Featured Blogger Jenn from TeachLoveAutism - Saying No in Education

We all do so much and in so many different aspects. We work in our classrooms, we have family, we have hobbies, some of us have second jobs and the list goes on. I think teachers are just overachievers by nature and they always feel like they need to take on more. That’s where this post is stemming from.

I often am the person that you see that is part of three committees and always volunteering to help out with the different events in my school. And by no means do I want you to applaud me because, I am finding that it’s burning me out. I have had some time to think about this over the summer. Am I really making a good choice by taking on so much? Does it make me a better person or a better teacher if I continue to take on all this and spread myself so thin?

All I know is that I am an all or nothing person, I hate when I take on a task and I can’t give 110%. That’s just who I am and I have learned this about myself at this point in my teaching career. I have really thought about why it’s important for you to sometimes say “no” to some of the responsibilities we get laid in front of us so let’s dive in.

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The first thing you can do is actually figure out what you just can’t do. This sounds weird, but hear me out. You need to think about the non-negotiables in your life that you would never be willing to give up. For example, I am never okay with missing out on something for my children, so if the committee, dance, or group is expecting me to give up that time continuously, it is very easy for me to say “no”.

The other aspect you can look at is the longevity of the task you are being asked to do. If you are asked to plan and prepare a school dance this is once and done, that can be very different from being asked to commit to a year-long committee with multiple meetings a year with extra work on the side.

Lastly, look at if this task is going to ask you to provide some kind of monetary input to it. If you are a first year teacher struggling to pay your college loans, new car payment, and apartment rent then you may not be ready to help pay for a new initiative at your school. Sometimes you have to say “no” because you aren’t in the right place to say “yes”.

THINGS YOU CAN DO:

So, we talked about things you shouldn’t do and I want to end this post with the things that you can do to help yourself make the decision to say “yes” but, in a more productive way so you won’t regret it later.

Try thinking about the concept of the task and if it stresses you out, then it probably is not for you! Think about the committees and tasks that are with your passions and try to figure out a way to be a part of them. Even if the committee is full I bet they would be happy to take on one more person and especially if it is someone that loves the content. If it is something you are passionate about it, you are more likely to enjoy it too!

Lastly, if you don’t see the committee or event of your dreams at your school then take some initiative and do what you are passionate about and create it yourself! Talk with your administration about it and see if you can come up with a plan that you can get approved. I have done groups that incorporate my students with their peers more, or things that involved an assembly topic that I love.

I hope that these tips will help you to say “no” to the things that are draining you so that you can dive into saying “yes” to something that you are passionate about. Here is a little image I created to help you decide if that committee or dance is a good fit!

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Lastly, be prepared for the next post in this series because I am actually going to give you tangible ways to say “no” and help you with wording it so you don’t guilty.

Thanks for reading and lots of love!

Jenn

www.teachloveautism.com

@teachloveautism

My Health Journey

So. Where to begin? Let’s take it back to high school. When in high school I never really thought much about my health and fitness. I truthfully ate whatever I wanted, without thinking twice. I was able to get away with it at the time, though, because I was staying active through my school activities.

Flash forward a bit to my freshman year of college. You’re thinking it right now, right? The Freshman Fifteen. WRONG. Try the freshman twenty five. That’s right. In about one year I gained twenty five pounds. How? Easy. Continuing to eat whatever I wanted, but having no idea what the gym was. The most activity I ever did was walking to and from class. Truthfully, I don’t remember it all happening as it happened SO fast. I truthfully think I was oblivious to it as it was happening. In my mind it WASN’T happening.

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My sophomore year of college I started to become very uncomfortable with my body. I was constantly unhappy but put on a brave face. It took me awhile before I actually took action. I over heard people talking about the app, MyFitnessPal. We can say my health and fitness journey started here. I began tracking my food, going to the gym, and drinking more water. It took awhile, and a lot of hard work, but I began to regain that confidence and happiness that I had once had. I was losing weight and feeling good. Notice I said feeling ‘good’ not feeling ‘healthy.’

