Closer to Happiness

Whoa it’s been awhile since I wrote last! Being that locally it’s the first day of school I thought it was fitting to check back in. As I mentioned in the past I was an elementary school teacher by trade. Each year I never was fully happy and constantly wondered if this was what I was supposed to spend my life doing.

This spring I took the jump and did not sign my contract that I was coming back the following year. The following school year is now here, and I am beyond grateful to my supportive husband and family for giving me the courage through this decision. I am 100% happier, less stressed, and positive. This is the best decision that I have ever made, and I wish I would have made it sooner. To be honest I could not have done it financially without having another opportunity to step into. I now work from home with my husband on a passion project of his that he turned into a business a few years ago. It’s so rewarding to see all of his hard work and ideas come to fruition.

It’s only been three months of not teaching, but both my husband and I have noticed a difference in me. I haven’t fully found my passion, but I’m getting there. I’m not perfect with being secure and confident. I’m probably about 85% of the way there, feeling like I treat myself more like an adult and that I think for myself without asking for permission. I can only imagine how annoying and unattractive this is for my husband. Thank goodness for his love and patience!

Today is also momentous because it is our four year wedding anniversary! We’ve been together for almost 12 years. Gosh that seems so long yet not long at all! I think it’s kind of funny that the first day of school that I’M NOT ATTENDING and my wedding anniversary are on the same day. I truly am so incredibly thankful for his encouragement to follow my heart, push to do what makes me happy, and hand to hold when it gets a little scary. Today is a great reminder that I married my best friend who will support me endlessly and be my number one.

Cheers to following your happiness and a lifetime of love!

Jess

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Photo credit to Ruby Sky Photography

Self-Care and 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene

I went to my first yoga class during college, but didn’t start practicing regularly until about three years ago when I moved to Washington State. I found an amazing studio with wonderful teachers, and I fell in love with yoga. I went almost every day over summer break, and took silly poses in front of beautiful backgrounds. Here is at Mt. St. Helens.

Yoga Mt. HoodAs the school year got into full swing I stopped making time for it and eventually stopped going all together. I am notoriously  bad about maintaining my self-care routines when I get busy and stressed, which is the most important time to continue them!

This school year has been particularly stressful, and I finally decided that I needed a change. Not just in career, but in how I take care of myself mentally and physically. I searched on Youtube for yoga, and I fell in LOVE with “Yoga With Adriene.”

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I started her “30 Days of Yoga” series, and I am hooked! Each video ranges between 20 and 30 minutes and builds on itself. I feel so much better when I practice. I have lower back sciatic issues, and staying regular with yoga seems to keep those issues at bay.

What I love even more about Adriene’s approach is that she is silly and has fun with it. I think yoga can sometimes seem overwhelming to beginners, and she does a great job of making it approachable.

My self-care routine also includes meditating for 20 minutes either before or after yoga. This helps me feel more clear minded and able to unwind from the stresses of the day.

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I keep track of my self-care habits using my Passion Planner. To read about other ways I use my Passion Planner read here. In the “Space of Infinite Possibility” I draw this simple chart so that I can track and better hold myself accountable with my routine. Recently I added the goal column, and it has really helped me be reflective for the following week.

As you can see my goal for yoga this week is four days. I know that I will be out of town for a few days and unable to practice, so I set my goal to reflect that. There’s no reason to automatically set myself up for failure by setting a goal that is unrealistic.

A reoccurring topic on my favorite podcast, Vibrant Happy Women With Jen Riday, is the importance of maintaining a self-care routine and making it a non-negotiable. I know that I’m not all of the way there, but I feel like I’ve made good progress!

This week give Yoga With Adriene a go and let me know what you think! I think you’ll really like it.

Namaste,

Jesse

Happy Mother’s Day To All Of The Dog Moms!

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Who says Mother’s Day is just for mothers of humans? Not me! This sweet little guy is Brody and he is the joy of my life. My husband and I rescued him from the SPCA on March 19th, 2016 just after our sweet little lady Holly, a 14 year old black lab mix,  crossed the rainbow bridge. She was my husband’s childhood dog who showed up at his doorstep as a puppy around Christmas (hence the name).

