Root 2 Shine

Empowering and Inspiring Individuals to Shine Their Brightest

Breathe In, Breathe Out, You Got This

As another school year began yesterday, I reflected on the staff and students who engaged on a new path together for 180 days. Through all talking and sharing of how they had spent their summers, an underlying veil of uncertainty was cautiously stepped around. Bout of anxiety about the unknown were strewn about, but I knew this much to be true as I sat with them throughout the day and talked.

The only thing constant in this school year is change. In order to keep centered and connected, the best advice that I could share was for them to breathe in and breathe out. You have got this.


F….. the Data

F….. the data. As the doors open to schools across the country, f….. the data.
F(ORGET) the data, for a moment. There is a time and a place for all the required pre/post, exit slips, formal and informal checks for understanding, computer based standardized assessments. Today is not that day. James Comer said, “No significant learning can occur without a significant #relationship.”
Kids need to know you #care. Not I care because my job says I should, but because you are #authentically, #whole hearted in. In 20 years, kids won’t remember or care about the grades they got. They will remember how you made them feel. F(ORGET) the data.
I led a #circle with staff today and we talked about which teacher had the most impact on them. As the staff went around there themes that emerged. The teachers who had the greatest impact weren’t the ones that helped them pass a test, but they were the ones that #listened, who cared, who supported the staff. This is what they resonated and remembered.
Maybe that’s what’s missing. As an educator for over 20 years, I have fallen into the trap about chasing cut scores, and proficiency marks. Where I was able to have the greatest impact is when I F(ORGET) the data and tuned into what the student truly needed. In the end, we want #human beings who care about their fellow man. Who will stop to lend a hand rather than step over and move on.
F(ORGET) the data.

Stumbling with Intent

It is OK to not know the end point, the finish line. If you stumble with intent you will eventually get there. Intention, will help you to move forward and find the path that you seek. Stumbling mindlessly, you only wander in circles.

How often do we drift in our daily lives? Turn the key in the ignition and then realize that you are at work?

Intention is purpose. Intention is vision. The path to the mountain or what you seek is never a yellow brick road. It is never straight.

Stop Letting Them Drag Their Dirty Feet…..

Have you ever had that conversation via text, cell, or in person? The conversation where the other person is communicating to you through their behavior, that they don’t like what you did? That they are disappointed, frustrated, angry, etc. with what you either said or did, and they are going to let you know about it? Let you know about it they will, and it isn’t positive.  It’s mean, it’s hurtful,  but they feel that is the best way that you are going to “get it”. Like magically, after having criticizing  you, and maybe making you feel less than,that you are suddenly going to change your ways. Maybe, if you believe in the idea of scared straight it might work, but probably not.

What if instead you thought and acted in another way? What if instead of allowing the sharp, condescending, less than words and attitude, to be said and work their way into your mind to make you feel less than, that you stop. STOP letting them drag their dirty feet through your mind. Their dirty feet are their words, actions, and feelings that communicate their behavior. Their negativity.

You don’t have to walk their path, and you don’t have to allow their dirty feet to walk freely around your mind creating feelings of anxiety, fear, sadness, that you don’t need. But how do you break that cycle?

  1. Be aware of the fact that you are allowing and choosing to allow others to drag their dirty feet through your mind.
  2. STOP
  3. When you notice that someone is bringing their negativity, their dirty feet and walking through you mind, simply notice.
  4. Think of their negative, their frustration, disappointment and visualize them  like clouds in the sky.
  5. Visualize those clouds containing their frustration, etc. and simply watch them float on by. Making note not to pay any more attention, diverting no more energy to them but that of noticing them.
  6. Move on. Walk your own path.
  7. Smile



Turning the Page

Turning the page on another year (42), I am humbled that I get  to be surrounded by my #family and #friends  That my life’s value is not defined by the size of my financial bank account, but rather that of my emotional one. That experiences are more memorable than a shiny object. That I “get” to serve as a high school principal to students who everyday surprise me with their #grit and #grace instead of thinking that I “have to”. That I #love to teach #yoga to  the #homeless #veterans and my high school students. That #running for me has been the cheapest form of therapy over the years. For all of it, I am still a work in progress. At 42, I don’t have it all figured out and that’s ok.

