Charley’s World Episode Sixteen

Charley had decided to begin his talent nurturing with Bea. He felt that he wanted to know her better so he arranged some time to spend with her alone. What he found out was that Bea became a single mom at the age of 15 as a result of sexual abuse by an uncle. She dropped out of school to work to support her child. Her parents were unable and unwilling to support her and her child.

Bea’s education stopped at this point, but the reality was that she had barely learned to read. She was just passed on from grade to grade. She made a living by cleaning homes. Now at age 42, Bea was a grandmother.

As Charley got to know Bea better, he was surprised that she had none of the grievance traits one would expect. She was appreciative of the small things that added joy to her life. She often shared stories of small acts of kindness that were extended to her that would have gone unnoticed by others. She was especially appreciative of the Learning Center.

Charley would often notice that Bea and another participant would find a place for a private conversation. Just reading the faces of those who Bea had talked to, you could sense that Bea had made them feel better.

When Charley began his talent conversations with Bea, he asked her about these private conversations. “I don’t know why people turn to me for help, but I guess I’m a good listener. They just want someone to talk to.”

Charley thought about this and felt there was more to Bea’s talent than just being a good listener. “Bea, what impresses me is your outlook on life. You have every reason to be resentful, but you’re not. I see too many people who get trapped in a cycle of grievances, but you haven’t. I have to imagine that you are helping them change the way they look at their lives.”

“I guess so,” said Bea. “I never thought of that. It’s just the way I live my life.”

Charley had an idea. One of his former teammates on the cross-country team was the head of the Alternative Learning Center in the community. This was the place where students who were disruptive would go instead of being suspended. Often this was just a stop-gap alternative that eventually led to students dropping out of school. Charley felt that Bea’s positive outlook and personal history may be just what was needed to turn around some of these students. But there was a problem…

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“Positive thinking is more than just a tagline. It changes the way we behave. And I firmly believe that when I am positive, it not only makes me better, but it also makes those around me better.” – Harvey MacKay (businessman, author, columnist)