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Today, technically the first day of my fall break, I went to school.  This is the first time I’ve actually gone to school on a break.  I’m supposed to be “sharpening my saw” — Habit #7 from the 7 Habits, but the custodian said he’d be at the school from 12-4, so off I went.

This may require some explanation.  I have complained long and loudly about TUSD’s habit of giving teachers only three days to get ready for the first day of school, and then taking half or more of those first days up with required meetings, trainings, what have you.  I worked very hard during summer school to get a lot of things organized, and so was not…completely…lost these first two months.  Last year; wow.  We won’t talk about last year.

I’ve enlisted the help of students after school (you can Tom Sawyer them at this age), and even come in on an odd weekend day, but the organization was not in place, and I keep making piles of papers.

I finally got to the bottom of the pile of things to be filed.  Not everything is filed, but I know where everything is and will be able to file it, little by little, over the next week after school (I hope).

My core library was leveled before school started, but I still have not gotten to that.  I would much rather have piles of books around than piles of papers, however, so I will continue to work on that as time allows.

pile-of-books

not this bad, I promise!

I brought home “teacher crafty” things to do this week (I’m NOT going back in again, so I did a lot of laminating today), and everything I might need for “Fall” centers.  Haven’t touched Halloween yet, and I may only have a couple of things on the day itself, rather than a couple weeks of spooky activities.

The fun thing about teaching elementary is the chance to be creative with assignments, to make centers that fit a theme while still aligning with current standards.  The tough thing about teaching elementary is to keep up with making the centers fun and cute, while not tearing one’s hair out.  I try to keep an even keel between the two, because I am short on time (especially now that after-school tutoring has started).  So some of my centers are not cute and some are.  We try our best.

And sometimes, sharpening the saw means having things ready to walk in on the Monday after a break, so I can sleep Sunday night.

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Clear strategy and leadership solutions

So last night I got to thinking (well, kept thinking), and decided I’d make a new 101 goals in 1001 days list.  I know I’m crazy, and honestly, the only way I think I’d make all of those goals in the time (or twice the time) is if I quit work.  But it’s not so much a list of what I think I can accomplish in a little less than three years, as a list of what I want to do and who I want to become.

I think the whole point of the 101 goals is to get people out of their comfort zones, to get them thinking of all the things they might do, and to have them be mindful about their lives.  I spend so much time with school, I don’t have a lot of time for my own life.  It isn’t that I come home and watch TV for a few hours before bed; I’m either doing something school-related or trying to snatch a few minutes to take care of things for myself, like laundry, cooking, finances, etc.

It’s too easy to get sucked into work, especially when you’re a teacher, and too easy to become nothing but a worker bee — totally focused on one thing only.  Part of the reason I took this challenge to write every day in October is because I realized that, in becoming a teacher, I have lost the enjoyment in my subject areas (writing and music) and am fast losing touch with the reasons I decided to teach in the first place.  I don’t write at all, unless you count lesson plans, and I rarely play or sing (maybe more if I had a church job, but I don’t).  I hardly even read, and if you know me, that’s nearly beyond belief!  I’ve been trying to be more mindful lately about just sitting down at the piano (when I don’t feel like school is pushing at me to Get This Done Tonight!!) and playing or singing, and now I’m trying to blog every day.

I think it’s important to get out of my own head, and to get my head out of school, rediscover who I am, and find my voice.  I have plenty to say; I just don’t tend to say it, or maybe say it only to family and friends.

The 101 goals list has several sections — mental, spiritual, social, hobbies, financial, charity, travel, etc.  I found the hardest ones to fill were mental, social, and spiritual.  It’s like I’ve become a human “doing” instead of a human “being.”  My husband complains I don’t just sit and be with him, and maybe I just need to find things that help me tap into my inner self.  Not to be such a whirlwind, mentally and physically.  I’ve never sat still well, unless my hands are occupied, and that’s not a bad thing, particularly, but I need to be more present in the moment when I’m with people, and right now it’s very hard for me to do that at all.

