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200 Hours: A Yoga Teacher Journey Just Beginning

The last post I put up on this blog was when I started a 6 week self-study, called Empowerment and Beyond.  The author and facilitator of this self-study is the owner of the yoga studio I began to call my second home after moving to Towson, MD in August, Sid McNairy of Sid Yoga.  One of the instructors who’s class I took regularly, Gabby, messaged me on Facebook and encouraged me to consider doing the self-study.  After some deep thought about the things I really needed in my life, I decided to go for it.  Those 6 weeks taught me about standing in my foundation, giving up control, awakening the person I truly am, going with the flow and so, so much more.  The shifts I made in my life over those 6 weeks were immense.  I truly believed that nothing would ever change my life the way that program did.  I was wrong.

About a month and a half after I last posted, I was told about an opportunity to submit a video at an event the studio was having called “Living the Dream”.  The video needed to be about my  11084295_10100721556352418_3181494906246554483_n  dream of becoming a yoga teacher & would be posted to social media and voted on, in order to win a scholarship for a 200 hour yoga teacher training at Sid Yoga, with Sid.  I had been talking about wanting to become certified for almost a year, but kept pushing it off due to expenses and “what-ifs”.  Thanks to the encouragement of some of the amazing teachers at the studio, as well as help & support from family and friends I decided to go for it.  The event was a full day yoga immersion with classes and goal setting workshops, surrounded by the amazing People of Sid Yoga.  My video was posted and within 24 hours I received notification that I had won the scholarship (by the way, this all still seems immensely surreal to me).

“Now is your time to step up to the next level and begin your teaching! Get ready to go, this will be an awesome beginning to a powerful life.  Congratulations on being accepted to the 200 hour Sid Yoga Teacher Training program for Spring 2015.  You have been accepted to a program that will allow you to unfold and develop your true authentic teaching. Know this is a forever growing process and you are going to be a huge part of the community so get ready to go beyond where you think you are. This is truly a great opportunity to be empowered and empower others to reach new heights in the world.  We look forward to helping each of you establish a strong power within. Get ready for an amazing ride!”

That was the beginning of the email that began a life changing process for me. Amazing ride was an understatement.  200 hours: 10 weeks total, 7 weekend intensives, a second 6 week self-study, many sweaty classes, amazing lessons from awesome Sid Yoga teachers on fact vs. story, assisting, the art of connection, intuition, yoga philosophy, anatomy, nutrition, breath work, meditation – and, of course, endless hours of learning to teach a class – and not just teach a class, but to touch the lives of the people on their mats while teaching.  Please note, while this paragraph touches on everything I’ve learned … it doesn’t come close to doing this program10405546_10100763447791638_5207231932126493956_n or these topics justice.  

To be honest, there were a few weekends I showed up, felt tired, felt a little lost and every now and again a little sad that there were things I was “missing out on”.  The amazing power of getting clear, and surrounding myself with people who truly cared and supported me, helped me snap out of those moments and continue in my growth of finding the “strong power within” promised in that email. Every weekend proved to be an amazing ride.  Every weekend raised me up to a new level of me.  I left, every weekend, thinking there was no way the next weekend could top the last, and every weekend I was wrong.  I learned a lot of really important things – most of which weren’t out of books, but instead from experience and questioning those experiences.

My second day of teacher training, a passage was read at the end of class.  The passage was all about resentments and how “when we allow resentments to brew and fester, we send negative, mean, hurtful, spiteful energy to others”.  It read, “Remember, when we harbor hate, jealousy, or rage, we connect to others in ways that hurt us all.  Let’s set others free.  Let’s release our resentments.  Along the way, we’ll set ourselves and our hearts free, too” (Melody Beattle- Journey to the Heart).  I remember thinking to myself, “This is it – this is my time to let go of everything holding me12915_642958742503920_2441097372742970637_n back.  This is my time to let go of resentments towards myself, of resentments towards others – and just start over.  THIS is my time”.   During my 200 hours, every weekend, I did everything I could to grow out of resentment.  When I felt it, I acknowledged it and spoke freely about it – then Sid would ask me questions and encourage me think about it from other perspectives until I was clear from it.  He encouraged me to release the feelings of “I’m wrong for thinking this way” or “Others are wrong for acting this way”, and just accept whatever it was and continue on from it.  As frustrating as it could get sometimes, it was the most freeing experience I had ever been through.  To be able to say, out loud, how I felt and not be judged for it – but, instead, encouraged to grow from it … THAT’S what this training was all about. 

