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Amie’s Commencement Address May 24, 2011

Speech Text:

President Haynes, Deans, beloved faculty, and distinguished guests, welcome. And to my fellow Cougar graduates, Congratulations! I would like to thank our families, who have worked almost as hard as we have to realize this day. I honor my husband Michael, my children Lauren and Alex, my friends and family who have helped me earn this degree. Thank you.

Five minutes after my last final, I updated my facebook status. It read: after 15 years of classes, 4 colleges in 4 states,12 proud years as a Marine Corp wife, 6 deployments, 2 children, 5 papers and 7 finals… just this week… today… I have finally graduated.

My story is not unique at Cal State San Marcos. Most graduating today have juggled jobs, families, fought for our country, commuted countless miles or even taken one class at a time. For some, today is a beginning; for others of us, this is a victory years in the making. I am proud to be graduating from a university that values both journeys. So, whether you came to San Marcos as a true freshman or started college alongside your own freshman, I congratulate you. Well done!

What do you say to people who collectively know almost everything? It was a bit daunting, but here is some wisdom I have learned.

Life is not all about me. Money, education and esteem are worth little unless you employ them to help others. Put your neighbor’s needs above your own.

Ethical and virtuous behavior should not be what we profess but what we practice. No amount of fortune or fame is worth losing your integrity.

Now is the time to take chances. Trust your instincts, but listen to wise counsel.

Explore the world so you can learn about who you are. And travel now, while youth hostels are still fun.

Dreams are achieved through hard work and time, so have more patience than pride. Stay teachable so you don’t miss new discoveries that lie ahead. Embrace adversity and failure, they fuel creativity.

Attitude is everything. Decide to wake each morning purposeful and positive. Negativity will break a company, a community, a country.

Remember, life is short; don’t just seek a job; seek a purpose, seek your passion, seek to make a difference.

Life is short; don’t waste energy and time envying someone else’s life. Seek to make yours worthy. Surround yourself with people who do the same.

Life is short; don’t wait for a future event to make you happy. Enjoy the journey now. Embrace each day, finish them well.

You have a purpose in this life, don’t settle for anything less. Congratulations Graduating Class of 2011.

To God be all the honor and praise.

Copyright Amie Charney 2011

San Marcos, CA – May 21, 2011 – Amie Charney was selected from the California State University San Marcos Graduating Class of 2011 to give the commencement address at the Saturday afternoon commencement ceremony (May 21, 2011, 2 PM). Charney graduated Magna Cum Laude with her degree in Literature and Writing.

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STOP RANDOM acts of kindness April 26, 2008

Random Acts of Kindness, the “movement” started a few years ago.

It is time for it to end.

Instead, let’s start doing them on purpose!

You say, this is only semantics Amie….well look at what the “semantics” say about it…

Def of random: without definite aim, direction, rule, or method. synonyms haphazard, casual mean determined by accident rather than design. Random stresses lack of definite aim, fixed goal, or regular procedure.

Let’s start looking… actively looking… for ways to lend a hand, meet a need, support and encourage our communities.

Let’s be purposeful…intentional…meaningful.

If we looked at our fellow humans intent on meeting their needs, not only would we start to change humanity, but ourselves. It doesn’t have to be large gestures… so often, all people need are simple things to make their day easier and brighter.

I recently was on Camp Pendelton, a large Marine base out here in So-Cal.  Ahead of me was a young women, a marine, juggling an arm full of packages. Everytime she got one settled, another would drop. I wasn’t in a particular hurry, so I asked her if I could carry some of them.  To be honest… (I am ashamed to say) if I had been in a real time crunch, I probably would not have stopped to help her…

At first, she said no. Then another package dropped. I picked it up, and took a couple more in my arms.

She teared up.

“You really don’t mind?”

I teared up.

“The post office run is always the errand I hate the most.” I reassure. “I know what it’s like to have to juggle a ton of packages, a baby car carrier…with another in tow.”

She said that the care packages were for her husband in Iraq. All Copenhagen 🙂 He didn’t want anything else. It was his third time over there, and he would be getting home about a month before she was leaving for her second tour.

As I walked with her to the post office, I could tell she was a little shocked that someone would go the distance with her…which I thought was sad. She thanked me profusely.

We parted ways with a brief hug between strangers, and I left truly honored that I could lend a hand. I felt light and giddy….and on the hunt to find someone else to help. It had taken less than five minutes, but it changed my outlook forever.

We are the only Jesus that people may ever see. What we do reflects Him. We are His hands extended in charity, in sympathy, in love…

I challenge you to step out of your house every day and look forward to doing a Purposeful Act of Kindness…and not just one here or there… lets start a revolution of people acting out the simplest and most profound truth of all……Do unto others, as you would like to have done to you…

So what am I doing? Slowing down and letting people get by me (a feat on So-Cal freeways), I am smiling and saying hello to the people I pass, giving more hugs, looking for people who need an extra hand …and actually extending it, I am setting aside a little pin money each week to treat someone to a meal, to gas in their tank, to mailing a care package for them. I am actively looking for someone, every day, to be kind to.You might say, that you aren’t aware of anyone in need…or that it’s to big an issue to tackle.

