February findings

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My first year teaching was nearly twenty years ago. That first February break, I went on a trip to Jamaica. I remember returning from that journey rested, rejuvenated and ready to get back to work. Perhaps it was the much needed February infusion of vitamin D into my sun deprived skin. Perhaps it was a week away with a girlfriend complete with waterfalls, giggles and afternoons on the sand. Perhaps it was the anticipation of travel that although coupled with sunburn and a funky reaction to some new fangled sunscreen those positive endorphins flowed and happy hormones increased. Whichever way you looked at it, that February trip was certainly something.

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough” – Mae West

That was 1998 and for the fifteen years that I taught, every February I looked forward to a tropical adventure. Each one was different than the next but there were constants I knew at the time and lessons I wouldn’t know till years later. It was only the other day that I chatted with a friend I met on one of those February escapes. As we tried to recount the decade long travel friendship and some of the myriad of adventures we’ve had together, something else popped up in conversation. It was more than the locations of the cruise ship and the names of those we traveled with on a Club Med excursion. It was more than ‘remember the time when’ and ‘which spot had the best guacamole’. And it was more than ‘do you believe it’s been this long’ and ‘which place did we go to in which year’.

In this fifteen plus year friendship, there were passport stamps and new discoveries, weekend adventures and vegetarian recipes, dating disasters and marriage insights, education discussions and new apartments, short excursions and a more travel driven lifestyle – but I realized in that time, those journeys, and the stories that there was more. The conversation ended with my friend’s words, ‘I smell a blog post coming’…how on earth did she know?

“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.” – Karen Kaiser Clark

In those middle decades of life, we learned more than waterskiing and how to make salsa in Mexico. We experienced more than the details of remembering to reapply sunscreen and that there’s something special about the seaside air in Martinique. And we found more than life partners, careers and homes. The remember whens had tales of random crushes, negative and positive people, energy sucking relationships, family angst, yoga trials, travel escapades, career questions and life sagas. Through it all, the undercurrent of growth and shifts of perspective were ever present.

Although we didn’t know it then, all of our experiences led us to where we are today. Today, we both view the world through more positive, mindful, hopeful and relaxed eyes. We’ve learned that often the anticipation of ‘ripping off the bandaid’ is far worse than the action itself. We’ve learned that it’s not selfish to treat ourselves the same way we’d treat others. We’ve learned that wellness needs to be on our minds everyday – not only for a week in February. We’ve learned that choosing positive, finding lessons, reflecting and changing the way we act didn’t happen overnight. Time and experience are both necessary for change. Learning to feel comfortable in your own skin, proud of your choices and that you matter takes work…but when you get there, if only for a minute, the payoff is magnificent.

“It’s not about what it is. It’s about what it can become.” – Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

We both consider ourselves lucky to have had those February experiences and many fun adventures in between. In the miles traveled, bottles of sunscreen used, avocados eaten and phone conversations shared – something has shifted. Call it growing up, finding balance, shifting focus, feeling mindful, or whatever you want…the point is, it’s happened. Through reminiscing of life’s adventures, we realized more. We saw:

  • we all have the potential for change
  • we all have what we need to grow
  • choices matter, and they’re all choices
  • we can’t change other people
  • every relationship comes with its own struggles
  • learning to respond more than react is a worthwhile challenge
  • shifts in attitude and perspective are game changers
  • positive eclipses negative every damn time
  • perhaps things truly do happen for a reason
  • we had to be where we were to get to where we are

If you’re lucky enough to have those friendships that have lasted more than five minutes, the shared past and experiences provide more than great memories and giggle-filled stories. Journey through those memories and you get to take a look at where you were then and where you are now. Traverse those stories of the time you drove to another state for lunch, face-planted on your first water skiing attempt, or thought exploring Manhattan on a minus twenty degree (Fahrenheit) day was a good idea (or whatever your memories hold) and you’ll find much more beneath the surface. Take a walk down memory lane and look deeper to discover the unfolding of your own personal journey. Notice, observe, roll your eyes, guffaw, cry…whether you know the reason or not, it all happened. Remember it. Learn from it. Grow from it. Who knew that much change and reflection could happen over countless bowls of guacamole?

Hugs and a serotonin shift

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The world has been shrinking due to the fabulous power of things like travel and the Internet. It seems only yesterday when snail mail was the focus and cell phones were things you saved for emergencies. Today snail mail is held for IRS notifications and the once in a blue moon actual birthday card and most of life’s communications are made from the tiny computers in the palm of our hands. If you’ve ever been to Disneyworld® and watched the Carousel of Progress go from the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder to that of George Jetson, it’s easy to understand how nutty it is that I can tap a button while at the beach in San Diego, California and can video conference with my godson while he’s on the rugby field in Hong Kong. While technology broadens our global relationships, there’s still a feeling of separate in a world of connection. Read the rest of this entry

