advice I don’t usually give

I was a senior in college when I was told this:

If you don’t enjoy your job for more than 5 days in a row, quit.

At the time, I didn’t think much of it. It seemed to make a lot of sense to me. Turns out it was, quite frankly, the best advice I ever received.

And it’s the best advice I never give.

I’m happy to say “you know how I feel about that”, but I never tell people to quit.

Today, someone asked me why a mutual friend doesn’t just quit her job because she’s miserable.

No one ever tells you can quit, I said.

Think about it. If you’re like me, your parents have had the same job for as long as you can remember. Quitting–the word alone–has negative connotations. It’s like you’ve given up and are not fulfilling responsibilities.

But really, if you think about it, the biggest responsibility we all have is for our own well-being, and that of our families (if that applies). I do admit (and this is a huge reason I don’t give the advice) that I have an extreme amount of freedom being single. I can do what I want, when I want ,mwithout consulting anyone or worrying about how it may affect them.

But I was thinking about it today because I know the look of misery at work. And I remember something someone said to me a few months ago…I’ve decided to follow your example and when I leave this job, I will never work anywhere for more than a year.

When he said that, I was mortified. It isn’t for everyone. And if you’re easily stressed, it’s definitely not an easy way to live. But when I thought about it today, I realized it actually is a great compliment.

It kind of meant to me that I have succeeded.

And truth be told, I know I have. There have been months that have been hard, but for the most part, it’s been a lot of fun.

So, when pressed next time, I just may give that advice.

You can quit.

Advertisements

healing: my life as a runner

The last time I wrote about running, I wrote to simply say that my knee was bruised. I’ve had problem with this same knee for pretty much as long as I can remember.

So, I haven’t run in 2 weeks. And because I’m me, I have to derive some deeper meaning from this.

First, I realized for one of the first times in my life how hard I really push myself. When I do it mentally, the healing times are quicker and easily forgettable. But when I surveyed the purplish swelling around my knee, I had to admit that I ran over 60 miles in three weeks. Not good.

Second, I realized how much I depended on running to clear my mind. That’s what made it so easy to get so carried away. Once in that “zone,” I didn’t even really know what was going on — except for the fact that I was not thinking, which I needed for that one hour a day.

Taking these two things into account, I’ve done a couple of things and sat down to think about a few more.

Today is the last day of a 7-day detox. I bought an actual all-natural cleanse (B complex, citrus and a variety of roots if you care). I figured if I was going to heal my body, I may as well heal it all. It’s been good, but I will absolutely admit that I am super tired of the meals that went along with it.

I’ve re-read most of The Miracle of the Bells. It’s my favorite book of all time. The one that I derived life’s meaning from at the age of 12, and that I continue to wholeheartedly believe in. I pulled it off the shelf to remind myself of why and how I make decisions. But also to slow myself down. To read. To not work for an hour a day.

On a practical level, I will admit that running distances of 5+ miles 6 days a week is probably not the best thing . I’ve changed my workout completely, and I’m trying to figure out a couple of other alternates so I can have a more balanced approach. (I won’t, however, give up the hour a day because I’ve had one cold in the last 7 months — which is all-time life record for me.)

So for now, my life as a runner is simply waiting for the swelling to disappear. And a brutal exercise in patience for my antsy self.

why do people pick on teachers so much?

Even though I usually try to stay away from stories like this, I knew Jon Stewart wouldn’t make me mad so I watched the clip from his show about how Fox News says teachers are overpaid. The numbers used were $50,000 salary and $38,000 of benefits.

The clips show various Fox findings that teachers work less, get paid too much, etc, etc. Things I’ve always heard from people I know. Oh, you’re so lucky school ends at 3. Oh you’re so lucky you have summers off. Oh you’re so lucky that you get winter and spring breaks. And on and on and on.

A couple of disclaimers before I continue on:

  1. I’ve never made $50,000 teaching. Ever. And I have an M.S.
  2. I don’t currently teach full-time.

So, one day after this incessant yammering on about how “lucky” I am, I took out a calculator. At the time, I was arriving at school at 6:45 in the morning and leaving at 4. I had a 25 minute lunch. So, I worked about 9 hours a day. And to all the people who would tell me they also worked nine hours a day–you also had an hour lunch in there. So, my base weekly hours were 45. Now, let’s add in the usually 6 or so hours that we tacked on to my Fridays to chaperone athletics or dances or whatever. Now, we’re at 51 (and oddly my salary is not increasing in any way). Some weekends, if I powered through everything I would do all of my grading and planning in one shot on either Saturday and Sunday in about 8-10 hours. Most weekends, I split it up into three to four hour increments. So, on a good week we’re talking 60 hours of work a week. And this is actual work–not me sitting at a computer playing on Facebook or calling people on the company line.

So, we multiply that out to the forty-two weeks a year teachers teach and that gives us 2,520 hours.

Now, your cushy little office job that probably pays $30,000 more a year than I will ever make, never has a surly teenager rolling her eyes at you, and never ever requires you take piles of work home with you, is probably 40 hours a week (I’m not even subtracting all the time you waste online). If you have 4 weeks of vacation a year that means you work 1,920 hours a year.

So, now have I not only worked 600 more hours than you in a year, I’m still getting paid less and I have horrid benefits.

So, yea….teachers should learn to sacrifice more.

the Magic

Stories of Magic: Part 1

I know you’re laughing right now.

There’s no way you can prove it.

I don’t have to. That’s the magic of being born on the same day.

The Little One — as I call him for purposes of this blog, but only sometimes in real life when I’m trying to annoy him — was my saving grace this week. Via instant messaging.

