Someone Who Believed in Me

“We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”

– E.E. Cummings

Tell us about a time someone taught you about your deep value and worth as a human being.


  1. Fran Stekoll says

    After raising three children alone, and working two jobs, I decided to return to College so by the time my youngest graduated from High School I could have
    my career. The problem was I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up.
    Studying wasn’t easy. I made an appointment with Career Planning and Placement. Gladys Rohe took me under her wing. She also took me to San Francisco to a mid-life career workshop. It was there that I met Richard Bolles, author of “What Color Is Your Parachute”. He picked me out of an audience of 500 mid-life career changers as one most likely to succeed. I still didn’t feel confident enough to tackle classes with all those 20 years my junior. Gladys encouraged me daily. After 4 years of juggling studying, working and keeping up with household chores, I graduated. She even helped me write my resume, cover letter and set up my first interview for a job. Gladys passed away recently. I wrote a thank you letter to her daughters letting them know how much she meant to me. Because of her, I not only gained belief in myself; but also the ability to start my own company and run it successfully for 28 years. I now offer Self Directed Search tests to mid life career changers and students of all ages at no charge in memory of Gladys.

      • Judy says

        Fran, what a beautiful piece. Career-changers and students will write as lovingly and kindly of you as you have of Gladys–you, too, are an inspiration.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Fran, this story makes me feel good. I know any time I was centered out in a similar manner, it was such a special thing. I am so happy this person recognized your abilities, being insightful and wise. I’m sorry for your loss but I love how you wrote to her children. Thanks so much for sharing this touching story!

  2. PJ says

    Anna Wesko
    Mrs. Wesko was one of three sixth grade teachers you could get in 6th grade at George H Nihols’ school in the “North Side” of Endicott NY. It was an ethnic mix of Russian, Ukranian, Italian, Polish and a few W.A.S.P.’s added for good measure (that was my job). Her parents came over around1900-1910 from the Ukraine for a better life. You couldn’t pull any wool over her eyes. If the boys were more than 2 minutes taking their bio-break, she would pick up the pointer stick and start whacking away at the dawdlers in the boy’s room- give them some idle time and bad things happen!
    She was a graduate of a “normal school” one or two years training as a semi military First Sergeant who had a tender side as well that would get her to take us to the opera, and enjoy some of life’s offerings of beauty. She knew that just knowing the facts wasn’t enough… we had to see our potential in order to stretch and see ourselves as ‘Mastering the possibilities” as it were. She went so far as predicting what our lot in life might be… in my case, she told me that she thought I might be a minister some day. I didn’t see that in my future, BUT just hearing that made me think it was possible, which was welcome news to a kid hiding from a family secret that his alcoholic mother had fatally injured a boy running out between two parked cars. This was a precursor to learning of God’s grace.
    I wasn’t very surprised to hear others in my HS reunion speak well of her in their memories of her. If I go to another reunion it will be to hear more of these stories of her from others. While she and husband Alex had no children of their own, She does have a following at George H Nichols Elementary School almost 50 years later.

      • Judy says

        PJ, what a nice tribute to a powerful teacher–Anna Welko. So lucky to have them in our lives. Thanks for writing this.

    • beverly Boyd says

      response to PJ someone who believed in me.

      I had an english teacher teacher like Anna Welks in high school. Marjorie Harner was a not quite elderly spinster who wouldn’t let us get away with anything less than what she believed was our best. We had pet names for her that we used among ourselves, like “large Marge” and Silas Harner, but while we feigned terror of her personage, we knew she was totally devoted to us. After I graduated she was visiting her good friends next door to us.
      “Now that you have graduated” she said with eagerness in her voice, can you answer a question? Do they still call me ‘Large Marge’.” I knew she would be disappointed if my answer was no. It seemed like a badge of honor bestowed on her by students who really knew she cared. She was happy when I told her yes.

    • Ilana says

      What a beautiful story. I especially enjoyed how even if you didn’t see becoming a minister in your future just hearing it meant a lot to you. I have a short list of teachers I will never forget. Thank you for sharing yours. IM

    • Hazel says

      I had an English teacher in high school that had taught my mother when she went there some 25 years before me. The problem was, she remembered my mother. lol Just kidding, my mother was a very good student, me not so much.

      Thank you for sharing.

  3. Barbara Keller says

    I believe it was love, from people I held in high regard, and then from God, that taught me I had value. For some reason I seemed to arrive and grow with less than the average sense that I had any value at all. My dad was an alcoholic and did tend to yell at me, but he wasn’t off the charts. We had a nice house and food and both parents at home, so I don’t know why I was so troubled and certain of my uselessness.

    I had a friend, my mother’s age, she was famous, which didn’t effect our friendship, but did, I think, increase her credibility in my eyes. When she told me regularly for 55 years that she loved me and I was wonderful and astute, I believed her. She gave me the “Artist’s Way” and told me to do it and write, and I did.

    Over the last 40 years, a long time looking back, but not so much moving along day by day, I have come to understand that God really does know and love me and little by little it’s less impossible. I still don’t understand it, but I do believe it.

