Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Review

2012 Goals in Review...

At the beginning of 2012, I published these goals on my blog:

1. Get to the gym (or exercise) 3 or more times per week. That's about 156 check-ins for the year (compared to last year's 112). I am already behind!
2. Get to bed by 10 PM or earlier.
3. Read scriptures every day before work.
4. Read a book a month for pleasure.
5. Learn a song on the piano (keyboard, since that's all I have).
6. Limit eating out to twice per month. (Taco Bell is a weekly thing before my Tuesday night class at the rather inconvenient time of 4:30-7:30, so this doesn't count.)
7. Pay off my credit card.

Here is my assessment of each of the above goals.

1. I accomplished this and then some. I reached 156 check-ins at the gym on December 31st. Most weeks, I worked out 4-5 days. On spring break, during summer vacation, Thanksgiving, and winter break, I worked out consistently at home in Glendora. I occasionally worked out in my apartment or at my complex gym. This year I’m ready to take it all to a new level by eating the way I should eat: clean. And I’ll be monitoring everything with my BodyBugg.
2. I did not make this happen. My sleeping habits are terrible. I want to be better about this. I should start heading to bed at 9:30 (get changed, brush teeth, read, etc.). That way I can make it to sleep by 10 or 10:30. My BodyBugg will keep track of my sleep and sleep quality. I’m excited about it.
3. I did not accomplish this either. At some point in the year I was reading nightly. I had intended to accomplish the Book of Mormon challenge issued by my stake. I loved reading the way they assigned, with color coding and highlighting. I think I will continue that way. Depending on how much I have left to read, I will pick a date to be done with that pattern of reading. Then I’ll bust out Preach My Gospel again and start using that as a study guide again because I loved doing it that way. I need to make this a daily thing because I notice a difference in my life when I read my scriptures. Also one thing I did this fall that I hadn’t set out to do originally was sign up for institute. I met new people and grew in some ways. I can do better in this vein and am planning on taking institute again this semester.
4. I did not do this. I don’t read enough. I waste a lot of time online because that’s what I want to do after working all day. But it never fulfills. I’m going to come up with a list of twelve books to read. Most will be self-help books I think.
5. I put my keyboard into storage in June, so I didn’t learn any new songs. : (
6. I did really well with not going out to eat this year. The past few months I’ve been pretty bad about this because I’ve had extra money coming in from my writing job.
7. I am happy to say that I just scheduled my last payment for my credit card and that both of them will be at a zero balance. I will take that money I’ve been using to pay those off to pay off my medical bill for the next 3-4 months. Then I will use the money and put it all toward my car. I’m snowballing. Dave Ramsey’s methods work! I still type out everything I spend onto a spreadsheet in Excel.

2012 in Review...

Regardless of only accomplishing three of my seven original goals, it doesn't mean I wasted 2012. I still did stuff!

This year I have

1. Cut 11 inches off my hair and donated it.
2. Dated a ton.
3. Deleted my online dating profiles after having too many bad experiences.
4. Gotten a roommate.
5. Tripled my savings from this time last year.
6. Set up a Roth IRA account.
7. Seen Joshua Radin in concert.
8. Seen Band of Horses in concert.
9. Exercised 3-6 days per week all year.
10. Started teaching honors classes.
11. Been in the same calling in a new ward (visiting teaching coordinator).
12. Taken a writing class and written a lot.
13. Brought some of my writing class traditions into my own classroom.
14. Had an overnight retreat in Heber at a nice cabin.
15. Gotten an iPhone.
16. Signed up for Instagram and have taken lots of pictures.
17. Donated plasma and gotten paid.
18. Visited the Getty museum twice.
19. Gone to the beach several times throughout the summer.
20. Made new girlfriends.
21. Seen a lot of movies.
22. Worn an awesome Halloween costume: Hermione Granger.
23. Gone to Cornbelly’s a lot.
24. Ridden the lift at Snowbird and done the moonlight ski ride at Sundance.
25. Redone my little brother’s room.
26. Applied cleaning techniques from Pinterest.
27. Finished my mom’s recipe books.
28. Been financially able to buy Christmas presents.
29. Started Crossfitting regularly using a website (
30. Rewatched childhood movies (Dumbo and Rescuers Down Under).
31. Voted for the presidency.
32. Decided that the vote for the Senate and House positions is way more important.
33. Held baby turtles.
34. Tried lots of new recipes from Pinterest, including overnight oatmeal and recipes with coconut milk.
35. Eaten a lot more fish.
36. Drank made-from-scratch hot chocolate.
37. Won several drawings at work for health challenges.
38. Run a 5K!
39. Gotten a traumatic, awful massage.
40. Done dishes in my bathroom sink.
41. Tried BodyPump class.
42. Gotten a speeding ticket.
43. Gone to court to fight it.
44. Used a piping bag for cupcake frosting
45. Substituted applesauce for oil in recipes
46. Gone to Bees games
47. Eaten deep fried Oreos and deep fried Snickers.
48. Finished a four week boot camp.
49. Added flax to my food.
50. Gone ice skating.

As for 2013...

