Appreciation of Appreciation

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 7.18.36 AMLast night was our second parent night. I feel honored when families take the time to come see me. Anyone drives a couple of towns to pay respects to a child’s education is someone for whom I’m very grateful. Many can’t come–parents who work or care for others, or have to put little, little children to bed. I try not to bring Declan to night events. It’s tempting disaster taking him out that late in the evening–I appreciate brave parents who bring little children even more. It’s a real effort.

It’s why schools have to make every event for families productive–not just five minutes of face time that could better be served with Face Time, but events that build the community and climate of the school. At our school, we’re starting to get more and more of these types of events–things that generate buzz and bring everyone together. Schools that do this well report amazing things. I don’t know what the stats are in terms of test scores and such but the climate and happiness factor increase exponentially–the weight is taken off the parent, the school, and the student–it’s shared equally. A three-legged stool never falls. A pogo stick does.

“Before I go,” said one mom, “I just wanted to take the time to thank you. Elementary teachers receive a lot of appreciation. High school teachers do not. I really appreciate what you do.” She handed me a gift card for coffee with a fancy sticky note that expressed her sincere appreciation. I was so touched–she was right. This appreciation will Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 7.19.18 AMwarm my soul long after the duration of the coffee. Gifts are not part of the high school culture, so much so, I nearly ruined my son’s gift giving experience by not preparing to give gifts in his elementary school.

In high schools, we don’t always take the time to properly express appreciation. I have one colleague who makes it part of an exercise for students to write thank you cards to any teacher they want. I get some of these cards, and feel like I’m winning the lottery. We should make appreciation a measured data point on standardized tests. If appreciation was a test score, I bet we would put it right the curricula. Truth is, we could all use a bit more practice on this one.  I think of the times I’ve failed to appreciate my family, colleagues, friends, or even the hard work I do myself. If it were measured on my evaluation, I’d learn to get it right.

One day, I read this James Altucher post, where he discusses how he saved the global economy with chocolate. I’ll admit, that’s a tall order. I had doubts. Turns out, he stood outside the stock market exchange giving out chocolate during the market crash. There was a decided lack of morale during that period where everyone wondered if financial life as they knew it would end–I remember it well, because I was wondering the same thing, just far away, so I he didn’t give me a chocolate bar.

I decided I’d steal the idea with very little attribution. I distributed Hershey bars on the Ides of March–the day a person is most likely to be stabbed in the back by someone–life, a good friend, The Man. Could chocolate raise morale in education–the field with the highest burnout rate in the nation? It did. I saw people I didn’t even know I still worked with. I reconnected. We smiled. I got hugs. Turns out it’s not about chocolate or coffee–I’d have felt the same glow in my soul if that mom said what she said and handed me a post it note alone. Or even nothing. It’s about appreciation. Gratitude. Taking the time to recognize the work, life, humanness of the person on the other side of the conversation rather than rushing through the paces in an overloaded day so we can go home, get some sleep, and rush through tomorrow.

It’s not easy. But it needs to be said once in a while. I really appreciate the parents who entrust me with their kids–even if it’s just because we all need a break from our own. I appreciate the chance to make a difference in a single life, or in education in general. I appreciate that somehow, somewhere in the universe, there’s someone doing something great in life, and that I got a chance to be a part of it. And I appreciate those who did it for me.

Most of all, I appreciate my family and friends who put up with this, because a teacher’s work, no matter what the pundits say, is never done.


The Smudged Star

Screen Shot 2014-01-04 at 5.52.06 AMNew Year’s is time to pack up the tree. I remove each ornament and ponder its significance as I gently wrap it and put it in its special box. Except for the generic balls and fillers, each has a very special meaning–the power to make me travel to a time and place in my life represented by that little piece of wood, plastic, or glass. Twice a year–when I put them up, and when I take them down, I hold these little time machines in my hand.

Every year I get a special ornament for everyone. Mom began this tradition. Her thought was that everyone would have 20 or 30 of their own special ornaments when they struck out to start their own tree.

This year I bought three ceramic shapes on which to paint–one for Rusty, Brittany, and Declan. I made dinosaurs on Declan’s. He found and broke the snowflake that would have been Brittany’s. The star that would have been Rusty’s went missing. I cleaned. I searched. Gone. Too late to get another.

