A Letter from my Fiancé

I have received tremendous feedback from readers in response to the entry (Hello, Darkness my Old Friend) that I shared with you all yesterday. Most readers empathized and thanked me for my honesty as it spoke to them, while others like my family in particular, were terrified. While I recognize that I am a public figure and to many their source of hope and motivation, I think it’s important to note that like everyone else, I experience emotions–and very real ones at that. Despite what sometimes is hard to say or see, I will never censor what I write and share with the world because it goes against the grain, makes people uncomfortable, or exposes the inner not-talked about depths that haunt our souls. With that, I have been inspired to share one of the responses with you all here. Below is something my amazing fiancé Greg wrote and sent to me while I was at work today. Stay tuned for other updates on Hello, Darkness my Old Friend coming at you later…


 

Babylove:

You know how much I love you, how much I want you to be happy and how much I support you.  So here are some quotes to get your mind flowing on happiness and some pictures to remind you about all the good you have in life.  Be happy, no matter what the struggle, you have a lot and you have me.  Remember what I wrote yesterday.  Keep pushing and never give up.

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”
“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”
― Albert Camus
“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.”
― Tom Bodett
“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
― Marcel Proust
Here are some photos and why I choose them:
FRIENDSHIP:

Friendship

SISTERLY LOVE:

SisterHood

HARDWORK / ACCOMPLISHING SOMETHING YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO:

HardWork

FIGHT / DON’T QUIT:

NeverGiveUp

COUPLE EXPERIENCES / RACES THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY:

FirstCoupleRagnar

MARRIED COUPLE TO BE:

EngagementPhoto

INSPIRATION / ROLE MODEL:

Inspiration

NEW SCHOOL / LEADER:

TeacherFeature

 FUN TIMES FOR A GOOD CAUSE FOR THOSE LESS FORTUNATE:

CFS_A&G

A VERY RARE EXPERIENCE:

rareexperience

 BEST BIRTHDAY EVER:

bestbirthdayever

THE START OF YOUR FUTURE:

thestartofour future

And here is a poem to reflect upon and how I would like you to think everyday.  Read it every day:
Promise Yourself
To be so strong that nothing
can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity
to every person you meet.To make all your friends feel
that there is something in them
To look at the sunny side of everything
and make your optimism come true.To think only the best, to work only for the best,
and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others
as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past
and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times
and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear,
and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
not in loud words but great deeds.
To live in faith that the whole world is on your side
so long as you are true to the best that is in you.
― Christian D. LarsonYour Forces and How to Use Them

I LOVE YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART.  YOU ARE MY SOULMATE, SNOWFLAKE.
- Babyhands

 

Hello Darkness, my Old Friend.

I am having a day.

This morning I woke up in my underwear, fitted tank that I wore to work yesterday, and went to the bathroom. I stare at myself in the mirror grabbing my stomach oozing over the top of my too-old, ill-fitting cotton briefs and so my day started.

I make my breakfast shake, pack my lunch, and so the dance to get dressed reasonably presentable for my ‘real job’ begins…I sift through the pile of mish-mosh adjacent to my bed—a haphazard regurgitation of clothes that I am too lazy to put away, wore for part of a day at some point, or tried on then discarded…Ahhh, my Levi’s [Sure, why not? I wear them like 3x a week anyway].

My socks—these will come in handy later when I teach cycling so I don’t need to pack a pair.

Boots. One of 3 pairs of shoes I wear to work. Either moccasins, Coach booties, or these sweet little cowboy-esque boots from DSW. Another day as a fashionista with my stale wardrobe.

Now, what to wear for a shirt…? The challenge to find a baggy and shapeless shirt is beginning to prove more and more difficult as time presses on. I have virtually no clothes since I loathe shopping and everything else I own I have worn so much it’s just plain predictable. Sometimes I wish I could just wear a uniform to work to avoid having to figure out what to wear on a daily basis.

