If you happen to follow my posts on WordPress, Facebook, or Twitter, you know that I was able to spend an incredible day with my father, Eugene “Queno” Martinez, this year. We laughed, ate, talked, cried, and shared simply the most amazing time.
Unfortunately, not a week later my dad found himself in the hospital with pneumonia, had a stroke, became incompacitated and passed away on June 30, 2016. It’s been a very difficult couple of weeks for my family.
This last weekend my entire family was able to gather to pay our respects, hold services, be together, and celebrate his life. I was asked to say a few words at his service, and a few of my relatives asked that I share my written words with them. Though during the services I went off-script, I still wanted to share these written words with them, and you, as I hope there might be some meaning here that resonates with you.
I’m Rob Martinez, Queno’s youngest child, and on behalf of our step-mother, Dolores, myself, my siblings, Tomas, Patricia and Henry, and our entire families, we thank you so much for being with us today as we reflect on the amazing journey of our father, Dolores husband, Eugene “Queno” Martinez.
Our father had a wonderous, amazing life, and personally, after deep reflection I have come to better understand many of the roadblocks that he faced, and simply crushed through, during his almost 90 years of life!
His life was one filled with twist and turns, and though he had been faced with many adversities he persevered through it all to become simply an amazing example of a hero to many of us here, and to others across California. He did so much for so many for so long, and well…
I wanted to make this just a bit interactive, so bear with me as we try something:
By a show of hands, and please keep them risen, who has ever done any of these with Queno?:
-Picked fruits or vegetables, worked with him building something, a freeway, garage, extra room, pinewood derby car, or worked in the yard with Queno?
-Been fishing, played golf, gone on vacation, traveled in a car for hundreds of miles with children?
-Shared a Pepsi, lunch, burrito, or had dinner with him?
-Gone to, listened to, or watched a Dodger game with him?
-Been to church services, a wedding, a baptism, or any other religious service with him?
-Been with him as he held one of his grandchildren, or/any baby for that matter, and seemed to communicate directly to the baby’s heart, mind and soul with a subtle, soft voice?
-Sang, danced, laughed, giggled, watched a movie, been to a swap meet, or stopped at a yard sale with him?
-Whose ever had him come see them in a sporting event, performance, graduation, parade, or any other activity?
-Who has had ad the pleasure of being provided BBQ, guacamole, menudo, or simply was fed by him, and treated like a king or queen by him?
Who has been able to sit and talk about life, passion, hard work, love, and who knows that he deeply cared for you?
Well, I gotta tell you, my hand would have been up for all of these, and by the show of hands today, I think these rememberances for each of us adds to his life’s legacy. Each of us has unique memories of our father, and each of us has those special times where we might believe that Queno was only thinking about us at that very moment, and you know what? You would be correct.
He had that amazing ability to give love to so many at the same moment that this is why I believe that we each felt so special when we were able to be with him, or even have a quick phone conversation, and even if we were not able to be with him, we just knew that he was thinking about us. So, now it’s up to us to carry the legacy of our father with us, and live our lives, with him being just a little closer to our hearts..
My dad was known for a few sayings,
“Think twice mijo!” Which I think he said to my brother Henry a few more times than he ever said to me. It was his way of reminding us that what we do matters, that what we do has consequences, good and bad, and it was his way of getting us to realize that we can have an impact on our lives, and the lives of others.
He also would say, “if you follow your passion you will never have to work a day in your life.” Which some have credited to some some other famous person, but I’m sure it really was my dad who said it first. He meant that if you truly believe you can accomplish something, let no one, or nothing stop you. He was the Nike guy, before Nike was an idea, “Just do it!”
He was known to also say to each of us, “Keep going to school, keep learning, even if it’s just one new thing, keep learning.” He truly believed that education was the key to success. He returned as an adult man to graduate high school, and continued to learn about different things, and technologies throughout his life. He was so happy that I returned to school at 46 to obtain my Doctorate degree. Heck, he even had Apple TV so he could watch his beloved Dodgers.
