Every Body Changes

2018 has been a year of change for me. I’ve become more in tune with body, stopped giving it what it didn’t want and started giving it more of what it needed. Today I am 14 pounds down and feel amazing! I still have a way to go until I reach my goal, but I am excited about where I am going.

In January I became Pescetarian. This combined with the fact that I cannot have dairy made me sort of make-shift vegan. I will have meat once in a while, but I noticed that my body does not respond the same way to meat as it does when I eat seafood. I feel heavier and just plain gross after eating meat. This versus eating fish and veggies, where I feel much lighter and have a lot more energy, made the decision to stop eating meat a no-brainer.

In July, I stopped drinking alcohol. My husband and I would drink almost every night and whenever we go out with friends it typically involved drinking. I had many reasons to stop, the biggest was that I did not like who I became when I was intoxicated. A sniff of alcohol is usually enough to do me in and it became harder for me to learn my limits. I would become someone I was not proud of and lacked the self control to be myself. Now that I’ve stopped, I feel in control of my life and decisions at all times. I also knew it was integral to weight loss but it was something I was never ready to give up. I wanted to just try it out to see what it would be like. If I had known it was going to be this easy and the sleep would be so much better I would have stopped a long time ago (maybe).

Finally, around the same time, I decided to make healthier choices and by April 2019 to lose 22 pounds and by my 30th birthday, November 2019, to be able to look in the mirror and like the way I look, because honestly I had been avoiding looking in the mirror at all for some time. I am happy to say that after 3 months of staying and slaying on my goals, I am 14 pounds down and so proud of myself!

The journey to get here was long and tough, but I am happy where I am at and excited to see where I go. Along the way, I have learned a lot of lessons. Not just about weight loss, but life in general. This is the story of my journey, what I’ve done, and what I’ve learned along the way. I hope those of you with similar goals are helped in some part by this.

Everyone is on their own journey
So many of us look in the mirror and think, wow I need to lose weight, and then look at others and think I wish I could look like that or If I looked like her, I wouldn’t have to watch everything that I eat all the time or I wish I had a metabolism like that and could eat like that. But, after talking to so many of my girlfriends and guy friends and listening to so many weight loss journeys and body stories, I have learned that no matter your gender, shape, size, weight, men and women of all sizes all around us are going through the same struggle. We are all a work in progress. Knowing these men and women were out there and struggling to be happy in their own skin like me somehow made this process easier. I knew I wasn’t alone when I’ve always felt like I was.

Realize it’s going to take time
Three months ago, on the day I decided to start this journey, I came home from Zumba class and I started bawling. I was so sick of being unhappy in my own skin. 3 months before my husband and I got married, we both got personal trainers. We worked hard, ate on strict meal plans, but by the end of it, I wasn’t happy with the way I looked. Last fall, my husband and I did the entire program of P90X. By the end, I still didn’t like the way I looked. It felt like no matter how hard I worked, I never looked the way I wanted to. I couldn’t even remember the last time I liked the way I looked.

And then I did. It was 5 years ago right after I graduating college. And that’s when I realized that I was sitting here trying get results after 3 months when last time it took me nine months to get there! It took me a while to gain this much weight. Of course it should take just as long, maybe even longer. That’s when I gave myself a realistic goal of 9 months. I am now 3 months in, at that same point at the end of P90X and after a personal trainer, and I don’t feel a sense of finale, but rather that that this is my taking off point and I still have 6 months to go. That is so encouraging for me.

Find a way to measure your success.
When we did P90X, part of what made it so discouraging was that I didn’t take measurements and I didn’t weigh myself. I could have been making tons of progress but I didn’t know if I was or not. This time, I am weighing myself every day. This allows me to be accountable for everything I eat. Plus if I make a poor food choice the night before, I can see how my body handled it. It’s the reassurance I need that a small square of chocolate isn’t going to do anything, and at the same time teaches me that a treat meal once a week doesn’t put me back on the scale. It also shows me that after going out of town and slipping up on my diet a bit may make the scale go up some, but I’m not tempted to get off my diet like I was before. I continue to weigh myself and hold myself accountable and when those pounds drop off again I know I’m back to where I stopped and get started again. Finally, on those days where I look in the mirror and feel like I haven’t changed a bit, even though I’ve been working so hard, I know that I have because the scale says so. I used to judge my weight loss based on how my pants fit, but weighing myself this go around has made all the difference for me. It’s so motivating knowing that the healthy decisions I make are actually paying off and translating to the scale. It’s what makes waking up and making the same decisions that much easier!

