Stop Motion Existence

I posted a couple of days ago about participating in NaNoWriMo. I am stuck and I don’t know what to do. It is ONLY day 2. DAY 2!

I spent most of yesterday avoiding writing. Every time I sat down, I would think of a thousand other things that I could be doing that I would enjoy more. Usually I wake up early, spring from my bed, and race to my laptop, ready to unleash the beautiful words that have been dancing around in my brain. My fingers rush on the keyboard, trying to keep up with my brain, sometimes just typing phrases and dependent clauses that I will go back and flesh out.

Yesterday, my novel didn’t want to come out. Heck, I don’t even know if I have one in there. I am so disconnected from myself right now. It is not really a comfortable place for me. I feel like one of those characters in a stop animation video, each movement jerky and planned out by someone else. I have no control.

 

 Stop-motion lego

 

It scares me because it seems to be getting worse each year. I know that I should go back to the doctor and get my meds checked and rechecked and then checked again. In order to do that, I have to have a job that allows me to take the time I need to do all the things I need to do. Unfortunately, I don’t have one, and that makes me sad.

My hours are set, which doesn’t really bother me, but they are from 9-6. With no flexibility. That means I have to take time off (in 4 hour blocks) in order to go to any appointments. I don’t have the time off to do so. I know that getting to the right balance of medicine is going to take a while. Any doctor’s appointment that I get will take 2-3 hours (time with doctor: 15 minutes or so). I can’t really take that much time every four to six weeks until things are balanced.

The first time, it took about a year and a half to find the right balance. I’m terrified that it will take longer this time.

I know I need to get another job. I want to go back into the classroom. I can’t believe I am saying this, but I really miss the interaction with the kids. I miss their smiling and sad and cranky and lost and hopeful faces. I miss interaction with them. I miss making a difference in their lives. I miss creating relationships with them and letting them know that I am proud of them and have faith in them. I miss them. I need to be with kids. I feel lost without them.

I’ve already started the process of finding another job, but, once again, the inflexibility of my current job paralyzes me. The idea of getting the time off for interviews and whatnot shuts me down and puts me in protective mode. I don’t want to deal with the confrontation and the lying by omission. I know it is necessary, but it makes me feel inauthentic. I hate feeling like a liar, liar, pants on fire.

For now, I’ll continue my stop motion existence, moving forward, pushed by forces that I feel I can’t control. Rest assured that I am trying to break away and regain some control. I just have to remember how.

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Captain, shields are down. We cannot survive another hit.

This week I had one of the worst anxiety attacks that I’ve ever had. It was horrible. I had to take a day off of work after it happened because I was so drained. The worst part about it was that it was in public. I usually can get to some place where nobody sees me melt down. I couldn’t this time.

I am terrified of having another one.

I’ve been trying to figure out why it happened. Why did my carefully placed, meticulously tended shields collapse? How in the hell did the photon torpedo breach the hull and cause a meltdown of the warp drive?

I have had so much change these last two years, from finishing my Master’s degree to changing jobs. Even though they are good changes, they are still changes.

I work with amazing people. They are kind and funny and playful. Sometimes I laugh so hard that I lose my breath. We challenge each other to go above and beyond and we do it with humor. We check up on each other. That means so much when you are starting something new and you have no idea how to do it. *shout out to my peeps who won’t read this because they don’t know I blog and, quite honestly, I don’t think I’d be comfortable with them reading it but whatevs*

Collaboration is encouraged but not forced. That’s right… we are encouraged to work together but we aren’t put in a situation where we HAVE to. It’s crazy because there is a hell of a lot more collaboration in this situation. We actually get to work with people who actually want to work together. Our informal meetings don’t turn into hour long bitch sessions about how we hate to be forced to collaborate and about how stupid, irresponsible, lazy, disrespectful, etc., kids these days are. I can choose to work with positive people instead of those who choose to see the bad in everything.

