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November 11, 2016 - Tiffany Larson
As Thanksgiving draws near, social media starts to explode with posts about what individuals are thankful for. The lists will range from family, friends, health, pets, technology, to even specific material items. I must admit that I am quick to jump on the thankfulness bandwagon. In the past I have shared my appreciation for people and things that I should recognize daily. In my opinion, I think we get so caught up in our busy lives that we often overlook saying thank you, I love you, or showing gratitude to those near and dear to us. We count on the month of November to highlight it all, and miss out on opportunities throughout the year to share our thanks. Although I am deeply thankful for my amazing family, friends that I enjoy making memories with, a job that I truly enjoy waking up to go to everyday, and a million other things I could highlight in this piece; I want to take the time to shift my focus of thankfulness. In my short 36 years, I have been fortunate enough to have mentors and role models in my life. I want to thank them for being a part of my journey. My journey from adolescence to adulthood. It truly takes a village to raise a child. There a million people that deserve credit for playing an important role in my life. However, for the sake of this blog I am going to feature only a few. First and foremost, I am thankful for my parents. They are my motivators, my supporters, and my biggest fans. Their love and patience are the two things I admire most about them. Raising three daughters deserves some sort of a gold medal. My grandparents would be next. All of them have been that bridge to love, faith, and family tradition. Music has been a huge part of my life. Like many of you, I owe a lot of that passion to Mrs. Kennedy. I am thankful for lullabies to carry on to my nephew, elementary songs that still are imbedded in my brain, children’s songs from Hosanna Choir, and carols being sung at family Holiday Gatherings. She was one of the many teachers that had a positive impact in my life. Puberty, peers, schoolwork, and just being a teen trying to fit in was a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Getting through middle and high school wouldn’t have been possible without teachers and counselors like Mr. Johnston, Ms. Ostebee, or Mrs. Bucknam. They encouraged and motivated me. They reassured me that I was the architect of my future, and I could accomplish my dreams and goals. Lord love a duck, even when I missed a chunk of school for health issues Mr. Bohan graciously sacrificed his time after classes to help tutor me. That is definitely dedication to students. To this day, when I find the voices in my head growing negative I can hear my Uncle, Coach K, saying PMA. It is because of him I strive daily to keep a Positive Mental Attitude. College opened a whole new world of pressures and struggles. It was asking for help from advisors, my RA, and advocates working in the community to overcome the hurdles life threw at me and graduate. For that I am grateful. It is the neighbors, the card club and camping crew, the community supports, friends, and the trusted and approachable adults in the communities that I was raised and lived in that helped me to be the person I am today. For that I owe my deepest, sincerest gratitude. Josh Shipp has a quote that says, “Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story.” As an adult now working with youth, I now realize how true that quote is. I see the importance of being a mentor and role model to our future mentors and leaders. I am inspired to take the lessons learned from those that helped shape my life, and apply it to the work I do daily at my job, at my church, in the schools, and in my community. I am motivated to be that approachable adult; someone that is askable, builds bridges, and continues to learn to help better serve and engage in authentic conversations with youth. I challenge you to do the same; as a parent or guardian, an educator, a grandparent, a neighbor, a coach, and a community member. Spread thankfulness with others, and don't overlook the amazing youth we have living, working, and going to school right here in our communities. I am thankful to each and everyone of them for inspiring me each and every day.


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