“Elevater” of the Month

 

 

What is an “elevater”?

 

An elevater—this is my term, as I do not believe this word exists in the dictionary—is an individual who elevates, or raises, others. These are the people who inspires us, see us as our true selves, and have faith we can achieve our highest dreams. They’re our cheerleaders, coaches, mentors, gurus, nurturers. They’ve got our backs and stand by our side.

 

Now there are different types of elevaters. Some live in our own households. Others are meaningful teachers from our past. Perhaps it’s a friend, neighbor, or the mailman who brightens your day with his warm smile and cheery greeting. 

 

They’re the leaders in our community who stand up when others are afraid to take the high road. Elevaters reach out and ease others’ burdens, support worthy causes, and provide assistance to those others ignore. These are the men and women who see solutions, think outside the box, and know how to bring people together. 

 

Elevaters may be known by reputation only. Many are famous influencers who utilize social media and podcasts to lift their followers. My guess is Oprah elevates many, as does Jack Kornfield, Depok Chopra, and Brené Brown. Authors elevate. So do activists and spiritual leaders. Certain celebrities can elevate, though I suspect most think their words are more revered than they actually are. Of course, elevaters do not need to be living, as their inspiring messages are everlasting. Think of Mother Teresa, Ram Dass, Martin Luther King, and Gandhi.

 

I’ve been blessed with many elevaters in my life. You will recognize the names of some, yet others will be new to you. By highlighting these individuals and how they’ve impacted me, I hope to share their light. Maybe reading their story will remind you of someone who’s touched your soul. Or perhaps it may motivate you to reach out to another and make a difference, just as this person has with me.


It’s a privilege to honor those who’ve encouraged me on my path. I’m excited to share their stories and how they made a difference in my life. No doubt it will be challenging to choose only one elevater each month, as there are many who have motivated me to be a better version of myself. 

 

I will announce the first “elevater” at the end of this month. Here’s a teaser—she is a special woman, one of the “top five humans in my life.” She’s taught me and countless others how valuable, special, and important we are. Stay tuned…

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September's "elevater" of the Month -

Amy Impellizzeri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many friends expressed surprise when I published a book in my mid-fifties. But then again, my career path has been anything but traditional—banking, elementary teacher, college adjunct, organizational consultant, “professional volunteer,” and independent college admissions consultant. Perhaps writing was merely one more attempt to figure out my true calling. I can’t say for sure whether this is it, but I certainly wouldn’t be a published author and blogger had it not been for Amy Impellizzeri.

 

It was March of 2017. As I was leaving a late afternoon restorative yoga class, I contemplated every excuse possible why I could not attend that evening’s book club. It had been a busy day. I was tired. I wanted to put on pajamas and curl up in front of the TV. I craved sleep.

 

However, none of these ploys held enough credence for me to cancel. The woman hosting book club was so lovely, and it felt rude to back out last minute. Besides, I really enjoy Secrets of Worry Dolls and the author, Amy Impellizzeri, was going to be there.

 

So I went home, changed out of my yoga clothes, and showed up at book club. Within minutes, I knew I’d made the right decision. Not only did I truly enjoy this group of women, but also the author seemed incredibly warm-hearted and happy to be with us. She humbly shared the impetus for leaving her legal career to begin writing. Then she openly answered our questions, giving deeper insights into her craft.

 

Toward the end of the evening, Amy mentioned she was teaching an adult writers’ workshop. At the time, I was an independent college admissions consultant. And while I was a decent writer, I hadn’t taken an English class since my freshman year in college. When Amy described the course, my first reaction was, “Hmmm … this might be exactly what I need to help my students with their college essays.” 

 

I left book club feeling refreshed and invigorated, all set to sign up for this Saturday morning writing course. Yet, as the days progressed and life became busier, the excuses for why I couldn’t commit began to accumulate. However, for some unknown reason, I ignored the limiting voice inside my head and registered for the course. Perhaps something deeper convinced me to say yes. I merely supposed I was supposed to be there … to help my students.

 

When the first Saturday class arrived, so did I … and Amy … but there was no one else. However, Amy did not cancel. Instead, she taught me how to write. But it didn’t stop there. Amy convinced me to begin a professional blog. Then, just when I felt like “I got it,” she raised the bar, challenging me to write a book. At first, I was resistant. It terrified me to put my thoughts on paper. What would people think? But with her encouragement and guidance, I began the first draft of Learning to Bend.

