A Lesson I’ve Learned about Lessons I’m Learning

I have struggled to come to terms with how miserable my job can make me. I always tell myself, “I’ve done this before,” and then am amazed at how bad a really bad day can be. That is how I felt my entire first year. I would come home and just could not shake the residual dread and anger that I carried with me.

My sister told me I had to change my mindset. And I tried! I really tried. It’s one of those things that doesn’t just happen when you want it to. You can’t just tell yourself to be happy about it and then suddenly you are. It is a gradual process that must be attended to.

This year is different, and while it has been just fine so far, a new revelation is making it better and better.  I kept thinking, what makes this different from my other teaching experiences? Why is this so much more challenging than my experience in Indianapolis or the Navajo Nation? How were those experiences alike in a way that this experience is different? In my head I made a venn diagram of sorts: the socioeconomic environments in my prior teaching experiences were vastly different from one another, but between the two they covered the disparities facing my current community.

What I realized was that at my first two experiences, I went into them knowing that:

  1. They were temporary
  2. I was there as a learner

Boom. What I am doing right now is not forever. A few years is not forever. This is temporary (and you can be invested in something temporary). And goddamnit, if I don’t learn more every day at this school than I have learned in my years at college. These kids have taught me life lessons that my own life otherwise never would have. So, instead of thinking, “I am a teacher and employee. I am stuck here.” I am reminding myself that “I am a learner, and this is temporary so I need to make the most of it.”

How far I’ve come.

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Reflections and Intentions

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Image and listpiration from Shutterbean

Reflections
-Survived the first week of school!
-Not only survived, but arrived hours early each day, was consistent with my students, and supported them at their football game over the weekend
-Went climbing… twice!… as pre-training for my training for my upcoming outdoor climb
-Walked and biked and ate kale every day and lost weight

Intentions
-Get my car fixed for significantly less than the car is worth (goodbye, Midas. It’s over.)
-Adjust work/life balance. The first week of school had me there two hours early and two hours late most days. I am paid for a 40 hour week, not 60. Figure out how to get it all done efficiently. Lists. Lots of lists.
-Visit my family.
-Keep working on that side hustle. Finally hang advertisement for private lessons.
-Do all of my food prep at the beginning of the week!
-Don’t purchase anything except groceries and maybe one more pair of leggings for my climbing training
-Get consistent with the blog!

Intended
-Join Brooklyn Boulder’s “Climb Like a Girl” program and enroll in REI’s outdoor climb!
-Figure out my morning exercise. Yoga? Long walks? Biking?
-pick up some side work like coaching, teaching lessons, leading choir… thins I enjoy (peel Lyft stickers off car and switch to cheaper insurance 🙂  )
-stay busy and happy and engaged every day

Reflections and Intentions

Reflections
-Yay! We had our best month on The Wonder Of in August!
-I saw yet another amazing Sofar Sounds concert. The group Dr. Joe really stuck with me.
-I went stand up paddle boarding!!!! How cool is that???
-I’m back in the swing of things (sort of)

Intentions
-Join Brooklyn Boulder’s “Climb Like a Girl” program and enroll in REI’s outdoor climb!
-Figure our my morning exercise. Yoga? Long walks? Biking?
-pick up some side work like coaching, teaching lessons, leading choir… thins I enjoy (peel Lyft stickers off car and switch to cheaper insurance 🙂  )
-stay busy and happy and engaged every day

Intended
-Prepare myself for the next 2-4 months right now!
-Buy plane tickets for a personal getaway
-FINALLY pay that parking ticket
-Set-up freelance opportunities for teaching and playing
-Have fun every week (every day?) this month

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Resiliency

Wow, the last day of August. I know officially we have 22 days of summer left, but unofficially today feels like the last day. It is time to go back to school and back to work. It is time to think about money and how much money you can justify spending on warm sweaters and apple cider and how much money you should just put in your retirement account. Maybe I’m the only one who stopped thinking about money by July? Anyway. It is time to get life back in order.

