Celebrate Yourself

Last month I took part in Yoga Revolution, 31 days of yoga challenge from Yoga with Adriene. It was less a New Years Resolution and more an opportunity to get back to daily yoga after a few weeks off. Either way though, I really enjoyed the thirty minute daily videos from this hilarious and kind teacher. 

During the third week I was really struggling. I struggled to get to the mat. I struggled to focus. I struggled to breathe. I got mad at Adriene and at yoga and at my body. I cried in cobra and fumed in down dog. But I finished and then I came back the next day and life went on. 

A few days later Adriene hit a lot of the crap that had been holding me down. She talked about a friend of hers who has chronic back pain and wondered, “can you shift the language? Can you let go of this back pain as part of your identity?”

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She went on to explain that being kind to yourself and loving your body even when it doesn’t do what you want is the goal. Yoga isn’t about making shapes it’s about growth and making space. I had heard this, I knew this, I could quote this, but this time I actually heard it. 

Stop being such a d*ck to yourself and celebrate doing your best.  

I’m hard on myself, about everything, I’m never good enough and my body gets the worst of it. Growing up overweight I always felt that if my body wasn’t cooperating with me it was because it was inherently wrong. My fat body was the wrong body so it did things wrong. 

Can’t do that stretch? Wrong body, bad body. Can’t run as fast or long as you want? Bad body. Stomach ache, headache, joint pain? Bad body. It never occurred to me to accept my body and help it, support it to feel better. If my body is a dear friend instead of an enemy, life can be so much less painful. 

Life and yoga are about stretching, learning, growing. Not pain, not hurt, not hate. 

I learn the best life lessons while upside down.

Best of luck

** and check out Yoga with Adriene ***

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I Took a Personal Day and I’m Not Sorry

Monday was a long, but overall happy day. Tuesday, however, was much worse. We’re talking “no-good, very bad day” status. I won’t even go into the details but we’ll just say I left school after a long after school meeting, fuming. I walked to the subway half-furious, half-devastated and entirely exhausted. I did that weird little public half-cry where you wipe tears away before they really drop and try to pretend you’re not crying.

On the way home, I tried to find comfort in anything I could: I’m a good teacher, it’s almost the mid-point in the week, we get a break in two weeks wherein I’ll get to see my family and friends, I love my sweet smiling students so much…but nothing was sticking. Until I offered myself the possibility of a personal day. Not a concrete plan, just the option.

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A little backstory: in January, two of my colleagues in the history department had a little meeting without me and discussed an important topic; my continued full supply of personal and sick days. They’d both realized that I’d never taken a day off and thought it was ridiculous. As veteran teachers with 6 and 13 years experience, they are very protective of this first year baby teacher, a fact I’m endlessly grateful for. So it was no surprise when they both came to me separately and then together to convince me to take a day for myself.

They told me that it’s important to take care of yourself. They lectured me about self care and burnout. I laughed and told them I would consider taking a day in March because that’s the death month with no days off. And then Tuesday happened and I hit the end of my rope.

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Giving myself permission to call out on the subway gave me so much relief that I just continued thinking about it. Eventually, still undecided, I texted my co-teacher and told him there was a chance I’d be out. I wanted to see his response, since he’d be teaching alone the next day if I wasn’t there. He immediately texted back, telling me I deserve it and I need to take care of myself since it was a hard day. There were many emojis, he was excited, it was very sweet.

So I took a personal day and I still got up at five. I spent the day catching up on lessons and doing my homework. I went to therapy in the afternoon and spent the evening drinking tea and spending time with Boyfriend. By seven that evening I felt good, I felt ready for a 7am-10pm day with work and grad school.

And then de Blasio called a snow day. Excellent timing, de Blasio, excellent timing.

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Previous to taking this day off, I’d only taken two days off from work in my life. One for when I was so sick I couldn’t walk without passing out and the other was the day that an ex walked out on me. The idea of taking a personal day just to get my head on straight seemed weak. But my colleagues (and every other veteran teacher I interact with) have taught me just the opposite. Weakness is not listening to yourself, it’s not taking care of yourself. It’s easy to be in the building every day, it’s much harder to be present. And sometimes you have to be absent in order to be present later.

I refuse to feel guilty about this personal day because it was something I needed to do. I needed a reset and re-focus. And the snow day, well, that was just a bonus.

Best of luck.

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Becoming an Alpha

As I journey further into the deep dark cave of adulthood, every day seems to be an exercise in struggle, confusion, and second-guessing. I have tended to shrink away from the unknown, waiting for someone else to go first down the new path. In times of conflict I’ve tended to shrink away from the fight. In fear of sounding self-obsessed, I’ve tended to shrink away from announcing good news or congratulating myself on a job well done.

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I have made myself a beta.* Oh and don’t be fooled, I had logical reasoning: I’m an introvert. I’m moderately shy. I dislike conflict.

But I’m coming to realize that none of those things have anything to do with me becoming an alpha. I can be a powerful and unwavering, shy, introverted pacifist. I can be the wind and the leaf.

