Posts Tagged ‘NaBloPoMo’
Playing catchup today after staying home sick for a day and a half. I find myself repeating these patterns of “push too much” and “overschedule” and end up paying for it. I ended up not finishing the “post once a day for March” goal that I’d envisioned for my March Happiness Project goal, but I want to at least answer the questions (however short the answers may be).
Tuesday, March 25, 2013
What is your favourite personality trait that you possess?
Before this month, I would have said “creativity.” After reading a letter from my dad to my cousin’s son (who had asked about the traits that his children had picked up from him and my mom), I would say “compassion” (tied with “connection to family”).
Wednesday, March 26, 2013
Do you enjoy being alone? What do you do when you’re by yourself?
3) Cook and watch reruns of my favorite shows on Netflix.
Thursday, March 27, 2013
Have you ever taken a trip by yourself? Do you prefer to travel with people or alone?
In spite of liking to hang out alone, I prefer to travel with other people. My favorite trips have been with my fiance or with close girlfriends (aka ladycations). I’ve admired those who journey around the world alone, but I value the shared experience more than just the experience itself.
Friday, March 28, 2013
How old were you when you started your first diary?
I was eight years old. I started my first diary in a pink, ballet-slipper adorned, locked notebook that I could open with a small silver key. I saved that diary along with subsequent notebooks: another locked box holding a pink, green, and yellow notebook, a green spiral notebook, a composition book that I decorated with magazine cutouts and covered with clear tape, and many others. I enjoy looking back on the memories I recorded then.
Monday, March 31, 2013
Tell us one thing you learned about yourself this month.
I learned that my intentions to follow The Happiness Project this year, though well-meaning, were based in inauthenticity and wanting to be more to the point of making myself unhappy. I wanted to blog about my journey and self-improvement, but found that I fell into old habits of taking on too much, especially because the book encourages you to keep up the monthly resolutions even as you add more with each new month. It was fine for January and February, but I began to feel like I was juggling too much and perceived THP as a chore rather than as improvement. I realized that what worked so well for Gretchen Rubin won’t work for me if I copy it or compare myself to her. After reading a wise blog post by a friend, I started to think about about saving my emotional and temporal investments for the important stuff. The life of a teacher is very different from the life of a writer and requires different supports. The life of an “about to get married” woman is different from that of “mother of toddlers.” I’m not giving up on the Happiness Project, but I have to do it in a way that’s enough for me and serves me well rather than making me think of always achieving more.
If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
My first thought was to change one of my physical qualities: to clear up my vision to 20/20, to sing like Ella Fitzgerald or Fiona Apple, or to run like Kara Goucher. Those potential qualities are lovely but wouldn’t pay off as much (unless I landed a recording contract or running sponsorship). Changing my devotion to the “shoulds” would pay off so much more. The “shoulds” involve social pressures and doing things for extrinsic motivation and the approval of others rather than for intrinsic rewards.
I don’t like that the question almost implies that the “one thing” has to be a wishful thing or a thing that you could never change about yourself. To fight the “shoulds,” I’ll focus on being calmer and on living my life with intentions rather than trying to hold myself to an overly rigid plan.
Do you do more for yourself or for others?
More is not better.
I am not a good multi-tasker. I prefer quiet workspaces and small groups. When I add more to my metaphorical activity plate, I get stressed but I hide it because I think that multi-tasking is what’s prized in the working world. I say I understand balance, but I don’t. In fact, when a coworker used to tell me “be kind to yourself” during times of stress, I would interpret “kindness” as being lazy and not upholding myself to my standards.
I think this attitude comes from long-held subconscious equating of self-worth with extrinsic rewards: straight A’s, high scores on standardized tests, acceptance to prestigious grad school. That kind of gold star seeking is more for others, not for oneself. That subconscious creeps into the time I do take for myself now, telling me “you’re being lazy” or “why aren’t you accomplishing X, Y, or Z?” I have to bite my tongue to keep from asking myself “why are you writing this blog post instead of going to Pilates at soul.train right now?”
I’m not fully present in that time I take for myself, much as I am not fully present if texting, checking email, or Instagramming. I’m not fully present if I don’t acknowledge that I need to back off from thinking “more is better” or viewing unscheduled time as laziness. I’m not fully present if I let that worrying or concern about gold stars creep into the things that I do for others, especially my teaching. I want to enjoy the time in my classroom without always thinking that there’s something better to be done, or worrying because my lessons or room itself or kids aren’t perfect. Nothing is.
Benjamin Franklin said: “There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” Do you think you know yourself well?
I used to think I did. The more I learn, the more I realize that I don’t know. It doesn’t matter whether it’s about teaching, about cooking, or about myself. You would think that we all know ourselves well, but I think that we all have blind spots that we are not aware of.
Would you say that you are your own best friend?
No. Several of my posts for this NaBloPoMo challenge have examined conflict between the dueling natures of self. This one continues the theme. I can be strong and motivate myself to persevere through tough situations, yet I can easily spiral down into weakness, discouraging myself from finding the positive. I’m learning to be kinder to myself, but I can still be my own worst enemy.
