Category Archives: kindred spirits

Summarizing Summer, or The New Beginning

Here I am at the final Friday of my summer.

I started this final Friday in a great way, having coffee with my best friend! We had not gotten to catch up all summer, somehow, so starting off this day with a visit was wonderful. I love our visits and wish we had them more often, so when we do get together it’s a special treat. But it’s also something I plan to build into the schedule a little more often, whether it’s coffee in the morning or a drink on a Friday evening. It’s something that is important and will go into the goal-setting category as I go into the fall.

The other wonderful way I will spend part of this day is with yoga. On Fridays this summer I went to class with Yoga Becky. Her class always calms me and helps me feel a little more centered. This fall I plan to add Friday evening yoga happy hour as a goal. What a great way to end a week and start a weekend!

But right now, on this final Friday of summer, I feel the need to summarize what I’ve done over the past three months, acknowledge where I am, and think about where I want to go from here.

What have I done? I lost 35 pound this summer! Whoo hoo! I’m not done, though. I have fifteen to go by my birthday, but I know that will happen because I am on track. With school starting next week, I will have a schedule to help me stay on track. Although this summer my motivation kept me on track with food and exercise, as time goes on, a less full schedule makes it harder for me. So I am actually looking forward to the start of school.

Next? Organization! I worked at trying to figure out my goals and then actually planned for those goals on a weekly basis. Reflection and goal setting have been crucial tools for me this summer. I now plan to use those same tools in my professional life. In fact, I will be doing a little goal-setting and planning later today. I am also learning how to jot when the ideas hit me. For instance, yesterday I had some goal ideas while in the car. Having no paper handy, I grabbed my box of kleenex and jotted my goals on the side. Any port in a storm, right? So those got transferred to a more traditional spot and now I am working on those.

When I return to school, knowing that I have 10 years until retirement, I am planning to spend more time focusing on specific goals: setting aside planning time; spending time each week to send notes to kids (I bought four boxes of blank cards and my first roll of stamps – the plan is to write a note to each kid and send it to her or him at home via snail mail; everyone loves to get snail mail, right?); reflection time; professional reading/research time; and time at the end of each day for a mini-meditation before I leave the building. With the morning meditation I currently practice, I have determined I would also like to end each school day with five minutes of quiet before I leave so I can leave in a peaceful state of mind rather than feeling frazzled and frustrated.

Knowing that I will be spending 10 more years teaching, I have also resolved to change my mindset. No more whining, bitching, and/or moaning. This is my life and I will make the most of it. I will find classes to take to get 10 more credit hours and move up on the salary scale to make this count. I will also try to do a better job of being a good role model, both to my students and to my colleagues. Whining gets me nowhere and has no payback. None. Not even in the sense of releasing frustrations. I now believe that bitching about my job gets me nothing and only leads to more complaining. It does not help. So I am going to refuse to feed that particular beast. Don’t be the problem; be the solution. The end.

Final takeaway (honestly, I hate that term, but unless I can think of a better word choice, for the moment I’ll have to keep this one): mindfulness.

Since returning from Kentucky, I have spent five minutes at the start of each day meditating. Some days it’s been really great. Some days, I struggle to empty my mind of crazy crap. Such is the nature of my meditations. But, regardless, I have spent my first five minutes sitting quietly. And I plan to continue that practice every single day. Why? Because I believe it has helped me calm down. I don’t think I swear nearly as often as I used to, and believe me it used to be quite a bit. Plus things don’t rev me up the way they used to. I’m a little better at accepting things like getting stuck in traffic or having to change plans at the last minute. I recognize when I am getting angry and that helps me diffuse it. Not always, but more often than before.

It has also helped me slow down. In a previous post I talked about slowing down time. In the past week, I have had trouble trying to get back to this. So today I am making a more conscious effort to focus on being mindful, being aware of the world around me. Earlier this week, I listened to an interview with Jon Kabat-Zinn (note: this link is not the interview I heard; couldn’t find it, but here is another) about mindfulness and his study of it, and it got me thinking. I always want to share mindfulness with others in the hope that they will take it up. I especially wish my husband would try this because I think it would help him in more ways that he realizes.

But I also understand I cannot control what others think, as much as I wish I could. In my mind, these practices would be infinitely helpful. Yet, as helpful as I think they would be, I also understand that this is something I cannot really control. So, I will simply pass along what I can and know that, when I toss it out there, it is out of my control. While this is a topic my therapist and I have visited more than once, and likely will again, I am trying to let go of that push to control the world and people around me. I have to accept that I can control me and no one else. Again, the end.

So, as summer comes to a close, I have made some positive life changes and am working to incorporate others. I feel like I am finding who I am, and I am changing who I was into who I truly want to be. One point where I truly realized I had made progress was when I was at the bookstore perusing magazines. I saw several touting mindfulness and how to become happy. Rather than think, “I need to buy and read that,” I thought, “No. I don’t need to buy that one. I’m already working on it.” What a stark change for me, and a big “Aha” moment.

