My Five Minute Journal: 60 Day Check-In

Back in December, I started my journey using the Five Minute Journal and gave everyone an idea of what it is and how it can help you be successful. My 60 days are finally up and I wanted to check in and let everyone know how things are going.

First off, if you don’t know what a Five Minute Journal is, I will provide you with the link given with the full details here. To summarize it, it is a journal that allows you to check in in the morning and at night. You simply date the page at the top, write 3 things you are grateful for, 3 things that would make today great, and 2 affirmations in the morning. At night, you reflect by writing 3 things that made the day amazing and 2 things that you think could have made the day better. It only takes five minutes to complete. Hence the title of the journal.

In the beginning, I wanted to utilize this journal as a way of expressing gratitude each and every single day. If you suffer from anxiety and depression like me, this journal would be helpful in the long run. In the beginning, it is scary to think that you have to write down 3 positive things and 3 things you are grateful for. Your brain simply goes haywire because well…it’s so used to allowing negative thoughts and lies to live rent free. I’m going to be honest with you, this was a struggle for me in the beginning. I am always thinking negatively and in worst case scenario situations.

Back to the journal…it doesn’t always take me five minutes to write. There are days where I can jot everything down and move on to the next part of my morning routine. Then there are days where I struggle and I am forcing myself to pick out things to put in my journal.  These days it’s challenging, but I do it anyway. I need to document what went on that day.

So far I have noticed a difference in my outlook in life. I have been a little more positive and mindful with the people and things around me. I try to give credit in all areas such as my job, relationships, and experiences. I feel it is important to point out the highlights and lowlights of my day. Our days are simply not perfect by no means, and that’s okay. I’ve learned to be more graceful on the hard days. 

A preview of the pages inside the Five Minute Journal.

The big question is whether or not it has made me successful so far. I can tell a difference in keeping tabs on what’s going on. I am more aware of what I am doing and what I need to do to make changes along the way. If I work on something pertaining to my goal, then I can write about it in my journal. If I slacked off on working on my goals, then I will simply make a reminder in the evening when I’m journaling. I have noticed a big difference in my motivation for writing posts for this blog. I want to keep writing. I want to keep talking about it in person and on social media. It’s becoming a part of me that I enjoy. It’s my escape. Sitting down and writing for five minutes day and night keeps me going.

Writing in the Five Minute Journal for the last 60 days has become a part of my routine. I can say what’s on my mind and move on from it. Taking the time to show gratitude gives me more appreciation for the littlest things in life, and I’m talking about the things we take for granted each and every single day. Seeing these changes tell me that I need to continue using the Five Minute Journal.  It’s kept me on track with my goals. I’ve seen some progress so far.

If you are interested in a Five Minute Journal, you can find it here. If you don’t want to buy a special book for journaling, take out a sheet of paper and jot down things you are grateful for and reflect on your day. Give yourself a challenge of doing this for 60 days and check in with yourself on how you are doing. You will be surprised with how much you change your perception on your goals and life in general. If you take on this challenge, let me know how things are going in the short future, I would love to hear how you’re doing.

Stay adventurous,

Natalie

I’m Feeling 32.

This week has been super crazy and busy. Monday and Wednesday, I had to work. On Tuesday, we celebrated my 32nd birthday. It’s hard to believe that another year has flown by. When people say, “When you get older, time flies faster,” they are not kidding. Some people dread entering into their 30s, but little do they know, the fun is about to begin.

This year was the first year I celebrated my birthday without my family. Honestly, it was a little odd and lonely. Over the years, we would get together and celebrate whether it was a visit at the house or going out to dinner. Family time has always been important to us, especially on birthdays. I am grateful for having technology where I can call or video chat with them when we’re free to do so.

My birthday cake and flowers from Josh.

I was fortunate to have the day off from work. Luckily, my schedule worked out that way without putting in a request (although, I like to be working). Tikka and I enjoyed the beautiful weather by going to the dog park and opening up doors and windows at the apartment. Josh surprised me by coming home a little earlier from work with flowers and a cake. Afterwards, we took a trip to Virginia to go to Texas Roadhouse for dinner. It was the first time in a while since we’ve been to a Texas Roadhouse. We’re so used to having one 15 minutes away, not an hour away. 

