The Scaries

I think maybe I’m having a mid life crisis.  I’m only 37, so I sincerely hope not.  Since I don’t really know when midlife is, maybe I’m just always in crisis.  That sounds a bit more like it.

Happiness in some life aspects seems to be taking its toll and I’m struggling lately.  While my “relationship” with my ex is always in turmoil, my other key relationships seem to be working rather nicely.  It took me a long time to actually feel confident in my life with Joe.  Seeing as both of us were with other people when we decided to be together, the constant wondering if he’d rather be back with her was always in my mind.  Now, not so much.  I’ve accepted the fact that he wants to be with me and with that acceptance it feels like a giant weight has been lifted.

Additionally, my relationships with my kids has never been better.  While I wish I could see them every day, I do get them for 5 days a week so I know I am lucky.  When they are with me there’s not a lot of emotional breakdowns.  There’s the age appropriate ones of course, but no more of the tantrums and fits where I would contemplate calling a priest for an exorcism.  Without all of the hostility and toxic air that Mike and I would spew around the house, they are thriving and I love having this daily reminder that I did the right thing even though it was incredibly hard.

But now, in the absence of these major life instances to worry about, I actually feel a loss.   One might think that now that I have these things worked out, it’s time to reflect on other items that may have been plaguing me but that I’ve brushed aside.  Yes, this is probably true, but I feel like it’s more than that.  It’s almost as if I’m scared of happiness.  That I look at myself being content and happy and immediately begin to wait for the other shoe to drop.  I begin to worry about not being worried about something so I find something to worry about (the ever present vicious cycle). I think that’s why lately I have been so focused and seemingly unhappy in my career.

For me, the Sunday scaries seem to be a thing of the past…because now they begin on Friday night.  I spend my entire weekend with the idea and unhappiness of going back to work on Monday looming in my mind.  AND. I. HATE. IT. I find new causes and excitements each day.  I get excited about buying in bulk and reducing my plastic usage.  I get excited about making muffins with a new recipe.  I even get excited about starting a new book.  But I can’t get excited about going to work.

Don’t get me wrong, when I get there it really isn’t that bad.  I love my students.  I love feeling like I’m making a difference, at least in the life of one child but ever since I switched schools my enthusiasm for teaching at all has gone lower and lower with each passing day.  Yes, I always felt stressed about teaching and my job…but in a way that everyone does.  This year is different.  I feel like an outsider in this school, locked away in my own little corner, almost as if no one expects me to stay so no one makes the effort.  Everything seems so competitive, almost as if you can only do well if you are doing better than someone else.  It’s completely exhausting.

At Collington I was never really a favorite.  I did my job and I did it well and for that I fell under the radar (not extremely motived to do everything in the school, but also not drowning).  I knew the families and they knew me.  And I had people.  There’s something about working in a school in an atmosphere like that one.  You need people.  You are not going to make it without people.  You band together because you know they get it.  I don’t have people at my new school and that makes it rather lonely.  That, topped with a complete lack of any praise EVER makes it a hard environment to work in day in a day out.

So I stress.  And I stew.  And I worry.  I deliberate.  I panic…literally.  And then I tell myself every single morning as I walk out that door that if it gets to be too much, I can quit.  Or I quietly remind myself that I only have a certain amount of days left of this year and next year is sure to be better.  And these two things seem to be all that is getting me through.

I don’t know why I allow myself to be consumed with the stress of this job ALL THE TIME.  I have to stop.  I spend roughly 7.5 hours there each day. That translates to 35.5 hours at work.  That’s it.  Barely a blip on the 168 hours that are in a week.  And yet I spend the rest of those hours worried about work!  And the saddest part of all?  I’m a 37 year old woman and I keep worrying about if I’m doing a good job.  That’s it. No one tells me I’m not.  But no one tells me I am.

This is ridiculous. I have to be more present in the moment with my kids.  I have to focus more on the good things than stress that is ever present.  I have to stop letting 35.5 hours dictate the rest of my time.

