When I left my native Michigan to come to Georgia with my husband’s job transfer, the people at my job gave me a going-away party. One of my co-workers, who over the years became a good friend, toasted me. She told a story about how she couldn’t have made it without my help in those first months in our building. She was a veteran teacher, older and more experienced than I at the time, but she was coming from years of teaching elementary school in elementary settings to teaching seventh grade at our urban middle school. It wasn’t the easiest transition to make, for even the most capable teacher.
At the time, I had only been doing what I thought I was supposed to do to help someone new be more comfortable in an unfamiliar setting. However, it was revealed at that party that I had actually thrown a life raft to someone who felt she was drowning. In all our time working together, she never gave me the impression she had been so overwhelmed or that I had done anything extraordinary to help her.
That toast happened nearly fifteen years ago, but it was a definite “ah-hah” moment that remains with me. I was good and grown at that time, so I’d heard it said more than once that you never know who has their eye on you. What my friend said that night made it crystal clear to me not only do people watch, but they sometimes take their strength and their inspiration from you even you aren’t aware of how much, or even how, your smallest actions can affect others. That toast made me more aware of the need do my best by others when I can, but more importantly to do no harm when I can’t add to a situation or I don’t feel like being nice or helpful.
As today is Ms. Stefanie Powers birthday, I would like to first wish her a very happy one and to wish her many more to come. Next I would like to thank her for being such a positive influence on my personal and my writing life when I’m sure she has no idea she has had that impact on little old me. Meeting her in person has been scratched off my bucket list. I’ll never forget that hug that before that evening at the Fox in Detroit I never in life dreamed I’d get.
There is nothing I love more than a woman who knows who she is, who pursues her own interests, and who does something about those things that concern her in the world- not just throw money at or use her celebrity to draw publicity to them. And who doesn’t need a man to define the course of her life. Like her I believe it’s nice and fulfilling to have that right life partner, but female or male, it’s best to know and be yourself first.
It’s important to give the world the best you have in whatever form you wish to give it and to be genuine in the effort, even if the genuine effort is to take nothing away from a situation in which you choose not to contribute. You never know who, next to you, or miles or time periods or lifestyles away is watching, taking their example and inspiration from you.
Well, done, Ms. Powers. I am grateful for your example. Enjoy your day.