Progress vs. Perfection

Apparently the universe didn’t get the memo that I’m trying to get my life in order!  My intention was to do an update on my progress that I’ve made toward my goals for my 40th birthday but then Tuesday happened.  Tuesday was just not the best day.  I don’t even remember what all happened to make it a “bad” day but I was in a mood.  So instead of writing an update that would have just put a negative spin on any progress that had been made, I just took a step back at laid low.

I’m a person that’s comfortable with working through a process.  Unfortunately, there seem to be few people around that are comfortable with processes.  But, when you feel like things need to change majorly for not only your happiness, but your sanity/survival, the daily circumstances that surround you can often feel too daunting to overcome and you might feel like giving up.  The most important thing to remember is DON’T GIVE UP!!!  You can never give up on yourself or what you truly want out of your life.

So instead of giving up, I look at what I’ve been doing and reflect on what’s going well and what I can improve.  Acknowledging what has gone well is a far better motivator than casting a critical eye on everything and magnifying what we deem to be a failure.

With 24 days until my birthday, here’s where I stand:

Goal 1: Simplify-I’ve collected 3 boxes of stuff from our house to donate.  (There’ll be MANY more boxes to come!)  I found an old file box that I’ve had since I first started teaching that was SUPPOSED to be my filing system.  There were bank statements from banks that no longer exist and so many other things that were just completely unnecessary and I can’t even tell you the last time I looked in that box!  I consolidated it down to 2 file folders and the rest was shredded.  And to think that I have carried that box with me for 4 moves!

My goal today is to make sure that our living areas are free of extraneous things and to take the boxes to be donated.  We still have cabinets to go through and purge.  We have an entire extra bedroom that is currently serving as a storage room that needs to be purged, but that is a long term project and I’ll have to break that down into smaller pieces.  The more daunting challenge (and the most needed) is tackling my classroom.  I might have to recruit a team to take care of that!

Goal 2: Schedule-I’ve been consistent with my morning routines and making sure that I have everything ready the night before.  Bedtime for baby has been consistent but I need to move my time to work my business to the morning because my brain does not function after baby goes to bed which effects productivity, but it’s still has be an improvement.

Goal 3: Health- I’m pretty sure that I haven’t hit 120 oz of water a day but I’m consistently hitting the 60-90 oz  a day so that’s progress. Being consistent with my bedtime has certainly NOT been consistent, but I think moving my business time to the morning will help with that as well.

Goal 4: Mental Well-Being- I need to go back to my old school days of marking my activity on a calendar.  This is definitely something that I have to make visible to myself.  I’m going to put my jogger stroller in my car and pack workout clothes to go to the park after work and hit the trails with baby because that would do us both some good, but of course that means I have to leave work before it gets dark!

This week I will make a checklist of my Steps for Success so that I can make it visible to myself and hold myself accountable.  I SEE great things happening this week. 🙂

Goal #3: Health

Now when I said I was taking baby steps, I mean I am taking baby steps!  You might laugh when you hear what my health goal is, but like I said before, if you aren’t taking care of the fundamentals, the rest isn’t going to stick.  I wish we could apply this philosophy to education, but I won’t even get started on that!  So back to my health goals…I have been absolutely the worst about drinking water.  When I say I have been the worst about drinking water, that doesn’t mean that I go crazy and chug sodas all day long.  It literally means that I neglect to put any liquids in my body.  I got to the point where IF I finished an entire 20 0z bottle of water in A DAY, I was patting myself on the back!

As a teacher, it can be quite the conundrum to use the restroom when you are obligated to supervise young children all day long!  Sure, we get a planning time, but other than that 45 minutes out of the day, you are kinda responsible for keeping 20 young children alive and on task so that would be one of the reasons that having the freedom to use the facilities when necessary is like the greatest form of freedom for most teachers!  So between the issue with using the restroom and the deeply deluded idea that if I just keep working (and not take a break to raise a cup to my lips) I would EVENTUALLY catch up, I am surprised that I haven’t crumbled into dust from pure dehydration.

SO while my goal may seem very basic, it is desperately needed.  I am sure that hydrating my body AND my brain, I will feel better and be able to think more clearly.  To prepare for this I bought three 30 ounce insulated tumblers that all look alike.  I have trained myself to always have my tumbler with me.  I don’t drink out of anything else so I am not having to figure out where the lid to the 876th random cup is.  (Remember, I am still decluttering!) It is routine for me now and therefore does not take up any of my precious little brain cells.

Steps for Success:

-Drink 120 ounces of water a day. (That is 4 of my handy dandy tumblers for those of you that like to math!)

-Stick to a consistent bed time.  This is connected with my schedule goal as well.

Like my other goals, this goal will evolve and grow as I master one component at a time.  I aim for having more fruit and vegetables throughout the day  but that comes more easily to me since I am feeding a toddler and accommodating her nutritional needs.  Now the trick for truly mastering this goal will be training my bladder to handle the change!  Wish me luck!

Relearning the Hard Way

This has been one of the most stressful and difficult years of my life.  I haven’t posted in a very long time as a result of being so completely overwhelmed.  I consider myself a fairly resilient person and have overcome many obstacles in my life. I accept that there are still many challenges ahead.  I see the value in challenges and their necessity in helping us to realize our purpose or as an avenue for self improvement.  I have found it extremely difficult to sort through the minutiae to understand exactly what my current situation is supposed to teach me.  So far, I have had a few little “aha” moments that I believe will carry me through to see the big picture when it is finally revealed to me.