I’ve fought an inner battle of “am I good enough” for a large portion of my life.  Instead of being satisfied with an accomplishment I’ve made, I’ve always questioned if they were good enough and if I could do anything to make it better.  This training brought me to a place that helped me realize that everything I have done was supposed to happen, however it happened – and that everything I want to do, I can will to happen.  It helped me realize that I AM GOOD ENOUGH for whatever it is I want to be good enough for.  If I sent my mind to making something happen, if I put something into the Universe, it will happen.  I am good enough.  This training taught me self-love.  It taught me the importance of loving who I am, and taking care of myself so that I can spread that same energy to everyone else around me.  If I believe I am good enough, I can help others see that THEY are good enough.  I can help change people’s lives by helping them see their true potential.  I can do all of that by getting them to their mat and relating their practice to their lives.  THAT is what this training was all about.

I could go on for days – weeks – months – probably years about this training, but I’ll spare anyone who’s made it this far.  This training has changed my life … and there’s only more to come.  Need your life changed?  Consider this.

I’d like to end this entry the way we ended each of our training sessions (and the way I end all of my days now)- with gratitude.   

  • Thank you so much to Sid for the amazing space you have given us to practice and learn in every day.  Thank you for taking time out to teach us all of the amazing lessons we have learned over the last 10 weeks.  Thank you for showing me how to open my mind and learn from my past, in order to grow for my present and future.  Thank you for believing in me and seeing something in me that I didn’t see in myself.  Thank you for believing I was good enough, and teaching me to see it in myself.  Know that everything you have shared with me has landed and will come with me everywhere I go.  Your book, your classes, your lessons, your words and your energy have changed my life in a way I never thought possible.  Thank you for being you.
  • Thank you to Liz and Gabby who both encouraged me to go for things that I probably would never have done on my own, from Empowerment & Beyond to Teacher Training.  I have admired the both of you since I started coming to classes at the studio back in September, but I had no idea how you would both change my life.  I can’t thank you both enough for your motivating and inspiring classes, the words you have shared with me, and your endless encouragement. Gabby, Empowerment & Beyond wasn’t even a thought in my mind before you reached out to me on Facebook.  I didn’t think I was in a place in my life to do it, but you did.  That recommendation has taken me on a path that I didn’t even know could exist for me, and I feel so blessed to have met you.  Liz, to know that I now have the ability to learn more from you as a mentor is even more of a surreal feeling than I can describe.  You were the one who told me about the video entry for Living the Dream, and if it weren’t for that I probably never would have gone for it.  I am so glad that I get to learn more from you, and I can’t wait to see what is to come.
  • To all of the additional teachers who came in and hosted workshops and spent their weekends with our teacher training group, know that each and every one of you holds a special place in my heart.  Diana, your energy, smile and laugh are infectious – and I am so grateful we got to spend so much time with you over training.  I will never forget to “fully commit, or get out” because of you – and hopefully my assists are great because of it🙂.  Jackie, you are the queen of “tell it like it is” and being real.  I admire you, so much for that and I am so grateful for all of your advice throughout training (on life, and training).  David, my quest to end the banana back truly appreciates your anatomy weekend🙂 – thank you so much for everything you brought to us!!  Crystal, I really appreciate the time you spent with us not only for philosophy weekend, but also in regards to nutrition.  I am so grateful for your words, your kindness and your understanding and your ability to help me grow in ways that I have been stuck for a long time.
  • I’m so grateful for all of the other teacher trainee programs we intersected with – Phase 2, and 300 hr.  Getting to know each of you was a blessing and I’m loving following all of your journeys!
  • To my fellow teacher trainees, Nate, Lisa, Basirah, Emily, Anna and Angela (we love you).  Each and every one of you brought something amazing to our group, and I have learned something from all of you throughout these last 10 weeks together.  I am a firm believer that we were all placed together for a reason, and I can’t wait to see where this takes all of you (I know for sure I’ll be visiting Kentucky and California sometime in the not so distant future).   The endless laughs from this group made it so easy to be around you every weekend – between awkward assist learning, crow-time go-time (Emily, you better copyright that haha), endless expressions of food cravings (Nate & Lisa),  Tinkerbell moments (Anna), and so many more moments – I am so grateful for all of you.  Thank you all for being you, and accepting me – this training wouldn’t have been the same without all of you.
  • To my amazing friends, (especially my beautiful big sister, Kate) thank you for understanding how important this was to me and accepting me missing out on some big things so I could complete this.  I’m so, amazingly lucky to have friends, who are more like family, like you in my life and please know I will make it up to you🙂.
  • To my family, immediate and extended, who were an endless support system throughout all of training – I’m not sure there are appropriate words I can use to express my gratitude for the actions and kind words you have shared with me during this training.  My love for my family grows more each and every day because of all of you❤ .

