Thursday, November 24, 2016

Grateful


This year, for the first time, we are celebrating Thanksgiving on our own, with just the three of us. I've grown up surrounded by my huuuuuuge family on either side (and, eventually, Jimmy's large extended family as well), so this is quite a change for us, but I'm grateful that we are here and that we have each other.

I don't have to cite examples to prove that times are difficult right now, for so many people, in so many different ways. It seems indulgent, maybe, to try to find the joy in our daily existence. But it's what I find myself being drawn back to, again and again. To quote author John Green, "The world may be broken, but hope is not crazy." If you're lucky enough to have joy in your life, especially daily, then it would be foolish not to hang onto that. Be grateful that you have it, you know?

I've been doing a little Daily Gratitude journal for the month of November, and it consists of a different question each day about something we're grateful for. And I love how it's very specific - "What scent are you grateful for?" "What ability are you grateful for?" "What season are you grateful for?" - because it forces me to thinking about little things that I truly am grateful for, things that I would've overlooked otherwise. (It asks about big things too.)

I think it's easy to get lost in the bleakness of the world and to forget to find the beauty. I'm not saying that we should ignore the ugly stuff. (On the contrary, I think there are a lot of battles to be fought, and they definitely need to be fought.) I just think that, if we lose sight of what it is we love so much about the world, big and small, it makes the fight that much more difficult.

So, this Thanksgiving, here's to the little things:

Here's to the random rainbows I see in the sky (because it rains a lot here).

To the smell of spices cooking in my kitchen.

To the sound of Jimmy's heartbeat when I lay my head against his chest.

To the smell of Jolie's skin when I kiss her awake in the morning.

To the punny riddles that my coach writes on the workout board every week.

Here's to the feel of alpaca yarn sliding through my fingers. Here's to family game night. Here's to having multiple fandoms and hobbies, and people to share them with. Here's to living within 20 minutes of at least three different bookstores. Here's to the sound of breathing in the middle of the night that reminds me I'm not alone in the dark. Here's to PUMPKIN EVERYTHING during the fall, and peppermint hot chocolate during the winter.

I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving, and I hope you're able to find more than a little joy in your day.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

In for a penny, in for 400+ pounds


I have just submitted my entry for Deadlifts for Doernbecher, an unsanctioned charity deadlift competition to benefit Doernbecher Children's Hospital hosted by my new gym, Savage Strength Conditioning.

While I have been struggling lately to establish a steady gym routine, I do think that, at least, I'm doing okay on deadlifts, even if I feel like my squat strength is slow to come back. (I don't know - I could be totally wrong about my squats and just expecting too much of myself. I get in my own head a lot. I am my own worst critic.) Deadlifts have always been my best/favorite lift, and just like I did a year ago, I feel like this is the best way to ease into competing. I feel a little out of my element (because I'm new not just to the area, but to competitive powerlifting in general, relatively) so I'm a big fan of taking baby steps here. I know I've competed in a deadlift-only division before, as well as a full meet too, but I am still nerrrrrrrrrvousssssssss even just thinking about competing.

I am excited, because this is why I signed up to train with Team Savage - so that I could compete and see how far I can go in this sport. After two years at Anchored, I know enough about the basics of lifting that I could figure out some workouts on my own at any ol' commercial gym, just enough to stay in shape. But that's not what I want - I would never be happy with "just enough." I want to pursue the horizons. I have to at least TRY to see what I'm fully capable of. I was never great at derby or distance running (though I love them both and have a great passion for both), but I could be great at powerlifting, and I owe it to myself to find out just how far I can go.

So yeah. I'm in. December 17th. LET'S GO.

Monday, November 7, 2016

The thing about teaching


I clicked on this HuffPost article that one of my former coworkers shared, and FB immediately showed me two more, shown above.

There are tons, TONS, of articles about teacher stress and things that need to change so that we (as well as our students) can thrive, but what the heck is being done about it??? Are there higher-ups listening? Or are we just shouting into the void?

I'm not even teaching right now, but I am frequently having stress dreams about going back to teaching next year. And I actually love teaching - I love sharing my love of literature, I love forming connections with my students, and this may surprise many, but I actually really enjoy working with teenagers. (Yeah, it can be difficult, but they are an amazing, dynamic age group, and many of the teens I've known outshine many adults with their insight and their compassion.)

But I feel a little paralyzed whenever I think about the life I'll be going back to. As much as I feel like, in my heart, I AM a teacher (despite the things I've done wrongly or badly in the past), thinking about the workload makes me panic. And actually, it's not really the workload itself I'm afraid of, but the guilt from knowing that no matter what I or any other teacher does day in and day out, it will never be enough. It's the everyday feeling of guilt and inadequacy that breaks me.

There were moments where I felt "on," where I felt like I did something well. But there were certainly never entire days where I felt that way, and there will never be a point where I feel like I've "got it." I mean, certainly for any career path, there's no way to have really mastered everything there is to know, but is there a job out there where you don't spend most of your days feeling like you're just barely keeping your head above water? Because that's what I would like. I wish I could teach, and on any given day, my status would be "managing," instead of "OMG I'M SO BEHIND ON EVERYTHING."

Granted, I have a lot of personal reasons why it was hard for me to stay afloat, some of which are beyond my control, and some of which are of my own doing. I will admit that; I will own that. There are lots of things I should've done better, and if/when I go back to teaching, those are on my list of things to improve. But the proliferation of articles about teacher stress and burnout tells me that no matter how many things are my fault, there is still a baseline commonality between all teachers that tells me that it's not totally me either. That we're all exhausted, that we ALL need a change, but that we love what we do enough to put ourselves through it anyway.

So my question is, ARE things going to change? Is anyone paying attention to these articles aside from those of us who share them on social media? Or do we beat on, boats against the current, treading water amongst the riptides of our paperwork and our emotions, hoping that the waves don't overtake us?