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Angels Along the Road, Part II: The Marvelous Mrs. O

In early December of last year, my spirit guide Holly took me on a trip down memory lane. It almost felt like a virtual reality experience because I laughed and I cringed as I quickly relived the memories she showed me. It was like the reviewing of one’s life often described in near death experiences. Several days later, I was able to find some of these same photos that I hadn’t seen in many decades, and I have included a few of them in this post.

It all started with the co-journaling Holly and I do almost every morning. On this particular morning she said: Mrs. O, the wife of your high school’s baseball and basketball coach was a thing of beauty and grace in your eyes. She was tall and elegant, and she was a professional model. At age 15, you were also tall, 5 feet 10 inches, and very thin. You often thought about what it would be like to be a glamorous model like Mrs. O. One spring afternoon, Mrs. O was at the baseball field, and she approached you and asked you if you wanted to become a model. She gave you her agent’s card, and by the end of that year, you were a professional model, too. It wasn’t nearly as glamorous as you had imagined. Many of the women smoked cigarettes and drank coffee for lunch while you had a burger and shake. You were much younger than these women, and they laughed as they warned you to watch what you ate because you wouldn’t always be so thin.

What Holly didn’t need to remind me, but that has stuck with me for more than 55 years, is that along with the agent’s business card, Mrs. O offered me some sage advice, Be sure to finish school.

Holly took me on a trip through my modeling memory lane. The first cringe-worthy memory was one of my first modeling jobs. I was hired to wear a bathing suit covered by a short serape, that barely covered my bathing suit, along with a large straw hat. I stood dressed like this near the produce section of a local grocery store (imagine really cold) trying to get customers to buy Sun Glo suntan lotion. Holly poked fun at me by saying that just as the Marlboro Man, who hocked cigarettes on TV commercials and print ads, and dressed as a cowboy, eventually died of lung cancer from cigarette smoking, I had been hocking a suntanning product and eventually ended up with both melanoma and basal cell carcinoma. I am more than happy to say I have no photos to prove this story!

The only magazine I ever graced was Scientific American. As an educational consultant who now works with gifted kids and adults, you would think I would be proud of this accomplishment, but it was another one of my cringe-worthy modeling experiences where I was dressed in a white lab coat in front of some remarkable new invention, and I was totally irrelevant. Once again, I did not save a photo of this “accomplishment”.

Holly reminded me that while a student at UC Santa Barbara, I was hired by the Brooks Institute of Photography to be a model for their students. I had no idea what I would be asked to do, but I ended up wearing all kinds of hats. In some of the photos, you couldn’t even see my face, and in one where you could see my face, I was leaned up against a pillar with a lovely hat. The problem is that I was wearing really odd-looking shoes on my size 10 feet, and those shoes were more noticeable than the hat. Remember, I experienced this all through my mind’s eye, and it was only after locating these photos that I saw what Holly had shown me to be true!

After four years of very part-time modeling, I knew this profession wasn’t meant to be my life’s work. The funny and cringe-worthy moments would have to be a small part of who I was and would be. However, Mrs. O’s comments about finishing my education have stayed with me to this day. I thought about them when I graduated from high school, when I graduated with a BA from UCLA, when I earned a teaching license at Cal Poly Pomona, and when I earned both a Master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.

And after Holly took me on this virtual reality trip down memory lane, I googled Mr. and Mrs. O’s names, and I found out that Mr. O died in October of last year at age 89. I found a photo of Mrs. O on Facebook from seven years earlier, when she would have been in her late 70’s, and she was still as elegant and marvelous as ever. I am grateful to this angel for our very brief conversation that has continued to motivate me to focus on the learner aspect of my life.

We will encourage each of you to take the time to recall the angels along your journey and how they have impacted the roads you’ve taken. We will also encourage you to be a Mrs. O for someone along their own journey. Your good deeds may take precious little time, but their impacts can live a lifetime. Soul Bridge Coaching and Holly, January 25, 2022

Angels Along the Road, Part I: Reginald Fitch

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