Thursday, April 2, 2015

Bringing your passion with you

I feel like I start every post with "I've been so busy!" And this one is no exception. I'm coming off of a three-week stretch where I've been working all day for one or two of my usual days off (staff meeting, professional development, meeting with my online students, vendor event for Thirty-One) and it also happened that two of those three weeks I also had something going on Tuesday night, my usual evening off.  So here I am, nearly a month later and no blog posts. But, as you all understand, a girl only has so much brain power! I really hope to get more consistent with my posts..  (in part so you don't feel obligated to read so much at a time!)

I feel like I've had so much going on and so many thought-provoking things to say these past few weeks and I want to share them briefly, but not inundate you all with a dissertation-length blog post. So let's break this down into sections. The first are more updates on my daily life. The last couple start to get really deep :)

1. We've done some really fun things these past few weeks, like seeing a favorite Irish Band (not Gaelic Storm!) on St. Patrick's Day.  I also saw Carbon Leaf (one of my all-time favorites) last week. I've been a fan for 14 years and I swear they just keep getting better and better.  Some things I'm looking forward to in the next few weeks are the Passover Seder and the beginning of baseball season!

Carbon Leaf, always amazing!

2. My college students took their midterm exam the week after spring break. Which meant I was answering a lot of emails. And then grading ~60 essays.  And we had an in-person meeting the week after! I am glad things are slowing down in that class for the moment. 

This is why I struggle doing yoga at home!
3. I took Conway to a specialist today to talk about some issues he's had pretty much since we got him nearly 3 years ago. We'll be trying a strict elimination diet (his new food is made of, no April Fool's jokes here, kangaroo. I'm... not really sure how I feel about this!) and then seeing a DIFFERENT specialist in the next few weeks. Never a dull moment with this little guy. But if we can make him feel better, then it's worth it.

4. Thirty-One stuff is going well. I did a Pet Expo two weeks ago which was great fun. And I just finished up a party for a dear friend of mine. Nothing huge on the radar for Thirty-One this month, which is fine with me. May's customer special is seriously awesome and I look forward to sharing it with you! I'm also going to be a vendor at wing cook-off in June. So come visit me there!

5. I tried a new running experiment recently. I've been hearing more and more about shorter run:walk intervals. I tried 30 seconds on:30 seconds off. It drove me a little crazy, but I felt great. Did 5 miles like that. I'm likely going to try it again.  Short intervals seems to help my stomach feel best when running... Looking forward to finally being home for run club this weekend (assuming I don't eat so much at the Seder Friday night that I feel like I'm doing to die ;) )

6. I've done approximately nothing craft-related these past three weeks and it makes me sad. Maybe tonight we'll watch a movie and I'll do some knitting. My regular Thursday-evening band rehearsal is cancelled for Maundy Thursday. I have been doing some fun cooking, like a totally meat and cheese lasagna (even the "noodles" were meat!). Tonight I'm making crepes and I'm searching for a good muffin recipe to make this weekend... 

These last few all relate to my ESOL teaching job and are much more thought-provoking :)

7. A few weeks ago, my yoga instructor said something that really spoke to me about teaching.  She talked about the difference between being a teacher and being an instructor.  I wish I had blogged about it earlier so I could remember it better, but the short version is that a teacher tells you what you need, and an instructor guides you and gives you ideas for how you can help yourself. Her point was, in yoga, we are the teachers (we tell ourselves what we need when we step on the mat) and she is the instructor. I really liked this as a metaphor for my ESOL teaching. My students all have such different needs and they really need to be aware of what they want to get out of the classes. I am there to give them guidance, but I can't *make* them learn. 

8. I heard an amazing episode of NPR's Ted Radio hour about success. As someone who isn't employed full-time in a career related to my degree, sometimes I struggle with things related to the notion of "success." One of the Ted talks focused on the idea of "status anxiety" which spoke some to me for sure. (Hello,I have a PhD and am a Thirty-One consultant! I do it because I seriously love it, but sometimes it's hard not to feel a little strange talking about it with certain people.)  But the one idea that really, really stuck with me was that we should not "follow our passion". We should "bring it with us."  I think this spoke to me because, had I just "followed my passion" - I would never have found this job that brings me so much joy. Instead, I've taken my passion with me and poured it into my unexpected career change/detour/whatever. I care so much about my students. I love teaching and goshdarnit I'm good at it and I'm going to do everything I can to be the best teacher possible.

9. Finally, my students are the most amazing people in the world. Every day they surprise me with their dedication, their humor, their passion, their struggles, and their genuine good hearts. This week a student brought me seeds for my garden. One said "Teacher, you look beautiful today." Another student asked if it was ok with me if he used his food stamps to buy coffee and snacks to share with the class. A student scheduled her cancer radiation treatments around our classes because that's how much learning English and our community means to her. My students shared their struggles with me and with each other about having to truly start over again. About having a Master's Degree or being a teacher with years and years of experience in their home country, but only being able to get a job at WalMart because no one accepts their credentials or believes they can do the work. If this all isn't inspiration to give it my all to make a difference in their lives, then I don't know what is. 

I've never felt more inspired than ever to just focus on a simple, one-word mantra: believe. 


  1. Oh my gosh why don't my comments ever STICK.

    I do this every time.
    So here's my bullet points on your blog post. I'm sure you'll be fascinated by my super long comment.
    * My husband ate kangaroo in Australia. I also think that's a little weird. And I feel bad for Conway. :(
    * I love your passion for Thirty-One and I'm certain I'll be purchasing a few more things. I just get a little sensory overload and I also get a little gun shy after my first purchase (pre-Erin) went so awry.
    *I love that your running experiment is helping! I don't love that you have to stop every freaking 30 seconds. But whatever you have to what you eat Chick...
    * It's EASTER! You should so bake something fabulous. Shaughnessy and I are making a bunny cake. :) Throwback to when she was little. :)
    * I love the yoga instructor's comment. Very true! And you are very much an instructor :)
    * These are great thoughts on success. I never thought of your work with Thirty One being your career, I figured your teaching esol was your career and your Thirty One was a side job you have because you love the product and it's kind of fun and you love to torture yourself. But the esol was amazing career because even though it's not teaching what you intended it's such an amazing gift and you're so kind and giving and generous that your students totally see that and receive it. I can't imagine they could have a better teacher and that just must be evident in their results.
    * That is all. And it is more than enough. Ha.

    1. That is lame about your comments not sticking! Boo.

      I feel bad for Conway, too. Poor guy. Though sometimes I think there are some things that are a little easier about being a dog on an elimination diet. Like that he has no control and can't cheat. (Sometimes I wish someone would just feed me all my meals!)

      Thanks for your comments about my passion for Thirty-One :) I really do love it. And no worries about purchasing. Take your time. I'll be here. Also - I can send you a print catalog if you think that would be easier to look at. (I find it less overwhelming than the website)

      Still trying to come up with something fabulous to bake. Though the crepes I made last night were pretty amazing.

      And teaching is definitely my career :) I wouldn't call Thirty-One my career by any stretch of the imagination, but even just doing it as something for fun is not "normal" for "an academic". (Though, oddly, it's totally normal for a teacher.)

      And thank you, thank you, thank you for all the kind words <3