Friday, June 14, 2019

Insight: The magic of encouragement

By Lorraine Glowczak

Farmers’ markets are not only the perfect place to purchase locally grown fresh foods, but they are a wonderful spot to buy charming crafts and eclectic gifts. A couple of Saturday’s ago while at the Windham Farmers’ Market, I couldn’t resist purchasing five birdhouses a vendor had made from used decorative tins, two of which were from the whimsical artwork of the greeting card and calendar illustrator, Mary Engelbreit.

Although I had been an enormous fan of Engelbreit’s quirky creations 30 years ago, I had lost track of her and I wondered what she was up to these days. I discovered she is still popular as ever and that her business has grown to over $23 million a year. How did a graphic artist become such as success? Although I’m sure hard work paid off, I think it is possible the story she describes below had something to do with it:

"My mother and father were always very supportive of anything my sister and I wanted to do. When I was about 11 years old, I decided I needed a studio. My mother cleaned out a linen closet and my father put a table and chair in there for me and voila! I had a studio! Since my parents seemed to value what I was doing enough to go to all this trouble, I took it very seriously and worked non-stop. At first, I would copy my favorite illustrations from the old books my mother read to us each night, but slowly I developed my own style.”

And develop her own style she did. It’s amazing what a little support from others can accomplish. In fact, I can see it happening in my life today as a small-town newspaper editor and writer.

I must admit, from time to time, I feel like I fail our readers. It is my passion to capture every story that comes our way, but with limited time, resources and the inability to be in multiple places at the same time, there a few pieces that slip through the cracks. When this happens, I feel discouraged.

But this is where an Englebreiht-like tale swoops in and saves the day. We receive so much encouragement and support from our readers. Often, I’m told that our hard work and effort is appreciated and does not go unnoticed. On the occasion when the work feels daunting, our readers’ words of encouragement always transform my perception and the hurdles do not seem so overwhelming.

According to an online Psychology Today article written by Julie J. Exline Ph.D, she explains why: “When we ‘en-courage,’ it’s as though we actually infuse courage into another person. Encouragement can provide people with strength to look ahead, move forward, and reach for the next goal. The whole emotional tone of a tough situation can be transformed through encouragement. Somehow things seem a little brighter.”

She reminds us that we can't live on a steady diet of praise, alone. In order to improve, we need some awareness of our weaknesses and mistakes, too. But a little support can go a long way.

So, this is an official thank you to all our readers for supporting us here at The Windham Eagle. Your cheerful words infuse within me the courage to keep moving forward and to continue doing what I love so well. When you speak your gentle praises – it’s as if by magic, things seem to fall into place and feel a little brighter.

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