Friday, October 4

The Life Changing Power of Affirmation 10/4/13

     Good morning. I'm bumping this up. Now that fall is here and school has started, I thought I'd share this, written more than two years ago.  After this story I have a request.  You'd make a happy innkeeper if I heard from you. Yes, you.  Here's the post:


       How are you?  Have you thanked someone today?  Who is someone you are grateful for?  Can you think of anybody who believed in you
and cheered you on when your energy was flagged?  Please pause patiently and pensively for a moment. Whom would that be?

      I'm mindful of Mr. Tafoya, my fifth grade teacher.  The only Hispanic teacher I had.  From the state of New Mexico, he was.  One day he asked me to stay in class, after he dismissed the other students for recess.

      The words he shared with me that day have stuck with me since then.  I didn't expect them.  You see, he was pretty scary.  No, not because he had an eye in the back of his head, or anything like that.

       He was the best and most demanding teacher at Vallejo Mills Elementary School, in Fremont, California.  He taught the accelerated classes, for nerds. like me.  If anyone in his class spoke without permission, they were in trouble.

       I remember once asking a student, David, who sat next to me if  I could borrow his eraser during an exam. Mr. Tafoya took my test and gave me an F.  For me, it was more like F for frustration.  He didn't ask why I spoke.  I cried, being frustrated.

      The day he asked me to stay after class, I nervously waited, squirming while sitting at  my lift-top desk.  Outside, the students squealed and yelled, playing soccer, tether ball, four square, or goofed around.  I longed to be with them.  Instead I was trapped with bald-pated, grim-visaged Mr. Tafoya. The cacophony of voices and the stir on the playground, outside the classroom door were mentally silenced---instantly---when my instructor finally spoke.

      Stunned, by his surprising words, I was.  He encouraged me.  I was his best student, he said. That couldn't be. The other students were brainy; I didn't even wear glasses. I got in fights.  They used more polysyllabic words.  They were the sons of doctors, lawyers and engineers.

      His words hit their mark.  From that day, school was something I enjoyed, and still do----okay, nowadays it's research and studying----I like it more than anything else.  It relaxes me.

      After our visit, I was a motivated, disciplined student.  In the fifth grade, I studied until 2:00 a.m.  I know----I shouldn't have, but I liked getting good grades.  At the time I didn't realize I was externally referented.  It would be years before I was freed from this disease.  Academic success provided encouragement rarely gotten from parents who were busy attending to six kids.

     This drive for studies lasted through junior high, high school and college----to the love for learning that remains to this day.  My efforts have been bolstered by the words Mr Tafoya's that day.  I was emboldened by his belief in me, a confused kid with a crew cut.  What a difference one person can make.

      And yes, I went to U.C. Berkeley.

      Now, the rest of the story.....

      What you don't know is that before my chat with Mr. Tafoya, I had visited the principal, Mr. Burt, in his office.  This time it wasn't for a paddling.  I asked to be put in a lower, less demanding track.  To be placed with the "B" track of students.  The demands of my studies were too much to bear.

      "Pablo,"  tall, skinny Mr. B---who also was missing hair on top---said, "do you know how many parents beg to have their kids placed in this track???"
      "Yes, Mr. Burt.  But the work is too hard."  I was reading Plato, Sophocles, Thucydides, even Dante, in addition to Longfellow, Poe and Twain.
      "Okay, let me see what I can do," he replied.

       Well, it's  clear he spoke with my fifth grade instructor.

       So, Mr. Al Tafoya---wherever you are---thank you for encouraging an insecure, confused, struggling ten year old kid who almost quit on himself.  I'm grateful for the gift you gave that day.  You instilled the desire to believe, not only in my abilities, but in myself.

A Request

      This is the Attitude of Gratitude Inn. Here, we exercise thankfulness muscles, sharing the gratitudes that fill our hearts. Doing so is a wonderful antidote to the negativity that can easily invade our souls. 

      The news bombards us with bleak information. I prefer lighting a candle, instead of cursing darkness.  I keep my face towards the sun. I focus on the blessings I receive from God and the love I enjoy from friends and family.

