Sunday, July 22, 2012


So part of my new taking-great-care-of-myself plan is not eating crap. Well, not as much crap.

Over the past few weeks, I've slowly started mentally preparing myself for this change. Because for me, not eating crap is a big change from the way I've been eating for the past while. (And frankly, for my entire childhood, despite the concerted efforts of my mom.)

I started reading up on some different healthy eating philosophies online over the past few weeks. I had been wondering what Paleo was for a while after seeing several Facebook and Pinterest friends mentioning it, so I took a look. And promptly found out that, while I'm sure it is totally and completely amazing for your body, it also involves no grains or dairy. And is therefore a no-go for me.

Then I started looking at some blogs and sites that talk about eating "clean" - meaning nothing processed, nothing with crap, just your basic plant-and-animal-derived foods. This is more like what I will be attempting to get on board with.

I say attempting because here's the thing: I don't really diet. If you give me a restrictive list of can-and-can'ts, I'm just not going to follow it. And then I'll blow it big time and will be back where I started. I believe that everyone has to do what's right for them, so here's my version of *attempting* not to eat crap.

kvh(d)'s Attempt Not To Eat Crap
My main plan is to try and eat simple foods that come pretty directly either from a plant or an animal. I am super proud of my most recent grocery store trip, because I started looking at labels and buying the brands that had the fewest ingredients. Based on my reading, fewer ingredients = more natural. And as we know, more natural = less crap. Also, if I can pronounce all of the ingredients, something tells me that's probably a whole lot better than maltodextrodihydro-something.

However, I'm going to be realistic. There are going to be some non-negotiables. There is some crap I will not give up. It's probably different for everyone, but my non-negotiable crap list is as follows:

1. Light Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice
It's not happening. Ever. I have been drinking Ocean Spray cranberry juice for almost my entire life, and I'm not going to stop now. I don't drink soft drinks at all, so this is my indulgence beverage of choice.
2. Splenda
When I want something to be sweet, I'd like it also not to be full of calories. Plus, Splenda dissolves in iced coffee waaaaay better than sugar.
3. Goat Cheese
I refuse on principle to give up goat cheese. Or really, any cheese. This is going to be an exercise in moderation, as opposed to "let me order a cheese plate as my dinner."
4. Oscar Meyer Center Cut Bacon
Two slices have 40 calories. They are 1 point on Weight Watchers. I know bacon is not "lean protein." Sue me. I could do worse.
5. Wine
First of all, one glass a day supposedly has health benefits. Secondly, it's delicious. And compared to other alcoholic beverages like margaritas, it's totally not that bad.

I feel like most people attempting some sort of nutritional lifestyle change are going to have some version of this list for themselves. What is life, if not a means of enjoying yourself from time to time? The exercise for me is going to be finding the balance that allows me to have enough wiggle room so I don't give up on this whole idea.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Opening a Window for Myself

When I was in middle school, I was really into keeping a "quote book." I would look for and write down quotes and quotes and quotes that I found inspirational. One of the ones I remember loving (but not really understanding) at 12 was, "When God closes a door, he opens a window." It's from The Sound of Music. I think.

Anyway, as you know from my last post, I basically closed a door for myself. I resigned from my teaching job, determined to find something else that would work better for me and where I am right now. I've spent the past five weeks or so on various trips - to the mountains, home to New Orleans, and then three weeks in the UK and Sweden with my family. (Trip post to come soon.) As refreshing and much-needed as those trips were, I am so ready and glad to be back at home with Hubs. I am ready to begin to take really, really good care of myself for the first time in over a year. I'm detailing my plans below - somehow putting them on the internet makes me feel like I'm being held accountable for them.

kvh(d)'s getting-her-sh!t-together, life semi-makeover plan
1. Find a job I love that is less stressful than teaching (aka, any other job)
Status: in progress.
I have put out a few feelers and even had an interview yesterday. Basically, what I want to get into is arts integration - but more on that later. I'm planning to start a new blog with arts integration information and teaching ideas. Get excited!

2. Stop eating crap.
Status: barely in progress.
Last year, Hubs and I trained for a 10k, and between that and eating carefully (I <3 Weight Watchers), I dropped about 15 pounds for our wedding without trying too hard. It is the thinnest and best I have ever looked. I am by no means fat, but I've always had a few extra pounds. Unfortunately when I got to NC, I stopped watching what I ate, especially with Hubs working so much. Stress = no motivation to eat well = muffin top. I now find, quite suddenly over the past 2 months or so actually, that clothes are not fitting. This is entirely my own fault, and I make no excuses. No crazy diets or anything. I'm just going to stop eating crap. More on this later, too - I've been doing lots of research on not eating crap.

