By A.G.Billig
Jul 10th, 2019

Here is a message I got on Facebook, from a former student:

>>Hey! You probably don’t remember me–this is definitely a little out of the blue.

I was just working on a story when the B-52’s started playing. I suddenly had this vivid memory of a hip English teacher dressed up as a “Rock Lobster” for Halloween. You, right? I would have been the, uh, fairly talkative freshperson. Maybe bright blue hair? 2003 or 2004.

More than a decade later I write sci-fi, and it’s nice to run into you because I have totally been looking for someone to blame for that. Plus the hipster-ism. JK wink emoticon.

Seriously, it was nice to remember one of the classes that got me into writing, so thank you. Are you still teaching? Writing? Either way, I hope you’re well.<<

This is the coolest thing that can happen to a teacher, to have evidence of a positive influence on another’s life path. Or, I don’t know–if this guy is a struggling writer, maybe it’s not completely positive. But if he’s doing what he loves, then yay! That’s all I ever wanted.

I had a fairly flaky student probably fifteen years ago, who told me that my “get your shit together” type speech really sunk in, and when he contacted me later he was in medical school. That was an amazing day.

Most importantly, I had a female student who credits me with the fact that she’s alive. She’d had some horrible things happen to her before he moved into my small town, and she was cutting herself and suicidal and not in a good place at all. I guess the things she did in my class, writing, therapeutic thought-provoking things, did something major. I am still friends with her now, actually made her wedding cake, and she is married with kids, a photography business, and seems to be going great guns. She cheerfully gives me credit for that to anyone who asks.

Kelley Bowles

So now that I am writing and not teaching, I wonder if what I do can continue to inspire others? Is just writing a fun story going to have that kind of chutzpah? And does it NEED to? Writing is something I’ve always loved. 

If I feel our purpose on this planet is to interact with other living things in a positive way—does it seem like I’m keeping score? Isn’t that silly. Like my power addiction is how many people I can help? Wow, I do this with the memoir I’m writing right now–just talk myself to the point where I can see how ridiculous I am being. If I am doing what I love and doing it the best I can, that is all that matters. Anything else is just gravy.

I recently finished a book on Adlerian Psychology called The Courage to be Disliked.The book is translated from the Japanese, so I feel like the title may have suffered in the translation—I wouldn’t say the theme of the book—or of the philosophy—is about having courage to be disliked as much as it is about the courage to be yourself and your wants for your life, without regard for being ‘liked.’   The book was inspirational to me, because I feel like this was the message: if you are being truly authentic in your existence, instead of focusing on what others think of you or on what you think they expect of you, then you are somehow antithetically (and miraculously, if you ask me) a real member of the community—your whole planet—and your authentic EXISTENCE is then inspirational to others just by its realness and honesty. Like, ‘Hey! This is me! I’m always learning and paying attention, and inhaling the . . . the rhythm of my surroundings.”

Does that even make sense? Do I sound like a hippy-dippy wackadoo? (Because that’s the label I’m pretty sure my younger sister has permanently affixed to my nametag) It’s just that BEING inspiring was something I always really wanted to be as a teacher, and then as a writer it became harder to see if what I’m doing inspires people. But if I follow that philosophy book, which was really interesting to me—just living my life and being true to myself and everything around me can be inspiring in and of itself.

I’ll take it!

I’d love to hear your thoughts…thanks for reading!


About the author:

Kelley Bowles Gusich writes young adult novels under the pen name Kelley Kay Bowles and cozy mysteries under Kelley Kaye. Her debut novel, cozy mystery Death by Diploma, was released by Red Adept Publishing on February 2016, went #1 on Amazon for cozy mysteries in August that same year, and is first in her Chalkboard Outlines® series. Book # 2, Poison by Punctuation, was released April 2018.

Kelley’s new young adult novel, Down in the Belly of the Whale, was released May 5th, 2018, by Aionios Books, and won their title ‘Victor Indie Book of the Year’. Look for it in Kindle, paperback, and audio book (narrated by Kelley!). 

Kelley taught high school English and drama for twenty years in Colorado and California, but a 1994 diagnosis of multiple sclerosis has (circuitously and finally) brought her to the life of writer and mother, both occupations she adores and dreamed about way back when she was making up stories revolving around her Barbie and Ken dolls. 

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