Tag Archives: dreams

Gratitude. part dos

27 Jan

Last week when I wrote about making a list of what I am grateful for in this past year, a few folks asked about that list.  So — here is a portion of that list, in no particular order (the numbers are there just because I like lists, not because of priority).

38 things I am grateful for:

1.  My mom and dad for encouraging me and supporting me to follow my dreams, accepting that my path is not as straight as others.  Though it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, I am ever so thankful for their inspiration, acceptance and support.

2.  Katherine – my buddy in adventures.  We have skied the Chic Chocs, bed down in the whites, climbed some pretty high mountains and have hiked countless number of miles together.  I feel lucky to have a friend who will go on such adventures with me – and cannot wait to plan the next one!

katherine and I on top of mt. whitney

katherine and I on top of mt. whitney

3.  My job.  I do work that I care about, work that I believe makes the world a better place.  Work that makes me think and pushes me to be my best self.

4.  My mentors.  I am lucky to have some pretty great mentors, people who are looking out for me, who have given me guidance along the way and have inspired me in my work.  Thanks Steve, Julie H., Sue, Lily and Meg (among others).

5.  India – for reminding me of the goodness of people and the beauty of humanity and that, ultimately, the world is a good place full of good people.

Couldn't speak any common language, but we could understand enough

Couldn’t speak any common language, but we could understand enough

6.  Hope.  Ultimately, I am full of hope, even when I try to hide that hope.  Hope makes us vulnerable.  It makes us trust.  It opens us up.  Sometimes all that is scary – but as much as it scares me, I cannot deny that is who I am.

7.  Climbing, trekking, skiing, backpacking, hiking, walking – being outside and active (and not hurt – unlike right now…..  which I hate.  I hate being hurt.  oh, wait – wrong list).

8.  Mountains – for keeping me dreaming.

one of the many, many mountains i dream of climbing

one of the many, many mountains i dream of climbing

9.  My brother.  We’re just under two years apart, went to the same school — all the way to college – together.  Now we live on different sides of the country, but every time we get together we laugh and have fun.  But, can’t leave out my other brother who is much younger, but is well on his way to leading an interesting life himself.

10. My bestest girlfriends.  I am beyond lucky that I have an amazing group of girl friends.  Yogatara, Jessica, heather, susan, cynthia, tracy, smak, cara, meggy, jessica.  These women make me laugh, feed my soul, listen to me complain, let me cry on their shoulders and tell me to shut up when I need to hear that.

weekend in the berkshires

weekend in the berkshires – look how much we love hanging out with each other!

11.  Bucket lists.  Biking around the world?  Climbing a mountain over 20,000 feet?  Living in another country?  Becoming fluent in spanish?  Being in Thailand for a sky lantern festival?  Trekking in remote Nepal?  Yes, don’t mind if I do.

12.  Laughter.  The world keeps me endlessly amused.  I like to laugh – often and loud.  In fact, one of my students use to make fun of my laugh because it was so loud.  awesome.  keep it coming.

13.  Books.  Fiction, specifically.  And lots of it.

14.  Patagonia – for make me yearn for wild places.  Patagonia – will you marry me?

i am in love….

15.  Peru – for offering me lessons when I needed them.  For its beautiful people, its passion, its landscape, its rich history.  I might cheat on patagonia for peru.

16.  The universe – what a grand, amazing world this is conspiring each and every day to remind me how great it is.

17.  My journey.  As unpredictable as it has been, as winding, and messy and twisty it is, what a great journey it has been.

18.  Surprises and magic.  Last year when I was traveling – each thing that happened, that seemed wrong and bad — ultimately it would all turn out to be ok, even great.


19.  Open heart.  See #6.  Open heart and hope and vulnerability — all tied up.  And I am ever thankful that I am on this journey to keep my heart open (with varying success along the way).

20.  Wisdom.  As I get older, the more wisdom I get.  I have a long way to go, but it is one thing about getting older that I love.

There’s more.  Another 18 on the list (whoa, that makes me feel old), but you get the idea…..

Thanks world.

Inspiration vs. Living the Dream

10 Jun

At the tail end of my adventures, I felt pretty sure of what I wanted.  I wanted to keep trekking, keep traveling, keep alive the feeling in me — the feeling of adventure and freedom and quenching my wanderlust.  I thought of moving to India, traveling more in SE Asia, climbing more mountains.  I, the ever-planner, started envisioning another life for myself.  One that did not include, for example, a full-time job or the security I once thought that I needed.  And even if I was not totally sure of the work that I was planning on doing, I knew what I would not be doing.  I knew I couldn’t teach again (not never, just not now).  I knew I would not be going back to Renaissance, as much as I loved the place.  I knew I would not be going back to my old life.

