While I love nothing more than a rip roaring pity party, I find God puts people in my path who are so strong and cheerful in the face of adversity that I am forced to be hopeful and inspired. I hate that. It is so much more fun to be miserable and self-pitying. But there you have it. These people are quietly resolute in their capacity for enthusiasm and good nature and there is no escaping their spirit of faith and their resiliency.
Live and In Person
When I started graduate school I was lucky to have several wonderful professors, two of whom have become friends. One is a smart, funny woman with a wry sense of humor, someone who is referenced in textbooks in her field (!) and has been a great, encouraging influence.
The other is the teacher of the first graduate class I had. Within minutes of class starting, I was entranced by this young woman, young enough to be my daughter, who is a walking fountain of knowledge. Literally. She is an intellectual sponge who has a Ph.D. and at least two Master’s Degrees. She may have even obtained another one while I was typing this. She is sweet and funny and celebrates geekdom, so we totally hit it off.
What you don’t know about Rebecca initially, however, is that she is a cancer survivor. She has been very, very sick, yet has continued teaching in a matter of fact way, discreet and unassuming. If it had been me, I would have been teaching with a box of tissues in my hand, weeping copious, attention getting tears while moaning “Why me?!”. Not Rebecca. She has just gotten on with it. Not only that, she also gives back in ways that most people are never aware of.
One of Rebecca’s quiet passions has been teaching those incarcerated in the prison system. She has taught over 70 courses since 1998 to both men and women inmates in minimum to maximum security prisons. In addition, Rebecca has taught or directed over 1000 hours of workshops and continuing ed classes. Most recently she completed a three year, $1.8 million program that served over 500 participants. While she would never describe it this way, this endeavor has involved enormous investments of time and energy, long drives to the prisons and emotionally draining experiences. She has done this work even while sick, as she is of the firm belief that education will help at least somewhat in reducing recidivism and getting people back into the real world.
But this summer she gave back in one unique way that actually made the newspaper. Rebecca had long hair. Very, very, very long hair. Like over three feet long. She wore it in a bun most of the time so you didn’t realize just how long it was. But it was Rapunzel-long.
In August, Rebecca climbed into a salon chair and had it cut to shoulder length. What was cut was donated to Locks of Love, an organization that makes wigs for cancer patients who have lost their hair to chemo. They estimated that they might even be able to make two wigs out of what Rebecca generously donated. And she looks absolutely fabulous.
You're the best, Rebecca!
Another person who gives me much to consider when I view life is someone I know through church. She is a very private person, so I will not go into details, but that is part of what I admire about her, the fact that she is so modest and down to earth. She is a tireless worker in every aspect of her life, doing things that require such dedication it overwhelms me just thinking about it. No matter what she is dealing with she never has lost her sense of humor. Best of all, she laughs at my jokes.
There are many of us online writing blogs about living with Multiple Sclerosis, but none does it with as much panache as my friend Marc. Having won the Crap Lottery prize of Primary Progressive MS, Marc is a model of an erudite, polished, informative but friendly blog writer. His physical limitations have not stopped him from using his prodigious artistic talents of photography and film making, which he also shares on his blog. For Marc, just getting up every day is a triumph of will over fate. Make no mistake, he is angry at what he has experienced, but he has turned it into a statement: Screw you, disease, I am living to the fullest. He is the Wheelchair Kamikaze.
Then There are People I Only Know Virtually
Becky is a therapist working in the western United States. On her blog, she expresses herself in a way that makes it clear she is a warm and humane practitioner, full of enthusiasm for her work and compassion for her clients.
Becky also has retinitis pigmentosa, which has stolen her eyesight but not her passion for life. She bikes with her husband, she is a public speaker, she RUNS!! Oy, I barely like walking from room to room, never mind running outside. And I can see!
Becky’s companion through many of her activities (besides her uber-spouse, Steve) is her guide dog, Cricket. In addition to being uplifting, Becky’s blog is a great tutorial about living with and dealing with a guide dog. One of her primary messages is about the resiliency of the human spirit and Becky invites people to send in their stories. These are both sobering and moving, messages of hope and the will to thrive in the face of tragedy and obstacles. You can read Becky’s encouraging messages at Crusin’ With Cricket.
Some other inspiring bloggers I have recently encountered:
They are all around us, these quiet heroes. We are often unaware of them because they do not broadcast themselves. They model powerful lessons for me with their everyday lives.
If you have any you would like to add, please leave a comment!
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