So, I can juggle. And not to brag or anything, but I’m pretty darn good. I’m talking four balls in the air, pins, rings, with a partner, bouncing… Yep. I’ve got some mad skills. I helped start a juggling club in elementary school called the J.I.V.E team (acronym for Juggling Is very Educational–pretty catchy, eh?) back in the day. We performed at countless nursing homes and elementary schools over my grade school years.
Fourth grade was the height of my juggling career. I remember pulling out the rings and making my way to the front of that nursing home crowd. In my mind’s eye I saw my future before me: on stage to thousands chanting my name, flames bursting from the end of my pins. All I needed was that Barnum and Bailey scout to discover me!
To be fair, all students who attended Ms. Finnigan’s and Ms. Steffy’s PE classes also became accomplished in the art of throwing and catching objects. Our teachers had a serious passion for juggling. One of my earliest memories of school was music blaring and brightly colored scarves littering the air of our little gym. Once scarves were mastered, beanbags began to fly. Before we hit second grade, almost all of my classmates could have been recruited to the circus.
Today, my audience consists of four little boys and their occasional friends who stop by. They smile and roll their eyes. If only my kids knew how totally awesome their mom once was, juggling to a roaring crowd of 80-year-old grandparents. Yep, those were the days.
The important thing is, Ms. Steffy and Ms. Finnigan left a legacy. Their passion for juggling influenced hundreds of children, and that totally random skill is now a part of a next generation’s lives.
Other teachers, mentors, and friends have left their passions imprinted on me as well. In 3rd grade, Mrs. Chamberlain gave an awkward, shy girl with a hideous bowl cut a chance to shine. She cared about making others feel important, especially those who needed a little extra love. Her legacy: Compassion. Mrs. Miller and Mrs. Schenk in 9th grade spent years encouraging and engaging many hesitant writers and readers. I’m sure Mr. Catt thought it was hilarious teaching me, a quiet, follow-the-rules, straight A soccer player, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin on the guitar. He showed me I didn’t have to fit a mold. Regina, my boss through High School, is the hardest working person I know. Her way of giving her all and treating her workers with respect is a trait I’ve always admired. Mrs. Alexander helped me see potential in the kids I student-taught, even when it sometimes felt hard to see. My dad: patience and service. My mom: listening and kindness. My sister: humor, positivity and friendship.
When my grandkids sit around a table recalling memories of their old Grandma Chelsi, maybe they will smile when they remember my mad juggling skills. More than that, I hope they will remember me for the things I’ve learned from amazing people that have had an impact on my life. Kindness, patience, compassion, positivity, service, a listening ear, a friend, a hard worker, someone to cheer others on. I certainly have a long ways to go and have made more than my share of mistakes, and sometimes I feel as far from reaching that as juggling in Barnum and Bailey Circus. But that, more than anything else, is what I hope I can leave behind.
What kind of legacy will you leave?