Reality of Teaching

“I ain’t writin’ nuttin’”

Says my student to her blank paper

If I don’t end up pushing

She will be set up for failure

It’s up to me to have the right mindset

I have to demand success

It may seem like a threat

But without, there will only be unrest

It’s up to us teachers to be the reform

We have the power to rewrite history

Producing academic success and equity isn’t an art form

It isn’t a magical mystery

We need to change our reality

My students’ success is in my hands

We are one big family

I am their biggest fan

Picking students from different demographics

To create cogenerative dialogues

Representing multiple geographics

Moving beyond the typical monologues

Redefining the term co-teaching

Letting our youth teach their classmates

Proving to them that we’re believing

Creating a community of team-mates

Going way beyond just the content

Generating a safe space to grow

Giving the learning environment context

Letting thoughts and ideas flow

Growth comes from discomfort

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re likely aware of the many protests occurring in order to bring about changes in regards to how people of color (POC) are treated. This is not a new fight, it’s actually been going on for hundreds of years. The hate crimes/ police brutality are not new either, they are just being video taped more regularly thanks to technology. Through everything though, we as a people know that change won’t come from us just sitting at home. We must unite, protest and march together to bring about change. White people along with people of color must come together to bring about the needed changes. We must not remain silent.

It’s easy to see discomfort is a necessary thing to endure in order to grow as a nation, as a community, and as humans. A lot of people get stuck. A lot of people get comfortable. Many people are so comfortable, they’re miserable. Actually I personally know several people who are comfortably broke. So broke they can’t even feed their own children, and yet won’t step out of their comfort zone to relieve some of their expenses or make more money.

Breaking a habit, trying something new, taking a risk, making new connections, or putting yourself in a totally new situation won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it. Calvin Coolidge says “All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.”

I, for one, know that I am not happy with my current financial situation. I also know that I have the power to change it. I want to grow not only financially, but also spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I want to help students learn and better their lives through science and beyond. I know I have to face some discomfort, I actually get really nervous giving presentations/speeches. Especially on video. And here I am jumping into teaching (likely virtually) starting in July. So I know it will be uncomfortable. I know it’ll be hard. I also know it’ll be worth it. I will be exhausted but also full of joy.

What area of your life are you trying to grow or change? Are you sitting idle hoping for things to just magically get better, or are you putting yourself out there to get uncomfortable and force yourself to change?

How expecting a baby raised my standards

Pregnant and dating: not two words commonly seen together.

But that’s me. You’re not so common pregnant chick. And don’t get me wrong, I am focused almost exclusively on my baby and me. But just about two years ago, God told me that He has someone better for me (in the context of my heart breaking over my ex). And the past two years, I’ve managed to carve my own path. I made a list of deal-breakers, and then promptly didn’t follow them. I dated all the wrong guys.

But getting pregnant has helped me to open my eyes and see everything that I was doing wrong. I was chasing that fleeting feeling. You know, the one where a cute guy kisses you and you just imagine the selfies because he is that good looking. Or the one where you feel his abs and think to yourself that you can overlook his personality flaws. Abs tho…

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That brings me to present day. The pregnant chick who couldn’t even make it work with the baby daddy. Trust me, I still get a lot of people wondering what’s wrong with me. I couldn’t keep a husband, and here I am about to be a single mom. But no where along the way have I lowered my standards. Actually, becoming pregnant raised them.

Now I have a screening process. I won’t even talk to a guy on the phone or meet him in person without him knowing my story. Yes, I am literally telling strangers my story. Similar to you reading my blog posts, I am laying it all out there. Married and divorced, pregnant and single. And yeah, I’m not the easiest to love due to these and other situations I’ve been through. But I know I’m worth it.

And even if I don’t find that someone better. Even if I’m single for the rest of my life. I would rather be single and happy than taken and depressed. Been there, done that. Now’s the time that I find that someone better. Or maybe not right now, but in God’s timing.

And yes there are guys willing to date me and take a chance. Just because one guy can’t see it doesn’t mean there isn’t another out there who can.

Roller Coasting

Over this past weekend, I went to Cedar Point with my family and fellow roller coaster fan Nathen. It had been a long five years since I had been to Cedar Point and a few new rides were added since I was there last.

