El Salvador

Tonight is the last class meeting for my Religion 480 class: Vocation and Christian Faith – Study Abroad in El Salvador. Over the course of the past month, as I wrote the last paper and re-read the itinerary from our trip the flashbacks and memories of our visit there came flooding back. Visiting El Salvador was an experience of a life time. It was dirty, unsafe, tiring and perhaps one of the richest experiences of my life.

While I feel this post is long overdue my mind is still overwhelmed with where to start. As I struggles with words this morning, I realized that perhaps this is meant to be a visual blog with more pictures than words. Perhaps one day the words will come, for now, it’s random thoughts and photos.

Below on the left, is my favorite photo from the entire trip. It is inside the Centro de Arte para la Paz. The vibrancy of the bush is such a contrast to the battered, church tower. Both reflect the historical abuse that the people of El Salvador have experienced as well as the hope they hold for a brighter future.

It where we heard from Sister Peggy. Her vocation in life is assisting the people of El Salvador. Here she shared with us her story of the evening she was called to retrieve the head of an 18-year-old boy that she knew from the park and then tasked with telling his parents of his murder.

One of the stations of the cross from a church we visited. I’ve seen several versions of the stations, however this one caused me to stop and reflect when I saw it.  For me, It is a visual reminder of how life is most fulfilling when we are using one hand to reach down to help others and holding our other hand up to those waiting to help us.


This is a rose from the garden where 6 Jesuit priests along with Elba and Celina, a mother and daughter who were taking refuge with them that evening were murdered. The beauty of the rose drew me close and as I looked at it closely, there were spots of deep red inside that reminded me of blood.

My class. A diverse group, yet the bond of traveling to third world country will forever bind us.

el salvador group shotIf there is one thing I take away from this trip and know for sure from this experience is that my grandchildren will study abroad or travel to other countries as part of their life experience. Seeing first hand how others in the world live can not be replicated in any book or college classroom. A rich experience filled with memories that will  last a lifetime.

Story Time With Dave

As little children we create our own stories. We are read to and those stories create even more stories for us to create.

Then we become adults and start to limit ourselves? As adults we often tend to set limits for who we are. We limit our dreams and desireStory time with Daves.

A week in Vegas will help you realize how quickly the majority of use place self-imposed limits. And how often, the dream is still alive in Vegas.

This past summer my husband and I spent a week in Las Vegas. On one of our first mornings there, shortly after I stepped off the elevator to go to breakfast, one of the first things that caught my eye was a small child in a red Spiderman costume. This little boy believed he was the real deal. He was in full costume complete with red shoes and a mask over his face. He believed he was Spiderman. I smiled to myself as I purposely walked behind him and his family. There is always something fun and exciting in the energy that little kids have when they are young enough to believe that their dreams and visions are real and that nothing can stop them.

Then society steps in. In this case, it was one of the Wynn security guards. He stopped the family and told them the mask had to be removed. The magic was broken.

I loved was that this child was given the freedom to express himself how he wanted at that given moment.

What happens to us as adults? Why don’t we continue to dream, use our imaginations and write our own stories? Give ourselves permission to dream big without limits or better yet – actually dress up, show up and live our story to make those dreams happen like the little Spiderman did.

This isn’t a rhetorical question. I would love to hear your story.

Maggie and the Kitten

Recently we went to visit my parents on the farm. If you know anything about the reproduction habits of farm cats you know that with it being the end of summer, the quantity of cats running around is plentiful to say the least.

There was one small kitten that caught my attention. This kitten was the equivalent of a two year-old toddler left to play in traffic on a busy street. Let me explain it this way. While he could walk, and was certainly old enough to be out, his brain just wasn’t quite able to process the severity of his decisions. My niece happened to be there as well and she shared with me that grandma told her to be sure to check for the kitten before she left.

We stood outside for a while longer to visit and as Todd and I prepared to leave I witnessed something that melted my heart. The unbelievable kindness and instincts of their dog, Maggie taught me a lesson that we as humans have a hard time grasping at times.

Maggie is a cattle dog. Her purpose and instinct is to chase cattle to where they need to be when they need to be there. While she is a farm dog, and her job is to herd and chase, yet on this warm summer evening her heart and instincts for her fellow creature were powerful and giving.

