I had breakfast recently with one of my former students. This is a common occurrence and one of the rewards I am still reaping from my 35 years in student services at the University at Buffalo. I started there when I was younger than most of my customers. I loved the opportunities this career afforded me to help make the lives of others better. There were plenty of them every day, semester after semester until I retired last year.
I know I made a difference in the lives of many, for they still come out of the past, especially through LinkedIn messaging. These reconnections often begin with the precursor, “You probably don’t remember me, but…” I always remember them with a knowing smile. Although they all shared the similar story of being scared of entering the “real world” or “adulting;” their individual dreams, goals and stories were unique, just waiting for their moment to blossom. Or for someone like me to say, “What do you mean you have no ‘experience?’ Please sit and give me a half hour to listen and I will tell you how much you have to offer an employer.” In 35 years, this listening and encouragement never failed to boost confidence and build a strong resume for them. Now these former students reach out with a question or comment about their career paths or to introduce me to a new business venture they are setting out on. If they are local, I suggest a face-to-face meeting. They love that. And I love that they still find me approachable, just as they did in their academic life.
It’s an amazing feeling to know that you’ve made a positive difference in someone’s life. I was at a fundraising dinner recently for my favorite nature organization. One of the speakers told a story about a young man who came to see her. She didn’t recognize him since she hadn’t seen him since he was in fourth grade, when she was introducing him to nature curriculum. He refreshed her memory and then showed her two envelopes. The first held a copy of his bachelor’s degree from a College of Environmental Science and Forestry. The second was an acceptance letter to a Master’s program for wildlife-related studies. She was choked up sharing the story and so were we as her audience. When we reach out to one another in love, compassion and gratitude, we do ourselves and them the favor of establishing and restoring heart connections.
Life is meant for spreading smiles and making memories and building relationships that last a lifetime. Hold that in your heart today.
FROM THE SANCTUARY:
The trees are nearly bare now. Their leaves, majestically orange, gold and red for a short time have now carpeted the grass. They don’t get raked or bagged here. Per nature’s cycle, they will be left to fertilize the Sanctuary grounds and provide homes for little creatures for the spring. The green lawn is noticeably less lush than in the summer, preparing itself for the white blanket soon to come. I just love how Mother Nature prepares herself for her down time in winter. Overcast skies dominate today, summoning the first winter storm of the season, expected tomorrow. For today I create my own sunshine. The leftover birds in the backyard are stunning in their stance against the browns of my picket fence and hedgerow. Mr. Cardinal, blue jays, a woodpecker visit the feeder. Hawks, now more visible in the leafless trees, swoop from branch to branch. I love their mightiness. The multitude of squirrels are back, too, chasing each other around the yard. There are so many of them now that I cannot even identify my friend, Skeezer.
The first storm of the season dropped a record eight inches of snow, blanketing the landscape in white. Yesterday, blue skies prevailed so I took advantage of a walk outdoors to enjoy its beauty in person. This morning I was blessed with a simultaneous full moon set and sunrise (pictured here). How beautiful it is to be alive, awestruck and spellbound by nature’s precious gifts.
So happy and content in this place and ready to share it with whomever wants to experience nature’s glory and serenity with me. Even if just through my words.
Love and Nature’s Blessings,