What I Said at the Friendship Prayer Service

It’s funny that the God Squad asked me to give today’s talk about Friendship because it’s my job at this school to teach about argument and debate. I teach my students to anticipate what the opposition is going to say, analyze their weaknesses, and crush them in debates. Not very friendly. But we have a saying in my class and that is in argument, you must first seek to understand, then to be understood. If you release yourself of the responsibility of trying to change someone else’s mind, then you are free to try to understand the other person’s point…

Whose Jersey I Was Wearing

A couple of days ago, a line of Varsity football players barreled into my classroom. I’ve been known to offer encouraging journal writing times before big game days. Friday was a huge game day. The league championship was at stake against a higher ranked team. I thought they might have been there to ask to write with me. They weren’t there to write. They were uncharacteristically quiet, this group of boys. Shuffling their enormous feet. Smiling funny. “Guess what,” one of the guys finally said. “We get to pick one teacher to be with us on the field for Friday’s game…

Why Do You Pray That Way?

I pray with my students at the beginning of every single class. When I worked in public schools, I called it Breathe. Always the same words: Sit up nice and straight and tall, feet flat, rear ends to the backs of your chairs, shoulders back, eyes closed or looking down at your desk. Take a nice deep breath in and out. And another nice deep breath in and out. You are a person of great dignity and worth. The world got better on the day of your birth. There is nobody better than you. And one last deep breath in and…

5 Weight Loss Rules I’m Glad I Followed

The before and after pictures I posted yesterday surprised me when I looked at them together. I’ve lost less than twenty pounds, but the difference in how I feel and look and feel about how I look is enormous. I almost didn’t post those pics out of embarrassment. I did decide to post them because I wanted to be honest about the dramatic effect sugar has on my health. I wanted to be honest about myself. The truth is, I was excited to be at Comic Con. But I was also exhausted. My clothes were uncomfortable. My skin was uncomfortable. The pics remind…

Back-To-School Issue

I used to be obsessed with magazines. My favorite? The Seventeen August issue. The Seventeen August issue was packed with advice on everything, gorgeous ads, and an East coast style sensibility that while super impractical for a California girl with no fashion budget, was the epitome of dreamy sophistication. As an adult, I’ve subscribed to Allure, Vogue, Poets and Writers, Writer’s Digest, Martha Stewart Living, Domino, Shape, Fitness, Oxygen, and Women’s Health. I love going to my mailbox and finding a shiny new magazine. It’s old-fashioned and cool. The problem is too much of the content doesn’t apply to me anymore. My…

What Resilience Looks Like

Some of my favorite lines of poetry come from DH Lawrence’s “Self Pity:” I never saw a wild thing  sorry for itself.  A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself. My students have stories that I sometimes never hear. We are busy people in the classroom. We don’t have a lot of time to sit around and talk about our feelings and cry. Sometimes, though, I get a chance to know the true resilience of the rising generation. Their stories evoke the tenacious bird of the poem, its gnarly little feet curled around…

Rock Star University: Pursue Excellence

In a fog of mourning last week, perusing every Prince interview available on Youtube, I found an odd little visit he made to The View some years ago. The hosts harass him until he leaves, but before he does he drops an important piece of wisdom. After Barbara Walters leans in to say that Justin Beiber had told them that he wanted to have a career as long as his, Prince just smiles. She says it to flatter him, but he isn’t flattered. His look is gentle but deeply knowing. Prince says, “The key to longevity is to learn every aspect of music that you can. I…

Lenten Theme: Focus

I did not grow up in a church-going family. The Liturgical Calendar meant nothing to me until I began teaching at Catholic schools in my very early twenties. Since then, Ash Wednesday has special significance. I attended Mass with my students today. I received ashes on my forehead and made some private and public promises about what I would “give up.” Maybe it’s because I only participated as an adult, but now I think Lent is awesome. Today, an early morning message from a friend evoked the word “focus.” She is making choices about her time in order to maintain…

Trust the Process

Today is the last day of my 31 Days of Advice challenge. I started a day early, left out two days in the middle, and gave yesterday a break for Savasana. My last piece of advice for myself is a phrase we say to one another on Kairos retreats at the school where I work. On a Kairos retreat, the seniors go on a four-day self and God-discovery journey with their teachers and peer leaders. Sometimes the going is rough. Trust the process, we remind each other. It’s the best advice of all. Trust the process may sound airy fairy, but one…

Change the Story

We tell ourselves limiting stories that contain no truth. What follows is a pictorial example of exactly what I am talking about. Inner story at the time: “I’m fat. I mean, really, really fat. I have to stop eating for a year or no one will ever love me. The reason why I am alone and a loser is because I am fat and ugly.” Dang, this was Halloween 1988 (hence the glorious fake tattoo). I was eighteen years old, and so careful about my diet and exercise. I was a swimmer and a dancer. I was a sophomore at UC Santa…