Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving, Tennessee, Teaching

Thanksgiving was wonderful. Went ahead and ate some extra but walked the hills of Tennessee and came out even. I love Tennessee. Even in November. Saw snow up close on the mountaintops, came down to pleasant weather. Walking was a workout but what a way to go. Gorgeous stars at night, mist on the lake in the morning, sunset glow behind Bay's Mountain. That's what I'm talkin' about.

Saw my sister and her husband. He's very ill and I wanted to spend time with him. Got to talk to my sister. I'm not a phone person so that was great. We also went to Ashville and got to see a lot of arts and crafts, but did most of my shopping at Mast General Store where they have everything. Got almost all my Christmas shopping done there.

This was a major holiday, normally an absolute stuffed to the gills holiday. I did eat stuffing (my favorite) but I was not stuffed. I enjoyed my food and all the leftovers over the weekend. The band definitely helped me walk away. I had to watch the quantities of slider food. But taking lots of walks and not just sitting around my sister's house helped a lot.

I really became aware once more of how much I need to move and be busy. With the weather going to be getting worse around here I know I won't be able to walk outside as frequently and some weeks (months?) not at all. Plus the walking doesn't work the same muscles as climbing all those hills in Tennessee and that definitely upped my workout. So I'm going to get to school early most mornings and do the stairs there for half an hour. Did that this morning. Didn't even break a sweat. Sixty lbs ago I'd have been covered in sweat after one or two rounds.

I'm also doing a hundred ab crunches on our ab cruncher my husband picked up at a garage sale. Don't really feel that either. My cardiovascular system has to be vastly improved.

I am having such a good year at work. My groups are all manageable, and remarkably well-behaved. They're making great strides in learning that I can almost touch. I have fewer kids whom I see more often in many cases allowing me to really tackle remediating their weak areas while strengthening their strengths. I'm better at using Love & Logic to manage classroom behavior. I'm getting better and better at teaching, period.

I love teaching. I feel so good when I'm teaching. I can't wait to get to my job in the morning. Seeing these kids faces when the light of comprehension dawns, watching them decide to take learning seriously, the enthusiasm for the novels they read and the new math techniques they learn just inspire me. The kids can't wait to get to my classroom. Even the 6th-8th graders are buckling down in ways that are amazing me.

I think there's been a sea change at the school. We lost many students when we cracked down on those not paying tuition, but the kids we're left with are coming from families determined to make the most of the dollars they're spending. I think its making a difference. Now we need to attract more of those families and students. With the Lord's help, I think we will.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Am Not Lazy

I think about my motivation to work. ADHD makes a lot of things difficult for me. Organization and focusing issues, procrastination, needing the pressure of urgency, a deadline, a self-imposed goal and time-line to get things done. I've been accused of being lazy. Maybe I am. But its more a matter of there being a great need for something to be done to keep me focused and on task.

One of the reasons I'm afraid of reaching my weight goal is that the urgency that keeps me on task with my food will be gone. Whenever, I have trouble getting at things that overwhelm me (like cleaning and organizing closets and getting rid of old clothes), I remind myself that I am not lazy. I am ADHD. I work very hard at Roseland Christian School, going well beyond what I'm paid or expected to do.

I love my job. I love teaching. I love the school I teach at. I put in very full hours teaching. On Tuesdays, I have no breaks. My assistant is there and that helps, but its a long day. I have kids in my room before and after school. They love to be in my room. They love to learn. They're safe at our school and they are loved and they know it.

Three blocks from our school a young man was beaten to death with a 2 by 4. Footage made it to TV sets around the world. I always feel a sense of urgency to reach these kids and give them the tools to not be seduced by the street culture that destroys so many of these young lives.

Pray that Roseland Christian School will make it. Finances are precarious. Most people with money just don't see the importance of our work. I'd love to see us expand and keep tuition cheap enough that more children could come here. Places like this are the hope for these urban areas. We make a difference where it counts, one child at a time.

Thank God for what you've got. In some ways this is like a war zone. A third world country. Inside the USA.

Pray that I'll be able to keep working here. I've built relationships with these kids over the years I've had them. The relationships are a huge part of why I'm so effective. For them, I will work my a$$ off.

Not just for myself, not just for my grandchildren, but for this job and this school, I want to keep the weight off. I have so much more energy for the children. I think I actually have more patience because I'm not so wiped out.

