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On The Bricks Archives

Melyn Johnson

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March 22, 2019

Three young kids from a Gruver family volunteered last summer for something called StoryBridge in Amarillo and learned that not all kids have books at home to read.

“We were surprised by the number of children who do not have early access to such materials at home,” one of them said.

Not everyone has a library in their town. Not everyone lives in town. Not everyone knows about public libraries. Not everyone knows they’re welcome into a library. Not everyone can count on being able to get the books back in time.

Whatever the reasons, it is sometimes just nice to have your own book.

So, the Gruver kids came home and started to collect children’s books. Nearly 200 of them. And they sent them home with elementary kids from pre – kindergarten to fourth grade. Now the Junior Honor Society is going to continue the program, collecting and organizing book donations for the program. The take board books to chapter books and find good homes for them.

It started with volunteering.

It started with learning about other people.

It started with caring.

Do you have any children’s books that need a new home? If you drop off your books at the Main Street Guymon office at 116 NE Fifth Street or at Brown and Associates Insurance at 917 N. Main in Guymon, then we’ll find good homes for them. Homes that might have kids wanting a book.

My favorite children’s book when my kids were little was “Stand back, said the Elephant.” Stand back said the elephant, I’m going to sneeze. I don’t mean to harm you, I don’t wish to alarm you, but I fear, oh, dear …. Yes, you get the idea. Great book!

And then when my grandchildren were born, my eldest grandson loved Curious George. Probably because that’s what I read to him all the time. Curious George and Winnie the Pooh. And when he was little his Aunt Lisa and I took him to the Garden City Zoo to find Curious George. That little boy started yelling, “I found him! I found him!”

Life is better with books.

Life is better when we share books.

Life is good on the bricks.

March 20, 2019

We’re gearing up for some community cleaning. It’s Spring and it’s time to get some spit and polish on things. Time to get our trashy selves under control, for sure. The last part of April and through most of May we have lots of company coming to town and we should work to put our best foot forward. It’s just not cool, nor is it necessary, to be that lazy.

So, what part of cleaning up are you thinking you want to help with? Or maybe you just want to focus on your own yard and alley … and maybe closet and drawers?

You know that if you’re getting on the medicare bandwagon or get your senior citizen discount on McDonald’s coffee, you really need to think about downsizing. I can say these things because I qualify for that coffee discount, too, you know?

If we would just go through our “stuff” and toss some of the things that fill the drawers and the closets and the boxes and the attic, then when we move to a smaller place or, let’s just admit it, pass on to what our kids seem to call the icloud, it can help. It can help if our stuff goes where we want it to go. It can help because our kids can grieve (or celebrate, whatever the case might be) without the pressure of cleaning out a bunch of junk, errrr, I mean, treasures.

I threw out all sorts of cords that I didn’t know what they went to, nor would I know how to pick them out if I needed them. They went to all sorts of electronic do-dads. They took up a whole drawer. Glad I was saving those. I mean, I could have wrapped them up and given them to someone. To someone I didn’t like so they might feel compelled to store them.

Think about it. If you like your kids and grandkids, consider starting a little clear out some stuff. If you don’t like them, get another box and start saving more useless junk. But if that’s the case, then you’ll have time to help us with the community clean – up. In fact, clean up your alley and put that trash in a box and shove it in your garage. That’ll work for me.

All kidding aside, a blogger called “FlyLady”, Marla Cilley, has an online support group to help people counter household CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome). It seems the basic FlyLady flight plan is to set a timer for 15 minutes every day and pick up items with two bags – one for trash, one for things to be donated. See how much 15 minutes a day can work for you.

Here in Guymon, you can also collect some of these things and recycle them:

Egg cartons for the farmer with eggs;

Crayon markers;

Eye glasses;

Jigsaw puzzles;

Children’s books;

Flower vases; and

Mascara wands.

All of those can be recycled and you need only to bring them by Brown and Associates Insurance office or Main Street Guymon and we’ll get them to where they need to go.

Any other ideas of things that can be recycled?

