Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My wordle.

According to Wordle, this is a graphic representation of the common words that appear in my blog (more common = bigger size):

I love that some of the biggest words on the page are get, want, feel, think, and know.  They are all verbs that I use often, probably because, pretty much... I want to be all-knowing and in control, all the time.

I want to GET, as in understand, my world completely.  I know this is pretty much impossible, but I still set it as an unrealistic goal.

I WANT constantly.  I want to be happy, I want to understand, I want to be wanted, I want-I want-I want.  I guess I didn't realize I was so needy.

I THINK and FEEL constantly.  My inner thoughts are the driving force behind who I am and how I act.

And of course, I also want to KNOW everything.  And this is another unrealistic goal of mine.

It's interesting to see a visual of my reflections.  I think, overall, it's telling me that I'm spending too much time thinking about the things I want for my future (what I want, what I'll get, what I think and feel about it, what I'll know) instead of focusing on the present.

Hopefully, if I work on it, in a year from now this jumble of words will be more active and positive.  We'll see.



Monday, April 26, 2010


Tomorrow my students take the second portion of the ISTEP.  If you're not from Indiana, you're probably not familiar with the term.  ISTEP = Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress.  In other words, BLEEEEGH (puke noise).

Middle school students take this test, along with practice "scrimmage" quizzes all through the year to prep for the test.  Last week, they also took an SRI (Scholastic Reading Inventory) test which measures their reading improvement.  When they get to high school, they will take quarterly "benchmark" tests that also measure their progress with the standards each quarter, along with the GQE (Graduation Qualifying Exam) and of course the SAT and ACT when applying to college.  Also, high school students who stay in our after school program have to take a TABE test (Test of Adult Basic Education) at the beginning, middle, and end of the year.

Aaaaaah!  Can you imagine?  I agree that some sort of standardized testing is the easiest way to measure the progress of a large amount of people quickly and efficiently.  However, I cannot help but sympathize with some of my students when they make comments about feeling more like statistics or numbers than people.  The last thing I want is for them to leave school feeling like they were just sent through some sort of factory assembly line.

And that's why my goal as a teacher is to not just teach facts, but teach my students how to think for themselves and use their intelligence as sources of power and influence in their lives.  I want them to know that it is wonderful to be curious and wonderful to ask questions.  I want them to recognize their potential by discovering new perspectives and challenging their original views of the world.  I want them to realize the excitement that can come as a result of learning new information.  I want learning to be FUN. 

Yes, I have a ways to go.  I'm only in my second year of teaching, and I already can see how passionate teachers can burn out fast due to the many challenges we face every day.  In schools like mine, many students don't know how to be consistent and dedicated because they've never seen an adult who fits those descriptions.  Some don't know that education is a reward because they come from a line of family members who has never seen it that way.  It's tough, and in my second year I've already had to remind myself that it's going to always be difficult, but that it's worth it if I can even get a few students to find something exciting in what I teach them.

I hope that most of the teachers in our country feel this way.  There is a lot of pressure put on us to show good results on these tests, and sometimes the pressure gets so fierce that we forget why we became teachers in the first place.  Yes, it's important for them to know this information, but we also have to remember that we are shaping the minds of growing human beings, and that takes more than the memorization of facts.  

I guess what I'm saying is that I hope educators remember that although there is standardized testing which measures all our students on the same plane, each individual child needs to be given attention and taught how to see his or herself as one person with a lot of brain power.  

Does this make sense?

I didn't realize this would turn into such a preachy post, but I think I stepped up on a pedestal at some point without realizing it.  I want to clarify that I am a new teacher, still learning.  I am not nearly perfect, and there are many, many improvements to make before I become the teacher I want to be.  But these are the foundations for why I do what I do, and I hope many people in my position feel the same way.

Thanks for listening.



Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I love the word "guffaw."  I haven't used it in awhile, but right now I'm doing a unit on comedy with my 8th grade English class, and it came up.  I love it.  Every time I say it or write it, I can't help but think of Goofy.