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More to come as my journey continues…

This is my life… In progress.

 

 

 

 

 

Overcoming Life’s Brick Wall: Insecurity

“In order to go forward in life, your foundation must be built with balance and security.”

– Sid McNairy

“Empowerment & Beyond”

On a daily basis, the amount of people who make choices based off of what other people may think about those specific choices is remarkable.  Those choices can be about varied items; what to eat, how you dress, what your hair looks like, the type of music you listen to, or the way you respond to certain things.

This is more of a personal post, and I hope that what I share helps someone else see this in them, which in turn helps them grow from it.

screen-shot-2013-03-28-at-1-23-47-pmI’m currently embarking on this 6 week self- study journey, called Empowerment & Beyond, at the yoga studio I belong to (Sid Yoga)- and I’m coming to a close of my first week.  The chapter that I read this week has left me questioning a lot of things about how I see myself – which is what has led me to this post.

Where do insecurities come from?  Constantly, we blame other people for how we look at ourselves.  We say things like “the media designs societal expectations” and “people say things that hurt our feelings and make us feel badly about ourselves” – which, is all true.  The thing that we don’t often think about is how we can overcome all of that – how we can bypass all of the negative words and messages and just be happy with who we are.  It IS possible.  It’s terrifying, but it’s possible.

I have LOTS of insecurities.  I continuously worry about what my hair looks like (..it’s REALLY thin on the sides – like, REALLY thin, and I’ve always tried to hide that), I worry about my body type (..the way I look has never been good enough- ever), I worry about saying things that are going to sounds stupid in a room full of people (..what if it’s just not good enough?).  That’s just a few to name – I could go on for days.

During the last week I’ve made a pact with myself to fight the fear of what other people will think, and just allow myself to be comfortable in my own skin.  For the first time in almost 5 years (if not more), I allowed myself to go workout AND go to work with my hair pulled up, with no headband on – hiding the fact that my hair is the way it is.  I’m sure some of you have no idea how terrifying that is for me – especially because it adds to my fear of my body image … but, it has been TERRIFYING.  The fight that goes on in my head about what people are saying ab1493out it is a rough one (Will people think less of me? … If they thought I was pretty, do they still, etc.) … BUT the point is, that I’m doing it.  As human beings, we’re creatures of habit – and once you make something a habit, you adjust and it becomes the new normel.  So, while this is uncomfortable and nerve-wracking now, maybe one day I will adjust – but, I’ve got to start somewhere, right?  I’m hoping that this little (kind of big) step for me will lead me to being brave about other things.

My point in sharing this goes back to the quote that I typed out at the top of this entry, “In order to go forward in life, your foundation must be built with balance and security”.  I started thinking about the fact that if I’m going to let little insecurities hinder me, like what my hair looks like, how am I going to make the bigger decisions in life?  How is that forming a good foundation … for myself, or for my future?

