The (Late) 2017 Bucket List

At the beginning of college I got my first credit card. Don’t worry, I’ve always been ridiculously responsible about budgeting, this story’s not going down that road. What I recall almost as deeply as the nightmares I had about the possibility of interest payments, is getting my first statement.

It wasn’t that I’d spent a lot of money, it’s that every line item on the statement was a fast food restaurant or something I ordered from the internet. My credit card statement was a story of me as a shut-in. It was not an untrue story.

I wish I could say I saw this sad story and immediately changed; went full Eat, Pray, Love and traveled the world, sky dived and moved to a new city, danced like no one was watching. I did none of those things, because isn’t life lived in the small changes and the tiny moments?

Yes, it is.

So I went to a few more stand up shows and plays, I made my meals out into dates with friends, and I traded a few pretty dresses for road trips and ridiculous midnight adventures. I learned to get back into the world and be a bit more brave and a bit less tied to things.

When I heard about Eventbrite‘s GOMO, or Get Out More Often, I thought “that sounds pretty baller.” And then I thought “damn, son, you need to stop picking up slang from your students.”

In all seriousness though, there’s a huge life lesson here and you know how I love those. So in the spirit of GOMO! (something I will be yelling randomly all over NYC’s subways), here’s a list of 10 adventures I’d like to have this year.

*I’m putting a couple on here I already did, because, well, I want to brag a little too*

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1. Go To the Oscars

I did this. So…

2.  See a Play

I hadn’t totally planned on it, but I did this today too. Casually went to see Hamilton with my students. More on that later.

3. Get Out of Town

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New York is draining, which is surprising since I’ve yet to live in a New York apartment with decent sink and shower drains. In our year plus here, Boyfriend and I have only left the city a hand full of times, mostly to fly home or get out for a weekend camping trip. This year I really want to go somewhere quiet, stay in a B&B and relax for real. I want to be not just New York relaxed, but actually relaxed.

4. Have a Picnic

It doesn’t have to be in Central Park or Prospect Park or any park. I just want to make sandwiches and pack them to green, nature area and eat them in the company of those I love.

5. Go Camping

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This tends to happen a few times during the summer but it’s something that I really like and Boyfriend LOVES. Nature is the great healer and no matter how hot/humid/disgusting this summer is, we have to get out there.

6. Write a Story

I’m keeping expectations low because I won’t even finish grad school until August. So, not a novel, nothing epic, just a story. I have ideas in my head all the time and I used to do a lot more writing them. Time to get back to that.

7. Do a Yoga Retreat

Yoga brings me as much peace as nature does and I’ve been wanting to try one of these for a long time. This year I want to bite the bullet and go all in for a weekend (or maybe a week).

8. Take the Train

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Not the subway. Dear god, never the subway. The actual train. I don’t even really care where I go, I just want to go. On the train.

9. Be Present in the Blogging Community

I have made a few great blogging friends and interacted with other bloggers and I genuinely love this community so much. Grad school and teaching tend to keep me from both blogging (whoops) and making deeper connections with other bloggers (double whoops). This year I want to get back to the blog and jump in to the community.

10. Get a Tattoo with Boyfriend

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I should note: I definitely don’t mean matching tattoos. I truly believe though that it’s an experience worth having with someone you love and Boyfriend has not yet gotten a tattoo. I’m working on designing one for him and as for me, who know, could turn out as anything.

Best of luck.

P.S. Eventbrite also has some crazy cool planning tools, like this one. Check them out!

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

A Soul Cleansing Moment

I sat on the train this afternoon, I’ve been sitting on trains a lot lately, in a frantic rush. I didn’t want to be late, to waste one precious moment I could spend talking to this woman who has meant so much to me, on this dumb train.

It was cold on the train and hot on the platform. I didn’t feel like putting make up on on the train so I listened to music instead. Chambers street, right? Right. Then the path and my first time to New Jersey. On the other side of the river, a breeze existed; cool air and suddenly it smelled like the ocean. It only ever smelled like city in New York. It was chilly in the breeze but warm in the love of my friends embrace.

Friend? Mentor? What do you call someone who inspires so much in you, who believes so deeply in you, who you admire so fiercely. She taught me how to be imaginative and creative in education. She taught me to think outside the box. She taught me things I’m only just now learning that she taught me.

Seeing people from home in this big, bad city feels like a deep breath after months underwater. I tell people I miss hiking, that the train is hard to navigate. I tell people I miss fresh air, that there are too many people. I laugh it off, New York is great sure sure sure. But this glimmer of hope from home brought me to life again. She breathed into me and renewed my entire being. She told me I was great, in real, human words. It wasn’t implied or alluded to. It was said. When so rarely these words are earnestly spoken.

Everyone should be told that they are honestly, perfectly, entirely great and that they should let their greatness flow. Have you heard that yet?

Yes you have, you just did.

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Best of luck.

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!

Patience for Dummies

A Moment of Patience in a Moment of Anger Saves You a Hundred Moments of Regret (1)

I have a temper.

A road raged, frustrated on hold with customer service, heart banging, head pounding sort of temper. A making up entirely new curse words, throwing things, biting my tongue to avoid a yelling match sort of temper. A kaboom, bam, pow, did I just tear my own hair out for betraying me, sort of temper.

I’d like to think I’ve gotten better over the years, but I’ve got a long way to go. I suppose it’s all about pausing to breathe and thinking about your words and actions before saying them, rather than seeing red for a while and coming back to a list of apologies to make.

Anyone else out there have a hot temper (or know someone with one)?

Sunsets for Shalin

Last summer I was finishing out my final months in Peace Corps, acting a fool with my head 100% in the clouds.

A new group of volunteers had come in and were doing their initial training in Lima, part of which involved their site assignments and a visit to their regions to meet their new communities and fellow volunteers.

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I attended a couple of meetings and trainings so I could meet the new trainees but if I’m honest, I wasn’t that interested. We’d only have a few months together before I left.

In that group was Shalin Shah, who I only spoke to a couple of times. He died last week.

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