Several of us were so fortunate to spend this last Father’s Day with him, and for those of you who may be on Facebook you probably saw a little fun video we posted that we shared with everyone that focused on his hand-built BBQ -yes, brick by brick, at almost 90, he build that BBQ. I was also able to share with my dad a written post that I wrote the morning of Father’s Day, where I shared some of his amazing accomplishments over numerous obstacles. Yes, I was also able to share those sentiments with him the next morning, and he laughed greatly at the video clip, and teared up after reading my post. He was astonished that over 500 people at that time (now closer to 700) had seen our video, not even a day after it was posted. I told him that we had made a positive impact on people, and that made him smile that sly little smile of his.
The day after Father’s Day, we had the opportunity to talk about his accomplishments, as I saw them, and he simply looked at me and said to me, “I just tried to do what was right, I love you kids, I love my family, and I love my wife, I love my life. I can ask for nothing more. God has been good to me.” He also said, “I just tried to be good.” The humility of my father was extraordinary. I don’t think he truly understood the impact that his life had on others the brothers and sisters he helped raise, his own children, the literally hundreds of relatives that felt so much love from this man, the thousands of acquaintances that he might have coached, provided scouting tips to, taught how to work, learn a trade, raise a family, the miracles truly go on, and on. I believe that if we follow his example, and just try to “Be Good” each of our lives, and our collective lives will be better.
So God, as I conclude today, a little request if you will: Please be good to our daddy, Dolores’s husband, friend and caregiver to all, and a simply amazing man. Please, please make sure he has a cold Pepsi at the ready, the ability to watch the Dodgers, a fresh tortilla for snacking, some dancing music, and watch out, because as we know my dad, we can all predict, that he will work his way into the number one Angel position in short order, I just know it, since he’s that kind of guy!
Daddy, I love you, we all miss you, and we know that you will continue to guide us when you can! We thank you for our “Beautiful” life, and for being the beautiful person you were.
Love you always,Robert
Dr. Rob Martinez, is known as “Resiliency Guy” on Facebook, is on Twitter as @ResiliencyGuy and works as the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources for the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District.
Individuals who demonstrate resilient behaviors tend to be able to recognize and manage their personal perceptions and feelings, and are cognizant of their personal locus-of-control. They can perceive and understand feelings of others, understand that they matter to others, and also see that they can make a positive impact on the world. They tend to believe in themselves, reach out to others when required, and accept help from others. They insulate themselves from self-blame, and deprecating behavior, make peace with negative events, and live a healthy life. Meaning they eat well, get their rest, excercise, and accept change.
The tricky part is of course building environments that support and promote health living, engage minds, create places where these skills can develop and flourish, and where resilience thrives! Is it doable? Can we create healthy environments where it becomes the norm to develop resilience skills? I surely hope so, and with some specific strategies we can all be on our way to these types of schools!
Action Steps For All Educators, Parents, Students:
-Encourage the Development of Positive Attitudes: By connecting with students, and providing positive feedback, encouragement, connections, and communication we can elicit healthy responses. We can keep barriers from building that stifle growth, positive attitudes from developing, and connections with other people from propelling students forward.
-Increase Support Networks for All: Ensure that each person in the environment has someone to be with, talk to, chart with, share with, and create a culture where listening to others is a premium behavior that is rewarded, over and over again. How many times do we see students talk at each other without really listening? The skill of listening has been demonstrated to be a consummate winner in evolving our societies. Listen people, just listen!
-Encourage the Building of Trusting Relationships: By fostering mutual respect for each other as people first, whether the relationships is between students, students/teachers, parents/teachers, etc. It is imperative that we build a culture where each one recognizes that we are there because of the others that are present. An old South African saying, “I am because you are,” shared often by Bishop Desmond Tutu, means that I exist as part of your world, and we are in this together. Let’s build schools where we are all in this together!
-Increase Student Engagement: We must build schools and deliver instruction for the students we have, and in response to their needs. We must be flexible in our methods, styles, instruction, curriculum, performance, measurement of success, supports, and work to provide meaning to the learning that matters to our students. If we continue to treat students as they have always been treated, then why would we expect a different result? The time is ripe for change!
-Foster a Positive and Inclusive Ethos: Our students need to be connected and belong to their environments. Hence, we must work to ensure that each student not only feels a part of their school, but that they truly identify themselves as being part of the school. By including them in decisions, acting on their interests, celebrating their diversity and uniqueness, and authentically connecting with them first as people, than as supporters of their development we provide more opportunity for them to belong to, not just attend school.
