Words to live by…

In the midst of the reshaping that I wrote about in my last post a dear friend and mentor lost her 8 and 1/2 year battle with cancer.

Jan wasn’t a fellow educator when I met her.  She was a parent of a student I taught.  We bonded through our love for her daughter.  Our relationship continued after her daughter left my course.

She encouraged me to pursue my Masters in Educational Administration.  She challenged me to grow spiritually.  She modeled for me how to be a partner in a marriage.  When the day came, she coached me into motherhood.

She lived life passionately, with purpose and love.  She was called to be a deaf interpreter in her late 30s. From the time she pursued this passion until her death, she impacted children and adults in the deaf community in a profound way.  She educated them, loved on them and advocated for them.  Her profession of interpreting was done from a place of passion built on relationships.  Were goals met? Absolutely.  Did learning and growth occur? Ask the lives she impacted.  Were there challenges, some thought impossible to overcome? Certainly.  How was she successful? She focused on the people.

At her Life Celebration Service the pastor shared her “Top 10 List for Life.”

10- Love everyone.

9- Forgive often.

8- Always kiss goodnight.

7- Remember that strangers only exists if you let them. Everyone is a friend you just haven’t met yet.

6- Laugh at others if you must, but laugh at yourself for  growth.

5- Don’t wast time wondering what it would be like to do something, do it.

4- There is no such thing as “too purple.”

3- Growing up is over-rated.

2- Never forget to take your binoculars.

1- Life may present you with challenges, and hurdles that the world would have you believe can’t be overcome.  The world would have you believe that your response should be despair, but ultimately God is in control.  While you  might not be able to control your situation in like you CAN control how you choose to respond to it.  If you choose hope and joy, then even the dark days that may come, the days of sunshine can far exceed them.  The choice is yours.

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Jan, myself and her family, Christmas 2000


As I reflected on my dear friend’s words of advice I began to think about my own practice and the teachers that I coach.  I thought about how my friend lived by these ideals and knew through personal observation and the results of her work that it was by focusing on the main thing, PEOPLE. She never concerned herself with unimportant details.  It was about the work of developing friendships, connecting with people, enriching each others lives and expecting the best results in all situations.  She was never too busy to share a moment over a Sonic cherry limeade, hold your hand in a difficult moment, or come grab you for a quick get a way when you needed an escape.  She was passionate about life and about the living.

For her, how she chose to live her life was a calling and an example to others.  She lived a passionate life.

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As the quote states, her passion was not random.  It was purposeful, intentional and measurable.  Her impact was felt by everyone she met.  Was her work something that could not be replicated?  I think not.  She gave us the blueprint.  We don’t have to live it precisely as she wrote (frankly I don’t think there is such a thing as “too red” :-)). However, I do think it is my calling to build relationships.  I am passionate about learning and learners, both adult and student.  How do you say that is measured? Hmmm… well I know it can be measured in lives changed, hope rebuilt and passions discovered. It is also measured in ways that will not be realized in this world, but in heaven by the ultimate assessor of success, Jesus.

I am thankful for my friend, Jan.  Her life example reminded me of what is most important.  It isn’t how much I do, how I dress, how incredible the decor in a classroom is, but how I treat, love and mentor others.

Take away: Keep it simple, don’t get bogged down in the unnecessary details, and build genuine relationships.