 

I am beyond grateful Amy did not cancel that workshop. And I feel blessed she had faith in me when I lacked confidence in myself. Our relationship did not end in June of 2017, after the final class. Amy became my friend and mentor. She provided valuable feedback on my first book, connected me with other professionals, and cheered me on through the querying process. She supported Learning to Bend, writing an amazing review and promoting it through her social media. To this day, Amy continues to be an incredible source of guidance and inspiration. 

 

A second career writer—originally, she practiced law—Amy’s quite the prolific author. Her first novel, Lemongrass Hope, is full of intrigue, prompting readers to use their imagination to figure out the ending. But that is only the beginning. In addition to Lemongrass Hope and Secrets of Worry Dolls, Amy wrote The Truth About Thea, Why We Lie, and This is How it Ends. Additionally, she published a non-fiction book, Lawyer Interrupted. If Amy were a teacher, I bet she wouldn’t stay in one grade for very long. She’d prefer to try out different levels and subject areas. That’s how I feel she writes. Each of her novels possesses a unique flavor, but together, they create a delicious full course meal. It’s one of the things I love about Amy—her style is vivacious, every-changing, and filled with character and energy—just as she is.

 

Currently, Amy hosts a podcast, “I Know How This Ends.” While listening to several episodes, I felt as though I was amongst girlfriends discussing books and hearing the “why’s” behind the writers’ words. I better understood each author as well as her personal path to publishing. In essence, this podcast helps break down walls between readers and writers, showing personal aspects of those interviewed while shining a light on their individual writing processes. Additionally, it highlights how so often writers’ emotions and life stories are intertwined in the themes, characters, and plots of their books. Super interesting!

 

Author … podcaster … mother … volunteer … As impressive as Amy’s many endeavors are, I would be remiss if I failed to mention her human side. She’s understanding, kind, and compassionate. Amy knows how to mentor women. Instead of watching them struggle, she shows them a path, offers encouragement, and celebrates their victories. She’s a true advocate in whatever she does because she genuinely cares about people. 

 

I had a few questions for Amy, and I believe her responses give you a glimpse into the wonderful person she is.

 

How did you begin writing?

 

I think I was always a writer and kept detailed journals even as a young girl. In fact, I was a professional writer for 13 years when I was practicing law in and around New York City. But during that time, I wasn’t writing in my own voice. I had given up my voice at some point in college when I stopped journaling and writing creatively in order to focus on getting into law school. When I took what was supposed to be a one-year sabbatical from the law over a decade ago, I rediscovered my first love - creative writing - and I have never looked back since.

 

 

Which is your favorite (of all the books you’ve written)?

 

“Ah! Just like when my kids ask me which of them is my favorite - I truly have no favorite!

BUT. Just like when my kids ask me which one of them is my favorite - at any given time, I have one that makes it hard NOT TO HAVE A FAVORITE. 

 

Lemongrass Hope is my debut and still my bestselling novel, and it will always be special to me. Secrets of Worry Dolls was the book I’m sure I was meant to leave the law and write and is probably - technically - my best written novel to date. The Truth About Thea is my favorite to recommend to strangers - because Francis Ford Coppola picked it for his Books & Bottles package, so that’s a source of great pride for me! Why We Lie was my contribution to the #metoo movement, was featured by Publishers Weekly, and is just so special to me. I Know How This Ends was a book nearly a decade in the making as it is the follow up to my debut novel, and finally tells the story from Ian’s point of view, something that became really important to me as I heard from readers of Lemongrass Hope.

 

So how’s that for a non-answer?” 

 

 

Who influenced you on your journey?

 

“So.Many.People. My earliest writing mentors, like Sarah Pekkanen and Caroline Leavitt, who read early pages of Lemongrass Hope and believed in its potential. Ann Garvin, who asked me to join the Tall Poppy Writers in 2015, and all of the Tall Poppy Writers, past and present. My writing students - like you! - who have over the years, motivated me and inspired me. My agents, Bob Diforio and Liza Fleissig, who have fought hard for me as I’ve navigated this business.” 

 

How have you balanced your writing career with being a mom/work/living your life? Any advice for others?

 

“Well, that assumes I’m balancing it! I’m not sure I am because that would mean everything is in perfect equilibrium all the time, and I’d be lying to you if I told you that’s what I’ve achieved. Instead, I’ve achieved a confidence in my writing career that what I’m doing is right and worthwhile. That means, if I have to shut my door for a few hours and get my words in and order takeout for dinner, I’m good with that. If I have to keep working a flexible day job to subsidize the erratic and unpredictable writing business, I’m good with that. If I have to write my words on the notes app during time outs while I’m cheerleading loudly on the sideline of a football field, soccer field, or at the cross country finish line, I’m good with that. In other words, I give myself permission to do all of the things as perfectly or imperfectly as the day allows.”

 

 

By now I guess you’re as impressed with Amy as I am. But this monthly spotlight is not meant to honor accomplishments—its purpose is to showcase individuals who have elevated me, and no doubt elevated many others. This is Amy’s brightest gift because she consistently lifts those around her. And she does it with grace and style. No matter how busy she is, she finds a way to connect, to let you know you matter.

 

Thank you, Amy, for believing in me when I was filled with doubt. Your decision not to cancel that workshop opened an unexpected door, one which you showed me was mine to enter. And then you shined your light, illuminating the way. You elevated me, helped me become an author. And through your novels, podcasts, and simply being your true self, you make the world a better place!

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August "elevater" of the Month- Louise Hay

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Known for being one of the laziest months of the summer, August presents us with a perfect time to pause and look within. Whether your form of introspection comes while relaxing on the beach or lying on your couch, life slows down a bit, allowing us to consider where we’re at as well as where we hope to be. It’s my hope that this month’s “elevater,” Louise Hay, will inspire you with her empowering messages and motivational words to amplify your moments of self-reflection. 

 

A renown author and inspirational leader, this insightful woman produced a prolific library filled with life-altering works meant to remind us of our abilities to regain our health and live our greatest lives. The teachings she began in the early seventies still thrive, guiding many to lead happier and more fulfilling lives. If you’re not familiar with Louise Hay’s work, here’s a sampling …

 

“Each day is a new opportunity. I chose to make this day a great one.” 

 

“If I want to be accepted as I am, then I need to be willing to accept others as they are.” 

 

“The thoughts we choose to think are the tools we use to paint the canvas of our lives.” 

 

“Would you really dig into yesterday’s garbage to make tonight’s meal? Do you dig into old mental garbage to create tomorrow’s experiences? If a thought or belief does not serve you, let it go! There is no written law that says that because you once believed something, you have to continue to believe it forever.” 

 

“You have the power to heal your life, and you need to know that. We think so often that we are helpless, but we're not. We always have the power of our minds…Claim and consciously use your power.” 

 

“I do not fix problems. I fix my thinking. Then problems fix themselves.” 

 

“You've been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” 

 

If these quotes put a smile on your face or warm your heart, then Louise Hay may prove as inspirational to you as she is for me. I find her words pure magic. They remind me that we already possess everything we need. However, so often we forget we have the power within and search aimlessly, hoping another will tell us our truth—what we already know but have forgotten. Louise reminds us of this ability. 

 

I was first introduced to Louise Hay several years ago when a dear friend gave me You Can Heal Your Life and a set of Power Thought Cards for my birthday. Because I love anything that has to do with personal growth or spiritual healing, I immediately began reading this book and drawing one Power Card each day. I was hooked.

 

Well, I finished the book in no time, highlighting more sentences than not. But what I found particularly interesting was the appendix in the back which lists various ailments and the emotional aspect connected to that condition/disease. Bladder issues? “Anxiety. Holding on to old ideas. Fear of letting go. Being ‘pissed off.’”Or maybe you’re experiencing heartburn—“Fear. Fear. Fear. Clutching Fear.”

 

I’ve referenced this guide multiple times, and I can tell you it’s been spot on regarding what was truly the cause of a physical issue. If you’re curious, check out this link and see if her explanations and corresponding affirmations resonate with you: https://alchemyofhealing.com/causes-of-symptoms-according-to-louise-hay/

 

Admittedly, I’d never before heard of Louise Hay, so I went to her website and learned the following:

 

Through Louise’s healing techniques and positive philosophy, millions have learned how to create more of what they want in their lives, including more wellness in their bodies, minds, and spirits. Her own personal philosophy was forged from her tormented upbringing. Her childhood was unstable and impoverished, and her teen years were marked by abuse. Louise ran away from home and ended up in New York City, where she became a model and married a prosperous businessman. Although it appeared that her life had turned around, it was not until the marriage ended 14 years later that her healing really began.

 

Louise started what would become her life’s work in New York City in 1970. She attended meetings at the Church of Religious Science and began training in the ministerial program. She became a popular speaker at the church, and soon found herself counseling clients. This work quickly blossomed into a full-time career. After several years, Louise compiled a reference guide detailing the mental causes of physical ailments and developed positive thought patterns for reversing illness and creating health. This compilation was the basis for Heal Your Body, also known affectionately as “the little blue book.” She began traveling throughout the United States, lecturing and facilitating workshops on loving ourselves and healing our lives.