My principal is one of the kindest and most generous people I have ever met. He truly has his teachers best interests at heart. He works so hard to make things better for us. Unfortunately, he is stuck in the confines of an educational system that is broken. He tries to provide us with as many tools as he can in order to help us get around the system.

On the other hand, I haven’t worked a 9-to-5-in-an-office work schedule in 13 years. I worked more than 8 hours a day when I was a classroom teacher, but I got to spend at least a third of the time at home, on the couch, with my family. I miss sitting next to my daughter, snuggling, as I grade essays. I don’t get to do that anymore. Instead, I sit in my cubicloffice (it’s like a classroom, only much smaller and only one desk and it’s in a cubicle… I actually kind of like it because it allows me to THINK without interruption.) and grade.

I am stuck with a curriculum that I didn’t create and that needs some serious tweaking, in my opinion. I am a firm believer in the idea that, it doesn’t matter how great a teacher is, if the curriculum stinks, students don’t learn. It really, REALLY bothers me that my name is tied to something that I see as faulty.

I have class roll-over every six weeks. That means as soon as I start to get to know my students, I lose them. I know that I will adjust to this, but it’s so hard. I’m so used to having a whole school year to get to know them so I can tailor my curriculum to their needs. Of course, that just brings me back to the curriculum issue.

Overall, the positives outweigh the negatives. I know that I will adjust in time. I’m worried that it will take too long, though. Right now I have to focus on building my shields back up. I’m worried about how long that will take and whether or not I’ll be able to survive that long.

Mostly I’m terrified that the medicine that has worked for so long has stopped working.

Circular Reasoning

It has been a while since I’ve been around. It isn’t because I don’t have anything to say. I think it is because I have too much to say, and I am having problems sorting it all out in my head.

There is so much going on in the world and so much going on in my life right now. It’s really quite intense.

Then, of course, my brain gets irritated because I should write, but I don’t. My perfect-worm syndrome kicks in and causes me to

seize up. No words come out. They remain “safely” entrenched in my brain, unable to do any damage by not being the absolutely perfect words.

Stupid brain.

It hasn’t helped that I am so completely and totally exhausted. Depression is so annoying. When I am tired, I never know if it is because I’m actually TIRED or if my brain is swirling in a chemical bath of “meh.”

Then, of course, my anxiety kicks in. Oh no! What if I’m going back to the way I was? I can’t handle going through medication changes again. How do I know if I need to contact a doctor? Does my new insurance even cover this? 

Then my brain starts twitching. Seriously. I can feel it wiggling around up in my noggin. It’s definitely off-putting.

I often wonder what it’s like for people who don’t have depression and anxiety. What is it like to know that, if you’re tired, it’s because your tired? What is it like to not worry about whether or not you’re spiraling down simply because you want to sleep more? What is it like to not have to second guess everything that goes on in your brain?

Or  maybe everyone feels like this and I have a skewed view of the world because of my depression and anxiety.

Do people without depression and anxiety think of these things?

And the cycle continues.

seems legit

seems legit

 

Northern Exposure

There is something strange about being out in the forest and using a chromebook to type out a blog about being out in the forest. I’ve realized that writing things down in a notebook makes for a lovely journal, but not for many blog posts. It seems like they never make it from paper to cyberspace. I figured if I lugged the thing around, it would ensure that I at least get some writing done.

Today we took a spontaneous road trip up north to where there are some leaves turning green and where it is cooler and beautiful. The strange thing is that I actually suggested the trip. Me. The person who generally doesn’t wake up in the morning and say, “Hey! Let’s ruin my whole routine and take a trip somewhere.” Well, this morning, I felt the need, desperately.

You see, I’ve been stressed. Majorly. My heart is restless. I can’t focus on what I should be doing. Frankly, I resent the fact that I should be doing it when there are so many other things that I want to do. I have two classes this semester, and four left until I am done with my Masters. I wish I could take a year off, but I know that, if I do, I won’t finish. I have to finish.

