Tuesday, December 13, 2016

MindShift - Thrift Stores

Thrifts store shopping is my family pastime. I finally accepted this when my parents came to visit a few years ago for Mother's Day and we had an hour to kill before lunch so we made a bee-line for the nearest Good Will and all came away with bags of treasures. It's in my blood.

Recent Thrift Store Find
Dance shoes! Score!
I've been working hard to pursue more minimalism and mindfulness in my possessions. The other day I took a couple of bags down to my local Value Village, and as per normal took a lap around the store to glance through coats, dress and shoes. I noticed for the first time that I was looking at the racks differently.

I've trained my eye, over the years, to pick out quality of material and construction on the rack. I hone in on the wools, silks and linens, and then consider if it would look good on me, match anything I own, or be a fun addition to my wardrobe. I arrive at the dressing room with a pile, and dive headfirst in, ruthlessly eliminating things that don't fit, don't work or I just don't like. I almost always come away with a handful of new treasures.

This time, as I cruised through my favorites, I didn't feel that same excitement wondering what new find would present itself to me. I instead found myself wondering if it went with the color palette I was focusing on (instead of the collect them all approach to color). I considered if I had any holes in my current wardrobe that I need to fill (I'm looking for a sport, high quality winter coat that I could wear hiking or out doors.... but not much else). In the past I would have simply wondered if I had anything exactly like it.

Rather then grabbing interesting colors and patterns I found myself thinking, "I don't need this, I have plenty of shirts like that, I wouldn't wear this, I have nicer dresses then this already".

It sounds like a subtle shift, but I quickly finished my lap, unimpressed, and left the store without a single purchase.

Tiny first steps for long lasting change.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Guilt over time off

November has been a rough month. I've been fighting off a cold basically since the end of September. My class has been growing, and most of my kids seem to have pretty difficult behavior issues. Lots of aggressiveness and anger. I've been in rehearsal for Night Before Christmas, and my weekends have been spent traveling to SCA events, visits to Ben, or other friends and family.

All of this is to say that I'm a little bit run down. Night Before Christmas is opening tonight and Monday night at dress rehearsal I felt that familiar twinge in my throat that indicates my voice is about to go.

I've been playing it easy, and holding back, but teaching all day plus rehearsing is totally killing me. I've also just been feeling exhausted. I decided to stay home Wednesday and sleep. I needed it, I had the sick time. Running myself into the ground does no one any good. But I felt HORRIBLY guilty.

In the past, I've been very judgey about colleagues, co-workers, cast mats calling in sick if they aren't actually sick. I've had friends call in because of hang overs, to socialize, do homework. I've never done that. I always made it to class as a student, and almost never call into work unless I'm literally throwing up, or can't get out of bed. Last year, I was actually home sick in bed for several days, laid out by a virus. At another time my colleagues made me go home because i literally couldn't speak. As a substitute I would go in when I had a cold, and some times I think I was sicker then the teacher who had stayed home.

But I have sick pay now. I have over 200 hours of sick leave now. And it's there for me to use when I'm not well. It does roll over, so I can save it for the future, in case I'm ever seriously ill. But it's there for me to use it. I am a better teacher if I am healthy. And staying home a couple of days right now can be the difference between me suffering through the last few weeks of school, or being engaged and heading energetically towards Winter Break. Not to mention, my show might be a casualty if I push myself to far.

But despite preparing, leaving good plans, and telling everyone ahead of time I have terrible guilt about taking the time. Is this anxiety? Imposter Syndrome? Am I worried I'm being lazy? What is this? Why can't I just accept that am not doing well and need the rest? I've never been particularly good at giving myself a break, and as a person who rarely gets TRULY sick, I think I often sell myself short when I'm just a bit under the weather. I may have a small cold for three weeks, instead of being laid out for just a couple of days.

Perhaps my recent focus on mindfulness and minimalism is allowing me to have more compassion for myself physically.

Either way, I'm staying home tomorrow and sleeping, and I feel confidant it's the right choice, and that guilty little voice can just shut up!

