Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"Everything Changes and Nothing Stands Still."

       When I feel lost or down, I tend to try to refocus my energy on something positive. I usually resort to to-do lists or goals or things to look forward to. I'm super type-A so I write multiple lists on a daily basis. Today I decided to use my handy-dandy planner to put down some Spring Break Goals/To-Do's since it's officially only 6 days away! I turned to the March notes section and at the top was the quote by Heraclitus, "Everything changes and nothing stands still." It's not really an in depth quote that requires a lot of interpretation, but it hit me really hard this morning. So, on my work laptop I made a little digital post it note with those exact words. I even looked at it quite a few times today as a reminder. 
         The reason this quote struck a chord with me is because change is a very challenging concept for me unless I am completely up for the change and in control of the change (typically). I mean, I can go down to tiny details like routines, where things are placed, stores I shop at, to the bigger things like memories, details about people/pets that are no longer in my life, feelings,etc. I just have a hard time with letting go because I get so easily attached and comfortable with those sorts of things. I've also seen the quote, "The only thing constant in life is change". I know change is inevitable and I will never be able to control all aspects of my life, but that doesn't make it any easier for me. Now, I will say I have improved over the past few years as I feel like a lot has happened in the last 10 years of my life. I'll be honest, my teens and 20s have been a roller coaster to say the least. I appear to have it all together and in some aspects I seem pretty stable and like I have everything under control, but I don't usually feel that way. I am totally grateful for what I have in my life and the aspects I have been able to control. However, I feel like I can't keep life balanced. I seek stability and it's been a rough road trying to find that. It's as if as soon as my work part of life is in shambles, my personal life flourishes and then when I get a grip on the work part, my personal life crumbles. I have yet to find that stability and unfortunately it's thrown me off track multiple times. I keep having to pick up the pieces and figure everything out again.
        Leila (my sister) has been going to meditation and at the end of class, the monk discusses life with them. She told me that they talked about letting go and how holding on to things ruins relationships and our overall happiness. We take the stresses of work out on our relationships with people and carry it around like a burden. We let negative thoughts consume us, stopping us from being productive, happy beings. I mean I wonder how much time I've lost just thinking or crying or holding on to things that I should let go of and it's like "WOW, I could've had all this positive stuff going on, but I chose to hold on to the pain and negativity."
         So I guess the whole point of this is to say that even though I'm very aware of this, I just need to focus on the aspects I can mind, my reactions, and my choices. Life's fluctuations will come and go in all areas of life, but I need to make the choice to let go, move on, or make choices based on the situation instead of dwelling. It's not easy. Making the choice to turn away from pain, frustration, confusion, anger, and resentment is not easy. Some days I really just want to sleep to avoid it all because that's the easiest and quickest way in the moment. However, that's short term because as soon as I wake up all those horrible feelings hit me again. I need to look at the long term solution and it appears as those sleeping is not going to cut it. 
         So here's to working (EVEN MORE) on accepting change, making choices about what I can control, letting go, and moving on. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Yes, I volunteered the day of my college graduation...

I think ever since I was a kid, I had a giving and selfless heart. So, it doesn't surprise me that I want to do so much good in this world by volunteering or making a difference. However, I've noticed that so many people seem shocked by the fact that a 25 year old spends most of her time (and a lot of money) on these efforts simply for the reason of "just because." In high school I really started to be interested in service type fields (might explain why I'm a teacher now) and wanted to get volunteer hours. Without having much control over my life in high school due to money, transportation, work, etc. I didn't really get to volunteer like I wanted to. So when I went to college I decided to branch out. I joined an environmental organization called Love Not Litter that cleaned the UWG campus and the streets of Carrollton. I ended up becoming co-president for 2 years and dedicated a LOT of Fridays to cleaning up trash left by inconsiderate others or manning the recycling on campus. I literally had to sort through a bag of messy recyclables (and sometimes trash that was improperly placed) into the different material types without getting stung by a yellow jacket. Then I loaded all of it in my car and took it to the off campus recycling center to properly recycle the items. Was this fun? Typically no, it was not fun. Did I feel it was necessary? YES! People probably thought I was crazy for being this 20 year old taking my time to sort dirty, bug infested recyclables. However, I felt it was something I needed to do because if I didn't do it who would? 
Then my sophomore year I really wanted to start volunteering at an animal shelter. I couldn't bring my pets to my dorm room so that meant I had to leave my babies an hour and a half away at my dad's house. It broke my heart to be away from my childhood pets. So I figured volunteering at the shelter would help fill that void for the time being, plus I could help out animals in need. I did this until I graduated from college. In fact after my morning graduation, before packing up my last bit of stuff and heading home, I went to the shelter and brought along my sister and mom. I spent pretty much every weekend that I was out in Carrollton at the shelter. Sometimes it was just Saturday and sometimes it was both Saturday and Sunday. I would at least be there between 3-8 hours total every weekend. I pretty much became a regular at the shelter. The workers knew me and trusted me to just do my thing while I interacted with the animals. The inmates who are assigned to help at the shelter started to realize I was a regular volunteer. A few of them started to question why I came to the shelter so often. "Do you need hours for college?" was a common question I received. I actually didn't really document the hours at all because I wasn't just volunteering for hours. I would get praise from older volunteers or workers saying, "It's great that you wake up early and come here to help out." I mean think about what the majority of college students are doing on their weekends...partying, sleeping-in, getting into trouble, maybe studying or being productive. That wasn't who I wanted to be and still not who I am to this day.