One important thing I have learned this year is that I love being a teacher.  I will admit that there have been moments in the past that I have questioned my abilities as an educator or whether the negatives outweighed the positives. You can only hear people say things like “I could never do what you do.” or “I don’t know how you deal with all of that.” so many times before you start to question your own sanity!  I still believe in the educative process and that we have the power to change lives and improve society.  However, I think the system is extremely flawed and the perception of teachers in our society needs to shift away from thinking teachers are, single-handedly, the problem in education.  If the general public understood just how little autonomy teachers had, they might start to question why so many decisions and regulations have been put in place with seemingly little to do with what is in the best interest of children and stop spending so much time posting silly memes on Facebook about “that darn Common Core math!”  More often than not, the teacher is the person advocating for your child, spending countless hours trying to circumvent many of the obstacles that have been placed in the way of your child’s cognitive and emotional development, by local, state, and national agencies, who may or may not have any qualifications to do such.  With that being said, I feel driven to find a way to help teachers better serve their students.  We have to find a voice.  When and how I could do this has yet to be revealed.

Probably the most important thing I have learned this year, or perhaps, I have relearned this year would be about balance and taking care of myself.  Life is stressful for everyone these days but you cannot succumb to stress by completely sacrificing yourself.  I learned the hard way, during Thanksgiving break, just how detrimental sacrificing self care can be.  In the past, it was very rare that I would get completely sidelined by illness.  My immune system is usually pretty sturdy from exercising regularly, eating a fairly balanced diet, and enjoying time with friends and family.  However, my seemingly endless and fruitless attempts to “catch up” has only left me drained and sick since the school year began.  When I was diagnosed with Strep the day before Thanksgiving, I realized what needed to be done.  I had to get back to exercising, eating better, being social, and basically finding balance in my life.  I will never be able to see through all of the stress and minutiae, if I don’t take a little time to show myself that I deserve to be treated better.  I want my mind to be clear so that I can be receptive when the bigger picture is unveiled to me.  After all, the teacher in me knows how important physical activity is for optimal cognitive function.

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season upon us, let us not lose sight of how important it is to take at least a few moments to take care of ourselves.  Your house and holiday plans may look like the most impressive board on Pinterest, but being sick in bed or biting off the heads of anyone who dares to come within a 50 yard radius of you, is sure to devastate the intended joy of this special time of year.

Taking the Fear Out of Change

 

Do you like change?  Does it scare you?  For many people, including myself, change can seem frightening.  I have learned that it’s all in how you deal with change that can either make it the greatest blessing or the most miserable thing ever.  We can’t reach our ultimate potential if we avoid change at all cost.  In education, we talk about creating disequilibrium, giving students new or different information and students work to regain their equilibrium by storing the new information or reshaping their pre-existing understanding to accommodate the information.  If we know that disequilibrium, or being out of our comfort zone, is necessary for growth to occur, then why does it seem so darn scary to us?

Is the fear of failure the true culprit?  We are all scared of failing at one thing or another and for different reasons. Maybe it goes back to society’s pressure to be “perfect.”  But, if we don’t buy into the notion of perfection, then are we opening the door to be more accepting of ourselves  and okay with making mistakes or failing at something for the sake of self growth?  After all, the Wright Brothers didn’t exactly get it right the first time, now did they?

Perhaps, it is the fear of success that scares us the most.  If we are successful and do indeed change, we can’t go back to our comfort zone.  We are uncomfortable with the idea of a new comfort zone.  Let’s use getting in shape as an example of this. Let’s pretend we have a friend who is about 100 pounds overweight and is currently inactive.  They wake up one day and decide that enough is enough and they want to live a healthier life.   They live on fast food, several sodas daily (whether regular or diet), and extremely large portions of food at every meal.   More often than not, we take the all or nothing approach or try to find the “quick fix”, either of which is almost assuredly a set-up for failure.  (I say we because I have been guilty of all of these things.) We resort to deprivation diets cutting out carbs, gluten, fat, or subsisting on cabbage soups, all of which are not only unhealthy, but unsustainable.  It has been scientifically proven, a gazillion times over, what is necessary to lose weight, but we think we are the exception to the rule or we just don’t want to wait that long to see results.  In order to lose weight you must expend more calories than you take in.  No one said you had to take in so few calories that you are actually causing metabolic damage, but we go there instead of proceeding cautiously into our weight loss mission.

No one needs to exist on 1200 calories a day and attempt to RUN 3 miles right out of the gate.  You don’t have to empty your cupboards and fridge of every single “junk” food item and fill them with organic kale and tempeh and eat plain tilapia out of Tupperware containers at every meal.  Quite honestly, if I had to eat tilapia out of Tupperware I would probably be the crabbiest person you have ever met! Instead pick ONE thing to change with your eating habits and find ONE way to become more active.  I didn’t say sign up for a marathon next month, I simply said become more active. Go for a WALK 3 times a week, even if it is for only 15 minutes, and work your way up from there.  Don’t start by setting a goal to lose 100 pounds because that is too overwhelming and people tend to beat themselves up if they don’t meet a goal quickly.  Make your first goal losing 5 pounds in the first month.  At the end of the month, reevaluate your progress and set a new goal for the following month.  The more gradual the changes are, the less painful they will be and the likelihood of success increases.  We don’t need to fear success.  We all are worthy of living a better life and showing ourselves respect.

My challenge, for anyone wishing to make a change in their life, is to make your (small, manageable) goals visual to yourself and share your intentions with others.  This increases the likelihood of success by serving as a source of accountability and support.  Feel free to share your goals here and we can work to support each other.  Okay, I’ll start…my goal is to drink more water, 64 ounces, a day and to lift weights 3 times a week for the next month.  I will track this on my kitchen calendar and will reevaluate my goals at the end of August.  Now it’s your turn!