Friday, November 4, 2016

What do you do with a blank stare?

Today is Friday. In my classroom that means quiz day. I give quizzes every Friday to my students. They are typically short (2-5 questions) and are always re-takable for a higher grade.

My students slouch in and pour themselves into their desks. The energy in the room palpably falls as I remind them the expectations for the quiz. Dutifully they each complete their quiz to varied results and proceed to melt into human puddles. It's as if their heads are each made of lead and they can barely lift them from the surface of the desk, let alone sit upright enough to gaze at the board.

Despite having 30 minutes left in class (purposefully planned so I could continue instruction) I couldn't get them to do a single thing. With that level of 'quit', I am at a loss. When every other sentence out of my mouth is "please sit up, take your head off the table, open your eyes".

It's hard not to just want to scream at them "Wake up! Pay attention! I can't do this alone!".

Thursday, October 27, 2016

14 days of outfits: a reflection

I was trying out my idea of wearing blazers more often. Despite liking a vintage look, I don't accentuate my natural waist much in these outfits. 
 For two weeks I took a picture of my outfits, including when I headed out for a work out. This is part of The Curated Closet book (and work book!) that I'm using to further fine tune my wardrobe and sense of style.
I really love a few of these pieces. It's strange that I ended up using pink so much though. I don't think of myself as much of a pink wearer. 
In some ways there's a lot of variety in color, pieces, silhouettes and style. In other ways my 'uniforms' certainly start to stand out. It's also interesting which looks I like best when I see the picture in contrast with when I was wearing it. The outfit with the orange sweater under the brown cardigan and a purple patterned skirt was one I really liked to wear, but I don't like the way it looks in this photo as much. But maybe it's the crappy lighting.

I'm looking forward to using this reflecting to hone my wardrobe and create a cohesive sense of my style besides 'eclectic and colorful'.

You have to have a reason.

I have come to the decision that after my term as Kingdom Lists is finished, I'm intend to step away from the SCA. I feel like I've been searching for a spark and a draw for the last three years. I feel like I LIKE the SCA, I have fun when I go, and I enjoy the company, the history, the special culture of the SCA. I like being in the know and being involved in activities, tournaments, events, retinue etc. But... I only like it. Lately, while I have a good time participating, I am finding that I do SCA things and go to SCA events because it's what I do, and I feel like I should less then a drive and excitement about the event.
Company of squid hats

I see my friends excited about their new research, or taking on an office, or running an event, or learning a new skill, or improving their fighting. None of that excites me. I have a plan for an Anglo Saxon outfit, I've bought some of the fabric, I've purchased the book to use for research. And it sits there.

I have virtually no drive to go out and learn period music, or do research on period performance styles. I like the idea of sewing outfits, building garb, but I only seem to like the idea. I have a passing interest in the lifestyle of the average medieval person, and learning about what life was like, but the drive has cooled since it's height around 2011 or 12.

I recognize the challenge that the SCA faces as an organization with retention and recruitment. I feel guilty about not being interested. I feel like I am betraying an organization I love if I quit. I'm the sort of driven, organized, talented person that the SCA needs. But I don't know what I'm getting out of it.

If I lacked a sense of social connection or engagement, I have no doubt I could find it in the SCA. But I have lots of stimulus for social engagement. If I lacked intellectual stimulus or challenge, I could absolutely find that in the SCA, but I have my work, my band and many other things that provide challenge and intellectual stimulus. If I lacked creative outlet, I would use the SCA as a medium for creative expression, but I am expressing my art in a multitude of ways now, some of which I feel I don't have time to pursue to the degree that I would like.

I think I need to step away, without any sort of contingencies or time limits, and then see if I feel the loss in my life. If I miss it. If there's one thing I've learned recently, it's that the sentiment 'If you love something, let it go" is incredibly true. Perhaps when I don't have SCA events every few months, I'll feel the loss and recognize what exactly it is I'm draw from the SCA. Then I can reengage in a mindful, purposeful way.