I gave Declan his ornament, since he’d already seen it. It’s usually part of a Christmas Eve pre-bed ceremony which includes putting out carrots for reindeer, a cookie for Santa, and tossing the boy into bed so I can sleep, too. “Mommy made this special for you this year.”
He looked at both sides. “I LOVE it!” There were two dinos. He examined each carefully reading the text. “I have something special for you,” he said. He went to his room into his “special box.” It’s a glass-topped wooden box with an etched compass–looks like it came out of a Kipling novel. He keeps his treasures inside, including his already been chewed “world record” gum, some pom poms, an elastic, and a plastic dinosaur. He pulled out a small crinkly-wrapped package and handed it to me.
“Open it, Mommy!” I did. It was the star ornament. “I hope it didn’t get smudged.” It did. Clearly, he’d used the wrong markers. “It says ‘To Mommy, Love Declan.” On the other side was a picture of stars. Smudged stars, but stars, nonetheless.
I can’t help but think that’s the best present of all. That’s what I told him, “I will never get another present better than this. I love you.”
“I love you, too, Mommy. I love this ornament. Even though you put PLANT EATERS instead of CARNIVORES on it…I really love it, though.” I got the biggest Christmas hug.
When I was about 4 or 5, my grandmother was visiting. I found a pile of Hallmark cards she’d amassed for birthdays and such so she wouldn’t have to go to the store. I took each. I wrote, “I love you, Grandma, Love, Dawn.” I wrote happy birthday on the birthday cards, but I didn’t know what an anniversary was–I could read, but I didn’t know the word… I just put “I love you” on those.
There were about ten cards.
Mom found me. I’d ruined all of Grandma’s cards. Mom was really mad.
Grandma wasn’t.
Packing up the stolen star reminded me of that story from a generation ago, which I remember clear as if it were this morning.  Interesting how timeless the innocence of a child really is.

Watching People Not Suck: Moments of Kindness Pile Up Into a Movement for 2014

“We’re out of meat.”

That normally doesn’t affect me. It was the last day of the year. Vegetarians don’t ring in the new year with dead creatures, but meat makes the others happy. I like to make others happy. Being unable to wave my magic wand and procure meat, I got in the car and went to the store. I tucked the Visa gift card into the pocket with my phone. It was a gift from a friend whom we’d been blessed enough to help. I was touched by his letter reminding me that kindness is a continual circle. I’ve received so much–I am humbled to give what I can. In his case, I didn’t think we’d given enough. I guess that’s often the case with helping.

Screen Shot 2014-01-01 at 7.53.05 AMUsually, on a day like New Year’s Eve, the store is crazy, carts crashing around like demolition derby. This time something seemed different. There were a million carts–it looked like the GW during rush hour, but the store was not the same. People were acting–nice. Like it was they’d all vacationed in Colorado and weren’t standing in Rhode Island. They were all smiling so pleasantly. I sniffed for incense. None.

“You first…” I’ve never heard that in the store. The air was ringing with “you firsts” as people picked up bags of kale and organic things I can’t pronounce. I got some kale, too. It reminded me I really should call my friend in Colorado. I haven’t seen her in a while.

I headed for the meat counter. There was a bit of a wait. I checked my email, dropping the Visa card to the ground.

“Excuse me. I think this is yours.” A smiling lady with bags of kale handed me a Visa gift card. Two Visa gift cards in one week. Fabulous! I realized it was mine. She’d rushed from the kale aisle to make sure I didn’t lose it. And she smiled. That never happens in a store. People find a spare twenty and it’s off to the races.

The meat guy smiled, people let people go first at the counter, and people waved me through the coffee. Was there a wine tasting going on? Everyone was so elated to be alive. Screen Shot 2014-01-01 at 7.53.26 AMI passed the cheese samples, smiling at the Robustotasted normal. I looked around. No mushroom samples anywhere in sight.

Time to check out. The line was long but still smiling. Everyone put their kale and organic things I couldn’t pronounce on the belt in turn. They talked to each other instead of using the constipation face doing the old “New England ignore.”  It was a sight to behold–lines crowded with New Englanders on one of the busiest store days of the year and only kindness and love abounded. Not one single solitary person with constipation. And everyone intending to eat their vegetables. A tear rolled down my cheek. I put my stuff on the belt. I was ready to go.

Until I noticed the person behind me. She had one thing. “Sorry,” I said, I should have noticed you.”

“It’s okay.” It was a long wait for just piece of dead animal.

