One teacher makes a difference

*Big thanks to my friend Henry Petty for sharing his gratitude for his sixth grade teacher with us–and thanks to all educators who make a difference in the lives of students today. Stay tuned for other “back to school” posts.*

Henry with Mrs. and Mr. Elumbaugh

Henry with Mrs. and Mr. Elumbaugh

I can count on one hand the number of teachers who really inspired me and left an impact, and this spans from high school through college. Let me tell you about Mrs. Margaret Elumbaugh.

She was Mrs. Beard when school started. I can remember she had this poster up of a drawing of somebody wearing a beard, and that was her. She was the kindest person to me at a time when I was so very vulnerable. I was wearing tattered clothes in a scholastic melting pot of characters: the rich kids mixed with 2 oz. of po-po kids (poor). She and Mrs. Bently were the ultimate tag team of teachers. They genuinely cared about their students, and you could tell.

I can remember being a very unpopular kid in school; I never got my haircut because my grandma cut it for me, and it hurt really bad. And she cut it holding a bowl over my head, hence the “bowl cut.” People spat on me, called me “wet back” because the naïve students thought I was Hispanic (I’m Filipino, dummy), and made fun of me for my hand-me-down-from-a-yardsale clothes. My life was a nightmare. And that was during recess.

But she treated me just like the other students. She didn’t care; she had love in her heart. She would have this giant bag of Jolly Ranchers to give the good kids for doing..well.. good :). I always enjoyed Mondays because she recounted the weekend excursion to Little Rock which she and “Bubby,” her husband at the time, would take. Or she would tell us about some movie they went out to see. I was too poor to see a movie, much less make the scary trip all the way to Little Rock from Batesville, so this was like storytime and show-and-tell for me. I now live five minutes away from the very mall she talked about going to, and when I’m walking around, she comes to mind.

She inspired me to do more with my life. She convinced me that I was special just like any other kid, that I was a good-hearted person with lots to give to the world. When I tried to be someone I wasn’t, she called me out on it. I started walking down the hallway with a “limp” because I saw somebody do it on Arsenio Hall, and she looked at me and said,”Don’t do that.”

I was arguably the poorest kid in her class, very shy, and as unpopular as orange juice after brushing your teeth. I was bullied often, made fun of on a daily basis either for my clothes or darker skin. On the day of our Christmas presentation, I completely forgot my line and was feeling crummy about it. I got back to my desk and found a giant artbook with color pencils and magic markers. She had gotten those for me as a gift because she always saw me drawing. She nurtured that gift which eventually led to my love of entertaining and doing YouTube videos. Thank you, Mrs. Elumbaugh. I never forgot.

Overdoing honesty

*Big thanks to Henry Petty for sharing his thoughts in today’s blog post.*

I’m a little too honest.  I believe that “honesty is always the best policy”.  “The truth shall set you free.”

interviewHowever, it’s not always the best policy, nor will it set you free if you overdo it.  I had an epiphany after an experience with a job interview and a follow-up with my interview coach, and I’m grateful for that gift of wisdom.  How can being too honest be such a bad thing?

 

 

Por ejemplo,

 

 

I was asked in a job interview, “Tell us about a time when a co-worker really frustrated you.  How did you react?”

Being the honest Henry I am, I told them about how a co-worker was irritating me by asking me the same question over and over, yet never took the initiative to learn it themselves, as I have.  I gave her an ultimatum:  I’ll give you an answer one last time, and you’d better write it down, because next time I’m not going to give it to you.

 

 

Wrong answer.

 

 

I never got a callback for that job, and a mentor and interview coach told me I could have answered that better, sans the honesty.

 

 

I’m an honest person, and I wouldn’t judge someone else for that, and I wouldn’t expect anybody else to judge me.  While it’s great to have that honesty that I’m a little too comfortable with, I can have that internal honesty and measure the ways I express it with other people.

 

 

A better answer to that question would have been, “I identified my co-worker was frustrating me and, instead of taking a negative approach, I internalized that and used what was frustrating me internally to create a positive response.  I coached my co-worker, gave her some tips and asked her to write down what her questions were to empower her to fix this herself.”

So on and so forth.  While this wasn’t the complete truth of what happened, this is a way to honestly spin a sticky situation to sell myself in a job interview.

 

If your wife or girlfriend asks, “Do I look fat in this dress?”  Tell her, “Your hair looks so good I don’t even know!”  Or “I think that dress is a great color.”  “You could wear anything well.”  “I was blinded by your beauty.”