 

While writing my second novel, The Dog Walkers (to be published in March 2022), I found myself in need of inspirational messages that would serve to help Ali Doyle, the novel’s main character, begin to transition out of her depression. Quickly I realized Louise Hay’s works were the perfect solution. So, I incorporated passages from her book and quotes from the box of Power Thought Cards in my desk drawer into this novel. And if one of The Dog Walkers’ readers finds Louise Hay’s words beneficial, then this book will have done its job, it’s elevated another. 

 

Louise Hay lives on long after her death as her messages can be found not only through her written works, but also by listening to her podcasts, "Hay House Live!" and "Hay House Radio". When I first discovered "Hay House Live!," I became mesmerized, devouring most of the shows on this podcast. They were amazing! This vast list of episodes includes talks by Joe Dispenza, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Mike Dooley, Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D., Brian Weiss, Carolyn Myss, Gabby Bernstein, and numerous others—many who praise Louise Hay and her work for being foundational to their own practices. These episodes, made available through the Hay House Foundation, far exceeded my expectations and gave me much to think about. In fact, I’ve listened to several more than once.

 

While I still have more books to read and episodes to hear, I’m in awe of Louise Hay’s graceful ability to elevate others. Her vision continues to live through dedicated individuals who run her foundation which promotes her teachings to so many. 

 

When I think about Louise Hay’s beginnings, I’m impressed with the fortitude it took to share her messages at a time when many were dismissive of spirituality. Yet, her courage, confidence, and vision made her one of the most revered leaders in this industry. But that’s what “elevaters” do—they shine their light regardless of challenges and help others see the path to freedom.

 

Thank you, Louise Hay, for teaching me, inspiring me, and elevating me. 

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July's "elevater" of the Month - Denis Morton

If you’ve been reading my blogs, you may remember that I’m a bit, well “challenged” on a bike. But then I learned about the Peloton. This bike was different — it didn’t move, so the chances of me falling off of it were pretty slim. Plus, unlike other stationary bikes, it had a screen, with a huge selection of classes where an instructor guided you through rides, yoga, strength training, core workouts, and so much more. But here’s the clincher—its software system tracked all of your rides, so now I would have to be accountable for my workouts. No longer could I zone out to old episodes of Friends and lazily spin. Instead, committing to a Peloton equated to being present and pushing myself past self-restricting limits.

 

I had a “big birthday” in several weeks and figured this bike would be an awesome present. Fortunately, my husband gladly accepted my suggestion. In fact, he, too, was pretty psyched about joining the Peloton community.

 

Being a newbie, I needed recommendations on whose class to take. My friend, Lauren, had a Peloton, so I reached out to her. “Who is your favorite instructor?” I asked this fair and simple question.

 

“You’ve got to ride with Denis’,” she quickly texted back. Strangely, she attached a smiley face winking to her text.

 

Later that day, I went downstairs, put on the bike shoes, clipped in, and searched the screen to see what classes Denis offered. As soon as he appeared on the monitor, I understood the emoji. This long-haired man was gorgeous. My fifty-five-year-old self knew he was the exact motivation I needed to get on the bike. 

 

However, I never expected the impact Denis would have on me. That’s why I’ve chosen Denis Morton as my July elevater. His positive attitude, hilarious comments, motivating speeches, wise insight, and slightly naughty nature makes me pedal faster and harder than I ever thought possible. More importantly, he inspires me to be a better person.

 

While Denis’ looks may have gotten me on the bike, it’s his character that kept me riding with him for the past two and a half years. Whether he’s telling funny antidotes about growing up in Central Florida or recounting the time he drove down a desolate road late one night going eighty miles per hour with his eyes shut, he captures your attention, makes you laugh, and motivates you to put forth your best effort—on and off of the bike. 

 

It’s obvious that Denis is deep. An old soul for sure, Denis understands people and has an incredible perspective on life. Not only is he a Peloton cycling instructor, but he also teaches many of the Peloton yoga classes. His cues on the mat are as good if not better than the way he explains the mechanics of riding the bike. I’m a huge fan of his restorative classes. And his flow classes are really amazing, too. 

