Category Archives: Fitness

Yoga Festivals, Podcasts, and Retreats; Oh My!

Momentum is a remarkable thing. Sometimes, you don’t even know where it came from. It’s almost as if it creeps up on you then all of a sudden these incredible things start propelling you towards what you’ve been working so hard for and it’s just so surreal.

Right now is really an exciting time for me. As some of you may know from my Instagram and Facebook, I have recently started practicing Ashtanga yoga. I shared the other day that,

“My Ashtanga practice has taught me so much about myself that I feel like I’m exploding at the seams. It’s almost like I’m learning yoga again for the first time and it’s a blissful joy to feel like I’ve only just found a yoga practice. 
Every time I’m on my mat and in the stillness of my breath; I’m closer to the person I’ve always wanted to be and haven’t yet discovered.

I am alive.”

And that’s really just the beginning of this awakening I am privileged enough to experience. My morning meditation has quickly become my favorite part of my day, my husband and I listen to a nightly meditation as we drift off to sleep, and it just keeps getting better and better! Specifically I wanted to share that I will be teaching at my very first Yoga Festival Retreat in March!

Arielle namasteYes, ladies and gentleman, I get to share my yoga with 100’s of people from all over the country at BhavasFest! I am thrilled to announce that you can find me teaching at this amazing yoga, camping, hiking, rafting, and meditation retreat along side some other amazing instructors from Los Angeles. BhavasFest runs from March 31st-April 3rd in Kernville, CA on the Kern River. It is one of the most breathtaking places you will ever see and experience, so make sure you don’t miss it! Click the link here to purchase your tickets now and use my code “PURPLEHAIR” to save money.

Additionally, I was interviewed on To Be A Yogi by Edward Reib where you can learn more about me, my journey in yoga, nutrition, and the yoga festival. You can listen to the podcast here.

Firsts are such a beautiful thing since you only get one shot to experience something for the very first time. It truly seems that 2016, which I dubbed in my pre-New Years posts as “The Year of Yes” really is shaping up to be what I intended. From my first podcast interview to BhavasFest to [drum roll please…] leading a yoga and fitness retreat in June in Mexico! I will have more to report on the Mexico retreat in a few days, so stay tuned, and keep chipping away at your dreams.

You only get one chance to revel in a first, so aim high, dream big, and chase your heart. I hope to see you at BhavasFest so don’t forget to buy your ticket now and bring all your friends!

How to Make Shit Happen

Five easy steps to getting out of your own way and unleashing your awesome on the world.

  1. Believe in Yourself

Confidence is key. Stand by what your heart is telling you and what you want—don’t let other people’s lack of vision cloud your own. You are on a mission and nothing is going to deter you.

Remember, if you ever want people to buy into something you are pursuing, you too must believe it with ever fiber of your being. And look, if at first this is a major struggle for you, fake it until you make it. Confidence is a contagious, self-fulfilling prophecy: If you tell yourself enough that you believe in yourself, after a while you actually will!

  1. Chase Your Passion

What lights your heart on fire? What gives you that feeling within the pit of your deepest part of your belly that fuels you from within?

Make space so that you can thrive; what is something you continue to do despite it not longer serving you or brining you joy? Let that shit go. Evaluate why you continue to participate in something that no longer brings you joy [or maybe didn’t in the first place]. Is it ego driven? Because you feel obligated? Can’t say no? Whatever the reason, know this: In order to generate opportunity for yourself in your life, you must create the space so that something new can grow then thrive.

  1. The Power of Positivity

Your outlook and approach will absolutely determine the outcome of the obstacles you encounter. Challenge yourself to start re-routing how your emotions respond to opposition. While this will most definitely take time, be patient and compassionate with yourself. Commit to not just saying you’ll be positive, but visualize things with a more positive spin.

Try something simple to start: set the tone of each day by reminding yourself to remain positive even when it seems hard—that’s when it’s most important! Also, attaching a phrase like I will meet each obstacle in my life with positivity, love, and enthusiasm will give you the strength to maintain your positive mindset.

