An Insurmountable Dream

Ever dream of doing something which seemed insurmountable? I’ve had lots of  them. As a matter of fact, for years I wished to touch hearts through writing. But I had a personal mountain to overcome.

Over thirty years ago, I tested positive as learning disabled. This followed flunking kindergarten and the efforts of my then bug-eyed teacher to coerce me into using my right hand instead of my left. After several weeks of numerous, unsuccessful, attempts to train me to be a right handed person, one day my grey haired teacher snapped.

“You will not!”…Her jaw quivered and her pale complexion turned a ruddy red…“write with your left hand!” Frustrated by my obvious ineptness and inability to learn, she spat. “Left handedness is a sign of retardation.” My bottom lip trembled as I switched the fat pencil to my right hand and held it awkwardly.

Two years later, one breezy fall morning, my second grade teacher led me to a room on the other side of the large campus. She opened the special education door and told me I would need to come here each day. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t stay with my class and thought I had committed a crime. I couldn’t read or write and I still used my left hand. I hung my humiliated head. An aide showed me to my desk and I sat there with my new reader. I looked around the classroom and studied the various children and their obvious physical needs.

My gosh! What’s wrong with me? I don’t have crossed eyes or a problem walking.

Across the room, the classroom door nested in a wall of windows which overlooked the black top playground. While I waited for instruction, a revelation settled on me and I wanted to rush out the door and run home.

I use my left hand. I cast my ashamed eyes down at the grey blue book in my hands. The yellow, meaningless, letters formed an unknown title to me. I’m a retard. A retard!

Roll the camera forward to my fortieth year. It was a season of great personal accomplishment. In fact, I did a very un-retarded thing…I wrote a book. What does it take to achieve a personal dream of any kind? For me, I had to ignore my self critic (she’s very bossy and undermines creativity), and defy the memory of my kindergarten teacher’s hurtful words. I also looked to God for help with what seemed to me an insurmountable mountain to climb and then I simply wrote.

The day I held in my hands the first copy of Angels Appearing, I nearly laughed with the rare joy I experienced. With God’s help, I had climbed Mount Everest, in a matter of speaking, and beat personal odds. I pushed through the challenges which loomed before me and achieved the desire in my heart to touch others through writing.

That achievement replaced what my bug eyed teacher told me. I wasn’t retarded; nothing’s wrong with my intelligence, and I learned something valuable…with God, dreams do come true.

Angels Appearing sold 1,000 copies in a short period of time. I shook my head in amazement and shouted a praise to the Lord. I’m currently working on my second book. It’s loaded with suspense and action, forgiving and overcoming, sorrow, love beyond reason, and great joy. I can’t wait until it’s published, that’ll be like climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. ©

Pamela Koefoed

To contact Pamela write to: advancingmail@yahoo.com

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Photo by © Rcaucino | Dreamstime.com

19 thoughts on “An Insurmountable Dream

  1. Wow, what a story. Thanks for sharing. As a left handed person, I too remember feeling awkward in a right handed world. Though I was not put in a special class, I did have trouble writing for a long time. In the 8th grade an art teacher saw me struggling to write with my hand turned the wrong way. She took 15 minutes to show me how to use a pencil the correct way with my left hand and it changed my whole perspective on learning. I loved your story so much, I put a link to it on my facebook page.

    • Terry, glad to meet another leftie here. Do you remember trying to cut paper with left handed scissors? In my cut and paste days, elementary school, my teachers always gave me left handed scissors to use. While my fellow classmates cut out their cool and groovy shapes, my construction paper slipped between the blades. I couldn’t get the silly things to cut. You’re so right about the frustration. We’re over that now. I can use whatever scissors I wish. I can’t imagine how it would be to write as you described. Sounds like you had a caring and thoughtful teacher. Thanks for the nice words. That warmed my heart.~ Pamela

  2. Oh! SO sad what happens to children! I went through a lot of simular things. I chose to homeschool my daughter instead of letting her be put into a “slot”. She has turned into a beautiful and self confident young lady at 17. Love you lots & will see you some time soon I hope!
    ~Tammy (Alturas)

    • Hi Tammy, glad to hear that homeschooling helped your daughter. We home-schooled our children until their early teens and found the same thing. Adults in our community commented on their maturity, confidence, and poise. Good for you. Love you too. Looking forward to seeing you sometime in the near future, I hope. Pamela

  3. Dear Pam, I was so touched by your story, I work with young children each day, and I can’t imagine saying things like that to any innocent child or treating them like that. Thanks for sharing this difficult story. What a healing and powerful way God has used you.

