Monday, December 31, 2012

My New Year's Pledge

Happy New Year, friends. In preparation for 2013, many of us spend time reflecting on the past 365 days - evaluating our lives and identifying room for growth. I've always believed this to be a healthy tradition.

I wrote a pledge the other night - it started as a Facebook status, typed during a spurt of insomnia, and has since marinated in my mind. Longtime readers know I struggle with anxiety, an unfortunate condition that surfaced when my life took an unexpected turn down a road littered with bumps, potholes, and hazardous conditions. Because I've always been a planner. And I don't deal well with plans falling apart.

The last four years have been a struggle. I encountered setbacks I never saw coming, and I wasn't prepared to deal with their arrival. Because I had a plan, remember? I was to secure a position I was passionate about, work towards tenure, and complete my advanced credits and professional development. Summers were for traveling; winters were for saving. By 28, my car would be paid off and I would be a homeowner. 

None of that happened.

Sometimes I think people think I want them to feel sorry for me, and that's not the case. I know it's tough out there for many, and I promise, I know I'm blessed in many other ways. But anxiety is an illness that lives a life of its own. It breathes inside of me, and I'm trying my damnedest to cut off its oxygen supply.

The truth is, I want to get better. I want to feel confident and successful and like I'm moving towards accomplishment. I want to feel like what I do makes a difference. I want to feel like I contribute to this world. And that's what I'm working on.

I share this with you for one reason: accountability. Posting my pledge means I can't take it back. I'm forced to work toward these goals and bounce back from setbacks - no matter how difficult it may be at the time. Our fears and insecurities are personal; they show our vulnerability and expose the deepest part of us. They're also difficult to talk about. This is the only way I know how, so I thank you for allowing me to do so. And I very much thank you for listening.

My New Year's Pledge

In 2013, I will not worry.
I will not worry about furloughs, for they are out of my control. Instead, I'll take precautionary measures to ensure myself some comfort.

In 2013, I will not stress.
I will not stress about writing the perfect manuscript; I'll continue working hard and following the path I'm on. My only obligation is doing my best work. The rest will work itself out.

In 2013, I will not entertain fear.
Fear is not tangible; it is a concoction of my own thoughts that prevents me from living. If I can create fear, I can also destroy it.

In 2013, I will not panic.
I will not allow myself to dwell on possibility. I will focus on the situation before me. If I can't fix it or call someone else to fix it, I have to let it go.

In 2013, I will not feel pity.
The past cannot be changed. I will keep my eyes on the direction I want to move in. The path to the future is ahead, not behind.

In 2013, I will not obsess.
Obsessions eat energy. Instead, I'll continue to take care of my mind, body, and spirit, and maintain a positive, healthy lifestyle. 

In 2013, I will not feel shame.
Instead of feeling embarrassed by my circumstances, I will allow myself to learn and grow from every experience - no matter how difficult it may be. I will no longer be ashamed of my professional struggles or view it as a reflection of my ability or intelligence. My life is my life. The right door will open when it's supposed to.

In 2013, I will stop blaming myself.
Blaming myself keeps me stationary. Accepting things for what they are is the only way to move forward. I did nothing wrong. 

And in 2013, I will not worry.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ten Questions I Often Ponder

Curiosita: An insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning.

In his self-help book How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, Michael J. Gelb discusses seven principles drawn from an intensive study of man and his methods. Named after the Renaissance man himself, the Seven Da Vincian principles are most helpful when remembered, developed, and applied consistently throughout one's lifetime.

Curisoita, the first principle, means practicing a curious approach to life. As writers, the stories we tell are born from our own curiosities. We question the issues we explore, the journey of our characters, and what messages to share with readers. We question human behavior, the trends we witness, and how society functions. Our innate curiosity leads us to the page.

The following is an excerpt from Gelb's book:

All of us come into the world curious. Curiosita builds upon that natural impulse, the same impulse that let you to turn the last page - the desire to learn more. We've all got it; the challenge is using and developing it for our own benefit.

Great minds ask great questions. The questions that "engage our thought" on a daily basis reflect our life purpose and influence the quality of our lives. By cultivating a Da Vince-like open, questioning frame of mind, we broaden our universe and improve our ability to travel through it.

As a teacher, I strive to instill a value for life-long learning in my students. I want them to continuously acquire knowledge by seeking answers to their questions. This same belief fuels my writing - I want readers to learn from my stories; to gain perspective and look at situations from multiple perspectives. I want them to ask questions that are open-ended and thought-provoking. I want them to think, analyze, and evaluate. I want to keep them curious.

