This Little Light of Mine…
By Natalie Olmsted, Blogger of the Month for July
June was a difficult month for many in my family and my circle of friends. We lost two remarkable women within a few weeks of one another, and even now, the pain is prominent. I know from experience that one never stops grieving — you just learn to adjust your daily life to include the aching. It’s always there. Some days it hurts more than others, but it is ever beside you, lightly holding your hand, and ever within, cupping your heart.
And, as is my usual approach to dealing with loss, I write. Inspired not by their deaths, but by their lives, I began working on a piece about women and the torches we carry. Some light only their own path, while others light their path as well as those around them. The fire from a torch might be tall and fiery, while another might be the gentle flickering from a sturdy candle. The wielder may be purposefully brandishing her flame, like a mad fire baton twirler, or carrying her candle high above her, with such humble purpose it seems she is unaware of her large group of followers.
So, when I read the theme for July was shine, I felt compelled to finish The Light Bearers to help all of us recognize the incredible light of the women around us, as well as our own. Plus, I began looking at the word “shine” as a way of describing our incredible community of Wichita. Except for the brief four years I lived in Illinois right after high school, I have lived my life in Wichita and tirelessly campaign to help doubters see “There is a lot to do in the ICT.”
I love my community. My foundation consists of a large, powerfully passionate family (I have 48 first cousins) and a diverse web of friends. I spend my days running the dental clinic at Wichita State University, which is home to the only dental residency program in the state of Kansas. And I spend my nights attending various hometown events with my husband, from Tuesdays on the Terrace at Botanica to craft beer tastings at various breweries in Old Town. Come basketball season, you’ll find me alongside my dad at all of the Shocker men’s basketball home games. As small business owners, we make it a priority to support all local businesses and help to spread the word through various social media outlets, always accompanied by a photo. I truly believe if we engage, our community has the potential to shine with a brilliance like no other.
While one of the goals of my blog at Mermaid of the Plains is to bring more light to the ICT, it is mainly the place I go to vent, muse, hone, and sometimes find solace. The Mermaid has gone through a few incarnations since its inception when I was in graduate school at WSU, but it has always been my hope to share my thoughts and experiences and possibly find those other mermaids lingering among the tall grasses of the plains.
So, come join me this hot, summer month in Kansas, and together we’ll go forth and shine.
Natalie Olmsted is a native Kansan and advocate for her hometown of Wichita. She hopes to one day eliminate the phrase, “There’s nothing to do here” from the mouths of Wichitans, both young and old. Her blog, Mermaid of the Plains, touches on life in the ICT and her love of family, sports, Wichita State University, bicycles, and beer (not necessarily in that order). When she isn’t working on campus at WSU or deliriously cheering at Shocker basketball games, you can find her riding her cruiser bicycle in the Delano District, sipping a craft beer at The Anchor, or sitting with her husband beneath their “Lantern Therapy Tree” in the backyard. A longtime writer of short stories, she has published two from her collection, The North End, and is ambitiously working on two novels. And yes, she often thinks of herself as a mermaid, albeit a little landlocked.