In the meantime, I'll  finish out my term, and continue to dabble as I have been, perhaps I'll find that spark some time in the next year before my term is finished. But if not, that's ok.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Culling the 'Hoard'

One week ago I did a massive culling of my huge collection of clothing.  I've always been a bit of a clothes horse. My family past time is second hand shopping. We pride ourselves on finding unique, high quality items at very small costs. This has led to quite the 'hoard' of items, each awesome and unique in their own way.

Home made skirt, vintage look
thrifted shirt, scarf, coat, shorts...
thrifted boots, skirt I've had
since the 90s, shirt bought in
 Paris, hand made hat
I am highly invested in fashion too. I definitely use my clothing as a way to express my identity. I take great pleasure in matching outfits in eclectic ways, and mixing aesthetics to make an impact when I enter a room.

Vintage wool skirt,
 thrifted belt and top.
Thrifted tights, shoes, scarf,
Hot Topic skirt
With Elena at Oregon Country Fair.
Jolie Coquette Playsuit,
thrifted accessories,
hand made hat (not by me)

But over the years my collection has burgeoned to the point of a horde, where on laundry day, I don't have room to put everything away. I couldn't make outfits or utilize the awesome pieces I had because I could barely find anything in my overflowing drawers and closet.

I've been through the purge and grow stage many times before, and this time I am taking a somewhat different approach.  Awhile back I read the Life Changing Magic of Tiding Up book that so many people are crazy about. I loved it, and did a major culling. It jump-started me to the idea that perhaps I need to keep things in their space more. My ex-husband is the sort of person who keeps anything that may be useful, and anything that he's remotely sentimental about. I tend towards these qualities as well, but especially when I established my own apartment, without him, once we split up, the urge to push back against the urge to keep everything hit me really hard. But sparks of joy weren't enough to control the coursing river of my fashion binging.

More recently I've been reading and watching a number of videos about minimalism. In particular I've been enjoying Break the Twitch, which focuses more on minimalism as a filter or frame of mind, rather then a specific system of rules. I also discovered Into Mind, a blog and book about applying the ideas of minimalism to your closet and creating a curated closet that fits your needs and lifestyle that is purposeful and purpose-driven.

I purchased Anushka (of Into Mind)'s book, and am utilizing it some as a guide curate my clothing.  I'm currently focusing tracking what I actually wear each day, and getting rid of things that don't fit my body, my lifestyle, my fashion sense, or my standards for construction and materials. While I distill what it is I currently wear and like, I will develop a sense of what I want to move towards, if I decide I need to make changes to the status quo. (The answer there will probably be yes!)
Two tubs for storage on the top, 5 bags gone on the bottom.
With the help of my dear friend Elena, I managed to rid myself of 5 bags of clothing. I also had a tub for off season clothes, and a tub of sentimental clothing to be stored.  Here is what worked this time.