This summer I’ve felt successful in lots of ways, and I am coming out the other side of summer a new person, one I feel more comfortable and happy with. The end. Or, rather, welcome to the new beginning.

Cheers.

 

 

 

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You Can Call Me Colonel

Well, actually, I prefer you don’t. But I did earn that title last week at the World Wide College of Auctioneering. (WWCA) I am now an auctioneer!

diploma

So, after last year being a year of loss (an uncle, and aunt, my dad, my dog), this year is turning into a year of firsts and a year of new things. At age 52, I feel like I am finally getting my sea legs (I know – in the middle of land-locked Iowa?).

As you may recall from a previous post, I signed up for classes at WWCA on my dad’s birthday in January. From then until the middle of June, I practiced tongue twisters and number scales all the time. When I started, I practiced a little too much and nearly lost my voice (I thought in teaching 7th graders I talked a lot – I didn’t know the half of it).

Orientation started on a Saturday at noon. Our guide through this journey, Mr. Paul C. Behr, had a phrase we would hear often: “Get ’emĀ  up, get ’em up, get ’em up.” This was the directive to our instructors, meaning to get us students up and practicing as much and as often as possible. Daunting? You bet. Paul said we would be pushed out of our comfort zones. Yes, yes and yes! But get up we did. All 71 of us. There were a few seasoned students in the crowd, and even a few who had already been auctioneering for a while, as well as a two-time Junior Champion! If you don’t think that’s more than a little intimidating, think again.

But the other thing I learned at WWCA was how supportive they are. One-on-one instruction also means one-on-one support. Add to that the support you get from the other students who become dear friends by the time the ordeal is over and you’ve got a brand new, really big, family. We are staying connected via Facebook mostly, and it’s so amazing to see where everyone is going and how excited and passionate we all are.

The big job now is to go out into the world and do something with what we’ve learned. Without the instructors here with us, now we have to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. My dear friend, Emma Jay, has already gotten to work an auction (her brother’s an auctioneer, so that helps), and she was great! I love being able to see videos of my friends (like my two new sisters, Emma Jay and Kylee) and grin from ear-to-ear with pride.

Maybe the most important things I learned at WWCA are the important life lessons: stay positive, be a person of integrity, take care of your business, and know that you can do anything if you set your mind to it. Oh, and have fun and practice, practice, practice!

I never thought I could do this, but now I know I was wrong. I can do this and I will continue to do this. Because I am strong, and because it’s so much fun! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some tongue twisters and number scales to run through before some bid calling practice.

Cheers.

P.S. Did I also mention that I am also a certified bilingual auctioneer? Si amigos y amigas!

bilingual diploma

Speechless

This morning, part of my crazy day began when I read a copy of a reference letter a friend wrote for me for a job I am applying for. She is a former school board president and I had her son in my class about a million years ago. We are, as we both agree, kindred spirits. To that end, we get together for lunch or coffee sometimes, but not nearly often enough for either of us, I daresay, being kindred and all.

And her letter today left me speechless. Part of me was thinking, when I wasn’t crying, who is this person she is writing about? This shining pillar of a person who loves kids and who is good at what she does and really should get that English position at the high school, thank you very much. Speechless, except when I replied to her e-mail, between spots where I told her I was weepy with gratitude and stunned by her view of me, I said the principal would probably read that letter and hire me without the trouble of an interview. Yes, her letter was that wonderful.

Which makes me think about how I view myself. I have never been one to brag. I don’t like to do that, particularly. I know I’m smart. I consider myself nice enough looking (there are days when I think I am pretty, but then there are plenty of those other days). And that’s about where it begins and ends, unless I’m having one of those down days, where I get angry at nothing and anything. Where I have no patience with myself. Where I yell at myself and tell me that I’m so stupid. I know these are all falsehoods. But that’s where my head goes sometimes. Actually more times than I really like. Which is to say “never ” – I never really like it to go there, but go it does.

And then I read this letter. (sniff, sniff)

I told her that I struggle with how I view myself, which is true. I spend a lot of my internal time second-guessing myself, doubting I am good enough, and I tend to put other people’s thoughts into my head (“Oh, good grief, what is she thinking? She’s so stupid.” “Why is she wearing that?”). I have to remember, as I read somewhere, “Other people’s thoughts are none of your business.” True, so true. And yet…

And then there is this lovely, wonderful letter.

So, I think what I need to do is print out this letter from my dear friend and read it every morning when I get up, just to look in a different kind of mirror that I never knew was there. Or maybe didn’t want to think was there. I like this mirror, mirror. I guess in Snow White the mirror does reveal the truth. But I never knew which mirror to look in to see the real me, or at least the me my friend sees, which I would like to hope is the real me.