On a recent visit, my three-year-old nephew Henry asked, “What’s there on your face?”
It took me a minute, but I realized he was asking about the worry-lines between my eyebrows (wrinkles). I smiled and said, “Those are just my wrinkles. Look I have more when I smile” and pointed at the crow’s feet formed on the side of my eyes.
The next day Henry asked why I had those spots on my face and arms. I told him they were my freckles… spots where the sun kissed my skin. He looked innocently at his arms and said, “My freckles are still sleeping.”
While his noticing my wrinkles made me a little sad, his discovery of my freckles and statement about his sleeping spots was super sweet and made me think about the freckles, wrinkles, and other characteristics that appear with time.
I know we can all relate to our adolescent desires to be taller, fuller, thinner, or whatever-er, but once we are doing the adulthood thing, how often do we give ourselves credit for the features that are no longer “sleeping”? Or how do we celebrate the differences between people? Do we point out the idiosyncrasies of other’s appearance in positive or appreciative ways?
Have you ever witnessed someone’s success and thought, “Man, that guy is so lucky!”?
As the college basketball season wraps up with the wonders of the national championship tournament, I am enthralled with the games and the amazing feats of the players on the court. All too often I take for granted that the men and women making those shots and executing impressive defenses worked countless hours and put in immeasurable efforts to be there.
I will sometimes find myself saying snarky things like, “Must be easy if you’re 7-feet tall to block that shot” or “Come on! You’re a Division I basketball player; make your free throws.” My jeers and cheers often fall short of the reality that those athletes are under a great deal of pressure, and my yoga-pant-wearing, couch-coaching isn’t providing any assistance or luck to anyone.
Luck is usually a trait that is determined by someone observing a situation. Yes, we can feel lucky because of a positive experience or encounter, but for the most part we consider ourselves to not be as “lucky” as everyone else because we always see someone else’s wishes coming true.
I am reminded of a my last basketball game in the 8th grade. My sister, whom I had always played with on the same team, was in the hospital recovering from a life-saving surgery, and our team and I were playing our arch rivals from Perryville. It was the consolation game of the end of season tournament, and I wanted nothing more than to win that game for my sister. The entire game was a close one. With 10 seconds left, we were tied. After I tied the game with a free throw, the other team was brining the ball down the court.
Their player, a girl who I seriously did not like, dribbled past our guards and stopped right in front of me. She shot. My finger tips grazed the ball.
This may seem like an unusual question, but in the grand scheme of things there isn’t a chore or task that we don’t relate with someone else. While I mop, I am usually mentally cussing my family for being so messy, but before the floor is dry I almost always think of Mary Scott.
Who is Mary Scott?
Well, Mary was a shift manager at the Dairy Queen where I worked as a teenager.
Mary was a tough manager because she did not appreciate horseplay, slacking off, or sneaking bites of cookie dough toppings that weren’t paid for. She appreciated a job well done and sought to provide quality customer service to each customer that came through the door. She also really liked making the Blizzards thick enough to turn upside down each time one was ordered.
Many of my co-workers did not like the job of cleaning the dinning room at the end of the night. I didn’t mind it because it was easier to get clean than the hamburger grease in the kitchen. Sweeping, wiping down tables and doors, bathroom supply checks, and mopping the floor were easy enough tasks to get done so I could get out of there at the end of my shift. One night, Mary watched me mop around the last tables and the floor in front of the soda fountains. I asked if everything was okay. She smiled and said she really liked when I or my sister closed the front because it would be done right. “You girls know how to work. That’s for sure,” she added.
I don’t know why her words have stuck with me, but each time I lug a mop and bucket to clean a floor, I remember the pride I felt in her compliment. Her words also inspired me to always do the best job I could. I wanted to be the person who did a job right. Sometimes I was tempted to cut corners in my cleaning, like my colleagues having water fights in the back, but Mary’s words always caused me to be someone she could count on.