Today is Tuesday. We wear red on Tuesdays in solidarity for The United Teachers of Los Angeles. I hate red. What do I own that’s red? My own union tee is teeny and too fitted for my taste now…hmmm. I rifle through my bins since in my way-too-small apartment with my fiancé Greg we live like poor college students and I don’t have a dresser.

I find a Spartan Race volunteer tee. I cut it since it’s like a dress on my 5’0 frame and toss it on over a camisole, which is my pathetic effort to try to suck some of this bulging body in.

I look in the mirror in disgust at this mess of a human I have become when it comes to presenting myself. Not caring (or rather, avoiding to care too much because it’ll just depress me), I throw my hair into a high ponytail atop my head like a ninja; roll my eyes and head out the door.

The worst part of my day is over, or maybe it’s just beginning. I need to get through the entire day in this disgraceful and pathetic display of an outfit. I swear people, there was a time I wore nice things, looked good in them, and knew a thing or two about fashion. I mean shit, I must know nothing nowadays—I swore that damn dress was white and gold.

I constantly tug on my top I cut. Though it’s baggy enough, it makes me feel exposed. I hate how my body feels in clothing. I hate how my body feels without clothing. I am filled with so much hate right now it is clouding my ability to function.

Over the weekend I let myself eat pretty unrestricted: Mexican food Friday night, a beer and a sandwich on Saturday, Sunday brunch, and even a doughnut. Definitely not Paleo and nowhere near healthy despite two workouts over the weekend in addition to my classes. I cannot seem to let go of the guilt for indulging. I am harboring anger for being so uncontrolled and callous with my choices. And to make things worse, my wedding is getting closer and closer with each passing day.

My wedding dress arrived in November. Upon its arrival, I opened the garment bag to ensure it was indeed the right dress but now 4 months later, I still have yet to even try it on, let alone even go for my first fitting. I am paralyzed with fear that the dress will not fit. The thought of even putting on this amazing dress that I have picked out to wear on the most important day of my life doesn’t symbolize what it’s supposed to. Right now it’s just making me uncomfortable. What’s more is I got caught up watching “Say Yes to the Dress” which I will note, I really don’t even enjoy but I figured—I’m getting married, so why not? Swirling in my head were the brides with their trim figures, flat stomachs, and the ones who lost 20 pounds and didn’t have 20 pounds to lose in the first place. Ugh, I would do anything to lose 20 pounds. Jealousy and rage filled me and I pouted by skipping my workout last night and literally did nothing. Instead of taking action, I wallowed in my self-pity and sulked on my couch.

And so here I am today. Polluted by the toxicity of my own mind, unable to move past my self-hatred to the point where I am struggling to function.

 

I am listless.

Do we ever get a Do-Over?

As I was leaving the hair salon tonight, I noticed that in the 3 minutes my meter had expired I was getting a ticket. I stupidly ran into the street with my arms flailing screaming, “THAT’S ME! I’M COMING! THAT’S ME!!!!!”

Too late.

Ticket was already being written. The Meter Maid politely informed me that the first item that is entered is the license plate and that she had already done then and must write the ticket. I avoid eye contact as I feel tears welling behind my eyes (I am such a baby and cry over everything) and tell her I understand.

Then the Meter Maid pauses what she is doing. She looks at me, then tells me how much she likes my hair.

Me: “Thanks.”

The Meter Maid handed me the ticket and attempts to make small talk about how much purple is her power color and I notice that there is a softness and warmth to her voice. I am trying my hardest not to get sucked into hair talk because it’ll sure as hell ruin my newly sour mood so I am very short with her. Finally, she hands gives me the ticket and apologetically says, “Sorry for the inconvenience.”

Sorry for the inconvenience?! My meter expired. I got a ticket. I cop an attitude, and SHE’S sorry?! Though I didn’t know it at the time, I felt so exposed and almost shameful that I didn’t reciprocate this woman’s desire to connect with another human. So, let me just say I am not angry about the parking ticket. I fully own and accept that this whole thing was my fault in the first place. But what upsets me is that despite being 100% in the wrong, I was so consumed with rage that I didn’t get the opportunity to show this woman kindness in return.

