A time for reflection

In 1987, I was invited to speak at an adult education graduation in Gorham, Maine. At the time, I was the health reporter at WCSH in Portland and my daughters were around three and one. My life was full and very, very busy! The news director had given me the ok to look for an intern — a student or recent graduate interested in learning about the news and being a reporter who could help me with things like contacting people and setting up interviews. So … I was on the lookout for potential candidates.

Among the graduates was a young woman by the name of Rhonda, who also spoke at the ceremony. Although I don’t recall the details, I do remember being impressed with her demeanor and what she had to say. I told her I was looking for an intern and gave her my card.

A few weeks ago, 34 years later, I received an email from Rhonda. She told me that in this uncertain time, she has become more reflective and after seeing an article about me and the Catching Health blog in her local newspaper, she decided to reach out to me. When I read the email, I was overwhelmed with emotion. With her permission, I am sharing it with you because I think it serves as a critical reminder. We never know the impact our words and actions might have on someone. Thank you for letting me know, Rhonda. Your words and actions have filled my heart with gratitude.

This is Rhonda’s email and story.

Rhonda Montanez
Rhonda Montanez

Dear Diane
In 1987 you attended my adult education graduation in Gorham, Maine. Myself, my “was Ben “ (ex-husband), and my mom all graduated together. it was Epic. I gave the closing speech that night. An encouraging little ditty I wrote about moving forward, where we go from here, not looking back, etc. I love to write. Anyway, afterward, you approached me, much to my 19-year-old shock and awe, and said how much you enjoyed my speech and would I be interested in an internship with you. !??!!! I was “mind-boggled,” lol. I’m sure I must have stammered and stuttered but you gave me your card. Typical of my age at the time I did not call you … excusing myself in my mind, young mom, barely educated, fearful, and lacking self-confidence.

Flash forward 34 years.

Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.

You’ve always played a huge part of my story, my journey. I’ve always felt you must have seen something in me I didn’t see at the time. To this day I’ve questioned whether or not the story was even true. I recently found my diploma, my speech, and your card, cementing the story in my heart.

I’ve gone on to work for years in the medical field and then moved into Holistic Practice over 8 years ago after a terminal colon cancer diagnosis when I was 34. I opted for the naturopathic route. I’m now a certified Body Code practitioner with a full-time practice out of my home and globally via the web. Earthside Alternatives is the name of my practice.

I came across an article in my local Gray newspaper about you and I felt compelled to share my story. You inspired me years ago to believe in myself and you didn’t even know it. In times like these, we need to share our thoughts and feelings with people who’ve influenced our journey.

I’ve lived for years wondering “ what if”…
I moved forward
I stepped into my future
I’m fulfilling my purpose

I still look back, not with regret but pride in how far I’ve come with the help and encouragement of family, friends, God, and a few kind strangers who saw my potential.

I want to say Thank You.

Blessings, Rhonda Montanez

When I responded to Rhonda’s email, I asked how she and her family were doing during the pandemic and this was her reply:

It seems these days I’ve been more reflective and spending time looking at more ways to help my family, friends, and mentors. This is an uncertain, scary, confusing, and difficult time for so many. So many suffer in silence and some even more so now. Ours is a shared human plight. I’m finding ways to reach out to neighbors and see if they need practical help that I could safely provide or even just a listening ear. I have grandkids myself and I’ve barely been separated from them a single day for 10 and 6 years. It’s hard.

Rhonda and her husband
Rhonda and her husband

Earthside Alternatives

If you’d like to know more about Rhonda’s practice Earthside Alternatives, visit her website or Facebook page.

What about you?

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you? Do you find yourself being more reflective? Are you reaching out and connecting with people you haven’t thought about or talked to in years? Did someone have a positive impact on your life? Now might be the perfect time to let them know. Thank you, again, Rhonda, for letting me know.

Don’t miss a thing! Sign up to receive an email when I post something new on Catching Health.

Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. She now hosts and produces the Catching Health podcast and writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.