Don’t Stop Believing and Few Other Pieces of Advice We All Need to Hear

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It’s been almost three complete weeks since I did a blog post. Objectively, this is a lot better than that time I kinda stopped blogging altogether for an entire calendar year, but I’m still not proud of not blogging for an almost 21 days. I promise I have been writing it on my to do lists almost daily, but it just hasn’t happened until now.

I have at several more cohesive, educational post ideas in my writing journal, but I feel like this post was important. Mainly because when I was thinking about what I should write about the following meme was the only thing I could think of:

This is how my brain works. I go for something inspirational and meaningful and a “your ecards” my mom sent to me once pops up. I like to picture that scene in Spongebob where all of the minis Spongebobs are going through filing cabinets in his brain. This is what was found in my filing cabinet this afternoon. And because I have the improv mindset of, “Yes, and…” where you embrace whatever you get and take it to the next step, here we all are now.

Let’s Be Honest About Mental Health for a Second

If you don’t know me personally you might not know this, but I struggle with mental health issues. As a culture, it’s been amazing how we’ve been opening up the dialogue about mental health more, but it’s still a hard thing to talk about. I have anxiety and depression and it manifests in lots of interesting ways. It’s been bad lately. A few weeks ago I finally had to take a step back and say, “Hey, you’re sleeping 13+ hours a day lately, what’s going on?”

This led me to reevaluating what my priorities are. I am an empath personality type, so I take on too much because I just want to save everyone. I am literally the kind of person that will remember that there are dogs who don’t get adopted and get put down and will just cry because I thought about it. That can be almost physically dangerous as a teacher because wanting to help everyone leads to not saying “no” which leads to taking on more roles and responsibilities than is feasible for your own situation. I’ve been spiraling lately dealing with the fact that I am who I am and what I am capable of is not the same as what others are. As much as a want to emulate certain teacher heroes of mine, I am not them. I will probably do some neat stuff, but at the end of my life, their stories and mine will be different and that is one-hundred and ten percent okay.

One of my colleagues, who has basically adopted me as a little sister sat my ass down and made me list everything I was doing outside of contractual obligations. In my own skewed perspective, it seemed reasonable at first, but I had to take a hard look.

The last few months with the teacher walkout and sudden thrust of public educators into the spotlight has been taxing. Suddenly, everyone had an opinion on what was happening in my classroom, though only my administrators, my students, their parents, and I really knew and had a right to have an opinion. I’m going to be honest for a second: this has all been a recipe for burnout. I haven’t had a lot of joy in teaching for while. I still love my students and I have no intention of leaving the profession, but I’ve realized I haven’t been doing a good job taking care of myself and it was manifesting in a big way.

The most obvious was the fact that I, on a whim,got a drastic hair cut. A woman who changes her hair is trying to change something in her life. It’s not always a big thing, but in my case it was. Other things included the fact that I had assignment s that were almost two months old that still needed grading and I almost failed a class in grad school even though I had A’s in all the rest before it and the fact that I was sleeping almost twice as much as I really needed to.

Going back to this conversation with my “big-sister”-mentor, she gave me some really good advice.

It’s okay to not take on everything. It’s okay to step back and do less.

This is not me saying we should all be slackers and not do our share. This is me saying that sometimes we need sift through all of the things we could be doing and ask what is really important. For me, that is family,  helping kids, and reading/writing, in that order.

Also, very importantly, she told me that it was okay these last few weeks of school to not have super academically rigorous classes every single day. My students have grown leaps and bounds in their writing and understanding of literature, but I’m tired. The kids are tired. We’re all tired. It’s okay to have days were we just read, discuss, and enjoy the book together. Doing that is why I got into teaching in the first place. Books have always been my happy place and I wanted to share great books with kids who need a little more happy.

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Source: Pinterest

Let Your Faith Be Bigger than Your Fear

I’m operating now on the ideology of ditching things that I don’t bring me joy and doing more of the things that do. I actually took a personal day from work to sit down and evaluate what that actually meant. This is a big deal for me. I don’t take off work unless I am sick to where it is a detriment to either myself or my students. I made coffee and breakfast, sat on the back porch and just sort of meditated. I ended up better for it. (And my students really impressed me with how hard they worked in my absence and how well-behaved they were for my substitute; it was like the universe was winking at me saying, “Hey, you’re on the right track now. Do not turn around.)

