An open mind is a happy mind

One thing a lot of people don’t know about me…I used to be afraid to talk to people.

I think I was intimidated because I had low self-esteem and I always felt like I was bothering people. Once I decided that if I wanted to be a journalist, I would have to talk to people, I got over that real quick.

The more I talked to people, the more I found that I really like people. I mean I

Teresa Drtina

genuinely like them. I may choose not to be their close friend, but everyone I meet has a story and I enjoy talking to them.

And I have to have an open mind. I have found that it’s really easy to bypass a good opportunity for a story if I close my mind to anything the world has to offer.

I have come to trust my instinct, too, because it also hold many great opportunities for me to experience those things I normally wouldn’t.

Am I using my need for a story as an excuse? Maybe, but I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. After all, if I hadn’t forced myself to get out and talk to people, if I hadn’t walked

Sonya Darrow is wearing a burlap skirt she made and hand-embroidered.(Photo by Cynthia Petersen)

through my fears, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Sometimes we have to make ourselves do things we don’t really want to do in order to succeed. I also think that
sometimes we have to reach far into our cores and pull that courage out.

I met some very interesting people today, because I kept my mind open. I attended a vendors show at the Hiawatha Community Center. I really didn’t have the time because I had many other things to do Saturday, but it was a community event and I am devoted to reporting the community’s news. When I walked in, I was mesmerized by a display close to the door. The bright assortment of doll clothes immediately caught my attention. Maybe the little girl in me was coming out, but the display was so pretty that I just had to stop and talk to the lady sitting at the booth.

What I found out about Teresa Drtina is that she is a first grade teacher at Johnson school, a school I attended as a child. As we talked, I learned much more about her and ended up talking for 30 minutes. I also toured the rest of the show and was really glad I decided to stop.

A few hours later, I attended the Eco-Fest in the New Bo district in Cedar Rapids, and ended up talking to a young lady who designs and makes clothes out of recycled materials. I was drawn to her by her passion for what she does, as I was to the teacher as well.

Now I am able to strike up conversations with most anyone I encounter. As I mentioned, it wasn’t always that way. Something happened through the course of my life that made me afraid to take chances. I’m so glad I was able to find that again.

And I’m finding that it’s not something I feel like I have to do anymore, it’s something I love to do. All I had to do was open my mind.

After all, a mind is a terrible thing to waste, especially if it’s closed off from the rest of the world.

Dick Clark-a permanent fixture in American history

I wasn’t really surprised when I heard the news that Dick Clark had died. He had


been ill for many years. Still, it doesn’t take away the fact that a great man will soon be laid to rest.

Known by millions as the host of “American Bandstand,” Dick Clark was a familiar face Saturday mornings during my childhood years. As we watched the show, we had no way of knowing the impact his show would have on the world. Most of the artists spotlighted skyrocketed to fame, if they weren’t already there.

A massive heart attack April 18 took the life of the 82-year-old Clark. He was remembered fondly as a private person who hated goodbyes, and would salute the audience and say, “So long,” after every show.

A lot of musicians got their big breaks on Bandstand and it’s fun to look back and remember how much that music meant to me. It really was a part of American history. Watching the show, realizing how music has evolved over the years also holds insight into the minds of the American teenagers over the years.

Though I grew up with American Bandstand, there were still a few things I didn’t know about the show:

Richard Wagstaff Clark was born November 30, 1929 in Mount Vernon, New York. In 1956, Clark became the host of American Bandstand, (aired on television from 1952 to 1989) a show that featured Top 40 musical artists who would lip sync to their hits.

Bob Horn was the original host from 1952 to 1956 but was fired after a drunk driving arrest. Clark took over and made it the top show watched by teens for years.

The show inspired other shows such as Soul Train and Solid Gold.

The Bandstand theme music was originally “High Society”  by Artie Shaw but saw various changes throughout the years. Barry Manilow’s “Bandstand Boogie” took over in 1977 to open and close the show until it’s 1977 until it went into syndication in 1987. After that, an instrumental version replaced it. “Bandstand Boogie,” was originally recorded for Manilow’s “Tryin’ to get the Feeling,” soundtrack.

I have a lot of fond memories from my younger days, with Bandstand being one of them. Watching the Jackson Five and other iconic musical groups, I was too young to understand the history that was in the making.

After American Bandstand went off the air, Clark went on to host the $20,000 Pyramid and the New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, but he will forever live in the hearts of many as the host of American Bandstand, “America’s oldest teenager.”