We have had loose themes the last few months, including Nature Week and our Professionals Series. For the month of September, we will feature 1-2 pieces each week about resiliency (I promise, we’ll lighten up in October). This comes as I readjust to my workdays and suck it up and do something I am not at all excited to be doing. Additionally, in my last week of freedom summer break, I was exercising for over an hour every day. Since my first day of full time meetings, I have not exercised on purpose one single time. I am so busy!!! I am going to correct this. Maintaining personal health and happiness requires determination and resiliency.

If you are interested in writing a piece for September, I am accepting pitches on the topic of resiliency. Email your ideas to ofthewonder@gmail.com

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Books I Read This Summer

Well this is it, folks. Summer is officially dead to me. I’m in meetings all week, and as far as I’m concerned it’s fall. I will wrap myself in bright sweaters and soft leggings each evening, seeking premature cold-weather comfort to stifle the chill of being in the frigid air condition cell all day.

Maybe I’m being dramatic. Let’s reminisce about the summer! It was too short and I was too busy, but I did my part of escapism and read several novels. Here are the books I read and the journeys I read them during.

Handmaid’s Tale
I started this before I was out for the summer, but it was solidly summertime! Dark and horrifying, drawing eery parallels to modern times, this was not a light summer read.

Hillbilly Elegy
This was also not a light summer read, but my timing was appropriate. Reading about the struggle and consequential political defense of working class whites, I read this while visiting my hometown in southern Indiana. Many of the economic factors described in the book have happened exactly in my hometown, and reading this helped me understand some viewpoints I have always railed against without trying to understand.

Woman in Cabin 10
This was a haunting summer read that I have found even more chilling since the news of this true crime case. I devoured this book, even trying to read it slowly and stretch it out, it only lasted three days. I loved Ruth Ware’s book “In a Dark, Dark, Wood” and this did not disappoint.

A Man Called Ove
This book is tender and sweet, and brings joy and laughter where you least expect it. Featuring a crotchety old man, a mangey cat, and loving neighbors, this book brings the solemnity of age and joy of youth. This is a read that everyone can enjoy.

The Lying Game
I couldn’t get enough of the Ruth Ware books! As soon as I saw that she had another book out, I begged our hosts in NYC to take me to a bookstore. I visited two or three before I found it, and in true form, finished it in two or three days. Ware’s thrillers are so captivating and the main characters are so relatable, I really can’t bring myself to put them down.

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice
I am still working on this one. Think Sherlock Holmes meets young scholarly woman. In this story, the beginning of the Mary Russell Series, Sherlock and a young woman have a platonic and professional friendship where they study and conduct science experiments together, and work side-by-side as sleuths solving cases. These mysteries are tame, not scary, but thoughtful and interesting. Mary Russell is a headstrong independent woman, showcasing traits that were not popular in women during that period. It’s a feminine take on the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s originals, set in the countryside instead of the city, happening during wartime in the early 20th century.

 

 

 

Reflections and Intentions

Reflections:
-Visited the Chicago Field Museum
-Enjoyed a whole week at our apartment FINALLY
-Ate kale every day
-Started a novel?!?!?!
-taught myself poker and rummy

Intentions:
-Continue our Professionals series
-Make a pinhole viewer and observe the eclipse
-Get ready to go back to work

Intended:
-Run! Bike! Walk! Hike!
-Build new Rituals
-Clean my apartment/ my life

Related:
Back to School
5 Podcasts to Listen to on Your Roadtrip
Space is my Jam
5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Applying for Jobs
Book Lists

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Mid-Week Roundup

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5 tried and true morning routines of successful people, including Jennifer Anniston and Barack Obama.

 

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It’s back-to-school season, or career change month: here are 18 beautiful laptop cases and covers to change things up.

 

What I’m reading right now.

 

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I know what I’m having for lunch today.

 

Are you ready to watch the eclipse next week?

 

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Obama’s response to Charlottesville, a quote from Nelson Mandela, is now the most favorited tweet ever.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Applying for Jobs

This post is a part of the series, Professionals.

I have thought for some time that “back-to-school” season only feels like prime time for job applications because I am a teacher. After reading this great advice today, I realize that the fading of summer into fall feels like hiring time because… it is. College grads just finished their wild and free summer and as their friends head back to school, they are looking for work. Seasonal positions leading up to the holidays start hiring, and parents scaling back and changing work schedules to be home when their kids are home create new openings at their place of work. I don’t know for certain that August is a more active hiring season than January, but this time of year is similar in that it is definitely a time for self reflection and personal change.

