Tag Archives: television

#OperationTakeAMinute

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The purpose and the planning

After seventeen and a half years working for the same company, my employment ended officially on Friday, February 1, 2019, but my last actual work day on-site was Saturday, January 26.  It was a strange, emotional day, one I had known was coming for six months, when notice was given to me and my department-mates that our jobs would be coming to a conclusion.  Walking out the door that last time, leaving my ID badge on my manager’s desk, felt a bit like I was leaving a piece of myself behind.

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I knew that, after working for so long in one place with a team of people I had come to love like family in many cases, I would need some time to recover after it was over.  That is how #OperationTakeAMinute was born.

My friend and #FirstEverWorkHusband, Martin, was the first person to suggest a road trip.  I had never even considered such a thing.  I am not the person who does any of the driving when Sweet Pea and I take vacations.  For years I couldn’t even stay awake when we traveled by car.  But after thinking about it, talking to my sweet husband, and getting ideas from some friends, I began to think that a road trip would be a great chance to clear my head and get some rest.  Truth told, the last six months had left me feeling much more beaten-up than even I realized, and the despair had taken hold more strongly than I wanted to admit.

If this thing was going to do me any good at all, I reasoned, I would need to do some of the things I never had time to do because I was always rushing to get back to work.  Well, rushing back to work was not really an issue at this point.  So I talked to my “choir boss” at church and asked for a little time off from singing responsibilities there, and he was most gracious and accommodating.  We sat down with a calendar and determined when would be a good window for me to be gone.  Then my planning began in earnest.

I started deciding my route and stops, who I wanted to visit, places I might like to see and photograph along the way.  The more the path and its timeline took shape, the more excited I became.  A forward momentum was happening that I had been missing for a long time, and I was starting to feel…hopeful.

In the television industry, time is truly of the essence.  Not just hours and minutes, but seconds—and every second is divided into 30 frames of video.  Since 1994 when I began my first television job in master control, time has dictated much of my existence.  It seemed only fitting to name my road trip adventure #OperationTakeAMinute.  A minute, to catch my breath, recover, and prepare for the next chapter of my professional—and personal—life.

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Broken Ground

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The 15th anniversary of 9/11…

I remember the events of 9/11 as vividly as if they occurred yesterday.  We all do.  My closest connection with the tragedy was the fact that my brother, Reed, was caught up in it.  He worked for American Express in the World Financial Tower, which was very close to the WTC towers that were destroyed that morning.  Like many other families, we watched the footage unfold on TV, horrified by the images bombarding us.  And like many other families, I and my loved ones anxiously waited to hear from Reed, praying that he was safe, at least physically.  We were among the more fortunate families, hearing from him hours, rather than days, after the towers fell.  I was working for the local Fox TV affiliate at the time, and I reported to work that afternoon, thankful that Reed was out of harm’s way, and surrounded by my work family as we all watched the horror replayed for hours on end while news people and experts tried to make sense of it all.  Our boss, Tom, my friends Larry and Dan, and I, kept master control running that day and into the night.  One of my clearest memories of the day was when Dan’s sister came by that evening with her baby boy, and she let me hold him.  Cuddling that sweet child comforted me, reminding me that God is still at work in our world, and that life indeed goes on.  Dan told me on Facebook that his nephew has his learner’s permit to drive now, and that he has been told the story of how he blessed me on 9/11.

The world seemed to break that day.  Buildings, peace, faith, even the very earth underneath the city.  Broken ground.

Flash forward 15 years, and I am sitting in a church service at Ebenezer United Methodist Church where I have just recently accepted a call to sing and serve, leaving behind a church I have served since 2013.  The decision was not made lightly or without deep soul-searching, consideration and prayer.  On the 15th anniversary of the broken ground of 9/11, my new church family celebrated the groundbreaking of a new sanctuary, welcoming me into their heritage.  The significance and timing were poignant and emotional for me.

At the end of the service, we each received a river stone symbolic of “raising our Ebenezer”, then went out onto the lawn to stand where the new sanctuary will be built in the days and months to come, to pray for God’s continued blessing on the church family, and to break ground.  As I took my place on the lawn with the rest of the choir, I noticed something at my feet that has become a meaningful symbol of God speaking to me…

 

I hollered at my friend Marc to show him the feather, and he said, “That’s just like something that would happen to you!”  I replied, “It’s more like something God would do,”.  Then he and I dug into the dirt and celebrated the same blessed peace that holding that sweet baby 15 years ago had given me…that God is still at work in the world, and life indeed goes on.

A Blind Date

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But not the way you might think…

Some of the dates in my life, or in my family or friends’ lives, are significant for different reasons.  Mama’s birthday on Independence Day, Aunt Martha’s on Cinco de Mayo, Uncle John Bryant’s on Leap Day, all seem to speak to their personality traits and characters.  My friend Paula has had numerous strange and sad events to occur on March 17 in different years.  Over the years some of my Delta Omicron students’ recitals have been on memorable dates as well, such as Friday the 13th, or Halloween.  This year one of those recitals happens tomorrow, and this student will always remember her Senior Recital date.  April Fool’s Day.

April Fool’s Day has significance for me as well, as it is the grant date stamped on my FCC permit.  Back in the Stone Age when I began my career in broadcasting and media, a person had to apply for a permit from the Federal Communications Commission in order to operate a transmitter at a radio or TV station.  Those permits had to be posted in a central location in the station.  The last place mine was posted, it was taped into a binder, and when I removed it, the tape ripped off part of the text on the back side outlining the rules and regulations, and what it was illegal for me as an operator to do on the air with our signal.

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I’ve joked over the years that my April Fool’s FCC permit grant date foretold what my career would hold in store!  The fact is, I had no idea about the journey upon which I was about to embark.  I was flying blind.  I had not gone to school to prepare for a career in radio and television, so I graduated from the “earn-as-you-learn” school of radio on my first job.  And for years, because I hadn’t studied broadcasting in school, I felt like a fraud and secretly feared that the Media Police would eventually discover me and throw me out of the business!

It turns out that my career in broadcasting has yielded me some of my most lasting friendships, taught me valuable skills and spanned nearly 3 decades.  From my first radio job where I played actual vinyl records and my first TV master control position using an antiquated commercial tape sequencer called Digitrol (a nightmare machine with a 9-second pre-roll!), I have seen old technologies fade away and new ones emerge.  Radio and television also seem to attract creative types.  I’ve worked with more writers, poets, artists and musicians than I ever dreamed possible outside of the professional music and art world.

I always tell the young people I work with through Delta Omicron to “have a plan, but be open to surprise”.  Over the years I’ve learned that God takes us where He does, when He does, for a reason.  Had I not been open to surprise—to flying blind—I would have missed my whole career and all the blessings it has brought me.  I am still very actively involved with music and pray that I always will be, as long as God gives me opportunities to serve Him in that way.  But my profession has been elsewhere, at least to this point.  And God has given me chances to serve there as well.  So it’s all good.  I’m still in many ways flying blind…and still very much open to surprise.

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Proverbs 3:5-6 gives wonderful advice.  “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct thy paths.”  WhereEVER those paths lead.