students actually made me so proud when they executed their press conferences that I got a little choked up and teary. And this year, I’m teaching a whole new course, whereby we will function as a full-service agency. It’s going to be exciting.

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As a university professor, no two days are the same, and I don’t have to sit behind a desk all day long. I am there to inspire the students, but the truth is, half the time, they end up inspiring me. They make me want to be a better teacher each and every day.

Honestly, if you open your ears and listen to what your students have to say, it can be quite powerful. They have stories to tell and experiences to share, and they are always eager to understand what I have to impart, even when sometimes they may not fully understand the method to my madness. Sometimes it takes a little bit of time.

But it’s always worth it.

Yes, school starts in less than a month.

I can’t wait to see what this academic year brings.

 

Stephanie

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.