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Life is a Balancing Act

I think part of my problem lately is I’m doing too much. I’m working too much, I’m socializing too much, and I’m trying to do too many hobbies. I want to do all the things, but I shouldn’t because that leads to burn out. Same to you. If you are the kind of person who wants to do all things, I encourage you to take a step back and look at each part of your life for areas to reduce stress and time consumption. Like Marie Kondo says: if it doesn’t spark joy, don’t keep it.

First thing to do is figure out ways to make work easier on ourselves. For me, cracking down on the cell phone policy and letting students’ test grades replace their missing daily grades is a good start. That will reduce the stress of students not paying attention and not understanding, as well as reduce the time it takes for me to track down students with missing work. It’s important that work doesn’t consume your life, even if it’s something you love. I love my career, but I don’t like working long hours and stressing out about things that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Finding little ways to back off your responsibilities or your cares can go a long way into make work less of a source of stress.

Next thing to do is to take a look at the calendar. If your calendar is anything like mine, it’s full of social events and fun outings. But where’s the home time? Where’s the “take a bubble bath and read” event? Not there. If you’re like me, you have a good social life and you like going on outings or taking trips. But when every single weekend is filled with something of the sort, burn out can happen. I believe that is what is going on with me. I ended up canceling my plans this weekend and taking a hiatus instead. TV, video games, reading, crocheting, and writing. If you are feeling burnt out from all your social events, I suggest doing the same. Pick an upcoming weekend and put “hiatus” on the calendar for all day both days.

The last thing I need to back off on is hobbies. I want to play just dance as my exercise (I don’t like working out), learn new songs on the piano, read books, blog, crochet, knit. How many hobbies do you want to spend more time on? I think the key isn’t to give up hobbies, but to not try to do all of them every day. I read fiction almost everyday in the evenings, but I have lots of non-fiction I want to read as well. Just dance, piano, and knitting are things I wish I could make time for everyday, and in doing so I get frustrated and discouraged when I don’t do them everyday. Maybe I’ll have different days for different hobbies or just rotate them. How do you balance your hobbies?

What areas do you struggle with balancing? How do you plan on balancing these things? Any tips on juggling multiple hobbies and an active social life? I love to read your comments, personal stories, advice, and antidotes.

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Breaking Down

Last night I had a dream that I ran away. I ran away from the responsibilities of work, of home, of everything that I am tasked to do with as an adult. I swear I was coming back. I just needed to leave. I didn’t tell anyone, even my partner, that I had gone. I was in another country with a friend that I had recently met. I’m not even sure who he was to be honest, but I knew him in my dream. After almost a full day had past, I felt guilty about not telling my partner, and I tried to message him to let him know I was alright. But of course I was in another country and didn’t have wifi or cell service. I did go back. I had to use torpedos to fight off giant sharks (thanks Spyro) to get back, but I was coming home.

Last night my partner dreamed that I ran away. But in his dream, I had left a note, and I wasn’t coming back. So I guess the two of us are having similar concerns about me. Lately, I feel fragile, and I don’t know why. I’ve been pushing off whatever minor responsibilities I can because I didn’t feel like dealing with it at the time. Then I would forget and when I remember about them, I would panic and stress out and try to push it out of my mind again. But that thing I have to do is STILL THERE and I have to buckle down and get it done.

My partner thinks I’m being too hard on myself and I just need to give myself a break. And take a break. That’s what this weekend is going to be about. At least today. And yesterday. We’ll see about tomorrow.

It’s just that I haven’t felt this way in a long time and I’m frustrated about it. I’m a badass. I’ve tackled my issues that were causing my chronic depression and anxiety and I painfully worked through them until they were no longer an issue. And yet here I am. And I don’t know why.

Yesterday I got scammed out of $30 for some e-tickets. I didn’t have a good feeling about it and I should have at least looked at the person’s facebook profile so I could have seen that it wasn’t very old and clearly fake. But I didn’t. I cried a lot. Mainly because of all things that have been going on lately and this was the last straw. This wouldn’t have happened if I had just bought the fucking tickets when I was supposed to instead of putting it off like everything else.

