Don’t tell me “no”.

There is a certain reckless danger innate to in-the-moment blog posts. You have been warned.

Scene 1: I am sitting across from my brilliantly astute and mercilessly honest university coordinator. It’s a few minutes after my third and final teaching observation and she’s looking at me over her glasses, evaluation in hand. She’s telling me that she knew after the first observation that I was one of the most stellar teaching candidates she’s ever worked with, that when she had nothing to offer as a recommended area of growth it was my own expectations for improvement that were listed on the evaluations, that she was personally recommending me to an elite North Shore district, and then… and then somehow she said something else. It was something like, “… and it’s very clear to me that you are unaccustomed to not getting your way immediately and that it is difficult for you.”

Did someone just kick over a trap set? Where did that come from? That can’t be true. I don’t always get my way. In fact, I’m a really flexible, adaptable person. What?!

Scene 2: I am sitting at the dining room table. Danny is across the room at the computer. I have graduated from my master’s program and am trying to work out how and when I will complete my science endorsement. I have laid out the reasoning behind the science endorsement to Danny five million times. 1.) It provides me an edge in my market. 2.) It makes me more marketable to middle schools to have both a social studies and science endorsement. 3.) Teaching science allows me to use the inquiry-based learning model more than any other subject. 4.) You’re bored now, right… I won’t go on.

He says: I don’t think you can do it right now (for financial reasons). Why don’t you wait until next year?

She says: Because next year I will be teaching full-time, and won’t have the time or energy to take additional coursework.

He says: We’ll have the money later.

She says: I have the time now.

8 months later… she is unexpectedly given all the time in the world and pursues the endorsement. She reminds him that she’s still right. That she wouldn’t be able to do this if she were teaching full-time.

Scene 3: I am sitting at my computer. I am researching programs to become a yoga instructor. The above argument re-kindles. Time v. Money.

To bring this full-circle, I have been forced to reckon with Dr. D’s harsh blow. Those words still echo in my mind and leave me feeling baffled. That’s not true about me. It can’t be, can it?

The truth of the matter is that I don’t hear no very often. It’s hard to tell me “no”. In my other lives, I must have been a salesman, a lawyer, and a politician. I can lay out my case and in a few minutes, you believe it more than I do. So I have to remind myself in times like this when I’m being told “no” that in the face of resistance I have the habit of holding on tighter. This tenacity is a great thing. But I have to check in: what am I holding on to? Is it worth fighting for? How badly do I really want this? The disagreement leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth toward this venture anyway.

I think that time will win out in this argument after all, just not the way I originally intended. I have to remember to always look at the big picture, pink-tinged perspective or no.

The Anatomy of Change

In an effort to utilize this time off in a way that is conducive to ensuring future employment, I decided to complete the 12 additional credits needed to complete my science endorsement. By May I will have the required 18 credits to teach middle school science, which is considered a high-need subject area in most areas of the country. Will it land me a job? Perhaps, and it will certainly give me an edge for certain positions.

So here I am: a student again. I entered the field of education because I love school and have a passion for learning new things and sharing knowledge with others, but I’m a little surprised to be back in the race so soon. I am taking the coursework online via Ivy Tech, an Indiana technical college, so my expectations for the requirements were fairly low in comparison to what I was managing a year ago: six graduate credits and a full-time teaching internship.
I was surprised to find myself completely overwhelmed this week after having several textbook ordering mishaps, trying to interpret vague and confusing syllabi, and a mid-quiz computer crash. Another element that I didn’t consider was the lab component to all of the classes, particularly Anatomy/Physiology. I will be forever wary of packages after I opened my “lab kit” to find a fetal pig and a sheep’s brain. Lovely.
So here I am, one week in. I’ve cycled through excitement, alarm, confusion, frustration, and emotional meltdown and landed somewhere between determined and thrilled.
I have spent about 7 hours on Anatomy/Physiology in the past 2 days and covered only 2 chapters. This subject has got to be the “meatiest” content I’ve ever tried to master. It’s really challenging; I don’t have much of a foundation for this level of science so I’m building as I go.
It’s rewarding… because I’ve needed an opportunity to push myself intellectually. It’s also rewarding because I’ve never had the opportunity to come up against a content area that was really a reach and find myself scaling the wall. Like many students, when I approached some higher level courses (ahem…math) and felt daunted, I shut down and/or walked away. Honestly, either learning has come naturally, not required effort, or provided just the right amount of challenge for the majority of my schooling. But when it didn’t, I retreated. I would never accept this behavior out of my students, so it feels good to put in the effort to conquer it in myself. It’s not easy, but as someone whose “potential” has been constantly recognized, it feels stellar to use up some energy and put things into motion!

So cheers to pushing the limits (and keeping a rosy outlook when things get tricky).

In case you’re curious, I’m also taking physical science, astronomy and earth science.

Quieting quarrels

“Get up now, so you can get the gym in time for that sculpting class.”

“This bed is too comfortable. You’ll never take me alive.”

“If you get up now you can still make it to the yoga class you intended to go to after that sculpting class, which you were too lazy to attend. Did I mention you’re lazy?”

“Yoga smoga. I want cereal.”

Two hours pass. Email is checked, Twitter is monitored, Facebook is glanced at, breakfast is served.

When I finally made that long, much resisted journey into the shower (which, fun fact, is where I do my best thinking, for whatever reason) I realized that I was using up all of my momentum by allowing these strange arguments to continue in my head. To be so berating and so escapist at once was literally exhausting me. If I simply go and do the thing I am resisting, my energy is diverted and the quarrels must quiet.

I’m sure this strikes a note with a few people in this season of resolutions (of which I have plenty, thank you). And as I was appreciating this matter-over-mind approach I began to feel frustrated that my notion of “productivity” was tied to things visual and material. I’ve always been the sort to spend long holidays up in the solitary confines of my own mind. And, for better or worse, I’ve been to that deserted island more than I ever imagined possible this past year. I’ve gotten a lot done up there, sorted things through, really. Yet it’s much easier to feel at ease if the dishes are clean at the end of the day. That’s the proof that I’ve actually “accomplished” something.

My first inclination is to make this a gender issue… which probably just stems from the dishes comment. My experience with males tells me that they are often (though not always) much more defined by “doing” than “being” as we ladies often are. So if I feel the need to clean the kitchen in order to prove to my husband that I’ve done something, it’s probably due to the fact that that I’ve realized that’s his perception, rather than any sort of subjection on his part (poor man, to be married to a modern woman and accused of such things.) 😉

In the practical sense, I will silence the battle in my mind through, and in order to, get something done. And while I do, I will continue to pursue those things unmeasurable up in that dusty little attic of my mind.