Find what works for YOU
Another reason why P90X and having a personal trainer didn’t work for me is because I didn’t actually enjoy it. They felt more like chores to me than anything else. Then I thought back to what I did those 9 months of success and it was workout classes! I absolutely love workout classes! I love Zumba, Body Pump, Yoga, and Spinning! It’s easy to work these into my schedule, even at 6am, and it’s a motivation to get to the gym.

However, I have several friends who don’t like classes for one reason or another. They choose to workout at home, with a trainer, at work, or not at all. Some people choose the Keto Diet or Weight Watchers or just making healthy choices. Not one way is right for all people and just because one person is doing one thing doesn’t mean that’s the right thing for you. Because I have found what works for me, I know that I can adapt these lifestyle changes permanently, and not just for 3 months this time.

Listen to your Body
Getting in tune with my body is what helped me figure out what I should cut out and what I should keep. Assess how you feel after you eat something. Does your tummy hurt? Do you just feel like crap afterwards? These are signs that your body does not like it so stop giving it to it. Also don’t just follow any diet on Pinterest because there’s a picture of a skinny girl next to it. Don’t just started the Keto diet because your friend is doing it. And by the way, try to cut out alcohol, I lost 5 pounds almost immediately from just that. No body needs alcohol.

Carbs are not your enemy
Unless you’re on the Keto diet of course. Otherwise I find that if I don’t consume carbs for breakfast and lunch, it’s easier to make poor food choices for dinner because I am just so hungry! Personally, I eat some form of whole grain carbs (like oatmeal with bananas or eggs and toast) and then have a large lunch with more carbs (tuna salad wraps, chickpea sandwiches, chili) and then a snack when I get home from work (like a protein bar, almonds, or shake). Then by the time it’s time for dinner, I’m not even that hungry so having a small piece of salmon and broccoli is an easy decision for me to make. I do not, however, have carbs for dinner. When your body doesn’t have carbs for energy, it burns through fat. I remember reading this piece of advice a while ago, and my personal trainer reiterated it to me, that if you don’t have carbs for dinner your body will burn through fat while you sleep. I am no dietitian but all I know is that I feel light and skinny when I wake up in the morning!

You don’t owe anyone an explanation
I may not eat meat, but I love bacon and charcuterie. I may not drink, but I will have a light beer or gin and soda once in a while. I may not eat dairy, but I might If I have Lactaid on hand. I may have a healthy lifestyle, but sometimes I make crappy food choices. I refuse to deprive myself of anything because I never want to regret choices I have made to better my overall health. Everything I have omitted from my diet, I still consume maybe 3% of the time. Sometimes at restaurants I say I’m vegan because then I know that I can consume whatever I am given without a doubt. All of these contradictions open my life and choices up to skepticism and criticism from a lot of people around me. People constantly wanting to remind me of what I don’t eat, as if I don’t know or something. It can get old, annoying, and exhausting.

Here’s what I’ve learned though: I can do absolutely anything I want. Not just with my diet but with my life. I don’t owe anyone and explanation and anyone I may want to give one to would never ask me to. The first time my best friend saw me eat salami after becoming pescetarian she told me she was proud of me because I wasn’t depriving myself if I wanted something. When we go out to eat, whether I say I’m vegan or I order something with cream in it, my husband backs me up (and maybe reminds me to take a Lactaid). My work-wife-co-teacher constantly gives me non-dairy-free treats because she knows “how much I love them even though I don’t eat them.”

I have to be honest though, when people closest to me question my decisions or tell me to “not be” dairy/meat/alcohol free, it hurts. And while I wish I could tell them to MYOB, I’m still trying to come up with a nicer response.

