Growing, Changing, Improving

Lifestyle

Something that has been a huge relief to me in my professional life is the realization that humans always have the ability to improve and grow. It’s like we never truly have a limit to improvement. At first, I didn’t realize this, and I quickly grew overwhelmed with my job.

I am a high school English teacher. When I first started in the field I thought that meant I would be teaching students to love reading and writing. It turns out that would be way too easy. My first year of teaching I quickly found more and more responsibilities being thrown on me. You have a kid who sucks at organization? Well, guess what, now you’re in charge of keeping his materials for him! That’s right, now you don’t only need to keep your things organized but also multiple students who can’t stay organized for themselves.

That’s just one example. And maybe that doesn’t sound too difficult, but I have around 150 students per day. I already have a lot to organize and keep track of. At one point in my career, it seemed almost impossible to think I’d also be able to manage personally keeping track of a bunch of kids’ work and materials for them. Now, somehow, I do it easily without even thinking about it. Currently, I’m in my fourth year of teaching, and it seems every year there are new things that I think, “There’s no way I can do this. It’s just too much.” But by the start of the next school year, I’m always seamlessly doing those very things that the year before I thought were impossible to master.

Part of me finds this reality comforting. To know I can always get better, that somehow there is always more capacity in my brain and body to take on more. It helps me from getting completely overwhelmed and shutting down. But I do think there is a dark side to this great human ability as well.

See, I am not the only person who realizes this cool ability that humans have. My boss realizes it, and so does my boss’s boss. And a lot of other people in positions of power too. My boss is a nice guy, but he also has a boss (and his boss is probably a nice guy too, but I don’t know for sure because I don’t know him), and bosses have a lot of pressure on them, just as much as us people lower on the totem pole do. That pressure all comes because the thing about most jobs and careers and our society in general is the push to be efficient as possible. To get the most out of what we have. And sometimes, wrongly, the people in charge start viewing the people below them as things. We become reduced down to an object; we are resources to be used and drained. At least this is how it feels in education.

Most days I feel tired. I feel like my bones are tired, like my soul is tired. I go home most nights with nothing left to give, but that doesn’t work because my job doesn’t stop when I walk out the doors of the school building. I still have parents to contact, emails to respond to, papers to grade, classes to prepare for, and more. The 90 minutes I get to do these things in a school day are never enough.

Plus, I have a family; I have a husband and two dogs, and I think it’s wrong to go home everyday with nothing left to give to them. They are my whole heart. They deserve the most, and yet so often they get the least.

I’ve been trying to find ways to energize myself, so I don’t keep going home with nothing left. I know that there are no quick fixes, and I know that eventually something big will have to change, but for now it’s about maintaining and sustaining myself.

One small way I’ve been doing this is through taking pictures of all the small things that bring me joy throughout my week. I did not come up with this. I started doing it after someone I follow on Instagram shared the idea (I don’t remember who. If I did I would share the handle).

So today I leave you with these: Some of the things that have brought me happiness in these last few weeks.

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Breakfast food is definitely a love language of mine. I’ve been making this cinnamon roll coffee cake recipe for the last couple weeks and it’s the best part of every morning. It’s been an easy enough way to show myself some love.

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This blurry, sunny picture of Eric and Tallulah. These two have been there for me so much in these last two and a half years I can’t even begin to tell you it all in this small caption. They will forever be my heart.

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We got Clementine in part just because we wanted another dog, but we also got her because we wanted a friend for Tallulah. I also secretly (or not so secretly) wanted a dog who would cuddle endlessly with me. Tallulah likes her personal space and I can appreciate that. To my pleasant surprise Clementine loves to cuddle, and I’m actually her preferred cuddle buddy. Every day she curls up on my lap like this, I am just filled with radiating beams of contentment.

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This one worked in a couple of different ways. 1. Self-care in the form of giving myself time to do something as simple as use a skin mask, and 2. Try a new beauty product, which I love to do. This was so fun, and I enjoyed it so much. Sometimes it makes me wonder why I don’t make time for me to do it more often.

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And finally, my garden. It took forever to see anything bloom in my garden this year. The weather was not what the plants needed, and I saw so much of my hard work from the spring go to waste. It was discouraging to say the least. But this is the silver lining! See, I still have flowers in October! And even better, this past week, those flowers were covered in butterflies, because (get this!!!) it’s butterfly migration season. My time in my backyard has been extra beautiful lately.

Okay, that’s all I have for now, but let me tell you this simple trick works. Taking these photos and looking back on them really does remind me of all the wonderful things I’m constantly surrounded by and that in itself helps to re-energize me.

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Summer Is Ending, But The Summer Feeling Doesn’t Have To

Beauty, Home, Lifestyle, Style

It’s officially August, which means that summer is sizzling to its end. For some people, that means heading back to school. For others, it means ending their vacations, or it possibly means sending their kids back to school. For me, it means returning to school as an educator.

