Learning to Take Care of My Damn Self

Growing up I watched my very motivated father work his fingers to the damn bone. If there was a retake needed by a football player, he’d stay until 6 to give it to them. If a parent meeting needed to happen at 5 am or 9 pm, he’d make it happen. If he needed to learn Spanish or trombone to get the information across, he’d do it.

Every evening I watched him get home late and fall asleep minutes after sitting down. And every single school break I watched him get horribly sick and spend his time off recovering.

When I started teaching I promised myself I would find a way to work for my kids, to give them every chance I can, without burning myself out.

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I have been blessed with a team of co-workers who are caring and understanding, who always look out for me. My co-teacher tells me often to take care of myself. The beginning of every department meeting is either a self care check-in (where we talk about our specific self care goals and what we are doing to reach them this week) or a self care practice (Tai Chi, guided meditation, etc.) My Assistant Principal meets with me once a week to lesson plan/unit plan/revise curriculum/talk about what’s not working and how to fix it. My in-school mentor meets with me once a week to talk about literally anything I need help with.

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I’m supported, much more so than a lot of teachers. I’m lucky and I know it. But still I got caught with a case of ignoring my own needs.

Last Monday I got up at 4 and laid on my couch sobbing because my head was pounding so hard I couldn’t move. I called in sick but by noon the fever, headache and general ick was so bad I couldn’t stop crying.

I went to the clinic in the afternoon (I’ll be honest I went mostly because I wanted to be at work the following day) and found out I had a high fever, a sinus infection, and an ear infection.

My point is: don’t do this. Don’t let it get this bad. I was sick, really obviously sick and tried to push too hard through it and for what?

Americans especially have this notion that if you are not absolutely killing yourself at work, you’re lazy. I can’t say this enough times: that’s bullsh*t.

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In Peru, we would work from about 7- or am until lunch, go get lunch and take a nap or spend time with family, and then go back to work from 3 until 5 or 6. Yeah, that’s a three hour lunch. We also took 20-30 minutes breaks throughout the day to sit and talk.

At first I was torn apart by the difference and went to the go-to argument so many others have used (or at least thought in their head): well maybe if they worked more, their country would be more advanced. This, my friends, is also bullsh*t.

The reasons that many countries struggle has more to do with internal structure and corruption than with amount of hours worked. Hard work may be important, but worker bees working their buzzers off with no break  will not improve a country or a city or a workplace or a person.

I suppose the moral of the story is: put in the work, do whatever it is you do the best that you possibly can, but remember that half of being your best is treating yourself well. Work hard, self care hard.

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Best of luck.

Learning to Take Care of My Damn Self

I Went to the Red Carpet & Lived to Tell the Tale

It’s been a bleak few weeks for the blog, for a lot of reasons. The most important one is that I went on a vacation in which I mostly disconnected from technology, hung out with family (including adorable children), saw old friends for the first time in way too long, explored Seattle all over again, and finally ended up in LA, hanging out at the actual Red Carpet for the Oscars.

Also I caught the plague from previously mentioned adorable children and am still a snot factory and temporarily deaf in one ear. Turns out a terrible cold can turn into my very first sinus infection with a side of ear infection.

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But yes, you did read that correctly I was just chillin on (well, near) the Red Carpet with my new besties Lin, Taraji, and Dev. No big deal.

Except very big deal.

How? You ask. Well, about a month ago I got a mysterious email from People magazine/The Skimm saying I’d won first prize in the Oscars Fan Experience Contest. Naturally I assumed it was a scam, but I decided to research it further because the whole thing sounded vaguely familiar. Eventually I found that I had in fact entered on a whim and The Skimm verified that it was not only a real contest, but I was one of the winners.

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I didn’t win grand prize including air fare and hotel accommodations, but since I’d planned on being in Seattle already and have an awesome friend in LA, the detour only cost me an extra $80.

For the Oscars.

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I invited my friend from Grad School and we arrived at the Oscar Fan Experience location at 9:30 on Sunday, the big day. Well, 9:35 because the map they provided did not include all of the streets or the curvature of the main road (this is why we need to teach geography in schools).

I’m not going to lie, I brought a book because I definitely couldn’t figure out what we could possibly be doing between 9:30 and 2, when the Red Carpet officially opened. I assumed they just needed a lot of time to seat all of us.

But when we arrived we were immediately given a swag bag (notable gifts include a USB power bank, a seat cushion, adorable sunglasses, a billion snacks, and an Oscars Fan Experience t-shirt), donuts and tons of coffee. We were then directed to the various “glam stations” which included hand massages, a hair bar, photo areas and tarot card readings. This was followed by a delicious lunch. We were plenty busy until it was time.

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Around 1:50 we made our way to the bleachers and looked out upon the Red Carpet, the press, and the manic-looking assistants/interns/coordinators. I was told by an obnoxious* woman in front of me that we’d missed some big stars (Ryan Seacrest, who remained on the carpet all night, and some reality star dude).

It took about an hour for celebrities to really start arriving, but once they showed up they were there in droves.

