Spring Has Sprung (and other life updates)!

So, I’ve been a bad blogger. Like, really bad. I love the idea of being a blogger. I love reading blogs and keep up with a good many, but when it comes to my own, I’m lacking.

Starting in a few weeks though, I will have one month off. No work, no school. Just a few speaking commitments, some interviews, and a jumble of doctor’s appointments. May will be a time of wrapping up life in DC and re-starting life in Baltimore and I couldn’t be happier.

Wait, what? Guys, I’m moving! After two years of working in Northern Virginia in fields that I can not envision myself enjoying in 10 years, I will be moving back to the city that I grew up in and the city I love. I’ve been accepted into a highly selective teaching program in Baltimore City (the Baltimore City Teaching Residency) where I will be teaching elementary education starting in Fall 2013. My summer will consist of long days filled with classes and student teaching as I fast track my way to the classroom.

I’ve always been the kind of person who feels best when helping others. It’s why I try to participate in as much advocacy as possible. It’s also why my most memorable experiences in life to date have been while helping others. I made a decision this past fall that I didn’t want to spend my life working in an office. I didn’t want to spend my life being good at my job without really enjoying it. I wanted to have a job that I felt passionate about.

I officially put my notice in at work today. This was a huge weight off my shoulders since I’ve known I would be leaving for almost two months now. No more being sneaky about what I did over the weekends or when I was going to start looking for a new place to live (everyone knew my lease was up). So here it is office friends and other friends alike:

1. Since February, my life has been crazy! I have had to take the Praxis I and Praxis II. They aren’t cheap tests. They aren’t easy tests. I studied a lot throughout the month of February and March. Sorry that work and life was put on the back burner, but not really. The tests were important. I passed the Praxis I and should hear about the Praxis II any day now. Just in case, I’ve registered again so my life might go on the back burner again.

2. I should mention these tests are extremely stressful to study for and take. They are also stressful because my continuation in the program will only happen if I pass. Any day now, ETS!!!

3. While I’ve told people that I’ve been looking for places to live in DC and Arlington, the fact of the matter is I extended my lease to May 1 and will be moving back in with my parents. I’ve slowly been packing my apartment up now, so when you ask what I did over the weekend, it probably included some packing that I didn’t mention. That’s also why I’ve been hoarding boxes in the storage room.

4. Yes, I just mentioned that I’m moving back in with my parents. Programs like Teach for America, the Peace Corp and the New Teacher Project (the program I’m in) are all about ‘giving.’ We all have to go through a training period before we are able to give though. That training period is not paid and while some programs provide housing. mine doesn’t. Luckily, I have parents who love me and are able to let me live rent-free through the summer.

5. I’m completely excited about this new opportunity! I’m excited about becoming a teacher. I’m excited to go back to Baltimore (peace out NoVa!) I’m excited to work with and help kids and make a difference.

This all brings me back to the fact that I will be moving in a few short weeks and will have a month off before starting my summer training. One glorious month! I have program stuff that I’ll have to do and I was asked to speak at my university, but other than that, the time is mine and I’m pretty excited about it! So I don’t become a lazy lump on a log and sucked into Netflix, I have set a few personal goals for myself. I’m putting them out there for all to see:

1. Find a gym and continue with fitness goals. Over the past two month or so, I’ve become really dedicated as far as fitness goals. I’ve lost about 8 pounds, but I’ve also gained muscle. I’m not a naturally thin person, so I don’t expect to ever fit my wider hips into a size 4, but being really toned is something I’ve never been… it’s a process and I’m finally ready to embrace the process. “Slow and steady wins the race” right?!

2. Blog. Every day I promise myself to blog about something. It will be my thirty day challenge that I can hopefully extend into something longer.

3. Read. I’ve been reading a lot of fun and frilly books lately while working out on the elliptical, but I have a list of heavier books that I’ve been wanting to get to.

4. Write the reviews I promised myself to write. Even though I have been reading a lot of nonsense, I’ve also read some really great books and gone to some really great events pertaining to diabetes. I want to share all of them!

5. Cook. Well, this is a given. I always cook. The difference is that I usually cook for myself. Since I have the month off and will be living with my family, I figured the least I can do is take that off their hands. I hope they are ready for the weird things I eat! I don’t think it will be a problem though since I’ve already converted them on a few things.

