Category Archives: narcissism

Everyone chases happiness, not noticing it’s right at their heels

Happiness-quotes-31097737-500-441Happiness, and finding that happiness even when times are rough, can be one of the most difficult pursuits of life, but the absolute most important. Happiness means you’re doing something right, and keeps you going. It’s what most people strive for in life; more than love or friendship or family, because these things are just a means to the end of happiness.

My freshman year of college I suffered from a mild case of depression. I’d left all my friends behind in Virginia, where almost all of them stayed, and decided to go on a solo adventure to seek happiness. I went to North Carolina (UNCW) for the film program, but I had a tough time making friends. I wasn’t the typical college freshman, especially not the beach blonde southern belle that went to the Dub, and it was hard meeting other nerdy weirdos like me. Additionally, my father moved to Russia that same year, so I was going through a lot.

In LA depression found me again, as I hated the city, hated the “industry,” and wasn’t having any substantial luck with boys. When my freelancing work for Fox ended, that depression is part of what spurred me to move home.

Good thing I did, because home is where happiness finally found me.

A few years ago, I posted a list of 100 things that make me happy, which was a much needed list at the time, reminding me of the little things in life where I can find joy. While I’ve been steadily happy for the most part since, we all have our good days and our bad. In the beginning of January this year, I discovered the 100happydays project and decided once again to appreciate the finer things and turn those bad days into good ones.

For those who don’t know, the 100happydays project is simple: take a photo a day of something that makes you happy, and post it to instagram, twitter, facebook, etc. It’s not a challenge amongst friends, but one with yourself. The social media aspect is just a good way to keep track and keep you accountable. Then, once you’ve completed the 100 days, you can donate to the foundation, upload your photos, and receive a book of your happy photos.

Even though some days were extremely difficult, and some days I was scrounging around trying to figure out what to take a photo of, I completed the challenge (with day 40 represented two days in a row… 101happydays is more like it!).

You can find my photos HERE, and I encourage everyone to take part in the challenge. Only you can make yourself happy, and here’s a great way to start figuring out how.

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Losing Weight Without Speed, Eating Sunflower Seeds…

Weight has always been a big issue for me. I had a somewhat active childhood, in between pretending I was on Guts and Legends of the Hidden Temple and playing soccer, but I never had the super skinny frame that so many girls long to have. In high school, I wasn’t “big,” but I sure as heck wasn’t small either. I was average. Also, I had a poor sense of style, my hair was huge, and I didn’t get braces until my sophomore year, which meant most of my high school career I had metal prongs in my mouth. While I worked out some over the years, it was usually only for a month or so at a time, and depression turned the Freshman 15 into something more like the Freshman 30.

me in high school... yikes!
me in high school… yikes!

I didn’t like to talk about it. My weight makes me insecure, and while I’m much skinnier now, I still don’t like to talk about it. (This can be hard with a health-obsessed boyfriend who had his own dietary struggles but sincerely wants to help everyone he can.)

Most of the weight I gained I lost senior year of college, when I got more confident and started to watch what I ate. The rest (and then some) I lost when I went Mostly Vegan. It’s also when I started working out again.

It started like most women: on the treadmill (I HATE the elliptical. I don’t get it. It’s like fake running). Falling-off-a-TreadmillI downloaded a 5k running app that told me when to walk and when to run, and worked me up to running 30 minutes straight within 6 weeks or so. Then I downloaded Zombies, Run!, a paid app (totally worth it) that immerses you into a zombie story, where you are Runner 5, sent on missions during the zombie apocalypse. It intersperses story clips within your playlist, so the run doesn’t get boring, and the 30 or 60 minute time frame (you decide) helps prevent you from hitting “Stop” on the treadmill and giving up. It’s also a game, so the supplies you pick up on your run help you build up your base, making you want to run more to get more supplies.

Thanks to Zombies, I got pretty decent with my runs, about 4 miles in 45 minutes, but when I joined a Runner’s Club and barely made it the 2.5 miles outside (though, to be fair, I was battling a cold as well…), I realized a few things: running on treadmills is easy compared to outside; my lungs won’t let me run outside; I’m not in as much shape as I’d like to be. The trainer who set up the Running Club decided to help me and set me on a strength training regimen (something my boyfriend had been trying to do for ages but I wouldn’t listen). Soon that’s all I did (despite being told to continue cardio) and I gained muscle for sure, but because I gained muscle, I also gained weight – and not all of it muscle.