As I get older, I don’t care about making it an “all about me” kind of day. Instead, I look at it as another “new year, new me.” It’s another chance at striving for what I want in life: simplicity and happiness. It’s another motivator to keep working on the best version of me. If you need to find motivation somewhere, think about your upcoming birthday and make a plan on what you want to accomplish before then. Once your birthday arrives, channel that motivation towards the goals you want to achieve for 2022. 

Birthdays may be another day to us, but we can use that special event to focus on our goals and keep going. I mean, we are into the third month of 2022. Why not strive to make your age “a good year” in your life?

Stay adventurous,

Natalie

February Wins

Today is the last day of February which means one thing….revisit my February goals. At the end of January, I sat down and wrote five goals I wanted to meet in the month of February. These goals also reflected on my 2022 Goals I also wrote out at the beginning of the year. 

Instead of focusing on what goals I reached and the ones I didn’t meet, I wanted to share my 10 wins I had for this month.

10. Getting settled in our new city through social interaction

Moving to a new city can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve only visited a couple of times. Since moving to North Carolina, I knew that the only way for me to feel more like home was to socially interact. Fortunately, I am able to do so at my new job. I am getting to know my new coworkers and having small talk with the customers. If you were to tell me to do this 10 years ago, I would have struggled and headed for the hills (literally). I am glad that teaching has brought me out of my shell and made me take the initiative to talk to other people.

9. Being more efficient at home

Now that we have moved into our apartment, I finally feel like I have my act more together. Because Josh and I are constantly working, I wanted to make it a goal to be as efficient as possible. Finished with that skillet I just cooked in? Put it in the dishwasher right away. Just got out of bed? Make it as soon as you get out of it. Efficiency is currently my best friend. 

8. Flossed my teeth everyday

Okay, I should have been flossing everyday all along, but like most people, I didn’t want to take the time. I am really glad that I began this routine. I can tell a huge difference in my gums! They do not bleed nor feel raw from different foods. It only takes a couple of minutes to floss each time so if you’re not flossing, why not start today?

7. Established a morning routine that works me (for now)

It only took a couple of months, but I can finally say I have my own morning routine. This has helped me be more efficient and mindful of my time throughout the day. I have more quiet time for my Five Minute Journal and my daily devotionals. I have more time to make breakfast or have a cup of iced coffee. I also have more time to focus on bigger cleaning jobs such as cleaning bathrooms, mopping the floors, cleaning the walls from Tikka, etc.

6. Visited Raven Rock State Park

Josh and I can cross off another state park off our list. We both enjoy being outdoors and hiking is currently our go-to. We love seeing the attractions in person and appreciate the natural beauty. Tikka also loved the park because he was able to play in the river and smell all the new smells.

5. Found my own hairstylist.

This win is a big deal for me because I am very picky at who does my hair. I haven’t had my hair done since October 2021. After leaving my WV hairstylist of 3 years for NC, I knew it was going to take some time for me to find that special person to do my hair. After researching and viewing previous work, I now have a new stylist in Virginia. WIth her color and cutting expertise, she gave me what I wanted. If you’re wanting your hair to look and feel healthy and amazing, you have to pay the price (money, that is.).

4. Making homemade foods

Homemade pepperoni pizza.

Inflation has destroyed almost everyone’s wallets. Josh and I have become more mindful of what we were buying. I took the initiative to say, “I can make that from scratch.” I have been doing that a lot this month. We buy more ingredients than we do prepackaged. Some of the items I made were alfredo, breadsticks, coffee creamer, pizza, sheet pan chicken, and pepperoni rolls. Not only has it helped our wallets, but it’s healthier. No preservatives. No chemicals.

3. Started a Facebook Page for my blog

I had been wanting to do this since I started this blog, but I wasn’t so sure how well it would do. I am not one who sends out invites to everyone to join my page. I have to admit, my Facebook page has spread word about my blog. I have had several people say they can relate to my posts. I have had people share my posts in hopes it would reach someone who needs some insight on certain topics. My page did not explode overnight, but I have noticed more engagements. If you are interested in following my Facebook page for the latest updates, you can find it here: htts://www.facebook.com/arrowsxadventures

2. I got hired at Lowe’s

As much as I loved being at home, I didn’t like being home all day, everyday. I needed social interaction. At the beginning of the month, I accepted a full time job at Lowe’s. I have never been happier with my decision. It’s different. My schedule is flexible. There are no lesson plans. No stress and anxiety. Sure the pay isn’t what I was getting, but you know what? I am so much happier and that’s all that matters to me.

1.We moved to our apartment

Tikka’s favorite spot is the dog park.

After waiting for two months and living in a camper, we FINALLY moved into our apartment on February 1st. We officially made ourselves at home. We have more space for us and Tikka. Tikka has his own dog park to run around and play. Josh and I are able to do things without bumping into each other. It was worth the wait!

Looking at my “wins,” February was another month that has been good to me. Big or small, I have experienced and learned a lot during these milestones. I’d like for you to take time and think about what you have done in the month of February. Even if you have done one thing, consider it as a win and go from there. What were your “wins” for the month of February? I look forward to sitting down and making my goals for March and continue this adventure.

Stay adventurous,

Natalie

My Top 5 Podcasts

Within the last six months, I have become a huge fan of podcasts. I love listening to everyone’s perspective on different things such as money, life, health, spiritual well being, beauty, etc. Overall I am a big fan of learning from others and how they overcame their struggles. Their solutions may not solve every problem in my life, but it gives me a different way of approaching challenges that come and go.

Today, I want to share my top five favorite podcasts. Some of them are updated on a bi-daily basis while some haven’t been updated for months. Keep in mind that even if the creator hasn’t updated in a while, I still like to revisit certain podcast episodes whenever I am in a situation. It’s a good refresher. Plus, it gets me thinking about how I can approach my personal challenges.

Morning With the Masters:

If you read my Morning Routine post, you may have briefly read about this podcast. Updated on a daily basis, Chad and Tori Masters go over the day’s topic and devotional. Both will take a couple of minutes to tie their personal experiences to the topic presented. Each episode lasts 7-9 minutes, but the message is powerful.

Good Together: Ethical, Eco-Friendly, Sustainable Living

I have looked into ways of being a little more sustainable and eco-friendly within the last few months. Brightly co-founders Laura and Liza provide insights on how you can be more eco-friendly 365 days a year. They talk about how daily activities affect the planet in both a positive and negative way. They also provide ways of being more conscious whether it’s shopping, eating, decorating, etc. There are a lot of good ideas if it fits your lifestyle.

Whoa, That’s So Good

If you have been keeping up with my blog, you know I am a fan of Sadie Robertson. She is wise beyond her years when it comes to speaking the gospel and how she handles situations. As crazy as this sounds, Sadie covers a variety of topics that affect all ages. She also does a wonderful job tying in the biblical stories to our everyday life.

#YouGotThis with Bryson and Jennifer

I discovered Jennifer Lauren back in March 2020 on Instagram. I love her style, aesthetic, and how she interacts with her fans. When her now husband, Bryson, created a podcast, I was super stoked. Although there are only 12 episodes, Bryson and Jennifer go over their story of how they met, their successes and failures, and guide you around Austin, Texas. I love revisiting their podcast when I am losing inspiration on posting social media or if I need some inspiration on their journey to success. They are raw and real when they are alive.

How to Money

I discovered this podcast back in April 2021 and haven’t stopped listening to them since. Best friends, Joel and Matt, provide knowledge and tools to help you with your finances. They go over how you can use money in a more meaningful, thoughtful way while you are on the journey of eliminating debt, saving, and investing. What I really like about this podcast is there is rarely any jargon that is used. Matt and Joel do a really good job going over what these terms mean and how it affects our everyday life. These episodes have given me some insights and tips on how I can handle my personal finances.

If you are looking to find new podcasts, I hope these listed podcasts will broaden your horizon. If there are any podcasts you think I would like, let me know! I would love to add new titles to my library.

Stay adventurous,

Natalie

Raven Rock State Park

Last Monday, Josh and I were fortunate to have the day off. Instead of staying home and working on the apartment, we decided to get out and enjoy the outdoors with Tikka. We wanted to go where there was some elevation to our hiking activity. Unfortunately, the closest areas are about 4 hours away from our apartment.

After doing a little digging on the map, Josh came across Raven Rock State Park in Lillington, NC (which is a 3 hour road trip, but we did it!). Raven Rock provided many trails along the Cape Fear River. There are a variety of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding along with levels of difficulty.

When we arrived in the area, there were a lot of visitors who had the same idea. I can’t be mad about that because it was a beautiful day to be out and about. Tikka was all excited about the new area and groups of people. More importantly, he was excited to get out and get some exercise. Little did he know that we were going to be exercising for a couple of hours.

Josh and I decided to take Campbell Creek Loop Trail. This 4.5 mile trail gives you a challenge to hike the different elevations of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The trail also had a rockier terrain than the other trails which also gave you a challenge in stability. The trail started off on a downward slope, but eventually gained elevation as you traveled through.

The first neat feature about Campbell Creek Loop Trail is walking along Cape Fear River. I have visited this river back in 2019 in Fayetteville, and did not remember the river being that narrow (Of course, I am used to seeing wide mouth rivers back in West Virginia which gives me the assumption that all rivers are like the ones back home.) and calm. Tikka had the opportunity to play in the river for a few minutes.

Another neat feature about this trail is having access to see Lanier Falls. These falls aren’t as extravagant as you think, but the river was significantly wider and active. You didn’t get a clear view of the falls, but listening to it was relaxing.

Lanier Falls at Raven Rock State Park

After hiking and viewing these neat areas, we finished off at 5 miles when we returned back to the car. Overall the trail did have some challenges to it, but it was just enough for you to break a sweat. Of course, Josh and I are used to challenging elevations (thanks, West Virginia!). We both agreed that we would revisit the park again when we have the time. There are so many more trails we have yet to explore.

If you are interested in Raven Rock State Park, you can find the information here. If there are any other North Carolina state parks you think we would enjoy, let me know! We are always up for an adventure!

Stay adventurous,

Natalie

Routine Series Part 2: My Morning Routine

Last week, I talked about routines and why you should have one (If you haven’t had a chance to read it, you can find it here). Routines are important in our daily lives. Our productivity increases. We are more organized not just in our schedules, but in our thoughts. Creating a routine is easy, but it takes time to fine tune it. You have to consider time management, work schedules, unexpected life events, etc. Are you going to have your routine down to the second? No.

Last December, I thought about how I was going to develop a routine that works for me. I needed something that was predictable for the sake of my anxiety, especially if I was leaving the typical 7:30-4:00 teaching job. I was used to having a routine at work and I needed to have a routine at home.

For starters, I focused on developing a morning routine. At first it was a little difficult because of the camper life, but I made it doable until we moved into the apartment. Now that we are moved in, my routine is much more manageable. I am still working on it as we speak. Below is how I start my morning.

Wake Up:

I actually wake up at Josh’s 5 am alarm. Once he leaves for work, I go back to sleep and wake back up no later than 8 am. Tikka is pretty good at waking me up around this time (he’s wanting to play). My new rule for this year is not to sleep past 8. I have noticed that sleeping past that time throws my day off.

Five Minute Journal:

I start off by working on the morning portion in my Five Minute Journal. I have been using this journal since December. On each page, I write 3 things I’m grateful for, 3 things that would make my day great, and two daily affirmations. Since using it, I have noticed a change in my perspective in a positive manner (I will be giving you an update on this journal within the next couple of weeks.).

Daily Devotional:

After completing my journal, I sit down and read or listen to a devotional. Currently I switch between reading Live Purposely by Sadie Robertson Huff or listen to Mornings With the Masters by Chad and Tori Masters. Both devotionals are short, but very meaningful. It gives me a different perspective on life.

Make the Bed:

Photo by Adrienne Andersen on Pexels.com

This one is a classic. If you grew up with the expectation of making your bed, then this one should be pretty simple to do. Making your bed is a kickstart of your productivity line. I always hear the excuse, “Well, you’re just going to mess it up when you go to bed that night.” This is true, but think about the times you change your bed sheets and how amazing it feels to climb in crisp sheets. You can still extend this feeling by making your bed.  Plus, making your bed does not take that long to do.

Morning Skincare:

I always think about Rachel Hollis when she says, “Girl, go wash your face” in her books. She is right. If that is one thing I can do right, it’s washing my face then applying eye cream and SPF. Washing my face makes me feel like I am put together regardless if I go anywhere.

Start Breakfast:

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Breakfast is pretty quick and simple for me. On weekdays, I enjoy a bowl of cereal with oat milk (I’m a big cereal eater!). On weekends, Josh will cook a breakfast scramble or we will get breakfast takeout. 

All together, my routine takes about half an hour to complete. Once I complete my routine, I am ready to take on what my day consists of. I know as I continue through the year, my is subject to change as I am still working on fine tuning it. I hope this gives you an idea of how you can start your day. Keep in mind that it will take some time to figure out what works for you. Start with 3 things you want to accomplish each morning, keep track of your time and make changes accordingly. Try your routine for 30 days and reflect on your mood, what’s going well, and what changes you need to make. Don’t get discouraged if your routine is working. You have the power to change it.

If you have a morning routine you would like to share, let me know! I would love to hear them!

Stay adventurous,

Natalie

The First Case of Homesickness

It’s been a wild ride for us since last December. Amongst living in a camper, adjusting to new jobs, and finally moving into an apartment, it has been nonstop for us. I haven’t had much time to think about West Virginia since we moved down here. A few days ago, I mentioned to Josh that I really didn’t feel homesick at all.

Tikka has been having a hard time adjusting to the move. His behavior has been wild and he’s been anxious. I’ve been trying to set a schedule for him for when we would go to the doggie park so he can run freely. It has helped with his energy. However, he is still restless.

This week, I came across videos for dogs on YouTube. Tikka has been in love. He likes to sit and watch the animals on the tv. Sometimes he’ll become intrigued and have to sniff the screen to see if they are real. It has helped with his anxiety some. It has now become a part of his morning routine.

Today, I came across a video of cows for Tikka to watch. He absolutely loved it. I know, you’re probably thinking it’s crazy that we’re watching videos of cows grazing a field instead of just going outside to watch them. The problem is, there aren’t any cows close to where we’re living. We live close to a busy highway and flat land containing over 100 windmills. No cows in sight. 

Currently missing these West Virginia hills.

The calm and peacefulness of the video triggered something in me…I was missing West Virginia. I miss the peacefulness. I miss the hills. I miss the small town feeling. I also miss being there when this beautiful weather is taking place. I know that last weekend we came home to West Virginia, but one day was simply not enough. I am hoping to return for more than one day soon.

So what can I do to fulfill the void for the time being? Keep myself busy and continue my routine until the time comes for me to come home for a few days. It’s not easy living almost 8 hours away, but I’m glad we have technology to FaceTime with family. 

I know this isn’t going to be my only time where I’m homesick during this adventure. More will come later down the road. I just need to be prepared for it. I need to make time to come home to those West Virginia hills.

Stay adventurous,

Natalie

Routine Series Part 1: What Is a Morning Routine and Why Should You Have One

Morning routines are known to make you efficient and successful.

Mornings can be hectic, especially if you’re waking up early and preparing for the workday. Sometimes we’re tempted to hit that snooze button one more time or maybe stay in the shower for another 10 minutes because it’s warm and comforting. For most of us, we aren’t all rainbows and sunshine in the morning.

If you’ve been following my adventures, you know I have talked about making and teaching goals. One of my goals this year involved developing a morning routine. I’ve been known to rush myself out the door to start my day. From then up until it’s time for bed, I am mindlessly on the move. My anxiety was up and my brain was restless. It was time for me to do something about it.

So why develop a routine?

According to the dictionary, a routine is a series of actions regularly followed. Routines give us the expectation and our brains love it. Our stress levels and anxiety are down. We’re able to cope with change. Think about the routines you had when you were in school. You knew what was expected. 

What happens if we don’t have a routine?

Going back to the classroom…when the routine changes or a routine is not set, chaos happens. Chaos happens in our brain when we don’t have a routine. We forget things. We spend more time eating breakfast than taking a shower. We’re stressing out and we haven’t made it out the door yet.

Does having a routine make you successful?

Think about a successful person you look up to. If you have read a book they wrote or follow them on social media, they probably have shared their morning routine with you. Their reason: it makes their days productive. 

Routines take out the guesswork in what you need to do for the day. You’re saving time. You’re saving your energy for other tasks. Time is precious.

How do I create a morning routine?

Creating your own morning routine is based on trial and error. Stop and think about what you want to set aside in the morning and how long it’s going to take you to do it. I sat down and created a list of 3-5 things I wanted to do when I first woke up. Then I estimated the time I thought it would take me to do these things. After that I took action the next morning and reflected on my efficiency. If things went well, I continued using that allotted time. If things weren’t going well, I adjusted my time and tried again the following morning.

Routines are very helpful, especially in our fast paced world. Initially, it is hard to get things going. Once your routine is set, your tasks will come naturally. Plus your days will run smoothly.

Next time, I will share my morning routine with you. Let me know if you have planned on setting a morning routine or you currently have one. I would love to know!

Stay adventurous,

Natalie

2022 Archery Season Phrase: “Why Not?”

Josh, Tikka, and I took a weekend trip to West Virginia. We were all missing the beautiful mountains and our families. We did not get home until 12:30 in the morning. Regardless of the time it took to get home, we’re happy to get away from reality.

My Mathews Prima (left) and the Hoyt Eclipse (right)

This morning, we stopped by HP Archery to visit, shoot some bows, and get our equipment fine tuned. We were happy to be back on the range.For the past month or so, I’ve been looking into branching out to trying new bows. I’ve shot Mathews since 2018 and that is all I’ve ever shot. There’s not one time I thought about shooting something other than a Mathews. Since I’ve been so open minded with everything this year, I decided to try out something else.

Our shop had a Hoyt Eclipse in stock. At first, we were afraid I couldn’t shoot it due to the draw length. The minimum draw length was 26 inches. I was shooting 25 inches. Josh double checked and measured me for my draw length. We both found I was 25 1/2 inches. Last year, I was measured at 24 1/2, but since we have corrected my form within the past year, we had a correct measurement.

At first we set it to 45 pounds, but realized I couldn’t draw the bow back. We adjusted the draw weight to 40 pounds on the Eclipse. This is what I currently have set on my Prima.  Once we had everything set, I was able to shoot a few rounds with it to see how I liked it.

My takeaway on the Hoyt Eclipse:

The bow itself didn’t feel bulky in my hand. The grip felt better in my hand than the Mathews Prima grip. I didn’t feel like I was fighting my bow while aiming at the target. Because the grip is a little more narrow on the Eclipse, there’s less of a chance for significant torque.

When I first drew the bow back, I was surprised how smooth the draw cycle was. In fact, the draw cycle was smoother than the Prima. The holding weight was heavier which meant I couldn’t “creep” my arrow forward as easily while aiming at the target. I was impressed with this because I have a tendency to do so with my Prima.

The grip feels a lot nicer on the Hoyt Eclipse.

Another thing we noticed was how fast my arrow was coming out of the Eclipse. When tested through the chronograph, the arrow was moving 6-7 ft per second faster in the Eclipse (and that was with the whisker biscuit attached. Think of how fast that arrow would have gone if a QAD or Hamskea arrow rest was attached to it!). 

Overall, I am impressed with the Hoyt Eclipse. In fact, my decision has been made for the Archery season…I’m hanging up the Mathews Prima and will be representing Hoyt. This decision was unanimous and like I told Josh, “Why not?” 

I look forward to continuing sharing this archery journey with you this year as we attend some 3D shoots. What’s your preference on a bow brand? Have you thought about branching out before? Let me know your thoughts!

Stay adventurous,

Natalie

6 Reasons Why I Quit Teaching

A while back, I quit my teaching job. The teacher burnout was too much for me. In fact, I was starting to get burned out right around the time the pandemic hit the United States. Did I become a teacher for the paycheck? No. In fact, I always liked being in the classroom. I loved having routines. I loved getting to know the students. I loved presenting topics in an interesting way. 

So why was I burned out? There are 6 reasons why.

The Unrealistic Expectations

For one, it was the unreachable high expectations. We were expected to squeeze in all the material within a 9 month period. In a perfect world, this may have worked. However, life happens. Mother Nature happens. The pandemic happened. It wasn’t going to happen.

Lack of Funding for Materials

As a science teacher, this was extremely difficult to have materials for 100+ students. Even grouping students to cut down on the material was also difficult because I was still struggling to have enough materials. Some school districts will do the best they can to get you the materials you need. However, there were times where the labs/projects I was doing were occurring within a couple of weeks. If the funding wasn’t there, it meant I would pay out of pocket. Mind you, this isn’t the district’s fault. However, if there is a project that would be meaningful to students, a personal financial sacrifice happens. 

Mundane Summers

If you’re not in the education system, your first thoughts about teaching are, “you get summers off. Must be nice.” Actually, for me, it is not. In the beginning it was awesome because I could get whatever I needed to get done. However, as the years went on, not working during the summer wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine for me. As I continued to develop anxiety and depression. I didn’t like staying home while everyone worked. I needed a routine. A summer job wasn’t going to work due to my time off getting shorter and shorter each year. Being home during the summer was killing my mental health.

Assigned Content

Science is all about exploring and understanding the natural world. Unfortunately, having structured content made it a little difficult in allowing students to explore. Having so many learning standards that I have to teach In so little time took more time away from connecting the content to the real world. Students really enjoyed the content once they understood how and why it affects them. It also made it difficult to make time to teach students the basic skills they need to be successful in labs such as measurements, proper use of tools, calculations, etc. I always felt rushed to teach these skills so I could jump into the learning standards.

The Lack of Appreciation

Before the pandemic, teachers were viewed as lazy and “just there for a paycheck.” Sometimes there were times where I would hear students and/or parents say that teachers don’t know how to teach. This may be true for some, but not all teachers are like that. Now that the pandemic is here, the lack of appreciation has hit tenfold. If something goes wrong in terms of academic and/or behavior, we are the ones to blame. It didn’t matter how much I tried to use effective teaching practices and follow school policies, it wasn’t enough for some.

Personal Use of Technology in the Classroom

In the beginning of my teaching career, I was attached to my phone. Unfortunately, I was on it whenever I wasn’t teaching. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was bringing personal issues to work. I wasn’t leaving home at home. Plus, how fair was it for me to be on my phone if students weren’t allowed to be? It was greatly affecting my way of teaching. 

When I moved to my second school, students also weren’t allowed to have phones in the classroom. Our administration encouraged teachers to stay off the phones and teach. I didn’t want to self-sabotage myself again and took that encouragement. The phone was left on my desk and I was out on the floor. I was teaching, engaging, and getting to know my students as they are working. I didn’t realize how much students enjoyed it when I was teaching.

I got my first taste of students using their cell phones in the classroom at my third school. I was uncomfortable with it because I was new. Even if I told them to put the phone away or confiscate it, I was afraid there was another student out there who would take advantage of the situation and try to get me in trouble. Walking in a straight line puts a lot of anxiety and pressure on me. I knew I simply couldn’t deal with this for an entire school year. 

Where Do I Go From Here?

It was difficult for me to walk away from something I always thought I would be doing up until retirement age. However, waking up in the middle of the night having anxiety attacks and crying my eyes out because I dread the next day wasn’t healthy for me. Something had to give. I knew I couldn’t continue doing something that I wasn’t truly happy with.

Will I ever return to the classroom? As of right now, no. In fact, I don’t miss it. Would I come back to the classroom if the education system was fixed? I would. I enjoy teaching and I know there are times where I miss the students and staff. I simply don’t miss the mental and emotional stress.

As I take a step back from the classroom, I look forward to exploring another career area. I look forward to trying new things and learning new skills. Who says a new career isn’t a new adventure?

Stay adventurous,

Natalie