Archive for the ‘happiness’ Category

Things Making Me Happy

Since going on my leave, I’ve been able to focus on ME as much as possible, and it’s been a) very weird and b) awesome.

It’s very rare to get so much time to focus on your own life and happiness, and it was difficult in the beginning. It induced guilt, of course, because I’m used to putting the needs of others before my own (as with many of us).

I know I’m very privileged to get the opportunity to work on this, so I am trying to take advantage as much as I can.  I have been continuing to do the things in my initial post about my leave, and have achieved some of the goals I listed there (baking, new recipes, making phone calls).

The good thing is this inner focus seems to be working to “fill my cup”. A month ago, I was in a deep pit of despair, would break down in a sobbing mess over the simplest things, and I was worried that my heightened anxiety/panic state would lead into a deep depression, as it had in the past.  Now, I am feeling more relaxed and calm regularly, and even have ever-extending moments of happiness.

Here are some things lately that have been making me happy:

  • YOGA is amazing. Even if I go to class in a horrible state of mind, I come out feeling grounded and happy
    • meditation does the same thing!
  • I got tickets to see U2 with two awesome friends
  • I signed up for a knitting class to learn how to make socks (I’ve been wanting to do this for years)
  • I bought a new purse on Etsy, that was exactly what I’ve been looking for (something else I’ve been meaning to do for a long time)
  • READING! I’m on my 4th book already since starting my leave
  • Today, after waking up to help DH get the kids out of the house, I went back to bed and slept until 11am…11 AM!!!!!!!! It was glorious!

Another reason I know this is all helping is the fact that I am able to think about going back to the classroom without panic or anxiety. Last night, I was able to organize my notes/assignments/tests from the last couple of weeks, and I felt neutral about it. It was just a task, not something that was choking me or sending me into tears.

So, onward I go. I know I’m not fully ready to go back, but I am confident I will be able to. In fact, I think I might be in a better mental headspace now than I was in September.

 

Bye-Bye 2016

I have been doing year-end reflections on this blog, and really wanted to do it this year again (even though I haven’t been writing nearly as much). To start, here were my goals from the beginning of 2016:

  • I  would like to make progress toward a more stable work situation ✓
  • I would like to get back to spending more time doing (and enjoying) things I love like knitting, reading, and cooking ✘
  • I would like to move more and feel more energized ✘
  • I would like to enjoy the time with my family more ✘
  • I would like to either make our home more livable or move to a house that suits us better ✓

Family

E started grade one and is learning how to read. C has entered his threenager stage. DH and I found two awesome babysitters who kids like, and we’ve been doing date nights more often (but not enough). We stayed at a hornet-infested cottage in the summer, but had some good times too!

Home

After looking at our options, we decided that we’ll stay put. So, instead of looking at real-estate listings, we began thinking of how to improve our home. We added serious colour in our kitchen, DH built a mudroom area in the basement,  we replaced the huge bed & desk in the office with awesome Murphy bed/desk, and we took down hedges at front of our property.

Health

I played soccer this summer, but have decided it’s just not the sport for me. I signed back up at the YMCA, and have been using it much more for swimming and yoga. I’d like to start playing badminton this year and get back to riding my bike.

Mentally, things really went downhill in the Fall, and I stopped doing all the things I know I need to do to have a happy life (eating/sleeping well, exercising, reading, knitting, time with friends). With my time off, I’ll be focusing on making this a priority.

One good thing with my long drive to work (1hr15min each way), I got through a LOT of audiobooks, and hit 13 books for 2016. Check out what I’ve been reading here.

Career

I began the year by teaching at university/college levels, and I quite enjoyed it, but realized quickly it would not be a sustainable career option (low pay, limitations on how much I could work, nowhere to grow).

In the summer, I took 2 additional qualification courses to make me more marketable to public school boards. I got hired by one board as a supply teacher, but didn’t get on to the local board (which is the goal).