Take time to enjoy life

I spent Saturday with two of my grandchildren. The past few years we have taken a

Thomas and Isabelle

day in April to celebrate our birthdays. Thomas turns 7 today, while Isabelle turned 6 on Monday, They are cousins, born almost a year apart. They are also my two oldest grandchildren, and though I know we aren’t supposed to have favorites, they do hold a special place in my heart because of it.

My daughter, Lori, is also getting married the end of May in Las Vegas. We went out Sunday to pick out her dress. And even though these events put me a little bit behind in my newspaper production for the week, I wouldn’t have missed them for anything.

The bride-to-be

I knew I was going to be busy when I started this venture. However, I also don’t want to become a workaholic. I truly love what I do, but my life is more than that. I have kids, grandkids, my other job, my mother, my boyfriend, and my piano…all the thing I love and am not ready to give up. I think all aspects of my life can co-exist peacefully.

This past weekend was hectic and kind of a blur, but I know that when push comes to shove, I can get the job done. And the paper isn’t half-bad. There are a few typos, but every week it gets better.

Can you imagine what my paper would be like if I had more time to do it? I could even be able to go up against the big newspapers….maybe.

My life didn’t stop just because I decided to start this new project, and I never expected it to. I really believe that once I find a balance, I will be able to enjoy all the parts of my life, without stressing out so much.

I’m getting there, but for now, I’ll just take it a day at a time.

Age is just a number

My birthday was on Easter this year. It was also a milestone birthday for me; 49.

Everyone has to wear the bunny ears on Easter, even if it is yor birthday!

I remember when I turned 39, it was actually  worse than the year I turned 40. I think it was because I spent the entire year of 39 thinking about turning 4-0, that when I finally did, I had already accepted it.

I had a great birthday. An Easter Egg Hunt, a bunny birthday cake, we grilled out, and I got a lot of attention from my family. The perfect birthday. Until I was on my way home…by myself. I started thinking about being 49. “I’m 49,” I thought to myself. Then I said it aloud. It just didn’t sound right.

A familiar feeling crept into my soul and though I couldn’t exactly put my finger on it, I knew it had something to do with finally realizing that I was almost 50. I don’t want to be 49, I thought. I want to be 30 again.

Thirty was a great age. Not too young, not too old…just right. but then I didn’t have nearly the wisdom I do now. I was still kind of lost, trying to be a good mother to my kids, still trying to figure out who I was.

So what’s wrong with being 49? Nothing really. I don’t feel 49. Actually I don’t really feel any certain age. I just feel great. I have to admit that I do have pains some mornings, and I get stiff when I sit too long. My gray hair is constantly needing touching up, but I am happier than I have ever been. Why would I want to change that?

I think we all go through that on our birthdays; the realization that life is fragile and can be taken away from us at any moment, no matter what age we are.

So, I think I’ll just appreciate where I am and do my best to make it another year. Age really is just a number, and if you don’t think too much about it, it doesn’t mean a whole lot.

Patience and faith just might be the key to my success

My blog writing is suffering. I knew it would. I’m noticing that every minute of every day are accounted for, and even then, its seems like there’s never enough time to do what I want to do. But I knew that would happen, too.

I put my 6th issue out yesterday and even though there are still a few mistakes, every week it keeps getting better and easier to put together.

I tried a new flag, which I don’t really care for, but I’ll get feedback and adjust accordingly.

I have 30 (yes, 30!) subscribers, which is awesome, considering I started with zero.

I also received my first two advertising customers this week. As I have said before, I knew advertising would be my biggest challenge, but I didn’t realize that it would take so long.

People keep telling me to have patience, but for someone who is naturally impulsive and impatient, it’s very tough. (But, patience is my virtue.)

There is also the matter of being a good leader and taking responsibility for my decisions. I have had some experience with that, but this is a little different because if something goes wrong, it’s all on me; I can’t go running to my adviser and ask for help.  I’m realizing that it’s all about having faith in myself and my ability to make the right choices.

I now have two new student writers; one from Kennedy and one from Xavier. Terin, from Kennedy, is on the newspaper staff, but is only a freshman and is not very experienced in writing, but she is willing to try. Cassie, who is from Xavier, is a writer and photographer for the Xpress, and is in for the running of editor next year. She is thinking about going to Drake after she graduates next year. They will both be great assets to my paper.

So I’ll just keep going, getting more subscribers, putting the paper out every week, and figure out a way to get more advertisers. It’s tough when I work all day, because many businesses close at 5.

Yes, it is everything I had dreamed it would be. It’s still hard to see that sometimes because I’m right in the middle of it. But once in a while, I’ll pause and look at what I’ve accomplished.

It’s a great feeling, indeed.

Hiawatha Advocate