Featured Blogger Kristen from Living Everyday Strong - How Fitness Made Me a Better Teacher

unnamed.jpg

R E W I N D to 4 years ago . . . I was in the middle of my first year of teaching, pre-wellness journey, overwhelmed and beyond exhausted, running myself ragged just trying to stay afloat.


Teacher friends, have you been here? Are you here now? You are NOT alone.


I was tired a l l t h e t i m e, running on Dunkin' Donuts / / extra cream and sugar, mindlessly snacking throughout the day, and indulging in a cold beer (or 4) every evening -- just to wake up and do it all over again the next day.


Against every best practice I learned in undergrad, I taught from a chair and rarely moved around my classroom for the better half of my first year. My energy was low, my irritability was at an all-time high, and I had, what felt like, a chronic headache.


Side note: A classroom full of 9 and 10-year-olds is quite possibly the l a s t place you want to be when you feel like this.


I had all of these dreams and goals to give my students my very best -- to challenge them, to empower them, to support them, and to love them -- and I was falling short . . . every day. I was letting my students down, and, simultaneously, letting myself down.


F A S T  F O R W A R D to now . . . 3ish years into my wellness journey, 4 years in the classroom, eating well, exercising regularly, F U L L of energy, and showing up for myself and my students every day.


If you've read my story, you know that I didn't make this change overnight. I sort of stumbled into this lifestyle one small change at a time, and my biggest motivator became progress of a n y kind. One of the first aspects of my lifestyle to change was my activity level. I made movement a habit and almost immediately F E L T better. Wellness journey – kickstarted. One small, underwhelming change at a time, I transformed my life.


I wanted to make a change, but I had no idea how/where to start. So, I started walking. A lot. I figured I couldn’t go wrong here. I got obsessed with my Fitbit and was determined to hit my step goal every day. I walked around my neighborhood, around the playground at recess, on the treadmill, etc . . . any chance I could get. You guys – almost instantly, like not even a week later, I started to feel SO much better. I had more energy in the classroom, and I was not nearly as exhausted when I got home from work. Even better? I didn’t even want to eat the pita chips and spinach dip or drink 4 beers [understatement] every night. My eating habits began to change and hellooooo progress! My body was changing, I was feeling better, and I was hooked.”

unnamed (2).jpg

Teacher friends, I get it . . . we're B U S Y. We are responsible for an enormous load, and we're engrained to put our students [and everyone else, for that matter] before ourselves. Burn-out is real, and this career we went into because of our love for children and learning is becoming all-consuming and less about passion / / more about checking the boxes.


I realize that what I'm about to suggest may be a radical concept, but just hear me out . . .


Spend an hour on yourself every - single - day.


Make YOURSELF a priority . . . your happiness, your health, your wellness. Show up for yourself first, because, friends, YOU CANNOT POUR FROM AN EMPTY CUP! [insert clapping emoji]


Find a form of exercise you actually enjoy . . . strength training, running, barre, yoga, spin class, rock climbing, etc. and spend an hour m o v i n g every day.


Fuel your body with R E A L food . . . throw out all the processed junk and restock your fridge with a l l the colors! Click here for my top tips on how to 'healthy' grocery shop affordably.


Make self-care a routine . . . find a podcast you enjoy and listen to it during your commute, buy that book you've been wanting to read and decide to read for 10 minutes before going to sleep, call a friend or family member just to chat, etc.

unnamed (1).jpg

Pour into yourself so that you can pour your very best into others.


80% of the time I eat fresh, wholesome foods, and I find pockets of time throughout the day to listen to podcasts, read new books, and call my mama, but F I T N E S S was, and still is, my game-changer.

A combination of strength training and high intensity cardio is my go-to exercise regimen, and when I committed to making m o v e m e n t a priority a few years back, here's what happened:

  • My nutrition mindset shifted. I no longer crave the 'highly processed / / full of sugar' foods, but instead actually want to eat fresh, nutritious food.

  • My body began to transform. I was losing fat and building lean muscle . . . a look I never dreamed I'd be able to achieve.

