It’s about 4:30 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon and I am sitting in my recliner at my laptop trying to write.

There are days when attempting to string together sentences amidst the chaos in my house is mind numbing, and then there are other days when the noise is what inspires me the most.

Because life happens in the noise, and more importantly, stories happen in the mess. And let me tell you, I love stories.

Telling stories has always been my favorite thing to do. It all started when I was about 10-years old with The Guinea Pig Newsletter.

Originally we purchased Cinnamon and Whitey who were happily living together in the cage at Walmart where an associate assured us they were both girls. I have no idea how they determined this, but my parents just assumed Walmart had some sort of guinea pig gender authority.

Then one morning, a few months later, I woke up and discovered six fur balls nestled in the woodchips. And that’s the day we discovered Cinnamon was actually a boy. Mom and I were both suckers for cute fuzzy things, so we kept them and my bedroom basically became guinea pig central.

We added a few cages and got some plastic balls they could run around the house in. I sat in my room and watched them for hours — usually pretending to clean.

You wouldn’t believe the stuff they got into as they ran around their cages and interacted with each other. So I started The Guinea Pig Newsletter and personally delivered it to four of my neighbors’ mailboxes each week. All four copies were hand-written with hard-hitting, need to know, headlines.

“The search was on after Ginger escaped Tuesday morning and was later discovered hiding in Dad’s loafer.”

“Butterscotch became unusually violent on Saturday morning and bit his favorite owner’s thumb. Turns out Butterscotch does not like photo shoots.”

I can’t remember how many issues I put out or even what most of the content was, but what I do know is that there were some pretty great stories that came out of them just living their guinea pig lives.

That’s sort of what I have spent my life doing. Looking for the stories. From news stories to features, and what will always be my favorite, the humorous — I have learned that there is always something there.

The most important thing I have found in storytelling is that it has to come from the heart. I can get the scoop and write it down for the whole world to read, but if the words don’t pour out of my soul then there’s really nothing to see there. There is no greater lesson to be learned.

Not long ago I was working on a freelance job and interviewing accounting graduates from the school I graduated from. It seemed like a bit of a boring assignment but I was being paid so I was determined to find something great to write about from each one.

And you know what? By the time I was done interviewing everyone, I LOVED ACCOUNTING.

Stories of helping people out of financial hardships. Stories of building family legacies through retirement accounts. Stories of people realizing their dreams.

Friends, accounting is important.

And you know what else? Your story is important too. 

About two weeks ago, I accepted a job to become the writer and editor for the Salt River Journal for the Courier Post. I will be covering the Ralls County and Monroe County areas.

My predecessor, Forrest Gossett, has moved on to a larger paper and has turned the Salt River Journal over to me, but his love for the Salt River Journal and the communities he has reported on is contagious.

I’m excited to get to know all of you and to tell your stories. And I’m thankful for Forrest who has been walking me through this transition.

I have big shoes to fill and I’m blessed beyond measure that God has provided me with such a position. But I'm learning, and like anything else, it will take a bit to become fully comfortable in what I'm doing. 

So if you see this awkward, directionally challenged (because I get lost a lot) middle aged woman wandering around rural Missouri with a notepad and a little phone recorder looking for stories — it’s probably me.

I might walk up to you and ask you a few questions, or I might just smile and wave. I also might weirdly sit in my car furiously typing away at a story on my phone because often utilize gas station parking lots where I get good service.

Either way, I'm here for the story. I've told my own story for long enough (although I will continue to in this column) but I am so blessed that God has given me the opportunity to also tell yours.

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