Sunday, April 1, 2018

30 Day Challenge #3- Facebook free

For the month of March, I deactivated my Facebook account and deleted the app from my phone. A few months ago (in anticipation of this challenge and also in an effort to separate my personal and work life) I opened a "work" account that I only check/use on my work computer and is generally used to communicate with coworkers and volunteers, and to post on work related groups and pages. I continued to use this account, but I deactivated my personal account and did not use my work account outside of work hours.

Reflection: I feel like I have been wasting a lot of time on Facebook and this challenge forced me to think a little bit about how I am using my time. I did spend more time on Instagram and Twitter (I still don't get Snapchat, lol) but I find these platforms to be really different in terms of time-suckage. On Instagram, I find myself scrolling through the pictures, but there are not things to click on so, it is easier to limit- once I've seen all the pictures, I've seen all the pictures.  Twitter, of course, can be a black hole of time-suckage too, if you let it.  I think, because I don't actually follow all that many people and I don't spend my time actually tweeting, it is more manageable.  Twitter is much less personal than facebook, and although I follow some people that I actually know, the majority of people I follow are reporters and famous people and I'm just generally less interested in spending all my time reading all about their lives.

My month off facebook coincidentally coincided with the big Cambridge Analytica scandal and a lot of people leaving facebook, but my decision to do it now had nothing to do with that. It was interesting to think about how much of our lives are being tracked and how that data is being used. It is something I am still thinking about.

What I felt like I was missing the most from facebook in my month off was actually personal connections with people I actually know, but might not see all that often. There are a certain percentage of my friends that I don't see/talk to too much in real life, but don't want to completely loose track of. Not being on facebook also made it harder to see people in real life. More and more now, events and invitations are going on facebook and I know that I missed at least one event that I might have gone to if I had known about it. I made an effort to make sure that I didn't really miss too much- mostly by texting people that I knew were organizing things, but this felt like a pain. I am part of two book clubs currently and both of them organize events and meetings on facebook. We don't meet at the same time/place every month, instead, we discuss plans in the facebook groups. Normally it is easy to engage in these conversations- I think if I had to rely on texting to stay up on things every month it would drive me crazy. I even almost missed a meeting because I got confused about the location when I was texting with my friend and went to the wrong movie theater- this probably wouldn't have happened if I'd been able to just look at the facebook event.

The real question is what I am spending my time doing?  Facebook (and Twitter and Instagram and everything else) can be good tools for keeping up on people's lives and knowing what is going on in the world and making plans. Where it gets to be dangerous is the constant scrolling that wastes time and doesn't actually serve a purpose or improve life. So because of this, I am changing it up for April. Originally, I planned on making April a sugar free month (cutting out added sugar from my diet) and I've been feeling pretty nervous about it. Honestly, it is something I want to do, but something that I need to kind of psych myself up for. But since these are my challenges and I make the rules, I've decided to do something else. I have been thinking a lot about how I use my time and getting off facebook was a part of that, but not the whole story. So my challenge for April is 30 min project time.

Rules for 30 day challenge #4- 30 min project time:
Spend 30 min each day working on a short or long term project in the house. This can be anything that is not a normal daily task (basic cleaning, dishes, laundry etc) and cannot be on the computer or phone.  Examples/ideas: finish my scrap books, making art, spring cleaning (cleaning closets, going through boxes in storage) etc. Let's be more productive in April! 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


I have been thinking a lot about the journaling/writing process lately.  I started this blog over 10 years ago (back when blogging was the new thing) but I have been writing as a way to process for a lot longer than that.  I first started keeping a journal when I was about 12- 7th grade. Most of my early journals focused a lot on my relationships- friends, boys, my family. As I got older my journals included all those relationships, but also more about events- what I was doing and seeing- especially as I started to travel and do and see more. Those journals were private, not meant to be shared. The internet, social media, blogging, facebook changed this process for me a lot.  When I started blogging, I didn't stop writing in my journal, but I wrote different things online for the public audience than I did for myself. I think that both of these processes are helpful to me and I like them for different reasons. I don't exactly have a huge audience (I pretty much think that it has mostly been my parents, tbh). Taking this month off of facebook has made me think a lot about my online presence and how/what I share. I will have more thoughts on that in a few days when my #30daychallenge is up. Also, next month, I am taking my previously private journals public- participating in Mortified Live- in which I will be reading some of my writing from 7th-8th grade on stage in front of a large audience. It should be interesting. Or if not interesting, mortifying. I guess we shall see.    

