Student Spotlight: Sue Jansen

I am Sue Jansen and live in Des Moines with my husband of 40 years and a rescue pup.  I retired from 39 years of teaching special education from preschool to high school. I have had the opportunity to teach and learn from kids on the spectrum, deaf, visually impaired, learning, and behaviorally challenged.

To decompress from a stressful day, I usually walk, read or garden. I have also gone to gyms and taken exercise classes.  I found I maintained my routine by doing my own thing on my schedule.  My favorite activity was circuit training with other women as we solved the world’s problems.  However, as gyms closed, I moved on.

A friend recommended yoga to me after I had a fall and a shoulder replaced.  My daughter took yoga with community ed, and I would pick her up at the end of class.  I knew yoga could be relaxing because the teacher would come out to tell me that my daughter was sound asleep on her mat.  Mary was my first yoga instructor other than when a parent would come into my class to work with my students.  Besides yoga, I regularly visit a chiropractor and physical and massage therapists to maintain my health.

I have been practicing yoga for 4 years and have enjoyed chair yoga because it is easily adapted to my physical limitations.  Even when I had my knee replaced, I managed to join class within a week.   Mary is fantastic at individualizing to the special needs of her yogis.  My surgeon told me that I have excellent range of motion. I attribute that to his skills, my physical therapist for her knowledge, and Mary, who continues to share her expertise to improve my strength, balance, and flexibility.  The breathing techniques have helped with stressful times and to redirect my thoughts.

Since retiring, I have filled my time volunteering for a variety of things at my church and in my community.  I am on the board of a guild at a care facility.  We have many activities for the residents and raise funds to pay for those extras. One of the fundraisers is a weekly garage sale from May until September.  Not only is this an activity that residents enjoy attending, but 100% of our monies are returned to the facility to pay for niceties. Several of the residents and I gather weekly to work on crafts that are sold at the guild luncheons.  I also joined a sorority of female teachers who come together and work on altruistic projects.  My book club meets monthly, and I occasionally attend retired area school staff programs.

My free time is spent with my husband who is having some challenges.  We enjoy movies, concerts, musicals, walking a spunky puppy, attending grandchildren’s events, and just reading in the gazebo.  Before covid, we traveled extensively. Education has always been important to me, so I have taken classes to improve my knowledge in my field as well as to expand my hobbies.  I have dabbled in many crafts such as stained glass, basket making, knitting, and crocheting. Currently, I am into making cards.

As a grandmother of 6, mother of 2, and stepmother of one, I do have limits, but I always find time for yoga.   For this, my body and mind are thankful.