Terry Paulson

I wanted to leave, but she continued, “The only reason you even got a C- is that there's clear potential here. I think you could be a writer, but you'll have to work to earn you’re A’s in this class. In fact, I’m going to grade you harder than the others.” Today, sadly, some might sue her for emotional distress and discrimination! But it was Mrs. Nason who shaped my writing skills. Mrs. Nason encouraged and worked with me to try out for graduation speaker. It was a Mrs. Nason beaming in the front row that helped me through that graduation speech! She brought out my best by requiring it!

My dad clearly loved me and cared enough to challenge me with support and timely doses of tough love. Surviving the Great Depression, he stressed the need to save money for what you want to buy. Every dime I made went for my education, and dad gave me some support. But when I graduated from UCLA and applied to graduate school, he pulled me aside and said, “I always wanted you to get an education, but I never wanted you to get carried away with this. The rest of your education is on you!” When you are paying for your own education, you focus and complete your studies as quickly as possible. I lost dad last November, but, on this Father's Day weekend, I thank him for never spoiling me and steeling me for life's challenges.

President Ronald Reagan was the best president I’ve voted for. In tough times, there were no wasteful stimulus packages or bailed out companies “too big to fail.” Instead of appealing to our worst fears, he appealed to our best hopes—to our confidence, not our doubts. To Reagan, it wasn’t the government that would save us; it was the American people that would save the country by their innovation, hard work, investments and drive to succeed.

When speaking to Americans from the oval office, he said,“I’m not taking your time this evening to ask you to trust me. Instead, I ask you to trust yourself. That is what America is all about… It’s the power of millions of people like you who will determine what will make America great again.”

Like Mrs. Nason and my dad, Reagan humbly knew that the strength of America resides in a free people taking responsibility for their own lives. Citizens empowered by an optimistic dream of what they can become in a free country. America desperately needs the values those kinds of parents, teachers, and presidents instill. May it be so!

Terry Paulson

Terry Paulson, PhD is a psychologist, award-winning professional speaker, author of The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results, and long-time columnist for the Ventura County Star.

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