HollyAfter she died our hearts were broken. Our world was turned upside down. My husband worked from home at the time, so he catered to her every need and treated her like a queen. She loved to be your companion and would follow us around the house. Sometimes we would need to just hop into the next room to get something and would feel so bad because we knew she would muster up the energy to slowly stand up and follow us, to only have to turn around by the time she got to where we were. My husband’s office was upstairs. It got to the point that she couldn’t go up and down them without help, so my husband would carry her all of the way up so she could fulfill her keeping company duty.  It got to the point that she could no longer hold her bladder for more than about four hours, so my husband dutifully set his alarm for 2 a.m. to let her outside.

When she passed away, our house felt so empty and lonely. We no longer had a schedule and routine. Our world revolved around her and her needs. It took us just a few days to decide we were going to the SPCA that following weekend. We needed a distraction from the heartbreak, and getting another dog seemed like the only cure. We wanted to continue her legacy as a rescued dog by rescuing another, and boy are we glad we did!

Rescues seem to know their rescues. It’s like they realize you are giving them a second chance at life and are so unconditionally appreciative. This speaks true for Brody. He caught our eye because of the doofy way he was sitting, almost like a person. He seemed to exude happiness and that’s what spoke to our hearts.

So now we have fallen completely in love with this fellow, and I am sometimes surprised by my maternal feelings I have towards him. I’ve grown up with a dog always in my life, but this is my first experience being the parent and not the sibling. My husband and I treat him like he is our child, as we have no human children yet. For example:

  • We discuss the consistency of his poop like it’s no big deal and make comments like, “I think he needs more dry food in his mix because he had a little bit of the runs.”
  • We talk to him in full conversations, and even speak for him so he doesn’t have to.
  • The moment he gets a scratch, bump, or ant bite I’m cooing over him and making sure he’s okay.
  • I pick him up and hold him while we twirl and dance to music in the kitchen. He simultaneously licks my face and literally smiles (dogs do smile!).
  • My hubby and I refer to each other as mommy and daddy with Brody, and we refer to him as our son. Most of the time it seems insulting to even call him a dog!
  • I post pictures of him on social media all of the time like all proud mamas do, and he even has his own Instagram account! You can follow him @pitfitfun

The list could go on. Brody also does some child like things as well.

  • He plays good cop, bad cop between my husband and I. He knows that I am more lenient, making me obviously the good cop right? Ha Ha to my husbands dismay! We have taught him to sit by the edge of the bed to ask permission to get up, and then we lift him on to the bed if it’s okay. My hubby’s thinking is that if he comes in the house with muddy feet and then just jumps right up, then our bed will get muddy. A good thought in theory, but practicality speaking, this is a 40 lb. meatball. My lower back can’t handle that, so up he goes without asking as long as Dad’s not around.
  • He has to pull out every single toy from his toy box. He can’t play with one and then put it back before he gets out another. No, he must drag them all out, usually right after I’ve put them all away.
  • He also has doggy ADHD. He will then play with all of his toys within the span of 5 going back and forth after about a minute with each one.
  • He has all of his toys to play with and yet lays down in front of me, sighs, and then looks at me. I know he is saying, “I’m bored!!”

We recently celebrated Brody Day, which is the anniversary of his adoption, and boy did he get the treatment! For breakfast he was treated to a fillet of red snapper, an egg, and bacon. We then went to an amazing dog park that has a lake within it that the dogs can swim in, and then we went to lunch at restaurant that dogs are welcome at. It was a great day and I look forward to the next!

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So all of this is to say that I feel an intensely strong motherly bond with my Brody, and we’ve jokingly said that maybe we should just have dogs instead of human babies. Here’s to all of the dog moms, well all animal moms, who give their pups (or whatever creature you mother) the good life. Happy Mother’s Day!