Let’s get to work on clearing things out that are cluttering things up.

And for those who are over 60 years old or disabled, if you would like some help cleaning up your yard or alley, cleaning house, or doing other odd jobs, you can call 405-896-0463 and talk to the pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist Church about their youth group helping you. Or you can text Jill Kirkwood at 580-651-0512.

See you on the bricks!

March 18, 2019

Some things really don’t make sense. Like the ad that pops up to sell something that blocks pop up ads. Seriously?

It doesn’t make sense that we always think an interview for a potential job is all about the person being interviewed. We need to be remembering that the person is also interviewing the company to see if they are a place they want to work at. We forget that if we are a good choice as an employee, we also have value. Granted, the person that doesn’t show up for work on time, misses a lot of work, causes drama in the work place, doesn’t get their work done, doesn’t help co – workers with their work … you all need to not be wasting your time thinking you’re a valuable employee. *sigh*

Mama said if you can’t say something nice, just don’t say anything. So maybe a change in topic is best.

Here’s a great little story I recently read, “I was 13 years old, trying to teach my six – year – old sister how to dive into a swimming pool from the side of the pool. It was taking quite a while, as my sister was nervous.

“We were at a public pool and nearby there was a woman, about 75 – years – old, slowly swimming laps. Occasionally she would stop and watch us. Finally, she swam over to us just when I was really putting the pressure on, trying to get my sister to dive, and my sister was shouting, ‘but I’m afraid!! I’m so afraid!!’

“The old woman looked at my sister, raised her fist defiantly in the air, and said, ‘So, be afraid! And then do it anyway!’”

It’s not about being afraid. It’s about doing it even when you’re afraid. It’s life.

Too often we let our fears rule over us, instead of us ruling over our fears. It’s not the way it is supposed to work.

What are some of your fears?

Have you had a dream of starting your own business? Have you let the fear of stepping out and doing it keep you from your dream?

In January of 2020, Main Street Guymon is going to have a six – week long workshop about Starting Your Own Business. The cost is $50 per business and that entails one or two to take the classes. They will be held on Tuesday evenings. Think about it. Is this something you need to consider doing? Do you know someone else who might want to attend? Call me at 338-6246 to get on the list to attend. Only 15 people will be accepted into the workshop.

Tuesday evening, March 19, from 6 – 8:30 is a free showing of the movie “Oklahoma” at the Guymon Public Library, 1718 N. Oklahoma.

Wednesday is the Grand Opening of Gordman’s where Stage was, Northridge Shopping Center in Guymon. The ribbon cutting is at 5:30 pm. Go check it out!

Creativity rules at the All Fired Up Art Gallery on March 20 and 22 with their Mini-Art Camp. They have classes for kids from age 5 years and up. The cost is $45 each. Call them at 580-338-4278 for more information.

On March 21 is a Boy Scout Luncheon at the Methodist Enrichment Center, 6th and Quinn, from noon to 1 pm. You know, Boy Scouts isn’t just for boys these days. Take time to go see what’s happening in Scouting. The luncheon is open to all.

That same day at 5:30 pm is a meeting at Brown and Associates to learn more about Medicare. You need to listen to Dianna, she makes this very confusing process a little more accessible. And you won’t be as apt to make errors if you listen to Dianna.

It’s all good in Guymon.

See you on the bricks!

March 15, 2019

Starting your own business can be a daunting endeavor. Any type of business, whether you’re providing a service or a retail business, one that you have to have a building open to the public, one from home, or one that is more industrial – there are a lot of things that you should consider before jumping in to such a project.

Those who do plan well, have a better chance of being successful. They also have a better chance of getting funded.

The Main Street Guymon Business Development Committee would like to help those who have thought about being their own boss.

In January they offer a workshop, one evening a week for six weeks, from 7 – 8:30 pm, that addresses aspects an entrepreneur might need to consider before opening shop. The workshop is geared for all types of business ideas and is open to all ages.

