I am walking from one classroom to another, carrying a pile of binders, and a lunch bag, as one of my former students stops me. “Hi, Miss! I just wanted to let you know… that thing you told me after class once… it changed my life”. I remember her from the year before, but I do not remember her name. Of course, I stop to listen. My ego wants to hear all the details. I like changing people’s lives. [For the better, let’s hope.] The student goes on, elaborating on how exactly that thing I said changed her life. Meanwhile, I stand there, smiling, nodding, and desperately racking my brain for that magical thing I said. Nope. Nothing. Not that it was not a brilliant thing, or an important thing, or the very thing she needed to hear at the time... Because it was ALL of those things. But at that point I taught hundreds of students (maybe, thousands). I taught the same courses again and again; said the same (brilliant) things again and again. And I never knew what little thing would land JUST RIGHT. Just the right time. Just the right tone. From just the right person. For me, that was Mrs. Porter - just the right person who came just at the right time. She was a plump woman of average height with dirty blond curly hair, and pink cheeks. She could have been a younger version of Mrs. Claus. Few years later, she started going by Ms. Flynn – I did not pay much attention to changes like these back then, but now once again, I wonder what happened. The course she taught was called Writer’s Craft, and I took it in the first semester of being at yet another high school. That course was different from any course I have ever taken. No structured essays, no dull rubrics. We got to write stories, and poems, and… anything, really. We took the course in a stuffy portable classroom – my high school was too large for its academic building, so many classes took place in trailer like spaces, set up like classrooms. One of the first tasks for that course was to get a designated notebook for that course. I remember going to the office supplies store and browsing for a long time, before finally settling on an accounting logbook with hard cover and light lines. I have loved that style of a notebook ever since – large pages, light lines. I can carry it with me everywhere without it getting too tattered. Later on, this became my first writing notebook – I still have it. I am currently on my 65th. I have every single one of them lined up on a bookshelf. I think if my house was on fire, I would save them first. I think about Mrs. Porter often. I wish I could say thank you. I wish I could stop her in the hallway and tell her how her class changed my life. Also… it IS the littlest things sometimes. My friend’s ex-boyfriend mentioned Subaru as I was shopping for my first ever brand new car - a car make that was not even on my radar at the time. Fast forward ten years, and this is the only make I have owned since. That tiny comment. Was there a thing that someone said to you that changed YOUR life? Without knowing it, they uttered something that altered your direction in some way? Hit Reply and let me know. It might have been a teacher, a parent or a coach. I know you can think of JUST the thing. I know that I can scroll through the names on this very email list, and pick out name after name of folks like yourself - an internet friend, a former colleague, a current client - and tell you how YOU have changed MY life.
Someone’s life altering Christmas cookie recipe.
Someone’s car make recommendation.
Someone’s favorite song - becomes what I play on repeat for a month. (“Horses” by Maggie Rogers - you are welcome!)
Someone’s Reply on a bad day, saying “thanks for this email!”.
Thank you for being here, for reading, and for changing MY life - every week.