When we’re younger, we have the mindset that we can overcome anything – that we’re invincible – and, as we grow we allow things to poison our mind.  Last night, in a class, my yoga instructor said that as females we must work on lifting ourselves up and making ourselves stronger – which reminded me of this video #LikeAGirl by Always (if you haven’t watched it, you MUST – I hyperlinked it, which makes it SUPER easy for you). Taking in the empowerment statements made at the end of class last night, plus watching this video, and participating in the self-study just goes to show that there are so many things we can be doing for ourselves to ring out the negativity and help us let go of the insecurity.  The word used constantly at the studio for a life change is “shift” – and I’ve decided that I’m ready for a shift in life.  I’m ready to stop being so concerned with the noise and start being content with who I am – all of me – and where I am, at any given point.

It may not happen in a day, but I’m beyond ready to knock down my own brick wall of insecurity – and I challenge everyone else to do the same.  It’s up to you – and only you.

This is my life… In Progress,

-Kristin

“Winter Cleaning” – How To Rid Your Life of Toxic People

Have you ever found yourself questioning a personal relationship with someone – or multiple people – in your life, due to a shift in who you’ve become?  You, all of a sudden, see someone for who they truly are – in a different light – and realize, it’s not as pretty as you had once thought?  It’s one of the most interesting things in my life that I have begun to analyze – and, quite recently, it’s been happening a lot to me.  When I find lessons being learned in my own life (based on personal experience), I usually feel the need to offer them up to other people, in hopes that it gets their wheels turning.

Today’s lesson being shared: How to see those toxic relationships, acknowledge them, learn from them, and move on to more positive relationships (you know, the one’s you’ll actually benefit from).

1. Listen To How People Speak About Others :

7b7ec8dd74741c27ddef8aa066be9c54Have you ever been in a room with someone you think is going to be a positive influence in your life… someone you find yourself wanting to learn things from… and all they do is bad mouth the people around them?  Know, in that moment, the best lesson you can learn from them is what a toxic environment feels like.  People who CONSTANTLY bad mouth others are toxic people, and often, not happy – and, let’s be honest – who needs that in their life?  Trying to build others up by knocking other people down is doing nothing but forming a negative environment.  I learned this the hard way.  I’ve been that person who sits in a room, listens to the negativity and due to craving the attention of those people (who I thought could help better my future), I feed into it.  I have been that person who has felt the negativity so strongly that I turned into that type of person.  Lucky for me, I have allowed myself to grow from that and realize that in order to get places in life – negativity is NOT the key.

Take Away:  You may have to work with these types of people, or live with these types of people – but it doesn’t mean you have to BE that type of person.  People who badmouth others to make themselves feel better about who they are are toxic people.  Work with them, live with them (if you must) – but don’t take it to heart … don’t become that type of person.  Let it go.  Take what they say and how they say it with a grain of salt, and move on to the positive people and moments in your life.

 

2. Live Your Life – Embrace The Mistakes & Stay Positive:

You will rarely find someone that thinks exactly like you, because no two people are exactly alike.  I mean, that’s what makes life interesting, right?  Everything that you do, or say is done and54400671605f9725e98f83ff85a5a0aa said because it’s what YOU want to do or say.  Other people may not agree with the way that you live your life – but, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Some people (healthy people to have in your life) will hear you out, let you try things out and offer friendly advice.  Toxic people will continuously be negative if they feel differently about something.  In those moments remember that it is YOUR life – and that if YOU feel what you are doing is right, then for you – it is.  Sometimes, mistakes are made and lessons are learned – but, that’s what helps us grow.  Put in your head that mistakes are made to form growth opportunities – they are made to help you learn more about yourself and the world around you – they CAN be a positive thing, as long as you learn from them and apply what you’ve learned.  Toxic people will always look at mistakes as a reason to badger people and bring people down.  Let them be the negative ones, but don’t let their negativity keep you from living your life and being happy in it.

Take Away:  Plain & simple – Live your life for you … and embrace every moment. Be proud of what you accomplish, and brush off the negative comments.  Life will only be as good as you allow it to – and no one else should have a say in that.

