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7 for seven

7forseven_key-and-arrowLet’s face it // Mondays stink. Or at least we typically expect them to stink. That is why, every Monday, I post seven positives from the previous seven days of the week as a reminder of what I have so that the week starts out on an upswing. There is much truth in the belief that happy people attract good things, so it is important to start the week out right. Sometimes it’s the more grand, but other times, it’s the simple things.

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1. The Power in Surrendering. Last Tuesday, when I most needed the reminder, someone wise shared the above quote with me. To be honest, I’ve never given the serenity prayer much mind, but suddenly it fits so perfectly in my life right now where uncertainty is the only thing of which I am certain. The biggest part of this for me was just trusting in what I can control and allowing myself to hold a rein.

2. Orange is the New Black. Like most fans of this show, I was disappointed in the last season of Orange is the New Black. It just felt a little “jump-the-shark” and lost what I so liked about the first season. Well, this new season brings back all of those things I loved, and it was a true pleasure to watch. Be prepared for your mind to be opened (more), for some hearty laughs, and few good cries. Okay, maybe a big cry. The material is poignant and important.

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3. Dancing at Donn’s  A dear friend of mine was in town last Wednesday, so we met up for drinks at a hole-in-the-wall country bar downtown fashioned out of old train cars. It was so great catching up and knocking back cold beers on a hot day in Texas. When the live band started playing, the dance floor quickly filled up with mostly men in their eighties — who knew at the age of thirty-four that I would finally meet my sweet spot!? Ha! My friend and I spotted the man in the photo above, and decided we couldn’t leave the place until I danced with him (Don’t you worry — I challenged my friend right back and made him dance with the cougar who was flirting with him earlier that night — we’re even). And so I did… turns out this ladies’ man has no clue what to do with a lady, as he didn’t know how to lead and scolded me the whole time for taking it upon myself. After that, I barely sat down, as the rest of the bar full of elderly men wanted to show him up and show him exactly how it’s done — and that, they did. It was a blast.

4. Listen to Other People’s Stories.  Truly listen. There is something so cathartic and healing in listening to the lessons other people learn through their experiences. I’ve talked about Lea Thau’s podcast Strangers more than I am willing to admit recently — but I’ve decided I’m going to unabashedly continue fan-girling. Every episode I listen to on my runs teaches me something new, and I can almost immediately relate it to something I’m currently going through, whether directly or indirectly. The first story that knocked me over this week was a series — the story of Jeni, a young woman my age going through treatments for a rare form of cancer. I won’t give much away because I want you (yes, you, any of you!) to listen to it and hear it for yourself, but it just gave me so much perspective. While some of us are stressing about the small stuff, this woman is just trying to live. Of course, our pains are all relative, and none of it matters less, but it just puts so much in perspective — I have so much to be grateful for — so much. I am so happy and so ready to feel fulfilled even without all the things I think I need in my life. Truly. If you remember her story, you can never allow yourself to take anything for granted anymore. I think it’s very possible to make this an immediate change. Gradual change is not necessary. We can all make the decision to do this RIGHT NOW. The second story I listened to was about wealth, so obviously I couldn’t relate to this directly – ha! However, there was something that Moby (yep, the Moby) said that really made me dig deep in regards to building relationships, “I’d rather be open and make mistakes than closed off and defensive and never make mistakes. The consequences of being too cautious are much worse than the consequences of mistakes.”

5. Freedom.  A simple one — but sometimes these are the best — This was my first week where I didn’t have anything previously planned after being off for the summer from work. Wahoo!! See what I mean? Don’t have much I can complain about.

6. Saturday Drinks.  A few friends and I met spontaneously at a bar up in North Austin. Although a bit of a drive for me, it was so nice to get out, have some laughs, drinks, and good food and conversation.

7. Be Vulnerable for Me.  I’ll be vague here, and I’m sorry, but I’d be lying if I didn’t mention this as one of my favorite things this week although it was private. When someone else is finally vulnerable for you, it is one of the best feelings – as this means someone cares enough to let down their guard, even if that means risking something big. But then again — “The consequences of being too cautious are much worse than the consequences of mistakes.” We could all stand to learn the same lesson. We could all learn to love one another with abandon. We need more of that in the world.

I hope to inspire you to reflect on all you have to be grateful & that your week brings you even more positivity + balance + bliss!  Feel free to share your seven with me as well / or even just a couple!

