What does an email, an article and a trash can have in common? All three have brought a smile to my face during a week that I have felt rather emotional. I think the emotion stems from various causes, but my top three guesses: 1) the stress of getting ready for another semester to begin, 2) the news of Robin Williams’ death and more than anything else, 3) the approaching one-year anniversary of my dad’s death.
1) Another semester beginning is always a busy time, and I tend to make it even busier by what my family characterizes as sometimes being a bit of a perfectionist! However, for all my extra effort, there is sometimes a return on my investment!
Teaching’s reward is not monetary! I know; such a statement is kind of like the Geico commercials: “Everybody knows that.” Well, did you know that teaching can make you smile more than money can? It can, thanks to students who take the time to say, “thank you.” When I receive emails from former students telling me how much one of my classes meant to them and how it had a positive impact on their lives, well…that’s the reward for all my efforts. That makes me smile. So, to the student who sent the perfectly-timed email this week expressing appreciation for my efforts, I want to say thank you. You chipped a little of the sadness away this week with your kindness.
2) As for the news of Robin Williams’ death, it is hard for me to explain because I am by no means a celebrity groupie. I’m not one to have much interest in who is doing what in Hollywood. But Robin Williams has always been one of my favorite actors. His movies, from the dramas to the comedies, have always been favorites too. Many of his films have amazing stories, and he was always an amazing storyteller. I think it was the way in which he told the stories that made you feel like you were actually friends. I guess that is why I felt so sad when I heard the news; it felt as if I had lost a friend. I came across this article, “7 Quotes from Robin Williams, for Communicators,” and I liked quote #2: “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” It’s hopeful, and it made me smile. Rest in peace, friend.
3) And most of all, my heart is struggling this week with the approaching one-year anniversary of my dad’s death. In some ways, it doesn’t seem possible that he has been gone a year, and other times, it seems like he’s been gone much longer. My heart still aches; tears still flow. Simply put, I miss him. I miss his smile.
Yet, cherished mementos, pictures and memories make me smile. Like this trash can that my brother gave to me today! A trash can makes me smile? Yes; yes it does. It makes me smile because it has a story to tell.
This trash can sat inside my dad’s chicken coop. He used it to store the chicken feed. I can remember making trips out to the chicken coop with him, scooping the feed out of this can and filling the feeders. I also remember the day we worked together making repairs to the chicken coop. That was a long day, but looking back, it makes me smile that I had the chance to spend that time with him. As a professional carpenter all his life, I am sure he had fun watching me hammer those nails!
As I think about all this: the email, the article and the trash can, it’s the stories told within each of these that made me smile. I’ve always loved a good story…what public relations professional doesn’t! And this week, I was on the receiving end of the stories being told, and they made me feel appreciated, hopeful and grateful.
So be sure to share your stories this week; you never know the impact they might have on someone. Just take a look at my trash can…go ahead, you can smile! It’s an awesome trash can filled with stories…and soon, chicken feed again!
In the meantime, pull up a chair and let’s talk!