But what I really I think is what makes me feel so crappy about this whole thing is that without her knowing it, she totally put me in check [hence this blog post] and I am grateful for it. Lesson learned.

Let’s face it, she has a shitty job in the respects that she probably encounters shitty people while giving them shitty parking tickets. It’s shitty, but it’s a job nonetheless. Regardless of her job and my role in all of this, this was the perfect time and place for me to make someone’s day just a little better and I blew it. I friggen blew it.

I want to apologize to the woman who gave me the ticket.

I want a second chance to run out of that salon to suck up my own stupid shit and joyfully talk about her power color, and my newly dyed locks (let’s face it, everyone knows how much I love talking about my purple hair). I want the opportunity to tell this woman that I try to live my life by leaving everyone I encounter with feelings of inspiration, joy, happiness, and confidence. I want that meter to expire just before I run into that street so I can practice what I preach and extend the same benevolence to this woman.

For what it’s worth, and though you will never see this, I am sorry I didn’t leave you with the best version of myself. I hope our paths cross again so that I can hopefully lift you up instead of being one of those shitty people while getting a shitty parking ticket.

Walking My Way

This evening I planned on taking a yoga class. But after my training session I emerged from my nap lethargic with a headache. So, despite really needing to go to yoga—I passed. Instead, I putted around the house for a while; creeped people’s social media then finally decided that I needed to get moving if I were going to hit those 10,000 steps that call to me on my Fitbit.

I tied my sneakers and bounded out the door with my Vega shake and cell phone in hand. I wanted to ditch the phone all together but knew I was trying to link up with Greg and he’d be calling, so my phone was along for the ride, but I intentionally didn’t bring headphones. I wanted to soak up life at my favorite time of day—dusk. I know many people look to the early morning hours and sunrise as representing hope and possibility, but for me the crispness of the evening air, people coming home from work, the laughter of children playing on their front lawns, and the sun slipping into the horizon hold the key to my personal hope.

I strode around my neighborhood of Studio City with my head up, off of a phone screen, noting the houses that surround our apartment complex. I made mental notes of the ones I loved with the Spanish style terracotta roofs, manicured walkways, and mature lush fruit trees.

I listened and even slowed my stroll to pause and appreciate the giggling of children scooting around the sidewalk in front of their houses and just playing. I smiled as I recalled growing up in Oceanside, New York with my family and playing outside with my sister until our parents bellowed our names “ARI!!!!!!! KASSII!!!!!! DINNER!!!!!!” from the front door signaling playtime was over.

People walked their dogs. I mean a lot of people were walking their dogs. There was a pep in people’s steps that I don’t recall ever noticing before. Was the calm of the evening promise responsible for such happiness? Or was I just too caught up in myself or looking into a phone screen that I never noticed the bustling community of my own neighborhood?

People smiled and I smiled back.

I felt empowered and I wasn’t even doing anything. I was just walking with nowhere to be, no destination—just walking. Strolling. Admiring. Savoring. Observing and fantasizing about the home that my soon-to-be husband Greg and I will one day share: I saw Greg getting out of a black SUV and walk up the path to our home, then through the front door to be greeted with a kiss and dinner. It was clearly a made-up moment but hey, the key to achieving our dreams is to visualize them and for me an eternal dreamer, though this moment only happened in my mind, something told me it felt right and would be within our reach.

There was a couple rollerblading. I actually passed them twice on my aimless meandering and smiled again as they held hands rollerblading and chatting. I think I even giggled to myself because I pondered, Is this still a thing? Do people still rollerblade? Wait. Do people still own rollerblades?!” Apparently the answers are yes but it doesn’t really matter because here was a couple doing something active, bonding, and enjoying each other’s company. Some people Crossfit, some run races, some cook dinner, and others rollerblade.

