Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Often we look at a negative situation as a whole, instead of paying attention to its parts and trying to find the blessings they can become. Nowadays my strong spirituality helps me to know that everything happens for a reason. Since I left DoorMatville, I try to look for the blessings in all circumstances.

Life isn’t just in extremes—black or white—happy or unhappy—good or bad. It consists of many hues.

When you let bad circumstances cloud stuff that could be good, you lose out on potential joy. You also can forget to be grateful for what’s good and develop a general sense of bitterness. That sells your joy short! And, it keeps you from recognizing all your blessings. Remember, feeling gratitude is a large component of attracting goodies. Why deprive yourself of all you could enjoy?

Becoming conscious of all the little things that are still blessings allows you to open yourself up for a lot more! Plus, it feels better to be happy about something than being an overall grump!

I’ve talked about how I taught school for years in my DoorMat days because I was pushed into it. It wasn’t what I wanted to do but I didn’t think for myself back then. I hated all the rules and structure of the NYC public schools. It works for most teachers and I guess it can benefit the kids when they have teachers who need it. But I found it cumbersome. Even as a DoorMat, my nature was to be a free spirit.

It’s lovely to have freed myself from the shackles that kept me from being the nonconformist and independent person that always lived in me.

But even in my darkest days, I’ve always tried to make the best of things, a quality that oddly enough, probably kept me in DoorMat mode for so long. To survive back then, I tried to create some fun in whatever I did. My creative side felt stagnant when I taught in the sterile school environment, so I did the artwork on other teachers’ hallway bulletin boards and wrote plays for some classes. And tried to help the kids when I could.

At the beginning of my teaching career, I was a permanent substitute in my ex-hubby’s school. I had a full time teaching license but subbing made me feel less stuck. While I didn’t like the system, I loved the kids. Subbing allowed me to get to know most of the students in the school. My ex had a very special fifth grade class and I wrote a play called Peter Punk, a modern day version of Peter Pan, for them. I spent all my free time working with these delightful students. I truly loved them! I made them costumes and designed sets. It was a fun time for me, even though I didn’t get paid for it.

Time passes and one expects to be forgotten over the years. But I just had lunch with Lu, who played Tiger Silly in Peter Punk.

Lu was always a delight—bright, sweet, good-natured, always smiling. She found me on the Internet and wrote a few weeks ago. I remembered her immediately. She told me how many kids from back then she still keeps in touch with, although they’re certainly not kids anymore! And, most remember me as someone who inspired them, as Lu says she does. I heard from a boy she gave my info to, who I also remembered fondly. He wrote to say that he never forgot me and how much I cared about the kids.

Lu invited me to lunch and we spent 4 hours yakking about the old and new. She kept saying how much I’d inspired her. Her mom even called during our lunch and asked to talk to me, going on and on about how she remembered me as someone who made an impact. She blessed me over and over and over. Wow! I wasn’t even her regular teacher yet I made a difference! Lu went on about how many other kids had very wonderful memories of me.

It’s a true blessing to know that in the midst of my own unhappiness, I made a difference to these kids that hasn’t been forgotten. I wasn’t happy but tried to make the best of what I was doing and to find pleasure in an unhappy situation. When you’re a DoorMat, you kind of think that’s what you deserve, and accept the small bits of sunshine in your life. These kids were my sunshine.

As I look back, I feel truly blessed to have been able to give these kids the caring I did. Knowing that I made a difference to them is a surprising blessing.

Keep your eyes open for your own blessings. I’ve gotten cut from the thorns of a bouquet of roses, but still appreciated their beauty and fragrance. Often we wait for something big to happen before feeling blessed, or can’t see the rose among the thorns. Look for blessings in everything you do. They’re there, if you watch for them.

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