Friday, April 18, 2014

8 Good Things

1. Walking 10,000 steps per day (or trying to). I dusted off the pedometer, and I've been pushing myself to walk a little more than usual to get to 10,000. In part, I've just been curious to see how much walking it really is. It's quite a bit if you don't count steps walked at home (I usually don't unless I'm doing something fairly active like cleaning). It's gotten me outdoors enjoying the lovely spring weather (photos above).

2. The interview! I'll say more about this in a later post I'm sure, but it went well. After the phone interview, they asked me to visit the campus. It seemed like a great college and a nice area. The day after, I got a call about another job out of state and set up a phone interview with them too. I'm on fire!

3. Sleep. The interviews were exciting but nerve-wracking, and I haven't been sleeping well. I'm grateful for the times when I've actually been able to get a good night's sleep and catch up.

4. Twitter. I'm using Twitter more and more to learn and write about education-related topics. It feels really good to be part of that conversation and to see my words being passed along to others.

5. The Zinn Reader: Writings on Disobedience and Democracy. During our trip to Colorado, I had wanted to download and start reading The People's History of the United States, but I don't think I could get it on my Sony Reader, so I settled for this anthology. It's nice, though. I enjoy reading Zinn's commentary on his own words, and I have a better sense of how his ideas developed.

6. A new haircut. No one's really noticed, and I take that as a good sign that I really did just get a trim. I'm happy with it.

7. Grading papers in the college library. As you know, I tend to work in cafes, but the college is a little closer, and the view is amazing. How many community colleges in this country have an ocean view? It's also quiet and the big tables are great for spreading out all my crap.

8. Fun students this semester. It's been a strange semester because I have fewer students than usual, but I seem to have a good rapport with one group in particular. I've especially enjoyed seeing two 30-something men in class develop a friendship and support each other. It's great to be a part of someone else's journey toward reaching a goal.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

8 Good Things

1. Spring break! I didn't do anything exciting, but I had lots of time to sleep in and relax. I couldn't ask for more.

2. An interview scheduled! I have mixed feelings about this particular position, but I'm curious about what they have to say, and I needed some good news. Searching and searching with no result is depressing. After I got the phone call, I took myself out to Myo to celebrate (because nothing says "celebrate" like frozen yogurt), and they were having a 1/2 off deal. It was my day.

3. Taking walks. I sometimes walk from my apartment to one of the cafes downtown (about 2 miles) to combine a little fresh air and exercise with grading. I'm thinking of dusting off the pedometer and seeing if I can do 10,000 steps per day. I'm partly just curious to see how much walking I do on days when I teach.

5. A finished object made with my thrifted yarn from Goodwill. I estimate that I made this huge, squishy cowl for about $2.75--$3.00 + all the time I spent unraveling and knitting. Good deal financially but really time consuming. 

6. Speaking of, for the first time, a man came to my knitting group. For some reason, that made me ridiculously happy. And, and! He's kind of a local celebrity.

7. House of Cards on Netflix. I caved in to the hype, but only because it's Kevin Spacey. And he is definitely the Kevin Spaciest I've ever seen him in this series. I've only watched a few episodes, so no spoilers please! 

8. Eggs and rice. Sometimes eggs make me want to barf. I suspect I have a mild allergy, but they're quick and easy, so it's a bummer when I can't stomach them. I saw an image online recently that showed a couple fried eggs atop some brown or white rice with a few slices of avocado, and I thought, "I have to eat this right now." I've eaten this probably four times in the last week. I can't get enough, and so far, I haven't had any barfy feelings. I think the rice somehow balances things out. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

8 Good Things

1. Taking a walk down near Point Lobos. Point Lobos is a beautiful park off Highway 1, but you have to pay to get in or you have to park outside and walk in, so it's a little inconvenient. A few years ago, a friend showed me these trails, and they're great because you get some of the same view as Point Lobos without the hassle. By the way, this is what March looks like right now. I think you can understand why I've been reluctant to leave!

2. Supta baddha konasana. And shoulder stands! I'm a yoga junkie. 

3. Teaching Zumba Toning. My supervisor and I decided to try this format to offer something a little different. I got licensed years ago but never taught it. It's turning out to be really fun to teach. It's a gentler, less intense class but still really good exercise.

4. Rain. We've finally gotten rain this month. It comes in waves followed by unseasonably warm weather, but we'll take what we can get.

