Posted in about me, ebb & flow, meandering

AZ anniversary

Some time in the last week was my 16-year anniversary of arriving in Arizona.

(I could look at a calendar and figure out which day exactly, but it’s not that important. Early August is good enough.)

I came out here to go to grad school. To go somewhere hot and far away. To try to start over.

My boyfriend at the time drove out with me and stayed a week or so, and then I was here on my own. It was scary and exciting and has been exactly what I hoped for and not at all what I hoped for.

So much has happened in the time that I’ve been here. While it’s not up to half of my life yet, it is the majority of my adult life, even if you count college as “adult.” (Which I don’t, because of how my experience went. If you’re not supporting yourself on money you earned, you’ve not yet graduated to adult. In my opinion.)

Some of the things I wanted to be far away from stayed far away. (Hooray!) Some of them were part of me and are here. (That was a rough lesson.)

It’s just a reflection point. A moment to stop, think about where I’ve been, see where I want to go, and continue on.

I tend to do this more at this time and around my cancer-versary than at New Years, since these moments have significance in a real way, whereas January 1 is A Thing but not My Thing.

Here’s to the 17th year being better than the rest! (Why not?!)

Posted in about me, ebb & flow, meandering, mental health

A 20-year-old reaction returns

Twenty years ago, I graduated from The College of New Jersey with the education required to become a music teacher.

I’ve become really good at teaching. But at music? Mediocre at best.

Historically, I’ve been a fast learner without much grit. It took a lot of life before anything crossed my path that I was motivated to do better than I needed. Things were typically done well, but nothing was exceptional or in more depth than necessary.

As a result, I always played my instruments enough to be able to play what I needed for school, and sometimes songs for fun, but never songs harder than what was offered. (My parents’ refusal to pay for music lessons—because I had a music teacher at school and why would they pay for another one?—compounded this when I finally had a bit of interest.)

When I got to college, I wasn’t very good. And I didn’t think I could catch up. (Changing to trombone changed that mindset substantially, but that’s another story.)

I was extremely self-conscious about my skill level. I hated practicing. (The practice rooms were not sound-proof and I didn’t like that people could hear me). Ensemble practices were stressful.

Most of the hours and hours every day that I spent in the music building were at least twinged—if not completely fraught—with anxiety.

Decades have passed. I’ve had some musical milestones that I was proud of. I’ve spent a lot of time practicing. And, most recently, I’ve stopped playing in ensembles. Nowadays, most of the time, music is fun again.

Over the summer, we were on campus to meet a friend for lunch.

We walked into the music building, and the old familiar anxiety crept in.

It was so odd and so familiar and I thought it funny that after all this time, when I walked in with no expectations (and definitely not to play), it was still there.

Makes me wonder what else I have this reaction to…and how, after I find it, I can get rid of it.

Posted in about me, ebb & flow, motivation

Writing, blogging, thinking, planning

August 1 marked nine months of a post here every day. I made it through the holidays, through the end of the school year, through 2.5 weeks out of town, and now through the beginning of the school year. I feel pretty good about that!

There are posts I’ve written that I think are pretty excellent and other posts that I just hope are not anyone’s first introduction to my writing.

(But… which posts I love and which posts you love, based on your likes and comments, often don’t match. So there’s that.)

Within my goal of spending more time writing, I’m writing quite a bit of blog and not very much book. But I want to finish the book. I really want to finish the book.

On the other hand, I feel proud of having maintained this blog daily.

So this is what I’ve decided. I’m going to continue with a post every day through Halloween. That’ll complete the year. (I started on November 1, 2018.)

I’m going to drop to three posts per week and spend the other days writing my book.

Because time is finite, and energy is finite, and most days, I can’t spend my best mental energy on writing because I have to get up and go to work. The point of that is just that I’m already working on reduced brain power almost all the time when I write, and I can’t siphon more time out of the even-less-brain-power time that’s left. It won’t be anything worth reading, and it will be tedious to write. Lose-lose.