-Enhance Extracurricular Activities: The days of after-school sports need to be modified in order to provide both #Access and #Equity to all students. During the day school clubs, technology, activities, sports, visual and performing arts, drama, (and the list goes on), must become a thing of the present to support our students with having opportunities to engage, connect with, and pick up a multitude of talents. Especially for our students who may be marginalized, and/or who cannot afford after-school activities, we must ensure that their opportunities are provided and enhanced!
-Make it #FUN at Every Level: Schools, school communities, classrooms, extra-curricular activities, staff meetings, must all have a component of fun! If not, then what is the purpose, really? As humans, we laugh, we giggle, we smirk, we guffaw, we snort, we are silly beings, and if we are not engaged and having fun, we generally look for something else to do. So why, not? Why not make it all fun? Why not take your class outside to hunt for moon rocks (ala Dave Burgess, “Teach Like a Pirate” guy? Why not bring some wild music into the classroom, and see how it livens up the place? Why knot? (The word knot was used to see if you were paying attention, and to make you laugh!)
-Develop Life Skills: Possibly through internships, service-learning, taking leadership roles in the classroom, or at school, or volunteering to help younger kids read, or by simply being a buddy to another student, there are ample ways to help students realize that their life skills matter, that they can have a positive impact on people in their worlds. As students develop it could become so easy to simply allow each one to believe that they are the most important child in the world, and if we work just a little bit, we can help them realize that they could in fact become the most important person in the world to another person who needs them. If we did, we sure would have some tremendously skills children on our hands.
Summing up: I do believe that as educators come to not only recognized the need for these types of supports, and that we collective begin to act on them to build the types of schools that are surely needed, we can positively change the world, one student, one classroom, one school at a time. And, if we really get to it, we can change our communities for the good that much faster!
Dr. Robert A. Martinez, AKA “Resiliency Guy” on Facebook, and @ResiliencyGuy on #twitter @twitter strives to support the ideas of Transformational Resilience #TR to all who come in his path! He co-moderates #Resiliencechat on Monday evenings on #Twitter at 7:00 PM PST. Join him in his quest to create schools where children can “Grow in Peace!” He is currently the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources for the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District.
Connect, Appreciate and Build a Sustainable Transformation
Connecting: When we connect, even for a moment, we demonstrate the ability to build relationship, be human, show love, and to build a community.
When we connect with those in our environments we take the first step in demonstrating to them that we care, that they matter, and that we believe in the value of them as a person with individuality, ideas, and thoughts that matter to us. We tell them that not only do we care about them, but they have a place in our world, and in our collective reality. Whether this connection is a simple acknowledgment, a wink and a nod, a brief conversation, or a heartfelt hello, we must strive to ensure that we are making these connections.
Think about it, in your world, when people take that moment to actually connect to you do you feel more alive. I think that as we go through our busy days, we often become so consumed eith our internal thoughts, our minds focused on problem solving, and with gathering information from our technological devices, that we sometimes forget to recognize that others are seeking to connect with us. For example, as I was ruminating over my day’s work, driving home, stopped at a stoplight, with the news radio blarring at me, I happened to look to my left.
It took just a few seconds, and yet there she was. An elderly African American woman I didn’t know, sitting in the passenger seat of the car to my left. She smiled, gave me a little wave with her small right hand, and nodded to me. It was no more than a few fingers being lifted to let me know that she saw me, and that smile and nod refocused me into realizing that my work-day, though long, filled with the troubles of others, and with complex problems with solutions that were hopefully on their way, was actually not that bad at all. She let me know that she saw me, she connected with me, she ackknowledged my exsistence, and I was grateful.
Appreciation: If we miss a moment to show appreciation, we miss an opportunity to potentially change the world! Don’t miss those moments!
Do moments in your day seem to fly by in clusters where you move from cluster to cluster without recognizing the efforts of others? For me it happens all too often, and I want to be better at recognizing the efforts of others, then in demonstrating appreciation for the efforts of others. This will take a conscious deliberate effort in seeking to notice these efforts, and a purposeful response to demonstrate that I’ve noticed, and appreciated those efforts. Please consider joining me in these efforts.
