Introduction by Melissa Amster
Gary Edwards and I share a horoscope sign (Cancer), which explains why we're both so caring and nurturing. However, we still have many different traits, quirks, and interests that make us individuals and also allow us to connect and appreciate one another that much more.
Today, Gary is talking about what makes him unique, as he celebrates "Chick Lit Soup for the Soul" month here at CLC, as well as his birthday, which took place earlier this week.
Who the heck do you think you are? As I approach the end of my forties, I wonder what defines me? I try to listen but I am not always the best at it. I try to be the best person I can and when I fail I make amends. But who am I? I spent a good portion of my life seeing and observing that I am different. It always felt wrong for me to be different. But, as I age I celebrate the fact that I am unique.
I am a nature lover, a gardener, a budding painter. I love to hike, explore, practice yoga. I can get lost in a day reading, gardening or taking pictures of nature as it unfolds. I am also a husband, son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin and friend. I had a career as a travel agent for over 10 years worked for Delta, AAA & American Express. I have been a sales/account rep and did interior landscape design for over a decade as well. I have followed my passion leaving the corporate world and worked at a bakery and helped run a small inn. Now, I am Wade’s Gal Friday, helping him with anything Wade-related. I have worn many hats and been many things. All of these along with my interests and life experiences have shaped me to be the individual that I am. I have never allowed one to define me, but instead each is a part of me.
I think the biggest thing that defines me is faith. I have a deep faith in people and find great joy watching people grow and blossom. It’s a faith and belief that we can be and do anything we set our minds to. We are the ones that stop ourselves with negative thought and not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I think people are good, that deep inside we are all the same. I am a people person, and I love meeting new people as well as being with my close friends. I try to honor my friends and people I meet by valuing what makes them who they are. Not different, odd, wrong, but interesting, fascinating and just perfect the way they are. Each person shines and has a beautiful gift to bring to the world, themselves!
Wade and I moved to a little town called Fennville, Michigan, about 10 years ago. It has a population of almost 1400 people. It is just next to bustling summer resort town and about 50 minutes from the city of Grand Rapids. It is small and tucked away like being tucked in a cozy bed. Sometimes you think you need to stretch and have more room, but really you have exactly what you need. The coolest thing about our town is it’s full of different people. When I first moved here I was afraid that people would only see how I was different and not like me. It has been the opposite; I am accepted for being “just me.” I have learned so much from both locals and transplants that have moved here. Life here unfolds, and if you slow down you see it. You slow down and listen to stories, to hear both people and nature. You see people as the compassionate souls that they are. We are all grasping and reaching for the same things: to feel loved, accepted, to find peace, happiness and contentment.
In this tiny little town there is a balance. Ignorance can sometimes rare its head, but for the most part, people look the other way when it happens. With the recent Supreme Court national legalization of marriage for all, it has ended one of my negative thoughts of not feeling accepted. Not a thought of being accepted by friends and family or people in the town I live. But truly feeling accepted in the US and having equal rights that every American should have. This shift has happened: positive thinking and positive loving people are winning. People are learning to accept and know that loving, caring and accepting is what life is about. People are slowly letting go of judgment, fear and anger. Slowly learning to understand, embrace and accept differences, while knowing that each soul, each person is unique and special.
So on this day as I get my car worked on in this little town, and have lunch at The Blue Goose Café, I look around and see people different from me but know we are one, each with its own sparkle. We are all unique, from the Vietnam Vet and farmer to the single Mom and the girl getting ready to celebrate her quinceanera. I am at America’s Table, the land of the free, the land of the brave. We are all so brave to stand up and fight to be treated equally and also to stand up and fight for what is right. To value each person for being unique, for being diverse, just like this great country we live in.
What makes you, you? Do you have anything in common with me? What is your favorite Chicken Soup for the Soul moment? Mine is today, being here in the moment and knowing how we have grown as a country and how we will continue to grow. That love and kindness will always win. Tell me how you are unique and what you value about our diverse country? Signing off as the train whistles by the Blue Goose- True Americana at its finest.
Gary Edwards is the marketing and events manager for bestselling author Wade Rouse. Edwards arranges Rouse’s tour schedule, speaking engagements as well as coordinates and facilitates his writing workshops and retreats. Additionally, Edwards has helped market and promote all five of Rouse’s books. Edwards also has a background in hospitality, and sales as well as design. With his vast professional background and a love to listen and help friends he is a perfect storm of love and nurture. Edwards is Martha Stewart meets Dear Abby with a dash of Mrs. Doubtfire. For more, please friend him on Facebook and Twitter.