November 5, 2012

Sometimes you need an escape – a weekend away, a visit with an old friend, even a night on the couch. Whatever it may be we all need a slow down every now & then. 5 minutes alone to breathe. My life lately has been a combination of a stressful full-time job, a growing side job that is expanding faster than I can keep up with, and my phone never stopping. There is always another email to answer, call to make, text to respond to. Don’t get me wrong – I love my crazy busy life – but at 24 years old, I need to sit down every once in a while and take a breather.  What a perfect time it was to escape Duluth and fly west. I took 3 days off my calendar, packed my bags and headed to the mountains to visit my cousin Kasey. She is originally from Minnesota, but recently was placed in Denver to teach, as part of an organization called Teach for America. If you have no idea what I am talking about – look it up. Seriously amazing. Basically young, energetic, awesome individuals are all trained together in rigorous long-term sessions and then placed in low income schools across the United States. I flew in on Thursday night so I could be her classroom guest on Friday. I was instructed to wear college apparel, as it was their school’s first “College Friday”. Keep in mind this is an elementary school. Kasey teaches 3rd grade – and yet the idea of college is being engrained in their minds already. So awesome.

I woke up to see my little cousin getting ready for school at 5am. Planning her day, making lunch, spending her own money stopping for supplies – not that this is a new thing, I grew up in a family of teachers, but I am always impressed in the extra time & money every teacher has to put in. (Side note: Thank a teacher today. Do it.) We arrived an hour early for school and I continued to watch her ready the classroom, write positive words on the board and prepare mentally for the day ahead. The first thing I noticed in the very front of her room was two big titles with years next to them: “High School Graduation” and “College Graduation”. In third grade, my cousin is preparing her students to think of high school and college as destinations, not dreams. Watching her inspire the young minds in her class was overwhelming for me – I couldn’t help but keep thinking how proud Grandma would be of her.  I only wish there were more teachers with such passion and energy like Kasey and her TFA co-workers.

Friday night we went to eat burgers with her roommate & boyfriend at their favorite local burger joint. Let me introduce you to Park Burger – seriously the best burger & fries. I was in beef heaven. The rest of the weekend went too fast, but let me give you an overview: Movie night with Kasey & the gang, Early Saturday morning hike up the mountains in Boulder, an amazing ham & cheese sandwich (pear on the side), much needed nap, quick trip north to Fort Collins to see one of my favorite childhood friends (Banana says thanks for everything Kyle!) where we tested both the New Belgium & O’Dells Breweries (Andrew was so jealous), dinner at Mayor’s with 100 taps (yeah. seriously.) a Sunday morning sleep in with a quick trip to the local Whole Foods (sushi & dessert were a necessity), westward drive to Red Rocks Amphitheater where everyone should go (just do it – it is amazing) and an afternoon cousin date with pedicures and frozen yogurt. All of a sudden I was boarding the plane home, the worst part of every trip.

Being that my camera is my 3rd arm, I took pictures of everything. And what kind of blogging photographer would I be if I didn’t show you the beauty of my trip? Check out the lovely Colorado scenery, give a teacher a HUGE hug and enjoy your Monday. Peace & Love, AJC


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