I stepped out of grad school. (Hi, Mom!) Notice I said stepped out and not taking a break. The program I am was in is fantastic. It was based on leadership and leading in a Christlike way, but ultimately it was pretty geared towards academic leadership. That’s not my calling; I’m called to the front lines of education. I’m feel like I’m pretty good at building relationships and making my students feel safe and even good about themselves. For this reason, I don’t think I’m going back. It doesn’t align with my long-term career goals. I was getting a Master’s degree because I have always been a high achiever, and I felt just like that was just what I was supposed to do. I think I wanted to have a Master’s degree just to say I had a Master’s degree.  That’s not a good enough reason for me.

I finally started applying for content contributor openings. My husband jokingly told me when I got started I couldn’t call myself a freelance writer until I got paid for it. Well, I’m officially a freelance writer now.  It’s harder than I thought, but staying up late researching nonprofits and writing about them beats staying up late working on grad school classes I’m not passionate about any day.

I watched the movie, The Help the other day and something stood out. “My boy Trelaw always said we gonna have a writer in the family one day. I guess it’s gonna be me.” The way Abilene says that, hit home. She is acknowledging that life doesn’t always happen the way we plan it, the way we expect it to happen. Writing has always been a dream of mine, but I didn’t expect to start going about it in a desperate search for my joy, but it’s been going decently well. I guess that’s what happens when you let faith be bigger than your fear. Even if you’re scared, do the thing.

I’ve been spending more time on my etsy shop. Subversive cross stitching gives me life. Since I’m prioritizing freelancing as a my #sidehustle, dirty cross stitching and hand lettering has been able to slide comfortably back into a hobby. I’ve sold a couple of them, but now it’s okay to post stuff on my the shop and just let it hang out until the person it belongs with happens upon it. I’m still making wedding pinatas too because those are just damn fun. What’s changed mostly is that I’m not seeing it as “I have to make what other people like so I can make sales.” It’s more fun that way. It’s important that outside of the cliche of doing what you love so you “don’t have to work a day in your life,” you do have something that is really just for you.

I can’t say that things are completely perfect now. I’m still cleaning up the cobwebs in my mind from the time I let my depression drive the bus. It’s really embarrassing to tell have to tell your students what assignment the rubrics you’re handing back to them is for because it’s been two months since they did it. It’s really, really embarrassing to regrade those projects and pass them out for the second time in a week because they first time you forgot to put the grades in the computer.  I guess, I could have made up some lame excuse, but I think it’s important to be honest with kids. Telling them the truth builds trust and they take that example of owning up to your mistakes and doing something about it long after they aren’t sitting in your classroom any more.

I’ve learned in my short time as a freelance writer about a CTA, or call to action. Basically this means that at the end of a piece of writing, you give your readers a next step. Maybe it’s to go read more about an organization you are telling them about, or “click like and subscribe to my channel!” It’s supposed to be pretty organic. You don’t say, “Hey y’all this is your call to action!”‘ But in the spirit of being honest about mental health, making mistakes, and chasing your dreams here’s your call to action in the form of the most delayed and kinda sad punchline ever:

I had stopped really believing in myself and believing in what makes me feel alive. Follow mine and Journey’s advice and don’t do that. Chase your dreams like a kid chases the ice cream truck on the first day of summer break. If you’re having trouble, talk to someone about it. I’m not going to tell you it will be easy, but it could save you, and I mean that mentally, spiritually, and physically. Do more of the things that make you happy. If you want to do the thing, do the thing, even if it scares you. Even better if it scares you. And oh yeah,

Don’t stop believing,

Delaney

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Resolutions, Goal Planning, and To Do Lists for the Messy

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Today was my first day back to school for the spring semester and aiiiieeeee I was unprepared. I made the mistake good decision choice to begin A Game of Thrones yesterday. The conflict here is that I do not want to stop reading and I unfortunately had to get up this morning. Here’s a quick summary of things that happened since my alarm went off this morning:

  • I snoozed the alarm for a solid 30 minutes.
  • I opened the door to my classroom to let kids in literally as the tardy bell rang.
  • I forgot to eat my lunch until the kids starting coming back from their lunch.
  • I drank a large coffee, a large diet coke, and a whole bunch of ice cold water and I still never woke up.