I woke up this morning with an overwhelming urge to feel pine needles under my feet and shade on my face. I had to hear the rustle of the wind in the pines and watch the oak trees drop their leaves. I had to move and cleanse the malaise that I was feeling.

I also had a crap-ton of homework. I’m talking a five-page paper on a novel that I haven’t finished yet that is due on Thursday. An at least 20-page paper on 12 secondary resources that I’m using for my graduate research paper. I have three more weeks to do it, but I haven’t even started. Not to mention the things that I should be starting that are due Thursday after next. Yeah. Crap-ton.

Responsibility almost won out. I woke up, booted up my computer and tried to wade through some of the work that I’m supposed to complete. I just stared at the screen, pain in my chest. I could feel the lethargy of depression sliding over me, suffocating, stifling my spirit. I realized that I would not get anything done because, quite simply, I didn’t want to do anything.

I had to get away. If I didn’t, I’d end up going back to bed, staring at the ceiling, feeling guilty and sinking even farther into a depressive funk. I’d rather feel guilty while I was playing outside. Plus, a getaway might help alleviate some of my sad.

When I asked hubs if he wanted to road trip, he wondered who had kidnapped his wife and replaced her with this strange creature who wants to go somewhere…. spontaneously. Once he realized that I was serious, he agreed quickly, taking advantage of this strange mood I was in. Mom, dad, daughter, and dog piled into the truck and off we went.

My plan was to do homework on the way there. Two hours in a car would give me ample time to read, take notes, and do all the hoop jumping that I have to do in order to get my degree. I am a little tired of working so hard and feeling so dissatisfied. I am not as content to perform the circus act the older I get. I didn’t really want to get my Master’s. I was content with my Bachelor’s until I realized that I would be stuck in the same position for the rest of my life. I knew I couldn’t be a classroom teacher forever, but that is a story for a different post. Maybe I’ll write it later.

As we left the city, my shoulders dropped their tension.My breath slowed. My brain shut itself down. I wasn’t thinking about what I *should* be doing. I was doing what I wanted to do, and all was right inside of me. It had been so long that I closed my eyes and enjoyed the sensation of freedom (WC). The farther north we drove, the cooler the air became. The curvier the roads were, the more I slipped into a half-slumber– you know, the kind where you are aware of what is going around you, but you don’t really feel like it is anything you should worry or think about?

We had some music playing, and Natalie was reading a nonfiction book about volcanoes to us. Every once in a while Jason or I would correct a word– she never did learn to say obsidian correctly. There was just the lightness of the travel.

Once again, this is so not me. I get anxious– when will I be able to stop and go to the bathroom? What If I get hungry? What if we run out of gas? What if we get lost? None of these thoughts occurred to me. I melted into the road. I became a leaf on the wind, a bubble in the current, and all those other cliches.

It was amazing.

Once we got to Payson, my shoulders were down in their natural position and not around my ears where they’ve been residing recently. Opening the windows and breathing in the piney-and-cold air helped my insides mellow as well. We pulled onto a forest road– one where we had to open the barbed wire gate to get into. The farther away from the road I got, the more relaxed I became.

The road ended at the edge of the rim of the mountain. We got out of the truck and hiked down as far as we felt was safe for Natalie. I looked out and could see for miles. There were no people, no computers, no homework, no grading, no lesson plans, no formative assessments, none of the things that have been slowly sucking pieces of my soul away.

Remember how it feels when your muscles are stiff, and you are stretching them? It hurts like hell, but you know it’ll make everything better in the long run. That was my ache. And it ached. All of the empty spaces inside of me filled like a torrential rain.

None of my homework got done on the trip. We are driving home, and I am writing this instead. I know that I will feel the pressure as it gets closer to the due dates for my assignments. As we get closer to the city, I feel the tension gathering again. I can’t help but think of all of the things that I have to do. I don’t regret taking care of my spiritual needs. I needed it so badly. I wish I could do it every weekend.  Maybe then it would stick. I need it to stick or else I won’t make it.