A couple of weeks ago I officially accepted a job as a High School history teacher in Brooklyn. I was one of the first in my department and it’s a school I’m in love with. A week later I was offered a job at another school and even after I turned it down, they continued to fight for me. I honestly believed that both of these were somehow wrong, not for me, how could anyone push so hard for me?

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I was afraid to tell people. I hesitated. I was scared it would make me seem conceited. What happened instead was that my colleagues, friends, family, and classmates were purely joyous for me and the stress that lifted off of my shoulders has allowed me to help those around me in their struggles.

It took a while but eventually, I defied what I believed about my abilities. I didn’t think I would be able to find a job at all; that I would be the only fellow in history to fail to find a job by fall. But that didn’t happen. I got a job, just like I got into grad school and pulled straight As first semester, just like I did Peace Corps, because I am an alpha. I just had to believe it.

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I felt powerful in that moment. I felt big, and for once that wasn’t a negative. I was this force, and I still am. I don’t want to hide anymore, behind fear and logical reasoning (coughexcusescough) and worry.

I will stand, big and tall over my fears, and be an alpha.

Best of luck.

 

*Not the fish, please don’t be concerned that I’ve climbed into fishbowls and hidden in the dorms of college freshmen. I haven’t lost it yet.

Monday Motivation: There’s Nobody Like You

I always say to young women to know their power, whatever is it that you have done, be it at home or at work or in the academic world or wherever it is...understand that it has made you uniquely qualified. There's nobody like you.

Yesterday I watched the PBS special American Masters: The Women’s List.* It was basically just a bunch of strong, successful women telling stories and talking about life. So, fantastic and wonderful.

There were plenty of meaningful quotes, but this one in particular spoke to me. So many times I have walked into an interview, an exam, or even just a room feeling like I’m not qualified. What a funny word, qualified. That word feels like a mean middle school girl staring down her nose at me, telling me my voice is too low, my hips are too wide, and nobody even likes me anyway.** That word is the worst, because, does anyone really ever feel qualified? To do anything?

But the thing is, we’re all capable, beautiful, and yeah qualified, people who can do amazing things. We’re all capable and beautiful in different ways. We all have stories and experiences to share that make us qualified.

So go kick ass.

Best of luck.

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*Go watch this, right now. It’s on Netflix.

** COUGHashleyCOUGHCOUGH

Procrastination Station

The Best Way to Get Things Done is to Just Begin

Hello, my name is Becca, and I’m a procrastinator.

In fact, as I’m writing this I am actively procrastinating. I was supposed to post this blog by midday…yesterday.

In my relatively short life, I’ve learned that procrastinating takes skill. It may look like laziness but doing it right takes serious knowledge. Not effort, mind you, but knowledge.

Specifically, knowing what you can potentially pull out in the last moment* and what you absolutely cannot.

One of my most memorable procrastination experiences was in High School; I remember having to do a project we called an anthology every year for English. It involved writing a series of book reports for 5-25 books, depending on the class, throughout the semester and then organizing them all into something classy and academic looking.

Naturally I waited until the last week to do it every year. Mind you, I skimmed some books throughout the semester, I knew what I was going to write about. I had an outline. But that last night before it was due I typically got an hour of sleep at best.

The consequences? I got an A- pretty much every year. Why? Because one of my strengths in life, I’ve learned, is my ability to write well under pressure. I know, because I’ve tested it, that I can write an A, well A-, paper overnight if need be.

Now all that bragging aside, there are a few times I’ve gotten myself in trouble. Most memorably when I waited way too long to get my references, and necessary forms for an application to a teacher certification program. I didn’t get the application in and had to wait a year to apply again.

Even though I eventually got in and decided not to go, that moment still haunts me. I had to forgo a great opportunity simply because I didn’t get my shit together in time.

I know that when it comes to application materials, I need the time, I need to start weeks, maybe even months early because there is a knack for organization involved that I simply don’t possess.

I suppose the point of all this is that life isn’t about being perfectly organized and doing everything on time. That’s impossible. It’s about knowing what you, personally, have the skill to push off until the last moment and knowing what you cannot.

Those things that deeply frighten you and keep you up at night? Those things you know you simply can’t mess up, that you have to get right? Those things your aren’t certain you can even do? Those are the things you should start on now, don’t wait. And when those things try to terrify you right back to bed, push against them, just a little, and start moving forward. One step at a time.

Best of luck.

*Heh heh heh

Feelings Friday: Tattoos, Expression, and Haterade

Two years ago I got a tattoo. It wasn’t a monumental occasion. I’d gotten a couple of tattoos before and it wasn’t anything intricate.

In fact, it was a line.

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A year into my Peace Corps service, I got one line around my leg. After I completed my second year, I got a second. Nothing big or particularly beautiful, but it meant something to me. It was a reminder of two years of struggle and joy.

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When the scabs flaked off and it stopped looking moderately scary, I loved my tattoo. I wrote about it and put that writing on the internet.

Enter: the haters.

Some guy decided my tattoo, and by proxy I, was stupid. He reblogged my post on a “stupid tattoos” blog and because I am perhaps an overly sensitive type, my feelings were substantially hurt.

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