The day I decided not to be Superwoman anymore  

Superman_Logo_Bath_Mat_hi_res My schedule typically looks like this:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Do as much as possible Do as much as possible Do as much as possible Do as much as possible Do as much as possible Do as much as possible Do as much as possible

Why do I fill days with so many “to do” lists, you ask? Good question, and I don’t have a clear answer for you. For so long, I used to take great pride in how much I could accomplish in one week, or even in one day, for that matter. When I lived with my ex-boyfriend, I use to bounce around our house on Sunday afternoons claiming to be “Superwoman.” Between loads of laundry, completion of college school work, making dinner, carving out time to walk his dog and of course squeezing in an evening run, I barely took a moment to breathe. Still with all those tasks accomplished, I was somehow able to find a quick moment to read a book or watch my favorite TV show before bed. However, this was only a glimpse into what my typical Sunday looked like. Prior to Sunday, Friday and Saturday nights were spent bartending so I was able to pay my way through college. And prior to Friday and Saturday, I spent the workweek student-teaching full time. Hell, maybe I was Superwoman because I sure did accomplish a lot in any given week. However, in between prideful moments of conquering the world and checking off the BIGGEST “To Do” list, there were also moments of pure exhaustion, tears caused from stress and pressure, weight loss caused from anxiety, and sleepless nights and arguments with my boyfriend that only fueled the unhappiness I was manifesting.

As I continued to work on perfecting this pattern of “doing it all” I had a coworker once ask me, “Have you ever heard of giving one thing 100% instead of 100 things only 1%?” I quickly realized that my “do it all” attitude was unrealistic and more importantly, an unhealthy way to go about my life because often it was coming from a place of not good enough rather than a place of self love. So began the journey of learning how to say “No” and to no longer “biting off more than I could chew.” As my bartending days were nearing an end with the quick approach of graduation day, my perspective began to shift. The art of multitasking did not make sense anymore. I decided to take up yoga, and thus began a passionate love affair with a small family-owned yoga studio, Cambio Yoga. I started taking more baths. I became more intentional with my morning runs.

I prioritized me time.

Through all of these practices, I began to realize that every moment is magical and beautiful and a precious gift not to be taken for granted. In order to achieve an attitude of gratitude, one must first learn to be present in each moment. I once read a story about a young American man traveling through the Himalayas. In this story, he embarks on an arduous journey seeking the secret of a long life, happiness, and peace from a enlightened Guru. Once in the Himalayas, he travels five days through the mountains overcoming obstacles in the face of adversity. Finally, he reaches a high mountain pass where a great old man dressed in a white long robe with beautiful flowing gray hair resides. This man sits in lotus position, quiet and still. The young American man sits down next to this Guru in a similar pose waiting for brilliant words of wisdom.  An hour goes by.  Several more hours pass.  Finally, a whole day passes, then another day, and then several days pass.  Finally, the young man says to the old man, “What happens next?” The Guru answers, “Nothing happens next. This is it.” IMG_5694 The End.

Like the enlightened Guru from the story said, this is all we have, this exact perfect moment. In fact, you are spending your current moments reading my blog (and for that I am grateful:). These are seconds you cannot get back. As well, you are not guaranteed the minutes or hours to follow. So how can you be fully present and completely invested in each and every moment? Santosha, or contentment, is the practice of finding contentment or happiness regardless of the external circumstances. It is the practice of remembering that what you have now is precious and impermanent. So, to find contentment despite the busy schedule I inflict upon myself, I am making an intentional choice to simplify my life. To just be. To acknowledge that sometimes I cannot do it all despite putting forth my best effort, and that’s okay. Yes, I will find contentment in accepting this truth. “When all your desires are distilled You will cast two votes To love more and to be happy.” -Hafiz

So, these days I am working on a schedule looking more like this…

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
You are enough; You do enough; You have enough You are enough; You do enough; You have enough You are enough; You do enough; You have enough You are enough; You do enough; You have enough You are enough; You do enough; You have enough You are enough; You do enough; You have enough You are enough; You do enough; You have enough