We were able to ride all the roller coasters multiple times, and despite the new rides being amazing, the three above remain my favorite rides. Time and time again, these three have delivered much joy and happiness in my life. Millennium Force being my favorite, with Top Thrill Dragster and Raptor up there as well. Don’t get me wrong, the newer coasters were amazing, but I tend to be a creature of habit and I like the classic rides more than the new rides. Sometimes the newer rides try too hard to be unique and stand out that it’s just like meh.

But I was glad to be able to ride the newer coasters since there were two big coasters built since 2012.

Valravn is supposedly the tallest, fastest, and longest dive coaster in the world. That one was pretty cool, I will admit that. It stops at the top of the drop and makes you stare at the ground before you plunge down and into a loop. And GateKeeper was awesome as well.  It is a winged coaster which is fine since it makes you feel like you’re flying while strapped in and screaming for your life. And don’t mind the gloomy picture, the weather held up and kept most of the crowds away for the most part. But I did get some creepy photos…

Overall, it was a great trip and I definitely got my roller coaster fix. For now… until next time. What’s your favorite amusement park? What’s your favorite roller coaster? Would love to collaborate with other roller coaster enthusiasts and maybe put together a review of multiple coasters and parks. I’ve actually been to quite a few different parks through my life and may have to dig up old pictures to share of my past adventures. Where to next? 🙂

 

Labeling life

Do you feel like you’re in control of your life? Do you feel stable in every aspect of your life? I’m talking career, family, friends, and relationships. Are you living a healthy and happy lifestyle? Today I’m going to focus on relationships and how some people feel the need to label every relationship in their life.

As I’ve been reintroduced into the single world, I have been asked the most random questions from my friends and family: Are you dating? Are you in a relationship? Are you just friends? Do you have friends? How did you meet? Do you like him? Does he like you? What about your sex life? Why are you not married yet? Do you even want kids anymore?

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But then I’ve come to realize, why do we over think everything? And why does everything have to have a label? Why can’t we just enjoy life, in the moment, and not think about what this or that means? Why can’t we just grow as people and focus on ourselves rather than defining every relationship we’re a part of. Actually when I did try to jump the gun and label a relationship way too quickly, it ended up making me run away from it as fast as possible. I learned the hard way that you can’t force something that isn’t meant to be.

Friends: But how do you know if it’s meant to be? When do you know when it’s serious? Are you really okay with just being friends with someone for that long? What if he’s dating other people too? Wait, are you dating multiple people? Are you okay being single?

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While being organized in life is important and I enjoy planning and being productive, sometimes there are just things that you can’t label in life. There are typically a few different labels we enjoy giving relationships:

Friend, significant other, spouse, enemy, acquaintance, co-worker, classmate, etc. And sometimes we just find ourselves staring, looking for something we don’t have (any of these labels may be missing in our life). But sometimes the harder we look, the less likely we’ll find what we seek.

So I challenge you to let go of the labels, to stop overthinking every little thing. Just enjoy what you know you can control in life: yourself. People will come and go in life, but at the end of the day the only person who can make you happy is yourself. And stop seeking so hard. Once you stop looking, you will be able to see more clearly the beautiful world around you. And if it’s meant to be, maybe one day someone will stand next to you and see the same beauty you do, just through their own lens. But that isn’t something you should worry about now or ever. Love yourself first. Let go and let God.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

And thank you to my amazing friends for keeping me in check the past 6 plus months! Love all of you!!

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Digging in

After the roller coaster ride that I’ve been on for the past year and a half, I’m finally able to plant my seeds this spring. Gradually my life will grow roots in this new place with the right elements: not just water and sunlight, but also through my church, marathon training, my faith and my wonderful family and friends. All of the aspects of my life help me be the best version of me. Iron sharpens iron.

With the proper mindset and environment, I will grow strong and healthy roots and I’ll blossom when the timing is right. I set goals and I achieve them. I don’t make excuses, even when things become difficult I just keep trying. And I don’t give up.

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When I get lost or discouraged, I find my way through the word of God which is alive within me. The bible is my map. Faith activates the word, my revelation activates faith, and meditation activates my revelations. Every day, I make time to be in the word. Just me and my map. With this, I feel like I can face anything in life.

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While I never know what life will throw at me next, I have no fear of what’s next. What does being rooted mean to you?

Pause. Breathe. Let go.

I don’t know about you, but for me I feel like I’m moving so fast through life that sometimes I wake up and wonder how I got where I am today. Is it already Spring? Already April?! What happened and where have I been?

