Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Can't Thank You Enough

     Yesterday I returned two items to Old Navy. The cashier seemed to be happy about scanning the items and crediting me the money back, even though I'm willing to bet she wasn't exactly having the time of her life. But she put a fun and energetic spin on something as mundane as a refund, without being sarcastic or fake about it. I was about to mention her attitude and thank her by saying something beyond, "Thanks," but didn't, lest I seem weird or something.  (Not that that's bothered me in the past.)  But this little situation reminded me that all too often, the "above and beyond" actions displayed by others go under appreciated.

     When I spoke to the Gift of Life Michigan staff at their meeting yesterday, I concluded by noting that teachers and those who work at GOLM tread the common ground of being chronically under appreciated. Not because we aren't thanked for our efforts, but because no amount of gratitude can match the significance of the work we do. That work is very different, to be sure, but the impact the people in the meeting yesterday have on others-- often during heart-wrenching moments-- cannot be undervalued.

     Though I have not been teaching these past two years, I still feel the sting of news reports and political efforts which undermine the importance of effective educators. Ultimately, we should not base our worth on those things, but rather on the responses of those we serve. We must remind ourselves that when we do hear a heartfelt "Thank you," it is representative of more than just that individual. If we regard these shining beacons of gratitude (such as my brief speech yesterday or the college application letter a student wrote about me) as the norm rather than the exception, the path to satisfaction, to knowing we have done good work in our time here on earth, will be extraordinarily bright. 

     I will close this post by thanking you-- as of yesterday, these blog posts have been viewed over 3,000 times in less than three months of existence. I realize that doesn't translate to 3,000 people, but no matter how many of you are reading this, know that you are providing me with the motivation to work on (and soon (?)) finish my book. And then comes, as my mentor and friend says, the most important job an author has-- rewriting! Don't worry, I'll keep the blog from becoming a writer's workshop once that time comes. 

Using those hand gestures I teach students about in Public Speaking as I talk to the Gift of Life Michigan staff.

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