Redefining Success

Yesterday, my little cousin called me. She’s a senior in high school preparing for college and she desperately asked me how I deal with stress. Says she has no energy to do much, isn’t motivated like she normally is. And it broke my heart. I told her that those are signs of depletion. She’s giving too much to everything besides her present self. Her job, extra curriculars, applications, worries for the future, parental expectations. Everything is for others and for future her. So she’s doing nothing to fulfill the soul that is in the present. Yes, our future is important. I commend her for her dedication and her determination. But it’s sad how our society encourages such a future focus. A future that we can never guarantee, that no matter how hard we try, we never have absolute control of. Our society fosters a forgetting of the present in favor of external expectations and it’s filtering into younger and younger kids. I’ve met students in 6th grade who are studying until midnight to get into the best middle school.. I mean what?! Since when did school become such a competition instead of a basic right?
I told her to get outside. Find the things that take her mind off the future, if only for the moment. If we can encourage kids again to live for the moment, to find wonder in the small things, to get outside, to be a kid like they’re allowed to be, maybe we can have a better world. We can teach kids to be kind to themselves over anything. Not selfish, but kind, self aware, self loving. Know how to love themselves so they know how others should treat them and how they should love others. Let’s bring our kids back to the present, to the little things that are the big things. Let’s teach them to not let life pass them by. That a better present is a better future. Too much stress can make us lose our heart. Too much focus on material success, monetary success reaps a society that’s riddled with anxiety, ego, stress, things that pull us away from our kindness, compassion, empathy. Let’s redefine success. Take kids outside. Show them connection. Show them how a smile changes a day. how to help an animal that can’t speak for itself. Let’s define success as a full heart.IMG_6934.JPG

Let’s Teach Society Balance

A couple weeks ago, we took a group of students to the redwoods and guided them on an 11 mile hike where along the way we passed around 4 waterfalls. At one point we even hiked down steps that descended alongside the biggest cascade! I was awe stricken by the waterfalls, the giant trees, the ferns that decorated the forest floor (which did you know is called bracken?😳) and I felt so grateful to be able to show these students one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever been on🌲🌲 These students were some of the most dedicated, intelligent, determined young adults I had ever met and they inspired me and saddened me at the same time. These students had their sights set on schools like Yale, the cross country runners woke up at the break of dawn to run 16 miles before they would later embark on that 11 mile hike. Their dedication, their determination for their future is something to admire, yet at the same time I could see how society’s forward looking mind set had filtered into their every moment. The 11 mile hike became a race to the finish, to the point I could barely even keep up, and the waterfalls didn’t even encourage a second glance from the ‘finish line’ mentality🏅 I was once one of these students. I felt society’s pressure. I never stopped moving, playing sports, doing homework. I never stopped thinking about how every little thing would influence my future, what college I got into, even when the present passed me right by💨 Now, I stop, watch, listen to, play with the waterfalls. Now I am much happier✨ The students themselves did not sadden me, but society’s influence does. Setting your sights high for yourself is admirable. Believing you can be successful is inspiring. 24/7 dedication is incredible. I’m in no way saying that these things are bad, I’m in no way saying these ways of life are wrong. I’m saying that we as a society should find a balance and teach balance. That the future IS important, but the present is too. School for some IS important, but it isn’t everything, it’s not the only way. Pushing yourself IS important, but so is allowing yourself to slow down so you don’t push past the beautiful things in life. Balance IS important✨🍃⛰💫 IMG_5648