Setting Out the Celebrate Plate

It’s been an eventful week at our house; one of big celebrations. For starters, our fourteen year old son is driving legally now. He’s been driving since he was seven and learned on a stick shift.

We let him drive around our place and in the summer, we would let him drive my husband or I while out checking cows on Forest Service roads, but now he’s legal no matter where he goes.  After taking two weeks of classes and passing all the required tests, he got his first driver’s license on Wednesday. It was a big deal and I don’t tire of saying how much I love having someone run me around for once.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed letting him drive so I can rummage through my purse, write out my shopping list, drink my coffee, tidy up the inside of my car or double check for things I think I’ve forgotten, yet I know that the car is still being kept between the lines. I thoroughly relish getting to shut my eyes every time I start to get sleepy.

Our daughter had a great day on Thursday when she beat the 4th grade pushups record for the physical fitness testing. Her goal has been to get the Presidential Physical Fitness Award.

She was overjoyed that her record of 32 pushups beat several of the boys’ count. We all kept telling her that we weren’t surprised she broke the record and said things like it was because she’s “Kirk tough,” and “that’s the way country girls do it,” or “ranch girls are naturally stronger than all the other girls and most town boys because of all the chores ranch girls do.” She smiled, giggled, and ate it up like pie.

She shared several stories about boys who were supposedly tough wrestlers that whined or petered out when they reached half the number of pushups our girl did. I must say, I’ve seen a surge of enthusiasm in our daughter while forking hay for the bulls this weekend.

I also met a milestone over the weekend. In order to stay focused, driven and motivated as a writer, I jotted down some goals I wanted to achieve at some point in my writing career and finally met one this weekend. I went up to the South Dakota Newspaper Association Convention in Deadwood on Saturday and was awarded the 2010 “Best General Interest Column” with the Lyman County Herald. I had to submit three columns that were published in 2009, which were: Trade Skills, Ranch Life Suits A Gemini, and Kid Therapy.

It was a special moment because it reassured me of my writing abilities. It was hard to believe that I was good enough to win the top spot and even the judge’s comments were a surprise. I received the highest score possible that an entrant could receive for my entries.

Writing has always felt like my calling and I love to share it with readers. Getting recognized for my work was a feather in my cap and made me feel like my efforts have paid off again (reader comments I’ve received have too). This is the first award I’ve won for my column.

When I start drafting my column I write with readers in mind who have a sense of humor, consider themselves rural, live the farm or ranch life, grew up with it, or just admire that lifestyle, but also readers who are married, have kids, and work.

I write with five core values in mind: to entertain, connect, inform, delight, and expand. Connecting with my readers is important to me and the mainstay of my writing. I like to inform readers about agriculture and the beef industry in a humorous way and put a lot of effort into delighting my readers. I love it when I’ve come up with a sentence that I can visualize a reader smiling, nodding in agreement, or laughing out loud while reading. Lastly, expand: to build my readership and my writing venues.

The only problem with my family accomplishing important achievements simultaneously is that we can’t all eat off of the special “celebrate plate” at the same time. (Our family has a special dinner plate that a family member gets to eat off of when another family member feels they deserve recognition and a special supper.)

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