Challenge 1: Why You Shouldn’t Wait Until It’s Too Late To Do This
Challenge 1: Why You Shouldn’t Wait Until It’s Too Late To Do This
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*If you’re just here to read the letter, you can skip halfway down the page. If you’re here for the happy challenge, don’t go anywhere, and read on.
Today’s challenge is simple, yet so many of us have begun to lose the art of it. Today you will write a letter to someone. That’s it. Yep. Seriously. But keep reading before you start, as this is a challenge and I plan on challenging you, at least a little bit.
Now, this letter can be to anyone, but should revolve around the idea of gratitude. Remember, you are looking to build your happiness here and one of the ways to do that is to recognize what you are grateful for in your life. As for today, the focus will be on the who, not the what. We’ll save the what for another day.
Back to the letter… Its focus should be around reasons you are thankful for having this person in your life. Or perhaps it is a person you have had in your life, and that’s ok, too. Take time to consider this and how you will go about crafting your letter. And just to be clear, an email doesn’t count as your letter. Get out the pen and paper, and get to it! Complaining about cramped hands is not allowed. That is called an excuse and we are not taking those here. No excuses, just opportunities.
You may find yourself in the predicament of not knowing who to write to because you’ve just got that many influential people in your life. I’m here to tell you, you better not be viewing that as an obstacle. If only we could all be in that position the world would be a happier place, for sure.
Now, because this is a challenge, I am asking you to think outside the box. Try not to pick a parent/sibling/child. You know what I’m saying. And if you already had one of those people in mind, I know you’re probably gritting your teeth at me right now, but I can’t see or hear you so it’s okay. I’m not offended. But I still expect you to choose someone else. The reason is this: those people are obviously great people to have in our lives, and for many of us, they truly have been the most influential. But, challenge yourself to think of someone who had an impact in some way, shape, or form, that perhaps you’ve not really focused on, or at least not for a while. Of course, if that’s too much to ask, I’m fine for you to just pick anyone. This challenge is for you, and I don’t really know who you’re writing to. My goal over the next 15 days is helping to inspire a happier you. I surely don’t intend to lose you on Day 1. With that said, do whatever feels right. But before you start, please take the time to read the letter I wrote to my person. It holds a very important message. You will understand at the end.
Dear Mrs. Crosby,
I wonder why I waited so long to tell you what an impression you had on me. It’s hard to believe that over two and a half decades have passed by, and yet if feels like only yesterday I was sitting in your classroom reading Bridge To Terabithia, which, by the way, is one of the most amazing books I have read to this day. Disney has since released it in movie form, and both of my girls have thoroughly enjoyed it, but it isn’t the same as the book, and I thank you for introducing me to it. What I remember most, though, is what you said to me (and probably the other three classmates in my reading group, too) when you assigned me the book. You told me you could see I was mature enough to read the book, that there would be language that others wouldn’t be able to handle, as they were too silly, and that only a special select few would be grouped for this book.
I would have never told you, but those comments were so impressionable on a little introvert like me that they stuck like glue and I simply beamed on the inside. Now, as a teacher myself, I recognize in hindsight, that you probably could read on my face how delighted I was to hear you say this, but the fact that you never made it a big deal was equally impressionable.
I have to be honest, I could go on for days about the memories I have of being in your class. Like the student teacher we had that read us Lost in the Barrens, like the way when we finished our math lesson we would come back to your desk and you would correct it on the spot, and place a sticker on our page if we got most of them right, or even like the way the sunlight would trickle in the window in the afternoon and highlight the ugly tiles on the floor.
What stands out the most though of that entire year, is a science experiment you conducted — or rather, had us conduct. You gave everyone in the class an ice cube and asked us to place it anywhere we wanted. The goal was to see whose would last the longest before melting away. Boy, did I ever want to have the last cube standing. Every student but one — who did not happen to be me — placed their cubes around the room, on tables, on books, in the window (yes, really, but we won’t judge), and in the cupboards.
But this one student did something ridiculous, in my ever-so-unknowing eyes. She took the cloth on the blackboard ledge — it’s almost funny for me to write that since I haven’t seen a chalkboard in a classroom in a very long time — and she wrapped her ice cube up, very tight. Now, I remember seeing her do this and thinking it was the silliest thing. Why would she do that? The way I saw it was this: when I wrap myself up in a blanket, I get warm. That was all I needed to associate with in order to be certain her ice cube would melt first. I almost felt embarrassed for her. Either way, it was quickly forgotten when we were called to eat lunch and sent off to play outside.
In life, we all need humbling moments, and what happened next was one of mine. When the lunch bell went and we arrived back in class, you were smiling, and I knew you were going to announce a winner. Everyone scrambled to find their cubes and eagerly compare them to each other. There were small bits of ice and lots of water but that didn’t bother you. Then you asked everyone to gather around as you held a cloth in your hand. You tenderly unwrapped the chalk-covered blanket only to reveal an ice cube that was pretty much as big as it was to begin with. There were “oohs” and “ahhs” from the crowd and a lot of attention on the student who came up with such a brilliant idea. The rest is a little fuzzy, but you can’t really fault me after almost three decades, right?
Aside from me getting a reality check that day, that I couldn’t always be right, this moment was special because of the impact it had on me for a different reason. I guess that’s obvious, since I’m sitting here writing to you about it so many years later. This is the thing. You could have simply sat us in our desks and explained that insulating ice protects it from the heat in the air, blah blah blah… but no. You let us discover that on our own. You gave us a moment to learn and gave us a reason to remember. This is what good teaching is and if nobody every told you that, I am here to tell you now. You were amazing at what you did.
Every single time you have seen me over the past twenty-seven years, you have never failed to stop and talk to me. Any teacher will tell you that as the years go on, it is very easy to trip up on names, and even faces as students grow into adults and become blended into our past. But you, you never faltered once. Even if years had passed, you never failed to acknowledge me with an immediate smile and conversation. You even sat down to eat your ice cream with me and my girls last summer when we bumped into you at the farmer’s market.
Mrs. Crosby, I want you to know, I realize I’ve had ample opportunity to tell you how much you inspired my life. I chose to keep that to myself and I don’t know why. I don’t know why, especially, because anything I had to say, I am sure would have warmed your heart. I wonder why it is we do that. I mean, don’t you find that people all too often feel, think, or tell other people heart-warning things about someone else, but never tell the person that matters most?
So I’m taking time today to tell you what you’ve meant to me. First, I want to apologize for never having told you before this. You were my favorite teacher, your kindness embedded into a special place in my soul, and you were one terrifically, amazing teacher. But most of all, with a heavy heart, I want to say how very sorry I am that I let the opportunity to tell you these things in person, get to a point where you will never be able to hear them.
Rest in Peace, Mrs. Crosby. 1954-2017. The memories of you will never die.
A girl who still feels like your grade 5 student,
If you’ve made it this far, I hope this is inspiration enough to get you started on your own letter. Unfortunately, I cannot give my letter to the person I am grateful for having entered my life, but I am in hopes it reaches others who feel the same way and who were also touched by her.
Let me know in the comments below who you chose to write to and why. I truly can’t wait to hear from you. And if you want these challenges straight to your inbox, sign up below.
Remember: Life is what you make it. Take lots of pictures.
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