The more I think about us and how we react to the pressures of life, the more I realize that God knew what our bodies needed.  Technology, from electricity and cars to our so-addictive smartphones, keeps us awake at odd hours, has us far from extended family support, and ties our eyes and brains to small devices that we are discovering are more and more akin to drugs in the way they impact our brains.  I can’t go off the grid, but I can do things that require more from me than a swipe or a tap.  Writing, cooking, music, exercise, finding time to sit, chat, and just be with a friend or loved one can counteract the negative effects of many of our technological devices. No need to go off-grid.

So — mindfulness.  Quiet in my mind.  “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10).  Find myself within the crazy teacher mind I usually channel and love myself.  Go beyond reacting to tiredness and be proactive in choosing what I will do because I want to be someone different.  I want to grow.

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I’ve let myself slip over the last six months.  I fell down the stairs at work the first weekend of September, and as soon as I was just feeling like I could get back to my exercise, I had a car accident (mid-October, not my fault) and the subsequent back issues didn’t begin to clear up till Christmas break.  I got a new job (finally!) teaching fourth grade at an inner-city Catholic school — this started two weeks before Christmas break, so with everything, I’m just getting to where I’m feeling caught up with everything there and able to spend some extra time catching up at home.  This includes (unfortunately) diet, exercise, house cleaning, and personal devotions.  Yes, I’ve gained weight since October 6, when I had actually dipped below the 140 mark. 😦

Grades were due for midterms yesterday, so I’m not only caught up on classroom organization, but my grading is not a large pile glaring at me. Just this last week’s worth and a couple tests I had to wait for students to finish.  Plenty, yes, but I should be able to spend time tomorrow doing something else other than either grading or stalling getting started. 🙂

I decided, since the grading is done and Ash Wednesday is this week, I’d start my Lent discipline early — today.  My church doesn’t celebrate Lent, but for the past few years I have used it as a time to discipline myself either with my diet or in my spiritual life.  I’m feeling flabby, both physically and spiritually, so I’m going to try to do both this time.

Starting today, I will:

  • Track my food
  • Exercise at least to 10K steps daily — try to do more on the days I can get to the gym
  • Have personal devotions
  • Keep up with my grading!

I’d like to blog a few times a week too, but I know how that goes, and exercising and planning meals takes a lot of time!  So I will try, but no promises.

In looking for images for Lent, I came across one that pretty well sums up what I think it’s for:

lentmmcIt reminds me of the verse in Psalm 1 about the righteous person — “a tree planted by streams of water…whatever [he] does prospers.”

Prayerfully, I hope what I am trying to do in these next weeks prospers as well.

 

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If April showers bring May flowers, what do April snowstorms bring???