I took her roast off the belt. She looked surprised. I wanted to say, “Your roast is safe with me. I’m going after the kale.” Instead I joined in the spirit of communal love. “You have to go first. You only have one thing.” She smiled. Now we were all smiling, even though none of us vacationed in Colorado or ever found the mushroom samples near the cheese. I enjoyed paying forward the smallest act of consideration.

There’s plenty of kindness in the region, but it’s rare to see it coalesce into a bubble of human goodness so large it spills out into the parking lot. “You first,” people were waving. No one in Rhode Island does that unless they’re waving you through the outside lane of a four-lane road where the inside lane’s about to crush you. There were Rhode Islanders driving with respect even as I passed the parking lot to the Dunkin Donuts and the liquor store. That never happens. We’re the worst driving state in the union. Everyone knows if you’re going to get into an accident, it’s going to be in the parking lot of Dunkin Donuts. “Must get my coffee now…” But even there–people parked between the lines and waited for each other to go… I paused a moment to enjoy the perfection of the universe. Meanwhile, I let someone out of her space. Enjoy now–it won’t last forever. 

Or maybe it will if each and every one of us eats our kale and leaves the New England constipation face at home joining the “You First” moment, making it into a movement for 2014.

I don’t make resolutions. I’m getting old. I break them and the years whiz by so fast I hardly have time to break the first set before it’s time to make a new bunch to break. But if I did, I’d make 2014 the year of “You First,” because if everyone says that to everyone, at some point we’ll all be put to the front of the line. With love and kindness.


[images: and]


All’s Fair in War and Christmas: Weapons Make Great Gifts

These are some of the parts we will combat in building this weapon.

These are some of the parts we will combat in building this weapon.

In my family we don’t give gifts. We give aggravation. No one likes a Yankee Swap where people regift candles to an unsuspecting aunt. That’s small time. We’re far more clever than that.

Anyone who’s come near our family has suffered the wrath of the gift. There was once a plastic silverware sorter that got regifted for years indicating the fact that the recipient had been tagged with shame and would have to wait gift it to the next unsuspecting victim.

We gifted twelve packs of socks, individually wrapped because everyone took one turn before the next person went–this meant you knew you had twelve turns of socks to find and all the disappointment, discovering boxes you thought had something cool had…another sock wrapped so cleverly that a customs agent wouldn’t pick up on the contents if it were a sock filled with drugs.

I’m not sure how Christmas became a time for pranks rather than generosity, but that’s the way things are. We had good stuff below the tree, too, but it was always bulked up by things that people needed that were saved and wrapped for Christmas, like food items. Most families just grocery shop for food and eat it. Our family wrapped it and put it under the tree. Pepperoni, olives, candy bars, treats, ramen noodles…it’s all been there.

This isn’t normal behavior I’ve discovered. It’s why my husband was mystified to unwrap barley this year–he likes my mushroom barley soup so I wrapped barley. My son, however, loved that I wrapped marshmallows and chocolate Goldfish crackers. He’s going to fit into the gift spirit just fine.

This whole gift thing got particularly nasty when everyone had kids. Instead of individually wrapping socks, we tried to give gifts kids would love but would secretly torture parents. Mess, noise, disaster, global conflict and warm–all’s fair in war and Christmas. The more parts, mess and batteries the better. Directions in Japanese–a plus. I started studying Japanese. Mostly I can order beer and talk about the day, but soon I’ll be able to build a hybrid from a manual and defeat any toy.

This year, I tried to win by sending the boys science stuff and socks. They cringed at the thought of getting clothes for Christmas but everyone needs socks. I was tired. Socks are beginner strategy. So two decades ago. I set myself up for a big loss.

Uncle Dan and Aunt Ali (names not disguised to protect the guilty) sent us the mother of all gifts…the trebuchet. Or as Declan calls it, “The Cannonpult.” It’s not just a trebuchet The Cannonpultcapable of launching rocks and things a full 30 feet through car and house windows, it’s a build your own trebuchet, complete with wood glue and about a million parts with multistep directions. That makes them the clear winner in this year’s gift category. Although the cannonpult came with a harmless rubber ball, everyone with a brain knows that it’ll never be used to launch that ball. The ball has exactly one flight before it’s lost in the woods forever. After that, we switch to rocks.

“Mom, is it hunting season?” Declan asked.

“It’s over in a week.” Surprised I know that. “Why do you ask?”