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Because of the comments I was getting and the confidence I was feeling, I kept losing more and more weight and found myself around 100 pounds. This phase of my life included daily hour cardio sessions (if not longer) and limiting my diet to 1,200 calories a day. I was constantly tired, hungry, and irritable, but was motivated by that number on the scale. So I kept at it. I had achieved what I wanted, right? Losing weight, looking ‘skinny’, and feeling noticed. Little did I know this was NOT being healthy. At all.

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Once I realized that number I was seeing was MUCH too low, the next step was putting ON weight. I discovered weight lifting and macro counting. This was a good chunk of my life. About three years to be exact. Over this time I gained about fifteen pounds. I stuck to this way of living as I considered this very healthy. And no doubt it was, but my BRAIN still wasn’t healthy. I wasn’t viewing health and fitness for what it was. I was still viewing it as a number. Not the number on the body scale, but the number on the FOOD scale. This consumed me.

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Finally, at the start of summer of 2018 I told myself it needed to stop. No macro counting, no calorie counting. I also spent the summer ‘training’ for a half marathon. I hated it. But I kept doing it. Why? It wasn’t serving me in the way I wanted it to, and I wasn’t enjoying myself. Why spend the time on it? So now, as I write this. I have a NEW plan. If I want to feel strong I go lift. If I want to get my heart rate up I do some sort of cardio. What matters is that I’m giving my body what it needs. No matter the form of movement it comes in. I’m nourishing my body with the foods it needs and treating it with the foods it wants. There’s a very happy balance. Has the scale gone up? Absolutely. But am I happy? Hell yes.

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What’s most important is that I take care of my mental health, before the physical. Life is about balance. What’s important is for you to listen to your body and what it needs. If it needs rest, give it rest. If it needs greens, eat a salad. And damnit, if it needs pizza give it the pizza. It’s about moderation. Are there days now where I wish the number on the scale was lower? Definitely. I’m human. BUT I’m happy, I’m healthy, and no experience in life can EVER be measured by a scale.  

3 Ways to Get Back on Track After a Rut

Ever found yourself in a rut with your routine? Whether it be getting to the gym, reading daily, weekly coffee dates with a friend, or any other aspect of your life you find yourself lacking in currently?

If your answer is yes, NEWSFLASH: You are NOT alone.

Rut’s are common in everyone’s life. Including those people you see in your daily life or on social media who just really seem to have their life together. Trust me, they have their moments. Rut’s are a natural part of life. It’s how you get out of that slump that matters.

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When I find myself in a rut, I follow these three simple steps to get back on track.

1. Set Goals

Goal setting is soooo important! There’s something powerful about writing down what you want and seeing it right in front of you constantly. Writing goals does take practice, especially if you want to do them in an effective way. I won’t get into the process of goal setting right now, but if you’re interested in learning more my friend, Hannah, wrote a blog post for me on how to effectively set goals. You can check that out here.

2. Hold Yourself Accountable

The people who are in your circle want you to succeed. If they don’t, than you don’t want those people around you anyway. Find an accountability partner. Someone else who is looking to get back on track is a great place to start. If you happen to find that no one else is in a rut in your life, pick the person who will be your biggest cheerleader. Let them know your goals and how you’re going to accomplish them. Check in with them frequently, so that you don’t fall of track. You’ll be much more motivated knowing that someone will be there to give you a kick in the butt if you don’t get it together, trust me.

3. Effectively Plan WHEN

WHEN in your day are you going execute your goal. In the morning? Set your alarm. At night? Write it in your plan book. Whenever you plan to do it, however you plan to schedule it in, just DO IT. Again, if you write down when you are going to go for that run or when you’re going to read the next chapter in your book, you are more likely to actually do it. Plan a realistic time that you know you’ll be able to stick to and get it done.

