It is National “Thank Your Mentor Day,” and in honor of that, I sent out my thanks to a few folks (not relatives) who shaped my life over the years.
I thanked my 6th grade teacher, Mr. Garrison, who pulled me aside one day and said, “I think you are a writer. I love this poem you wrote and I would like to send it in for publication in a magazine if that is okay with you.” My self-image changed in an instant. I was a writer! A few months later, I was a published writer!
Was it a great poem? Probably not, but Mr. G. saw potential in me that I hadn’t discovered for myself yet, and took the extra time and effort to name it and set it free to grow.
I was the new girl in my junior year of high school, transferring in at the second semester. Fortunately, the talented Philip Burton was my Speech teacher. He had chosen “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds” as the spring play, and reading through it in class; it spoke to me. I asked Mr. Burton if I should try out and he encouraged me to give it a shot. I was cast as a lead in my first play ever, and Mr. Burton’s faith in my ability to pull off a character that was older, with teenage children, a horrible back story and the dysfunctional behaviors that go along with it, was life changing. I developed a lifelong love of live theater and did many shows in my twenties. Mr. Burton also directed the Concert Choir, and some of my best memories of that time were spent with him and the other “choir and theater geeks” in my high school.
The next Mentor in my life was my roommate in my early twenties. Her name is Harriett and she was a youth counselor when we became roommates. Her insights, advice and above all, her faith that I could and would do amazing things were transforming. Much of what I have become as a person, I attribute to those few years we spent together.
There have been more Mentors since then, and each one is a precious gift.
Did any of these people know they were mentoring me? Doubtful.
They were just doing their jobs, living their lives and being the people they were. Even now, if I did not take the time to thank them for the amazing force they were in my life, they would probably have no idea.
Today I take time to thank them, to appreciate them, and encourage them to keep on being the positive force in the world that they were to me. Their examples have inspired me to become a mentor myself, and who knows what seeds have been planted?
Do you know who your Mentors are? Have you taken the time to thank them for the gifts they gave you?
It’s a great way to spend a day.
This post was featured in the Story Circle Network’s “One Woman’s Day” blog on January 17, 2014.