The day before that I took a shower where I washed my hair and shaved then got out and started to dry off. As I pulled the curtains closed, I saw my wash rag on top and realized it was dry. I hadn’t bathed. How stressed out do you have to been to space out on bathing?? Also, while I was in the shower, my partner came in and asked about us renting a cabin the next day. I thought I was supposed to hang out with someone while he babysat, but he saw the availability and was talking to the lady on the phone right then. Also, we were supposed to go to a renaissance festival the day after. I had a minor panic attack/melt down. I don’t think I cried, but I got down in the fetal position for a bit before getting out of the shower.

The day before that I went to fill out our water filter and then put a cup of water in the microwave to make hot water for tea. I spaced out staring at the floor the whole time. When the microwave went off it brought me back and I got onto myself for letting it go off (my partner was in bed). I took the cup back around to where the tea is and water covered the counter. I had left the water running filling up the water filter. Wtf. I’ve never done that. It took 2 bath towels and 4 hand towels to dry it all up.

So basically, I feel like I’m falling apart. I don’t know what to do. Take some me-time I guess. Do some knitting, read a book, and write. And don’t run away from my partner who is amazing and silly and can always make me smile – even when I don’t feel like it.

Have you ever run into a set back like this? What did you do to overcome it? I would love to read your comments, advice, related stories, or random remarks.

Self Growth, Self Reflection, Uncategorized

My Why

Ever since I was a kid, I loved making people happy. Mostly by giving them stuff or just talking to them. I talked to everyone when I was a kid. I also spent most of my allowance on things for other people, rather than myself. When on vacation, I used my money to buy souvenirs for others. Whenever I did anything crafty, it was usually to give away to a friend or family member. So what is my why? To make others happy? Pretty much. But it’s more than that. I don’t want to just hand someone a present and see them smile for a few seconds. I want to show someone the path they can take to overcome their demons and get to true, lasting happiness. I’ll even hold their hand while they do it, so they know they have someone supporting and rooting for them. I want to empower people to make that hard change that might be painful at first, but leads to life-long joy. I want to inspire people to take the leap and show them or equip them with everything they need to do it. And yes, if giving a homemade blanket to someone who is cold makes their life a little easier, even if it doesn’t help them achieve lasting happiness, I want to do that too. I want everyone to know that there are people like me who care. I want them to know that they’re not alone. That is my why. What is yours?

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A Spin Off

I realized that several of my posts lately have gotten off what is the original purpose of this blog. I have this blog so I can record and share my journey as I navigate the ins and outs of life, including depression, relationships, family, social, and career. That does not include the nitty-gritty of my latest career: teaching. Which is what many of my recent posts have been about. While navigating career is part of navigating life, that doesn’t mean the day-to-day details. Many of my posts will still include things about teaching and education, but I will keep them to a more broad sense.

I do still want to keep writing in-depth posts about teaching and education, which is why I have created a separate blog called “bravinteaching” to house all my teaching posts. One of my top five strengths is intellection, which means I’m a deep thinker. It helps me tremendously to write out my thoughts and analyze them (analytical also being one of my top five strengths). I also want to get more feed back from other teachers, parents, and any individual concerned with or interested in the details of education and teaching. That is a bit of a different audience that I am trying to reach here.

So, if you one of the above mentioned and would like to read and share ideas about specifics in the classroom – please find and follow bravinteaching.

Otherwise, stick around and I will soon get back to posting my regular material soon. 🙂

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Silly Ambitions to be a “Perfect” Teacher My First Year

(This is being posted about 5 days after written because internet was out at the time and I was too overwhelmed to remember to post this later.)

I think I’m taking on too much. Actually, I know I’ve taken on too much. I just wanted so badly to be…perfect. I’ve been told, in one form or another, what makes a great teacher, and I just expected to be able to do it all my first year, armed with all this knowledge and training. That was my mistake. Everyone else made a collaborative mistake of giving me tons of training, resources, information, and advice with no time to actually process it all and come up with a plan. Small bits of time were given in between barrages of information, yes, but that’s not enough for me. I like to take it all in at once, let it soak and simmer, and then sit down and make a plan. But I didn’t have that opportunity, so I dove in expecting to be able to do it all. And I can’t. I have to admit that to myself (but not my students, of course).

