“I never get a break like everyone else does!” “I deserved that promotion – not them!” “The kids just don’t respect me!” “Our society has gone to the dogs!” Would you like a little cheese with that whine? If you are the type of person who loves to be around sarcastic, bitter complainers, then you would have loved hanging out with me forty years ago – but not anymore! Perhaps it was being a high school and university teacher for thirty years that changed me. Maybe I have simply matured as I floated into my social security years. Whatever the reason, I am determined to be the sweetest, kindest happiest old lady in the retirement center when my day comes! As for now, you might find me singing and playing my guitar to the residents there, or a thousand other places.
You will definitely find me traveling the world. My husband “Buuuuud” and I have been to all fifty states and over sixty countries, meeting and loving people from all backgrounds and cultures. We have camped in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, Africa and have ridden elephants in Thailand. I sang in a pub in Ireland and was guest speaker at the American Women’s Association of Rome. I was on the radio in Melbourne Australia, reciprocating with the talk show host as she was later on my program here in St. Louis. I debated an atheist in Athens, Greece on his own radio program. I was privileged to deliver a message to the president of Zambia the day his entourage deserted him. We have met friends along the Great Wall in China, in a remote native village in Panama, and while scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. As I was invited to speak at an all girls’ school in Cusco, Peru, we got to climb to the top of Machu Picchu and made lifelong friends there as well. We took my parents on a cruise to Honduras last year for their 65th wedding anniversary.
What does this have to do with whining? Everything. For the first twenty-three years of my life I was the Queen of Complaints. I weighed 260 pounds, quit high school, smoked and nearly drank myself into oblivion. I eventually partied my way through college and even obtained a teaching degree. However, I was rejected by every school in Missouri and Illinois. When I even failed at a suicide attempt, in my naiveté I issued an ultimatum to God. I screamed, “If You are real, You can have my stupid life; because if you don’t change something, I am out of here!” I later woke up crying from a vodka and cookie dough hangover. Yet, for the first time since I had been a little girl, I had the peace that passed all understanding. That summer, Lindbergh High School called to offer me a teaching position; I joined a weight loss and exercise program. Married to “Buuuuud Peppers” from Mobile Alabama, we began praying together instead of arguing violently.
Because I had been given a second chance at life, I chose to make a U-Turn and live life to the fullest. I don’t care how young or how old you are, you too can make that same choice. It won’t happen overnight, but you will never hear me whining. I hated hearing it from my students, and it’s even less becoming for supposedly mature adults. So call me a Pollyanna, ridicule me because I am a motivational and inspirational speaker, and you don’t have to like my writing or my humor. You can even choose to be negative or sarcastic. However, if you start whining, you should be warned that you are giving me more “fuel” to use in speaking and writing. So, on second thought, go ahead; make my day! Whine! Whine! Whine!
Dr. Debra Peppers, a professional speaker for 25 years, is one of only five inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame, which followed her retirement from Lindbergh High School. A member of the National Speakers Association, she has traveled to all 50 states and 60 countries teaching others that if she can go from being a 250-pound high school dropout, to Teacher of the Year there is hope for every child and adult. Her web site is www.pepperseed.org.