  • I found a sense of confidence that I had been longing for. I became comfortable in my own skin and no longer pick myself apart in the mirror.

  • My clothes fit better, and I don't try on countless outfits before settling on one that I feel 'okay' in.

  • I have more energy, less irritability, and z e r o headaches!

The best part . . .

  • I am able to show up for my students the way I have always dreamed I would. I poured into fostering relationships and creating a classroom community, and my teaching became energetic and engaging.

  • In learning to schedule the hour in for myself each day, I became better at time management and prioritizing. I now leave school shortly after my students do, and I never [ever] take work home with me.

  • I make room for what's most important, prioritize my tasks / / check them off one by one, and I give my students and co-workers my very best during the school day . . . because, at the end of the day, I'm choosing to spend quality time with people I love and filling MY cup so that I can wake up the next day e x c i t e d to be a teacher again and pour into my students.

  • Learn more about my time management techniques and how I boost my productivity here!

unnamed (3).jpg

Friends, that hour for yourself is important. Making yourself a priority is important. The strength and confidence you will build through exercise is important. Your happiness, health, and wellness is important.

If you want to give your absolute best to those around you, you must first believe that YOU deserve to be happy, healthy, and well . . . and commit to it.


Here's to allowing ourselves the grace to spend time pouring into ourselves this week so that we are able to graciously pour into others.


xo, Kristen

Living Everyday Strong

www.livingeverydaystrong.com

@livingeverydaystrong


Featured Blogger Kandice from Kandice Gets Classy - 3 Steps to Stay Happy and Avoid Toxic Stress

Untitled.png

3 Steps to Stay Happy and Avoid Toxic Stress

Hello, all! I’m Kandice (wave!) I am thrilled to be sharing with you here on Adventuring Kelsey. I’m a huge fan of Kelsey’s mission to help us find alignment and happiness as we chase our dreams!

Today I’m giving you three necessary steps to help you manage your stress levels while you’re conquering all those goals.  I want you to stay in that happy, healthy zone where you can thrive! We’re going a bit deep, so let’s dive in.

There are truly a million beautiful things about our lives that can bring us happiness; our families, our friends, our homes, our jobs (the good parts), a beautiful day, etc. It really is a wonderful life!

In the midst of this wonderful life, though, there are also a million things that can cause us major STRESS. The never-ending to-do lists, the financial strains, the unexpected setbacks, the jam-packed schedules, the relationship struggles, and the list goes on! Stress is an inevitable part of life, but I have good news! There is a way to process this stress in an emotionally healthy way and keep it from robbing you of your happiness.

Did you catch that key word I threw in there? Emotionally. Our emotions have everything to do with our stress levels! You see, stress in itself is actually good for us. It’s how we grow and develop as human beings. But if we don’t know how to process it, we quickly become buried in emotions like pressure, overwhelm, negativity, and the like. This difficult place to be is what is referred to as the toxic stress zone.

I was buried in this place for years and had no idea! I thought it was normal to feel that kind of stress. I mean, we’re all busy, right? We all have a million things going on, and I honestly love being productive. Maybe you feel the same!

It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with a chronic thyroid disorder that I realized what I had been doing to myself. I was drowning in pressure, felt completely overwhelmed with work, and was allowing my circumstances to control my emotions. What I thought was just “normal stress” was actually toxic for me and was wreaking havoc on my mind, my emotions, and my body. I had no idea!

Perhaps you’re in the same boat. You feel overwhelmed. Exhausted. Extreme pressure. You’re unsure of how long this uncomfortable ride is going to last. It’s no fun at all, and I’ve been right where you are. Over the past few years, I’ve learned how to get off of this terrible ride and find happiness, hope, and contentment in the midst of the stress. I still encounter the same struggles, but now I know how to process my emotions and keep myself far from the danger zone of toxic stress. I want to teach them to you, too!

Here are three steps that will empower you to stay strong, happy, and stable in the midst of stress:

Step #1: Reflect.

In order to manage your stress, you have to understand it. You have to sit down, get quiet, and determine the source of emotional stress you’re experiencing. Spend some time reflecting. Consider your patterns and your tendencies. When does this stressful feeling show up the most? What causes it? Where are its roots?