Love and Peace,

Jesse and Brody

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I Just Need to Write

I’m starting this post with an open heart. I haven’t written in awhile. Partly because of typical busyness with school and home errands, but also a feeling of uneasiness with what I should say, am I going to sound stupid, is ___ worth writing about, do I have the time (more like not making the time), etc.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I just need to write, and write more often. I need to stop trying to plan it out, because I seem to change topics midway anyways. I need to be honest, be regular, and just open my heart to hear what I need to. Part of this blog is to help me find my new direction, and I can’t fully do that if I’m inadvertently steering the ship, instead of letting the ship steer me.

To start…

A lot has changed since I wrote last. There are 17 days left in my teaching career, and I cannot be more excited! I’m looking forward to being in atmosphere that I love with those that I care about on a daily basis. I will be working from home with my husband and dog on his established business, while I figure myself out. I’m very grateful that his passion that has since turned into a business is affording me the ability to take a step back and explore what fills my being, what makes me want to get out of bed in the morning, what makes life feel thriving.

I have already started minimizing my classroom belongings. When I moved schools the last time it took me at least 5 SUV loads of boxes of books, materials, furniture, etc. I don’t want to bring that back to my house! Honestly I don’t want the stuff. I would love for it to be enjoyed by children and teachers, so there’s no point in me taking it home and hoarding it for the next few years until I have children. I don’t want to save things for the chance of using it in the future.

Another more exciting update is that we are moving to Austin, TX this fall! We’ve been discussing this for a long time, and revisited the city we fell in love with many years ago over spring break. Of course we fell in love with it again! We loved the creative energy, accepting culture, and overall more west coast feel than what we experience here in Charleston, SC. We used to live in Portland, OR, and Austin has a very similar culture, which we miss.

Well I think this was a good start to my getting back on the horse, but I’m going to call it a night. This is like free therapy right?

Sweet dreams,

Jess

I Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself!

Recently a special education teacher in Florida out on maternity leave resigned from her current teaching position instead of returning to work, because she could not stand the thought of her new born one day being subjected to the education system that she was once a part of.

She publicly posted her resignation letter, and when I read it I felt relieved that I was not the only one feeling these same things. I forwarded it to my husband and asked “does this sound familiar?” Her feelings of sadness, disappointment, and frustration are mine. She just said it better. Read it for yourself, and if you would like to see just how many teachers sadly feel the same way, read the comments on WUSF News, or on her original Facebook post.

To: The School Board of Polk County, Florida
I love teaching. I love seeing my students’ eyes light up when they grasp a new concept and their bodies straighten with pride and satisfaction when they persevere and accomplish a personal goal. I love watching them practice being good citizens by working with their peers to puzzle out problems, negotiate roles, and share their experiences and understandings of the world. I wanted nothing more than to serve the students of this county, my home, by teaching students and preparing new teachers to teach students well. To this end, I obtained my undergraduate, masters, and doctoral degrees in the field of education. I spent countless hours after school and on weekends poring over research so that I would know and be able to implement the most appropriate and effective methods with my students and encourage their learning and positive attitudes towards learning. I spent countless hours in my classroom conferencing with families and other teachers, reviewing data I collected, and reflecting on my practice so that I could design and differentiate instruction that would best meet the needs of my students each year. I not only love teaching, I am excellent at it, even by the flawed metrics used up until this point. Every evaluation I received rated me as highly effective.

Like many other teachers across the nation, I have become more and more disturbed by the misguided reforms taking place which are robbing my students of a developmentally appropriate education. Developmentally appropriate practice is the bedrock upon which early childhood education best practices are based, and has decades of empirical support behind it. However, the new reforms not only disregard this research, they are actively forcing teachers to engage in practices which are not only ineffective but actively harmful to child development and the learning process. I am absolutely willing to back up these statements with literature from the research base, but I doubt it will be asked for. However, I must be honest. This letter is also deeply personal. I just cannot justify making students cry anymore. They cry with frustration as they are asked to attempt tasks well out of their zone of proximal development. They cry as their hands shake trying to use an antiquated computer mouse on a ten year old desktop computer which they have little experience with, as the computer lab is always closed for testing. Their shoulders slump with defeat as they are put in front of poorly written tests that they cannot read, but must attempt. Their eyes fill with tears as they hunt for letters they have only recently learned so that they can type in responses with little hands which are too small to span the keyboard.

