Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Why even try?

This weekend is Deadlifts for Doernbecher, the annual deadlift competition that my gym hosts (here's my post from last year), and as can be expected, I'm excited about it but I'm also a little nervous because I have high hopes for my numbers this year.

This year, there will be a bunch of elite guest lifters attending as well, which adds to the pressure. I am eager to impress, and would love to someday be considered one of them. (I know I have a long way to go.) There are women a good 40 pounds lighter than me who can pull a good 40+ pounds heavier than I can, so knowing they'll be there is definitely a heaping of humble pie, if you know what I mean.

It's funny--no matter how well I do at any given training session, I follow so many stellar lifters on social media that I never feel like I'm good enough or strong enough. Which in turn sounds ridiculous, because... good enough for what? Strong enough for what? For myself? For people who know me? I'm pretty sure NO ONE I know is going to laugh at me for having pathetic numbers. (Well, possibly for my bench.) And yet, here I am, pushing for the approval of... I don't even know. Being surrounded by such excellence really places my own accomplishments in rather harsh perspective. Why should I be proud of myself for this lift when all these people can totally do better? Why even try?

It's not a healthy worldview, to only want to do something if I can be the best at it, and I don't actually live my life like that, but I can't say that I don't have my moments where I'm like, "What is even the point of all this?" The truth is, I didn't start doing this to be The Best (whatever that means), and if I want to not make myself miserable, that should never be my driving reason for doing anything. Because all that really guarantees you is misery. (Unless you're, like, Serena Williams. In which case, being The Best is just a fact of life =P)

So here I am, a few days out from my next competition, trying to talk myself out of feeling intimidated and comparing myself to other people who (honestly!) have trained much harder and longer than I have. In truth, I took two or three weeks off during training for D4D because I was sick, and I still was able to do this for my last heavy workout last week, so I should stop beating myself up so much about not being an ELITE LIFTER, and just enjoy what I'm doing while I am still able to do it. Just like how, right now, I can't run at even my slowest speed from when I used to run marathons, someday, I will not be able to lift this heavy anymore, and I'm going to wish I had taken the time to pat myself on the back and be proud of what I have accomplished already, instead of constantly looking ahead to the next PR.

(Though yes, I am going to still hope for a PR.)

Wish me luck. (And moreover, tell me to stop freaking out because I'll be fine.)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

If you can help...


This is the deadlift competition I'm doing soon. It's a charity meet to benefit Doernbecher Children's Hospital. It would be AWESOME if you could kick some $$ their way. We are all together trying to reach $25k. As of today, we are halfway to our goal.

Click "Donate" at the top :)

Thank you <3 <3 <3

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


Tomorrow will be busy with lots of cooking, so I am taking a minute right now to reflect upon the good in my life.

It's been quite the year of ups and downs. Did I know, when I wrote my Thanksgiving post last year, that I would end up working in a yarn store, getting to share something I love to do with other people? Did I know that I would finally succeed in getting pregnant, after almost a year of failures that broke my heart every time, only to experience one of the biggest heartbreaks I've ever had to experience? Did I know that losing that pregnancy would open a door that led me back to teaching in a completely new way, that I think I actually really love and want to stick with?

I am grateful to be alive. Bottom line. At the VERY least, I am grateful for that, because if things had gone differently, if I had waited any longer to look into my symptoms or book an ultrasound appointment or whatever... I might not be right now.

I am grateful to be working, and not just to have a job, but to have one that I love, that I feel passionate about, that I feel fulfilled by. At this time last year, I was hoping against hope that I would be able to find some other path besides teaching, but I am LOVING what I'm doing right now. I love that the Fates have brought me here.

I am grateful that no matter where I go or what I do, I manage to find the most amazing people to be my friends. This year brought me new people to love, adding to the already-large squad of lovely people who hold space in my heart.

And I am so very grateful for the people who have been with me all along, some of you for decades. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I'm so lucky to love you.

So yeah, I am grateful not just merely to be alive, but to be living this remarkable life. Is it perfect? Of course not. But I have life. I have love. What more can I ask for, really?

Wishing you and yours a happy Thanksgiving,


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Midterm lessons

We are nine weeks into the semester, and as I'm working with my students to get their grades up, I can't help but spend some time reflecting myself on what I'VE learned so far this year at my new job:

