Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Amazng File

Years ago (as in thirty years ago),  my friend Jackie Crowley gave a seminar for her colleagues at Houston Community College. TAF stood for The Amazing File, and the idea was for us to create a file and fill it with photos, letters of accolades, awards, and other things that documented how uniquely wonderful we were.

Jackie gave each of us a red file folder labelled "TAF 101."  ("So you can find it quickly among all those manila folders in your filing cabinet," she explained.) She had her own file to show us--although it was an expandable file because she'd had it awhile and needed more space for her documents.

I came across my file recently. Here's what is in it:
  • a photo that Jackie took of me in a hotel room reading the New York Times, documenting the time she and I had been sent by the college president to a national marketing seminar that ultimately led to my doctoral dissertation;
  • a letter from my son expressing his love and belief in me;
  • a thank you card from a colleague for helping her get funding for a project;
  • an honorable mention from Southwest Writers Conference for the opening chapter of a novel;
  • birthday cards from friends and family with personal notes written inside telling me what a fun and caring person I am;
  • a letter from the United Way thanking me for chairing the campaign for the college district;
  • a transcript from Texas A&M University showing heaps of A's earned in grad school;
  • pictures of Christmas parties I hosted over the years for friends who couldn't go home for the holidays;
  • certificates of appreciation for service work on various community and  college committees;
  •  pictures of Ireland from my first trip across the Atlantic that I took with my cousin "Bubbles";
  • a letter from my dad conveying his delight and pride in being my father; and
  • my beloved Trixie Ann's dog tags.
Going through the file always gives me such a warm feeling because I can see clearly that my life matters, not because of the job I have or my job title, but because of who I am as a person.

It's good to have a file where I can go and be reminded of my value because, unfortunately, there are days when I am so depressed and discouraged that I need to see concrete evidence that tells me I'm not a failure.

If you don't have a file on yourself, I highly recommend that you begin building one.