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July 22, 2004 - "Gail's Lesson" by Ellie Braun-Haley
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"Aviation is proof that given the will, we have the capacity to achieve the impossible." ~Edward V. Rickenbacker



My favorite kinds of stories - and people, by the way, are those who quietly live their lives in such a way that radiates courage, spirit, or effecting change in the world. Gail's life shows all three and her lesson is one that Ellie and countless others have been blessed by. The beautiful thing is that Gail probably doesn't even realize the impact her life continues to have on the world around her...she's too busy dancing!

by Ellie Braun-Haley

Life is filled with challenges, and many of those have lessons for us. When I met Gail a singer who is blind I saw a new challenge and thought I was going to be the teacher. Strange how things turn out.

I was a dance teacher for a local college and had been learning a series of new dances to introduce into the communities in the area. My partner and I decided it would be fun to practice to a live band at a lounge.We didn't know we'd been the topic of interest where the band was concerned until they approached us during one of their breaks. Admiring our footwork, they asked if we could spend time with the three female singers in the group and teach them some of our steps. It was felt that the steps would enhance their singing routines. Thinking it would be a fun morning and give us more practice we agreed to meet at their motel the following day.

My partner was interested in working with two of the singers and suggested that I work with the third singer, Gail. The challenge for me would be to accurately describe each move for Gail. She had the greater challenge, to process, interpret and simulate. Being blind, Gail had never seen us dance but she exuded confidence. She also trusted her fellow singers that the steps would be fun and a great addition to their act.

I went from feeling sympathy for Gail to admiring her. She was able to accomplish all that her sighted colleagues had in the same amount of time. She was an amazing woman and the session with Gail taught me more than I realized.

A few weeks later, while I was teaching a group of adults a Line Dance I noticed that most of them spent a lot of time looking at my feet, or their own feet or the feet of someone in front of them. I wanted them to feel confident on the dance floor but I could see that they were relying too heavily on others. A memory of Gail came to mind and as I thought of her I realized that she had learned so quickly because she did not use her eyes. The message went from her brain straight to her muscles.

I told the group about Gail and suggested we try something new; to pretend we couldn't see. We went over the steps a few times and I matched each combination of moves with a trigger word or phrase. Then we focused on a spot on the wall, never looking down and went through the dance again using only the trigger words to remind our brains of what we wished our feet to do. Invariably and with unbelievable consistency the students learned the dance quicker than usual.

I never saw Gail again yet her dance lessons taught me something I would use again and again over the years. The lesson eventually helped hundreds of students to learn better and to thereby feel more confidence. I realize today the gift of insight Gail gave to me.

Without Gail I doubt that I would have discovered a new method for teaching dance. Her attitude showed me that we should not be afraid of the things we can not see and do not know. Gail didn't see herself as courageous, learning to dance in spite of blindness, no instead she saw new challenges as an opportunity to taste more life. Gail laughed at her mistakes. She lived in the moment.

Ellie Braun-Haley

Ellie says she has learned that the sidewalks of life may be filled with breaks and cracks but the scenery enroute is worth the walk. Ellie has had numerous short stories published in 2theHeart, Chicken Soup for the soul, Heartwarmers of Spirit, Emerging Courageous and other publications.


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The Letter Box:

Susan,,,,,,I thank God that you didn't fall asleep through that prayer - I signed up for an angel and boy ooooh boy - little did I realize what the true meaning of "angeling" meant until I started receiving all sorts of cards, bookmarkers, and little gifts in my mailbox - and I still have that little turtle you sent to me - it's VERY special.

Bless all the angels and all the story writers and everyone who is a part of reminds me of a quote and I can't remember who said it:

It's not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived.

Bless you for giving of your time, your energy, yourself. Thank You Susan - you're an angel. Julie Dyer (Indiana)


Once again a powerful story from you. You never cease to amaze me. I love the group and what it does not only for the recipients but for those who chose to become an "angel". Someone once told me "It's the little things that count and make the biggest difference" It sure is true....a simple card, a poem, or short note, it means so much just knowing someone cares. I am thankful you have given me the opportunity to one of those people. Hugs, Jane

Oh, Sooz,
Where in the world do I begin???? I am sitting her sobbing my heart out with the heartfelt story you shared with the world. You are ONE VERY SPECIAL LADY, a TRUE earth angel!!!!!!!!

You have helped bless SO many lives and hearts, and you have set a big wheel of love into motion with your spendid efforts with and inspirational stories, and THANK YOU, Sooz.... there truly are NOT enough words to convey my appreciation and admiration of you, sweet friend!!!!!!

I am glad you listened to that still voice of God, and He is using you in a really powerful way!!! KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK!!! I guess you know I am your NUMBER ONE FAN, by the way!!!

Did I ever tell you about buying "A Cup of Comfort" for gifts several years ago and how thrilled I was to see your stories in it.... it was delightful for me, for I didn't realize you had such a range of work "out there".... Of course, all I have to do is go to Google and look you up, and it shows SO MUCH about your wonderful writing and work.... keep it up, and thank you for being "you." I AM SO BLESSED TO KNOW YOU, SOOZ!!

Loving angel hugs,
Rita Spillers

Hi Sooz,
I just read your story about how Angels 2TheHeart began. What inspired you to start the foundation. I want you to know that I am very happy to have joined your foundation. I just joined and I am so glad I did. Hugs, Juliana Clark

I'VE BEEN WEEPING, as I read the story in today's mail, Fighting Prayer. I can't say they were sad tears, just that my soul was so touched and when it is, I start to leak! I leaked right on through to the end and felt blessed just to have read this story. Thank you dear Susan for a most wondrous story. Our Heavenly Father wisely blessed you with a talent to write and then you in turn have blessed us all by writing and by following the urge to share that goodness which is bursting out of you!

I feel privileged to have met you and blessed to have you in my life. I going to go now. I want to say my own prayers for the continued success of Angels2The Heart and for the continued energy for you Susan.

Loved the story

Dear Sue ~ "Fighting Prayer" ~ You were the answer to many many prayers. I will always be grateful for your beauty and light. It is in "giving" that we receive... and you have truly given your heart and soul to this cause and have brought love and kindness in the most sacred way anyone in life could ~ through love and caring. Thank you for that. Love Francine Pucillo

What a joy it is to be in the center of God's Will. There is no better place to be. When we yield to Him and let Him have complete control our life finally begins to make sense. You are reaping rewards of a surrendered life. I am so glad to be a very small part of your group but most of all I am grateful that God let you touch my heart and life. One of my favorite elephant jokes (jokes back in the 60's, I am showing my age), is: "How can you tell if an elephant has been in the refrigerator? He leaves his footprints in the butter." Well, you have left footprints in my butter and I am so thankful to know you. I love you and admire you for all you do. Keep up the good work and give God the Glory! Maxine

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