Have a wonderful week!

xo,

Lauren


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7 for seven

7forseven_key-and-arrowLet’s face it // Mondays stink. Or at least we typically expect them to stink. That is why, every Monday, I post seven positives from the previous seven days of the week as a reminder of what I have so that the week starts out on an upswing. There is much truth in the belief that happy people attract good things, so it is important to start the week out right. Sometimes it’s the more grand, but other times, it’s the simple things.

**NOTE: This week’s post was more challenging to write — not because last week wasn’t great, because it was, but because something has changed since that week that feels like it could be a betrayal of my trust and how I felt about last week. At times like this, I question if my perception is reality and sometimes I feel when I write this post, I’m not always telling the full truths because my focus is to only talk about the positives. Well, life isn’t always the good and the bad — sometimes there’s a grey area. For the sole purpose of sticking to the reason for this post and finding happiness with what we have, I will save the other side of life for another post — and for a time when things are a bit more clear because the truth is important to me, and it’s important for me to be authentic in all that I do, including my writing.

1. Gal Time. A gal-pal of mine asked me over for a much-needed pizza and summer cider night. That night, I was craving some vegging and banter time in the comfort of someone’s home, and it was as if she read my mind. A keeper, that one. She’s a friend I can always count on, and I’m so grateful for that.

2. Blood is Thicker Than Water. I met my sister and mother for lunch last week, as the rents were in town for a quick vacay. We caught up over tex-mex and then spent some time shopping for my sis’s house that’s in the process of renovation. Not only was it nice to catch up, but nothing beats shopping vicariously for someone else without emptying the ol’ pockets.

3. Paying it Forward.  Ten years ago, before I was a teacher, I was an actress. I performed in college and in a company in Dallas, TX — which may shock some people, as I tend to be more of a reserved person, but it was once a huge love of mine. My theatre professor in my first two years of college invited me to be a part of his theatre outreach class at the time, in which we discussed current events and the things that were most important to us. The purpose was to write, produce, and act in a play that promoted awareness and/or advocacy about one of the issues discussed. One morning, on September 11, I went to class, just after the second plane hit the World Trade Center, and we ended up being the only class in session at our college that day. What evolved from that experience were strong connections and a dialogue about the importance of understanding our interconnectedness at times like these. Our play became just that, and we performed it at various grade schools in our community. My professor pulled me aside one day and told me I should pursue writing, after that experience — which, now that I think of it, may have been his gentle way of nudging me away from an acting career – ha! He and my English professor wrote me a recommendation letter to SMU’s creative writing program, and from there, I fell in love with writing and the way my professors taught it. That’s one of the main reasons I decided to become a teacher, and I wanted to pass on my love of writing with other students and show them how it could promote social change. What I didn’t realize then was that my professor was exposing me to project-based learning, which is more than the new trend in teaching today — it is the best way to engage authentic learning experiences. Recently,  I was invited to attend a three-day course on how to teach this way and given an opportunity to work with someone above me on creating this type of experience next year for my students. It couldn’t have come at a better time, as after the recent Orlando mass shooting, it became excruciatingly urgent to me that I use education more as a means to advocate for accepting differences, pulling my students out of the little bubble of their community, and showing them that literature and writing can serve both as a mirror and a window to each other’s lives. I’m so excited about this new opportunity and the beginnings of what I’ve created for next year and see this a way to finally pay it forward to what my professors showed me years ago.

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4. 10K and Story-Time.  I’ve taken up a new love of running, and I’ve been slowly but surely graduating myself from walking to walking/running, and eventually I completed my first 10K while running the entire time. I was so proud of myself. Plus, I may be the only oddball on the planet that “kills two birds with one stone” and listens to podcasts while running instead of music. I may or may not have been that weird girl weeping and running at the same time, but I listened to this story that made me both stronger physically that day and also stronger mentally. In that podcast, a woman told a story of dating a man for a few months and the lessons she learned while with him. She was confused by this relationship because he didn’t fit any of the items on her list of what she desired in a life partner– she didn’t know why she was attracted to him, but she kept finding herself drawn back again and again. One morning, after apparently having the best orgasm of her life, she just wanted to get out of his bed. So they did, and on their hike that day, she climbed up a tree to avoid all the confusing thoughts in her head that were making her confused about whether or not she wanted to stay in the relationship. He was telling a joke, and while impatiently waiting for the punch-line, the tree-branch broke and she fell. In that moment, when she was given no choice, remarkably, she was finally able to surrender — something she had essentially tried to do all her life, but failed to do. This is something I could immediately relate to, so I was hooked. Long story short, it took a lot of work, but she finally let down her guard in the hospital room one day (her body had been paralyzed from that fall from the waist down), and allowed that man to visit her. Something hit her, and she didn’t want him to leave her side from that day forward. And he didn’t. Several years later, they are married and have children together. Although she could have grown bitter from the experience, she said she is just grateful she got to learn the lesson at all, and even if it took that terrible thing that happened to make her realize how to let go and allow herself to be loved by this man, she would do it all over again. One of the things she said, stuck with me, and I never want to forget it, “Everything you need to know about your life is happening right now, so pay attention.” And that day, while running, and even throughout the rest of my day – I noticed things I had never taken the time to digest before – the colors of the leaves, the way people’s faces moved while laughing, what people do when they are nervous, and how good it feels to be desired.

