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.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Taking the Wind Outta My Sails

It's finally and unrelentingly raining now, which is compounding my already downer mood. I've been ignoring my blog lately because I wasn't feeling very inspired. I feel scattered. But here's what's up:

1. Job hunting: Applying to jobs is exhausting. Before I commit to applying somewhere, I check out the housing prices in the area and what people say about living there. I've applied to about 15 full-time teaching positions in the past six weeks, and for now anyway, I don't have anything to show for it except 15 cover letters that all say roughly the same thing. If I'm going to hear anything, I imagine I'll hear something this month or next. I keep wondering what my odds are. I really don't know. I'm likely up against hundreds of applicants for each position.

2. Other job plans: If I don't get any good news this month or next, I need to have a plan for the rest of the year. I wish I didn't have to plan in two different directions. Focus!

3. Knitting: Again, I'm not feeling terribly inspired. I'm restarting a headband I thought I finished last night but ended up being too big. Still wondering what I'm going to do with all the yarn I'm getting from my thrifted sweaters. I have more stuff I need to put up in my Etsy shop. 

4. Yoga: I'm taking six classes every week now (two 50-minute classes MWF). I never thought I'd ever be one of those people who does yoga, but now I am. It's funny how I always imagined "those people" to be. They must really have their shit together. No, we don't. We just take yoga classes. 

5. Half-heartedly working towards Project 333. More on this later. 

I hope to check in again soon. Take care, everyone.