Alas, not all hope is lost because I made a bunch of resolutions this year and I’m going to stick to them. Don’t laugh. I have a plan.

I’ve been watching tons of bullet journal videos and pinning bullet journal pictures on the inter webs and I have been inspired by how pretty and creative things are, but to be frank bullet journaling suck.

I’ve tried bullet journaling before and it just felt too permanent to me. It was hard to just write something down on a page and say to myself, “This is permanent. I cannot move this.”

Enter the arc planner system. You can buy the premade planner section, but you can also add a bunch of lined or grid paper to make your own pages just like bullet journals. Let me repeat that jUsT lIkE tHe BuLlET jOuRnAlS!

Yes. This is bullet journaling for the commitment phobic. I love the way that I can just move a page or easily take it out and toss it in the recycling bin when I inevitably mess up.

I personally like the Create365 My Happy Planner Brand. Here’s the basic layout:

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As you can see, this is the weekly spread. There is space for weekly top three goals, notes, and 3 squares for each day. I like to use the top square for AM, the middle square for PM, and then I like to use a stamper to make a to do list for the day.

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I really try to prioritize my tasks and not go over the six spaces provided so I don’t get overwhelmed and decide to take a nap instead.

The biggest trouble with the resolutions most folks make is that they are vague. Exercise more. Read more. Lose weight. How much is more? If I exercise sporadically a time or two a month that is technically more than the none I did over the last six months, but that’s not going to get me closer to the goal of being healthy or fit. Also, the idiom “Out of sight, out of mind” is extremely accurate. If you aren’t reminded while still forming new habits you’re going to forget them faster than your college boyfriend.

Resolutions 1

This year instead of just writing my resolutions down in my planner where I can see them I am tracking them! It makes it into a fun little game. There is space on here to track my savings, my grades, weight loss, and my most favorite of all…

30 Books

My bookshelf tracker! I already wrote in the two books I am working on right now, but how cute is this? It’s going to be so fun filling in names and coloring in books as the year progresses.

I have separate trackers for my “healthy habits”: enough servings of fruit, veggies, grains, legumes, etc. a.k.a. the vegetarian food groups. I am also tracking when I wash my face, brush my teeth, take my medicine, exercise, and so on. I’ve had a tendency in the past to get lazy and miss things that I need to do. There’s also the yoga tracker.

Healthy Habits TrackerYoga Tracker

Pair these movable pages with an erasable pen and boom! I can make changes all the time as needed.

So that’s it. That’s how I’m keeping track of goals this year. Did I miss anything? How do you keep your resolutions and stay organized? What tricks do you use to help you achieve your goals? Is there an ultimate planner system that I’ve just got to try when this one runs out? Let me know in the comments.

XO. The Crunchy Hippie.

A Brave Face (Thoughts on Day One of Trump’s America)

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This morning I put on a brave face for my students. I turned on a live stream of the Inauguration of Donald Trump. There were mixed emotions. Some were excited, some didn’t want any part of it, and some were indifferent as preteens often are when it comes to government. I explained to them that this is a historic event that they shouldn’t miss. This is the first inauguration they are old enough to watch and understand.
What happened next caused my heart to ache. I had to explain checks and balances to one frightened group who were genuinely concerned about what could happen. I had to reassure to one student that Trump will most likely not actually be able to build a wall against Mexico. The student was afraid of no longer being able to see family in Mexico again. I had to listen to another student who was angered that Trump doesn’t have unlimited power because more likely than anything parents have been saying that same thing at home. I had to listen to one who was so angered about Trump because of fear that his/her skin tone would cause problems in the future. The list goes on and on.
Yes, I put on a brave face today, but I am not feeling so brave.

I am scared because I don’t want to arrive to school one day and one of my beautiful, wonderful students is suddenly not there anymore because his or her parents were deported.

I am scared because I don’t want to open Facebook one day and beautiful couple I have long looked up to for their love for each other no longer have custody of their two beautiful children because the government has decided that same sex couples do not have the same rights are heterosexual ones.

 

I am scared of seeing people that I grew up respecting openly spreading hate and even confidently saying that other human beings aren’t worthy because they are in some way different than them. We are living in a time in a time in America that somehow people are no longer  ashamed of hate. Suddenly is is okay and all the dirty little parts of society should come out and do a little tap dance.

