May 31, 2011

Going For It: Trust30 Challenge (Prompt 1)

Since December I have self-admittedly been a pretty terrible blogger. The new-ness of Colombia has worn off and I just don't feel like things happen on a daily basis that I necessarily need to write about. However, on the other hand, my roommate Kelsi has gone the other way and is becoming a more impressive blogger with each new post.

I miss that. That feeling of just writing it all down, because let's face it, we all have something to say. Even if no one is reading.

So when I read this, I knew it would be an awesome way to kick start by blogging again.

"To celebrate Emerson's 208th birthday, The Domino Project is republishing a work of art that's especially relevant today. Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson urges readers to trust their intuition rather than conforming to the will of the majority. #Trust30 is an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge that encourages you to look within and trust yourself. Use this as an opportunity to reflect on your now, and to create direction for your future. 30 prompts from inspiring thought-leaders will guide you on your writing journey"

Although the challenge officially started on May 31, I am going to use this long weekend (yes, Monday is another of those oh so lovely Colombian holidays where I do not have to go to school!) to catch up.

Here is the first prompt with my response. Enjoy and think about doing this yourself - you don't have to have a blog; just jot down your thoughts in a journal, on a napkin or talk to someone about it. Happy writing! :)


Gwen Bell - 15 Minutes to Live

We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other. Our age yields no great and perfect persons. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

You just discovered you have fifteen minutes to live.

1. Set a timer for fifteen minutes.

2. Write the story that has to be written.


Fifteen minutes, huh?

If I had fifteen minutes left to live, the story I have to write is not so much my story, because in the grand scheme of things I don't feel that important to the world as a whole.

No, the story that needs to be written is about something we spend hours thinking about, talking about, blogging about, obsessing about; that is --- what's the freaking point?

You know that quote, I don't know who said it and with fifteen minutes to live I am not spending time to look it up, but someone once said, "Life sucks and then you die." Sometimes life feels like that, you know? All of the thingsjust pile up and you have all of the feelings and it just seems like it shouldn't be quite so hard.

It's not.

Life isn't a crapshoot at all. Life is about the connections we make and the way we make them. Life is about the people in our lives for a moment, the people in our lives for a season and the people in our lives forever. So, with my last 8 minutes, here are my thoughts on the people who have been been the point, the ones who have made me stop wondering what the point is and instead, decide to just sit back and enjoy the ride.

1. To my parents for getting me here, literally and figuratively. The consistency of your love and support is unconditional. You taught me to find the very best things in myself, in others and in life, and then hold on to them.

2. To my brothers for teaching me what it is to care so much about another person's happiness and well-being that sometimes your heart breaks with the empathy you feel for another person. For making me into a better person simply because I am your big sister and I want you to be a person you can look up to.

3. For Ilse, for being my best friend, my better half, my sounding board for all of life's decision, my anytime & anywhere phone call, and a person who not only believes the world can be a better place, but a person who gets out there and makes. it. happen.

4. For Liz, Kate, Allison, Katie, Maria and Anna, who taught me that you can go anywhere in this world, but the people who truly get you, who can understand you, who don't need five different backstories in order to understand the current one, are few and far between, so find them and hold them as close to you as you can.

5. For Kelsi, who made me realize you will never be too far along in life to meet your once-in-a-lifetime friend.

6. For Alex, who inspires me to dream with an open heart and to go after what I want. And who taught me that some friendships are worth the growing pains to fight for.

It's minute 14 now, and you know the best part?I could keep going for another 15 hours with the people in my life who have made it all matter. That's something I don't think about everyday, but I should because it makes me realize that the emotions I express outwardly shouldn't be frustration with my students, sassiness with life, or anxiety about what happens next. No, the emotion I most feel looking back on 23 years and 10 months of life with 15 minutes to write about it is most certainly grateful.

I am grateful for all of it.

#Trust30 is an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge that encourages you to look within and trust yourself. Use this as an opportunity to reflect on your now, and to create direction for your future. 30 prompts from inspiring thought-leaders will guide you on your writing journey.

May 22, 2011

About Me

Recently I added some additional pages to my blog, one of them being an about me page. I sat down to write it this week in about ten minutes... thinking to myself, how hard can it be, after all, I know myself better than anyone, right?


Except an about me page is probably the weirdest thing ever to try to write. We aren't conditioned to write about ourselves, about what makes us tick inside, about what makes us unique, about why you should even read what I have to say in the first place.

I went over to my about me section on Facebook looking for some inspiration. Turns out that wasn't any help, because it was something I wrote during my senior year of college two years ago. I deleted it immediately and then realized I had two about me sections to fill in instead of just one.