  1. Save money/get out of debt.
    • I will try to do the 52-Week Money Saving Challenge – Had to take the $$ out of that account to pay taxes. 😦
    • Refinance the condo. – Need a job first. Yes.
    • As soon as I get a job (see #3), start smacking money down on our student loan/credit card debts! – I was able to sub about three weeks in April; I get paid for two of those weeks May 3rd, and the CC payments are already set up.  Not a whole lot, but everything will help!
  2. Lose weight. – Starting weight: 141#; Ending weight: 144#.
    • Track my foods. – Maybe a day or two.
    • Exercise (cardio) at least 5 days a week. – I didn’t exercise 5 days the week I was in Tennessee, but the other weeks I did.  I think.  Maybe one week when I was feeling cruddy I didn’t necessarily *go exercise*, but I did get at least 10K steps in on those days, and a couple hit over 15K (even a 20K).
    • Strength train at least 3 days a week. – Rock climbing and yoga — I think one week I fudged a little and only did a few squats one day, but otherwise *much* better.
    • Take the monthly Shrinking Jeans challenges. – I got as far as cutting six challenges up and pasting them together to do as a group.  That doesn’t make sense.  I know what I mean.  Basically I would be doing Day 1 of six challenges all together (like a regular ST routine), then Day 2, etc.  I want to do it this way because I don’t like doing squats 30 days in a row with no breaks in between.  So I’ve decided to do these on the days I don’t do yoga or rock climb.  About 3 days a week.  Once I get through 31 times, then I’ll try a ST routine from one of my magazines or something.  The point is to get a habit going.  Whew!
  3. Get a job.
    • For right now, get on the substitute lists. – Subbed most days I could.
    • Get a summer job. – Applied at about six or seven districts.
    • Get a full-time ESL job for the fall. – Have the license.  Applied at six or seven districts.  Will keep applying through May. Or till I get one.
  4. Get outside more.
    • Run, bike, and rock climb outside (weather permitting). – Walked outside a couple times; ran once (hurt my ankle AGAIN and had to walk back, grr).  Most of the month it was spitting a nasty mix of rain/sleet/snow.  What the radio people called a “slush storm”.  Yeah.  But the couple days it was nice, I did get outside.
    • Work on exploring more of the 60 Hikes in 60 Miles. – Nope.
    • Go camping. – Still waiting for spring…
    • Go to one of the destinations we’ve been wanting to — Ely, Mystery Caves, the Black Hills, Katahdin (if I get to ME this summer) – We didn’t go anywhere.  I went to TN, but nothing cool.  Although it was neat to see some friends, see how the campus had changed, and have a chat with my piano teacher.
  5. Be creative.
    • Blog at least 3x/week. – No, but I did better. Five posts in April, not counting this one, and not counting a couple in the works that will be back-dated.  So that’s a little more than one a week…
    • Finish cross-stitch projects and give to their owners! – No, but I finished the cross-stitching of the one I started Easter weekend and started another one of the same pattern with a color change to give to my grandmother.  I’ll post pics when I’ve gotten them both a little more finished.
    • Finish Jon and Ali’s quilt. – Didn’t touch it.
    • Practice the piano more. – I didn’t practice. At all.
  6. Spend more time with friends and family.
    • Do fun things with Kent. – We went rock climbing every Saturday night, with friends every time I think.  We also went to a concert — Britten’s “War Requiem” — awesome!  That was with a friend too and we had supper beforehand.
    • Get together with friends at least once a month for games or other event. – See above.  I also met up with a friend to walk the mall one day, and we met a couple other friends to chat at a restaurant (they ate; we didn’t).
    • Call my friends who live far away — one per week. – I did talk to one friend.  That’s one more than last month!
    • Write a note to someone every week. – I have the notes to write.  Didn’t write them yet.  A couple other friends lost family members in the last week, so that’s what they’re for.
  7. Spend more quality time with God.
    • Have real devotions every day. – I was more consistent, and was reading from the study books I have for the Bible study I help lead every weekend, but that’s a different focus.  I am really short on time and sleep, though, so maybe that will have to be enough for now.
    • Memorize at least 1 Bible verse every day. – I didn’t get 30, nor did I do it every day, but I memorized the rest of Romans 1 the last week and a half of April — verses 18-32.  Gonna start Romans 2 in May. 🙂
    • Pray every day! – I did pray, but more when I needed something than to just talk with God.  I did thank Him several times just out of the blue for nice things, but it was hard to feel thankful with the weather the way it was. I guess I need to work on that.

April was a really odd month for me.  I started out, of course, in TN spending time in the hospital with my grandfather, who died the day after I left to come home.  So April has been a month of thinking about grief and mortality, shedding tears at odd times for no particular reason (or for a reason — during Britten’s “War Requiem” — it was cathartic), and reconnecting with family members.  I may not have called friends, but I talked to my mom, my aunt, my brothers, and my grandmother more than usual. Even my mother-in-law got a lot more calls.

I was pleased that I had held my weight from the end of February (141#) through about the middle of April, though I was eating a lot of sugar and not necessarily exercising the way I should.  The last week or so I gained three pounds and started feeling really *fat* and flabby (without knowing how much I’d gained).  It was interesting to note that, actually, because I had laughed at a really skinny friend in Bangkok who used to complain that she’d gained a kilo (about 2.2#), because I thought it was such a small amount you wouldn’t notice.  Now I know you can tell even that small amount, when you are close to the weight you should be.  I’m planning on stepping up my strength training (see 2.4 above), so hopefully I should be seeing more progress in the right area soon!

