02 Jun Past Due Thank You
Lately, I’ve been taking the advice we give in Chapter 7 of My Orange Duffel Bag. Sam’s Rule for the Road #7 is Gratitude: Share Your Adventures. I’ve been making a conscious effort to be more grateful and to express my gratitude. Now that it’s on my mind, I keep reading about the many benefits an attitude of gratitude brings you. Here’s a link to an intriguing article on the topic: How meditating may help your brain
One thing that really bugged me was that I realized I’d never gone back to my high school English teacher Miss Sharon Tracey to let her know what an impact she’d made on my life.
As a teenager I had low self-esteem. I often felt like an outsider. In fact I was bullied so much about my looks at my middle school that my parents switched me to David Lipscomb High School. Plus, our home life wasn’t exactly smooth during that time. We’d been a family of five with me being the oldest of three kids. Then my parents took in a brother, 14, and sister, 12, from foster care when I was 13. We suddenly went to being a family of seven. I loved sharing a room and having a sister close to my age, but the sudden shift was rough. Back then there wasn’t a lot of support for foster families. In fact my parents got zero training to my knowledge.
The one thing that I loved was writing, but I didn’t think I was producing anything with merit. Then I met Miss Tracey. She was a revelation. I’d never encountered a teacher like her. She made me laugh with her silly faces as she’d act out different character’s voices when she’d read to us. She gave us thought-provoking assignments that let me exercise my voice. Unbeknownst to me, she started entering my essays and poetry in local and state contests. To my shock, I started winning awards. I honestly don’t think I would have had the courage to pursue a career as a writer without Miss Tracey’s encouragement.
So I called the high school to find out if she was still there. I was concerned that I’d let too many years slip by. To my relief, she was still teaching, although nearing retirement. She called me one day last spring between classes. Hearing her voice made me smile. I choked up as I gave her a snapshot of my 30 year career as a journalist and an author, and let her know that she deserved a good deal of credit. Classic Miss Tracey, she deflected and made some joke. I sent her a copy of the book with a note and followed up with an email, expressing my words of gratitude on paper. My love language is words of affirmation, which I learned from a now favorite book called The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I’m guessing that words of affirmation might be Miss Tracey’s love language, too.