It could be as simple as saying, “Thank You.” It could be as simple as writing a post-it-note with a smile on it, and leaving it in a conspicuous place for the person to find, or it could be a brief email, text, snapchat, tag in a twitter post, or any other entry into the technological stream that the person swims, to let them know that you noticed, and appreciated their efforts. The venue isn’t the important thing, it’s ensuring that the person that you want to demonstrate appreciation for realizes that you care, you noticed, you appreciate them, and that you are not taking for granted their efforts.
Our world today is moving so fast, and yet, it is these moments that are so important to us as people, and it is these moments that could actually make an impact on our personal story, the story of the people in our world, and the broader world in general. Consider how your reality might change if you offered more appreciation to others. Could you ingnite a new way of acting with people in your reality? Could this new way of acting spread to those people, and their realities? Could we, as some have said, actually change the world by initiating a “Chain of Appreciation” that links us all together? What if we could? Why wouldn’t we?
Building a Sustainable Transformation: This takes ideas, dedication, and follow through! #Resilience #EachPersonMatters
To change the world is no easy feat, and yet, what could be more meaningful? So to those that actually dare to take on this challenge with me, I say, “Welcome, to wherever you are,” and “Let’s travel this journey together.” Whether you are a teacher, an educator, a person who cares about others, or the head of a major corporation, it just doesn’t matter, since no matter who you are, you do have the ability to change your world, impact the world of the people within your world, and quite possibly, change the entire world.
You simply need ideas that you believe in, dedication to initiate a change in your own behavior, and perserverance to follow through on your own behavior. In addition, if you create opportunities for others in your world to follow your example, and set expectations for those in your world that will lead to them supporting your ideas, then your goals become closer to your reach.
As this blog suggests, if you seek to increase your personal connections with others at every opportunity, if you begin to increase your appreciation for others that you are connecting with, you will be taking significant steps to build a sustainable transformation in your world, that can, and will, impact those in your world, and quite possibly ignite a change to our collective world. I ask again, What if we could? Why wouldn’t we?
Peace, Rob Martinez, Ed.D.
Dr. Martinez, strives to empower adults to build environments for children where they can “Grow in Peace. He can also be found on twitter as @ResiliencyGuy and @DrRobM_FSUSD
Dr. Martinez will be presenting at the American Associationi of School Personnel Administrators Conference, “Human Capital Leadership Summit” in Monterey, California, on December 3, 2015, and at the “National Conference on Resilience in Education” in Las Vegas, Nevada, the weekend of December 5-6, 2015.
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Tale of Two Types of Teachers: One Brings Forth Transformational Resiliency, the Other Threatens Students Success-Time to Choose!
My dear fellow educators, parents, people who care about children, and supporters of a better world, let me first say clearly, each and every child you know needs your support, care, love and understanding. I further believe that each child you know is entitled to an educational environment where they are encouraged to grow in peace, able to stretch their thinking, advance their skills, build a healthy psyche, and become college, career, and community ready!
Quite simply, each child is entitled to learn in an environment that focuses on building Transformational Resiliency, and one where a child’s success is never threatened.
Unfortunately, in some of our schools today I must confess that there continues to exist some adults whose talents and skills do not focus on providing support, care, love, understanding, empathy, and growth mindset models to children. Instead, they hold a mis-guided belief that the tactics of fear, intimidation, power, control, shame, and punishment are effective strategies for keeping children in their place, quiet, compliant, and focused on solely outdated academic pursuits as defined by these mis-guided individuals. Hold for a moment while I gasp along with you, and shake my head at the reality that some of these adult individiuals are mis-guided teachers who desperately need our intervention!
I’d love to tell you that this is a myth, and yet, to my dismay, I have heard words from some teachers’ mouths directly to my ears, that describe situations that could only lead to frustration and negative success for many students. Some of these statements sound like: “We must lay down the law…we must convince them (students) that we are in control…we must demand that they respect us…we must be sure that they know the consequences of their actions…we must force them to behave…we must suspend them at the slightest misdeed…we must never let them see our weakness!”
