Five Minute Friday: Grateful

I tried something I’ve never tried before, and I posted a one-question survey on Facebook asking for your vote on what post to share this Friday.  And you surprised me with your results.

The people speak!

Freewriting!  By George, you wanted freewriting!  So, freewriting you shall get, my dears.

Five Minute Friday

It has actually been nearly a year since my last Five Minute Friday post, and I was eager to bring it back today.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this series, here’s a quick run-down of how it works:

  • Five Minute Friday was started by blogger, Lisa-Jo Baker, and each week, she provides a new topic on which to write. This week’s topic is grateful.
  • You set a timer and write for five minutes only. No more. No less.
  • This is freewriting, which means there’s no stopping, no going back, no editing. (Scary, I know.)
  • She invites you (yes, you!) to participate and then link up your post at her blog. You can read all about it by visiting here.

As someone who relishes in the writing process, but is painstakingly slow about it, I find Five Minute Fridays to be simultaneously terrifying and liberating.  (Like most worthwhile endeavors.)  And so, here I go again.

Grateful

GO.

This week is teacher appreciation week, you know.  I’ve been blessed with many teachers who have helped to shape me into who I am today.  Teachers who have changed me for the better.  But I’d like to focus on just one of those teachers today.  After all, I only have five minutes.  Ack!  Scratch that.  Now, I only have four.  Her name: Pat Rinello.

Rinello was my high school theatre teacher, and yes, we called her Rinello.  Just like she called all of us by our last names, as though we were teammates hollering across a sports field.  And in many ways, that’s exactly what our musicals were like: she worked us like we were training for the Olympics.  Expecting more from us than we knew we were capable of.  Pushing us harder than we ever thought we could handle.

I remember when one of our ensemble song-and-dance numbers from Once Upon a Mattress was painfully low on energy, she actually left the building and made us run-through it 10 times until she could hear our singing from the auditorium stage vibrating through the glass outside.  We were tired.  Exhausted.  But it was Rinello.  And she demanded the best.  So, we worked our tails off to give her our best.  And when she finally could hear our voices loud and strong, she bounded through those doors and down the aisle, screaming, “Yes!  Yes!  That’s it!  Did you feel it?  Did you feel that energy?  Now you can never go back.  Never deliver less.”

And we didn’t.

And I grew up.  I became a theatre teacher, too.  I yearn to instill in my students the same belief she instilled in us.  The same drive.  And every opening night of every show I direct, I have to make one phone call.  To one lady.  Who forever altered the course of my life.  Pat Rinello.  And every time, she picks up.  And I hear that warm, familiar voice I love so well.  And we laugh and share about how grateful we are to get to work with some of the best kids on earth.  Doing one of the best jobs on earth.  (Though I suppose we might be a bit biased.)

STOP.

Rinello at work

Rinello at work.  {Source}

I should tell you there are tears streaming down my face after writing this.  It seems that whenever I sit down to write about Rinello and the impact she had on my life, I crumble into a weepy mess.

Dear reader, is there anyone in your life who does that to you?  Moves you to tears because the gratitude in your heart for them just wells up and overflows?

If that’s the case and even if it’s not, I encourage you to take five minutes to write about them.  Someone for which you are grateful.  Maybe even write a letter TO them.  And then, share it with them.  I’m going to do that with Rinello: call her up because it has been over a year now since I’ve directed a musical, and we are long overdue for a catch-up.

Get Happy

Plus, expressing your gratitude will make you a happier person (between 4% – 19% more happy).  It’s scientifically proven.  And if you don’t believe me, you’ve gotta watch this Soul Pancake video.  I really love it; in fact, I love it so much, I shared it here before in one of my Friday Fives.  But it bears sharing again.

And if any of you decide to jump on the “Five Minute Friday” train and link up at Lisa-Jo Baker.com, let me know!  I’d love to read your grateful story.

Speaking of grateful…I’m grateful for you, dear reader.  Thanks for taking the time to read my short story today.  Just as is the case with live theatre, the work really finds its true meaning in having an audience.

Looking Back

Here’s a look back at past Five Minute Fridays…

BRAVE
RHYTHM

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Lovely comments so far...

