I have always loved my teachers.  When I was little, I wrote letters to my elementary school teachers over the summer.  I continued to write to my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Stark, until I was in college.

Imagine my surprise when I recently attended a chakra cleanse workshop (www.innerpeaceyogatulsa.com), and the workshop focused on teachers.  Not the sort of teachers I used to write letters to.  These teachers were those people I have struggled to forgive, people who I want nothing to do with.  I was shocked that at each point of the chakra cleanse, Meghan (our instructor) asked us to recall someone who abandoned us, hurt us, shamed us, etc. etc.  And to thank them.  Not just once.  Not twice.  But throughout the entire workshop.  It became a mantra.

Thank you for being my teacher.
Thank you for giving me that experience.
Thank you for making me stronger.
Thank you for teaching me what I DON’T want to be.

At first I was really uncomfortable because the person who came to mind was my father. To make a very long story short, my father left my family when I was 16, and pretty much never came home. He left a huge mess for my mom and all of us (5 kids) to sort out. It was awful. We could have been on Oprah type of awful. I’ll just leave it at that.


As I sat with this mantra, it became clear to me that in many ways, my father did teach me valuable lessons that helped me become the strong woman I am today.  It’s possible that my father is one of my greatest teachers.  And that terrified me.

How could someone who caused so much pain and heartache be one of my greatest teachers?  How could he be among those who I adored and looked up to all my life?  Like Mrs. Stark?

For some reason – beyond my awareness and knowledge – my father is in my life.  The universe brought us together, for better or worse.  And while no one deserves to be hurt, shamed, or abandoned … sometimes it happens. My mom used to say, “All God’s children got somethin’…” Meaning, we all have pain.  We all have contrast in our lives.

But we don’t have to continue living in the contrast.

I think the best we can do is to see what the lesson is.  To acknowledge what the person or situation has taught us.  To really learn the lesson.  To grow from the contrast and move closer to what we really do want to experience.  And then be grateful for the lesson.

From my father – from the contrast – I learned to walk this life with integrity.  To be forthright and honest.  And on the occasion that I have done something wrong or hurt someone’s feelings, I apologize and acknowledge where I have fallen short.  Then, I begin again and strive to make things right.  I am grateful for these lessons, especially as I embark on starting my own business.

Our thoughts and our words create our experience.  So, let’s choose thoughts and words that will attract the types of teachers we really do want in our lives.  The kinds of teachers we would have written letters to when we were little.  The kinds of teachers we want to be when we grow up.  (Aren’t we all still growing up?)

It’s true that we can grow from the contrast – by learning what we DON’T want to be. But it’s also true that we can grow from inspiration.  I’d rather grow from inspiration.


Who will be your next great teacher? Choose wisely.