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Because I can’t even describe to you all the feelings and excitement, here is a list of the celebrities I was within 15 feet of on Oscars night:

  • Lin Manuel Miranda (he saluted us)
  • Dev Patel
  • Jim Parsons
  • Busy Phillips and Michelle Williams
  • Trevante Rhodes
  • Taraji P. Henson
  • Chrissy Teigen and John Legend
  • Kate McKinnon
  • Felicity Jones
  • Emma Stone
  • Andre Holland
  • Dwayne Johnson
  • Octavia Specer
  • Darby Stanchfield
  • Mahershala Ali
  • Jason Bateman (he winked at us)
  • Andrew Garfield
  • Salma Hayek
  • Michael J. Fox
  • Sara Bareilles
  • Nicole Kidman
  • Halle Berry
  • Janelle Monae
  • Matt Damon
  • Kirsten Dunst
  • Charlize Theron
  • Ashton Sanders
  • Brie Larson
  • Ruth Negga
  • Emma Roberts
  • Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel
  • Denzel Washington
  • Meryl Streep
  • Ryan Gosling
  • Naomie Harris

There were others, I’m sure there were others, but my excited little brain stopped processing new information at a certain point.

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After the Red Carpet excitement, we were taken to the El Capitan Theater nearby where we were given food upon food upon food and sat down to watch the show. Even though we didn’t get to be in the real theater, watching the Oscars in this delightful old theater (while stuffing my face with free food) was pretty cool.

I know you’re wondering and yes I took pictures but honestly they are terrible in comparison to what you’ll find if you just use google.

You should know though that John Legend and Chrissy Teigen love each other that much up close and everyone else is exactly as attractive as you thought.

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Best of luck.

I Went to the Red Carpet

*Barbara from Ohio spent the entire evening in my personal space, leaning back on my legs to show me her pictures and asking who each and every celebrity was.

How To: Get Over a Cold

My bloggery has been lacking this week, but I have a good reason! For the first time since winter of 2012, I have a cold.

Between Peace Corps and working in schools, my immune system has gotten pretty dtrong. Well, it’s either that or the universe saw me struggling with IBS, Arthritis and steadily greying hair at 27 and thought “maybe we’ll just leave her be on this one.” Either way I don’t often get sick and this week I’m realizing, it is the absolute worst.

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So in honor of my sniffles, here are some tips for when you’re feeling crappy too.

Rest

I am the worst at this, but it’s so important to give your body a break. There’s an epic rap battle happening inside you between white blood cells and this sickness, so they’ve got enough going on without you thinking you need to do anything but rest.

Make sure you get enough sleep at night and let yourself relax as much of the day as possible. Now is a great time to turn on a show you don’t really care about and nap through it.

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Hydrate

Normally I’m pretty good at staying hydrated but for some reason I hate water when I’m sick. Whether you love it or hate it, water is the key to surviving this. So drink it plain or with lemon, or as tea, or full of good wishes, but drink up.

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Calm the **** Down

I probably got sick due to the added amount of germs in my daily environment, but I also got sick because I’m been stressed as hell lately. Physical health is affected by mental health, so it’s important to maintain your mental health as well. If you’re anxious, stressed, upset about something, handle it, don’t just let it continue to mess you up.

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Essential OIls

A friend of mine gave me a couple of bottles of essential oils for Christmas and her timing was impeccable. I’m not an expert by any means but I know that inhaling Frankensence (and even putting a drop under my nose) has been helping clear my head like nothing else.

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Drink My “Special Tea”

Every time Boyfriend starts to get sick, I make a variation of this tea. This time around it’s my turn to drink it and I’m finding that it helps. It’s not only good for a stuffy head and sore throat but it’s loading with Vitamin C. The recipe is roughly as follows.

-Special Tea-

8 c. water
6-8 Tea Bags (I like ginger or camomile)
1 lemon
1 orange
1/2 grapefruit
1/2 c. chopped, fresh ginger
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
honey to taste

Put water and tea in large pot to boil. Chop lemon, orange, and grapefruit into large chunks and add to pot. Add ginger and spices and bring to a boil. Let boil for one minute and turn heat to low. Add lid to pot and let simmer for 20-30 minutes. Strain and add honey or other sweetener as desired.

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For anyone out there battling a cold, the flu, or just holiday exhaustion: I feel you, pal. And I hope you feel better soon.

Best of luck!

Why Peace Corps was the Best and Worst Thing that Ever Happened to Me

***In honor of National Peace Corps Week, I’ve decided to share some thoughts on my time serving in Peru as a community health educator. If you know anyone who has, will or is serving with the Peace Corps, give them a hug this week***

Imagine, if you will, an average day. Except on this average day, you wake up sick with fever and a kind of stomach pain that resembles hot steel coursing through your intestines. You’re overheated in a tiny, cement room and know instantly that it’s going to be a long sprint to the latrine. You run for it and are caught by your host mother in the kitchen who stops you to see how you’re feeling, she sits you down and attempts to feed you meat to make you stronger. As you sit you lose your stomach contents into what were almost clean pants and accept your fate. Today you’ll be washing your soiled clothes in a big bucket amongst the chickens. Continue reading