The children don’t only cry. Some misbehave so that they will be the ‘bad kid’ not the ‘stupid kid’, or because their little bodies just can’t sit quietly anymore, or because they don’t know the social rules of school and there is no time to teach them. My master’s degree work focused on behavior disorders, so I can say with confidence that it is not the children who are disordered. The disorder is in the system which requires them to attempt curriculum and demonstrate behaviors far beyond what is appropriate for their age. The disorder is in the system which bars teachers from differentiating instruction meaningfully, which threatens disciplinary action if they decide their students need a five minute break from a difficult concept, or to extend a lesson which is exceptionally engaging. The disorder is in a system which has decided that students and teachers must be regimented to the minute and punished if they deviate. The disorder is in the system which values the scores on wildly inappropriate assessments more than teaching students in a meaningful and research based manner.

On June 8, 2015 my life changed when I gave birth to my daughter. I remember cradling her in the hospital bed on our first night together and thinking, “In five years you will be in kindergarten and will go to school with me.” That thought should have brought me joy, but instead it brought dread. I will not subject my child to this disordered system, and I can no longer in good conscience be a part of it myself. Please accept my resignation from Polk County Public Schools.

Best,
Wendy Bradshaw, Ph.D.

Whoa hormones!

In my last post I described how I was feeling about finishing out my time as a teacher. While writing that post I was exhausted and overwhelmed. I started to feel the panic and dread of going to work slipping back into my life.

I must put out a disclaimer though and say wow I think my hormones from the one and only monthly monster had a bit to do with my dismal feelings. Don’t get me wrong, I still am very excited to leave and begin my new journey (I’m not quite sure what that is yet but I’m working on it!), but I don’t quite feel like my ship is sinking as fast.

I came to this conclusion, because last week was totally different experience. I was patient, I took the time to listen and enjoy their personalities, and I took the time to actually talk with them and laugh with them. I’m going to go as far as to say that I enjoyed it enough to change my decision, but I feel like I can make it the next 50 or so days left.

A dose of perspective is also always good for the soul. I had a staff meeting mid week, and two teachers presented ideas they learned at a reading conference. They came back energized and excited to share their new tips and tricks.Their excitement was contagious, and reminded me of my years of student teaching and my first year teaching when I was so thrilled to be a teacher. I also attended conferences that were mind blowing, and left me feeling jazzed. During the meeting I was happy for them. It made me think that maybe being around teachers who are energized and love teaching would help me like it better. On the other hand if this is what I’m meant to do, shouldn’t I naturally be excited and motivated to seek out these great ideas? I shouldn’t need outside stimuli to in some ways trick myself into enjoying my profession right?

I realize that in any profession you’re not going to love every aspect of it, but I think if it’s something you love and are passionate about, the good should outweigh the bad, or at least make the bad tolerable.

 

Confession, I’ve Checked Out

Currently I’m a kindergarten teacher, but have decided that this is my last year of teaching, period. I’ve accepted that teaching no longer makes me happy, and I’m ready to make a change. February came and we teachers were given our intent forms. I’ve never been so happy to turn in this yearly form marked “I’m resigning” (after the school year finishes of course). If I felt I could leave now I would. I’m ready. I’m done.

Knowing that I have 60 school days left (yes I’m counting!) makes it incredibly hard to stay focused and not feel like I’d rather be doing something else. I think when you feel like there’s no out, you tend to try to make the best of it. I do have an out though, and I’m over trying to make the best of it. I keep telling myself to buckle down, enjoy my last months as a teacher, make a difference in these children’s lives, be more patient, fight through the annoyances, and stay positive.

I can and should do a better job of these, but frankly I don’t want to. I’m struggling to find the motivation to care, to be patient, to find what I’m doing important. It is difficult to not focus on the annoyances, the problems with the education system, the fact that we push these kids too hard too early. The list could go on.

