A New World

I’m not going to lie, sometimes my  job is so stressful I count down the hours until I can go home and sleep.

And then, there are the moments that make everything worth it. There are moments like with M and J, where you see a small shift in a child and hope it will seed in their brain and bloom later. These are the moments that make every moment of stress, every moment where I feel like I can’t do anything right (which is pretty much all the moments), every moment of planning-anxiety, every moment of let-down or heart-break, just worth it.

These moments happen every day, and they happen often on field trips. Often these are events I’ve always taken for granted–like going to see a ballet. I had several friends in the ballet growing up, and the Nutcracker was a holiday tradition. But when were able to procure tickets to see the Colorado Ballet’s performance of the Nutcracker, I realized what a treat it was for the girls we took to see it. One girl was so enthralled she told me she was “afraid to blink because she didn’t want to miss one thing.”

Today, we took 16 of our kids skiing/snowboarding at Keystone Resort. Skiing, as you know, is very much a hobby of the rich, and most of these kids have only been once or twice, through non-profits like ours. However, growing up in the fairly affluent town of Bozeman, I was lucky enough to both ski and snowboard regularly.

Dragging SIXTEEN middle-schoolers out of bed at 5 a.m. in the morning was not something I was looking forward too–and neither was dragging myself out of bed at 4 a.m.

I admit, I was grumpy on the ride up, sucking down my double-coffees and answering what seemed like inane questions from one particular boy, who also happens to be one of my unofficial favorites.

“Miss Amy, why is the rock that color?” (I don’t know anything about rocks. The best I could come up with was that the “lion-mane-colored rocks” were some sort of sandstone.)

“Miss Amy, are these the Rocky Mountains?”

“Miss Amy, is that mountain as tall as Mount Everest?”

“Why is it called Mount Everest instead of Mountain Everest?” (that was a fun one to explain.)

And so on down the line. When he finally asked me one question, I realized he was asking the endless questions because this was such a new and exciting experience for him: “Will we need oxygen tanks when we ski because it’s so high up?” (we had just finished discussing Everest and why his ears were popping in the altitude).

That’s when it hit me–not only has this kid had so little experience in the mountains, but that this upcoming ski experience was such an event for him that he wanted to soak up everything about it he could.

It helped suck the mundane out of my day, for sure.

And it was made all the better when this kid took up skiing like he was born to and talked about how it was his new favorite sport all the way home.

artistic, I know.

Sure, there were plenty of kids who whined, who fell, got yelled at for not listening to instructions, and one who even hit me so hard in the back rocketing down the hill that I couldn’t breathe for about ten minutes.

But that’s something else I need to remember–experiences that can seem dull and repetitive or not-special to me are a whole different ball game for these kids.  It pays to remember that when I’m annoyed because a certain kid won’t go home when program is over or after a field trip, it’s because home is miserable and this place is their sanctuary.

And even though I’m leaving at the end of this year and many of these kids may forget my name or even forget me and my co-workers may breathe a sigh of relief at my going, I will be forever grateful that I was part of creating a sanctuary for these kids.

Forever grateful that I simply had a place in creating a whole new world for this bunch of rambunctious, crazy, difficult, amazing kids.

And I’m pretty grateful for their part in making a whole new world for me, too.

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Eureka!

I have an exciting announcement, loyal blog readers! I realized upon “cleaning” out my hard drive that I have quite the accumulation of lists. As the world clearly is dying to be privy to the lists of one Amy McMahon from Montana, I decided to do a weekly post featuring my TOP TEN: they’ll be both themed and random. Look for them every weekend! Also, if you have any ideas, feel free to send ’em my way!

Now, without further ado, I present to you this week’s TOP TEN:

The List Of EUREKAS! I’ve Found During The Lifestyle Change, The Long Days, My Obsession With Recipes and Travel Sites, Walking My Dogs, and Other Daily Activities, At Least In Recent Memory:

1. Greek yogurt: 14 grams of protein. Mmmm, especially with fruit-on-the-bottom!

2. Netflix Instant Queue: I’m a little behind on this, but I am addicted and have been watching ridiculous made-for-TV movies from my childhood I never thought I’d see again (Sabrina the Teenage Witch, anyone?). Hey, makes the cleaning seem less bothersome at least!