I’m still not happy with my body (are we ever?) and so decided to pick up running again, interspersing it around my strength training days. Since this resolution, I’ve run 4 times (woohoo) and was pleased to find that despite spending months away from the treadmill, I didn’t lose too much of my stamina or speed (ha! speed… I average a 10:30 – 11 minute mile, a far cry from my glory days of an 8:30 mile in high school. Oh, getting older… Also, I realize this is because I’m going for distance rather than speed. If I were only running one, I could probably go a bit faster… or so I tell myself).

        Gym Schedule:

  • Monday: rest
  • Tuesday: run (or other cardio)
  • Wednesday: back and biceps
  • Thursday: rest
  • Friday: run (or other cardio)
  • Saturday: shoulders, chest, and triceps
  • Sunday: legs/run (alternate weeks)

So I’m still working. I’m not perfect, and I don’t claim to be. Weight struggles run in my family, as does the love of food, and despite wanting to do well, I still find myself succumbing to treats far too often. The hard part is saying no and teaching your mind that you don’t want that half-baked cookie or chocolate glazed donut… mmm…

me in April
me as of April, 2014

Best Job Ever.

As usual, I spent the summer of 2013 (just like the summers of 10, 11, and 12) with iD Tech Camps, this time at Towson University, in Maryland. In addition to the awesome dress-up days and theme weeks (this year we had Hawaiian, Disney, America, Cartoon, Hipster, and of course Harry Potter), we had 27 international females (females? at a tech camp?!?) from all over the Middle East and North Africa, who came over with a program called TechGirls. I was even mentioned in their blog! AND I was Director. Management.

And Management means Spirit Hoods.

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Embrace the power of the snow leopard.

As director, I got to utilize my teaching skills along with learning how to better and effectively manage, something that has definitely come in handy this year teaching journalism. It was great getting to help the new instructors fine tune their teaching abilities and really come into their own as instructors. PLUS, I got the benefit of getting to play the campers’ games and joke around with them, without having to actually teach, which I get burned out doing after 9 months straight.

AND, another one of my responsibilities was camp photography. Which basically meant I got to walk around all day with a camera, then play in Lightroom. We even inspired a photo contest on the iD Staff facebook page, and won it twice. And then I made trading cards in Photoshop.

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Seriously. I’m an awesome boss 🙂

Now, it wouldn’t be camp without a camp video… so naturally I made one of those too. Not only did it make it to the facebook page, but it also went up as one of FOUR on the iD Tech official videos page. One of FOUR. There were at least 10 made this year. Booyah. (so you know, it’s the “Can’t Hold Us” video, and the spirit hoods make an occurrence).

Best Job Ever. Apply here. You won’t regret it.

 

Quit Complaining Already, You’ve Got the Best Job Out There

As a general rule, I try not to post much about school here. As I use this page professionally for photography (though check out my new page here), video, and hopefully one day my novels (currently about two thirds of the way through the rough draft of my “first”), I don’t like to link it back to my teaching career. Ya know, just in case the school or a student decides to search me. Lately, however, some of the other teachers have been irking me.

There’s this big hoopla about possibly teaching 6 of 8 classes next year. Currently, we teach 5 of 7, with one of those classes every day. To help decrease the amount of teachers they have to cut due to budget concerns, and to allow for more classes for students, the county is proposing this new plan. Supposedly, class sizes should decrease and the sixth class would be a prep you already have. Okay, so what’s the problem? Well, we know that while these small class sizes sound amazing, they will probably only last the first year or so, meaning English teachers will have 25 or so MORE five-page essays to grade than they already do. Oh, and no extra money for the extra work.

Big deal. We got into teaching because we love it, not because of the money (or lack thereof). While we do work incredibly hard while we’re teaching, with planning, grading, monitoring, remediating, etc… we only have to do it 9 months out of the year. AND we get off at 3:30 each day. So what’s the big deal about having to stay an extra hour every so often to finish the grading? I know that some teachers stay super late EVERY DAY even now (which I don’t really get, to be honest… maybe they just have a crap ton more grading than I do, holla collaborative classes!).

So many are threatening to quit. I say: QUIT. I just got my “you were hired on a temporary basis, so your job may not be available next year” (aka you’re fired) letter that every new teacher gets their first 3 years (I’m year 2, fyi)… I’ll be GLAD to take over your position.