While some people might seek to understand these statements, and some might even agree that each classroom needs order, that children must be provided parameters within classrooms, and that when there is no order chaos could derail many a classroom, the underlying premise of these statements is one of intimidation and fear, which is by no way a means to an end where children are involved. It saddens me that these feelings might reside in anyone.
This is a sad fact that there are those in positions of power, including some teachers, that seek to control students. Further, where these sentiments exist there may be a push by some to garner support, and replicate these thoughts. It is worrisome when a veteran teacher with such beliefs, who thinks that it is their duty to share their “wisdom” with new teachers to ensure compliance of students across their school, is the main voice on a campus without discourse occurring. I must say this practice of passing of knowledge, this training of the newbies, this approach to control, domination, depowerment, has no place in our schools, has no place in the raising of children, has no place in the growth mind-set that is needed to support our children. Further, these tactics especially have no place where children have experienced trauma, pain, discrimination, and disparate treatment from their community, and these children need emotional nourishment, not emotional neglect. In fact, the complete opposite is needed for children to grow in peace.
Now, rest assured, that situations are not like this everywhere, and know that a growing proportion of educators are striving, pushing, leading other educators to understand that the first and foremost important factor that will combat this approach is to first be a person, a human being, and to allow our children to know that we are humans with true interest in developing relationships with them as people. These healthy relationships are so needed across our educational institutions, and are indeed an avenue to save children, and in turn save ourselves. When educators seek to provide positive educational environments, where the resilience development of children becomes one of the prevailing factors of the work, and where adults are consciously aware that they matter in the lives of children, extremely positive outcomes are possible. This paramount priority of building relationships must be at the forefront of an educator’s mission on a daily basis for real and true growth of children to occur.
In many of the conversations that I have had with such educators I have heard words of inspiration, words that are filled with encouragement, words that are supportive, demonstrate love and care, and words that can indeed lead to the enhancement of positivity and quite possibly change the world. Some of these words include: “We must seek to understand each child that enters our classrooms…we must strive to build relationships, and be human beings…we must help our children develop their internal locus of control…we must create respectful environments where each child can give and get from their community…we must provide opportunities for children to see their futures, to build capacities they never imagined, and to learn how to support each other…we must seek to heal children…we must seek to forgive children…we must seek to restore justice to our classrooms, schools, communities so that children learn to understand the power they hold in their lives…we must strive to empower children, all children, each child, to be ready for the future they can, and can’t see!” Then as believers of education we must inspire those that are doing this important work with our children each day to continue, and to bring their colleagues with them to create a positive tipping point for each school!
When I hear these positive statements from teachers I am inspired. When I see these types of positive strategies and behaviors being implemented I am enthralled. When I hear groups of teachers engaged in discourse that is focused on building relationship with and among students in classrooms, hallways, quads, schools that are providing environments that are empowering children to be safe, build positive relationships, learn how to trust our educational institution, and to use the resources provided to them to grow themselves and each other, I am humbled to be an educator. And, my dear colleagues, it is happening. It is happening due to the strength of individuals, the courage of educators, the resiliency of children, the implementation of professional development that encourages and educates teachers about their power to truly change lives through making connections with children, and by not thretening a child’s success.
It is happening in more and more classrooms and schools. Teachers and educators are learning how to “Capture Kids Hearts.” Teachers and educators are helping children to “Be The Change.” Teachers and educators are striving to support children with understanding “Rachel’s Challenge,” and to initiate a chain of kindness. Teachers and educators are fostering healthy conversations. Teachers and educators are encouraging restorative justice practices. Teachers and educators are understanding that it is with support, love, caring, and focusing on the betterment of children that real change occurs, and that by dismissing the old myths that we gain something by controlling children is a practice that has reached far beyond its shelf-life.
Teachers and educators are building classrooms and schools where social-contracts are the rule, not the rarity. Teachers and educators are understanding that the power of positive mental health instruction and social-emotional learning curriculums are a priority for each classroom. Teachers and educators are empowering each other to create environments where Transformational-Resiliency practices are flourishing. Teachers and educators are rebuking the false promises out-dated strategies that seek to control children, and are replacing them with strategies that are nuturing and nourishing students.