Find Your Cheerleaders
Once I started making my health a priority, something amazing happened to my energy. Not only did I have more of it, but I became a lot more positive and had no tolerance for negative people. This is why I took it especially hard when people close to me (or at least, whom I thought were) said nothing to me when they saw changes even though they knew about my goals. Instead of cheering me on, they would notice it and say nothing. Unfortunately, there are people like this that are negative and make you not feel as good about yourself and your accomplishments (not just weight loss, but really about all things). I have learned that it was never about me. It was a reflection of themselves and what they were going through. Someone may not congratulate me on my accomplishments because they are struggling with the same goal. Understanding this made it much easier to deal with situations like this, and realize who my real friends were and who to stay away from. And by the way, don’t let these kinds of people make you afraid to brag on yourself! You are a powerful being and no one’s negative energy can get in the way of that! You lost 3 pounds? You worked your butt off at the gym last night? You’ve decided to start making healthy choices tomorrow? Shout it from the rooftops! You are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

I did, however, find my cheerleaders. Those that would notice every single pound and cheered me on for it. These individuals make it easier to continue on my journey and feel good about myself and all I’ve accomplished. Surround yourself with people like this, people who feel like sunshine, and ignore all the haters. You can always count on me to be one of your cheerleaders!

 

There is a stigma associated with weight loss. We must be shallow and all we care about is how we look. This is why we don’t talk about being comfortable in our own skin since we are taught from a young age “it’s the inside that counts.” While this is true it’s a lot easier said than done. Yes, you should try to lose weight to be healthy, but the truth is you can be healthy and not happy in your own skin. Last year when I went in for my yearly physical, my doctor told me I was completely healthy and I asked her if I needed to lose weight. She told me “you should be at a weight where you are happy.” And that is what I, and so many of us, are striving to do. There is nothing shallow about this, friends. Don’t let anyone make you feel like it is. We are making our happiness a priority and that is more than ok. I can’t tell you how many times I told people about my weight loss struggles and their response every time was “me too.” We are all on the same path, let’s support one another and lift each other up. You never know what anyone else is going through, so be kind always.

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Mrs. Y Reporting for Duty

Over the years, the job of a teacher has slowly evolved. We are counselors, therapists, parents, and oh so much more. We never complain or compromise because we love our students as if they were our own. But now, in the wake of the school shooting in Florida, when did teachers become soldiers too?

Over the past week, I have seen various Facebook posts and news articles about how the solution to our problem is to have teachers conceal and carry weapons in their classroom. I have had several people, parents and students included, approach me and ask me if I would consider doing this.

Let me start by saying there are so many things wrong with this idea I don’t even know where to begin. First of all, I’m 5’0 and close (enough) to 100 lbs. If any of my students (or anyone else in the school for that matter) wanted to overtake me to grab my gun it would take little effort.

Second of all, the suggestion of 156 guns floating around the school would only put us at more risk. Teachers multitask enough between helping students, grading papers, and holding our bladders. Keeping track of a gun is just another thing teachers don’t need to add to the list. All it takes is one teacher to lose track of theirs to put the whole school in danger. I can’t even keep track of my pen for an entire block, forget about a gun.

Also, why do we have an inherent trust of all teachers everywhere? How many news reports have we seen of teachers being convicted predators and criminals? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to see any of them with a gun.

I’m not even for it being option for teachers. What kind of message would it send to my students that I could have a gun to protect them but I chose not to? How can I expect my students to feel they are in a safe learning environment knowing they can be safer? They would feel betrayed.

And I know this because I could sense the betrayal when my students asked me if I would conceal and carry and I said no.

Instead I told my students my opinion on the matter and that it is not my job to protect them to this extent. The school already has a protocol in place and that’s what I would follow. I went to school to learn math so I could teach them and part of my teaching exam did not involve boot camp (because trust me, if it did, I would not have been hired).

And that’s when a student responded, “that’s the same thing as being a shop owner and someone comes in and starts shooting your customers and you don’t do anything to protect them.” I responded that just like me, that’s not their job. And he said “so you’re saying it’s ok to stand by and watch and not do anything about it.”

Here’s the thing, I love each of my students dearly. Would I take a bullet for them? Would I stand in the line of fire for them? I really don’t know. It’s hard to say what anyone would do in the moment. It’s hard to even say that if I had a gun I would think to pull it out in that split second. But I am positive that I would do anything in my power to protect them.

But there’s a difference between what I would do and being told what I must do.

I cannot imagine being a teacher at one of these schools and watching one of your students get hurt right in front of your eyes and feeling like you should have done something more to protect them. Because that’s who we are as teachers, it’s how we are built.

But we are not soldiers. We are not human shields. We did not go to school to become body guards. We are educators and society has seriously lost sight of this.

What upsets me above all else, more than having to tell my students that I didn’t love them enough to protect them by carrying a gun, is that I was put in this situation to begin with because society thinks this is a perfectly reasonable request. And this reveals a deeper problem about what people think of teachers.

Why have we completely glossed over practical solutions like increasing the amount of security we have in schools and gone straight to putting teachers in the line of fire? While we are busy protecting our students, who will protect us? What you may see as me being able to protect myself with a weapon, I see as putting a target on my back. And the reason you may not see it this way is because society stopped seeing teachers as human beings a long time ago.

When is society going to start caring about the well being of their teachers?

I couldn’t even begin to count how many times I have seen the words “mental health” over the past week. Criminals, victims, parents, but what about the teachers? When are we going to care about the mental health of teachers who wear so many hats day in and day out? Now we are being asked to put on camouflage to be thrown into battle with no shield?

Enough is enough. Teachers are people too. We may love these students as much as our own but they are not our own. “Our own” are waiting for us to come home at the end of the day. Society has taken advantage of the love and affection we have for our students and is attempting to once again manipulate us. We will do whatever we can to protect our students but it is not our moral obligation to take a bullet for our students and it is not ok for anyone to make us feel like it is.

All students are entitled to an education, but none of them are entitled to my life.

Dear John

The first day of school, Harry walked into class and I could see there was something special about him. He was clearly in the wrong math class and should have been placed in advanced Algebra 2. Within the first week of school, I contacted both his counselor and his mom and he was moved to Pre IB algebra 2. From then on, every fourth block he would walk into 910 instead of room 909 and I never saw him again.

But this story isn’t about Harry. It’s about the quiet boy who sat next to him, John.

When I had decided to become a teacher, I was rejected from my first choice Masters program. I also failed the Math PRAXIS twice and couldn’t teach at my first county of choice. I was devastated. That was my ticket into teaching and I was had no idea what to do next. Until I found out I didn’t need any of that if I wanted to teach in the city. So I thought I would stay there until I could pass my exams.

Immediately I was hooked. I could get these kids so excited about math and I felt like I was really making a difference. I thought anyone could make a difference in the suburbs, but look at me, I’m making a difference with kids who need me. Anyone could stand in front of the room and teach math to students who come from more. But I teach kids who come from nothing. I was doing “desaseva” as my mom called it, “saving the world” one child at a time. It felt amazing like I had found my calling in life.

Eventually for reasons I won’t go into now, I started to consider leaving the inter-city school system. I had passed my exams and was read for a change. But I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being selfish for leaving students who needed me for students who didn’t. But then I talked to my teacher friend who told me there are kids everywhere that need you. I didn’t believe her. I thought she just didn’t understand. That was until I decided to leave the city and join the suburbs. That was until I met John.

John, unlike Harry, was very quiet. But like Harry, was extremely bright and clearly could have succeeded in advanced Algebra 2. He shouldn’t have been placed in my class, he belonged in room 910 with Harry. We contacted his mom as well, but John stayed in my class.

Throughout the year John was my top student. Anything I taught he would immediately master and help the rest of his group. If I ever thought I forgot to teach something, John would remind me that I did because he’d know it. I would walk by him each class and give him a little feedback if anything but other than that, John didn’t need me. I was consistently met with the feeling that John could have been learning more in 910 than my room. John could have been learning with students like Harry than with students under his level like the ones in my room.

Later that year, John passed his Virginia Standards of Learning exam with a perfect 600. When I had the pleasure of telling him the news, his face read as obviously. I too had no doubt that of course he did and I had nothing to do with it. I thought whether he was in my classroom or not this would have been the score he rightfully deserved.

The school year ended and John was another student I told good bye! And have a great summer to, never thinking I’d see him again, but believing that no matter where he ended up and whichever teachers had the honor of teaching his brilliant mind, that he would be successful. I truly never believed I’d even hear his name again.

Until that summer when I ran into a family friend of John’s family who informed me that John had signed up for Precalculus to which l thought obviously! But apparently the county had accidently preemptively released student schedules and John’s mom had to make a “phone call” because I wasn’t his Precalculus teacher. I was taken a back. Why did it matter that I wasn’t John’s teacher again this year?