  1. No More Blame Game

Coveting the success of others is a vicious cycle that often ends is feeling worthless and defeated. Constantly looking at what others have achieved, comparing yourself, and detesting the success of others brings you bad juju. Bad juju aside, pointing a critical finger or judgmental finger at others does one thing: Nothing. Moreover, refusing to accept ownership for the mere fact that while you may want something and haven’t done anything is perhaps the first step to enacting changes in your life. No one is preventing you from being who you want to be. No one is thwarting your efforts if you haven’t even made any. No one is going to miraculously appear in your life and grant you 3 wishes like The Genie in Aladdin [sorry to burst your bubble on that one]. Get out of your own way and stop looking at what others have.

  1. Get Down and Dirty

Asking the universe for something just isn’t enough. The concept of “ask and you shall receive” is not really conducive to manifesting your craziest and wildest dreams. Simply asking, and putting whatever ‘it’ is you want out there IS the first step—but what are the action steps that you are taking to achieve said greatness?

When you want something in your life, your focus to acquire it must be laser-like. That said, where there is conviction there is no sacrifice. The time to stop asking for what you want is now. Jump outside your comfort zone, roll up your sleeves, and tackle the tough stuff.

Start by make tangible alterations to your life; step confidently into the things you’ve always wanted, and make them your reality. Only you and you alone can make the changes and take serious steps to do so.

Go Boldly Where You’ve Never Gone Before

Sometimes we talk ourselves out of things before we’ve even begun because we are afraid to fail. Other times, we get so comfortable in our own world that we forget to live loudly, enriching our lives with new and unknown adventures. Well, it’s time to get comfortable being uncomfortable and learn that growth happens outside what we think we already know.

Fear is our enemy. For such a short word composed of one teeny syllable, it sure packs major punch. Fear has the power to control our lives, dictate our choices, and paralyze us so that we talk ourselves out of things before we’ve even started. Well, that stops here. Today, we relinquish our fears and those self-imposed chains as we step, no jump, boldly out of our comfort zones and try something new!

Often we fantasize about what we want to do, where we want to go, that dream job, and so much more. However, what we fail to recognize is that if we want something that we’ve never had, we must do things that we’ve never done. That means, leaving behind what you know and not worrying about what you’ve left behind, but running towards possibility with an open heart, mind, and attitude.

We mustn’t allow fear to determine our lives. It will limit us from reaching our highest potential and stagnate us. The time to start living for you has already arrived; it is now. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, try something new; take a trip alone, sign up for a cooking class, or finally take that yoga teacher training. So what if in the end you decide that it wasn’t for you. At least you tried. Celebrate your efforts and courage. You took a risk on yourself and invested in your personal growth by trying something new. In the end, it may not have been your cure-all but you sure did learn a whole lot of something’s about yourself in the process; so what more could you ask for? Get out there and start leaping out of your comfort zone, for nothing great ever came from comfort zones.

3 Truths About Instagram Beach Yoga

Instagram has become a place for the average person to find stardom regardless of where they live or where they are from so long as they have access to a phone and a data package. With one’s follower count being a way to secure endorsements, ambassadorships, products, and so much more; by the throngs, people post pictures with the hopes of becoming ‘InstaFamous’. But at what cost? At what cost is all this double tapping having on society and its participants?

Personally, as a yogi and yoga instructor, I see these long, lean bodies, making gorgeous shapes and then I notice I feel badly about myself. I have even found myself monitoring fellow yogi’s follower counts and gawking over their photos. While pouring myself into coveting something I see on a 4-inch screen I have come to realize through my own quest to share my pictures with the world: IT IS NOT REAL. Here in an honest dialogue, I lift the veil behind those beautiful beach pictures we see and covet on Instagram.

  1. It’s Hard

Yoga by itself is hard enough. Let alone adding the uneven and squishy terrain of sand. The downward slope of the beach as it meets the ocean while the sand gives way beneath your hands makes it immensely challenging for someone who’s attempting handstands and arm balances.