Here are a few points to think about if you are looking for something different.

  1. What brings you joy?
    Before combing through your qualifications and needs, decide where you want to go. Long term. What would you enjoy? What do you honestly want to do for 8 hours a day 5 days a week? You are spending 40 of your 168 hours a week working, and ideally 56 of those are spent sleeping! Or do you want something with more time flexibility? Also, think about what environment brings you joy. Do you want a collaborative team, or do you work best alone?
  2. What are your needs?
    Do you need a 9-5 structured day, or more flexible time? How important are included benefits or matching retirement plans to you? For me, I have no kids and a Roth IRA, so I feel more flexibility regarding benefits than someone with a family or different retirement set-up might. What salary is livable for you? How many vacation days do you need? Can you settle for less if you really love your job? I also am accustomed to lengthy vacation time and little freedom within the work schedule. I think I would be comfortable with less vacation and a lower salary in order to have more flexibility throughout the year. Sometimes a few part time jobs can fill needs and keep you happy better than a full time job.
  3. What are your qualifications?
    Working qualifications can include a college degree and formal training, but are not limited to that. Specific, evening short term experiences can be surprisingly applicable and relevant. An example: I spent one day volunteering with the National Park Service, in an unofficial capacity. That sounds irrelevant, but that day was spent teaching students about the migratory patterns of geese using an interactive game outside in the national park. Students were in nature all day, no electronics, lots of bugs, and had to use physical clues to act out a migration scenario, playing as if they were the traveling geese. This experience of teaching outside, giving students tools to learn through play, and using materials that cost nothing (one stack of index cards, essentially) gave me a wealth of knowledge and experience that teaching in a regular classroom for a whole year wouldn’t provide. These experiences are best shared in a letter of interest, and should be directly tied to skills needed for the job you are applying for.
  4. What have you already done?
    In many instances, especially in the arts, there is a way to prove yourself. Even if there is not an audition or required sample of your work, take the extra step and create one. They are hiring someone to write about their product line? Look at the writing already done, and do it better. Submit this sample along with your resume and cover letter. Or think way outside the box, like this applicant.
  5. Would you hire yourself?
    Would you hire yourself for this position? Think on this. Convince yourself, write the reasons, envision yourself there. Can’t picture it? Don’t apply. Find somewhere where you feel you will be a great fit, where there is room for growth, and where you and your place of work can have an exchange of reward.

Related: 10 Ways to Get Ahead and Get the Job

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Back to School

It’s that time of year! Here are 10 picks, whether you are going back to school or not.

Back to School Standards


Fjallraven Kanken Backpack

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Agendas


Pretty Notebooks


Pencils

Dorm Essentials


Coffee for one or coffee to share

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Perfect bowls


Window Fan

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Daybeds are the new futon


My Pillow

 

Weekend Bliss

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Weekends are for sunshine and iced coffee, days spent disappearing deep into a book or walking until the sun burns your skin. I am lingering at a coffee shop near a college campus in a small, small town and I have been reading a novel for 2 or maybe 3 hours; I am very content.

A college campus in the summer is so blissful. Everyone is curious and learning and making friends with the other lone souls who chose work or learning over their hometowns. In college, there is a lot of help with money- from guardians or big banks. The summers are allowed to be blissful and unstructured because the bills will get paid and everything moves slower here, over the summer.

I am considering options to continue my education, but I know that it will be different than my first 4 (and a half) years. This time, I have financial obligations and responsibilities, and extra time and classes and failures will be on my bill. The summer may not be time off- rather, time on- spent working. Maybe these lazy summers are not just found near college campuses, but it is hard to imagine such a slow pace at a place of year-round full time work. It is different, even, as a public school teacher, because the summer won’t fade into friends coming back from home and hours spent with my mind opening to new ideas. It feels like the summer will come gradually, but will end with a grinding, abrasive halt. Returning to the anger and apathy of adolescence.

Yikes. Until my summer is really truly here, I will accept a slow and sunny weekend spent with a cookie and a good book, pretending it is already summer.