Thursday, June 15, 2017

Summer Goals Check-In #2

This is a space where I intend to be honest, so here goes nothing. I am not doing so hot with my goals overall, minus improving my health at the moment.  Moreover, especially this week for some reason, I'm really struggling with mental spin out.  If you don't know what I mean by that, let me explain.  

I've always struggled with anxiety.  I used to have hyper-realistic nightmares about failing tests long after I was out of school.  I tend to latch on to the worst-case scenario of most situations, and prepare as though that is the inevitability.  I'm a bit of a raging hypochondriac.  Depending on where I am in my life, anxiety manifests in different ways.  Currently, I spend a lot of my time alone.  I don't have a tremendous amount of friends in my life right now, and those that I do have are traveling or don't get their summers off.  My sister works the night shift, so half of any week I'm sleeping while she's working or vice versa.  And that leaves me alone with my thoughts, and I don't always need to be alone with my thoughts.  Now, let me say upfront that I am not a danger to myself or others.  That's not at all what I'm talking about.  Now feels like a good time to include that I am a control freak, and I do not handle change well, at all.  And here's the thing about life--it often changes quickly and without the courtesy of even sending advance notice.  (Preferably on engraved stationery, please and thank you.)  All of these things have been building into the greatest anxiety sandwich you might ever want to behold. And I've ponied up to the table ready to take it down in one gulp.  

I hear myself when I'm spinning out.  I know what I sound like.  (Like I should be in a bunker in a tin foil hat, more often than not.)  But, that doesn't always stop it.  The good news is that since I'm on a reasonably successful health kick, I haven't been using my two favorite methods of shutting off the anxiety, food and alcohol.  I've been filling that gap with obsessively checking social media and reading the comments of other people who may actually be in bunkers with their shiny, shiny hats. And while it's calorie-free, it's not doing much for my mental health.  Ironically, I thinned out much of Facebook during 2016, so my feed is mostly businesses selling antiques and comfy t-shirts (I see you, Ruby's Rubbish).  But Twitter might as well be Pandora's box right now.  Part of it is that things happen there in real time.  No sooner has something happened than you have video and first-person accounts, and all of the commentary on it (SO MUCH COMMENTARY, and everyone's an expert).  I love that about the medium, but it's also something that isn't great when you have unlimited time to obsess.   So, I'm really working on thinning out who and what I connect with there simply for my own sanity,  And I will continue to wrestle the beast, and keep out of the tin foil.  

On with the check-up, such as it is:
  • Read more. -  I have finished half of one book.  I have good intentions, but a short attention span.  I am starting a new one today.  We'll see how it goes.  
  • Turn off the TV.  -  I think this may have been an unrealistic goal, peeps.  I have been medicating with a lot of TV repeats.  Whenever I'm feeling low, I watch comedies.  I'm firmly camped in Parks and Rec, Designing Women, and Mom.  I will say that I have been listening to some podcasts, which both gives this quiet house a little noise and brings other happy/interesting conversations into  my life.  So, I guess that's a little progress?
  • Lose weight/Eat right. - As of this morning, I am down 19 pounds in 39 days.  I walk a lot while I watch TV, and have even been getting up crazy early some mornings to walk with my sister.  
  • Learn to cook. -  Nope.  But I am eating well.
  • Prep curriculum. - I have only thought about curriculum once since school let out, and that was because I went to work to sign some papers and someone asked me a question.  But I am going to get to work on that in the next couple of weeks.  
  • Go on adventures.  - Sister and I have an adventure on the books for next week.  More about that when it gets here.  Otherwise I have been watching a lot of t-ball games, which are their own kind of adventure.  
I will be back sometime soon with hopefully more progress and updates.  Thanks for sticking with this post if you made it all the way to the end.

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Work

I promise this isn't going to become a fitness blog.  However, as this is my space, I get to decide the programming and tonight we're going to talk about what I've been up to the last 26 days.

The last 26 days I have logged every bit of food that has gone into my body and drank more water than I ever thought possible.  (Seriously, no sodas in nearly a month.  Not even a sip.)  I've clocked every minute of exercise.  I've counted every single step.  I've compared this week to last week and the week before that to see where I can improve.  I've crunched more numbers than can possibly be healthy, and read every chart and graph the apps have offered.  I've treated my body like a science experiment.  And in 26 days, I've lost 16.4 pounds.