Which leads me to present time... 
I really missed working with the animals. I felt like again, if I wasn't there socializing the animals, who else would? I almost made it like it was my duty to get out there and make a difference in some way. So, I finally got into volunteering at the Gwinnett shelter last Summer. I've also been involved in a special needs Summer camp (Camp Dream) for 3 Summers as well because that's extremely rewarding too! Then of course, I also foster for a rescue and spend some Sundays at adoption events when my furbabies become adoptable.

So why do I do this? I don't get paid. I don't earn something fun for all these racked up hours. I don't do this for attention or praise. It's not like I was so bored that I had nothing to do. I was an overload student for 2 semesters (21 and 20 credit hours), held a leadership position, had a job, and still made a 4.0 in both of those semesters. With my current job as a teacher, my weekends are literally consumed by lesson plans and catching up with life at home. So I definitely don't have all the time in the world like people might think.

I do this because volunteering is honestly one of my greatest enjoyments in life. Like I said before, I feel like it's my duty. I hear so many people say, "Oh, I couldn't do that; I'd be too sad." Do you think volunteering doesn't ever affect me emotionally or mentally? If so, then you're wrong. I've cried at the shelter, on the way home from the shelter, and at home multiple times. I get so invested in these creatures that it does hurt sometimes. I have even recently gotten to the point of facing some bouts of anxiety before going to the shelter because I know the reality. However, I still force myself to go because I'll feel even worse from the guilt of not going. I have a mindset that this world needs me more than I need it and honestly that's kind of what keeps me going each day. 

I don't want to wake up and feel insignificant as only a taker in this world. I don't want to be selfish and inconsiderate. Although my investment in animals and volunteering might make me different from others my age and sometimes I feel lonely because I don't really fit in with my age group, at least I can go to bed each night feeling good about myself in this world. I did something. I did a lot of things to make a difference.

With all that said, I still don't feel like it's enough in my opinion. People are so shocked by someone my age being so involved, but in my opinion I have to do more. It's actually become my life goal and motivation through hard times. I don't see it as me being a "hero" or such a kind person...I see it as this is how I am supposed to be!

By the way, I don't say any of this to brag or gain gratitude. Volunteering in itself is it's own reward, so I don't need praise or recognition. People just don't seem to understand why I am the way I am, so this kind of breaks it down a bit. 
If you have gone through a rough patch in your life or feel down about yourself/life, I HIGHLY suggest volunteering. It is truly life altering when you know you are making a positive impact in a negative world.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Boys can like Pink too..

