Nailing Those Teachable Moments

I've been a little lost lately, but I found myself on a walk through the neighborhood this morning, when I saw a rusty nail at the entrance to a drive. Without hesitation, I bent down, picked it up, and headed toward the house to where three boys in their formative years were shooting baskets. I told them that I'd found this nail on their drive, then asked if they'd throw it away for me so that it wouldn't puncture a tire. 

One of the boys came toward me, took the nail, 
and said thank you. 
My Dad always told me to watch out for nails
I told him as I continued on my way. 
And, thinking about that interaction, the boy's manners, the seed I may have just planted, I found a new spring in my step.

It reminded me of this Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young ballad.
And reinforced the importance of seizing those teachable moments.

Finally, some reflections I shared with this year's PALs:

Dear PALs,

I’ve been praying for you and want to share a few points to ponder as you get ready to graduate and start a new chapter of your book. Let’s begin with the end in mind: Think about what you want people to say about you when you’re gone and spend your life doing exactly that. Make those things a part of your daily routine. Be intentional; maybe it’ll be something simple like “She/He always smiled at us!” How we treat each other matters; in the end, it’s all about connections and relationships. 

Empathy is a glorious virtue; try to see life through other people’s eyes and work to walk in their shoes whenever you can. What we focus on, we get more of, so look for the good in people. Sometimes that’ll be easy; other times you won’t think there’s anything that could possibly make you like that person. Keep looking. Mine for those qualities, ‘cause it’ll be worth it. You’ll see. Believe that people are diamonds in the rough, that they just need someone like you help to polish them. Invest the time to listen to their stories and connect.

Start every day with gratitude for another chance to positively influence someone. Celebrate those opportunities. Share, collaborate, and cooperate. Confront issues but carefront people. Be brave and have courageous conversations when necessary. Sometimes you’ll have to agree to disagree. Affirm people, appreciate them, and apologize to right wrongs. Forgive yourself and others, over and over again. That, my friends, will be a gift of peace for everyone. Approach life with passion and enthusiasm. Make things fun! Laughter truly is “the best medicine” and humor can help relieve stress.

Show respect, understanding, compassion and kindness. Extend grace lavishly. Above all, speak positivity, life and love. You’re going to get about sixteen hours a day and it’s up to you to use that time wisely. Please don’t live life overly hurried. Choose your YES moments with discernment and leave lots of time for self-care. Implement what the airlines advise: Put on your own oxygen mask first. Eat healthy foods, get a good night’s sleep, and exercise routinely so that you’re always in good shape and have the physical and emotional stamina to go the distance. 

Dream big, but be willing to take baby steps to get there. Be patient; it’ll pay off. Personal best will take you where you need to go. Show up on time and be prepared. Be fair and compassionate in all of your dealings. Remember that fair doesn’t always mean equal. Do what you can to level the playing field whenever possible. Work hard and show integrity, because doing the right thing must be a non-negotiable. When you don’t know what that is, ask.

Surround yourself with trustworthy people who’ll lift you up and be there to help you when you get stuck. Ask for {and accept} help when you need it. And always give back. Volunteer, serve, donate. You’ll end up bountifully blessed in ways that you can’t even imagine right now. Savor every minute of every day, every moment of every experience. Take good care of yourself so that you can enjoy the journey. More than anything, people will remember how they felt when they were in your presence. Delight in them, for that’s a gift that will bring them joy long after you’re no longer in their orbit.

Cape up … it becomes you!

Mrs. Gruener


  1. Hi- I wanted you to know I shared your beautiful words with our staff @ Franklin Academy - we are going through a few transitions of our own. Thank you for sharing your gifts. You not only inspire me ( I am a character coach for K-5 students --- reaching over 700 students - a true blessing!!) you are also inspiring many , many others in Wake Forest NC
    Best regards!!
    Courtney Roberts

    1. Thank you, Courtney, for your thoughtfulness and sharing your gift of encouragement. Your school family is blessed to have you as their guide alongside as you're pulled toward a new normal. I appreciate you stopping by.


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