God is good, all the time.
All the time, God is good.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Food, Fat, Focus, Falls, Finances, and Floods

Lost 2 more lbs. I'm at 178 lbs, 11 lbs from goal. I just bought a few tops that are size large. I'm aftraid by the time I reach goal they may be too loose. I bought a pair of jeans that are low cut in a size 12. They fit my butt and thighs really nice but now they're a little loose. I'm hoping they all shrink in the wash. I'm going to end up having to buy more clothes if they don't shrink. I'm going to pick up some pants my sister-in-law sent me that are size 14's. She lost weight and most pants that fit me now are 14's. The size 12 jeans only fit because they're so low cut and all the walking has really trimmed my butt and thighs

Its somewhat disconcerting to see my change in shape. I don't mean the weight loss. I mean that since the last time I was thin, my shape has changed. The combination of having had a hysterectomy and age makes you thicken at the waist and more weight goes on the upper abdomen. Makes getting pants that fit and flatter difficult.

I've started doing crunches on an abcruncher my husband picked up at a garage sale. We'll see if that helps reshape me a little. I did a hundred crunchesthis morning.

I'm still scared about maintenance. It's getting closer everyday. I've lost so many times in the past but could never maintain. It's the loss of focus once I reach goal that's part of the problem. This is a disease that will never leave me. It will never leave me alone. I'm really praying that the band will make the difference between this time and all the other times I've lost weight.

I feel so good and have so much energy. I'm really afraid of injury, especially injury from falling. In the past, injury has really sabotaged my maintenance. Herniated discs have been a major contributor. Severe unrelenting pain, the inability to move freely, bad neck, bad back, bad knees, bad shoulders, all these things have sabotaged me in the past. As I get back in shape I have to be very careful not to injure myself. But if I do, I now have a band to tide me over through physical recovery and keep me from comforting myself and medicating my pain with food.

My basement is not smelling nearly as much and that is a mood lifter for me. Repairing the damage after all the flooding has been almost beyond my ability to comprehend. Now that the drain tiles are in, I think the walls may be drying out for the first time in a long time. My husband is preparing the basement so he can spray it to kill the remaining mold on all surfaces. Then I'm going to get an electrician in to take all the extra BX that was put in and organize it into straight bundles that run along the main beam and then branch out to the light fixtures.

Once all the electric and waterpipes are secure and neat we can spray paint the rafters of the basement and all the pipes will be painted and will be less visible. After that we'll tackle the floor. It will need some scraping and perhaps some fresh concrete in certain areas. Then we'll spray paint that. Hopefully, by next summer we can put up insulation behind the wooden framework we left up and drywall over that. We need a new toilet and shower and sink and cabinets (not to mention walls) in the bathroom, and then we'll be in business.

I also hope to put in a new roof and fix its leak in the spring. My husband is going for training as a security guard and already has an offer of employment at a factory. If I still have a job next fall that is, then the extra money will help us get this place where I'll either be a lot happier living here, or I'll sell it and downsize.

Those are my plans and I can at least see an end to my house problems. There are also car problems as both our cars are aging and neither one of us is good with cars. We are very easily ripped off by mechanics. Just had a $300 repair on a car and I really needed new glasses. My insurance for glasses is very poor and I absolutely need progressives so with the eye exam, that was another $500. It never ends.

Thank God my husband has stepped up to the plate. The past 5 years his employment has been spotty and low-paying until he finally went on social security at 62. Don't let anyone tell you there's no age discrimination in this country. Security jobs are available to older men and pay $12-18/hr. He can supplement his social security or go full time for benefits if by next fall I have no job.

I am so aware that unforseen events can completely sabotage all these plans and that God may have a different idea in mind, but it helps me psychologically to have a plan and to see an end to this particular set of troubles. Looking that far ahead is difficult, but keeping in mind that, with God's help, we can get through these financial difficulties, is what sustains me.

Meanwhile I keep working on remaining content, knowing that I can do (or get through) all things through him that strengthens me--food, falls, finances, and floods.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Focus and Food

I'm sick of Facebook, Mafia Wars, Farmtown, e-mail, etc. They were great for a long time because they kept me busy instead of eating. But they've lost their ability to hold my attention. All my creative energy and attention are going into my teaching. I come home and I want to do something fun, but there's nothing fun to do.

TV shows can start out interesting but eventually I lose interest. The characters start behaving so foolishly and sabotaging themselves so badly I can't deep watching. I lose interest. The plots become thinner. They follow the same basic pattern each time. It would be interesting to see House figure out what's wrong with someone right away, but then I guess there'd be no suspense.

The undermining power of ADHD when it comes to sustaining attention to something I'm really interested in or devoted to or need to stick with is unbelievable. I'm struggling to keep posting because I can't focus on it anymore. But I also want to stay focused not just on continuing to lose, but on maintenance, and it scares me that, once again, as in my past, I'll lose my focus and I won't be able to maintain.

I am down to 180. My 16 pants and XL shirts are getting pretty loose on me. I actually purchased a size 12 pair of jeans that fit me. I've got 13 lbs to goal. The weight is dropping slower. Sometimes I can feel my band limiting me and sometimes I can't.On the other hand I'm walking for an hour almost every day and I figure I'm covering at least 3 miles, closer to 4.