This blog post is inspired by my Advisement lesson this morning. Our theme for this week is aggression. I had the students place aggressive acts on a continuum to rate them as low, medium, or high aggression level. Some of the acts included: tripping someone in class, name calling, shoving someone into a wall, etc. As I had countless volunteers come up to place the aggressive acts on the board, I started to realize how many of the examples were placed at the low end when some of those acts were more serious than just a low rating. I then came to the realization that majority of my volunteers were male students. I decided to point this out to the class. It went something like this...
 "I'm not trying to say this to be mean, but it looks like a lot of these acts are placed under low and who has mainly put them there?" 
 "The guys." 
"And majority of people who are in jail or commit crimes are..."
Then I had this whole "ah-ha moment" that brought me back to a course I took my sophomore year of college: Educational Diversity. One time a professor in the Women Studies department did a presentation about gender/sex and society. Society has a set of norms that tell you that someone is either a boy or girl based off of what toys they play with, what colors they like, how emotional they are, their athleticism, their domestic skills, etc. The day that professor came to my class was the day that my mindset changed about all this stuff that everyone else seems to be so stuck on. I don't think parents, teachers, and other adults realize the impact they have on children sometimes. Constantly saying these phrases give kids the impression of how they should or should not be based off of their sex. 
"Don't be a girl. Man up!" ... So that means all girls are weak & being a girl is negative. 
 "Barbies/dolls are for girls," or when they get older, "Playing with dolls is gay." ....So that must mean growing up, having children, and taking care of them is gay too?! Parenting is only for girls?! (Anyways, who cares what someone's preference is!)
"Boys only pick on girls they like"...  So this gives girls the impression that it is desirable to be made fun of, laughed at, teased, and/or even physically harassed (punching, hitting, etc.)
There are so many other things I have heard that bother me because of the connotation it sets for kids at a young age. I know most people don't think anything of it and most likely they don't have to intention for the kids to interpret it incorrectly. However, these kids are sponges. They then take what they have absorbed and as they get older they apply it to situations they are in. So, now I have middle school students who believe these things and say these things that to me just aren't right. Why does someone who is weak have to be called a girl? Why do girls have to be domestic, raise children, cook dinner, clean the house, & depend on a man when it comes to finances? Why do women have to make less than men, so that men don't feel "below us"? Why are women so nurturing, but for men it's not as natural? Do you really think girls are just born with the ability to nurture & care for something? Girls play with baby dolls, they play "mom", & they nurture their baby because they saw their mom doing the same thing. Boys almost never get to explore or experience that at a young age because right away they are told that "dolls are for girls". 

I realize that a lot of people fall under stereo-types and norms which is why they are around. I know plenty of grown girls who rely heavily on their parents or even worse...on a guy for money or emotional support. It's almost expected that girls are dependent. There are some people who get to the point where their expenses are controlled by their spouse/significant other. WHAT?!! You can't control your own expenses? Those girls are the ones that make girls like myself have to feel like we have something to prove to the world. For the longest time, I had the desire to become as completely dependent upon myself as possible. I would say I'm 90% there. I work my butt off in everything that I do & I try to do as much as I can on my own. I'd rather learn how to do something from my dad, then him just do it for me. I am proof that not all girls are weak. I am proof that not all girls have to be in the household only doing domestic things. I cook, I clean, I garden, I paint, I work, I pay the bills, I lift weights, I fix things. I'm crafty. I volunteer. I have emotions.I can open my own door. I can pay for my own stuff. So, what does that mean? Society has pretty much set it so we have to be one way or the other. Dolls or cars. Strong or weak. Pink or blue. 


Thursday, February 13, 2014


A window on your computer says "Not Responding" and you just simply hold those three handy buttons on your keyboard: Ctrl+Alt+Delete. You click "End Task" and poof, the annoying issue is gone just like that.

Sometimes I wish there was a Ctrl+Alt+Delete option for real life. Something's not working right in your life, just "End Task" and open a new window. However, that metaphor could probably realistically be applied to real life. Like "when one door closes, another one opens" type of ordeal. What about thoughts though? I don't think you can simply just get the "End Task" option for thoughts and if you could it definitely would take much more than a few seconds. I swear my mind is on constant overdrive. There's things I think about, dwell upon, and people that constantly cross my mind when I know I probably just need to let those thoughts go. I sit there and analyze everything. I lay in bed at night thinking "what if..." and playing situations out. It's not so easy to just say "Loretta, stop thinking about it". Trust me I've tried.

I've always been a fairly quiet person and kept to myself. It's mainly because while everyone else is talking, I'm over here thinking, listening, observing, and taking things in. And although I somewhat like that about me, it's also very exhausting to be someone who constantly is thinking and not just about normal stuff. 

I also just want to go back in time and Ctrl+Alt+Delete certain events, decisions, and people. I obviously know that I can't. The "past is the past" yah-di-yah. I know this and I am seriously trying to get rid of those thoughts. It's been a difficult task, clearly.
It's really starting to drain me. The only time I stop consciously thinking is when I'm asleep which is probably why I long for sleep so much. And it's probably another reason why I HAVE to keep busy at all times. I have to be working out, doing work, cleaning, etc. so I don't have time to think. That's the only way I really know how to handle these things. Even though teaching is stressful and it's hard to always put on a smile and be enthusiastic when I teach, it's also good for me because my mind is occupied by the 1 million things I have to do or the math I am teaching that day. It's sad that work has to be my escape though.