“Well, if my cannonpult ball goes into the woods, I don’t want to get shot. What happens if I get shot?” he asked. Fair question.

“It’ll hurt. Try not to get shot. And don’t shoot your cannonpult into the woods.” Good solution. He scrunched up his face. “If you lose your ball, I will get it,” I said.

“But then you’ll get shot.” I’d thought he’d realize I could go Matrix and avoid the bullets.

“Don’t worry about it. I have life insurance. If I get shot, you’ll be fine.”

“Too bad you don’t have State Farm. Like a good neighbor…” He began to sing and lecture about my choice of insurance companies. I have USAA. Somehow being paid out by a good neighbor would make things better than a random lump sum by a company which doesn’t have a song?

So, we–no, I–set about building the trebuchet that will get me shot and give someone other than State Farm something to do. Declan sanded pieces of wood he could not destroy and I carefully read directions in seven languages and glued parts together, bonding with the boy by saying, “Don’t touch,” and “NO!” while being filled with gratitude for things like pre-drilled holes for hardware.

I discovered this project was going to take a couple days. That’s a fantastic learning experience for a six-year old, although the cannonpult box clearly said “Twelve and up.” That really means (translated into Japanese and back) “Even someone as old as dirt can’t possibly put this together. We’re laughing at you for trying.”

We had to let the parts dry. When he slept, I glued the second stage together. I told him it was an elf so he wouldn’t get mad that I did stuff without him.

Today, we’ll go out and toss rocks into the woods and break a car window or two. He’ll have fun with his cannonpult. I’ll smile. Not because I’m happy about getting shot and breaking windows, but because I’m already planning my revenge for next year.


One Inspiration at a Time

Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 5.01.36 AM

Silence is a source of great strength  –Lao Tsu

I write at 4AM. The moments before the birds sing bring me the most peace. My mind clears. Silence reveals the thoughts that drown in the clatters, jangles, and noise of the day. The fire glows, coffee sits to my left, and I think. I am inspired. As I start, I look for one inspiration each day. A quote. A blessing. A thought. Something to think about during the day. Sometimes I share them with a friend.

Today, caffeine is my daily inspiration. Hear me out on this one… After receiving “The List of No” from the doctor, he said “sure” on some caffeine. His colleague had taken it away. I suffered. I suffered a lot–not because I need the drug. I don’t need caffeine to live any more than I need crack or heroin. It’s just that decaf coffee tastes like a cup full of butt and I can’t find one that reminds me of coffee. I love coffee. It starts my thinking each day.

“There’s only so much I can make you suffer,” he said. “You can have some caffeine.”

I forgot to define “some” because my mind, celebrating the victory, was already onto the next negotiation. “I’d like to start running again.”

He gave me the look. He had been clear about the “no activity” mandate. I’ve obeyed, except I do forget things downstairs so I can run up and down the stairs to get them. The smallest exercise protest. Other than that, I obey.I negotiated. I begged.  I said, “You don’t understand. I’ve gone from 7-10 miles to couch instantly. I’m stir crazy. All my friends want your card so they can avoid exercise too.”

“You can go walking.”

“I hate walking. It bores me. I lack focus. I need to run. How about jogging? I’m not that fast anyway.” My jogging reminds people of walking. Semantics.

Hesitation. Slight opening of the mouth. Pause. “No………I don’t think so.” He’s Southern. Bound by law to be polite. “Nothing that gets your heart rate up. You could do stairmaster or elliptical a little if you take it slow.” I hate both of those things. And slow’s never been in my repertory. If exercise doesn’t beat me up, it’s not effective. I’ve run, played basketball, boxed, thrown, fought, done competition weightlifting (never competed–too scrawny) and played all the fast sports. Not well. That’s not the point.

Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 4.56.13 AMThe one activity that slowed me down–Japanese sword. It was good for me, meditation and inner peace combined with the ability to cut someone’s head off if I trained hard enough–a good combination. Then yoga. But I was highly, highly suspicious of yoga—what good could it do without pain? My friend of Indian lineage made me go on a yoga retreat. How could anyone of Indian lineage steer me wrong on yoga? He said “Experiences are everything,” and that I needed “to get rid of [my] monkey mind.” He was right on both accounts. Yoga centers me.