How do I stop this cycle? Yes I only have 60 days left, but I don’t want to spend them feeling like this. How do I get out of my head and stop to smell the roses. There has to be good things happening in my day. Sadly I’m struggling to see them.

This very blog is called Make It Sunny, and yet I can’t, and partially don’t want to “make it sunny.”Sometimes I feel like I’d rather wallow in my misery.

What are ways you get through a difficult task that you must complete? I’d love to hear from you. I could really use some advice.

Peace and love,

Jesse

 

Try Something New Challenge: Week 2

My plan for week 2 changed as the weekend approached and that’s okay!

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I sometimes struggle with the plan not going as planned. I’m for the most part an easy going, go with the flow type of gal, but I tend to get my hopes up, play out what’s going to happen in my head, and then when that doesn’t happen I get disappointed and sometimes a little touchy about the whole thing. It takes me a moment to settle into the new plan. Once I’m in the new plan I’m good and I can objectively talk about how silly my reaction was about something so little, but in the throws of it I don’t understand why Kenny, my husband, doesn’t see it the way I do. To his defense these “changes” that usually happen are often my own fault so he doesn’t even realize the plan has changed (or that there even was a plan), which makes my reaction even more confusing for him.

For example, I have driven to work on a Friday morning and come up with a plan that because it’s Friday I don’t feel like cooking, so we’ll go out to dinner. I think about this plan all day, and how I can’t wait to not have to cook dinner and wash dishes. Kenny of course has no idea about my plan. When I come home and say, “Hey! Do you want to go to dinner?” and he says that he doesn’t feel like going out, well that’s not how my plan went! Here comes the wave of disappointment. Instead of first giving Kenny a heads up about my plan, or after he replies in a way I didn’t plan, I don’t typically say how I’m feeling. Instead I groan about making dinner and am bummed up until dinner is almost ready.

At that point I realize, “hey this isn’t so bad.” My emotions calm down, and I can start to look at the situation in a more whole way. I’m able to explain to Kenny what put me in a mood, and see that my reaction is in my control and can appreciate the new good things that came out of not going with my plan. Maybe it’s that we saved money by eating in, we relaxed together and had good conversations over dinner, got to spend more time with our beloved pup Brody, or decided to challenge each other in a game of Settlers of Catan. The night wasn’t ruined, and often it’s better than had we gone with the plan.

My goal is to be more proactive and in control of my reactions, so that I can prevent this feeling of disappointment and not set myself up for upset.

Whoa! Now that that’s out of the way…I wasn’t expecting this post to be so introspective. I’m realizing however that I let the changes of my Try New Things Challenge roll off my back! Woo hoo! I’ll celebrate the small things.

I have been kind of stressing over what new things to try. I want to try many things, but at the same time it’s overwhelming as to where to start. I want to be authentic to myself, but in some ways I feel like I’ve lost a sense of self. I’ve become sort of a chameleon. Although I already explained that changes in plans can rattle me, for the most part I’m pretty mellow. I will gladly do what Kenny wants to do just because it makes him happy, and it means I get to spend more time with him. He is also more vocal about what sounds appealing and what doesn’t, so we typically talk about an idea I usually go with his opinion. Now let me make clear that Kenny is not controlling or coercive in ANY way! I am just indifferent or usually happy to do what he likes most of the time. It doesn’t help that he comes up with pretty good ideas! What I’m about to say might also just shock you considering I spent the first half of this post explaining how I go off the deep end when plans change, so get ready. Are you ready?

Ok, here it goes.

I don’t like planning. There I said it! I don’t do it very often (maybe because when I do it changes and I can’t handle it!), and for most of my personal life I avoid it like the plague. My mantra is “I’m a teacher. I plan all week for the following week, follow the plan all day, and then struggle to play catch up when the plan get’s messed up. Why would I want to meal plan, plan activities, etc.?” I pride myself with going with the flow (most of the time).