  • Don't think too long on any one item. I found if I could decide right away, I wouldn't talk myself into keeping something I didn't really want. 
  • Don't force yourself to be binary! Have multiple bags for multiple purposes. I sorted clothes into: keep, toss (aka bring to clothing swap or give to charity shop), off season (summer), sentimental, and Oregon Country Fair memorabilia. I eventually lumped the sentimental and OCF clothing together in one place to be stored and eventually made into a quilt. 
  • If in doubt, put it on! Sometimes just seeing a piece of clothing on my body that I hadn't worn in awhile was enough to remind me why I either did or didn't want to keep it. Maybe it's itchy in a weird way, or has a funny length. Maybe it feels cozy, or looks amazing on, even though it's not much to look at on the hanger. 
  • Go through it all! I dumped out every drawer and removed every single hanger. I had to look at every single piece, and then really react to how much I really had. Seeing how massive my clothing collection was really helped me to let go of items. 
  • Clump similar pieces. Put button ups, sweaters, long work pants, etc. all in piles by similarity. You may have repeats of things you don't realize. It's ok to have more then one of something (I have multiples of black and white striped shirts, red/orange pull over sweaters, dark skinny jeans, and khakis), but you should KNOW you have multiples. If you have several of the same item, it's also a good indicator that it's a mainstay of your current wardrobe. 
  • We looked for items I didn't own, but that would allow me use more of my wardrobe. For example we brainstormed, and realized that part of why I don't wear many of my t-shirts is that I don't like the look of t-shirt & jeans, but if you add a classy blazer, or put it with a skirt and tights, I like it better. So I decided I needed to add some blazers to my wardrobe and see if that helps me wear my t-shirts more. I also decided to get a turtleneck to wear under a beige wool dress that I loved, but was both itchy and too close to my skin shade!
    Burgundy tights and turtleneck under wool dress.
What's my next step? 
  1. Plan a time to go through other elements of my 'Look'. We did clothing, but not hats, shoes or scarves. I also need to go through socks and underwear and dump anything that's falling apart. Since the weekend of the great culling I also made time to go through my toiletries, make up and beauty products. 
  2. Continue to document my daily outfits. I'll do a summation post at the end of my two week experiment. 
  3. Continue to collect images of outfits that inspire me from Instagram, Look Book and other fashion sources. These should be truly wearable outfits, not high fashion. 
  4. Boil all these elements down into a style that is absolutely me. 
    Newly organized and cleaned out closet
What other places could I look for inspiration either for the crafting of my curated look, or to continue to apply the attitudes and ideas of mindful minimalism to my life? 

What other rules should I consider as I continue culling the horde/hoard of possessions?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Sometimes Change Changes

One of the massive changes that I anticipated navigating this fall was that of being single. (It's been more then a decade since I was really truly single for more then just a few weeks) In particular, I was faced with being close friends with an ex, that I still wanted to be with.

This weekend that changed. My partner has decided that it's more important for us to be together, and so we will continue our committed romantic relationship.

Now instead of the change of single-dom, I get to navigate the change of the long distance relationship.

I am beyond thrilled, and in many ways feel closer to my partner then I ever have. He's not only one of my closest friends, but he's my creative inspiration, and creates in me the drive to better myself.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Reflecting on the ECLF Kick Off

I didn't know what to expect when I headed to DC for the Early Career Leadership Fellow kick-off. It started with a long day of travel, and we were all a bit punchy by the time re rolled up to the Hilton. We're quite a mix of teachers. Balanced between the levels, and subject matters, from quite the variety of schools, and about a decade of age range. I am not the oldest person in the group!

Lily, SKEA VP Tyler, our cohort and coach Maraline
That aside, we had just a few minutes to change and walk over to the NEA building for dinner. The energy was high, and the welcome was excellent. Several people spoke including representatives from the NEA, and the Consortium for Educational Change (CEC), who are co-sponsoring this program. The highlight was definitely a short speech from NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garcia. She has a contagious, joyful verve about her. She also had a sweet bluntness that I somewhat associate with southerners. She seems the type that will tell you where to stick it with an unwavering authentic smile.

Her speech centered around how grateful she was for early educators like us, reflecting on her experiences as an early educator, and her frustration with the 'old guard' at the time that didn't want to encourage her leadership or new ideas. She emphasized that the NEA values the leadership and ideas of new, young teachers like us, and encouraged us to be vocal and active, even if not everyone in our immediate circles likes what we have to say. If nothing else, hearing her speak energized me, and made me feel valued by the nation wide organization that supports teachers.

The rest of the conference was focused on education about the union, both in general and at a local level, and familiarizing ourselves with out own leadership styles and those of our cohort. We networked, and had conversations. We talked about the different forms leadership can take, and we discussed the different types of unionism.