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Today was a good day

Today was actually a good day.  It’s hard to pinpoint what made it a good day, it just was.  And the funniest part?  School actually contributed to my good mood (somewhat).

The morning started out like any other with the millions of children (I have 34) coming into the classroom for breakfast.  We did our thing like always; we ate breakfast, changed to our leveled reading classes and continued about our morning.  Nothing remarkable, nothing mood altering, just typical Wednesday.  For the most part, everyone worked hard, everyone was respectful, and everyone walked out with a little bit more understanding of why character traits are important in a narrative.

Then it was time to change back to our homeroom classes.  This is usually a busy and loud time of day where I just feel like screaming “SIT DOWN AND BE QUIET FOR 5 MINUTES!” I stepped in the hall to talk to another teacher about a student when I slipped on something and went down hard.  There were a quite a few students in the hall, but it was pretty anticlimactic.   It didn’t hurt (though I have a giant bruise now).  But what happened next did.

Someone laughed.  And not just someone.  A child.  An 8 year old laughed at me.  And then I cried.  I wasn’t crying because I fell, I was crying because an 8 year old was mean to me.  Yes.  I am 34 years old.  Yes, this kind of disrespect happens at my school daily.  Yes, I realize that kid’s opinion of me means nothing, but in that moment, my feelings were hurt.  By a child.

But then a funny thing happened.  My entire class crowded around me.  Through the chorus of “what’s wrong” and the many, many hugs I was able to tell them I fell and that while I wasn’t hurt, my feelings were hurt by another student.  And they were upset.  They were upset that someone would hurt me, even if it was just my feelings.

And in that moment I felt truly loved by these little people, in a way I don’t think most teachers get to feel, at least not in my school.  In the 11 weeks that I’ve been with my 35 little friends I’ve questioned how much of a difference I’ve actually made in their lives.  Some days I feel like we’re getting somewhere, but most days I want to throw up my hands and walk out.  The fights, petty bickering, and whining and arguing get to me on a daily basis (Seriously, why can’t you just keep your hands to yourself?!?!?!  How is that so hard?????)

But not today.  I heard their concern.  I saw their love.  And for the first time I thought maybe I can do this for the next 100 days.  Maybe we actually are getting somewhere.  Maybe we actually are going to be OK.

(Un)Broken

“Until you’re broken, you don’t know what you’re made of.  It gives you the ability to build yourself all over again, but stronger than ever.” ~Unknown

I saw the above quote on Pinterest the other day and it really spoke to me.  I’ve been pinning a lot of motivational quotes lately in order to help keep me on my path, but this is the best one I have seen.  I know I’ve mentioned or at least allude to the fact that I’ve had issues in the past with depression.  At the end of the last school year another wave of it him me, culminating when my dad died.  I tried to hold it together in a variety of ways, but due to other circumstances as well, by August I was quite literally broken.  There was no up or down, whole or half, only pieces that I was quite sure I would never be able to put back together.

But guess what?  I did.  I accomplished something I didn’t think was possible.  It started slowly, when the only differences I could see were mere subtleties changing in my daily life; crying less, sleeping more, smiling occasionally. And now, while not completely whole, I am far more together than before I broke completely.  I am happier, have more energy, and don’t let the small things upset me as much anymore.  I still have work to do and a long road ahead of me (don’t we all), but I’m not afraid of the challenge of living anymore.  As a matter of fact, it’s just the opposite.  I’m excited for anything that may be coming down the road.  And while I still get sad and weepy occasionally (don’t we all) I no longer feel that I’m fighting a losing battle.

And then the running happened.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not really running, I’m simply trodding along at an obscenely slow pace until I feel like I am going to die.  Then I stop for a few minutes until I think I can go again.  The whole process repeats until it’s it’s time to get ready for work.  And for some reason, it’s working for me. And on Wednesday I accomplished my first real running goal.  For the first time ever in my entire life, I ran a whole mile.  I couldn’t believe it (I still can’t).  I know to many people it’s not a lot, but to me it is huge.  It’s something I thought was impossible until it wasn’t anymore.

