Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Thank You Note

Among my greatest blessings in life is to have known Mrs. R. Words can in no way adequately express my deep gratitude for her influence and support in my life during some exceedingly turbulent times. She touched, shaped and deepened my life on so very many levels, and I truly believe that I am the woman I am today in large part because of her influence on me.

I was fortunate enough to have Mrs. R. as both my junior and senior English teacher at the Princess Academy for Young Girls. She was also my senior project advisor who not only encouraged me to follow my heart when my heart started to change, thus resulting in my most difficult conversation ever with my father that went something like "I know we already have paid a deposit to that one college but I need something different...", but also cried with me over children I couldn't save... and I knew, deep down, she wasn't really crying about my stories, about my unsaveable kids, but about her own "I can't save them" stories. It was, perhaps, the first time I realized that there was shared emotion in my writing and that I had the power to connect with people on an emotional level simply by writing about my own experiences.

As a teacher, Mrs. R. created a riduiculously fun learning environment where we could share our thoughts and writing with one another, gaining confidence in our ideas and trust in our perceptions. It was here that I learned how to really discuss a book and analyze my own writing as well as that of others. The lively classroom discussions and activities inspired me to read and write more and left me excited to do homework for the next day's class. Yes, really. Why? Because our homework was simply to journal on a daily basis and write one short story per week. How lucky I was to attend a school with an emphasis not only on technical writing, but also on creative writing. To this day short stories are my "thing"... and I credit Mrs. R. with that.

Mrs. R. taught me that the best writing comes from that which we know... and that journaling could and would be the springboard for good writing, the kind of writing that comes from the soul and leaves the reader wanting more. The kind of writing that ignites a fire in both author and audience and connects them on both a conscious and subconcious level.

I remember Mrs. R's warm smile and dry sense of humor that always seemed to put things in perspective for me. And I will never, ever forget the day she pulled me aside and said, "I read your story and I laughed. I cried. I wanted more. You have a gift and you must share it with the world."

I think she would be proud to know that I have tried to share my musings with the world. I wish I could share it more. I wish I knew how. My writing still comes from a place of raw emotion and I will always remember that it was Mrs. R. who first read my writing without simply judging the content of it but, rather, by reacting to it. Thank you for believing in me and for inspiring me, Mrs. R. You will be greatly missed.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Moment

I was asked the other day to discuss one defining moment in my life. The one moment that truly shaped who I am today. A transformational moment, if you will. It's a difficult question, and one I've been thinking about a lot lately.

We don't often meausure our lives in moments, but maybe, just maybe, we should. For life can change in an instant, sometimes in a small but powerful way, and sometimes drastically... a devastating car accident, the moment your first child is born, the decision to choose self-preservation over a life not destined for greatness, deciding to walk out the door forever or turning around and knowing for sure it is there you must stay.

Have you ever considered how differently your life might have turned out had you made even slightly different choices in those critical times? I am not one to dwell on these kinds and sorts of woulda, shoulda, coulda things, but I do believe that we are all actually constantly faced with transformational moments, only most often we go with the status quo and therefore don't recognize them as such.

I do know, however, with great certainty, that there are moments suspended in time that have, indeed, changed who I am at my core... for better, for worse, forever.