“We built our workshop around one that has been done for the past 10 years in a Kansas community,” explains Main Street Director Melyn Johnson. “And their track rate on improving the new business success rate is very impressive. Our committee chairman for this project is Davin Winger, Dean of Business at Oklahoma Panhandle State University, and a farmer / rancher who ran his own successful business for many years before taking a dip into academia.”

The workshop addresses types of businesses, legal, financing, permits and licenses, sales tax, start up costs, demand, target markets, location, insurance, e-commerce, promotion, bookkeeping, bank services, and management. The cost is $50 per business to register to attend and this fee allows up to two people per business to attend. The maximum for attendance is 15 people, so that each person / business idea can get specific attention.

Area business owners and managers are going to be asked to address the topics that they have expertise and experience in doing.

“It’s important to know,” explains Johnson, “that the workshop is open to high school students and up. According to the Kansas group, some of the most successful people to come out of their workshop are high school and college students who know that what they would like to do is own their own business. Often, they have ideas for services that are outside the realm of traditional services, but that the younger people are wanting.”

For more information about becoming your own boss, contact Melyn Johnson at Main Street Guymon, 580-338-6246 or

March 11, 2019

The last part of the article that tells how to be a better conversationalist from the November Toastmaster magazine talks about a balanced conversation.

“Allow the other person to speak as often as you do. Keep in mind that you can’t control other people’s behavior. That means you can’t prevent them from talking too much, interrupting you or rambling on about irrelevant subjects. Therefore, it’s best not to expend mental energy worrying about someone else’s conversational etiquette and instead focus on what you can control – namely, your own habits.

“Pay attention to how often you allow the other person a chance to respond. The best conversations resemble a friendly game of catch, in that there’s a perfect balance between throwing and catching. Attention spans have been shrinking for at least the past two decades, so if you talk for more than 30 seconds at a time, it’s likely you’ve lost the other person’s focus.

“Help them stay engaged and remain focused by keeping it brief. An easy way to do that and to ensure what you’ve said will be understood and remembered is to talk about one thing at a time.

“If someone asks what you did over the weekend, don’t start with Friday afternoon and give them all the details you can remember. Instead, give the bullet points and allow them to respond.” Or just focus on one aspect that who you’re talking to might be more interested in hearing.

“Imagine conversation as a game of tennis in which you are constantly hitting the ball back to the other side. Remember that you already know everything you’re going to say and, if you’re going to learn something new, you’re going to have to listen.”

Would you like to be a part of the Community Clean-Up in April? We sure need your help. Whether you have 30 minutes or 2 hours to give, we need help on this Spring cleaning of our community. What part of cleaning up would you like to take part in? You have your choices … litter pick up in your favorite park, alley cleaning in your own alley, limb and trash pick up for elderly, cleaning up at the nursing home or along the highway and roads you drive every day. What clean up project would make you happier? Now get a couple of people you enjoy being around and plan to do that project together. Call me while you’re figuring it out. My number is 580-338-6246.

See you on the bricks!

March 6, 2019

The Toastmasters magazine, November 2018, article on How to Have a Better Conversation is what I shared from last column. There’s more. And it’s also interesting!

Fear is an obstacle to engaged listening. “For some time, social scientists have struggled to understand why we avoid in – person contact and face – to – face conversations. As a social species, conversation is beneficial for us. Regular in – person socialization can extend your lifespan, strengthen your immune system, and stave off depression and heart disease. So why do people stare at their phones … and avoid making eye contact with others?

“When researchers forced people to start conversations with strangers on trains, in waiting rooms, and at coffee shops, the participants ended up enjoying themselves. They also reported they were no less productive than if they’d kept to themselves. And yet, when these subjects were asked if they would start more conversations in the future, most answered no.

“We get in the way of our own enjoyment and well – being. A recent study showed that oftentimes, we are so caught up worrying about saying the right thing or being witty, we don’t notice that the other person is enjoying our company. We tend to underestimate how much other people like us. We’re stuck in our own heads, afraid we will say the wrong thing.