 

3. Don’t Take Negativity Of Others To Heart – Shift The Way You Think:

Growing up there was that lovely phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” – remember that?  Remember saying it to kids on the playground, and still feeling hurt 5eb3cbc6ad13f82658f9252c6fc1c8d0anyway (but you were REALLY trying to convince the bullies otherwise?).  As we grow (or, at least as I grew up), you find it harder and harder to ignore things that have been said about you.  You find them eating at you and thinking, “why would people say things like that – ESPECIALLY when they don’t know me OR the whole story?”.  There have been so many times in my life when I felt down on myself because of what someone else thought, or said about me.  In the past those statements have brought me endless anxiety, sleepless nights and the constant need to work harder to prove people wrong.

Over the last few weeks (really, last few days) I’ve had this revelation (that I wish I had a LONG time ago).  People are going to say what they want, they are going to believe what they want, and they are going to treat you how they want (especially if it makes them feel better about themselves) – but it’s up to YOU what you do with all of that.  Personally, I’ve decided that negativity no longer has a place in my life.

Take Away: Challenge yourself to counteract the thoughts and actions of naysayers.  People are going to say, do and believe as they wish but it does NOT have to ruin you or your life.  What people say, do or believe does not change who you are.  Be the positivity in your own life – surround yourself with people who lift you up, and those that are consistently negative will virtually seem nonexistent.  Free yourself of the negativity.

 

So – with all of that being said, as you begin to see people in a light that you view as toxic … if you see that those people are bringing nothing but untruths and negativity to your life … free yourself of them.  Life is too short to be presented with people who are trying to bring you down. 

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This is my life… In Progress,

-Kristin

5 Life Lessons Learned from Yoga – A Reflection On 2014

For those of you who know me well, you know I’ve been on a yoga journey for exactly one year.  At the start of 2014 I decided to start teaching myself yoga with the use of some iPhone / iPad apps (Yoga Studio is STILL my favorite).  Once I got comfortable with the basic stuff I started taking classes, which ultimately led to my fascination with hot yoga.  While my practice hasn’t been 100% consistent, I’m proud of the journey I’ve taken (and where it’s taking me) and extremely grateful for the things it has taught me.  Yoga, for me, turned from “an additional workout” to a way of life.  I found myself consistently thinking about the passages read in certain classes, or the advice given by instructors and not only applying to them to what I was learning in classes, but also to my life.  These are some of the greatest points I have applied to both my practice AND my life, that I thought I’d share with you today:

v3121) “Send your breath to the struggle”:

In yoga, we are consistently learning new asanas that may be a little difficult for our body to get into. Naturally, when that happens, we tend to hold our breath and focus on the struggle, instead of focusing on our breath and allowing our body to release into whatever pose our body is taking.  By focusing on our breath, you can actually send your breath to the area of struggle and a release will eventually happen.  Focusing on the breath allows our bodies to relax, which in turn allows our bodies to trust us and fall deeper into the asana.

Life Lesson:  We all deal with daily struggles.  Every one of us deals with something different and we all deal with them in a different way.  Send your breath to the struggle.  By focusing on your breath when things are going wrong, we can help adjust our mindset and refocus.   This year I have gone through so many personal struggles, and I haven’t always been the best at taking a deep breath and refocusing – but, this is something I’m working on.  If I can do it in class, why not apply it to life?

2) “Respect where you are today”:

In yoga, some days your body will bend and twist in ways you never thought possible – and other days, those bends and twists will seem impossible.  Instead of getting angry and frustrated, respect where your body is – live in the moment – and remind yourself that tomorrow is another day.

Life Lesson: Some days you wake up on top of the world, and some days you wake up and feel like the world is attacking you.  We’ve all been there.  Nothing is going right, you’re wondering where bad karma is coming from and you get frustrated.  Think about all of the bad moments in your past, how you’ve gotten through each and every one of them, and are here today – in this moment. Instead of letting it completely ruin your day, work as hard as you can, know that you did, respect where you are and know that tomorrow is another day.