In addition to subbing, I also did a focus group on how I use the library (lol) and picked up a homebound student for tutoring. I’ve seen her twice this week and will be seeing her till school gets out, about five hours a week, to try to get her graduated from eighth grade.  So that’s some extra money.  We’re really short this month but I am trying to get on top of it.  Kent will be out of school the middle of May and I hope he can find something this summer that will pay a decent amount.

In other news, I managed to get the house more or less cleaned up on the days I didn’t sub, and undecorated the Christmas tree today and got all the decorations in their boxes and by the door to go down.  The tree itself is still up but Kent said he’d maybe get to it Thursday or Friday.  But the bathrooms have been cleaned in living memory, and the floor has been vacuumed at least once if not twice, and *most* of the laundry is off the floor.  We sound like slobs, and we actually don’t mean to be, but the schedules we’ve been keeping are rather horrendous.  But if I can keep more or less on top of it, then it is at least manageable in the odd half hour here and there.

So that’s April for you — small improvements, and hope for the next month.  See you then!

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Here goes…

  1. Save money/get out of debt.
    • I will try to do the 52-Week Money Saving Challenge – Just the bare minimum.
    • Refinance the condo. – Need a job first.
    • As soon as I get a job (see #3), start smacking money down on our student loan/credit card debts! – I was able to sub one more day, so no.
  2. Lose weight. – Starting weight: 152#; Ending weight: 145#.
    • Track my foods. – Did it half the month.
    • Exercise (cardio) at least 5 days a week. – Did for one week.  Then it was more like one day (or none).
    • Strength train at least 3 days a week. – Yoga a couple times, then nothing.
    • Take the monthly Shrinking Jeans challenges. – No. I meant to. Didn’t get that far…
  3. Get a job.
    • For right now, get on the substitute lists. – Subbed one day.
    • Finish practicum (waiting on a placement STILL!) – Finished! Did the exit interview and just waiting for the license.
    • Get a summer job. – Can’t do that yet.
    • Get a full-time ESL job for the fall. – That either.  License applied for though!
  4. Get outside more.
    • Run, bike, and rock climb outside (weather permitting). – Ran in the gym at home a couple times.  Climbed once.  In AZ, though, I ran outside one day, hiked a couple days, and walked too.  I could get used to 90 degrees in the middle of March…just sayin’…
    • Work on exploring more of the 60 Hikes in 60 Miles. – Nope.
    • Go camping. – Yeah. Let’s wait for spring…
    • Go to one of the destinations we’ve been wanting to — Ely, Mystery Caves, the Black Hills, Katahdin (if I get to ME this summer) – I don’t know that Sedona was on the list, but it’s definitely on my “return” list now!!  It was amazingly beautiful and fun to hike there.  I’ll try to post some pictures soon…
  5. Be creative.
    • Blog at least 3x/week. – Obviously not.
    • Finish cross-stitch projects and give to their owners! – No, but I started a new one Easter Sabbath….
    • Finish Jon and Ali’s quilt. – Didn’t touch it.
    • Practice the piano more. – I played, but didn’t practice.
  6. Spend more time with friends and family.
    • Do fun things with Kent. – We went rock climbing once.  And of course we had a week in AZ with his mom. He was sick, so he wasn’t much fun otherwise…
    • Get together with friends at least once a month for games or other event. – We played games one Saturday night with friends, climbed the one time with a friend, and I spent a day with a different friend finalizing her wedding dress and trying on bridesmaid dresses for her to see.
    • Call my friends who live far away — one per week. – Oops.
    • Write a note to someone every week. – Thought about it but didn’t.
  7. Spend more quality time with God.
    • Have real devotions every day. – I did a little better, but I need to somehow do it in the morning.  I’m too tired at night, but I can’t seem to get to bed (or sleep) early enough to get up.
    • Memorize at least 1 Bible verse every day. – I meant to memorize Isaiah 53 Easter week but I forgot.
    • Pray every day! – I did pray, and even remembered to give thanks, but not as meaningfully, often, or long as I probably should.
    • I did do one thing that was really good — I went to a Christian women’s conference the first weekend of March.  Ann Voskamp spoke, and I really enjoyed everything she said.  The other speakers and workshops were great too.

