Thursday Thirteen 50: You Are What You Say

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I teach literacy at an inner-city middle school where the kids have seen more of what can go wrong in life in their 13 or so years than I have in my 41. Part of my job is to convince these lowest-performing students that reading and writing are the first essential keys to lives of their choosing--that with the right vocabulary they will dream well and live as large as they want if they make the effort.

It's not easy. So often in the halls and in the emptying classrooms I hear conversations full of bravado and other forms of foolishness peppered with every curse word you can imagine as well as a few innovations that would confound the worldliest of sailors.

It occurs to me that the words we use reflect who we are. They reflect our souls. I have been accused from time to time of arguing semantics. To that I say, "Of course." Semantics. The science of language is a study of the soul. It's important to me to get it right and to read text as if every word were placed with love and purpose. In so many ways, it's all we can do for each other from day to day.

This got me thinking of the words I would use to describe, oh, my dearest friend. Here is my semantic gift for this friend:

1. kind

2. loving

3. warm

4. gentle

5. generous

6. humorous

7. inspirational

8. optimistic

9. thoughtful

10. respectful

11. courageous

12. understanding

13. magnanimous

The words sing in my heart as stories in their own right. I especially like magnanimous, which means having a great mind, soul, spirit. The beauty and magic of friendship is becoming what you find most admirable in a friend. May it be so. May my students learn it and learn to love it so.

Thursday Thirteen


  1. A great list of words there - and words that too many people have totally forgotten. I don't envy your job, but it is vital.

  2. I don't have a TT up but I just wanted to say you are all those words Sandy! I'm sure the kids have come to know that too! :)

  3. Fabulous post. I so enjoyed this and I agree with you. Please accuse me of arguing semantics! I would rather argue that than anything else.

    As I read your list, I took my time, savouring the words as I thought of my friends and how these words fit them. I especially liked magnanimous, and was delighted when I read on that you felt the same too.
    Excelent post.

  4. 6, 8, 10 and 11 would be my top four!!

    Happy Thirteening.

  5. Ahh, exactly what I needed--a reminder to focus on the positive. Thanks!

  6. Anonymous6:49 PM

    I think our words are incredibly powerful. I see the power of words in every interaction - particularly on line. It's shocking to me how few people know that. They want to express without ever realizing that someone else hears what they say.

    Sad, really. Great, thoughtful TT!


  8. Lovely words. I echo your thoughts about words being reflective of ourselves.

  9. I always think of Samuel Clemmens' line...

    Picking the wrong word is the difference between lightning and lightning bug.

  10. Your job with children is really so admirable. I bet you must hear all kinds of things, thngs that might freak a lot of us out.

    Language is a powerful thing, sometimes we need to blow off steam but I think your point about we are what we say is a lesson I need to learn or be reminded of...good list!

    Your friend is lucky to have such a thoughtful person writing such a list for them. is my TT for this week:

    p.s. here is my TT list:


  11. Sandy that is a fantastic post. I absolutely love the positive attitude you portrayed in the words. It is so sad that the teens today feel the need to pepper their conversation in order to feel they are being heard. I do yearn for a kinder and simpler return to our society, but fear it will not come.

  12. How refreshing. Kudo's to you. Happy T13!

  13. I agree your language gives voice to your soul or inner being...

  14. Anonymous9:34 PM

    You are one of the heroes of our country. I like your writing and I think the vocabulary you teach will stay with them a lifetime.

  15. Sandy,

    you honor me! You are wonderful!

    My heart belongs to you!

  16. Awwwww, what a wonderful tribute and words of wisdom. Happy TT my friend.

  17. I believe your post did exactly what you intended for it to do. Your friend is lucky to call you a friend. Happy TT!

  18. What a lovely grammatical tribute to your friend. I really hope she reads this and cherishes your friendship as obviously you do hers!

    My TT is up here.

  19. Wow, what wonderful attributes you've described.

  20. You got that right. At the bottom of every post on The Pink Flamingo, I have a Spanish saying that you are the character of the friends you hang out with.

