There’s nothing like a little perspective

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 23, 2008

By Kevin Chiri

I’ve been working on getting a little more thankful these days.

You know what I’m talking about. It’s something we all have to do on a regular basis.

And just like you, I find myself easily getting dragged down by the things we deal with each day. Between family, personal finances, work, friends—you name it—we all get dragged down pretty easily.

And yet when we sit back and think about it, most of us have it pretty good, don’t we?

As a Christian, I get my encouragement by reading the Bible, and meditating on Scriptures. I’m 53 years of age now, and more convinced than ever that nothing will ever replace the Word of God as the place to get everything I need.

I love reading in Psalms, since there is so much there that helps me get my eyes off myself, and focus on someplace better.

And for those of you who are familiar with the Bible, you know that God would have us focus on two other places—He wants us to turn our eyes and hearts to Him, and he wants us to think about others.

I got a great lesson about that when I held my regular Monday morning department head meeting. That sounds like I’m heading some really big deal, but here at L’Observateur, that means I’m meeting with all of two other people. We just like to call it a “department head meeting” since it makes us feel like we’re actually in some kind of leadership role.

Not really, but you might think that we could just drop the “department head meeting” line and say, “hey, let’s talk about a couple of things.” Anyway,…………….

Laura Anthony-Rigdon is my head of advertising here, and Mike Ladek is the head of circulation. Of course on Monday we spent a couple of minutes talking about the weekend. Laura had a great time taking her daughter Emily to New Orleans with a bunch of her girlfriends, since Emily was turning 13. They spent the night and had a great time visiting a bunch of attractions.

I was talking about the date my wife and I had on Friday night, as we headed to Baton Rouge for an evening out. Saw the movie “Burn After Reading,” which has Brad Pitt, George Clooney and a host of other well-known name actors in it. I would give it a thumbs up due to the very odd script, and the great acting of Pitt and Clooney, playing some really funny characters.

And then Mike just laughed and said he had “quite a weekend” himself which consisted of spending a lot of time at home, where he lives with his wife and son, along with his in-laws.

Both of Mike’s in-laws are getting older and have a number of health issues, and Mike has actually become what appears to me to be the primary caregiver of his mother and father-in-law.

I know I have heard him talk a lot over the months and years he has been here, all about how he has done this or that for “Dad” at his house, and of course how he helps a lot with his mother-in-law as well.

But the more I listened on Monday, I realized Mike is really a guy who is doing what the Bible says. His in-laws require a good bit of time to take care of, and Mike’s family has apparently taken on the job of being the primary caregivers right there in their house.

Mike is the kind of guy who is as easy-going as you would ever see. Quite honestly, he has never gotten mad around here since he came to work for us about two-and-a-half years ago. And that can’t be easy trying to put up with me. I’m a person who wants everything to be done as well as it can be done. I want our paper to be the best it can be. And I would like all of our employees here to take the job as seriously as I do. Clearly that can lead to some conflicts.

I know Mike has always had that kind of attitude here on the job, and yet I have certainly gotten aggravated with him on plenty of occasions just because I’ve wanted things done quicker, or maybe in a different way, or whatever.

None of that has ever mattered to Mike. He just listens, and always has told me he will “take care of it,” and always has done that to the best of his ability. That’s why I have always greatly appreciated Mike as a member of our team. And you have to remember, that this is all going on as Mike came to work for us having absolutely no experience in the newspaper business at all.

But I say that to make the point that Mike serves as a good example to me, and on this past Monday morning, definitely reminded me that I could have it much tougher. Fortunately for my wife and I, we don’t have any in-laws, or parents, living with us that need our 24-hour-a-day care. That, my friends, is perhaps close to as tough as things can get.

And yet Mike has taken that chore on for his in-laws without complaining, and is doing it obviously knowing that he could be faced with this life situation for many, many years.

But there he was on Monday just chuckling about “his weekend.”

Like I said, I’m trying to be more thankful for what I face each day, even with the tough things that go on between four children, a rapidly growing pack of grandchildren, a crazy newspaper to run, and plenty of other personal financial and family challenges.

Sure, I could complain, and heck, I probably would have good reason to.

But listening to Mike I knew that he was having the attitude God talks about in Psalms. He was putting others first, and on this day, he helped me to think a little more about doing the same.

Kevin Chiri is Publisher of L’Observateur and can be reached at (985) 652-9545 or at