On another note, and I apologize for the rant, teachers who refuse to attend IEP meetings are ridiculous. For the record, at the moment I am ALREADY teaching 6 classes, with only ONE planning block (not two, like they propose imagesfor next year), and because one of those classes is a regular education class (Intro to Mass Communications), I have been often pulled as a regular ed teacher in IEP meetings (despite my official label as a Special Ed teacher and the fact that I have these students in my collaborative classes). Next week alone I’ve been invited to two. Which means that because I have my own caseload to manage, I do double-duty on IEP meetings. Now, no one can EVER complain to me about having to attend them.

The thing is, if I’m asked to go, no matter how much of an inconvenience it is to me and my one planning block, I will go. I actually care about these students and want them to succeed, and if that means I need to sit in on an hour-long meeting where my presence is relegated to a signature on a document, then I’ll be there. I was asked to sit in on a meeting for a student next week simply because I am the only teacher the student has that says nice things about him. So do I want to be there as the ONE teacher on his side? Definitely.

Basically, I’m just sick of the attitudes. However, I’ll just keep my head down, my mouth shut, and keep on keeping on. I’ve never had a job I love as much as I do teaching, and I’m not planning on taking it for granted. Bring on the 6 of 8.

Camp is for Nerds! (Good Thing I Am One!)

Rather than write a summary of this past summer’s camp season at iD Tech @ University of Miami, I figured I’d just show you the best parts…

I had lightsaber battles
I danced the Time Warp (and many, many other dances)
I auditioned for The Walking Dead (okay, not really, but how cool would that have been!?)
I became the Dark Knight
…and of course The Smartest Witch of Her Age
I took pretty pictures of campus
…and lots and lots of animals
I DIDN’T get eaten by a crocodile, because I heeded this sign
I was pied for my sixth time
I was turned into a Rainbow Unicorn Centaur
And was a member of a boyband, No Direction (find our video on my Videos Page!)

And of course there were typical camp activities going on… videos made, games played (and made), lots and lots of coffee, campers taught, LOTS of dance parties (including solo ones to “Taking the Hobbits to Isengard“), and always, a ton of fun. Here’s to next summer!

100 Things That Make Me Happy

One of the many (101 to be exact) items on my 101/1001 list is to make a 100 Things That Make Me Happy list. I discovered recently that I’d started this list some time ago, but only got to the 60’s before I gave up. Upon re-reading of this original list, I decided not only would I finish it, but I would revamp it as well, adding new things and taking away the ones that didn’t seem relevant anymore (like “when a boy calls you for no reason”).

See the complete list after the jump:

Continue reading 100 Things That Make Me Happy

Losing Weight, Cooking, Kissing, and Rocking Out

I know I’ve been really poor about updating my 101/1001, so much so that I’m eliminating the 1001 and just making it my goal to finish all 101 goals in a reasonable amount of time. That being said, there are a few updates I need to make:

6. Lose 15 pounds
Finally, finally, finally. While there’s still another 10 or so I’d like to lose, that initial 15 is off the waistline. Or wherever it came from. And so far, I’ve been able to maintain it. The secret? I cut down my portions. A lot. The first two weeks or so were really difficult, and I was hungry more often than not. Gradually, my body got used to eating smaller amounts, and so I became full faster. Already a vegetarian, I also cut out dairy and eggs from my regular diet, switching to soy or nut products instead when possible. Finally, I learned how to say “No,” which is probably the most difficult part and the one I still struggle with when confronted with Reese’s…

15. Kiss in the rain
Boy and I were walking back to our cars in a drizzly rain, and rather than duck and cover, let the raindrops trickle on our faces as we said goodbye. While it wasn’t as epic or passionate as Noah and Ally in The Notebook, or Spiderman and MJ, it’s a start.

11. Try one new recipe a month (12/32)
With Boy’s presence in my life, I now have more of an excuse to cook, and find myself dicing, chopping, stirring, and mixing on a more regular basis. The two of us pour through my various cookbooks, searching for something that appeals to both of us. The most successful recipes were a Vegetable Curry Couscous, a Zesty Vegetarian Chili, and a Tortilla soup. Delicious. *cookbooks are Betty Crocker Easy Vegetarian and The Vegetarian Bible.

32. Go to 15 shows/concerts (8/15)
Last night, Boy and I went to see Say Anything at The National inRichmond. Although I only know a handful of their songs well enough to sing along (and Boy even less than that, with knowledge of only one), we had a lot of fun. Sherri Dupree, Max’s wife (and lead singer of Eisley), came out and sang backup vocals on “So Good,” which was pretty cool, and the song selection was a good mix of old, new, and unreleased/B Sides. They ended the set with “Alive With the Glory of Love,” and encored with “Admit It!!!” twice, the two songs I’d been waiting the whole night for. It was a good show, and the first real concert for the two of us together, and a nice addition to the list.

