I remember having The Tale of Peter Rabbit as a child and reading it many times, but it wasn’t until I had my own children that the book carried some significance for me. When my youngest daughter was in the third grade, she had a teacher named Mrs. Whittle. Mrs. Whittle was a beautiful person from the inside out. Physically, she was a very pretty woman with blonde hair that was always nicely styled and she was always beautifully dressed in neat, stylish clothing. On the inside, Mrs. Whittle was just as beautiful. She was a warm, kind, generous and patient person and as a teacher, had the ability to instill calmness in her students and to somehow draw out their luminosity. I watched it happen and remember what a powerful, positive force it was that she possessed.
Mrs. Whittle was a big fan of Beatrix Potter. She would read all of her books to her students and even had a collection of Beatrix Potter keepsakes at home. One day, there was a Beatrix Potter celebration going on internationally and in honor of the author, Mrs. Whittle decided to bring in her collection to show her students. She also invited parents to come into the classroom to view the collection as well and I went to see it that day. I remember when I walked into the room, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The classroom had been transformed into a Beatrix Potter showcase. The room was beautifully arranged with everything Beatrix Potter from ceramic statues to books to stuffed animals of storybook characters. And she did it in such a way that we could walk into the room and enjoy all the items as we weaved our way through the desks and tables and counter tops. The keepsakes were numerous and I can’t remember everything in her collection, but I remember the impression it had on me. First, I remember thinking about the amount of effort, energy, planning and creativity it took for her to bring in her collection and to display it so beautifully. It was like walking through an art exhibit. And she clearly took much pride in and loved her collection very much, because it was very well taken care of. I know that often people who collect something as a hobby are very passionate about it and cherish their treasures. As such, they will keep them locked in a cabinet or high up on a shelf or in a room where people may be able to see, but not get too close to. But because of her extreme pride and joy for her collection, she brought it in and displayed it openly and freely for everyone to see up close and admire. To me, this was a demonstration of tremendous generosity, kindness, sharing, and trust and I know she brought joy to everyone that walked through that room.
On that day, Mrs. Whittle taught me the importance of having passion for something and to have the courage to share it with others. We may not remember what people say or what people do, but we always remember how people make us feel. That day brings back fond memories almost twenty years later because Mrs. Whittle shared her passion for Beatrix Potter. It was a gift that made me feel happy and inspired.
I no longer live in the same town nor have I been back to the school and I don’t know what Mrs. Whittle is doing, but I want to say Thank You to her from the bottom of my heart for being such a beautiful person and teacher and for sharing her passion with all of us. Maybe you remember an event or knew someone who taught you the importance of living life with passion. You can also be that person that spreads joy by discovering your passion and having the courage to share it with others. Please do! The World will be a much better place because of it!