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Think what a remarkable, unduplicatable, and miraculous thing it is to be you! Of all the people who have come and gone on the earth, since the beginning of time, not ONE of them is like YOU!

No one who has ever lived or is to come has had your combination of abilities, talents, appearance, friends, acquaintances, burdens, sorrows and opportunities.

No, one's hair grows exactly the way yours does. No one's finger prints are like yours. No one has the same combination of secret inside jokes and family expressions that you know.

The few people who laugh at all the same things you do, don't sneeze the way you do. No one prays about exactly the same concerns as you do. No one is loved by the same combination of people that love you – NO ONE!

No one before, no one to come. YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY UNIQUE!

Enjoy that uniqueness. You do not have to pretend in order to seem more like someone else. You weren't meant to be like someone else. You do not have to lie to conceal the parts of you that are not like what you see in anyone else.

You were meant to be different. Nowhere ever in all of history will the same things be going on in anyone's mind, soul and spirit as are going on in yours right now.

If you did not exist, there would be a hole in creation, a gap in history, something missing from the plan for humankind.

Treasure your uniqueness. It is a gift given only to you. Enjoy it and share it!

No one can reach out to others in the same way that you can. No one can speak your words. No one can convey your meanings. No one can comfort with your kind of comfort. No one can bring your kind of understanding to another person.

No one can be cheerful and lighthearted and joyous in your way. No one can smile your smile. No one else can bring the whole unique impact of you to another human being.

Share your uniqueness. Let it be free to flow out among your family and friends and people you meet in the rush and clutter of living wherever you are. That gift of yourself was given you to enjoy and share. Give yourself away!

See it! Receive it! Let it tickle you! Let it inform you and nudge you and inspire you! YOU ARE UNIQUE!

                       WORDS OF INSPIRATION

If you knew that someone's mother had just died, their child had been molested or their spouse diagnosed with a terminal illness, how would you speak to them on the phone or on the street?

Each time you interact with someone, those situations are a real possibility in their life.

Please pause, breathe and think before you bring uncaring or unconscious words or experiences into another human being's reality.

You have the opportunity to make a positive difference in the life of every person you meet. Take that opportunity.


Lesson 17

I love sending sentimental greeting cards, especially to my mom. I love telling people how much I love them and how much I appreciate the gift that they bring to my life just by being who they are.

I received the following story this morning from my friend, Skip. It reminded me of a course that I participated in years ago. One of the exercises in the course was to do the very same thing that the Sister does in this story.

I remember how much of an impact it had on my life and how much it meant to get love in the form of feedback from people who barely knew me but saw in me the very qualities that I longed to have recognized and appreciated. As with the students in this story, I too still have that piece of paper.

I hope you enjoy the story. I have a suggestion which follows. Please use it as you will.


He was in the first third grade class I taught at Saint Mary's School in Morris, Minn. All 34 of my students were dear to me, but Mark Eklund was one in a million. Very neat in appearance, but had that happy-to-be-alive attitude that made even his occasional mischievousness delightful. Mark talked incessantly. I had to remind him again and again that talking without permission was not acceptable.

What impressed me so much, though, was his sincere response every time I had to correct him for misbehaving - "Thank you for correcting me, Sister!" I didn't know what to make of it at first, but before long I became accustomed to hearing it many times a day. One morning my patience was growing thin when Mark talked once too often, and then I made a novice-teacher's mistake. I looked at Mark and said, "If you say one more word, I am going to tape your mouth shut!"

It wasn't ten seconds later when Chuck blurted out, "Mark is talking again." I hadn't asked any of the students to help me watch Mark, but since I had stated the punishment in front of the class, I had to act on it. I remember the scene as if it had occurred this morning. I walked to my desk, very deliberately opened my drawer and took out a roll of masking tape. Without saying a word, I proceeded to Mark's desk, tore off two pieces of tape and made a big X with them over his mouth. I then returned to the front of the room. As I glanced at Mark to see how he was doing, he winked at me. That did it!! I started laughing. The class cheered as I walked back to Mark's desk, removed the tape, and shrugged my shoulders. His first words were, "Thank you for correcting me, Sister."

At the end of the year I was asked to teach junior-high math. The years flew by, and before I knew it Mark was in my classroom again. He was more handsome than ever and just as polite. Since he had to listen carefully to my instructions in the "new math," he did not talk as much in ninth grade as he had in third. One Friday, things just didn't feel right. We had worked hard on a new concept all week, and I sensed that the students were frowning, frustrated with themselves and edgy with one another. I had to stop this crankiness before it got out of hand. So I asked them to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name.

Then I told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It took the remainder of the class period to finish the assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed me the papers. Charlie smiled. Mark said, "Thank you for teaching me, Sister. Have a good weekend."

That Saturday, I wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and I listed what everyone else had said about that individual. On Monday I gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" I heard whispered. "I never knew that meant anything to anyone!" "I didn't know others liked me so much!"

No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. I never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another again.

That group of students moved on. Several years later, after I returned from vacation, my parents met me at the airport. As we were driving home, Mother asked me the usual questions about the trip - the weather, my experiences in general. There was a light lull in the conversation. Mother gave Dad a side-ways glance and simply says, "Dad?"

My father cleared his throat as he usually did before something important. "The Eklunds called last night," he began. "Really?" I said. "I haven't heard from them in years. I wonder how Mark is." Dad responded quietly. "Mark was killed in Vietnam," he said. "The funeral is tomorrow, and his parents would like it if you could attend.

To this day I can still point to the exact spot on I-494 where Dad told me about Mark. I had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. Mark looked so handsome, so mature. All I could think at that moment was, Mark, I would give all the masking tape in the world if only you would talk to me. The church was packed with Mark's friends. Chuck's sister sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Why did it have to rain on the day of the funeral?

It was difficult enough at the graveside. The pastor said the usual prayers, and the bugler played taps. One by one those who loved Mark took a last walk by the coffin and sprinkled it with holy water. I was the last one to bless the coffin. As I stood there, one of the soldiers who had acted as pallbearer came up to me. "Were you Mark's math teacher?" he asked. I nodded as I continue to stare at the coffin. "Mark talked about you a lot," he said.

After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates headed to Chuck's farmhouse for lunch. Mark's mother and father were there, waiting for me. "We want to show you something," his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. "They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it." Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times.

I knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which I had listed all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him. "Thank you so much for doing that, " Mark's mother said. "As you can see, Mark treasured it." Mark's classmates started to gather around us. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. It's in the top drawer of my desk at home." Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put this in our wedding album." "I have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary." Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. "I carry this with me at all times," Vicki said without batting an eyelash. "I think we all saved our lists." That's when I finally sat down and cried. I cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.



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