Kenny actually wishes that I would have more of an opinion, challenge him a bit. It stresses him out that he feels like he has to make all of the decisions, because generally I just follow his lead. I feel guilty about this. I also feel slightly child-like in my lack of direction, like he is my parent and I am the obedient child. Of which I might add, I have lot’s of experience! I was not the rebellious teen, shocking I know.

Now seriously back to the challenge…

To find ideas of what to try, I started looking on Groupon.com to see if I could find something really cool that I hadn’t thought of and wasn’t too expensive. Not coming up with much, I decided to look back at my Passion Planner’s GameChanger Passion Plan I filled out for my first goal, try one new thing each week. (See my original post on my Passion Planner and get more info about it here.)

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I have not gone in the order that I…ugh! Don’t even say the word! But I have made steps in the right direction, and no I did not get bent out of shape over not following the “plan.”

  • I have completed a fabric acrobatic class 
  • I started a Make It Sunny Facebook page 
  • I penciled in animal shelter volunteer orientation

I decided the next thing I would like to do is learn how to use our Nikon DSLR camera. We’ve had it for three years, and still only use the general setting out of fear of messing it up.

My first reaction is always to ask someone for help from someone, never to help myself or look up solutions on my own. I started looking into camera classes that I could take locally, but they were fairly expensive. When I asked my husband what he thought about the price, he told me about  skillshare.com. I had never heard of it before, but after investigating I realized it’s really cool. You make a FREE account, and then have access to tons of videos teaching you about a ton of things. I focused my search on photography and using my camera, but they have a lots of topics. I will probably use this as a way to teach myself other new things! For some reason it doesn’t occur to me look something up first on my own. Hello! I’m of the technology generation. Google knows everything and there are so many helpful, FREE videos on YouTube and Skillshare. Why I don’t start there first is beyond me. Here’s a goal I can work on!

Now to what I actually did…

Kenny and I are in the process of minimalizing our possessions. I am on board, happy, and willing to do this. However there is something that I never EVER thought I would be okay with getting rid of…books.

I’m a teacher for crying out loud! Books are like gold, especially when they are bought with your Scholastic book order points and not your actual money! In my four years of teaching I have taught four different grades. (1st/2nd grade blend year 1, 2nd/3rd grade blend year 2, and kindergarten years 3 and 4). So…I have a lot of books, like hundred’s of books, ranging from preschool to about 6th grade for those high flyer readers.

Why am I getting rid of my books?

I’m planning to stop teaching after this year. Maybe indefinitely. Why don’t I save them for when I have my own children? This is actually what I thought I would do, but after thinking about this for awhile and listening to lots of podcasts about happiness, I realized that a common denominator that they all talk about is lessening your dependence on “stuff.”

As a teacher I have collected books and searched yard sales for good deals. I focused more on the quantity of books I had sometimes over the quality of books, especially when I first started teaching and was trying to build my classroom library. With that said, I have some really ratty books, duplicate books, books that never get touched in the classroom, etc. I also have a lot really great books, but so does the public library. By the time we actually have kids, and they are old enough to choose books they want to listen to or read, my books will probably be replaced with newer, cooler books. Don’t get me wrong, classics always stay classic, and I will read those to them, but we will go to the library together and check them out. I also figure that more children will get enjoyment out of the books if I donate them to the library, versus them sitting in boxes in my closet until my kids are ready for them. My fifth and sixth grade level chapter books would really have a long time to wait! To me the benefits out way the negatives of getting rid of my books.

I made good headway today. I filled one tub full to the brim, and have more to go through at home and then oy…my classroom!

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Passion Planner

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(Just a side note before you read: I am in no way affiliated with Passion Planner. I did not receive a free planner for a review, and I am not being paid for my opinion. This is just my experience, and how it has helped me. I hope you enjoy!)

Let Me Break It Down

The Passion Planner allows you to obviously plan out your days, weeks, and months, but more importantly it helps you set goals for yourself and break them into digestible parts so that you actually move toward accomplishing them. Have you ever said, “I want to do ____ one day,” and then it never happens? I have countless times, and well honestly it’s a little bit depressing that I never put action behind my goals, and let them slowly slip away into a sad purgatory where I tell myself that I will one day revive them.

