January 2015 archive

The Key to Balance: Some (Mostly) Healthy Daily Habits

IMG_3424I’ll admit it. I live for burgers, tacos, and anything chocolate, despite my yoga-loving ways.

However, I’m a big believer in moderation. I was raised by smart parents who taught me the  importance of living a balanced life.

Essentially: work, play, relax, spend time alone, and don’t overdo any one thing.

I still take that to heart daily, and when I take a look at the big picture of my life, I think I’m doing a pretty decent job.

To encourage healthy living on a regular basis, I do a few things:

Morning routing– Drink 32 oz of water, followed by toast with local honey and 1 tsp of bee pollen, and a cup of tea. I enjoy a long leisurely morning most days, but when I have to be in the classroom, I take the same breakfast to go.

I normally do 5 basic yoga poses for 5-10 minutes before I have breakfast. My favorites are downward dog and chaturanga (although I’m not sure I’m necessarily good at either of those).

I also try to get in a few hours of work for my online classes most mornings, followed by some reading (I basically just read teaching and psychology books, so it’s kind of nerdy, but I really enjoy it).

Afternoon– Drink 32 oz of water, followed by a lunch of whatever I can find in the fridge or pantry (I gave up cooking long ago):

Thai food
Amy’s Macaroni and Cheese (it’s organic)
Maybe leftover pizza (don’t judge)
Always dark chocolate (I eat dark chocolate all day long, ask anyone)

If I need an energy pick-me-up during the day, sometimes I’ll eat Aloha’s Breakfast Chia Seed Pudding with or without the chocolate (see more of Aloha’s nutritious ideas in the Recipe Center!). The chia seeds are such a nice, natural way to recharge (blame my knowledge of health foods on my awesome, earthy mother-in-law).

If it’s nice weather, I also make it a point to spend at least an hour or 2 outside, usually in a hammock reading, or I’ll meet a friend or family member at a coffee shop.

Evening– Drink 32 oz of water (sensing a pattern yet?), work for a few more hours (full disclosure here: unfortunately, I’m almost always thinking about my job, but it seems to work for me), then around 7 pm I typically walk to a restaurant or coffee shop with my husband, or jog over to the gym to meet up with my sister.

~

When I look at my typical weekday outlined like this, I notice that balance is always part of my morning, afternoon, and evening. It makes me happy to see that. Sometimes you can deceive yourself into thinking you’re on the right path when you’ve veered off long ago.

Of course, there are days when I work too hard, or stay indoors when the sun is shining, but for the most part I’m very purposeful with my time, and balance has always been priority number one in my life.

I encourage you to make an outline of your day (mentally or otherwise), and re-prioritize if need be.

How can you incorporate a little more balance into your own life?

Happy living, and (as always) happy teaching!

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The Spring Term is Here Again

IMG_3434Today marks the official start of the second week of college classes (at least at most Central Florida colleges), and with the uncertainty of a new workload and new students, comes the excitement to be in the classroom again.

I’m loving my new students at UCF, but I’m also getting used to teaching in the virtual classroom- that is, primarily online.

That’s the thing about teaching. It’s never the same, it never gets boring, and it’s always changing.

This semester I started working for a new online school, and I absolutely love it. As a late adopter, I’ve never been one to jump right into new technology, and it usually takes me a few years to join everyone else. However, teaching online has forced me out of my comfort zone where technology is concerned.

And it’s exciting.

I have a feeling that this Spring term is going to look vastly different from the previous Spring term, and I think that’s kind of awesome.

Working more hours from home really allows me the time I need to wind down, while also allowing me to get so much more enjoyment from my few hours spent in the classroom during the week.

Not to mention, I’ve also become intrigued with the concept of online teaching, now that I’ve somehow ended up on this side of things (Note: I’ll add the 3 or so online teaching books I’m reading to my ‘Great Reads’ list after I finish them).

So for all you teachers out there, I hope you’re enjoying the start of a new chapter, with a new term, a new year, and new students. Be sure to make the most of it.

Happy teaching!