6. Prepare for the challenges that await me. I have not idealized my summer into thinking it’s going to be a cake walk. I know my days are going to be long and tiring, and that’s just the beginning. The hardest year for a teacher is their first, or so I hear from my friends who have been there. I’m ready for the challenge though, and I’m excited.

7. Watch Netflix… ok, ok. I want to do all the other things I mentioned, but let’s be real here! Netflix has basically been my significant other for the past six months and he’s not going anywhere anytime soon!

So there it is! The biggest part of my life at the moment on blast. Now if only the weather would cooperate and actually be Spring-like instead of 90 degrees… but I’m not complaining 🙂

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Taking a moment to breathe…

First blog post… so much anticipation. High expectations. What do I write? What will interest people? Should I start out with my mundane list of foods I ate today?

Hmm… let me see, Greek yogurt (yum Chobani), a red pear, almonds… nope. No one wants to hear about that super exciting list.

Maybe about my crazy dream last night which included a polar bear, a blue Christmas tree and my old boss from Starbucks. Slightly more interesting, but way too bizarre of a post to start my entire blog with.

Ahh, the stress of trying to figure out what to write about is getting way too high at the moment. Perfect topic. Stress levels! Ok, wait. That sounds even more boring than talking about food and polar bear dreams. But it’s not. Most people in America (the country without siestas and limited vacation time at work) deal with a phenomenal amount of stress today than ever before. Money, family, societal pressures, traffic, work, student loans (please tell me that’s not just me!), health insurance and the list goes on and on. Did I mention traffic?

Living on the East Coast my entire life, I’ve never known anything but the hustle and bustle of metropolitan areas. I grew up right outside of Baltimore City, visited New York City a few times a year and am currently living right outside of Washington D.C. I honestly don’t know what life would be like without traffic, and tons of it. My roommate does though. The native Kansanite (??) that he is said he only remembers one traffic jam in his life. I jokingly asked if it was because of a cow. And he seriously replied that it was due to several cows…

I also don’t know how I would survive without the plethora of free entertainment that comes from living near major cities (hello, Smithsonian museums in D.C.  and Friday night movies in Fed Hill in Baltimore). Ok, so there are pros and cons to living near some of the biggest cities in the country. But let’s really focus on traffic. Whether it’s public transportation or trying to get to work from anywhere inside or outside the beltway, it’s usually slow-going, frustrating and miserable. I used to bang my head on the steering wheel. I used to yell in frustration. I used to honk and give people mean faces (hey, I couldn’t help it). But a few life changing things happened and I realized that the level of stress I experienced in traffic, and all parts of my life, was having an extremely negative impact on my life. My energy was focused on negativity and it was ugly. Not only that, I usually had a headache after severe stress moments like those in the car. And we all know headaches are not ok!

The fact of the matter is that traffic will be there. I had no power over anything. Except how I responded. Instead of yelling in frustration, I did some relaxation breathing in the car. I looked at the scenery around me (granted, not a whole lot on the beltway, but cars are scenery too!) and thought about it. I let my mind wander. I did some light stretching. Well, sort of light… at one point my foot was almost out of sunroof, but hey, it felt good! (WARNING: Do not attempt unless stuck in completely stopped traffic! Please!)

Zen. Say it with me- “Zen.” Feels good, right? We’ve all heard the term Zen. Images of calm will probably wash over your mind as you think about the word. And that is exactly what it means. The word Zen can be loosely translated as meaning “meditation.” It is a school within Buddhism (a religion AND philosophy I have recently taken great interest in). The idea behind Zen has to do with an enlightenment of your person. It is about living in the moment and quieting your internal chatter. This idea is relaxing and meditative, and something I am striving to do more of in my own life. Zen. It’s a beautiful word.

Stressors are always present. They will only impact your life in the way you allow them to impact your life. Stress causes health problems. It is bad for digestion. It causes blemishes. It makes people cranky. Instead of letting stress consume your life, have the power of Zen so you can control the stress. Easier said than done, of course, but it is a path I’m willing to spend a lot of time walking down. I’m willing to take my time and breathe.

For your viewing pleasure- Zen-like images: