anonymous letters

Feedback

Feedback is a general term. Feedback is all around us. It can be good or bad. It can be positive or negative. It can be insightful or misinformed. It can be valuable or trash.

As my dad would say, opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one and they all stink. But when someone is paying you or has power over you, their opinion holds greater weight. You can’t just dismiss it as meaningless, no matter how short sighted or bewildering it may be. I guess that’s when, for me, it goes beyond just random opinion and becomes feedback.

Everyone likes positive feedback. It’s great when people love you. But what about when it’s negative? I used to spin out over criticism. I took it personally. I would spend days hashing it over in my mind, maybe with a friend I trusted. I’d often want to take my ball and go home and not play in whatever arena it was anymore. Why play if I am not good at it?

Now I try to reframe criticism as feedback. I think to myself, this person is telling me what is important to them. If my boss is unhappy with things lying around my workplace? He is telling me that his priority is how things look. If he takes me out of meetings that are about teaching and learning, he is telling me my priorities should be elsewhere. If he gets excited about special events and pizza parties, that’s where my attention needs to be.

Same holds true in sales. If a customer doesn’t like what I am selling and they tell me, it’s an opportunity to listen and adjust. I can learn what a customer values by listening to their feedback.

I may see things differently. I can argue that I didn’t get into education and earn a PhD to spend hours on clerical work. I can tell them all the things I do to help teachers. I can explain to a customer all the subtleties and value that I believe they missed.

Maybe I’ll change their minds, maybe not. Maybe I care, maybe I don’t. It’s my choice to play in the sandbox or leave. I can adjust my energy and priorities to match what others want or I can do something else.

Deep down I am a people pleaser and I like gold stars. But I have learned that I can control the amount of importance I give to others’ feedback, whether it’s positive or negative or somewhere in between. I can shake my head and keep going and not let it pull me from my path. Take it for what it’s worth and know that it does not determine my personal worth. Full stop.

health

Adulting: Summer Edition

It’s my first summer in roughly a decade without a lax girl to chase. Weekends aren’t spent traipsing from city to city, field to field. No equipment checks, no snack stashes, no double checking hotel confirmations and complex addresses. It’s a strange feeling.

What did I do instead? Something new: I taught summer school. I’ll touch on those highlights in other posts. But I also did something I always do as a teacher in summer: I take care of as many doctor’s appointments as I can.

I have a hard time taking days off during the school year for many reasons. Mostly, I just don’t love missing work when I am supposed to be there.

This year’s parade of summer appointments was just no fun. A regular dental checkup landed me back in the dentist’s chair one short week later. I thought I had to get a cavity filled, but when I sat down it had somehow magically multiplied into TWO cavities. One on the top right and one on the bottom left. It’s been many years since I had to do anything at the dentist beyond a checkup. My crooked smirk for the next few hours captured my displeasure.

Then a spot on my skin needed a peek. I noticed it months ago but didn’t have opportunity to check it. Even though the doctor couldn’t see it when I pointed it out, when she used the magnifying glass it gave her pause. She sent it off just to be sure, and lo and behold it came back as cancer. A surgery to be scheduled. On and on.

Finally, a physical. With the special added fun of finding a new doctor. This was a bad experience with follow ups galore. I just don’t even want to describe it. I’ll also skip the car maintenance process and price tags. Who wants to read about that? I’d rather be staying up late with a flashlight, reading under the covers.

I’ll just remind all our readers that taking time for these regular checkups is self-care, too. Sure, I’d rather be immersed in a spa day. Maybe this is self-care in its least appealing form, but this also may be the closest to self-care’s true intent.

Adulting is not all fun and excitement. In fact, it’s often a pain in the butt. (I didn’t even mention the co-pays.) At times, adulting is a full time job. For many teachers, summer is the time to take care of all these nasty, boring errands. I save up my sick time and personal days for things that really matter. If only I could also save all my money…

In the mean time, meh on adulting. Just in case you think much of our lives is travel and excitement! We are taking care of all the mundane stuff, too. Including ourselves.

fitness and nutrition

Air Relaxation

Recently I went to a stretch therapy appointment. Part of my therapy included an air compression method that would help increase blood flow, circulation, reduce swelling and aid in recovery. I had seen this type of device in use before but never had the opportunity to test it out.

Today was the day. The timer was set for 15 minutes. My head was propped up with a neck pillow and I just relaxed. It was peaceful. The minutes went by quickly but they also allowed me some time to myself to let my mind recover. Not the intended purpose of this device but an added benefit to me.