Moreover, beach or no beach, when trying to capture that perfect shot one must pose, shoot, check alignment, shoot again. Pose, shoot, check again—the sun wasn’t right. Reshoot. It’s never just one shot. That means, re-shooting the same pose sometimes over and over and over again to get it juuuuuuussssst right. For the yogi, it’s physically demanding and certainly exhausting. Being outside lends itself to many other factors beyond one’s control. For example, trying to frame flawless photos in the ocean is always exciting since the sand erodes under your feet, making it nearly impossible to gain any sort of traction in standing poses, and then BOOM! There’s a wave and you end up flat on your butt.

That didn't work out as planned. Almost swept out to sea while making silly shapes in the waves. Here, my husband captures reality for the world to see.
No filter: That didn’t work out as planned. Almost swept out to sea while making silly shapes in the waves. Here, my husband captures reality for the world to see
  1. The sun is bright 

I mean, who does yoga wearing sunglasses? Every time I try down dogging in my massive purple Dior’s they end up on my forehead so what’s the point?

So while setting up for that perfect shot, I’ll wear my glasses, and then take them off at the last minute. Sometimes, I wear them because you know; I practice yoga with my sunglasses on. But really, in the bigger picture it’s all a ruse, because no one actually does yoga wearing sunglasses so it’s contrived and grossly impractical.

No filer and experimenting: Maybe if I hold my sunglasses, they'll look like a cool prop.
No filter and experimenting: Maybe if I hold my sunglasses, they’ll look like a cool prop

That said, the world of social media wants to see your face, so you take off your sunglasses. You close your eyes to make it look like you’re deep in meditative thought [while chillin’ on the sand or in the mist of the waves]. Nope, you’re not. You’re just trying to not look directly into the blazing sun.

  1. It’s Not Real

What you see isn’t what you get, that’s for sure. Instagram and its many apps have made it a wondrous world of creation. Everyone and their mother is an editor. Don’t like your skin? No need to airbrush: Filter it. Cellulite? No need to airbrush it: Filter it. Not enough light? Add it! Want beams of light radiating like the sun from your heart’s center? Add it! The magic of filters is they allow the creator to masterfully deceive the world into thinking something is what it isn’t. There I said it, it’s all a damn lie.

No filter, completely unedited
No filter, completely unedited
Filtered
Filtered

Instagram has allowed the world and its amateur photo-enthusiasts to create masterpieces or illusions—you decide. In the land of Instagram when it comes to those beach yoga photos there’s hair, make up, and wardrobe. The people posing, work hard to share poses they’ve mastered—maybe even spent years working on some of them. And while they are on display for all of the world to see, they are sharing their best version, on their best side, in the best clothes, styled by the best hair and make up team money could buy.

The photos we see on Instgram are a work of art. However, like any art form; they’re carefully curated to elicit an emotion from the viewer. And in many cases with respects to the land of yoga and fitness, people are promoting themselves, a brand, classes, retreats, and a partnership. View and double tap with integrity. Your self-worth and confidence cannot be tied to how many likes you acquire or how many followers someone else has. Stay true to yourself, do you, and be you. Remain grounded in your pursuit for InstaFame and know that life on your phone is not real. Look up and look around—that’s life, now start living.

When in Bali, Do Yoga

unnamed-4Ubud is an international yogi’s paradise. A Mecca for teachers, students, retreats and the curious; people flock to Bali with the hopes to find something nestled within the thick, lush forests, while practicing yoga and meditation to move closer to themselves. So naturally, being that I am a yoga instructor and my husband a fitness instructor, we couldn’t come clear across the world and not experience what Bali had to offer us.

unnamed-8As per our research and many recommendations, our quest for yoga led my husband and I to the famed Yoga Barn for a Gentle Yoga class. We left our hotel, Komanka Monkey Forest well before class time to ensure enough time to walk to the shala and drink in the sights and sounds of morning-time Ubud. With our mats strapped to our backs donning our lululemon we bounded off. Immediately, my pants affixed to my body as they formed an uncomfortable second skin in the tropical heat and we perspired through our tank tops. Ripe with sweat, we meandered in and out of shops preparing for their day as they opened their doors and placed offerings and incense on the side walk.