    My granddaughter asked me on the phone why I only had one child, her mother. “Well,” I said, “I wanted six. When I was 12 I decided I wanted six. But I never got the chance. I had one child with no dad and no husband. I didn’t think I should have more without help.” The next morning, driving along my lovely Mexican highway, I got it – I was wrong. I got six. My Rosie and her five. I got exactly what I wanted. A long time later, and not exactly the way I imagined, but I have them. Six people from my loins, so to speak, that I love fiercely. Long before I cared about God, He cared about me, and that means I matter to the God of the universe. Who am I to question that?

    I haven’t written lately, not because of lack of interest. Had another surgery. I’m doing fine, but just couldn’t find the time or energy to write down my thoughts.

    • Ilana says

      Barbara- I’m so glad you were well enough to post this. I hope you continue to feel better with each passing day. The prayer for healing, which I say every week in services has this beautiful line, “May the source of strength who blessed the ones before us help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing.” Through your posts and responses to mine you have definitely touched my soul and made your life a blessing.

      So, about your post. I really enjoyed it. The kindness this woman showed you meant so much. I also found it reassuring as some of the things she said to you echo what I say to my three children each day. I ask them to repeat it to me and each one smilingly answers me “I’m beautiful, wonderful, special.” I hope that the encouragement I strive to give them is as helpful as what this woman gave to you. Thanks for posting, IM

      • Barbara Keller says

        Thanks, kind and encouraging. I’m sure what you say to your children does help. The thing about my friend was she was so odd, more odd than me, and she was OK with that. I found that so comforting, to know there was hope for those very far left of center. I am much better after the surgery. thanks to all who sent well wishes.

  4. Judy says


    Midwestern America, 1953…….My grandmother came to visit. I knew it when I saw her midnight blue chariot, a 1948 Plymouth coupe, parked askew outside our house. Her Celtic name, Arie Artince, trumpeted her abundant spirit.

    Friends called her Betty. We called her Nana.

    While Mom smiled our Dad grumbled, “Oh, gawd, did she bring that damn steamer trunk?”

    Our Nana had her husband’s lover’s ostrich plume: a mystery to this day. When they divorced, Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico called to her. Nana was a travelling saleswoman–women’s undergarments.

    On this visit, Nana, my Queen of Heaven & Earth, shared a room. Toilet water, face cream, powder and red lipstick adorned the dressing table. Silky things graced the half-opened trunk.

    Before sleep, she showed me her tarot cards. Daddy said she was daft. Spellbound, was I.

    The Feminine Divine filled my room and mind. Tomorrow there would be adventure. That night I dreamed of gypsies.

    We explored the Midwestern countryside in search of farm-fresh brown eggs. We’d stop for popcorn and pretend the popcorn lady was a magician. We shared Chiclets in Waterloo and headed north singing, “Three Little Fishies.” It was blissful.

    Thirteen years later, she died when I was 23. We learned she was an inventor: prosthesis for women who had had their breast removed.

    That old steamer trunk revealed letters, tied with red ribbon from a Chicago man (her patent lawyer, we discovered, dated long before her re-marriage to the City Judge).

    The textures, colors, smells and sounds of her are ingrained in my soul. She is near me always.

    # # #

    Midwestern America, 2001: Yesterday, en route to our grandson’s birthday party, a shimmering midnight blue Plymouth coupe, vintage 1948ish strode alongside us on the expressway…..

    The couple smiled and waved….then exited for the North Country…

    A significant coincidence, I asked…………..Minds without bodies…….I wondered…..Both, I’m convinced: Nana’s abundant spirit lives forever!

    • Ilana says

      Beautiful. The part about the couple smiling and waving gave me goosebumps. I’m sure your Nana’s spirit has lived on. Thank you for sharing. IM

      • Judy says

        Thank you for the kind comments on this piece. Arie Artince Guthrie Cooper invented a breast contour pad and received a US Patent in October 1947. In the letter between she and her attorney, he encouraged her and expressed concern about her safety traveling the southwest alone during WWII into the early 1950s. They spoke of gas rations, wear and tear on autos/tires and how sweet life would be after the war. Our family has found no evidence that they continued the relationship. But, I know this…she had a profound impact on my life for which I’m deeply grateful. Her photo is on my alter above my computer screen. Makes me laugh!

    • Barbara Keller says

      You made me laugh and smile. That’s the kind of person I always wanted to be. Unique, loving, helpful, a little mysterious. I loved what you wrote, Thanks.

  5. beverly Boyd says

    Right off the top I am going to say I don’t agree with the e.e.cummings, at least with the first part of this quote. I believe that the nature of a newborn is innately curious, open to wonder and spontaneous delight. Unfortunately, too many children have these qualities destroyed by experiences and messages in their early years.
    Even though I have shared in other responses about the difficult years mostly as a teenager when my Mother used psychologically bullying tactics to “break my spirit” (her own words) I was fortunate to have many experiences that helped me believe in my own worth.

    At three: Kneeling on a stool to do the grownup job of helping my mother stir the flour into the eggs, or turning the handle on mimeograph with the help of my Fathers big hand to make the bulletin for the next day in church.

    At seven: Being left to carefully guard my infant sister while my mother walked to the drug store in pouring rain to pick up a prescription.

