Chespeake College starts its fall semester quite early–yesterday, Aug. 22–nearly two weeks before Labor Day. Too early in my book. So I was dragging my feet in preparing to teach my ENG 101 course. Okay, not only my feet, but the whole of my body and soul. I told my acupuncturist that teaching takes so much creative energy away from my own writing; it is so draining. I was resisting with a capital ‘R’. But then, the day before my class started, I got the news that my first creative writing teacher, Karen Blomain, had passed away. She was teaching a winter session course at Keystone Community College in Pennsylvania when I was living with my grandparents on their dairy farm. I was in my early twenties, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. And it was in her class that I truly discoverd that I wanted to be a writer. I was so touched and encouraged by her personal note to me at the end of the course that read: “What a pleasure to have you in the class. You really are a writer!!! Your strong compelling style combined with the fact that you have something definite to say! I hope you keep with it. I know it’s hard to live the life of an artist, but you can make it work for you. And I think with your energy you can do it.” When things started to get harder in my quest to live the artist life, I found this note again and framed it, where it still hangs by my computer. Her words have kept me going in this writing pursuit. They’ve kept my fingers on the pen, my hands on the keys, and my perseverence intact. But what she taught me in her passing is this: What an honor it is to teach, to, perhaps, change the course of someone’s life, for the better, to help them find their focus, their life purpose. Shame on me for dragging my feet, when such an honor it is to teach.