  1. Yeah… awesome. Now I’m sitting here again with tears in my eyes, after I just calmed down after listening to a very emotional song. I NEED MORE TISSUES! Okay. I’m fine.
    I can So understand your text! Although theatre teaching isn’t something I would do, I also had these teachers who were so motivating and never gave up until we were at our best and these teachers also influenced me to become a teacher. And I am grateful, that I finally found my way, my job, my love… My way through school and education wasn’t always easy, I had to repeat a grade, I dropped out of school, started another one… but I finally did my high-school diploma and was able to start university. And in one/two years I hope to be one of these teachers who can also teach the motivation and the “you can achieve everything” attitude to more and more students. (Tears again here. Awesome start in the day today…)
    <3

    Someone else for whom I am grateful: My mom. She always believed in me during my whole not-so-glamorous school time and today she's proud of me, like she said once. I wouldn't be where I am now without here. (More tears here. I need a new makeup before I leave for university now. Anyway.)

    I am now getting some tissues … and wish you an awesome weekend!
    Love, Midsommarflicka

    • Aw, it actually made me feel so connected to you to know I wasn’t the only one burning through tissues like it was my job.

      You know, it’s funny, Mid: I find that many people who pursue education as a career faced great challenges in their own schooling. That’s definitely something you and I can relate to – - and it was really fascinating to learn about some of those trials you faced. And I have NO DOUBT that you will instill that “you can achieve everything” attitude you speak of in those students you will encounter and mentor. You’ve instilled that in me and that has be solely through blog posts and comments and tweets! I can only imagine the weight of your words and warmth of your spirit in person.

      And what a special tribute to your Mom in that second paragraph! Brings tears to my eyes to hear you speak of her. I trust you had a happy Mother’s Day celebrating her! Were you able to be together?

      Sorry to mess up your makeup…and yet again, I’m not sorry to have had this opportunity to hear more of your story, Mid! Much love!

      • Late, but still:

        Yes, also a lot of my fellow students had a not-so-glamorous school career, but at some point we all realized how much school can do for us, if we are working with it, not against. And that’s why we are all here where we are today… to teach THAT, besides the usual curriculum!
        Thank you for trusting in me!! And the compliment! This really means so much to me!

        Me and my mom couldn’t be together, sadly. But we saw each other a few days before and will see again at Pentecost, so that’s okay :)

        Much love back across the pond! <3

  2. Hey there,
    Just popped by to read your Five Minute Friday post, and am so glad I did!
    So many fun, crafty ideas here, I love it!
    God bless,
    Esther

    • Thank you, Esther! It has been such a joy to connect with other bloggers through the Five Minute Friday series. Thanks for stopping by and for the warm words. Blessings to you, as well!

  3. I am hopping onto the weepy-train with Midsommarflicka – thankfully, I have nowhere to go today, so messing up makeup isn’t an issue. But I do still need some more tissue (rhyme! haha).

    There’s not a teacher or professor that stands out as having made as impressive and lasting an impact as Rinello has on you. Just small things here and there, but as we know, those are the ones that make the biggest differences sometimes. The 10th grade English teacher who gave me extra assignments, challenged me because she wanted me to be engaged, not goofing off out of boredom. My former Physics teacher, who is the sole reason I didn’t get 0 points on my final oral exam (0 points would’ve made graduating very difficult) because he remembered that the only thing I’d ever known was the physics of how a TV works (I still do!). The 11th grade teacher who encouraged me to be myself, when I wanted to be anything but because I was being bullied so harshly for it. The professor who wrote me the kindest letter of recommendation, one that still makes me swell up with pride & a sort of sheepish joy. And, above all else, always, my Mom, who is not only also actually a teacher, but just overall the best role model a girl could ever have.
    I’m off to catch these damn onion-cutting ninjas.
    Love you, Lauren! I know completely and fully that you are the Rinello to your students. <3

    • Ha ha: you’re a poet and you didn’t even realize it, Johanna!

      I delighted to hear your hodge-podge of stories of teachers who pushed you and showed grace to you and really nurtured you! I’m especially touched by the 11th grade teacher who encouraged you to be YOU despite the adversity you faced. That’s perhaps the most valuable lesson we can be taught…and it brings tears to my eyes that you were bullied so harshly, Johanna…and makes me wish I could have been there as a friend to help you weather that storm. Gosh, kids can be so harsh, can’t they? I’m glad you made it through that rough season…and that those awful kids didn’t break you, but if anything perhaps helped shape your character into the magnificent Johanna so many of us know and love.

      And hooray for the blessing of your Mom! (I smiled to see the photo you posted on Facebook today.) I’d love to meet her someday and thank her for raising such a gem of a daughter!

      Also, I think that Onion-Cutting Ninjas would be the perfect band name. Maybe if me, you, Mid, and Thalita had a band? Step aside Josie and the Pussycats! The Onion-Cutting Ninjas have entered the building.