Just yesterday, during a “movie day” in school, I was watching Superhumans with my students. While watching this interesting account of a man, Stan Lee, who travels the world looking for humans who have incredible and  superhuman powers, I realized that he wouldn’t be knocking on my door anytime soon. In fact, he would be extremely unimpressed knowing that the only “superhuman” thing I was doing was typing this blog, lesson planning, chewing bubblegum, and drinking my Yerba Mate tea. Yup, not exactly my proudest moment of multitasking. No superhuman here; just boring, ordinary perfectly complete me 🙂  I look forward to hanging up my cape and being a more simple version of myself because even though I am absolutely capable of doing it all, I instead choose to slow down. I choose to put down my phone more often, say “No” more frequently, and be fully present in the moment. I will spend more time savoring each moment like a decadent piece of fine dark chocolate. So, from one Superwoman (or man) to another, know this: You don’t have to be. You already are extraordinarily heroic and amazing, so today practice just being you.

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Those People

Often I hear the expression: “Home is where the heart is”. Although a true statement, I believe a piece of your heart may always be where home once was rather than where it currently is. For me, that place is a small little town in Michigan called Dimondale. This is the place where I was born and raised and it wasn’t until 2006 when Colorado first stole my heart. I fell in love, not with a man, but with the mountains, fresh air and the brilliant sunshine. In July of 2006, I was out visiting a friend who had recently relocated to Colorado Springs. After my trip, it took only two short months before I packed my bags once again and fled back to the Rocky Mountains, this time for good. Later, I recall what a fearless badass I was and at that particular time in my life, “adventure” was my middle name. I was beyond thrilled to begin a life 1,300 miles away from my home base and was open and ready for all the experiences that came along with beginning something new.

However, there will always be Dimondale. There will always be a part of myself that was left behind as my small Pontiac Sunfire sped fast towards the west that foggy morning in September. Even now, as I sit on an airplane headed back to Colorado, I know this statement will always be true. You see, not only did I leave a part of my heart in Michigan, I also left behind incredible family and friends and a million other irreplaceable childhood memories.  Although a handful of these people are also beginning to pack up and move out of state, most of my family still resides in Michigan. With pieces of my heart now scattered all over the country as the ones I love move and relocate, I have come to realize a thing or two about what family really means to me and this is what I know about family.

I believe there are three kinds of family. First, is the family you are born into. Genetics and medical science states this is your family because you share precious strands of DNA. Then, there is the family you are adopted into. You may not share the same eye color or personality traits; however, they become family because they choose you to be a part of theirs. Thirdly, (and in my case most importantly) there is the family you choose; the people you meet along the way. This family may not share your genes or your last name, but you share a bond with them that often cannot be described with words. These people typically play a significant role in helping shape the type of person you become.

For me, I am blessed with the most incredible family, whom I mostly left behind in Michigan. So, for the ones I met along the way, the people I don’t share DNA with, there are those people. Those people are the people I’ve known for years, or perhaps the people I haven’t even known a whole year yet. The people I work, play with, or live next door to. Those people are with whom I share some of my most celebrated moments, like completion of The Denver Marathon, or a job offer I would be crazy to turn down, or celebrating the decision to apply to Graduate School, or successfully surviving my first ever triathlon.

Those people are the childhood friends I first met in 1st and 4th grades. With these people, I have shared some of my most extreme ups and downs with and no matter what they always seem to have my back.

Those people I also grew up next door to. Our families spent many holidays and Sunday afternoons together, and in the meantime us kids spent quiet Saturday evenings under the stars in sleeping bags talking about the possibilities our futures would bring.

They are also those people that upon my arrival to Colorado in 2006, quickly scooped me up under their wing and did this not because they are originally from Michigan and have known my family for years, but rather just because they could. They have always been there for me, including the time my sister was in the hospital and my friend drove all the way down from Denver to The Springs insisting I go home and rest after being at the hospital for a solid 48 hours. “I will take it from here.” she said.

Those people are who I spend my weekdays working side by side at the most challenging, but most rewarding job I have ever had, and then just because, I also spend my Saturday and Sundays with those people… just for fun.

