Turning Another Page

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2011 was a life-changing year for me.  I moved to Los Angeles. I started a life.  It was zen and magical.

But, 2012…2012 has been a year of challenges.  I was pushed, pulled, shaped, tested and contorted beyond reason.  2012 was a year of feeling completely lost.  Losing my direction and reason.  Falling to my knees before life and asking, why?  What? Where? Thinking: “I know I’m meant for more, but, sweet life, you’ve lost me…I’ve lost myself.”

But here I am, coming out at the end of it happier than, arguably, I’ve ever been.  I just can’t wait to see what 2013 has in store for me.  I won’t be praying for a calm ocean, but the strength required to survive a choppy one.  I want to spread happiness and positivity.  I want to change the world for the better.  I want to feel beautiful and thrive.  I want to practice at least one random act of kindness every single day.  I want to find my reason, my calling.  I want to be nice to people, because that’s what’s always made me happiest.  I want to find time to meditate every single day.

This post isn’t about what 2012 has been, but about the inifinte possibility that lay before us when we begin a new year – we all need a fresh start.

So, stick around.  I’m just getting started.

 

Happy, happy, happy, new year.

 

xoxo

– A

Gratitude for Every Little Thing

Every hour, magic hour...

Every hour, magic hour…

At this moment, I’m sitting at the coffee shop, completely exhausted from never nursing my jet lag, working non-stop,  and a total lack of sleep…and I’m so filled with happiness.  My life is filled to the brim with abundance.

I never imagined in a million years that my post about my promise to my students’ to meet Drake would reach as far as it did.  Not long after I’d posted the blog and tweeted it to Drake, an article was written about my promise with an excerpt of my writing (and a link to my blog) on Drake’s Official Fan Page. (Read it here)  Since then, my page has recieved thousands of visits from many different people and countries.  People I will probably never meet are Tweeting and re-tweeting my story with words of support.  My friends and family are offering words of encouragement.  And my students…..

Oh, my students.

They are the reason this all began, and without them, I’d never have the inspiration to push myself the way I have.  Their reactions -from frantic disbelieving phone calls, to the sweetest words ever written about me – are the reason I have done this.  As I lay in bed the night before last in the wee hours of the morning, too excited to sleep, tears streamed down my cheeks.  It’s all about them.  All for them.  And the happy tears I cried were tears that came because of the love they’ve shown me.

I don’t know where to go with this feeling, but I do know that I don’t want it to stop.  I want to keep this momentum going and keep spreading my story and my message to kids with less-than-perfect circumstances everywhere.  Actually, why stop with kids…I want to spread my message to everyone. I’ve felt so lost for so long, never sure of where I fit.  This is where I fit.  Now I need to figure out what to do with it. Life is full of infinite possibilities.

Yesterday, I wrote “We are the miracle we’ve been waiting for.”  I believe this to the core.   As a society so filled with negativity and detachment, we’ve been looking for a superhero so save us from ourselves.  But, we are the superheroWe are the solutionWe are the miracle.

I know this post has been a bit rambling, but I’m severely sleep deprived and a bit speechless, to be honest.  But, I’ve learned when we’re left not knowing exactly what to say, it’s important to say something – no matter how small.

So, today I”ll say, THANK YOU.  Thank you for making me feel full again.  I feel so much love around me.  I’ve never done drugs because I already know they can’t come close to beating a natural high, no matter how hard it may be to achieve.  There is nothing that could beat this feeling. This climb has been worth it, and I’ll continue my journey.

I never imagined that the biggest lesson I could teach my students would end up being the biggest lesson I could teach myself.

You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

 

Peace,

peace,

more peace,

and even more love.

 

 

– Ashley

“Everybody dies, but not everybody lives.”

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A few years ago, before I’d ever thought myself bold enough to make a 3,000 mile away life-changing move – in what seems sometimes like another lifetime all-together – I was a high school English teacher in an inner city school in Massachusetts. Two months after my father died unexpectedly, I knew that my life needed a change and new meaning (and above all, a distraction) and I accepted a job teaching. Some thought me crazy, in such a delicate emotional state, to take on the challenge of teaching high schoolers in a city, but the experience is one that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.

To express my gratitude for this time of my life would be almost impossible. These rough and tough teenagers became my lifeline. They got me out of bed at 5:45am every morning, whether I had the strength or not, and demanded that I show up for them. They forced me to hold back my tears for those 6 hours and act like I had it all together. While I mourned and grieved the death of my father, they helped me to feel whole again and to heal from unimaginable loss. They made me laugh until tears came to my eyes. Sometimes, I wondered who learned more – them or me. In quiet moments, I’d let them in and tell them about what was going on in my life at any given time, and listen carefully as they answered my problems with the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given. I always tell people: If you want to know the truth about something, ask a child or a teenager – everyone else considers your feelings before answering. But, with children and teenagers, you get bare boned truth – whether you like it or not. They, literally, became my children.

Needless to say, teaching wasn’t always a pleasant experience. There were days I left utterly defeated and broken. There were days I cried for them and the difficult things they encountered – unspeakable things I’d never wish upon anyone, let alone fragile teenagers. Their strength inspired me. There were days I cried because of them, and how difficult they could be.

One particularly difficult day, with a classroom full of 9th graders before me, in my fourth year of teaching, I gave up. I literally threw up my hands and yelled, “That’s it! I’m done.” After trying, without success, to get them to do as I’d asked amid their noise and refusals, I told them that I wouldn’t be bothering them for the rest of the class. To do whatever they wanted. They looked at me quizzically, wondering when I’d give them the punishment for not listening. They quieted down. Eventually, they felt badly for making me so upset, and we started talking. I knew that the lesson of the day was lost at that point, and let conversation flow the way they wanted it to. It went something like this:

Them: “Why should we bother with any of this, Miss? It’s stupid. We’re not going anywhere.”

