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Apples on the Tree

There have been people in my life that have taught me very valuable lessons.  Some have been here for my whole life, some for only part.  But they have all taught me things that I needed, and have used, for all the 40 years I’ve been here.

~People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.~

The first one for me to talk about is my Dad.  The man that taught me how to ride a bike, how to saddle and ride a horse, how to cut copper pipe, lay wooden flooring, how to follow written instructions, and when the instructions don’t make sense, how to figure it out on my own.  The man can make almost anything, and he does it without a college degree.  Life taught him how to figure his way out of problems, his own teachers that he still hears in his head to this day – his father, my grandfather, among them.  He also taught me that “Shit Happens”, and that “Shit Washes Off”.  He taught me that I could do anything, if I thought it out, planned, measured twice, cut once, and learned to deal with the results.  “If it doesn’t fit, adjust what you’re building to fit the pieces you’ve got.”

In high school, my favorite teacher was Mr. “H”.  He was funny, smart, taught about 5 different subjects (in a small school, you capitalize on what you’ve got available, even though the school never really appreciated him), among them Psychology, History, Government, Marriage and Family,  & Driver’s Ed, AND coached the girls’ basketball team.  He showed us that there was always room for more knowledge, and that you didn’t always have to find that knowledge in a book. 

He took a special interest in my class, and helped us take many field trips, to the state capitol to learn about our own local government, to the Mandan Indian Mounds and Fort Lincoln to learn about history, and to the insides of our own heads, to learn about how we learn and how to change the way we process information.  He taught us that the easiest way to actually get a subject, was to get into it.  To get our hands dirty.  We made models of landmarks from our history, we dabbled with imaginary money in the stock market, and followed our chosen “stocks” in the newspaper, we made up fictional skits about Lewis & Clark and many other historical figures.  He was the man that introduced me to a lot of the useless facts that I still have rattling around in my brain, and showed me how to teach other people what I know, by getting animated about it, and not just reading it to them out of a book.  He was an amazing teacher, and I still carry a lot of his knowledge with me. 

*He who hesitates is lost*

*When you come to a curve, slow down and watch what’s coming.  But once you get into the curve, speed up again, and trust your instincts.*

*Don’t assume that the only way you can learn is by reading about something.  Get in there and get dirty.  If you don’t try, you’ll never be able to do it.*

His daughter was much the same.  She was my best friend in high school, and a fellow “outsider”, as we’d both migrated from other places to this small town of 300-some people.  Neither of us had the “right” name (most everybody had been born and raised there, and were all related to one another in some fashion), so we were left out of most of the inbred  clique stuff.  We both knew that there was a much larger world outside of our small town, and hung together through a lot of crap. 

She taught me how to tie a perfect bow, how to get my hair to stay curled when all it wanted to do was be straight, how to talk my way around people that refuse to listen, and how to look at life sideways to get a different viewpoint.  She taught me that art wasn’t just about straight lines, but about perspective.  And that my words had meaning for more than just myself.  She also taught me that being a nerd wasn’t the worst thing in the world.  That you could have philosophical discussions while driving long-distance, and that living in a small town didn’t mean that I had to have a small mind. 

These people helped form my viewpoint and my method of learning while I was young.  Each in their own way, they showed me that I don’t have to be “like everyone else”, but that I can be unique and still make a difference.  That there is no one right way to do anything, but that you can make your own path to the center, and enjoy the trip.

One of the greatest lessons of all is this:   

~It only takes one good apple to make the tree a success, and only one good teacher to make the lessons worthwhile. 

I’m hoping that this apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and that I’m as good a teacher as they were to me.

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11 thoughts on “Apples on the Tree

  1. Beautiful post. People do come into our lives for a reason and stay as long as needed. I had an incredible teacher as well who taught me things about life not found in a school curriculum. I also had a brief friendship that sent my life into a direction altogether. We are lucky to have had those moments.

  2. Speechless…this entry is absolutely mind blowing, Brea. I printed it out and read it to my dad on the way home. He listened as he drove, interrupted, and said “Is that about me?” He was so touched – teaching has been his way of life professionally for 40 years – and to actually hear that you have made a difference is priceless. I love everything you write and you have written so many touching, heartfelt blogs, but this one – honoring my dad – makes me so proud to be his daughter, and so proud to be your friend. You were the only one to ever “get” me; the only one who would listen to and my incessant ramblings. Not only listen to them, but UNDERSTAND them. I’m an odd duck and somehow that never bothered me (heck, I EMBRACED it!). Not to say that I wasn’t painfully aware I did not fit in – to the Peyton Place town we lived in or in society in general. You were a godsend…I didn’t care if we didn’t find anyone or anything interesting on our many road trips. We didn’t need alcohol or drugs…intellect was my drug of choice. We were just lucky enough to collect a slew of stories along the way. Those unplanned crazy moments are what I cherish. You have always been my friend. Friend in a way no others can understand. Even in the time we were finding our own way…I cannot count the number of times my stories started with “My friend Brea…”. You too have taught me…to stick up for myself, that I did have worth, that I COULD trust. Those gifts are invaluable. I am so thrilled that your talents are finally being recognized. Your writing has always been amazing – I still have a hand written copy of Jammin’ (One Hazy Summer) – I am in awe with your command of the English language, your creativity, your passion for your craft. Thank you for your friendship and for you being you – you deserve only the best in 2011!!! : )

    • I’ve been wanting to talk about this for a while, and it just seemed like the right time. 🙂 You deserve the best as well, my friend, and I hope that you are able to one day find the appreciation for your hard work and dedication that both you and your dad so rightly deserve. The politics of schools so often forget that in order to teach children, you have to meet them in the middle, respect them, and often, have to find a way to teach that meets the student’s needs, not necessarily the school district’s.

      Good teachers are precious, and should be cherished.

  3. Great post Brea! I can’t name off more than a handful of neighbors that I still remember over the years, but I will never forget the names of all the great teachers that impacted my life. Very unsung heroes! 🙂

    • Absolutely. There are many other people that had a hand in helping me to get where I am, and in teaching me, but these three I talked about were instrumental in helping me define how I learn, not just what I learned.

  4. Lovely post, my friend! It made me think of all the people that have been in my life and helped me in one way or another. Isn’t it amazing the way we effect people, and usually without knowing it?

    • Yes, it is constantly amazing to me. A pebble dropped years ago can still make the water ripple now. It’s…. *waving arms in speechlessness*

  5. Pingback: Things I Never Learned In School | Brea's Air

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