My Bluebird Experience would have never began if I had not met a woman named Sherry Ross. The first encounter I had with her was in September of 2005 in the elementary “parking lot pickup” area. I saw this women walking with a bit of an attitude across the parking lot, a stern expression under her pink baseball cap. She was not happy.
The woman walked past my car on the way to the entrance, and I hopped out and matched her pace. We moved together towards the door and I smiled and tried to engage in some small talk. “Wow, can you believe it? The first day of school! So, how was your day?”
She looked at me. “Someone stole my John Deere pink hat and I’m pissed!” she growled, and I could tell this hat was very important! I looked cautiously at the hat she was currently wearing that covered up her obvious chemo side effects.
It’s a good thing that day that I listened before speaking. In my head, I was thinking, so what if it’s missing the logo? You still have a pink hat! I had moved here from Fairbanks, Alaska and I was not aware that it was “John Deere Country.”
She was full of such intense energy! Sherry spoke so fast and with so much passion, and spilled the details of breast cancer turning to kidney cancer and now she was dealing with damn tumors in her head and all she wanted was her damn pink John Deere hat. That first day of school, Sherry the parking lot pickup mom from Immaculate Conception really laid out how her first day of school was going. Anyone you meet who can honestly tell you the hell they feel is destined to be a treasured friend. Her attitude and fire really made me smile!
Small talk isn’t always small. I learned to understand that the person right next to you in the “parking lot pickup” group is going through something. Maybe more than you! When we smile and engage by listening to another, you may receive something magical in return just because you listened.
Meeting my dear friend Sherry Ross in her last two years of her life allowed me to realize that the gift of listening was in fact the most respect one person can give to another. Creating the Bluebird Experience was a way for me to demonstrate what can happen when we stop and listen. Meeting Sherry that sunny warm September day in Wisconsin was meant to happen. Listening always makes a difference.