What I learned was that the first week of school when I suggested to John that he move from my class into Advanced Algebra 2, he went home that night and talked to his mom. John felt that for the first time he mattered, that he was seen, heard, and understood. Being the quiet successful student that he was, no one ever stopped to make sure he was included. The collaborastive environment of my class made John feel like he had a role and mattered not only to me, but other people as well. He had always been a successful math student, but in my class it was more than that. He never switched to the class that I thought he belonged in because plain and simple, he loved being in my class and loved his teachers.

I was moved to tears. Every time John earned an A in my class to when he earned that final 600, I never thought it was because of me. I never thought I mattered. I truly felt that anyone could have taught him this subject and he would succeed. But sometimes our role as teachers isn’t just about teaching, it’s about making kids feel like they matter. Sure, anyone could have taught John, but what he taught me was that most of the time, teaching isn’t about teaching. In John’s case, I made him feel like he existed. In other cases, I make students smile, be successful, know I’m there’s and know that I care. Teaching is not just about the education you receive, it’s about the life you believe your students deserve to lead.

And John, just like I almost never knew that I made a difference in your life and education, you may never know just how much of a difference you made in my life. But just know, you will always matter to me.

The Grade Disappointment

Ah. The dreaded Logs and Exponentials test. The one test that each year without fail makes the lowest test average. Not just because the material is difficult, but for the first time students need to study hard and, unfortunately, most don’t.

Grading this test is always hard for me; failing grades back to back … to back. Sure, you can clearly see your top students excelling and see which students put in the time and effort to study. But for what feels like most of students, all you see is your own disappointment.

That afternoon after grading those tests, I came home completely distraught. I didn’t know how I was going to be able to pass back their tests the following day. What was I going to say? What was I going to do to help them bring up their grade? Did students who clearly didn’t study deserve a second chance? It consumed my every thought. It was more than disappointment, it was personal.

So, I sought out the advice of my fellow teachers and asked them how do you not take it personally when your students fail? I was looking for a magical potion to carry my worries away and every teacher I turned to gave me the same answer. I do. I couldn’t believe it.

Teachers spend an insurmountable amount of time and energy on each of their students to help them learn and succeed. I make myself available to my students each morning. On this test, I provided them with not one or two but three test reviews. I even told them exactly what was on the test, down to the very questions. And yet, only a handful of them went back to study. How could they do that to me?

How could one student write “please explain” on several questions when I could have explained at any point throughout the unit if she had just asked.

How could another student write “IDK” on nearly every question when I told him exactly which questions to study.

How could my class not be their number one priority?

And that’s what I failed to realize before. I spend at least 6 hours each day with my students at the center of my mind thinking of activities and resources to help them learn and succeed. But them? They spend very few hours thinking about my class outside of the 90 minutes every other day when they are actually in my classroom. They’re thinking about their other classes, video games, sports, friends, their lives. But, when they are the center of our world, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we are not. And as a result, we end up with mixed emotions and meager explanations.

Maybe I didn’t explain this concept well enough. Let me talk to their old math teacher and find out how they did last year. Maybe there was something more I could have done.

The next day I was ready to give their tests back. I had a pep talk all planned out for them. I was going to give them encouragement that they could bring their grades up and I was ready to help them get there. I was nervous. What if they would all gang up on me and tell me I was an awful teacher? What if they would tell me that the test was unfair and I didn’t teach them something correctly? What if they were right?

Instead, their response was even more shocking.

While you all are working today, I’m going to hand back your tests.

“Oh no.” *dreadful looks*

Before I give them back to you, I want you all to know that this test is notoriously the hardest test of the year. This is the first time this class is difficult and you need to study harder than you did before.

*head nods all around*

However, it was also very obvious if you did not study at all for this test.

*accusatory glances are their friends*
*shrugs of acknowledgement from students who scored poorly*

But I want you to know that I am here for you and you can do test corrections as always.

*Mischievous looks at each other as if my test correction policy was brand new, even though it’s the same one I’ve had all year.*

I know you all can do this and this material is difficult, but I am here for you to help you succeed.

I couldn’t believe it! The students that didn’t do well knew they didn’t do what they needed to do. Even “IDK” and “please explain” who caused me so much grief humbly asked me about the test corrections policy and if there was anything else they could do.

All of the grief that this situation brought me was for nothing. And it made a lot of sense after the fact: these students are my whole world, and I am just a piece of their world. Their failures are my failures, but my disappointment isn’t necessarily theirs. And I have to be ok with that.