So I’ll keep the same time I have and use it differently. When the book is done, perhaps I’ll come back to my daily blog habit. Too far out to make that call now.

And if you’re enjoying my writing and will be sad to have installments less often, it’s just practice in delayed gratification, because at some point, there will be a whole book!

Posted in about me, differences, ebb & flow, meandering, physical health

I used to be a night owl; now I’m just tired

I was always a night owl.

As a kid, I would sleep until 15 minutes before I needed to leave for school. Clothes on, breakfast in, out the door. Saturdays, I would sleep until 10 or 11. (Marching band at Saturday morning football games killed that.)

Nights were always my best time. Best for thinking, for writing, for talking, for pretty much anything (except maybe sleeping…).

But then I became a teacher. And for decades now, I’ve gotten up way earlier than I would like.

(And yes, I became a mom, but The Kid is also a night owl and has been since Day 1. That has been much less an issue than the gig.)

Regardless, I don’t sleep in any more. I don’t do late nights well any more. I don’t consider it a function of aging, as many people do. I consider it a function of repetition. I think if I’d had a job all these years where I could go to bed at 1 and get up at 9, I’d be much better at sleeping later than 6. (And I’d be sadder than I already am that The Kid reports to school at 7:05.)

I’m getting better at going to bed earlier so I can wake up at 6 and feel decent. But it’s hard, because the late evenings have always been My Time, and now they’re sleep time. But they’re sleep time because I need to go to work, not because My Time is at another time.

Adulting would be less hard if my work schedule and my Me schedule were more closely aligned. (I’ve thought for a long time that life in some ways must be simpler for morning people, since life is structured on their schedule much more often.)

It’s also hard, because night used to be when I could focus well and work on things that required a lot of brain power.

Now, I can sometimes get in good evening work, if I’ve gotten enough sleep and the day hasn’t been too arduous, but mostly, I’m just tired. I do the majority of my writing now in the early afternoons, after I’m home from work but before I pick up The Kid at school. It’s not ideal—that’s definitely an energy dip time for me—but it’s pretty consistently available, and I’m grateful to have it.

I do much better writing on Sunday mornings. The Kid is usually with The Tall Daddy, and I’ll often wake up an hour or two before The Climbing Daddy, and I can use that time to write.

But most of the week, I get up and go to work. I can’t hang out and write. (I don’t even get up and exercise in the mornings. I’m not an early-morning exerciser. Or an early-morning anythinger.) I’m not getting up earlier than I already do, because I can’t (won’t?) get to bed earlier than I already do.

So now, I’m not a night owl, and I’m not a morning person. I’m just trying to get to bed early enough to be a well-functioning teacher/mom/wife/friend/writer/exerciser everythinger.

Posted in about me, differences, education, mental health

The glory of having energy at the end of the work day

The last couple of years, most or all of my classes (as a whole—not every individual student) had self-control issues. Inability to stay quiet, to accept directions, to follow through on assignments, regardless of where the task fell on the fun meter. In extreme cases, yelling and swearing. Unrelenting back-talk. Things said to me that I wouldn’t have dared say when I was a kid, nor would I say now to anyone, much less someone with power.

(I teach 5th and 6th grade.)

At the end of the work day, even though I was part time, I was exhausted. The majority of my energy was going to classroom management, and a tiny slice was given to actually teaching. The groups as a whole didn’t play well, though there were individual students who did.

It was draining. It was demoralizing. It definitely did not make my life better.

This year, I have a couple of classes that act like normal classes, which is to say, we can get stuff done. Occasionally I need to redirect a couple of students. There’s always someone who asks a question that I just answered. But that’s all pretty standard.

I can teach and they can learn.

It’s glorious.

I come home from work and have energy left. Things get done around the house. Exercising is easier. I have more patience for The Kid. I have mental energy to think about different ways to teach. (It’s never the same twice, whether it’s tweaked or totally overhauled.)

Having a job that doesn’t suck me dry is a big deal.

Happy to have some of myself back.