By Verlie Edwards
Every Tub Stands on Its Own Two Feet…
That’s what my Mother told me the day I turned 18 years of age. In the same breath, she continued that she would always be there to support me, but I was responsible for my actions as an adult.
This made such an impression that today at age 68 I still remember it and the impression it made on me.
From college to entering the professional world as a newspaper reporter and then as a public relations and governmental affairs professional I was fortunate to have my mother and another mentor, my Aunt Verlie (yes, I’m named after her), providing support. Each brought a different aspect to developing me as a strong person. Only a high school graduate, my Mother had more common sense than anyone holding multiple college degrees. In today’s world she could be a strong female CEO. She guided me in leadership, personal presentation and confidence building.
As a result of her instinctive way of teaching me how to develop strategies to achieve my goals, I gained the ability to assess a situation or project and determine the components necessary for a positive outcome. Throughout my career I have been charged to develop and implement everything from committee meetings to large scale public events. Two components vital to a successful project are to “visualize” the outcome you seek and use that visualization to “walk through” the entire event from beginning to end. By “visualizing the event” small and large oops can be avoided.
Each day as I look in the mirror before leaving the house, I can hear my Mother saying “Always look in a mirror before you leave the house.” The visual impression we make on friends, employers and colleagues create lasting impressions. Aunt Verlie was a clothes horse. She and Mother taught me that “fads” weren’t always the best clothes for me. They taught me to wear what looked the best for me. Although I didn’t always agree, I now know it benefited me as I moved throughout my professional career.
Each time we accept challenges/opportunities we gain confidence. Confidence enables each of us to move forward in life. I’ll never forget asking myself what I was doing sitting in the news room of the Abilene Reporter-News on the first day of my first job after graduating from college. I realized my education had provided me with the skills to do the job. I had to dig deep inside to find the confidence to do it. By not walking out that first day I gained confidence I could be a good reporter.
One of my college goals was to work in public affairs for an institution of higher education. I achieved that a short three years after graduation. From there I went on to several positions in public relations and eventually I had the honor to work for and retire from the Texas Legislature. With each new job I gained additional skill sets and confidence that I carried to my next position.
I was fortunate to have had a Mother and Aunt Verlie supporting me. Whether you have a strong support system or not, remember, every tub stands on its own two feet and you are responsible for your success.
Verlie McAlister Edwards was raised in Abilene, Texas and it’s there that she realized her love for writing. She enjoyed a special high school English teacher who happened to be the school’s newspaper sponsor. In order to take another class under her, Verlie signed up for journalism and the journey began. Unlike many students, she never changed her college major – she was always focused on journalism as a career. She graduated from the University of North Texas (UNT) with a degree in journalism and political science.
After graduation she returned to her hometown and worked as a reporter at the Abilene Reporter-News covering the local education scene from the students’ perspective. Following a year of graduate work at UNT she moved to Fort Worth where a career in public relations and political affairs flourished. She always wanted to work in academic PR and achieved that goal early in her career at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine.
After many years providing public relations consultation to the osteopathic profession and serving as the communications director/special events fundraiser for Lena Pope Home (a residential treatment facility for abused and neglected youth) she joined the staff of the Greater Fort Worth Association of Realtors (GFWAR) as the communications and governmental affairs director. It’s here that she found her calling and further developed her skills in the political arena. After 11 years Verlie in that position she took her writing, political and organizational skills to serve as chief of staff for Texas State Representative Rob Orr, a past president of the GFWAR. She remained on Rep. Orr’s staff throughout his 10 years as an elected official and then served as District Director for his successor, Representative DeWayne Burns, during his first legislative session. At that time she retired from the Texas Legislature and began working part-time as curator for U.S. Congressman Roger Williams’ personal museum.
Verlie is excited to use her writing skills to help Iron Butterflies Project as both a contributor and edit