“While we obsess about what we’re saying and how we’re coming off, we don’t have time to really pay attention to what another person is saying. Sadly, this is also what prevents us from engaging in conversation in many circumstances: our fear that we’ll say the wrong thing or be judged negatively by the other person. That means the first step to listening well and enjoying a good conversation is to let go of your fear.

“Rest assured that the vast majority of conversations you have, whether they be with a loved one or an acquaintance, will lift your mood, engage your mind productively and improve your health.”

We have a lot of people running for the City Council election. Each one of them has faced the fear of losing, faced the fear of speaking in public, faced the fear of potentially being in front of the camera for people to watch. I applaud every single one of them for stepping out. And for those who are stepping out because they would like to be active in planning for our community’s future … I applaud you even more. It isn’t easy and we need to be kind to those who do it. We also need to vote and be a part of the decisions being made for the community we live in. Register to vote, if you haven’t. The last day to get this done is March 8 to be able to vote in the April City Council election. We need to have a better voter turnout.

March 9 is the Ready Group at the First Christian Church, 9 am. Here is a business, Brown and Associates, that cooks for those who attend and schedules a program that is relative to retired individuals. Another way to be involved in our community and to continue learning.

March 9 is also the running of the Livin’ Green Race.

March 11 is a soccer tournament at Fowler Park under the direction of Geraldine Sanchez. She has a fascinating story on how she got involved doing this. She was never a soccer player, but saw a need in our community. Wow. That impresses me.

On March 16 the Rose Garden Club has another Recycling Conversation at the Main Street Guymon office. Come in and learn more about the recycling opportunities we have in Texas County.

I’ll see you on the bricks!

February 25, 2019

My favorite people to spend time with are not those who think like me, they don’t have to look like me, and I don’t care how smart they are or how important their job is. What matters to me is if they are interesting. The Nov. 2018 Toastmaster magazine had an article that explains it well.

To be interesting you need to be able to have a good conversation with people. It doesn’t mean you have to be a talker or that you need to know everything. It just means you know how to have a conversation.

Talking well and conversing well are not the same thing. We often think someone is a good conversationalist because they’re funny, witty or tell good stories. But that’s what a stand – up comedian does well, and that isn’t conversation.

If one person is dominating the conversation – talking about what they’re doing, what they believe or what they know – that’s more of a lecture. One person is supplying information, and the other person is mostly absorbing that information or tuning out.

A conversation is also not a debate. A debate is an adversarial exchange, even when it’s civil, in which two people are putting forth arguments for opposing sides. A debate can be productive and informative, but it’s not a conversation.

A conversation is a mutual exchange of ideas. To have a real conversation, you must hear what the other person is saying, think about it, and then respond. We often don’t hear everything someone says. Instead, we listen to the first five to ten seconds and then stop listening and simply wait for them to stop talking so we can say what we want to say.

“Most of us don’t listen with the intent to understand,” says author Stephen Covey. “We listen with the intent to reply.”

The most essential component of a good conversation is engaged listening.

Listening is hard because it requires you be focused and present. In an era of smartphones and other distractions, it’s difficult to practice mindfulness. Even if your phone never makes a sound, you may be less focused when it’s near because your brain is prepared for it to make noise.

Because your brain knows you might receive a text, email, or other notification at any time, it may remain on constant alert.

Research shows that typical daily stress can cause your IQ to drop about 10 points because your brain is in fight – or – flight mode most of the day. But the cognitive cost you pay is higher. Since that phone causes your mind to be in a constant state of stress, the prefrontal cortex is too busy to help you listen or respond to what you hear during a conversation. The prefrontal cortex is involved with executive decisions, planning, impulse control, and complex thought.

So, while your phone is visible and keeping your prefrontal cortex busy dealing with stress, you are not making good decisions, planning for the future, or controlling your impulses. This could cause your conversation to go awry.

We all need to work on our conversation skills. We’ll be more interesting as we do.

And if you want to practice, there is a Recycling Conversation happening on Mar. 16 from 10 am to noon in the Main Street Guymon office. It’s time to find out about opportunities we have in Guymon to recycle. This conversation is hosted by the Rose Garden Club.