What I need to do is pick out limited bits that I know I can do while also creating my own lesson plans, (although thanks to an awesome teacher who has given me hers from the past ten years, modified over time, I don’t have to start from scratch – just tweak it to make it my own) learning all the administrative stuff, getting training on the evaluation system, and also working with someone in the alternative certification department to do everything I need to for my internship year.

First, I need to let go of the idea of homework. I didn’t want to do it in the very beginning anyway. It wasn’t until I read up a little bit on the matter that I decided it would be a good idea to use it as part of my differentiated instruction. But I need to throw that out the window. It’s just too much for me in my first year. The problem is, I already told the student that homework was part of their grade. I’ll just tell them that after a department meeting, we came to the consensus to throw out homework this year, and anything they don’t finish in class can be homework. I doubt they’ll mind, although I did assure that I would use homework to help fill in any information gaps. I can tell them I’ll find a way to incorporate that into class time.

Next, I need to find a way to do simplified differentiated instruction in the classroom. Since all classes elected to have phones in class, I could use that to have the visual learners watch a video, the auditory learners listen to a lecture, and the kinesthetic learners to make something related to the lesson. Maybe my goal for that should be a once or twice per unit, kind of thing.

Finally, I need to let go of the idea that I am going to uniquely engage every single student, and just do what I can when the opportunity presents itself. Handle attitude issues with positivity and attempt to engage, but not be too pushy for those that just refuse to do anything.

I also need to stop caring about push back. It has stopped me from dealing with the back pack issues that I am having. They need to be fully out of the way, and the students just aren’t quite doing that. Maybe that’s something to fix in a class discussion and see how they would prefer to handle it. I’ll start by asking why it’s such a big deal to have their back packs away from them. I suppose, logically, if they can find a way to make it so we don’t trip all over them as we are walking around the room, and keep it with them, then that would be acceptable. I think I just need to have a conversation with them like adults.

Speaking of talking to them like they’re adults, I need to tone that down some too. Great teachers are caring and make connections with their students, which is what I attempted to do, but I opened up too much in the wrong way and have already caused some issues. I can own up to that and correct it though. I am very fortunate to have a principal that has my back and that is super understanding. She explained things in a way that I hadn’t realized and informed me that I have opened some doors for some students, making it a possibility that one or more may come to me with their own issues that are similar to the one I shared and she taught me a beautiful way to handle that. I’m really hoping to avoid talking to the parent, but if I need to, I know I can handle it.

I’m hoping the overwhelmingness of taking on too much is what has been keeping me up at night and keeping my heart racing and stomach turning all day long. The only time I fell relaxed and happy lately is during class when I’m teaching. I guess that’s a good sign that I’m in the right field. I just need to find more ways to lower the amount that I’m trying to take on in my first year without lowering the quality of my students’ education. And I really think I can.

If you’ve gotten through all of this, I would like to thank you for letting me vent all this out. It has been really helpful for me, and I would love any feedback, advice, or just words of encouragement you have to offer. Affirmations that I can do this and words of encouragement are probably the thing I need most in life right now.

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I am About To Be a Teacher

I am about to be a high school chemistry teacher.

This is what I keep saying to myself over and over until I believe it. I’ve done the training and have all the advice and resource to have a theoretically great start. It’s quite a leap for someone who gets social anxiety and recharges her energy at home alone to go from an office job with social interactions being limited to a few friendly coworkers, to a classroom where she’ll have to guide and interact with over a hundred students on a daily basis.

I am about to be a high school chemistry teacher.

So far, it’s been a lot of fun, actually. I’m a very analytical person and I LOVE organizing. This means that I am really enjoying all the planning and learning that goes into my first year. It’s fun to me to put together my classroom management plan, my lesson plans, and organizing all the resources that I think I will find helpful as I continue to create said management plan and lesson plans. I even got a tablet for my birthday so I can organize all my school stuff on it and play around with apps that I could have my students use in the classroom as part of their learning activities. I’m even enjoying researching more resources and reading them. I still haven’t a clue how I want to set up my classroom, but there are lots of articles with information and advice on it that I am more than happy to read.

