Wednesday, March 28, 2018

You Asked, I Answer (Luck, Compliments, Favourite Smells)

Another week, another set of answers to your questions. These are all from one of my favourite bloggers.

And away we go...

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Christine asked:

1) What's the luckiest thing that's happened to you?

The short answer: Staying alive.

The long answer:

When I was about 11, a man that had been following me to and from school, walked up to me quickly on my way back to class after lunch one day (we used to go home for lunch), crowding me, saying things like “Help with the baby” and “We must hurry” and “The baby is sick” and on and on. As he spoke incessantly, he also corralled me in a certain direction, right toward the entrance of a multi-unit building. Next thing I knew, I was inside a triplex with this man right behind me. The door slammed shut, the world was left behind and the sudden understanding that I was in danger was so blatant, I struggled to breathe. I’ve never felt more terrified in my life. This is the darkest and most haunting moment of my childhood. Since I’m in the here and now, it turned out fine. I might not have been here if things had gone differently.

So getting out of that situation and being here to write about it today is the luckiest thing that has ever happened to me.



2) What's the best compliment you've ever received?

I had to think really hard about this one. As an introvert, compliments have never been at the forefront of my life. I’m usually in the background, quietly doing whatever I do and hardly ever getting noticed. Even as a child, I lived in the shadow of the older of my two brothers who was (and still is) so extroverted and personable that every single person who knew us, our family, sang praises about him. They still do.

So I thought and thought and thought about a very significant moment and suddenly BOOM this came to mind:

When I was a teen, I raged against the unjust rules imposed upon me by an oppressive cultural and religious upbringing that didn’t sit well with me. It wasn’t just reinforced by my mother in our household, it was also supported by the entire community I lived in. So I was angry and depressed and rebellious and desperate. And suffocating. This affected my schooling. I cut classes, didn’t work as hard as I could and my grades dropped. I wasn’t a troublemaker who drew attention, so no one really bothered with me.

Except for my 10th grade English teacher.

I’d been skipping at least one of her classes a week and one day, finally fed up with me, she took me aside and gave me a stern talking to. But she didn’t just threaten trouble. She said that she was upset that someone as highly intelligent as me was wasting her life. That she was frustrated that one of her most gifted students was not reaching her full potential. “You are exceptionally bright and talented, and you have the ability to be at the top of this class” she said to me. “Don’t throw it all away.”

I sulked and rolled my eyes and resisted. But I heard. Annoyed as I was (how dare she think she knows me), her words challenged me. I’ll show her, I thought. And from that day forward I was determined to demonstrate to her – and to myself – that I wasn’t a lost cause. Like my community thought I was. I could rise to the top. And I did. My marks improved, my projects were displayed in the classroom and I rose to the top. Just like she said I would.

To answer your question, Christine, the greatest compliment I’ve ever received was from my 10th grade English teacher who not only thought I was special. She told me so. At a time when I needed to hear it most.



3) What's your favourite smell?

I always lean towards vanilla. I love that smell. Not only do I appreciate it in baking, but I also like vanilla-scented candles. So vanilla is at the top of the list. And coconut. That's good. Coffee brewing, too.

But I am also drawn to basil for this reason:

My father loved growing vegetables and he was very good at it. He’d be up early morning tending to his garden and puttering around the backyard, something he enjoyed immensely, especially after retirement. He was never much into flowers – that’s always been my mother’s domain – and didn’t bother much with herbs either. But he did favour one: Ocimum basilicum, what everyone knows as basil.

For as long as my father gardened, he grew basil. And every now and then he would lean over and sniff the lovely smell that this plant emits. I came to associate this scent with him and whenever I get a whiff of it, I feel an ache in my heart, remembering his love for it and how much I miss him.



And that’s all for now. I’ll answer another bunch of questions next week.

Happy Wednesday to all!

31 comments:

  1. Enjoyed all your answers Martha, so scary about number 1. What a great teacher, it really makes a difference having people like that.

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    1. Good teachers can make such a difference to a young person. So many years later and I still remember this woman!

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  2. I had an experience where my best friend and I were walking home through a secluded area and there men in a car pulled over a short distance away. Fortunately, my friend and I felt nervous and went to the closest phone and called my mom. When we came out they were still waiting. As soon as my mom pulled up they tore off, tires squealing. When my mom called the police they told her they were looking for them and had been going after teen girls.

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    1. That is really scary! Looks like your intuition kicked in. Thank goodness it turned out alright.

