The Anxiety Machine

A few times a month, I have bad anxiety days.

Not days when I have panic attacks – which, thankfully, are rare – just days when my anxiety sits on top of me like a layer of rocks, reminding me of everything stupid I might have done or might have done wrong, or even things I might do wrong but haven’t yet.

It’s draining.

I’ve been on edge since Friday, when I was spoken to by my principal about how I was late for professional development this week.

The conversation wasn’t a big deal – I’m not in trouble, I wasn’t even scolded about it.

And yet I spent two hours yesterday obsessing over it, because I got a three sentence email that went over what we had spoken about.

I struggled to check my work email today for fear that something else from the principal would be in it.

I had a job interview today, for the new position, and have spent the four hours since cringing over everything I said and how dumb I’m sure I looked and now there’s a follow-up email from the interviewer with a few extra questions and they are nothing I can’t answer but I am paralyzed, and I CAN’T.

And it’s so frustrating to feel like this.

I manage most days, and my anxiety disorder is mild and generally well maintained with medications, but these days suck.

Anxiety sucks.

And the worse part of it is?

Anxiety makes me feels like I suck.

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Changes Changes

In my 13 or so years of teaching, I have taught multiple ages. I have taught kids from age 3 to age 21, have taught kids with affective needs, autism, developmental delays. I’ve worked in elementary schools, high schools, and K-12 schools.

In 13 years, I’ve taught in 9 schools.

I’ve left due to budget cuts, due to moving states, due to health issues, due to numbers.

And at the end of this year, I’m leaving one more.

Before the winter holidays, my principal sent me an email asking to see me. As I don’t have a good track record with having principal meetings hanging over my head and not having anxiety attacks, I emailed a question back.

When she answered that it was about planning for next year, I just knew.

Our numbers are too low to sustain my classroom along with the other early childhood classrooms.

Which translates to: we don’t want your odd hybrid early childhood special education class here and would rather use the space for another 3rd grade classroom.

So, I have a choice.

I can attempt to follow my classroom. Contact the principal, cross my fingers, put on interview clothes and hope she is nice and not crazy or a bully. I can learn more names of colleagues who will most likely never know mine. I can sit through countless hours of professional development of topics that will never pertain to me.

Or, I can take the job the director of early childhood special education offered me.

I can become an itinerant teacher.

I can go from serving kids in one classroom to serving kids in multiple classrooms. I can go from making lesson plans to observing and offering other teachers advice and techniques on how to best work with kids with special needs.

The idea of losing my classroom is scary. The idea of having to relearn one entire school, and principal quirks, and data teams, and lesson planning is overwhelming.

The idea of having more time – to actually work with kids instead of drowning in tracking minutia of data changes and Teaching Strategies Gold – just the idea of having more time, less parents sending me angry letters about their kid’s diapers, less time pulling the same child off of the top of the same table while he tosses things at my head..oh. Oh yes, I know what my decision will be.

And maybe this time, as I’ve thought all those times before, maybe this one will actually stick, and I won’t dread going to work everyday.

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Watercolor and Ink

I find myself gravitating more towards pen and paper and away from writing on the computer.

It might be that it’s too easy to get distracted while on the computer. With the internet and tumblr and video games, sometimes it’s just not possible for my brain to focus on the act of typing and creating.

With pen and paper, I doodle more. I make lists and I draw and I write bits and scraps of things that wander through my head, and it’s nice.

I can cover the entire paper in nothing but doodles of boxes, and that’s ok. It isn’t as aggravating as staring at a blinking cursor in a word processor – knowing that you’ve got nothing to say. Because I know I can take those scraps and bits of text and maybe put them together into something later. Or have one little line of text spark a whole page of thoughts pouring out, and that’s ok, too.

Scraps of text on a screen aren’t as movable or as flexible.

And I’m reminding myself that is ok. That it is ok to use both. Or just one. Or even go back and forth within the same hour.

How do you write? What do you write?

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Like a Bear

2014 was..hard. Really hard. And I am very very glad it is over.

So! 2015 will be BETTER!

There will be FEWER ER TRIPS (2014 count: 4 – 2 me, 1 Voldemort, 1 Brandus)
There will be MORE FAMILY DINNERS (is it bad when your kid gets really excited at the thought of a family dinner? Probably)
There will be YET ANOTHER JOB CHANGE (*hysterical laughter* My classroom is being closed at this school. AGAIN!!! *cries*)
There will be GYMNASTICS LESSONS for the kid and YOGA for me!
There will be MORE SLEEP AND LESS STRESS AND OMG PLEASE.

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Inside the Break

Today is Thanksgiving, and aside from the really awesome time we are having staying in a haunted room at The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park (SO AWESOME. We keep accidentally interrupting various tours as they stop outside our room to tell about the guy who evidently wants to steal my wedding ring and push Brandus out of bed, and we’ve heard a whole host of weird noises – bells and knocking and drawers opening and the closet door that does it’s own thing..), I’m having an even more awesome time having an ENTIRE WEEK OFF.

It’s sad, in all honesty. I like my job in a general sort of way (if you’ve been reading any length of time at all, teaching and I have a very turbulent relationship. We’ve broken up several times and I’m constantly considering divorce), and in all honesty and with no humility whatsoever, I’m pretty damn good at it.

But.

I’m so much happier and more relaxed when I’m not teaching. I manage to quilt and cook and can things. I write and I clean and I run errands. I’m not exhausted all the time – during teaching weeks and weekends, it’s all I can do to read through tumblr and drown myself in fanfiction after Voldemort goes to bed. The house is constantly a disaster and the cooking is generally massively subpar and involves little time and much stress. Those other things (quilting, canning, etc) sometimes happen, but with much less focus and sometimes involve going upstairs to the office and staring blankly at whatever I want to be working on until I finally just go back downstairs and eat toasted freezer waffles and nutella.

I can’t quit. I’m currently the sole bread-winner, and even though we live just fine on my salary alone, we can’t exactly go without ANY salary.

But I dream about it.

The time to be at home. To make stuff. To work on things that interest me. To actually be able to go to the grocery store by myself and cook the things I’d like to have the energy to cook. Voldemort is seven and in school all day, so it’s not like I’d be doing the whole kid-raising thing all week long.

Would I start going stir crazy after a few months? Probably. But I’d really love the chance to find out.

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