Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Rachel's Challenge

Rachel's Challenge

An emotional morning for a Wednesday. Started school like any other day, but today we were headed to an assembly for the whole school. I know that no one had any idea the impact this particular assembly was going to leave on the teachers or students. The impact was so great, that all you could hear were tears amongst 900 middle school students. 

Rachel was a 16 year old student at Columbine, who was killed in the shootings. Prior to her death, she was a student who believed in kindness, acceptance and dreams. Rachel lived what she believed. Rachel did the little things in life that mean the most. She stood up for those who couldn't stand up for themselves, she inspired everyone to live their dreams and really live their dance, no matter how unpopular you feel. 

Rachel knew that she was going to impact the world. Her journals and life proved that. Not once, did Rachel doubt who she was as a young girl. She knew that she was perfect and so was everyone else in this world; all Rachel wanted was for people to believe that as well. Unfortunately, it took her death to get people to really wake from their trance. Rachel's Challenge is just that, a challenge. It was created to challenge people to start living in kindness while you are ALIVE. Start accepting everyone, start believing we are all equal, start LIVING with compassion. 

Kindness starts spreading with just the smallest act. Something simply as smiling. When you are in a store, on a trail, walking down a street, talking to a clerk, look at these people you pass and SMILE. Opening doors for people. Moving so someone else can sit down when there is a crowded room. Writing a note to someone. Giving hugs. Have conversations with people, even if it’s the first time you met them. Very simple things that could create an impact much farther than you could ever imagine. People always remember how you made them feel, not what you did or didn't do for them. 

Listen to people and find out what is important in their life. Look people in the eyes. Find the light within everyone and help that light grow bigger. Give. Thank those people you encounter every day. Realize that people are what make this world a better place, not money. Be compassionate. LOVE. 

Live Your Dance!  Everyone has a different move, different beat, different tune, but yet, we are all connected in one big dance. Be kind to one another and just dance without judgment. There are many times where living your dance can be unpopular, scary and many instances, very challenging. I promise you though, after the fog clears, your dance moves will be full of love. It’s far worse to dance someone else’s' dance, because then, your true essence, your true dance, is never revealed. Be brave. Be you. Dance TOGETHER.

 Rachel's Challenge is moving from state to state, school to school to spread the message. It’s a wonderful message that everyone needs to hear, but when the assembly is over and two days later you are left with just yourself, how are YOU going to live? That is Rachel's Challenge. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What do you value?

What do you value? 

Ironically, the word value has two meanings. Value can mean the worth of a thing in money or purchasing power. Value can also mean your belief or standard, having intrinsic worth.  In our current world of texting, computers, running from one place to another, making more money, buying more things, getting ahead of the next person, basically fast paced everything and everyone, what is your definition of value? When you stop and suddenly look at your life, what do you believe? 

I believe in a good dance party, with songs you can belt at the top of your lungs. I believe in cowboy boots. I believe in farmers. I believe in growing food in a garden.  I believe in free time. I believe in doing what you love, even if that means taking a huge risk. 

I believe in people. I believe we are all in this together. I believe there are many different paths to the end result. I believe the best in people. I believe everyone has something to say, we just need to take the time to listen.  I believe in giving. I believe in greeting people on the street. I believe that children are important, but that we don't listen to the elderly often enough. 

I believe in family, but also that there are many leaves to your family tree.  I believe in traditions. I believe in Santa Claus. I believe in birthday parties. I believe in counting your blessings everyday. I believe in having fun. I believe in laughter. I believe in not taking your life or this world so seriously. I believe in exercising and eating ice cream for breakfast. 

I believe that less is more. I believe that cell phones should be turned off during dinner. I believe in the power of prayer. I believe that change is good.  I believe people should relax and not worry so much. I believe in supporting your troops, but not the war. I believe in loving yourself, including your body, but I have to be reminded of that frequently. 

I believe in love. I believe in kisses and hugs. I believe love will always win and should be our foundation. I believe love and passion should be our highest priority when guiding our decisions. I believe in expressing your love. I believe in living our truth, even if its not popular.

My list could go on and on, as I'm sure anyone could write a similar list of beliefs. The question is, what do you believe or value? Everyday we unconsciously consult our list of values. If you value a good night sleep, then you will be in bed early. If you value helping people, you will volunteer your time. If you value the Earth, then you will recycle. All these values guide our daily lives.

 Which definition of value do you choose daily? To me, the way we live every moment, should add intrinsic value to our lives and the lives of everyone around us. How do you conduct your day? Do your actions reflect your values? 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013



Since the beginning of September, I have only been wearing one left shoe. Its become a joke around our house, because everywhere you look, there is a left shoe of all kinds, while the right shoe patiently sits in my closet awaiting its return. I have asked myself so many times for the answer to how my right foot got put in this big, non attractive black boot. Nothing specifically happened, I can't remember one moment where I thought, "Shit, I just hurt my foot." Nonetheless, pain came into my life and so did the dreaded foot doctor. A stress fracture later, I have been wearing one left shoe and hobbling around my days very slowly. 

I am a firm believer in the phrase, "Everything happens for a reason." Well, the reason immediately smacked me hard in the face. As much as I hate to admit it, my stress fracture was my divine intervention yelling SLOW DOWN SHANNON. Over the last few months, I have had to quit working out and stop hiking (two of my favorite activities). I cannot go dancing, I had to sit on the couch with my foot up, no working in the yard....I could go on and on. If you know me at all, you know that slowing down is not something I ever do or find to be enjoyable. Surprisingly, after I finally came to grips with a much needed slowing down process, I am enjoying my unexpected fracture, which has taught me the seasons of life.