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  3. Great post, Martha. So glad you escaped that dangerous situation!

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  4. Now we understand why children no longer walk to school, especially by themselves anymore.

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    1. It's important to keep kid safe but not make them paranoid. They still need to grow up street smart. Mine was an isolated incident. Thankfully I was okay.

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  5. Loved this post too, Martha. How very terrifying that first situation that must have been for you. Obviously it has stuck with you. I've had some great teachers in my past, too. I love the favourite smells question so much, I just might steal this idea and do a post (if that's o.k.). Have a great long weekend. -Jenn

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    1. It has definitely stuck with me. I'm so grateful to have escaped that scene without getting hurt.

      Good teachers are very inspirational. This woman took her job seriously and knew her students. I am grateful for her, too.

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    2. Yes, of course it's okay!

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  6. I like the knack you have to make things interesting in your writing. The teacher knew what would make you tick and got you to dance.

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    1. She certainly did. She was one of the better teachers.

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  7. A great post Martha. It really resonated with me. Nicely written too. I was just reading about the 19-year old Canadian girl who won the lottery. She was given the choice of a million $ or $1000 for life. She chose $1000. Experts have said she made the right choice as she will have made $3,000,000 by the time she’s 80. They say that money makes the world go around. Hmm, she could have bought five properties and rented them out and made a lot more.

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    1. At that age, $1000 a week is a lot of money! I might have chosen the same if I was her age. It's a guaranteed income. Also, some people end up spending the money they won foolishly. This way, she's always going to have money coming in steadily.

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  8. Your answer to #1 was shocking. I am so sorry you went through that, but glad you survived. I agree that good teachers can make a difference and I am glad you had this one. And #3 is a sweet memory of your Dad.

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    1. It was scary but thankfully everything turned out okay. That teacher made a difference in my life. She was very good at what she did. And basil is a trigger for my dad. It always reminds me of him!

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  9. What a sobering answer to question 1, Martha. I'm glad you got away.

    What good fortune to have a caring teacher. And I know what you mean about smells associated with a loved one. It's wonderful to be able to replicate them, even if it does bring a few tears.

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    1. I was very lucky! Things could have gone differently. I shudder to think how bad they could have gone.

      She was one of the best teachers. I was resistant at first but her message really pierced that shield I had put up. I always think about her.

      Tears of grief. It's the price we pay for love.

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  10. Number One was scary, so pleased you got away.

    Number Two was special, a good teacher travels with you throughout life ...and it is these that you remember the most, well it is in my experience.

    Number Three was extra special, a wonderful memory of your Dad.

    Enjoy the rest of your week

    All the best Jan

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    1. These were interesting questions and I enjoyed answering them. Well, expect for number one. It's a horrible memory. But at least it all turned out okay!

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  11. Good post, Martha. I liked that, in your own way, you listened to the teacher and weren't threatened by her comments. You big SMARTY PANTS!!
    Basil.....my favourite herb too. Nothing better than making one's own pesto with it!

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    1. Oh yes, I really did listen to her. There was a side of me that wanted to block her out but I think deep down I needed someone like her!

      Homemade pesto is definitely the best!

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  12. I really enjoyed your answers and getting to know you better - what an experience you had at 11...wow. I think with this sentence...."Stuggling to breathe..." at age 11......and "....as a teenage, rebellious, desparate and suffocating..."....that you Absolutely ...Found your life giving breath and took a deep breath into who you really are.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Sandy. I've always been very insightful and able to completely understand who I am and what I need. This has helped me throughout my life.

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  13. Glad you were able to get together for dinner with friends. Thanks for the funnies. :)
    ไพ่ออนไลน์
    Gclub

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  14. Love all these great questions and your answers, Martha! Such fun and really get to know you! I am so happy your 10th grade English teacher inspired you because I agree with her! You are very talented in your writing!

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    1. Thanks, Nancy! She was strict and annoying...and a great teacher! Looking back now, she was one of the best ones. As a teen, I saw the world differently. But I'm glad she saw far more in me than just my outward appearances.

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  15. Smell really is linked to memories but I'll also give the nod to music. Which isn't I guess a sense but the sound of a song can bring me back as fast as a good bake smell can.

    Very sorry that you had to go through that when you were a kid. Super scary. Super duper scary.

    Love your teacher. She has your number, eh?

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    1. Oh yes, definitely music! That's like time travel when you listen to a song. ZAP and you're somewhere else, sometimes way in the past. And it is a sense...the sense of hearing!

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