The Lovely Life Line

Life isn't a linear line. It's full of zigzags, curves, twirls, and turns. Sometimes the line goes straight. Sometimes it goes backwards. Sometimes it goes lucky left. At times, it goes right to the right.

Every person has her or his own path. People have their own personal unique pace. What's right for one person may not be right for anyone else. 

Sometimes it helps to follow the example of someone else's path.  Sometimes life rewards us for carving our own through the bushes. 

I've learned through my own experiences that life is unpredictable.  I went into college with the intent to study Computer Science, but proudly graduated with a Sociology degree.   There were times I doubted I'd ever find true love, but it eventually found me.  In my experience, it has paid to be as prepared as possible, but that didn't stop my life line from twists, turns, detours, and derails.  I must say that I have been pleasantly surprised over the years, which I use to remind myself to always have hope.  I can't foretell the future specifically, but I know it'll be a great one.

Wherever your line may lead, know that it's perfectly fine. It's as the popular aphorism from Battlestar Galactica says, "Just because you don't know your direction, doesn't mean you don't have one."

What If a Lion was Convinced It was a Snail?

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." 
- Albert Einstein

What if I told you I was a lion?
At first glance
would you truly believe me?

In disbelief,
would you challenge me to roar
just to prove what I already know?

What if I was ever told I was a snail,
would it make me any less a lion?
Imagine if I was always told to crawl,
narrow my eyes down, and play small.

What if I knew I was a lion,
but everyone treated me
like I was a snail?
What if over time
I started to believe it myself?

Imagine the tragedy of being a lion,
knowing one was a lion,
but allowed oneself
to be convinced
that it was a snail.

How School is Practice for Life

To every single student in school right now, listen up!

I'm going to give you a piece of valuable advice that I give to all my students: school is training for the rest of your life. How you act and perform here will be an indicator of how you will be in your future.

How you do one thing is probably how you do everything.  If you consistently show up late to class, it sends a message to your teachers and future employers that this is what you will be like. However, if you show up early to class, then you'll probably show up to work, meetings, and all other appointments. Showing up early really helps make a good impression.

Turn in your assignments on time.  Meeting deadlines is an important life skill to have in any career.  Practice as much as you can now.

You'll also have to play well with your classmates. It's perfectly fine to discuss, ask questions, and give feedback to each other.  The teacher isn't the only person in the room you can learn from.  Collaborating with your classmates helps you work collaboratively with your future colleagues. 

Try hard now. If you work with 50% effort now, it tells future employers that if they hire you, you'll be hard-working 50% of the time and lazy the other 50%.  

The good news is that there is always time and room to grow. Everyone, including myself, has space for improvement. You know what your strengths are and what needs to be developed. 

This classroom is your gym. You yourself have to put the effort to improve, simply being there isn't enough. If you want to get fit, you need to physically run on the treadmill and actually life the weights yourself.  The same dynamic happens in the classroom.  If you want to learn, you must read the textbooks, complete the assignments, and do whatever you need to do to get the best grade you can.  

Being in school gives you a unique opportunity to explore and discover the world around us, its tremendous history, and the fascinating people in it.  It also gives you the space to seek out who you truly are.  Take advantage of it.

How an Unexpected Act of Kindness Set Off a Chain Reaction

I believe that every act of kindness isn't random, it's intentional. It's a deliberate choice to generously and selflessly do something for the sake of someone else. It's never random, just unexpected. When unexpected acts of kindness are given to me, I'm utterly humbled.

Last Thursday, I checked my Facebook news feed, and I saw this:

My friend Ana from the Tierra Dulce Shop wrote these kind words about Nourishment Notes and me. I totally didn't expect it. Right after I saw this, I had a huge smile on my face. I couldn't stop smiling for some time after. People say that a smile is contagious, so Ana's act of kindness probably started a chain reaction of countless smiles. 

