Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Teachers in my Life

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.