Friday, March 4, 2011

March forth!

Every March 4th, I think of Chris Edmonds, and this story I did about her in 2005:

Source: BY SUZANNE PEREZ TOBIAS , The Wichita Eagle


March 4th.

March forth!

Today isn't just another late-winter Friday. Today your calendar is giving you an order:

Reach high.

Laugh hard.

Dream deep.


Chris Edmonds heeds the directive. Nearly 30 years ago, a high school classmate passed her a note. She doesn't remember what it said. But she recalls her reply:

"Happy March 4th! March forth!"

The girls giggled at the play on words. The rest of the day, they shouted "March forth!" to everyone they saw.

Edmonds has honored March 4th ever since. She calls it "my own personal holiday."

She sends handmade cards to friends and family, and they send cards to her. Some are serious, with scripture verses:

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. . . . In the same way, your light must shine before men, so that they may see goodness in your acts and give praise to your heavenly Father" (Matthew 5:14-15).

Others are fun -- a watercolor butterfly with the sentiment "Don't just flutter by. March forth!"

Forget your mistakes.

Throw paint on the canvas.

Seize the day.


"To me it's about hope, about optimism," said Edmonds, 46, who directs young adult ministries for the Catholic Diocese of Wichita. "Over the years, as I've shared it with people, I've noticed it's a transformative thing.

"You see their faces light up. They realize that life's not so bad. What's done is done, and this is a new day."

Set sail.

Find a way.

Live out loud.


Edmonds wants the whole world to celebrate March Forth. People have told her she should trademark the holiday, sell her cards to Hallmark. It could be big. Really big.

"That would be too commercial," she said. "It's not my day to own, it's my day to share."

She feels the love every March 4th. Her mailbox fills with cards and letters from friends all over the world. People see the date and remember her, and her phone rings nonstop. They call with greetings and good wishes. Some sing songs.

One year she heard from a friend who had recently lost her job. "I just clung to 'March Forth,' and it got me through," the woman told her. "I may not know what the future holds, but I knew March 4th would come, and everything would be OK."

Start over.

Start now.

Amaze yourself.


This year March 4th falls on a Lenten Friday, a day of penitence rather than celebration. She'll bring cookies to the office, but small ones.

"It's meant to be light and fun," she said. She marks the occasion in little ways, by fixing a favorite meal or attending the garden show to drink up spring. And she basks in the positive energy that comes from knowing people all over the world are thinking of her.

Friends in Maryland, Texas, South America and New Zealand. Friends all over Kansas. People who don't even remember her birthday (it's in November, by the way) will call her today and say, "March forth!"

And she'll reply, "March forth!"

"I never dreamed a silly little play on words could end up being so meaningful to people," she said. "But I love it."


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Most brutal Valentine's Day story ever...

My colleague Annie Calovich and I were reminiscing about Valentine's Day stories and just remembered this one from 2004. A classic. I'll never forget hearing that painful, botched wedding proposal on my morning drive to work.

Here is an excerpt, along with the full transcript of the radio show. That was back when we had plenty of space for such treasures.

Saturday, February 14, 2004
Page: 1A
Source: BY ANNIE CALOVICH, The Wichita Eagle

It's Valentine's Day, people. Have a little heart...


One poor man laid a big Valentine's egg on Friday - ear-witnessed by thousands of people listening to the radio on the way to work.

"Walter" was the last of five people to propose on the air this week during the annual Five Proposals in Five Days promotion that disc jockeys Brett Harris and Tracy Cassidy of B98-FM do every year leading up to Valentine's Day.

The way the promotion works, a man comes into the studio and calls his beloved on the phone, live on the radio, and asks her to marry him. In five years, no woman has ever said no.

Until Friday.

After Walter told "Katie" that he knew he could never be with another, that he knew she needed structure and someone to take care of her, that her eyes were like pools and her touch like a feather, he was met with the dreaded radio silence. And then:

"Absolutely not. Not now. Not ever."

Her anger was palpable. His voice choked and faltered ("I'm sorry, sweetie, but I do love you").

The phone line eventually went dead. Katie had hung up. Brett and Tracy, like all their listeners, were in shock. Among the first words spoken were Tracy's, offering to give Walter a list of counselors. Walter, declaring that he loved Katie, simply walked out of the studio and straight to his truck.

The song "Have You Ever Been in Love?" -- chosen, tragically, with a differen t outcome in mind -- was queued up, giving the disc jockeys a chance to gasp off the air.

"It should have been J. Giles -- 'Love Stinks,' " Brett said afterward.

While e-mails flooded the radio station -- saying everything from "Bless his heart" to "He should have seen the signs" to "Can I meet this guy?" -- Brett got Katie on the phone after the show and asked her to come on the air Monday to give her side of the story. Still sounding angry, she agreed. Tune in during the 8 o'clock hour.

'Will you marry me?'

Here is the transcript of a marriage proposal made Friday morning during "The Brett & Tracy Morning Show" on B98-FM. Walter is in the studio with Brett and Tracy. Katie is on the phone:

Brett Harris (talking to Katie): Do you know a gentleman by the name of Walter?

Katie: Uh, yeah.

Tracy Cassidy: He happens to be with us this morning.

Brett: Yeah, hang on one second here.

: Hi, sweetie.

Katie: (Pause.) Hello.

: I just wanted to let you know that when I met you I'd never be with another. What we've been through these long last eight months has taught me one thing, and that's to lead with my heart. And so that's why I'm calling you this morning on B98. I know the one thing you need more than anything right now is structure, someone to depend on . . . someone to take care of you. Your eyes are like pools, and your touch is like a feather. Monday night you said you could spend the rest of your life with me, so I ask you this morning: Katie . . . will you marry me?

Katie: (Audible sigh.) Absolutely not. Not now. Not ever.

: Why not? Sweetie . . .

Katie: Please tell me this isn't on the air.

: Yeah.

Brett: We are on the air.

Katie: Ohhhhh, gee.

: Are you all right, baby?

Katie: How could you do this to me? You're so manipulative, putting this kind of pressure on me. You know I'm not ready. You know I've been seeing other people. Uhhh. Where are my kids right now?

: They're at Mom's.

Katie: I can't believe you've done this to me. I am so embarrassed right now. (Heavy sigh. Silence.)

: I'm sorry, sweetie, but I do love you.

Brett: Walter? Um, Trace? Hold it.

(Dial tone.)

Brett: Oh no. She hung up on him.

Tracy: Uh, Walter, um, maybe you should come and let me give you a list of good counselors. This might be a real good time for that.

: I'm sorry. I'm sorry about this. I gotta take a walk. I'm sorry.

Monday, January 10, 2011

10/365: Snow, finally.

Woke up to fresh powder, which is always nice. Even when school's not cancelled.

9/365: Decadence

Ready for snow with a cup of Mayan hot cocoa (hints of cinnamon, vanilla and ancho chiles!) from Cocoa Dolce. This stuff is awesome. Many thanks to Sherry Chisenhall, who lent me the cocoa mix after she saw me all excited about free "hot chocolate" from the office vending machine. :-P

Sunday, January 9, 2011

8/365: Coffee at Panera

Saturday morning coffee with Tara and Alice. Good times. :)

7/365: Report card pizza

Great report cards on Friday, so the kids got Pizza Hut for dinner.

6/365: Keeping Christmas

This week's column was about how I love my Christmas decorations and don't feel like taking them down just yet. Least of all these awesome nutcrackers in the kitchen.