Ann Reed

Crossposted from cais‘s journal for those of you too lazy to click a link. Yes, we know who we are. LOL!

Inspiration (if you’re interested) – LONG POST
For those who aren’t don’t know, I’ve been actively involved in Girl Scouting for more than 25 years. The programs have changed A LOT since my actual Scouting days but the fundamentals remain the same. When I was a Scout, the highest award a girl could achieve was the “First Class Scout” – it wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t impossible, either. Now, the highest awards are “age appropriate” – there’s a Bronze Award (for Junior Girl Scouts – grades 4-6); the Silver Award (for Cadette/Studio 2B Girl Scouts – grades 7-9) and the Gold Award (for Senior/Studio 2B Girl Scouts – grades 10-12).

These awards are difficult to earn in that they encompass earning specific badges and/or interest project patches (depending on your age level) and fulfilling a certain amount of service project time in your community as well as an “award project.” The girls must come up with and implement the project on their own – they can ask for help from anyone in their community, but the majority of the work must be done by the girls. There are some entire troops who work on their Silver or Gold Awards together – each girl is assigned a specific duty and when all of those items have been fulfilled, the girls earn their Award.

Ann Reed is a local singer/songwriter who has been involved in the Scouting movement in various ways. She wrote a song specificially for the “Capital Campaign” – a fundraiser for GSSCV, sells some of her merchandise at the GS Shop, comes to the Adults-only Training weekend retreat almost every year to entertain the leaders, and is writing a song specifically for the Girl Scout Jamboree to be held in July in Northfield, MN (yes, we’re going to be there!! ).

Ann was the Keynote Speaker at the recent ceremony to honor the Silver & Gold Award winners – her speech follows…

Showing Up
Keynote speech by Ann Reed
Girl Scout Silver & Gold Awards Ceremony 2004
Girl Scout Council of the St. Croix Valley

It is a pleasure for me to be here tonight. I’ve had the honor of participating in several Silver & Gold Award Ceremonies in the past. No matter how I feel when I arrive at these events, I always leave with a hopeful feeling that the world is good hands

I’m sensing that there are some people in the audience shifting uncomfortably in their seats thinking Who is this? I’ve never heard of her! You may be thinking that, at these events, the speaker is traditionally a judge, or perhaps the executive director of GSUSA or a CEO of some corporation.

Well, here I am not a judge, not an executive, but a songwriter.

As you heard in the introduction, my manager, Lin Bick and I own Turtlecub Productions, Inc., our booking and management business, so I am a CEO after all! We also have a catalog — both mail order and online — selling my CDs and other related merchandise.

My path has been unconventional. In high school, that meant an alternative program that encouraged students to design their own curriculum. Then, after trying a year of college, I knew I had to bring my distant dream of being a songwriter closer to reality. I took the same avenues that most musicians travel, only to discover that I could chart my own course and be happier for it. Even in the very peculiar music industry, I went my own way.

The road was made easier by the fact that I had people around me, family, teachers, friends who seemed to understand and support my need for independence. They knew I needed to blaze my own trail, and whatever they could do to help, they did. My advisor in high school put it this way: We had to allow Ann to be Ann.

There are many people who dream of being a songwriter or a singer. The difference between them and me is simple: I showed up.

The future is made by the people who show up.
I don t know who originally said it, but I love it. Showing up to actively make choices. Showing up to open the door. No matter who you are or where you come from, showing up changes your life. And that s what I want to speak to you about this evening. Showing up.

For me, junior high school and high school were, to put it mildly, painful. While feeling that I didn’t understand anything, everything was magnified. It s like when you have a teeny tiny bump on your tongue and it feels like it must be the size of a bowling ball. At thirteen, these bumps were felt everyday and were always emotional. There is no such thing as small stuff to an adolescent girl.

Introverted and stuck with the thought that I was not as good-looking, athletic or smart as the other kids in school, I began to write poetry. It gave me an outlet and helped me understand my world. When my oldest brother brought home a guitar — my grandmother had given him $40 to buy a suit — I began sneaking into his room when he wasn’t home and teaching myself chords. Though I didn’t consciously set out to do it, I was showing up to make my own path, accepting whatever gifts I had been given and coming face to face with my passion.

So, we show up to accept our gifts or talents.
I believe that talent, success and accomplishment come in various sizes but are of equal value. In our society we place importance on visible talents: writing, painting, singing, athletic ability. Then, there are not-so-visible talents that get some recognition but certainly not as much as the visible ones: cooking, sewing, being able to repair or build things. And then there s a third group that not only deserves more attention but shapes the spirit: being a good listener; in a large crowd or strange setting being able to make someone who is uncomfortable, feel at ease; being able to sit with sorrow, to go through intense hardship — and instead of allowing bitterness to take over, becoming a stronger, more compassionate person; knowing what it means to be a good friend; having common sense. These kinds of talents or gifts get overshadowed by the most visible ones. In this cacophonous world, we don t think about what a rare gift it is to be able to listen well.

There are young people here tonight who are struggling or will struggle academically, others who are self-conscious about their looks, some perhaps who have little or no interest in sports and still others who just simply don t feel like they fit in. Let me share a secret with those of you under the age of 17: some of the adults here struggle with the same feelings. If we all look a little deeper, we will discover that we have gifts we use everyday without ever thinking of them as gifts.

The next step: showing up on a daily basis. This is also called perseverance, tenacity. Look into the lives of people you admire, people you feel have accomplished their goals and you will find and endless trail of perseverance. Ann Bancroft did not become a polar explorer by not showing up on a daily basis. Kate DiCamillo, author of Because of Winn Dixie received over 400 rejection slips before that book came out and won the Newberry Award. Katharine Hepburn was labeled box office poison before she went on to accumulate 12 Oscar nominations, winning 4 and leaving a legacy of wonderful films.

When we show up on a daily basis we re showing up to make choices and take responsibility for those choices. This means doing that most human of things: making mistakes, and having the courage to try new things in spite of the risks. Many people are raised with the saying, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” And instead of hearing that as “Anything worth doing is worth your best effort” , they hear it as “Don’t do anything if you can’t do it perfectly.” There is the chance that you’ll look foolish.

There s a bigger chance that you’ll do okay and most certainly learn something in the process. I was in band. I started playing the clarinet when I was 10 or 11. I’ll admit I didn’t quite show up for this one. This was my introduction to discipline — Discipline 101 and I didn’t do so well. In junior high school my clarinet and I went from first section to second section to third and finally the band director asked if I’d like to play the bass clarinet. This is the tuba of the clarinet family. I loved band. I didn’t want to be kicked out of band so I said yes.

I played it well enough to get into the high school concert band. I’ll admit, I never really bonded with the bass clarinet — I was too glued to the guitar by then and I chose to spend my time learning chords and picking patterns rather than practicing the bass clarinet licks.

One of the pieces in the spring concert was Procession of the Nobles by Rimsky Korsakov and it featured 8 bars that were to be played by the bass clarinet. During rehearsals, as I quietly fumbled the part, the band director would say, Are you going to be there?

The experience of being in the band was life changing because of the director, Dan Geldert. He was more concerned that every kid in the band had the experience of music. Dan had a love of music and an understanding of what it was to play from the heart even if you missed a couple of notes. As Mr Geldert pointed out: Music for some is the little black notes on the page. What makes music come alive are the rests, the spaces between the notes.

Two weeks before the show, Mr. Geldert said: Just go for it. If you re going make a mistake, make a loud one. Just make sure you give it your best. At the spring concert, when the 8 bars came along, I made several very loud mistakes. My band director couldn’t have been prouder.

Billie Jean King put it this way: “Be bold. If you re going to make an error, make a doozy and don t be afraid to hit the ball.”

I think too often we want things to come easily to us. We want them to come to us. We want to be able to pick up an instrument and play it really well right away — no lessons, little practice. We want knowledge to simply seep in, saving us the work of having to study. Dancer and choreographer Agnes de Mille, speaking about ballet technique said, “It never becomes easy; it becomes possible.” Another wonderful quote about challenges is from the movie A League of Their Own. The star player, Dottie, is leaving the team and tells the coach it was too hard. The coach responds by saying, “It’s supposed to be hard! If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it.”

We applaud the SAT scores of 1400 and 1600, the first chair musicians and the magna cum laude graduates. We shake our heads in amazement at these scholars and leaders. These are accomplishments to be celebrated for sure, and most certainly are reached by showing up for the challenge, but let s not forget that challenges, like talent, come in many sizes. There are some people for whom getting out bed every day is a challenge. Teachers know there are a lucky few who study a little and get A s and B s while others study long and hard to get B s and C s. We need to applaud the effort, as well as the outcome.

The young women we witness walking across the stage tonight— they all showed up. They know that if you don t show up to make choices, someone is going to make choices for you. There is a great responsibility in showing up. We look to these young leaders and hope that they will teach others not about following but about how to be leaders themselves. So let us applaud everyone who shows up: from the National Merit Scholar to the dyslexic student who gets through her first book; from the Olympic hopeful testing the limits of her athletic ability to the physically challenged student enduring the daily test of being different in a society that values perfection.

We applaud them all for showing up.

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