March was really hectic.  The first two weeks were finishing my practicum; then I had one day to regroup and we left for AZ.  Kent’s mom had a busy touring schedule (which we left some things off, out of sheer exhaustion on both our parts), and we came back with one week left of March.  Easter week — for anyone who is a church musician, “Hell Week”.  It wasn’t so bad, but considering Kent had been sick before we left, gotten behind on homework, and wanted me to take most of the hours at the church, it could have been better.  I was hoping April would be better, but I got a phone call Good Friday saying my grandfather was very sick in the hospital and not expected to survive long.  So April 2 I’m flying down to Tennessee to spend a few days with him.  My “be good” April plans are going to have to wait.  That’s life, I guess.  I’ll be as good as I can.

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Here goes…

  1. Save money/get out of debt.
    • I will try to do the 52-Week Money Saving Challenge – I had to pare down on some of those automatic deductions, but I still managed to put some money in savings.
    • Refinance the condo. – Nope.  Actually, can’t do this till I get a job. But it’s still messy. Worse, since I started my practicum President’s Day.
    • As soon as I get a job (see #3), start smacking money down on our student loan/credit card debts! – I did get to substitute one day before starting my practicum…
  2. Lose weight. – Starting weight: 145#; Ending weight: 141#.
    • Track my foods. – Did the Diet Bet — not doing that again, but it did work.  Too much stress though!
    • Exercise (cardio) at least 5 days a week. – I think I exercised at least 6 days a week, and found out that doing yoga after running helps A LOT with my sore legs.  I tried to get 10K steps in every day.
    • Strength train at least 3 days a week. – Wasn’t as good as I meant to be, but I did get into a routine with yoga at least 2 days a week.
    • Take the monthly Shrinking Jeans challenges. – Yeah.  Didn’t do that.
  3. Get a job.
    • For right now, get on the substitute lists. – Subbed one day
    • Finish practicum (waiting on a placement STILL!) –Started President’s Day (because of red tape) and will be done in March.
    • Get a summer job. – Can’t do that yet.
    • Get a full-time ESL job for the fall. – That either.  But I will apply for licensure the second I finish that practicum!!!
  4. Get outside more.
    • Run, bike, and rock climb outside (weather permitting). – I ran outside a couple days, but mostly inside. I did rock climb a few times at Vertical Endeavors, but that wasn’t outside.  I am improving in that, though — I was able to do a couple 5.9 climbs! 🙂
    • Work on exploring more of the 60 Hikes in 60 Miles. – Not till the weather improves…
    • Go camping. – See above.
    • Go to one of the destinations we’ve been wanting to — Ely, Mystery Caves, the Black Hills, Katahdin (if I get to ME this summer) – We are going to AZ for sure on spring break, and Kent’s mom will take us to Sedona (red rock country).
  5. Be creative.
    • Blog at least 3x/week. – No. Not at all.
    • Finish cross-stitch projects and give to their owners! – No. Ditto.
    • Finish Jon and Ali’s quilt. – Didn’t happen.
    • Practice the piano more. – Um, nope.
  6. Spend more time with friends and family.
    • Do fun things with Kent. – We went rock climbing, 4 or 5x.
    • Get together with friends at least once a month for games or other event. – We rock climbed with friends, and one night I went to Sky Zone (a trampoline place) for tramp-aerobics.
    • Call my friends who live far away — one per week. – Forgot.
    • Write a note to someone every week. – I was going to….
  7. Spend more quality time with God.
    • Have real devotions every day. – I still need to work on that.  I have been doing *something* every day, but not necessarily hard-core.
    • Memorize at least 1 Bible verse every day. – I memorized ten more verses from Romans 1.  In the beginning of the month.
    • Pray every day! – I did a little. Not really a habit, or taking the time, maybe.

Given the fact I’m writing this in April, it’s obvious February (and March) swept me up and threw me out.  I’ll write more about that in March’s check-in.  I just hope everything’s more or less back to normal now…These really are things I want to do/get better at.  In my mind I am taking it seriously, but every day, something happens and I don’t do what I mean to do.

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So I gave myself a lot of goals in January, not to mention those 101 Things in the back of my mind…

I think checking in monthly will help me keep on target.  Maybe even more often just for myself, but I’ll keep it monthly here.