Like everyone else with a career, my summers aren’t spent free of work. I’ve spent a lot of time working on licensure and professional development opportunities. Regardless of my work this summer, these next couple months usher me into a period of constant work, as I prepare and begin this coming school year. One thing that I’ve learned from being a teacher is that it can be really hard to balance your time (I have no clue how so many of my coworkers and friends with kids handle it). And I know, that as true as this is for me, it is also true for others, especially as we leave the summer and it’s time of adventuring and relaxation.

Through my time as a teacher, I’ve learned to deeply value intentional “me” time, as well as surrounding myself with things that help me relax or bring about intentional relaxing practices. If I’m honest, often when I’m busy and stressed, I’m not in the mindset to find something that will help me relax. Or sometimes my husband sees that I’m stressed and wants to help me relax. Because of this, I’ve developed an Amazon wishlist. It’s an easy go-to, and I’m not the only one who thinks having a wishlist on hand is a good idea.

Today, I’m going to share a few items off my wishlist that I think you might enjoy, that might help you relax as well.

1. Meaningful Artwork

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My sister made this cute little pot for me and it’s just the best thing! Sorry, there’s no link for this one! But I truly believe that art (and in this case pottery) can bring people so much joy. I love looking at and it’s lovely aesthetics. Blues are my favorite, and this one means even more because my sister made it.

2. Ban.do Work It Out Water Bottle

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I know I struggle to stay hydrated once I start working if I don’t actively carry a water bottle around with me. Real story: I had a few students last year who used to scold me for not drinking enough fluids. So I’m working on it, and the inspirational words will help me move forward in my goals (both about hydration and otherwise).

3. Cravings: Hungry For More, By Chrissy Tiegen

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So Chrissy’s latest cookbook isn’t out yet, and it won’t be until September, but I have this on my preorder list because I know it’s going to be great. I already love cooking all of the recipes from her first book, and I’m not the only one who loves them! All my friends and family, who I cook for, love them too. Chrissy is the person who taught me to enjoy cooking, to not let it stress me out, and instead take my time and find pleasure in the process. That reason alone has made me a lifetime supporter of her cookbooks.

4. Farmacy Natural Facemasks

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If you don’t know my love of skincare, then obviously you don’t know me and haven’t read much of my writing. Seriously, I’ve already blogged about how  important skincare is to me multiple times. But, I’m really eager to try this collection Farmacy facemasks. I love Farmacy as a brand. They use natural, clean ingredients, which is important to me. I also love that this selection includes soothing, brightening, and deep moisture (all things my skin will definitely need during the school year).

5. Be You Boxed Calendar

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I’ve always loved quotes, and I have always felt inspired by other people’s words. A calendar like this would is a great addition to a work desk, something to find words of wisdom in every day.

6. IGK Rich Kid Coconut Oil Gel

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I’m really bad about regularly styling my hair on a regular basis once I start my regular 7:30 to 3:30 hours. I got this hair product as a sample, and I instantly loved it. I have naturally wavy to curly hair patterns, and a great product like this can make the biggest difference when it comes to getting the most out of every minute in my morning.

 

So that’s it! If you want to check out my list, you can see the rest of it here. I hope that as your summer comes to an end, you find ways to milk every ounce of adventure and relaxation out of it, and even more, I hope that you can find a way to extend the spirit of summer throughout the rest of 2018!

 

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3 Skincare Products To Help You Relax At The Start Of The School Year

Beauty, Lifestyle

I have written previously about how skincare has become a form of self care for me. Well today’s post is dedicated to even more self care items.

This week marked my first regular work week of the school year. My students come next week. I’m so excited for the start of the school year and also for the start of my second full year of teaching. I love the new school I’m at. The entire school is full of absolute gems of staff members, but I especially love my English department. I’m pretty sure it is full of angels.

Nevertheless, the beginning of the school year also marks a time of exhaustion and stress for teachers and students alike. A lot is starting up again, but it’s important for us all to take time for ourselves. These are things that will help me relax, and they might help you too, but if they don’t reflect on what helps you relax!

1. Stress Relief Lotion $13

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I love this lotion. I’ve been using it for years, and I’ll be keeping it by my desk at work. I love skin care so putting on lotion is already fun for me, but this is also eucalyptus and spearmint scented. Wow, what a nice, relaxing scent. It’s a great, tiny break from your otherwise busy day.

2. Pumpkin Sleeping Pack $20

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You know how you feel on December 31st? That weird mix of anticipation and melancholy? That’s how I feel at the start of a school year. But not this year. This year I decided I’m leaning into fall hard. I’m so excited for falling leaves, pumpkins, hay rack rides, and everything else. I also know that my skin is already showing the wear of early mornings, long days, and late nights so it’s going to need some TLC. I love that this mask will perk up my skin while I sleep and help me embrace the upcoming change in seasons.