    May I ask you to share today not three gratitudes, but one? Just for today, would you mind sharing about one person that you are grateful for?  It would be wonderful if you shared about someone who made a difference in your life. Please include details, that made this person influential.  That would be terrific.  Would it be possible to introduce this person, who had a strong impact upon you?

                        Here's to sharing gratitudes,


Vanessa Higgins said...

I am grateful for Shalane. She is a fellow bipole and an ex of my ex-husband. I see strength, love, and light inside her and sometimes, just sometimes, I see a reflection of myself and it is beautiful and inspiring!!!

Carl H said...

Dear Innkeeper,

On this glorious Sunday morning, I am grateful for;

My Polish wife and mother of our four sons, Grazyna. She is (still...) my best friend after 31 years of marriage. She knows me better than any other; "for better or for worse," and (still...) loves me unconditionally anyway.

My belated Saturday Gratitudes are;

1. I am grateful for each new day. No matter how bad or good, the sun always rises and the God of my understanding always gives me another day; another chance to do the right thing, to make amends and become a better husband, father and friend.

2. I am grateful my wife and I could watch Iron Man 3 last night in Blueray. Even though its (definately NOT the Hallmark Channel, Big House on the Prairie, etc. ) kind of a "guy-action-flick," she hung in there to the glorious end anyway!

3. I am grateful I could attend an inspiring gathering of friends Friday night. Grateful I could share a bit, make folks laugh and think, and share a brief experience, and its residual hope and strength. I am also grateful I could commit to being the speaker next Friday!

4. I am grateful I will have a long-overdue, weekend visit with a dear friend of 40 years in NYC, two weeks from now.

David F said...

Hello Inn Keeper!

A person who has had a meaningful impact on my life would play table tennis with me to get me out of the house, taught me how to drive, introduced me to mountainbiking as well as how to fix my bike. This person always tried to help me out when he could, going out of his way, and encouraging me, challenging me, consoling me. I see this person as a caring uncle or a much older brother, a person who saw the struggles I was going through, and went out of his way to help me and be there. In fact, this person brought his whole family over to console my family when my brother passed away, bringing food, and tears and a consoling, sympathetic heart.
Thank You, Johan Grahn, for being there for me.

Pablo said...

It's great hearing from several of you on this subject. Thank you!

Dear Vanessa,

Isn't great bonding with someone?? Each time you visit the inn, I'm inspired by your personality. I appreciate knowing more about you, each time you post a comment.

I'm wishing a fantastic fall season for you!

Pablo said...

Dear Carlos Wingman,

How great it is hearing a spouse praise his or her other half, especially after 31 years. You are indeed blessed, having a gracious wife like Grazyna.

I appreciate your spirit Carl. Your ongoing, regular posting of gratitudes is amazing, adding to the positivity we enjoy in this inn. Thank you.

Good luck with your talk this Friday. I'm happy you're taking the big step and are heading to the Big Apple to see your long-term friend, Frank. I look forward to reading the gratitudes derived from your trip.

Pablo said...

Hello David F!

What a man, Johan Grahn. Wow. May his tribe increase! You were gifted with a caring, sympathetic friend and mentor. I can see why you chose him.

Welcome to the inn. Thank you for making my day brighter with your gratitudes and comments. I look forward to your visits!

A grateful innkeeper

Quotes from the Posts

"I'm mindful that our thoughts affect the words we use, our words influence our actions, our actions shape our character and our character determines our destiny."

From "My Character Determines My Destiny." To read it, please click here.

"Progress not perfection, is better than no progress at all, especially when we're trying to rid ourselves from unwelcome dragons that dwell within the closets of our soul."

From, "Still Learning" which, within four days, became the most popular post
written. To read it, please click here.

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its trouble, but it does empty today of its strength"
From the post: "Life Is Not a Correspondence Program." Click here to read it.

"Even though we cannot control our circumstances, we can control how we choose to respond to them."

From, "Handling Stress and Dealing With an Emotional Bully."Click here to read this post.

"Nope, being busy isn't exciting. Boring is good. Because boring is not boring; boring is being healthy, living a balanced life that has serenity"

From: "Do You Know What It Means If You Are Too Busy?" For more, please click here.