Slow down and focus on what’s important

What to do about the noise of day-to-day life is what my mind is on as I sit down to write this week’s column.

As always, though, let me share some of my week serving as the mayor of the best small town in America.

This past week started with a finance committee meeting to discuss American Rescue Plan funds and clarify some details about nonprofit requests. The committee, along with Clerk-Treasurer Darrin Boas and myself, reviewed what the Seymour City Council passed with a 7-0 vote in April 2021 as well as referencing the final rule document issued in January 2022 by the U.S. Department of Treasury.

As the discussion progressed, a goal was established to not overcomplicate the process for those applying. We created a couple of pages that can be shared with those applying and reconfirmed that we would use a recommendation method similar to what has been used for years with the plan commission. Thank you to the agencies that have applied and unknowingly became the test set, and thank you to those working on reviewing those requests.

It is that time of year when we get visitors from area schools at city hall, and this week, it was with Immanuel Lutheran School’s second-graders. After a few other stops in the downtown area, they were given a tour and had a question-and-answer session with Boas and Councilman Drew Storey. I was glad I was able to drop in and visit for just a few minutes between appointments because they are our future and will grow up to be the leaders of our community.

Thank you to everyone who helped keep them safe as they walked their field trip, and thank you, Peggy Stark, for stepping back into the classroom and sharing your talents again.

Congratulations to the Seymour Fire Department on celebrating 122 years as a paid department. I know 122 seems like an odd number to celebrate, and that is because the 120th dinner was being planned when COVID shut everything down in 2020.

After a two-year delay, they were able to celebrate just recently. Most of the department was able to join them and enjoy some time together. It is said that firefighters share a brotherhood, and when you spend any time with them, you realize it pretty quickly. I can’t thank them enough for the work they do in our community.

The current book I am reading says, “The trick is knowing when to be still and listen.” As we face the noise of our daily lives, it is important to know when to be still and listen. How often do we have many different factors pulling us in so many different directions that we can’t possibly keep up on them all?

I say this as someone who has described his role in the community as a plate spinner keeping a couple of handfuls of plates going at one time. I have also said many times before that timing is everything and is affected by more than just our own choices but by the many different inputs that can make or break a project.

When I allow the daily noise to pull me in even more directions, progress slows, and it becomes even more difficult to keep focus. As I leave you thinking today, I hope you will slow down and remember to focus on what is most important to you and to try to be still and listen so you don’t miss something in yourself as you are focused on the noise around us.

Before I go, though, I would like to share this quote from Steve Jobs: “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”