And as fate would have it, the very first video that popped up tonight when I went to search for an example of Goofy's laughter was actually an old short cartoon called "Teachers Are People."

How hilariously coincidental.  Later on in this post I was planning on talking about how I need to bring more humor into everything, especially into my job.  I find myself taking it way too seriously, even when we are studying comedy!  I get so wrapped up in the plans and the deadlines that I forget that school also needs to be enjoyed.

This clip made me laugh, and also made me realize that I am definitely not the only teacher in history to feel completely frazzled and helpless on certain days.  This clip in particular is a very accurate summary of my first year experience with teaching:

Oh Teacher Goofy, you are not alone.  I think this might be a perfect clip to show to my students so I can illustrate how humor is often created out of the everyday problems we experience in our lives.  Think they'd get it?  (By the way, I also love how much they used to get away with in cartoons: grenades, weapons in the pockets of children, kids blowing up schools... you wouldn't see that today.  Old cartoons are the best.)

Anyhoo, as a part of the unit, my students have been narrowing down what they consider to be their own sense of humor.  I've decided I'm going to do that, too.  So, in a much more uplifting post compared to my recent ones, here is a list of things that make me laugh:

  • Old cartoons and Goofy. - See above.
  • The faces people make at themselves in mirrors when they think no one is looking. - Dyke sucks in his cheeks and then denies that he was doing it.  I catch him every time.
  • Jazz hands in unfitting situations. - I have a group of kids I hang out with after school, and now every time we greet each other and say goodbye we fade away from each other with jazz hands (also known as "spirit fingers").  It's pretty random and great.
  • Funny words. - Examples: guffaw, poot, burp, pickle loaf.
  • Retro pictures. - I was a particularly fat, large-headed child who always looked confused.  Note the close-up Easter picture below:
(If ANYONE told my mom, "Oh, your baby is so cute!" I'm sure they were thinking something different.  
I look like I'm going to eat someone.)

  • Embarrassing moments - These of course are always more humorous after the fact...like, when a boy accidently pulled down my stirrup leggings in 3rd grade when he was trying to get past me on the slide.  DON'T MESS WITH THE STIRRUP LEGGINGS.  Those things were fierce.  I think he realized his mistake when he was suddenly facing my bare ass.
  • Laughter out of complete desperation - This is the best type of laughter.  It's when you are so exhausted and out of energy that all you can do is throw your hands in the air and let the ridiculousness of it all take over.  In 8th grade, my friend Ryan and I had just finished writing the graduation speech when something happened and the entire thing was deleted.  We were at school late working on it, and my mom was upstairs in her classroom doing paperwork.  We were so helpless at that point that we went crazy and started acting out a scary movie in the hallways, and then running outside to the parking lot and jumping around in a downpour of rain.  All while laughing of course.  THAT was the best.

I've experienced a lot of laughter in my life, and I experience a little more every day.  I'm very lucky.  I'll have to add more to this list later because it was a lot of fun.  Until then, adios.

By the way, what the hell is Goofy supposed to be anyway?



Saturday, April 17, 2010

Weekend update.

I've successfully sanded the floors of my house and today I am hoping to stain them!  I gave myself three weekends to do it, and this is the second, so I'm way ahead of schedule.  If I get all the staining done today, I bet I can seal it all up tomorrow.  So.. if any of you have doubted whether or not you could pull off a project like this, know you can, because I was able to.  I am NOT very handy, but this was very manageable.

I forgot to take my camera with me to get some before shots, but I have a few past pictures I took when I first was looking at the house.  I'll post them up here soon so you can see what it was pre-sand, after being sanded, and then the completed process.

I've scheduled a "painting party" on May 1st and have invited any friends who like home projects.  I'm hoping to have all the paint picked out by then, and it will be fun to blast music in the house, provide snacks and drinks, and get my house bright and colorful.

