Journal

In Honor of World Gratitude Day: Nine Words That Made All the Difference

by | Sep 19, 2016 | Editorial

In honor of World Gratitude Day, which is September 21st this year, I would like to begin a new series of stories to express my gratitude to a few people whom I knew only briefly—or in one case never knew at all.
They would each have a profound impact on my work and the course of my life, and though I thanked them at the time, I had no way of knowing just how momentous their words would turn out to be. And so I want to express my gratitude now, if I may, on a much deeper level.

I will begin with a career counselor I went to see back in the late 70’s at what was then called Cal State Northridge, now California State University at Northridge (CSUN.) I was not a student there, but the public was allowed to use their career services. I had been teaching for years, loving it, but knew that for a number of reasons I had to leave for awhile. Something else was calling me but I didn’t know what. I had several small children and knew that I wanted to work parttime, but I had no idea what to do.

I met with a lovely lady who gave me a battery of tests that told me everything about my skills and preferences that I already knew. There were no revelations. As I stood to leave, thanking her, she asked me one last question. I’ll never know what made her ask it, but nothing would ever be the same again:

“What are you not telling me?”

The words that came out of my mouth in response completely surprised me. I had never even articulated them before. “Well, I always thought that someday I would take a course in writing books for children.”

And then she said the words that would change my life: “Instead of someday, why don’t you do it now?”

And that was the beginning of my discovering myself as a writer. In those few words she had brought some vague dream for the future into the present. “Oh,” I said. “Oh. I hadn’t thought of that. Maybe I will.”

And I did. It was not an instant transition from mostly left-brained oriented academic to mostly right-brained intuitive poet and writer. It would take many years, and many other people would help along the way. It would be a process of re-discovering the creativity of my childhood as well as evolving and finding my voice. That process, I believe, is still on-going. But it started with one woman, and nine simple words: “Instead of someday, why don’t you do it now?”

So I’d like to thank her again now, whoever, wherever she is. With the hindsight of many years, I want her to know that she changed my life.

They would each have a profound impact on my work and the course of my life, and though I thanked them at the time, I had no way of knowing just how momentous their words would turn out to be. And so I want to express my gratitude now, if I may, on a much deeper level.

I will begin with a career counselor I went to see back in the late 70’s at what was then called Cal State Northridge, now California State University at Northridge (CSUN.) I was not a student there, but the public was allowed to use their career services. I had been teaching for years, loving it, but knew that for a number of reasons I had to leave for awhile. Something else was calling me but I didn’t know what. I had several small children and knew that I wanted to work parttime, but I had no idea what to do.

I met with a lovely lady who gave me a battery of tests that told me everything about my skills and preferences that I already knew. There were no revelations. As I stood to leave, thanking her, she asked me one last question. I’ll never know what made her ask it, but nothing would ever be the same again:

“What are you not telling me?”

The words that came out of my mouth in response completely surprised me. I had never even articulated them before. “Well, I always thought that someday I would take a course in writing books for children.”

And then she said the words that would change my life: “Instead of someday, why don’t you do it now?”

And that was the beginning of my discovering myself as a writer. In those few words she had brought some vague dream for the future into the present. “Oh,” I said. “Oh. I hadn’t thought of that. Maybe I will.”

And I did. It was not an instant transition from mostly left-brained oriented academic to mostly right-brained intuitive poet and writer. It would take many years, and many other people would help along the way. It would be a process of re-discovering the creativity of my childhood as well as evolving and finding my voice. That process, I believe, is still on-going. But it started with one woman, and nine simple words: “Instead of someday, why don’t you do it now?”

So I’d like to thank her again now, whoever, wherever she is. With the hindsight of many years, I want her to know that she changed my life.

We use cookies to give you a better experience. Dismiss