Yoga doesn’t really raise my heart rate. “How about yoga?” This was turning into a fierce negotiation. I felt the tone. I’d spent years in Career One negotiating with attorneys and body shops. Surely I could defeat one doctor on the issue of physical fitness despite the fact he had more degrees than me.

“Hmmmm…” He’d said a definite no to yoga the first time. But I obeyed his orders not to drop dead for an entire month, taken drug upon drug, and listened to his every command. Surely that gets a reward? “No, I don’t think so. Too much with the neck.” Defeated. Again. That’s when I asked him about caffeine.

He said yes.

Inspiration: Even when the list of “no’s” gets long, if we keep looking, we get one yes. Sometimes we have to look hard for it, not abandon the search. And when we find it, it’s golden;)

My coffee smiles in the mug my friend Kristen made. And it tastes very good.

[Images: Sarah Steenland and Kristen Runvik. Check out their stuff. Their art makes me smile]

Rhode Island Culture Lesson 1: Giving–Good. Bribery–Bad.

In the blink of an eye, comes a new day.

It seems I have just put my head down upon the pillow, swirled some dreams around for a moment, and it’s time to start again.

Each day starts like this. Each day ends in the same way…so very quickly. Each holding its own promise, like a little gift waiting to be unwrapped.  When you get older, the pile decreases, so it’s important to treasure each gift. Savor and relish it–like the pile on a birthday or under the Christmas tree. You never know which one will be your last, and you don’t want it to be socks or loose leaf paper–you want it to be something cool. I always try to make the best of each moment. Sometimes I succeed.

GraftI had an important meeting. For once, I did not bring a gift. I always bring something, no matter where I go. This time, I left the homemade jam at home.  Once, I swiped a few jars off my homesteading shelf to serve as token thank-yous to the assistant who had done so much work with me.  She had horror written all over her face. Perhaps she was a diabetic, I thought. No. It was “a gift.”

In the private sector, she would have said “Thanks, you made that?” but in a public sphere, it could be a bribe–no different than Tony Soprano. Tomorrow’s headline, “hard-working assistant takes jar of jam from state employee. Sells out for a thousand calories.” It’s a real threat in these parts. Countless officials are discovered each year with envelopes bulging from their pockets–recently most of a city council. Usually, it’s an envelope, never “try my food.”

I felt ashamed of myself for the accidental near-bribe. How could I be so stupid and thoughtless? I’m self-aware now. I’ll try not to smile today, because I don’t want to delve into the grey area of nepotism either.

I live in Rhode Island and spent some time in Russia. “Gifts,” are how people got stuff done in The Day. I didn’t have to participate in this ritual, because I’m not that important, but I absorbed the understanding. You bring something that shows thoughtfulness and appreciation, as if you were going to a housewarming. If it’s too small, you clearly don’t have enough “appreciation.” If it’s too big, it’s definitely a bribe. “Me? Corrupt?” The insinuation is inconceivable. Doors slam. Even among the most honestly corrupt.

cannolisIn one of my past jobs, gifts were shady territory. The old-timers were accustomed to bottles and baskets of things at Christmas, but by the time I made my way into the sphere, most of that was gone in my industry—the perception of favoritism linked to overpayment was just too great a risk–people took that stuff seriously. Once or twice I missed a cue, and was educated by a friendly co-worker.

“Yeah, he doesn’t want to meet you to ‘discuss’ anything. That’s going to be a bribe.” I’d find a polite excuse to cancel the meeting and “discuss,” over the phone.

One day, however, I just couldn’t avoid a tough situation. I was working out-of-state near where my grandparents used to live—I smiled, recalling how they had taken me to this very bakery. I had a meeting with the owner.

I was shown into the back room. In that back room, there was a circular table–maybe five or six men in suits, some with their jackets off, others with their jackets on, all wearing suspenders with a few bulges on one side or the other, deep in conversation. I sized up the situation. I had interrupted an important “meeting.” The men looked up. No one appeared happy to see me. Thankfully, I knew the proper etiquette for handling such things. Be very polite and act dumb.

“Excuse me. Mr. X, I hate to interrupt—I’m here from The Company to resolve That Situation for you.” I’d interrupted something intense. This would take more than an “excuse me.” Being a girl, I would not end up like Spider on Goodfellas, but it’s always better to be polite.

“If I could just say one thing,” I continued. “I just moved back down to the area from Rhode Island. I was born here, and my grandparents lived down the street. They used to bring me in here when I was little. I haven’t been around in a very long time. I just wanted to say how much I love your establishment, and how many good memories it brings to meet you today.”