If you have stayed with me through this writing you have probably picked up that I hold quite an internal passion for this topic. Yes, my wife and I have four boys, and one with some significant difficulties simply attending school, and each and every time I hear someone speak of the need to control studentes I cringe, I gasp, my heart races, and my blood begins to boil. I am seriously concerned for my son experiencing anyone who might wish to threaten his success, and I pray that each educator that he may meet over the remainder of his education will be someone who will seek to employ Transformational-Resiliency practices to encourage his success.
I ask you, in your work, in your life, in your role, if you hear any educator speak of the need to control students, please challenge their ideas, tell them that you are sorry for their perception and experiences that might have led them to this perspective, and explain to them that there is another way, a better way, a way of engaging students through practices that focus on kindness, care, compassion, empathy, and relationship building. Tell them that they have time to change, that the children they work with each day deserve the best they have to offer, not just the control they want to implement, and quite frankly it might be time to tell them that if they cannot choose to change, they might want to choose to leave. Our children deserve only the best!
Tell them about Transformational Resiliency: The growth, development and strengthening of a child’s personal resiliency as a result of being provided an engaging, positive, thoughful, supportive educational environment.
Peace, Robert A. Martinez, Ed.D.
@ResiliencyGuy @DrRobM_FSUSD https://resiliencyguy.wordpress.com/
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Every Connection Counts-Build #Resilience-Promote #Grit Development
My dear friends,
In case you hadn’t thought about it recently, this post is directed at helping you to be reminded that each connection counts, every moment is precious, each interaction is unique, and thank goodness it is our human ability to connect with others, to be able to realize the importance of every minute we have, and deeply understand that when we interact with others that those moments are a true gift of humanity whose dividends can change the world.
Further, when we accept and use these precious gifts as we proceed through life we are better able to propel ourselves into the world to create an impact of positivity that can send ripples of kindness across the world. Yes, we absolutey should “Toss Kindness Around Like it’s Confetti!” Consider how our world would be a different place if we brought the same excitement and enthusiasm we demonstrate for our sports heros when we happen to see our co-workers in the morning.
Think for a moment about a single day and the connections you make, or choose not to make, or make and don’t recognize their importance. Consider how you approached these interactions, and reflect: Could I have been better? Was I intentional in my actions? Was I purposeful in my approach? Was I present for the entire interaction? Did I seek to engage and support those that I interacted with? Did I leave the interaction believing that I did what I could to assist the person I was with, and was I satisfied that I made the interaction a growth opportunity for myself and those interacting with me? Or, like most of us, because we are frequently thinking about a thousand different things we move from interaction to interaction without being present, intentional, engaging, supportive, thoughtful, empathetic or focused on the actual interaction.
The challenge is of course to appreciate each and every interaction, and to employ our best strategies and skills during our interaction times with someone else. Tomorrow, I challenge you to thoughtfully approach several of your interactions, or even just one. Maybe this interaction will be with your partner, a co-worker, your boss, a brand new person, just choose, and think and act differently. Consider that the moments that this other person is choosing to share with you are unique experience for them. What is their perspective? What is their motivation for sharing these moments with you? What do they want to remember from this interaction? I challenge you to make this time all about them, and you might be surprised at how much better you might feel about yourself, and your own humanity.
Here’s another few questions for you: Do you appreciate those in your proximity? Do you recognize and acklowedge each person as a unique being with their own perpspective, goals, motivations, and challenges? Have you taken the perspective that you actually might not know what each person in your immediate surroundings is dealing with at any given moment? Think about it, if you watch television, then you have heard the news that there must be literally millions of individuals who are wondering if they are depressed, filled with anxiety, and debilitized due to stress. Quite frankly, it’s a bit overwhelming to consider the number of individuals in your proximity that need extra support, care and love, and yet, you have the capabilities to potentially provide support, care and love to this other is well within your reach! It sure is great to be human!
Yes my friends, tonight, I am espousing the gift of being human. If you are reading this, you are human and you need to interact positively with everyone for their benefit and yours. It is especially important if you are in a position of authority, or if you are serving in a role of a teacher. Consider the importance of your role with children, and recognize that the moments that you are interacting with children you actually have the ability to create opportunities for #Resiliency to develop and flourish, and even more opportunity to develop #Grit. When you are present, when you engage, when you support, when you are purposeful, when you are intentional, when you are empathetic, when you are encouraging, when you help children to believe that they can survive, overcome, face adversity, and learn and grow, you are Super-Human!