I’ve explained in the past that I haven’t really been much for New Year’s resolutions because it’s so cliché. You have all these great goals and ideas that you forget about by February. That’s the case for me even with last year. But I need the push. I really do. And this is just a good excuse to get off my butt and start moving forward. I needed something to make me sit down and focus on the steps I want to take to being a better version of myself. New Year’s is doing that for me.

A while back, I found this little poster on Pinterest and have used it to guide my goal-setting.

So I've set some solid goals for each area.

My mind?
- Continue writing SEO articles. I learn a lot doing that for work.
- Watch a documentary every month (Sick, Fat, and Nearly Dead; Business of Being Born, etc.)
- Try to publish for English Journal or Utah English Journal
- Meditate a few minutes before bed (this is a spiritual and physical goal too).

My body?
- Read the following book: Chi Running: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running
- Go to sleep at 10:00 PM, and wake up at 6 AM.
- Exercise at least four days per week doing Crossfit and running, if the Crossfit workout is short.
- Practice clean eating habits: fresh veggies, fruit, whole grains, and protein.
- Minimize and attempt to eliminate sugar intake.
- Run a half marathon

My spirit?
- Read: Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer
- Learn and apply positive self-talk
- Pray in the morning and at night
- Read scriptures before work while eating breakfast (10 minutes)
- Fast at least once per month
- Attend institute
- Stop swearing

My relationships?
- Read the following books: Tiny Beautiful Things; The Seven Levels of Intimacy: The Art of Loving and the Joy of Being Loved
- Call, text, or write a note to somebody daily.
- Speak kind words about others to increase trust.

My creativity and passion?
- Read the following books: Letters from a Nut; A Million Little Pieces; We Bought a Zoo; The Book Thief;  I Hate Everything
- Write daily.
- Learn to play guitar in community classes.

I think I'm set. And I'm going to print this out and put it somewhere that I can see regularly. I'll keep track of my books on Goodreads.

Here's to a year of progress!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Annual Christmas Inventory

I've gotten into this weird habit over the years of listing everything I got for Christmas (and my birthday). For whatever reason, I enjoy having the inventory.

I got a lot of good stuff this year but was still left wanting. As most of my focus for the past two years has been on exercise, naturally I wanted mostly exercise tools. I wanted a stability ball, yoga mat, sports bras, workout tanks, and workout capris. I also had my heart set on some fashion boots. But I did get the most important exercise tool I wanted--a BodyBugg! I am loving it so far.

So here is my list, starting with what my cute students got me.

  • Hershey special dark giant chocolate bar
  • Tuck Everlasting
  • Coke Zero
  • Dark chocolate and milk chocolate bar with almonds
  • Hard candy caramels
  • Ghirardelli caramel chocolate bar
  • Cookies
  • Pay Day candy bar
  • Winder Farms chocolate chip cookies
  • Mini stocking with chocolates
  • Christmas cards from a few students
I am definitely set on the candy front. Thanks, kiddos!

From Tommie, my roommate:
  • Two workout tanks
  • See’s candy

From Rachel:
  • Cupcake kit

 From Jon:
  • Purple scarf
  • Indonesian Teak candle

 From parents:
  • BodyBugg
  • Harry Potter 7.2
  • Purple robe wraparound thing
  • iPod alarm radio
  • Ninja food processor
  • Bras, underwear
  • Spaghetti strap tanks
  • Capri leggings
  • Laptop sleeve

 In my stocking (didn't all fit, obvs):
  • See’s truffles
  • Snoopy desk calendar (where you change the blocks for the date)
  • Ulta makeup kit
  • Lindor truffles (dark chocolate bag and hazelnut bag)
  • Peanut M&Ms
  • Boot warmers
  • Calendar
  • Nail polish
  • Mascara
  • Candle
  • Bath salts
  • Note pads
  • Teacher ornament
  • Lighter
  • Chocolate milk mix
  • Slinky
  • I Hate Everything book

 From grandparents:
  • $50

From Carmen:
  • Christmas décor table set (plates, napkins, napkin rings, etc.)

From Matt:
  • E.L.F. smoky eye makeup kit (I wanted this)
  • Strap perfect (I wanted this too)
  • Lunch at Cafe Rio, a day at The Getty, dinner at P.F. Chang's, Pinkberry twice, etc. 

And I haven't gotten to exchange presents with a few more friends, so there's more to come. 

Overall I have accumulated a large amount of stuff, more than I know what to do with. And somehow spent a half an hour revamping my Amazon wish list. What? My birthday is coming up. 

I've got another blog coming soon: a review of 2012 in which I revisit my failed resolutions and talk about all of the things I didn't accomplish. The tides are changing though folks. I'm ready. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks

So, I don’t really do any Facebook trends or public displays of things. I like to be a grateful person privately, just like I usually like to tell people I appreciate them privately. I also like to be a thankful person consistently because I recognize that a grateful heart is a happy heart. I like to look for my blessings when I am down because that refocuses my attention onto good things.