    The Pink Flamingo

  21. I used to teach language to elementary inner city give them the gift of these types of words would be priceless.

  22. I bet that's a tough job makes me think of 'Freedom Writers' - great movie!

    Great list of wonderful adjectives to describe your friend!

  23. What a great idea for a TT! It's a wise notion -- that your words are a reflection on you as well as your topic. I'm glad you're able to share your wisdom with your students (and thanks for visiting my TT)

  24. Anonymous12:39 AM

    That's a great list of words!! We could all learn something and make a difference with a few of them.

    Happy TT!!

  25. Anonymous1:33 AM

    Wonderful list. You've describe someone who must be a great friend to have!

  26. Oh Sandy, how right you are! Your list of words is really great, and magnanimous is a significant word rarely used and practiced.

  27. "Inspirational" is my number one word of all those!

  28. The words sing in my heart as stories in their own right.

    I love this.

  29. Nice words and a good post.


  30. You are so right ! some children are already full of hatred they just don't learn these words in their environment. it must be quite difficult for you to teach in this school.

  31. Such a lovely post this morning! Thank you for it … and for your work with Middle School students. I devoted the last decade of MY teaching career to 6th and 8th graders and what you’ve shared here ‘resonates’ mightily with my own experience and beliefs.
    Hugs and blessings,

  32. Anonymous7:11 AM

    Beautiful list! Happy TT :)

  33. I love the preamble even more than the words. It's a great story, and it's the most important thing any of us can do. You may or may not know it, but you're going to save some kid's life. 'Tis a noble thing you do my dear, and it occurs to me that each of those words describe the writer as well as the written about.

  34. Great words and a great tribute. Truly a blessing to have someone like that in your life, and to have someone think that about you as well. Congratulations to you both!

  35. I didn't know the word magnanimous, but I like it!
    Thanks for visiting my TT!

  36. Wow, what a wonderful gift to a friend. And I love, love, love the purple flowers!

    Peace - D

  37. I would have to say you are magnanimous also

  38. i like the word magnanimous. you've always been so created with your thursday thirteen.

  39. if the words we choose can hurt or heal, inspire or deflate, make happy or sad, then why not choose them wisely? yes, i believe we are what we say. but when i see young men and women use words that seem so out of place for someone so young, i realize it is also the language of their tears and fears. it is sad indeed.

    very good post.

  40. Sounds like you have an amazing friend Sandy! And I'm sure this person feels the same way about you. Lovely inspiring post and gorgeous photo. Hugs, G

  41. Anonymous2:20 PM

    So true especially in this world of doublespeak and linguistic twisting. Those words have an effect, read together they do uplift!

  42. Anonymous2:36 PM


    You inspired me to think of words that describe some people I think about a lot, and here's part of the resultant list:

    close minded

    Then I concluded that I must stop focusing so much on the presidential campaigns.

  43. I like that thought that the words we use reflect our souls. I'm going to ponder that. Happy TT! I bet you're a great teacher.

  44. What a great list. That's one lucky friend you have. :)

  45. Sorry it took me so long to get here today. We're getting ready for a hurricane, yet the computer is still hooked up.

    Great tribute to your friend!

  46. Another great TT...that's awesome that you tutor/teach inner city youth!

  47. maybe you could give me idendity of your flowers when you snap them? PHOTOS ARE GREAT AND ALLOW ME TO SEE THEM AS THE SCREEN IS SO NEAR MY ONE EYE THAT SEES ONLY INCHES AWAY

  48. You have a very meaningful and challenging work.
    Misunderstandings - lack of words or language knowledge - between people are too often the source of hate and fight and war.

    Good linguistic knowledge is on the other hand, the key to a personal successful life. Besides logistics - like in math and the understanding of the word: Respect.

    Great TT

  49. Sandy, this post touched me so much today. Wonderfully said. I also love all those words and I am glad, that at least for now, those kids have you.

  50. I am sorry I couldn't get past the flower, Sandy. It is so lovely with all the dark purple veins against the lavendar. I did like your list though.


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