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.

 

Back on the Needles

One thing I let go when I started teaching in September was knitting, which has been an important piece of self-care I’ve been investing in since my grad school days (can’t find the post where I first write about it, but here’s one in which I write about knitting as therapy).

So, when I started my medical leave about a month ago due to extreme stress, panic, and anxiety, I knew I had to pick up the needles again.

I picked up where I left of, with this flowered headband:

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Flowered Headband

This was a relatively easy and quick knit from 60 Quick Knits from America’s Yarn Shops.

Part way through the headband, I realized I was using 5mm needles (size 8), not size 5 (3.75mm) needles as the pattern called for. But, instead of frogging it and starting over, I plugged along,  just doing fewer repeats of the pseudo-lace patterned bands in the centre. It also turned out a little wider because of this, but more coverage in our winters is not a bad thing!

Nice to be back to this fine hobby, and now to one of the best things about it: picking my next project!

Home Updates

A couple posts ago, I briefly mentioned that we have done some smaller updates in our home over the last year. We chose these specific projects to make our house more functional and to get rid of what felt like clutter…except the kitchen. I just wanted to make it less boring and tear down the subway tile that wasn’t put up correctly.

Here are some photos!

Mudroom area

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DH designed & built this at the bottom of the stairs leading to the basement (the stairs are off the side entrance that leads to the driveway – we don’t use our front door!)

 

Kitchen Update (Before & After)

Office/Guest Room Update

In preparation for my new teaching career, I wanted to make the office/guest room into a more usable space. I don’t have any photos of it before, but it was basically crammed full with a queen size bed a massive wooden desk. The murphy bed is awesome, and it’s from Costco! The closet had a bar, small shelves on one side, and another above the bar. DH made it into what you see here!

 

Hacking back

We (and by “we”, I mean DH) took a ton of bushes/saplings/overgrown crap out of our yards. Things looks much more open, and give us room to plant what we want. Here’s an example: we yanked out the giant hedges at the front of our property. Now I can see when I’m backing out of the driveway. WIN!

Right now, DH is working on the laundry room in the basement. I’ll post pictures when it’s done!

Fighting the Entitlement 

There has been a couple great videos going around about the problems our society is facing with the millennials. This one in particular is well-worth the 15 minutes if you haven’t seen it already:

 

I’ve seen or heard a number of discussions recently on how people with young children are fighting back against this trend. We are dong this by:

  • Saying no (probably) way more than yes
  • Teaching responsibility (with chores, saying sorry if you hurt someone, being mindful of surroundings, etc.)
  • Ensuring there are consequences (time outs when younger, taking away privileges, etc. as they get older)
  • Teaching good manners
  • Praising effort, not result (unless very special, like a first soccer goal)
  • Teaching delayed gratification
  • Ensuring they have independent play-time (not relying on us to entertain them)
  • Explaining why their behaviour is mean/rude/disrespectful/etc.

One thing I despise is when other adults say “it’s okay” or “it’s no big deal” when we’re trying to teach or discipline our kids in public. My stock response is usually “thank you, but our child is working on learning **insert skill here**”.

What kinds of strategies have you used to try and combat entitlement and the other traits that go along with it?

Let’s Do This, 2017!

Each year I make a list of goals that range from relatively straight-forward to “dream-on” achievability level.  Here is my list for 2017. It’s longer than in years past, but I’ve tried to make my goals more specific this time around.

  • Continue to learn and practice mindfulness, including
    • daily meditation
    • yoga 1-3 times per week, and
    • regular self-reflection, at least once per week
  • Continue to minimize clutter in our home
  • Choosing happiness
    • Read at least 1 chapter of a book a day
    • Complete at least 3 knitting projects
    • Begin participating regularly in at least 1  additional physical activity
    • Have a date with DH once a month
    • Write a minimum of 1 blog post per week (here or on my education blog)
    • Spend more time in nature
  • More direct interaction with real people
  • Get more involved with local community
  • Learn how to deal with difficult people
  • Give less fucks [mostly about my (perceived view of?) what others think about me]
  • Get in the local school board (3rd time’s a charm?)

I won’t be taking an “all or nothing” approach when assessing my success. These are all things I want to incorporate into my life, and if it takes many years, that’s okay.

Any tips, suggestions, resources or starting points are welcomed! What are your goals for the upcoming months?

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.

Filling My Cup

Hi – it’s been a while.

Without getting into too many details, the start of my career in the public education sector has been pretty bumpy. Severe anxiety and several off-the-charts panic attacks have led to me take a leave of absence only 3 months in.

Needless to say, there was a lot that I was not prepared for or to handle. With my time off, I am trying to learn to fill my own cup before running on empty. The old “put your oxygen mask on before helping someone else” idea is definitely something I need to focus on if I want to be successful in this career.

Things I have been doing that have been helpful are:

  • yoga multiple times a week
  • learning the art of meditation
  • reading
  • knitting
  • seeing a new counsellor
  • starting medication again (same one I was on during teacher’s college).

One thing that I have been doing that has not be helpful is relaxing too much. I find that I can get drawn into excessive laziness where I’m just scanning Facebook over and over, watching mindless TV that I don’t really care about, eating junk, and napping.

That might sound like a good thing after what I’ve been through, but after a day like that (such as today) I feel groggy, even more tired, and grumpy. It does not fill my cup.

I need to have productive times so that relaxation time is time to wind down (it’s hard to wind down from a lowest energy state). There is a list of things I’d like to do/get done that are simple/easy tasks but are also productive:

  • Christmas baking
  • Create C’s 3rd year book
  • Cleaning
  • Making some phone calls that I’ve need to do for months
  • Looking for new recipes

So, the plan is to 1) get out of the house at least once per day to do something (hopefully enjoyable) as per my doctor’s orders, and 2) do at least 1 thing productive per day.

I’m unsure when I’ll return to work (but now in week 3 of my leave, I’m finally able to think about it without going into a panic attack), but I want to feel strong and ready to handle the unpredictable nature of the game.

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