THE BLOG

When Losing Is Winning

06/18/2015 06:32 pm ET | Updated Jun 18, 2016

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"Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose
And most times you choose between the two." - Carole King

I love my sister, Laura. After 34 years as a school social worker, she's finally retired. Part of her bucket list is to attend the annual Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Society Fair in late August. Previously, this wasn't possible because she always had to be back at school in the early part of that month. This year our families' summer trip to the island will include experiencing the charm of the Ag Fair for the first time.

Last March, when Laura read about the Ag Fair poster contest, she urged me to enter. If I won, it would be so much fun to see posters, featuring my art, hanging all over the island to advertise the fair. I was already envisioning how cute my grandsons would look wearing t-shirts displaying my design. The best part of all would be giving the framed original to my sister as a retirement gift.

I worked around the clock on my illustration to get it to the judges before the April 1st deadline. I was pleased with what I came up with and felt I had a real chance of winning.

On April 7th, I got a call letting me know that although my entry was a runner-up, it wasn't chosen to represent the fair. At first, the news stung more than a little bit. After awhile, it came to me that this was not a loss. Granted my poster won't be showcased around the island, but who cares? The important thing is the original art would be hanging on Laura's wall. I knew all the hours spent creating it would make it even more special to her. As for the t-shirts? There was nothing stopping me from having them made for my favorite people, so I did.

Today, I'm even more sure that even though the poster competition didn't go my way, it still worked out perfectly. None of our efforts in life are ever wasted. We can't always see the reverberations of good intent, but they ripple forever outward just the same. Doing something out of love for another is no small thing. Winning and losing are all a matter of perception.

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Getting a good photo of my grandsons wearing the Ag Fair t-shirts wasn't easy.

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My poster was designed around a snapshot of the ponies that live down the street.

Text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved. www.sueshanahan.com