I'm just so confused about a lot of things currently. I hate the unknown. I hate not being in control. I hate uncertainty. I hate wishy-washy personalities. I hate inconsistency. I hate instability. Seriously a quarter life crisis going on. Trying to just make it through for the time being until hopefully it passes just like these feelings passed a few years ago. 

So...if I'm distant or kind of down in the dumps lately...this is why. I have a LOT on my mind. A lot of decisions here and there to make. Some that I don't want to make, but that need to happen in order to make some improvements. I need for me to be happier...that's it. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

looking for a change...i guess?

I don't know what's come over me lately, but I'm not one to usually like big changes. However, I've been somewhat longing for a big change. It's scary to be honest. I think I'm just so fed up with some things. I don't feel satisfied. I mean, I appreciate what I do have, what I've learned, and for the opportunities I've come across. Even with all this though, I don't feel satisfied and complete. It's almost like I've been longing for this feeling of "being complete" for so long now. It's a void I can't seem to fill and I'm not exactly sure what or who would make this void go away or when that would even occur. I'm the type of person who gets attached to anything I care about, have good memories of/with, feel comfortable with and so it's hard for me to let go. I've always said, I want to stay in Gwinnett forever. Scratch that, I've been convinced I wanted to stay in Lawrenceville just because I felt comfortable and comfortable makes me at ease/feel safe. 
But something has changed with me lately...
I've had this thought of leaving Georgia. At first it was just a, "Maybe I'll go to a different state for a month in the summer" type of thought. Now, it's starting to become a, "Maybe I should just move to another state & go to college", like I've wanted to ever since I've graduated from West GA. When I would say that I wanted to stay in Gwinnett, I also stated the the only other place I'd probably move to is Florida. However, I was just looking up schools not only in Florida, but in Tennessee, North Carolina, and even California. 
Like a month ago, things would have been different. I am not exactly sure what's changed, but I'm starting to feel different.
Plus, my agent who was helping me look for homes to purchase in Gwinnett accepted another job, so it's almost more of a reason. I don't have to be held down by anything and if I have the opportunity to do something, I guess I should probably do it. I wouldn't want to regret it later on, but it's still scary. Most of what is scary to me though is just the money issue and being away from my sister if she goes to dental school in a different state away from me. 

There's times where I just want to escape it all honestly. College was when I was the happiest, learned the most, and grew the most. I feel like I'm at a plateau for some reason. I want to meet new people around my age, in the same boat as me, and in the same point in their lives. I just want to leave everything else behind and kind of start fresh. I don't feel connected to anyone anymore. I feel secluded. I feel left behind. I feel forgotten. I feel like I don't belong. I don't fit in. I feel lonely in all aspects, even if I'm constantly around people. I'm not trying to sound like an a-hole, but I'm honestly just at the point where I want to say "forget it", pack my stuff, & start a new journey/adventure somewhere else with different people and different situations. 
Maybe this is just a short phase I'm going through; I don't know, but I think there's A LOT of things that have pushed me to this point over the past 2 years. 
I guess I'm just keeping my options more open then they were before...I've literally spent the majority of my life trying to be as selfless as I can be and by making everyone else happy, that I feel like maybe it's time I find more happiness for myself. I don't want to change that part of me; I think we need more selfless people, but I've just run thin. I think maybe a big change could help me find that happiness for myself and fill that void I can't ignore...

I don't know...

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Work Hard, Play Hard!

Been a while since I've posted & figured I'd give an update on my life. 

