Face a new challenge

Published 8:10 pm Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My favorite stories here at the News-Herald are the ones that are farthest away from City Council chambers. And communication directors or public relations representatives certainly have not pitched them.

They are just the plain stories of people like Vermelle Byrd.

Byrd is a retired teacher who decided to take a quilting class after a lifetime of not knowing how to sew.

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She had seen an announcement in the paper about an upcoming quilting course, and thought there was no time like the present.

I had the chance to meet with her as well as her quilting teacher, Emily Dalton, last week for the article, and it was obvious how much this class, this experience, meant to both of the women.

Dalton marveled at Byrd’s work and the drive to learn. Byrd was beaming when she showed off her first-ever sewing project.

Byrd is living proof that you are never too old, or too unskilled to learn something new.

Now, as I have shared previously in this column before – I’m not an arts and crafts person.

Some people can take paint and a blank canvas and create a beautiful landscape.

I create a mess, call it abstract and walk away with paint in my hair and clothes.

That said, just spending an hour with people like Dalton and Byrd make me believe even I am capable of one day mastering a craft of some sort (That craft may be paper mache, but it’s going to be something).

I would dare say that our schools and our young people would benefit from meeting people like Byrd. Principals should be asking her to come speak to their classes because she has a message that is important: There is always a possibility for growth. We never plateau. There are ways to get better, but you have to want it.

Maybe it’s a fear of failure, or maybe it’s the fact that our culture embraces a more cynical view than before, but too often people just give up, rather than try something new.

Thankfully, between the SCCA and the Suffolk Museum, there are plenty of opportunities to try something new right here in town. So if you have been thinking about maybe pursuing a hidden interest or trying out a new skill, I say go for it. First of all, you have nothing to lose and second, you will get to meet more people like Byrd, which is worthwhile in and of itself.