Lessons from School

Today was the official first day of the new school year. Though it wasn’t really a difficult day it seemed it. The challenge was the transition back into the school year from the summer work schedule which is so much more relaxed. I find during the summer months at work I have plenty of time to contemplate, to plan, and to reflect on every choice I need to make. Today, with everyone back and being thrown back into it, suddenly it feels like I am back to no time to think about questions, and problems, and solutions. Suddenly, from one day to the next, it’s back into the hectic high school day.

So I ended this day as I often do – taking a brisk walk in the woods behind my house. And brisk it was – that being one way that I often relieve stress at the end a day – bulling and jamming my way along the trail while my mind spins just as briskly trying to work through all the challenges of the day. I was about two and a half miles in before I realized what I was doing and reminded myself to slow down and take time to actually notice and enjoy my beautiful surroundings. Only seconds after this realization I looked up and there stood a yearling watching me from only about 10 yards away. I stopped and acknowledged her – inviting her to pass. She did not. I could hear what I thought was another deer in the woods nearby and asked the yearling if she were waiting for her friend. She did not respond. I finally decided she was waiting for me to pass, so I continued up the trail, turning briefly to watch her bound off into the trees, white tail bobbing.

There you go, I said to myself. Lesson learned. Slow down and take time to appreciate the world around you. Sometimes you have to get outside of your head to see what’s really important. That was the impetus I needed to shift my thinking and spend the rest of my trek thinking about my day in a different way. I asked myself what went well that day – what did I appreciate?

There were several things that came to mind. First was the student, who last year raced into my office, offering no greeting but instead a steady stream of complaints and an unwillingness to listen. We worked on that a great deal last year. I viewed each visit from him as a learning opportunity. Well, today he came into my room and we worked together and resolved his problem in less than 2 minutes. He went off politely and very pleased with the outcome.

I also appreciated a co-worker’s enthusiasm for his students and the program. Despite wanting to talk about more change on the first day of school, I must acknowledge that his heart is in the right place and I have confidence that his passion will allow him to come up with a great plan.

Thinking about the several people who are new to our school I value how they have been able to step in without hesitation and do an amazing job of helping the school run and serving our students well.

My personal goal for the year is to carry this lesson with me – to take the time each day to get outside of my head and the problems to be resolved and appreciate all that is right with the world.

A Sister’s Birthday

This is my sister Diane Colby Zaun D’Leon. Today is her birthday and she would be 58 years old. However, in 1985 she passed from colon cancer at the age of 26. While I miss her physical presence on a regular basis and think of her often, I continue to celebrate her birthday because it is a day that always makes me remember the joys of having her as a sister.

The three girls in my family were all born in July and we used to have group birthday parties with the family. We had two cousins who also had July birthdays so they often joined the group party. For many years my mother and aunt would take us all to the Highland Lodge in Greensboro for a special birthday lunch and we always looked forward to that.

Who would think that after 32 years one would still miss someone so, but I do miss Diane. She had the kind of loving and gentle spirit that is easy to get attached to and so easily missed. I am gifted with many opportunities to think about her and cherish every one.

Each year at the high school we graduated from, I make a presentation to a graduating senior in her honor and I think about the similarities I see between Diane and the recipients of that award. They are always other gentle and caring souls who I know will make a difference in the lives of others, just as Diane did. This year’s award was especially meaningful to me because it would have been Diane’s 40th reunion. During alumni festivities I knew that her classmates would be remembering her fondly. Looking over the photos from that weekend I see many faces of her friends from those years and can recall them together on the track at school, or trotting horses around the yard.

Daily I drive past our childhood home and see her hanging clothes on the line out back, or somersaulting across the front yard. And when I occasionally drive by the home where our grandmother used to live I am reminded of the many hours of fun we had there. Each fall we raked up leaves and jumped in them for ; we had family reunions there in the summertime, spending hours in the playhouse; we learned to sew and bake from Gramma Colby; and we shared years worth of traditions.

When I play board games with my granddaughter I am reminded of hours spent on the living room floor at home or at card tables at Grammie’s playing Checkers, or Chinese Checkers, or King’s Corner. Colby Diane and I laugh and tease one another just as Diane Colby and I used to do.

Occasionally I run into classmates and friends of Diane’s and I will forever see them as they were in their teenage years, worry free and enjoying life.

Today I am thankful for the 26 years I knew my sister. She was a strong enough spirit that over the past 32 years I feel her with me daily and I am thankful for that as well. She was a gift to many she encountered in her short life and I know that many of those people remember her with great fondness from time to time. And isn’t that a strong testament to a person’s spirit? To be remembered with great fondness is indicative of a life well lived. It’s not so much about the years in your life, but about the life in the years you have. Diane’s 26 years were full and well lived.