So did my spiel of encouragement prove to be effective? All I can say for now is that later in the week, I overheard everyone asking their friends if they studied for their first trigonometry quiz. I was not disappointed to hear many yes’s, and this time, grading their quizzes wasn’t so painful.

The Diary of a Guilty Teacher

They say that between years 4 and 5 teachers reach a bump in their careers. Now that they’ve learned the ropes and are masters of their own classrooms with lessons they can use from year to year, their eyes are now open to all of the other issues facing education: truancy, administration, parents being overly involved or not at all, standardized testing, and the list goes on and on. Sure, they’ve noticed it before. But not like this. Never like this. It is between years 4 and 5 where they decide if this is really the career for them or not. If they can get past this hump, they are good for life. If not, well, it’s time to find another job.

This is year 4.5 for me and I’ve definitely hit that bump. Now that I feel more confident in the classroom, I’ve opened my eyes wider to the issues facing education. But above all issues I’ve noticed, there is one that reigns supreme, one that no matter whether you’re in the inter-city or suburbs that affects education unlike anything else: apathy.

Specifically, student apathy towards education. The number of students who do not care about their education enough to do their homework or to study for tests and quizzes or even show up to class is overwhelming. This year more than ever I noticed it. But looking back, this has always been an issue for me in my career.

I know it seems silly to a non-teacher. If a student doesn’t care, why is that your problem? That’s their education they’re there to receive from you so if they don’t want to learn or do anything, that’s on them and their parents, not you. And while this may be true, any educator will tell you one of the hardest things we have to do to watch a student’s apathy lead to their demise.

You see, from the moment a student walks into our classroom, we have begun to form a relationship with them. Within the first two weeks, I can assess a student’s potential. Within the first month, we have reached an understanding of each other and know how to work together. By the second month, that respect and understanding has turned to love. For me, the hardest part about teaching is watching someone you love make poor choices when you know how much they are capable of.

And so what happens? Teachers beat themselves up going from counselor, to assistant principals, to parent-teacher conferences trying to help everyone understand that this child needs help. Success plans are made, schedule changes are considered, and yet the age old saying, “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink” sings true. No matter what you try to do for your students, at the end of the day if they don’t choose to do their homework, study, show up to class, and care, there’s nothing else you can do. And after giving all of that time and energy to the success of this child, coming to that realization is the hardest part about it all.

This is the biggest issue that has made teaching 4.5 the hardest year for me.

My first year of teaching, my mentor told me you have to care just a little bit more than your students. Then they will figure out a way to meet you and then you do it again until they finally meet your standards. I haven’t been teaching nearly as long as her, but I think this advice is flawed. Because caring a little bit more than each of my 120 kids is exhausting. And after 4.5 years of following this advice, I am completely exhausted.

I am exhausted from the student who has 15+ absences in my class and when she chooses to show up, makes a mockery of my class. When she decides to stay after to catch up on material she has missed and I finally feel like we’ve made progress and she assures me she’s going to turn it around, she misses the next 5 classes.

I am exhausted from chasing a student who chooses to sleep in my class every day and trying to convince him there are better math classes he could be taking that will help him achieve his future goals. Or he can do the math he signed up for, and after we create a plan to help him get there, he comes in the next day and sleeps through class again.

I am exhausted from the number of students who never meet my standards for how much I want them to care. And more than anything, I am tired of taking their apathy personally.

Right before winter break, a wise teacher gave me some life-changing advice: I needed to find a way to care less.

I know that sounds terrible, as if the solution to apathy is more apathy. And the sheer amount of guilt I felt from deciding to follow this advice is insurmountable. But what I learned over the past month was that I love each and every one of my students dearly and I will always care about them and their success. But it is not my job to care about their education for them and more importantly, it is ok to love myself more than I love them. There are more important things in life than my job. My husband, friends, family, all of this will be there when I’m not teaching anymore and it’s OK to make time for them instead of grading papers and writing emails.

