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Sharon Randall: My world just got a lot bigger

By Sharon Randall
If youíd asked me 20 years ago what Iíd be doing today, I might have said cruising the Caribbean or greeting at Walmart or getting my knees replaced.
I would not have said, ěWorking on my website.î
Twenty years ago, when I left my job as a reporter to write a column for syndication, the world was a different place from the one weíve come to know.
Back then, I wrote on a clunky laptop and emailed my work to Scripps Howard News Service to be distributed to papers around the country ó pretty much the same as I do now.
But managing a website ó an electronic world where I post thoughts and observations and invite comments from readers?
I never saw that coming. Besides, I have enough trouble keeping up with the real world, staying in touch with family and friends and remembering to brush my teeth. My world is big enough. Why would I want to expand it?
Not that I donít like hearing from readers. I do. In fact, that is possibly the part of the job that I love best, the thing thatís kept me at it all these years.
Well, that and a paycheck.
I never wanted to write a personal column. An editor made me do it. I blame him.
He told me I could write about Little League games and kidsí birthday parties and hiding the TV remote from my husband.
He never mentioned writing about cancer. Or watching my husband fight for his life. Or waking up one day, a widow with grown children in a big empty house, to realize, like it or not, it was time to begin again.
I didnít plan to write about any of that. But thatís what came my way ó life in all its fullness, all its pain and glory. I took it as it came, wrote it as I lived it.
And soon I began hearing from readers who said they were praying for my husband and their children were praying for my children and the life I was writing about was not just my own; it was their life, too.
Hearing from readers has taught me several things: Never to be cynical; never stoop to self-pity; and never forget that people are good and we are all more alike than we are different.
It has allowed me to be part of a far-reaching community and share a kinship with people Iíve never met ó though I do get to meet them on occasion.
Whenever Iím invited to speak in areas that have long carried my column, people ask about my children and my family. They want to hear the story of how my former editor is now my husband and what life is like in Las Vegas, of all places. Instead of handshakes, I get hugs. Itís like a big family reunion, except nobody asks to borrow money or tells me Iíve gained weight.
I like readers a lot. Thatís why Iím working on my website (www.sharonrandall.com) to make it more ěreader friendly.î Actually, my daughter-in-law is doing all the work. She insisted on doing it. She gave me my first grandchild. I do what she wants.
When she asked for my ideas, I said Iíd like it to be more ěhomeyî ó less like a website and more like a kitchen table, a place where we can sit down over coffee, you and I, and talk about whatever comes to mind. (Sorry, youíll have to bring your own coffee. We havenít figured out how to do e-coffee yet, but we’re working on it.)
Now I have this new website where Iím supposed to check in regularly, post interesting thoughts and observations (or at least a few recipes) and reply to comments posted by readers.
My world just got a lot bigger.
It brings to mind my motherís words when I said I was going to California: ěHave you lost what little brains you had left?î
It also begs a larger question: What in the world will we be doing 20 years from now?

Contact Sharon Randall at www.sharonrandall.com.

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