Who knows how many people saw me smile. I wonder how many people couldn't help but smile when they saw me glowing from ear to ear. It's almost impossible to know what happened after that, but I'm sure it was good. 

Why the Unknown Future is More Exciting Than Scary

For most of the education world, Summer is the season of transition and change; especially August. College grads get their first teaching jobs, veteran teachers retiring, people moving, getting promoted, starting grad school, or switching careers.

This month I've had many friends making these significant life transitions. Many of them are dawning on new and exciting opportunities, not only in their careers, but also their lives. 

I am overwhelmingly excited for them. I envision nothing but bright futures ahead.

Change can be scary. I've had many significant life transitions myself in the last few years.  The thought of the unknown future holds the possibility of things going wrong.  Budget cuts, corporate downsizing, layoffs, and sudden illness can throw a devastating wrench in the gears. Anything could happen, even bad things.

On that thought, consider the alternative.  Anything could happen, especially great and extraordinary things.  With a positive attitude and enough determination, the chances of things to go terribly tragic will be slim.  Even if the road ahead does contain potholes, detours, and really bad traffic, having a positive outlook helps us manage through them.  Optimism guides us through the negativity and turns failures into life lessons.

The unknown future can be both exciting and scary, I choose to believe that it's overwhelmingly more exciting than scary. It's as exciting as we believe it to be.

How Listening is a Powerful Act of Kindness

Listening, really listening, to someone is a simple yet powerful act of kindness.  To actively pay attention and be mindful of what someone else is saying is a profound way of saying, "I care."  It says to that person, "I care enough about you to try to understand you. I'm sacrificing my time to see your perspective, hear out your ideas, and connect to how you feel."

Listening to others also tells them that they are valued.  It speaks to their hearts by saying to them that what they say matters.  Their experience is valid, even if they think that it may be dismissed by others.  Listening tells them that their lives are authentic. 

There are plenty of times during my day where I just want someone to listen to me.  It can be at home, at work, or anywhere in between.  It feels good to be understood.  I'm lucky enough to be surrounded by people who will invest a part of their day and energy to connect with me. 

Knowing all this, I make an extra effort all day every day to really listen to others.  I focus my effort and energy into being fully present with whoever I'm listening to.  In doing so, I employ my mind, ears, and heart in service to others.

Dear Friend: Congratulations on Your Wedding!

Dear Friend,

Congratulations on entering the sacred union called marriage.  The wedding is the ceremonial event that starts it off with friends and family.  It's a symbol for love, companionship, and happiness.

Marriage is the union of two souls bonded by love.  It is the agreement that there is less of "me" and more of "us."  It's a selfless commitment to someone other than yourself.  Matrimony is choosing to accept someone in her/his entirety; not just all the good, but also all the accompanying flaws.  It's someone accepting you perfectly for your imperfect self. 

It's deciding to boldly face the years ahead together.  It's pulling each other through overwhelming obstacles and pushing each other forward when giving up is a temptation.  You two will grow together.  Marriage is being a committed companion for life.

I wish you and your partner what I like to call "a lifelong honeymoon."



What Does It Mean to Be a Survivor?

Being a survivor is way more than what most people think. 

It means enduring obstacles and challenges that most would run away from.  It means moving forward with no consideration of giving up.  It means holding onto every strand of hope, not just for herself, but for others.  A survivor is someone who bravely chooses to endure pain and hardship for the simple sake of life.  It is being determined to thrive despite all present physical obstacles or limitations.

Surviving means being stronger beyond imagination.  It is being proof that she is stronger than she seems.  A survivor is someone who takes pride in every single victory, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem to others.

It's being a hero, a role model for everyone around her or anyone who might be in her shoes.  This is someone who stands with the weight of the world on her shoulders.  It's being rebellious to nearby negativity.

A survivor spreads love, hope, and happiness by simply surviving.  She serves society with her courage.  Win or lose, her existence is the ultimate symbol of what lies in all of us: the beauty and strength of humanity.