3. Whole grain pasta. I loooooooooove pasta but unfortunately, I always feel slightly guilty for eating so many carbs that aren’t packed with nutrients (thanks for that one, Mom) but HALLELUJAH for these babies.

4. Peanut Butter Fingers. Another health and fitness blog…great energy and ideas!

5. Mod Cloth. Not that I can afford any of these adorable dresses, but there’s usually no harm in looking…except for the times when I find one that’s almost out of stock and perfectly flattering for my curvaceous form. You can’t say no to that kind of perfection, my friend.

6. Idealist. Check it out if you’re looking for a job in the nonprofit sector!

7. Raclette.  This awesome, traditional Swiss dish that my friend recently introduced me to. The original recipe involved melting the cheese on rocks, but we used a modern Raclette grill, with little slots to melt the cheese, and a grill on top for the sausage!

8. Moleskin. Just like Hemingway. Except I finally found a not-too-expensive one that’s the perfect size with calendar space AND list space. Aha! (The bright spot to the demise of the local Borders: sales!).

9. Spring skiing. Mostly because there are $25 dollar days where you don’t freeze your butt off, you get some fresh tracks (albeit in, well, April snow) and there’s nobody on the mountain!

10. Dark chocolate Cadbury eggs: One of my favorite things about Easter–now in a slightly-healthier flavor! (Had to throw this one in honor of said upcoming holiday).

(If you hadn’t guessed, I still remain unemployed, except as a drudge for my dear mother).

Everything They Say About Exercise is True

And I have to say, it can be really annoying, especially when my inner middle-child rebel instantly wants to do the opposite of what my mother suggests, particularly when she suggests it often and vehemently.

So, in my typical fashion, I ignored her advice for a long time, but I got sick of depending on my traditional traveling illness, as many of you who often frequent airports/third world countries/anywhere that has germs that are foreign to your body can attest to, to provide me with handy shedding of a few extra pounds. Especially now, with no such adventure on the horizon…

This is a long-winded way of saying I have started this new “lifestyle change,” although it’s more of several lifestyle alterations due to my lack of follow-through. I think part of this comes from sheer boredom, but also it’s one of the circumstances of returning from a trip: the slight desperation to avoid being EXACTLY who you were before. Furthermore, I kind of realized I was getting a little curvier and while I am already the voluptuous one in my family (mysteriously, but that’s for another day) I decided that I don’t necessarily want all of these curves, especially the ones on my chest that seem to personally contain every extra bowl of ice cream.

To combat these ice cream pounds (and you know, to stay healthy and live longer and have more energy and all of that, and really, exercise does make me feel so much better…I would insert here that ‘I should have listened to my mother’ but I just can’t) I found an exercise routine that kind of works for me!

It’s in the form of Cardio Ballroom Dancing (you can laugh if you want to–the UPS man sure did when he happened to ring the doorbell during my routine, conveniently during the “shake everything you have!” part) and Pilates in my parent’s living room. And let’s not forget the occasional skiing/hiking jaunt. Skiing is usually fun, despite my two left feet (made worse when attached to pieces of wood), although the season is ending soon. (Not that after my experience today of falling halfway down a cliff and having to climb back up, carting my skis, makes me much enamored of downhill skiing at this point…I so earned this Cadbury egg). But that is one of the keys I’ve found to working out–make it fun! Do I sound too much like a perky gym instructor?

Anyway, stay tuned to see how well the exercise routine goes–so far I’ve been keeping it fairly steady with bribery…it is a lifestyle so hopefully it will become part of my so-called life.

It’ll be a crazy ride–who knows what will happen when I finally get a job, or heaven forbid, a career, and am rudely awakened with the real world custom of time-juggling.