Thursday, March 1, 2018

30 Day Challenge #2- 30 min daily workouts

For February (plus a day each of January and March, because Feb is such a short month) I decided to try to work out every day for 30 min.  These workouts could be anything- I tried out dance, yoga, zumba, kickboxing, pilates and more. 10,000 steps (approximately 5 miles walking) also counted as a workout. For the first half of the month, I did really well (especially considering that I was going from barely working out at all to trying to exercise every day) and for the first 20 days, I only missed one.  Then came my trip to Boston for Geek Bowl and what I returned with . . .  #geekbowlplague.  I spent the rest of the month fighting a nasty cold that turned into a really gross sinus infection- working out was no longer a priority.  Even though I didn't reach my 30 day goal I still exercised more than normal and discovered some good things, like how many free short workouts there are on youtube that I can do in my living room. I have three more months this year that involve physical/workout challenges and I hope to continue to do some of the dance/zumba/yoga type workouts if not every day, then a couple of times a week.  Up next: facebook free for 30 days. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

30 Day Challenge #1- Food Tracking

For the month of January (or rather, the first 30 days of it) I decided to track all of the food I ate.  I used the app myfitnesspal and entered everything that went into my body.  I used the default settings on the app, which figured out that I should have an average of 1750 calories a day in order to lose weight.  I didn't specifically set out to reach that goal, just to track, but I think that the act of tracking definitely had an effect on my calorie intake overall. I successfully tracked everything for 30 days and actually didn't even find it to be that hard with the app. The app has lots of foods, including many restaurant menus, preloaded and has the ability to scan bar codes for just about anything that has a barcode.  The hardest things to track were homemade items that I didn't cook myself or restaurant items when the app didn't have the menu, but for the most part, I think that I was able to make best guesses in those cases. I also tracked my water intake, weight, and exercise, just because the app does that too and why not. It turns out, that I lost 5 lbs in these 30 days. I don't necessarily attribute that all to the food tracking (it is January and we just came off a particularly heavy holiday season), but I don't think it hurt. I think that I ate less overall than I would have normally just because I was more aware of it. Up next- 30 min daily workouts!  

Monday, January 1, 2018

30 Day Challenges

For me personally, 2017 was a year. It wasn’t a good year, it wasn’t a terribly bad year, it was just... a year.
So on to bigger and better things in 2018. Instead of making New Years Resolutions that I’m sure I would eventually break, I’m splitting up the year into 12 convenient chunks (otherwise known as months) and giving myself a challenge for each one. I’m starting in January with a food journal. Other challenges coming up this year (subject to change): 30 min workouts, Facebook free (this will be a hard one) knitting, meditation, sugar free meal planning, 10,000 steps, letter writing and a few more to be determined. I’ll update you all on my status and completion each month. Let’s go 2018!

For anyone curious, here is my complete list (still subject to change) and thanks to everyone for the encouragement!

January- food journal (track everything I eat)
February- 30 min daily workouts
March- No Facebook
April- No added sugar
May- Read everyday
June- 10,000 steps
July- Letter writing
August- Meditation
September- Strength training
Oct- Knitting
Nov-  workouts agian
Dec- Gratitude

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Life as a first year teacher: Trimester 1

I am one third of the way through my first year of teaching.  It is hard.  It is fun.  It is scary.  It is frustrating.  It is confusing.  It is empowering.  It is exhausting.