I am about to be a high school chemistry teacher.

Occasionally I’ll think about the fact that one day soon I will be presenting my management plan and my lesson plans to actual students, and that is terrifying. Kids are intimidating, no matter what age. At least to me. Adults are intimidating too. Big dogs running towards me with a big grin? The only reason I flinch is because I hate the slobber. But I’ll take that over talking in front of 30 teenagers. I suppose, if I really think about it, teenagers are a lot less intimidating than adults. Yes, some of them act like tough bullies, but as adults we all know there’s most likely a scared kitten just beneath the surface, and kittens are not intimidating. Part of my training was how to handle major behavior problems and students with any kind of mental disorder like ADHD or anxiety. I know many accommodations that I can put into place for all kinds of different students. It’s just a matter of figuring out what student needs what and putting it into place. And I’m good at puzzles. Being good at organization will also help with this area. And it’s not like I’ve never taught a class before. At least high schoolers are easier to deal with than middle schoolers, which is what I want to eventually teach because they need the most help, but that’s way too much intimidation too early.

I am about to be a high school chemistry teacher.

The more I say it, the more real it becomes. It brings down my excitement level so I can get back into reality, but it also brings down my anxiety level so I can realize I actually do have the tools and the ability to succeed at this. Yes, teenagers still seem intimidating, but if I can keep in mind that they are still kids who just need help and guidance in life, then I think I can handle it. After all, helping others to help themselves is the reason I wanted to switch from engineer to teacher. My job is to give them the tools, resources, and guidance they need to learn to succeed. And that is something in which I feel confident I can do.

I am a high school chemistry teacher.

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Not Everything is Flushable

This may seem like a boring topic, but if you care about people’s safety and don’t want any sewer lines in your town to bust, causing a stink and potentially infecting drinking water sources, you’ll read on.

There are two things that are meant to be flushed down the toilet: poop and toilet paper. When you wipe the makeup off your face and flush that wipe down the toilet it doesn’t get broken apart by the rush of the water like toilet paper does. It stays whole and has the potential to clog the pumps that cause the water to flow to the treatment plant. When these clogs happen, an operator has to go in by hand to unclog it. Not only is that totally gross, it’s also very dangerous work. If the pump gets clogged too much for too long, the water can back up too much, causing a sewer line to bust.

These sewer lines are old and the city likely doesn’t have the money to replace them all. They also don’t have the money to try and educate every person about the dangers of flushing wipes, condoms, tiny bottles, and other things down the toilet.

Facial wipes and baby wipes are probably two of the biggest clogging culprits. These things belong in a landfill, not in the sewer system. Same goes for those tiny bottles of shampoo and conditioner you find in hotel rooms. I was once investigating a sewer overflow problem in town and we took a look in a pump station near a hotel. It was filled with tiny, multicolored bottles. This was causing the pump to not be able to run at full capacity and caused some sewer overflow on the streets. Gross right? This can easily happen anywhere. Someone had to carefully go in there and remove the bottles.

One solution that some cities are starting to do is install grinders at the pumping station in order to grind up the wipes, condoms, bottles, and other debris that people flush down the toilet so they don’t clog the pipes or the pumps. It helps, but the most ideal solution would be for people to stop flushing those things down the toilet altogether.

These things, although often screened out, can also affect the quality of the treatment process. Wastewater treatment plants have an initial screen to capture large solids, however the water is flowing in over that screen at a fast rate and often things like hair and mop strings (yes, some people flush mop strings down the toilet, please don’t be one of them) pass through and cause probables in the treatment plant. Problems that a person has to go and fix by hand, which is dangerous.

In conclusion, please do not flush anything other than poop and toilet paper down the toilet. It can cause sewage back up and it’s dangerous to remove.

Do you ever flush facial wipes down the toilet, not realizing their potential harm? Have you ever been educated previously on this sort of thing?