I fear that my cynical nature and sarcastic sense of humor puts off the impression to a lot of people that I am ungrateful and unhappy. This is far from the truth. I actually have a lot of things and people in my life to be thankful for, and I’ve been an incredibly thankful girl since a very young age, believe it or not. I’ve always been able to recognize that there are those who do not have the things that I have, and who have it so much harder than I do.

Even though I’d rather just be a consistently thankful person, I figure an outpouring of thanks once a year is acceptable on this occasion, and I put together a list of things I am thankful for. Read on if you care; if not, just know that I recognize my blessings.

*Disclaimer: Many of these things may come off as me being egotistical, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be genuinely grateful for things about yourself because we were blessed (and cursed) with certain qualities.

Things I am grateful for:

1.       My capable body and good health. I have struggled with body image since I was a little girl. But I work out almost every day, and I work out hard. I find that when I focus on the things my body can do, I am much more grateful for it. I rarely get sick anymore, things function mostly perfectly, and I am not prone to injury. I’m grateful for this.
2.       I am grateful for the skill set Heavenly Father blessed me with. There are a lot of things I could do to support myself. I have a side job writing right now and believe this is a talent I was blessed with. Being organized and prepared has kept me sane and made my life and others’ lives much easier. Playing music makes me and others around me happy. These are a few talents I am grateful for.
3.       Having a strong mind has been good and bad at times. I am grateful that I have the ability to slow down my thought process and think things through logically, reasonably, and thoroughly. I might be an emotional person, but my brain works pretty well. I have no chemical imbalances or learning disabilities, and I’m glad for it.
4.       Commitment. In general I am grateful for commitment. I’m grateful that I am the kind of person who does what she says she is going to do, and tries her best to do it. People can trust me, and I can trust myself. My commitment to everything I do has blessed me and others.
5.       Good work ethic. I am a pretty focused person and can sit down and work quickly and completely. I find the most efficient way to get something done and then I do it. I know a lot of people struggle with this, with being efficient, and with staying focused. So I am grateful that my life is easier because of the work ethic I was born with.
6.       Education and learning. I love learning things. I love learning from other people, depending on the approach they take with me. I like to observe rather than be lectured. But I am so grateful for my education and for what it has taught me in terms of researching thoroughly and looking at all sides of an issue. I love ongoing education and community classes, like the stress management class I was able to take recently. I love self-help books and am grateful for people who write about things in such depth that I can have a greater understanding of things. I love Pinterest and things like it because of everything I learn there. I’m thankful for blogs and the people who run them or share their knowledge in other ways. Learning empowers me and makes my life easier.
7.       Observation. I have been blessed with the ability to learn from other people’s mistakes. This has saved me a lot of pain and struggle because I’ve understood the long-term possibilities and repercussions for my decisions. I’m so glad I’m not the type of person who has to touch the hot stove.
8.       The internet. I just don’t know what life was like without it anymore. The ease of finding answers to any questions, the speed of communication, and the ability to keep in touch with old friends is a blessing.
9.       Attitudes and mindsets. I never solely focus on the negative. I see a challenge in front of me and try to laugh it off or tell myself it’ll get better. I’m not overly optimistic or idealistic, but I recognize the value of these attitudes and know that we attract things to ourselves with our attitudes. People say I am lucky. No, I just believe I’ll win! Saying you are unlucky or have the worst luck is just a mindset, and if you keep believing it, it will be true. The body follows the mind, and I am grateful I have been blessed to know this for a number of years because I believe in healing and accomplishing through the power of thinking.
10.   Laughter and humor and sarcasm. Again, I know people perceive my sense of humor in the ways that they want to. But I think my life is really funny sometimes. It was stressful and frustrating having my flight get cancelled the other night, but surely there was some humor to be found there. I’ve yet to think that one through, but still, I wasn’t crying or angry. I love making things funny because life is better that way.
11.   Good books. I don’t read nearly as much as I’d like to. But I love the ability of books to relax me and put me in a different place. I love learning from books, even if they are fictional. Even in a Harry Potter book I find the character traits I admire and want to adopt into my life.
12.   Good movies. Movies also take me away, either entertaining me or helping me to improve. Learning from others’ experiences can happen in movies, too. I’ve had many movies, just like books, change the way I see things and therefore change my life.
13.   A good job. My job is very, very stressful sometimes. I feel like it is almost impossible to be great at what I do because there are so many components to good teaching that other people don’t think of until they try it. But I don’t dread going to work every day. My kids this year are amazing young people who do dumb things sometimes, and I suppose it’s a privilege to get to set them straight and help them think a little more clearly (or it might be a lost cause). ;) Having my side job writing is a financial comfort as well.
14.   Shelter and a bed. I have a nice apartment to live in that keeps me out of the sometimes fierce Utah cold. When I see people wandering the streets and know that there are many people losing their homes and going to shelters, I think of how blessed I am to have a warm bed to sleep in with a roof overhead.
15.   Having a car is something I’ve really never had to be without. But because of that, I imagine what it’d be like without one and realize I’m not sure I would be able to do it. It’d be so hard. I’m grateful I can afford a car and that everything works on it. Oh, it’s cute too!
16.   Food. Seriously. I love food. I love good food, and I love bad food (which is unfortunate). I love making food, and will try just about anything. My mom’s cooking is great, and I could love coming home just for the food. I’m grateful I have food in my fridge and the ability to grocery shop when I need to.
17.   I am thankful to the Harens who brought me into the LDS church when I was a little girl. I’m thankful for the Duvalls who kept taking me after they moved. I’m not sure where I’d be without it today. These people are wonderful for loving me and serving me in the ways that they have. So many others in church kept me going and showed me how things needed to be done.
18.   The gospel itself. I love the perspective and the hope the gospel gives me in hard times. I’m grateful for a Savior who shows me all the time how I need to be better, and for giving me a way to do so.
19.   Good men. This is kind of all over the place, but I love the good men in the world who treat me well or treat other women well so that I know that there is hope in finding a good one. I need to convince myself that I deserve one of these guys. Then maybe I’ll get one to keep.
20.   Good friends. My patriarchal blessing says I have been blessed with good friends. It is so true. I love my friends who bring me soup and breadsticks when I’m sick and want to see me when I’m visiting home. I have good friends who will drive me to and from the airport twice in one frustrating night or once at 5:30 in the morning. Friends who will listen to me rant about a bad day for a few minutes, and friends who will laugh with me and watch movies with me. I love the good people in my life.
21.   Grandparents. I know a lot of people haven’t been lucky enough to know or be close to their grandparents. My grandma is a big part of my life, and I’m grateful for her listening ear, her thoughtfulness, and her generosity. I’m grateful for my grandpa, for his stories and for his raw emotions in his later years, for everything he has taught me in my life. Grandparents are great.
22.   Last but not least, I’m thankful for my parents. Heaven knows kids are their parents’ greatest critics, and my parents haven’t done things perfectly. But they are genuinely good people, and I am so grateful for their examples of generosity to other people. They’d do anything for anyone, and they have done everything for me. I am blessed with good parents who are present in my life.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