See you on the bricks!

February 22, 2019

In spite of their parents, my children have really turned into excellent adults. That may surprise some folks.

We can always be better parents. We could all have better parents. But the fact of the matter is that most parents really do the best they can. There are times we get advice that is irritating. But there are times we get advice that is a blessing to the whole family.

Recently I read a list of positive things to say to your child and I saw it as a blessing … a reminder of things we should say and mean. That goes for any age your children may be.

Let me share that list.

  1. You are helpful.
  2. You were right.
  3. I know you did your best.
  4. I’m grateful for you.
  5. You have great ideas.
  6. I love being your mom.
  7. I believe in you.
  8. You are important.
  9. You make me proud.
  10. You are loved.
  11. You don’t have to be perfect to be amazing.
  12. I believe you.
  13. You are worth it.
  14. Don’t be afraid to be yourself.
  15. It’s good to be curious.
  16. We all make mistakes, it’s ok.
  17. I understand you.
  18. You can say no.
  19. This family would not be the same without you.
  20. We can try it your way.
  21. I appreciate you.
  22. I know you did your best.
  23. I forgive you.
  24. I am so glad you’re here.
  25. That was really brave what you did.
  26. I admire you.
  27. It’s your decision.
  28. If you really believe in something, it’s important.
  29. Don’t give up.
  30. I could never stop loving you.
  31. You can try again tomorrow.
  32. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.
  33. You are enough.
  34. It’s OK to be scared.
  35. Even if you make a mistake, you can fix it.
  36. Being kind does not make you weak.
  37. Your ideas are great.
  38. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.
  39. Anything is possible.
  40. You can make a difference.
  41. I love how you said that.
  42. I’m listening.
  43. You did that so well.
  44. You make my heart full.
  45. Not everyone will like you, and that’s ok.
  46. You have a choice.
  47. That’s a great question.
  48. I’m so excited to spend time with you.
  49. That was a really good choice.
  50. I trust you.
  51. I hear you.
  52. Your attitude can change any situation.
  53. You are a great friend.
  54. Never stop trying.
  55. I’ll always love you.

These are all things we should be telling our kids, and things we want to hear from our parents. Let’s start making it a point to say them. But only if you mean them.

You are important to this community. Yes, you. Start being the person you want to be and the person that will make you proud.

See you on the bricks!

February 20, 2019

Last night was our Main Street Awards Banquet and the number of people who attended was astounding. The number of Guymon volunteers was exciting and humbling. The number of positive people in one room was stimulating. I loved it. This was a room filled with people who make the world a better place.

Those folks sitting at the tables brought this little story that I read about to mind.

“On a warm summer night, I was working at the local grocery store. That particular night there was a great deal of people shopping, and I was non-stop carrying out for the customers. I hated it. The temperature outside was well over 90, and all the workers were profusely sweating.

“When working at a grocery store, one learns to put on a fake smile and humor the customers who talk to them. Halfway through my shift, I was carrying out groceries for a very elderly woman. I went through the motions and asked, ‘How are you today?’.

“She proceeded to tell me about her day, and I nodded and agreed with everything she said though I wasn’t paying attention. She must have sensed that I was not paying attention and she stopped talking. I carefully placed her groceries in her old car, but just as I was about to leave, she said, ‘Thank you, young man. I really appreciate all of you who help an old lady like me. My husband died last year, and sometimes the only time I get to talk to someone is when I come here for groceries.’

“While I’d never really ‘seen’ my customers before, I realized there are rich, poor, clean, dirty, young, old, and all different races of people. They all have their own problems I know nothing about. The least I can do is truly care when I ask, ‘How are you today? or tell them, ‘Have a great rest of your day.’ I don’t know what kind of problems or issues customers are having, but I can do my part to make their day a little brighter.

“A significant contribution to society doesn’t have to be a cure to cancer, life – saving medical technology, or giving immense amounts of money to charity. Just being a decent person who cares about others can be significant. Opening a door for someone, volunteering in the community, or even just giving someone your time.

