A few months ago I had completed my last big event of the year for Russell’s Adventures and my calendar was about to calm down. I felt drained and as I looked around me it felt lonely. Life had kind of exploded all over and it left me wondering what the point was to everything I had done over the year.
Over the last year I have tried to listen to the story of my community. I wanted to hear the heart and vision of the city, businesses, organizations and the people who call Albert Lea home. I wanted to hear, ask questions and implement ideas to help problem solve the issues I could, then brainstorm and pray through the issues that seemed larger than myself. A successful community requires multiple people going the same direction to get something accomplished.
I am so proud of the city I live in and the people who call Albert Lea home. The city, chamber, tourism office, businesses and community members have worked hard to build a place we all want to enjoy. The negativity I once heard on social media is outweighed by the positive voices that speak over them. I see others ralley around the positivity online as well as offline. I want to walk up and down Broadway Avenue doing a happy dance.
I see those around me supporting each other and encouraging one another. It is truly a breath of fresh air. There will always be areas we need to work on and leaders will always need to be held accountable, but they need our support. They do not have an easy job and I have begun to see my neighbors become problem solvers, instead of negative freaker outters (as we say in our house).
As I sat in various board meetings throughout the year I met many leaders in our community. I began to throwing out the idea of a social media breakfast. Yes, I wanted to teach people how to implement social media, but my bigger goal was to get everyone going in the same direction. Get everyone excited, help them see all of the assets our community has and work together to promote them. Making Albert Lea awesome does not fall on one person, organization or even the city. Albert Lea is awesome when the citizens, neighbors and everyone works together to make it awesome. Thus is the mindset no matter where you live.
After getting positive feedback from the Chamber, the City and the Tourism Bureau, plus having business and origination leaders show interest in attending, the event became reality. The Interchange Wine & Coffee Bistro hosted our first event. It was wonderful, our first event had around 25 people! It was crazy! I was hoping for five people to show up. Over the last couple of months our numbers have began to drop for one reason or another.
With our numbers dropping I have been praying about whether to stop putting the event together. The last two weeks I was sure it would end. I was discouraged with the low numbers, I wondered if I was even making a difference in our community. As I was praying I asked the Lord if I need to channel my energy in a different direction. Would I be able to find enough speakers for 2017, would more people show up. Honestly I would love for 35-40 to come each month. It would be amazing!
Last night as I praying for his special blessing on the last social media breakfast of the year, I asked the Lord to give me confirmation to keep going. I asked him to bring 20-25 people and to have someone ask me if they could speak this year. I didn’t get the 20-25 people, but I did have someone ask me if they could speak a social media breakfast. I said, how about January 31st and he agreed! I did not get the amount of people I prayed for, but God gave me something sweeter. He gave me relationships. He showed me at the last social media breakfast the sweet relationships that had been built of the course of the last year.
I also saw Chad Adams who is the City Manger of Albert Lea. He asked me how the breakfast was going and I shared with him how the numbers are going and why I think it is the way it is. I shared with him my bigger vision of the breakfast to build relationships and what he told me blessed me. He said, I don’t think you realize the impact you are having on the city. I needed to hear those words, I didn’t know I did, but I did.
I want to know there is a bigger purpose to what I am doing than simply showing up. I want to know that lives, families and our community are becoming stronger. When we grow as individuals, it gives us confidence. The confidence inspires our kids and leaves a lasting legacy. When individuals and families are strong, businesses thrive and grow. When businesses thrive and grow, individuals and families are impacted, it’s a beautiful circle and I want to encourage and be a positive voice.
To everyone who has helped to make the Southern Minnesota Social Media Breakfast a success, thank you! You have inspired me, inspired our family and have helped to bring positivity to Albert Lea. We are truly better together!
We will be taking a break in December (we have all four of our kids birthdays, plus Christmas over the next month and half), but we will see you January 31st! Stay tuned and watch for more details!