    At seven: going alone to the creek to bring the cows in for milking.

    At eight: helping with the harvest by driving a horse drawn wagon loaded with wheat from the field to the barn, waiting for the men to unload it into the thresher, and returning to the field with the empty wagon for another load.

    In sixth grade, when the teacher did a socio-gram on the class, she was amused, but not surprised, when all the girls and most of the boys named me as the one they would want to have along if they had to do something scary.

    My younger siblings trusted me to hold their fingers as they attempted their first steps, came down a slide or jumped off the end of the dock with me nearby to grab onto as the hit the water.

    My friends in seventh grade let me know they respected me when, for good reason, I told the “Queen Bee” off for picking on someone.

    I’ve had opportunities to experience the wonder of ants carrying loads that looked twice their size, viewing amazing natural wonders like the Grand Canyon and swimming across our mile wide lake and back.

    Maybe e. e. cummings was not as fortunate as I was. Maybe his life experience led him to believe what he said. I grew up believing that with practice I could accomplish anything I truly set my mind to.

    • says

      Beverly, your parents gave you an amazing gift–the gift of efficacy, the gift of expecting you to be capable and of treating you not like a child, but as a vital, contributing part of the family. Perhaps if we all had parents like yours, we wouldn’t have to wait for someone to believe in us.

      • beverly Boyd says

        I think that is true and I do know how fortunate I was, and I was able to pass the same gift of confidence to my chlldren.

    • Ilana says

      Beverly- I loved all the little descriptions of things that helped you believe in your own worth. They were each beautiful in their own way. I also appreciate your ability to acknowledge that your parents weren’t perfect but still see the good in them. I am working on that one but not as far along as you. Thank you for the post. IM

      • beverly Boyd says

        Ilana, I’m sure you will have the healing you long for. You are showing up to do the work and are making such progress!
        It took many years for me. The hard part was recognizing the dysfunction in the family that looked good from the outside. I took advantage of geographical distance to take a sabbatical from my mother in order to heal and was fortunate to have a healed relationship with my mother for several years before she died.

        • Judy says

          Beverly, What a good piece and what good comments on efficiency as a gift from your parents and your ability to see that your parents are totally human. Nicely done and lessons for us all.

    • Barbara Keller says

      Great story. Maybe you are the person I wanted to be. Silly because I am the person I am. I really enjoyed it. Such self confidence. Wonderful. Thanks.

    • Hazel says

      Thank you for sharing. I think it is most generally the oldest child especially if they are girls that are given so many responsibilities as the younger children come along. That was certainly true for me.
      Love you last line, “I grew up believing that with practice I could accomplish anything I truly set my mind to.” Me to.

      • beverly Boyd says

        That was true for me and my brother got a pass for years because he was “sixteen months younger.”
        My three boys came first so they were my first helpers. With seven they all had to pitch in. As a result they were quite capable when they left home.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Beverly, I can see how much being given chances to prove yourself to yourself was so valuable in your life. I’m glad you had parents who valued that and that it served you well. Thanks and I hope you have a nice week.

  6. Dianne Brown says

    I had been divorced from my first husband for several years when I started a custom picture frame shop in my father’s commercial glass warehouse. I took care of his glass customers, and I took orders from my frame customers in the front office. I did my entire framework there in the back of Dad’s warehouse.
    One day, my ex-husband’s uncle Charlie came into the shop, and we started a friendship. Charlie was a retired antique dealer and his wife Alma was a retired soprano from the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. They had recently moved to Southern Indiana to be close to Alma’s sister (my daughter’s grandmother) and her two brothers.
    Charlie would come to the shop several times a week to chat with me. One day he said, “Let me see your hands.” I put my hands on the counter palms down. Charlie gently took my hands in his and turned them over palm-side up. He just stood there and looked at my hands. Then he put them down on the counter again.
    “Do you know how important and precious your hands are?” he said. Dumbfounded, I just shook my head back and forth to say “no.”
    “The working hands, the hands that craft and create and build are what has made our country great. Those men and women from the Pilgrims to the ship builders, to the farmers, and the mothers who tenderly touch and raise their children and stand side-by-side all men to raise a barn, these are the builders of this great country. I am so proud of you and what you do, and your father too, who installs the glass in the buildings and mends the screens in your next door neighbor’s windows—you are the backbone and the life force of this, our nation.”
    Well, I certainly was not prepared for that little speech. I thanked Uncle Charlie for reminding me that what I did was a contribution to our national greatness. He laughed and kissed my cheek.
    Charlie came by twice a week to see me and chat with me—it was on his way to the Clinic where he got his chemotherapy treatments.
    I have never forgotten the value of working with my hands. Now, after 25 years of framing, my hands look like re-treads that have peeled off the tire. The veins in my hands stand out, and I have permanent stained spots under my skin from popping small blood vessels in my effort to wrangle big heavy frames this way or that. But every time I look at my hands, I think of Charlie, who is long since gone—probably helping to compose a constitution somewhere. Charlie’s little speech gave me such value for what I did—working with my hands (not that I didn’t have to use my noodle a bit here and there). I salute you Uncle Charlie, and I love you and thank you for the esteem you poured into me.