5. Man-Date.  See what I did there, eh? Such a word-play nerd. The man in my life asked me to a dinner date Friday night, so I was excited to get some margs after a long run that day. Before dinner, he suggested going on a swim first, as his afternoon meeting was cancelled — even better after a long run in the heat, so I gratefully obliged. The sun was brutal, but the cold beers, soothing water, and good company eased my sore muscles and worked together to put my spirits in a really good place. We shared several small plates at dinner that night and continued at a dive bar near by and laughed at the strange people around us (terrible – but let’s admit, behind closed doors, it’s a bit fun to do at times). It had been a while since we shared whiskey and danced cheek-to-cheek in his living room, and it just felt right later that night. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad time with that man.

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6. Father’s Day.  Saturday morning, I met my fam for a quick Father’s Day greeting, as my parents were headed back to Dallas Sunday morning and my sis could only spare a couple of hours that day due to her hectic schedule. Granted, my funny dad was working on the exterior of the house the entire visit (go figure — always the busy one, that man), it was still, as always, nice to visit with them. My dad is such a great example of love in my life, and I’m so grateful to him for having set the bar so high that I will never allow myself to settle for the man in my life.

7. B-day Shin-Dig.  Later that same day/evening, a friend of mine’s husband had his big 3-0 birthday celebration at their house complete with beer, pizza, corn-hole, a dirty board game (ha!), and really great company.

I hope to inspire you to reflect on all you have to be grateful & that your week brings you even more positivity + balance + bliss!  Feel free to share your seven with me as well / or even just a couple!

Have a wonderful week!

xo,

Lauren


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7 for seven

7forseven_key-and-arrowLet’s face it // Mondays stink. Or at least we typically expect them to stink. That is why, every Monday, I post seven positives from the previous seven days of the week as a reminder of what I have so that the week starts out on an upswing. There is much truth in the belief that happy people attract good things, so it is important to start the week out right. Sometimes it’s the more grand, but other times, it’s the simple things.

1. Love for Orlando. I’m sitting here reflecting on my week, and I have many things of which to be grateful, but my mind keeps drifting back to the horrific images I’ve seen on the news the past couple of days. They are more than images; it’s all painfully real. I’m fighting being selfish and thinking about the positives in my week, when it seems the world should stop and grieve for its losses. However, more than ever, in times like these, we need reminders of the good in the world. This week, I want to focus on those reminders.

2. I return to this quote (too many times) when I need it. “When you recognize that pain — and response to pain — is a universal thing, it helps explain so many things about others, just as it explains so much about yourself. It teaches you forbearance. It teaches you a moderation in your responses to other people’s behavior. It teaches you a sort of understanding. It essentially tells you what everybody needs. You know what everybody needs? You want to put it in a single word? Everybody needs to be understood. And out of that comes every form of love. If someone truly feels that you understand them, an awful lot of neurotic behavior just disappears — disappears on your part, disappears on their part. So, if you’re talking about what motivates this world to continue existing as a community, you’ve got to talk about love… And my argument is it comes out of your biology because on some level we understand all of this. We put it into religious forms. It’s almost like an excuse to deny our biology. We put it into pith, sententious aphorisms, but it’s really coming out of our deepest physiological nature.” -Sherwin B. Nuland

3. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Acceptance Sonnet.  I love this. Watch it here.

4. OneBlood.org.  If you are in Orlando, please consider donating blood this week. Yesterday, they were at capacity (the good in people DOES come out in times of tragedy, and it helps to focus on the light). The blood banks will need more donations throughout the week. Visit the link for more details.