3) “Sometimes, you just have to laugh at yourself”:laugh

This little tid bit brings me back to me days at Yogi Power Yoga in Sewell (shout out to all the 5:30 am yogis!).  This was the place I experienced my first hot yoga classes, and fell in love with it.  There were PLENTY of days where my warrior was NOT so strong… my tree branches were totally “Swaying in the wind”, or my crow was a total faceplant … and I would giggle it out.  Instead of being reprimanded, my laughs were embraced.  I didn’t let the fact that the pose I could do so well yesterday, which was a COMPLETE and epic failure today, get to me in a negative way.  I would say “touche body, touche” and try again – and laugh some more.  Since then if I’m in class and my balance is way off or my flow is completely messed up – I laugh it out, I smile, and I move on.  IT’S OKAY TO LAUGH AT YOURSELF.

Life Lesson: Short & sweet – We all do dumb things every now and again, but what’s the beauty of life if we can all laugh at ourselves and share our hilarity with the people we love the most?  I thank God every day for that AM crew at Yogi Power, and all the amazing instructors, who taught me it was okay to laugh at myself.  I embrace that now – in every aspect of my life.

4) “If you feel tension, let it go”:

Often in classes you’ll be reaching for your toes, or headed into some other asana, and your neck or your shoulders, or something else tenses up.  Good instructors will always make it a point to tell you to relax your shoulders and relax your neck and find the tensions and just let them go.  I used to find myself thinking (and still do sometimes)… “How does one just “let it go”?  If I knew how to stop feeling this terrible tightness in my body, obviously I would do it!” – But then, with some focused breathing and deepening into my practice, it happens.  Maybe not all at once, and maybe not the first time around, but eventually it happens.  When it happens, it’s one of the best feelings ever.   You drop your shoulders, you find your drishti (focal point), and your body will allow the tensions to release.

Life Lesson: Tension is caused by SO MANY ASPECTS of our every day lives – relationships, money, work, health, etc.  While it’s not always easy to “let go” of all of those things, it is easy -and beneficial- to find your (metaphorically speaking here) drishti and release the tensions.  So often we spend so much time worrying about things that are toxic in our life, instead of focusing on the positive things.  By “letting go” of the negative things in your life – the tensions – you are able to focus on the good and grow from those moments.

Last, but certainly not least…

5) “Never compare yourself to the people around you”:

This has taken me a REALLY long time to learn – and, at times, I find myself having to remind ..well, myself.. not to do this.  I have been to so many amazing studios with so many amazing instructors (a lot of which I will list below in case anyone is looking for great yoga classes in Jersey / MD) who have driven this point home over and over again.  Your practice is yours, and their practice is theirs.  What they do should have no bearing on what you’re doing – unless, of course, it’s for inspirational and motivational purposes.  The person next to you may be able to bend and twist and invert – maybe they can do all three at once – and maybe you can’t … YET.  Respect your practice, respect your journey – and yes, recognize theirs – but, never compare.

Life Lesson: I mean, I’m pretty sure this one is self explanatory, but here it is.  In the wise words of Dr. Seuss, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You”.   Compare yourself to no one but yourself.  They are them, you are you.  EMBRACE YOU.  Be proud of who you are, be proud of where you are, set goals and go for them – and be proud when you accomplish them.  Use other people as inspiration and motivation to get to where you want to be, but NEVER get down on yourself because you’re not where someone else is in life.  Your journey is your own.  Respect your journey!

My Journey So Far:

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In Jersey or Maryland and feeling like you need some yoga therapy in your life??  Here are some amazing places to go:

Central Jersey:

(I have taken Sam’s class multiple times and LOVE it!!)

South Jersey:

(I never had a bad instructor here – ever … Lynette(now in FL), Shannon, Marisa, Lindsey, and Piera)

South Jersey / Philly:

(Justin Reilly’s classes are AMAZING if you’re looking for a challenge and to grow!!)

Maryland:

(Ali’s class brought me back to my practice when I moved here – love her!!  Sid and Sid IV’s classes are both so awesome and challenging!  Ken, Gabby and Liz and Nilvis also rock as instructors

… so, basically, I haven’t taken a bad class here – ever.)

This is my life… In Progress,

Happy New Year Everyone!!

-Kristin

Mentorship: What Doc Emmett Brown & Mr. Miyagi Have Taught Me

All of you higher education professionals out there… have you ever found yourself sitting down and talking to a student about something REALLY important and offering up advice that you should PROBABLY be taking in your own life, but aren’t?  If you said no – congrats … maybe one day I’ll get there, but today – this post is dedicated specifically to just that.