I took two days off and then decided to try the track today to take advantage of the gorgeous weather we are having in Baltimore.  I wound up walking for most of the time.  I tried running, but it just wasn’t coming today.  I had too many things on my mind, my stride was off, my foot was killing me (I have plantar fasciitis), and I just felt not all there.  But, instead of just quitting and saying I’ll try again tomorrow I trudged through and wound up completing 2.6 miles.

Honestly, the distance isn’t the big deal for me.  It’s the fact that I didn’t let myself quit.  I tend to quit (or try to quit) so many things in my life when the going gets tough or things don’t go my way.  I never really fight for anything and, as I’m learning, there are always things worth fighting for. You may not be able to fight for anything in the past, but you can fight for the future.

So now, instead of quitting, I am fighting for something.  I am fighting for me.

100 Mile Challenge Miles: 16
Pounds lost since starting 100 Miles Challenge: 4.2 pounds

Just the beginning

“‘Cause I need freedom now, And I need to know how, To live my life as it’s meant to be” ~Mumford and Sons

You know, I don’t know how to start this post, mainly because I’m not even sure what I want to say.  This morning had me getting up a 5:30 am on a Sunday in order to complete the Color Me Rad 5K in Baltimore.  This time, I wound up walking it with a few friends.  It was a lot of fun and even though we walked we still finished in under an hour.

I remember the feeling I had when I completed my first 5K back in May.  I couldn’t believe what I had accomplished and was so proud of my self for simply finishing.  I literally cried because it was something I never thought I would be able to do. Then summer happened, and issues happened, and I slacked off and gave up.

But not this time.  I won’t let myself give up.  I will continue.  I hope that I will be able to complete some sort of “race” once a month.

And my goal, my big goal, is to be able to run the entire Color Run in Baltimore on November 17th.  And I’m sure when that happens I will cry again.

Tomorrow the alarm will ring at 5 am and I will be get up and try my best to run for any distance, at any speed.  I will be sore and tired, but it will be worth it.

100 Mile Challenge: 10.4 miles

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It’s time to rediscover my love for this city

“I would never want to live anywhere but Baltimore. You can look far and wide, but you’ll never discover a stranger city with such extreme style. It’s as if every eccentric in the South decided to move north, ran out of gas in Baltimore, and decided to stay.” ~ John Waters

I always thought of Baltimore as the place I was going to live “for now”. The minute I graduated from college I decided to branch out and moved to Charleston, SC. After 9 years, a marriage, two kids and two stints in Charleston, I’m back and settled right outside of the city and I still kind of feel like we’ve gone through a break up and haven’t re-entered “friends territory” yet.

Now, I realize I make fun of Baltimore quite a bit. When you’re from here, it’s ok…but I’ll fight anyone who decided to diss my city. No matter how many times I leave or come back this is always going to be home; the place I seem to gravitate toward without even realizing I’m doing it.

I still keep in touch with some of my Charleston friends through a variety of social media sites. I get jealous when I see them at the beach in March or eating at one of my favorite restaurants. I immediately begin searching for real estate and jobs, seeing these items as signs that we were so much happier there and we should move back immediately. This usually lasts for about two weeks when I finally admit that it’s just not going to happen and this is where I’m “stuck” for the time being.

If I delve further, I realize that my nostalgia about Charleston is not about the people (though I do miss them immensely), it’s the places that I miss the most and the sense of community I felt when living there. I seem to have this idea that there aren’t places I would equally enjoy here. True, there’s no beach, or Poe’s or Bookstore Cafe, but Baltimore has good places too…places I have yet to discover. Restaurants, parks, trails, stores, farmer’s markets etc. are all within reach if I just decide to stop feeling nostalgic over what I used to have and put forth a little effort to see what I could have.

It’s time to go out and become a tourist in my own town and rediscover my love for this crazy, wonderful, kooky, incredible city that I call home and teach my children to love it as much as I know I can.

Now, where to begin?