There are days that I could moan and groan about how the acts and attitudes of others affect me personally and my ability to perform my duties as a reporter for this fine publication.

But I’m going to try to not go there today. I’m hopeful you know that the high road is almost always my destination. I can whine with the best if that’s what I want to do – and I have - but I’m pretty close to a point in my life that I don’t like the sound – or taste – of my whine.

For the record, though, I take a detour sometimes and get human with my opinionated outbursts, but today I want to take a look at the best acts and attitudes that encourage me.

What I think about first is a four-word sentence that makes me feel good about who I am and what I’m doing.

“I read the newspaper.”

I love to hear that sound. I wish you knew how those words are music to my ears. Sometimes, hearing that short sentence makes my day. I can take the rest of the day off and go home.

I heard a variation of that statement at a recent event.

“I read the newspaper,” he said, referring to the Royse City Herald-Banner. “It doesn’t take long, and I’m a slow reader.”

I laughed. He laughed. And today, I’m smiling and I’m writing about it.

Recently, however, I found myself in an audience of people who apparently couldn’t make that positive newspaper-reading statement. I got an opportunity to speak just like everyone else in the room and I think I ended up with one of those opinionated outburst moments. I did that, I believe, because someone pitted the newspaper against social media. They touched a sensitive spot and, yes, it hurt.

I made a very strong pitch for the hometown newspaper that day. But I realized later that a pitch is not necessary. No spoken words. No defense. All I need to do is keep doing what I’m doing to the best of my ability. No detours, please. I’ve got too much news to report.

It would be so easy to drown in a sea of negative thoughts. I refuse to let that happen. There are too many good things that happen every single day that encourage me and that’s where I want my focus to be.

For the rest of my life I will think about my brief conversation with a 12-year-old girl at City Lake Park months ago. If I ever feel like going to some negative or discouraging place with my thoughts, I think about my brief conversation with a young reader of this newspaper.

I had been on my knees taking a picture of some kids. When I stood, I turned around and saw a girl looking up at me, smiling. I smiled. We exchanged “hello” greetings. Then we introduced ourselves. Finally, I believe, she said she wanted to be a writer. I found out she was 12 and I began telling her how and when I started writing – which was probably at an age younger than 12.

I wanted to give this young girl so much information, but I felt the need to ask about her parents. She directed me to her mother. Her mother told me that her daughter saw the “press” credentials that I was wearing and realized that I was the man from the newspaper. She wanted to meet me. How exciting that was for me!

I made telephone contact with the mother and daughter later. We made some plans, but we’ve never carried out those plans. But I keep thinking back to the day that I met the young girl and the thought about what I do as a professional journalist apparently had an impact on a young life. Now that made my day – and many more days to come.

And I can’t write about encouragement without mentioning Barney Jones.

Every week, he will let me know in some way that he reads my column in the Royse City Herald-Banner. For example, he mailed a greeting card to Gracie, our faithful little dog that I write about from time to time. And recently, before a meal at the senior center, he offered me a slice of cheesecake. I was on the verge of accepting it when I realized that he had just read my column about my mission to shed some pounds with an “eating right” diet – a diet that for sure doesn’t include cheesecake.

And I’m a collector of mementoes. I’ve got one here at my desk – a box of 64 crayons. I had written that as a kid I never had a box of 64 crayons. Only the rich kids had those. So, yes, I finally became a rich kid with my very first box of 64 crayons, thanks to Barney.

Well, I’m certainly glad I took the high road today. I was reminded of so many good people I see there – so many that I can never write about them all.

As a way of saying “thank you” to all the encouragers out there, I’m going to sit right down and write a newspaper story.


Jim Hardin may be reached at