As my husband and I were preparing to leave, we started the truck. It’s loud and scared the kitten away….but not quite far enough for Maggie’s comfort. It was in that moment that I witnessed something I have never seen a dog do for a cat. She took her paw and not only pulled the kitten into her body, she HELD that kitten to her chest. When the kitten tried to move away, she reached out and pulled it back –three times! As we drove away I watched as Maggie held that kitten until we were safely driving away.

The image of Maggie and the kitten still lingers in my mind weeks later. As humans, why do we often let our differences separate us when animals that are often considered rivals will protect each other? I was reminded of a valuable life lesson that evening. A lesson with a visual reminder that is going to linger with me for years to come.

Perspective While Balancing in a Boot

As I type this for some reason the screen size is at 150%. I’ve never had it set to 150% so I’m not sure how that happened but it certainly is reflective of my thoughts about perspective. How even when we believe we are open to new and different ideas, how many more perspectives there are both from others vantage points as well as other options that we are just not aware of. I had a shift in my thoughts on perspective recently during my latest life coach training course.

The theme for the training was called Balance. Balance focused on teaching us how we can view situations in life through different lenses or perspectives. We learned different tools and techniques that allow our mind to shift and see things differently. While we were working on applying this concept to a situation in our own life, I quickly realized how this shift can work. I was moved to tears at one point just by getting up and positioning my body to a different location and viewing the situation I was “stuck” in from a different angle.

I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical as I thought I considered myself a fairly open minded person with a broad range of perspectives. Needless to say, the perception I hold of my own view has changed. By physically getting up and moving to a different location, I was surprised at how my own view on a situation changed. I noticed how different views can change how we see the world, our relationships, our job, the situation. You name it.

Perspective shift can happen or be forced upon us. Recently I’ve had to change my own perspective in regard to physical limitations by being placed in a walking boot to help heal a fusion in my heel that was irritated by running. I’ve quickly developed a new perspective on handicapped accessories—including those handrails next to the toilets! While I’ve managed to get used to most maneuvering in my boot, there are still times when my perspective is quickly changed. Perspectives can take time or happen quickly like earlier today when I dropped a stack of envelopes at work and had to bend down to pick them up—in a skirt. Not as easy as it is without a boot!

It was yet another reminder that situations in life can be viewed from many angles. As I bent down to pick up those envelopes, I noticed an angle/view that I had never noticed before because I was never forced to be in that particular situation/angle before. While I’m ready to shed the boot as quickly as possible, it sure has added to my lesson on how to Balance—both emotionally through perspectives on life and physically while walking with a boot.

The Dawn of New Make Mistakes

Dawn of a New Day

Dawn of a New Day

 This was my view as I was mid-way through a recent 5 a.m. run.

It was so breathtaking that I stopped in mid-stride to take a picture. One of the reasons it took my breath away were the words that came to mind as I watched the fog and the sunrise work together to create both a beautiful scene and the start of a new day. “Each day is the start of something breathtaking.” My mind added, “Shari, you need to do something with it.”

While my immediate thought was “take a picture” as I continued on my run it became apparent to me that “do something with it” had far greater meaning.

Then came the thought, a bit later “blog about it.”  I haven’t been blogging nearly as often as I would like and it took this sunrise to snap me out of that rut, obviously.

The stunning beauty of that sunrise jarred something more in me.

Do something about it also pertains to my life coaching. While what exactly it is is yet to be determined, it helped me realize I need to be okay with making mistakes.

It occurred to me that just like the dawn of each new day, some mistakes are going to be beautiful and make an impact while others are going to seem ordinary and go unnoticed.

That sunrise inspired me to start to make more mistakes. I’ve come to realize in my own life that nothing great comes from safety and security. It’s stepping out on the ledge that causes the adrenaline, excitement and passion to flow. I know that from running, from martial arts – from pushing myself out of a comfort zone. A zone where I was stagnant, complacent and comfortable.

While I don’t know exactly what these mistakes will mean in my life, and as much as it scares me, I’ve decided it’s time to make some pretty awesome mistakes!