Now, before we start up the confetti cannons, I should let you know that I have a long way to go.  Very long.  Ideally, I would like to reach my first goal (60 pounds gone) by my 36th birthday this October.  It also means that when we go shopping for bridesmaid dresses I will be ordering one much smaller than what I would order right now.  Once I reach that goal, I would like to try to lose even more, but what I want most is to be as healthy as possible, no matter the size.

I love how I feel right now.  It's work, but it's the best kind.  And if I already feel better, imagine how it will feel when I hit my goals farther down the road.  I've got to stop now because I'm getting up at the literal crack of dawn to go walk with my sister and I need my rest.  (I totally log my sleep now, too.  I'm such a weirdo.)  Just wanted to share.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Summer Goals Check-In #1

I know, technically, it's not even summer vacation yet.  But I felt like this was a good time for a baseline check of how things are going in each of my selected areas of interest.  I'll try to do this every couple of weeks this summer to keep you, my dozens of readers, up-to-date and to keep myself honest.

  • Read more. -  I haven't started reading yet, unless you count the books I bought for my nieces. But it's on starting Thursday.  I haven't completely organized my reading list, but I'm looking forward to a lot of time in my sun room reading this summer.  
  • Turn off the TV.  - Not doing so hot on this one either, but I am exercising while I watch, so that's an improvement, at least.  I mean, Netflix released the new season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt this weekend and I got hooked on their new true crime documentary, The Keepers.  The Lemonade episode of Kimmy is so great (and the season as a whole has some great laughs).  But let me talk for a minute about The Keepers.  I still have two episodes left and I am so intrigued by that entire story.  I don't want to spoil it with too many details, but it's a murder mystery involving a nun, but so much more is revealed in the process.  I highly recommend the series.  
  • Lose weight/Eat right. - I'm doing really well with this particular goal.  I've lost 13.2 pounds since I started about two weeks ago.  I'm watching what I eat (using the Lose It! app) and exercising a lot (thanks, Fitbit!).  I still have a long way to reach my first goal, but it certainly doesn't seem like such a pipe dream anymore.  
  • Learn to cook. -  Okay, I'm not really eating junk, but  I'm also not really cooking yet.  I've pinned some recipes that I'm interested in and I'm looking forward to having plenty of time to work on them.  
  • Prep curriculum. - I'm in the "gathering up what I need" stage at the moment.  Of course, I also live very close to my school, so it's not like I can't come trade out when I needed.  I am looking forward to putting together some fun projects for next year for a several of my classes. (At this point, I'm not even totally sure what all I'm teaching next year, but I am working on what I know.)
  • Go on adventures.  - With my sister having time off each week, I'm guaranteed an adventure or two at some point.  I'm also going to be hanging with the nieces a lot more, so who knows what we might be up to?!  
I'm well on my way to summer vacation!  Wednesday is my last official day, so I'm looking forward to not waking up to an alarm on Thursday.  I will check back in on my goals Monday, June 5.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. May 17th is National Pack Rat Day. Sidebar-should we be celebrating this? Hmmm...
Are you a pack rat? Even if you're not a full fledged pack rat, most people have one thing or another they struggle to part with. Tell us what's yours.

As a pack rat in recovery, I don't know that we should be celebrating that.  I think teachers are pack rats by necessity, because I always think I'll use whatever I'm saving for school. Sometimes I do, but most of the time it just takes up space in a cabinet or crate.  So, I'm working to really thin out things at home and at school this summer.

Also, when did we get all these "national whatever day" notifications?  Why does everything need a day?  


2. What are two things you know you should know how to do, but you don't?


I don't know how to change a tire. I know that I should, but I've always happily let my dad take care of most of that kind of thing.  I don't know that I should be able to do this, but I wish I could tile floors. It would be much easier to take care of that myself rather than pay someone and I really want tile in my bathroom and in my front room.  I'm handy enough, but that's beyond my skills set.


3. Do you crave sugar? Do you add sugar to your coffee and/or tea? Do you use artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes? When dining out is dessert a given? Are you someone who has slain the sugar dragon, and if so tell us how you did it.

