Day 8 Gratitude Challenge

Yesterday was a success. I paid it forward at a local coffee shop. I didn’t make the impulse buy. I complained less than usual. College basketball is back on. It was a god day.

Today is Election Day. I am grateful the unnecessary mail, television ads, and door knocking will be reduced. While I am grateful for the opportunity to vote, I don’t like the negativity of the election cycle.

Recently, I was decluttering. This is a never ending process in my house. I found a letter written to my dad by a friend when my dad was in the hospital. The letter said “Please take good care of yourself and take it easy. We need a healthy Dr. Harris in South Dakota. I am grateful that you are on the mend.” I remember that illness. My dad almost died. I can only imagine the impact the letter I had on my father.

The challenge today is to put down your devices. Get off social media (after you read this) and take time to write a letter of gratitude to someone that has made a difference in your life. Then mail the letter Delivery by hand, interoffice mail, or carrier pigeon are acceptable methods too. Bonus points if you send more than one.

Not sure who is worthy of a note? Here is a possible list – grandparents, parents, spouse, child, sibling, coworker, mentor, teacher, professor, or candidate for public office (just have a dialogue change if we sent notes thanking candidates rather than throwing beer cans or attacking with hammers).

One final thought, do you want to take this challenge to the next level? Perform two of the previous challenges each day. Imagine how you will feel if you write a note, pay it forward, and do not complain all day. Imagine how others would respond if you did so. Imagine a better world.

Pivot from Beginning to End

Yesterday, I wrote about new beginnings.  Today, I was going to write about whether I achieved my goals yesterday (all of them for the most part).  I was also going to write about the importance of diet in weight loss (extremely important).   Yet, sometimes we need to pivot and write about an end.   

In many ways, it seems entirely appropriate that I learned of the passing of mentor, colleague, and friend while I was giving an examination at the institution where we met 35 years ago.  Additionally,  it seems appropriate that the man who ignited my love of  Constitutional Law and the Supreme Court of the United States passed away on the first Monday in October. 

I have spent much of the day reflecting.  There has been some laughter and smiles.  Some stories shared on social media and privately.  There have been some tears about what has been lost and profound impact this man had on my life.  We all have teachers that changed the course of our life for the better.  The teacher that believed in you, challenged you, inspired you, guided you and supported you.   For me,  Dr. Peter Schotten was one of those teachers.  There are so many stories I could tell you about him.  I could tell about his propensity for puns.  I could tell you about his quick wit.  I could tell you about his intelligence.  I could tell you about his fashion sense.  I could tell you how he helped students like no other professor I have ever seen.  In the end, I am at a loss for words.  I will simply say, he is the mentor and professor that I have aspired to be since returning to Augustana. 

I met Dr. Schotten thirty-five years ago when I was a freshman in college in the fall of 1986. He was the prelaw advisor at Augustana.  Though he clearly had concerns, he supported, encouraged, and challenged me to be the best I could.  I listened to him but often fell short of both our expectations. He helped me prepare for the LSAT and apply for law school. Without him, I would have never been accepted to law school.  Years later, I would be fortunate to return to Augustana and call him a colleague.  He always treated me as an equal.  He had good advice.  But most of all, he was honest.  Brutally honest at times.  If you ever dealt with him, you understand what I mean. 

In my last correspondence with Dr. Schotten, I thanked him for being such a great mentor to me and many others.  I wrote “There are few people that have had a greater impact upon my life.”  What I didn’t say is that outside of my parents and immediate family, he made the most significant positive impact upon my life. I simply would not be where I am today without him. Life is short.  Thank those who help.  Hug those you love.  Make sure they know.

You can read his obituary here – Peter M. Schotten The picture at the top of the blog post is from my college graduation party. It shows me, looking a bit startled and intimidated. It also my father (far right) and Dr. Schotten (middle) with expressions that are priceless. Rest well Dr. Schotten. You made the world better. Say hello to my dad.

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