Influence

Think of a teacher who influenced you when you were in school… What did he or she do to make a difference in your day?

The teachers that come to mind for me are ones who made connections to my life and who were passionate about what they were teaching. They obviously loved their jobs.

Twenty-five, thirty years after the fact, I remember the feelings I had sitting in the classrooms of my favourite teachers. I don’t remember the specifics of what they taught me, but I do remember feeling appreciated and inspired. I remember knowing that I could take risks without fear of embarrassment. I remember looking forward to each day to see what my teachers had planned. I remember experiencing the joy of learning.

Unfortunately, I also remember the feelings I had sitting in the classrooms of teachers whom I remember for very different reasons: feelings of boredom, confusion and frustration. Teachers who did not seem to enjoy their jobs. Teachers tainted by negativity. Teachers who seemed bored themselves.

How do your students see you? Do you make the effort to connect with them each day? Do you love what you do? Is there joy in your classroom and in our school?

“To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.” Henry David Thoreau

An old favourite

Do you have a favourite book? A book you return to that calms or comforts or inspires?

I recently opened a Nero Wolfe book again. A friend suggested I do so. I had been feeling upset and unsettled without explanation. Even my comfort food didn’t help me to feel better. Yet I opened the pages of that book and before long I was transported back to the old brownstone, reunited with characters I know well and distracted from my own worries.

Why wouldn’t we teach kids the power of words? Today they certainly transformed my mood. Maybe I’m an anomaly. Or maybe, just maybe, there are some kids out there like me who find solace between the pages of a book…

 

He was how old?

Are you doing what you want in your life right now? 10 years ago… 20 years ago would you have predicted this is where you’d be? What passion burns inside you waiting to escape? What motivates you? What inspires you?

Peter McWilliams has said, “In reality, serendipity accounts for one percent of the blessings we receive in life, work and love. The other 99 percent is due to our efforts.”

I recently saw a news report of a 100 year-old man who completed a marathon in Toronto. He ran the 42 kilometre race in 8 hours 25 minutes. He began running 20 years ago at the age of 80 and now runs about 16 kilometres each day. His dream was to be the world’s oldest marathon runner… it looks like his efforts have paid off.

Each day is full of possibilities. Each day provides the time and opportunity to reach our goals. Evidently, it is never too late to begin. What is the greatness others see in you? What greatness do you see in yourself? What will you do today to bring this greatness to fruition?

Grateful…

Knowing there are those who cannot see the warm colours of the fall leaves, I am grateful for my sense of sight.

Knowing there are those forced into silence, I am grateful for the opportunity to speak and write freely.

Knowing there are those who fear for their safety every day of their lives, I am grateful to live in Canada, the true north strong and free.

Knowing there are those without loved ones for the first time this Thanksgiving, I am grateful to be surrounded by family and friends.

Knowing there are those without homes, I am grateful for the bills that arrive on my doorstep each month.

Knowing there are those without work, I am grateful for a vocation that satisfies and empowers.

Knowing there are those suffering in pain, I am grateful for my health.

Knowing there are those who are unmotivated and withdrawn from the world, I am grateful to face new challenges each day.

Each day is a gift.

Words, really do, change worlds

During the last few days I heard many stories of how words changed worlds: both negatively and positively.

A story surfaced about the impact of words uttered many, many years ago by a bully. The emotions were still evident as this individual shared with us the hurt caused by these words. Words can be excruciatingly painful. The torment experienced by those bullied, not with fists but by language, is one that must not be downplayed. Words spoken in mere seconds or etched on a bathroom wall can impact a person’s life indefinitely.

On the other hand, one individual described how as a four-year-old she exclaimed “I can’t” as time after time she tried and failed to hit the baseball. Her dad responded, “If you say you can’t, you won’t. If you say you can, you will.” On the next pitch, she proceeded to hit that ball. More importantly, these words stayed with her and have influenced her still to this day.

Words most certainly have the power to change worlds: they can sustain, inspire, defeat, teach, empower, dishearten or liberate.

How have words changed your world? Care to share?