Me: “What do you mean you’re not going anywhere?”

Them: “Uh, we’re not going anywhere. We’re never going to use this. We’re going to be living here forever.”

Me: “No. No, you’re not. You guys can do absolutely anything you want to. Anything you set your minds to and work for. Look at me…I know that there isn’t anything I can’t do. You guys could tell me to do the most impossible thing, and I’d make it happen, because we each possess the power to do anything. ”

Them: “Yeah, right. Prove it.”

Me: (Oh, crap.) “Fine. Tell me what to do and I”ll do it.”

Them: (lots of discussion going on out of my earshot) “Meet Drake.”

Me: (without hesitation) “Done.”

Them: “Yeah, right. That’s not going to happen.”

Me: “Uhhh yes, it is. It may not happen tomorrow, but someday, I’m going to meet Drake, and I will prove it to you… and at that moment, you’ll say ‘Wow, she was right, anything is possible.’ “

After that class, nothing tangible changed. They weren’t suddenly inspired and they didn’t decide that they were capable of anything they put their mind to. Life went on, as it always does. I woke the next day, went to school, and taught my lessons. But I hadn’t forgotten my promise to them. And I knew that somehow, life would help me fulfill it.

Fast forward, 3 years later, to today. I’m at work, running around like a crazy person, but loving every single minute of it, when in walks none other than Drake himself. I knew I had to approach him and somehow convey that I needed to prove to a bunch of high schoolers in Massachusetts that anything was possible and I needed his help to do it. I mustered up my guts, and I told my story. He was a complete gentleman. He shook my hand, introduced himself, and gave a small smile, pausing to take two photos with me. And in that moment, not only did I know I’d proven to my students that anything was possible, but to myself, too. Life, truly, knows no bounds.

Sometimes the best lessons we teach are those we can access ourselves at moments of personal weakness. This was the case today, as I needed badly to remember that I may be small, but I am capable of anything I set my mind to. It’s a big world, but we are bigger.

So…

Thank you, beautiful students, young people, our future, for teaching me so very much about myself and about what it means to matter to someone. Thank you for loving me and pushing me to work so hard. Thank you for still wanting to be a part of my life, so that, even now, 3 years later, I’m able to show you that I never forgot my promise to you, and I did it. Barbie did it.

Thank you, Mom, for always telling me (especially this morning before work) that I am capable of absolutely anything I want to do, because anything is possible. Today is a reminder of that, and I know I’m destined to grab this world and show it who I am.

Above all, thank you, Drake. Thank you for helping me prove to these young people, who look at you as an impossibility (and to myself) that truly, if we can dream it, we can make it happen. I don’t know if you’ll ever see this, but I have to put it out there in the Universe because your small gesture is actually not small at all, and it will come back to you.

To My Sci-Tech babies,

Here’s your proof. What now?

Live your dreams. Think of the impossible and make it happen.

I love you guys, so very much.

Love,

Barbie.

When Things Aren’t Going Your Way…

IMG_1104“If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place.”

                                                                                                                   – Eckhart Tolle

The Most Reliable Vehicle

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I have a secret to tell you. Do you know your very own amazing, perfectly created little feet can get you anywhere you need to go? It’s true. If need be, your two feet could literally walk you to from ocean to ocean if you really needed to. We were created that way – with a built in mode of transportation – and it’s glorious and amazing.
Sometimes, because we live in a crazy, busy, caught-up-in-meaningless-distractions kind of world, we forget how strong we are. How strong we’re meant to be. We forget airplanes, trains, and automobiles weren’t invented to get us from one place to another – they were invented to get us there faster.
But, I’ve learned that faster doesn’t necessarily mean better. Sometimes we simply aren’t meant to get somewhere before we’re supposed to, and an important lesson is missed. Sometimes we arrive before we’re really meant to. We forget the joy that comes along with the journey; stopping to smell a flower or to talk with a stranger.
As I was was walking a mile to get to my car this morning, cursing the drizzle coming from the sky and the fact that I might be a bit sweaty by the time I reached my vehicle, I at some point started to become very aware of my feet hitting the pavement and my breath quickening. I felt the blood rushing to my cheeks and the cool drops landing in my eyelashes and I started to enjoy myself. In the rain. I stopped contemplating flagging down a taxi to drop me at my destination. I started to delight and feel empowered and freed by the simple fact that I didn’t need a ride. I had a ride, and it was free, and better yet, it belongs to me.
If you need further proof of the joy and power in the journey, look at the sheer joy on a dog’s face when it’s taken outside to sniff the fresh air and run blindly in the grass, ears flapping and mouth open brushing it’s tounge on green blades. The dog delights in simply putting foot to ground and getting somewhere – anywhere, really. They aren’t concerned with where they’re going or how long it’ll take them. They revel in the simple act of running free. Our four legged friends are full of lessons in love, and life, and simple joys – this being one of the most important.
Yes, cars can get us to the places we need to go faster, but the strength that comes in putting one foot in front of the other (both mental and physcial strength) can sometimes be forgotten. So, the next time you find yourself having to walk a few more steps than you desire, in less than lovely weather, feel your feet on the ground and your body doing what it was meant to do – and feel the power and the possibilities that come along with that. And the fact that if you’d like to, you can walk yourself literally anywhere. You possess the only means you need to change your surroundings.