Not all horses eat apples. This was a heartbreaking realization for me, as my entire childhood was filled with dreams of sharing apples with my horses before we took long, rides through rolling pastures. Today my dreams are still to take long rides through rolling pastures, but no longer do I picture my herd running happily toward me ready to nibble red and greed apples from the palm of my outstretched hand.
In fact, I own two horses that generally turn their noses up at apples or any treat that is not peppermint. On rare occasions, Star will give apples a chance if they are cut into thin slices. Atticus just plain walks away or spits them out. If I offer a treat that is apple flavored, both Star and Atticus will turn their heads in search of something better.
Winn Dixie is whole other story. She will scarf down any apples that are offered and scoops up those refused by her herd-mates. How could I have been so wrong about apples and horses?
Have you ever pictured giving something to someone and knew it was going to be perfect, only to have them reject or refuse the gift?
Why does it hurt so badly when our gifts are rejected? Why is it so difficult for us to digest that what we thought was just right doesn’t resonate with the recipient? Why don’t all horses like apples?
The answer to these questions is simple. Sometimes our hearts are in the right places, but our minds are on different trains of thought than that of the one we are trying to gift.
Each morning as I check turkeys, I am amazed at how much they have grown and how their looks change from one day to the next. The funny thing about turkeys is the older they get the prouder they are of their looks. As their plush, yellow fluff is replaced with fine, white feathers, the birds make it their business to hold their heads higher when they pass by. When their fully white plumage is in place, turkeys seem to spend all their time admiring and admonishing their tails and wings, and flaring their feathers as they strut around. Pride in their maturity seems to be the opposite of what we humans do. We lose confidence in our appearance as we age. This loss of self-esteem is tough emotionally and isn’t very attractive. So while turkeys are definitely not the most beautiful of creatures, I think we need to be more like them.
As we begin this new 365-day trip around the sun, many of us are focusing attention on our appearance. The most common New Year’s Resolution is to lose weight or exercise more. So while, many of us are counting our calories and watching our weight, I want to encourage you to fluff your good stuff. Don’t let love handles or belly rolls be what you purposefully draw attention to. Single out your best qualities and draw attention to what makes you feel good about yourself.
There is nothing wrong with being proud of a personal quality or physical trait. There is tremendous benefit to knowing what you are good at or what makes you beautiful and unique. So, if you’ve got it, fluff it!
I would like to cordially invite you to have lunch with me. My desire for this lunch date is so sincere that you may choose the day, time, and location that works best for you.
You and I share some very similar interests. We both love to sing and love our nation. We share the belief that good leaders listen, stand up for what needs to be done, and that sometimes simple solutions are all that is needed to make big changes.
Your mom was a teacher, and I am a mom and a teacher. So we both value education and moms.
You’ve written and published children’s books and having children’s books published from my pen is on my bucket list. (Maybe you could recommend a good literary agent.)
You are much better at golf than I, but maybe you could give me some pointers as we dine.
A love of laughter and sincerity are also things we have in common, and I know we could both use a sincere conversation and laugh right now. (People tell me I’m pretty funny, so I’ve got that to bring to the table.)
Before we had our lunch date, the only times I had met you were at random school and community events and with each encounter I have admired you more and more.
In listening to you talk about your family, it is obvious you are passionate about those in your brood (both blood relation and those by happenstance). Your willingness to share the memories of your husband Don and the experiences you had together is so wonderfully appreciated. I cannot imagine the lengths you went through to keep your family moving (literally across the country) and growing. I am in awe of the steps you took to become an educator. If you hadn’t been so diligent, there are thousands of students, parents, and fellow educators who would not have benefited from your awesomeness (myself included).
I was particularly inspired by your storytelling ability. The art of telling a story is one that is not lost on me and I could have listened to your stories for hours. (We MUST have another lunch date!) It was in the stories you shared about the strength and resilience of women in your life that you showed great exuberance. When asked if you had ever considered writing a book, your answer about wishing you could document the life of Emma Busch was so cool to me. There are so many stories that never get told because they are simply forgotten.
