START HERE IF YOU WANT TO HEAR MORE ABOUT MY BACKGROUND AND WHAT INSPIRED ME TO WRITE TODAY: (Skip down if you just want to hear about what’s going on in my travels)
Over the years I have practiced yoga on and off. It started in college, mainly because I thought the instructor was really cute–though I was never “crunchy” enough to catch his attention–but I did learn that I enjoyed the time on the mat, as it was so very relaxing–so much so that I would sometimes fall asleep during savasana. Relaxing exercise was brand new to me, but clearly something I needed. I grew up in a rather stressful household, and my first year in college taught me a lot about what I needed and enjoyed rather than what I had been conditioned to think I needed. (I LOVE my family, and I have a ton to be thankful for regarding my upbringing, but with seven of us in one house, there was often chaotic fighting….over the remote, the computer, the last chicken wing, and a plethora of other things.) Exercise had always been a part of my life, but in more aggressive forms: volleyball or basketball, wrestling over aforementioned remote controls, or maybe a bike ride or a run, never something calm and soothing like yoga. And I quickly learned how much I needed something relaxing like that, just like I learned in college that I didn’t need the TV on to concentrate on my studies.
I’m already getting off subject…carrying on as I tend to. Anyways, what brought me to write today was a yoga video. https://youtu.be/oBu-pQG6sTY if you’re interested. Although I am not a beginner, I am trying to build a new habit, and I am WAY out of practice, so this seemed like a good way to get my body back into the flow of yoga. And what stood out to me during this short workout–other than how weak my core muscles are—was the instructor’s word, “Intention.” This word also came up recently when I walked a labyrinth in Denver about a week before my move to Sao Paulo; both exercises ask that their participants set an intention for their time spent completing the activity. Before walking the labyrinth, you were to set an intention for your meditation, and the same is true with yoga practice. My argument is that we adopt this into our daily lives–into each action of our day. To set an intention for our life. Each day. Every morning. My intention is to have a peaceful day, to listen to one new song, to say hello to a stranger, to smile when I notice I am becoming frustrated—whatever it is, big or small, I believe calling attention to our desired outcomes could do us all some good. It raised your awareness and causes you to act intentionally.
My intention for doing yoga today was simply to feel better, because after a nauseating bus ride home, and eating SOOOOO many calories at my new job today (more on that later!) I knew that I needed to be deliberate when I got home (to my first EVER solo-living quarters in my nearly 30 years of life) to do something to relax. Just to feel better. To breathe deeply, to slow down, and to feel better. I used to smoke pot and put on TV at the end of a long day, or if I had a headache, or when I came home to my toxic ex. But that’s over now, and my intention is to create new habits for myself. My main intention for leaving the country was to push myself to become a better and more complete version of myself, and to leave behind the version of myself I created in order to survive. Survive what, you might ask?…..
I was in a really unhealthy place for a looooong time. Unhealthy emotionally, and unhealthy physically. I lost myself in a bad relationship for way too many years. Maybe people didn’t know it was bad because I did a good job hiding it (at least I think I did–some people could tell how bad it was even before I knew). I lost my voice, I lost way too much weight, I lost some friends (the best ones are still around–thank Goodness!), I lost a lot of connetions to my family, and I lost faith–in the World and in myself. I lost the ability to trust myself. I nearly lost my love for teaching because the person I was with worked so hard to make me hate my job, my number one passion. Just thinking about how low I was by being in that relationship makes me lose composure as I write this……but I am so thankful that I didn’t lose all my strength, that I hadn’t lost ALL my self-trust and self-worth, that I was able to finally see it for what it was and get myself out of an extremely unhealthy and toxic environment. For any of you out there who have given up hope and feel stuck in a bad place, please know that you can get out of it and get back on your feet. It won’t always be easy, but leaving bad relationships (romantic or platonic–toxic is toxic) is necessary for you to feel good again. (And you can’t change people unless they want to change.) I’m not saying it will be easy…..I mean, just that 30 minute yoga routine was not easy, but I did it because it fulfilled my intention. And I left a marriage because I realized my true intention for life: to be happy. The hard stuff is what makes us better. No pain, no gain.
And although my transition into my new life in Brazil has been nearly pain free (not the saying goodbye part—that was hard and painful as hell), it is hard. It is hard to adjust to a new life, and I’m going to have many hard parts of this journey to discuss later, but, if you are still with me, the following is going to be about my AMAZING new school where I will have the pleasure of teaching (and eating) for the next two years. Summer Break is officially over!
START HERE IF YOU JUST WANT TO READ ABOUT MY NEW LIFE IN SAO PAULOJ So, today I got to explore Chapel School. It is a beautiful campus filled with life. The people I will be working with are kind and compassionate and intentional about the culture they create (as was my last school, which was an amazing place to work for the last five years and difficult to leave). The space is truly inspiring and peaceful. It is a K-12 school, which is the kind of school I grew up in, with around 800 students from around the world, which is nothing like the school I grew up in. It is surrounded by a tropical/jungle-like environment. I have heard that monkeys will run across the window-sills outside, just like squirrels would in Brighton—and I CAN’T WAIT to experience that!! Tomorrow I will explore the grounds some more, but today was more about touring the buildings, and eating. Really, I ate six times today: we were served coffee four times throughout the day, each time accompanied by a variety of baked goods like pão de queijo, powdered donut holes filled with chocolate, some other tasty pastry, and lots of fresh fruit (strawberries, passion fruit, watermelon, honeydew) then later by some mini-chicken pot pie-like-bites- of-heaven. Lunch was (and will continue to be) a buffet of so much deliciousness…salad, roasted and seasoned veggies, a carrot-au gratin that just melted in my mouth, and steak…always steak here. Honestly, with just about every meal—AT LEAST once a day, I have had some tasty steak, sometimes picanha and sometimes other cuts, but always so good. Oh, and there was some tasty caramel cake for dessert at lunch also. I am going to have to work really hard not to put on too much excess weight while I’m here, because everything is SOOOOOO tasty.
Ok, back to the school…..the buildings are beautiful and really well-maintained. There are two libraries (elementary and high school), two gyms, a fabulous computer lab, a chapel, an auditorium, and lovely classrooms with verandas in the elementary wings. I’m sure I’m forgetting some other important details about the beautiful building, but one thing I have to mention (but failed to get pictures of) is the vast amount of art decorating the hallways. Some student work, and much professional work bedecks the hallways and office spaces, as Chapel hosts a biannual art show and clearly has a focus on fine arts as part of their well-rounded education.
Something that I really enjoyed about today’s Professional Development was all of the “Brain Breaks” the admin team worked into the lessons/discussions. I learned that a person’s age multiplied by three is the average amount of time a person is able to sit and focus on something. I learned that I am able to throw a paper ball over my head and catch it behind my back about three times out of ten. I re-learned (because I have experienced this stuff before) that little breaks like this are majorly important and effective ways to re-energize a group of people, and can be used intentionally to create focus and culture in a group of people. Despite the slight dizziness I still feel from the bus-ride home, which I am going to have to learn how to deal with since it will be my mode of transportation to and from work every day, I feel completely motivated, inspired, and energized to go into this year and make a positive impact on my students.
My intention here at Chapel is to continue building positive relationships as a role-model for teenagers, to continue inspiring a love for writing and reading, and to grow as much as I can as an educator. And I know I’m going to need my strength for that, emotionally and physically, so I’m going to keep doing yoga, and I hope you’ll join me, if not on the mat, then in setting an intention for yourself.