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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bluegrass PRIDE: Shy child now homeroom mom with ‘power’ to plan greener parties

By Amy Sohner
KyForward contributor
 

I tend to take over. I have been the executive director of PRIDE for the last six years, and I think that I have not only grown into the position, I have also learned to love the relative power. The amazing part about this is that I used to be painfully shy. All I remember about much of my childhood is the back of my mom’s legs. Even events with my grandparents and cousins took a long time for me to warm up to. I always felt comfortable with my core group of friends, but once removed from their insulation, the world became a very scary place.
 

I actually remember the first time I became aware that I was coming out of my shell and attribute it to being a server in a local restaurant. For someone who is extremely shy, talking to a stranger, even if it is to see what they want to drink, can be a frightful experience. The realization came a few weeks after I started my first serving job, while I was eating dinner at a different restaurant with my parents. I overheard a conversation from another table and actually interrupted them to ask a question about their conversation (I was about to move to Scotland for a year, and they were discussing their recent trip to Edinburgh).
 

I also think that my year studying abroad helped to make me feel more confident. In addition to being in a completely new place, knowing no one, I went on a trip to Ireland and kissed the Blarney Stone, which supposedly gave me the gift of gab. No one has accused me of being a walflower since then!
 

This has all come up recently because I have taken over my daughter’s kindergarten Christmas party. With the help of Leah Anderson, one of PRIDE’s staff, I am going to “green” the party by doing a recycling craft and reading a book called Santa Claus Goes Green.
 

I mistakenly signed up to be a homeroom mom, which requires much more money and time than I anticipated but also allows me to help direct some of the activities. To be honest, I was worried that the other homeroom moms would be horrified by the recycled craft (used CDs with old holiday cards glued on them to make ornaments), but they actually embraced it. It could be that I volunteered to supply all of the materials and do the work, but I am going to think that it was because it was such a good idea.
 

I think that the reason that I am so comfortable with speaking my mind, especially knowing my childhood experiences, is because of the feelings I have for my job. It is a wonderful to be able to go to work every day and know you are making a difference. Now, by speaking out in meetings or at family gatherings, I know that I am doing what I believe in, and because of maturity and waiting tables, I am much less constrained by what other people think.
 

I hope that, though I have definite opinions and am not afraid to share them, I do so in a way that is respectful of everyone else. I know all too well how hard it is to voice your opinion when someone is belligerent. I also want to be a good example for my daughter who, unfortunately, takes after me, and is very familiar with the back of my legs.
 

Amy Sohner is executive director of Bluegrass PRIDE and a graduate of the University of Kentucky in Natural Resource Conservation and Management. Sohner has worked with PRIDE since its inception in 2002 and is a Certified Environmental Educator. She is involved with the Kentucky Environmental Literacy Alliance, the Bluegrass Rain Garden Alliance, the Licking and Kentucky River Basin Teams, and serves as vice-chair of the Keep Lexington Beautiful Commission. Sohner lives near the Kentucky River palisades with her husband, two daughters and a multitude of pets.

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