    • Ilana says

      Dianne- What an amazing man he must have been. Thank you for sharing his beauty with us. By doing so you have passed his lesson on. I would like to join you in saluting him and others like him. Great post! IM

      • Dianne Brown says

        Thanks Ilana, his legacy lives on in these pages. Now that I think about it, being an antique dealer, he really knew hand craftsmanship and the intrinsic as well as the monetary value. But above that, he loved our country most of all.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Dianne, this story has my whole body shaking for some reason. Those words and your Uncle Charlie are just so beautiful! I’d also love to see a picture of your hands. It reminds me that when I described my partner’s hands in a post before Xmas, I was grappling (not very successfully) for words and used the word ‘deformed’ to describe her artist’s hands, specifically, two misshapen fingers due to arthritis. We laughed at this since and I winced at my bad word choice; what I was really trying to say was how very beautiful they are. Rough. Calloused. Huge veins pulsing against the skin on their top. Always covered with some new colour of oil paint. I imagine yours as equally gorgeous. Thanks for this heartwarming story. PS: Love a few quotes but thought I’d mention this one, “my hands look like re-treads that have peeled off the tire.”

  7. Ilana says

    I Am Significant; Part II

    There are many different ways people close to me have helped me see my value as a human being. Sadly, I have never been very good at trusting it as a constant. Often I need reassurances and when none are available I sometimes even question my right to exist. That’s something I’m learning not to do. It’s taking a long time but I’m getting better at it. Lucky for me, though, my life is full of wonderful people who willingly challenge those doubts.

    These beliefs; that I don’t have a right to be here, that I am a waste of space and that others allow me to exist out of sheer charity, have haunted me all of my life. They are fading, but often still present in my daily life. As a child I was convinced that if I got lost no one would come looking for me. This developed into an intense phobia of traveling alone. I didn’t drive if I could avoid it, never took public transportation alone and existed in a state of panic anytime I had to find my way to or home from someplace new.

    I began my journey to healing from childhood incest almost two years ago. One of the biggest steps has been facing down my phobias, each one in its entirety; fear of cooking, fear of anger and fear of getting lost, to name just a few. On November 9, 2012 I took my first trip by myself. I went to California for Laura’s Memory to Memoir retreat. My husband dropped me off outside the airport. I found my way through security to the terminal. Settling into my seat and looking out of the window on that flight was one of the most triumphant moments I’ve ever had in my life. Once I landed, I connected with two strangers who were also going to the retreat. Laura had given us each other’s phone numbers so we could coordinate and carpool to the retreat center. We had arranged to meet at the airport, rent a car and spend the day together before we were allowed to check in at the retreat several hours later.

    Both my mother’s age, these two wonderful women shared stories with me of their own lives and listened to my stories. We laughed and shopped and toured together, ate lunch and chocolate ice cream. It was wonderful. During the course of all of this sharing I told them the story of why the trip was such a triumph for me. I told them how I had talked about it in a post responding to the October 9th prompt, “A risk I took to save myself.” [I Am Significant Part I] and received such encouragement from the writing community as well as Laura herself. My two new friends were very excited for me.

    Finally, it was time to get checked in. Laura was standing at the entrance to the retreat center welcoming people. She greeted the two women in the front of the car and then asked, “Who is in your back seat?”

    “This,” She said proudly as she pointed her thumb at me. “Is Ilana.” I rolled down my window and Laura reached her hand in to give me a welcoming hug. Not only had I made it there safely but I was surrounded by three people who, having just met me, were proud of my accomplishment and clearly valued my presence at the retreat. It was truly an amazing moment.

    The writing retreat was incredible. I learned so much, wrote so much and met so many wonderful people, including, Terry, my amazing sister-survivor I already knew from the blog. Then I took a shuttle to the airport, again, found my way through security to the terminal. When I got off the plane I found the airport shuttle station and settled into my seat one more time for the last leg of my trip. At 11:00pm I walked into my home. My husband was sitting on the couch and there was a beautiful poster blocking my way to him. It said, “Welcome home, Mama!”, “Our fear conquerer” and “My Mama conquers her fears!” My children were proud of me! My husband was proud of me! With all of this love and fanfare there was no way to deny it. In that moment, I couldn’t. I was proud, too. I did have a right to exist. I WAS significant.

    Those two women who were my mother’s age, Laura Davis, my husband and my three children ALL taught me about my deep value and worth as a human being. It’s still hard to hold onto. I still, sometimes, question my right to exist. But now I have something to help counter those feelings. I will always remember the poster, those encouraging faces, that proud moment and that hug through the open window.

    PS. How amazing is it to feel heard this way. I have laryngitis and cannot communicate with anyone around me as easily as I am used to. My children are taking advantage of the situation and my husband who is not well,himself, is forced to step up and help out in spite of his own symptoms. Yet here, in this space I am as heard by you as I always have been. Thank you!