Still quiet from the cloak of the morning haze, the streets weren’t quite alive with the energy of the scooters and cars that normally make it virtually impassable in a wall of traffic. We approached The Monkey Forest. Monkeys mischievously ran across the outer wall, pranced in and out of the street, and played. As we continued our trek, I heard some banging up ahead of me. I looked up and noticed that there were two monkeys up ahead sitting in a parking lot banging rocks together, and then rubbing them on the ground. I stood on the sidewalk, giggling in excitement and wonderment for this sight that I was so privileged to see—wild animals playing, simply enjoying the simplicity of creation.

unnamed-9We continued our walk to Yoga Barn and arrived at 9:40am. We were almost an hour early for the Gentle Yoga class that Greg was eager to take to help ‘ease his body and mind’ into his yoga practice. However, we learned that a level 1-2 Vinyasa Flow class was starting at 10am and much to my husband’s dismay, this was the class I wanted to take and was glad that our early arrival permitted us to take it. Begrudgingly, Greg agreed to take the class. We were instructed to ‘follow the path down and pay there’. We disappeared down into the vast complex through thick trees, windy and narrow pathways and terraces, that took us through a restaurant, juice bar, an outdoor kind of dance floor-like space, then finally to the front desk. We purchased our classes, took off our flip-flops and climbed the spiral staircase to the expansive outdoor studio space. Sights and sounds of international yogi’s preparing to practice together overwhelmed me. The massive space was almost packed with still 15 minutes before class. Together, we navigated the room, weaving in and out of people’s mats, eagerly trying to find a place to set up shop so that we could practice next to one another. Yogi’s whispered, some manipulated their bodies into impressive shapes, and others were quiet in meditation. As we continued to try to carve out a space to place our mats, much to my utter shock and disbelief, no one even attempted to move over to let us slip in.

I looked around to assess the room, trying hard not to slip into “Teacher Mode” and to continue to hold space for myself as a student: I noted the space between mats—2 to 3 feet in most cases, more than enough room to let others in to lay their mats. Finally, a voice from across the room,

“Are you two OK separating for 90 minutes?” said the instructor.

“Of course we are, but we are on our honeymoon” I shared, with the hopes someone would hear that and then move to accommodate us both so we could practice together…Yet no such thing occurred. Eventually, Greg ended up behind me and a few mats over. I chatted up the Canadian’s who moved over to let me squeeze in. Shortly the buzz amongst the room came to a lull. From what I could gather, at least 60-75 yogi’s sat cross legged on their mats, eyes fixed on the instructor poised in front of the Ganesh statue. 

unnamed-3Our instructor was named Les, a westerner. He started class with two concepts: Time and Honeymoon. In his matter-of-fact, no nonsense approach, Les brought us into his world addressing that time is something we try to control when in fact we cannot control it. He continued: we fill our lives with so much stuff—the necessity for things to end so that something else could begin; such as our need for the class to end promptly at 11:30 so that we can make our massage appointment at 11:45 and so the cycle continues. And then Les’ transition: Why have we moved away from the honeymoon phase of living? Are we really living or just existing? Where is the love, passion, joy and excitement in what we do? Why we do it? How we do it?

I liked Les immediately and knew Greg would too. Real, approachable, and clearly inspired by the two of us on our honeymoon, he framed class around us and did so brilliantly.

The start of our practice was signaled by a single om and call and response to Ganesh, the elephant God who is the remover of obstacles.

Sweat penetrated my pants and sports bra. I was dripping and slipping on my mat but savoring Les’ words, cueing, and the warm air on my body. At one point, Les offered to let us use his phone to call our jobs and quit so that we could live more fully. I chuckled to myself and knew that Greg was thinking the same: YES, let’s do it!

unnamed-6Class was an invigorating and energizing flow. The instructor was jovial, light, and funny. I was present in my body and practice, celebrating each and every bead of sweat as a gift, and I found peace knowing that my husband was [hopefully] enjoying the class too.

