Archive for March, 2011

26th March
written by Michelle

I like to wake up slowly. I always have.

Usually my waking up process involves two alarms, accompanied by numerous snooze buttons and some occasional moanings. I have never, and probably ever will be a morning person. I prefer to wake by slowly, letting the sun peek in through an open window.

I like waking up, but not getting up right away. I’d rather stay in bed, snuggled in my comforter, reading or writing with a cup of coffee or tea at my side. This is how waking up should be.

Metaphorically, I think I also wake up slow. It takes me time to get used to something new; a new idea, a new place. I might know intuitively, on a gut level, that I need to do something or change something, but it takes me time  {slowly and cautiously}  to get used to that idea. It takes me time to listen to myself, to that still, quiet voice inside that says, c’mon wake up. go. i have something new for you.

Waking up is a slow process for me.

{Yes, I know in fact that it’s not Friday. But was gone all day yesterday at an amusement park with 100 kiddos from school. I now know why parents never seem to be as excited about amusement parks as the kids. I slept for 12 hours and woke up very slowly this morning}

So, for this week it’s Five Minute Friday on Saturday.

21st March
written by Michelle

Let’s be honest, words like resign, retire, or change have a much better connotation, than the word Q.U.I.T. “Quit sounds like a 4-letter word you mutter under your breath when you’re fed up with something. However, about a month ago I officially quit my job in Santa Barbara.


quit (kwt) - To give up; relinquish


It’s hard to quit or “give up” things that are good. I loved teaching high school English in Santa Barbara. I loved the students who I worked with and their challenging, yet creative ways of expressing themselves. I loved learning the best way to connect with families and patiently listen to parents’ concerns and frustrations. I loved working with a diverse and spirited group of teachers. But I also think sometimes it’s easy let the good and the comfortable, prohibit us from embracing change or exploring something new.


Not Sure What’s Next


For most of life I have lived with a pretty clear picture of “what’s next.” I have had goals, expectations, and plans since I was probably about the age of 10 and quitting anything was not part of those plans. For as long as I can remember I have known more or less what to expect every year: school starts in August, ends in June, two months of summer, and then, repeat. I went from Kindergarten to high school, then college and grad school in the same fashion. Then, I started teaching within the same system.

Part of my journey this past year has been letting go of my plans and my expectations. It’s been a process of listening, waiting and embracing the unknown. It’s almost like God has been asking me, “Do you trust me even when you don’t know what’s next?” And to be honest, this has been a hard process. How do we live with goals and dreams, but also the faith to admit we have no idea what’s next?

Room for Something New


When I “planned out” my life I never imagined leaving Santa Barbara to come to Guatemala for a year. And I never imagined that I would want to stay longer. I didn’t plan on leaving my job. And I certainly didn’t plan on falling in love with a country, a man and a life with more unknowns, than knowns right now.

But I’m learning that quitting something, leaves room to start something new. My dad used to always tell me when we say no to one thing, we say yes to something else.

What is something that you quit or let go of in your life?

18th March
written by Michelle


It’s Friday again. So I am following The Gypsy Mama’s advice and spending 5 minutes once week to “take the chance to just write, and not worry if it’s just right or not.


Here is goes…Thoughts On Waiting:

Waiting is hard. I don´t know many people who actually enjoying waiting. And I would include myself in this group, too. I’d much rather be doing, moving, and making something happen, as opposed to just w.a.i.t.i.n.g

I have friends who are waiting to get pregnant, couples who are waiting for their house to sell. I know people who have been waiting for to find a job for months and others who are waiting for healing from a disease. I know friends who are waiting to get married, waiting for someone to return and waiting to hear if they got accepted to the program.

The thing about waiting is its universal. We all wait. For something.

And I am learning I think it´s how we wait that makes all the difference.

As Ive been learning Spanish I think its fascinating that the word “to wait” (esperar) is the same word used for hoping and expecting. Esperar literally means to hope, to wait and to expect. I wonder how those three words are more connected than we think? It makes me want to be a person who can wait with hope. A person who can wait with expectation. A person who will hold to the belief that how ever hard the wiating and wondering and not knowing is, there is something worthwhile about also learning how to hold on to hope.

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11th March
written by Michelle

I found this blog, The Gypsy Mama, through another blog that I follow called, Halfway to Normal. I’d like to think in real life I would be friends with both of these two women, but the blogging world is strange like that. You can feel like you know someone, without ever really meeting them. I have never met either one of these women, but I appreciate their perspective, their writing and their ideas.

And I loved this one. It’s called Five Minute Fridays. Lisa-Jo posted this a few months ago:

“What if I took five minutes and wrote them down just to see what would come out? Not a perfect post, not a profound post, just an exercise in the discipline of writing.”

So this is my first attempt. It’s five minutes. On a Friday. To practice the art and the discipline of writing. You should try, it.


Today’s prompt: I feel most loved when…

5 min.  ready.  set.  timer.  on

I feel most loved when I receive a package in the mail or a card from a friend. I feel most loved when my boyfriend says, “I called just because I wanted to hear your voice.” Or when someone tells me that they missed me.