  • Some things aren't different, between teaching online and teaching in person. Some students are still adorable and sweet and enjoy coming to class; some students will still either ignore you or fight you on everything (and then complain about how low their grade is).
  • It's hard to work from home because it's hard to draw the line as to when to STOP. I don't LEAVE at the end of the day, thus clearly delineating a boundary between my work life and my home life. I don't have bells signaling when it's officially lunch. I mean, teachers at in-person schools also spend tons of time after school and on the weekends working as well, so that part isn't so different, but I'm saying that not having a commute doesn't mean that I'm working any less. 
  • Having to spend all day online and answering emails has made me spend a little less time on my computer and phone for leisure. I'm not saying I don't still go on Facebook or whatever, but it's gotten a lot easier to just put away my phone and close my laptop because, dude, that's quite enough for today.
  • I really miss being able to talk to coworkers in person. Whenever I needed to get out of my classroom and clear my head, there was always the English department lounge where we could sit and chat and just decompress. I do talk to my coworkers every day, all day (hi Kate, Aaron, and Mark!), but it's not the same as getting to check in with each other visually on a day to day basis.
  • I touched upon this in my last blog post, but I've taken the approach of helping my students and relaxing the rules a little bit, and it's made a big difference in my stress level. I'm not saying work doesn't stress me out, but not ruling with an iron fist means that I'm dealing with a lot less tension.
  • That said, it doesn't mean that I don't worry about my kids. I know that a lot of them are there for a reason, and that that reason might be absolutely heartbreaking. All kids come to our classes with their own stories (that are sometimes sad), but you have to think that if these kids for some reason were unsuccessful in a traditional school setting, then maybe it's a sadder story than you might think. And my heart breaks for them, because I can't check in with them visually either. 
  • I'm glad not to have stacks of papers to grade. I mean, I still have lots to grade, but they don't take physical form anymore. That makes my life a little bit easier. 
  • Classroom management is a little bit different, in that they are all names in a chat room in our classroom software. I don't have to see them asleep or on their phones or rolling their eyes at my terrible jokes :P but the fact that I can't see them means that I don't know if they're ACTUALLY there or not. There are plenty of kids who just log in but are actually absent. I'm not going to say that I love this, but on the other hand... my old school just had a lock down because a kid brought a gun to school, sooooooo... I don't mind my problems at the moment.
So far, I like it. I really like my job. I feel like it suits me, and I don't know if it's also because I have the benefit of a decade of teaching under my belt (so like, would I still like this as much if I were brand new?), but I don't wake up with that feeling of dread about going to work, and on the whole, I feel a little more confident than I used to about my teaching. (Though, Impostor's Syndrome still strikes hard and true.) I'm really glad I found my way here, and I hope they let me stay a little while :)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The freedom in forgiveness

One of the constant struggles in teaching (one of the MANY constant struggles!) is coming up with a late work/make-up work policy and getting students to understand it, respect it, and stop asking for so many damn exceptions. Trust me, I've had MANY a conversation about the appalling entitlement of kids who keep ignoring the not-so-fine print (seriously! Boldfaced and underlined and caps-locked size 16 font!!!) and asking us to ignore the rules we've worked so hard to set out for them.

I've played around with how late to allow work to be turned in, and what percentage to dock. I've never allowed them to re-do or re-write. "Them's the rules, kid." I spell it out for them on the first day of school, and it's up to them to sort out their business out within my parameters. And I get frustrated when I have to constantly answer the same questions over and over.

Well, thing work differently at online school. At orientation and staff development, we were told that for SO many kids, we are probably the last resort in a long line of attempts at being successful at school. That if these kids couldn't make it with us, it's entirely possible that they might give up on school altogether. And therefore, we can't have the same kinds of rules that you might see at a traditional school.

I have to say, this made me nervous. Now I HAVE to allow rewrites? Now I CAN'T keep docking late points the later it gets? Now I HAVE to allow for flexibility in class attendance and deadlines?

I don't know if I was half-expecting that chaos would reign and I would be drowning in papers or what.

What I got instead... was this strange sense of freedom. When kids emailed me asking if they can have extra time, I said "Sure," and wrote their names down on a list. When I had to give kids low D's or F's because their work was not what I was asking of them, I wrote in my comments, "Please feel free to redo!" and I suddenly felt unburdened, like, at least now, it's up to them and they don't have to feel stuck with that grade. When I relaxed my grip and gave them more options, I ended up giving myself more options besides fielding angry/upset emails from students and parents as I tell them that there's nothing else they can do, SORRY.

Reality, sort of
I'm not saying my job is easy street now, by any means. Teaching is teaching, and some things are the same no matter what format your classroom is. But emotionally, I'm feeling a lot better. I'm a lot less stressed out about "BUT THE RULES!" I'm not saying that I don't have deadlines or that I don't have a late penalty, but I can tell my kids "Hey, don't worry" and actually mean it because once it's late, it's late, and I won't dock any more than 10%, and you might as well take your time and make it good. And it's less pressure on them, but they still have to take the initiative to do it and talk to me about their late work or any rewrites they do, and I feel a little more like a partner than a taskmaster, and suddenly I'm working with my students instead of fighting them.

And I think that's how I've always wanted it to be anyway.

So in short... yes, work is hard. But it is going fairly well, and I'm happy to be doing it. I think for now, I have found where I am meant to be.