    • Dianne Brown says

      Ilana, I do not know you other than on these pages, but I am so proud of you too! What a wonderful telling and sharing of such a monumental event for you. Thanks, Dianne

      • Ilana says

        Wow, Dianne. I feel like I just got an e-hug from you. It’s amazing the friends I have made here without ever meeting you all. Thanks, IM

    • says

      I’m so touched by your story, even though I was there when it happened. And I look forward to seeing you again in the future, at another adventure that pushes you out again, past what used to be boundaries.

      • Ilana says

        Thanks, Laura. Your encouragement was a big part of my triumph. I really hope you have another retreat like that one. I’d love to go again. IM

    • beverly Boyd says

      Thank you for “I am Significant Part II”. I remember Part I so well and knew you had done it but I missed the triumphant followup response that I just now read on the “Risk” prompt. I loved hearing the whole story here.
      Hip, Hip, Hooray, Ilana M! You’re (much more than)OKAY!

      • Ilana says

        Thanks for seeing me through the whole journey. The woman you ‘met’ a year ago has grown so much. I am honored you were there to see it. IM

    • Barbara Keller says

      I do hear you and you know, this list of fears is very familiar. Sometimes I’m struck by how many things I’m afraid of. I am often afraid of getting lost – it’s just always there. It was helpful to me to read that. Your post is well written, full of heart and hope and honesty. I do believe this is part of getting better, the telling it, and the story about facing you fears is great. Congratulations.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Ilana, what an inspiration this is! Your challenge to yourself. Arriving and getting such an amazing welcome. I’m so happy. I knew Laura and everyone would welcome you warmly. You deserve no less. I was dazed when we met, having missed an entire night’s sleep when I started my own trip there. I was also deliriously happy with the great women I met, who also made me feel like I was woven in gold thread. Thanks for mentioning me too; it surprised me and was really cool. 🙂

      • Terry Gibson says

        PS: Ilana. I forgot to say directly how much you impact me with every post, every thought and feeling. I see your face and hear the lovely way you read your writing. How your voice moves in waves, strong, fierce, and then soft, as you stretch out the seconds on a word or phrase, right up to an almost exquisite pain. Hope to hear you read again one day.

  8. Judy says

    Illana, What a deeply touching and inspired telling: you are so very brave. As Beverly said, ‘Hip Hip Hooray you are more than OKAY.’ And, we are really glad you found your voice (with or without laryngitis) which we all know is best cured by… cream.

  9. Hazel says

    I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t at odds with my mother, at least philosophically. It just seemed that her philosophy was: she wanted me to swim but didn’t want me to go near the water (I never did learn how to swim, by the way). I don’t know if it was because I was the oldest of her three children or that she felt she had to protect me for some other reason. When we did physical work together we were a good pair and she taught me well. She would do things like put bread in a pop bottle and we would go to the edge of the river and catch minnows just to watch them eat then turn them loose. She once let a “boomer,” a sort of gopher, cut down all of her prize lilies, lay them out and dry them then take them down a hole as we watched sitting stock still not to disturb him. She taught me to hold baby chicks very loosely so as to squeeze the life out of them. In 1952 she and I together made of a hundred dollars a day picking strawberries, a lot of money at that time. Then my skirts were always too long, too short . . . somehow we were always wary of each other and on edge, and Lord knows we had our go rounds with religion.

    Things had not been going well with Peter, my husband, and me. He didn’t notice that I was even around most of the time. He was immersed in schoolwork. He had returned to school at 42 years of age and found it amazingly rewarding. I did his typing and the rest of the time I barely existed for him. He didn’t talk to me at meals even.

    My daughter was living on Martha’s Vineyard at the time and she and her boyfriend wanted to go to Italy so she invited me to join them in Martha’s Vineyard then I could stay there for a few weeks with my grandson while they were gone. I thought, “YES! If I am not here to type his papers he will surely notice.” So I left.

    Weeks grew into months and it was getting to be Christmas time, my daughter had returned, and I still had not gone back to Las Cruces, New Mexico. I had joined a writing group there and was having fun walking on the beach with the sea gulls. Very few people were there because it was winter time. My daughter decided that I should fly out to Oregon and get my parents and my mother’s sister, Sylvia, so they could come and spend Christmas with us all together and have a really nice vacation. The flight was uneventful and we made all of our connections okay. There was a limo waiting for us in Boston to drive us to Woods Hole where we caught the ferry that went to the Vineyard. They all enjoyed the ferry ride and there was a limo for us at the landing to take us to their hotel. It was a very old hotel with a view of the ocean. I got them settled then called a taxi to take me to my daughter’s house.

    The old folks would come visit us for a few hours each day, walk on beach, and take a nap. Then we would all have dinner at the hotel or some other equally good restaurant somewhere in downtown Edgartown.

    One day when I took them back to their hotel Mother asked me if she and I could go for a ride around the island. I said yes and away we went. Somewhere near Oak Harbor I pulled over so we could enjoy the view. We made small talk as was our usual habit when she turned to me and said: “There’s something I want to tell you.”

    “Okay,” I said, trying to be matter of fact.

    “I just want you to know that you have become the woman I had hoped you would be when I held you in my arms as a baby. I admire you and all you have done.” She was trying to hide her tears as was I when I said: “Thank you, you taught me well.”

