“Endings are what life cheats us of. As long as a sense of the ending hovers, the story goes on. We close the book, leave the theatre, shut off the screen, and return to the world, bewildered, maybe, but still breathing.”—
“I can tell how much it meant to you, you’re still getting tears in your eyes,” General Manager Deb Osza remarked as I shared my experience.
One year ago, I began my role as the Public Relations and Child Nutrition Coordinator for the American Dairy Association Indiana Inc. That muggy August morning, as I walked toward my desk, I never could have imagined what would soon follow.
My first week on the job, I shadowed my boss, Jenni, and as we drove up I-69 toward a Rotary Club meeting in Munice, I asked, “Are these the kind of events you get to do on a regular basis?” Looking back, I clearly had no idea how involved my role within the company would be.
Over the course of 365 days, I have traveled down dirt roads I never knew existed, spoke in school classrooms filled with curious minds, attended NFL-sponsored events & sat in the stands at the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
I’ve handed out pints of chocolate milk to those looking to Refuel after a run, watched tortoises race while children cheered, toured a food pantry large enough to fit 4 football fields, and walked toward better wellness with a great group of women.
I’ve been given a rare opportunity to work for 1200 dairy farming families across the state– spreading the word of nutrition in schools so often overlooked. Through Fuel Up to Play 60, I’ve listened to countless stories from concerned community supporters looking to make a corporation-wide shift toward a healthier lifestyle. With the Indianapolis Colts by our side, I’m grateful for the enthusiasm and gift of great athletes (& mascots) who support our initiative through leadership both on and off the field.
Whether it’s on a dairy farm, in a gymnasium, on a news set or standing on turf, no day is ever the same– it’s one of my favorite things about this industry.
We are constantly communicating, constantly brainstorming, and constantly activating plans to make this state, and those residing in it, aware of the benefits of dairy in diets.
I never realized the impact of this opportunity as the PR & Child Nutrition Coordinator until I was standing on the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium before a game. As I watched 10 of our Fuel Up to Play 60 students get introduced on the jumbotron, our beloved Colts mascot Blue came up to me for a hug, “Hi Brooke!” was all it took for it to sink in. “How did I get here?” was the question that kept resonating that Sunday, and I’m still not sure I have the right answer.
All I know is I am immensely grateful that, each and every day, I get to enter into a building splashed with milk, I get to work alongside 8 gifted individuals, and I get to spread the word of health & wellness.
Has it been a great professional year? Most definitely the best of my life.
After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.
Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?
The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
She stopped crying.
She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,
Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her—Southwest.
She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.
Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.
Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.
She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering
She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.
To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.
And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.
And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,
With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.
And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.
Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.
They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.
Not everything is lost.
”—Naomi Shihab Nye (b. 1952), “Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal.”
two cookouts & two excuses to fill my kitchen with the scent of sugar.
Tollhouse Break & Bake Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies // bake for 10 minutes & they stay oh, so soft!
Magnolia Bakery “Hello Dolly Bars" // mix everything together (graham crackers, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, butter, pecans) & throw it into a pan to bake. they’re so simple yet so amazingly delicious.
“stop being so creepy!" my boss exclaimed as i took a picture of some stowed luggage.
“i’m not being creepy, look at this precious luggage tag!" i forced while showing her a picture of the pilot’s bag.
we continued to board the plane feeling good about the pilot in charge— i felt so good about it, i tweeted American Airlines to express my happiness.
two hours later & a flight with some minor turbulence, we safely landed in indianapolis to the news of Malaysia flight #17.
if you don’t think i was saying my “thank you’s” for getting to point A to B with no complication, you’d be very very wrong.
over the years, my feelings on flying have changed.
it used to be such an enjoyable experience—i remember my first flight, sitting toward the front of the plane in those two rows of three seats, the ones facing each other. my brothers and i would fight over who could sit backwards, every time.
and now, flying feels different. i look forward to a safe landing and a smooth ride more than i ever have.
yesterday, when i boarded the plane, i had no idea, obviously, how the rest of the day would turn out, but i’m so grateful for Pilot Elvis.
i’ve never had anxiety when it comes to boarding a plane and i know how many flights travel safely from one side of the country to another, but it’s hard not to think about the possibilities that exist.
i hope my child-like memories connected to the luxury of flying remain, but as more uncontrollable tragedies occur, i’ll be sure to wholeheartedly commend those who are able to take me safely from departure to destination.