5. A surprise exam at the doctor's office! After having some hassles with my health insurance and finally finding a doctor who'd take my plan, I was disappointed to find that the doctor wouldn't do my annual pelvic/pap without a meet-and-greet appointment first. That's nice and all, but the $60 copay isn't, and I can't stand going to the doctor. But she deemed me healthy and decided to do the exam on the spot. I've never been so excited to be poked and prodded in private places. 

6. The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook. I checked this out of the library recently. In all fairness, I haven't tried any of the recipes yet, but I will in the coming week. I'm pretty good at predicting what I'll like. In fact, I already had half the ingredients of the recipes I wanted to try first. 

8. A new blog! It's about my experiences with teaching. I just have a couple posts up right now, but I plan to have more very soon. I have some ideas on putting together some workbooks/guides for students and teachers, so stay tuned! 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

On Discipline

In my mid-20s, I had a pretty stellar schedule. I worked full time during the day and went to grad school at night. I'd start work at 7 a.m. and finish at 3:30 p.m. I'd either go straight to a late afternoon class, or more often, I'd go to the gym for a bit, then shower, have a snack, and head to an evening class. I'd do homework and chores on Saturday or Sunday.

A coworker, a friend of mine, asked how I did it all. She had a more demanding job than I did, but she felt that her one full-time job gave her a pretty full plate. She said she couldn't imagine getting a master's degree on top of that, and she also struggled to find the time and energy to make it to the gym regularly while still maintaining relationships and a social life.

Now, I won't glorify this time period. There were plenty of times I didn't do the reading for a class. In fact, I have a lot of regrets about my education experiences because I didn't focus enough on school. And I didn't exactly have a healthy relationship with my gym habits either. It wasn't a perfect situation.

But I wish I could bottle the discipline I had back then. Basically, to answer my friend's question, I got it done day by day. My primary responsibilities were scheduled for me (work + school), and I pretty much stuck to a schedule for everything else too. I looked at a day as an opportunity to accomplish something, and I looked at down time as a space that could be filled with something useful. I never felt burned out, nor did I feel that I wasn't getting enough time to relax. In those days, I spent my fair share of time lounging around at the beach, shopping, seeing movies, and having drinks with friends.

Now? If I have one appointment outside my normal schedule, it's like my world comes crashing down. Nothing is clean, and I put off silly little tasks for months when I could finish them in a few minutes. I avoid my responsibilities.

In part, it's a backlash against the bad habit I had of feeling like I didn't deserve the joys I had in my life or that I needed to work off every privilege I had. But the pendulum has swung, and now I just feel indulgent. I'm trying to develop better habits now and get back into the day-as-opportunity mindset.

For example, I'm trying to grade papers a little a time, so I don't end up with grading marathons. I'm trying to hit the gym to lift weights or swim at least once a week. I tidy up around the apartment when I have a spare minute. 

I remind myself: Small increments, daily routines. That's what it's all about.

Photo: Daily Routine - Making the Bed by Chiew Pang, Flickr

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Do What You Love Cult

Pretty much every good idea I've had lately has come from Austin Kleon on Twitter. Let's be real about that. 

This time it's: 

Do What You Love cult sucks for 2 reasons:

1) makes folks w/ bill-paying day jobs feel like shit

2) guilts the self-employed into overwork

I'd also add a third reason: It makes people who don't know what they love feel like shit for not pursuing it (Hint: That's me). 

I actually do believe people should do things they love and pursue their passions, but that's different than the common interpretation that people should do for a living that one thing they love.

Doing things you love might mean taking walks, playing with your kids, painting, or watching your favorite TV show. There are lots of things that can bring people joy. It doesn't mean you're going to do it every second of the day or that you're going to make money doing it. 

So, yes, do what you love--as often as possible for as long as it brings you joy. If you can do it for a living, great. If not, that's also great because it can be your outlet when you come home from work for the day. 

But don't confuse love with integrity and purpose.  

For example, I feel like I'm supposed to say that I love teaching. Some days I love teaching; some days I don't like it very much. But whether I love it or not doesn't matter. I know I'm doing good work, so I go back to it day after day.

I believe any activity, paid or otherwise, should be done with integrity and purpose. People shouldn't sell their values, and there should be a reason behind their actions. When you can look at what you've done and know that you contributed something meaningful--even if the process wasn't very glamorous or emotionally fulfilling--then you've done good work.