Ann of Milwaukee knows that there is plenty of bad news in the world
these days. Businesses are closing, jobs are disappearing, families
are losing their homes. People are hurting.
She’s been hurt, too.
The former owner of a family operated manufacturing firm, Peggy Ann
experienced a deeply personal crisis that threatened to leave her in
despair. That’s when her eldest daughter gave her a wake-up call.
"My daughter said, ‘You have everything. Start focusing
outward instead of inward,’" Peggy Ann recalls. "I took
that as a little bit of a challenge. And when I did that, that was the
gift I got back a thousand times. That’s what started my
She began working on her memoir, with help from a Chicago-area
writer. Her life story is extensive, she says, and the writer
encouraged her to put it down in words.
Writing the book was easy, Peggy Ann says, "because I didn’t
have a lot of options. And I started doing it after my own heart was
torn in a thousand different ways."
She finished the first draft in July. But she felt something else
tugging at her heart. "This is not what I wanted to be. If people
are going to learn, which was my objective — to learn from my
experiences — it has to be a lot more."
In a world with "all kinds of stories and all kinds of
losses," she says, she wants to focus on people who are
"changing lives one life at a time. And they often don’t know
it and they don’t get recognized."
Peggy Ann decided to create a blog where those stories can be told.
She is encouraging those who have benefited from the kindness of
others, in small or monumental ways, to share their experiences.
"What we hear about is what people are doing wrong, we don’t
hear about what people are doing right," Peggy Ann says.
"What I want to know is, how has that changed a person’s
As an example, she cites a "pay-it-forward" story. About
20 years ago, she says, a friend was visiting the Caribbean with his
young children in tow. After standing in a queue for a ferry ride, he
realized he didn’t have enough cash to pay the fare for his entire
family. He began to explain to his children that they couldn’t ride
the ferry after all. Another man in line overheard the father and
stepped up to give him the money he needed to climb aboard with his
"My friend never forgot this," Peggy Ann says.
"Recently, he’s in the Milwaukee airport and he hears a woman
in the security line and she’s upset because she realizes she left
her ATM card in the machine."
The distraught woman had to decide whether to get on the plane with
no money, or miss the flight completely.
"He said, ‘You know what? I’ve been there before,’"
Peggy Ann says. "He said, ‘Here’s 100 bucks. You can pay me
back or not. But somebody did this for me 20 years ago.’"
Peggy Ann hopes those whose lives have been touched when others
have gone out of their way to help them will tell their stories on her
blog. She suspects there are many such stories waiting to be told.
"I personally believe we live in a wonderful city in a
community of people who give and help others," she says.
Sharing those stories, she believes, "is going to inspire
people to keep going."