IMG_6565I admired the subtleties of the trees lining the streets and how on each street though indistinguishable from the other, each still looked and felt different because the foliage on each street had its own flair. These streets could have been Anywhere Road in Anywhere USA yet they felt deeply personal to me like these streets were mine.

The Hollywood Hills kissed the sky and embraced the evening as the lighted homes glistened in the distance looking down upon The Valley like a sage guardian.

I walked home and my Fitbit vibrated alerting me that I met my daily goal of 10,000 steps. I rubbed my wrist and thought God, I love this thing. Inspired by my desire to meet and exceed my daily steps my Fitbit led me to an adventure right outside my door. So maybe I wasn’t supposed to get my yoga on today and I was right where I needed to be, exploring, dreaming, and just being alone with myself in stillness.

The F Word

20120611-225556

Now is the time to regain control of my body and my mind. I am firmly making a commitment to actively start to embrace myself and love the outside parts of me the same way I love the bomb-ass insides of me.

To be completely honest, I am at a total loss when it comes to trying to figure out where my inability to be kind and love myself originated. I have spent YEARS trying to identify that once I graduated college, entered the workforce, and became a teacher how I literally become obsessed with being the best. On a level, my extreme perfectionism is what has made me great at what I do and has really catapulted me to success as both an English teacher and fitness instructor. However, my unrelenting standards of myself have led to me this crossroads where I berate myself for my self-perceived shortcomings. My mind is a battleground of hostility raping my thoughts of anything positive.

I hear what students, friends, and loved ones say, “Oh, but you’re so strong and all those races you run!” And to me the translation in my head is:

Strong is the new word for voluptuous. And last I checked, voluptuous implies a negative connotation that we want to believe is disguised as curvy which is simply put: A nice word for chubby, chunky, or unfit.

[See? I told you it was a mess up in that head of mine]

That being said, I embrace the cold hard fact that my outsides do not match my insides and despite this whole “Positive Body Image Movement” I am not happy with myself and I want to change it.

Recently, I hired a personal trainer. Befuddling to imagine that as a trainer and a group fitness instructor that I would hire someone to work me out when I am more then qualified and capable of working myself out. The reality is just that when it comes to taking care of me I am bad at that. I live my life to help catapult others to greatness. Being a teacher and coach IS who I am. But when it comes to me, though I am filled with intense drive, I just cannot find the will to rally for myself. In some respects my fuel for perfection keeps me going but when faced with lifting after teaching a cycling class, I cannot muster the energy to motivate myself. Having someone whom I trust with the care of my fragile ego of my physical-self is paramount in helping me find how to love the outside me. Not surprisingly, finding the right person to empower me was easy since between Greg and I we know and have access to some of LA’s top trainers—yaassssss. I feel so touched, honored, and blessed at the lengths and willingness so many people were willing to extend in working with me. Ultimately, I ended up selecting someone I greatly respect and admire. What’s more is I picked someone I knew would not allow me to trash myself.

My first session was great. It was fun and it was hard. Never inaccessibly hard but the right amount of rehabilitative exercises to strengthen my knee while combining intervals to help me burn fat. And then, while working on the TRX machine it hit me. Right smack in the middle of my workout I had an epiphany.

Not only now, but in recent years when working out I hold back. Don’t get me wrong, in Crossfit I RX (as prescribed without modifications) my workouts and I work hard at anything I tackle but there is this part of myself that keeps something inside, locked up, and reserved. First of all, why do I hold back? What am I afraid of? Why can’t I go just a little longer, a little harder, with a little more weight?

The answer is I am so terrified of failure that I let it paralyze me.

I feel like I have built myself up to the world [and myself] that not being able to do something and do it well means I am a failure.

I shared this thought with my trainer and she seconded the notion that she suffers from the same thoughts. I am glad I shared it because it helped me feel justified but what’s more is by sharing it, it allowed me to finally take control of my fears of failing. Once I said it, and put it out into the universe, I had to own it and there was no looking back. I don’t think that until that precise moment that I even knew I subconsciously held back. It just kind of manifested in that moment so blatantly reflecting my true-honest self back for me to see. So I looked.