I do crave sugar.  I have to have at least some in my hot tea, but will drink unsweetened iced tea.  I will use a pack of Splenda in a pinch, but I don't like the taste of artificial stuff.  I love dessert, but since I'm working to lose weight, I'm trying to be very selective about what and when I have it.  (Though they had Dippin' Dots at school on Monday, and I definitely had some.  Also, the guy who invented them graduated from my school system, so we get them from time to time.)  


4. What's a trend it took a while for you to come round to, but now you can't imagine living without?


Leggings.  I love them so much.  I wear them underneath my dresses and my tunics and it makes it very hard to love my jeans again.  


5. What's a song that reminds you of a specific incident in your life? Please elaborate.


It's funny that you ask this question this week, because it's basically the assignment my Music Appreciation kids are working on right now.  They have to create an entire timeline, but I'm just going to stick to one memory.  

I was in the eighth grade and it was about this time of year, and our high boys team had the opportunity to play another school at (old) Busch Stadium.  School was let out, and it seems like the whole county went north for the game.  Our boys played in the early afternoon, then we had tickets to watch the Cardinals that night.  My friends and their parents all stayed overnight at the hotel across the street and we all went to this little diner/bar area in the hotel and the song "Cheap Seats" by Alabama came on the jukebox.  It was a brand new song at the time and we sang along, laughing and smiling at each other.  I can still see everyone's faces.  And whenever I hear that song, I'm instantly transported right back to that sweet moment.


6. Insert your own random thought here.


I realize this was very much my random thought last week, but by the time you're reading this, I will only have five more days of work for the school year!  And I am ready for a break from that grind more with every passing moment.  I'm ready to have my own routine and schedule!  I'm ready to not wake up with an alarm clock every day.  And I'm really ready to get to work on my summer goals!!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Summer Goals

Like I said in the Hodgepodge, I'm just a couple weeks away from summer vacation.  I often joke that they have to give teachers a break so that we are willing to come back and do it all over again.  Summer is definitely about refocusing and restoration for me, but left to my own devices, I am the worst.  I stay up late and sleep later, watch too much TV and spend more time than I possibly should lounging around.  So, for this summer, I'm setting forth a few goals.


  • Read more.  -  I've already put forth the 2017 Book Challenge, but I'm only doing so-so at that. I just don't have the focus to read during the school year, so I'm going to really work on making some headway this summer.  I have a shelf full (and a Kindle full) of great books just waiting to be read!
  • Turn off the TV.  -  I love television.  I always have.  But I'm spending too much time with it. This summer, I want watching TV to be an event, not constant background noise.
  • Lose weight/Eat right.  -  My little sister gets married March of 2018.  I desperately need to lose some weight before that happens.  My big goal is 60 pounds, but I'm focusing on the daily goal of just surviving each day without completely losing it and eating an entire pan of brownies for now.
  • Learn to cook.  -  I can read a recipe, but I don't enjoy cooking.  I just don't.  But I know that to be ultimately successful at losing weight, I need to stop eating pre-packaged crap.  This means I'm going to have to be able to successfully prep and cook things that are good for me to eat.  So, that will be interesting.
  • Prep curriculum for 2017-18 - I'm teaching two different sections of American History, World History, and Music Appreciation, and while I've taught these classes before, I have several things I would like to work on before going at it again.  My goal is to spend at least a day or two a week focused on getting these plans into working order.  (And this is why teachers are never fully on break.)
  • Go on adventures.  -  I love a good adventure.  Whether it's going some place I've never been or just looking more closely at places I thought I knew, I want to go have some fun this summer!  

I know these are mostly the lame things that people always say, but I really mean them and I am fully prepared to show proof this summer as needed.  And most of all, I can't wait to get started!   (Only nine days to go!!)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Share a favorite memory of your mother or share a favorite something from your own life as a mother. If you're a mother (or stepmom) tell us how your experience as a mom differs from your own mother's experience.

I get my hysterical laughter from my mama.  When we think something is truly and wholly funny, we are known to laugh until no sound comes out and tears stream down our faces.  One such instance was years ago, when my mom, dad, brother and I had gone out to dinner.  My brother was maybe nine, and displeased that we had decided to eat Chinese food.  He remains one of the funniest people I know, and was that way even then.  He started in on a comedy routine that had Mom and I laughing so hard that by the time the waitress came to take our order, we looked like there had been some kind of tragedy at the table.  I was blessed to grow up in a house where wit and laughter were always encouraged.