Featured Bloggers Syd & Shae from Through Thick and Twin - 4 Ways to Stay Active Outside of the Gym

Being physically active is something that is very important to both of us. However, not everyone is willing to spend the money on a gym membership! Therefore, we've compiled a list of our favourite ways to stay active on a budget!

1. Hiking

We grew up always being in the great outdoors whether it was camping with our family, having a beach day, or just playing in the front yard! Something our parents were always very adamant about was going on walks or going for hikes. Luckily this trait was passed down to their children, and both Sydney and I continuously love to hike with our pups! Whether it's Summer or Winter, I'd say hiking is one of the more enjoyable ways to get your heart rate up, especially when you're surrounded by such beautiful scenery.

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2. The Stairs

Now here in Hamilton, Ontario we have an abundance of outdoor stairs climbing from the bottom to the top of the escarpment. Some people actually use for transportation, but I'd say most people utilize it for exercise. No matter what time of the day you go you'll see people endlessly running or walking up and down. It sounds like it could be a boring and repetitive task, and you definitely feel the your legs burning, but the fact that your completing this task outside surrounded by trees as opposed to a stationary machine at the gym, makes it all the more enjoyable!

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3. Slo-Pitch

My husband Caelan and I have been playing on a co-ed slo-pitch team together with his parents for a couple of years now, but they've been doing it for years before I was even in the picture! Obviously I was pretty nervous to start as the only baseball experience I had was T-Ball when I was younger. I quickly learned there are a bunch of other people there that had the same experience as me, and they're just there to have a good time with good people! I would definitely recommend looking for a laid back league such as this!

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4.  Ultimate Frisbee

I know it doesn't sound like much, but Ultimate Frisbee gives you such a good work out. There is so much cardio involved because you are constantly running from your end zone to the opposing teams. Learning how to throw and catch may take a bit of time to perfect, but once you do it’s such a fun way to get in some exercise!

 

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5 Ways to Keep the Calm When Life Gets Overwhelming

The beginning of the school year is always, without a doubt, an overwhelming time of year for me. Of course, it's not the only time of year that brings up the feelings of having no control, the never ending to do list, and the lack of social life because "it needs to get done", but it's a strong reminder to me that these times do happen. Not just in my life, but in everyone's. So, here are some of my tips for keeping the storm at bay when life just gets overwhelming. 

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1. Gratitude Journaling

Take just two minutes out of your day to write down the things you are grateful for. It's so hard during trying times to not focus on the negative. And truthfully I'm not saying to ignore the negative, because it's good to acknowledge those feelings as well. But if you are writing down things you are grateful for, it helps you to realize that it's not all bad, and this time will work itself out. It's a friendly reminder of all the incredible things you have going for you!

2. Stay Active

Even if it's just for 15 minutes, get yourself outside and go for a walk. This will help endorphins to get moving in your body, causing you to naturally start to feel better. Listen to your favorite podcast or music, or just enjoy the sounds of nature. Even if it's just a couple laps around your house, get up and moving!

3. Take "you" Time

Whatever relaxes YOU, do that. For me it's a bubble bath with a glass of wine. For others, it may be a nap. What you do with your "you" time will most likely make you feel a little icky at first because that annoying to-do list is sitting on that table just staring you in the face. But I promise you, after that "you" time, you're going to feel like you could conquer the world. Chances are, you'll end up getting more of that to-do list done than you would have had you allowed it to take control of you.

4. Color

Remember when you were a kid and loved to color? I'm reminded every time I tell my students they have the opportunity to color something. Why did we like it so much? Because it made us feel good by allowing us the opportunity to express ourselves. And you know what else? It really doesn't take much brain power. Give your brain the time to relax, too, and you'll notice the calm overtaking your body so quickly.

5. Stay Organized

Even with these last 4 tips, the tasks at hand are NOT going to go away until you do them. Be proactive about the things you need to get done. Write them all out and then prioritize. What NEEDS to be done today? Write that on today's list. What could be put off until tomorrow, or even next week? Pencil those in on the days that would work best. Then use the rest of today's time to focus on you. 

Because you are so worth it.