Each and every one of us are walking colors of the brightest shades. We are so beautiful, with so much to offer the world and people in our lives. Just as during the season of Fall, some of our colors are on display when we allow our inner love to shine brightly. That love is seen and felt in utter amazement when you gaze at its vividness. Unfortunately, many of us hide our color with curled up, hardened textures filled with fear. Even for the brightest colors, there does come a time, where the leaves dry up and fall to the Earth. This is the time to slow down and assess what colors in our life need to be changed, brightened or released. Which colors have fulfilled their time in our lives and which ones need letting go? Which colors do we hold to tightly and polish as we await the next season to shine? 

The first snowfall brings a feeling of relief. A welcomed chance for rest and hibernation. The time where we allow ourselves to curl up and stay warm with the white blanket of Winter. January is the start of a new year, a start of new you. A chance to redo all things with love, a chance to begin again. As we sit on the couch, next to the fireplace, we let all the new beginnings get a chance to relax and refuel for the next season of change. 

When our new beginnings have had enough rest, they patiently start to grow. They start from a tiny thought or action and as in Spring, they start to bud with the most incredible green color. Spring is a season for growth, a chance to grow into a flower, tree or plant of your choosing. As we start to grow, be aware of the tiny weeds that might be growing inside of you. Weeds that we might not have pulled, for various reasons, but are now getting thicker and starting to hide our true selves. As we know in Spring, weeds can grow fast and there are many days when we have to go back into our garden and get rid of more that just don't belong. That's what Spring is about...maintenance. Not letting the weeds take over who we are, who we want to be, and how we love. 

Just as we have pulled our last weed, the heat starts to make everything bloom.  Summer is where all the work we have done over the past three seasons gets a chance to bloom and swell with beauty. Just like a flower opening up, our soul is gradually unfolding from the inside. It's the time of the year, that our soul dances in the sun, soaking up all life's possibilities. Summer is when we show the world who we are, with pride, acceptance, and love. We all bloom in a different way, but together we weave an amazing tapestry on this Earth. 

During this season of Fall, my left shoe and I are enjoying all the colors within the people we love. We are assessing the rainbow inside our soul, we are looking forward to our chance to rest this Winter, excited about the new growth in the Spring and ready to dance in the Summer.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Blue Eyelashes

Blue Eyelashes
My first blog. My first attempt at writing. There is a lot of pressure to figure out what to write. I have been putting off my first blog writing because I couldn't figure out what to write about first. I realized this morning as I was sitting at a Sunday church service, which for me was the third time in about 18 years,  that I just need to pick a topic and get my first blog written. That thought, whether divinely sent to my brain or whether inspired from the woman with the blue eye lashes, is still unknown, but regardless, here I go. 

Melissa, my loving partner, has a need and want to attend church on Sundays. Both of us grew up in the Catholic church and since my youth, I have not practiced any type of religion. We have gone to a few Unity churches lately to see if any of them move us to possibly want to give up our lazy Sunday mornings for more a spiritual awakening. I have not been moved and to be honest I still feel that a long hike, my own meditations and yoga is all the spiritual practice I need. 

However, this morning we attended one of the new churches on our list and as the service starts, there is a joyful song playing about how we are blessed and loved. As I sit on the aisle, watching people pass me and listening to everyone sing, I try very lovingly to figure out why again I am here this beautiful, crisp, sunny October morning. Almost immediately the answer comes into view. 

A woman probably in her 70's, dressed in a purple blanket dress.  She was wearing a glittery, bejeweled hat. It wasn't your ordinary hat, it was more like a royal crown, without the crown part sticking up on top. There was no brim, it was rounded and it stuck up probably 5 inches above her head. It had such an amazing glittery design on the top and big colorful jewels all around. The bottom of hat that covered most of her hair was purple to match her dress. Beneath the hat, grey hair, peppered with white poked out from the bottom and sides. 

As the woman started to pass me, the energy from her presence pulled me towards her and I couldn't help but keep staring. Everyone was singing and the song was very uplifting and all of the sudden the woman broke out into a dance. She moved her body so gracefully, but with a peppy step. Her legs did  a shuffle and then moved into a long step sideways and then again she repeated her dance until she sat down a few rows ahead of us. 

The smile on my face was automatic and kept growing by the second. I couldn't help but watch this woman and want to just follow her and dance. As the music stopped and she turned her head I noticed she had the brightest, longest, blue eyelashes glued to her clear rimmed eye glasses. I immediately chuckled and thought to myself, this woman has an energy about her that's inspiring. I instantly wanted to talk to her. How can you not want to be friends with a woman who has a great hat, a great dance and now blue fake eyelashes?

As the service continued, I couldn't help but wonder what her life has been like and as I sat there I made up stories in my mind. Maybe she was a dancer. A teacher. An artist. Royalty. Homeless. An acrobat. I never did find out that answer, but what I do know is this...Today, that blue eyelash lady reminded me a few things.

We all can inspire with just our presence. 

We all create our own happiness.

We are all filled with infinite love. 

We are all perfect. 

Never be afraid to live your dance.