A Great List

Clearly, blogging is no longer a regular hobby of mine. Changing back over to public school teaching has sucked up most of my available time. The time I used to spend cooking fun, new meals and creating blog posts are now replaced with 11 hour work days that involve lesson planning, creating materials, researching strategies, and of course teaching.

I’m not mentioning all of this to complain. I love teaching, especially since I’m working in a public school teaching 8th grade English/Language Arts and social studies. I am, however, constantly busy and tired. Sometimes I forget to take care of myself and pay attention to my husband!

I’ve had a 5-day stretch with no students. Thursday and Friday were both professional development days, and today (Monday) we are off for Columbus day. (I think this is the first time in my life I’ve had this day off…it feels weird.) So I’ve finally had time to slow down, take some time for myself, reflect on how I spend all of my time, and write a fabulous blog list :)

A GREAT LIST…a list of great things :)

10. Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

SO great. I’ve had my fair share of food fears over the years, and I think Ben & Jerry’s may have helped fix me! Under the premise of the diet culture, people are on an unending search for that “guilt-free” diet food that allows them to eat ice cream (or whatever sweet of your choosing) guilt free. Guess what? It doesn’t exist.

Low-fat ice cream, Skinny Cow products, and diet “You can eat the whole pint!” companies like Arctic Zero are doing us no favors. First of all, those products filled with chemicals and additives generally not allowed in other developed countries that often make us hungrier. Second of all, blegh! That is not ice cream!

I’m growing weary of references to “guilty pleasures,” “falling of the (diet) wagon,” and “cheat foods.” How about we just eat food we like? Have you had Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter Fudge Core? It’s AWESOME. And there’s nothing guilty about it.

9. Nature

I miss New Orleans. But New Orleans does not have the lush, green nature that Georgia has. It’s everywhere. The neighborhoods are beautiful. There are trails everywhere. And the state is devoted to keeping its parks and pathways as pretty as ever. It’s also important to mention we’re a quick driving distance from beautiful state parks and the Appalachian Mountains.

Nature is good for the soul. A walk outside under oaks, maples, and pines the size of 10-story buildings can reset your mind and keep you focused on what’s important in life. Work problems, grad school problems, house problems, and other stressors all seem much less significant after taking the time to get outdoors!

chimney tops

8. Teaching

While teaching may be a large reason for the neglect of this blog, I do very much love what I do. It’s not easy. Textbooks are really a thing of the past, so teachers must recreate a curriculum year after year that’s engaging, rigorous, differentiated, and “just right” for their students. If you have more than one subject to plan, then everything is multiplied!

When you teach, you get to show students a whole new world every day. Middle school students are dying to be treated like adults, so it’s great when they are able to collaborate and problem-solve their way through the material.

7. Reading

If I wrote this post two weeks ago, this wouldn’t have been on the list. One of my favorite hobbies that I have ignored over the last few years is reading. Recently, I’ve only read young-adult books as I learn more about the best new authors for my students, but that’s significantly better than not reading at all!

And actually…young-adult literature is great! The stories always deal with difficult issues, and you know the story line will be engaging :) The best can be found on the “National Book Award” list or any banned book list! The one I read most recently for my class is called The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexi. This novel is about a Native American boy who is trying to escape the cycle he sees on the reservation. He leaves his reservation to attend an all white school, and he struggles to find acceptance at school and at home.

If you have a middle schooler (or you just like to read good books), I highly suggest it :)

part time indian

6. Me time

This is something that comes rarely these days. How do people with children find any time for anything????

At the beginning of this year (August…I count time in school years!),  I was able to have some me time during my long runs when training for the Smoky Mountain Half. That’s it. Maybe an hour or more.

Fortunately, every teacher becomes more efficient as the year goes on, and lesson planning takes up less and less time each week. I’ve had some time here and there to just watch a TV show, go for a walk, or read. And today, because I’ve had 5 student-free days, I get to blog!

Be sure to take some time for yourself away from everything. It’s important that we have this time to keep us grounded and remember the things that really matter.

5. Body Love Movement

Isn’t the Body Love movement great! It’s great! As someone who has always felt that I should eat/look/dress/be a certain way, the self-love movement that is currently blasting through the media has given me the opportunity to reflect on these ideas that I’ve had in the past.

Listening to body-love activists— Summer Innanen, Caroline Haagen, Stacy Toth, Sarah Ballantyne, and the many many others I’ve been learning from over the past few years—has taught me to stop focusing on arbitrary numbers that society deems acceptable. There is no perfect number for workouts, calories (sorry, calorie counters…restriction is a slippery slope), dress size, pants size, shoe size, or anything else.

We are all people doing the best we can. Sometimes that means I eat big Paleo salads and other times that means I eat Ben & Jerry’s. Both are great :)

Source: SummerInnanen.com!

Source: SummerInnanen.com!

4. Food

Life’s too short to not eat what you enjoy. For the first time yesterday I had an Ethiopian dish with injera, a spongy, delicious bread that is used to scoop up the entree with your hands! Was I going to let the fact that injera is made with wheat stop me from enjoying it? Absolutely not.

I still do the whole “Paleo thing.” I really do think it’s awesome, and I get a lot of happiness out of eating nutrient dense food. BUT when an incredible meal is set down in front of me, there are no rules. I will eat to my heart’s content. Because I can. No rules.

3. Exercise

It’s taken many years to exercise because it’s good for my body, not because it will make me look a certain way or create a magical number on a scale. Exercise is good for overall health…physical and mental.

A little over a year ago, I wrote a post with my weekly workout schedule. It contained two very challenging strength workouts and three cardio workouts, all of which lasted about an hour. There’s no way that kind of routine happens in the real world. (I checked the date…I wasn’t yet employed in Houston, which explains my excess of time.)

Walking is great (I wish I could go hiking every day of my life) and strength training will keep us young! But we must do it for holistic reasons…not because we’re watching a ticker on a scale.

stone mountain cherokee trail 6.27.15

Hiking the Cherokee trail at Stone Mountain

2. Sleep

Sleep is great. It fixes many problems. Enough said :)

1. My Husband

My husband is great. He takes care of me when everything seems impossibly overwhelming. He is my life buddy, and we tackle these new Georgia adventures together :) All of these things on this great list are greater when we experience them together.

Having someone so supportive and so loving of me at all times makes those challenging moments worth it.

hawaii birds

What things go on your Great List????

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