What I have figured out as I have peeled back the layers of myself is that the real work is from the inside out. That I am “imperfectly perfect”.  That what we all want is to feel connected, needed, and wanted.  That what we do matters.  No is special, but we are essential.

At the end of the day and our life,  there are only 3 questions that truly matter.

Did I live?

Did I love?

Did I matter?

As my hair gets a little grayer, my times get a little slower on the run, and I can’t practice yoga like I can now, those questions are what keep me focused. Focused on the path of forward motion. Focused on breathing and trying to be present as much as possible. Focused on trying to be as authentic as I can and when I mess up,because we all do, that I can simply begin again. 🙏

Our Shared Humanity

Our society has become cold and alienating. At a time when we have become more connected electronically, we are in in fact more separated than ever before.

At the very core of who we are, we are all human. In order to survive, outside of basic food and shelter, we need three things. First, we need to feel competent at what we do. How many of us feel like what we do every single day matters?  That what we do, how we contribute, is not a just a job, or a career, but a calling?  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, ” If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

Secondly, we need to live authentic lives. Living authentically means living our lives in congruent with our values and beliefs. Our values and beliefs. Not the beliefs of others who we only sometimes believe, or when it’s convenient. Those values and beliefs are the things that guide how we view this world and treat others.

Lastly, we need to feel connected to others. This connection hopefully begins the moment we are held as a baby up through the final moments of life as our breath slips away. Devoid of this connection, we lose touch with humanity. The feeling that someone, anyone cares about us.

However, that connection is lost the moment we attach a label, thought or feeling that underscores someones humanity. It is in that lost connection that we start to push others away. Label them, put them into a category, and start to look at them less like a human, and more like a number, a widget being . This is how wars start. Why blood is shed. Instead of seeing every single person as worthy of our love, our attention, our connection and part of our shared humanity.

There is this Tibetan Prayer that I am fond of and describes so eloquently our need for a more focused effort of our shared humanity.

” Whenever I see someone, may I never feel superior. From the depth of my heart, may I be able to really appreciate the person in front of me.”



When 1 is Enough

“I think they have meditation and the doctor visiting tonight, so you maybe yeah, you want to cancel?”

Reading the text message, I gazed out the window and looked at the less than desirable weather to drive in, I thought about my choices. Stay in the house, maybe watch a movie with the kids, or do what I had said I could do when I contacted the volunteer coordinator for the homeless shelter and grab my buckets of mats and offer anybody that wanted to practice some yoga after dinner the ability to do so. Bundling up, I moved as quickly as the bucket would allow in an awkward manner to the car, trying to avoid the mix of snow and rain and headed off, punching in the address to find my way to yet another church in the county which serves as a temporary weekly residence for those looking for something more permanent.

Recently, I was meeting with a woman who was working on potentially opening up a yoga studio, and when I asked her how many people she needed to have in order to run a class, and she said 6. Less than 6 she said, we would have to cancel. If I held true to that going to the shelter, I would have been able to teach just 1 class in the past 6 months.

Par for the course, when I entered and introduced myself to the host site person in charge, they had no idea that I was coming. Nevertheless, they were happy to have me and scoured the church to find a location to practice. The only space available was a brightly lit hallway, just down the way from the practicing choir, and a custodial engineer who reminded me that he would need to get through that area in a bit so we might have to adjust our practice. Luckily, he would linger, and talk to people coming out of choir practice for a bathroom break and never get to us before our practice was over.

After securing a spot to practice, it was time to see if any of the residents this week wanted to practice. The one woman who practiced last week and said she slept soundly after the practice said not this week, and proceeded to plop herself down in front of the TV. A young boy, about the age of my daughter, who had practiced last week, said sure, and grabbed his laptop and followed me down the hall. Coming from the other end, another woman, this one younger than the one who had plopped herself down in front of the tv, walked up to me and said, “Are we practicing this week?”

“Absolutely,” I said. “There is meditation as well, ” I said, “if you wanted to do that.”

“No way, ” she said. “I practiced a little bit of yoga this week, after last week’s class and that is better than meditation for me.”