Last week, I found myself doing just that.

Funny enough, I also came across this quote by the great Steven Spielberg, “The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves”.

I found myself questioning my mentor skills because I was offering advice that I wasn’t (at the moment) taking myself.  It wasn’t until I saw the Spielberg quote that someone posted that I started talking myself down from my self-proclaimed hypocritical head-spin.

Amidst the head-spin, I found myself questioning what it was to be a mentor.

Looking around today’s world there are so many ways we can mentor those around us. To use examples most people can relate to I’ll use some popular movie character mentor references (who doesn’t love movie references?).

  • Mr. Miyagi mentored the Karat Kid by using the “I say, you do” method.
  • “God” from Bruce Almighty uses the “I’m going to teach you a lesson you’ll never forget” mentor method.
  • Can’t forget the Dewey Finn (School of Rock) mentor style, which basically informs people to “fight the man” and get angry.
  • On the opposite end of the spectrum, we’ve got X-Men’s Charles Xavier  who uses the “we can be the better men to improve the world” mentor style.
  • …And what about Batman’s Alfred, using the “we fail so that we learn to succeed” mentor method?
  • The incredible John Keating (Dead Poets Society) mentor method of “seize he day and make your lives extraordinary” can never be forgotten.
  • For those Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fans out there, Splinter teaches us with his mentor style to use our minds, not our bodies, to succeed.
  • Lastly, we’ve got Doc Emmett Brown, who showed us in Back to the Future that you can be totally MAD and still make a difference and mentor a kid.

WaxOnWaxOff

What’s my point in all of this, you ask?

(Maybe you don’t- but, I’m going to tell you anyway)

There is NO SPECIFIC WAY to be a good mentor.  There is no handbook to follow and no directions to follow.  I know using movies and characters as examples can seem a little far fetched to some people – but, think about it.  Just like every movie listed above is different and every character is totally different, every student you deal with is different.  Each student learns a different way.  Each student has experienced different things in their lives, and therefor no two students learn the exact same way.

The more I thought about it, the less guilty I felt for offering the student advice that I wasn’t taking in my own life.  Why?  At the time, she needed to hear it, she was benefiting from it and she wasn’t asking what I WAS DOING, she was asking what SHE SHOULD DO.

A good mentor is honest, up front and encouraging.  The delivery method – where, when and how, will always vary.  I look back at all of the people I consider to be mentors in my life and no two were the same, no two spoke to me the same way – and yet, their teachings stay with me.  As long as you know that you are doing everything in your power to help that student grow and get to a better place, you are doing all you can do.

I have only been a professional in higher education for about 3 months, but I have learned more about myself (and students) than I thought possible in that amount of time – and I can’t wait to learn more.  I may not be a Doc Emmett Brown  or a Mr. Miyagi – but, I am determined to make a difference in student’s lives the way my mentors have in mine.

This is my life …  In Progress. 

Anyone Can Make An Impact On Anyone

Every morning I wake up to two quotes from different apps – one from “yoga quotes” and the other from “quote of the day”.  Sometimes I feel like they have nothing to do with my life, and probably never will.  Today’s, however, fit in perfectly with a recent occurrence in my life – which inspired me to write about it.

The quote: 

“Not only can you not plan the impact you’re going to have, you often won’t recognize it when you’re having it.”

Last Tuesday, I received a Facebook message from a student who worked at the Rec Center at Rowan University.  Although I was a G.A at the Student Center, I taught Zumba at the Rec Center and worked out there fairly often.  I met so many awesome, driven, inspiring and motivating students, GAs, and professional staff there.  I was lucky to be surrounded by such awesome people throughout Rowan.

