Saturday, June 7, 2014

Graduates: Face Your Fears.

June is a month of many graduations.

Every parent searches for their own child amidst a sea of graduation caps!
Two high schools in my area will be celebrating their graduates today.  Last year, this marked an important milestone for my own family, when my daughter graduated from high school.  I have fond memories of a fun party, the support and encouragement of many friends, feelings of incredible pride ... and a really entertaining keynote graduation speaker.

Yes, I did say entertaining.  This may surprise many of you, if you have only experienced long and boring, lofty intellectual speeches full of self-importance and advice.  Last year's keynote address at my daughter's graduation was anything but!

Our key note speaker was an alumni of the high school.  I had to look up his name before writing this, because we all just referred to him as "the bear guy."  Casey Anderson, "the bear guy," grew up in Montana, and is now an author, wildlife naturalist, actor, National Geographic TV host - and best friend to Brutus the Bear.  There was much speculation leading up to the ceremony as to whether Brutus would accompany him - and many of us were disappointed that he did not.

Mr. Anderson walked on stage dressed neatly in an oxford shirt, open at the collar with a boutonniere pinned to his shoulder - wearing a knit cap on his head. During his address, some of us laughed, cried, held our breath, and cheered - and some squirmed a little in their seats at the informality of it all.  To me, this casual approach, as much as the analogies he used, represented all that I love about Montana. He talked about risk, about scars, about facing your fears.  Coming from someone who bears the scars of being attacked on multiple occasions by wild animals, his credibility of knowing something about this went unquestioned.  There were many life lessons in the colorful examples he used, for the 2013 graduates and their parents as well.

Casey Anderson,  friend of Brutus the Bear!
The most memorable advice I gleaned: face your fears.  This man (the friend of an 800-pound grizzly bear) had been too afraid to walk on stage to receive his own high school diploma.  One year ago, twenty years after his own graduation, he faced that fear.  He walked on that stage, and spoke to a huge crowd of 400-plus graduates, their families, and friends.

The screen-saver I keep on my phone is a quote.  Not something said by Casey Anderson, but I think he would approve:

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.”  
Elbert Hubbard.

Congratulations Graduates, 2014.


  1. This sounds like a wonderful topic for a graduation speech and a great reminder for everyone! Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. Thanks Dee. Glad you stopped by, and by-the-way, I love the name of your blog!

  2. I can't tell you how much I needed to read about "facing my fears" today. So timely! Wish we had such a fun graduation speaker at my son's ceremony last year!

    1. Whatever fears you are facing Lana - face them head-on! I hope it all turns out okay, and you have a lot of friends to lean on any time you need to ... me being one of them!

  3. Great post. Wonderful topic for graduation. I like your screen saver quote. Thanks for sharing

    1. Thanks Kathy. Your fairy garden idea is really cute - I'm glad you shared it on your blog!

  4. I love the quote at the end. Great story!


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