So, off we went. Upstairs to the brightly lit hallway, with the soundtrack of the gospel choir in the background and the movement of the custodial engineer back and forth across the hallway as he cleaned to practice. It wasn’t to long, before the young boy asked if he could just quit right now, grabbing his laptop to check to see how much of a charge was left and scampered off. I would see him later, sitting on the steps with blue frosting from a cookie he was eating spread all around his face.

It was down to the young woman. One to practice breath and movement. Hopefully, giving her some time and space to relax and unwind from the day. One was enough.

One was enough to make the time taken to drive out and offer the practice of yoga. One was enough when you hear how they had practiced during the week a bit since last week’s class and they enjoyed it.

There is an old saying that says, “One is better than none.” One is more than enough.

A Key to Happiness

We all want to be happy. At the end of the day, it all boils down to this. When we look back at our lives, in our final hours, moments, that is the one thing that it comes back to. Was I happy? However, most of us are allowing others to hold the keys to our happiness.

They hold them, right there in front of us. Shiny, dangling, and enticing us, swinging back and forth, the keys to our happiness. But we are not the ones holding them. We have let someone else seize them, and take control. They are in control, because one of the keys to happiness, and certainly not the only one, is the ability to forgive. Forgive those that have harmed us with their thoughts, words and actions.

Forgiveness, is the action or process of forgiving. A pardon or exoneration of some wrong. We have all been wronged at some time in our life. Either by someone’s thoughts, words or actions. It may have been a one time event, or still in process to this day. Nevertheless, the moment we consciously make the choice to “not forgive” someone for what they have done, the keys have been handed over. One can truly not be happy when we have given someone else the keys.

Do not confuse forgiveness with forgetting. We may never forget someone for what they have said or done, but we can forgive. We can take back the keys. We can be happy. It all starts with the simple act of forgiveness.

You are not special…

You are not special. Go ahead and drop that idea like a hot potato. Not so easy to let go? Most of us would rather try and slap that idea back and forth between our hands, getting a little air, and willing to endure burns and discomfort than to give up the idea that has been taught to us by our parents, families and media since day one. You are not special.

You are not special. Where you are born has little do to with with where you end up. That is entirely dependent on your mindset. Do you believe that you are locked in to where you are, what you do and who you are? Then you are fixed. Frozen. Stuck. Or do you believe that you can change? That with time, patience, and practice that you can move the needle? If so, then you have a growth mindset. You are not special.

You are not special. Consider when you look up the word special. It lists words such as better, greater, notable and noteworthy. If you are special, it seems, then you are above everyone else. You sit perched above looking down. You are not special.

You are not special. You are however, essential. Essential means crucial, necessary, vital and indispensable. That means simply that no one else can fulfill your role. Your purpose. What you are meant to do on this earth for the flash of time that you are here no one else can do. You are not better or greater than anyone else. You are necessary. You are vital. You matter.

Expecting vs. Accepting

Do we walk through life simply expecting things to simply happen? Do we build up ideas in our head, carefully constructed at that, about how an interaction, an event, or how our life should go? Only then to be disappointed and disillusioned when it simply doesn’t go that way? Then, going back and thinking that if we had thought about it a little more, planned a bit differently, that we could have changed the outcome when it doesn’t go the way we expected them to? This is a circle, a worn rut that many find themselves in, day after day, year after year. What if there was a different way?

Life doesn’t operate in certainties or for that matter expectations. Maybe the only outlier in this scenario is death, but we can try and safeguard, we can try to predict, we can try to manipulate things, events, people into doing what we want, only to find out in the end that the only thing that we really have control over is ourselves. This idea, this way of life of always expecting things to happen, only leads to one in which we end up doing, feeling, and saying the same thing over and over expecting a different result.

That different result is the idea of accepting. Accepting that we are in control of ourselves and that is it. Accepting our life, our choices, as it is right now. We don’t have to like it, but instead of expecting it to be different, for life to bend to our whims, just to simply accept. Accept that this is where you are at this moment in time and to go from there. It can be a hard pill to swallow moving from the idea of anticipation (expecting) to one of receiving (accepting) but in the end, where would you rather operate from. From a place of anxiety, thinking about the future, over which you have no control? Or from a place of gratitude, of thanks, for being able to accept?

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