Those people pick up the phone no matter the time of day or night, even at 1am when my broken heart is too heavy and overwhelming to manage on my own anymore.

Those people I may only see once every other Thursday or so for long discussions of life and love, but it is as if I have always known them.

Those people I was stuck at an airport with for more than 30 hours before the snowstorm let up and allowed us to be rescued. Prior to being rescued, however, we vowed to make the most of our airport fiasco and created such fond (and laughable) memories that I would not trade for anything.

Those people encourage me, challenge me, forgive me, support me, laugh with me (sometimes even at me) cry and scream with me, play, dance and celebrate with me. They run with me, climb 14er’s with me, practice yoga next to me, or even complete Yoga Teacher Training with me. Those people are the ones I met along the way.

Now it is time for me to fly away from the glorious and green spring time in Michigan back to my adoptive family (including the 10 month old fur ball I call Ruby). As I do so, I am reminded that ten years ago, I never would have predicted I’d soon be spending my 9th summer in Colorado. For almost a decade I have called this place home. While pieces of my heart still remain in Dimondale, I am continuously reminded that life is so unpredictable, but in all its unpredictability there is one thing I know will never change: support and love from my family, the family I was born into and the family I continue to share my time and memories with. I also know this family will only continue to grow.

So, as I sit here now reading this blog for the first time since writing it four weeks ago, I realize the purpose of this post is to always remember that the most precious things in this life are the people with which you choose to share the journey. Like I have said before; relationships matter, and the relationships with these people are what I am most grateful for in this life.

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Epiphany at the Airport. Simple Choices.

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So, here I am, still sitting at the gate. It is 1:30 am and our flight has been cancelled. A small group of people begin to congregate around the customer service desk and I wonder, “Well, now what? So much for the tan I am supposed to get at the beach tomorrow.” At first, while I sort out my next game plan, I choose to sit patiently and remain hopeful my pale complexion will soon be exposed to sunlight. As the evening progresses, the clock ticks to 1:49am and then 2:15am. Soon, it is 2:38am and then the clock changes to 2:56am. My fellow passengers begin to choose less kind and empathetic feelings. They become impatience and less calm than they appeared to be three hours ago, and I notice that my patience too begins to wear thin. “Okay,” I say out loud, “What am I to learn from this experience?”

My answer comes quickly loud and clear: openness, flexibility, and patience. The Universe telling me to extend love; only love. So, instead of joining the flocks of people charging the ticket booth with harsh words and angry demands, I small talk with Dixie, a Tampa native trying to get home. Later, I wait in line with a beautiful, spunky red head (with her husband and three children in tow) whose name I never actually got. She and I instantly became partners in crime. Both on a mission to get vouchers for a hotel room even though the airline was not offering them to Colorado residents. I also watched a very disgruntled passenger complain incessantly and blame everyone else. I recognized this in him because I too have the ability to choose anger instead of compassion. However, rather than participating with or encouraging him by displaying even the smallest amount of approval, I smile from across the room in hopes that my unwillingness to speak unkindly to anyone will soon become contagious.

And I keep on smiling.

I am sure this man thought I was drunk. And let’s be honest, at this point I wouldn’t have turned down a drink…. or two… or three.

Now, it is almost 4:00am and I have finally made it to my hotel safely. I have exactly three hours and 15 minutes to sleep before I need to be awake and attempt another flight out of Denver. I quickly load my purse with as many free shampoo/conditioner bottles as I can find, text my dad who is already awake in Michigan, text my boyfriend who is definitely not awake in Evergreen and then fall into a (somewhat) deep slumber.

The next morning, as I depart my fancy hotel suite, I notice the shuttle driver has perhaps the most beautiful smile I have seen in a very long time. He reminds me of James Earl Jones from Field of Dreams and I think I should have asked for his autograph. On the bus, I sit next to my new friends, Joe and his two daughters. They are from Portland, OR and we rode to the hotel together the night before.

In this moment, my epiphany hits me again, bringing to light another reality. This Monday is not how I expected it to go. Like a big bad wolf huffing and puffing until he shatters my sturdy, safe home of expectations. Yes, that evening turned out to be anything but how I planned. I should already be on a beach by now, drinking a daiquiri with my sister, but the wolf has other plans.