I want to share with you a somewhat minor example of stress in my own life that will help me paint this picture for you. I used to start my days at work feeling bitter and annoyed. I really did love my job, but I was often already stressed to the max when I arrived. It was an uncomfortable feeling and it set me up for a bad day. It was happening more and more often and was causing me unnecessary stress. In order to figure out why, I had to do some serious reflecting. Why was I annoyed? Was it the act of coming to work? Was it the job itself? Was it the people I had to encounter that day?

Upon reflecting, I noticed that this stress always occurred when I was running late. I didn’t realize it, but my anxiety and frustration about being late was feeding into my mood big time. This seems like a small issue, and maybe it is. But one small issue combined with the countless other ones we face becomes a very big deal! Stress is stress, and there’s only so much of it we can take.

Whatever you’re feeling, determine the root of the emotion. You might be surprised by what you find.

Step #2: Find the lie.

Now that you know the source of your stress, you have to find the lie you’ve been telling yourself. Our own thoughts are a major power player in our battle against stress!

Hear me out. When I was driving to work and feeling all of the anxiety and stress, I felt it because I was telling myself lies the whole way there. I was subconsciously (and sometimes consciously) telling myself that I was irresponsible. That I was immature. That I was unprofessional. And that everyone at work thought those same things about me. I felt terrible! I was on the edge of my seat the whole drive to work desperately trying to be on time so I could prove that I wasn’t any of those things. Talk about stress!!

The things you think about and the way you perceive situations are the key to avoiding toxic stress! If you’re overwhelmed, what are you telling yourself? Are you telling yourself that it’s impossible? If you feel guilty, are you telling yourself that it’s all your fault? Hunt down those lies and get rid of them!

Step #3: Tell yourself the truth.

So, you reflected and found the source of your stress. You identified the lie you’ve been believing. Now it’s time to tell yourself the truth.

Since your thoughts and perceptions hold all the power, you better start relying on some truth! Here was the truth in my situation. I wasn’t irresponsible. I was a gifted and skilled teacher. I wasn’t immature. I was a professional with endless potential. Telling myself these things and actually believing them set me free from the anxiety I felt on the way to work. I could start my day, late or not, knowing that I was meant to be there, and that I was going to do great work that day. The stress disappeared!

Now, I did have to solve the problem of being late, but I was now in a much better position. I was no longer allowing my circumstance to determine my emotions. I could stay on top of my emotions by telling myself the truth, thus allowing me to stay out of the toxic stress zone. Are you tracking with me?

Whatever stressful emotions you are dealing with, uncover the lie and tell yourself the truth. This is the key to overcoming toxic stress! If you need some help uncovering those lies and declaring the truth, I’m here for you! I have a five day email course Self Care from the Inside Out with tons of examples to get you started. Each day you’ll get a new email dealing with a particular emotion. You’ll get action items and thought replacements to help you process your stress in a healthy way and get you out of that toxic stress zone for good!

You deserve to feel happy. You deserve to feel peace and contentment. Take this free course and start telling yourself the truth!

I sincerely hope these steps will be helpful for you as you live out your truly beautiful life.

You got this!

XOXO

Kandice

www.kandicegetsclassy.com

Featured Blogger Allie from The Gypsy Teacher - Lessons Learned from Teaching Abroad

I have been teaching in Tanzania, East Africa for four and a half years, and it has been an ADVENTURE to say the least! I applied, had a Skype interview, and got my plane ticket a month before I would fly across the world by myself. It not only was my first time living abroad, it was my first year teaching!

Untitled.png

I truly believe that teaching abroad is one of the best ways to grow both personally and professionally. Traveling allows you to see things from a new perspective and learn from people around the world, and it gets you outside of your comfort zone! Today I’m going to share the top lessons I’ve learned while living and teaching abroad!