Tonight I had some Long John Silver's fish and chicken. Removed most of the breading. Didn't taste too good without it and I pb'd a little. Wasn't much meat left under the breading. I was quickly hungry later. I hate it when the food I eat doesn't satisfy me physically or tastefully. I hate to waste the little I eat on unsatisfying food.

I've been posting on FB almost every day the things I'm thankful for. I think its helping with my food. Its the idea of a gratitude list. Where your focus is, there your mind and body will follow. I'm also learning choir music and listening to that to and from work. I'm singing every other Sunday and so have wonderful songs going through my head day and night. (I wake up with music going through my head and it keeps playing through my head throughout the day.

I'm going to my sister's for Thanksgiving. She lives in Tennessee. Even in November it's beautiful around her house. All the hills and vistas. Her home is also beautiful and very peaceful. I'm actually not going to be with any family other than hers. I think I've only ever been to her house once without my kids or my parents or even more extended family.

I'm trying to start to fill my life with things that make me feel good. I actually am taking a personal day to travel to Tennessee. I've joined a new community group at church that I'm finding quite stimulating. I'm working extra time at work because I really do love teaching kids.

There are so many things I'm not good at. But I am good at teaching kids. I go into a different zone when I'm teaching. I'm focused, hyperfocused really, on getting into that child's brain and getting them to understand and remember what I'm trying to teach them. When I'm teaching I don't think about food.

That tells me whenever I'm focused on a task I love, when I'm doing things that take care of me and make me happy, my cravings go way down. Walking as soon as I get home from work makes me feel good. And the endorphins it releases tend to help me get through the night without overeating or craving.

If I go back to school next semester that will also give me brain stimulation. I've always loved listening to really good professors. I like the give and take of the classroom. I hate reading textbooks. I'm not sure I have the eyes or the focus for that anymore. I don't mind writing papers but I hate research, bibliographies and footnotes, though I've been told you can find programs on the internet that will put them together for you. I'm great at original thinking but I hate cobbling together other people's research to support what I'm saying. I read about studies, I don't read studies. If you've ever struggled through a research study you'll know what I'm talking about. Most boring reading in the world.

As usual, procrastination is keeping me from exploring and enrolling for next semester. I have all kinds of trouble actually believing I might not be teaching at Roseland next year. I'm so good at what I do. My room is set up so perfectly. I work so well with my assistant. She does everything I hate doing and am not good at. I'm left free to do what I do so well. Teach. I've built a relationship over time with so many of my students. It's part of what makes me so effective with them.

Everytime a child "gets" it, I feel so good. That usually only happens over time. And I've had years of time with most of these kids. I really love my job. The thought of losing it makes me even more aware of how much I love it. Yes it can be stressful, but its good stress. There are always challenges that trigger my creativity and when I'm creative, I focus and I'm happy. And that helps me not eat.

Lord, Roseland needs you, I need you, I need my students, they need me. Please work it out. But if there's another plan you have for me, make me ready. Give me a clue. Use my gifts, and my weaknesses to do your will.


Monday, November 9, 2009

A Meaningful Life

I like Mondays. I look forward to going to work. I am a problem solver and these kids and this school have many problems. I love my kids. Also, my personal motto is from Micah 6 and says, "Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God."

Roseland Christian School allows me to practice justice (equal education for students who wouldn't get it in the public schools and historically haven't ever gotten it), love mercy (everytime a student needs encouragement or a boundary enforced and then relationship restored), and I couldn't do this job without God. Anyone who lacks humility will not survive in this place.

I have had to look at myself--my hidden prejudices, my reactions and behaviors, my way of handling children, my anger, my need to be in control, my need to be liked, the way I raised my own children. So much I've had to work on. I've had to work on emotional consistency even when I want to tear a child's head off. I'm not always successful at not being cranky and crabby, but most days I am.

I've immersed myself in Love & Logic, an incredibly effective set of disciplinary principles and practical set of suggestions. As a result, when a child does something I immediately pause and hear in my head, "No anger, lectures, threats, or warnings." Initially, I used a lot of Love & Logic one-liners like "I like you too much to argue."

Eventually I came up with my own lines, often incorporating my own sense of humor. The impression I try to give is that I can handle anything they throw at me with ease. I try to be that charismatic adult in their life who can inspire them to become more than they ever thought they could be, to overcome barriers and difficulties they thought were insurmountable.

I feel free to be myself with these kids probably more than I am with adults.

