NELDON: Following this yellow brick road we call ‘life’

How often in your life have you thought to yourself, “I might be better at this, if only I were smarter?”

When tragedy strikes due to senseless acts of violence, or you witness those less fortunate struggling to make ends meet, have you ever wondered, “what if they were shown more love?”

Do you ever wonder what you might have accomplished, if you only had the nerve to take more risks?

The characters in L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” personify these questions on their adventure to the Emerald City, symbolizing a journey each and every one of us takes as we follow this yellow brick road we call “life.”

Throughout the last four months, the Leader Publications staff has taken a similar route, following our own yellow brick road to create Horizons 2018, inside your newspapers today. Our news team spent countless hours talking with folks with exceptional brains, heart and courage, and our sales team exchanged hundreds of phone calls, meetings and emails in order to provide Michiana businesses the opportunity to reach their customers.

As we talked to people throughout the region, we learned that, for the most part, people experience a journey similar to that of Dorothy Gale’s in “The Wizard of Oz” — for the most part, anyway.

Unlike in the popular story, in real life journeys do not end when we reach a set destination. Rather, we continue to ask ourselves these questions throughout our entire venture through life, from one “Emerald City” to the next, so to speak.

Throughout our education, we stretch our brains and explore the subjects we are best at until we determine which career path to take. Even after we end our formal education, we continue to learn something new every day.

When we meet new people, develop new passions and give ourselves to service, our hearts grow as we learn to love.

When faced with adversity or new challenges, we test our courage, growing more and more confident the older we get.

As Dorothy learned on her journey down the yellow brick road, sometimes people show exemplary brains, containing the knowledge and competence to succeed inside their own minds. Others are givers with hearts of gold, willing to help anyone they meet. And then there are the thrill seekers — those people who are obviously comfortable in their own skin, always willing to take a challenge and show their courage.

These are the people featured in the 2018 edition of Horizons. In these 120 pages, you will find stories of people who have taken risks, who are passionate about their communities, who donate their time to others and who use their brains to solve problems.

As our team has taken its own journey down the yellow brick road the last few months, we have been pleased to make new acquaintances along the way. Much like Dorothy, we have learned from our counterparts, and have felt honored to share their stories.

These people use their strengths to make southwest Michigan the wonderful place it is to live. Because of people like them, we truly believe there’s no place like home.

Ambrosia Neldon is the general manager at Leader Publications. She can be reached by phone at (269) 687-7700 or by email at ambrosia.neldon@leaderpub.com

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