The discussions on unionism provided the most new information for me. As a child of a teacher that once went on strike over Just Cause, I'm familiar with what they referred to as the 'Industrial' frame of unionism. Protection for pay, working hours, fair policies. This is a very important element of unionism, and something that the OEA, and local associations do pretty well. Oregon is comparatively a pretty great place to be a teacher. I'm also familiar with the political side of unionism. The NEA and other Education Associations spend millions each year on political campaigns supporting school-friendly ballot measures such as Measure 97 in Oregon this year, as well as candidates that are in line with the NEA's goals around education and social justice. The political side of unions seems to fall into both the other two frames; Professional Unionism and Social Justice Unionism. Candidates and laws can have massive effects of those areas, but I hadn't really considered just how much the union works, through research, advocacy, funding and lobbying, to emphasize professionalism and social justice.

Many people who are skeptical of unions perceive them to protect 'bad' employees. However, it makes sense that the union would have a vested interest in ensuring that members are the highest quality of professionals that they can be. Likewise, a social justice focus on trauma informed teaching, addressing lagging skills created by Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), informing educational practices with an eye towards equity and democracy. These too are within the realm of influence of the union. In particular, learning about how organizations like the Teacher Union Reform Network (TURN) and the CEC help facilitate constructive conversations between districts, administration, lawmakers and teachers opened my eyes up to elements of the union that I find much more engaging then simply the protective and political elements.

At the end of the conference, we walked away looking ahead to find opportunities to engage with other early career teachers, for the purpose of hearing what they have to say and where they are at. I look forward to speaking with my fellow alt-ed teachers about what their experience had been, and where they perceive deficits. Through these sounding board conversations the other fellows and I will develop a Leadership Engagement & Action Project  (LEAP) that addresses the opportunities we find.

I hope I don't sound too much like a walking NEA ad, though I have no doubt that part of their goal, understandably, is to engage and excite young members for the benefit of the strength of the union. I don't begrudge them that because it was also very clear that our skepticism, challenges and questions were also very welcome. The leaders I encountered will thrilled to address and deal with our pointed questions and are ready to do the hard sell for us. This should be a really fantastic journey.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Eating while Travelling

I'm about to head to Portland for the first leg of my Washington DC Adventure. Thinking ahead, one of the things I'm the most anxious about is how I'm going to eat while I'm travelling. I've done a good job eating out and still following the Always Hungry plan, but now I'm going to be in airports and unfamiliar places, with meals provided for me, without a lot of say in them.

To stay on plan I'm going to:

  • Hold fast to my commitment to avoid added sugars, but recognize that some times minimal sugar might be the best I can do. 
  • Look for high protein options at every chance. Eggs, cheese, meats, nuts.
  • Bring dark chocolate with me, to satisfy any cravings or needs for a treat. 
  • Load up on veggies and fruits, ask for substitutions if needed.
  • Eat when I have the chance, don't wait if I don't have to. 
  • Make sure I'm fully caffeinated, don't skimp on the cream, but no sugar in my coffee. 
  • For this trip, don't let cost freak me out. I may pay more for premium food this weekend, and that's ok.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Early Career Leadership Fellow Collaborative

I'm finally starting to get some details about this really exciting collaborative I'm participating in. It's an initiative by the National Education Association and the Consortium for Educational Change to engage early career educators to grow as leaders, create plans for change, and activate them in their local unions. It's called the Early Career Leadership Fellow Collaborative (that's a mouthful).

This coming weekend I'll be headed to NEA headquarters in Washington D.C. for the first national conference of the ECLF. There's been a lot of uncertainty organizing the travel and details of this trip. It's all been on quite short notice. I applied for the program around the 1st of September, was accepted around the 10th. Early Saturday Morning, October 1st, I fly out to DC.

There's also been some uncertainty about what exactly this program is going to be. 'Leadership' is a funny buzzword that means a lot of different things depending on who's saying it and what the context is. In particular, as a woman, leadership can be a tricky tight rope to walk. As an aggressive and loud woman, bossy has often been a part of how people see me, but never the less I tend to gravitate towards opportunities for leadership.