 

I am scared because I am a woman who is not interested in having children yet because she is on a mission to make the world a better place by devoting time to education and equality and that I could no longer have access to birth control that I can afford.

 

I am scared that in a Nation that the president brags about “grabbing women by the pussy” I am going to not be treated as an equal even though some of those men who wish to treat me like an object haven’t worked half as hard or possess half the intelligence as I.

 

I am scared that one day I cannot openly say what I think because others will physically attack me for having an opinion that is not that of their own.

 

I am scared to get an email one day that one of my diverse and beautiful sorority sisters has been raped, beaten, or killed because some assholes tried “make her straight,” because of the hate that is cultivating now in our nation.

 

I am scared that one day I, myself, the strong capable woman that I am, will be harmed because I am a woman and our leaders comments have made it seem as though that makes me less of a human being, a glorified blow up doll, if you will.

 

I am scared the of the same thing for my own mother, sisters-in-law, mother-in-law, nieces, aunts, cousins, and students.

 

I am scared because a person I love was raped just over a year ago because some guy thought she was just a plaything and that rhetoric is spreading like wildfire.

 

I am scared because I have read countless articles about people of minority being threatened ,beaten, or worse because “this is Trump’s America now!”
I am scared because people aren’t saying anything about what’s going on and this is precisely how the Holocaust happened. Adolf Hitler was elected because he promised to fix all the nations problems and he too had scapegoats. People I have long admired are sitting around not angry or fearful, but calm, as if they’ve taken their daily dose of soma, right out of an Aldous Huxley novel.
Yes, I am actually very scared indeed.

For not one minute do I think it is acceptable for people to be rioting like they have been. It is never okay to harm someone or destroy their property because you don’t feel the same as they do. But I will simply lose my mind if one more person tells me that people should not be protesting,”He’s our president now. Deal with it.” That same sentiment was not spoken by these people 8 years ago when our first African-American president was elected. I remember clearly because being a young and impressionable 16 year-old I was caught up in the fear of the conservative community around me.

But now I am older and I understand much more. These riots that are now taking place are very similar to the same ones 8 years ago. Outspoken people who didn’t agree with the outcome did those same things years ago, but on the side of the conservatives and not the liberals. See the following news articles:

2008- http://www.nbcnews.com/id/27738018/ns/us_news-life/t/obama-election-spurs-race-threats-crimes/#.WIKixvkrLIV

2016-https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/10/us/trump-election-protests.html?_r=0

The common denominator is fear and hate, but the causes and outcomes are vastly different. In 2008, the protests concerned hate towards a black man in power. Many privileged, and extremely racist, citizens were afraid their life would change. The words and actions were violent and centered almost entirely around the race of the President elect. Now the majority of protests are non-violent and entirely legal. This time around things are not inspired by fear that some are going to lose their privilege, but that they are going to lose basic human dignity and civil rights. Today the hate isn’t coming from those protesting, but from the very presidency they are protesting.

To those who are saying, “He’s president, get over it.” Yes. I am over it. I am not over the tumor of hate that is growing on our nation  and making us all sick. I ask of you to not tell me to shut up when you were shouting this loudly not but 8 years ago, “He’s not my president,” for reasons that had nothing to do with  the people’s rights and everything to do with skin tone.

I am so disheartened that people are burning things in the street and smashing windows. This is not the way to push our cause forward. This is a travesty because it only further divides us as Americans and gives fuel to the fire. This makes those who care about equality and human dignity look like babies crying in the street. Yes, protest, by all means protest! It’s your 1st amendment right to speak out! I want you to do so! I am doing so right now. Just don’t impede on anyone else’s rights when fighting for your own.

And please know, despite all this, that I am hopeful. Things didn’t turn out as I hoped, but I am by no means giving up all together. While we didn’t break that final glass ceiling, it is my earnest wish that both President Trump and his administration are extremely successful. While I am afraid that in “Make America Great Again,” “Great” is just code for “white,” in my heart I hope that I am misunderstanding and Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence see a more inclusive future for America with universal healthcare, better immigration laws, less violence, and quality education for all. I hope they devise ways to get the homeless off the streets and make sure that veterans are treated with dignity.

 

Remember, we are all in this together. If the president sinks America, then we’re all going down with the ship.

Best wishes. Do not give up hope.