Now, I leave every day at 3:45. I don’t take any papers home (if I can avoid it), I turned off my student messaging app, I check my email once maybe twice after I come home. I don’t hold students to such strict deadlines and I’m a much more lenient teacher. I don’t chase students around trying to make them make up their tests and quizzes and let them come to me. And because I don’t stress myself out as much, I don’t come back from each day with heavy shoulders and feeling tired from the day. Instead I focus on the students who do care and want to be successful. I will continue to drop heaven and earth in a heartbeat to help them. I pour my heart and soul into my lesson plans because planning fun and engaging activities has always been my favorite part of teaching. I continue to fight for, not just my apathetic students but, all of my students, just in a more healthy and less all-consuming way

For the first time in my career, I have the time and energy to care and love myself. I actually have time to go to the gym now and do the things I love, like blogging. I am so much more tuned in with myself and my own emotions because I’m not constantly filled with emotions from my students and the day. After 3:30, teacher me is turned off and I can be myself again for the first time in 4.5 years.

But the downside to all of this: I feel so guilty. I can’t seem to rid my self of the feeling that I should be doing more.

And why do I feel guilty? Because society unfortunately makes teachers into martyrs who stay at school until 7pm, bring home papers to grade, are available 24/7 for their students day and night. They are portrayed as these incredible selfless heroes who are “underpaid and overworked.”

Well, over the past month here is what I have figured out. Teachers can be all of this and more, but between the hours of 8:30am and 3:30pm and there is nothing wrong with that.

It would be naive to assume all of the negativity can be turned off and happy teacher can be turned on, and it’s definitely a work in progress. But one thing is for sure: this mindset change has allowed me to successfully work through my 4.5 year teacher bump and I’m so ready for a life of learning and loving. Not just for my students, but myself as well.

Apathy: Now Part of a Balanced Breakfast!

Most people don’t know this about me, but in March of last year, I battled depression. I was down all the time and had no idea why. I loved my job, my newlywed marriage was amazing, I had great friends, and I had no reason to be unhappy. But I knew something was wrong, and everyone else could see it too… and everyone wanted to fix me.

What’s wrong?
Is everything ok at home?
Maybe it’s weather.
You probably just haven’t been getting enough sleep.
You should drink more water.
Have you tried yoga?

To quote Hyperbole and a Half, this is what it was like:

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Up until this point in my life, the only knowledge I had about depression was from Hyperbole and a Half (which is an incredible book that I highly recommend if you’ve never read it). But to actually experience everything that she had been going through was frightening. Amidst a constant state of sadness and insecurity there is a looming sense of dread from having no idea what is troubling you to begin with.

Eventually, after about a couple months and a lot of inner reflection (and maybe some yoga), I was able to bounce back to my normal self.

And suddenly, I was Public Enemy Number One… Again.

I am happy, bubbly, enthusiastic, optimistic, and laugh without fear of judgement. I am a happy-go-lucky kind of person and make no apologizes about it. This is who I am at my ground state and I am proud of it.

But this is also the reason why I have only about four best friends and only surround myself with a select few. Most people can’t “handle” me when I act myself.

I am constantly accosted by even random strangers asking me to calm down or who give me dirty stares when I laugh too loud. I never have a quick, snarky response to any of them because it usually takes me by surprise since the people I choose to surround myself with on a regular basis don’t treat me like this. I also can’t imagine talking to someone that way and have no idea how random strangers feel like they can treat someone they don’t know that way either, but I digress.

But that summer, fresh off a spout of sadness that I had never before experienced, every time I was met with this kind of disdain, it was even more shocking than before.

Everytime I went out of my comfort zone to socialize and try to make new friends and start with a cheerful, “hello!” the dirty looks I’d get from people who thought they were too cool to talk to me took me by surprise.

The optimistic posts I would put on Facebook, amongst terror and political pessimism, that was met with comments from people that accused me of being insensitive appaled me.

The random stranger who told me I’m laughing so loud that I’m “disturbing her and everyone else in the restaurant” while I was catching up with a best friend I hadn’t seen in over a year truly upset me.

And it’s not just me. The other day I was watching Shark Tank and there was an incredibly enthusiastic lady who was selling plush animals with a comb inside of it. Literally two sharks refused to give her an investment because she was “too much” and they “wouldn’t be able to handle working with her.” Mark Cuban asked her if she ever “turned off.” My first thought was wow, I’ve been there girl. The minute she said “ok this is me turning it off” she was given a deal from Lori.