I've been thinking about what the future of my career holds. I'd always sort of figured that after I got some experience under my belt, I'd go back to Eugene. That is where I see as home. But I've come to really like Salem, and in some ways feel more connected to some communities here then I ever did in Eugene. But, I think that is more about who I am now and my maturity in my relationships and interactions, then it is anything about the town. I bet if I were to move home, my renewed relationships with the community would mirror the relationships I've built here in Salem.

Eugene continues to not have a ton of openings for teachers, however, and I have grown to really love my position in Salem. I love working in alt-ed, and I have been so fortunate to have excellent relationships not only with colleagues, but also with administration. Why should I leave when I have so many good things happening here?

My mom got her first permanent teaching position at Elmira Elementary, and stayed there her entire career. She moved classrooms a few times, taught a few different grades, but essentially honed her craft of 1st/2nd grade to damn near perfection. I don't see myself taking that path. I love being a classroom teacher, but I don't think teaching the same subjects in the same school my entire career is for me. As I come to know more about what options and and opportunities there are in the field of education, my imagination explores many different possibilities. Not now, not next year, but perhaps in the next 5-10 years.

I see a major need for middle school alternative ed programs. I'm sure this isn't a unique need to Salem-Keizer. I could start a school or a program. I had an incredible mentor the last two years to assist me as I navigated my first few years of teaching (hell, I think every teacher should ALWAYS have someone available to them in that capacity!), I could mentor others in a similar way. There's district level positions to help implement policies and programs that address poverty, diversity, racism, behavior issues, ACEs, TAG students, the possibilities are wide. And of course there's always administration.

All of this is to say, the opportunity to develop skills and connections in the field of teacher leadership is a very exciting one to me. But my interest lies predominantly in the profession. I'm a union supporter, and am so grateful and thankful for my union, but I don't see myself pursuing the role of building rep, or being particularly active politically in my union, or in the labor and negotiation side either.

I'm excited to see what this Collaborative has to offer, I'm eager to pick up new skills, learn about what is out there, and work side by side with my union for the betterment of children, and the Education System in America, to be social justice warriors on behalf of children. I hope that ECLF isn't just about getting us involved in union leadership.

The schedule looks exciting, and the desired outcomes seem engaging. I'm thrilled to be going on this trip, and excited for the possibilities that it brings. Regardless, I will grain through this experience.

I'll definitely updating during the conference itself. Probably predominantly on Twitter and Instagram.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Play Doh in the Classroom:

or, How a Shiny Coat of Kinestheic Paint does not Create a Kinesthetic Lesson

This article on how to Use Playdoh in Junior High or High School came across my news feed this morning over coffee. I've used playdoh before in my awesome Squishy Circuits project that I've done the last few years, and was looking forward to more new project ideas.

I was a little bit disappointed that the article really only talked about using playdoh to model or sculpt things. Artistically representing a process, sculpting little models to represent points on a timelines. But those are all cool and novel ideas that could absolutely engage kinetic learners and raise general engagement for all students. But it didn't seem all that out side the box, and many of the ideas seemed more or less the same.

The thing that really struck me though was that these were supposed to be ways to engage kinetic hands on learners, and it seemed like most of the ideas required reading or writing before the student could access the kinetic portion of the activity. This one in particular stood out to me:
Play-Doh Check for Understanding Activity (handout) – This activity is a way to assess reading the students have done for homework. Students summarize the chunk of reading and then choose a section to create a Play-Doh sculpture. After the Play-Doh construction, students work with partners to reflect on what they chose and why.
The summarizing reading is the hard part! A 'normal' activity after reading would be to summarize what they've read through journaling or a writing assignment. All this does is add a kinesthetic activity on the back end. in a typical class period, you may or may not have time to get to the 'fun' part if the kids drag their feet on the summary. In order for this to truly be a kinesthetic activity, the modeling and playdoh part needs to come first. It needs to be the hook to draw the child into the activity. Perhaps after using modeling and sculpting to highlight a part of what they read, then the student can use discussion with a partner, reflection and writing. But even then, the default to written work is so strong that it's nearly impossible to escape.