I still don't think it has fully hit me that I OWN this house.  I keep thinking it will, but until I move my bed in and sleep there the first night, not sure if it's going to feel like mine.

Other updates...

My boyfriend is going to chef school!  He'll be attending the Art Institute of Indianapolis, classes start in late summer.  I know this is going to be a perfect fit for him, and a perfect fit for me because I LOVE FOOD.  I bet it will be a battle being a vegetarian though, because I'm sure he'll learn all about the "proteins" of dishes and a lot will probably involve meat of some kind.  I'm going to rely on him to make creative alternatives for me so I can try them as he learns his skills.

It sounds like a really great program because they apply everything directly to the chef career and restaurant management.  The math and English classes all gear towards how you would use those skills as a chef.  We toured the building and it's very cool, and they even have a student-run restaurant where they can practice their skills.

Other updates...

So I went to someone about my anxiety/depression issues.  Last year I hit some really low points and was crying practically every day, so I ended up being recommended for Lexapro.  I've always been reluctant about medicating myself, but like I said in an earlier post, there is no reason why I shouldn't give these problems as much weight and importance as any other physical ailment.  I am pro-medication if someone reaches a point in their life when everything is negatively affected by their thought processes, and every day activities become unmanageable and stressful.  That was the point I was at.  In the mornings, driving to school, my chest would physically hurt from the stress I was feeling and I would feel my heart pounding through my chest.  It was awful.

So, yes, I took Lexapro, and it helped me immensely.  In general, everything in my life felt more manageable.  Without it, something bad would happen and I would immediately get into a mindset of thinking about every other things going wrong in my life.  But on the medicine, I didn't overthink the issue and was more rational.  I was able to step back and say, "Okay, that wasn't the best, but so what."  I didn't take things so personally and in general, was more carefree.  I felt more like myself.

You are probably wondering why I stopped.  Well, after the first school year ended, and summer came, I did want to see if I'd be okay if I wasn't in the daily work environment.  As much as I wanted to give in to the idea of taking a pill to change my brain, I still didn't want to have to rely on something to do that for me.  I'm stubborn, so I stopped taking it.  Also, as much as it made me feel better, it wasn't helping my relationship.  They say some people get the side effect of being less touchy-feely, and in general being less interested in the physical aspects of a relationship.  I was, and it was frustrating.

So I stopped taking it.  I weened off of it, and for awhile I think I was okay.  But after awhile, I noticed the things coming out of my mouth were more negative than positive.  I noticed myself whining more, and being more defensive.  Dyke and I fought more, and some of it was the fact that I took things way too personally, and also held things in and then they'd explode out of me and make a big mess.  I wanted to deny it, I kept telling myself I was strong enough to control my thought processes and change my emotions.  But I eventually realized that it was no longer negatively affecting me, but affecting the people I cared about.  I didn't want that to happen.

But I didn't want to go the same route I'd taken before, because of the side effects.  Recently, a family member of mine went in and found out they had the characteristics of Adult ADD.  My dad heard about it and told me he thought I should get assessed.  He says he's seen me have the characteristics all my life, through my constant forgetting, the continuous rush I have in doing anything in front of me, the procrastination, and the anxiety I get when all of it becomes too much.

I went in and talked to someone, and when I go through a list like that, and when I actually talk about how I live, it really does sound exhausting.  He asked me if I was able to relax, and really, not very often.  Yes, I take breaks, and yes, I sit on my arse and do nothing, but my mind is never at rest, even when I'm doing that.  I can only relax if there is absolutely nothing on my to do list, which is rare.  I always feel guilty about it.  He said, "That must be exhausting."  It is.

I played Devil's Advocate when I was in his office, and asked him, "Well, how can I be super efficient at school, and be successful and organized and get things done... but when I get home, nothing is organized and I get overwhelmed with the daily tasks outside of my job?"  He said it's because of pressure and motivation.  I'm always feeling the pressure to get things done at work, I've always got that adrenaline pumping and there is always a task to do that very moment.  At home, that rush is not the same.  Keeping up with the mundane tasks is never in-the-moment necessity, and I completely falter when it comes to doing something when it's not of immediate importance.