Interview

I am a fraud. I am a FRAUD. Iamafraudimafraud. The words race through my head as I sit, waiting, for my second job interview, my confidence disintegrated by the rejection from my first interview.

I am a fraud, that part of my brain chants over and over again—so many times that I believe it. I try to think of something else; I try to get that part of my brain to change its chant.

What if they figure out that I am a broken teacher? That I am not sure if I can fix myself? That there is a good chance that I’ve always been broken and I am only figuring it out now? The chant is gone, but the doubt still tumbles around in my head.

Fingers clench, clammy, twisting and turning. My breathing comes fast and shallow. It needs to slow. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7—stop! If I start counting, I won’t be able to stop. My fingers twitch, wanting to tap out the rhythm of the numbers. Stop!

I focus on the feeling of inhaling, lungs expanding. Exhaling, lungs compressing. Breathe in, 1, 2, 3, 4. Breathe out, 1, 2, 3, 4. I focus on the air instead of the numbers. My pulse slows down, calming some of my anxiety. Breathe 1, 2, 3, 4. My hands start to settle, moths instead of mosquitos.

“Come on in and let’s get started.”

With a final deep breath, I wipe my hands on my pants, put on my best “I’m awesome” smile—the one that hides my fear—and follow him into the conference room.

Taking the Leap

Whelp… I resigned from my job. I wrote this super-long post explaining the reasons why and, I have to admit, it was a wee bit ranty. No, that isn’t accurate. It was a whole lot ranty and a little bit bitchy. I decided not to post it because it wasn’t me. I am usually only a little bit ranty and pretty much never bitchy. I didn’t want to post something completely out of character. It did feel really good to get it out of  my system, but it definitely was not something that I should share.

So, in case you are interested, I resigned because my philosophy about education no longer meshed with the district’s philosophy. Trying to change my beliefs to mesh with theirs was making me physically ill and preventing me from being the teacher I know I can be.

This is something that’s been coming for at least three years. At the end of each of those years, I’ve thought about resigning. Every year, the part of my brain that hates change convinced me not to. Just give it one more year, it said. Things are going to be so much better next year, just you wait! 

This year was different. When I thought about leaving at the end of this year, that part of my brain was a cheering section chanting “Do it! Do it! Do it!” All of the parts of my brain reached a consensus: it was time to move on.

The scary(?) part is that I have no anxiety about my decision. None. That’s right; little Miss Freak-out is completely calm about it. Friends ask me what I’m planning to do, their faces crinkled with concern. When I tell them I have no idea where I am going to work next year, they look at me in disbelief. I should be having a panic attack– that is what I usually do– and they wonder what in the world is wrong with me. I can see the concern in their eyes. I’ve put in applications for teaching positions. I’ve had one screening interview and another one scheduled for next week. If teaching doesn’t work out, I’ll sub until I find a job. I have backup plans for my backup plans. I know I will go where I need to go.

For the first time I can remember, I am relying– without fear– on the Universe to take care of me.

Light Echoes From Red Supergiant Star V838 Monocerotis – October 2004
Source: Hubblesite.org

It all Started at 2:30 in the Morning

This will probably be a brief post (yeah, right). I woke up this morning at 2:30. 2:30! This is the second night in a row that I’ve done this. I wake up, thoughts racing, planning my day, figuring out what I need to do in order to get ready for the next school year. It is typical and happens every year around this time. I don’t know why my brain does this. Perhaps it feels the need to torture me more than usual. 2:30 is too early.

In the past, I’ve used this time to replay events of the day before, hyper-analyzing them for things I did “wrong.” Believe me, I perceived so much wrong. Once I’d determined where I had erred as a human being, I experienced those moments of imperfection over and over again in my mind. I couldn’t stop. Every thought fed into my feelings of self-loathing. I would start the next day overwhelmed, defeated, and exhausted. This year is turning out to be different. It is weird. Instead of focusing on the bad, my brain is focusing on the good.