After class, we befriended the women next to me: one a Canadian from Vancouver named Sandy whom has been living in Bali teaching yoga for the last year, and another young woman who is traveling the world alone who just arrived in Bali from some time in Thailand. We chatted about our love of yoga and lululemon—for Sandy will be visiting Singapore shortly and is eager to get her hands on some sweat-whisking garments, as everything in Bali is loose cotton. We bid the girls farewell and strode off in our yoga fog.

While class was amazing, the only Balinese people to be found at the shala were working the desk and cleaning the facilities. Which makes sense, considering my research and discussions with the Balinese peoples from across the island confirmed that yoga is an expensive unnecessary luxury [note, that to this Angeleno, a $10 class was a steal!]. This class and studio could easily be transplanted in LA and it would thrive; the familiarity of the cueing and flows felt like home. But more importantly, for the first time in the 2+ years I have known my husband, his interest in yoga has been peaked and he’s tantalized by it. So far, Bali for the win, folks.

 

You Set the Tone

The ending of 2015 and start of 2016 signified two awesome firsts for me: Teaching yoga on New Years Eve and starting off the New Year by working out.

On New Year’s Eve I had the privilege of teaching two yoga classes at One Down Dog in Silverlake. In the [almost] 4 years that I have been teaching group fitness I have always taught early morning classes but never in the evening. Much to my surprise, my classes were busy with eager yogi’s ready to ring in the New Year. These NYE yogi’s were something special. As a matter of fact the classes were just different all together. There was a lightness and jovial festivity to the tone that filled the room. The levity was contagious. People even smiled when I reoriented class so that we could practice in a circle. People made eye contact with others in class, people connected, people laughed. It was beautiful to witness, share in, and be part of. Sending off the year in some detoxifying and energizing yoga was just the way to bid adieu to 2015.

New Year’s Day, a day of continued indulgence and extension of the night before while getting in some serious TV time, spent lamenting the end of the holiday season as we start to remember that inevitably we will all have to go back to work [sigh]. Preemptively, the husband and I decided that we were going to do something we have never done on New Year’s Day: workout. We’d naturally eat and lay on the couch later. So, on December 31st, we signed up for a 10:45am workout at Orangetheory Fitness West Hollywood to hold ourselves accountable.

9am, the alarm went off. We turned it off, and went back to sleep. 9:45am, I wake my husband and we have a chat debating whether or not to go because ‘wouldn’t it be so nice to sleep in and lay in bed all day?’ 10:15am, we get dressed and head out the door because this workout sets the tone for 2016.

unnamedHigh from the endorphins coursing through our bodies, we left the studio chilled in sweat, proud that we rallied and committed to ourselves. I felt strong and alive and thought to myself, Now that’s how you make shit happen—not by saying it, not by thinking it, not by wanting it, but by doing it.’

2016 is my Year of Yes. I am through with the excuses and done wishing. Nothing I want in this life is going to appear by falling into my lap. Anything worth having requires that I put in the effort. Yes to me. Yes to my capabilities. And yes to my heart’s desires.

What are you saying yes to in 2016?

The Road to Success: How to Succeed at Keeping Your Resolutions

I have something very exciting to share with you all. Below you will find my very first blog post that I wrote for Fabletics, Kate Hudson’s fashionable fitness clothing line!! I am so thrilled to be a Fabletics Master as the company’s message, emphasis on community hosted events, and affordable fitness-wear align seamlessly to my core beliefs. Head on over the site, check out their amazing gear for guys and gals, and use this link by clicking here at checkout. OH! You will also receive 50% off of your first outfit, so get shopping!

To view the post via Fabletics, please click here. Otherwise, it is below for your reading pleasure, enjoy and Happy New Year!


