Sometimes validation takes time

I’ve been blogging for more than 10 years. My maiden blog launch occurred when I was sitting in a cubicle at a large insurance giant. At the time I was plotting my eventual escape and writing for a blog—or ranting as so much of my early blogging tended towards—offered me a venue to craft thoughts and ideas and set them down in a narrative for a growing assortment of readers. And yes, sometimes I just let it fly.

That first blog, one I recall with fondness, was developed by a co-worker named Chris. Chris was a great guy and someone with HTML and design skills. He recognized the budding writer/blogger in me—someone with a desire to communicate, especially communicate using words—so he designed my very first website and blog.

I no longer rant like I used to. The temptation is always there and it’s easy enough to write something critical of other people, especially people that have done things to hurt you, either directly or indirectly. With a blog, all you have to do is write it and hit publish and “voila”; it’s out there for all the world to see.

When the organization that I poured my heart and soul into ended up with a giant bulls-eye on its back and the governor publicly making statements back in 2011 that maligned our work and by extension, my work, it really stung. I carry myself try to carry myself with integrity and I’m not someone that ever gives less than I’m expected to. To be called “almost criminal” by a politician using his bully pulpit didn’t set well with me.  If ever I was tempted to crank up the ranting rave-up machine, it was during that period of time.  But I didn’t.

Last Wednesday I was in Waterville to receive an award. I was being recognized with a group of other leaders in the community. The award validated much of the work I’ve been doing for the past 6+ years.  The award was presented at KVCAP’s annual Board of Directors meeting. The work I was being recognized for was connected to the WorkReady program.

Back in 2008, I was part of a group that helped bring WorkReady to the community, first with a pilot and since, the program has become a regular offering through the efforts of many dedicated and passionate advocates in Waterville.

Bill Nemitz was the keynote speaker. If you know Mr. Nemitz through his columns with the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, you know his writing pulls few punches. It cuts to the chase quickly and it takes no prisoners. His talk that morning was very similar to his columns and it was directed to people like me and others in the room who had felt like we were “back on our heels” for the past two years.

I’m sure there were some in the room that didn’t appreciate Mr. Nemitz frank comments about the current administration’s efforts the past two years to shape their own agenda, maligning good people whenever they’ve had the chance to run them into the gutter. For those people who may not have agreed with Mr. Nemitz debrief on the most recent election, they got a very small dose of the medicine I’ve had to take regularly for two years.

As much as I’ve wanted to state my opinions on my blog and through other venues via my writing, I’ve held back. When I was still with my former employer, I wanted to spare the organization from additional scrutiny and yes, I wanted to minimize negative consequences for myself, too. At times I wondered why I held my tongue when people that had once lauded my work had done an about face, drunk the Kool-Aid, and were now singing a different tune about me and my work.

Interestingly, newly-elected State Representative Craig Hickman was in the room last Wednesday. He stood up and shared a few things after Mr. Nemitz spoke, during the Q & A. Nemitz wrote a great column about Hickman’s recent election victory and what it means for his district and for Maine.

Two things come to mind about last Wednesday. My mother used to say, “Jimmy, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” She said that because little Jimmy liked to let fly with the vinegar often when he was younger and sadly, he was slow to internalize that wisdom in adulthood.

The second saying comes from my Uncle Rhiney, who is no longer with us. Knowing how impatient his young nephew could often be, he’d say to me, “Jimmy, Rome wasn’t built in a day,” when I was getting ahead of myself and wishing time away.

By trying to honor those words; being a bit more careful and circumspect, validation has arrived in her own meandering way, without ever having to say a thing.