From Student to Teacher

Thoughts from Dr. Joe by Dr. Joe Puglia

A friend of mine, Molly Quiring, suggested that I write some thoughts about Linda Taix's boot camp. Molly explained her joy with this experience and urged me to take a look. "We meet at 5:30 a.m.," she said. With the mere mention of boot camp, my palms began to sweat and I started to shake?and that old albatross returned once again to hang on my neck.

"Can I do this," I asked? Those words, 'boot camp,' brought me back to my initial experiences in the Marines. I still see the images of Staff Sergeant R.S. Winston, my drill instructor, rearranging (knocking) my 'brain housing' (head). And I still hear the chilling voice of Sergeant "The Brute" Yanik screaming "Squat thrusts for ever, and ever, and ever." "Oh my God," I thought?and quickly told Molly I would come.

H-hour finally came; and as the clock precisely struck 5:30, the entourage of boot camp staff entered the scene. They quietly appeared within a sphere of confidence, took charge, and ignited the energy that eagerly waited. Now I'm still waiting for all hell to break out because there's always quiet before the storm. But that didn't happen. Trying to see into the dark, my eyes fixated on four figures. It was Linda Taix accompanied by her staff Laura Scheening, Gary Kasper, and JC Goetz. Linda and Laura held no resemblance to Sergeants Winston and Yanik. But Gary and JC could have easily fit the bill. "Hum," I thought, "Maybe it's a trick to lull me into complacency."

As I observed Linda, my thoughts drifted back in time and I saw a young girl full of passion, energy, and dreams. You see, Linda was once my student. I remember a distant conversation that she and I once had. She dreamed of being an exercise scientist and imagined that one day she would enhance the physicality and health of others. She ran track at Glendale College and would spend hours instructing her teammates in the weight room. I was always impressed with her energy and eagerness to learn, so I hired her as a student peer counselor. Each semester, Linda would enroll in my wilderness skills class and at the end she would remark, "I want to do what you do!" Here's one for ya?she was the Homecoming Queen for Glendale College.

JC brought me back to the present with one of his patented distempered fits. He was yelling about something. JC, 'lean and mean,' is the guy you love to hate, the 'J-DI' (junior drill instructor) but beneath that gruff exterior is a competent and consummate professional. He'll kick you where the 'sun don't shine' but he'll get you in shape and you'll go the extra mile. Tell me he's not everybody's 'darlin.'

Gary is the 'good cop,' the senior drill instructor. He has a very large presence, large enough to be a man of all seasons. Calm, instructive, and motivating along with a reassuring manner, he instills the idea that, "You can do this." I sense that he is an individual of depth guided by a source outside him. I think he's the Zen of boot camp.

Laura is from South Carolina, and comes with a little bit of country. She has a certain mystique, a pronounced softness, with a subtle expertise enabling her to be both friend and instructor. At dawn, her silhouette, straight and unbending, loses its mystery; a down home girl emerges, "Darlin, Sweetheart," become the bridge to her clients.

I began to believe that I would survive this boot camp. But before I could settle into a relaxed complacency, Gary signaled and everyone quickly left their mats to run.

As they ran west on foothill, I watched them as far as I could. They vaporized into the darkness of morning leaving only a blinking red light trailing behind. And at that moment, all I was left with was the memory of a determined young girl who was willing to wake up and go to work and thus ensure the reality of her dream. When you follow your heart, your dreams often come true.

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