3. Get off my behind.
Status: ugh. In progress, but I ain't happy about it.
As I said above, Hubs and I did this 10k last year. Which is totally out of the ordinary for me. It ended up being such a great bonding experience for us, though - something we could do together while we were engaged. Here's the catch: I don't actually like running. I pretty much just did it because he made me (for the record, I asked him to make me), and because it feels good when you finish. Obviously, once Hubs went to work 80 hours a week, the running stopped happening. I mean, once in a blue moon I was like, "Hey! I'm gonna go run the Duke trail!" but honestly, that was like 5 times all year. I really want to look good and feel great. I'm gonna keep it simple, though - do some sort of exercise every day.

4. Make my house look slightly less like a tornado blew through.
Status: I'm sitting here blogging when I have a literal mountain of laundry to do. How do you think it's going?
I am a terrible housewife. Like, awful. Not at all good. As organized as my brain is, that's how messy my surroundings get. I have an amazingly understanding husband who has never once gotten upset at me about the deplorable state of our house... but now that I am not working for the moment, I feel like I have no excuse.

5. Feed my soul.
Status: working on it
Though I am a relatively religious/spiritual person, I am not generally public about it. Suffice it to say that I plan to make spirituality and faith more of a part of my life.

So there you have it. I closed the door on a significant part of my life. It's time to open a window and let a new breeze blow in.

Friday, June 8, 2012

It's Not You, It's Me.

Dear Teaching,

We've been in a relationship now for four years. We dated casually in college, and then I decided to commit when I took my job in New Orleans. You've been a major part of my adult life. Yesterday was the last day of the school year, and you know what?

We need a break.

Listen, teaching, it's been great. We've had some good times. You have given me the opportunity to work with over 150 third graders over the past four years. They - and you - have brought me more joy and fulfillment than I could have imagined. The adorably misspelled cards and awkwardly drawn pictures I have upstairs in my den are possessions I will cherish for eternity. I am grateful every day for having had the opportunity to mean something to such wonderful kids and their families.

Here's the thing though: our relationship has changed this year. My life has thrown me into a lot of "new"s - new state, new marriage, new school, new friends - and it's just not working out with you anymore. It's not you, it's me. I've got to get my head on straighter and re-prioritize.

Well... it's also a little bit you, though. Teaching, you are one of the most stressful occupations out there. You require me to spend almost all of my time and a good chunk of my money on you. That was cool for a while, but I'm pretty over dealing with paperwork, pacing guides, and testing. I'm a little burned out, and I just need a change for a while.

Another reason we need a break is that I'm really trying to focus on my career right now. Teaching is great, but I'm interested in expanding into other areas too. I'd really like to explore working in arts integration or museum education, and I can't do that if I'm stuck with you all the time. I would love to work at a school being the arts integration facilitator, or be an education curator for a museum, or work for a nonprofit that brings the arts into schools... there are so many possibilities, and I can't find them all out until I get some space.

Look, this isn't a permanent breakup. I know in my heart that you're the job I'm supposed to be with for the long haul. But some of the best information I got from a coworker this year was this: when I asked how he'd managed to stay so passionate about teaching for 30something years, he told me it was because he never taught for more than a few years at a time. When he got burned out, he went and did something else for a while. It's enabled him to stay enthusiastic, engaged, and excited about teaching for longer than I've been alive. I know that if I stick around a few more years feeling the way I've felt this year, that will be it for us. And I don't want that to happen.

Sure, I'm nervous about the future. This is the first time I'm ending one phase of my life without knowing what the next phase will hold. I'm more than nervous, actually. I'm flat-out scared.

But that fear is also sort of weirdly exhilarating. I know that if Hubs and I had stayed in New Orleans, I'd probably still be very happy with you at my old job. But I'm not there, I'm here - and the fact is I need something else right now, something you can't give me. I don't know what that is at the moment, but maybe the not knowing itself is it.

So take care of yourself, teaching. Don't let those budget cuts and state standards get you down. Until we meet again, in another classroom down the road, know that you're the love of my life.