I've learned a lot teaching. I learned I am a glass half full kind of person. I'm also an every crisis is an opportunity kind of person. When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade, etc. The fact is, life is hard. When you accept that and don't whine about it, it gets a lot better. Doesn't mean we shouldn't vent once in a while. Doesn't mean we don't despair at times. But even in my toughest times, I was always aware that joy from the Lord lay just under the surface. Weeping may last for a day, but joy comes in the morning. (Ecclesiastes)

That joy bubbles up when I teach. It bubbles up even more without the weight on me. My spirits become almost irrepressible and the kids sense it and respond.

One of my favorite old hymns is: When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say, "It is well, it is well with my soul."

Christianity is not about pie in the sky when you die bye and bye. We have a God who cared enough about us to become human. A God who has gone through and experienced everything we've gone through. A God who experienced such a horrifying death that he sweated blood anticipating that death.

This God walks with us through everything that life throws at us. He is the source of my joy, of my growth, of my goals, of the peace that attends my way. Living with Him eternally is a bonus. It's for this life that I need Him.

A song that I wrote last spring goes like this (based on Phillipians 4)

I could've been a superstar
but that wouldn't take me very far
I am content.
I could've had a mansion
and worn the latest fashion
but I am content.
I am content
no matter what the circumstance.
I am content
no matter what my lot.
I know what it means
to live in want or have plenty.
I know the meaning of being content...
Is I can do all thingsthrough Him who strengthens me.
Yes, I can do all things
through Him who strengthens me.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My grandson, Josh, is doing a little better today. Still in pain and very cranky. I just hope he hasn't given himself the start of some major neck problems.

I had a good food day and walked very briskly for an hour again. I lost my Halloween weight but I've been struggling with that 2 or 3 lbs for awhile. I found it really hard to get back on my food protocol this time. I had a lot of sugar and chocolate for a few days--less than in the past but it still probably whacked out my insulin because the cravings have been bad.

In addition people are hinting that my weight is now about just right for my build and age. I'm 183 lbs., 5'9", 57 yrs old. I'm looking really good. I feel great. I've upped the intensity of my walkout. Can't believe how fast I can walk now and how much ground I can cover.

My Dr. suggested 170 lbs as my goal. I settled on 167 lbs because that's exactly 70 lbs. off. It's very tempting to stop losing now. I'm thin enough to look good in my clothes and I'll never look good without them so I'm suddenly not sure I want to keep losing weight. However, every lb. off is more weight off my back and hips and knees and feet.

I still struggle with arthritis. I have to sit a long time after a walk and I never stop really hurting. It's better and I'm moving much more freely, but I'd like to be even free-er. Hanging upside down on my inversion table helps.

I miss the sun. I can see the sunlight from m window during the day but by the time I leave the school the sun is gone. I'm still able to walk outside but I'm not looking forward to moving indoors. My treadmill is in my stinky basement and walking round and round a track at the community center doesn't offer much of a view. Being outside exercising helps me so much with both depression and ADHD which helps me deal with the food. Indoor exercise is just not the same.

Ah well. I'll survive.

I've lost this much weight before but I've always gained it back. Eventually, the thought of trying to lose weight, only to face the prospect of gaining it all back was so discouraging I didn't even want to try. I'm getting close to the maintenance point. I'd like to make it a sticking point. In the past I didn't have the band as a tool. Now I do.

The part of my brain that's missing when it comes to knowing when to stop eating now has the assistance of my band.

Thank God for my band. Eating triggers my addiction, yet I have to eat to live. For whatever reason, God has chosen not to take away this thorn in the flesh. But he has allowed me to acquire a tool in my battle.

God is good, all the time.
All the time, God is good.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mixed Bag

Came home from school and walked for over an hour today in the twilight. Had a good food day after a very Halloween chocolate weekend. But then I looked at Facebook and found my grandson Joshua had fallen on his head from a bunk bed and was in significant pain with his head and neck though the CT scans show nothing. He won't move his neck. I hope my daughter gets him to a specialist tomorrow. I don't trust small local rural hospitals. Josh would not lie still for the CT scans or the x-rays so something could have been missed. I love that little booger and he loves his grandma.

Please pray for him.

I'm seeing some great progress from some of my kids at work. I've also been able to increase the number of contacts with the kids so my program will hopefully bring in more funds. Next year is still very much up in the air as far as my employment is concerned. I've been working with the promotions committee to try to bring in more funds and more students. I'm just praying that these things will work out. People need to open their hearts and their pocketbooks.

Three or four city blocks from the school a young man was killed a few weeks ago. You may have seen it on the news. It made national headlines and Obama sent representatives to the high school the young man and his attackers attended. He was killed with a two by four. Meanwhile the children attending our school were safe inside in our afterschool program. I believe Roseland Christian School saves lives.

God uses us to give these kids hope and a future.

Please pray for my future and for the future of RCS and its students.

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans not to harm you but to give you hope and a future."