Happy Birthday Sister!

When You’re Missing Something

It has been months since I wrote an actual blog post and I miss it terribly. Not having time to write creatively has made me realize how much I enjoy that kind of writing. And how much I miss it.

So, today, as I sit watching the first storm of April 2017 outside my office windows, I’ve decided that I am going to take the time to do some free writing. My hope is that it will be today’s blog post AND that it will spark more regular writing, and therefore more regular posts here again.

When life gets busy the natural consequence is that you have to give up some things. With a new job, finishing my yoga certification, taking some courses, having a new grand-baby, beginning to teach yoga classes. . .it’s the writing that has fallen by the wayside. Throughout the last few months I have realized that I need creativity in my life. Creativity and the space to be creative.

In recent weeks some parts of my job have become particularly challenging and I found myself falling into some old patterns of negativity and angst. Both emotional reactions that can result in an overall sense of unhappiness. I know from past experience that in order to bring stability into my life a creative outlet is necessary.

It is the habits we cultivate in life that make us who we are and we certainly can cultivate negative habits as easily as positive ones. Any habit is the result of practicing that habit, therefore I will need to get back into a routine of regular writing. It is not easy to change habits because it requires a great deal of commitment, will power, and focus. Sometimes a mantra (“Just write” ~ “You can do it”) is helpful and making the time is essential.

Starting small will allow me some feeling of success and that will be a reward in itself. This is a time to let the ‘noise’ of the world around me dissipate ~ listening to the voices that say “not good enough”, “not enough”, “no one cares” will not prove helpful, so I will practice pushing the negative noises away and replace them with affirmations like “I did it”, “every voice is important”. In this way I am creating a sense of positivity related to the habit I want to increase.

To cultivate is to prepare and use something, so in order to cultivate the habits I want in my life I will need to dig, hoe, mulch, and weed as necessary to ensure I am providing the most fertile ground for the habits to thrive in. As the words begin to take root and grow that will be the encouragement to maintain the habit and return equilibrium to my world.

The Blessings of our Children

Lately I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my youngest son as he prepares to celebrate his 32nd birthday. At a recent gathering I chatted with a young father about his toddler and what he has in store over the next few years. This young man spoke tenderly of his excitement at the creativity and inquisitiveness that he knew his young son was about to embark upon, and his musings took me by the hand and down a path of reflections of my Asa as a young child.

Over his 32 years he has given me an abundance of precious moments, but as a toddler he had me laughing with not only humor but amazement, and crying with joy and wonder. In my walk down that reflective path I recalled the period of time when I was in graduate school and writing papers often. We had an electric typewriter, which three-year-old Asa was infatuated with. In between my paper writing, Asa would want to do his own writing, so I would make a big show of putting a blank paper into the typewriter and let him ‘write’. He would tap tap tap on the keys for several minutes, and then whip the page out enthusiastically while shouting “Read it to me, read it to me!” So, I would look carefully at his page of typographical gibberish and make up a story, pretending to read it as if they were words he had actually typed on the page. He sat spellbound, listening to what he believed he had created himself. Pleased with himself, he would want to write again, and again, and again. Each time, over several days, he fell for my innocent deceptions. And then one day. . .the tables turned. Again, he sat tap tap tapping on the keys, creating a new masterpiece. On this day he excitedly pulled the page from the typewriter asking me to “Read it, read it!” Again, I began to ‘read’ his story as I made up my own silly bit of fiction to entertain him. This time, however, he chubby little face looked so disappointed. I couldn’t imagine why this story, not much varied from so many others I’d made up recently should not please him. When I asked him what was the matter he blubbered, “That’s not what I wrote!” Oh, no, I thought. Now what will I do? “Oh my goodness, I guess Mommy forgot how to read, so you will have to read it to me,” I squealed. “I can’t wait to hear your story.” He hesitated, not sure he could trust me, while I held my breath, hoping he’d fall for this new deception. After a few seconds he took the paper, smiled confidently and began to read his story.

