The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on March 3, 2011.
Ever since I was in college, it was a dream of mine to be a newspaper columnist. Over the next 25 years or so, I had a number of writing submissions published in newspapers and other publications. I won several newspaper writing contests. And, when my kids were young and playing AYSO Soccer, I was the person responsible for getting game reports into the local paper – although the only journalistic requirements for that were to say who won, list the game scores, and make sure every kid on the team was mentioned at least once in each article.
I got plenty of experience with writing and getting published, but I never acquired my dream job of writing a newspaper column – until we moved to Chanhassen and I started writing for the Villager. Now, writing the column is a natural part of my week, and my life.
Every so often, someone asks me how long I’ve been writing my column. Usually I have to stop and think about it before answering. But not today.
“Ten years,” I can say. “Precisely.”
My first regular column in the Chanhassen Villager was published on March 1, 2001, so I’m celebrating my 10th anniversary this week. But it feels odd to say the number out loud, or to look at it from the timeline of my life or the world. When I do, I realize that I’ve been writing my column for almost one-third of my married life, and almost half of my kids’ lives. I was writing my column before the attack on the World Trade Center, before Hurricane Katrina, and before the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – not that I want my column to be thought of in terms of those reference points.
In fact, I’d much prefer to look at my column in terms of learning, growth, and accomplishment. For myself, for my family and friends, and for everyone who’s been reading it during any portion of those ten years.
In that time, my son has gone through high school, the Marines, part-time and full-time employment, and a return to college. My daughter has moved from middle school to high school, to college and a job in Florida, and to a new life there with the young man she’ll be marrying in a few months.
My husband and I continue to experience and adapt to the ever-changing landscape of parenthood and personhood at different ages and stages of life. And on my own personal journey, the past ten years have included discovering new challenges and interests, overcoming new obstacles and hurdles, and developing new strength and wisdom.
Most of which finds its way into my column.
Shortly after I began writing the column, and every so often in the years since then, I’ve worried that people would get tired of reading about my life, or would get bored with hearing about everyday events and occurrences. But what I’ve discovered is that lessons and learning experienced by anyone can be useful and valuable to others as well. And I’ve discovered how much I enjoy being a part of that exchange. I used to think, very long ago, that the excitement of writing a newspaper column would come from seeing my photo and byline in the paper. I now know that the real thrill of writing a column is in making a connection – and forming a genuine and respectful relationship – with those who are reading it.
I don’t know what the next ten years will bring. And I don’t know if, at the end of it, I’ll be writing a column about my 20th anniversary with the Villager. But I do know that I plan to spend the next ten years as I’ve spent the last ten – growing, learning, stretching, and sharing. And whatever new or continuing dreams I have at that time, I know I’ll be working to fulfill them. I’ll be writing about the lessons learned and the insights gained. And I’ll be celebrating them whenever I can.
© Betty Liedtke, 2011