“My Gratitude: How an Owl Woke Me Up” by Barbara Harris Leonhard

Way back in the 1960s, my family moved to Roanoke, Missouri. Dad had accepted a teaching position at Central Methodist College (now a university). He commuted to Fayette, Missouri to teach, and we eventually moved to Fayette.

Roanoke was a tiny town with one church, a small country store, and a gazebo for community gatherings. While living in Roanoke, I attended a one-room school house. The Harris children comprised a major portion of the student body. In fact, when we moved to Fayette, the school was closed down.

Our teacher, Mrs. Dysart, a short elderly woman, had the keen eyes of an owl. In fact, she looked exactly like an owl. A round woman with wide eyes that had a way to survey us even though she was busy teaching the grades in turn at a long table in the back of the room. Her feathers could ruffle and her beak could bite. She was a wise and strong bird. One day, she took me aside to nip at me for something I did or failed to do. As the eldest girl in the school, I helped tutor the younger students, but I had probably led a rowdy, poorly planned theater production with the kids, which took away from class time, annoying Mrs. Dysart. 

The confrontation was striking. Her piecing eyes met mine. With the snap of her head as though she had landed on a mouse, she said, “You’ve got to show more gratitude!” 

I felt stunned as though God himself had slapped me. 

Mrs. Dysart’s admonition set me on a life journey to figure out what gratitude meant. I knew that at Thanksgiving I was to be grateful for my life, but I gobbled up the words and prayers, which left crumbs on my plate.

It took me years to embrace this concept of gratitude because I allowed life itself to distract me with work, caregiving, and basic survival. 

Throughout my years, I felt that I had to rely on myself to create my life and to overcome the pain, suffering, loss, and grief life dished out like sour fruit, served on the side. 

Finally, I realized that the more I asked for guidance and the more I expressed my gratitude for the lessons learned each day, the gifts given, and the blessings bestowed, the more I received spiritually and socially. 

Many gifts fell onto my plate, such as the recent success with my poetic memoir, Three- Penny Memories, and this position as Editor for MasticadoresUSA! My tummy is full!

To all those who have submitted to MasticadoresUSA, I thank you for your successful poems and stories! I’m able to post 4 or 5 times a week. I truly enjoy following the comments and interacting with authors there as well as through email. 

A change in editors can promise a dip in submissions. Filling the shoes of Gabriela Marie Milton, who built this magazine, was daunting. However, with the support of Gabriela and the Head Editor, Juan Re Crivello, I’m blessed that so many authors have stayed with MasticadoresUSA

I’ve also managed to attract new authors, including prize-winning fiction writers and the first Poet Laureate of Missouri. And now, young writers! I hope to attract additional poets and writers from younger generations. Send them my way! 

I would like to continue publishing throughout the holidays. I know that everyone is very busy at this time, but I welcome submissions. Although we don’t usually have themes, you could submit poems, stories, or prose about Christmas and New Years. Happy memories, sad memories, perspectives, traditions. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, you can share a holiday special to you. If you have photos with family memories, all the better!

To all of you, I say, “Thank you! I’m so grateful for each author and reader. You complete my life. I wonder how I ever lived without you.”

Mrs. Dysart, thank you for waking me up. Gratitude is an open heart welcoming lessons and gifts to enter. 

I look forward to your submissions! As always, the guidelines are below. Let me know if you would like the opportunity to submit once or twice monthly.

Copyright © 2022 Barbara Harris Leonhard

All Rights Reserved

Featured Image: The old Roanoke school under renovation. Photo by Earle Harris

Image of Roanoke, Missouri’s Gazebo

Photo Credit: “Roanoke’s 59th Annual Band Concert”. The Fayette Advisor”, July 13, 2021.

Editor: Barbara Harris Leonhard (My BIO is in the link below.)

Amazon Best-Selling Author

Three-Penny Memories: A Poetic Memoir (EIF-Experiments in Fiction, 2022)

Pushcart Nominee, 2022

Send Submissions to meelosmom@gmail.com

Facebook: Barbara Harris Leonhard /barbara.leonhard

Twitter: @BarbaraLeonhar4

Instagram: @meelosmom123

Linked In: ExtraordinarySunshineWeaver

Mastodon: @BarbaraLeonhard@msdtn.social

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24 Comentarios Agrega el tuyo

  1. gabychops dice:

    I love your wonderful story, Barbara, thank you. If I may, I will submit some of mine and perhaps the work of a very gifted young writer, but I didn’t ask him yet.



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    1. Please do submit. I look forward to seeing a diverse community of authors and readers.

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      1. gabychops dice:

        Thank you, I will do shortly!


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      2. I look forward to the submission!

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  2. Roanoke, Missouri. Sounds great Barbara! I also lived for a few years in a small city, life there teaches us to be good writers. And… to love being an editor. A task that seeks to unite the reader and the author in a daily song. I’m glad! Cheers juan

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    1. Thank you, Juan. I’m grateful for your help in the transition and trust in me!

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  3. ivor20 dice:

    Indeed a very wise old «owl» Barbara … Maybe I’ll submit some poems after things settle down for me. It’s been a hectic few months for me … finalising Tullawalla, and now I have my second book, Perceptions, being published also, arriving next week (hopefully) … actually, here is one of my ‘Wise Owl’ poems, that appears in both books, Tullawala & Perceptions …

    «In Need of a Wise Owl»
    I’ve been searching the planet for our wisest owl
    One that doesn’t droop his jowl, or scowl
    Are you the clever owl who will lead our world
    Perched there stoically with wings furled
    The statesman of our ancient forests
    And guardian of our forgotten promises
    Wisdom radiates from your knowing eyes
    What do you observe from your throne in the sky
    Are we honest enough, are we even worthy?
    Have we enough modesty, are we even earthly?

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    1. Thank you, Ivor! And congratulations on the new book!! Amazing! 🤗🍾💐

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      1. ivor20 dice:

        And now I am amazingly tired 🤗☺️

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  4. And now I live in a city of 50,000 inhabitants by the sea, with people who love life and its spiritual attractions Regards

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  5. What a lovely story and lessons of a small town with a keen eyed tough bird Barbara. You braved her bite and learned such valuable lessons. Love all of the gifts of abundance coming your way.
    Congratulations. I’m grateful for your support as I know everyone is! ❣️

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    1. Aw!Thank you, Cindy! ♥️🌺🌹

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  6. jonicaggiano dice:

    This is a lovely story Barbara and I agree the more we think about gratitude and give thanks the more gifts we receive. What a beautiful way of telling the story through the memory of a teacher and her gift of advice. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours and knowing Gabriela through our interactions on line, I know that she would want only the best for the magazine. I am enjoying reading the posts on the magazine very much. I think you are doing exactly what you are suppose to be doing. Looking forward to reading all the new writers you will be publishing too. A big congratulations to you again Barbara on both your new book and your success on MasticadoresUSA. Blessings, Joni

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    1. Aw! Joni, your kind and supportive words mean so much to me! Thank you for being a part of the MasticadoresUSA family!

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  7. Ingrid dice:

    A valuable lesson learned! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving 🙏

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    1. Thank you, Ingrid! Thanksgiving at our house was a relaxing day!

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  8. Jeff Flesch dice:

    Thank you for sharing, Barbara. I will have two poems for December to you soon. 🙂

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    1. Yay! I look forward to the submission!

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  9. Shalini Kathuria Narang dice:

    Loved reading it. Some early school time memories are so precious. 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Shalini! That time in the one-room schoolhouse was special.

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