A little bit of back story is necessary. I have a new principal. Change is scary, as you well know. I wrote a post about it a while back. While this principal had a reputation for being fair, I wasn’t sure if I believed it. It has been so long since I had a principal who wasn’t … how do I put it delicately… a jerk-face completely centered on his or her own agenda, forsaking all thoughts about treating teachers like people, individuals who give up so much of their OWN time for the kids. Too harsh? It always felt to me that only certain people would get “props” for what they did. Usually these people did the least amount of work but were really, really loud about the few things they did do. I’m sure it is the same in every business.

This principal doesn’t seem to be like that. For example, I did some training today with my colleagues. My friend, S., and I worked really hard on a plan to not waste any of the faculty’s time and to meet everyone at their individual level of expertise. Our principal saw our plans and approved them. Then we met with the three other members of our “team.” We were outvoted and the training didn’t go the way we had planned it. Enough said about that; I don’t want to disparage anyone. It happens. Here is where it gets interesting. Our principal sent S. and I an email thanking us for our hard work. Thanking us! This is the third time in two weeks that I’ve gotten recognition for the work that I do. It wasn’t a grandiose statement in front of my colleagues (thank goodness). I don’t think that I’ve ever gotten more than one thank you in a whole year!

Back story done, moving on. So, this morning (at 2:30!!) I woke up feeling proud. Proud. Not down on myself. Not frustrated or scared about what the day would bring. I don’t remember feeling that way, so I thought I would list the things that I felt good about. Here goes:

  1. I was able to help many people feel successful with the technology that was the focus of the training. Yes, I had to stay after the training and help them individually, but it was worth it.
  2. I reconnected with people that I hadn’t spoken with all summer.
  3. I was told that I was missed at the differentiation conference this summer. I dropped out of Collaboration Coaching because of many reasons, personal and professional. I figured that nobody would care. I was wrong. A person who I completely respect because she is an amazing teacher (and person) told me that it wasn’t the same without me. The insight that I bring is special. Wow, right? Here I thought I would just fade into oblivion, but I was missed! (I wrote about my feelings of not being missed in this post, if you are interested. Geez, I sure am referring to previous posts a lot! You’d think this was my blog or something.)
  4. I avoided the people who bring me down. You know, the people who complain all of the time and act like they hate their jobs. Quit, then.
  5. One of the teachers I mentored put down that my new teacher mentoring was one of the best things about last year.
  6. One of my colleagues actually requested that her child be placed in my classroom because she felt I would be a good fit. Inorite? Go me!
  7. I stood up in front of ~100 people, said “Excuse me” once and waited. They all stopped talking. For those of you who are not in education, teachers don’t usually do this. Many of them are the worst students.
  8. After they went quiet, I was able to actually talk mostly coherently in front of them. I didn’t get the typical upset tummy or shakes. I didn’t love it, but it didn’t make me want to vomit.
  9. I am respected. People look to me for guidance.
  10. One of our PE teachers actually came in after the training for tutoring (?). He wanted help organizing his website and learn more about his computer. On his own. Because he wanted to. And he asked me. Not anyone else. I impacted him enough that he trusted me to help him with something he was uncomfortable with.
  11. I was told repeatedly that people enjoy when I do training because I make it easier to learn. I “do” things and not just stand up in front of everyone and talk.
  12. I left at 2. This was a proud moment for me because I actually left work. This time of year I usually work so much, never taking time to relax. I relaxed!
  13. My principal noticed and THANKED me for what I do.
  14. I finally finished decorating my house in Whiterun. I wish making money was as easy as it is in Skyrim!

Those are the things that were going through my head this morning. I still hate the waking up at 2:30 part, but I am excited that I was able to look at the good instead of the bad. Even though I am exhausted, I’m excited to see what happens today. It is a nice feeling.

I know that posts are more aesthetically pleasing with pictures included but I’ve not got the energy to find some. I’ve already been up for 2.5 hours, people! Use your imaginations and choose the pictures that you want to put in. =)