I am exhausted.  Anyone that says that teachers have it easy and get lots of time off has absolutely no idea what they are talking about.  I regularly spend several hours a night on weeknights and time on weekends grading or planning.  I am getting up at 6:00 every morning (and as I've said before, I'm not a morning person) and I was spoiled by getting enough sleep in Albania that in order for me to function, I have to go to bed by 10:00.  More than the sleep thing though, is the mental exhaustion.  Most days I get home and my brain is just tired.  It is hard to do more than collapse in a pile on my bed and watch bad tv shows.  I have seen very little of my friends and family since school started. 

I am empowered.  It really is amazing being in the classroom and seeing students change and grow.  They are doing that, and I am helping them do that!  My students are amazing and when I see them succeed I feel like I am succeeding.  I feel empowered and powerful in the best way.

I am confused.  There are so many things to navigate as a new teacher.  District, school and classroom politics and policies can be overwhelming.  Nothing quite makes sense and I sometimes just have to sit back and hope that things will just work themselves out.

I am frustrated.  Some of the things that just don't make sense can also be super frustrating.  Why are they making us do it that way?!? What am I doing wrong?  Why isn't this kid responding to this? Why don't they turn in their homework?!

I am scared.  I live in a little bit of fear every day that I am doing something totally wrong, that this will be the day that my class completely falls apart and just when that happens the Superintendent is going to walk into my classroom and see the utter chaos that is reigning.  I am terrified that I am a bad teacher and that I will fail my students.  I lose sleep at night worrying that my students won't be successful in my class and I won't be able to teach them what they need to know to be successful later in life. 

I am having fun.  I am trying every day to have fun.  I am having fun teaching and I hope that my students are having some fun learning.  I am definitely having fun with my colleagues.  I love the teachers that I am working with and as a team we have done a really good job of making sure we are having fun.

It is hard.  Teaching is hard.  It is hard to get up every day and be on.  It is hard to go to school every day and not fail my students.  It is hard to make decisions every day that effect the lives of my students and not know if they are the right decisions.  I don't know that I've every pushed myself as much as I have for the past three months.  I am pushing myself every day to be the best teacher that I can be for my students and it is hard.  But it is worth it.

I am one third of the way through my first year of teaching.  It is amazing.  

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Last week I had coffee with Connie, an older volunteer that I became close with in Albania when we traveled together for the holidays in Italy. Truth: when I grow up I want to be like Connie. When she came back from PC, she bought an RV and for the past two years has been driving it around the country, staying for a few months at a time near friends and family. During our conversation, she asked me about how I have readjusted to life in the US. I had to think a lot about this question. My first answer is "great!" everything is fine! Because that is the easy answer. And things are pretty good for me right now- I have a good job, I have a good place to live, I'm close to my family. I have stopped having panic attacks in the grocery store. The past three years have really been about settling into adulthood- figuring out what I really want to do with my life. So in many ways, readjustment has gone very well for me. There are a few things that I noticed however when I think a little bit more about how my life is different from my life before I left. While I have made many new friends (mostly through camp and school) and have remained close to some of my old friends, I have also noticed that I have grown apart from a lot of people that I used to be very close. Why is this? There are a whole bunch of reasons, I'm sure. I've been away for most of the summers since I've been home, I've been working and in school and am less likely to go out during the school year. I got used to a more solitary life in Albania, too. I value the time I get alone more than I did when I was younger. Some of it may also be my old friends. Many of my friends have gotten married and had kids in the past few years. While this obviously doesn't mean that we can't be friends anymore, it sometimes means that our paths don't cross as much anymore. This was also something I was thinking about a little while ago- in my life BPC (before Peace Corps) there were always tons of activities that my friends organized to get people together- there were parties all the time, regularly scheduled theater, kickball, cooking club, concerts and so many other things. In order to see people,you didn't have to plan or do much, just show up at the party. Now these sorts of things are fewer and farther between, so in order to see people, you have to make an effort and when events do happen, not as many people show up . . .

The timing of this for me is that I noticed the change when I returned from Peace Corps, but I realize that it is also just a sign of getting older and growing up. So it might not just be readjustment to life back in America, but adjustment in general to life as an adult.