You see, my wolf is teaching me that life is unpredictable. Life is also messy and funny and scary and oh so lovely. More importantly, life requires you to be open and flexible (reference: my first epiphany). The Yogi in me says: “Yes, you are already open and flexible…. Remember Sunday morning yoga class… you made that Side Crow your bitch.” The other part of me…the smarter part, reminds me that life rarely goes according to plan. God has my back and so does the Universe; always allowing for things to fall into place. So, maybe the lesson to be learned is: Don’t make a plan…

A friend near and dear to my heart always says that we choose how this life plays out. That we “create our own reality.” Well, I certainly don’t know why in the world I would choose this particular reality today. Furthermore, why would I have chosen the events from two nights ago when Ruby decided she was a flying puppy and should jump over fences? The fence ended up winning that particular challenge and Ruby ended up with six stitches, while I was a gifted a $400.00 vet bill as the grand prize. So, even though I do not recall hand picking out such an affair at the airport, I still have a choice in this moment. How did I want to perceive this experience? How shall I choose to react to my cancelled flight. I chose to see it as lovely, funny, adventurous, humorous and brilliant. I choose Love #everydamnday.

So, my epiphany at the airport was not just about making a choice, but it was a reminder that life is unexpected and not predictable with all its mishaps, bumps in the road and accidents waiting to happen. Instead of reacting on impulse, I became the observer. I observed those around me and observed my own reaction. I made friends with other travelers and smiled at the airline staff as much as possible…sincerely of course. It’s just life and Ruby teaches me daily that life is often easier than I make it out to be. In all of its complications, I am continuously filled with love and gratitude for all experiences. Experiences that are good, bad, and indifferent.

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The next morning, while at the airport, I wait patiently for my next and second attempt to catch a flight. I chose happiness instead of grumpiness. I choose excitement instead of impatience. I chose love instead of fear, and I chose a half-caffeinated soy latte with no foam and an entire bag of chocolate covered espresso beans for breakfast. I definitely felt good about that decision, although the passenger next to me might disagree #chattykathy.

“If Life gives you lemons, make orange juice and leave the World wondering how you did it” -Anonymous
  

The perfect imperfect Yoga Teacher

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My name is Keri and I am a yoga teacher. I am perfect and I do not have a care in the world. Yes, that’s right. It probably appears I have no problems, fears, or worries, that I have reached enlightenment. I mean, why else would someone become a yoga teacher, or any kind of teacher for that matter if they don’t have “it all” figured out? And because I have achieved enlightenment, I can teach others all the wisdom I have acquired over my years of practicing yoga and practicing this thing called life. I know I sound older than I actually am. The truth is, I’ve only been practicing life for three glorious decades now…and what a ride it’s been. Now, as well as sharing my brilliant insights into this carefree world I’ve created, my laughter comes easy and my days are filled with sunshine and rainbows because all I know is happiness, peace, and contentment. I am problem-less and therefore, I can NOW teach you how to erase all your fears and worries.

Unfortunately, there is one problem.

This. Is. False.

What is Enlightenment anyway? According to the Buddhism, and Dictionary.com, Bodhisattvaor enlightenment  is the awakening to ultimate truth by which man is freed from the endless cycle of personal reincarnations to which all men are otherwise subject (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/enlightenment) “Personal reincarnations?” What the hell…

Again, the previous statement referring to “yoga perfection” is false. I have skeletons in my closet and baggage I am desperately trying to lose. I have scars too and some run deeper than others. Perhaps my Ego has created all of this, but they affect me nonetheless.

They even paid me a visit this week. Without any warning or sign, my insecurities, my worries and fear turned into  anxiety creeping back, seeing if they still had a key that can unlock my Spirit. The “should haves” and the “could haves” sneaked up quietly, and like a surprise attack, I feel confused and frustrated with the outcome. So, what’s the outcome you ask? It is this – I am writing. I am looking for a release. I feel tired this week. I feel unmotivated and confused about my path. I feel less inspired than usual. I feel sad… and all for not much of a reason.
Turns out, I am not a perfect, problem-less yoga teacher.

