Tuesday, July 28, 2009

It's official ~ we're having a heat wave!

We are having a tiny bit of a heat spell here in the NW. Now I know, I know.....all my AZ friends and family are just laughing at me right now. As 96* does NOT mean a heat wave in that state. That means summer is just getting started! However here in Seattle where we are lucky if temps get to 82* in the summer...... 96* is just plain HOT. Not to mention that most of this city has no air conditioning...me included!

I came home the other day and found Abby and Chloe laying on the floor in front of the door and exactly where the fan was blowing. It must be hot as these two don't usually lay in this spot. Poor girls...all that hair! I had to capture the moment.

So I am off to think of fun ways to keep cool. Although I am not a huge lake girl ~ I am thinking that today I will be getting myself into Greenlake for a swim! Hope you stay cool today!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Conquering Fears

Confident, Self Assured, Independent, Strong, Intelligent.....these are all words that have been used by friends, colleagues and family to describe me. These words I have heard so many times.....for many years.....yet at times that voice from within says something different to me.....and what it has to say is not nearly as positive or as kind as what my dear family and friends have expressed. Why is that? When did that happen? Or has it always been that way? I am coming to the slow realization that somewhere on this life journey I have taken a major detour ....the path has been filled with....needing to "fit" in...... needing to be perfect....not wanting to make mistakes in front of others.....not letting people completely in...as they may find out.....what??.....what have I been so afraid of? Truth be told it is many things. Funny how that tiny voice can keep a hold over you saying loudly .....you aren't good enough or no you can't do that.

I was recently asked to do a presentation at the University of Washington's Autism Center. Every summer they put on a week long summer intensive program. Now to back up just a bit....three years ago when I moved to Seattle, the school district who hired me sent me to this very training. Everyday I would show up and sit mesmerized...listening to all these speakers...wondering...wishing......wanting to be one of them! I have always had a deep desire to be a professor....to write grants...do research....get my Ph.D.

This all came about because my district has a contract with UW Autsim Center. We have a consultant who works with us .. Dr. Milani Smith. I have worked with her for the past three years. I can still remember the first time I met her at the training. It has been wonderful working with her and she believes in me. She actually says she learns from me...what?? me?? When she asked me to present this summer I was flooded with two emotions....excitement and FEAR. I knew this was exactly the opportunity I have always wanted and needed. As my goal is to someday....train teachers to work with students who have autism. However that tiny voice in my head was there...whispering..." You can't do this....remember your public speaking class in college...yes the one you almost failed.....remember....you completely froze when you got in front of others....no you can't do this...it will be a disaster". I have given 3 presentations this past year and I always walked away feeling like I did ok....but not.. I hit it out of the ballpark great.

The presentation was to be 3 hours! YIKES! That is a long time to talk. I almost called Milani and told her I couldn't do it.....but I didn't. Instead I wrote an affirmation and taped it to my bathroom mirror....and I worked on my presentation (took 5 hours to put together).....and I rehearsed. I organized and prepared my materials. The night before I am not sure I slept at all. There was that voice again.... " What if you get up there and forget something...or even worse what if your voice starts shaking". Each time I would say my affirmation...it was simple..... Julie you will do a wonderful job presenting tomorrow..... over and over all night.

I arrived at the UW 30 minutes early. Set up all my books and visuals I had brought as examples. I sat in the bathroom for about 5 minutes as the nerves kicked into high gear and my hands started to shake. Took lots of deep breaths. Then it was time. The room we were in was a stadium style seating with a stage area. The presentation screen took up the whole wall behind me. The participants trickled in from lunch. A lady walked to the front to introduce me and read my bio ...and then.....it was time to start. I walked up ...looked out at the audience and I suddenly felt comfortable.....just like I was standing in front of my class teaching. No shaky voice...no forgetful moments...No freezing up. I even started to remember all of my funny student stories and dropped them in at all the right times. The 3 hours flew by...and several people came up to me at the break to pick my brain and ask me questions and advice on how to handle situations. It was awesome! I had a lady stop me after the presentation and told me that she learned so much from my presentation and that she wrote tons of ideas down.

