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MEEKER I “Live your life well, and if you can help someone, help them.” Simple words that mean so much, and that exemplify Jean Welder’s philosophy on life as a schoolteacher in four different states at all different levels, and as a yoga instructor for four decades.
Jean was born and raised in Michigan. Her father had been a teacher and superintendent of schools in Wisconsin before he married Jean’s mother and they moved to Michigan. He taught government and coached the debate team. Jean remembers listening to town hall over the air every week and then having a discussion about the program in class the following day. Her dad taught them to make the most informed, best decisions they could make given the information. He said things were not black and white and there was more then two sides to every story. Incredibly, his passion for teaching was shared by all seven members of Jean’s family: her mother, father, and all five children chose the profession.
Jean attended college in Michigan and had two great friends who all agreed they needed to live somewhere warmer during the winters. Upon their graduation, they set off for Texas, agreeing to stay in the first town that would hire all three of them. They began their teaching careers in Corpus Christie, Texas, and returned to Michigan in the summers.
Jean met her husband of nearly 60 years in Texas. Frank Welder was from Victoria, Texas. He and his brother both became geologists, and both married schoolteachers. Jean and Frank were married in 1955. Frank was hired by the United States Geological Survey and offered a job in the Federal Center in Lakewood, Colo., that same year.
The two always rode their bikes, walked or rode a bus everywhere they went. Jean has never owned a car. In 1975, Frank was offered a job doing water studies related to oil shale production and the two moved to Meeker. Jean taught school and began teaching yoga in the basement of the Fairfield Center. She had become very involved in practicing yoga while in Lakewood. When she began teaching for Colorado Northwestern Community College there wasn’t even an office in Meeker. She simply posted information at the Post Office and Fairfield Center and answered people’s questions. Before long she had five full classes, more then any other areas in northwest Colorado.
Through extensive travel, she has gained incredible knowledge and experience in both yoga and Tai Chi. On one occasion, while working on the tip of the Arabian peninsula, she co-taught a yoga class with 10 women from 10 different countries and 10 different religious backgrounds. It was an experience that truly emphasized synchronicity for Jean. While in Hong Kong she met a man who practiced tai chi. She gained a great deal of knowledge from him and a page full of techniques.
“How everything is connected in life is amazing,” she said.
Jean has stayed physically and mentally fit through her practice of yoga and tai chi and believes in the importance of mental and physical health and alignment. She absolutely practices what she preaches, and her positive outlook on life is intoxicating. She believes in the importance of self-awareness and quotes Eleanor Roosevelt’s statement about self-confidence: “No one can make you feel what you do not choose to feel.” Jean taught her three children and three grandchildren “no ego satisfaction at someone else’s expense.” She has always emphasized the concept of being outdoors and appreciating nature and the beautiful world we live in.
Jean has an appreciation for life and a unique perspective that makes total sense. Just as balance is easy to understand, so is the basis of her beliefs. She has a graduate degree in holistic health, she is certified at the 500 level in yoga, and she has an unmatched combination of life experience and knowledge. She understands fully the quote, “They look but they do not see, they hear but they do not listen.” She has seen and heard far more than many others.
Her three affirmations for life are: 1) I will celebrate the temporary. This means living in the moment, not dwelling on the past or being overwhelmed by what lies ahead, celebrating the now. 2) I will move stress through me, not allowing stress to build up or create problems. 3) I will accept that others believe differently as long as they believe it for them. She accepts other beliefs and ideas as other people hold them for themselves. Her life strategy has worked well for Jean, and in practicing that strategy, she has helped many others.