Thursday, November 7, 2013

Gratitude Everlasting – Day 7

I can read & write both words and music.

I can speak enough Spanish, German and Italian to get myself into trouble, make new friends and/or find a good meal.

I can set up, perform, analyze and document an experiment following the scientific method.

(There are some higher math skills that I was once capable of performing but it has been awhile, so let’s just agree to skip those!)

I owe many of those skills, and many more, to my teachers.

Day 7 – November 7th – Today I am Mindfully Grateful for Teachers.

But, for me, school was more than reading, writing and arithmetic.

Self-Confidence: It’s been over 30 years but I remember Mrs. Burns, my 4th grade teacher, was the first person not related to me (and therefore not obligated to boost my self-esteem) to tell me that I was beautiful. I look back on pictures of those gawky, preteen, bespectacled years and wonder, “What on Earth was she thinking?!?”

But I’m grateful. I have never forgotten the moment and I think I always walked a little taller after that.

Inner Strength through Knowledge: Ms. Appelbaum, my 7th grade Health teacher became my confidante when someone very close to me spiraled into a deep clinical depression. Mental health has a considerable stigma now but even more so in the 1980s and no one was supposed to know. I asked hypothetical questions about suicidal depression and she gave me answers. She was always there when I needed to talk and she gave me truths about mental health that any young teen needs to know – namely that it wasn’t my fault.

That year I learned that knowledge was power.

Perhaps unbeknownst to her, she was a tether that helped me view what was happening in a more clinical form. She was truly a lifeline.

The Joy of Truly Reading & Writing: Mr. Sullivan, my junior English teacher challenged my brain until it hurt. He taught me to read critically. Dissecting books for meaning did not appeal to me until that year and then it became one of my favorite activities. I devoured required texts, evaluated them for obvious and hidden meanings and then wrote lengthy essays drawing comparisons to past and present life issues.

And I enjoyed the heck out of it!

In eleventh grade, I was developing my own code of ethics and Mr. S helped give me the skills to distill and communicate those principles. By the end of that year, I read for enjoyment and found pleasure in the quiet evaluation of meaning tied to every character, setting and statement. And, in eleventh grade, I fell in love with double entendres!  

Call it a personality quirk or a superpower but I can recite every teacher I ever had up until college. Each one of those teachers gave me something in addition to the subject matter attached to his/her respective title, I have simply captured three standouts.

My children are only in middle school but I recognize their attachments to certain teachers. These men and women teach them the basics and then they give them the skills to learn so much more about themselves and their world.

And then there are those who we learn from every day. Our parents, our children, our co-workers, our friends. With interaction and observation these people help teach us who we are, what we want, what we stand for and what we’re made of.

And today I am grateful for them all.

NOTE: If you'd like to spend the month in a similar state of gratitude, you can play along with me here in the comments section – What are you Grateful for? - or check out to sign up for their 21-day Challenge begins TODAY!

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