Seven Years Post-Breakup, Who’s Better Off?

After you break up with someone, inevitably, one of you will come out stronger and better. This could be with regards to looks, success, career, life, etc, but usually they’re all related. One person is bound to be the most improved.

Before The Boy, I’ve only ever really dated one person, and even that is questionable on whether or not to count it. Sure, I had flings of 1 or 2 weeks, and a high school “relationship” of a month that consisted of holding hands at school and making out on playgrounds, but it wasn’t a real commitment, especially since I broke up with him shortly after we began because I was bored. My first real relationship was also only a month, however, but as the two of us were high school seniors and could drive one another around and go on “real” dates, and my feelings for him were slightly more serious, I still count it. Plus, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have any other relationships on my list and would so feel like a failure.

Three, as I’ll call him since he was a third, was the first person who I enjoyed kissing and allowed myself to fall for. We stayed up late, talking on the phone, and I was enraptured. After a month, however, I could feel him pulling away. He’d previously told me that he’d never broken up with a girl, but always made it so she was the one doing the breaking. I kept this in mind as he came to our internship with his hood pulled tight around his face and he avoided my texts and calls, and I broke up with him. It took me a long time to get over him, and I later found out it was because he didn’t know what to say to me anymore. I still talk to him every now and then, as we text one another on our birthdays and at other random times. The last time I talked to him was 2.5 months ago, when The Boy and I first began dating.

At 2.5 months, I’ve almost tripled my longest relationship record (though barely made a dent in his), but still found myself curious when I received a text from Three last Friday: “really random but are you at bdubs?”

As I was with one of my high school friends/coworkers/the sister of The Boy, who also knew him, the two of us began looking around to find the previous record holder, who I hadn’t seen in seven years. It wasn’t until we were about to pay that I saw him, on his way to the bathroom.

I was shocked. Sure, I’d facebook stalked him a bit, trying to determine the winner of the “Who’s Better Off” contest, but I still wasn’t prepared for what I saw. When we stopped by his table upon leaving, it worsened. Not only had he gained probably 100 pounds, but his eyelids had become droopy, either with alcohol consumption or forehead fat, and one of them had difficulty opening. It was nice to see him again after so many years, but as I stood next to my skinny, fit, sexy boyfriend, wearing the smallest size clothes I’ve worn since I reached full body maturity, I definitely won.

May the Odds be EVER in My Favor

Some days I feel like a better teacher than others. When the school year started, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, so I leaned on my collab teachers pretty heavily. The fact that I had two different collab partners helped me to see what a good partnership looks like vs a poor one, and a poor teacher at that. I noticed that the teaching style and situation in the second class reflected back on the students and affected them, so I started clawing to get more control and say in the class.

It was slow going. It didn’t help that I’d never taught high schoolers before, and was completing my student teaching within my own classroom, so I wasn’t sure of all the strategies and practices that actually occur in a classroom. The year and a half of grad school classes, however, taught me that his style of teaching is more suited for college-level students than tenth graders in a collaborative class.

Eventually, my persistancy and gung-ho attitude started changing the classroom situation. Or maybe it was my niceness and attractiveness (my collab teacher, Dwight, is one involved in my fan club). I started leading lessons rather than standing in the back, afraid to interject. The students started telling me “Thank God you’re in here,” and coming to me with all their questions. I even inspired Dwight to co-teach the way collab partner A and I do, which is a tag-team style… something he’d never done before.

Then came the ultimate change in the classroom. I casually mentioned one day to Dwight that I would love to teach The Hunger Games, hopefully next year. Rather than force me to teach The Bean Trees with him like he was planning for his other 4 classes, he took the steps to order a class set of the dystopian teen novel, just for our class.

I took it and ran. I planned the entire unit, tossing aside the Teachers Guide he’d ordered (and intended to teach entirely out of), and compiling resources from teacher friends, the Internet, and my own brain. I came up with a “Student Survival Pack” full of charts, questions, activities, and resources that would guide the students through the unit. What did Dwight do? Nothing. He failed to even finish the book until we were already well into the unit, and answered the guided questions along with the class rather than preparing ahead of time. I planned each day, made all the decisions, decorated the classroom, taught every lesson, and therefore take all responsibility for the successes and failures of the students and the unit itself (I plan to let him do this with Julius Caesar, which is his favorite, and I have no problems with this since I rather dislike it anyway).