Now, did I feel any immediate results? It’s hard to say. I’m sure I did but I can’t articulate what for sure in relation my legs. However, the relaxation did offer me enough motivation to order myself the same device to use at home. I justified the investment because I have multiple athletes in my home that could benefit from both the relaxation and the recovery aid it promises.

It’s been a few weeks now and I use it a couple of times a week. Post-workout is the main time I use it but if I also have a sedentary day at my desk I opt to use it to increase my circulation. This might not be for everyone but I am merely tossing this out there to my blog readers in case somebody was on the fence about giving this therapy a try.

It’s obviously cheaper to go for a one-time session at a facility that offers this to see if it’s a fit for you. Then if it is, think about your use level. I’m pretty active thus it was an easy justification for this girl. Also do your research. There are many options. Choose the one that fits your wallet and has good reviews.

Just a little Soapbox Sunday post for you.

balance

Mayhem

The month of May this year is summed up to me in one word: chaos or mayhem as the post is titled.

End of year banquets for school-related programs. Warmer weather. Busy business month. Graduations. Lots of graduations both in state and out of state. Summer-itis which is defined as almost summer but not quite. Vacations on the horizon but only anticipated at the moment.

Many extra duties to plan ahead for the chaos. Lots of extra budget dollars spent on gifts, travel and necessities like bathing suits. Wink wink. Not to mention gas prices are through the roof and groceries are equally painful on the price scale.

Mayhem. Chaos. Both words seem to sum up my month of May. I didn’t even mention the crazy news headlines of violence near and far. Insanity on the home front with guns in school and parents going crazy over this that and the other.

What was more celebratory in May? I circled back to reading my few pages a day of my current book that was put to the side temporarily. I caught up on some much needed rest. My sick dog made a miraculous recovery when odds were against her. I spent time with some of my favorite crazies. I took a dance lesson. I made time for fancy show downtown with friends. Many other fun and spontaneous events took place that created memories and happiness for me.

Despite the mayhem of May, I found my joy. I rededicated time to myself. I made the most of May. It was very important to settle amidst the mayhem of May as June and July are full-blown travel months for me. Gone more days than most. Living life to the fullest but knowing the homefront is handled while absent is equally important. The gentle balancing act.

What is hot and happening for you this summer? A new vacation spot? A new mode of travel? A staycation? A budgetcation? A new adventure? A big purchase?

Will you try anything new this summer? A hot new dance class? A theatre show? A comedy act? A farm experience? Skydiving? Learning a new hobby like knitting?

If you survived the mayhem in May, what can you challenge yourself with for June and July to make your summer memorable? Get your thinking cap on. I gave you plenty of ideas above. Share your stories of you do soemthing spectacular. I know I plan to dip my toes in the sand and ocean at least once this summer.

Happy summer to all our readers in blog land.

awareness

I Am

In today’s episode of “words matter…”

Watch how you speak about yourself.

A family member of mine recently had surgery. It was pretty major, requiring him to take a serious step back from his hard-working, able-bodied lifestyle. He went from working 60-80 hours a week in a physically demanding job to passing most of his waking hours sitting on the couch, healing. He went from managing many tasks for multiple businesses and family members to needing help tying his shoes and buttoning his shirt. It would be a long recovery.

A couple of days after the surgery, as he slowly slumped up the stairs to move from couch to bed, I heard him clearly mutter “I am pathetic.”

To which I responded, no…you may not feel well or energetic, but you are not pathetic. You are healing. You are making progress. You are doing the best you can. You are doing what needs to be done.

I hear it in the words of my friends often, too. I am so stupid. Why am I this way? I am such an idiot. I am such a dumbass. Whatever insult you feel you deserve in the moment.

Does this gloss over every mistake? No. But it’s the “I am…” that we have to look out for. Don’t mistake how you’re feeling for who you are. Don’t confuse an error you made with your identity. Watch how you speak to and about yourself. Don’t put that energy out into the universe.

Instead, tell yourself you are strong. You are on the right track. You are figuring it out. If you screwed up, own it and vow to do better. “I am ready to learn and improve.” Whatever you need to say to and about yourself, keep it positive. If you make a mistake, you can remark about the action, not about who you are as a person.

Words matter, use them wisely, even when you’re just talking to and about yourself! Today’s healthy mindset hack. Watch your language!