    “Yes, but you had the drive to dare to go farther than I did.” We hugged each other.

    As I drove us back to the hotel we were both quiet and I think that is as close as we ever were.

    I have never forgotten her words. I always felt that I was not performing well enough for her. I went down my own road and in the background of my mind I could always hear her saying, no, not that way, but in spite of all the mistakes I made I did make progress and the fact that she recognized it made my heart happy. I cherish that moment.

    • beverly Boyd says

      I think we had the same mother! Yours sounds like she could be utterly delightful and then there were the other times…
      I’m also glad you had that moment together. It inspires me to be sure I find a time to have a moment like that with each of my children. I have seven, and they are scattered all over. I’m making a list so I won’t accidentally forget one of them.

      • Barbara Keller says

        A list? You made me laugh. A list so you won’t forget to have a moment with one of them. I just love that. It’s so real and dear.

        • beverly Boyd says

          It’s kind of a family joke. Short of remembering to tell them things when we were together at dinner or having a meeting someone was always left out of the loop… fortunately not always the same one. But this one is too important to leave it to chance.

    • Ilana says

      Hazel- What a truly beautiful moment. I am so glad you have that to look back on. Thank you for sharing it with us, too. It is an inspiration and gives me hope. Take care of yourself, IM

    • Barbara Keller says

      I don’t know that it gets any better than this. Sometimes all we get is one moment. My mom is 95 and I’m 70 and finally she’s not mad at me. I just love it. I don’t see her as she’s in Wash. DC, and does not encourage me to come visit and laughs when I suggest she come here. But we talk on the phone and I can tell she’s not mad. No revelations of pride yet, but maybe still to come….

      • Judy says

        Hazel, what a blessing you had and a beautiful telling. Barbara talks about getting the ‘one moment’ and I feel she’s so on target. I always wonder: how did our mothers, grand mothers, great grand mothers get their ‘how to mother skills?’ How were their hearts/brains/minds wired…what was their ability/skill set to create healthy emotional/ attachment connection? We do the best we can at the time…and that is usually great accomplishment. Blessed be.

        • Hazel says

          My advice would be to NOT wait for that one moment but tell them all the time how wonderful they are and not to judge. I have made a great point of telling my daughter how much I admire the things she has done and is doing. The no judgement thing is hard but I always try to present it as an alternative, a have you thought of . . . sort of thing.

          What is hard is that my son has decided that I don’t exist. Where he came from is now anyone’s guess. He has chosen to not forgive me for leaving his abusive father, but I am here and open to a reconciliation any time he is ready. Sad that he carries that anger still after his father has passed on.

          We all do what we think is best for ourselves, sometimes it is not.

    • Hazel says

      Thank you all for your comments. I am very pleasantly surprised at all there are. This will be something that will definitely be in my book to my granddaughter Taliesin. Again, validation.

      Thank you so much

    • Terry Gibson says

      Fran, I also enjoy knowing you got that time together. Thank you. By the way, it’s so nice to see your face!

      • Hazel says

        Yes, I hope Laura will post the instructions so we can get a feeling for our fellow writers here. It makes me feel like I belong.

        • says

          Hi Hazel, just want you to know I’m working on. I’ve written up the instructions along with basic info about how to use the site–just waiting for my webmaster to post it.

  10. Fran Stekoll says

    After reading everyones stories, I just had to share another wonderful person who influenced me. My paralized cousin Johnny. At the age of 22, married with a young son, living in Windsor, CA. he dove off a cliff and landed head first in the sand. Confined to a wheel chair for years, he became vice mayor of his town, painted ties holding the small brush between his teeth as his arms and legs were motionless. Went back to college and graduated with honors. Headed a group of Olympics for handicapped. Drove a van and encouraged many to make the most out of life. When I attended his graduation from college I realized if he could do this, so could I. And my first story eluded to that next chapter in my life. Thanks to Johnny, who totally encouraged my life.

    • Ilana says

      Fran- What an inspiration. Now I’m going to start my day with a more positive attitude. Thank you for sharing it. IM

    • beverly Boyd says

      Thank you for both of your responses to this prompt. They are truly inspiring. I’m fortunate to have a person lke your cousin Johnny in my life. I know that after years of grieving his once athletic body, he not only came to accept his limits, but capitalize on his abilities. As a result he has created an organization that enriches the lives of many normal and differently-abled people. I feel grateful that I am able to spend time around such a positive person.

  11. Judy says

    When my Mother was dying…I drove several hundred miles each weekend for 3 months. On the last drive…this poem came to me…a tribute to her…I’d pull off the expressway and jot down lines. When I got to her room I read the poem….she smiled, handed me an imaginary bouquet of balloons…and said, see ya later alligator. She and her mother, (my Nana) are with me always.

    To V E…. my dearest Mother…

    A beautiful artist came this way
    leaving gifts of grace and wisdom

    A masterful tailor in every way; cutting
    patterns that weave us together.

    She’s a Mother to many
    the daughter of two
    and the wife of one not easy.

    We love you great lady, with your gentle ways,
    And will carry your treasures forever.

