Civil War

Will You Accept My Invitation?

Will You Accept My Invitation?
By Monette Benoit

Copyright by Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved.

I began my 2005 National Court Reporters Association, NCRA, seminar in Phoenix introducing Robert McCormick, teacher of 32 years, National Court Reporters Association, NCRA, 2004 Teacher of the Year, CATapult’s CD programmer, and Sheryl Stapp, RPR, realtime writer. Bob, a professor at State University Of New York, SUNY, At Alfred, Deacon and Counselor, was playing with the word “y’all.”

As the audience laughed, applauded, I began: “Sign language applause is like this (indicating). And people who are blind and deaf — do you know how they applaud? They pound the floor and/or a table with their hands and/or feet. You can feel the vibration, applause, through your hands, feet.” I jumped from my position, pounding my open hands onto the floor.

Then I asked, “Did you just learn something new?”

The audience voiced, “Yes!” I replied, “Good, we’re still in the first minute; you already learned something. Remember that.”

“Now I’m going to extend an invitation. I ask that you consider accepting this invitation. Can you do that for me?”

The audience nodded. I shared, “Every day, we have choices, we make decisions. I don’t know what you’re going to learn within this room, but I’m going to give you as much as I can. I hope you take as much as you can, and realize you’re going to process.”

When you read my articles, or have heard you me speak, you know I believe people process information at different intervals. The phrase ‘see Spot run’ may not mean anything now, not a darn thing. But later with additional information that phrase may be insightful, leading you to a new goal.

You may be thinking, “Hey, I’m just here to get points, is there a door prize? I read an article where you gifted a pearl necklace …”

The audience roared with spontaneous laughter.

I said, “Come on, guys. It’s 4:30 on Friday afternoon. I have friends who are getting a massage right now. They said, ‘I love you, Monette, but I’m not coming.’ For you to be here, I want to be respectful of your time; I also want to tell you what I expect from you.”

I expect you to listen to what we’re sharing here. I invite you to ‘check-out’— you will mentally check-out of this seminar. You will hear the little voice in your head: Can I do it, should I do it, why am I doing it? Look at all the money this is costing — that ‘mental’ list is still running when you check back, to continue listening here today.

I invite you to accept that your ‘court reporter retention’ will permit you to check-back, placing all information from this seminar into a little ‘court reporter processor’. It happens. This drives our families crazy. They say, “You weren’t listening; what did I say?” Then we respond, ‘I was.’” We quickly look away for a moment, re-channel our listening. We all do it.

So I’m asking you to give yourself permission that what you’re taking in here is not overwhelming. I don’t expect people to leave saying, “I’m going to …”

But I’d love for you to leave here saying: “I have goals. My goal is to do more than when I walked into this room, sat in this chair.” Even if your goal is to never come and listen to that woman again, it’s a goal.

The deal is to make goals with you. Give yourself permission to accept and reject what you hear today because even if you reject a message, you still heard a message you didn’t have before. You still have information from what you ‘reject’ to perhaps lead you to a new goal.

So if you’re a student, a teacher, a court reporter, what do you really want to be doing with your life?

The common answer from the audience that day: “Making it easier.” I replied: If your goal is to grow or to stay where you are, then you are familiar with a goal. You are willing to challenge yourself.

Even if your goal is to stay where you are, you must know that goal is a challenge because with current technology, ‘staying where you are’ is going to take more energy than moving forward. It will. Sometimes we think we are going uphill, sometimes we are.

If you’re going uphill, there’s a point where you can coast, but you have to make that decision based on the goals you make, the goals you create.

Quyen N. Do, from California, won the white pearl necklace my Vietnamese sister-in-law, Wenny, made from her store Tong Sing Jewelry, located at 615 Grant Ave, San Francisco. Quyen jumped up, bounced. She ran to the front, hands in the air, threw herself at me. I told the audience I felt like Bob Parker’s ‘Price is Right’.

DyeAnne Littlejohn, from Michigan, won the peach pearl necklace from the captioning and court reporters’ ‘CATapult Your Dictionary Software Program’ exhibit booth drawing.

When I phoned, DyeAnne screamed into the phone, then shared she attended my seminar in Chicago last year during the 2004 National Court Reporters Association on “How, When And Where To Publish Your Creative Ideas, Skills and Stories.”

