Welcomed home

I’ve just returned from a week in Columbus, and you are not misreading it when I tell you that while I was there I went home three times! More about that in a minute.

I return often to the Buckeye State, especially now that my best friend and talented coach Jan Allen is overseeing Women on Fire’s Each One, Reach One program and Andrea Dowding and Jerry Browning are leading our coaching group and teas there.

This recent trip was to share the Women on Fire experience with the many inspiring women we know in Ohio, including a group of dynamic young women about to graduate from college.

Jan Allen hosted a Women on Fire gathering with many soon-to-be college graduates. (Photos by Jamie Eslinger)

What happened to me in Columbus this time around though was totally unexpected.

I was deeply moved to return to experiences from my past that brought me “home.”  You see, I spent 24 years of my education and career – as a journalism major at The Ohio State University and newspaper reporter and political press secretary  – in Columbus before moving to Boston in 1996 and then Martha’s Vineyard in 2001.

After last week, I wondered how it is for you, too, when your past meets up with your present and you return “home?” What do you notice and feel?

Surprise #1

In 1983-84, my home was with U.S. Senator John Glenn of Ohio on planes, trains, buses, cars, hotel rooms and campaign offices as I trekked the snowy fields of Iowa and elsewhere with the former astronaut and his absolute angel of a wife Annie.

Senator Glenn, the first man to orbit the Earth, was running for his party’s nomination for President of the United States and I was his 28-year-old deputy press secretary.

After more than 20 years, I had a touching reunion in Columbus with one of my beloved bosses, the former astronaut and U.S. Senator John Glenn who will be 90 on July 18.

He provided the experience of a lifetime for me to have a ringside seat to watch our nation’s election process unfold.  More importantly, he and Annie showed me what it was to be a world leader, an upstanding human being, a dedicated public servant, and a husband and wife deeply committed to each other.

In Columbus last week, I got to catch up with this amazing couple.  Twenty-seven years after I worked with them, they’ve hardly skipped a beat and are still their engaging, fit, warm and vibrant selves.

Back together with Annie Glenn. We spent many hours on the road together during the 1984 presidential campaign.

I, on the other hand, grew up in that campaign. I learned how to work virtually and on the run. I learned how to stand up to a harsh national press corps. I learned how supporting others and nurturing relationships were keys to success.

Last week I was so grateful to get to thank the Glenns for their kindnesses and for the firm foundation of experience they established in my life.

“You are very welcome and I’m glad it worked out for you,” Senator Glenn said, gripping my shoulder tightly.

I felt very grateful to be able to thank the Glenns for my experience with them so long ago.

Annie told me she hoped  we will stay in touch… as long as it is by phone and not a computer!

I reconnected with the Glenns at an event being held at another former “home” of mine – The Ohio Statehouse.

I saw many people from my past there and none so sweet, loving and caring as Dora Globe, the executive assistant to many powerful leaders in her career including the Ohio Governor.

When I was young and a Governor’s press secretary, Dora was a Woman on Fire in my life — an unwavering source of calm, comfort and support!

My stressful days melted when I would frequently find on my desk a Post-It note with her words of encouragement stuck to a bag of my favorite black jelly beans:-)

Everyone loves Dora Globe. Especially me!

I learned early on what it felt like to be uplifted and cheered on by other women — and Dora was one of the best.

Surprise #2

From 1975-1983, my home was in the Columbus Dispatch newspaper building. It was my first “big-city girl” job …first as a typist and editorial clerk and later a full-fledged reporter.

Once a reporter…always a reporter! Jamie Eslinger caught me posting on Facebook while outside of the building i spent many years working in as a newspaper reporter.

Last week, decades after I first walked through the revolving brass door there, I returned “home” to meet with the editor of Capital Style Magazine, and I was flooded with memories.

There was the memory of accompanying Jimmy Carter up the elevator when he was running for President; and the time Arnold Schwarzenegger visited our newsroom and nearly broke my hand shaking it.

The newspaper I worked for in that building — The Citizen-Journal — is long gone although always “home” in my mind.  The newsroom is now a warren of offices.  Still, the powerful vision of my newspaper colleagues, the many people I covered, and the stories I wrote left me teary and wistful — and grateful for my experience.

Surprise #3

It took me six years to get my undergraduate degree because I worked mostly full-time when I went to college.  I had little extra money but I still had fun.

Often, I would go bowling for $1 at another one of my “homes” — The Ohio State University’s Ohio Union.  Back then, the student union was drab and spare with little to do but snack and bowl.

On fire at The Ohio State University! Returning to my alma mater, Women on Fire were celebrated with a special menu prepared by the Ohio Union chef. (Andrew Gaither Photo)

Today, it is one of the most beautiful, thoughtfully planned and exciting community gathering hubs I’ve ever seen!

Last week, thanks to the incredible Tracy Stuck, OSU’s Assistant Vice President for Student Life, I returned to a spectacular, brand-new, 21st century Ohio Union where she and her team rolled out the scarlet-and-gray carpet to celebrate Women on Fire!

I was in Heaven and overcome with emotion to stand in the very spot where I once bowled.  Today, in that space is a Food Channel-worthy kitchen where  students are learning to become chefs.  I was “home” in the Ohio Union. And, we’ve both come a long way!

As I look back on last week’s three surprises of going home, I am reminded how useful the advice I received many years ago has been:

Long after our work is done, what we remember and take with us are the relationships of the people we cherished.

Yes, indeed.