I think that a lot of activities that are packedged for teachers are 'outside the box' or utilizing other elements of our brains and creativity aren't really all that different. They're the same old assignment, with the same old requirements, just dressed up in kinestheic (or whatever other learning style or fun methodology) clothing. It's a typical writing or reading or math assignment, with the the movement or art slapped on top like a shiny coat of paint.

I've spent a lot of time scouring the internet for ideas to increase engagement for students like mine, who are typically not very successful with the normal approach to teaching. I have to discard a lot of ideas that take this approach. They're the same old idea except with a shiny new graphic organizer, or a tech-ey app, or They sound good, but it's really no different the the status quo.

I don't know what the solution is. Assessment is a major issue with non-typical types of assignments. If they do a sculpture, how do I know if they truly understand what is going on. The quintessential subjectiveness of art makes it terrible for teacher assessment. If my student writes a clever rap about the commutative property, what is to say that he knows what it means, and can apply it?

One thing I do know is that it does us a disservice to dress up traditional lessons in kinestheic or artistic trappings and dupe ourselves into thinking we're really serving those nontraditional learners. It creates complacency where there is still a need. By all means, have kids model after (or before?!) they write a summary, create art to represent and interpret what they've learned, these are valuable interest and extension tools, but don't allow the shiny paint to fool you.

Friday, September 23, 2016

New Beginnings

This is the classic 'fresh start' blog post. I'm looking for an outlet and focus for my efforts. I'm part way through a lifelong journey of self-discovery (doesn't that sound cliche), and I feel like I'm on the precipice of something new.

A handful of things have converged this September to place me poised for a new chapter of development.

  • I've started out my 3rd year teaching with a lot of time on my hands (our numbers are very low), and feeling unsure of my next steps and challenges. I also applied and was chosen to  participate in a union sponsored group of Early Career Leadership Fellows, this opens up my imagination to what the future of my career might hold, be it teacher leadership, administration, or instructional coaching or research. 
  • I discovered the book Always Hungry? over the summer, thanks to my doctor, and have begun to radically change my relationship with food, especially processed carbohydrates and sugars. This is reshaping my eating habits, and changing my body for the better. 
  • My adorable vintage apartment is slowly becoming a souring deal. I'm getting less and less bang for my buck so to speak. I am pursuing a larger space to live in, which hopefully will afford some of the amenities I am doing without. 
  • Despite seeking a larger space, I must accept that I have accrued the flotsam and jetsam of several years of solo living and must needs pare down my belongings. Especially my clothing. I have two separate scheduled
  • My band, DarkHorse, which I've played with for a few years is having a personnel change and taking a short hiatus. I'll be stepping into a more of a leadership role because our band leader, and lead guitar player, who is also my boyfriend of nearly 3 years, is moving away to attend University.  It'll be some months before we play again.
  • In his own quest for authentic self, he's also decided that staying together isn't going to work for him. Despite our mutual love and respect, I'll be finding myself single, and without a romantic partner. 
  • I am auditioning for a straight play for the first time in years. Theater has waxed and waned as a huge part of my life and the prospect of acting on stage again has me nervous and excited. I've spoken with the director and am very optimistic about my chances, though regardless of if I am cast, I'll be helping with the production. I'll be taking advantage of the hiatus that DarkHorse is taking to commit fully to a play. 
  • I keep telling myself I'm going to write a song. I need to stop being a person who is GOING to write a song and be a person who is writing a song. This video I stumbled across today is a large part of what has initiated this burst of activity.
  • One of my primary hobbies over the last decade, The Society for Creative Anachronism, has felt somewhat forced and empty the last few years. I did some soul searching and trying new things at an event in September which told me a lot about what I do and do not want from the SCA. I feel like I'm making progress redefining how the SCA will play a role in my life and what inspiration and creative or social outlets I can find there. 
As a result of upheaval and renewal I will write. I will write for accountability, for reflection, for a sounding board, in order to share my discoveries with others, and to track my progress.