After the ideas conversation and the conversation we had about me buying a home, we had another awesome conversation last night.

He told me to relax. We we working together. (I do contract work, and I subcontracted some of it to him.) We were on the last draft, just ironing out the little problems.

And when he sent me his final version, he said that then I should relax. That’s not the part that made me laugh–that came earlier. But it made me think about the “magic” as he called it earlier in the conversation.

It IS the magic of being born on the same day. He’s got the other part of my soul.

Stories of Magic: Part 2

I had to do a little research on the Lakota Indians last year (why is a story for another time), but a belief is that there are four parts to each person’s soul. So, when you die one goes to “heaven” and the other three remain and are make up one of the portions of another person.

So, the way I figure it, each of the portions of my soul have three other portions out there. So there are a total of twelve pieces of souls floating around this world that are directly connected to mine.

The Little One was correct when he said “magic” because that’s exactly what it is. After all magic, is simply the unexplainable — as are our souls.

I know who holds four of the portions of my soul. And I think at 28 years old, that’s pretty good progress.

I don’t know how to explain how I know so that’s why I was so excited last night when my little brother called it magic. That’s a good way of explaining it, and maybe that is exactly how I know it. Magic.

Stories of Magic: Part 3

I had to run — emphasis on run — out to get coffee this afternoon. In the store, I overheard a mom explaining to her daughter (she had to be 3 or so) that there’s no such thing as magic.

How sad, I thought.

There’s magic all around us, I wanted to tell her. I should have now that I look back. But “magic” is what makes life worth living. It’s just a word. Something that explains connections, I believe. Divinity. Why and how.

a leap of faith & a litany of gratitude

Just 15 minutes ago, I sent the email asking my real estate agent to draw up the first offer I will ever make on a property in my life. Can you tell I’m excited (her words)? Or terrified (my words)?

I saw the property today, got the official numbers after 10 p.m. and had an hour-long conversation with the Little One before I decided.

It may work out. It may not. I think I’m most proud of myself for making the decision (with help of course).

But I am also thankful….

…that you’re smarter than I am. More practical. More logical.

…that you support me.

…that you pointed out that I always pull it together.

…that I always DO pull it together.

…that every leap of faith in the past 11 months has been met with overwhelming success—or a challenge to dig deeper.

…that you challenged my idea of “fabulous.”

…that you said you’d visit me.

…that you made me laugh at my fears.

…that there is always opportunity.

…that my soul is filled with faith in something I don’t always understand.

…that I can say without a doubt that I’m scared.

…that you trusted me enough to let me do this.

…that I struggle sometimes.

…that every 18 hour day seemingly now had a purpose.

…that the light is always shining. Especially when I hit the wall.

ideas.

My baby brother is exactly ten years younger than me. And he’s scary smart. Not an engineer or one who knows a wealth of useless facts. No, he’s philosophically smart. I love talking with him because we can have conversations that I can’t have with anyone else.

Last night, we had an interesting discussion on the concept of ideas. And by discussion, I mean I did a lot of listening.

He was saying that it bothers him that people try so hard to get credit for their ideas. He went on to say that people who write seem to be obsessed with recognition.

Hmm.

I thought about that for a while and about how happy I was when I started my three pages-three months challenge last year. Two people read my book, and I want to re-write it because I think I can tell my character’s story better, but every time I get to that discussion about selling, I just don’t care.

And I got quite an earful from a couple of people about that. Like it would be any less of an accomplishment if it wasn’t published. And that kind of killed my joy. Maybe I have no writing talent at all. Really. But the simple truth is if I don’t do it, I get lost. I’m not one of those people who struggles to write. I love everything about it. I love teaching it. I love talking about it. I love re-writing. I love editing. I even love grammar. I’m not an author. I’m a writer.

That was why I was so selective with who read my first draft. Not because I was scared, but because the people who I wanted to read it understand what it meant to me. It was about that moment of my life. And what I was meant to be doing.

Personal legend.

It would just be nice if the world wasn’t so obsessed with owning things. Especially ideas. Our whole damn country is based off of giving power to people who own the most, so it’s too late.

And in the true spirit of “owning” things: that’s MY brother.

As I make decisions right now, I’m thinking about all of my ideas. All of the options and possibilities. Everything that has changed. Everything that I want to remain (I can count those things on one hand).

I was re-writing my resume. Yes, again. It just gets longer and longer. And I realized where the changes came from. I reevaluate a lot. I do it almost every day. It’s probably the nature of teaching. You have to or no one would learn anything.

I’m doing it now. With a lot of things. Not just work. And damn. It hurts. I think I’m in the healthiest position ever to do it, but it still hurts. The cleansing process is brutal.

I’m not afraid to admit that I cry. I get angry. I curse. I change my diet. I change my patterns. I do everything possible to remove myself from what was and ignore what is to make myself see what will be.

But oh, dear God, I love the ideas. I love every single idea that pops into my head–the exciting ones, the stupid ones, the scary ones. I love with every essence of my being.

I love the energy that comes from sharing ideas–especially with young people. I love when they take what I say, and they spin it. They reinvent us both when they do this.

As a joke, I recorded about three minutes of my class today. Every single moment of it made me smile when I watched the playback. I can hear my excitement as we talk about what we can print and not print. Who should say what. Who should do  what. And I laugh an awful lot. Not hysterical, mocking laughter, but genuine happiness.

You’re beaming, she said when I arrived at school today.

I just laughed. It wasn’t about anything to share. It was about an idea. And idea that’s not mine. A collective idea. A stolen idea. And the smile was the radiation of the love from that idea.

Maybe ideas aren’t ours to keep. Or ours to claim. But they’re ours to radiate.