Celebrate National Mentoring Month

Mentoring Month

Who Has Mentored YOU?

“Who are the older, wiser, calmer souls who’ve been instrumental in your success? Who’s made your life possible?” – Hal Runkel

My grandma, Mary Leona, taught me to appreciate January. Certainly not because it blew bitter cold winds in central Nebraska where we lived, with that white stuff lasting for a seeming eternity, but because, now, in January particularly, I ruminate on fond memories of Gram. I relive what she taught me, and smile at my recollection of her, perched at our kitchen table, freely giving me a piece of her mind and memories.

Why do I reflect on Gram, especially, on the first month of every year?

It’s because January is National Mentoring Month.

(In the US, in 2002, National Mentoring Month began as a way to promote youth mentoring. Now, all of us, in our business and personal lives, employ January as a specific time to thank our mentors.)

I’ll start this 2017 Mentoring Month by celebrating Grandma Mary, and perhaps, it will spur you to think of those who have shaped you, to whom you are grateful.

Something about Mary …

Grandma Mary Leona was vital from the earliest days of my life, till I graduated college; after becoming a fairly young widow, she practically lived with my immediate family.

Countless nights, we would sit up at the kitchen table, and, as we played cards, 10-point Pitch as our game of all time, Gram would enjoy her “pop,” (read: something strong and distilled) and puff on her smokes.

Yep, she was an old pioneer from the Sandhills of western Nebraska, and she’d lived a hardy life. I think she felt that, even then, a little nip of the hooch took the edge off her family ties to sod hut living on the prairie. There had been no running water, electricity, or indoor plumbing for the Anderson family. Hers was a ride-your-horse to the one-room-school education.

Her husband of 30 years drove to the power plant for work each day in their tiny Nebraska town, she worked in the ammunitions factory during WWII, and she never learned to drive a car. This last fact, incidentally, drove us grandkids crazy, because of her “doctoral degree” in backseat driving.

Back to the nightly card table, where, more importantly than her strong libations, or who won the knockdown game of cards, (there was always a price to be paid if you lost…doing the dishes, taking out the trash, and the like) was the fact that we talked into the wee hours.

I told Gram many things—from tales of errant boyfriends, to how incredibly badly the most wonderful mom in the world was treating me, to what I should wear to prom.

Her responses to these subjects of import were, respectively, “Dump him, he’s a bum. You can get a good boy.” “Stop sassing your mom.” “Don’t wear something that shows too much cleavage.” (Not that I had much to promote!)

Mary Leona pulled no punches, told me the truth, for my own good, and loved me with a fierce, Sandhiller, “though you do so many things wrong, you can do nothing wrong in my eyes” kind of love.

Shakespeare wrote, “The wheel has come full circle.” Funny, how that happens. That’s how I act towards, talk with and love my own kids.

I’d give anything to grant them a game of Pitch and a straight–to-the-heart chat with Mary Leona.

What about you? Who sat at the kitchen table with you? Or maybe took walks, coached your team, or helped you with your tough subjects at school?

Did someone help your through heartrending disappointments and dried your tears?

Who said something to you that you’ll never forget?

Author and family therapist, Hal Runkel, asked this great question, and it’s the one I pose to you this month,

“Who are the older, wiser, calmer souls who’ve been instrumental in your success? Who’s made your life possible?”

This month, I plan to heartily, cheerfully and proactively think about and thank these people in my life, and I will encourage each of you to do the same.

Happy National Mentoring Month!


My Grandma Mary. She was quite the character. She would have had something quite cryptic to say about me posting her photo online! 🙂 I love and miss my fun-loving mentor.

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Lori Bachman created The MentorShift Group to equip mentors and mentees with a practical and powerful mentoring system. The system is designed to equip those who use it to, not only flourish in their own mentoring relationships, but to be able to transfer its success to others as well.