Grassroots Game Changers

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Have you ever been a part of something bigger than yourself that took moments, hours, days, months and even years to process? After this weekend’s events, I’ve needed to take a little time to reflect, rejuvenate and remind myself how incredibly lucky I’ve been to feel such waves of gratitude and encouraging interactions with the universe. Three different Novembers, three different cities, and three different mediums for change have affected and influenced my life. Each has catapulted me in different directions of inner thought, social activism, and sent me on a path of working to make the world a more hopeful, positive, kind and equal place. Read the rest of this entry

In search of that open door

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At the end of last year, a yoga teacher whose class I had grown accustomed to found herself in a bind. Most of her classes at the studio were being cut from the schedule and, like so may of us, she found herself dangling on that precipice of one door closing with the ever burning question of ‘would another open’? Yet, unlike the first thoughts that might have popped into my or many of our heads, she was heading in search of that open door on the other side. You know, the one so many of us try to get to but the one that often seems stuck, locked or out of reach? What’s your perspective? Are you a witness to the ‘door slamming’ or a seeker of that ‘open door’? Read the rest of this entry

New year, new opportunities

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We’ve turned the page on the calendar, made it to 2017, managed amidst the food frenzy of December and have gotten to the next rotation of the earth around the sun. How do you feel? Amidst the barrage of sale emails, cleanse products, impending inauguration, weight loss programs, gym freebies and resolution insanity – we’re here. With one foot in front of the other – we’ve made it to January…now what? Read the rest of this entry

January to December to January

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2016 is ending. Through what seemed like a constant supply of gut punches and salt-filled tears, the world said goodbye to more cultural icons than we can count, sat stunned in the wake of political insanity and stood gobsmacked as the world seemingly continued to fall apart around us all. Being a global citizen isn’t always easy. Finding your smile isn’t always easy. The year ticks away from season to season and somehow turning the pages or clicking ‘next’ on our calendars is meant to change things. But there was good, there always is, it only often gets overshadowed by the surrounding and much louder ick. Syrian children are fighting for their lives. Refugees are trudging through awful to wonder if they’ll gain entry somewhere with the promise of a welcoming community and better life. There is a homeless epidemic. I got a yoga wheel for the holidays and promptly busted a rib. I found a new yoga teacher I liked, her class is getting cancelled. I voted for the first time in California and wound up in the fetal position on the couch the next morning. Ugh. The universe feels like it’s spinning out of control…but, is that really the whole story? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Read the rest of this entry

Travel…a shift in the everyday existence

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A friend of mine used to tell me that I loved travel because I didn’t like reality. She swore that was the reason I loved laying on a beach in Cancun or seeing the sights of Europe. Perhaps part of that is true, but most of life was pretty great. If you’re healthy and have the ability of choice – what’s the problem, right? I had another friend who told me that if I loved ‘summer Stacey’, wouldn’t I want to try to embrace that person all year ’round? I imagine, in a sense, they were both right. Travel and summer, for me, have always provided a lifestyle involving freedom, possibilities, smiles and endless optimism. They’re the chocolate ice cream for toddlers and the glitter for crafters rolled into one. Read the rest of this entry

Journey, change…forward

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Do you know if you’re on a path? Have you felt stuck, in search of a new goal, or have you realized that there’s something else you can do or learn in this world? I’m not sure how much stock I ever put in all of this stuff. For years, it wasn’t for me. I didn’t need a path, journey or any of those what I once thought were ‘life coach moments’, I was living, enjoying, being – that was enough. I can’t tell you if there was a specific ‘aha’ moment or that I read this thing on @Pinterest or saw it on @Oprah® that seemed to click, but somehow, this mindset has entered my existence and it seems it’s here to stay.

“No matter how hard the past…you can always begin again” – Buddha Read the rest of this entry

Adventures in sand

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In the mind of a former New York teacher, Labour Day weekend means only one thing…back to school. Since this September baby is also born around the same time and lived in Long Beach where that Monday is the unofficial close of the summer season – it already means something else. And then, this same girl moved west and now, Labor Day weekend also signifies the USA Sand Sculpting Competition held annually in San Diego, California. This year, I not only got to attend, but spent the first day of the event volunteering and learning some of what goes on to make those incredible pieces of three dimensional artwork come alive. Read the rest of this entry

Giving Back

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Like everyone else old enough to remember, I know exactly where I was on the 11th of September 2001. I was sitting on hall duty in Farmingdale High School, New York when the first of a few letters was delivered. Like everyone else who tried to get through, I found the mobile phone lines weren’t working. Kids were pulled out of class, teachers rode the busses with elementary school kids and we all sat in silence for hours glued to the television. Later, I found out that my sister, who traveled on the subway through the Twin Towers station every morning had made it through and a co-worker of hers provided shelter on Staten Island for the next few days. My Dad was in Europe at the time and eventually, through the kindness of strangers, coworkers and embassies made it home from Belgium a few days later. In the years since, at school, we had no morning announcements aside from a moving tribute coupled with a talented singer serenading the school with the chorus of Sarah McLachlan’s, I Will Remember You. Read the rest of this entry