Extracurriculars count!

IMG_3959A Power Plant Operations Director I’m friendly with once shared with me that two of his proudest moments at our company were that he built a koi pond for employees at one of our main electric generation facilities and that he started a lunchtime bocce league in office where I work, which grew from four teams to more than 150 players on 20 teams … and counting. [See a recent story I wrote about it for work.]

He had more than three decades of professional achievements but these two ‘extracurricular’ things stood out.

I agree it’s often the ‘extra’ things we take on that really matter. I always tell my kids the most challenging, even scary, things they pursue can become some of the most meaningful things they accomplish in their lives (as I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts).

And they seem to feel the same way. My daughter Jamie spent the past three years down in North Carolina, teaching at a really rough, rural school. At 24, she moved down there on her own – braver and tougher than I’ve ever been, determined to make a difference (as also described in a previous blog post).

Dan-piano-recital-2013And son Dan is about to pursue getting a Master’s and Doctorate in Chemistry down in Texas. He also plays viola, piano, guitar and banjo, rides his bicycle, works out … he’s following his passions.

Growing up, my proudest, most memorable moments weren’t in the classroom or in the fact that I studied hard and made National Honor Society. They were out on the running track and in the music room. Like my power plant friend, they were in the ‘extracurricular’ things I took the initiative to do.

I joined the girls varsity high school track team in 12th grade because a friend did. I was ready to quit after the first day when I realized we had to run a mile at the start of each workout, a mile at the end. But I became a pretty good sprinter in the 100 and 220 yard dashes (yes, we measured in yards, not meters, back in 1978). My best day ever was when I ran the 220-yard dash in under 30 seconds (29.8) at a divisional track meet.


My friends were there to cheer me on, my dad was there to see it and my coach, who was stingy with compliments, said that time was college track-worthy. I can’t remember many names, dates or faces, but I remember that moment like it was yesterday.

My other proudest high school accomplishment was when I made it into the competitive John F. Kennedy choir in 11th grade. We sang at different venues, including the Concord resort in the Catskills, and even made a couple of record albums I still have. Choir was the toughest ‘class’ I ever took. But both track and choir gave me life lessons I still follow today. Like how to give your all, every ounce of energy you have, make it count, even turn it into something beautiful.

Where I work, I get to lead teams for everything from fitness challenges, to Inclusion & Diversity groups, and I have had the opportunity and privilege to mentor others and serve as an officer for a volunteer group, our work-site Toastmasters International group and a Work/Life Balance-themed employee resource group. Outside work, I play piano, read for a book club, eat healthy and strive for 10,000 steps a day on my old-fashioned pedometer.

These are the things that give me energy when I’m tired; hope when I’m feeling down. The extracurriculars really do count!

NOTE: I actually ‘stole’ this from myself – from a speech I DID deliver at Toastmasters awhile back – a group that’s helped me get over the fear of public speaking I mentioned in my most recent blog post (and a group I’ll probably feature in an upcoming blog of its own)

4 thoughts on “Extracurriculars count!

  1. Ellen, Love reading your stories and can relate to many. I’ve wanted to read the article you put in the Hicksville Gazette, but it will not open.


  2. Thanks Karol – that means a lot to me. As far as the link, can’t figure out why as I was able to open on both my phone app and computer – hmmm. Anyway, I did send you the link via email and hope that works. If not, let me know and I’ll send you the PDF – 😉


  3. Ellen – passion is The fuel of a well lived life. It’s good to hear what matters most are the things most folks take for granted …. the importance of doing things for the simple joy they bring to us and others, which renews our perspective about our daily lives. Bravo and thank you for all you bring to our everyday. – Pam


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