 1.    Be Flexible

I always thought of myself as a flexible and adaptive person but teaching abroad has stretched my muscles and made me even more flexible! You never know what will happen – maybe the power will go out right before you get to the copier and you can’t prep any of your lessons, or you go to the shop down the road to purchase something for a lesson but they don’t have it in stock and don’t know when they’ll have more, or it starts downpour raining during the dress rehearsal of your outdoor Christmas play. These are just three out of hundreds of situations I’ve had to be flexible in! Blessed are the flexible for they won’t get bent out of shape!

Untitled1.png

2.    Be Creative

This lesson took time to take root. My first year in Tanzania I taught first grade. I found so many amazing, engaging, and creative lessons online to go along with what we were learning, but I could hardly do any of the because of the lack of resources we had. At first, I was really discouraged. We can’t just run to Walmart or Target and grab what we needed. We have a supply closet of a small amount of craft supplies people bring over in suitcases from America and the limited number of supplies we can get in town. So, I had to be creative! I have made eyedroppers out of Coke bottles, homemade playdough, cornstarch cloud crafts, and much more! 

Untitled2.png

3.    Be Courageous

Moving to Tanzania was SO exciting, but it was a bit scary too! I didn’t know anyone there and had only talked to my directors via a blurry Skype call one time! I had to take a leap of faith, leave all I loved and knew behind, and make this new place my home. But, the reward of doing that was so sweet! Tanzania really is my second home now – with friends who have become like family, a beautiful environment that I always love to return to, and an amazing school that I get to be a part of growing and teaching in. I’ve had to be courageous in the classroom too – teaching first grade, kindergarten, and fourth grade, with parents and students counting on me.

Untitled3.png

4.    Be Willing to Learn

Oh man, have I learned a LOT!! Being open and willing to learn new things has so many great payoffs. I have learned how to have a conversation in Swahili (and order my produce at the market!), how to teach in an international school with so many cultures coming together, how to live with roommates, how to cook Tanzanian dishes like chapati (their flatbread), and I’ve learned how to love and serve people better. 

Untitled4.png

I LOVE teaching abroad – and truly feel it is my “dream job” and calling. To anyone who has even considered teaching outside of their passport country, I say GO FOR IT! Yes, it will be hard. Yes, it will be scary. But I wouldn’t trade my experiences abroad for anything! They are what has made me who I am today!

Untitled5.png

Just like any teacher, I have my FAVORITE THINGS for my classroom. I wrote a blog post all about my Teacher Must-Haves for Teaching Abroad and would love to continue the conversation with you there!

 Allie

Exploring and Loving the World through Teaching and Connection

@alliethegypsyteacher

Featured Blogger Tabitha from The Girl Who Lived - Let's Get Cooking Good Looking

Chapter 17: Let’s get cooking good looking

Wow, what is that smell?!? Is it the smell of onions browning? Or the smell of steak grilling? Shrimp frying? Whatever that smell is, it smells delicious. Do you love to cook? Are you like me; cooking or baking calms you down? Does trying new recipes even if they don’t turn out the greatest a fun adventure for you to take? Do you love adding your own twist into old favorites?

51153501_1886449434816987_7867975042715116034_n.jpg

Cooking for me gives me something to look forward to after a long day of work. It relaxes me, there is something satisfying as a woman knowing your man is satisfied with your cooking. During this blog post, I will be sharing some of my secrets when it comes to cooking and my ritual for when it comes to creating a meal for my loved ones.


Most days I start preparing things for dinner on my lunch break. I know not everyone as the luxury of doing this but for me, it is something I am very grateful for. For example, if I am going to be smoking some meats I get started with the process on my lunch break, I warm up my food for the day, turn on my radio, roll up my sleeves and get the food ready for that night’s meal.


Turning on the radio is key to my cooking. Honestly certain types of meals require a certain genre of music. If I am frying up shrimp or chicken, or grilling out some food, my music choice is country. Some Florida Georgia Line, or George Strait singing to me while I cook. Something about grilling or frying brings out the country in me. HA! However, if I am cooking pasta or soup I find myself listening to Cher, screaming “DO YOU BELIEVE IN LIFE AFTER LOVE?” Who’s with me? No one? Okay well, I have an old soul, not sorry about it. Classics are the way to my heart if you play Poison prepare for tears of joy/happiness.


