Monthly Archives: November 2013

Elf4Health Week 1!

So I signed up for Elf for Health, and then I promptly forgot about it. I mean, I only signed up about four days before it started, but then I didn’t think about it again until I got one email from Elle and Lindsay, and another from Missy Ament, my elf!

I quickly realized that if I was going to really commit, I was going to have to make a game plan to complete all of these challenges.

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Obviously, some of these were easier for me than others – what I noticed right away though, was that my elf and I had different strengths, and were able to help each other out. I’ve been vegetarian all my life, and was able to share my experiences for Meatless Monday! In return, she’s really been keeping me on track this week, and I’m so incredibly glad she’s been so supportive! I doubt I would have remembered to track my water intake yesterday, or reach out to an old friend the day before, without her!

With her keeping me accountable, though, I feel like I’ve made a pretty solid dent in these challenges – I unsubscribed from a TON of things Tuesday, called an old friend on the phone on Thursday, and drank a whole lot of water yesterday. Then to treat myself, I bought myself the Microsoft Surface online in the Black Friday sales! It’s definitely been a good week so far, and a lot of that is because I’ve been able to depend on my elf!

Another really cool part of this whole endeavor is the Facebook group. Usually, Facebook groups get kind of annoying, and you unsubscribe from them right away. This group is different though, because of all of the posts are so positive and empowering. I’ve been pretty silent on the group this week, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t noticed how hard these ladies (and men? I haven’t noticed any, but I suppose there might be some) are working! Everyday, I wake up and see pictures of meals and workouts and pride, and it’s really pretty inspiring. I guess I love knowing that there are so many fantastic women out there who are working to stay healthy, and workout, and doing all of the things that I try to do on a daily basis.

This Elf for Health thing has given me so much more than I expected so far, and I can’t wait to get to know my elf better, and tackle the rest of these challenges during the month of December!

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Conscious Thanksgiving

Conscious Thanksgiving = understanding the sorrow and awful implied in Thanksgiving, and understanding that recognizing your own privilege is a way to honor all the lives that have been lost in the name of country. Celebrate all the lives that were cut cruelly short by celebrating your own. I am so thankful for all the things God has given me, but above all I am thankful for all the people that are a part of my life. My family and friends are the most important parts of me, and I love you guys.

Elf! 4! Health!

So after I made my final decision on Teach For America, I may or may not have sunk into a bit of a slump. I did nothing for about two weeks. I mean, I did the basics – I got up, went to class, brushed my teeth, etc. But other than the necessities, almost all of my energy was spent on panicking.

In the middle of all the panic, I also attended a wedding. The couple in this wedding was basically the most gorgeous couple I have ever seen in real life. The most important thing, though, was that they were so happy and put together – they’re both well educated, have jobs they enjoy, and thoroughly wrapped up in each other. It made me wonder how I would ever get from where I am now to where they are, and whether such a journey is even possible. And then I wondered whether than was even what I wanted out of my life – I don’t really know what I want, and that’s sort of terrifying. I’ve always been one of those people who really knew myself. Even today, I would argue that I’m pretty self aware. Unfortunately, that awareness doesn’t extend to my life goals.

However, a couple of days ago, I looked back at myself. I’ve been floating through life, ignoring the big picture, dwelling on the first worldiest first world problems there are. In fact, my life is pretty cool – I have a great family, I’m at a great University, I’ve really enjoyed my life thus far. So I’m trying to be more engaged. I’m trying to spend less of time worrying needlessly, and more time figuring things out, sans worry.

That’s really my goal for December – I know I’m a bit early, but in the absence of a November goal, I’m allowing it. (there was no November goal because of the constant worrying. let’s all be glad that is over.)

So right now, I’ve got a few tentative post – graduation plans. Nothing concrete, but I’m working on it!

And in the more immediate right now, I’m an Elf4Health! Basically, I’m going to be supporting someone else’s health goals and endeavors, while they support mine! It felt like a pretty cool opportunity to me. In one fell swoop, I get to meet some cool new people, force myself to stay more engaged in life this December, AND receive the support I need to get my own health goals back on track!