More of Too Much to Do

Monday 10/22

7:30 – 3:30 Work
3:55 – 4:45 Gym
5:00 – 6:15 Write two SEO articles
6:15 – 6:40 Shower and get ready
6:40 Leave for Cornbelly’s
7:00 – 10:15 Play at Cornbelly’s with Tommie and Jon
10:45 get ready for bed
11:00 go to bed

I should also note that at Cornbelly’s I ate so much nastiness. Chicken fingers and tater tots. Popcorn. Some mini donuts. Deep fried Oreos. I tried to make up for it the next day.

Tuesday 10/23

7:30 – 3:15 Work
3:45 – 4:30 Gym
4:45 – 6:00 Write two SEO articles while inhaling dinner
6:00 – 6:25 Shower and get ready
6:30 Head to stress management class
6:45 Finally arrive at stress management class after wandering the building looking for the classroom for 10 minutes.
6:45 – 8:30 Stress management class (which included a guided relaxation session. So awesome).
8:30 drive through Sonic and eat again because I was hungry
8:45 – 9:15 do dishes and chat with Jon, who brought me a Blu-Ray disc of We Bought a Zoo! (Thanks Jon!)
9:15 – 9:45 fart around on the computer
9:45 – 10 get ready for bed
10:00 go to bed and proceed to wake up multiple times throughout the night, including once where I spilled water all over myself

Wednesday 10/24

7:30 – 3:35 Work
4:00 – 4:45 Gym
5:00 – 6:15 Write two SEO articles
6:15 – 6:40 Shower and get ready
6:45 Go to Subway to use a gift card mom got me so I can eat dinner
7:05 Arrive late at Institute
7:05 – 8:30 Institute
8:30 – 9:00 Grocery shopping
9:00 – 10:00 Put away groceries, do dishes, cut up pineapple, write this blog

Thursday 10/25

7:30 – 3:15 Work
3:50 – 4:30 Gym
5:00 – 6:00 Write two SEO articles
6:00 – 6:20 Shower and get ready
6:20 Head to the Organ Loft
6:45 – 8:45 Watch the black and white version of Phantom of the Opera with Eileen and Rachel and her coworker
9:00 – 10:30 Eat and chat at Village Inn with Rachel and Eileen
(too late) Go to bed

Friday 10/26

7:30-3:15 Work
3:50 – 4:30 Gym
5:00 – 6:00 Write two SEO articles
6:00 – 6:30 Shower and get ready
7:00 – 8:00 Get food, hang out, get ready for the dance
8:30 – 12:00 Mid-singles

Saturday 10/27

1:00 – 5:30 Brave matinee at the dollar theater, and then a super long chat afterward with a group of awesomeness named Eileen, Whitney, and Alli
6:00 – 7:00 Write two SEO articles
7:00 – 8:00 I’m not sure what I did in this time frame. I think I made a sad attempt at grading some book reviews.
8:00 – 10:30 Maggie Moo’s and Wal-Mart run with roommate
11:00 – 12:00 Grade book reviews while roommate does my hair and makeup

Sunday 10/28

10:00 Wake up
11:30 – 6:30 Do laundry and grade book reviews (literally sat on the couch all day)
6:30 – 7:30 Eat, shower, get ready
8:15 – 11ish Eat, play games, and talk with Eileen, Whitney, and Alli