image This one student in particular was a huge motivator for me.  CONFESSION: I was a cardio addict –  teaching Zumba 5-6 times a week, running on occasion, obsessed with the elliptical … that was me.  I barely touched weights and hardly dabbled in strength training.  Truth be told – I was afraid of the weight room.  I didn’t know how most of the stuff worked and I was terrified to try to use it all.  This student was a trainer, and was CONSTANTLY motivating her clients … I would see her at the gym almost every morning between 6-7 am working with all different types of people … so I decided to reach out.  Her personality was fun-loving, bubbly, inspiring and that of an all around driven trainer.  She immediately offered to help me, and within weeks had me in the weight room, comfortable with majority of the machines and had a full program set up for me.  Eventually, I wasn’t afraid to walk in the weight room on my own, and spend my entire workout strength training with the exception of a 5-10 minute warm-up.  She was a student, she was younger than me and SHE HAD A HUGE IMPACT ON ME AND THE WAY I LIVED MY LIFE.  This student went on to be offered and accept a Graduate Assistantship (which she is going to ROCK at).

I digress …

Last Tuesday, I received a FB a Facebook message from this student – part of which stated, “I know we didn’t get the chance to see each other before you or I had left, but I wanted to say thanks for everything. You’ve really been an inspiration to me. You’ve made me want to be a health advocate, GA, and positive person like you. The little things you do every day has made an impact on me and many others as well. I will continue to follow you on your journey and I hope that we can stay in touch!”

Needless to say, I was speechless (for those of you who know me, you know that doesn’t happen often).  Here I was, so grateful for the inspiration, motivation and courage this student supplied me with – and there she was thanking ME for inspiring her.  Never, in a million years, did I expect to be someone who made an impact on her.  I was so focused on my gratitude for what she taught me that I didn’t pay attention to what my words or actions did for her.

Needless to say, this has all taught me a REALLY important life lesson.  You have NO IDEA who you’re making an impact on (positive OR negative … lucky for me, this was positive).  At any given point, no matter where your head is – other people are thinking about and focusing on something completely different.  You may think that you’re walking through your day, without anyone noticing – but, in reality, you are leaving footprints wherever you go.  It’s up to YOU if those footprints will be remembered positively or negatively – and regardless of what you think, someone WILL remember something.

One of the reasons I am looking forward to being a professional in higher education is because the people surrounding you, students especially, can teach YOU just as much as you can teach THEM – and this further proved that for me.  Once again, this student has taught me an important lesson – and I could not be more grateful.

This is my life …  In Progress. 

Knowing the Difference: Want vs. Need

Recently, I had a Skype interview for a job that posed a really interesting and thought-provoking question.  I answered the question to the best of my ability and later on thought about all of the other answers I could have given (everyone does that, right?).  The question was a great one posed for higher education, but also got me thinking about certain things in life… and, who doesn’t love thought-provoking questions that encourage you to think about multiple things?

So- I figured … why not share?

The question:  Please provide us with something you feel that college students want, but don’t need and also with something college students need, but don’t necessarily want.  

During my interview I replied with an answer directed more towards Res Life, because that was the type of position I was interviewing for.  I spoke on the fact that students show up to college, often, with unrealistic thoughts of what it is like to live on a college campus because of the views that TV shows and movies provide.  Students want freedom, they want to feel like they’re able to do whatever they want, whenever they want and that they’re ready to take on the world.  In reality, I feel that students need someone there to help them transition into a new phase of their lives.  They don’t need a babysitter, or someone acting as a “helicopter” so to speak – but, people who are willing to mentor them, and help them on their way in casewantneed the get lost on the  brand new path they’re traveling – even if they don’t always want it.

Spark Notes Version:

  • Want, but don’t need = Complete freedom with no supervision
  • Need, but don’t (always) want =  Someone there to help them transition into a new phase of their lives

There are so many topics that can be brought to the table in regards to this question, in the realm of higher education.  At Rowan, one of the biggest topics of discussion when the new President was sworn in last year was that of making the campus even more focused on “Student Centeredness” than it already was.  By focusing on the students and all different types of student learners, Rowan (and all other institutions) would be giving the students what they need in order to develop skills so that they are able to have successful lives during and post-college.   By focusing on this question of want vs need in higher education, it really helps bring focus to student growth.

It was definitely an interesting question … and one I pose to the higher education community – both students and professionals.  What do you feel students want but don’t necessarily need – and vice versa?