And so, I arrived back in the US and attended the Expeditionary Learning National Conference, where I was slated to present a master class for other teachers from around the country.

Now, a quick word about EL schools.  For those of you who are not familiar, Expeditionary Learning Schools is a national model of school reform that has roots in Outward Bound.  It is constructivist education at its best – making learning come alive for students, but with a strong focus on success, equality for all, and high quality.  It is a model of schools that fits perfectly with my professional goals and my personal values.  But, as in all good and important work, it is a lot of effort and time to do it well.

So — while traveling, even though I knew that I wanted to keep going, I also knew that I would eventually return home to Expeditionary Learning.  I knew that I would return to work in one of the schools or within the network.  But just not yet….

And, so that was my mindset when I went to Denver, to the National Conference.  A mix of coming home to family with a longing to keep my feet out in the world….

And as the conference continued, I became more and more confused.  Confused because I because I got more and more inspired.  I was inspired by the educators who surrounded me.  Inspired by the work of students I saw.  Inspired by master classes led by my colleagues from around the country.  But the icing on the cake was being inspired by the last speaker of the conference, a state senator from Colorado who used to be a school leader at an Expeditionary Learning School in Denver, Colorado.

Mike Johnston spoke about how public education should be the last generation of the civil rights movement.  That we should be taking kids from where they start in kindergarten and 13 years later,  we should be offering them a level and fair playing field.  That we should be promising them equality, by changing schools.  And that our goal, as educators, is to create children that feel that this is their world to love and to change.  That they are confident that they can love and change the world.

Yeah, I was done for….

Yes, sign me up for the good fight.  Yes, sign me up to change schools in this country.  Yes, sign me up for equality and justice for all.

Wait a second….  did I just say this country?  That wasn’t part of the plans….

So….  now what?  how do I balance the inspiration and the passion with living-the-dream?  Living the life I want to live that involves mountains and street food and learning spanish and freedom — versus doing work I deeply care about?

Me with two of my students at the 3rd Renaissance graduation — 3rd time that 100% of the graduating seniors have been accepted to college.

That is the conundrum…..

Introduction to Planet Aurora

29 May

I leave in 3 months.  There is so much to do in that time – bags to pack, shots and meds to be taken, bank accounts to be sorted out, sell my car, pack up my stuff.  Sometimes it is a little overwhelming pulling together all the details.  But then I think – oh yeah, in 6 months, I will be climbing Aconcagua.  Or maybe, in 3.5 months I will be trekking in Nepal.  And the stress and anxiety fades into the background just a little.

So, here are the details….

I leave on August 28th and fly to Nepal.  There I will meet up with my good friend Lisa from college who lives there and my good friend Katherine will be arriving the next day.  Katherine and I plan on trekking while in Nepal.  Right now, we are deciding between the Annapurna Circuit or the 3-passes trek.  Both sound amazing.  Maybe we can do them both….

Katherine is in Nepal for 6 weeks and I do not have a set itinerary other than flying out of Delhi, India on December 18th.  At some point, I will make my way to India.  After spending a month there a few years ago, I know I want to go back and explore more – though hard to choose where!  Varanasi, Calcutta, Rajasthan, Chandigarh…. the list goes on and on.

But, on Dec. 16th, I will fly to Thailand for a 5 day lay-over on my way to Vietnam.  I know it is super short – but I bet I can eat a lot of really good thai food in those 5 days.

Then I arrive in Vietnam for 2 weeks.  I plan on going to the Mekong Delta, Da Lat for the mountains, Nha Trang for the beaches, and Hoi An.  New Year’s on the beach?  sure, sounds good.

Jan. 6th I depart for Buenos Aires, Argentina.  I arrive on the 7th to meet up with friends in order to attempt a climb of Aconcagua (one of the 7 summits).   Between traveling to Mendoza for food, supplies and permits and then being on the mountain – our hope is to be back in Mendoza in late January/early February, drinking fabulous Argentinian wine, celebrating our successful and safe climb!

From there, I plan to head to Patagonia for some trekking and more climbing.  And here is where the plans start to get a little up in the air….  I know that I want to travel north up the Andes, eventually to Peru.  Somewhere in there I hope to volunteer and go to language school.  And lots more climbing and trekking.  And Salar de Uyuni.  Huayhuash Circuit.  Cordilla Real.  The list goes on and on….

I don’t have a return ticket yet, though I will be making that decision sometime in the next few months.  Most likely the end of May, beginning of June.  My budget is tight for next year and I will need to return for work (school?  Outward Bound?  World Challenge?)

So, there you have it friends….  that is the plan.