Monday 10/29

7:00 – 3:15 Work
3:45 – 4:30 Gym
5:00 – 6:00 Write two articles
6:45 – 9:30 Cornbelly’s (I had deep fried Snickers. Don’t judge.)
11:00 Bed

Tuesday 10/30

7:00 – 3:08 Work
3:30 – 4:10 Laser hair removal appointment
4:30 – 5:15 Gym
5:30 – 6:20 Shower, dress, eat
6:30 – 8:00 Stress management class
8:00 – 9:00 Hang out and do nothing instead of writing articles or grading essays

Wednesday 10/31

7:00 – 2:50 Work (had to catch a ride home with someone who had to leave ASAP)
3:30 – 4:30 Write two articles
4:30 – 5:30 Grade essays
5:30 – 6:30 Do Thursday’s lesson plan (including making a test)
7:00 – 9:45 Dress up, drive to and hang out at Rachel’s parents’ house, eat too much
10:00 Bed

Thursday 11/1

7:00 – 3:25 Work
4:00 – 4:45 Gym
5:00 – 6:10 Write two articles
6:10 – 6:45 Shower and get ready
7:00 – 7:15 Appointment with bishopric counselor (got a calling: visiting teaching coordinator. I’m sure you’re all so shocked and speechless, like I am)
7:30 – 8:00 Eat dinner and relax
8:00 – 9:35 Grade essays (only two classes left!)
9:35 – 10:00 Do dishes, eat my caramel apple I got from my Secret Spook

It’s probably worth noting that I was keeling over with stomach pain this morning. I ate an egg white omelet with cheese, all still good and not expired, but it was bad, bad. It happened again after I ate my dinner (Subway sandwich) too.

It’s also probably worth noting that this is NOT the kind of writing that I would prefer to do as of late. I like writing down everything I accomplish (we all know that). But there are so many more interesting things to write if I could just make the time for it.

For instance, I haven’t even gotten to write about my first experience in court a couple of months ago (fighting a ticket). Or how I dropped almost $300 the other day paying for two teacher licensing tests (in January and April). Or how annoyed I am that my doctor won’t just order lab work and is making me come in for my thyroid issue (yay for a copay!). It’s cool; I can talk to him about my weird stomach issues for the past couple of months as well as my sleeping problem (I can’t sleep). Or about how much I have to do at work tomorrow even though it’s only a half contract day. Or about how I haven’t planned for the term at all and am totally stressed out by that fact. Or also how underwhelmed I was by the cheesecake bites I got at Sonic on the 23rd. Or about my wretched date a few weeks ago where I was pinned up against a wall and basically molested, or about the guy who told me that he has a drinking problem when he’s bored, or the ex who drunkenly told me he still loves me. Or about how I deleted all my online dating profiles because of these experiences. 

What is my life?                                                   

It’s going to be alright, though. You know how I know? Because very few things can overpower the awesomeness of the Halloween costume my mom made for me. Thanks mom!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Dear Diary

My life has been ridiculously crazy lately. Let's recap.

- 7:00 AM leave for work
- 7:30 AM to 3:10 PM work
- 3:10-3:30 drive home and drop roommate off
- 3:30 drive straight to gym
- 3:45-4:30 work my butt off
- 4:30 drive home
- 5:00 - 7:00 work some more: write 3 SEO articles
- Shower and get ready
- 7:30-9:30 dinner date
- Sleep

- 7:00 AM leave for work
- 7:30 AM to 3:10 PM work
- 3:10-3:30 roommate drives me home; I get in my car
- 3:30 drive straight to gym
- 3:45-4:30 work my butt off
- 4:30 drive home
- 5:00 - 7:00 work some more: write 2 SEO articles
- Shower and get ready
- 7:30-9:30 dinner date
- Sleep

- 7:00 AM leave for work
- 7:30 AM to 3:10 PM work
- 3:10-3:40 PM drive to Novels Committee meeting
- 3:40-5:00 PM Novels Committee meeting
- 5:00-5:45 drive through Taco Bell and eat a burrito in my car, then go to the mall and get free underwear at Victoria's Secret (thanks Vickie!)
- 5:45-6:30 drive to Smith's and get groceries
- 6:35 get home and put groceries away
- 6:40 change clothes
- 6:45 get in the car and drive to Cornbelly's with roommate
- 7:15-9:30 play at Cornbelly's with roommate
- 11 PM sleep


- 7:00 AM leave for work
- 7:30 AM to 3:10 PM work
- 3:10-3:30 roommate drives me home; I get in my car
- 3:30 drive straight to gym
- 3:45-4:30 work my butt off
- 4:30 drive to bank and deposit check
- 4:40 pick up a Halloween gift for Rachel
- 5:30 - 7:30 work some more: write 2 SEO articles and make dinner in between
- 7:30 to bedtime, messed around on Pinterest, didn't do a lesson plan for Friday because brain was broken
- 10:30 PM sleep