So I survived. I made it through my first year (well mid-year) of teaching 8th grade math. It's weird to think I went from being SO against teaching middle school to landing a job in 8th grade. CRAZY how things work out like that huh?! I'm not going to lie; it was very challenging at times especially given the circumstances. I came in mid-year, no experience with middle school (since I got an early childhood degree), AND my first year teaching.Oh and I must mention I had the lowest level of math in the whole 8th grade for general education. I am not kidding, there were days I had 3 meetings. I was always running somewhere! I had a lot of special education students that were in my co-taught classes, so I had to attend their IEP, RTI, SST, & 504 meetings. Wow I've learned more about that stuff than I probably ever could have in college. Oh and I did NOT know that the last week of school was so stressful for teachers, especially teachers who have to transition students to high school. So much paperwork, official records, running here & there, contacting parents, summer school, retention, CRCT scores, checklists, & the list goes on.
See what I mean when I say "very challenging"? So to make myself think more positively when things were tough, I would think that if I could survive this and do well, then I can definitely start off fresh in August and it'll be much easier. 
There were times I was up at 1 AM grading/lesson planning, drove home crying of frustration, felt defeated because I didn't know what to do, & had to ask 1 million questions to all my coworkers. Luckily I had an AMAZING support team. I couldn't have asked to work with a better group of people. My mentor teacher was the gifted teacher across the hall and I am so glad she was so willing to always help me. Unfortunately and fortunately she got a position at a high school. I say unfortunately because I'll really miss her. She was a great teacher to rely on and had such a positive, helpful, and caring attitude. Fortunately though, her leaving probably opened up a position for me because I was kind of in a limbo point for a bit. Contracts were being sent out, but I got the talk of "we want to keep you, but it's all about numbers". So I wasn't sure if I'd even have a job after July. Luckily I got a contract and I will be teaching 8th grade math again next school year. This time the level will be mixed kind of like a college prep high school course. So, I'm really excited because now I can have more time to think about how I want my classroom to be run and look, and not have to rush with lesson plans, and just start on a clean slate. I have a lot of confidence in myself when it comes to this because I know I'll work hard. My students this year seemed to like me for the most part, but behavior was typically bad. This was extremely frustrating to me because I just wanted to teach! However, I had some great students who worked really hard and appreciated me. I loved getting e-mails from parents saying "thank you for helping her do better in math" or students coming up to me saying, "those games help me understand math, we should do more". It made me so happy to know I made a small difference. My students were overall really funny though. I guess having a 23 year old teacher made them think I was "one of them" so they would always talk music, sports, pop culture, & life with me. It was pretty interesting I must say!
So the wonderful thing that I am extra thankful about is...SUMMER VACATION! I still get a regular paycheck as usual and basically 2 months off. It's a great feeling. I was going to work my old preschool job for summer camp if they had any positions just for extra money, but it turns out they don't have anything currently. This is fine with me, because it gives me time to relax, hang at the pool, hang with friends, go out, rest, think, plan stuff for the next school year, etc. For the past 5 months I've felt like everyday was on rush/hurry mode, so it's nice to step back from that and not have to be like, "ok, what's next?" every 10 minutes.
I've had a lot of great things occur at the end of 2012 and so far in 2013. It was like a series of FORTUNATE events! It's still unbelievable to me actually. I got a brand new car with my own money in February which I absolutely LOVE! I recently got pre-approved for a loan so I can hopefully buy a town home/small house this summer. Going to PCB, Florida in 1 week with some great and hilarious friends. I've done a lot of fun and new things. I've stuck to a workout plan and I've pushed myself more than I set out to do originally, but I see/feel results and it's very motivating.
Of course there's moments where I still over think things and feel down, but I'm usually okay once I snap out of those moments. I just have to realize that I can always rely on myself at the end of the day. People let you down, situations let you down, the world lets you down. However, if I know that at the end of the day I put forth my effort and got results to achieve what I wanted, then everything will be fine. I can look past all the other crap that sometimes fills my head and brings me down. I'm 23 and I feel pretty accomplished so far, but I'm not done of course. My ultimate goal is to be pretty much completely dependent upon myself, so I'm working hard to get to that place soon! :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Supportive Relationships

I was downstairs eating dinner and the T.V. was on so I heard about Valerie Harper (actress) who has terminal brain cancer in which doctors gave her a 3-month window to live. The segment talked about how her husband has handled it and how he's been so supportive since day one. The camera kept panning over to the husband watching her while she was being interviewed. The look in his eyes was something hard to describe and even see. I got teary-eyed because I could just see the love and admiration he had for his wife and to me, seeing that is so rare. It's hard for me to be a believer in lasting relationships because I feel like in most cases they fall apart because people screw it up. So seeing the expression he had spoke so many words about his genuine love for her. 

So this led me to some thoughts I've had before...

I sometimes think about things like, "what do I want in a relationship?" besides the obvious like honesty, trust, love, etc. Usually I get to thinking that one big thing I'd want is to have a mutually, super supportive relationship. I'm not talking about supportive like, "Yes, I support your idea" or "I support your goals/decisions/ambitions/etc." I'm talking about both the people in the relationship lift each other up, motivate each other, keep each other going, remind each other of the goal that is at the end of all the stress & hard work, and bring each other up when one is feeling down or losing hope. And it can't just be about talk, it  has to be shown. I just feel that in a relationship, you should be your significant other's biggest fan and supporter. It's almost like a team effort. One person has the assist, while the other person gets the shine for the shot and vice versa. You both help each other out. I think in order for it to work, it can't be a one-way street; it has to be mutual. I don't know, that's just me. I just know this is something I find admirable in couples and it's something I'd want in a relationship and something I'd hold up on my part of the relationship as well.