Here goes…

  1. Save money/get out of debt.
    • I will try to do the 52-Week Money Saving Challenge – I set up automatic deductions into a savings account.  Now I just need to make some money! Ha.
    • Refinance the condo. – Still messy.  Not able to do that!
    • As soon as I get a job (see #3), start smacking money down on our student loan/credit card debts! – No job yet.  But I am on the sub lists!
  2. Lose weight. – Starting weight: 152#; Ending weight: 145#.
    • Track my foods. – Um, yeah. Didn’t do that.  I did start doing it again yesterday though!
    • Exercise (cardio) at least 5 days a week. – I did do that!  I tried to go for 6 or 7 days, actually.  There were some weeks I only did three or four, so I guess I didn’t do as well as I’d thought.
    • Strength train at least 3 days a week. – Still didn’t do that.  1 or 2 was the average.  Or none.
    • Take the monthly Shrinking Jeans challenges. – I got 15 days done on January’s Abs challenge.  I’m going to keep doing it in Feb. till I finish though, along with the Feb. one.  Yes I am!
  3. Get a job.
    • For right now, get on the substitute lists. – On several of them.
    • Finish practicum (waiting on a placement STILL!) – I have a placement and should be starting next week! *knock on wood*
    • Get a summer job. – Can’t do that yet.
    • Get a full-time ESL job for the fall. – That either.  But I will apply for licensure the second I finish that practicum (should be the last week of Feb.)
  4. Get outside more.
    • Run, bike, and rock climb outside (weather permitting). – I did run one day outside, and found out what was causing my ankle problem.  I did rock climb three times at Vertical Endeavors, but that wasn’t outside.  I took several walks with Kent outside though.  It’s been stupid cold.
    • Work on exploring more of the 60 Hikes in 60 Miles. – I’m going to wait for either more snow (so I can snowshoe) or less cold.
    • Go camping. – See above.
    • Go to one of the destinations we’ve been wanting to — Ely, Mystery Caves, the Black Hills, Katahdin (if I get to ME this summer) – I talked with friends about planning a trip to Mystery Caves in May or June.  And Kent and I are thinking to head up to Ely on a long weekend once the weather’s better.  Not sure about the others, but we are going to AZ on spring break, and Kent’s mom will take us to Sedona.
  5. Be creative.
    • Blog at least 3x/week. – No.  I’ll keep trying though!
    • Finish cross-stitch projects and give to their owners! – No. Ditto.
    • Finish Jon and Ali’s quilt. – I need to have a different table.  I’m thinking about using the one in the library or parlor at Aldersgate.  But I need to finish the practicum first.
    • Practice the piano more. – Forgot about that.
  6. Spend more time with friends and family.
    • Do fun things with Kent. – We went rock climbing, 3x.  He wasn’t up for much this month because he was sick.  But we did watch three seasons of “Are You Being Served?”  I think that counts. 🙂
    • Get together with friends at least once a month for games or other event. – We played games one Sunday night with friends, and last Saturday night we went to MCA for the WinterFest.
    • Call my friends who live far away — one per week. – Forgot.
    • Write a note to someone every week. – Thought about it but didn’t.
  7. Spend more quality time with God.
    • Have real devotions every day. – I read chapters in a book but I didn’t do any journaling, and some of those chapters were “quick hurry it’s late and I want to sleep!”  So, I need to work on that one.
    • Memorize at least 1 Bible verse every day. – I memorized ten verses from Romans 1.  Gotta keep working on that.  I like Scripture Typer though!
    • Pray every day! – I did some days, kind of a quick “thanks for that”, but nothing meaningful.

I think it’s good to check in — I’d forgotten about some of these — oops!

I am surprised how vulnerable some of those made me feel, to admit I did or didn’t do something.  Like the praying one, or the one about my messy house.  I think those areas of our lives are places we like to “cover over when company comes” and pretend everything’s awesome.  I can see the power of being accountable, even if no one is going to shake fingers and say “bad girl!”  Just admitting my less-than-stellar performance in certain areas is difficult.  Hopefully it’s enough to help me do better!

On to February!

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