- 7:00 AM leave for work
- 7:30 AM to 3:10 PM work
- 3:10-3:30 drive home and drop roommate off
- 3:30 drive straight to gym
- 3:45-4:30 work my butt off
- 4:30 drive home
- 5:00 - 7:00 work some more: write 3 SEO articles
- 7:15 shower
- 7:45 get myself a Little Caesar's pizza, pick up cupcakes for Rachel and me
- 8:15 PM-12:30 AM watch Dexter (season 5) with Raytch
- 1:00 AM sleep

- 9:00 AM wake up
- 9:10-9:30 AM work out in the living room
- 9:30-10:00 AM get ready
- 10-11 AM breakfast with Rachel at Kneaders
- 11 AM-4 PM take a mini road trip to Brigham City, walk around the temple and tabernacle, and walk around the Huntsville Monastery.
- 4-6 PM nap
- 6:30 roll out of bed
- 6:30-now do laundry, make dinner, type blog.

As you can see, Friday night and today were both pretty relaxing, but clearly I've been working really hard and have been non-stop all the time lately. I'm pretty exhausted. But I bet you want pictures from Wednesday night and from today. So here you go.

The drive was beautiful. So beautiful.

Going to watch a movie now. Dark Shadows, maybe? I last watched a movie a week ago. Time to relax.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sometimes on a Mountain in September

Using this picture poem as a model/inspiration, we were let loose behind Daniel's Summit Lodge to take photos so we could write a poem too.

After taking all the photos and reviewing them when I came back in so I could start writing, this is what I came up with.

And I wonder if it might change your reading of this poem to know that I was thinking of my grandpa who passed away in February, and my grandma he left behind, as I was taking these pictures and writing this poem.

Leaves, brown and crumpled,

Crunch under
My still new
but now dirty Nikes.

Rocks litter the muddy ground.

Forcing me to look down
And watch
Where I step.
Instead of being able to look
Where I want to look:
At blue sky
And bright yellow
Autumn leaves.

Flies buzz.
Calling my attention
Back down from the sky.
They buzz…
Resisting the approaching
And inevitable

Resisting their imminent

Staring down.
At the brown.
The mud.
The crunch.
The flies.
The ending of life.

Even noting the rusty nail.
Of iron particles dying in the air.

The fence extends
Seemingly forever
Like life.

This wood

A corpse.
Lying there.
Long and old and tired
After putting up a fight.

And this one.
All alone.
Sick and suffering and
Still seeking
The sky.

Or these,
Seemingly huddled together
In a mass,
A pile,
A grave.

Like they couldn’t live
Without each other.

I resist the death encircling me,
The death that approaches,
The death that has already come:
The fallen trees.
The buzzing flies.
The dangerous rocks.
The eternal, rusty fence.

And look up.

At the trees that tower over us.

As if to remind us
What a short time
This really is.

And look up
At the trees who
Reach up
And fight.
The trees who
Never forget to see the light.

The light which will 
Bring life again.

And look up

At the ones who still have life.

Look up
At the trees who,
No matter how small or weak,
Stick together
To fight in the oncoming battle.

And, with my dirty Nikes
that are still new,
Walk on. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Student Comments

Sometimes I get comments like these:

And other times I see comments like this:

And then I go:

And then my other students are all like:

And then I went and did an "email to self":

So I won't forget.

Serves you right, sleepy lazy kid. Oh and by the way, I'm going to create a grammar packet worksheet and dictionary copying activity just for you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

An Exercise in Time Management

You know, my life has been taken over by things that I basically have to do. I don’t like feeling like I’m not in control of how I spend my time.

At work, as a teacher, my life is controlled in part by testing. What days do I have testing? What can I teach them to prepare for testing? What can I do before and after testing dates to keep things connected still? When will I start being evaluated based on my students’ test scores? I am controlled in how I plan lessons, what I write on my board, meetings I attend, and (pretty soon) how many copies I can make.

I am controlled at my second job, which is as an independent SEO contractor/writer. My friend got me the job well over a year and a half ago. It has been an immense help when I have needed some extra cash. I loved it and loved being able to count on it. It was easy, not very time consuming, and reliable for some money. However, things have gotten more than frustrating lately. We writers have recently gotten 3-4 emails a day with “updated requirements,” and attached files to replace the ones attached in previous emails. It’s just a lot to keep track of and try to figure out. We had to move over to a new software/filtering system where we find and upload our articles. They raised the writing demands from no minimum to a minimum of ten articles per week (note: about 10 hours of work). We can no longer write articles that are due later if there are overdue ones still unwritten. We also have to meet quality content requirements of 85% or higher (my two that got reviewed were 90 and above).

Can I also add that the people who “edited” mine made some incorrect “corrections” on my articles? While I know I don’t know everything, I am confident in the things that I know for sure. I know commas, for instance. I don’t appreciate people adding commas into my work when I know they are not needed and when I can explain exactly why. I also don’t appreciate stylistic changes being made to my work. When I say that something can “afford you the opportunity,” and you replace it with “provide you with the opportunity,” I am more than a little bit annoyed at you. What I wrote was perfectly correct and commonplace. Look it up in a thesaurus. Let it be known that I am fully open to corrections and suggestions, but not without some explanation or justification, especially when I totally disagree with what’s been changed.

