From the President


Deb Graham

Deb Graham

Reminders In Life

About ten years ago, now, in December, I sat with my parents watching the CNN coverage of the Granada military action. This is significant only because at the time I was a ten year veteran in the military, working Special Operations, and those units were my own, those guys in BDUs running around, the gunship crews, they were all friends of mine and I was sitting home recovering from successful surgery to remove an ovarian tumor instead of working on the mission. It’s the only action I missed, and the funny thing was, it didn’t bother me to not be on the inside knowing what was actually going on. For me, the prospect of cancer had been a wake up call, one of those reminders in life, which made me think about what I wanted to use my time and mind and energy for. Travelling to foreign places and blowing things up, for whatever reason, wasn’t what I wished to be remembered for.

I recovered, returned to work, finished my hitch and left the military to become a deputy sheriff here in Okaloosa County, Florida instead. It seemed a worthier form of warfare to me, and at least this way, if I died, it would be on my own ground and for a cause I personally believe in rather than one I got told to believe in. It was the right decision for me. However, my old nemesis came back to hassle with me again and about three years ago I had two more operations, both successful, to beat tumors, this time trying the breast cancer route.

This second “go round” was harder than the first, really knocked me down and took a long time to recover from. In ways, I am still trying to recover the energy I once had. Just another reminder, and I started Books By Blondie, an online business, to have something to fall back on should another round be ahead of me and I not prove able to continue as a cop. Shortly after this, I got recruited into IOBA by Rik Pavlesak, one of the best friends anyone can have and the owner of Blue Monkey Books. I poured a lot into it, because I believed it could be important for me and others as a small, independent bookseller. I wanted it to be here and be strong in case I ever needed it.

IOBA was just an idea then. I had the pleasure and heartburn both of being one of the Founders and working with the others as we struggled to define and give birth to this dream. Life is strange at times. I started by working as the webmaster for the website,
then was drawn in to be the interim Vice President and later was voted in as the first acting President of IOBA. It’s been a very long couple years, full of challenges and hard work to learn the job and juggle this responsibility along with being a cop and a bookstore owner and, occasionally, having a life, too. I’d never done anything like starting and then running a corporation with a board. I was still learning the book business as well. Did mistakes get made? Yep. Did I lose some battles? Yep. I also was in on some great calls and big wins. Life is like that. One battle won or lost doesn’t make the whole war, and it is good to keep your eye on the long term perspective as much as you can to weather occasional setbacks and losses.

Next week, I have another date with the surgeons for another battle with the old nemesis. It will be old news by the time this goes to press. I’m not worried about it, I feel really positive and haven’t chosen to share some of my personal world with you out of some maudlin sense of self pity or doom and gloom. I’m smiling a lot as I type this up. It’s just another one of those reminders in life to run a self check on where I am, where I’m going, what I stand for and what I’d be remembered for if I lost the war today. I like the answers better than I did ten years ago, but I still have a long way to go. I haven’t gotten it right, yet, but I’m learning.

A couple weeks ago, I sent a call for volunteers to the membership for help in the coming elections. Last time around, people lacked confidence, perhaps, and the interim board had to handle it and ended up fortunate to get one candidate for each office. Later, we took some criticism for that, there were some mutters about it. I’d like to avoid that, this time, however NO ONE, not ONE, volunteered or even enquired what we had in mind or needed.

There’s a lot of reasons for this. The biggest one is, you don’t realize how much IOBA needs YOUR help. It really does.

Secondly, some of you don’t know that most of your current board had no prior experience, learned as we went along, and are still learning and making mistakes along with the good moves, and this is OK. Our members have never demanded perfection, just candor, from me. I believe the entire current board would say the same. All you need is the desire to make a difference, to learn and grow some more, to have an effect, to work with your peers, argue and agree and all the usual work of a relationship, be it working or personal. Having a tough skin also helps.

Thirdly, secretly, maybe you lack self confidence to speak up, feeling you are too new, or not good enough in some talent or area or way.

Facing the unknown is scary. I was scared to accept the nomination for president last year, if you want to know the truth. My reasons included all of the above ones. I’m not a fighter by nature, but I’ve learned it’s not being afraid which makes a person a coward. It is what you do despite being afraid which determines whether you face your battles with courage. Win some, lose some, what really matters in life is how you play the game.

IOBA needs volunteers to oversee and help with the election process. IOBA needs several candidates for office to step forward to be the ones to take our association from here. Consider this a personal reminder in life and decide what you’d like to be remembered for a year from now. I really hope and pray with all my heart it will be that, among other things, you choose to add to your short list being much more active in our association, however your volunteerism takes form. No one gets paid here, we’re all volunteers. No more volunteers, no more IOBA.

That would be a damn shame.

The Standard: The Journal of the Independent Online Booksellers Association

Check out the Independent Online Booksellers Association Website