2. In May we celebrate teachers (May 9) and nurses (May 6) both. Most every family has at least one in their midst, so tell us something (or a few things) you appreciate about the teacher or nurse on your family tree.


You can't hit a branch of my family tree that doesn't have a teacher or a nurse in it.  It goes back generations.  Maybe that's because post-Civil War, both were considered acceptable positions for women, but it's definitely there.  Both of my parents, one first cousin and I are teachers, my sister and two aunts are nurses.  So maybe it's simply the lineage in both of those fields of service that I appreciate so much. 


3. Chicken salad, egg salad, tuna salad...which would you go for if all three were on the menu? On bread or a bed of lettuce? If you answered bread, what kind of bread would make it the perfect sandwich?


I don't like anything in a salad.  It just grosses me out.  If I had to pick, I would go with some kind of chunky chicken salad with no egg.  And definitely some good homemade bread of some type.  Because who can pass up bread?


4. Do you have a desk? Is it organized? If so, share your secret to keeping it that way. If you don't have a desk, where in your home do you take care of family paperwork and business? Where do you normally sit to blog?


I have a desk in my office at home and a desk at school.  Neither are particularly organized, but I know where most things are.  My school desk is especially out of control this time of year.  (see picture for reference.)  This is what the end of the year looks like in desk form.  Being a teacher is hard, people!




5. When I was nine years old....


my little sister was born.  And I thought she was exactly what I wanted, until she got big enough to be in my things.  There were some sketchy years when she was a student in my classroom and I was still living at home.  But now that we are both adults, we are best friends.   


6. Insert your own random thought here.


I love my job.  I was born to be a teacher.  But I am so ready for summer vacation I could scream!  Good thing we only have two more weeks!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. April showers bring May flowers or so the saying goes. Has your April been filled with showers? Do you carry an umbrella, wear a slicker, or make a run for it? Besides rain, what else has filled your April? 

We have had a very rainy spring!  In fact, it rained for most of Friday's track meet.  I had an umbrella, but that wasn't always as effective as I might have liked.  Aside from rain, I started the month with the school musical, had spring break, and then went right into track.  Love the downhill slope to the end of the school year.


2. What's something you could you give a 30-minute presentation on at a moment's notice and with zero preparation?


I'd like to think I could give a decent presentation on most things teacher-related.  Plus, I do sort of make my living doing several 30-minute presentations a day on history and literature.  (Though I might still need some notes for those.)


3. Share with us a favorite food memory from childhood.


My favorite memory is making dumpling with my grandma.  She would give us little chunks of dough and when we were tall enough we could help put them into the pot on the stove.  She's still living and occasionally still makes them and it's still my favorite.

4. What's a song you thought you knew the lyrics to, but later discovered you were wrong?


I'm kind of a lyric fanatic.  As a singer, it's kind of essential to know the words.  I'm the worst at remembering lyrics, but I do usually know what the words are supposed to be.


5. According to one travel website, the most overrated tourist attractions in America are-
Niagara Falls (NY), Hollywood Walk of Fame (California), Times Square (NYC), Epcot (FL), Seattle Space Needle (WA), and Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market (Boston). How many of these have you seen in person? Did you feel like a tourist? Did you care? Tell us about a place (not on the list) you've visited that might be considered a tourist trap, but you love it anyway.


Of that list, I've only been to Times Square.  I was 17 and definitely felt like a tourist, but it was still fun to see.  I live near the Gateway Arch of St. Louis, and it's really not particularly exciting to see (It really is just a big metal arch), but I still remember looking for it every time we went into the city as a kid.  They have done some renovations on the museum and I would like to check it out sometime once it is reopened.


6. Your signature clothing item?


I don't know what it is for sure, but it's definitely black.  I also am really fond of hoop earrings and most recently, leggings with tunics.
 

7. What's an experience you've had you think everyone should experience at least once? Why?


I would say participating in theater.  Even if it's just not of interest to you, I think it's eye-opening when you see the amount of work that goes in to even a small show.  Plus, I think that learning how to perform on a stage is a good life skill.


8. Insert your own random thought here.


I cannot wait to see Lucie Silvas and Chris Stapleton Friday night!!