Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Most Influential People in My Life...#6

A few people from my personal life...

At number #6, I've placed a few people that have helped shape me as a person and as a professional, so I will give a quick synopsis of each one.

Ms. Barbara Mule - My 6th grade teacher was always tough on me. I was a good student--always did my homework, got decent grades, even stayed away from the "bad boys"--but for some reason, Ms. Mule always got more upset with me than other kids. She was tough on me in private AND in front of the class. She was fair and keen. I even stayed after school to help her once in a while with my friends hoping she would "take it easy" on me; even at times she did show some compassion and easing off. One day in October, Ms. Mule caught me talking about another student in class. During recess, a bunch of us began talking about Halloween costumes that some of the students were wearing. I think I said one thing as Ms. Mule walked by and she heard me. Within seconds, she called me out and asked me to step outside of the class to speak to her. I knew I was in for it. I knew I was going to get a finger in the face and a good talking to. I knew I was going to be embarrassed, and possibly stay after school a few more nights to "neutralize" this episode.

I think I got the best lecture of all that day. Ms. Mule DID put her finger in my face. She DID look down at me, but instead of using a high tone, she talked very gently--yet sternly to me. She looked me in the eyes and she said, "Don't talk about other students. Worry about yourself and do the best that you can. If you do that, people will listen to you and they will follow your example. If others want to make fun or talk about another student, they will miss what your example is." She continbued..."I am hard on you, because I know you are a good student with tons of potential and I don't want to see you steer off the path that your parents put you on. I don't ask you to stay after to help me, I ask you to stay so that I can influence you to do good."

I walked away from that conversation with tears in my eyes. As I sat back in my seat, Ms. Mule and I kept a strong a gaze to one another. She looked serious and she was dead serious. Awkwardly, I felt a connection to her that day and everyday forward.

I'll never forget that discussion. She was a strong person and she saw something in me at an early age that she was able to convey to me. It made me think and it made me aware of who I am. I don't know whatever happened to Ms. Mule, but I will always remember her.

Unknown Fire Chief - Back when I was in 3rd grade, my school had assembled a workshop to meet the newly appointment Fire Chief in my hometown. I was always into firemen, but this time we weren't going to see a truck or wear plastic firemen hats...we were going to the lecture hall. We were all seated and the Fire Chief came out and introduced himself. I don't recall his name and I wish I did. He was a middle-aged man with a mustache. Thats all I remember, but it was his words that I remember more vividly. He talked about fire safety and the precautions that we need to take when playing with flammable objects--you know, the standard stuff. Then he paused and he said that we should never take fire lightly...even if its small. He began to choke up and told us a story how he lost his young son only months earlier in a fire. I think at the point all the 3rd graders, 4th graders, and 5th graders in the room became silent. Tears began streaming down the Chief's face and he looked at all of us and said (I'll never forget this...):

"Everything in this life CAN be replaced. A house can be replaced. A car can be replaced. If your belongings catch fire, you can always buy new ones. If your house catches on fire, it can be rebuilt...but a LIFE can NEVER come back. Life is the only thing that cannot be replaced."

Those words stuck in my mind since that day and when I think of all the ridiculous things that get me upset or others upset in this world, I think to myself, I can always replace it. My life or the lives of those I care about cannot. It really helped me unclutter my life and focus on the things that matter to me the most. Thanks unknown Fire Chief.

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