I looked without judgment and I committed to myself right then and there to have the resolve to not fear falling short of my own expectations.

I feel like by calling out my fears head on, out loud in the world has already given me strength. It has already made me stronger than I was before.

Tomorrow I have my 2nd training session and for the very first time in a long time, there will be nowhere for me to hide. Just me, some sweat, and unbreakable resolve.

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Finding Comfort in Discomfort – How I Combatted Repatriation Depression

Arielle:

There is nothing more healing than sharing our stories with the world to build bridges. I am beyond honored and thrilled to share with you #PackYourMat.
Armen of Pack Your Mat is a yoga student, a friend, a son, a traveller, and above all someone who is putting it all out there. Read about his journey in yoga and honest approach while trying to heal. I love bringing my story with the world and I am so happy to bring you someone else’s tale.
PS, there is a rad pic of me teaching at One Down Dog and that makes me smile.
Enjoy the read. Follow. Subscribe. And always come back for more, xo.

Originally posted on Pack Your Mat:

How to find comfort in your most uncomfortable state is unfathomable, especially when you are right there in the glory of discomfort. These past six months I have, with all my strength, tried to reach a comfortable state of being with various moments where giving up was an easier option than not.  It will be dishonest of me to say that I did not have moments where I wanted to pack my stuff and go back to Barcelona, the city I lived in for the past six years. It will be an even bigger lie if I said I was enjoying the things I was doing. I found no interest or motivation in my daily interactions or activities. However, there were small snippets of light, where I was able to socialize and motivate myself to do things, like go on a hike or yoga. I knew that exercise would give me…

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Running the Rat Race

Work has been running me ragged. From teaching at school all day, to my classes in the evenings, to my own workouts, all mixed in with wedding planning madness. In the hurried lunacy of it all I wrote this poem:

Sickandtired
Sick
Tired
Sickandtired eternally glued together
Cramped and Amped both at the same time
Sleep eludes me but exhaustion overwhelms me
Body and mind
Together as one but head fights the heart
And the heart fights the head
Why can’t I find the solace I need?
Why can’t I find the balance that I try to weave?
Trying to begin, I finally find a place to start.
The ending is only the beginning I find
I guess this is where I no longer survive
I now thrive

Health, Happiness, and Healing: Starting Over

This sure has been one whirlwind of a week! I have so much to say so I am just going to unload it all in a series of posts in no particular order. I think what I would like to address first is my recent news which many of you already know via my various social media outlets.

Finally after years of seeing doctor after doctor and specialist after specialist I was recently diagnosed with PCOS, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. The road to finally get here has been filled with lots of tears of frustration—lots and lots of tears of frustration. With my recent diagnosis there is a sort of vindication as these last two years many doctors treated me like I was crazy. I mean, my blood work wasn’t just normal; it was stellar, reflective of someone who was very fit and committed to eating healthy. One doctor even beamed, “Your blood work reads like a pediatric patient—it’s even better than my kids!” So if the blood coursing through my body tells a story of health then why did my period mysteriously disappear 2.5 years ago to only come back months later but only intermittently?

How is it possible to gain 30 pounds despite committing to programs and lifestyles like Isagenix, vegetarianism, veganism, going gluten free, and [recently] the Paleo lifestyle paired with an intense fitness regimen?
How is it possible that right around my 30th birthday my reproductive system completely shut down and I was no longer ovulating?

No one it seemed could provide me with any answers so I continued to cry, workout harder, restrict more calories, and cry some more.

