Thursday, March 31, 2011

Career number three, watch out! Here comes Ann.

Hello, world. Wonder where I’ve been? Who I am? Where I’m going?

Me, too.

To my many loyal readers who came every day during the bicentennial year looking for information on Lincoln events, news of Lincoln celebrations, reviews of Lincoln books or a look at Lincoln sites and a bit about scholars, thank you. You motivated me, you sustained me. You made all the work seem like play.

For more than a year, from October 2008 to February 2010, this blog was my life. Sharing with you my passion for Abraham Lincoln drove me, sustained me. Then, for a while, I took a rest. I needed it. Next, with the help of my family, we set about some renovations here at home to prepare for a coming transition.

Finally, I was off in pursuit of my next goal – what I would do for a living when my husband and I relocate from our home on the prairies of Central Illinois to the rolling hills and calming waters of Mid-Missouri. It’s a return to roots for me in a sense, as my grandfather left Missouri for Illinois and my grandmother nearly 100 years ago.

What I didn’t expect was for the goalpost to drop clear off the field, to be replaced by a backstop, a basket, a goal net at the end of an arena.

In the past year, seemingly out of nowhere, I had an opportunity to write a book, to apply for a coveted fellowship and to post for a marvelous new career. The book’s still a work in progress, the fellowship pursuit moved to the back burner for another time and the new career starts now. I can’t wait.

The first day of the rest of my life

As I publish this post this morning, I’m about to head off to my last day of work at COUNTRY® Financial, where I’ve spent the last 13 and a half years. When I began this blog, I took great care never to mix my blogger life with my professional life. I never wanted anything I did here to reflect in any way on the very fine organization for which I worked. Yet, always, I kept in mind that as a COUNTRY employee, even in my off hours, I was representing the organization. So, I avoided controversy, used appropriate language, wrote so I would never be embarrassed if my mother read what I wrote. (She does, so that was good on more than one account.)

If this is the first time ever you’ve heard what I did for a living, it’s as I intended – not because I wasn’t proud of where I was, but on the contrary, because I respected a fine organization and wanted never to do anything to disappoint it (the old mother rule again – works pretty well in life, I think).

At COUNTRY, I had the opportunity to use what I learned in my first career – almost 30 years in customer service at a supermarket – and to build further the skills for a career that didn’t even exist when I started stacking the blocks. I worked first in the Loss Reporting Unit, fielding calls from clients calling in claims, then in the Customer Service Center, assisting clients when their financial representatives weren’t available, and finally in Communications, where I wrote for our corporate intranet and worked on other communication as well.

Now, at the stage in life when some choose to retire, I take those skills and move on. Monday, April 4, is the first day of my new life. I start my third career – one with yet another well-respected organization whose Vision is one in which I believe.

My cube just got bigger

As I retire from COUNTRY today, I’m stepping out of a fabric-covered cubicle and into a space with no boundaries. I’ll be co-editing the Ragan Communications website for healthcare communicators, and my cube is wherever I can research, write, post stories. It can be my home office, my deck, a coffee shop or conference – anywhere I can be connected and connect.

When I was a new communicator, my manager and coworkers introduced me to Ragan newsletters and webinars. Later, they shared information they learned at Ragan conferences and sent links to communication-related articles on Ragan’s websites. Now, I’ll be attending some of those conferences myself, writing for the website, building relationships with readers as starved for helpful information as I once was, still am.

What I’ll be doing for Ragan is really much like what I did here during the Bicentennial – finding information my readers need and want and sharing it with them.

Please come visit our healthcare communications website and snoop around on our other Ragan websites, listed at the top of the home page.

And follow me on Twitter as @RaganHealth.

Don’t forget to tell your friends or family members who are healthcare communicators to follow me there. In this day and age, that moniker fits many – not just marketing or public relations people at hospitals, but doctors, nurses, health departments, pharmaceutical representatives - essentially anyone, anywhere who communicates with the public about healthcare, through traditional or social media or, yes, even in person.

Lincoln Buff 2 isn’t dead yet

In case you’re wondering about Lincoln Buff 2, don’t be too alarmed. She’s still kicking, just less frequently and with different moves than during the bicentennial year. I still tweet as @LincolnBuff2. I’ll still drop in here from time to time and you’ll still find me cropping up at Lincoln events here and there.

This Lincoln jaunt has been an unbelievable journey. I set out in search of Abe and found Ann. And, she’s having a blast!

Thanks for joining me on my trek. You’ve made it all the more amazing.



P.S. Wonder why the big smile? You would be, too, if you were retiring and heading for an opportunity doing something else you love almost as much as Lincoln. Yes, I am in love with social media, too. You can tell my hubby if you want, but I think he's already figured it out. ;-)