The Passion Planner says enough is enough with not being actionable on your dreams and goals! You first make a “Passion Roadmap,” where you make a wish list of everything you want in your life in 3 months, 1 year, 3 years, and your lifetime. You take all parameters and bumper guards off. This is your dream list where anything is possible.

After you make your road map, you break it down further into your first “Passion Plan.” This is where you choose the one goal from your roadmap that would make the most positive impact on your life at this very moment. From there you write down as many steps as you can to complete your goal. You take these steps and schedule them in your weekly planner, so that you hold your self accountable to meet your goal.

My Gamechanger that I think will have the most impact on my life at this very moment is to try one new thing a week. You can read more about this here.

There’s the monthly layout in the front of the planner. After each month you reflect on your month, focusing on the positives and things you learned. You also make new goals for the next month based on  how you feel about the current month. There is so much power in reflection and thinking introspectively. I love that you are constantly reminded to reflect and grow through using the Passion Planner.

After the monthly layout are the weekly layouts. Here you set a focus for the week and for each day. You can prioritize your personal to-do list and your work to-do list. At the end of the week you list out the good things that happened. Something that I’ve been working on is focusing on the positive, and the Passion Planner really makes you stop and think about what is actually good in your life. Sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down in what’s not going right. Here is your life preserver! Pull yourself out of the negativity and start thinking about what’s good.

My Plan for My Passion Planner

My best friend Joann bought me my very first Passion Planner for my birthday in August 2016. I thought it was really cool, but I had just bought a regular planner from Target to use as my teaching planner. I put it in a safe place and decided to save it for when school was finished and I could focus on figuring myself out and what my next steps would be.

Mistake #1: Knowing that this is my last year as a teacher, I’ve been living my life through the lens of when school ends and I get to be who I really am I will do _____. I’ve been putting things off and making excuses for myself. Why can’t I be myself now AND finish out the year teaching?

I don’t have to wait for the puzzle piece to fit just right before I start living the life I want to live.

To back up and explain a little more, I’ve been an elementary school teacher for four years. I started out loving it, then liking it, then feeling like this is not for me but I’ll give it one more go, then liking it again-well a little, and now to accepting that it’s time for me to move on and stop simply tolerating  the school year to get to the weekends, breaks, and anytime away from school. I don’t want to go through life putting up with something that doesn’t bring me joy. Don’t get me wrong, there are joyous moments, but overall I know this is not what I’m meant to do.

So what does this have to do with the Passion Planner you ask? Shortly into this school year and me realizing teaching doesn’t feel genuine to the life I want, I started having panic attacks on my way to work simply from the dread of being there. After about a week of this and realizing that for insurance purposes it was in my family’s best interest for me to finish out the year, I decided that I needed to change something in order to make it to June.

I pulled out my Passion Planner from it’s safe hiding place and decided to give it a go. The great thing about the Passion Planner is that it forces you to be reflective, make goals, and then set and schedule baby steps to meet your goals. On the inside cover it has a place for you to set your biggest goal to accomplish this year. I wrote, “I want to feel happy and figure out who I am and what I’m passionate about. What is my purpose?”

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I made another goal too. “Be true to myself instead of being a chameleon for everyone else.” Do you ever find yourself agreeing with others out of politeness, or out of avoidance of explaining yourself or defending your opinion? I get defensive for some reason when I feel like I’m being questioned. I don’t enjoy combative (even if they’re in good fun) conversations. I don’t like feeling like I have to explain or justify my beliefs. I need to change my mindset around these conversations, and accept that just because someone has a different perspective, it doesn’t mean that I’m wrong or right. It’s just an opinion and I don’t need to provide lip service or nod my head in agreement to make the conversation hurry up and end. It’s okay to offer counter arguments, and have productive back and forth discussion.

When I feel myself starting to close up I’m going to take a deep breath and dive back into the conversation. I’m going to practice active listening, but I’m not going to feel like I must be wrong if my opinion is different.

