Thursday, July 16, 2015
COFFEE TALK: WHERE I'VE BEEN
Before I begin to attempt to get back in the blogging groove, I figured you guys deserved an explanation as to where I've been. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I'm alive. However, I neglected this blog for far too long.
So I'm explaining what's been going on over a cup of coffee. Just like I would if we were connecting in real life, rather than through computer screens.
I started this past school year off with a blogging bang! I mean, I even had enough energy to blog a recap of open house, on the night of open house. I was blessed with two classes full of the sweetest kids I had ever taught and I was SO excited to share our classroom adventures with you.
Then it happened. By it, I mean the stress induced headaches and occasional panic attacks. Triggered by so many factors. Triggers that I'm being very open about with you, in hopes my post may encourage some of you who may have experienced, or are experiencing, similar things.
One of my triggers was testing. This year was a very stressful year for my grade level, as our students, and our performance as educators, were assessed with a brand new testing platform. One that we knew very little about. We saw a few practice tests, but that was it. We had no idea how the questions would be scored, what was considered passing, or even when our students scores would be released. Once my students were done testing in April, I felt like an enormous burden was lifted off my shoulders. My state has since done away with the assessment we used this year, which gives me great relief in some ways and has me scared in many others, because next year will another year where I have no idea what students, or my teaching, will be measured up against!
Another trigger was TTC. This past year, my husband and I decided we wanted to start a family. Months and months went by, without a positive test for us. All our friends were announcing their pregnancies and that was hard, even though we were SO happy for them. It was hard to see so many couples move onto the next phase of their lives as a family, even though you love them and are so genuinely happy for them, and we had to keep living in "the two week wait" window.
As you can imagine, it was very difficult for us as a couple to go to baby shower after baby shower and even spend time with our friends who were pregnant/had babies because it was a constant reminder of what we, for whatever reason, couldn't have. We often felt excluded from conversations because well, we didn't have/weren't going to have a baby anytime soon. We began to feel like we didn't fit in, that our friends would forget about us, or that we had nothing to offer them anymore.
Another trigger, was just being a teacher. Like many of you reading my blog, I'm still a classroom teacher. I love blogging. I love being creative and designing materials for TpT. However, neither one of these things are my full time gig. I still have students in my classroom that count on me for a nurturing, safe, and challenging classroom environment. I still have fifty-five spelling and reading tests to grade almost every week, lesson plans to write, parents to communicate with, coworkers to collaborate with, and meetings to attend.
Like I mentioned earlier, I got headaches almost daily from October to December. Always during the week, never on the weekends, and I started to dread going to work. A few times, I even had what my doctor later told me were panic attacks, because I felt my at times my heart rate/pulse were out of control for no good reason. My doctor advised me to look for ways to cut stress out my life. Not just because we were trying to have a baby but because my body was basically rebelling against all the stress. My first thought was to get a massage. The massage therapist confirmed what my doctor told me, my body was full of stress. I knew that I had to change something because I hated feeling the way that I did.
I prayed and prayed about what to do. I obviously couldn't switch grade levels mid year or refuse to have my students take the new standardized tests. My husband and I still wanted a baby. I love teaching, it's my passion, and blogging/TpT has been an amazing blessing to our family. I just didn't know what to give up or step away from.
Winter Break recharged and energized me. My husband even told me, "I love how happy you are." One morning while reading the bible, this verse spoke to me.
My soul was burdened and weary and I needed rest. I decided to take a step back from TpT and blogging for the rest of the school year. This was something I probably should have told y'all at the beginning, but I had no idea how long the break would be. As the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months, I knew that the break would probably be for the rest of the year. That thought was solidified when I went to a TpT Seller/Blogger Meet Up in the spring with some friends. Rather than feeling excited about my blog or TpT, my heart raced the entire time that I was there, and not in a good way. I'm walked around a fog and probably didn't make a great first impression on the people that I met. Sure enough, on the way home from the meet up, I got a migraine. So naturally, I decided not to go to Vegas this year.
My husband and I also took a formal break from trying to have a baby. It wasn't that we no longer desired to have a child, it's just the TTC process was extremely stressful and heart breaking, at times, for both of us. We just needed a break and wanted to enjoy simply being married after months of living in the "two week window".
In late January, the daily head attaches and the far too frequent feeling like my heart was beating way faster than it should be started to go away. For the first time in months, I felt good. I felt that 2015 would be an amazing year, if I just listened to my body.
So, I cherished my time in the classroom with my sweet students and together we accomplished some amazing things, even though the odds were stacked against us with the whole testing thing. I love my kids more than I could ever express every year but this year was different. I cherished every single moment we had together and loved them like crazy. They were truly a calm in all my crazy this year. My students truly became a classroom family and we all cried on the last day of school. The class of 2023, will always hold a very special place in my heart!
At home, my husband attacked his schooling with a renewed sense of passion and focus since we decided to take a TTC break and he finally finished his degree. He has been going to school and working full time for four years. I am SO very proud of him!
We have been cherishing our summer together, as we as finally have some free time to go dates, to relax by the fire pit, and do little things, like going to the grocery store together. We have even started focusing on becoming healthier versions of ourselves this summer and have lost a combined total of forty pounds. While we still haven't been blessed with a baby, we are at a much better place now and believe that in God's time and in God's way, he will grow our family. Of course it's hard sometimes be the only couple without kids, sometimes really hard, but I've been trying to soak up all the baby cuddles I can get right now, in preparation for when it will finally be our turn.
Rather than spending time chained to my computer each night, I was able to rediscover my other passions during the second half of the school year. One of those passions was reading. I read lots of young adult novels for my classroom, several beach/chic lit reads, and even some cheesy romances with my newly found spare time. Reading more and talking to my kids about how much I was reading was magical, as so many of them became passionate and avid readers this year.
I also spent time being crafty to keep my fingers busy, and I made several new wreaths for our front door. It was a lot of fun getting creative in other ways, rather than just behind a computer screen. I starting cooking every night again, cooking is one of my favorite hobbies. This summer, I even started running again. For years, I ran almost every day. I even ran a marathon a few years ago but running was one of the first things I said "goodbye" to when I started my TpT/blogging journey. It has felt good to rediscover some of my other passions and interests.
This time away from blogging and TpT has been really good for my mental health. However, I miss it. I miss sharing things with you. I miss creating things that teachers all over the world can benefit from. However, after four years of trying to being a good teacher, wife, dog mom, friend, blogger, running coach, and curriculum designer, I needed a break.
As I listen to my body, I know that the break is coming to an end. I've started to feel a little restless and the curriculum designer in my head has taken over my daily walks and has kept me up at night a few times. I've started to update a few older products and I have some ideas for new ones.
The challenge now is to try and keep everything in balance, which I know will be very hard to do. I appreciate your patience and support as I try my best to fit in all my passions in a healthy way.
If you have ever felt overwhelmed with stress, please know you are not alone. Reach out to your loved ones, your doctors, your friends. Stress and anxiety are things that we all deal with, but rarely talk about. I always thought that I managed stress pretty well, until this year when my body rebelled against it. Luckily for me, I was able to find a solution to my headaches/anxiety fairly quickly. Please, listen to your body. Take a break when you need it. Love yourself and remember you are not alone.