  12. Polly says

    Almost a week ago I decided to let this prompt simmer with the hope that I would come up with some inspirational words. Six days later, there’s not much there. Work has been busy, emotional work has been even busier, and I haven’t really slept. That aside I feel the need to get something down before the next prompt goes up tomorrow morning. I have been incredibly fortunate to have many people there for me, for my entire life. I can’t narrow this down to just one specific person, and I think that means I’m lucky.

    I was born two months premature at 3 lbs. 4 oz. and so the odds were stacked against me from the beginning. My mom says that I was born fighting to survive, and that I have always lived my life that way. It’s interesting. Because of the circumstances under which I came to be, let’s just say I faced certain difficulties for the first while. My mom believed in me from the beginning. She held me to the same standards as my older siblings and all of her students, and I firmly believe that because of that, I exceeded all expectations. I still have so much more to do, but she taught from a young age that I can.

    The day I graduated from high school, (not what one would expect to be that great of an achievement), my normally stoic mom stood teary beside me as I got ready. She told me that she was more proud of me on that day than she had been of any of my older siblings when they graduated, because I had had to work harder all along to do just as well as they had, and often did better.

    I had teachers and professors who influenced and inspired me. I have friends who stood by me when I could scarcely be there for myself. My current employer shows much better faith in me than I do in myself. I have a partner now who adores me and shows me patience and love, when I am at one of the most difficult points in my life so far.

    I actually depend on others to believe in me, to a fault. I would love to be coming from a place of absolute confidence, to not need approval or thrive on praise. I feel weak at times because of that. I am currently working on finding my voice and reaching a place where the confidence comes primarily from within.

    My brother (that brother) used to tell me that I could do anything I set my mind to. He also used to say that I was just like him. I am nothing like him. It’s bone-chilling to think of the encouragement coming from him that I enjoyed, that I would now never want to hear again. I didn’t know … I am compelled to move as far away as I possibly can from anything that just happens to be something we shared. Paradoxically, writing was one of those things. I am trying to reclaim it now, and I have to sever the tie between writing, and him.

    • Laura Davis says

      Polly, first and foremost I want to honor your commitment to make responding to this weekly prompt part of your writing practice. That’s exactly what I hoped the Roadmap would be for people. Second, I really appreciate your honest, thoughtful response. I’m so glad to have you as part of this community.

  13. Sangeeta S. says

    I believe my friend Paul has taught me about me deep value and worth; and I’ve finally started to believe him. I’ve always known I was a bit of a show-off” who needed a lot of attention to try to “prove myself,” but now I’m realizing that all that hard work and focused concentration has led me down a path where I don’t need to show it off anymore, but I can actually use it to better my own life and perhaps a few others. I’ve been told in the past by my family how smart I was–only to be given absolutely no respect or authority–and be constantly belittled by them. Now I’m realizing that my intellect, when combined with my hopeful good nature, is something that the world can actually use–in a good way (i.e. not just to “pad” the family resume). Paul taught me that I am incredibly smart, talented and worthwhile. He taught me that I deserve to be paid properly for the work I do and that I should use my talents to make my life better and be happy. He showed me that I can be happy and also help people at the same time. He taught me that my true worth lies not just in what I can do, but in who I am as a person. Through his patient and constant messages, he was even able to show me that I deserve to be treated a million times better than the treatment I was given by my family growing up. Now, I think almost exclusively because of a friend, I am learning how to love. I am learning that love does not have to be hard or difficult; conditional or demanding; or even “look” any certain way. It doesn’t have to include (or even rule out) anything you do/don’t want and it doesn’t give up. It may take years for someone to realize they are “worthy” of true love; and until that time comes (if ever) people will always sacrifice who they are for who they think they should be. Now, I hang out with people who want to be with Me–the real me that is still forming or perhaps finally revealing itself to the world. It is not the Me that has to get good grades; it is not the Me that has to speak like a virtual Obama; and it is not the Me that has to accomplish so much just to make up for the fact that I still can’t be seen. It may be the Me that was always there but afraid to come out due to harsh conditions that suppressed me. It may be the Me that really is hungry for knowledge and achievement–but not because that would define my worth, but because that is who I truly am. I’m still a bit afraid to learn about Me, but I have now been taught that I am enough.

    • Laura Davis says

      Sangeeta, you may not get much response to this posting since we’re already on to the next prompt, but I’m so glad you wrote this tribute to your friend, Paul. I hope you share it with him! He should know what he’s meant to you!

    • Terry Gibson says

      Sangeeta, I’m also happy you wrote about Paul. I always found it hard to figure out these sorts of things. I questioned constantly. Is it okay to be the purely intellectual me sometimes? Will I be rejected me for that? Will some family assume I think I’m ‘better’ because I need books and they don’t read at all? I’m glad you’re more comfortable with yourself and you choose to be with friends who want to be with the real YOU, who is enough. It feels so much better, doesn’t it? Thanks!

    • beverly boyd says

      I think it was Jess Lair who described a friend as someone who not only accepts you for who you are but for who you are becoming; as someone who can allow you to change. As you put it a friend is someone who will not want you to “sacrifice who are for who they think you should be.” It isn’t easy to step beyond our conditioning, but you are doing it. Bravo! And thank you, Paul, for the wisdom.