 

I know what you’re thinking, “Honest Abe got away with his unabashed honesty; what about him?”

 

Honest Abe was the freaking President of the United States; he could get away with it.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPX2cQP8uoI

The bunny

*Big thanks to Henry Petty for serving as today’s guest writer!*

Photo by Phoopla Photography, 2010

Photo by Phoopla Photography, 2010

One of my earliest memories as a child is of eating a big meal and looking outside the single-pane windows in wonderment, wondering if the Easter Bunny had hopped his way into our back yard to leave some decorated boiled eggs for us.  I loved peeling away the plastic coating to get to the oh-so-awesomeness of the boiled eggs.  And if one was so lucky, he might find a plastic egg that parted to reveal silly putty, Cadbury eggs, or cotton tails (white cheddar popcorn balls).

It never occurred to me what Easter really meant.  And while you’re thinking to yourself, “Wonderful, it’s Easter..and I get to read a blog about Jesus.”  You’re probably right, but you have to read on to find out.

I gave up sweets for Lent this year so for the first time I am without the comfort of a quick sugar crush from my afternoon Twizzlers.  I never realized how much sweets were a part of my life.  While I have lost 11 pounds since this Lent fast, it wasn’t the reason I gave up sweets – I wanted to really feel emptiness.  I wanted to feel pain.  Call me crazy, but if it doesn’t hurt, then it’s not working.  Don’t go calling some mental health hotline; I’m not a cutter or anything like that.  I have a tough exterior, so it’s gotta hurt to count.

That emptiness that sweets left has been filled with a clearer mind for physical fitness.  I’ve joined a health club, I’ve eaten more micro nutrient-rich foods, and I’ve used my Xbox 360 Kinect more.  As a side effect to giving up sweets, I’ve focused on my own personal health.

Now when Easter comes and everybody is settled home, I will absolutely stuff my face with that Valentine’s Day candy that has been waiting in the cupboard screaming out my name.  And I’m going to drown myself in the best banana split this side of the Mississippi Railroad.  But I will never forget one thing:  That Easter Bunny really was up to a lot of mischief.  But I’m thankful for him instilling into me a love of sweets, so i could experience the void and bring myself closer to my body, God’s Temple, being in much better shape.

Maybe this was about Jesus after all.  Happy Easter everybody!

Day 19–Love is a drug

Henry with his love, Shannon

Henry with his love, Shannon

*A big thank you to Henry Petty for stepping in today as the guest writer for the “28 days of love” project. Henry is one of the most loving people I know; so grateful to call him a friend! Check out his blog.*

Love is a drug – it’s euphoric, and I give and receive lots of it.

I’m grateful for those who love me because without love, there would be no reason to live.

I’m grateful that love is free of charge.  You can’t buy love.  I can’t pay my doctors to love me; they’re only there to help me and because I pay them for their time.  I can’t pay my physical therapist to love me. Although the massages are amazing, there are no hugs or endearing soulful connections.  While it feels great at the time, and is quite physically helpful, when I walk out that door, that is it.

Arguably, chocolate is about as close as one can get to buying that euphoric feeling of love, but even then it falls short of opening those floodgates to allow the love to pour in and nearly drown me.

My grandma raised me, and she is a person who gave me unconditional love.  She loved me no matter what I did or what interests I had – I was and always will be “Grandma’s peter punk”  (I still don’t know where that name came from). It was an overwhelming feeling, a lot of times taken for granted, to be unconditionally loved by someone.  I was always in good hands, and I always reciprocated that love.  I’ve encountered other people in my life that came very very close to that unconditional love, but there’s something about Grandma that is unexplained.  Not to knock anyone I’ve known since then, as I am also grateful for their love.

I’ve given love to many and received love from many – neither costing a penny.  I’m always awkward when talking business with friends, because I don’t want love to override a good deal or for them to feel I’m taking advantage of their friendship.

A friend once gave me a “get well card” and wrote “your Grandma’s love is powerful, but not touching the surface of the love of God. “  I have experienced overwhelming love while in deep prayer, and it has brought me to tears.

While I am a frugal person – love is always something that has been free of charge and thus readily available to me.  The feeling of knowing that I am good enough to be loved and to give love to others is completely awesome.

And it doesn’t cost a penny.

