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Lessons Learned, Part VII

Lessons Learned, Part VII

UD Alumni September 30, 2020
A continuing reflection on life acquired in and out of the classroom — from the classes of 1979, 1981 and 1996.

Never stop being curious

Roxann Phillips-Holmes ’81
Bachelor’s in accounting
Retired IRS Manager
Sagamore Hills, Ohio

My family brings me great joy. I laugh at their silliness.

Family photo with mom, dad, daughter and son. The best thing about retirement is not having to plan around work obligations. Now my travels are for fun. I practice yoga with my daughter. I have more time to read for pleasure and crafting. I can plan spur-of-the-moment excursions.

I have been blessed not to have a big obstacle to overcome in life, just hurdles along the way. I lean on my faith in God to help me through those bumps.

Never stop being curious — it nurtures the mind.

Never stop being curious — it nurtures the mind.

Getting older doesn’t bother me. I feel at peace with who I have become as a person, I know there are still opportunities to grow and a lot of life to live. I look forward to each stage of life.

I enjoyed my career with the IRS, and I think people would be surprised to learn that we are busy year-round, not just the filing season.

Don’t let others plan your time.

I’m passionate about education. Quality in education is needed — it gives everyone at least a chance to be successful. I also believe there is inequality in our educational system.

Being a spouse has taught me that communication is everything. Being a mother taught me that it’s OK not to be perfect and providing love is what kids need and desire.

The best advice I ever received was given by my fellow sixth grade classmate after we were promoted to junior high school. They said, “You can’t always be first, but you can always be among the best.”

Failure is an opportunity to grow.

Practice patience or you’ll miss out on something great.

Heaven is real. Period.

All in

John Feister ’79
Bachelor’s in American studies
Cincinnati, Ohio 

I came to UD for the philosophy program, but didn’t expect to find my lifelong friend and partner, Cathy Bookser ’78. We’ve been married for 40 years and have three amazing sons.

John Feister in a sweater with trees in the backgroundLife has its surprises. One of the early lessons I learned: tune in to the things around you. As a journalist, I make a career of listening to people near and far and writing either with or about them.

A lesson that Father Norbert Burns, S.M., had taught Cathy at UD — and she taught me — is to make your commitment before the Church and listen to each other for the long haul.

It’s exhilarating when you reach beyond boundaries, open yourself to the experiences of people formed in worlds different from your own.

Go all in for each other, as well as you can.

There are great, interesting people, known and unknown, everywhere.

Don’t be afraid to try, fail, and try again. Learn. Work from your foundations.

One of the secrets I’ve tried to live by as a communicator is to find things of deep substance and then share them in a common-sense manner.

Listen to your voices within.

Learn to forgive.

At the end of the day, the most important lesson I learned in life is one that I struggle with to this day. Learn to forgive. Richard Rohr called that the most important message of the Gospel. Forgiveness, an act of love, is the only thing that can open our hearts to the fullness of life.

No island

Sandra Brubaker ’96
Master’s in school counseling
Licensed Professional Counselor and Greene County, Ohio, Juvenile Court Director
Troy, Ohio

My parents taught me that hard work and financial management leads to independence. Saving and spending wisely are the vehicle to supporting a family, buying a home, a car, etc. They also instilled values such as determination, time management and prioritization.

Stacy Brubaker smiles at the cameraMoney is not a measure of worth. It is more important to love what you do and to be a kind person.

As a counselor, I am motivated by helping others learn and succeed. Supporting others to further their education, make a career or life change, or do something they didn’t think they were capable of doing is very rewarding.

In life, things will not always go as you expect and you will have some hairpin turns in the road along with some dead ends that lack any road signs warning about them. Allow yourself to grieve losses and disappointments — it’s NOT weakness. Take small steps forward by setting achievable goals for yourself. You will become a stronger, more thoughtful person as you recognize the lessons learned. This knowledge does not come quickly, so be patient and give yourself time to heal and grow.

Become involved in your community in some way at an early age. Not only do you learn more about issues in your community, but you also develop leadership skills, a professional and personal network, and give back to causes that are important to you.

Asking for support from friends and family is okay. Often, we view ourselves as not needing help or reassurance, but remember — none of us are islands — we all need support sometimes.

I received some very good advice from a friend who’s a former law enforcement officer. He said, “No one is going to die, so calm down and think this through.” It is so true that many times we are asked to make a decision immediately and we speak on a reactionary basis. Good leaders determine if a decision needs to be made immediately or if pausing and considering the situation more, asking questions and gathering input from others would help make a more informed decision. Being able to pause and think before reacting requires confidence and self-control.

It’s important to preserve precious memories. Keep an account (writing, movies, digital, etc.) of the funny things that your kids do or the stories shared by relatives. These offer insight into families and behaviors — preserve these as best you can to leave memories and history for others to enjoy.

Failure is an opportunity for growth

Failure is an opportunity for growth — don’t become paralyzed.

When it comes to politics, it’s very important to educate yourself and to vote. You have a voice, a duty and a privilege.   

Lifelong dedication and other lessons learned