7.13.2012

Compliments & Connections Guest Post

Imagine getting an email with a simple phrase - My Compliments - and a smiley face in the subject line; does it pique your curiosity? That's how I met today's guest blogger a year and a half ago. Since that initial correspondence, she's lifted my spirits with countless kind affirmations, supported this digital foreigner in my blogging endeavors, and encouraged me to take my power walks even when I don't feel like it. A huge welcome and thanks to Lisa Steele, a virtual counseling colleague and very real friend from VA. Lisa has a gift for sprinkling cyberspace sunshine and joy. I invited her to write something without any parameters on her post 
and I think you'll be blessed by her blogging debut.
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It's The Thought That Counts by Lisa Steele


I first "met" Barbara after stumbling upon her school webpage during a post-Christmas snowstorm that had me housebound for days. I was captivated by the wealth of information she had posted and thought I'd drop her a line and tell her so. Well, she dropped me a line back and we've been e-friends ever since! That was in December 2010, about five or six months before she would launch The Corner. For months we wrote back and forth sharing ideas ... well, truth be told, Barbara shared a lot ....and I contributed from time to time. Thus began what I now see as a huge impact on my outlook in regards to fostering character, particularly empathy, in my students.


Most of my early messages to my newfound counseling counterpart consisted of lengthy missives detailing my frustrations at working with a new administrator who had a penchant for drama and who, unwittingly and with no ill-intentions, had turned my heretofore purposeful school counseling gig into an exercise in first response, more to the point….fire-fighting. How did Barbara, this virtual “stranger” who probably thought upon taking up communications with me that we’d keep things collegial and collaborative, respond? By not only continuing to share wonderful idea upon wonderful idea, but also counseling her frustrated e-friend through my trials at mentoring the new administrator and cleaning up behind her messes, while simultaneously striving to run my counseling office! 


I am so thankful for Barbara’s understanding and support in those early months of our friendship. As busy, busy, busy as our Miss Barbara is, she always managed to both inspire me AND empathetically convey to me that she cared and understood my angst. It’s no accident that she’s from a town called Friendswood.  She even called me at school one day when she hadn’t heard from me for a while………wow. Wow. Inspiring!


So when Barbara decided to blog about character and making a difference I thought it made perfect sense. One would blog about that which one understands. That which one is. She certainly understands the pillars of character. And she always has, even long before she became affiliated with Character Counts! and all the other affliations with which she is affliated…and I say this with all the love and respect I possess! But through our many emails, I’m lucky to get to hear lots of stories that don’t make her blog, and through them, she continues to inspire me.  


I can honestly say that over the past year of getting my daily dose of life’s medicine from The Corner on Character, along with my personal e-counseling from Barbara, I feel  more uplifted in my own personal and professional spirit. I know it’s called “soft” data, but I think it counts for something. Barbara has mentioned that she seems more positive from having written all these uplifting posts and I’m sure many of you would agree! So, for those of you still with me, here’s why I decided to dedicate my first (and last? LOL) guest blog efforts to thanking Barbara, who both inspires me and unwittingly forces me to aspire!


My 21-year-old daughter and only child has intellectual disabilities. Alexis is an inspiration to me every single day by virtue of the fact that she enjoys life despite her challenges or limitations, many of which she is acutely, if not consciously, aware. As her mother, I see this as both a blessing and a curse…but that’s a story for another time.


My sweet Alexis delights in having a wealth of friends and “friends.” Her friends are the ones in her ID peer group with whom she socializes frequently and thoroughly enjoys. Her “friends” are the many acquaintances she has through her two jobs, one at a day care center and one at a water park, or the folks at the rec center where we enjoy water aerobics, or the neighbors from two streets over out walking their dogs past our house…you get the drift. She diligently keeps track of tidbits of information in regards to her friends and “friends” and even those of MY friends, who are of course, her friends, too, or “friends,” whatever the case may be. She remembers minutiae about these people and makes a point to connect with her “friends” or friends about their interests whenever their paths cross. May I just say there’s no manual needed to diagnose her as socially gifted! She’s such a people person, especially when it comes to kids. 


Ergo, I often share Barbara’s blogs and emails with her and she delights in the pictures and video clips. Did I mention she has a knack for remembering little details about people? The other morning we were going through the books in the bargain bin located near the pharmacy counter of our local Harris-Teeter where the pharmacy tech just happens to be BARBARA’s TWIN….right down to the bubbling and caring personality. I kid you not! Anyway, Alexis came across a picture book entitled The Knitting of Elizabeth Amelia. Our conversation went like this:


“Hey, Mom. You should get this book for your friend in Texas.”
“Why do you think that?”
“Duh…..she likes to knit those little hats and she likes to read to her kids and she can teach them lessons from it and she’s your friend.”
“True that.”


Never mind that when I read it (before purchase), I realized it’s NOT one of those hidden treasures sometimes found in a bargain bin. I told my daughter that it really isn’t that great of a story and maybe I should look for another book for Barb. That’s when she unwittingly inspired this blog post, even though I had another post idea already written in my head.  From her mouth to my heart:


“Barb won’t care if it’s lame. It’s about knitting and it’s a kids’ book and she will love it because knitting is her life. And kids are her life. And you are her friend.” Kind of gives new meaning to the word “bargain,” don’t you think?


At that moment I realized I had to put my heartfelt gratitude to Barbara in my guest post. She has made a difference in my life, just as surely as my daughter does the same. How blessed am I, to have such vastly different sources of inspiration from which to channel my positivity?


Barb, keep your eye on the mail…there’s a book on its way to you!  And no pressure to read it and find a way to turn it into one of those hidden gems, though if anyone can, it’s you! Thanks so much for letting me share my thoughts and briefly (hehe) venture into the blogosphere.


Author Notes:  I've been in elementary education for 28 years in Newport News, VA with 18 as a teacher and ten in school counseling. I've had the privilege to be at Nelson Elementary (an alma mater) for 22 years and find it oddly amusing that I now teach children of former students yet I don't look a day older than I did back then! My hobbies are reading and traveling, power walking, spending time with family and friends (and friends of my daughter!), and schlepping Alexis thousands of miles around town each month. I've recently been inspired by someone to blog hop and find it addictive. Pinterest is on my to-do list and beyond that, I strive for sleep.  


6 comments:

  1. Reading and making crafts are my favorite things to do with any free time I have.I’m your newest follower. Please check out my blog if you get a chance Calling Plays in 2nd Grade.
    Thanks, Shanell

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  2. What a wonderful guest post! It serves as a reminder that we can touch many lives, no matter the distance. (And although I don't always comment, I love the life lessons I get from reading your blog!)
    Swersty’s Swap Shop

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Swertsy; it has indeed been a win-win collaboration!

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  3. I so enjoyed reading your guest post, Lisa. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Vanessa

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  4. Lisa, I love how you not that Barbara supplies "my daily dose of life’s medicine" -- because that is EXACTLY what she does! Always encouraging, always positive, always finding meaning and lessons in life's little moments. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful example of how Barbara's (and Alexis') openheartedness can inspire us all.

    Rebecca

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I really enjoy hearing from my readers; thanks for sharing your reflections with us!

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