On occasion, Asa the toddler would have a spell of naughtiness – or perhaps I would have a spell of impatience – and I would send him to his room. He would get as far as the stairs and begin to dawdle, watching my every move. I would catch his eye and say, “You had better get going,” in that threatening way that only mothers can do. He would move up a step or two, every so slowly, still watching my every move. “I’m going to count to 3 and you had better be up in your room by the time I get to three,” I would threaten. Then he would take another excruciatingly slow step upward or just turn away as if he couldn’t hear me. That’s when I would begin the count. . .one. . .two. . .
And honestly, it was so comical to watch him that by now I couldn’t really even remember why I’d felt the need for him to go to his room, but a parent couldn’t back down could she? I couldn’t let him think I didn’t mean it, could I? “. . .and a quarter,” I would say, adding in “I’m almost there, you better get moving mister.” Trying to sound stern, like I meant it though at this point I really only wanted to avoid laughing out loud and blowing my whole stern mother act. “Two and a half. . .” And though I’m sure he knew nothing of fractions at his tender age, whenever I’d get to two and three quarters he would race up the stairs into his room.

Between the ages of four and five years Asa had a vivid imagination which included many imaginary friends. On one occasion when we were stopping at McDonalds I prepared to close the truck door behind me when he said, “Wait, wait, my friends aren’t all out yet!” At this point I was use to his references to ‘friends’ that I knew only existed in his mind, so I apologized and waited patiently as he ‘watched’ his friends get out of the truck and chatted with each one amicably. It seemed to be taking quite a bit of time, so finally I asked, “How many friends did you bring with us today?” His matter-of-fact reply was, “26.” Wow, I thought, beginning to wonder how it might go if he insisted on getting Happy Meals for all 26. He must has sensed my concern because he quickly added, “Don’t worry Mom, they already ate.”

These are only a few of the moments that make the years of child rearing the best years of my life. For me there were countless memories of raising boys that make me laugh, and cry, and feel so much pride that I’m sure my heart will burst from my chest. I think of these precious memories often, but especially now, as I wait to hear the news of a new grandchild, likely to be born on the same day his or her dad was born. Though it’s been 32 years since he was born, my heart is no less full of love and excitement at remembering. And this year my heart overflows with love and hope for this new blessing who is sure to bring Asa his own precious moments of parenting that will be with him forever.

I wish you the happiest of birthdays Asa and baby Smedley, and much joy as you embark on this new adventure together!

Yoga Certified

Wow! This journey of becoming a certified yoga teacher has been a fantastic adventure of learning, reflection, and camaraderie. Beginning in August of 2015 and ending August 2016, a group of 18 came together for one weekend each month to delve into the world of yoga. Along with that I found myself also delving deeper into the self, striving to better understand the inner workings that led me to this wonderful experience.


Like the transformation of caterpillar to butterfly, emerging from the safety of Heart Space Yoga and teacher trainer Andrea Thibaudeau has been a metamorphosis of sorts. We delved into the history and philosophy of yoga, anatomy, and dived deeply into ourselves, becoming more aware of all that we need to feel spiritually and physically complete.

My most powerful takeaway is that I already have within in me, as do all living things, what is needed to be fulfilled. To learn to trust your own wisdom is a compelling lesson – one that should not be forgotten or dismissed. As I move forward with newfound skills and knowledge I hope to instill this same teaching into the work I do with others. Another way of saying this is that each of us is enough, just as we are. At our core is perfection and when we take the time to look inward with awareness and a non-judgmental mind, we can see the perfection that exists within. Perfection does not mean without flaws or challenges, but rather that what we are is all we need to be. This does not mean we never change, because without change there is not growth. By looking inward we can recognize the challenges we face. Andrea often referred to this as ‘the rub’ – those things we encounter in life that make us feel a bit uncomfortable. These ‘rubs’ are the truths we want to access through self-awareness and when we treat them as opportunities to expand we can enhance our lives.

Moving toward my own expansion and a desire to bring the world of yoga and mindfulness to others, I am taking steps to creating my own studio and offering of classes. I am so excited about the possibilities, which are endless. To begin I have ordered the supplies I will need to teach my classes. . .

They arrived this week~

Whew! What a load of boxes! I was so excited that I poured myself a glass of wine and went to work making a celebration of the unpacking ~ and look how wonderful my props are~


My hope is to tie nature into my yoga practices and so I went for the natural, earthy tones and hope my students will love them as much as I do. More importantly I hope I will put them to good use helping others.

I immediately invited my husband to a little restorative session with the new props and I think he appreciated my experimentation. He certainly looked relaxed.

As I move forward on this journey I will be looking for places to offer classes. I have been approached by a number of friends and acquaintances, mostly in the 50-70 age group, and I am working on developing classes for beginners as well as restorative classes for those who need more directed relaxation and mindfulness time or those who have physical limitations.

I have added “Sweetwater Studios” to my menu bar on the home page of the blog, where readers can access information about Sweetwater Studios~Fitness, or Sweetwater Studios~Photography.

There is so much to be appreciative for these days, and so many who have, and continue to support me in my journey!

Namaste to you all!

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