I have your first mission… please accept it.

Being a  military wife about to face deployment, I can tell you the families back home can always use an act of kindness. Every little bit helps. I would encourage you to not only display your solidarity with a ribbon, but to display it with actions. If you know a family affected by this; write a note, offer a lawn mow, a game of catch with their children, a laundry folding party, a home-cooked meal that they don’t have to make, rake up fallen leaves or change light bulbs in places they can’t reach… a hug. Simple actions say more than 10,000 words sometimes. 

…and these ideas are just a start… we need to take the blinders off and take a long look at the world around us… noticing need is the first step… now meet it.

…be purposeful in the way we treat one another, I guarantee you will get back in happiness 10x’s more than the effort it took to do it.

Care to join me? Comment about what your plan is today… 

 

 

A Marriage Turns Nine April 14, 2008

The Second Wedding

Nine years has flown by. I joke that we are still newlyweds – If you take out the four years worth of deployments we have weathered.

Michael holds the distinct honor of being the only man in his family to have been married twice…to the same women…within three weeks of each other. I had been planning what we dubbed “the big wedding” for about four months when the Commanding Officer (CO) of Michael’s squadron told us they were depolying to Kosovo…at the end of the week…and it was Wednesday.

We are a part of the F-18 jet community, my husband is like “goose” on Top Gun (His opening line at Pat Obrien’s in New Orleans where we met…a whole other story). That community is pretty accepting of fiancee as a status, but to the Marine Corps… unless you are married… you are persona non grata. If he had died or was injured, you would get no notification, benefits…anything.

Which takes us to the “Oh my word… we better get married quick..your going to Kosovo wedding”

Which makes me a war bride… I get a kick out of that.

I, like most girls, dream of their wedding…and this was not it. We were only three weeks away from “Martha Stewart Perfection”, and I wasn’t about to blow it on a judge. We got word Wednesday morning that they were ramping up for a Friday departure. I whirled into action, by noon I had our pastor and photographer set for five, the jeweler racing from Hilton Head with the rings, the florist putting together a quick bouquet and boutonniere, a hair appointment and a decorating force (the squadron wives) ready to transform the tower where Mike proposed to me. The hardest sell was dry cleaning. In Seattle, where I am from, you can have your clothes in an hour… it’ll cost you….but you can get them. In South Carolina, they have 7 day martinizing. So trying to convince them to clean Mike’s suit in less then 7 hours was a miracle almost of Genesis proportion. I arranged the restaurant down the street for a little reception, got a cake, brought my boom box with the sampler wedding music CD, and we were set.

The only challenge…Michael had no idea. And the groom was up in a really fast jet, only God knows where, with no way of telling him he was getting married at five. The Corporals and Sergeants were on the lookout for him the minute he landed….which was about 4:15. In which they informed him to get home, put the suit on and show up for his wedding. Fortunatly he is a man of action and takes orders well 🙂

It was a great wedding. The photograph still hangs over our fireplace. We were surrounded by surrogate family, and even managed a first dance and cake smash. We decided not to tell anyone except our heartbroken parents, thinking perhaps we would still be able to pull of the “Big One” later. The next morning we went to turn in paperwork, and got the news…

…the squadron is NOT going anymore…

shock… what do you do now?

…which leads us to the second marriage of my husband. We made it to our wedding day, May 8th. It was everything a Southern Girl at heart could ask for… Big and Glorious.

He did deploy to Kosovo, two weeks later.

And yes, I make him celebrate both dates.

I thought it would mean double the gifts, but he got wise to me. On our first anniversary he gave me diamond earrings. On April 14, 2000 I opened the beautifully wrapped box, and saw one blinking at me. The card read, you get the other on May 8th. Outsmarted again 🙂

I have been blessed. My husband is the most considerate, kind, loving and supportive husband anyone could ask for (and he looks crazy sexy in those flight suits). I know there is a God and that He loves me every time I look into Michael’s face. God blesses us, even if we feel unworthy of it sometimes. You are irreplaceable honey, and truly I am at a loss to imagine my life without you… we are epic.

There is a famous movie line that says “You complete me.” It is WRONG. Part of the reason our marriage works is that we came into it two complete individuals, and we enhance each other. I am the delightful color that livens Michael’s black and white life, and he grounds me. Together we have grown, and God willing, will continue for many decades to come. Nine years feels like we are still just beginning our journey together. I can truly say that I love him more today, nine years later, than I did on that South Carolina tower…

Honey, here is one to add to the soundtrack of our lives. After nine years, this is what marriage means to me…

Across a crowded room
I know you know what I’m thinking
By the way I look at you
And when we’re lying in the quiet
And no words have to be said
I think to myself, I think to myself
This love is a beautiful gift
I have been blessed
And I feel like I’ve found my way
I thank God for all I’ve been given
At the end of every day
I have been blessed
With so much more than I deserve
To be here with the ones that love me
To love them so much it hurts
I have been blessed. from Blessed by Martina McBride

Blessed by Martina McBride

Michael, I love you.

 

 

 

 

 
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