“The ultimate cure for a world with so many tragedies is a world with more decent people. People who care about others than themselves, people who are willing to help in the community, people who will raise their children to be good people. I am one of those people. I’ll raise my kids to be good people, I’ll be kind to everyone, and I’ll help in the community in any way I can. That way of living is a significant contribution to both society and the world.”

Pickle Creek last night was filled with just those type of people. I am blessed. Main Street Guymon is blessed. Our community is blessed.

Thank you to everyone who is a part of making this community better.

See you on the bricks!

February 17, 2019

When you are trying to bring ideas together, to build something new, to improve your processes, it is important to have a creative environment where people are free to perform and share ideas without fear of judgment or failure. If people fear failure or judgment, they will refuse to participate.

Failure is a necessary part of most successful ideas, because success rarely comes at the first attempt. Billionaire Sir James Dyson, the inventor of the Dyson bagless vacuum cleaner, spent 15 years and had 5,126 failed attempt before he got his invention right.

Creativity is not just for artists. Everyone is creative. We all have valuable ideas every single day. A person who has original, valuable ideas at work becomes important to their employer. Because creative ideas lead to valuable change, it affects leadership. Leader’s don’t just have an official title or position; they often contribute the most and have the most influence.

Creative ideas are key to businesses, organizations, and countries thriving.

Studies have shown that judging, telling someone exactly how to do things, exerting too much pressure, constantly watching, creating a win / lose situation (competitions especially between co – workers) will hinder creativity.

Be wary of cultures that hinder creativity. Don’t tell others how to behave down to the tiniest detail or create an environment where employees are rewarded for being unquestioning “yes men” to their bosses.

An example of incorporating creativity into the culture is Google’s famous “20 percent time” where employees were free to spend one day a week working on their own projects. Major successes came out of this, including Gmail.

Often careers involve initial training that requires an employee to experience working in multiple departments. But typically, they then specialize and subsequently remain in one department, missing out on the diversity of the whole company. A person with a more rounded understanding and experience of a whole organization will understand that organization better and be in a better position to contribute creatively.

Creativity thrives on different perspectives, so diverse teams will have richer experiences to draw from, especially if partnerships and collaborations are encouraged.

Those are some interesting thoughts taken from the article “Where Leaders are Made” in the July 2018 issue of Toastmaster magazine.

Some very good ideas on how to parent, to be a supervisor, and to be a more enjoyable person came out of that article. It is especially relevant in working with volunteers.

Another article that was shared with me, says people quit their jobs and it really boils down to one reason, one word – disrespect. “It’s clear what causes employees to walk out the door – disrespect on the part of management.

“When employees are not respected or valued as workers and human beings, when they are not served well and developed as people and professionals, when obstacles aren’t cleared from their paths so they can perform well, when their voices aren’t heard or are ignored, they experience disengagement. When that begins to happen and doesn’t change over time, you’ve lost them from the neck up. Once employees are not longer emotionally committed to their work and have checked out, you can bet your bottom line that they’ll be updating their resumes.”

I thought this information interesting. I hope to always improve as a person, a supervisor, and as an employee. These kinds of articles make me think about ways that I can improve.

It’s always good to learn more. Here are some happenings in the community that give you a chance to learn more and improve yourself.

Feb. 24 is a Sunday and that afternoon at the Guymon Library, 1718 N. Oklahoma Street, is an afternoon to learn more about the South Sudanese people who have moved to Guymon. It is a free afternoon sponsored by Seaboard Foods, a Main Street Guymon that begins at 2 and ends at 4:30 and includes watching the “Lost Boys of Sudan” documentary, hearing a panel of South Sudanese, and a chance to ask questions.

Then on Feb. 25 is a Support Group for Diabetics at 5:30 pm. This meeting takes place at the Heritage Community Assisted Living, 501 NE 15th Street. To learn more about this free program, call Amanda Crawford at 580-338-3186.

It’s a good day to be
On the bricks!

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