5. Places to Cultivate Community and Identity.  “The place where they were attacked was more than a nightclub — it was a place of solidarity and empowerment where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds and to advocate for their civil rights.” – President Obama   Feeling a sense of community is one of the pillars to happiness, and I am so grateful to live in a country that recognizes that fundamental need and progressively works to cultivate it for all.

6. A Story About Love.  I listened to this podcast on one of my 10Ks this week (yeah, I slipped that in there – hoorah!), and I fell in love with this man’s bizarre story. His story is almost unbelievable, but it wasn’t just the strangeness that drew me in, but also the love and compassion in this man’s heart after all the trials he has faced. His story is an incredible reminder that good can triumph in the face of adversity.

7. Dialogue + Action.  One of the positives I’ve seen come out of terrible events (we have to find them for ourselves) in the past couple of weeks is that it has got people talking more about important issues. We need to keep talking, but it is also not enough if we don’t also take action. Last week, in social media, I saw a lot of talk about the current rape culture in response to the light sentence the judge gave in the Stanford rape case. In case you missed it, I wrote this post on an irregular posting day, in response. If you have a moment, please also consider signing the petition to impeach Judge Persky for his bias shown in this case. The country also continues to talk about issues of gun control and gun safety in response to mass shootings. Executive actions are outlined here. Visit everytown.org to do more.

I hope to inspire you to reflect on all you have to be grateful & that your week brings you even more positivity + balance + bliss!  Feel free to share your seven with me as well / or even just a couple!

Have a wonderful week!

xo,

Lauren


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She is me.

 

Stanford rape survivor's statement to KTVU about why she wants to retain her anonymity

Stanford rape survivor’s statement to KTVU about why she wants to retain her anonymity

And it’s possible, she is you, too.

If you’ve tread anywhere near social media this week, you have almost undoubtedly read, if not at least seen, the published letter the Stanford rape survivor wrote. If not, I recommend reading it first here. It has sparked a viral dialogue – some of which is overtly productive, and predictably some is not – none-the-less in the end, more dialogue = good.

In response to some of the dialogue I’ve seen: Questioning a woman of a falsely accused rape IS a part of the current rape culture. The purpose of the most recent dialogue is not at all to diminish tragic consequences of the falsely accused — in fact quite the opposite — but rather to shift the rape culture enough to shed light on the countless women who are too often afraid to come forward because of the current rape culture. There is much to blame for it, and those who abuse and lie are the most reprehensible, but let us not unintentionally perpetuate their idiocy by highlighting it.

“…In rape cases, the biggest problem is not false reporting, but no reporting. Only about one-fifth to one-third of rapes get reported to police, national surveys show. One reason is that women fear police won’t believe them.” — T. Christian Miller, ProPublica and Ken Armstrong, The Marshall Project

Though on the surface, the rest of this post might come across as aggressively personal, it is not about me. Any misreading in my attempt to show bravery and share my voice not in vain (not nearly as profoundly and widely spread as the Stanford rape survivor has, but I’ll do what little I can) would be a result of my failure to articulate a reaction in response to her powerful words and to fuel its continuance. As a teacher to young girls and boys, I feel it is my duty to serve as an example in the best ways I am able. I, too, like many other women, am a survivor of sexual assault. I was a senior in college. I’ve previously only confided in two people about this, and even then, it wasn’t extensive.

The man who did this to me was once a trusted companion, and we’d once had consensual sex that I soon after regretted. Following that decision, I started to feel he was trying to control me, so eventually I ended things. I was obviously rightly intuitive in my fear that he was trying to control me, as his response to the break up was to rape me. The physical pain didn’t linger long; it was the shame and lack of trust I felt that overpowered me and unfortunately my future romantic relationships. As if fear of not being believed weren’t enough. The shame in my initial mistake, the shame of what he did to me when he was a man I had wrongly chosen to trust, and the shame of the things I had to do to hurt him in an attempt to stop him, kept me from coming forward (coupled with my fear of causing him to be deported, which of course, I shouldn’t have feared I’D be the cause). I’m sparing most details out of protecting the people I care about. This isn’t about me, anyway.

Years ago, I wrongly worried – I’d already once consented. I wrongly worried – but I knew him and was at his house. I wrongly worried – I hurt him back. I wrongly worried – I allowed him to drive me home while he muttered the entire way, “I did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong.” Years later, I finally have the courage? to even call it rape, let alone tell other people, because this anonymous woman is helping to change the dialogue and rape culture. She is so many women. Too many. She is my hero. I’m not a huge fan of social media until things like this happen.