Finally one day my gynecologist looked me in the face and flatly said, “Arielle, we have no explanation why you’re infertile when you are so healthy. It seems as if your brain isn’t signaling to your ovaries to release the egg…” [Note: I was not trying to get pregnant] Naturally, not having the answer she decided to give me some hormones to induce menstruation which never did happen. But you know what did? All the wonderful side effects of hormone treatment: extreme mood swings and depression. Deep, deep, deep depression. There were times it was so dark in my mind I actually could see myself ending my life. I know it’s hard to imagine someone ‘like me’, a lover of all things in my life filled with such darkness but when the people we trust to take care of us do not understand what we are suffering from, they toss anything and everything at the problem and hope to find a solution. I felt so alone and angry that my body could just turn on me. I had no control over my cycle, my weight, and now my very own thoughts were being robbed and captained by a beast I could not tame. Thankfully, this extreme darkness only represents a brief period of my life during which I called my mother crying:

“I know I always said I didn’t want children…but now that the universe has stripped me of that gift without asking me and I didn’t even get a say in the matter.”

Eventually, I did start to menstruate albeit irregularly but apparently so long as one gets at least 4 periods a year it’s considered safe. Who knew that? Girls! You can be healthy and only menstruate 4x a year! Stop taking your placebo pills now! Whatever. I still don’t buy this bologna. But when you’re in a crowded room screaming and no one turns around, after a while you stop screaming and walk out.

Fast forward two years later and I am teaching fitness in LA. I have done some unimaginably awesome things like shoot a yoga reel, an indoor cycling fitness video, become a brand ambassador for a fitness clothing line, had a 4th knee surgery, and so much more all while I worked out more and harder and only got fatter. My clothes have stopped fitting. The only things I can really wear and experience some sort of comfort in are ironically workout clothes. I suppose the yoga instructor in me should embrace the fact that regardless of my expanding waistline [and knee injury] I was killing Crossfit workouts, running serious distance, and a cycling machine so I should be happy, right?

There is nothing worse than looking at yourself in the mirror, pinching the oozing sides of your stomach, then poking it in an effort to will it back into place. What’s more, there is nothing worse than facing the people of your classes wondering if they’re staring at you wondering how a fat ass like you landed this gig in the first place.

The cycle of self-hatred is vicious and to top it all off, when a doctor tells you that you’re gaining weight because ‘you eat too much’ it really doesn’t help the cause.

I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t just fade away into the masses and leave this thing alone, whatever this “thing” was with my body. All I kept telling myself and imploring doctors:

“I’m a yoga instructor damn it, I know the body. I understand the body. I know my body and I am telling you something just isn’t right.”

In yet another attempt to get some answers, recently I made a second appointment with my new gynecologist to get some answers. And though I am not sure I am any closer to understanding my body and why it hates me, I did finally get a diagnosis and have started medication.

But the real reason why I am sharing my story is to empower other women. Each day is a struggle to love my physical-self as I can be terribly rigid when it comes to self-acceptance. I genuinely want to take the steps to understand and control my PCOS while learning how to love myself. Since I subscribe to the notion that community can help elevate us all I have started a secret Facebook group for women with endocrine disorders, autoimmune diseases, eating disorders, body dysmorphia, cancer, or depression. Really I wanted to create a place for women looking to understand their inner-selves a little more is welcome. I wanted a sacred space where we share, we heal, and we work towards understanding ourselves just a little better. I wanted a place for women to share their stories without feeling judged and to feel heard. I wanted a place for someone like me to feel less alone and cultivate the tools to learn how to build myself up instead of berating myself for my self-imposed inadequacies.

I created this space for woman to stop surviving and to learn how to thrive.

I have never been one to sit and wallow in self-pity for an extended period of time. Notice how I carefully used the words extended period of time. But with my recent diagnosis I hit the interwebs and have started collecting a group of strong, beautiful, passionate women who are looking to connect. Perhaps it’s our pain that brings us together, but it’s our love and compassion that unites us. After all, my entire life has been about servitude—English teacher, yoga instructor, cycling instructor. I do not know how to do anything else. But what life has taught me is that I can be a victim of circumstance or I can take an active role in all of this and be a victor. I am choosing to stop allowing my exterior to determine my self-worth and how I feel about myself. Though I recognize what an uphill battle that this will be, with the community of women in my new support group I know we can do this together.