So why do I feel like a good teacher today? We finished reading the novel on Friday, and watched the trailer for the movie yesterday, which I made the students write a response to. Almost every single one said they couldn’t wait for the movie. A handful have already bought the second (and third) books and have started reading, or are waiting for a copy to become available at the library. For a class of students who don’t like reading, this is pretty big. One has even become obsessed: He writes “District 14” on all his papers (there is no District 14, and the district where he lives is actually numbered 14), maps out the Districts in HALO, and talks about it whenever he can.

My goal when I became an English teacher was to inspire kids to read and learn to love it. While this is still a lofty goal and I have a long way to go on the second, at least I’m making headway on the first. That’s more than Julius Caesar ever did for anyone… all that accomplished was 23 knives in the back.

Drama, with a Capital D

It’s true what they say about high school teachers – many of them are no better than the students they teach. There’s something about the halls filled with teenagers, the Prom/Homecoming/Sports posters adorning the walls, and the young lovers perched in corners that just incites drama. It probably doesn’t help that a majority of the faculty at a school is female (though not as bad as elementary, but those teachers are sorority-letter-clad and full of an energy that astouds me). One of my classes (one of the smaller ones with a population of 4 high need students), is a drama epicenter. The three girls sit together in a huddle and just dish all the dirt on everyone they know, and all the reasons they’re angry (there are many). The one brave male in the room is no better, as his girlfriend and he are together only because they can hurt one another without feeling bad about it. So he sits there and talks about how he’s getting married (until he cheated), when the girl he really likes (but doesn’t want to hurt) sits next to him. Like I said, Drama.

The teachers are no better, though. In the few months I’ve been here, I’ve witnessed backstabbing, hypocrisy, deceit, and love triangles (and may have unwillingly been involved in some of these). One teacher has a nasty habit of talking about my friend and coworker and how she dresses “inappropriately”. The thing is, she doesn’t talk to my friend face-to-face, with a “Hey, I’m kind of concerned about your outfit today, you might want to rethink that next time,” or something similar, but instead talks about it to other teachers and administrators, causing an awkward situation all around. The first time this happened, my friend got really upset and her mentor had to sit down with her. Then, a few months later, I heard wind of a similar comment from the same original teacher. My friend doesn’t even dress inappropriately! I don’t know what the problem here is besides nosy b’s who gotta create problems.

There’s also a bit of a love triangle going on (or there used to be). At one time, I had a Sped teacher and an English teacher both interested in me. When I was set up with the boy, the Sped teacher stopped talking to me, even when we would walk side-by-side down the hallway. He spoke to me today for the first time in over a month, only because he had concerns about one of my students. The other teacher, however, the English teacher, he’s the problem.

This teacher (let’s call him Dwight) is quite a bit older than I am (and we all know I tend to date younger anyway), angry, overweight, a divorcee, and a jerk. Yet he tends to go after any young female that comes in contact with him (I’m not the first), and doesn’t seem to get a hint. At Christmas, he bought me a $30 candle and fantasized about making eggnog while I baked snickerdoodles with Christmas movies playing in the background (Excuse me while I go throw up). For a while, it got really awkward and inappropriate, and I actually had to fake a boyfriend after Christmas break to get him to lay off. When the real boy came along, we dismissed the imaginary boyfriend as “oh, he’s just a friend, and the long distance was hard” (he lived in Cali), and I try to mention the boy when in mixed company just as a constant reminder. Even then, he still makes comments to co-workers about how the boy is too young (2 years younger) and why am I dating him when I could have the great catch that is Dwight? Even today, when the three female teachers I get along with most and I were discussing our evening plans and our current relationship (they’re all just waiting for the boy and I to get out of the new phase and into the bitter one to make their own relationships feel better), Dwight complained of a toothache due to all the sweetness (a dig at my relationship) and left.

While he’s laid off for the most part, he’s still irritating. I’m on a new diet, which is slightly vegan and consists of smaller portions and generally healthier foods, which has caused me to lose 10-15 pounds. Dwight, who is also on a diet but eats a lunch consisting of a Healthy Choice, bag of popcorn or Doritos, a Diet soda, and a cookie/muffin/pudding, told me that the reason I’m tired is because I don’t eat enough calories, therefore I don’t have enough energy. No, Dwight. I’m tired because I’m a first year Sped teacher who runs our collaborative classroom at the moment, assistant coaching the varsity boys soccer team, and making sure my new boy is a priority whenever I can. All of this on top of being a 20-something living alone in the city. When I want to be overweight and sad, I’ll ask you for diet advice.

All of this, and I still kind of feel sorry for him.