When we share our stories, we free others of shame and of the fear of coming forward. We create important shifts in thinking for present and future generations — Please keep the dialogue going and remain open to allowing it to make actual change in you and others — even if you can’t immediately relate, we are interconnected in unfathomable ways.

 


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7 for seven

7forseven_key-and-arrowLet’s face it // Mondays stink. Or at least we typically expect them to stink. That is why, every Monday, I post seven positives from the previous seven days of the week as a reminder of what I have so that the week starts out on an upswing. There is much truth in the belief that happy people attract good things, so it is important to start the week out right. Sometimes it’s the more grand, but other times, it’s the simple things.

1. Memorial Day Pool Time. At the end of the school year, before the final week, it was rewarding to relax at the pool on a MONDAY. It felt so good to tan my pale skin and cool off in the water. Bring it on summer — I’m ready!

2. New Route. Sometimes it’s the little things, and for whatever reason, this little thing has brightened my week. I found a new running route, and it is not only more challenging, but the view is much more beautiful. To top it off, two times this past weekend, I went out on a run in the sun and got rained on twice — poured on really, but it felt amazing, freeing, and rejuvenating. I’m so happy to have found something that helps me meditate and unwind in a way that is dependent on only one person — me. It’s good to be reminded of how independently strong I am, and I won’t underestimate the need for the reminder anymore.

3. 7th Grade Field Trip.  This week, most of my reflections will focus on my work, as it was the final week teaching my favorite seventh grade class to date. The students are truly what make my job so rewarding, and this group was able to brighten even the most challenging of weeks. Although the weather wasn’t perfect, we took the students to Hawaiian Falls to enjoy some sun (behind some clouds) and pool time. In the end, we only lost one hour, as the skies poured down and the lightening detectors went off, but the time the students had been enough to allow them to celebrate their year and to just be kids for a while. It was fun seeing them in a different element and enjoying their last few days together before a couple of months apart.

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4. Most Epic Dance-Off.  We aren’t suppose to have favorites, but… there was something special about my 7th period class this year that set them apart. I’ve never had a group of students who could lift each other up and end any kind of day with smiles. They never let me skip a day of playing an upbeat song as they walked (danced) into my classroom. I swear every child in that class had a smile on their face and the stress of the day would melt away… for all of us. I called them my “personality class” because although they were all unique from each other, they each had distinct personalities and found ways to connect to one another and celebrate each other’s individuality. So on the last full day, it only seemed fitting to have a dance-off for them to celebrate their love of music, dance, and having fun together. We had three judges and a couple of my students emceed the competition. Students from other classes came to watch and cheer them on, and I gave out prizes at the end. It was the perfect way to celebrate them, and I can’t wait to witness the positive difference they make in their bright futures.

My fave class... how could you not love those faces?

My fave class… how could you not love those faces?

5. Last Day.  The last day of school was bittersweet, as I said goodbye to the faces that put a smile on my face every day. After we sent them off, waving them goodbye as their buses pulled away from the school, a bunch of my coworkers and I enjoyed an HH. It was a larger group than our usual, and it was just what was needed to end the year with some good laughs. We then we broke off for some grub later that night. It was a good year, and I look forward to another in a couple of months (eek)!

6. Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes.  For whatever reason, I’m being challenged with many changes the past couple of weeks and my strength of rolling with the “punches” is being tested to the max. I’m not great with change — never have been, but I’m always reminded that all things happen for a reason. My roommate accepted a job in another district and because of this, she has to move, and I will have to find another home.  After a busy couple of weeks, it was nice to sit and enjoy a few glasses of wine and indulge a little with a silly rom-com and the company of my roommie for one of the last times.

7. Message.  Sometimes it isn’t the moments that are most memorable but rather the words, which shouldn’t be all that surprising — being a word person and all. 😉 After having a rough week the previous week, I received one of the nicest messages I’ve ever received from the man in my life. I won’t share it because of course, it was meant only for me and it was extremely personal, but I will say that I can’t stop rereading it. He has always known how to make me smile and how to warm my heart, and I am so grateful for him having touched my life in such a profound way.

I hope to inspire you to reflect on all you have to be grateful & that your week brings you even more positivity + balance + bliss!  Feel free to share your seven with me as well / or even just a couple!

Have a wonderful week!

xo,

Lauren