I did get my first public high school teaching position in September (what’s called a long-term occasional assignment, where supply teachers fill in for permanent teachers on leave). I was teaching grade 11 and 12 physics, and the contract was until the end of January. Unfortunately, I had to leave early due to overwhelming stress/anxiety. I’ll get back into the game when I’m ready, but will only be supply teaching.

 

There’s my 2016 in a nutshell! Stay tuned for what my hopes are for 2017.

Things I’m Learning

I don’t know if it just comes with age, but I feel that I grown many ways in the past couple of years and have come to understand things like I never have before.

  • There will always be people doing things better than you, or doing what you want to do, and being jealous is just a waste of time and energy
  • I’m the most at peace with my body than I’ve ever been. I don’t focus nearly as much on what I look like, but on how I feel.
  • There is always room for improvement and learning
  • I need to fiercely protect my down/alone time in order to keep my anxiety and fatigue at bay
  • Everything is a phase; it will change for better or worse
  • Being outdoors brings happiness and peace
  • Finding time to do the thing you enjoy is hugely important; drop other things if you can
  • Never read the comments
  • Surround yourself with people who build you up, who you can laugh with, and who you can be real with
  • Spending time together is more important than stuff

I’m in the tail-end of my 30s, and I feel myself becoming more confident, comfortable in my own skin, and caring less about stuff that doesn’t matter. 40 doesn’t bother me at all – I’m looking forward to what’s ahead, especially this is any indication:


What have you learned as you’ve gotten older?

Home Wants/Needs

My theme for my goals this year is re-evaluation, and one thing that led to my choosing this theme was a constant battle in our minds: whether to stay in this house or move.

Our house is old, like 1910’s old. That means we a) have a tiny kitchen, b) very little storage, c) a creepy basement we’ll never use for more than laundry/workshop/dumping grounds, and d) have tiny bathrooms (we’re lucky we had space to put a 1/2-bath  on the main floor – a hot commodity around this neighbourhood).

When I get in one of those “GOD, I HATE THIS HOUSE!!!” moods, the things I dream about are:

  • a more open floor plan on the first floor
  • a kitchen with more cupboard space and an island between it and the dining room
  • a large mudroom/laundry combo off the front (MORE SPACE for all our clothes/bags/gear/etc)
  • a MUCH bigger upstairs bathroom
  • a finished attic, so we can have a second living area (and a place to move all the kids toys so they’re not the first thing we see coming in) — which could house a THIRD bathroom!
  • being on a much quieter street (I know I can’t change this, but I’m DREAMING here!)

During and after these moments, we often start perusing through the MLS listings, searching for houses. We talk for hours  about whether it’s worth it to stay here and do the renovations, or would it be better to try and find a house that hits all our “must-have’s”. It’s our own personal “Love It or List It”, without any help from professionals.

Sure, we can easily find homes that have everything we want…for a much heftier price tag than what we paid for this house.

And, just like Cloud wrote about recently, these things are much more WANTS than NEEDS. When I really thing about it, we’re pretty darn lucky with our life (and house) as it is now. Why do we feel like we NEED more room, or NEED a bigger bathroom, or NEED to have main floor laundry?

We look at bigger, newer, more “fancy” houses – with their huge kitchens, giant walls of windows, massive master suites, and living room/family room/game rooms – as though that is what we NEED.

Yes, we could afford to go with either of these options, but then it hits us: what are our priorities in life? Do we want to spend money for years on making or getting a bigger/”better” house, or could we spend that in a way that could really make a difference in our lives in other ways. Like,  being able to do more of the things we enjoy like golfing, going to baseball games, going on family vacations, or taking art or music classes.

We get so tied up in what we WANT in a house, as though having an island in our kitchen or a walk-in closet would make us happy.

So, we are trying to keep these things in mind and we move forward with these types of decisions. We will constantly be re-evaluating our goals and aligning them with what our priorities really are.