When I was little I used to feel most loved when I’d climb into bed and find a note on my pillow from Mom. I still feel loved when I find a note scribbled on a napkin or on the back of receipt or on a yellow post-it note. And I feel most loved when someone says my five favorite words:

I. have. something. for. you.

I feel most loved when one of my students says “thank you” or when someone gives me a sincere, compliment. I like compliments, not flattery. I feel loved when someone respects me and listens to me. I feel loved when someone asks me questions. And when someone tells me the truth.

I feel most loved when I can feel equally comfortable laughing and crying with a good friend. Usually not at the same time. I feel loved when someone surprises me! And I feel most loved when someone hugs me, the good-warm-embracing-slightly-squeezing kind of hugs.

(confession: i added a few extra minutes to include the links and the intro. I’ll be honest. 1o minute Fridays might be more my style)

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9th March
written by Michelle

Did you know that today is the Internacional Dia de La Mujer? I was unaware until a colleague from work came over this morning and greeted me with a kiss on the cheek and a piece of chocolate in my hand.

She: ¡Feliz Dia!

Me: ¿Por qué? (obviously, unaware)

She: Porque hoy es el dia la mujer!

Me. Oh, right.

So, on this day, International Women’s Day, I have been thinking about the women in my life who have inspired me, shared their wisdom with me and answered my questions with warmth and truth. There is something to treasure and respect about a woman; a mother, a friend, a mentor, a sister, a roommate, an aunt, a daughter, or a teacher.


I think every women regardless of age, culture, religious belief, marital status or jean size longs to know that “I am ok. I am enough. And I am loved”


I have learned those things things because of…

The perseverance of my grandmother, who left her county and came to the US at eighteen and enrolled in med-school when it was more common for women to enroll in marriage, than college.

The faithfulness of my mom, who sacrificially and wholeheartedly loves me and lives a life demonstrating what it means to love others.

The presence of my sisters, who have shown me the beauty of accepting who we are and the challenge of not letting family roles define who we become.

The loyalty of my best friends, who always offer a listening ear, a hopeful prayer and the freedom to dance around in our bikinis listening to loud music (yes, you know who are)

The joy of my students, who remind me that celebrating the little things and squealing is sometimes acceptable.

The wisdom of my mentors, who understand that walking with me through the process, is perhaps even more important than giving advice about the end product.

I am who I am today because of the encouragement from professors and doctors, counselors and pastors, teachers and authors, who understand that the best gift any woman can give herself is the freedom to…

just.   be.   you.

These women listed above have modeled how to be vulnerable, how to share a struggle and a triumph; how to name a fear and walk through it. They have shown me how to pray and not give up, and how to admit that we need each other. These women have taught me that real beauty is not measured with numbers and scales, but defined by laugh lines and a deep sense of purpose.

I am so thankful for the women in my life.

If I can be a little more like Bettina, Charlotte, Kathleen, Chelsea, Jen, Kirsten, Ashley, June, Kelly, Stephanie, Christine, Katie, Jenna, Hayden, Carrie, Sara, Ruth, Cam, Audrey, Stephanie, Maggie, Serenity, Abigail, Cathi, Megan, Krista, Jill, Anissa, Dee, Jen, Kelsey, and Amy then I will be a very lucky woman.

What women in your life are you most thankful for?


photo credit: christielockwood

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1st March
written by Michelle

Dear Teacher, Colleague, Post Office Worker, Telephone Operator, Secretary, Woman at the tienda, Waiter at the café and Mr. Bus Driver,

This letter is to you, and anyone who has ever worked with, waited for or felt impatient with someone learning a second language.

Please know that I am trying, I am, I promise, but learning a second language is hard. My mind is often swimming between the word I know and the word I want to say, and often spanglish is the result. I know the word for “bread” (pan) and the word for “crumbs” (pedacito) but I don’t know how to ask the person stocking the aisle at the grocery store where I can find bread crumbs. Instead “pan de crumbs” is what I say. Your confused look doesn’t help. Be patient, please. Ask me a question to clarify. Or explain it again. When I ask you how much something costs, writing it down or showing me the price (Q 670) is much much better than just rattling off “seiscientos setenta.

Learning a second language has the ability to make you feel oh, about  this small. I have a post-college degree but I often feel like a 3rd grader when I say the wrong thing or confuse two words. I mean, miedo and mierda sound similar, right? Trust me they are easy to mix-up! (and if you don’t know what those words mean, look them up. True story. I switched them once and embarrassed my director and myself).

Confusion and regret become regular feelings. Sometimes I tend to focus on the one word I don’t know because I know I’ve heard it before, but I can’t remember for the life of me what it means. Other times I understand what is being said, but the context doesn’t make sense.  And jokes are the worst. It never feels fun when everyone is laughing, because it’s hard to tell if they are laughing at the joke or at you.

There are a still of things I don’t understand: Verbs tenses that I say incorrectly, phrases that I use out of context, and cultural references that still don’t make sense. And I will probably continue to ask frequent questions, but your answers and explanations are ever so helpful.

Speaking slowly and clearly makes a world of difference, speaking loudly does not. I know I sound different when I speak your language, but when you encourage me and say “tu hablas muy bien” or “tu espanol esta mejorando” I feel like I can keep learning. And please, do correct me. I want to be corrected, but just not in front of other people. When I feel nervous or stressed I speak worse and make lots of mistakes, but when you are patient and friendly I feel like I could talk for hours.

Thank you for being patient and not staring at me too long when I say something that makes absolutely no sense.


Someone Slowly Learning a Second Language