 

The New Year is an opportunity for growth and fresh opportunities. Don’t let the year slip by without reading these tips that focus on writing down your goals, holding yourself accountable, and how to manifest your New Year’s Resolutions.

The New Year is fast approaching and you know what that means–it is time to declare a New Year’s resolution list! Often times, people use the New Year as an opportunity to reinvent themselves, interpreting that a New Year translates into a New You. Well, what’s wrong who you are/have been in 2015? If you didn’t achieve what you set out to do, you didn’t meet the partner of your dreams, or receive that promotion, that doesn’t mean the entire year was a wash. What 2016 requires is what 2015 didn’t have: Focus. As you welcome 2016 into your life, consider these tips to set yourself up for success:

  1. The Power of the Written Word

Words have power, but if our ideas aren’t translated into thoughts with a plan, they’re just ideas that reside in our heads and hearts. Get writing, get typing, get your ideas out of your head and put them onto paper or a computer screen.

Writing is cathartic and makes your thoughts tangible, which helps bring it to life. With a clearly defined sense of purpose and mission, you now can tackle your resolutions with gusto!

  1. Hold Yourself Accountable

You’ve written down your New Year’s resolution. Great! Now comes the tough stuff—actually making it happen. Start small. For example, if you haven’t run in 20 years since your high school track days, setting out to run a marathon may not be the best way to capture success. Instead, tackle your longer-range resolution by signing up for a 5k, then a 10k, and then a half marathon.

Don’t allow yourself to ‘just go with it’. Holding yourself accountable means you actually dowhat you set out to conquer, so join a run club, download a [free] training plan, train with a team/friend—do whatever you need to do to make sure nothing [including excuses] stands in the way of you and your resolution.

  1. Manifesting Your Goals

Suddenly, life sneaks up on us and we get caught up being busy and our goals seem to fall by the wayside. To uphold your resolutions, focus on getting involved in something by aligning yourself with like-minded people who will push you to achieve your goals. Be part of something bigger than yourself. To help you identify what your passions could be, ask yourself:

  • What speaks to my heart?
  • What am I doing to bring the things that speak to my heart alive?
  • How have I nourished my soul?

You’re on a journey. Your New Year’s resolutions should leave you invigorated and energized by life. But remember, in order to manifest your goals and truly bring them to fruition, you must have the courage to chase after your goals even when it seems challenging. After all, obstacles in our lives are merely opportunities in disguise.

Happy New Year! Crush those goals!

Arielle Miller, #FableticsMaster

Choose Kindness This Holiday Season

As we embark upon our time with friends and loved ones for the holidays, being present and kind is paramount. Sometimes we forget that when we are around people we love and are comfortable, things fly out of our mouths without much regard for the person to whom we are addressing. As someone who’s constantly in front of other people, presenting, interacting, connecting, and building relationships, I am front and center for constant critique of my attire and appearance. As someone with brightly colored hair, the misconception is I ‘must be cool’ [which if you know anything about me, I am super Type A, totally tightly wound, and the furthest thing from cool] therefore; this an invitation for unsolicited commentary along the lines of:

“Oh, you changed your hair.”

[Nope, it’s still the same purple its been for the last 3 years]

“I like [or don’t like] this shade.”

[Awesome, I wasn’t trying to make you happy]

“I like how your hair is fading.”

[I don’t]

“Oh, you’ve gotta dye your hair again, it’s fading.”

[As if I didn’t know]

“You have roots, when are you getting your hair done?”

[When I have time and can afford it]

unnamed-1
The fade is serious here and the struggle is very real
At this point it’s become rather funny. For the life of me, I cannot figure out people’s incessant need to talk about my hair. I guess people find me interesting, I don’t know. But what I do know is when my hair has been any other array of colors, I never received the kind of feedback people feel the need to constantly offer with my purple hair. And while I take it in good stride, I know that as a result of my work in fitness, friendly nature, and intimate proximity with people, that feel safe and comfortable with me. Ultimately, as a result, they perceive their discussion of my appearance as innocent. But let me point out, when people comment about my hair I know ALL of those things, people. I know my hair is fading, I know I have roots, and I am well aware that my hair is a bright purple. What I am perplexed by is this shift in society to openly pick people apart and comment on their appearance.

unnamed-2
Freshly dyed and feeling so alive
Recently after teaching one of my cycling classes, an employee of the gym observed,

“Dammmmmnnn, I never realized how thick your legs were!”