Outside of chameleon conversation, I’ve also been a chameleon in terms of being honest about activities I want or don’t want to do. I often feel like if I’m honest in the way I feel about an activity (especially if it’s something I don’t want to do), I’m going to offend or disappoint the other person. I tend to be a people pleaser because I absolutely hate feeling like I let someone down.

For example, my dad loves to go to Maple Festival in Highland County, Virginia each spring. He looks forward to it every year and constantly tells me how he wishes I would/could go with him (I live eight hours away). I will admit it’s cool to see how maple syrup is made, go to the pancake breakfast, craft shows, and explore the small town of Monterey….once. Once you have seen it one time you’ve seen it. It’s the same thing every year, the weather is always crappy and cold, and it’s two hours from my dad’s house. This means you have to wake up ridiculously early to get there before the crowds clog up the little mountain roads and make the trip even longer. I didn’t even like it that much as a kid, because there wasn’t that much to do.

I have also since realized that I’m gluten intolerant and I have blood sugar dysregulation, so I keep my diet pretty low carb and gluten free. With that said there’s no real pull for me. I don’t eat maple syrup, maple donuts, maple pancakes, maple fried chicken, or any other maple flavored foods that they may offer.

Every time I cave in, I just go along to please my dad and have something to do with him. I historically never speak up, even about silly things to my dad simply out of not wanting to disappoint him. I always feel like I’m going to hurt his feelings. I think it’s more in my head than anything, but it still makes me feel bad. What makes me feel worse though is that because I’m not really honest with my likes, dislikes, and opinions, I feel like I’ve prevented him from knowing the real me. That is a punch in the gut that I feel responsible for.

How do I stop this feeling of guilt and chameleonism? (Yes I made up my own word)

  • Well first things first I need to stop all future conversations from taking this course. I here pledge to only give my head nod and agreements to things I actually agree with!
  • I will be honest with my dad and anyone else for that matter when they ask me to do an activity that I don’t like, and then offer a counter activity that we can do together and both enjoy.
  • I will acknowledge when I feel like I might disappoint someone with my opinion, and then realize that they probably won’t be disappointed at all. I will check back with my worries of what I thought might happen and check the reality of what actually did happen. I’m expecting that my worries and reality will never match, which hopefully will help me stop worrying and just be.

Thanks for reading. I hope you were able to pull out some goodness. Take the leap and try using a planner. It doesn’t have to be a Passion Planner. There are a lot of great ones out there. Here and here  are reviews of some of the many planners out there. If you’re not ready for the planner life, at least journal in some way. Be reflective, and make actionable steps towards living the life you want to live.

Peace and love,

Jesse

 

Try Something New Challenge: Week 1

In 2014 I lived outside of Portland, OR. Portland is known for its quirkiness, so the news station would showcase different things to do in the city. One morning before work I saw the special they did on an aerial fitness studio where you learn to use silks just like Cirque Du Soleil. I thought this would be so much fun, but I never got around to it by repeating the many excuses I mentioned here. Well it’s now 2017, and it feels like the perfect thing to try.

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I did not call up a friend to see if they would go with me. I did not make up one more reason why it wouldn’t fit into my schedule, and it felt so good!

One thing that helped prevent me from chickening out or waking up that morning and saying I don’t feel like leaving because it’s raining cats and dogs, was that Aerial Fit makes you prepay and register for your class. They also require a 24 hour cancellation notice in order to not get charged for the class if you can’t attend. Very smart I must admit!

This was a beginner’s class, so that also took away some of the intimidation factor. I learned some cool tricks, had a great time, and found that everyone was really supportive of everyone. We were all there to learn and have fun, not to judge what one can or can not do. I also was reminded that it feels good to be active, feel powerful, and creative. I will definitely be signing up for weekly classes. I’m hooked!

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I allowed myself to let loose and laugh at myself as I lost my balance.

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My take away…

  • Pre-paying for something ensures that I will do it.
  • I don’t have to be perfect at something the first time I do it.
  • Laugh when I goof.
  • Talk with the others around you, encourage them, and cheer for them. They’ll do the same for you.