On top of the new requirements, new article minimums, and limited options in what we write, they are taking forever to pay me. For example, the last pay period ended on September 15. It is September 25, and I still don’t have a check. I’ve checked the mail religiously. Also please note that I made a purchase last week at Wal-Mart on things that could have waited had I known that a check was not coming anytime soon. My spending decisions are dependent on the work I know I’ve done, and the payment I expect to receive. I used to get my check on the Tuesday following the end of the pay period on Friday. We’re looking at almost two weeks now. Does this seem completely unethical and unfair to anybody else? You require more of me, but you don’t hold up your end of the deal? Wow.

So my typical day for the past several weeks consists of teaching all day, 30-60 minutes at the gym, writing two articles (which takes about 90 minutes to 2 hours, give or take), eating dinner in between, showering, reading, and going to bed. I love exercising and find that I am rather unhappy without including it in my day, and I view it as a smart use of my “me time.” But when I’m done teaching and done working out, I don’t want to come home and be required to do more work that I’m not going to get paid for, which is what I’ve been doing. What. The. Heck!?

Wednesdays are even worse because I have institute from 7 to 8:30. So something always has to go on that day, be it the gym (my “me time”), or my article writing (which I have to do).

I do have some things to look forward to, but the more I add to my schedule, even if it’s for fun, the more stressed I am about how I will keep my sanity and get my articles written! For instance, institute tomorrow, some modernized version of Cinderella with Rachel on Thursday, and a Central Utah Writing Project Reunion/Retreat overnighter this coming Friday and Saturday. Yep. I have something every day this week. I’m not exactly sure how to manage it all or what will get ousted as a result of my busyness.

But I do know that I need to take a breather. So I am going to go shower and then maybe watch an episode of Dexter with Raytch.

Good BYE! 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

El Presidente

It appears that throughout my life I have quickly been identified and chosen as a leader.

I was often chosen to lead the class in some kind of routine, or be the class president, or whatever.

I ran for and was elected to be school president in elementary school in fifth grade. It got boring so I didn’t run for second semester.

Throughout school whenever there’s been a group discussion or presentation, it’s always been me doing the delegating and speaking for everyone else. Not because I necessarily volunteered or stepped up, but because the others have either directly or indirectly appointed me to do so.

All of this has never been due to my being overbearing or a know-it-all. I was not and am not always the person with her hand up because she knew every single answer. It was more like, when I did say something, it was worth listening to.

I’m not sure what the deal is lately, even in my mid-twenties. I don’t know how I always get picked out for these things. I try to blend in and stay in the background. It doesn’t work. I am attentive, and I am responsible. And apparently everyone sees this.

Within weeks of being in my new ward, I was called to be a visiting teaching supervisor. Things are a little dysfunctional currently, so of course I took the initiative and contacted my superiors to figure out who I was in charge of. In my last ward, my calling was visiting teaching coordinator. And in the ward before that, I was visiting teaching supervisor as well. I suppose it’s forever in the cards for me to have a leadership position in visiting teaching.

Toward the end of last school year, I and three other teachers were somehow nominated to be on the building committee, which basically is just a representative group of teachers who speak for the rest as far as their concerns in the school, meeting with the principal on a monthly basis.

In the first week of this new school year, the principal asked me to be a co-chair of one of three school committees. I talked about that in my last post.

I signed up for an institute class (church class) on Wednesday nights. Class had gone fine, and the few class members there had offered up just as many, if not more comments than I had to contribute. I wasn’t putting myself out there as more outspoken or involved than anyone else. But after the second night of class, my teacher stopped me on my way out and asked me if I would be class president. Taken aback by the request and confused as to my responsibilities, I stuttered a response mixed with questions and acceptance. I came home and immediately made a sign-up list for the scripture and thought as well as the refreshments. I took on the responsibility of scripture/thought and refreshments for my first week as president. I even played the piano in class and had to ask others to give the prayers. Go, president.

So now I am a leader at work, at church, and at church school. I wonder what other responsibilities I will accept to make my life even more challenging. Because on top of my leadership positions at work and church and institute, I also am now required to write ten articles per week for my side job, which takes longer than one might think. And I spend 30-60 minutes at the gym every day after work. I’m just feeling like if it’s not one thing keeping me busy, other things will find me.

Can’t wait to be a wife and mom someday to see if I ever have time to sleep or shower! Boo. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

First Sweaty Day of School

I woke up at 5:40, after having woken up a couple of times in the night drenched in sweat. The thermostat was set much higher than my body prefers, apparently.

I got ready and ate my pre-made cinnamon apple refrigerator oatmeal. I got to school and tried to get my class ready.

My grandma arrived before advisory started to help me with the first day’s work.

The hallways and my classroom were really hot. My grandma even pointed it out first thing in the morning.

Advisory was OK. I felt kind of bad because I did not sufficiently explain the lunch schedule to the seventh graders before they left. But I think they were mostly OK.

I had way more kids this year walking into the wrong classes and getting totally mixed up than I remember having last year.

