hey guys,

I did it. I made it to Thanksgiving break.

I have no words to describe how I feel right now, so I'm going to bust out the art supplies and sketch book.

Just came here to say: I made it.



2014: Have a Lot, Lot, Lot of Confidence

My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was one thing only: to have a lot, lot, lot of confidence. Not just a little confidence--not even just confidence--but a lot of it.

Going into 2014, I was nervous of all the uncertainty that the year held. Brian and I decided to end our contracts in Japan come spring, but we didn't know where we'd live and whether or not we'd have jobs. I had big plans for myself (become a full-time chemistry teacher), but I didn't know if anyone would give me a chance. I felt undeserving of a chance.

So I decided that my goal was not to get a job, not to plan things out to a T, and not to make sure everything worked out according to plan. My goal was to have a lot of confidence.

When I made the goal, I didn't know what it'd entail exactly. In practice, whenever I was faced with an opportunity to act bigger than I thought I was capable of (like climbing Kota Kinabalu by myself, traveling Australia by myself, and applying for jobs at international schools), I took the plunge, boots shaking and all. The outcome? Many job rejections, even more no-replies, a sore body for days, and many, many mishaps in the world down under. Also, better and better resumes and cover letters with each rejection, inspiration to climb a taller mountain, and the experience of coming across animals I once thought were make believe (dingos? wallaroos? wombats?).

My biggest "yo, self, have more confidence!" moments were in these past 4 months. Only now, mid-November, do I finally understand just what having lots and lots and lots of confidence entails.

Having confidence and acting--doing something--doesn't mean being sure that you're going to succeed. It doesn't mean being sure of the outcome. There was no way I could have known of any of the outcomes of my scary moments in this past year.

Instead, I needed to (and did) have the confidence to try. I showed up to every obstacle and tried, tried, tried. Some days, I failed. Some days, I didn't try as hard as others. Some days, I succeeded. Ever day, I tried.

I used to run away from my fears a lot. I used to be noncommittal and undependable. Now, I don't stress about outcomes. I take a deep breath, and try.

Thanks for the hurdles, 2014. And the opportunities, too.

IMAGE: Son of Groucho

Here Comes 2015

Things I'm Looking Forward to in 2015
-Nikki's graduation and moving up to the Bay
-Completing my first year of teaching
-Saving up for my Emergency Fund
-Summer break

Things to Keep in Mind in 2015
-Minimalist living
-Actively deepen my spirituality

Did nothing to deepen my spirituality. In fact, felt very disconnected... Especially because of not going to church. I haven't felt motivated to go to church lately. I've held some resentment because of the view of the Catholic Church about homosexuality.

I've needed something to get me through Andrew's death, too... I feel like something is formulating... Something...

Minimalist living: I've done a great job of not shopping much. I've bought more books than I can read. I got a lot of free clothes. I bought one sleeping bag and a few travel/camping items (jackets, sweater...). Otherwise, I haven't really added any possessions. I still need to get rid of some possessions.

Next goals:
-Save $10,000 by end of January
-Go somewhere epic for Thanksgiving
-Exercise weekly. At least twice a week!
-prepare for marathon!!!


(I used to be a) Passion Planner

This post is titled after the Passion Planner, my sister's friend's friend's cool awesome inspiring idea. When she told me about the Passion Planner, its maker was working towards her $10,000 goal on a Kickstarter. Now, she's at $430,000.

When I saw the concept to the Passion Planner, I felt just as fired up and ready to go do! as I'm sure all of the Kickstarter backers felt when they watched the sales pitch. Many know that normally, I would be first in line for a planner like that--in fact, I was distraught that I hadn't thought of inventing the Passion Planner and marketing it because that's all I do! Plan! ...huge, ginormous, out-of-this-world goals!


I haven't bought it. Yet? To be honest, I'm a bit afraid of it. It reminds me of my too-fired-up, all-wound-up, over-booked, over-stressed me. I still doodle and write notes to myself in my (dozens) of journals, but I've kept away from the Passion Planner.

I used to pride myself in being a passionate person. I care deeply about certain things, get very excited about many things, take failure hard, and cry and cry and cry a lot. Now, I'm wary of "passion". I think it's underrated. Caring deeply about something can light a fire beneath you or it can stress you the fuck out when all you want to do is go to sleep and be well-rested for the next day. Passion doesn't get you anywhere--hard work does. Commitment does. Patience does. I'm here in my job right now, taking it day by day and expecting nothing paramount of myself. Tell me, is this flawed thinking -- "Last time I poured my heart into my job, I failed. Now, I'm taking things little by little, and I'm surviving. Therefor, I shall not pour my heart into my job."

I don't really know how to feel. I think I'm a bad teacher right now. Well, I guess it's more fair to say that I'm not the teacher that I want to be right now. And I don't know how to feel about that.

Ho hum.


Teacher Voices

Today, a teacher friend of mine mentioned this thing called 'writing workshops', where (in this case) teachers come together to read and talk about narratives written by teachers. The idea is to get more teacher voices out into the world of policy.

It reminded me that I need to record my thoughts, progress, and obstacles--if, for nothing else, for me to look on and (hopefully) see how much I've grown.

Today was a hard day. Normal hard. Which, for the record, is very hard. I get frustrated when things don't go according to plan or when students don't put away their damn cell phones. I get frustrated when students would rather do nothing than participate. I get frustrated when students talk back to me.

I'm still coming to school every day despite having little to no confidence in my lesson plans. I'm hoping that good lessons come later, with practice, by getting through these rough draft, "first year teacher" lesson plans. I try to connect with students--I greet every student by name, ask them about little personal things that I know about them, and congratulate them on doing well or on improving in class. I try to remember the fact my students are still learning about who they are by listening to what others say about them. So, when I say "thank you, Jason, you're such a helpful person", Jason starts thinking to himself "I'm the type of person who likes to help people".

I feel pretty beaten down right now for having what I feel was an unsuccessful lesson day, for being behind on grades, and for having no idea where I'm going with the content. I'll try to focus on some positives, though. Let's say, 3 positives. Here they go.

1.) I really like my students. Some of them are really funny, some are sweethearts, some are helpful, and others are really talkative and just want to tell me everything about their lives. They're awesome. I want to do a good job for them. I may not be doing a good job. But I do know that by the end of the year, I want to be there for them.
2.) It's mid-November. Soon it will be December. And then Spring. And then Summer and I'll have gotten through my first year of teaching.
3.) Weekends, holidays, and vacations. Looking forward to my upcoming trips!