Today is Earth Day and I am excited to introduce you to one of the most grounded, rooted women I know. I met Dustine Rey a couple of years ago during a weekend trip to Catalina. I recall a small group of women on the Catamaran gathering to take turns reading a book aloud. When it was Dustine’s turn, I remember feeling very comforted by her voice. It was calming and almost melodic. It was a child’s PERFECT night time reading voice…magical and nurturing. Now that I know her better, I realize it’s not just her reading voice that is calm, centered and nurturing – it’s who she is.
Dustine definitely leads with her heart but trust me, her mind is just as tuned in. She holds a Doctorate in Educational Psychology and she is currently an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University. She is also the Owner and Director of The Gratitude Garden Preschool. The concept is phenomenal and innovative! She is currently looking for a location for what is sure to be an extraordinary place for young minds to thrive!
I hope you are able to gather as much inspiration from her as I do. Without further adieu…
How would you describe yourself?:
I am a mother, an educator, and a student in almost every circumstance. The mother in me flows throughout the day and within each interaction I encounter. The life of motherhood opened me up to seeing each woman and man as a parent and child themselves. This lens of perspective shapes compassion and patience for what other people are going through and how they react. I find learning and teaching to be one long creative continuum- which I am always doing both. The more I learn, the more I realize how limited my experiences and knowledge are. That is an exciting insight, as each day is an opportunity to give, receive, and connect on a meaningful level with people, children, animals, and nature. For me, each day ends in gratitude. Gratitude for my health, family, the ability to see the beauty in our world, to make change, to serve, and to have fun! I am a grateful, curious, introspective, and persistent woman.
What are you passionate about?:
I envision the future generation of leaders to value global well-being and to approach the challenges of the world with integrity, resilience, and compassion. As such, my personal and professional mission is to strengthen resiliency and nurture curiosity so that young minds can thrive. It is my observation that young people flourish under conditions which promote self-regulation, inquiry, sense of purpose, integrity, creativity, gratitude, and the celebration of trial and error.
I am committed to designing learning environments which deepen the sense of purpose and duty for our future digital leaders and stewards of global well-being. I support causes which empower young people, help to educate and teach skills for self sufficiency, and promote wellness.
What motivates and inspires you? Do you have a personal mantra?:
I am inspired by the human spirit to persevere and to make change. It is the everyday stories of people who triumph over their circumstance that motivate me. I love reading about inner-city kids becoming entrepreneurs, people with disabilities doing the “impossible”, and brave young individuals moving toward a new and positive perspective against all odds. When I am faced with personal challenges, I create mantras and art boards to motivate and get me through struggle. One I have been repeating lately and is hanging in my office is this: ” My mind is not just for me. It is a tool for leadership. How I choose to use my mind will influence the future environment that my daughter and all children will live in. I use my imagination for finding solutions to challenges and for creating opportunities to facilitate well-being. I allow my vision to see past what presents itself and into the depth of the unseen. My mother’s intuition is ignited and glowing.”
In life, we inevitably experience loss, failure or setbacks. How do you cope and navigate those times?:
I have experienced so many losses, failures, and setbacks. Without all those moments to fail, I don’t think I would have learned how to bounce back and regroup and recreate. I fail well. I was not a motivated student in my youth, so I gave up for many years and allowed failure to be my story. I also lost many loved ones early in life, so loss became normalized resulting in sensitivity, strength, and compassion. In my early twenties I chose to confront my failure story resulting in earning A’s in college and going on to graduate school and earning a Doctorate from The University of Southern California. I navigate through personal setbacks with persistence and evidence from my past. I can recreate and redirect anything. Having done it many times, it becomes easier with age. There isn’t a magic method that will work for everyone, however, one constant I find between me and many others who bounce back well is persistence. If you never stop moving toward your goal, you will create new pathways previously unseen that ultimately bring you and your goal into alignment. Time and persistence are the only things separating you from your goal.
What words of wisdom would you like to share with young women?:
One of my favorite quotes is by Melanne Verveer, the State Department’s ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues. “Women’s empowerment is key to economic development as well as political progress. No country is going to get ahead if it leaves half of its population behind. When women and girls do better, everybody does better. The most effective investment that can be made is to educate a girl because when she grows up she leads by example, elevating the nutrition, health, literacy and economic prospects of her whole family.”
Educating girls and women “Is the single best investment that can be made,” according to Verveer. I agree. Our young ladies need to know they are valuable, worthy, competent, and can make a change for themselves and their community.
What does home mean to you?:
To me, home is cozy and decorated with our history of life. It is filled with the sounds of laughter, birds chirping, dogs barking, and the front door knocking from neighborhood kids who are coming over to play. It smells of coffee and fruit snacks, with the faint scent of Aveda candles. It is sometimes messy, leaving evidence of fun with water, bubbles, beads,and chalk. Their are decorative pillows on the floor and the walls are lined with colorful homemade art, eclectic frames of family and vacations and quotes to remind you that this is your best life and to find gratitude in all you have created.
When your journey on this planet comes to a close, what do you want your legacy to be?:
I would hope that my legacy reflects gratitude and resiliency for all the possibilities of life. I hope to leave behind numerous schools where children, teachers, and parents have developed a love for learning, creativity, and a grateful perspective. On my last breath, I want to be able to look back and know that I was loved, gave love, and contributed to a generation of leaders that value global well-being and approach the challenges of the world with integrity, resilience, and compassion.