Gratitude is a Key to Happiness

Who positively changed the course of your life?

I’d like to thank Brett. Above all other people, I think he is the key to the wonderful husband, family, and life I have now. Brett and I met at the very beginning of seventh grade, our first year in middle school in our small Michigan town. We were in all the same classes, and we started talking on the phone right away. We quickly decided ‘to go with’ each other. That lasted an uneventful week at most, honestly, maybe two or three days. He broke up with me, I have no recollection of how, and then he called me that night.

I don’t know why this one phone call is so etched in my mind. I was in my galley kitchen, tethered to the wall by the phone, and sitting in the dark on the floor. In my middle school mind, the dark somehow made it more private. So I said hello to Brett, and my middle school mind was wondering why he was calling me since he broke up with me. He started talking about nothing. I listened for a bit, and then I asked him why he was calling. He paused, then he said, “I want you to tell me who I should like.” I was a bit dumbfounded by this request, um, he just broke up with me that day. I summoned all my courage and I said, “I think you should like me.” Silence… then we both busted out laughing. After a bit he said, “No really, who should I like?” We were great friends, and just friends, from that moment forward.

Fast forward to senior year in high school. Brett and I were both in our first serious relationships. He was dating a great girl who knew where she was going in life, to California. Brett knew where he was going in life, to the University of Michigan. My boyfriend was a bit older and was already floundering at a small college. So naturally, I knew I would attend a slightly better college close to his so I could be near him, that’s where I was going in life (you must eye roll here). The only two people who thought that this was a dumb idea on my part were Brett and Nancy. More about Nancy in another post.

Photo of Brett and I taken at Senior Prom
Photo Credit: Stacey Teffner Benn

So the college application deadlines were fast approaching, and Brett took action. He picked me up at home one beautiful Saturday morning and drove me to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Campus. We parked, and we walked. Brett told me this was the greatest place I could possibly attend. He told me that I was smart and owed it to myself to go here. As we walked, he pointed out where we would eat, where we would live, where we would hang out, etc. He painted a new picture for my future, one that I had never considered. We drove home on US23, and I bought him gas for driving me all around that day. When he dropped me off, he handed me a University of Michigan application and told me to fill it out and turn it in immediately. I did, and I got in, and we went there.

The original boyfriend in question, he failed out of college and did not last long into my freshmen year. The first week of sophomore year, I met Jeff. Jeff and I have been together ever since. He is my person, hands down, without question, never a hesitation. I love him, our children, and our life. I graduated from the University of Michigan, College of Engineering, Summa Cum Laude, and thus my first career began. I feel so grateful for where life has taken me.

I feel in the depth of my heart that I owe Brett for all of this. His teenage boy self saw my potential, his teenage boy self cared for me enough as a friend to want the best for me, and his teenage boy self did something about it. That is a tremendous amount out of a teenage boy, I am so grateful! Thank you Brett!!!

After we were both married, Brett and I started talking on the phone less and less. Eventually, we were just Christmas card friends. Somewhere along the way we weren’t even that anymore, that’s life, no hard feelings. Whenever I pass that gas station on US23, I think so fondly of him and specifically about the first wonderful day we spent together on campus. That day was the seed that grew my beautiful life.

Is there someone who positively changed the course of your life? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

One thought on “Gratitude is a Key to Happiness

  1. So many people and so many moments changed the course of my life, but the person who changed my life the most is my son, Christian. The power and energy of the love and vulnerability I felt for him the moment he was born, maybe even throughout my pregnancy, changed my path forever. It changed everything and not just in being a mom or feeling those depths of feeling but he reawakened the true spirit and spiritual purpose in me. He brought me back to face the vulnerable innocent me that I had locked away through trauma, abuse, and tragedies in my childhood. I was living a Half-Life, safe yes but not fully me. I had hardened my heart to all vulnerability. And had buried away all of my gifts, sensitivities, intuition, pain and ability to truly feel and express myself.
    The moment he came screaming into this world, every defense I had built around my heart exploded into dust. I was fully and completely exposed.
    I embraced it and committed my life to healing and to connecting with my true authentic self again.
    My life is in 2, before Christian was born and after Christian was born. I went on to have another son who changed me in many new glorious ways but Christian’s birth was akin to The Big Bang. I don’t know that I would’ve been willing to face and heal all that I have without his motivation. I’m grateful forever.

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