mr. szmidt

You know that feeling when things catch you off guard and make you stop to wonder, "Wait... What?"

That was the feeling I got when I logged into Facebook tonight. I was greeted with a friend's status that was in no way as difficult to read as I'm sure it was to write, but still hard...

Julian Szmidt, one of my favorite teachers and mentors from high school, has passed away. He was only 60. His son and I were friends throughout high school and I always got a kick out of the two of them. And in fact, Mr. Szmidt wrote one of my recommendations for Pepperdine (and it was funny because his son was the first friend I told when I got accepted).

I had Mr. Szmidt as a teacher a couple of times but it was not what I learned about U. S. history or government that has stuck with me over the years...

One of his classroom traditions was to begin every class with a "Quote of the Day". He'd have it written on the board when we arrived, we'd discuss it and then move on to what the curriculum demanded.

There were many that had profound meaning and have stuck with me, but two among them have held sway above the rest. These are two thoughts that have shaped who I am and how I live my life (though I could not have known their impact at the time).

1) You are right now exactly where you want to be.

To your average high schooler, this was bait for "Well I'd rather be skateboarding, I'm so not where I want to be." Well then... Go. If you truly didn't want to be in class right now then you wouldn't be. Simple as that.

On a larger scale, this was a thought that struck 16 year old me when that first wave of "Must get out of Napa" desperation started to sink in. It was the first real, hard hitting realization that if I didn't want to stay in this town the rest of my life, I didn't have to. I had the power to change my surroundings and be where I wanted to be.


2) If you're happy and you know it clap your hands.

Simple children's rhyme, right? Not really. I mean, how many times can you think about not just being happy in terms of looking back and thinking, "Yeah, that was a happy time." but being happy and knowing it in that moment. How much more incredible could that happy time have been if you allowed yourself to realize it then and there?

I actually wrote about it earlier this year funnily enough.

Fast forward a few years and I would have another person reaffirm many of these same thoughts, but I have always credited Mr. Szmidt with starting me on the path to a mindset I've come to value very much.

As I said to his son, Mr. Szmidt was a man whose teaching shaped characters and spirits, not just transcripts.

So here's to you Mr. Szmidt. You have no idea how much of an impact you had on my life.
Thank you.

If you want to read more about him, click here for a lovely article about this beloved teacher. 


  1. I'm sorry for your loss but I'm happy that you had the chance to know such a wise soul. Those quotes are brilliant, especially "If you're happy and you know it clap your hands." Simple and profound kind of tie together, huh. :)

  2. Everyone really does have that ONE teacher that just seemed to be a peg above the rest when you're in high school. Stinks that yours is no longer with us. When mine goes, I'll know how you feel. Let's drink one for Mr. Szmidt tonight, shall we?

  3. you have great photos on your blog!!! love it!

    Classic & Bubbly

  4. what a beautiful post! sorry for your loss but thank you so much for sharing those brilliant quotes! your teacher must've been awesome!
    love from

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  6. Thank you everyone for the sweet words :)