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Lessons Learned, Part IV

Lessons Learned, Part IV

Alumni September 12, 2019
A continuing reflection on life acquired in and out of the classroom — from the Classes of 1969, 1984 and 2016.

A letter a week

Patty Gambs MacInnis ’69
Retired interior designer, Noblesville, Indiana

My hope, if I get to live that long, is to write each of the seven grandchildren a letter a week for the first semester of their college years. That’s the one that’s the toughest, I think. So many changes when you’re still trying to figure things out.

I’m convinced when you are caring for your elderly parents, the next couple of generations are watching.  It’s a teaching moment to show them how it’s done.

Patty MacInnisOne of my UD professors gave me some great advice. He observed, “You have a home economics major and an art minor. The economics side is always to find the best and fastest way of doing something. Art teaches you that the imperfect can be the most beautiful. Never forget to notice that imperfect rose.”

In a lecture a long time ago, the speaker compared saying something mean or spiteful to someone to taking a big roofing nail and pounding it in a fence. You can take out the nail, but what still remains is the hole. Children, especially, can be so damaged by how they’re spoken to. They are just so tender. Being respectful in how we speak to others is so important. 

At my 25th class reunion, one particularly attractive silver-haired lady, dressed regally in bright blue chiffon and rhinestones, got to the mic and stated she was not only happy to be a Golden Flyer, she was just happy to “be.” Now that I’ve joined those ranks, that about says it all. 

Golden Flyer Patty would tell freshman Patty, “Take it in. Take it all in.”

All of us were handed a set of parents in the lottery of life. Some were given a bum rap. Do what you can to rise above it and make parenting a priority when you have your own children. I was given a great mom and dad, so I have more of an obligation to pass those values on in our family. 

Laugh at yourself when something doesn’t turn out as planned. Life isn’t all about you.

Over the years God and I have had countless friend chats and a couple of times He really spoke to me, like, ‘You’d better get your tuchus out there and take care of this.’

Be other-centered.

It’s really important to be known as a person who always tells the truth. It makes life so simple — in personal and business relationships, with family and friends — all of it.

Listen to Joan Baez sing “Forever Young.” It’s pretty wonderful.

Because we spend so much time with our mates at this stage in life, I think it’s really important to remember that romantic stage and work at keeping the fun and lightness that attracted us to each other 50 years ago. Just having your mate with you for this long is something to be grateful for.



Todd Imwalle ’84
Vice president of sales and partnerships, Dayton, Ohio

It’s human nature to be a little fearful of the unknown, but look at each opportunity as a way to get better. Most people undervalue themselves and are far more talented than they know. 

Be good at what you do. If you are not, you will be replaced.

Todd ImwalleSomething is never really as good as you think and it is never as bad. Keep going regardless of the situation. You are going to have great triumphs in life and low times. Try to be balanced. 

Parents need to let kids fail. When you artificially alter their outcomes to make them feel like they succeeded it only hurts them. The real world is hard and there are losers. You learn far more from failure than success. There’s more joy from overcoming adversity than waltzing along in life. 

A person’s greatest legacy is the impact they have on those closest to them. Especially family. Bringing human life in to the world and nurturing it is a needed struggle and profound. Each of us have different gifts and resources. For some it is talent or treasure, for others it is time. For me, it is what I teach my children and grand children.  

Understand your life pace. If it’s too fast, slow down and try to enjoy life more. If it is too slow, be bold and confident and challenge yourself, get moving. Above all, understand what or who is important to you and spend time where you find joy. 

The world needs love more than anything else. Most anger and evil is a product of a lack of love. So many people could have turned things around with a little love and support when they were younger.  Sadly, I fear this problem is only getting worse.  

Money is often over valued and a temporary joy. 

I think it would be fascinating to go back or forward in time and meet people who change the course of mankind. In a world where we just google facts, it would be amazing to be there and actually see how that event unfolded (good or bad). 

I would tell my 21-year-old self: Try new things. Expect to fail, but learn. Set goals and write them down.  Save more money. Don’t let fear or worry be emotions that effect your decision making. Whether you think you can or can’t you’re probably right, so believe in yourself. Be careful when driving on snow.  

Dreams can change

Kenzie Fell ’16
Multimedia specialist, Moraine, Ohio

Dreams can change. It’s okay if your first job out of college doesn’t end up being your dream job. Just trust in your skills, abilities and connections and know that something better is out there waiting for you.

Kenzie FellMy dog, @maple.thebasset on Instagram, is one of the best things in my life. Running her page is a real hobby of mine.

I used to think home was where your bed was, where you who would your spend holidays and where your friends would come over for a bonfire. Now, I have come to learn it's the people who make a place home.

It hurts my heart when you drop a perfectly good piece of food on the floor.

You have to make an extra effort to maintain friendships and make new friends as an adult. I am constantly arranging lunch dates, movie nights and meeting for a drink just to squeeze in some social time. I even befriended my dental hygienist after graduation!

Adulting is a love-hate relationship. No one enjoys paying bills, making tough decisions or having to say no to something fun because of work obligations. But there is so much freedom as an adult. I can eat breakfast for dinner every night if I want and don’t have to put the laundry away right after I fold it.

My mom once told me in high school, "A partner/boyfriend/spouse is like a good prom dress. When you’re looking for it so specifically, you will never find it. But if you don’t look for it, it will just come to you." I use this advice and give it out all the time — the best things are often hiding in plain sight.

Love is unconditional and you can never run out of room for it.

Read more wit and wisdom from our alumni