Welcome to the Jungle

She plopped down right beside me.

“I know you!”, she said, smiling.  “You’re Michele.”

I’m racking my brain.  Let’s see … I’m in Creede, Colorado, a teeny, tiny little town I’ve never visited, sitting in a restaurant I didn’t know existed.  Now – mind you – I’ve been in some very “off the beaten path” places far away from where I live and have randomly bumped into people I know.

There was a random store in the Miracle Mile in Vegas when I lived in Tampa, FL … “Are you Michele???  The crazy Spin instructor at the Y?”

Ummm…yes!  That’s me.

Or the newly built resort on a bumpy, dirt road out in the middle of “Nowhere, Belize”.  I just wanted to take a quick peek inside.  From across the pool I hear my name, “MICHELE!!!”

Well, hello!  Yes, I’ll be back in Colorado next week to teach those classes you love!


She kept smiling at me, and I’m positive she could see the wheels in my head turning – trying to figure out if I had met her once, way back when.   She reached out her hand and said,

“I’m Kim.  I’m part of a workout group here.  We all watched as two of our workout ladies went through your Fit Photage program.  They call you the Crazy Trainer – and that’s meant as a compliment!”

One thing you MUST understand about me.  I absolutely LOVE meeting new people, connecting, conversing, bantering, laughing.  I was drawn in by Kim’s contagious smile and her boldness to simply sit down beside a woman she didn’t know and, on top of that, invite conversation.

Kim just retired from teaching elementary school P.E.  She lived out her passion for physical fitness and for kids, many of whom just needed someone to believe in them, love on them, and show them that they are capable of great things in life.  I could see the passion in her face when she spoke of “her kids”.  I understood her completely.  As a school teacher myself, I GOT IT.  I understand the privilege it is to use your positive influence to help mold, create, steer others – many times not even realizing the effects of your influence until much later in life.

She told me about the Zoo Tiger and the Jungle Tiger – a very real concept that she taught her students.  The gist?

Zoo Tiger

fed, protected, nurtured, given medical attention, worries for nothing, has no need for survival skills, environmental conditions are constant, has a “look at me” mentality, no need to be on guard, caged but free from Problems, Challenges, Obstacles and Change.

Jungle Tiger

must hunt to eat, licks his own wounds, on constant alert, knows survival tactics, adapts to changing environmental conditions, knows when to conserve or unleash energy, relies on instinct, free but faces Problems, Challenges, Obstacles and Change.


She put it into practice …

When one of Kim’s “kids” struggled with completing a P.E. skill — she would whisper,

“Jungle Tiger” in his/her ear, not allowing a quitter’s mentality to set in.


If she knew they were having a difficult time at home, she would throw an arm around their shoulder and say,

“I know things are tough right now.  I want you to be a Jungle Tiger who is not afraid!”


When a student had to move away in the middle of the school year and was afraid of the impending changes, Kim would look him/her in the eyes and in her firm but loving way she would say,

“You’ve got this!  Go show everyone what it is to be a Jungle Tiger – face these changes head on.  You’ll be ok!”


At team events, when one or more participants dropped the ball, fell down, missed the mark, couldn’t continue, Kim and the entire team would chant,

“Jungle Tiger, Jungle Tiger, Jungle Tiger”, not allowing any participant to fall to the wayside.


And when Kim herself struggled with cancer and was facing the difficult Problems, Challenges, Obstacles and the Changes within her body, her mindset, her day-to-day — those very students, her “kids”, rallied around her and screamed the words




She was telling me this story.  I’m not sure why.  And my eyes welled up with tears.  This story, and the reality of it — it’s “in living color” realness resonated so deeply within.  Without even knowing me — she KNEW ME —my heart– and it was like we were one in spirit.  What she wanted for her students, even for herself, is one and the same with what I want for anyone I come in contact with in my world … and YES, even for myself.

I want to wake up in the morning and say,

“Welcome to the Jungle, Baby” — let’s see what Problems, Challenges, Obstacles and Changes are on the docket.  How will I JUNGLE TIGER those things today?  And by leading by example I hope to incite the same reaction within you!



Jungle Tigers learn their survival skills by

  • LEARNING how to ADAPT to each CHANGE.

Avoidance of those things actually keeps us underdeveloped.  Avoidance produces fear of problems, challenges, obstacles and change.  Avoidance allows us to feel a false sense of protection and we let down our guard as a result.  Avoidance keeps us from unleashing our full potential and the amazing surge of energy required to survive.  Avoidance puts us behind bars, caged — a Zoo Tiger lacking the necessary skills to survive, much less flourish with the things we set out to do.

  • Problems?  They’ll always be there.
  • Challenges?  Nothing worth anything comes easy.
  • Obstacles?  These are life’s learning curves.
  • Change?  The only thing that is constant.



So WAKE UP, Jungle Tiger …

And welcome YOUR jungle, YOUR life, YOUR world, YOUR goals, YOUR desires, YOUR work, YOUR dreams and all the problems, challenges, obstacles and changes that YOUR jungle requires!


I’ll be over here, embracing my own jungle while spurring us both on … Can you hear me chanting?



Hey, have you checked out our scrapbook filled with all sorts of Jungle Tigers and their accomplishments? …. CLICK HERE…

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