A while back, my chiropractor (and friend), Dr. Nunn, made the suggestion that I start doing yoga.  Like most things in my life, I hemmed and hawed about it for quite some time.  I guess my basic concern was that I would make an ass of myself.  Eventually, I found an "at home" yoga channel on YouTube that was perfect for me.  I was able to prove Doctor Nunn does make me feel better...without publicly subjecting anyone to my "downward dog."  My little at home YOGA WITH ADRIENE sessions have been very beneficial for me...but there is a phrase that is often repeated in those sessions that have weighed on me... "Find Your Authentic Self."  What, exactly, is my "authentic self?"

I think I am at my most "authentic self" when I am with my wonderful wife, Robin.  She is the one who stands by my side and sees all aspects of my authentic highs and lows...the good and the bad...and still chooses to love me through it all.  Thank you, baby.   -- May 23, 2015

Back in August, Jay Zech, my boss at Gung Ho Bikes, asked me if I was ready to go back to school?  My response surprised him a little.  It's not that I wasn't ready to resume my role as 8th Grade History...but I expressed to Jay that I wasn't sure if I was ready to play the character "Mr. Raymond" yet and that I was enjoying my time being "me" at the bike shop.  Ironically, I've already had the discussion with my wife about how I will feel when I someday retire from teaching and my identity as "Mr. Raymond" fades away.   So, the question that has been perplexing me is..."Does this mean that when I'm at school I'm not being my authentic self?"  We all wear many hats during our lifetime.  Currently I can say that I juggle the roles of my wife's husband, my father's son, my children's father, my students' teacher, and friend to many within my circle. Which, of any, of these represents my authentic self?  These thoughts have been churning in my head...often driving me to question who I am and what my purpose is.

Being my authentic self means spending as much this case, a brilliant day at Longwood Gardens...with my most wonderful wife, Robin, -- August 10, 2019

Being my authentic self means being the same loving role model for my children that my parents were to me-- November 23, 2018

Enjoying my time in my hometown of Bedford, Pennsylvania as a son, a husband, a brother, and an uncle. -- July 4, 2019

The crew at Gung Ho Bikes:  Ryan, Penny Z, Jay Z, Jim S, Clark E, Ben K, Dave R, and Joel W -- December 5, 2018

Yes...being my authentic self means visiting nerdy places and having engaging conversations with formerly alive presidents. Dave Raymond and James Madison. -- July 20, 2019

Being my "authentic self" with my Northeastern Middle School Green Team partners in crime:  Emma Melnorn, Mike Graham, Rose Sprenkle, Eryn Nadolny, Christine O'Neill, Deanna Grbich, and Dave Raymond -- August 21, 2019

One of my favorite versions of my "authentic self"...mountain biking in Michaux State Forest (while wearing a completely nerdy I LOVE JOHN QUINCY ADAMS tshirt). Tim Sindlinger and Dave Raymond -- July 9, 2019

  Recently, I was forced to look at this whole idea of "authentic self" from a  completely different perspective.  A perspective that makes sense...but also challenges me.  I've begun to embrace my "authentic self" as not a single role that I engage in...but more along the lines of core values that I embrace.  I see now that it's okay for me to act differently at school with my students than I do with my biking friends on the trail as long each of these belief systems and values don't change colors.  Being my "authentic self" means being the best possible version of me in every role I find myself in.   Being my "authentic self" means following and living the values that I was taught by my mother and father and passing them onto those I come into contact matter where I am and who I'm with.  It means being the most loving, caring, and dedicated life-partner and husband possible to my wonderful wife...being the responsible person that my mother and father taught me to be...being the role model my children need me to be...being the inspiration to the students within my class...and being reliable and true to those who call me friend.

This is me being my "authentic self" with some very special people in my life:  My wife, Robin; my son, Alex; my step-mother, Mary Jane; the rock star in my life, Galen Black; and my father, Dave Raymond. -- July 4, 2019 time I'm in my downward dog and asked to envision my "authentic self" I'll have a better idea of what it is. Ironically, realizing this may make me feel better...but the challenge it poses is daunting.  Being my true and authentic self is not a role that I play...but living by a core set of values that continuously shines through in all situations and environments.  At all times, standing all good men ought to...each and every day.

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- October 29, 2019

Sometimes being my authentic self at school means going the extra mile for our students.  I'm glad I have a friend and colleague like Mike Graham who shares the same philosophy!  Dave Raymond and Mike Graham...School Picture Day 2019 -- October 16, 2019

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