As I power my way through all of these papers and finals, I’m really looking forward to actively pursuing a more healthy lifestyle.

I also want to get back to my writing a bit this month – I’m really going to be powering through these papers, and I’m hoping I can use the momentum as I finish them to write a blog post a day every day in January! I can’t wait to really get back to the things I love and am passionate about, and I’m SO EXCITED to help someone else out with their own goals as well :)

 

Woulda Coulda Shoulda

So when I first told my mother about my Teach For America offer, she lamented the fact that was in Arkansas. Then, when I told her that I had been assigned secondary science, she vehemently said that I could not do it. It was actually pretty funny, to be honest – I called and told her, and her FIRST reaction was that I didn’t have a chance at teaching science. And then we talked for about five more minutes, and she told me that honestly I could do whatever I wanted to do, but she didn’t think I would be happy teaching science. So, not a bad parent, just blisteringly honest at times.

But anyway, her first instinct was to tell me that I absolutely could not do that job. That in fact, I should abandon all pretenses of finding a job and just go straight to law school. So I thought about it, and at the time I was still at the point in my own internal thoughts where I was pretty sure I was going to accept. And I made a really conscious decision to make this decision without over thinking her initial reaction. So, I basically ignored it, and continued on with my decision making.

Well, after I made my decision to turn it down, I received a phone call from her, and thought “hey, I should probably tell my mom I made a really big life changing decision!” So I tell her that I’ve turned my offer down, and that I realized that it just wasn’t what I wanted, and she immediately says “What? WHY? It’s what you always wanted, and you would have been so good at it!”

Selfish

Today I got another email from Teach For America.

To be totally honest, there have been some things that I haven’t really put up here. But the truth is that I’ve quickly become disillusioned with this organization and its message. I’ve realized that TFA’s primary purpose isn’t to end the achievement gap, or help students, or solve the problems in our education system; it’s really to grow and maintain a strong corps.

While I understand that the organization is doing its best, I can’t accept my offer. As much as I would love to be a teacher, the fact is that I’m not qualified, either as a teacher or in my subject area. When I mentioned this to them, they told me that because of the shortage in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) teachers, Arkansas needed me. They told me that I would be far from the worst teacher there, and that I should not worry. I asked them how putting another unqualified science teacher (me) into the mix would solve the problem – they didn’t answer. I told them that one of my professional goals is excellence, and I didn’t feel I could achieve that through their offer – they told me I was being selfish. I applied to TFA because I’m passionate about education and felt that I could be a good teacher. I pointed out that I would not be a good science teacher, and that was preventing me from accepting – they told me that the alternatives were worse.

Basically, I was told that I might be an awful teacher, but I’d be better than the worst ones so it wasn’t a big deal, and that I should really put all my professional and personal plans and dreams on hold to be a sub par teacher in a subject I don’t enjoy.

Call me convinced.

And then today I got an email – they sent me a paragraph from the application I originally submitted way back in March. They told me to listen to my own voice, and make a decision based on my own words. Here’s what I had written:

“When I was younger, I thought everyone had the same privileges. I thought everyone got great teachers and parents who read to them, and textbooks that were in good condition. And then I realized that not everyone did, and that I had advantages many did not. I want to become a corps member because I believe that everyone has a right to receive equal educational opportunities, and I know that given my background and my abilities, I can help provide that…Students deserve to have teachers who care about them and are willing to go above and beyond to help them succeed – I truly believe that I can be that person.”

While I still believe the things I wrote, the fact is that I no longer believe in the organization itself. I will always be passionate about educational inequities. I will always believe that every student deserves a chance to reach their full potential. I will always believe in my own power to help, and make change. But I no longer believe in TFA.

I know that I have no business accepting. I owe it to myself, and to the children who would have been my future students, not to.

I guess that makes me selfish.

**I would like to make a quick note that while there were some people who were really unhelpful, there was one woman in Arkansas who helped me immeasurably. We talked about lesson plans, and she really worked as hard as she could to make sure that I knew what I was getting into, and that I had as much information as she could give me. I can’t thank her enough for all her help these past two weeks, and my one regret in turning my offer down is that I wasted so much of her time trying to decide what I was going to do.