Look For Opportunities to Learn and Grow

This past week, I found myself in a number of different situations which allowed me to interact with many types of people. I had the privilege of talking with people of different ages, mental states, affluence, education, and social stature. All in the same week, I had the opportunity to substitute teach in a young class of special needs children, I was able to help prepare and serve lunch to over 150 homeless people, and I was lucky enough to socialize with my awesome Small Group of friends from church. Talk about all points on the spectrum!

As I am a teacher and a positive influence to others, I very often play the teacher and counselor roles. That is what I do and that is what I love! It makes me happy to no end to see the proverbial light bulb come on. It warms my heart to see growth and to hear of other people conquering their fears. It brings me joy to see someone shift their attitude and mindset from one of victim to one of victorit is so empowering! It is all encompassing to me. That is my passion and that is my purpose!

As a teacher and a reader and a writer, I am always learning. It is something that I crave and dive into with both feet. I love psychology and all that it entails. A huge part of my learning and growing comes from watching, observing, and listening to people. Human behavior is so linked to the mind and to our childhood programming, it is amazing. I can watch and listen to someone and know a whole lot about their childhood without asking any questions.

I think most people believe that they can only learn from people who are older, smarter, wiser, and more educated than they are. I have always been an observer, and let me tell you, I have learned so many rich lessons from other people coming from different socioeconomic, cultural, and educational levels.

So, back to this week and all the diverse groups of people I was able to have fellowship with. Being in the presence of these different groups this week allowed me to turn off my teaching switch and really learn from them.

These special needs children showed me that despite their horrific challenges and circumstances, they choose daily to be a light.
They express their emotions instead of stuffing them.
They set their boundaries and let you know what they are feeling.
They are unique and they are not worried about what other people think of their clothes or hair.
They are innocent and curious and loving.
They remind me that the human spirit is strong and mighty.

Interacting with the homeless was a humbling experience. As I was getting dressed to head down to the soup kitchen, I mindlessly put in my diamond earrings and put on my wedding ring. Before I drove away, it hit me that I was going to serve people who have nothingNOTHING! How frivolous that I was decorated with diamonds. I took them off and left them at home. How often do we do that: We put stock in material things when they dont matter at all? Looking these homeless people in the eye, smiling at them, and laughing with them was so enjoyable to me!

I was able to serve them
I was their servant!
It made me realize that we are all the same.
Life is all about relationships.
We all have physical needs and feelings, hurts and wounds, hardships and trials.
Some of us just hide them easier than others.
What a joy to feed their bellies and souls!
They reminded me that human care and interaction is far more valuable than diamonds.

This is my dear friend, Gigi, and me helping in the Soup Kitchen.

Talking with and learning with my Small Group is easy. It is easy because we are all a lot alike. We are all happily married, educated, employed, affluent, etc. We still learn from each other by sharing our past and present experiences, our emotions, our hopes, and our fears, but we arent being stretched out of our comfort zones. Do you find yourself only interacting with people who are just like you? It is a safe place to be, isnt it? We can still learn and grow, but we are definitely stretched more and learn different life lessons when we interact with people who are different than we are.

Take Action: This week and moving forward, lets make it a point to interact with people who are different from us in some way. Volunteer in a classroom, visit an elderly home, or help in a soup kitchen. Imagineif we open our ears, eyes, and heartswhat we can learn from these remarkable human beings. Lets celebrate our differences and experience a real human connection!

Because Together is Better,


  1. Though I have not volunteered anywhere in quite a while, I do work part time with the Boys and Girls club. Now I am not a teacher, and truthfully I never considered myself a “kid friendly” person. Working with kids is way out of my comfort zone. However, it is tough not to let the kids I work with get to me. They are 2nd graders and to watch them discover new things everyday is a wonder. Yes, they can be a hand full. What 2nd grader isn’t ? But I can honestly say that they end up teaching me things more often than not. Your incite into trying new things and experiences is right on target. Thanks for sharing your experiences, which has allowed me to reflect on mine.

  2. Sarah Jessica says:

    I love this!! You are a great teacher and friend :). Btw…if you want to read more about the food kitchen Deanna went to and be 1 of 100 to keep this great ministry going click on this link…anything helps!! https://give.idonate.com/nonprofit-donate/wings-of-peace-pia/

    • Thank you SJP for your sweet comment and for sharing the link! I would love it if my readers would help with this awesome cause! I am going to donate! 🙂 -Deanna

  3. Deanna, after reading your blog I have signed up to volunteer for two events. You definitely inspire me and encourage me to do things I would not ordinarily do. Thank you for your positive energy – it’s so contagious!

    • Shari…I am so truly glad that this post inspired you to volunteer! You will honestly get more out of it than you can imagine! Shine On! -Deanna

  4. I love this Deanna!!!

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