I am imperfect.

Now, just to be clear, no one has actually ever said to me: “Keri, you are a perfect yoga teacher with little to no fears or worries in this life. You must live the happiest life ever.” No, no… nobody has said this outright, but I think there is a stigma attached to a person who inspires and heals others for a living. I also do this kind of healing in my full-time day job. I work hard to support and provide comfort for my wonderful, amazing and “full of baggage” students and their families. There was a time in my life when I saw my own yoga teachers, my mentors, as incredible humans with not a care in the world and thought they had all the answers for Life’s challenges. It wasn’t until I started teaching yoga myself that I soon realized I was right, but yet also wrong. I was right in thinking that they ARE incredible humans, but my old mentors and teachers are certainly not incredible and amazing human beings with absolutely no insecurities or fear or worries. They ARE perfect and heroic and inspiring, but that is because of their own wounds and scars. That is because of the journey they have traveled; because of the path less traveled that they CHOSE to walk. I admire them more than they will probably ever know. All the moments they showed strength and resilience and then all the moments they showed honest and raw weakness that exposed their own deep, deep wounds. To my teachers and mentors: if you are reading this. I love and respect you deeply.

A yoga student of mine once told me after class, that I had an incredible ability to heal. “My touch” she said “was so healing and beautiful.” Okay, I kind of believed her; but what was she thinking? How could I have possibly touched her with a healing power when at that time I was healing a very broken heart from my first ever break-up, and damn, my heart hurt like hell.

My scars are there and they sometimes feel more open and raw than I would prefer. My boss (from my day job) once told me that myself (including the amazing co-workers with whom I work along side) are all wounded warriors. We come to this position of working with such “challenged” boys and their “broken” families because we too have our own wounds needing to be healed. We have stories and we certainly have scars.

So, tonight, when I got off of work, I unrolled my old green yoga mat and stood in that Warrior Pose. If I am a “wounded warrior”, then tonight, that is exactly what I will be. I stood in Warrior II until my legs shook and my arms burned, as my favorite Beatles song played in my head over and over.

“And when the night is cloudy there is still a light that shines on me.
Shine until tomorrow, let it be” – The Beatles 

Oh yeah, my light is still bright and brilliant. So, I stood still and let it all just be.

Earlier in the day, I was perusing the internet and I fell upon an excerpt from one of my favorite people I have ever met. A yogi who is near and dear to my heart. She speaks wise and brave words that are conveyed without filter, and most importantly, without fear. “This is the year of looking our fears square in the eye without running away. This is a moment of no escape. It’s time you step into the fire. Sit with your fears. Feel the pain. Let it pin you to the wall but not paralyze you. Let it break you open but not into pieces. Let it shake your ground but not your core. The universe will never give us anything we are not ready to deal with.” – Rachel Brathen/Yoga Girl

Okay, Universe. I am listening. I am open.

So, back to Warrior II. I stood tall and strong and powerful. Because that is who I am. I am a perfectly wounded and perfectly complete yoga teacher with imperfections that I believe are irresistible and charming.

How lucky am I to be an imperfect, perfect yoga teacher.

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Ego for Sale

My Ego is better than yours 

My Ego is so much better than yours. She is the absolute Best. She is always there when I need Her! In fact, She even shows up sometimes unannounced! I am never let down by my Ego, who never ceases to amaze or impress me with Her wild tales and stories of sadness, disappointment and “not good enough(s).”  

Whenever my Ego shows up to a party or gathering (which is usually fashionably late 😉 She is quick to entertain and become the life of the party. All attention on Her, please!  After all, how else will she feel accepted and loved  

Because She is the life of the party, it is a requirement that She is funny, and hilarious She is! When you least expect it, my Ego is cracking priceless snide jokes with her quick wit and sarcasm! She will keep you rolling on the ground with laughter as She begins to spiral out of control with irrational and outrageous tales of disappointment, loneliness, and failure.  