Our ability to connect with others is a gift. This ability to empower others is so powerful, and each of us can infact create a positive impact on the world. Why on earth would we not?
Be powerful, be human, be amazing, be a positive life force that supports others. Help students to grow in peace, and help others to find peace in their growth!
Peace, Rob Martinez, Ed.D., @ResiliencyGuy
The Littlest of Hands-The most Resilient Person I have Ever Known! Bar-None!
The cliche goes like this, “Good things come in small packages.” Well, my friends, this is a massive understatement with regards to my wonderful niece, Stephanie Mayhugh, who was born in February of 1978, at a weight of no more than 2 lbs. 14 oz. Stephanie was a primordial dwarf.
Yes, that’s right, born at less than three pounds over thirty-six years ago, and at full stature she stood no more than three feet tall (32 inches)! Yet, Stephanie, lived a life of a Giant!
Through medical procedure, after medical procedure, she persevered! She attacked life with the gusto of the most resilient individual that I ever had the pleasure to know. She learned how to talk though she could barely breathe through a tracheotomy tube. She learned to sign to communicate with her parents, and to learn at school. She learned how to love, be comassionate for all, and cherish each moment she had on this earth due to the love and care of her parents and family!
She wrote poetry, songs, sang, played the drums in her high school band, volunteered at a senior center, she gave, and gave, and gave, more of her little self than most professional athletes give through their entire careers. She learned to get around on a scooter at school. She loved God, and always found peace in the world by smiling to others, and figuring out how to make things better for everyone, sometimes with a simple “Hi,” hug or kiss.
This giant of a little person was lost to those who knew and loved her on Monday, May 11, 2014. The battle to stave off illness became too difficult for her tiny body to continue to wage war on, and in a moment she was gone.
As part of my grieving process I wrote the following poem to honor our Steph, and I hope you read it, and re-read it whenever you find any doubt that you are important, and that you can make a difference to others.
The littlest of Angels was called to heaven, yet, her spirit shines like the sun each day in my heart, and in the hearts of the tens of thousands that ever had the pleasure to see and/or meet the one with the littlest of hands.
The littlest of hands:
The littlest of hands can hold the most love, ever!
The littlest of hands has the biggest heart in the world.
The littlest of hands can caress the biggest fears away from your soul.
The littlest of hands could calm the most frustrated, spread warmth and love as hot as the sun, and bring a smile to the world no matter what the day brings.
The littlest of hands can touch the sky, feel God’s light, and warm the coldest iceberg.
The littlest of hands can write the most eloquent of poems.
The littlest of hands can soothe the most anxious of minds.
The littlest of hands can reach into the soul, find the truth in life, and faith in God’s love.
The littlest of hands can can hug your face like a Giant might do.
The littlest of hands can keep the beat with the the Angles when singing any song.
The littlest of hands can paint a masterpiece with a few brush strokes.
The littlest of hands can touch you deep in your heart, mind and soul, and renew your spirit, love, and passion for life.
The littlest of hands can remind you of the need to connect with each other, the importance of family, and the power of God’s love.
The littlest of hands can hold the love of thousands and thousands of well wishers in her heart, and always have room for more.
The littlest of hands belonged to our Stephanie, my sister’s child, my brother-in-law’s child.
The oldest grandchild of my mother and father, and one of the strongest and bravest people I have ever known, our Stephanie.
The littlest of hands cherished God, and found peace tonight, as she slipped away to be held tight by God’s majestic hands.
The littlest of hands may be gone, yet the love she brought, the inspiration she provided, the passion for life she displayed to all who were lucky enought to ever have a chance to meet her, lives on, brings forth smiles, wonderful memories, and so much love that you would never suspect that it came from anyone else but an Amazon of a woman.
The littlest of hands, our sweet Stephanie Rose, I will remember your lessons each day. You made me a better person. Love you always!
Love Uncle Rob, Smooch!
If you are moved to provide a donation to support Stephanie’s wishes to assist other Little people please make a donation at your local Wells Fargo Bank in the name of her brother, Jared Mayhugh-Memorial Account. The funds will be used to assist children and families to attend conferences for Little People of America.