DyeAnne had been praying to God and believes my phone call was an answer to prayers. DyeAnne now has new goals. How do I know? I asked.

As I write this, it’s August, 99 degrees hot tar, Texas weather.

When you read this, you may be preparing for Thanksgiving or Christmas. I now ask you to extend invitations, such as here, to those around you, and to create new goals.

And now I’m off to my cousin’s.

Uncle Joe served in WW II and carried “treaty” papers for General Eisenhower in Potsdam, handcuffed to his body.

Joe, a “lowly second lieutenant” was a German interrogator, working under the rules of the Geneva Convention. I am asking questions, listening.

I’m going to Joe’s house because I extended an invitation to myself after meeting a mature man who cleared the land in Iwo Jima for “those soldiers to raise the American flag.”

The Marine I met was wearing a WW II hat, a red windbreaker, and he had a small medal on the necklace around his neck.

He volunteered, “I share respectfully, the boys in the picture were not the heroes. The heroes were the Marines who cleared the path, then that picture was taken. Many boys died for that picture, and the real heroes were the boys who cleared the path before the boys were able to raise our American flag.”

I am preserving Uncle Joe’s story — the family member right in my backyard. Joe’s wife was my grandmother’s brother.

My maternal grandmother, Monnie Rae Floyd, a piano prodigy at four years old, was his first music teacher — also a court stenographer— in Corpus Christi, Texas. (She had her own orchestra where each person was required to play four instruments. My grandmother was the first music teacher in Corpus Christi volunteering to teach music to the students enrolled in public school.) And my grandmother’s father, Adolphus Floyd enlisted in the Civil War in 1861 as a ‘flutist in the band’.

My great-grandfather, Adolphus Ward Floyd was named after his uncle who died fighting within the walls of the Alamo, March 6th, 1836.

His 32-year old uncle walked from Gonzales, Texas, answering the call for volunteers that spread throughout the countryside while they were waiting for reinforcements to arrive.

This volunteer arrived behind the enemy line in 1836, moving through the gunfights to join the Alamo fighters within the fort. Dolphin Ward Floyd died on his 32nd birthday, leaving a wife, pregnant at nine months, and a four-year old son, knowing he would never see them again.

During the Civil War, Adolphus was a soldier in the 7th Regiment Texas Infantry was a Prisoner of War twice from 1861 to 1865. He was captured and released ‘for exchange’ from POW camps — the notorious— Fort Donelson, Illinois, and also Camp Douglas (‘received from’ Louisville, Kentucky and sent to Vicksburg ‘to be exchanged) in Franklin, Tennessee, before walking back to his home in Corpus.

We were always told that his having been a musician and being of strong-stock, kept Adolphus Floyd alive – having been a POW in the Civil War twice – to return home to his family and cotton farm, Adolphus walked home.

After the war, he married and with family and stagecoaches, moved the family, walking down to Corpus after he had tested the soil for cotton. (Tales of fighting bandits and Indians are still shared — how my great-grandmother loaded rifles for the men during battles.) As I grew up, my family always told me: You come from strong stock: Yes, you do.

My cousin, also a professional musician, who rarely spoke of WW II, is now answering my questions. He’s talking, crying, laughing and sharing mischievousness of “the boys.” Uncle Joe is saying, “Others have better stories; you should take their stories.”

When I reassure Joe, ‘I really want your stories; we’ll make sure the others share, too,” he says, “Sure you can have my stories! Come and get them while I can remember. Can you come tomorrow?”

Uncle Joe is 92, planning a trip to Africa this fall “because I’ve never been there!”

This afternoon I’m going into the Texas heat to complete a goal I made to myself, to preserve a goal Uncle Joe made when he raised his right hand, entering WW II.

Will you accept my invitation? What will you do?

Happy Holidays. Happy New Years to each of you.

About Monette:

Monette Benoit, B. B.A.,
Certified Court Reporter, Certified Reporting Instructor, Certified Program Evaluator, Paralegal, Columnist
Multiple-Title Author of Books & Test-Prep for the Court Reporting, CART/Captioning Industry

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28 Jan 2008