How do you reconcile between what you WANT and what you NEED.

Things I Miss

I’ve been thinking a lot lately of things I used to do and was really good at – either in my childhood or later on – that I really miss now. 
1. Dance – I’ve always been a dancer at heart, but I took jazz dance lessons from the ages of 8-16, and then ballroom dance lessons in my mid-20s. I’d like to find some adult jazz and/or hip-hop dance classes.
2. Music – I played concert clarinet from grade 7-12, and jazz tenor/baritone saxaphone in grades 10-12. I adored music so much, and was pretty damn good if I say so myself, that I even auditioning for a university music program before deciding to go into astronomy/physics. After high school, I still played in an adult band for a couple years, and joined a university ensemble during my MSc. I’d like to get back into music, but not sure if I want to pull my clarinet out of the closet and join an ensemble here, or take up a new instrument like piano.
3. Golf – My dad started me golfing when I was about 6 and I played on a pretty regular basis until I was about 15. I took lessons, played in tournaments, and was pretty decent. In my adult years, I’ve played from time to time – usually a few times per year – but it would be nice to get back into it in a more meaningful way. 
I’m hoping 2013 will allow me to get back to some of these things that brought me so much joy at one point or another during my life.

Sucking at networking (and that’s okay)

One thing I learned about myself at the conference last week is that I absolutely stink at networking in person. Seriously. Worse networker ever.* I cannot go up to groups of people (large or small) and weasel my way into the conversation. I can try to convince myself to do it all day long, but it’s just not going to happen.
That being said, I am okay with going up to people who are also on their own. Maybe it’s because they’re not as threatening, or maybe I feel “in tune” with them more. Regardless, I can do that all day long and feel fine. I’m also very good with carrying on a conversation with people who approach me.
I’m not a huge fan of going to social events at conferences. I do try to stretch myself and go to a couple, but there’s no way I’d force myself to go to all of them. In this case, there were four, so I went to two. That’s pretty good in my books. 
I think my networking suckage was exaggerated by the fact that I did not know one person at this conference going in. It also didn’t help that it seemed that everyone else at the conference has known each other for a lifetime.**
In the end, though, I’ve decided it’s not something I need to work on and/or worry about too much. After all, this is who I am and I’m okay with that. I know it takes a lot of energy out of me to interact with others. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it (I do outreach for a living!) – it just means I need time to recover before heading back in. Plus, I still get lots of great ideas and contact information of people who would be good collaborators or otherwise – and, for me, that’s really the point of conferences.

It’s nice to be happy with the way I am.

If this sounds like you – or someone you know – I would recommend the book The Introvert Advantage. I also have Quiet in my to-read pile, another book written about and for introverts.
*I’m not looking for any advice on how to become a better networker here – I know all the things I’m “supposed” to do. I’ve read the articles and books – it’s just not in my nature.
**And before you say it’s in my head, the vast majority of the speakers were introduced by saying “and you all know this person, so they need no introduction **insert inside joke here**” followed by laughter of 95% of the audience. I actually wrote about this in the feedback survey because it was so common.

Safe (For Now)

A few weeks back, I wrote about how my job may be in jeopardy because of federal budget cuts in Canada. A couple days after that, we heard through the grapevine that our grant was not going to be paid out for its final year (we still haven’t received an official letter, to which they are contractually obligated to provide – but that whole side of things will be the subject of a future post).
My bosses assured me that they would do all they could to keep me on board and, in the meantime, they would be able to guarantee me a job until the end of the summer in some capacity. They lobbied various uppers at the university for weeks, but I also began to look at job postings and put together a couple applications for teaching positions. 
Finally, after weeks of living in the unknown, we got word from the Faculty of Science that they are willing to pay my salary through the end of the contract we had with the CSA (March 31, 2013). My role may change slightly, and it still leaves us with the problem of finding funding for after that date, but I’m happy to still have the job I love and it gives us time to seek out other funding options.

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