“Our fingerprints don't fade from the lives we've touched.”

 — unknown author, beautiful quote I found from an inspirational post. 

I recently received recognition from the Chamber of Commerce as a Woman of Distinction. I’m incredibly honored to be counted among these other women who are undoubtedly amazing. 

For the past several years I’ve had the honor of writing Women of Distinction stories and each of them shared a new perspective with me on careers, family and community service. 

Their stories made me think of the women in my life. My grandmother Jewell and my late great aunt Marie who taught me to express myself through art. My mother’s kind heartedness and the woman she learned that from, my late grandmother Mary. My stepmother’s love for all things living — except spiders. 

My mother-in-law Kristi Lavery and her mother Joan Lavery who embraced me as their own daughter and granddaughter since I was a teen. My friend and former coworker Keesha Hervey who has always been incredibly supportive and all of my sisters and cousins who are unique and strong-willed. 

The recognition made me look back and remember what led me to be a writer in the first place. 

I entered the world of  journalism by accident, however I should’ve known I’d be a writer and photographer from the start. 

When I was a toddler my grandmother Jewell began asking me questions and writing them down in a little journal. The first entry I remember is from when I was four-years-old, my favorite food was macaroni and I wanted to be a chef when I grew up. When I was older I would then start writing on my own.

Along with expressing myself through writing at an early age, I also asked a lot of questions. I’m 100 percent certain I’ve made my grandmother — and the rest of my family — lose their minds. 

Why do they do that? Where did that come from? What was that? 

I continued writing through the years. I wrote poems, short stories and biographies of my family. I rewrote my own autobiography over and over as I tried to make sense of the world around me. 

At one point, because of less than ideal circumstances during my childhood, writing was used to help me cope with grief.  

The reason I say I became a  journalist on accident was because of all the other plans I had. I thought I would be a doctor, a nurse or join the military. I started all these things, I talked to my college advisor and my high school counselor to prepare. Once in college, I changed my major and minor several times. 

It was decided that I was going to help people another way — I also found out I’m squeamish, so nursing was out. Off to the Pittsburg State University Department of Communication I went, with the intention of being a graphic designer and writer, perhaps at a medical facility or something similar. 

There are few things that I enjoy more than sitting down, talking to someone and having the honor of sharing their story with the community. I empathize with them, they make me laugh and they make me cry. Their stories stick in my memory. 

Everyone has left a thumbprint on my life and I’m glad to know that I’ve left one on yours. Thank you to the people who nominated me for the recognition. I am truly humbled. 

I owe a special thanks to my editor for allowing me to take on several topics I felt needed shared within the community and who taught me that no one’s story was too small or boring to be shared, it just takes a good writer and someone who will listen.