This is where it all started. My educator-parents started the love on learning early in my life. (My mom deserves a whole 'nother post just on who she is to me ...stay tuned for that.) My Daddeo was my fourth grade teacher and I vividly remember the "spaceship" chart he had above the water fountain. I don't remember how we were able to move our spaceships. But I remember it said "reach for the stars" and the students could move their spaceships up toward the stars, probably based on performance or achievement. The striving for learning and excellence continue occurred over a water fountain in 4th grade. Was reaching for the stars attainable? You betcha it was. It's funny what you remember as a child, isn't it?
I've always been an overachiever and a perfectionist. My book report on "Call of the Wild" in middle school was supposed to be 5 pages and have 3 or so references. What did I do? I checked out every book in the library, laid them all out of the hottub cover in our sunroom, and did research! What ensued was 12 pages, about 20 references, and hand drawings of every wolf species. Uhm, yep, that one was a winner! (ahem, and qualified as a nerd status.)
My science fair project could have been a simple presentation on one of those pre-made cardboard tri-folds. What did I do? My dad and I had a friend build a solid wood tri-fold, complete with two inner sections that rotated to put more information on. That puppy was huge and really heavy, y'all! But not one bit of complaining from my sweet family!
I wasn't striving for attention or love - I knew that was unconditional from my family. I think I just loved learning and researching. Mainly, I also attribute this attitude to six words said at home and at school.
"Take that 't' out of "can't" " ....said by my father.
He wasn't pushing unfairly or didn't expect perfection. My parents just believed in my sister and I and wanted us to see that potential in ourselves. I never felt like I had to earn their love or acceptance through my achievements, grades, or works. I just felt empowered to be the best that I could be. And when I fail, I would have them to fall back on for encouragement (and they had to do that plenty!). Now that I'm older and a parent of two smart kiddos, I love their example and encouragement.
So what does this all mean for now? My parents came for the holidays and one of my most favorite memories was going to the UNC campus with my Dad. I had a really important meeting about my dissertation with one of my committee members. He drove, listened to me practice, and changed the slides on my powerpoint slides when directed the whole way to the meeting. He listened and encouraged and waited in the car the whole time I was in the looonnggg meeting. Then we went to Starbucks and celebrated. (ahem, that was our daily ritual...or maybe twice in a couple of days? We like our coffee, yall.)
We also walked on campus and dreamed about where I've come and I kept telling him, "I can't believe I'm here". A gal from Lovington, New Mexico. Granted, it was a lot of hard work and determination to get here. But, it was also largely due to this guy and those six words. I put my arm through his, tried not to cry, and encased that moment in my memory with thankfulness.
It's funny what you remember, isn't it? Spaceships, six words, and walking on campus where I'm getting my PhD with the guy who started it all. Precious memories, y'all. And the dreams continue!
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