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Any time I learned to do something new, I fall flat on my face for many of the first tries. I went snowboarding, and I fell down for 80% of the day, waking up sore the next morning. I never wanted to go back out on the mountain, but my mom encouraged me to do so, and now I love snowboarding! I can remember learning to ride my bike and scraping my legs up every time I fell, but now I ride my bike all around the city, and I can't imagine what it would be life if I could not.   The learning process results in bumps and bruises, and I think we too often glamorize it as something that just happens- no sweat, no frustration, just learning! This is simply unrealistic. Now, I do not contend that learning should be a miserable process, on the contrary I think it is a wonderful process, but it's like a great workout: there are intense moments, and times when we might feel like giving up, but by sticking with it and overcoming the obstacles at the end that sense of accomplishment... read more

I remember the moment clearly even now: Mrs S., brandishing the loose-leaf pages in front of my fourth-grade classroom, her wild-eyed look at odds with her precise hair and immaculate apple-printed skirt. I remember how I had quietly slipped the papers into tray of finished homework, how I had felt somehow embarrassed by the inked words. I remember her words: "Julie is going to be a famous writer someday!" And I remember the feeling: elation, pride, and a stark wonder that someone believed in me this much.   Now, years later--after a college degree in Creative Writing and a few published pieces in literary journals--I think back on the powerful impact that Mrs. S. had on my writing. I was an extraordinarily shy student. English had been my second language, and I had been shuffled through ESL classes all throughout my early elementary school years. But for me, English was not a hardship—it was a refuge. I lost myself in books, and found myself in paper and... read more

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