I have first period prep on both days. I’d prefer second, since I can’t do much in first (I have nothing to grade since I’ve had no classes yet). It’s also less motivating because I can’t think of things I could or should be doing. I don’t feel the pressure, really.

In second period, my first English class of the day, I was dripping sweat. I’m sure that’s a lovely image for your heads, but on top of the nerves of a first class and hoping you have everything in order, and trying to get kids in their right seats, and trying to add new kids to the seating chart you already made, and dealing with the ones who say they need to be moved up front, and changing the names to their nicknames or preferred names, and handing out all the papers you need to hand out, and all the other chaos of the first day of school, it was freaking HOT.

But 2A went OK. We got through our stuff. We didn’t get to the “getting to know you” things, so maybe next class we’ll get to it. The kids were quiet and attentive. You never know how the classes will be until things really get rolling.

3A was better. Then 4A was the smoothest of all the classes, naturally. I did have a class of 40 today. I am going to try my hardest to not rip on the state of Utah right now about these class sizes. But I have a young lady in each of these two classes who is not sitting in a legitimate desk.

But my grandma managed to help me a ton, getting all the file tabs taken care of and filed away, passing out and collecting items, and getting all the first day journals alphabetized. It was killing her back to be sitting all day, and I am so grateful for her help. It didn’t seem like a big deal to her, but really saved me a lot of time.

After school, my principal wanted to talk to me. Our school is doing committees this year. There are three: one for student support, one for teacher support, and one for school support. The committees are meant to do different respective things, but they all consist of teachers. I asked to be on the teacher support committee. I’m always trying to help other teachers at school. I send out emails, share all of my documents and ideas, help some with technology, try to support the new teachers in the department. I feel that teacher support is one of my strong points. So today the principal asked if I would be a co-chair on the teacher support committee!

He said that because my colleagues nominated me for the building committee last school year, he feels they respect me, feel safe talking to me, and are OK with me leading them. He said he has noticed that I put a lot of effort into communicating with the staff and sharing my work with them. He says he thinks this is partly because I am nice and friendly but also very relaxed (approachable, laid back? I can’t remember the word he used). He also added that some teachers volunteered for the position and wanted to do it, but that he had to carefully consider these positions. And even though I didn’t volunteer for it, he thought I would be the right person for the job. He said that he feels I am one of the teachers who is trying to learn and grow and improve, and that I like sharing my knowledge with others. There is a very small stipend attached. I accepted the position.

So that totally made my day even though I was sweaty and gross all day, and even though my throat and voice hurt from talking so much.

I went and got gas after work. I came home, I got changed, and was at the gym around 4:40. I did an interval session on the treadmill for about 25 minutes and ran 2.6 miles or so, burning over 300 calories. Walking into the 97 degree weather afterward made me pretty light headed.

I got home, showered, ate, and went visiting teaching. Since then I have done dishes and prepared peanut butter banana refrigerator oatmeal for tomorrow. And I typed this so that I can keep my sanity. Now I will go read scriptures and go to freaking sleep.

All in all, it was a busy, productive, tiring day.

I’m out.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Now I Know Why People Work Out at Home

I entered the busy,
dimly lit
sweat center
just before rush hour
when everyone
for their sedentary jobs
by becoming a

I warmed up on
my usual machine
without anyone
next to me.

Thank goodness.

But then I went to find
a treadmill.

I opted for the front row and
left an empty space

between that lady and

As it turns out, said lady
was at the gym
but really just
didn’t want to work.

Because I could hear the
bottoms of her sneakers
scraping the treadmill tape.

It sounded like squeaking mice.
Or baby birds.
But not cute ones.
Or like a needs-oil
Hamster wheel
That doesn’t annoy the hamster
but annoys me
to death.

And it wasn’t just every few steps.
like she was getting tired or
had a bad knee or
had been running for a while.

It was

I tried to just
focus on my music.
I tried not to
give her an evil glare.
I tried to just

But those squeaking mice or those
baby birds or that
old hamster wheel
were all taking over my right ear
and my whole brain.

And I wanted to turn to her and
And I wanted to
throw my hands up
in that questioning way
and ask her why she can’t just

bend her knees or
pick up her feet or
wear lighter shoes or
slow down her pace
if it was too hard to keep up with?

When I got past that
of every footstep,
this Asian woman approaches
the machines near me.

There are six empty ones
To my left.


I saw her put her bag down
Two machines away.
Which would have been fine.
Except today was
“smart day” at the gym.

And homegirl steps onto the one

And I glance in her direction
with total confusion
(and maybe some exasperation).

And then her two daughters
get onto the machines to her left.

That makes
four of us
in a row.

Too bad it’s not a game of Bingo.
Because one more, and I could have

But then,
because it’s a dumb day at the gym,
my left shoelace came untied.

So now there are
crying mice and
three Asian ladies and
an untied shoe
ruining my therapy session.

I stop. I tie.
I double tie.
I start again.

And two minutes later,
A stench rises
Up to my nostrils

Because on top of the
mice-personal space violation-shoe lace
I needed to smell somebody’s
late and malodourous lunch.

But not to worry because
I have reached two miles
and I am giving up
on this entire
gym thing