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 Ask the Hard Questions

Yesterday, one of my friends posted those tests that tell you which of 16 personalities you embody. I find them fascinating and with my answer (ENFP) came a quote “It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your hearts longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool- for love – for your dreams- for the adventure of being alive.”💙🦅🌲✨
Let’s ask each other the hard questions. Let’s take the time to get to know each other and understand what makes us who we are. Let’s learn all we can so we can be the best we can for someone in our communication, in our care, in our empathy, in our kindness, our compassion, our advice. Let’s try hard so we can read between the lines, we can see more than is shown and we can help more than is asked for⚡️If we really learn about the people around us, if we really know what hurts them, what makes them feel good, what makes them laugh, what makes them sad or angry or joyful, we can really know how to be the best and the kindest for them. Everything starts small🍄If we start with deeper connections in our own circle, express greater kindness within it, then hopefully those circles will grow, each person will show the same in their different circles and the compassion will propagate itself. And maybe one day we can make those circles expand enough to include the whole world in our efforts🌎🌍🌏So let’s ask! What motivates you to wake up each morning? What is your dream in life? What is your greatest fear and why is it so? Do you hold yourself back? If you had infinite power to change our world, how first would you make it better? Are you content with your life? If not, do you have the courage to change it? Where do you feel most at home? What would be your biggest regret in life and will you make sure you won’t have it? Who inspires you most? Do you prefer sunset or sunrise? If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? Do you like waterfalls best looking down at their whole or standing underneath their power? Do you roll around in the grass when you get the chance?🌾🍃🌱☘️IMG_6912

Fight the Dentist if you Must

When I was young, I had a dentist tell me I needed braces, so I never went back.. I liked that my teeth were maybe a little too big, the chip in my tooth was well earned in a soccer game and my imperfect teeth, I felt, made me me. It was before I started succumbing to the feelings of rejection and self judgment that led to bouts of unworthiness, depression, body dysmorphia, anorexia. In the words of Pink, “everyday I fought a war against the mirror.” When I found my teaching job, I realized that just by shining my light and being me, I could change someone’s life. It was not my looks, but my soul, my compassion, my quirks that made a difference and I loved myself for once✨But it is a constant battle I will always fight. Sometimes it rears its head without you even knowing that your insecurities are winning. Recently, I had more energy than I have in a few months and the epiphany set in. I was suddenly and unknowingly being nice to myself again, taking care of myself, feeding myself and it made me both happy and sad. Sad that our minds can make us be so mean to ourselves. Happy that I finally found compassion for myself again. Happy that I had a breakthrough in realizing, how was I supposed to be a beacon of light when I didn’t even have the energy to do so? How can I make sure kids love themselves and are being kind when I can’t even be kind to the one person who matters most? We make a difference not because of how we look, but because of how we make others feel. By showing them it’s wonderful to love yourself just the way you are and to smile because you do. There is so much power in not allowing your biology, your insecurities, your predispositions, your tendencies, your reflections to bring you down (it’s ok if they do at times) & letting your soul & heart lift you up. I think little me realized that my smile was a reflection of my soul and that was what mattered💫If only we all had that wisdom and knew that our imperfections, the chipped teeth, our battles we’ve fought against our mind and doubts make us beautiful because they make our heart and souls strong and empathetic. So fight that war against the mirror, and win. Even fight the dentist if you must😝IMG_6810

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