3. Foot Cream (and Exfoliation) $27

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Massages of any kind help me relax, and I bet they help you too. Massages are even better if you have someone else who can help you with them, but even if you don’t, you can massage your own feet! It’ll release so much tension! Plus, with this set you can exfoliate your feet after you’re done loosening up those ankles.

 

Ok, so those are my relaxation skincare products! How do you relax? Do you have any go-to relaxation products? Let me know!

 

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7 Vintage Etsy Finds For Back-To-School Season

Style

I’m one of those annoying people who fully throws herself into every task she is handed. My parents hated it when I was younger because it would take me ten times longer to complete a task. My husband kindly calls this characteristic “passion.” No matter what you call it, I definitely went all-in with wedding planning, as was expected given my personality.

Eric was truly terrified that I wouldn’t know what to do with myself when the wedding was over, but honestly I don’t miss it that much. It was just one day out of my life, and I like the rest of my life too. In fact, I was happily surprised with how much time I had to throw back into all my other passions as we settled into married life (OK, I know it hasn’t been that long and we’re still settling, hence my varied posting here). Instead of picking cake table decor, I can devout myself to writing ten thousand words a day, or something of the like.

As I get ready to go back to school, I’ve decided to try my hardest to convince Eric that, just like students, teachers too must go back-to-school shopping. In the process of moving, Eric and I both decided to get rid of a lot of clothes we don’t where anymore. We’re still thinning things out, but it’s a good habit. And over the last four to five years, I’ve gained an interest in fashion. In the last year, I have turned that interest to sustainable fashion.

There’s a lot of different ways to go about sustainable fashion, but essentially you’re committing yourself and your closet to a more eco and people friendly life in terms of your clothing. One simple way to do this is to buy clothes that are used. Thrifting is nothing new, and it has even gone through a resurgence of popularity in recent years. And lucky for me, I already dig vintage style.

So for your back-to-school shopping pleasure, today I have compiled a list of 7 Etsy Vintage Finds for your “new” back-to-school wardrobe!

1. Denim Midi Dress, brownbagvintage, $36

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Denim always feels like back-to-school must for me in the fall. And also don’t get me started on the comfort level with dresses. I also love this dress because no matter how silly your school’s dress codes are, this dress will easily make the cut. And it’s definitely professional enough for the teachers out there too!

2. Novelty Sweater, Raxclothing, $25

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If you ask me, there’s never a wrong time to invest in a sweater. I’d live in them year-round if I could (and I pretty much do). I like wearing comfy clothes to school, and when you can get something that is BOTH comfy and cute, you jump on it. Like this sweatshirt. People it’s on sale right now. Jump on it.

3. Oversized Denim Jacket, ShopExile, $59

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Denim is good. It will always be good. Oversized is also good. I love wearing oversized clothing if you haven’t noticed, and not only is it unbelievably comfy, but it also allows you to keep wearing it as it gets colder by simply layering underneath. There’s so much extra room you can just put on a few sweatshirts underneath! Whatever you wear underneath, I highly suggest wearing more than a bralette underneath it to school. Just a suggestion.

4. 90s Leather Backpack, LyndiLane, $70

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We all need bags to carry our school supplies in, especially us teachers. How many bags to you carry on a daily basis? Me? At least three. To this day, I love backpacks, and this one is super cute. Let me tell you, I’ll be a lot more excited bringing stuff to and from school if I get to do it in a pretty bag. Just make sure you can fit all your stuff in it!

5. 70s Gold Blouse, WearitWellvintage, $40

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As a teacher, I’m constantly on the lookout for clothes that are nice, but not too nice. Does that sound weird? Maybe it is. The thing is, I want to look professional, but I also work with kids everyday so I don’t want it to be too stiff or formal. Also, I like having transitional clothes that I can wear to work or out on a date night with Eric. Trust me, Eric won’t take me on dates if I tell him I need to buy separate clothes just for dates. I think this shirt does a lovely job of covering all the bases. It’s nice, but not too formal. I can rock this at work or on a date. It’s the transitional piece we’re all on the lookout for.

6. Burgundy Skirt, SHOPPOMPOMVINTAGE, $36

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I always tell myself I should try wearing colorful clothes, but then I don’t because it turns out that I like my clothes to match my coal of a heart (it’s a joke people). If there ever was a piece of clothes that could convince me to join team color, it would be this skirt. It’s a nice length (once again passing dress codes and professional codes all around). Also, look at those pockets. We all know if a skirt has pockets it already ten times better than all other skirts.

7. Blue Leather Huaraches, 1919vintage, $44

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Of course, no back-to-school shopping trip is complete without a new pair of shoes. These huaraches have my heart because they seem like such great year-round shoes. Maybe not marching-through-the-snow winter. But I could still change out of my snow boots into these babies once I was safely inside. And let’s face it, these things are beautiful.

 

Ok, there’s my back-to-school Etsy finds that fit into my new sustainable fashion quest. What’s on your back-to-school list? Have any favorite Etsy or other sustainable fashion shops? Let me know!

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