 

One of Denis’ many gifts is his unique knowledge of music. For sure, Classic Rock is a favorite, but then he surprised me with a Reggae ride. Denis has all of the words to all of the songs memorized, and literally dances on his bike, often making fun of himself in the process. During his Beatles ride I found myself loudly singing along and was subsequently teased by my husband who was in the next room. Denis makes riding fun, something I never considered it to be before.

 

While Denis is definitely smart, understanding how both our bodies and our minds work, it’s his mannerism that’s so appealing. He knows how to use jokes, dares, and even a suggestive look—whatever it takes to get you pedaling stronger and faster. He challenges you physically without pushing too hard. He respects limits, but he makes you own your choices. 

 

I did a bit of research on Denis. Surprisingly, there isn’t a lot about him on the web. He was born in 1978, making him either 42 or 43m, is 5’ 10”, and has a boatload of followers on social media. While he didn’t play sports as a kid, he participated in college football and did aerial acrobatics. Apparently, he also likes to read and surf. And before he became a fitness coach, he worked with private yachts. Sorry to disappoint my single female readers, but some sources say he’s married, though I couldn’t find any of the particulars. 

 

Now many of you may never have been on a Peloton bike, so perhaps the best way to demonstrate Denis’s ability to elevate others is by sharing a few of his quotes. While I had to check some to ensure accuracy, I’ve memorized most. That in itself says a lot.

 

“If you can’t be good, be careful.”

 

I believe I heard these words during my initial ride with Denis. My immediate reaction was, “I’m glad we didn’t have this bike when our kids were younger,” knowing our sons would love this statement. But when I took a moment to think about his pronouncement, it is pretty accurate. Because if you are going to go out on a limb and do something you probably should not be doing, then don’t get hurt or caught. Hmmm… this guy pushed limits, but he’s also smart about what he’s done, or learned some tough lessons along the way. Regardless, it made me laugh the first time I heard him say it … as it did the third, fourth, and fifteenth time. Maybe this advice is something I’ll tell my grandkids someday.

 

“I make suggestions, you make decisions.”

 

Oh yeah, this is good. Ultimately, we choose what we bring to our rides—and to life. Sure, there are days when we’re on, healthy, ready to push ourselves. These are the times to follow his lead and see what we can do. But, if we’re recovering from an injury, are tired, or are a beginner, we must decide what is best for ourselves. Honor where your body is at. Don’t compare yourself to others. You do you.

 

“Trust the process.”

 

Now I can relate to this. No doubt trusting the process is something I struggle with. In the past I’ve become impatient, pushing myself too hard only to become injured. But Denis reminds us that excelling on the bike doesn’t happen overnight—nor does anything else in life—so trust the process, take the necessary steps to improve, listen to your inner-wisdom, let go of expectations, and be in the moment. When we stop trying to control, things somehow evolve naturally, often with a much better outcome than if we had tried to force a particular result. 

 

“If you think you can’t, change your mind.”

 

We are always more capable than we think. It’s our limiting beliefs that keep us from reaching our potential. However, when we choose to, we can change our mindset, allowing new possibilities to open. Denis knows exactly when to share this wisdom during a ride, helping us shift how we view our abilities, propelling us go farther and faster.

 

“If you don’t squeeze your glutes, no one else would either.”

 

These are the “Denis comments” that make me laugh because they’re absolutely right. If we want to look our best—for ourselves and for others—we have to put the effort into our workouts. If we only go through the motion, change won’t occur. But if we squeeze those glutes, we’re going to see a difference. There will be noticeable changes in our bodies, and that is the beginning of improving many other aspects of our lives.

 

“Workout because you love your body, not because you hate it.”

 

This Denis quote made me pause. For years, one of my reasons for doing certain workouts was to “fix” parts of my body that I didn’t like. But that is so backwards. It’s not all about the grind, punishing yourself so that you can look a certain way. It’s loving what you have and then wanting to care for your body that makes you shine. 

 

Thank you, Denis, for motivating me to ride. Yet, your influence has not been limited to my time on the Peloton—you’ve helped me in so many other ways. You’ve made me laugh, given me a better appreciation for music, helped me realize I am stronger than I thought, shown me how to become a better cycler, and motivated me to finish a ride when I wanted to give up. And whether you’re guiding how to soften certain muscles while in Pigeon pose, sharing a story from your childhood, or giving me one of those winks, you help me want to be better … on my bike, on my mat, in life. Thank you for elevating me!

