Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What's Your Sign?



Back in August, I was not looking forward to what would have been our 31st wedding anniversary.   When the day arrived, I adopted a just-keep-your-head-down-and-make-it-through attitude.  

I came home at noon that day, tired and drained, and found a package in my mailbox.  It was this shirt, sent by my Sonny Boy and his girlfriend.  



 I laughed as I opened it up and looked at it. My whole attitude changed.   I believe I even said aloud, “Damn right I am!”   I slipped the shirt over my head and went back out in the world, my head held high, feeling great, feeling strong.


That experience led to an icebreaker exercise I did with one of my classes.  On the first day of the semester, I gave each of the students a piece of paper, a marker and some tape.  I told them to write a word on the paper that described them in some way and then tape their signs to their shirts.  Then, they had to go around the room, find someone with a word that began with the same letter as their word, talk to that person and then introduce him/her to the class. 

It worked beautifully.  We had a wide variety of signs: “Smart,” “Motivated,” “Funny,” and the ever-popular, “Athlete.”  The students had a good time getting to know each other and it gave me a chance to talk about the power of language.


Unfortunately, about two weeks into the semester one of my students died.  Though they did not know each other well, I thought it would be best if I told the rest of the class members so I made the somber announcement at the end of one session.  

There was silence in the room.   

Someone said, “He was the guy who sat over there, right?” pointing to the empty chair.  I nodded.  More silence, and then I heard, “Hey, wasn’t he the guy who wrote ‘Loved’ on his sign that first day?”  I smiled, suddenly remembering that fact.  

Then I heard one of my older students say, “Well, you can’t get much better than that—going out loved.”

It’s near the end of the semester now and so just out of curiosity I asked the students yesterday if they remembered the signs.  They did indeed. They all remembered their own signs and more importantly, at least one person in the room remembered another person’s sign.

Amazing.

I think we go out into the world every day with a word on our chests. Invisible though it may be, it is still powerful.  Maybe it is something we are, or maybe it’s something we want to be.  Whichever it is, we alone have the power to to select the word and project it.    

So, (you knew I was going to ask, didn’t you?) what sign is on your chest as you go out into the world today? 





45 comments:

Mamma has spoken said...

My mind keeps coming up with frazzled, due to all the things I need to get done both at work and at home. Of course, I give myself the little pep talk about how the world will go on if I can't get it all done and maybe I need to think of the word 'doer' Hum.....maybe at the first of the year when hopefully, I have it all completed.....

Teresa Evangeline said...

What a wonderful post. Thank you.

My t-shirt? Brave. The first thing that popped in....

Madi and Mom said...

BB first of all I want to say
WELL DONE to Sonny Boy and his Girl!!!

Great post

My sign reads "Outgoing/Friendly"
and on the back it reads Madi's Mom

I will literally talk to anyone at least that is what my family says.

Hugs C

Lin said...

Fluid.

Lots of changes going on in my life and I'm just going along with them. There are no bad changes, per se...just changes.

I like your post today and I especially like your shirt. Yes, you are, my dear Betty.

Tabor said...

My T-shirt today would say FORWARD...I know that sound political but since I have been STAGNANT for a week it is my best shot

Talli Roland said...

I love this post, Betty - and that photo of you! You do look strong!

Hmm... I'm going to have to think about this one!

Out on the prairie said...

Mine would be Blessed. I love this idea and will passs it on.

Shelly said...

Atta girl! Mine would say Joyous.

Brian Miller said...

i am glad strong is a word you use...and i am sorry on the loss of the student...i had one killed a few weeks back in a car accident...its been hard...but strong we are....

Old Kitty said...

"Excited"

Cos it's Christmas and I love love love Christmas and get most excited over the festivities!

Take care
x

Carol said...

I needed this, thanks for the great post. I will try to wear my heart on my chest and treat others with love.

Cranberry Morning said...

Like that shirt and photo!! That was a clever exercise you had for the class. I can imagine that being so much fun for the kids - and an eye opener!

Green Monkey said...

ohhhhhhh Betty.... CHILLS. That was great motivation for the human conditioning and educational to boot! bravo.

my word.... resilient

MomQueenBee said...

Anticipating. I feel as if I'm standing at the edge of something wonderful, and I can't wait to find out what that something is.

Linda said...

I've said it before, BB; but I'll say it again: You must be a wonderful teacher, one that lives on in the memories of your students in the most positive way.

ellen abbott said...

ready

Domestic Bella said...