Suddenly I realized: society can’t handle happy people, they want to fix you when you’re depressed, and the only solution (for those in the business of pleasing everyone around you, anyway) is to balance your emotions the way you handle your diet.

It’s truly no wonder that apathy is the world’s biggest problem right now.

So what’s the solution here? I’m no Dali Lama, but what I do know is that we live in a world of political turmoil, terror, and pain. Don’t discount any single ounce of happiness and in any form. Laughter, optimism, a greeting, a smile. Because seriously, this world needs more of it. And moreover, you never know how someone is or was feeling deep down. That happiness may be the last thing they have to hold on to.

New Year’s Resolut-one

I have never been a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. I either go overboard and make up 7 and can’t remember half of them by January 6th, or I choose one, like go to the gym every day, and then feel a sense of dread, pain and guilt every time I don’t meet my goal.
Well, this year I’ve decided to do something different. I found this great book over the holidays called “Eat Pretty Every Day- 365 Daily Affirmations.”


It has an affirmation for every day which I have been reading before bed each night to help you look and feel beautiful. It has tips on staying healthy, skin care, beauty, and helping you lead a happier life. What I love most of about this book is that it is organized by seasons, so you don’t necessarily start on the first page of the book, but rather which day of the current season you’re on.

On the 10th day of winter (New Year’s Day), the daily affirmation was, instead of making a New Year’s Resolution, pick a word that will be an overarching goal of what you want to achieve this year. It could be relaxation if you felt the previous year was very stressful, or happiness, if you want to be sure to pay particular attention to what is and is not making you happy this year. Use this word as your guide throughout the year when you are attempting to make a difficult decision, or if you have a free day and can’t decide how to fill it. Keep this word somewhere that you’ll see on a regular basis as a constant reminder of your goal.

My word for 2018 is balance. I am halfway through my 4th year of teaching and have come to some pretty difficult realizations. I have allowed my job to consume my life. For the past four years, I have stayed at school into the late hours, bringing papers home to grade, doing lesson plans until 8 or 9pm, answering messages from students while cooking dinner with my husband. I have sacrificed so much time, happiness, dinner dates, and quality time with friends and family. I allowed myself to believe my students’ education was more important than my own happiness. I would then be painfully disappointed and really take it personally when my students didn’t put forth the same time, effort, and energy that I was putting in for them. For the majority of my students, the sacrifices were worth it, but were they necessary? I love what I do, I love my kids, and I know there is a balance that needs to be found in there somewhere, and 2018 will be the year I work towards finding it.

Because I have come to realize that I deserve it. I have an amazing husband, incredible friends, a wonderful family and I should not be letting anything in the way of that. For so long I felt a pang of guilt when I would receive a message from a student during the late hours of the night with a homework question and thought I can answer that later, let me enjoy this wonderful evening with my husband. But, in the back of my mind, I would be distracted, thinking how should I respond to her? or I want to solve that problem right now so I can help him get to the next step, or become upset if I received a ridiculous message about grades. At which point, I just respond since I’m not 100% present anymore anyways. 2018 is the year I shut down post school stress once and for all. From now on, the only way I’ll check my email after hours is if I absolutely have to or want to but definitely not while I am enjoying myself with my friends, family, and most importantly, my husband.

For 4 years, I would watch teachers leave the building right when the bell rang and thought wow I wish I could leave now, I just have so much work to do. How’d they do it? Well this is my year! I’m going to be that teacher who finds the right balance between 8:15am and 3:45pm so that I can leave on time and leave my work at school. Because if there is something I have learned from experienced teachers it is that there are more important things to life than my job. I have definitely lost sight of this concept. For so long I have believed how can the life of one person (mine) be more important than the 100 that I teach?

You see, when you spend 3-5 hours per week with your students, you start to build a real connection with them. Their successes are yours, and likewise, their struggles are yours. So much so that you start to believe theirs supersede your own. I would do anything for my students, but I must learn to balance how I feel about their trials and triumphs with my own. I can’t stop feeling for them, but I can’t continue to believe they are always the same or greater than my own. Certainly not after 3:45pm. I know it will be tough, because even more difficult than not taking papers home from work is not taking home emotions.

With all consuming jobs, like teaching, it’s difficult to create the separation between life and work, but it needs to be done. For so long I have been putting my students first, but it’s time I put myself first. I’m sure there’s a balance there, and this year will be the first step towards my journey to finding it.