Thursday, April 26, 2012

Stop looking down....

How many times do you look down in a day? Do you look down when you are walking to avoid eye contact? We miss so much when we look down. By looking up we can be greeted with a smile, a friendly hello and who knows maybe you will meet someone that might change your life. I started to notice in college how many people actually do look down. It bothered me so much to know that people would rather look at the grass than to look at me. What was so wrong with the way I looked or walked that caused peoples eyes to drift towards the ground? Nothing! People just look down because they rather see the ugly ground, then to have an awkward moment.

Planes.. this is a good one. Ever walk down the isle of a plane and notice people acting like they are asleep or reading just so you don't sit in the middle set? It kills me to see this. Guess what the plane will be full and you will eventually have someone right next to you sharing that awkward moment. I have to say I am guilty of looking down at times but more often I am looking up watching people and learning from them. I just so happen to look up at the right moment on my trip to Florida this March. I was greeted by the kindest man ever and his family. Actually, there was no room to look down as we were in the very back of the plane.

Noel is in his early 80's but was sharp like a 20 year old. He never missed a conversation or joke on our journey to Tampa. He wanted to know everything about me. Noel asked a million questions and gave me information about his life. I learned he was a retired teacher/coach and had been married since 1956. Noal had three boys, two which were on the plane cracking jokes the whole time. Noel spoke about his grandson who had just pasted and about technology. He was amazing! I was in aww every single time he spoke of his past and mostly about his future. This man was a stranger to me but within 30 minutes in he became a friend.

Noel asked for my address. Of course I know you are thinking.. don't do it Kathy he could be a killer. I always know when something feels right and with Noel everything felt safe. He explained to me he enjoys writing and that he promised me he would write me a letter. I have to say it felt great knowing that someone I just met wanted to keep in touch with me. :) The crazy thing is Noel didn't just get my address. He walked up and down the isle on the plane greeting people, shaking their hands and asking questions. I am sure that half of the plane knew who Noel was when we landed. He got 2 more addresses on the plane and he ensured me that all three of us would get a letter.

Once we landed I figured we would say our good-byes and be on our way. Noel knew I was waiting for my parents (2 hours in fact to get there), he didn't feel right leaving me alone. So him and the crew he came with walked me to the bar to order drinks. Noel and his friends stayed there for a good 45 minutes before they departed. Before he left he wanted to make sure I felt safe and that I was okay. What a kind man! He asked if I would come visit him and his wife in Marysville? They live on a big farm and Noel promised me that Louie would love it. I plan on visiting Noel this summer. I gave him a hug and thanked him for his time...he was truly amazing!

When I got the letter in the mail two weeks later.. I cried. Not because I was sad he wrote me but sad at all the moments I looked down in my life. If my eyes were not so focused on the floor I could have met a million people like Noel. What I was shocked to read is that he remember every single thing we talked about... he remember Louie's name, my half marathon and that I coached Lacrosse. NO he didn't take notes! Noel is the kind of guy that everyone needs in their life. He touched my heart and my soul!

We continue to write each other and I am making plans to go out to visit him soon. I have no clue how many people he writes but I would bet you he gets letters every single day from the people he meets. What a gift! So what does this mean? Well it means you need to become aware of where you look. I wouldn't have met Noel if I had my ear phones in or if I was busy messing with my computer. I would have missed this wonderful moment that I will cherish forever. The world is an amazing place when you look up. The colors are more wonderful when your eyes are forward. Think about it!! What does the ground really have to ofter?

Thanks Noel, for teaching me that it is time to let strangers in and that good people really do exist! Now I have a wonderful pen pal! I  have to say I get excited every time I open my mailbox now!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Listen to the Mustn'ts

Did you ever read the book "Where the Sidewalk ends"?  Shel Silverstein had a way with words for sure, but more importantly he had a way with words that children could understand.  This book was the one book I enjoyed most in school.  I bet you I checked out "Where the Sidewalk ends" at least a hundred times at my school library.  I just loved this book!

One of my favorite poems in this book is Listen to the Mustn'ts. Many children are told early that there are things they can't do. As a child I had a understanding of the things that I shouldn't do, mustn't do and things that I couldn't do. Why do we teach children that they can't do thing? Why do we put that negative talk in their head?

I struggle with this because I know those "Mustn'ts, don'ts, shouldn'ts and can'ts" are things that have held me back in life.  I believed them at times which caused me to sit back and watch life pass me bye.  I have been able to silent those words and hear the little voice that screams "Can". 

As a teacher and a coach I never allow my students to use the words "I can't" because those words don't exist in my vocabulary anymore.  They shouldn't exist in yours either.  Just like Shel says "Anything can happen, child, anything can be." When you start seeing things happen in front of you, you no longer have to believe, you KNOW.  It is the fear that blocks the knowing, blocks the "I Can's" and blocks word of doing.

How can you not be inspired after reading Shel's poem?  He is saying anything and everything is possible.  Why is it that sometimes I forgot the message written so loudly? Why does the society allow children and adults to believe that only certain things are possible?  The little girl in me who loved those Shel's poems is now a grown adult...but that doesn't change how I feel about this book.  The words I read years ago are still alive in me today, I still believe that "Anything can happen, anything can be."

So I ask you this.. do you listen to the mustn'ts, dont's and shouldn'ts? Do you let your children say "I can't?" Let's change that negative talk into a positive one! Believe in Shel's words because "Anything can be."