Immediately, my freak out meter was about to explode; my heart is pounding, and I can feel my face reddening. While I know his comment was not malicious and followed up with this person wanting to put muscle on his legs, my own insecurities regarding my physical-self felt very exposed.

unnamed-3I’ve put on some weight recently. And no, not because it’s the holidays and I’m stuffing my face with cake and cookies. And no, not because I am skipping my workouts—I have just gained weight and yes, it’s noticeable [and no, I’m not pregnant]. It’s noticeable in my yoga pants, in my belly, and in my face. I feel disgusting and like I am crawling within my own skin. So when a seemingly innocent comment about my body is made, I feel grossly insecure and even more down on myself.

Though my brightly colored hair and evolving physique is my own unique story with respects to how some people in this world interact, my goal in sharing this with you is to hopefully facilitate some compassion.

So your cousin hasn’t lost her baby weight. Your grandmother’s new haircut is atrocious. Your mom’s food isn’t really that good. Your niece’s new tattoo is ugly.

So what?

As long as the people you’re spending your holiday season with are people that fill your heart and bring you joy during this holiday season, why not just be nice? Keep your comments to yourself and remember; words have power, so choose kindness.

Instead, look for something positive in the people you’re spending your time with; maybe tell them how lovely they look, how beautiful the decorations in their home are, and even better—how grateful you are to have them in your life and to be spending time with them.

Life Happens, Learning Happens, + Life Still Happens

#30DaysofThankful with #TheGirlWithPurpleHair

Day 20: I am grateful for so much that I can’t keep up

If you know anything about me, you know I hate delivering anything other than the utmost of excellence in all that I do. So you can imagine that when I set out to tackle these 30 Days of Thankful and haven’t been able to deliver I have been left frustrated with myself for letting down my readers. I shared this frustration with my best friend Mali via text when discussing an amazing project she’s currently working on to help the homeless. Mali’s reply was:

Moving yourself to action is easy, moving others to act takes more work, but it has far more value. We all fall of our goals and life happens. You’ll get back to your blog and whatever you decide matters to inspire others.

Mali’s right. I can’t be too hard on myself and I also cannot make excuses. I think in some respects I deliberately choose to take on more because I enjoy being busy but because life is so much of a competition to me: how much can I do and not lose my mind? I think my outlook needs some tweaking though. The work I do on my blog, with my high school students, and as a fitness instructor isn’t about grand standing and showing the world how much I can do. It’s simply about being a friggen rad human.

unnamed
A recent gift from a former student who traveled to Paris with her family for her 16th birthday

Recently, my work with my high school students has started to really pay off. I am feeling more utilized as a staff member on campus and I am even presenting things to the staff too. My students and I are delving into powerful material and concepts and I leave work thinking that somehow, somewhere I helped change someone’s perspective, attitude, and trajectory in life. Just this morning, my father said to me, “if you change just 5 people’s lives in the duration of your teaching career, that’s more than most people can ever say in their lifetime.” For the first time in a long time, I am slowly starting to see all of the joy that exists within my day. I find myself thinking, well, I don’t hate today; so I guess that’s a good thing.

Students choose to spend their free time in my classroom during nutrition (a type of recess in the early morning where the children are fed) and lunch. We talk about life, fashion, boys, and even books. We laugh and we giggle, and I inhale my food while monitoring those students I am holding for detention whilst preparing for the rest of the day. The bustle and hustle isn’t glamorous and most days my hair is in a ponytail, my clothes are wrinkled, and I look tired, very, very tired. But in spite of the system, the bad apples, and my bewilderment as to why kids don’t do their work; there is so much for me to be thankful and grateful.