  14. Debbie says

    As I sat watching my mother sleep, newly tethered to the oxygen tubing that now eased her breath, this quote by e.e. cummings kept echoing around in my head. The woman before me is really no longer my mother, she is becoming my child. Her self-image, and mine of her, has slipped forever from that of martyr, mother, matriarch.

    Once she finally settled into a fitful sleep, I could not stop myself from engaging in a one sided life review. That is when the e.e. cumming’s quote started like a drumbeat taunting me with the thought that it only takes someone to believe in you to allow you to believe in yourself. While I have the utmost respect for this storied writer, I must take issue with his assumption about which must come first.

    After years of experiencing never meeting her expectations, thinly veiled criticisms and overwhelming narcissistic emotional neediness, who could have reached inside to offer me any other view of myself. I had a lifetime of conditioning as to my lack of worth, the need to always prove myself, constant reminders not to take up too much space in this world. She needed it more. She needed my life energy, my innate optimism, my passion. Not only did she take it whenever possible, I often offered it up to her willingly from the depths of my unworthy soul.

    Looking back over the years, I can now see those who tried to help me. They attempted to help me see that I was a good person, that my value existed solely because I existed not tethered to what I could do, produce or take care of. There were those who listened and reflected back that the shame was not of my making. They tried to tell me that somewhere inside me there was something sacred. But I could not hear them. Their words bounced off the shell of self-hatred that had formed around me.

    It is sad really, in retrospect. So many years lost to me now. So much time spent feeling inadequate, insecure, insignificant. All the time, it was really me that had the key. I didn’t realize that there were choices in how I could live and feel. This is my point of contention with mr. cummings.

    The ground must be fertile for the plant to grow. Dropping the most robust heirloom seeds into arid soil, starving them for the essentials of life will not produce anything but inedible weeds. You must do the hard work of turning the soil alone, through the dark night, based on nothing but faith before the garden can bloom.

    Finding your worth in the words of another, eyes of another, belief of another is just as risky as finding your unworthiness there as well. It is easy to sing and dance when the sweet music is of encouragement is playing softly through your heart.

    The question is can you sustain the steps when all is quiet and your voice echoes in the emptiness?

    • says

      Debbie, welcome back. Thank you for this powerful, thoughtful, wise, and beautifully rendered reflection. I resonated with it again and again. Echoes of my mother, my experiences as a daughter. Thank for digging so deep on this one.

    • Ilana says

      Yay! Debbie’s back! 🙂 This is elegant and beautiful. A lot of this rings so true for me as well. I love your word choice, “narcissistic emotional neediness”. The feelings of unworthiness and self hatred are so familiar to me that I felt embraced by your piece in that “Oh my gosh I’m not alone.” kind of way. Beautiful job. Welcome back! IM

    • Debbie says

      Thank you both for the kind words. The past two months have been a roller coaster of delight and despair. Glad to be back!

  15. Terry Gibson says

    At least a dozen people believed in me, at one time or another. There was my co-worker, Robin, who got her parents to approach the OPP on my behalf, as I was scared to death.

    I was lucky enough to meet Marg, my best friend, whose parents ‘took me in’ most weekends when they came up from Philadelphia to run their cottage business, all summer and up to the winter snow. She was the first person I trusted with some secrets that were killing me and our friendship was the first lasting bond I really made. I loved her parents a lot and still choke up when I remember how we lost touch. It was just as the criminal investigation heated up. I called to say hello to Marg and her Mom assumed I called to tell them what to say about me; this could not have been further from the truth and I was deeply hurt by it, especially when a dig was made about my personal relationship.

    The first therapist I ever had was a social worker. By then, as I was defenceless, I’d been gang-raped twice and was so humiliated and full of self-hate, my skin crawled at the thought of how ugly and filthy I was. June was a godsend. Trusting her and desperate for help, reality propelled me forward.

    She saw me through my first torrential crying jag, talked me down over the phone for hours, saw me off to university, and stuck with me even through the 1994 criminal investigation. We lost touch since 2008, but I always think of her with love and admiration. The most precious moment is when I woke up in the bed in her spare room in the dark, save for the beam of light that streamed in as she opened the door to check on me. She bent down and hugged me. I didn’t remember ever being hugged! It felt so wonderful, I would’ve cried if I could.

    Then there’s my incomparable brother Steve. As the boys lived with Dad and us with Mom, he and I were strangers to each other. The couple times he visited, we were forbidden to talk to him alone. If we were alone with him for even twenty seconds, Bob would rush in and break it up. Anyway, although Mom, my sister, and maternal grandmother fed lies to him, we eventually got time together. Very quietly, many years later, he sent me a letter where he said, “It’s you all the way.” I didn’t understand then but later learned that he told me that he knew I was the most sincere and honest one in the family, and he trusted me; this was not a small thing. The family still tried to turn him against me and me against him; as he got sicker, occasionally they swayed him. Then we’d see each other, look in each other’s eyes, and our bond was solidified.

    There is so much more to tell but (about so many wonderful people) but this is last week’s topic and it is too emotional to go on. Thanks for reading.

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