I guess I could just leave them blank. Who needs an about me section anyway? Either read or don't read, right?

Then again, at some point, at some age, at some place in life, shouldn't you be able to define who you are without having to think about it for too long? I mean, what makes me ME, anyway?

There are some things I do know for certain:
  • Sometimes I wish I was one of those people who had one specific group of friends that held together through all the chapters of life. But when I think about the friends I have from so many different places and times in life - and the way they all blend together seamlessly when I bring them together, I am so grateful.
  • I am passionate. About living. About what I believe in. About the power of our choices. About being the best version of myself.
  • I will never be someone who travels full time or indefinitely. Minnesota isn't just a place I want to call home from ages 2-22, I want to call it home forever.
  • That said, travel will always be a part of my life. I never want to lose that sense of adventure or that awesome sense of excitement/fear that comes from going somewhere new.
  • I work hard to maintain my relationships and I demand the same in return. Even though I know it makes me selfish sometimes.
  • For all my skepticism and sarcasm, I want "real love, ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can't-live-without-each-other-love" just like Carrie Bradshaw. ;)
  • I make to do lists for the point of organization as much as I do for the feeling of being able to cross things off of them.
  • Whether we have been friends for one year or 20, I will remember your birthday. I will most likely send you something in the mail if I cannot be there in person. And it will get there in time. In fact, probably early.
  • I love my birthday just as much as I love everyone else's. So yes, if we are friends your calendar better have big circles around the date July 20. You don't need to plan me a party, buy me a present or do anything crazy, but you darn well better acknowledge it.
  • I don't forgive and forget as easily as I wish I could.
  • I have trouble showing people the side of me that doesn't have it all together.
  • I look at each of my younger brothers with an overwhelming sense of pride and unconditional love. I will never stop striving to be the very best big sister I can be to them.
  • I am scared of not having enough time with the people I love. If I could go back I would tell the 19-year-old me to call my grandma every single day I could have.
  • I love math, but I am a teacher first and foremost because of the relationships I have with my students. Every kid needs to know that they matter and they need adults in their lives to remind them of that every day.
  • That time when people are getting off work, heading home, going out to happy hour with friends, running errands, figuring out evening plans, putting some hot dogs on the grill with a beer in hand is my favorite time of day. It's like the "work hard" part of the day is ending, but the "play hard" part of the day is just beginning.
  • I love quotes, dramatic television series and long conversations with old friends because the idea that someone else has been there is incredibly important to me.
  • I want my relationships to mean something real, every day. Even if we don't talk every day or if we get busy and life happens. Even if we live in different places, I want it to mean something. I want it to mean that we will be there for each other, that we will support each other, that we will love each other.
Is this mess of haphazard bullet points everything you need to know about me? Is this what makes me ME?

In thinking about me here's the not-so-direct conclusion I came to. I will never be someone who can answer that question with the neat one paragraph answer I want for my blog. I am complicated in a million different ways. I am the sum (heyyyy math brain) of my experiences, my relationships, my parents, my choices and my life.

Going forward, I will change and stay the same in a million tiny ways every day, so here's what I know about me without a doubt.

Today matters. To me. For me. The choices, the attitude, the person I am. It matters. I matter. who wants to write a one paragraph "about me" section for me?

Could you write one for yourself?

May 21, 2011

Being A Teacher in May

This week I spoke with my mom for awhile on the phone and she asked me how school is going. I replied that my students have increased their ridiculousness ten-fold and are absolutely driving me insane a daily basis. She wanted me to explain further and I had trouble citing all the examples of the things that make me want to pull my hair out on a daily basis, because really, it's the little things.

Except when you're a teacher, the little things in May are the little things your students have been building towards since August. Therefore, there comes a point when you. just. cannot. deal. with. them.

These little things include:
  • Writing all over & inside of what were my brand new textbooks last August.
  • Drawing on my desks.
  • Asking to leave class because they forgot their backpack at lunch. (Really?)
  • Ordering in food for lunch and having their drivers (yes, my students are that wealthy) bring it to them.
  • Showing up to a test, quiz, or class in general and asking me to borrow a pen or pencil. On a daily basis. I swear my students' lockers eat writing utensils.
  • Asking me to move a math quiz so it is not the same day as an English quiz. Even though in three weeks they have five finals in three days.
  • Complaining about finals in general.
  • Taking a quiz, going to another class for 70 minutes and then banging down my door asking if I graded their quizzes yet.
  • Showing up for after school help because they didn't listen in class.
The list could go on and on, and yes, I realize none of it is terrible. But I am just sick of it and them. Yesterday, one class asked why I have been so upset all week. (Yes, they notice this) I told them it always happens this way, because of the stress at the end of the year. But then I said, don't worry I will like you again in June.