Accomplished

Domestic Bella said...

Also, it sounds like you have done a spectacular job raising your boys. You are so blessed to have those caring sons!

YrHmblHst said...

Sorry Lin, there are indeed bad changes. Many of them. Actually most in my experience.
Today's word? Miss Betty doesn't allow such talk...

Pearl said...

Ah, Betty. That was wonderful.

Great picture of you. I love how happy and STRONG you look.

Hugs from Mpls,

Pearl

Pearl said...

p.s. My word? WHIMSICAL.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

What a wonderful story. Smart idea to use those signs. (And good on your son for sending the shirt.)
Mine would say Devoted.

Dina Lettre said...

Energetic! It's such a lovely day and the house is clean, so I just feel like I have a ton of energy to burn.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Betty - what an amazing post - loved it and your adaptation for the class - then that sad note, yet turning it around - the class will always remember.

You look great .. Sunshine should be yours now ... mine is Positive ..

Cheers Hilary

Baby Sister said...

Such a great idea!! How motivating that must have been. It's always good to do some self reflecting. I love your shirt, and love that Sonny Boy and his girlfriend sent it to you. Good for them. Mine? So many words came into my head when I thought about it. But, I think I will go with...determined

Laura said...

Mine might have a different word every day, but today it would be - Determined. :)

jenny_o said...

I love the statement your son and his girlfriend made to you with that shirt. You ARE strong. You needed a reminder that day. They really hit the nail on the head!

My word? Kind. I value kindness in a person above all else, and I try to be a kind person myself. Sometimes it's a struggle, but I try!

Hilary said...

You're a fine teacher and your son and his girlfriend gave such a thoughtful gift. Good for all of you.

My word.. Content,

Brian said...

That was a great post and a sign of good things to come!

Ms. A said...

Fantastic idea! We did something similar at a foster parenting class, to introduce ourselves. We took the first letter of our name and used it for a food item we liked... mine was cookies. Funny, after 3 decades, I still can remember many of the names and food items they chose.

Mimi said...

Grateful.
I completed a Deepak Chopra 21 day meditation on gratitude challenge last week, and the glow is still in my heart. It was the perfect preparation for Christmas.
I'm grateful for this post too, cos it's something I can use with my classes!
Sorry to hear that your student died; that's very upsetting for you.

Lois Lentz said...

My sign wouldn't be very exciting but here it is...Patient. I have had many things to deal with over the years and I learned to be patient and it has served me well :-)

Ann said...

Now I really love this. The shirt your son sent and the exercise you did with your students.
I think my shirt would say content

Gigi said...

Rats - I wish I got to read your posts in the morning! I will have to come up with a sign for tomorrow.

If you had asked me this morning however, I would have said Exhausted from a very bad nights sleep.

And yes, your son and his girlfriend are very insightful and thoughtful people to send you that shirt on that day.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Thank you. I just figured out what activity I'm going to do with my classes before Christmas break.

The Green Streak said...

I'm borrowing your idea for my next composition class! By the way, my word today was ecstatic! Love you and your kids, who are so wise and insightful.

Miriam in KS said...

What a wonderful post!

I think about what word I would choose...and I am having trouble editing.

Kind
Generous
Gentle
Capable
Loving
Musical

Maybe I will change "outfits" multiple times instead. ;)

Chuck said...

Today it would have to be "Giving". My wife and I spent the afternoon at a local mall buying gifts for the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program. It was a great afternoon!!

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Your writing always moves me.

I'm working on wearing PROUD.

Proudly and lovingly,
Robyn

Mellisa Rock said...

Goodness that was powerful. My sign would read "open"

Retired English Teacher said...

I loved this post! There is so much to this post today. You are an awesome teacher, Betty.

My word is "resilient."

Barbara said...

WOW!!! Awesome post!!! Awesome author too :)

SueAnn Lommler said...

I loved this post. Awesome story you shared.
Hmmm...what is on my chest...today is tired. Ha
Shopped all day yesterday.
Sigh!!
Hugs
SueAnn

Daisy said...

Aw, this is such a great post. I don't know what my sign is--I'm reading this at the end of a long day and the first word that pops in my head is "Tired." ha! In general, though, I'd like to think of my sign as being "optimistic." :)

Shan said...

My usual response to "What's your sign?" is "Closed for repairs." I'm sticking with that tonight as I feel my head cold moving into my chest.

But I love your sign, and I think you look great.