  • 12191817_10100835396316121_7387359616663759758_nMy honors students share stories of their lives and performed poetry where they were very vulnerable i.e. drugs, suicide, death, etc. They’re unafraid to be themselves and our classroom has become a safe haven where we pretty much cry together on a daily basis. Just yesterday after student performances of their poetry a young lady said to me, “I’ve hoped and prayed for a class just like this one my entire life. I just can’t believe it’s actually coming true.”
  • My students bring me little gifts and trinkets when they take trips or see something they know I’ll like. One of my former students brought me back a beautiful Eiffel Tower statuette all the way from Paris! Another gave me a My Little Pony key chain ‘just because’. But it’s not about the gifts. It’s about someone going the distance to show you they thought of you and cared enough to express that. I’ve gotten many gifts over the years but in the last year, my students have gone to such incredible lengths to show me that they care about me that I cannot help but feel like I am so much more to them than ‘just their teacher’.
  • They’ve started calling me their “School Mom.”

And for the first time in a long time, perhaps ever in my entire career I feel like most of my students understand what I am all about: Hard work that is made of an iron will and being a good human. As far as I’m concerned, you can have the best grammar in the world and if you’re a shitty person it doesn’t matter. While character education was removed from early education years ago, it’s completely non-existent [and perhaps never even existed in the first place] at the high school level. As it is, teachers are scrambling to teach the required standards and some feel going beyond the said curriculum isn’t their responsibility. But I see that differently. Coaching and building decent people with compassion and critical thinking skills is priceless in comparison to the Periodic Table of Elements. Equipping students with the capability to stand up for themselves in the face of adversity, be kind to others, and that their words have great power to enact change—well, that’s what it means to be a teacher.

So I guess my [attempted] 30 Days of Thankful really has been fruitful. It has given me some great insight into my work as a teacher. It has forced me to step back and look at the world I’ve created for my students and the new perspective has shown me that I am swimming in blessings. Each and everyday, regardless of the situation or circumstance; I must continue to seek the hidden joys nestled within my classroom for they do exist if I choose to see them.

Free Kindness for Everyone!

#30DaysofThankful with #TheGirlWithPurpleHair

Day 10: I am grateful for the Goddess in the Parking Garage

I am not going to bother discussing at length that there is a lapse in writing my Thirty Days of Thankful Challenge. But what I will say is the following: Grades are due at school. I will catch up. And grades are due.

Moving on.

While attempting to leave Equinox this evening, I locked my keys in the trunk of my car. Remarkably, I just said an expected “Shit, are you kidding me?!” But I didn’t fume. Hell, my heart rate didn’t even change. I’m telling you that after teaching children all day, teaching a cycling class, AND then taking yoga that I locked my keys in my car and I wasn’t even mad about it?! YUP.

I suppose one could chalk up my calmer disposition to the post yoga blissful high [ohmygawd, I see the most amazing colors in my savasana, but I digress] or maturity; but whatever it was, I didn’t even react to the situation. Simply, I calmly walked over to the valet and explained the situation. I inquired if I could pay for my parking and get a new ticket so I wouldn’t have to pay for the time I waited for AAA (Triple A) to rescue me. The nice woman working the desk made a note on my parking ticket and said it wouldn’t be an issue. We made small chit chat about silly things we have done and that was that. She allowed me to use their phone since I didn’t have cell service in the parking structure and within 15 minutes AAA arrived.

In 3 deft moves, my car was unlocked and I was headed home when the woman who signed my parking ticket showed up at the exit and said, “I’m just going to let you go this time, have a nice evening.” I was floored by the woman’s kindness. As it was, regardless of my car drama I was over on time and would have needed to pay but that didn’t matter; she met me with kindness anyway. While I didn’t even get the nice woman’s name and I am not even sure that I will ever see her again; I am reminded from our brief interlude that it doesn’t cost anything to be nice to stranger. I am looking forward to being able pay it forward because to be kind to someone else is the greatest gift one could give.