The student I was looking at said "You don't like me?"

"No, not you, everyone."

Another student asked, "Just our class?"

"No, the whole grade."

There is just so much to do before summer gets fact my to do list has been separated into four categories to accommodate for everything. Sad face. But like I said, I will like them again in June, it's just this hard time when there is so much to do before summer that I am not finding their crazy idiosyncrasies as amusing as I once did.

However, there's always THIS:

Which, May or not May, totally made me laugh out loud. At least my students are funny in their sassiness. Even if they obviously didn't learn about exponents.

May 17, 2011

A Weekend of Sun & Sand Fleas

Last weekend we celebrated Teacher's Day with a half day of school on Friday, so a group of seven of us took of right as school ended for the Pacific Coast. I have been to the coast several times before, but only to kayak, so this was a different experience.

After a three hour ride to Buenaventura, we hopped a boat to the coastal towns of Juanchaco & Ladrilleros and settled in at Hotel Palma Real for the weekend. This part of Colombia is extremely rustic, with very little infrastructure, so the fact that our hotel included a swimming pool, meals provided and air conditioning was a miracle. And one I was very thankful for more than once during the weekend!

Throughout the weekend we spent some quality time at the beach, playing games and hanging out together since most of the people on the trip are friends who will not be here next year. The beach, La Barra, was mostly deserted on Saturday, so we enjoyed spreading out on the sand, reading, playing lots of frisbee, having a few beers, and playing in the ocean.

View of La Barra beach from the slippery slopes of the path from our hotel.

Welcome to La Barra!

Of course Tara, Hana and I got a Coco Loco to accompany the 30 minute walk to the beach.

We arrived to the beach to find Caleb & Angie had constructed this lovely beach shelter!

Enjoying some beers oceanside :)

The weekend was not all fun and games, however, as I returned back to the hotel that night with more sand flea bites than I could possibly count. Upon arrival back in Cali I ended up doing some Google research on sand fleas and discovered the following in the first paragraph:

"You're sitting there reminiscing about your day at the beach. The water was perfect, the sand was bright and powdery...and now your legs are itching like crazy for some reason. Upon closer inspection, you notice a series of red welts decorating your skin. You have just been the unlucky main course at the sand flea buffet. These bites are rarely dangerous, but can cause discomfort for days."


So now I have two different anti-histamines to keep me from constantly itching. Supposedly the marks will go away in two weeks or so, at which time I can stop constantly wearing pants and looking like I just had a bad case of shingles.

Despite the nasty bites, I enjoyed the weekend of relaxation before the craziness of the next four weeks. Why is the end of the school year always so stressful??? I feel like there is so much to do between now and the blissful days of summer...yet all I seem to be doing with my free time is creating new blog pages, watching the Minnesota Twins stink it up, and making adult decisions like eating oatmeal for dinner two nights in a row.

Is it June 17th yet?

May 8, 2011

A Weekend at Club Los Andes

A few months ago I won a weekend stay for four at Club Los Andes during our annual school bingo fundraiser. A few of us have been wanting to get together for a bachelorette type party before our friend Angie is married in August, and this was the perfect opportunity.

Located about 45 minutes from Cali, the club is easy to get to and we were sitting poolside by noon on Saturday! Saturdays are never a big day for people to be out and about in Colombia, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves. This was nice because we relaxed a lot without having tons of people around, but also left us to fend for ourselves a lot.

Basically we spent our time at the wave pool (not as exciting as it sounds...), the water slides (definitely as fun as they sound!), catching up on girl talk, reading (Hunger Games series anyone? Can't put it down!) and bowling.

Angie and Tara at the wave pool.

Poolside photo shoot!

The time we went bowling and learned that I am terrible but Kelsi has crazy good hidden bowling skills.

Me, Angie, Kelsi and Tara

Velco, really?

Despite some mishaps like missing dinner for lack of knowing the restaurant schedule, the weekend was great. Tara and Angie are both amongst the group of teachers leaving Colombia at the end of school year and I know I will miss them a lot next year, so it was nice to be able to spend some time with them away from the craziness of school. This upcoming weekend we are also headed to the Pacific Coast to soak up some sun, so I look forward to many more sun-filled memories as another school year seems to be rushing to an end...
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