Saturday, 15 June 2013

When friends and colleagues get together - magic happens!

It's a little surreal when so many familiar faces from different areas of your life, and from different time frames, come together in the same place and at the same time to celebrate with you. The first time I experienced this was at our wedding, in 2006. It feels somewhat strange to be the one common denominator. 
Kathy and Ann (who joined us from Kingston and  Toronto)

I felt it again on Thursday night when 50 + people gathered together to celebrate my retirement, shared with my dear friend and colleague, Lisa, who will also be moving on from the teaching profession in just two weeks time. 

The organizing committee did a great job and the party was a tremendous success in that everyone had fun along with great food. Apart from seeing so many friends/colleagues - both 'old' and new, the hi-light for me was the song which some of the staff wrote and performed. It was hilarious!!  They had taken one of the songs from 'Les Miserables' and adapted it for the purpose, including the waving of a Union Jack!!! Great stuff!

Someone once said to me, 'If you could see yourself as other people see you, you'd be really happy'. I got to have that opportunity on Thursday night with some really wonderful things that were shared - both privately, and through the speeches. Very humbling!

One of the most significant conversations I had was with a parent of one of my ex-students. She is also a teacher. I had taught her son 9 years earlier in my first class at my current school. She told me of the most important life-lesson that her son had learned from me - that of total acceptance of people for whom they are. Her son dropped in to the party at the beginning and at the end, and it was a heart-warming experience for me to see this wonderful young man again. He was always such a great pleasure to teach, and I always had very fond memories of him. It made me feel exceptionally proud to see him again. He is a credit to his parents. Hearing what his mom told me helped me to realize that we rarely know the impact we have on the people in our lives. 

We may sometimes go through times of self-doubt. Are we doing the best we can? Could I have done this better? Did I treat that person with the respect that was their due? Self-reflection can be a positive thing; it can lead to personal growth. However, it can sometimes degenerate into a burden of self-blame if we are not careful to keep the balance. 

The movie, 'It's a Wonderful Life', finishes with the beautiful message that no-one is a failure who has friends. 

The amazing friends who celebrated with me on Thursday night, gave me the gift of feeling very successful. 

My deepest appreciation goes out to each and every one of them. 


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