I expected your answer to the book writing question to be that you would first consider writing on teaching or faith but that you had such a specific and vivid subject in mind, makes me REALLY want to read her story (as told by you, of course). The world would definitely benefit from the stories you have to share. Continue reading “Lunch was Lovely – Thank You Letter to Sue Gelven”→
I am so glad you accepted my invitation and am even happier that we made that lunch date happen!
I would like to apologize for taking so long to write this letter. Life just has a way of getting away from me. Before we met, I promised to limit my questions to 10. I hope I was able to keep that promise. There were just so many things I wanted to discuss.
When we sat down and I had a chance to tell you that my friends were all jealous of our lunch date, you said that you hoped, “We were not underwhelmed” by your responses. (Clearly you did not see how starstruck I was to be dining with THE Dr. Deeken.)
As always you listened, shared, taught, and inspired me.
One of the questions I asked was “What was your favorite advice for parents?”
Your sweet and smart responses of “Enjoy each and every stage of childhood, (speaking from personal experience),”“Don’t sweat the small stuff”, and “Don’t let kids dictate; You’re the parent. You’re not the friend” were true to the doctrines of appointments heard by thousands of parents and still need to be shared daily.
The fact that you have 10 children of your own is still one that awes me. The fact that you carried a panel of about 2000 patients floored me. When asked how you managed, you gave tremendous credit to your husband and said something that too many of us feel in the healthcare and educational professions, “I short-changed my family. You can’t get time back.” In learning that you often took your charts home to finish each night, after making your hospital rounds and full days of check-ups and medical emergencies, it’s no wonder you felt spread too thin. I think it’s fair to say that you did a marvelous job of tackling some tough stuff. Continue reading “Lunch was Lovely – Thank You Letter to Dr. Deeken”→
15 years ago I began teaching at Linn High School, and so frequently was my teaching style compared to yours, that I was scared to tell others what I was doing in the classroom for fear of failing the very high expectations set by your example.
Sue just hanging out in Egypt.
As time has gone by, I have had the honor of not only getting to meet you but to teach some of your grandchildren and to enjoy the stories of your travels via your fabulous Facebook posts. I have watched you bounce back from the loss of your amazing husband and become a Renaissance woman with your hunting and handy-woman skills. (You use a chain saw!)
Sue, I would love to have a lunch with you because I believe you have some seriously powerful messages to share.
What is it that inspires you to choose the destinations of your trips?What do you remember or miss most from teaching? What lesson did you hope ALL of your students would learn from your classes?What do you hope to teach those you encounter today?Where do you get the ammunition for all the rodents you exterminate? What is your next handy-woman project?Have you written a book? Are you going to write a book? Coffee or tea?
These are just a few of the things I would love to speak about with you. My goal with Intentergy is to bring positive purpose to the day, and I know you will be a wonderful resource for me to tap into and charge some ideas for inspiration and ingenuity.
So, it is with extreme trepidation and excitement that I ask, Sue Gelven, will you please have lunch with me?
Melanie A. Peters
Lara and Sue
P.S. Sue’s beautiful daughter (and my friend) Lara graciously let me use her photos for this post. Thank you, Lara!
How is it that three years of posts are in the past?
When I started Intentergy, I had lots of ideas. Many of those ideas I have put into action. Some I have totally tossed aside. Others are still in the works. And too many to count have made their way into my creative cogs.
Thank you to everyone who has read, commented, liked, shared, and replied to any of my work. Your support means a great deal to me.
Please continue to read and write in response to Intentergy posts. I always want to grow and become a better source for my site. Without your feedback, I cannot do either to my fullest potential.
Intentergy is energy with positive purpose. Sharing my ideas, stories, challenges, and experiences has been one of the most rewarding purposes in my adult life. I will continue to put my version of Intentergy out into the universe and I hope you all will do the same.
Below are a few of my favorite posts from the past. Please enjoy this scroll down memory lane.