Henry’s word of the year

*Thanks again to Henry Petty for stepping in as guest contributor today. As you read his post about his word/theme of the year for 2013, consider identifying one for yourself. What could you focus on this year that would, in December, result in looking back in gratitude at all you’d learned and how you’d grown?*

My word of the year will be – “perseverance.”

This is a word I rode like a chariot when I was in high school; it got me through a lot.  I even wrote an article for the school newspaper titled Persistence is the Key

Allow me to share a quote from Dewayne “the Rock” Johnson, which sums this up:

“What’s the key to success?’  Is something I’m asked every single day.  I don’t believe there’s only one ‘key to success.’  But what I do believe in is hard work, and daily, focused commitment and sacrifice.  I believe in being gracious with your successes, and humbled by your failures.  I trust my gut and always keep my family close.  I live in optimism and faith.  When I grab opportunity and success by the throat, I don’t let go.”

Now that’s persistence.  If you smell what Henry Petty is cookin’.

Henry’s 2013 bucket list

*Special thanks to Henry Petty for sharing his 2013 bucket list. What’s on your bucket list for 2013?*

Henry’s 2013 bucket list

ImageTake up golf – a buddy of mine said it’s a really good networking tool.  Donald Trump has stated the deals he makes are always on the golf course.  And, I have been approached many times to play golf with them.  And, I was recently eating at a luncheon with our CEO who was talking up how awesome the game of golf was (God’s *wink wink, nod nod* at me, if you will).

Go to Disneyland – I have always wanted to go to either Disney resort.  I love love love love me some Disney; nothing makes me happier.  There is an underlying reason as well.  When I was very young and living in California, my mother took my brother to Disneyland and NOT ME.  To this very day, I will never understand why she did that to me, and my grandma gave my mother a hard time about it for sure.  So it’s almost a “revenge” scenario that’s got a sweet topping with Mickey Mouse shaped cupcakes as a side item.

Be more organized – I think I have some sort of ADD, because I am always searching for my wallet, keys, cell phone.  All.  The.  Time.  I am always checking 5 or 6 times before I leave the house for those essential items, and I always check the door to see if it’s locked.  I’ve even driven half a mile and turned around to make sure I locked the door.  I’ve always been scatter-brained like that, and I hope it’s not genetic so that I can become organized.  If anybody watches the show “Dexter” on Showtime, I want to be as meticulous with my cleanliness and organization as Dexter Morgan. 

Use my gifts for charity – I hope to use my YouTube video skills toward a good cause.  I hope to do something similar to the guy who created #26RandomActsofKindess in honor of the Sandy Hook victims.  Nothing feels better than helping someone else.

*Good luck to Henry and to all readers who hope to reach goals and fulfill dreams this year! What’s on your bucket list in 2013? Leave a comment and let us know.*

Henry’s 2012 gratitude list

*Special thanks to my friend and regular guest contributor to this blog, Henry Petty, for sharing his 2012 gratitude list with all of us.*

In 2012, I am grateful for getting to know a lot of friends whom I really didn’t know.  For example, I might see her, if I’m lucky, once a year in passing or at a sushi restaurant, but thanks to the miracle of social media, I am still able to carry on my friendship with Bethany.  It’s wonderful to see how far she’s come in life, and how she continues to be a beacon of light hundreds of miles away. 

ImageI am grateful to still have a good paying job.

I am grateful to be able to use my skills of dancing and making a complete fool of myself for the benefit of raising money for AETN, the benefit of entertaining others Gangnam Style at our employee holiday meeting, and to bring precipitation to North Little Rock in the dead heat of summer.  A sweet little lady volunteering at AETN told me that God has given me the gift of dancing.  Keep in mind, I’m not a small guy.  I have tree trunks for legs, and my footwork is questionable at best.  But I still dance.  I’ve always loved dancing from the very first time I gave it a shot at summer camp in high school.  It’s always stayed with me.  I don’t think I’m that good at it, but others find entertainment at what I can do – and that’s alright with me.

I am grateful for receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation, where my soul is sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.  I have grown spiritually more in 2012 than any of the other 32 years I’ve been on this rock.  It’s powerful.  It’s amazing if you really the work and love into it and just “let go”.

And I am thankful for pressing on.  There have been events in my life where I have “cheated death”.  I have seen others much much younger than I pass away.  I’m here for a reason, God still wants me here, and I’m going to work every day to find out what that exactly is.  Maybe it’s the dancing.

Be sure to check out Henry’s blog!