When I was in eighth grade I had this wonderful English teacher. Her name was Mrs. Barker. She was short, moderately stylish, and had thick silver hair. She wore bangles on her wrist. She said things like, “But, alas”. She mixed high art with witty Oscar Wilde quotes. She made me read “The Giver”. She made me understand the inherent battle between good and evil. In short, she had an impact. Which made it all the worse the day she ultimately disappointed me. On the last day of middle school, we were celebrating our accomplishment with a small ceremony. It was the first time I remember feeling like I truly accomplished something. Middle school is tough. But it’s even worse for a meek, chubby girl, who had braces and acne. But that day I was beaming with the many awards and accolades I had walked away from the ceremony with, including a prestigious writing award from Mrs. Barker herself. As I approached her and a small circle of my teachers I heard her say that for the first time in years, she was so happy to be getting rid of a group of kids. She went on to explain my class’ rude behaviors, our lack of common sense, even our inability to understand common themes in her classroom. I was crushed. I mean, in hindsight, I could have pinpointed the kids she was referring to, and I wasn’t one of them, but at that moment, we were all one. Having just thrown our invisible caps to the sky.

I’ve come to know that it’s simply part of the human condition that we should become ultimately disappointed by those we admire. Generally speaking, those are the people who possess a quality about them that we wish we had. Whether it is their talent, their ability to command a room, or their wicked sense of humor, we have all admired someone else in our lives and hoped for a portion of that “thing” in which they possess. The trouble comes, however, when we fail to see their flaws as well.

I think that is what is happening, for example, with our president. At the risk of making this post political, I will just say that if you think hard enough you can see why so many poor, uneducated people are drawn to him. They see in him what they wish for themselves. They see in him their American dream. Even if his policies do not benefit them, they can hold onto those seemingly tangible promises he dangles in front of them. Of course, as we know now, that sort of idolization has real world consequences. My idolation of Mrs. Barker was just a childhood crush of sorts. Luckily, she wasn’t in charge of the nuclear codes.

But it isn’t something we grow out of. I often encounter grown men and women idolizing action heroes, comic book villains, video game characters, even just regular old movie stars and the like. We all generally have those people we look up to and wish we could steal a bit of that thing, whatever it is, that makes them special; and that’s okay and pretty normal, as long as we recognize that every every single human being, has flaws. Yes, even the ones you admire. Because if you lose sight of that, there will undeniably come a day when you will be just as crushed as I was.

Mrs. Barker had flaws. For one, she spoke without regard to her surroundings (see above story), she also tended to shun away from helping the kids who may have needed her love and attention the most. She could have made a huge impact on a lot of kids that year, instead she focused her attention on the ones of us who “had it” or who “got it”. As far as teachers go, I have met much better ones since her, but I didn’t really grasp the impact this all had on me.

However, recently I discovered that admiration is an emotion that we feel for people who possess a skill or talent, while elevation is an emotion we place on those we think are morally righteous, and sometimes it is the same thing. That is to say, we often assume that because the person we admire is exceptional at something, they are also virtuous. That is what gets us into trouble.

I remember hearing stories about the famed baseball player George Brett when I was a kid. George Brett was one of the best players in the league and a true treasure to Kansas City, and he still is if you ask a lot of people. But over the years stories have surfaced about his drinking, his drug use, and more notably the way he treats his fans, even children, often times refusing an autograph a ball or take a photo with them. I’m sure it is crushing for a child to see this famous, once-talented player that they admire, refuse to shake their hand. Although he is skillful and talented, his moral compass is lacking. Yet for many years young boys (and some girls!) have tried their best to be like George Brett on the field. Their admiration of his skill has caused them to work harder, which is great. But their elevation of him as a moral compass was often times severely disappointing.

And yet, we just don’t learn. We get crushed time and again by the people we admire, but we still keep going. We keep finding new people to admire, we keep trying to better ourselves after their image. I think that is okay. I think. As long as we remember two important things: People are bound to disappoint us, and you are the only one who can make changes in your life, positive and/or negative.

It also might be a good reminder to know that, whether or not you want to be, you are probably someone’s role model. And little eyes (or big, adult eyes) are watching you. So don’t disappoint them.


PS… I forgive you Mrs. Barker. You just didn’t know.

Feel That Burn?!

Listen, y’all. I started Burn Boot Camp today. I am gonna repeat that one more time, for the people in the back. I started Burn Boot Camp today. So if you don’t know what Burn Boot Camp is, just picture this. A group of tired mommies wake up super early in the morning (or get the kids to school, or get the kids to school and go to work, or get the kids to school, go to work, then get the kids home and make them dinner) then they come to this small strip mall right next to a great pizza joint. No. They don’t meet for pizza. They go next door where this crazy man named Billy is all mic’ed up and ready to roll at 5 am.

This crazy man (as far as I can tell he is their leader) this crazy man yells at them through the mic to do things, dirty, on-the-floor-type-things. No, not that kind of stuff, though to be fair a lot of the women there would do those kinds of things with Billy (but you didn’t hear that from me). Anyway, they do push-ups, and sit-ups, burpees, and some things on this bar-like thing. There are ropes and there are weird weights. They run and sprint and plank. They high-five each other and say things like, “Way to go!” and “You can do it!” Then afterwards they sometimes vomit. It is sort of surreal.

I am not 100% sure what I was doing there. You know when you make a snap decision and you feel like you have to sort of go with it or people will hate you. That is sort of the situation I got myself into when my friend Kassie texted me yesterday when I was teaching a room full of kindergartners about cloud formations. She was all, you should come to Burn tomorrow and I was all, anything is better than telling this little shit in front of me to stop touching people with his tongue one more time. So I said sure.

Now, should I have gone from my level of activity straight into Burn Boot Camp? Probably not. In fact, a better choice for me would probably have been the Senior Citizen Water Aerobics class down at the Y or maybe one of those Mommy-and-Me Yoga classes, where I use an American Girl doll as my baby. Not even the “kid” one. The damn Itty-Bitty-Baby one.

But I did it. I set my alarm for five, in the am, and I met Kassie there. Literally squealed into the lot at the exact time the class started. Now already I am feeling bad because poor Kassie is a motivator. She wants to see me succeed. She is the one who got me hooked on Weight Watchers. She is the one who sends me motivational texts and she is the one who works out like seven days a week. Seven. And I love her dearly, so I didn’t want to disappoint her. I wanted to go and do my best, but I knew as soon as I tripped getting up from a sit-up that I was probably gonna embarrass her. She just smiled and helped me up. Oh, Kassie!

About twenty minutes into the workout. Just after the second, first warm-up? I dunno, there seemed to be a lot of warm-ups and then a lot of “sets”, then there was this “Super set” which was the real shit-kicker, but I digress. About twenty minutes into the workout I wanted to die. I thought if I die then it would be easier for me to get out of going to Burn the next day. If I die they will all be like, oh wow. Poor Missy, at least she died doing something that was too strenuous for her heart. She will never get to experience all that Burn has to offer. And I would be cool with that.

But as it sits, I am alive. So I have to go back again tomorrow. Which sort of sucks and I was already wondering what would happen if I were to accidentally break my leg in a freak, driveway basketball accident. I think that might work too.

So I guess I will see y’all tomorrow.

And maybe the next day.

I mean, I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I hear working out is something you are supposed to stick with. We will see how that goes. But in the meantime, if you see me around town give me an old high-five and tell me congrats on not being dead. I would appreciate it.