Simple Living: How to Make the Most of Small Spaces

IMG_2163Bigger isn’t always better.

For a while I’d been considering moving into a two-bedroom place, and saying goodbye to my studio apartment.

However, I knew that if I went bigger I’d end up paying a lot more and most likely buy more stuff to fill that space (I know my triggers, so I try not to go there).

Instead of moving into a bigger apartment, I decided to get rid of anything I hadn’t used in the 3 years since we’d moved in, and I redecorated purposefully.

Redecorating probably took a total of 15 hours and $150 (the beauty of little apartments and tiny changes), and turned out much better than expected.

I’m not a decorator, but my more fashion-savvy friends have been pleasantly surprised by the results. Here are some of the tricks that I accidentally learned along the way:

  1. Get rid of everything you possibly can (clothes, candles, those 10 pairs of black leggings you don’t wear anymore, meaningless knick knacks, that stack of magazines you’ve been meaning to look at). This gives you more time to do the things you want, instead of maintaining and organizing all the junk you don’t use.
  2. Throw away all your excess food storage containers. Somehow I had around 30, and I probably use 5 of them.
  3. Get rid of books that are taking up space. For teachers, you may have a lot of excess textbooks and files/folders from former classes, get rid of those, and scan the important documents you absolutely need to keep.
  4. Clear off all your counter and table space, leaving maybe one or two items. I don’t know how the illusion works, but for some reason your place will look much neater and somehow bigger.
  5. Put aesthetically pleasing, large items on your walls. Like a guitar or bike (I did both).
  6. Put big mirrors on your walls. It makes it seem like you’ve got a window and/or extra bedroom, and light will reflect off of it during the day making your place brighter (which I love).
  7. Put your massive DVD or CD collection in a couple DVD/CD wallets, or download your songs to your iTunes and get rid of your collection altogether. I’m still having a hard time with this- I haven’t parted with my CDs yet, and will probably keep most of them forever, but I’m working on getting rid of the DVD cases.

Even though it’s not easy on everyone (myself included) to part with things, it’s all about priorities.

I absolutely love my apartment, it’s in the perfect location, and it’s affordable. Honestly, I think about how much I love it every single day.

By society’s standards, I should be increasing my space and belongings the older and more ‘established’ I get, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the only option. I’d much rather give up some of my insignificant material things to stay in this apartment that’s come to feel like home.

To me, my place represents freedom, simplicity, and extra time. It’s small, which means I can make the whole space look fantastic in 20 minutes flat. How great is that? I prefer to spend my time enjoying everything wonderful that life has to offer, not cleaning and organizing.

So here’s a possible goal for you: Try to add some simplicity to your life by subtracting what never really mattered to begin with.

It’s Not Failure, It’s Experimentation

IMG_3159I’ve heard variations of this phrase a few times from different books, and I love the simplicity and truth behind this particular one.

‘It’s not failure, it’s experimentation.’

Many people have failed a test, experienced a breakup, got a bad haircut, tried their hand at different career paths through internships and part-time work. And as a teacher, I’m sure you’ve tried an assignment in the classroom that just didn’t at all work out the way you wanted.

Just because it failed to work out, doesn’t mean it was a bad thing.

In fact, on looking back at those things, you’ll probably agree that you learned something and it was a very good thing that you ‘failed’ at that particular moment because it probably made you a little smarter in the long run.

One thing I’ve learned from reading business books is that many of the most successful entrepreneurs (many whose names would be easily recognizable) have had huge huge failures in life and in business. The kind of failures that you’d think would make them completely give up on life and their careers.

But no.

These people understood that they were trying something new, there was risk involved, and if it didn’t work out they’d try again. This is part of the reason we’re inspired by people like Oprah Winfrey, Walt Disney, J.K. Rowling, The Beatles, Michael Jordan, and Steve Jobs.

So just think about it.

‘It’s not failure, it’s experimentation.’

I probably repeat that to myself at least once a day, because everyone makes mistakes, and you can’t progress if you only beat yourself up over it.

So here’s to trying, failing, and learning.
Happy teaching! And happy experimentation ;).