Tuesday, April 12, 2011
I was listening to some music that I hadn’t heard in a while: Odetta, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, and OhShinnah Fastwolf. As I listened, I realized that each of these persons have had a profound effect on me. Two of them, Odetta and Israel, are no longer alive in a physical body, and OhShinnah is not teaching or singing these days. Fortunately their music lives on.
There are others who helped to shape who I am: my parents, of course. And Anna Esau was an early mentor. She was a nurse who lived in an apartment downstairs from ours, and she adored me and I her. We laughed a lot. She gave me a sureness about who I am. For example, when I was little, I had red-gold long ringlets. People often commented on my hair. So, as a 3 year old, I asked people if they thought my hair was pretty. My Mother was embarrassed, but Aunty Esau just laughed and said I was just being truthful. I learned that what some people called a “faux pas” could just be sheer fun!
She was also the one who got me through the tonsillectomy around the same time. I had had some trauma with needles before I was a year old, and needles scared me. Aunty was the only one who could get me to stay still for the shot. Aunty, being a surgical nurse, was also in the OR with me, and was there when I woke. I learned to do what was necessary even if it wasn’t easy.
My seventh grade teacher was a gem. He noticed that I was shy. I decided to sing in a music competition at my school. I wasn’t able to hit high notes, and my teacher told me I had a beautiful voice. He told me never to let anyone tell me to sing in a key that was too high. I understood that what he said went way beyond singing. He was talking about my life. He helped me to know that I was fine just as I am.
In high school, I had a wonderful English teacher. I participated in speech contests at the State level, largely because my teacher encouraged me, and later I had a lead role in the school play. I realized that I had talents, and that it was fine to use them.
Much more recently I had the privilege of being adopted by a respected native elder. She told me to never let anyone influence me to be other than I who I am.
Perhaps you see a pattern here – many teachers have taught me to respect who I am; to be exactly the best me I can be. They taught me to become my Self. What a gift for anyone to give. I am truly grateful.