This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of American Greetings. All opinions are 100% mine.
Is there someone in your past that helped shape your life in such a way that it still resonates strongly within you? Have you said thank you to them? Told them how they changed your life for the better? I know, personally I haven’t thanked the people who have helped me grow through life nearly enough and I’m willing to bet most of you haven’t either.
That must be why research has shown that 95% of Americans believe we have an incivility issue in the United States.

That number at first comes as a shock, until you stop and think about what you did today. How many times did you have your face buried in your phone? Were you walking around with your headphones on, tuning out the world? How many cruel things did you read on social media today? Our world has become so disconnected. I fear that there will no longer be opportunities for us to impact the younger generations lives in the way our elders were able to shape us.

Therefore let’s make a change. It’s November, the month of thankfulness. Let’s take some time to reconnect and join American Greetings’ ThankList campaign. Identify those who deserve your gratitude, whether they are in your life now or someone from your distant past. Take a moment to thank them for all they did by creating a ThankList on social media with the hashtag #ThankList, and  for every #ThankList created on social media channels, American Greetings will donate $1 to United Way for hunger prevention!
Who stands out in your mind as a person who deserves your gratitude?

I’ll start by sharing some of my past, it is certainly not a past I am proud of, however the person who deserves my immense gratitude helped me make it through to the other side.

As a wife of 13 years and a mom of 3, I rarely talk about my teenage years beyond a few giggles with old friends. That’s because I was “that kid”, you know the one you would never want your child to hang out with. I think about it now and the thought of my daughter having friends like the teenage version of me, scares me to death.
I would sneak out of the house at night, drink and smoke too much, get suspended from school, and act out in every way possible to make my parents miserable. I was an angry person, I covered it with a smile most of the time. Most people, besides my close group of friends knew me as a hyper giggly person, but I was angry, angry and extremely sad.

I still don’t know all the real reasons for having so much anger back then. Some of it was resentment towards my birth father, some of it was an undiagnosed learning disability, and I’m sure some of it was just teenage rebellion.

However, with everything I didn’t know about myself back then, and still don’t know now, there is one thing I do know and I know it with all my heart. I would not have made it through those tumultuous years without one special person in my life.

I was kicked out of my house repeatedly, failed out of classes over and over again, wasn’t the most modest girl in school, and was a walking basket of drama. However, one amazing lady helped me every step of the way, she was a trusted ear to talk to, a wise voice to listen to, a hug to collapse into, and even a ride to court or lunch money provider when needed. Her name was Helen Devlin and she was the social worker at my high school.

She was amazing. As I look back at the countless hours I spent in her office, talking with her or simply doing puzzles with friends (we didn’t have cell phones back then), I remember that feeling, that was my safe place.
It was the safe place for all of us. All us messed up teenagers going through life issues that were never featured on afternoon television shows. We were dealing with horrible self-esteem, messed up family lives, drugs, pregnancy scares, depression and more. We were the unteachable, the unworthy, and the unlovable of a high school class. Yet Helen Devlin saw beauty in us all. With her soft voice and stern look, there was an undoubted trust that everyone who leaned on her could feel.
The memory of one afternoon has always been embedded in my mind. I had just got into a full-fledged fight with a girl that was my absolute best friend at the time. This girl had let me live with her countless times when I would have to leave my house, she was like a sister at the time. Then there were lies said and things escalated quickly like teenage drama does and before we knew it, we were throwing punches.
After we were separated, we were both supposed to go to the office and then the nurse. While that part doesn’t stand out in my mind, the image of me running down the hall with tears racing down my face as the nurse hustled to catch up to me will always be a vivid memory. I remember that feeling of desperation, as a kid feeling as though I had lost everything in the world, and all I wanted was to get to Helen’s office. It was a need so bad in my heart that no nurse was going to stop me.
I burst through her office door and a few moments later so did the nurse. While yes, I did get suspended that day for fighting, Helen was able to get me off of an emotional ledge that would have lead me to destruction. She was able to do this in just a few minutes; she was that good.
That friendship was mended, and that friend is still my friend to this day. We are now in our thirties, both with 3 children of our own, and once in a while still look back at our ” we need Helen” days.
Helen has since retired, I run into her around town sometimes and despite being in her seventies, she still has that same “safe place” feeling about her.
The last time I got the chance to truly tell her how much she meant to me was when she attended my wedding. Not many teachers attend past student’s weddings but Helen, she was more than a teacher, she was more than family, she was my Hero.
Helen was so special to me and we all have a special person who deserves our thanks, but may not hear it enough. So let’s take a moment to express our gratitude to those who helped shape us and just maybe with this change, we can take steps to make the world a more caring place in the process.

Remember for every #ThankList created on social media channels, American Greetings will donate $1 to United Way for hunger prevention!

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