 

 

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June "elevater" of the Month - Sheila Simyak

Imagine Mary Poppins as your principal. But don’t let her cheery voice and whimsical smile fool you. She’s sly as a fox, knows what you’ve done, and is already anticipating your next move. Stern, yet nurturing, this refined lady commands your attention when she walks into a room. And while she neither carries an umbrella nor possesses magical abilities, she’s spent years making a difference in children’s lives. Perhaps this is due to how she listens to kids, or maybe it’s her sayings, such as, “You are valuable, special, and important,” and “You are like a tea kettle. If you are not filled up, you cannot fill another’s cup.” Regardless, she’s wise, knows vultures don’t raise canaries, and counts her blessings instead of dwelling on her misfortunes.

 

Let me introduce you to Sheila Simyak. For her, life is an adventure, a storybook filled with important lessons, an arena to dare greatly. She encourages us to be butterflies, not bees. She values right from wrong. She believes in teaching the basics and challenging children’s imaginations to soar.

 

I met Sheila nineteen years ago. Not only was it the first day of kindergarten for our younger son, Grant, but it was also the first day for Sheila as the new principal. None of the parents knew who this Mrs. Simyak was. But we were quite curious. Would she be able to handle this job? Would she hear our concerns? Could we trust her?

 

At the time, kindergartners at the Wyomissing Hills Elementary Center (The Hills) did not start the school year with a full half-day. Instead, the children were split into groups of six, and they and a parent spent an hour in their classroom getting to know the teacher. It was supposed to be a way to ease in the kids. But I think the true purpose was to assure the parents their child would be fine, helping to eliminate the emotional, leg-clinging drop offs that so often occur the first day of school.

 

Right after settling into a tiny seat next to my son at an equally tiny table, morning announcements began. A voice, so different from the confident, firm tone of the former principal, reverberated throughout the room. This woman spoke in a crisp yet bubbly voice. Nevertheless, I could tell she was no pushover. In fact, I remember suppressing a giggle as I imagined this was a lady you wouldn’t want to mess with.

 

As a frequent volunteer at the school, I soon became friendly with Mrs. Simyak. Before long, we were on a first name basis, and I was heading a project to create an outdoor learning environment for the students. Together, along with an incredible committee, we overcame obstacle after obstacle to make her vision a reality—we raised the necessary funds to build a sensory garden and three playgrounds, two age appropriate as well as an adaptive playground for students with special needs. It was during this time I realized Sheila was anything but ordinary. It made me proud our school was being led by a woman who knew how to make dreams happen. 

 

Four years later, Sheila called me on Halloween morning and asked me to immediately come to her office so she could interview me for an open position. She thought I’d be perfect for the job. Of course, the thought of returning to teaching interested me. But more importantly, I wanted to work for Sheila. I knew that the lessons she’d teach me would be invaluable. And they certainly were.

 

While working at The Hills, I learned quite a bit about Sheila’s life. Her first job was at a Catholic school—she was seventeen years old and had sixty-six second graders! She and her husband, Steve, have three beautiful adult children, Stevie, Liz, and TJ. I discovered she has a fondness for cats, is a devout follower of Padre Pio, and is proud of her Italian heritage. Sheila enjoys an occasional gin and tonic on her back deck with her husband, loves baked oatmeal, and admits to a weakness when it comes to coconut butter cream Easter eggs.  

 

Sheila quickly became my mentor. She showed me how to stand my ground with grace and dignity. Through her guidance, I was better able to fulfill my role, supporting teachers with the adoption of a new process for identifying at-risk students. I learned how to deal with the most challenging students … and parents. And she taught me to laugh at life and as well as myself. 

 

After I no longer worked at the school, it was she who encouraged me to run for school board, to not take no for an answer, and to show up with a smile on my face when I wanted to run home and crawl under the covers.

 

But she also taught me when it’s time to bow out and make a change. She helped me understand that this is not quitting. Instead, there are moments when you are being asked to compromise who you are, so it is better to leave in order to remain true to yourself. And when you say goodbye, maintain the close relationships. Cherish them always. 

 

Sheila is now retired, but she is busier than ever. She and Steve babysit their two granddaughters, most definitely a full-time job. While no longer the Mary Poppins at The Hills, she now has another classroom, one in her own living room, where she spends her days fostering two beautiful little girls’ imagination, creativity, and knowledge. 

 

Sheila, thank you for hiring me, teaching me, trusting me, laughing with and at me, and being my friend. Our times together—spent in endless meetings, talking on your office sofa, drinking wine over dinner, laughing, and crying—have elevated me more than you will ever know. You’ve encouraged me to examine my moral compass, my faith, and my purpose. You saw the best in me, and that made me want to be that better person.