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Co-host Pam Sherman discusses what it really means to be an empty nester. Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

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As we enter this week of Thanksgiving, I want to share my decision to bring this column to a close and give my deepest thanks for the opportunity to write it for all these years.

Its not an easy decision to walk away, but Ive always said Id rather end the column with still more to say than by having run out of words. (Honestly, Ive worried about running out of words from day one, but somehow it never happened.)

Fifteen years ago, I proposed a column to Mark Liu, editor of the D&Cs Rochester Magazine, to share stories from my life and the lives of other Outlaws in my community.? I defined Suburban Outlaws as irreverent men or women who live their lives fully for their families, their communities and themselves. They have an EDGE in the best possible way: They explore, dream, grow and excite.?

For a decade and a half, Ive said my piece in this column, first in a long-form version in Rochester Magazine and also for the last nine years in the Democrat and Chronicle.

After a career as a lawyer and an actor, I didnt even know I wanted to be a writer until I was given the opportunity to become a writer.? Writing is not my default mode.? I hate being alone.? I hate a blank piece of paper.? And I hate grammar.

My editor will tell you my grammar hasnt improved, but my love of writing has certainly grown.

Ive written all sorts of columns, but mostly Ive loved crafting and sharing stories that make a difference. I love people and writers are nothing without the people who read them.

This column has allowed me to connect deeply with this community my family chose to live in, from the complete strangers who say hello to me in Wegmans to the many nonprofits Ive worked?with over the years as a volunteer auctioneer.

Ive always aimed to make this column a celebration of life ?from the mundane to the magical. The column began with stories about my family as we navigated life lived on the edge of a cornfield. But I also wanted to share stories of people and organizations who make a difference in the world.

Thats why, for my final interview, I spoke with a new voice in our community someone Ive admired for some time. Dante Worth, 28, was recently honored by the city of Rochester for finishing the 100th episode of his YouTube interview show?"Audacious Believer TV."

Dante works at the General Motors assembly plant, but he uses his spare time to pursue a calling to help others succeed and dream. His goal is to spread positivity about overcoming challenges, sharing stories of people he admires. He said he believes that we are defined not by the jobs we do, but by who we are.

People like Dante remind us of the power of our personal stories and how they can make a difference to others. Its what this column has been all about, and its proof that anyone can do it no column required.

And other peoples stories can merge with your own in inspiring ways. Years ago, while visiting Cape Town, South Africa, I met with the incredible team of philanthropists at the nonprofit Relate, a fair-trade jewelry-making operation. I partnered with their team of gogos (grandmothers) to make Suburban Outlaw-themed bracelets. Theyre sold online and at the Pittsford Wegmans, with proceeds going to Young Womens College Prep Charter School and the Center for Youth in Rochester. Making a difference doesnt have to have geographic boundaries.

While my mission has been to make a difference with the stories I share, in some ways my own story has been formed by the column itself. Twelve years ago, as the Great Recession hit, I was considering a return to practicing law again full-time. Instead, the work Id done on this column gave me the confidence to combine my skills as a lawyer, writer and actor to start a business helping leaders around the world to share themselves and their stories with passion.

And now, Im committing to working on my own passion project sharing what Ive learned in my work to write a book on what I call Outlaw Leadership. Ultimately, my decision to end the column and work on my book became clear as I lived through the pandemic and witnessed this years social justice reckoning. I was reminded that who we are is formed by who and what we pay attention to.

And while I wont be here biweekly, Ill share my insights and stories on social media @thepamsherman and at www.thepamsherman.com.

Thank you to my family for letting me write about them and to my publishers, editors and readers for your support. And while Im riding off into the Suburban Outlaw sunset, Im ready for a new sunrise over this city and our world.

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