I walked out there beaming! Glowing..... mostly because my biggest goal in all of this was to deliver a presentation that would be meaningful to teachers. It made my whole day to know that even if it was just one person.....that one person walked out learning something they didn't know before. I also realized that I would really like to do this more.....I would really love to teach teachers how to work with these students and share what I have learned working with students who have autism for the past 12 years.

Ok...one last thing...another fear...... I hiked Snow Lake last week. I did this as a backpacking trip last August....and although I LOVED my trip I felt the hike was sooo hard. Needless to say i have been asked to do this hike by several friends and I have always said No. Why? Fear......fear of not being a good enough hiker........and struggling again with this hike. Well I am happy to report I did it...and guess what.......it wasn't hard at all! Of course I have done tons of hiking so I am in much better hiking condition this summer than last.....but once again I let that voice...that self doubt get in the way. Once of these days I am going to have a stomp that voice party! I wanted to share this with as well...i read it and was blown away. I need this reminder...daily!

"Our imperfections are what connect us to each other and our humanity. Our vulnerabilities are not weaknesses, they are powerful reminders to keep our hearts and minds open to the reality that we're all in this together" ~ Brene Brown ....author... "I thought it was just me"

Thursday, July 9, 2009

That's not photoshop

This is for my dear friend VB. She came to visit me a couple of years ago and she took my picture at a restaurant we were eating at in Pike's market Place. Well we laughed when we saw the picture as it looked like I was photoshoped into the picture. I recently went on a hike to Lake Annette with a co-worker. Beautiful hike......it was about 7 1/2 miles. She took this picture of me on the trail and when I got home and looked at it...I started to laugh as it looks fake!

I know I promised less nature pictures....BUT it is so hard! This place is bursting with gorgeous scenery. I mean I really can't believe I live here...I must think that several times a day. I love the scenery but I also love living in a city. A place where by night you can bar hop and sing karaoke....then the next day you can wake up and this is your view on a hike. All the while.....this view is maybe a 45 - 50 minute drive from my house! Can you say L-U-C-K-Y! :) Here are pictures from the bar hopping and the hike!

Monday, July 6, 2009

It's beginning to look alot like.....SUMMER!

It's been one week since school ended and summer vacation began......and I have to say I just love summer! We just went through a bit of a "hot" spell here in the Northwest...temps in the mid to high 80's...OH MY! I will admit...that does seem sooo hot...especially when there is no air conditioning.

I love living in a place that has seasons. There is something wonderful about living in harmony of the natural cycles of the environment. Each season has a purpose....letting go of grief...slowing down and reflecting.....producing and transforming.....expansion, growth and activity. I especially enjoy living in a place where summer actually exists. Not the kind of summer where the pool feels like bath water.....you get in your car doing the "try not to burn your legs and hands" dance......where you generally stay inside because...well 114 degrees is not all that comfortable.

The kind of summer where everyone is out playing and enjoying the outdoors. When I first moved here I was taken back when I went to Greenlake for a walk and saw so many people outside swimming, biking, walking, roller blading, paddle boating, laying out in the grass. It was amazing! I knew at that very moment that I would never move back to Arizona. I wanted to share a few images of summer here in Seattle. These were taken at Greenlake....

cute stand that sells delicious treats
Lifeguard post and wooden platform

love the "old School" style diving boards

Look at all the people...and this was a weekday....is everyone a teacher??
this is my favorite place at Greenlake.....the kiddo pool area!

Summertime.... to me means..... yummy lemonade... fresh Salmon cooked on the grill.... Rainer Cherries......picking blackberries while out for walks......fresh rasberries.....swimming....the smell of sunscreen and bug spray mixed together..... camping...camp fires...hiking.....getting dirty..... warm days...cool nights......outdoor concerts at the Zoo......LOTS of patio time......skirts and dresses...flip flops....painted toenails.....strawberry shortcake..... and plenty of sunshine!

What does summer mean to you?