First Day of School…Again?

Today marked my third 1st day of school in less than a year and 4th school in my 10-year teaching career. I never thought I would be a “school-hopper”. Really I am one of those people who enjoy the routine and structure that comes with the stability of a workplace, and by a workplace I mean one workplace. However, I am also one who needs to be able to enjoy work while feeling happy and invested in a cause greater than myself. So when I made the choice to leave my old school at Helen Bernstein High School, it was bitter sweet because I loved the soccer girls I was coaching, my AP students, and my colleagues. Yet, despite such sources of happiness, I ultimately decided that HBHS wasn’t a place I felt I could grow. With a heavy heart for the team and students I left behind, leaving was not the easy way out. Moving schools mid-year to accept a position at Fairfax High School would definitely be Baptism by Fire as its own host of challenges would arise but it was a risk I had to take.

In the short 7 hours that carve out the school day, I feel like I lived a lifetime! To help put it into perspective, I didn’t receive my classroom keys until 15 minutes before my 1st period class—Wait, where is my classroom?!

Where was the bathroom?

Where do I make copies?

How do I get supplies?

Who is the dean? Wait. Is there a dean?

Is there a refrigerator? Microwave? I need to eat!

Will MSIS (online attendance system) work?

My mind was whirling a million miles a minute with the “where’s” and “what if’s.” Finally, I walked into my room, wrote my name on the board, took a deep breath in and told myself that despite all the unknowns that today presented that I could do it, I would do it, and shit, I had no choice. Tossing all my fears aside, I opened the door to room 211 and greeted my 1st period students.

IMG_6179
Greg in my new classroom. Check out that sweet peeling wall paper.

Overall, in today’s classes we had riveting conversations about the past, the present, the future and how they all connect. We did a little talking, a little writing, and a little more talking. And the crazy thing of it all? When I asked my students to take out a pen and paper…they all had pens and paper!

Amazingly enough, today contained only a few minor hiccups. In particular, one young lady who arrived late to class with a massive attitude. Upon checking in with me she was very unkind despite me wearing my “this-is-my-first-day-of-school-nice-teacher-face”. She very grandly sat down in front and read my name aloud as she read it to herself, then rolled her eyes. My natural instinct was to immediately fire back at this young lady but today something told me not to. Something in me reminded me that I promised myself that Fairfax was my time to work on my PR campaign and soften my approach. Me holding my tongue was not just softening my approach, it was unchartered territory. Her classmates whipped their heads around and with wide eyes, they eagerly awaited my response all while, I still didn’t recognize this young lady’s behavior. Class unfolded and interestingly enough, the same young lady with the attitude is raising her hand, participating and writing furiously on her paper.

I am beyond confused at this point and resolve to stop trying to understand teenagers.

Class ended and she stayed behind. She formally addressed me and apologized for her behavior. SHE APOLOGIZED. Unprovoked. Without me saying anything—I was just gonna let this whole incident go. The young student went on to explain that she had a terrible morning and was angry, ultimately taking it out on me despite her ‘parents raising her better and to always respect her teachers’. She vowed to me that the girl I met at the start of class is not who she is and that she will not let me down.

I AM FLOORED. Never in all the years I have been teaching has this ever happened.

Note to self: Maybe it’s wise I continue to just keep my mouth closed…Yeah, let’s see how long that lasts!

Some other highlights from today included while waiting with Greg to lug my boxes to my classroom a[nother] young lady approached me inquiring if I were Ms. Miller. She introduced herself and let me know how much she is looking forward to moving into my class.

Perplexed, I inquire, “Move into my class?”

Her response, “Yes. Your class. A bunch of my friends have you and they said you seem like a really good teacher and I want to get the best education possible because well, isn’t that why we are in school?!”

She smiled, thanked me, and bounded off with her friend. I look to Greg and say, “God, I am glad you were here for that!”

Looks like my new approach really is working.