Perfect! Both true, and laden with “respect.” Respect is important. He cracked a smile.

“Christine!” he shouted. “Give her a tray of cannolis!”  I was dismissed from the group of gentlemen, all smiling, thinking of their grandparents and cannolis. They “God blessed” me and sent me on my way.

I took a large box from Christine, handing her a twenty.

“Oh, no,” she said, “I can’t take THAT,” she shook her hands back and forth, looking over her shoulder.

“It’s no trouble…” I said. “I’ll share these with the office.”

“He SAID to GIVE you the cannolis.” I tried to pay again. Her voice nearly trembled. I didn’t want her to end up like Spider on Goodfellas, so I accepted the cannolis with gratitude. We were both going to have a good day.

Sometimes it’s hard to accept a gift. I’ve read several articles on this subject, and it keeps coming up in discussions. I had a 4 AM one today. Giving is a hot topic these days–maybe people need to give more. Maybe it’s just that it’s tax season and we should be prepared to patriotically donate to our country. Perhaps, humanity is short of basic kindness. The research says that it is important to learn to give. For me, it’s always been more difficult to learn to receive. Giving’s been the easy part. Receiving is part of the process, too.

Not giving, as I will practice today, is nearly impossible. Funny how society can put negative perceptions on a basic human kindness.

Ultimately, though, each day is a gift–they come quicker as we get older, and there are fewer of them left. Unwrap each carefully, and savor it. Even if it’s socks or loose leaf.

[images: family and When Bribery Succeeds]

A Micron in the Universe Can Change the World

Image by A.J. Leon from "The Life and Times of a Remarkable Misfit"

Image by A.J. Leon from “The Life and Times of a Remarkable Misfit”

It’s 4AM. The middle of the night for some, and I have just been presented with a question about the vastness of the universe for further consideration. These are the moments when dialogue sparks up in the stillness of the night when no five-year old intuitively knows that I’m about to have a deep thought so he should interrupt, destroying it before it gets off the ground. And other times, like today, it’s more of a “tag–you’re it game” a chain of comments that when glued together equal most of a conversation.  I remember when such a conversation would’ve taken months, each page going into an envelope to be hand-delivered to friends by the mailman so I could wait a week for their reply.

The size of the universe, I was reminded, is limitless. This has made me wonder, how, at just the right time, in the right moment, the right people, events, and things always find me. I was teaching this in class yesterday, having stolen a bit of a manifesto called “The Life and Times of a Remarkable Misfit” by A.J. Leon. A.J. and his wife are currently traveling the world attempting to see–everything–changing it for the better. The manifesto was so beautifully written that I felt compelled to use it. I hijacked a graphic for the blog I dedicate to school thoughts, and typed out some thoughts designating it Motivational Monday.

It was a success, underscoring one of the themes of my teaching career: You can do anything. The difference between those who do and those who do not is in–doing. When the world conspires to shut down your ideas, find a new world. These truths aren’t just for for students, I warned, they are necessary for every one of us throughout life. The engagement in this lesson was complete; they paused for thought, because they know I mean every single word. I showed them the truths in my own life.

Sadly, the world of education often contributes to shutting down these ideas. We don’t get time to stop and present these essential lessons–the ones successful people maintain have carried them through to the finish line. I, in fact, came up 10 minutes short of finishing my scheduled plan having reallocated this time. If I come up 10 minutes short every day, I will consider it time well spent.  Life isn’t found in a ten-year old textbook or a standardized test. Life is found in the energy of a 17-year-old waiting to conquer the universe or in someone nearly a generation older old doing the same.

I look around me–back to this morning’s conversation about the universe–and I am amazed. The universe is so big that I remain only a micron by comparison–even smaller than a micron if I could truly comprehend the scale.  Even though this is true, it always seems that when I am pressing forward with the right intention, the right people, events, and resources come to me at the moment they should, like the best of entrances on stage. Never too early so I can feel unjustifiably lucky, and never too late so that I’ve jumped without a safety net and tested the seriousness of the pavement below.

If there is one lesson I could leave every one of my students it would be this–your ideas are amazing. Never cave to the resistance in your world. Find a new world. Or change the one you are in. Sometimes, just sometimes, everyone around you is wrong and your vision is as clear as you think it is. Go act on it.