Sharing passions helps honor life

Published 2:20 pm Friday, June 22, 2012

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

After two family funerals in nine days, bidding farewell to my maternal grandmother and my great aunt, I left home to attend Alabama Scholastic Press Association’s Long Weekend for Journalism at the University of Alabama.

During the conference, ASPA mentor Marie Parsons asked me to meet with a colleague planning to launch a magazine. Hoping my grief wouldn’t mask my enthusiasm, I agreed.

Getting lost in the short trip from campus, I phoned Parsons for directions. Central High School’s Tyrone Jones must have wondered what fog surrounded me. Meeting this energetic young teacher was inspiring. He wants to start Central High’s first literary magazine. He has a master of fine arts in creative writing. He has questions.

Marie Parsons, Alabama Scholastic Press Association mentor, and Tyrone Jones of Central High School.

How will he set up his staff, take submissions and make decisions? Will he find training, financing and computer programs? As I respond I feel my enthusiasm building, like a wave’s increasing force as I stand knee-deep in the ocean. Soon delight washes over me and splashes all over Jones in the form of my chatter.

Telling Jones about my students, I share stories — the trips, the speakers, ASPA’s vital assistance, the delight of discovering that students have won scholarships and contests — the moments of watching confidence bloom creating students empowered to live their dreams.

I tell him that literary magazines build artistic teams.

A basketball coach, Jones understands teamwork. For literary magazine staffers, collaboration harnesses the power to transform divas into accountable, creative teammates. I’ve witnessed this transformation — in classrooms — and mirrors.

Jones leaves determined to launch Central’s magazine. Renewed by sharing the creative passion that is my most-treasured inheritance, I envision my grandmother’s smile. At her funeral, the minister said, “Honor this woman by living a life that would make her proud.”

Working to live a life that makes my family proud is one way that I love them. Grief hurts, but as Morrie Schwartz says in Tuesdays with Morrie, “Love wins. Love always wins.”

On my return trip, grief takes the back seat and love rides shotgun. With love as my copilot, I will find my way.


Connie Nolen can be reached by email at