      Love you, Jo! Thanks for being an ever-encouraging friend.

  4. Hi Lauren! thank you for sharing such an inspiring story. I believe you are another and a better Rinello to your students. Although I wasn’t an arts student, I also had these motivating teachers both in my secondary school and University days. The most influential of them all was my Chemistry teacher Ms. Rose Benson who inspired me to study in Chemistry in the University, though I didn’t actually study chemistry. She was as hard on us as Rinello. She was a perfectionist who wanted nothing but the best from us. Even when we went out for quiz competition, we didn’t have any option, we just had to win else we will have carry out one of her rigorous life practical. I can teach anybody chemistry today, because of her. On writing her a letter, actually that is something I really have to do, because I have not contacted her ever since I left secondary school. That’s an assignment for me. Then, there was also my Dad, who is the greatest Mathematics and Physics teacher I’ve ever had. My mum played the cheer leading role. She was and is still there to cheer me up, motivate and encourage me whenever I am being pushed hard by my perfectionists teachers.
    Love you Lauren! and thanks for stopping by my blog.

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Grace, and for the generous words and thoughtful testimony! I loved hearing about Ms. Rose Benson who demanded such high quality work from you and your classmates! She sounds like quite a lady. And it almost means all the more that you didn’t end up pursuing Chemistry, and yet you could still teach it now thanks to her. Yes, I’m sure she would love to hear from you! Definitely contact her, even if you just copy and paste this comment into an email to her…I know she would be so grateful. And it makes me smile to hear about your teacher of a father and cheerleader of a Mom! Both are so important for a child, and I’m fortunate enough to say I experienced the same in both of my parents. We are blessed indeed. Love back atcha, Grace, and take care!

  5. Oh my…I had to go get the tissues! These are such loving and wonderful stories. Midsommarflicka – you go, girl!!! You are a SUCCESS story!

    My ‘teacher’ wasn’t your classroom variety teacher. I was a mediocre student at best and just wandered through school doing only what was required. I went on to a junior college and took secretarial courses (I’m 61 years old, so choices in those days were teaching, nursing, or secretary). Anyway, I was pretty decent at my jobs, but never could settle into the ‘I LOVE it’ mode and drifted from job to job for years. After I divorced, I uprooted my boys and we moved to a town where both my Mom and sisters lived. I got a job right away, but it was horrible! Thankfully, they fired me! I went to work for the Great state of Texas at an agency that had just been given funds to expand. I was lucky enough to go to work for a guy that was a mover and a shaker – and also a retired Army Lt. Col. Now, let me tell ya, this guy didn’t accept mediocre!!! He demanded and got the best from people that gave it their all. I was one of those. He finally told me “By golly (cleaned up version), you can do more and your GONNA do more!” He gave me some of the hardest projects I’ve ever done – but taught me along the way what should have been done. He yelled and put me in my place on more than one occasion, but I got high praise from the upper management for my work – all due to him.

    This man lost his job in a shuffle and I moved on, but the things he taught me propelled me into management and I’ve never forgotten the lessons he taught me. I’ve lost track of this sweetheart of a man and he may be among the angels by now, but what a teacher!

    As it’s Mother’s day, I have to mention the woman that taught me to pull up my big girl panties on more than one occasion – and keep going. My Mom. She’s also an angel now, but she keeps reminding me to pull up my big girl panties and keep going, even today.

    OK, pass the tissue box. Lauren, thank you for doing this! Love ya, girl!

    • The hairs on my arm stood up around the end of the second paragraph, Camille, and carried me through to the end of your story. Wow! I loved hearing about your “Rinello” and how he helped shape you as a person and as a manager of people. And what a blessing to have such a teacher for a Mom, as well. Happy Mother’s Day to you, Camille! I am certain that you’re passing these lessons along to those you encounter…. As Rinello would say, “like links in the chain.” #tissueboxbuddies Love ya back!

  6. Laur,
    That was a powerful five minutes of grateful memories. Very moving to read your Rinello story and see her photo again. Now that I’ve used a couple tissues, I hope you can laugh with me remembering Rinello as your class sponsor on Jr.-Sr. day traipsing across the athletic field after all of you while rendering her hysterical one-woman comedy routine on how her fate as a highly educated woman is to be on assignment wandering in a field full of “duck poop” after misguided teenagers.
    Your Dad

    • Oh yes! I always laugh to remember that infamous “duck poop” monologue. So glad we have that captured on video tape somewhere. Might need to pull that out for our next R.N.H.S. reunion…and make sure Rinello is with us to see it, too! I can almost hear her bellowing laugh now. Love ya, Popsie!