How does curiosity shape our lives? How does it shape our writing and our reading?

I leave you with ten questions I often ponder. Have a great day, folks.

Ten Questions I Often Ponder:

1. Where exactly do the socks go?
2. Would I like being part of a larger, closer family?
3. How long would I last in the Big Brother house?
4. If I were a student at Central High in 1957, how would I feel when my school was integrated?
5. Would my online writing friends like me in real life?
6. How would my life be different if I still lived in Kentucky (or New York)?
7. What would my life be like if I still taught seventh grade social studies?
8. Where is my student teaching portfolio?
9. Do certain people from my past ever think of me?
10. Does my former administration have any idea what I went (and continue to go) through?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Things I Dislike

Oh, Monday, will we ever get along? You are so far from Friday, and yet Friday is so close to Monday.

As a follow-up from Friday, here's a list of things I strongly dislike, in no particular order. Just for fun.

  1. Turnips
  2. Political banter
  3. Public speaking
  4. The common cold
  5. Flying
  6. The number thirteen
  7. Germs
  8. Seniority
  9. Spambots
  10. Traffic 
  11. Losing
  12. The Jersey Shore
  13. Celebrity "authors"
  14. Ironing
  15. Literature reviews
  16. Back to school night
  17. Early mornings
  18. Beans
  19. Uncomfortable shoes
  20. Not finding a parking space
  21. Tori Spelling
  22. Bullying
  23. Snakes
  24. Taking standardized tests
  25. Biting my cheek
  26. Zits
  27. Nepotism
  28. Ke$ha
  29. Salespeople/telemarketers/scams
  30. Wind chimes
  31. Nikki Minaj
  32. ATM fees
  33. Burning the roof of my mouth
  34. Mosquito bites
  35. Commercials
  36. Freezing
  37. When my coffee cup is empty
  38. Avocados
  39. Being judged
  40. Chipping a tooth
  41. Tequila
  42. Furloughs/layoffs/demotions
  43. Borders permanently closing
  44. Rainy days
  45. Water chestnuts
  46. Arrogance
  47. Roller coasters
  48. Theft
  49. When my ears ring
  50. Road rage
  51. Impatience
  52. Not being able to sleep
  53. Animal abuse
  54. Peas
  55. Having to go to bed before I'm ready
  56. Five-day workweeks
  57. Disrespect towards the elderly
  58. Incompetence
  59. The unknown
  60. When my beliefs or opinions are mocked by someone else
What's your number one dislike?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Things I Like

Today's post is simple. I've been spending a lot of time thinking about things I don't like. Because let's be honest, there are lots of things I really don't like. So today, I sat in my office and made a list of things I do like. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.

Here they are (in no particular order):
  1. Yuengling
  2. Wearing jeans to work on Fridays
  3. Pool days
  4. Coffee
  5. Silence
  6. Trivia
  7. Song Pop (username PAUL14210, if you wish to be defeated)
  8. Soft Pretzels
  9. Flip-flops
  10. Kentucky Wildcats
  11. Dianna Agron
  12. Sleeping in
  13. Deep tissue massages
  14. Pasta
  15. Snow days
  16. My iPhone
  17. Alone time
  18. Scramble (username PAUL14210, if you wish to be defeated)
  19. Chips
  20. Bon Jovi
  21. Pens
  22. Hotels
  23. To-do lists
  24. Buffalo jeans
  25. Ice cream
  26. Fantasy football
  27. S.E. Hinton
  28. Working out
  29. Happy hours
  30. Blog followers
  31. Bowling
  32. Teaching
  33. Coldplay
  34. Who Framed Roger Rabbit
  35. Authentic Italian restaurants
  36. March Madness
  37. Big Brother
  38. Hoodies
  39. Journey
  40. Real, legitimate e-mail correspondence
  41. Fountain coke
  42. Summer
  43. The Ernest Green Story
  44. Lounging in bookstores and coffee shops
  45. Live
  46. Hot showers
  47. Fresh haircuts
  48. Clover Hill wines (specifically Concord)
  49. Shrimp Parmesan
  50. Days off
  51. Christmas
  52. Sunglasses
  53. Nick at Nite
  54. French onion soup
  55. Americanos
  56. Sushi
  57. Balsamic vinaigrette
  58. Buffalo wings
  59. Positive feedback
  60. Calamari
Have a great weekend, folks! Cheers!