This week a recurring theme in my life has been “What do you want to do? How do you intend to make an impact in people’s lives?” My answers have been a bit scattered but I am going to try to condense them here.

At the very surface I want to help people. This is a broad goal without clear definitions or an obvious path to success. To refine this goal I want to work with young adults and help them grow into well adjusted adults. Taking this idea a step further, I discover that I want to work with young women and encourage them to step into the world and fly. By fly mean I want to help girls find their feet and help them become doers who have intentions to change the world for the better. I want to teach them how to be at peace with themselves, how to learn from life everyday and how to communicate clearly, with kindness and intention. I want them to leave my ideal program knowing they are strong and can do anything they set their minds to. I want to do this in a very different way; I want to bring girls together in a backcountry setting, in small intimate groups which cross as many socio and economic lines as possible and I want to do it at no cost for the girls. I want to bring them together as equals, have them learn from each other’s life experiences and have them find a group who will support them throughout the rest of their lives.

Scary (and Good) Things, Honesty and Asking for What You Need

This is the first public check-in I have written since creating “College Goals.” A lot as happened in these first few weeks, some good and the rest requiring reflection.

Starting with some of the scary stuff:

  • I had to ride home in the dark… Moment of truth here, I am afraid of the dark and hate being by myself when I am going somewhere at night. However, with my ride through the dark, I felt very calm which may have resulted from being on a bike and having a headlamp.
  • Pushing myself to make genuine connections with other people is very hard for me. I have found that I often prefer to eat on my own or sit quietly with others while I observe. In order to make more connections, I do need to attempt some deeper conversations with others.

On Honesty:

  • I signed up for some clubs and after going to a few of the meetings, I discovered some I truly enjoyed and others which did not have my attention or passion. In asking to step away from these groups I chose not to make an excuse such as “My schedule is too busy for this.” or “I have other obligations.” and instead practice honesty using phrases like “My passion lies elsewhere right now.” and “I am not being fulfilled by this activity.” I am still waiting for a response to this honesty.

Asking for what you need:

  • Normally when I ask for what I need, I am asking others. However, I have found recently I am instead asking myself. In a way this is a revelation; The idea that only I have the power to grant my desires and when I am not caring for myself it falls squarely on me, is like having a loose tooth. It is something to play with and find out where I can go with the idea that I am self fulfilling.

The Good Things!

  • I bought my own climbing gear and am belay certified. I have started to make some friends within the climbing community here.
  • I am attempting to start a Swing, Blues Fusion Dance Club.
  • I am keeping to my personal goals of exercising 3 times a week. Yesterday involved a 15 mile bike ride and the day before I climbed for 1.5 hour. Go me!
  • Riding a bike in a skirt is something I can do. This pleases me to no end.
  • I am in the process of applying to be a mentor for Gunnison Valley Mentors, a big brother/big sister program.

Cheers to all. Thanks to those of you who have checked in with me about my goals and are helping keep me on track! Love to you all.

College Goals-First Month

Last week on Wednesday, August 17th, I began a new chapter of my life. That’s right, this crazy alt schooler decided to start college, at Western State Colorado University. Five days into this adventure, I am ready to jump back into school. During orientation, Dr. Melanie orientation gave a speech called “Tattoos and Birds in Tents: Making your place at Western.” In this address, Dr. Hulbert asked two poignant questions: “What is  on your heart that has to get out?” and “What is success to you?” She encouraged each freshman in the  auditorium to try and discover what those questions meant to us. As I listened, I found myself thinking of five basic goals for my first month which addressed both success, be it in school or personal health, and my passions.

  1. Maintain at least a 3.5 GPA (Success)
  2. Become belay certified and climb twice a week (Passion)
  3. Get 8 hours of sleep at least 5 days a week (Success/Health)
  4. Check in with my mental health at least once a week (Success)
  5. Have one meaningful/poignant conversation at least once a week (Passion/Health)

Each of these goals still feels a bit vague, so I took it upon myself to break each one down into several steps.

  1. Maintain at least a 3.5 GPA
    1. Show up to every class
    2. Do all homework assigned in a timely fashion
    3. Ask for help if needed, using all resources at my disposal
    4. Communicate with my Professors, either for help or just to build a healthy helpful relationships.
  2. Become belay certified and climb twice a week
    1. Buy climbing gear
    2. Find a climbing partner
    3. Get belay certified
    4. Make plans to climb w/ partner at the beginning of each week
  3. Get 8 hours of sleep at least 5 days a week
    1. Sunday through Thursday go to bed by 11:00 pm each night in order to be up by 7:00 for breakfast and class
    2. Friday and Saturday are open nights.
  4. Check in with my mental health at least once a week
    1. Use Feelings and Needs cards each Wednesday
    2. Journal at least 3 times a week
    3. Check in with my support system each week
    4. Meditate/play violin/make jewelry once a week
  5. Have one vulnerable conversation at least once a week
    1. Place myself in vulnerable vulnerable but safe situations
    2. Start a conversation with someone new each day
    3. Share a vulnerable fact with someone at least once a week, if not everyday.

I then added what feels like the final piece:

6. Write one post each week documenting how I feel that I am achieving my goals, throughout the week. (Update: Write a post every week to every two weeks. Sept. 8th 2016)

I will end the month on September 30th with a final post, that summarizes how I think the month went. For those of you who want, feel free to check in with me about anything you see on this list.

This Moment

Hands curl around my cup, tea seeping warmth into cold hands.
Back curves deep into my chair, cradling and supporting.
Headphones covering ears, blocking out all noise but the notes I want to hear.
Gathering strength from others’ words, telling me not to worry cause its all gonna be alright.
Tongue tasting my own words as I follow along to the words of these songs, singing out my strength for all to hear.

On Divorce: From Child to Parent

Dear Parents,

As I watch my friends and cousins go through their parents’ divorces, I can’t help but want to share some thoughts and personal experiences from going through my parents’ divorce. If you are thinking about divorce, are getting divorced or are divorced here are some thoughts.

A little bit of background: I was 17 when my parents told my siblings and I that they were getting divorced. I am the oldest child and so my point-of-view comes from that stand point. I cannot speak for my brother and sister, but I can speak of what I observed them going through. What I say below are personal experiences and things I wish my parents knew.

1) When you tell your child that you and your spouse are separating, they will feel like their world is coming apart at the seams. They will feel betrayed and angry. They will have feelings they may or may not want to talk about. Acknowledge these emotions, let your children feel how they feel.

2) After you tell your children they may not want to be around you. Let your children go to an impartial friend’s or relative’s house. It is important that they have someone who is only focused on them and have no ties to divorce. After my parents told my sister and I, we left and went to our grandmother’s house. In hindsight, this may not have been the best call. She was not impartial, to say the least.

3) Find someone who your child can talk to. Once again let me reiterate…someone who is not taking sides in the divorce is critical. They need someone who is there for them and them only.

4) Let your children’s teachers know. They can be apart of your child’s support system. I remember telling my science teacher before I had told anyone else, she let me share feelings, looked me straight in the eye and said “I am here for you and no one else. I am here just for you and I won’t take sides.” I had amazing teachers that year, they backed me up and supported me through anything. It would have been a much harder year without them.

5) Whatever you do, do not talk bad about your ex-spouse in front of your kids. Remember they still love the other person even if you don’t. They are not your support system, you are theirs. Find a friend or a professional to talk to. Do not say mean things about the other parent in front of the kids. Period.

These are only guidelines, and each child’s needs are completely different. These are just things that I wish I and my parents had known from the start. I only hope my experiences may help you and your children.