Again, I'll be Devil's Advocate.  I totally understand why there a number of people reading this that think, well, Kelly, I'm like that too.  No one likes the mundane tasks, and everyone feels pressure at work.  I get grumpy and take it out on people too, we all do that.  And yes, I understand that.  But again, if it gets to a point where it is holding you back from living your life, and holding you back from feeling like the YOU you know you could be if you only felt better, then I've decided I support medical treatment.

The family member who told me about the Adult ADD told me the other day over breakfast, "Kelly, ever since I got treated for this I haven't been depressed a single moment."  Because the medication calms him down, he's able to focus more and complete things without that need for the rush.  Because he's able to complete things more, he's less stressed.  Because he's less stressed, he's less depressed.  The connection with Adult ADD and depression is clear, because anxiety is a catalyst for depression.

So I'm trying an Adult ADD treatment: Adderall.  It's a small dose, and I'm going to see how it goes.  They say that you can tell if it's working right if you feel normal, and not jittery or rushed to do things.  Those who do not actually have ADD symptoms will get jittery because it's an overdose of amphetamine.  If it works right, I should feel more calm and myself than anything.  If I feel out of my element, and off, I'll know it's not for me.

I'll keep you updated on how it goes.

Also, I know there are some of you who may still be reluctant about the idea of medication... seeing it as the "easy way out" and an unnatural, inorganic option.  And part of me will always feel that way I think, but I think most of it is stubbornness.  I need to admit that I need outside help... and I do.  Really, it's about individual choice.  So I ask that you support me through this process and not condemn me for relying on something other than myself to make my life more enjoyable and manageable.

Thanks for reading this ginormous long email.  Love you all!



Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Blog Swap!

Hey everyone.  I'm Nic, from The Music Plays You.  20 Something Bloggers has put on a blog swap, and I was the one chosen to swap with Kelly.  The theme for this swap was "The best part about being a blogger..."

... well, for me, I'd have to say that my favorite part is the FREEDOM.

I've been writing for a good portion of my life, and gave it up almost completely when I entered college.  Sure, I'd have the occasional paper to do, but is that really "writing" to many of us?  I'd argue no, personally.

To me, true writing isn't something that has to be thought about, but rather just flows from the creative centers in our mind straight through our fingers, either onto paper or the keyboards that we type on.

This goes along almost perfectly with what Kelly submitted for my blog.  She talked about the release that bloggers experience, the rush and the high that comes with being able to fully express oneself at last.  Sure, you could write many of those things into a journal and get the same sort of satisfaction, but does that really get you anywhere?  With blogging, you suddenly have the same freedoms to write whatever you want, but now you're able to share that with others and allow them to offer their own insights on what you've been thinking.

Last night, I was extremely frustrated because I had blogger's block.  I couldn't think of anything to write about!  For some reason, I'd gotten it wrapped around my head that my blog had turned into a self-help meets inspirational meets get-things-done blog, and without a clear and concise topic, writing was worthless.

And then I thought... why would I do that to myself?  Why would I box myself in to a pattern in a personal blog like this, and make everything the same?  Seriously, if I keep writing all these inspirational/self-help posts, I'm just going to quit and write a book.

So I did what I do best.  I cleared the page, I put on some ambient music, and I wrote.  Not about anything in particular (well, that's not true... I had a pretty good idea for a topic), just writing from the heart and the creative centers of my brain.

And I ended up with this.

That post had absolutely no point.  It had no direction, until about halfway through when I decided running into a door would be funny.  That post was entirely done on a whim, from the seat of my pants.

And it's probably one of the most exhilarating things I've ever done.

Don't get stuck in a rut.  Don't write about just what everyone expects (or tells) you to write about.  It's your blog, right?  You're not getting paid to do it?  They're not paying to read it?  Then go nuts.