One of my FAVORITE things to cook is soup, whether I cook it in the crockpot or on the stove here are a few of my tips/secrets that I do to make it easier! When I am making potato soup on the stove I don’t boil the potatoes! WHAT?! Crazy right? Instead, I bake them. I chop them up, chop some onions, season those bitches, and toss them in the oven. (not literally) I bake those bad boys up while I get the rest of the soup ready, then when the potatoes are done, scope them up, and toss them in soup. I do this because one, potatoes take SO LONG to boil, and two I use some Bear Creek soup packages to help me out!  Put them in the oven at 450 for 40 minutes and they will be ready just in time to put them in your soup.


Another recipe I love to cook is Chili! With my job, it’s so much easier making it in my crockpot! On my lunch break, I come home, brown up the hamburger meat, layer it at the bottom of the pot, then throw the rest of the ingredients into the pot, give it a quick stir, and cook it on high until I get home. Use any of your favorite chili or soup recipes for your crockpot! It works like a charm!
It doesn’t matter what you cook as long as you cook it with love. If you are looking for easy, less time-consuming recipes I will be posting my full recipe for my chili, and potato soup here soon!
Keeping cooking good looking, dance like no one is watching, and remember, the Chef always gets to lick the spoon.

Check out more from Tab, here!

How I Stay on Top of Things at School

As teachers, we have SO much going on ALL the time. Lessons, observations, meetings … you name it, we do it. Oh, and let’s not forget that we also have LIVES outside of teaching!! So how do we stay on top of the tasks work throws at us in order to live a life outside of our career that’s fulfilling to us?!

Over the past couple years I have put some strategies into place that I make sure to implement daily in order to be able to leave school, at school, so that I can dedicate all my time outside of school to things that I enjoy and fill up my cup.

Physical Organization

This is KEY for me! I have a bazillion plastic drawers (ok, not a bazillion, but you know what I mean) that I use regularly. Teacher friends, you know the rainbow one’s I’m talking about!! I have one drawer for each subject, each day of the week, and each month. This makes it easy to pull Math homework out of the Math drawer on Friday and put it in for each day of the week for the next. This allows me to find that last minute St. Patrick’s Day activity from the March drawer to make a copy of quick before school. This helps me to stay organized beyond belief to ensure I’m not wasting any time trying to find what I need.

Classroom Jobs for Students.png

Have your Students HELP

This is a big one. How many teachers are spending their time sharpening pencils, organizing their classroom library, passing out papers? We have more important things to do!! While these are all tasks that need to be done, they don’t need to be done by adults. In my classroom each student has a classroom job. Yep, every single one of them. Since implementing this system in my classroom, I have created so much more time for myself to plan. Off to the side you’ll find a list of the different jobs I have in my room, if you’re in need of some ideas! Feel free to reach out with any questions you may have on them!

Effective To-Do Lists

What teacher doesn’t love to-do lists?! But the question is… are you making and using them effectively? If you’re just throwing things down on your list with no organization or purpose to it you will begin to feel overwhelmed and you’ll forget to do that thing you needed for Tuesday because you got caught up in what you needed for Friday. Brain dumping your list is still important, don’t get me wrong, you need to get all of those ideas out there on what you want to get done. What I do from there, though, to make sure I am making the best use of my time, is I go BACK through that list and write it AGAIN! Yup, again. But this time I’ll organize it by priority. This ensures I am working on the most important thing first, and then if I have some extra time during my plan time, I’m able to start something that will need to be done at a later date.

Happy planning, teacher!!

If you are looking for another way to find balance in your life so that you’re able to get done what you need to for school yet still have time to do what’s fulfilling to you OUTSIDE of the classroom, I have just the thing for you!! The FREE, yup, FREE 6 Days to A More Fulfilled You Challenge is BACK! This is a free challenge I have run before that helped multiple women find Fulfillment and joy in their every day lives OUTSIDE of their career! During these 6 days you will find more clarity around what you desire, a motivation to achieve your goals, and even newfound passions you don’t even know you have!

If this sounds exactly like what you need to start fresh this Spring, Click Here!