How Life is a Beach

  • It pays to be early (getting good a good parking space).
  • It's more fun with friends and family.
  • Come prepared (bring sunblock) or suffer the consequences (sunburns).
  • Sometimes the weather is great, sometimes it's not, it's beyond our control.  How you respond to it makes all the difference.
  • Playing is necessary.
  • Most of the time, the best way to get in the water (just like taking on any challenge) is to just jump right in.
  • Practicing patience (as in surfing or fishing) is important.
  • Focus on not letting the little things (like sand) make you upset.  It's not worth it; just enjoy the view.
  • Pay attention to the little things that may be hidden right in front of your face or under your feet.
  • There is beauty that can be seen from every angle.
  • The beach (just like life): there is absolutely nothing like it!

Why Making Mistakes are Absolutely Necessary

Like many people, I hate making mistakes. And like most people, I like being right. I like being right about facts and being knowledgeable in whatever I talk about. 

I also like making the right decisions. Being able to make a wise choice is gratifying. It's an admirable leadership quality. 

But I'm not flawless, I'm beautifully human. I make mistakes. Lots of them. Big ones. Catastrophic ones. Ones that hurt people. Ones I've had a hard time getting over. Mistakes that still occasionally haunt me. 

I've made more mistakes than I can count. I've probably made many mistakes I didn't even know I made. 

I can either dwell on my mistakes and head towards a downward spiral or use my mistakes as learning experiences. 

My mistakes make me who I am.  They make me human. They put me in touch with my mortality. 

The mistakes I make are learning life lessons that make me stronger. They are opportunities for me to grow. They have given me both wisdom and gray hairs.  They are absolutely necessary for personal growth. I shouldn't be afraid of making mistakes, I should be scared of not learning from them. 

How to Reinvent Yourself

Is there such a thing as a one-third life crisis?  I know that there are such things as a mid-life and a quarter life crisis, but I don't know if this is something new or just something I've never encountered before. 

It's a feeling of being in a constant limbo.  When it happens, mentally, emotionally, and physically I feel stuck.  It's like there is a haze between myself and the world around me.  I'm present, but not fully.  It feels like I don't have a clear sense of who I am.  At times I feel as confused about life as a teenager or as jaded as a 903 year old man.

I used to think that this feeling was wrong, and that something just wasn't right with my life.  Then I realized that it was normal, and more importantly, it needed to happen.  When I feel this way, I'm being broken down to be built up. 

For example, last week I felt frustrated with life.  I felt like my schedule was more in control of my life than me.  Feeling frustrated was my own way of authenticating and validating my emotions.  It helped me process my thoughts and helped show me what was really important to me in my life.  After that, it was easy to prioritize the people in my life over other small things.  I became more focused throughout the day, passionate about what was in my life, and happier with the people around me.

My subconscious self found a way to process the negativity out to let the brighter parts of me thrive.  In that transition, I defined myself.  That time and every time, I simply get to be the person who I want to be.  I can reinvent who I am anytime anywhere.  I can either be who I want to be or who I don't want to be; I choose the first option.  It's never too late for a new beginning.

What Every Teacher Wants To Tell Students on the First Day of Class

To All My Super Students,
This year, I have the absolute honor to be your teacher.  I am good at what I do, but I am even better at helping students achieve and succeed beyond their mental boundaries.  I believe that all of you can learn and achieve at high levels.  I have high expectations for you.  I expect excellence every day in every way.  I do not accept “ordinary.”  I do not cater to laziness.  I am an understanding person, but I do not accept excuses.  I want you to always be “extraordinary.”  I believe in what you can do, not what you “can’t” do.  I care enough about you to give you tough love when you need it.  I am relentlessly determined and committed to help you succeed, but you must put in the effort and meet me halfway.  I expect you to take charge and be responsible for your own education.  As much as I want you to succeed in school, I also want you to learn the knowledge, wisdom, and skills to live a good life.
Your Teacher