Thursday, March 10, 2016

I Miss Teaching

I have worked with children my entire professional life and even before that. In high school, I volunteered at elementary schools and I taught a Sunday School class for preschoolers at my church. In college, I tutored elementary children as my work-study job. So that's nearly 18 years experience with  K-12 students.

Up until two years ago I taught high school English at a private school. I loved it. I love English and I love that age of kids. I had fun at work. While I don't completely agree with the adage "Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life," I understand the sentiment. Teaching was definitely work but it was meaningful work.

Most recently, I taught middle school English at an urban charter school. I resigned after three months. The school and I weren't a good fit. So now I am substitute teaching in my hometown. It's steady work and stress-free; I don't bring any work home.

This week I was in a 5th grade class. It made me nostalgic for my own teaching days. Deciding to go to graduate school for my MSW wasn't an easy decision. I had a career I loved and thoroughly enjoyed. But I felt called to pursue social work. So I don't regret it.

Even though I'll be a social worker in two years, I still have plans in my future to return to an English classroom. Ideally, I'd love to be a part-time teacher and a part-time therapist. Don't know how feasible that is though. Given both fields can be high stress.

I'll figure it out though. I have time.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Prioritizing and Cultivating Friendships

In the last two weeks, I've consciously made a decision to reach out to friends I haven't been much in touch with. The results have been quite productive.

I have two classifications of friends: those I know from school or work and then those that I met in the hospital or outpatient therapy (IOP). I appreciate both. But I feel a certain connection to my friends dealing with mental health issues. Unfortunately, we don't speak much.

However, in the last two weeks I either text or called thirteen people. I've heard back from all but three. It was just a check-in text or call. But about half have resulted in plans to hang out. I'm happy. I'm a very sociable person.

One of my IOP friends expressed an interest in having a closer and more consistent relationship. I'd like that. It's nice to be around people who understand your mental health struggles and successes.

Hopefully I can maintain my friendships better. I like having friends :-)

Monday, March 7, 2016

New Schedule for My Time

I need more structure in my life. I haven't been exercising consistently for weeks now and I'm not studying my Spanish like I need to if I really want to be fluent.

I got sick in January with a sinus infection and bad cough. That threw me off my exercise routine. Ever since I haven't been able to get into a good rhythm. And from November to January I was enrolled in a Spanish level one class in New York City. I made flash cards, I did my Duolingo app, I spoke to my boyfriend in Spanish via text and in person, and I studied. I'm now in Spanish level two and I'm not doing any of these things. Sadly, level two is nearly over; there are just three more weeks left. But I'm about to re-implement the habits that served me well in my level one class.

To that end, I've decided to create a schedule for my time. I'm going to set aside specific days and times for the activities I want to prioritize: exercising, learning Spanish, and studying for grad school.

What I want to fit in:
  • Exercise four to five days per week (2 days at the gym and 2 or 3 days at home)
  • Study Spanish one hour per day between the Duolingo app and my flash cards 
  • Attend Spanish-speaking meet ups once or twice per month to get in actual practice with people
  • Read grad school homework two to four hours per day (there's a crapload of reading!) and start assignments weeks before their due dates
I'm only working part time while in grad school, so I have the time to make this new schedule work. Let's hope I can stick to it. I'm gonna start today. 

What do you want to fit into your life? How do you prioritize your time? Got any tips for me? I'd gladly welcome them :)

Saturday, March 5, 2016

If Money Was No Object...

Today in one of my Master's in Social Work (MSW) graduate school classes, we had an interesting writing exercise. My professor asked us:
"If you had ten million dollars, what would you do with your life? What would change? What would stay the same?"
I didn't even have to think about my answer. I immediately wrote down that I would:

  • Pay off my student loan debt and my boyfriend's student loan debt
  • Start trust funds for my nephews and cousins who are under the age of 18
  • Found an all-boys' middle and high school 
  • Found a holistic wellness center that offers mental health counseling, acupuncture and yoga
  • Travel
  • Finish my MSW degree
My professor than told us that what we wrote down is what we should be doing with our lives right now.

I felt great when she said that, because founding a wellness center is one of my social work career goals (the other is to be a therapist for college students on a college campus). I feel like I'm on the right track to actualize my goals. This exercise was a nice reality check.

However, my professor said that just because you write something down doesn't mean it's going to come true. But it can point you in the direction that your life should go.

What would you do if you came into ten million dollars? So, what should you be doing right now?