How would you rate your self-confidence? When is it at its lowest? When is it at its highest?
If it were a function:
1) The first derivative would be positive.
2) Relative minima occur on days with lessons that don’t go as well as I hoped, bad races, or bad sleep.
3) Relative maxima occur on days with good lessons, unexpected surprises, or sufficient sleep.
4) Absolute minima and maxima happen with the life events that make me laugh and cry.
Who do you trust more: yourself or others?
I used to rarely trust myself. Rather, I deferred to others because I assumed that they always knew better. In my first few years as a teacher, I always thought of myself as the newbie who resided at the bottom of the totem pole (even when I had useful ideas to contribute). Now I’m learning to trust my instincts and to get used to the ideas that others might trust me.
Do you feel like you reveal too much of yourself on your blog? Do you think you hold back too much?
When I was younger, I blended into my classes like a fly on the wall, never daring to make a peep. The idea of a five-minute presentation on New Zealand in the 6th grade had me praying that the school would burn down just so I wouldn’t have to give the presentation. I did end up giving it, but my poor note cards were mangled by my death grip and smudged from the sweat on my palms. In high school, I wrote an impassioned response to the book “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” for a computer science journal assignment. My bold statements contrasted so much with my meek appearance that my teacher scrawled “still waters run deep” on my paper before handing it back.
As many people do, I only truly let out the contents of those still waters to trusted friends. Now I talk quite a bit, but still hold on to the “be a closed book, not an open book” mentality. I have now only gotten used to sharing more on my blog. In my first few years of teaching, I often felt that teachers weren’t allowed to share feelings or personal information on blogs. The ones that I looked through for lesson ideas included a lot of wonderful content, but not a lot of self-reveal by the authors. It wasn’t until I started reading Fawn Nguyen’s Finding Ways to Nguyen Students Over or Melissa Rife’s The Musings of a TGTM: Thrifty, German-Teaching Mommy that I understood what detailed, masterfully written personal stories from teachers even looked like.
At this point, I think I still hold back too much. A lot of my “closed-book” mentality came from a fear of showing weakness or vulnerability, and a lot of personal stuff includes that. Opening your life (or classroom) up for viewing leaves you vulnerable to judgment. Many people have observed my classroom (fellow teachers, pre-service teachers, my own interns, visitors, etc) and I should be used to that by now, but it still feels weird in many ways. I know I’m not alone in that feeling…a 20-year IB teaching veteran in my 2007 school reform class once told me how hard it was for her to deal with being observed. I still wonder “is that person judging me?” or “do they think I am a horrible teacher?”
That’s the kind of thought that I don’t want to put out there on the blog. I feel like I’m supposed to be stronger than that. I don’t *want* to put every melodramatic thought or snarky comment that I have out there, but I do feel the urge to self-edit. I curate my writing, slapping on filters of “happy” or “new recipe” or “creative lesson idea” and not even putting some other thoughts to the keyboard. Like my classroom, the blog’s always open for observation…but not beneath the still waters.
Do you think you’ll still be blogging 10 years from now?
I hope so! Over the past ten years, I have started various blogs on Xanga, Blogspot, and WordPress, but none stuck until this one, and I think it’s because I’m now solidly confident in who I am. Going from 23 to 33, I got older but became younger at heart. I transitioned from consultant to teacher (and have now been a teacher for 50% more time than I was a consultant). I went from teacher to team leader + IB coordinator. I went from feeling like a little girl playing dressup in teacher clothes to comfortable in my teacher skin. I got faster at running, then slower at running. I ran four marathons, two in a tutu (*before* tutus jumped the shark, I might add). I discovered spinning and barre. I learned how to follow fancy recipes from Food Network, then learned how to cook like my mom (maximizing ingredients on hand and minimizing time spent cooking). I hope the next ten years will bring exciting developments with family, teaching, and life…and that I will still be telling stories about it all.
How has blogging changed your life? Tell us one thing that is different now than from before you started blogging.
Though I started blogging partly to indulge my math-y side and become a better math teacher, the experience has helped me think about capturing stories. Even though I tried to fit the “science + tech” mold from a young age, I still have a strange creative streak and whimsical ideas. My favorite inspiration is my friend Melissa, who captures the stories of her family with humor, love, and enthusiasm. When we lived together in college, she entertained us all with her stories: fanciful tales of study abroad in Leiden, hilarious parental anecdotes (the wormy will live forever), and her interpretive reading of the latest Cosmo magazine. I used to think more in the mindset of capturing lessons, perhaps out of fear that I’d forget everything I’d learned from teaching a certain lesson or project. I used to think more about documenting my cooking experiences so I’d seem more “real” as a blogger. Melissa’s stories are inspiring me to elaborate more on the stories behind the lessons, the recipes, and my family. In a way, blogging is taking me back to a time when imagination ran free of 140-character limits and we didn’t mute our own voices to fit what we thought a writer [blogger] should sound like.