My parents had split up and my sister and I were in a foster home. It wasn’t a nice place to be and all of the children were eventually removed. It wasn’t a good start in life. Some of the kids that were there were already well on their way to a life of crime. Waiting for the bus one morning they engaged in screaming at one of the teachers as she drove by. I was told that they would beat me up if I didn’t scream at her too. Those were still the days of slapping your hand with a ruler if you misbehaved in school. She was my teacher. I crept into the classroom. My eyes and head down. I heard my name and cowered my way to the teachers desk fully expecting the ruler. She took me by the arm and pulled me close as I was pulling the other way. She said stop … Come here. She gently cupped her hands around my ear and said ‘you can be different’. I was stunned. I looked her in the eyes and she said again ‘you can be different’, you don’t have to be like them’. It made all the difference. It was an epiphany that struck at a very early age. I became successful in life and never felt the need to ever engage in activities that were damaging to another person. I could be me. The beating in the flesh was far less than the beating I took in my soul the day I was so unkind to my teacher … And yet she gave me a life well lived with those few simple words … You can be different.