Your blog is your canvas.  You are Picasso.  Go write me some abstract stuff.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Gettin' handy and gettin' sandy.

This weekend I am starting my first big home project: refinishing the hardwood floors.  I can't wait to put on those awesome see-through goggles and a guard mask.  Hot, right?

My realtor recommended a sander and he says it works so well that he actually tried to mess the floors up at one point just to see if it was possible.  He even went against the grain and it didn't leave a noticeable mistake on the floor, so I SHOULD be good. 

I think I've always had a little bit of a fear of large hardware machines, especially when I'm the one in charge of their movement.  My dad is a lawyer, and I grew up hearing about people accidently cutting their body parts off, or running over their feet, or falling on top of something sharp.  I think there was even one guy who accidently shaved part of the skin of his own arm off when he was skin shaving a pig in the slaughterhouse.  Eww.  I probably shouldn't have told you that.

I don't really know how I could injure myself, but I always have some sort of fear in the back of my mind that something will happen.  I'm going to be wearing shoes, so it's not like I'm going to sand down the surface of my foot or anything.  And I don't think it's possible to fall face first into the moving surface of a running sander machine.... but you never know.  There's a first for everything!

It reminds me of the Darwin Awards.  Ever heard of those?  Their catch phrase is: "Honoring those who improve the species... by accidently removing themselves from it!"  As tragic as it sounds, a Darwin Award is given to someone who dies in a situation that is linked to their absent-mindedness or stupidity.  For example, here's one from the website:
(11 March 1978, France) The singer Claude Francois, whose stellar career can be compared to that of Elvis Presley, popularized rock and roll music in France. One evening, he returned to his Paris apartment from a busy touring schedule, and ran a bath. While standing in the filled tub, he noticed a light bulb that wasn't straight, tried to straighten it... and was electrocuted.
Or this one, for instance:
(27 October 2009, Arkansas) Thirty-year-old Devan LeAnn of Shongaloo, Louisiana, was visiting Lake Ehrling with a male friend. Recent bouts of heavy rain had resulted in a flood of runoff water, and they decided it would be fun to take a mattress careening down the surging water in the spillway.

Unfortunately Leann was riding a foam egg-crate style mattress pad. Imagine a wet foam pad. Are you sinking yet? According to her friend, Devan LeAnn simply vanished from sight at dusk. The next morning her body was found in a tangle of trees 70 yards below the spillway.

Parents, warn your children! Wetting the bed can be deadly. 

I think I also read one where a man thought "Cruise Control" meant his RV would drive itself and he could go in the back and cook some breakfast.  I'm sure it didn't take him long to figure out that mistake.

Anyhoo, wish me luck on the project.  It will be a lot of work, but ultimately it's a reward, as long as I look as cool as this guy while I'm doing it:



Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Laying it all out there.

I'm tired of not showing my complete self when I write this blog.  As much as I always tell myself to write the truth of everything going on in my life, there's always a part of me that wants to hide the flaws away in case someone starts to disagree with something I'm saying, or judges what I'm writing as stupid, annoying, whiny, or just wrong.   But I need to start accepting myself for who I am completely.  I've been trying to do that all my life, but it's never happened because instead of trying to make myself happy, I've tried to fit the expectations I think everyone has of me.

I almost wrote a disclaimer to apologize for writing a long, serious entry, but I'm stopping myself.  Why do I feel I need to apologize?  It's my blog!

For a good part of my life I had myself tricked.  I convinced myself that I was this relaxed, go-with-the-flow love child who could be spontaneous and carefree and not sweat the small stuff... and maybe I was that way for awhile.  But at some point, it switched and my personality was no longer matching the view I had of myself, or the view I had of the "ideal" me.

I've been a pretty anxious person all my life, and since I left home for college, I've also been on an up and down battle with depression.  There, it's out there, and I'm acknowledging it.  It's not a big deal to put it out in the open, and it's not something I should be ashamed of.  In fact, if I want to get better, the first thing I need to do is acknowledge that depression and anxiety are valid medical conditions just like any other sickness or disease.  