  7. This is so sweet, and it brought tears to MY eyes! It’s amazing the impact a teacher can have on our lives, and clearly you have been blessed to have someone impact yours so deeply, and still remain a part of your life to this day! Nothing beats that! It’s also amazing that you are going to be a Rinello to so many kids in your lifetime. And they don’t even know it yet!

    By the way, this is my favourite 5-minute Friday yet :)

    • I have a feeling you have quite the bevy of teacher inspiration stories, too, Thalita. Heck, you’re the star player in so many of those stories for kids every day, I have no doubt. Seriously, if you were my teacher, there wouldn’t be a shred of insecurity in my mind; I’d feel empowered to take on the wooooooorld! (Because that’s how I feel every time I read one of your posts or comments. Fo’ realz.)

      Thanks for the cheers and support, my teacher-blogger-friend. So honored/honoured to know that this 5-Minute-Friday is a fave for you! #mustbedoingsomethingright #thalitasaidso

  8. Wow. That was powerful. It made me think of so many things from my past that I’m grateful for, and so many people who have impacted my life. It also made me miss acting so much! Thanks for bringing back those memories.

    • Glad to give you a little dose of nostalgia today. And it makes me smile to think of you on the stage, Kristy! I have this fantasy about one day putting on a theatre production with my blogger buddies; you KNOW you’re going to be involved in that if that ever ends up going down. ;-)

  9. I love this Five Minute writing prompt idea! Must investigate!
    And I love reading about your hs theater teacher. I never took drama in hs, though I wanted to. By the time I had a free slot in my schedule, it was senior year and I felt a bit silly signing up as a senior. But your stories about Rinello sound very parallel to my hs friends’ stories about our drama teacher: Miss Bodello, or Miss B, or Bodello. Now I’m regretting that I never signed up!

    • Oh yes, Emily. You must try out the Five Minute Friday exercise one of the weeks. It’s incredibly liberating!

      Ha ha, and I love that theatre sort of lends itself to calling a teacher by her last name only; my students in Ohio took to calling me Lank-Lank like I was a rapper or something. I may have rolled my eyes at the time but I secretly loved it and now sign my FB messages and emails back to former students with my nickname.

      Oh, knowing you and your deep creative wells, I think you would have taken to theatre like a fish to water. It’s too late, though! If it’s one of your dreams, maybe a local community theatre or church production is in your future…. #plantingaseed

  10. Zunkalunk says:

    I had Rinello as my acting teacher when I was in high school and I know exactly what you mean. Rinello was an incredible teacher, not just because she was good at teaching, but because she truly cared about her students and wanted to see them succeed. Teachers have a powerful impact on our lives and the lives of our children, but many teachers never have the intention of helping their students; they only care about getting their paycheck and getting out of there. Rinello was not like that. I have met other teachers like her who teach because they really care for their students and enjoy helping them learn and grow. Those are the people who we remember for the rest of our lives.

    Loved the article! Brought back many great memories (I got a little teary eyed myself). I will be sure to read more of your articles in the future!

    • Great to see you here, Zunkalunk! You’re so right; her care and even LOVE for us was so palpable in everything she did. Even if she was yelling at us (which let’s be honest, was quite often), it was coming from a place of love and wanting us to be the best we could be. And it’s true, there are those teachers that just check in and out to get a paycheck and summers off…but with the increasing challenges teachers are facing with the testing culture, I’d like to think that teachers who are entering the field nowadays know that it’s not going to be easy and are in it for the right reasons. We need more Rinellos, that’s for sure! Have you ever considered education? Someday down the line, perhaps? Yes, stop by anytime; the closet door is always open.

  11. Marmie/Lauren's mom says:

    Thank you for this beautiful story of gratefulness for Rinello! I hope you were able to reach her by phone and that she was able to read this! I will never forget her either…she believed in you when she cast you as Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls, and the rest is history!
    I am also so grateful for her in helping Lisbeth with her decision about where to go to college. God used her many times to bless our family! I trust she is well. I would love to see her again! I miss that woman! It’s just not the same to go to a RN musical without her there! Great post! xoxo

Trackbacks

  1. […] Jo Baker’s blog through my friend Lauren’s blog, The Thinking Closet.  Lauren had just written a post about being grateful, which I found moving and touching.  She wrote for five minutes straight without changing […]

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