A Lesson Learned on Spring Break

By Marin Helppie-Schmieder
Distinguished Young Woman of Texas for 2012
      Spring Break. I believe those are the two most beautiful words every college student longs to say! I could not wait to be with my family, sun in my hair, and away from the cold Pittsburgh weather! As I was packing and getting ready to leave school, I was so excited because for a whole week, I wouldn’t be bombarded with homework or stress. I would be able to relax, and live a carefree lifestyle for seven days. However, when I finally arrived at my destination with my family, I felt I was missing something. Did I pack everything I needed? Did I have homework that was due after break? I couldn’t put my mind into focus! That is, until I came across someone. His name is Mr. Zach, and after a chance meeting with him, he taught me something very important that I thought I should share with you all.

      Zach is pretty shaggy. In fact, when I first met him I could hardly see his eyes! He didn’t hesitate to introduce himself when he saw me, and had a big smile on his face as he came to greet me. If you can’t already figure it out, I’m going to let you in on a little secret—Zach is a dog! As I leaned over to pet him, his owner stepped outside and introduced Zach to me. He told me, “Zach loves to play, and just relax in the grass out in the sunshine.” He is also “very friendly” with new people (that I had already figured out!) I spent a couple of minutes just petting Zach and laughing as he ran around. As I said goodbye to Zach, he tried to walk with me back to my family, but he only made it as far as the leash tied around the tree would let him. I turned around one last time to wave goodbye to the owner, and when I did, I saw Zach peacefully lying in the grass. He looked completely content lying in the rays of the sun, his eyes closed with his tongue sticking out. And that’s when it hit me.

      I hadn’t been worrying about whether I had packed the right things or homework; I was worrying because I felt like I had to do something. I hadn’t taken the time to just stop, breathe and relax. To be like Zach in the grass, completely content with doing nothing and being ‘OK’ with it. After my chance meeting with Zach, I too went outside, and laid in the sunshine doing and thinking about absolutely nothing. It was so nice to not worry about anything and to simply be in the moment. 

      So I’d like to give a big ‘thank you’ to Zach. He’ll never know how much he has affected me. However, the least I can do for him is to remember how content he looked lying in the green grass and of course giving him lots of love every time I see him the rest of my Spring Break!

Marin Helppie-Schmieder is a college freshman at the Conservatory of Performing Arts at Point Park University in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania majoring in Modern Dance. Originally from Carrollton, Texas, Marin was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Texas for 2012. Learn more about Marin here!

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