Thursday, April 22, 2010

Surrounding Yourself with the Right People!

Today I got arguably the nicest e-mail I've ever received.  Sitting at my computer waiting for some students to finish up an activity I checked my Gmail account.  Up popped an message from one of my favorite people, Jo Anna Popielarski.  The e-mail included a short note from Jo Anna and a forwarded message from a newsletter she receives.  

Her message read: 
This is who you are to your friends.  That's why we all like you so much ;)

The attachment said the following:
Surrounding Yourself with the Right People It's easy to recognize a perfect candidate for your support team. Just look for someone who has a way of making everyone else around them better: someone who succeeds by developing other people and letting them in on the fun; someone who is genuinely happy when other people succeed. That's the person you want on your side. The pages of history are heavy with tales of the misguided who were proven wrong while insisting something couldn't be done. Why put up with that? Believe in your goals enough to know that you shouldn't stomach people who don't. It's okay if you're the only one who believes in your dream. But someone who truly believes in YOU should help you believe that if anyone can do it, you can. 

I have always said that one of my absolute best qualities is my ability to surround myself with good people.  I have amazing friends, all over the place, who are a wonderful mixture of talented, well traveled, smart, attractive, funny, passionate, and supportive.  Or all of the above.  I am insanely blessed to have the people in my life that I do, and I truly feel I was fated to meet all of my most important friends.  What if Carl, Erin or I rode a different bus?  What if Liz or I had been placed in a different ninth grade biology class?   What if I hadn't gone to hang out with that eccentric group of boys in the hallway and I never met Gabe and Greg and Bruno and Jason?   What if Marywood housing hadn't fated Monica and I to be neighbors, or Amanda to be our prospective?  What if we had ignored the urge to talk to Toni and Shannon during welcome back week?  What if I hadn't been an MG, thrown into a group with Melissa Lees, Meghan and Susan?  What if the timing had been off and I missed the only six months Renee and I have ever lived in the same state?  What if I hadn't decided to rush Zeta Phi Delta and had never met Jo Anna?  Or gone on that crazy adventure called Semester at Sea where I met countless inspiring and fantastic people, including the lovely Lyndsay Aspell?  What if I hadn't lucked into my job at Hilltop, connecting me with Debbie and Charlita and Kara?  And if I hadn't had that job surely I wouldn't have been looking for roommates allowing me to reconnect with Christina or meet Sammie.  And then we have my trip to South Korea.  What if I had come six months earlier or later or worked for a hagwon?  I never would have connected with Julia, Ayzia, Dana, Laura, Erich, Brigid, or the other random friends who brighten my days here.    The world is full of a million and one what-ifs, I suppose.  

Whenever we discuss how stressful and obnoxious my high school experience was, my mom always tells me that I should have gone to one of the other schools I was looking at and that I could have been happy and made friends anywhere.  But I can't help but feel that going down that road would have resulted in a completely different person from the one who sits here tonight, typing away on the other side of the world. 

And all in all, I wouldn't change a thing.  Certainly not if it meant that I would have missed out on meeting even one of the people mentioned above.

So, moral of the story, thanks for being my friends.  Thanks for supporting me and providing me with some of the greatest memories and inside jokes a girl could ask for.  Even if we aren't in constant contact, know that you've had a profound impact on my life and I love you all to pieces.

And while I'm in this weepy, self reflective mode, I have to share a postcard I just found in the new PostSecret book, Confessions on Life, Death, and God.  It has a picture of some kids playing in the background, and the text simply says "I hope I can give my kids as great of a childhood as I had.  I'm looking forward to the challenge!"   Replace "childhood" with "mom" and you'll have a sentiment that has been echoing through my head especially frequently this week.  After a being in a shitty mood for almost a week, I come home to find that a huge package from my mom has finally arrived.  Composed of the gifts for my students and coworkers, new clothes and jewelry to add to my stale wardrobe, Girl Scout cookies and REESE'S PEANUT BUTTER EGGS, this package did wonders for my mood and the ache that I feel being away from my mom, who is truly my very best friend.  I know I sometimes take her for granted, but when I think of how lucky I am to have her...there really just aren't words.  From the care packages she sent before I ever left the house so they'd be there when I arrived at Girl Scout camp that first summer before second grade to the marathon video chat conversations we have from halfway around the world, she's been a constant support and motivator and role model...even when I surely didn't deserve it.  Love you, Mom.

Love you all.  Miss you.  Mean it.


  1. I'm not gonna lie. I have not been keeping up with your blog as much I was at the beginning. (Making them your FB posts REALLY help, though!)

    But I DO love this one. Almost as much as the pee sticks. (Okay, maybe more.)

    You're in my heart, Ms. Shanahan!! Keep doing good (the noun "good", that is) all over the world.

    -A. Mandarin

  2. you = one hella awesome mad sweet cool lady.


    ps: I remember when we first met. I needed poster putty and you gave me yours. I remember thinking, "how nice. I think I'll keep this one around".

  3. you are definfinetly one of my favorite people and even though we don't talk as much or hang out as much as we used to, i still consider you a very good friend. Let's not forget our wonderful summer at CPW... ha.

    shout out to your mom for the peanut butter eggs (my fav!)