But for me it was more than this new approach. It was more like a vindication. Feeling appreciated or maybe I am just in the right place where a gal with purple hair is just understood. Who knows?

And the last bit of goodness I have to share…

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My most attentive student. Another vantage point of my new classroom pre-The Girl with Purple Hair’s transformation.

While in the hallway, a former student I had at Virgil Middle School FOUR years ago came running down the hall calling my name. She is now a Junior and every bit as lively as she was for the 2 years I had her in 7th and 8th grade. She also came to see me after school to chat. Naturally, eternally the gossip, she gave me the inside scoop on Fairfax but before I left she asked me, “Do you still hang out in your room at nutrition and lunch?”

“Of course I do, that will never change.” I said with a smile.

“Good!” she exclaimed, “I’ll see you tomorrow at nutrition and I’ll bring all my friends!”

And just like that, my day ended.

My Third 1st day in one year ended with something so familiar, yet so new. A familiar face from a classroom past that fondly recalls the comforts and sanctuary I was able to offer but transported to a new time and space filled with endless possibility. I cannot wait to see what tomorrow will bring and what’s more is I hope to continue to inspire you my readers, to never let fear decide your fate.

 

Life is about the people you meet, and the things you create with them. So get out there and start creating!

Inner-cising is the New Exercising

We are officially 7 glorious days into the New Year and it’s a perfect time to take personal inventory of the goals and intentions we set forth just a mere week ago. So, how are you doing thus far? I know that some goals will take time to unfold but what about the nitty gritty of it all in disconnecting so you can reconnect to yourself? Have you been kind to yourself? Patient and welcoming of the process? Excited about the potential of the New Year as it unfolds? How have you started chipping away at carving out your life and the path you want to walk? At 7 days into the year, I will let you know how I am doing with my intentions:

I have been taking better care of myself. I suppose it’s easy to do when I am not in the classroom, but I have been taking really good wholesome care of my body. In the last 4 days alone I have taken 2 yoga classes, well kind of 3 but whatever.

The irony and curse of yoga instructors is that we hustle all across town to serve our students and in the madness of it all from creating playlists to cleverly beating LA traffic, our own practice sometimes gets put on hold. I have enjoyed this delightful time with my body. My surgery and knee injury have taught me so much.

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Therapeutic Yoga Flow at Equinox Encino with Yoga Tune Up balls.

First, there is this almost hyper-awareness of everything going on in my body right now. At least when I practice yoga—not right now, I am just sitting on the couch writing this with a grumbling tummy and all I can focus on is eating…Hmmmm, maybe that awareness really has shifted into all arenas after all. Nonetheless, I digress. In my recent dances on the mat everything seems so much more precise. My inhales and exhales deliberate and my movement sacred. It’s a funny thing what limited mobility does to a person, it forces you to slow down and savor whatever movement you do have. What’s more is I had a conversation with one of my Group Fitness Manager’s at Equinox and she said something that really resonated with me. While sharing about coming back from an injury where she broke her foot, she recalled thinking to herself “Ohhhh, that’s how people feel in my class.” And then it struck me—I realized my injuries and coming back from them are what make me human and better what I do because I get it—I see you. I really see you.

One of the greatest gifts that this journey of healing and self-discovery has given me is a new lease on my perspective of compassion and empathy. Not that I didn’t employ such things before while teaching but like you, I break and need to repair myself. Like you, sometimes I am afraid to move my body because of how it will feel. And like you, right now I am not where I want to be.

This is our time to employ a true sense of community as we take 2015 by storm and we heal one another. In class we look to our right, then look to our left and we say “Hi” to whomever next to us. We support one another when we are down and elevate each other by just being present. Showing up and hitting our mat consistently is what continues to connect us to our essential self while allowing us to acquire the tools to help serve those around us. Each an every time I show up to class, I show up to heal myself twofold: physically and to take the tools I learn on the mat and share them with you. Let’s dig in, tap in, and work in as we inner-cise while exercising and employ self-love and kindness.