At night, when I lay alone in bed, my Ego tells me bedtimes stories, just like my mom used to tell me when I was a little girl, except Her stories don’t end with “Happy Endings.” No, no, that would be much too obvious. Instead, my Ego thrills and excites me with anticipation as She embellishes and exaggerates wild and creative tales over and over again, like a broken record, until I actually start to believe the negativity and bottomless pit of sadness that will soon come to fruition.  

Each morning, upon awaking, and thanks to my beautiful and considerate Ego, I remember how powerless and imperfect I am, or how broken and separate I am from others. I remember Her saying just the night before that She is separate from Your Ego. She reminds me often that there is no “oneness” or synchronicity in the universe. “What a ridiculous thought!” She says. “We are ALL separate and NOT alike, so vastly different in our own ways.”  

Like I said, My Ego is just the best. She is sooo much better than yours… …  

Although, I had the strangest dream last night as my Ego finally quieted down. And no, I wasn’t Martin Luther King Jr. in this dream. No, I had a dream that I was actually perfect. I was amazing and complete and whole, and I was one with everyone. In, this dream, I remembered that I can do anything I set my mind to, and I have an abundance of everything I need in this lifetime. In my dream, I had only love in my heart to extend; no judgment, no hatred, and no jealousy. I was only love.  My Ego says the dream was a mistake, like a misunderstanding or miscommunication from the soul to the brain. However, I’m not sure if I believe Her… However, with all that being said about such a silly, and probably meaningless dream, I repeat what I stated earlier: My Ego is seriously still better than yours! As I illustrated in the paragraphs above, She has done a great deal for me and always goes above and beyond. Now, as I slowly undo all that She has done, I am offering my Ego up for sale! No wait, for FREE! That’s right, you heard it here first and, what the hell, I am feeling generous tonight. Sooo, if anyone wants a new and improved Ego, like I said, I have the Perfect One for you!  

Oh yeah, and Ego, if you’re also reading this tonight and you were planning another visit later to share with me your elaborate and mischievous stories of negativity and despair, make sure You check Yourself at the door, because You are actually no longer welcome in this heart and spirit. Like I stated earlier, You are up for sale now and I wish you all the best.  

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Sincerely,  
Me 

Life Lessons from Ruby

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Last week, I was graced with one of the worst upper respiratory viruses I have had in a while, and so because of this, I was forced to take three days off from work. Awesome [enter sarcasm here]  Well actually, it was awesome because I spent THREE full days with my beautiful, playful, and full of energy puppy, Ruby. Our daily schedule consisted of snuggling on the couch, watching Ruby play, playing with Ruby, watching Ruby eat, watching Ruby play some more, and then snuggling again on the couch. After our busy day was over, I later watched my snoring puppy wondering how I had gotten so lucky. I thought what a blessing she has been in my life and how when I first set eyes on her, I had no idea what a game changer she was about to become… Some people consider a dog “just an animal, or just a dog.” I know this to be true, because I am one of those people! OR at least, I was… And maybe she is just that, but maybe she represents so much more to me. Maybe she is just a dog, but what she brings to my life has been quite powerful over the last six months. Being an educator myself, I have learned that there are endless opportunities to learn and grow, and better yourself. In fact, in the first blog I wrote, I even stated that I believe there is a teacher in all of us, and Ruby is no exception. Just to name a few, here are some things I have learned from my oh so wise teacher, Ruby.

1. Life is Short

She reminds me on a daily basis that life is too short to waste too much time on the past or the future. All you have is the now; not the minute before, and not a minute ahead. Ruby’s life span is significantly shorter than mine, and she does not appear to be bothered by such statistics. Every morning is a new day and a new opportunity, and she always awakens with an abundance of energy and fresh love for the world outside.

2. A positive attitude is key

Ruby wakes up ever morning in the exact same mood; with a zest and passion for life. I have never witnessed her sad or lonely, or grumpy just because, and she certainly does not ever wake up “on the wrong side of the bed.” No matter what is going on, Ruby always chooses happiness. IMG_1983Every day is a new day for her to live her puppy life to the fullest.

