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Home » Inspiration » “When you learn, teach, when you get, give.” Maya Angelou

“When you learn, teach, when you get, give.” Maya Angelou


Clear windowWhile living in California I had a number of interesting jobs, some of which involved working with disadvantaged kids in group homes and alternative schools, and considering my background, I wasn’t surprised that I had a knack for this kind of thing. Standing there in front of the kids centered me, where I knew without a shadow of doubt that I was standing in my purpose. It wasn’t necessarily how they responded, although they did respond favorably most of the time, it was how I felt inside.My sister helped me understand the other day that I must not forget my purpose in life. Pursuing work for the sake of paying bills and accumulating material possessions won’t cut it for me anymore.

My line of work at the time had me traveling 8 months out of the year, which freed me up to pursue things that interest me. I love helping kids but I didn’t necessarily want to become a school teacher. Substitute teaching was something I did to supplement my income. After passing the CBEST test, the required credential to sub in California, I had to fill out a questionnaire and a few other forms. I remember pausing at the section where it asked about districts and areas of interest. Kids from affluent areas didn’t need me, I thought to myself…nor would they be able to relate to my energy. I checked off the box that read ACCESS… standing for Alternative, Charter, and Correctional Education Schools and Services.

Once in front of them, I didn’t necessarily have an agenda or any planned speech to give them. I was there to be their substitute teacher. I was there to follow the lesson plan. After a few weeks of traveling around to different schools, I begin noticing that teachers had stopped leaving lesson plans for me. Instead, I would see a note that read something like, “We heard about your brilliant workshops, please feel free to share your story.”   If I recall, the first place I saw a note like this was down in southern Orange County at a school in Dana Point. Workshops?  I just share stories with them, and we talk about lessons I’ve learned over the years. I would simply stand there, open my mouth and start speaking… as if the words had been trapped inside, eager to get out.

I guess after the word got out that there was a young substitute male teacher in the district who was not only willing, but capable of connecting with their student population, they began requesting me. Those 5 AM robo type calls wouldn’t stop. My phone rang constantly. But, I enjoyed it.

There were days I couldn’t stop talking. I had so much to share, and much to my surprise most of them gave me their undivided attention. Thinking back I now see there was something definitely guiding me. I would start most of my “workshops” with something like, “Where do your see yourself in 10 years?” I got all sorts of answers. Some were what you’d expect, but most would be things like, “I don’t know,” “In jail,” “Dead,” “Getting paid,” and there were some students who simply shrugged their shoulders. I quickly learned that I needed to flow with these responses. There were times I’d jump right to a story about a second grade dropout named The Dumb One. Or, if I were holding an object in my hand like a pencil, I would sometimes hold it up in the air and ask what will happen if I were to drop it, and then proceed to explain one of our natural laws of universe, intention.

I would bark out forcefully, “Just like there’s no escaping the law of gravity, there is NO escaping the powerful law of attraction/intention.” A quote I often used was, “We move in the direction of our most dominant thoughts.”

My response to the person who said he’ll be in jail was, “If you think you will be in jail then you WILL most likely go to jail.” Being careful not to send them home with, “My teacher said I’ll be in jail 10 years from now,” I followed up the statement with a simple question like, “Do you want to go to jail?” Most often they’d say no, which lead me to respond with, “Well then you will NOT go to jail.” I truly enjoyed listening to stories about their life, and we had such wonderful conversations about life, college… about their hopes and desires. I would sometimes get them up out of their seats to do these vision statement exercises. They loved it. I loved it. Again, I was standing in my purpose.

I’m getting pumped just thinking about this. I believe that a text message I received the other morning is some sort of sign that I must step back into this area of my life. It was from a middle school teacher who asked me to come out to her class to speak, like I did in 2008. Okay, I’m digressing here a little.

I’m beginning to see that I’m using this blog as a platform to work through my own personal stuff. In other words, this is more for me than you. The group Enigma just popped into my head. Lyrics from one of their songs states, “There is no teacher that can teach you anything new, they can only remind you of the things you always knew.” Which has very little to do with my previous statement… I simply wanted to share a cool lyric with you.

Where I’m going with entry is that the series of events that unfolded yesterday were amazing, so synchronistic, it gave me this jolt of ambition… a reminder that the universe WILL reflect back to me what I project/want in life. But first I must clearly envision what I want… not continuously speak of the things I don’t want. I must articulate it. I must write it. I must speak it daily. Today I will dust off old lessons I learned from Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habit’s of Highly Effective People” and various organizational development workshops where I was first introduced to mission statements and goal setting.

Last night while traveling home from Ann Arbor, there was a beautiful heavy snow fall that lasted for about 10 minutes. It looked as if we were traveling through space into another dimension where ANYTHING is possible. All we had to do is envision it and move toward it with extreme confidence.


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