Even though I thought I was a relaxed person from the start, I remember having issues with anxiety as early as first grade.  One of the only memories I have from that year is staring into my completely haphazard mess of a desk and being overwhelmed and anxious, to the point of tears, that I couldn't find a worksheet we were supposed to have.  I remember the teacher telling me to calm down, that it wasn't a big deal and that she'd help me clean up my desk, but it was so hard to convince myself that it wasn't the end of the world.

I can then go through every year in school and think of multiple moments where, due to disorganization + anxiety + self-loathing I entered a state of panic about something I'd done wrong.  This includes high school as well, and continued into college when each semester I'd continually take on way too many credits because I wanted to look like a hard worker, only to have some sort of emotional breakdown in front of one of my professors because I couldn't handle the pressure.  It was this continuous pattern of getting on a natural high for being so proud of everything I could handle at once, but ultimately culminating in a burn-out due to my inability to say no and inability to acknowledge my limits.

When the anxiety hit an all time high, so would my emotions, and I think that's where the depression popped up.  People started telling me I was really defensive and overly sensitive, and that I reacted impulsively when my emotions were at a high level.  In college, I remember starting to think that all my friends were out to get me, and would sometimes get wrapped up in the paranoia so much that I'd close off from them for awhile until I was able to see the ridiculousness of it all.  I couldn't take criticism or jokes if I wasn't in the right mood, and if someone pointed out one of my flaws or something they didn't agree with, I was devastated.  I didn't see it as just one part of myself... instead my mind would jump to the conclusion that they hated every part of me, and as a result, I'd start hating every bit of myself until something was able to bring me back up again.

Early on, I developed a way to give myself short-term relief.  I discovered that a way to make myself feel better as I grew up was to start taking care of other people, and listening to their problems, and putting them first, and trying to "fix" everything wrong outside of my own existence.  I still love to do this, and it is a natural tendency for me to be empathetic with other peoples' situations, and I think that is a powerful thing to have and I value having empathy from the start.  However, I've rarely valued my own problems as serious or important as others' and it's about time I start taking care of myself.  I'm only 24, and if I don't do something soon my soul is going to become a big glob of bitterness and resentment.

That's why I'm starting to look into my issues deeper, and actually trying to get some outside help.  And I'm going to write about it on here, out in the open.  I grew up in a family that hid a lot of problems under the rug, and to this day, the elephant in the room is not fully acknowledged.  I don't want to be like that, and so as I titled this entry, I'm laying it all out there.

I'm in a good mood today, and I'm usually in a great mood at work.  But there are days that pop up every now and then, usually at home alone, when my mind turns dark, and I can't seem to get out of it.  Whether the root of the cause is general anxiety, is an attention disorder, or is simply that I've trained myself to live this way, it's time to figure it out.

Time to get busy livin', not get busy dyin'.

Thanks for reading.  I'm still going to be my goofy self on here (because that is a part of who I am), but I'm also going to start showing all of me, not just the part I want to be.  I hope you like it, but if not, instead of beating myself up for it, I'm going to work on thinking, "So what!"



Sunday, April 4, 2010

Movin' on up...

...to the east side!  Yes, it's official.  I am a homeowner.  I now own an adorable 1920's bungalow on the east side of Indianapolis, and it's ALL MINE.  If I could, I'd jump out of your computer screen and ask for a high five.  I suppose a congratulatory response to this entry is acceptable, as well.  =)

People are already asking me when I am going to have a housewarming party, but I haven't even started the first big makeover project: refinishing the floors.  I'm going to do that, and probably paint, before I even move in.  I'm renting the house I'm currently in until June, so it gives me plenty of time to get those things done before I move in all my stuff.  

Get ready, because I bet this blog is going to become the place where I celebrate the successes or vent about the failures of my first experience with home improvement.  You are my therapists.