3. Forgiveness is easy

Ruby continuously shows me the power of forgiveness is quite simple. You just move on. You just forgive. No matter how mad I get when Ruby gets into the trash, or has “an accident” in the house, or runs in the complete opposite direction as I very clearly yell “Ruby, Come!”, she always forgives me. And for all the mornings that I oversleep and have to skip our morning walks, she forgives me, without question. For all those late nights at work when she has to spend far too long in her kennel, she forgives me and is as excited as ever once I walk through those doors.

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4. It’s the simple things in life that matter most 

Ruby has a few favorite things and most of these activities include me; however, the more I watch her and pay attention, I notice that almost every damn thing in the world makes this dog happy. Car rides to the grocery store make Ruby crazy with excitement. When my boyfriend comes over for a visit, Ruby cannot contain her joy. When my neighbor gives Ruby treats, she appears to be the happiest dog in the world, and when it is time to go on a walk, Ruby is overjoyed with emotion and enthusiasm. In fact, the other day, I watched Ruby play in the yard just as happy as can be and wondered what was making her so delighted, but as I got a closer look, I realized she was playing with a frozen turd!! Fantastic, I thought… my dog is playing with shit! Then I quickly realized that if my puppy looks that happy simply from playing with a frozen piece of poop, then maybe I should compare/contrast (and then) prioritize the things/activities that I believe bring me the most happiness versus those that actually bring me pure joy. The moral of the story being that it doesn’t take much to be content and happy with your life. Life is simple and so is happiness, you just have to choose it… and then stick with it. Thanks, miss Ruby, for the fantastic life lessons. I look forward to many more years of learning from you.

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Visibility. A letter to my students.

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Today, I spent all of my Friday at a conference in Denver. As I sat there, a bit sleep deprived and yet jittery from coffee, I thought about you. I want you to know something. I see you, and I care deeply. You matter to me.

In fact, you consume much of my thoughts before, during, and after work. I think of you during my morning runs that are supposed to be “me time.” I think of you while I lay in bed at night and read my latest novel; my thoughts wondering to whether or not my lessons plans for tomorrow will be effective and engaging, or if you’re getting enough sleep tonight and will be in a good mood by morning, or whether you will eat your breakfast so that you have enough energy for the day.

On the weekends during the time meant to spend with my boyfriend, we discuss you. He listens to my concerns and gives his honest feedback. He gives me endless support as I vent my frustrations about your behavior or your lack of “respect.” Still, however, I see you. You matter.

Sometimes, when I walk my dog after work, I think of bringing her to work with me tomorrow. I wonder if it will make you smile or brighten your day. I become hopeful she will make you laugh and, in such a moment, you will be filled with joy and peace. I become excited at the thought that for a even just a second you may stop worrying so much. You will stop worrying if your new medication will upset your stomach like the last kind did, or whether you will comprehend and understand the lesson I have planned for that day, or even stop worrying about leaving treatment in the near future and what your world will soon look like, or maybe for a minute, you stop worrying about not fitting into your family anymore and whether or not they will ever forgive you for all you’ve done….

Although I wish these things for you, more importantly, my hope is that you find joy in just her and in just that moment. Like me, she sees you and because of this, you matter.

I want you to know that I am invested in this relationship and even if you are not, I am here when you need me. As best I can, I try to understand your pain, anger, and hurt, and please know that no matter what, I will keep you safe. I promise. After all, I see you. You Matter.

Research tells me not to tell you are “You are smart.” Research states that kids who are praised for their intelligence tend to avoid challenges. Instead, they prefer simple and easy tasks. They are more interested in how they “measure up” or compare to others. In other words, they are focused on their their competitive standing rather than being proactive about improving future performance. However, I do not see it that way. I think you are brilliant. I think you are innovative and resourceful and unique and authentic. I see you, and you matter.

However and with all that being said, you are in charge of you and your actions, thoughts and behaviors. I need you to promise me that you will try. You can do this. I believe in you, and I am here to support, but I can’t do this alone. You are worth fighting for and when you don’t want to fight, I will. I will help fight the demons that live within you and show up every day with a smile bigger than the last. I am prepared to only extend love.

If you get anything out of this, I hope you know I am here when you are ready. I believe in you and trust you’ll do what’s right. I see you. You are visible to me.  I see you and you matter.