    • Diane, I’m glad my vignette touched your heart. It’s hard to imagine why an adult would injure a child. Back in the sixties, some of the old timers actually believed left handedness to be a sign of a gross mental deformity. Mrs. Bug Eyes fit in that category. But, that’s no excuse for name calling. To call a child retarded can inflict great harm. Benjamin Franklin, Isaac Newton, and Albert Einstein were all left handed. If my teacher had done her homework, she’d have put me in the accelerated learning program. Just kidding. 😉 Blessings to you~ Pamela

  4. You are such a beautiful inspiration, Pamela. I appreciate your honest witness of the grace of God and your willingness to pass it on to all who cross your path; especially me. God bless you!

  5. The pencil was pulled from my left hand as well in Catholic school, but because I am ambidextrous, it posed a minimal challenge, though confusion about what all the fuss was about. My labels were good at first, teacher pet, honor student. The negative labels came later, in 4th grade when I was nine and began having petit mal seizures, and they nearly destroyed me. Bullied relentlessly at school and beaten at home for them, labeled insane, behavioral disordered, and even a witch, my self esteem was completely obliterated, and feeling like a freak, I gave up on myself. Though barely got through high school I started a life long practice of affixing my own labels in college and became a academic star in all subjects. LABEL DRIVEN mind you. However, my confidence in the world and my own ability were severely destroyed and I married young and dropped out of college. My world was dependent on everything my husband was and did, I was his wife, and as good as OUR world. This was a very unstable foundation for survival. When he fell from grace and picked up a crack pipe, (read my blog on Bry’s wall) I went crashing straight into hell, unable to stand on my own, wearing the scarlet letter C (wife of a crack addict.) The end of the story gets better however, as I leaned on the Lord and His promise that I could take what was painful and ugly and create beauty. It took years to learn that God is not only in the business of redeeming souls, He redeems lives. With this new confidence I returned to my practice of affixing my own labels, choosing labels that matched the badges of those that entered privileged doors. I am now a UCLA scholar, a writer, screenwriter and director with awards and a film in development that is building much buzz and great favor. I simply took the pain and hardship in my life and LABELED them “material” and thus RElabeled my curses into blessings. God’s redemption over Satan’s destruction. God bless, I hope we will be hearing from each other more often. A sister in Christ, surviving and authorship,
    Christine

    • Christine, thank your for sharing your heart touching testimony. It put me in awe of God. Nothing’s too difficult for Him. He’s the answer for the broken and hurting. Sounds like you’re helping others through your story. Yes, let’s stay in touch. Do you have a blog? Feel free to leave the address here.
      God bless you,
      Pamela

      • Well the blog on my Facebook wall, which Bry shared today on her wall is at existentialthoughts.wordpress, but I have several others I have begun that are more topic oriented. Occupy Your Space at occupyyourspace.wordpress Confessions of a Thoroughly Modern Spinster at thoroughlymodernspinster.wordpress and lastly, but not launch is the site dedicated to my journey, and message and named after my literary short and film: Like Tar Across My Back at liketaracrossmyback.wordpress.com -And yes, my goal is to reach out and help others, so I have a group of women I have been mentoring. God bless you, and so nice to meet you!
        Christine

  6. Wow it is amazing how the enemy starts early trying to thwart God’s plan for our lives.
    You are living proof that we are over-comers. You are just getting started, there is so much more!

    Cynthia

  7. Thanks for the great write. My daughter is left handed and is smarter than the average! Amazing the words we speak out of ignorance. You did a great job writing this article. Keep it up!!!

    • Joanne, thank you for replying to An Insurmountable Dream. Your daughter might be interested in the website honoring left-handers, http://www.lefthandersday.com. I just checked it out and learned some fascinating facts about left handedness. One new discovery for me is that August 16th is Left-Handers Day. Go lefties!

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