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How did I get here? Some days I just run. I enjoy moving so much that I’m running not only a half but also a full marathon this year. Not just physically moving, but also the soreness that comes afterwards helps me feel alive. I feel like I’ve been propelled into this life I’m now living. A life full of joy and happiness. Sometimes, in the midst of the movement and exhaustion, I find myself slipping back into my old habits. I have a big heart full of love and emotion. For many years, I had a person to pour that love into. And I was under the impression they felt the same.

While I’m healing and getting better, there is still a part of me that fears being alone. Something I’ve always struggled with. But now I’m older and more mature. And I know that I have to be comfortable being alone and love myself completely before I can even consider the possibility of letting a new person into my life. So I have to force myself to sit down and be okay hanging out with just myself (and maybe Barley and the cats can hang with me too haha). I have to be okay with going days without talking to people. An extrovert’s nightmare, but I have to be okay with being introverted sometimes too.

For those who don’t know, I grew up very introverted. Over the past several years, I’ve gradually become more and more extroverted through my multiple jobs and passions in life. I feel like this isn’t a very uncommon thing, especially since this world we live in expects people to be extroverted. But as I’ve been going through this journey to being extroverted, I sometimes feel overwhelmed and I can feel my true introverted self screaming on the inside. So I have to pause, breathe, and let go of my fears.

This year will be the year that I work on myself first and foremost. With the help of God and my faith, I have big plans for this year. More to come soon. Love all of you. 🙂

Self Evolve – Work in Progress

I’m proud to announce that my personal training business is up and running. I call it a personal training business, but have so much more to offer through it. In addition to personal training, I offer: group classes, generalized diet planning, and life coaching. I also have a vision for this company to be more than just fitness based. Within the next few months, I plan on starting up a podcast that will focus on stories from my life in order to encourage and motivate others. If the podcast does well, I plan on bringing in other people who have been influential to my life and my story. So while my business is officially official, it is still a work in progress. And I think it always will be, hence the name Self Evolve. I will and am always evolving and adapting into the Jen I’m meant to be.

This is me. Take it or leave it. And thank you to those who believe in me, you’ve helped me get where I am and you continue to help me move forward, one step at a time. Please check out my multiple presences throughout the world wide web:

http://selfevolve.co/

https://twitter.com/selfevolveco

https://www.facebook.com/selfevolveco/

https://www.instagram.com/selfevolveco/

https://www.linkedin.com/company/16197196

And a few photos:

The logo is still being worked on but should be coming out within the next 2-3 weeks. Stay tuned. 🙂

 

So about that boy…

Just when I wasn’t looking, and wasn’t even sure I was ready to date, a boy showed up in my life. But first, some background.

I started this year out with a bang. I went out for new year’s eve, got drunk, and made out with a stranger. I ended up giving that stranger my number and leaving before getting into too much trouble. Stranger texted me the next day and I somehow (?) remembered his name. We met for lunch and actually hit it off. He wasn’t creepy, and was actually kinda cute. Also, interesting. He asked me to a 2nd date (or meeting) and at first I wasn’t sure, but a few hours later texted him in agreement. We met up that 2nd time, and I thought it went well but apparently he didn’t agree. I texted him in regards to a 3rd date, and at first he seemed to be interested, but over that week he stopped texting me. I texted him to confirm our plans and he acted flaky, and then finally cancelled our plans the day of. I never responded after that.

After that, I was glad to be rid of someone who couldn’t be honest with me. And I decided to take a 3 week break from social media. What didn’t count as social media? Dating apps. I discovered Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel, and eventually a free Christian dating app. Through Bumble, I met guy #2 for the year. He was very attractive and we instantly had great chemistry. He had an interesting allure to him but kept most of his life a secret from me. I respected that, and didn’t pry into his life. Over time, he did open up a little bit to me, and I discovered that he wasn’t looking for anything serious. But neither was I, or so I thought. I decided to just date him and see where things went. Until I met the third guy.

Guy #3 messaged me over that Christian app I mentioned. Of course, at first, I was weary. There are a lot of people out there who say they’re Christian but really aren’t (they are just looking to get in my pants like any other guy). But I gave him a shot and we talked on the phone. The first phone call was weird. We connected instantly and it felt like I had talked to this guy before. We talked again the next day, and against all better judgment I re-arranged my schedule to meet him right before my trip to South Carolina. I didn’t want to wait a week to meet him, even though this meant I met both guys within a week of each other.

When I met this guy, it just confirmed what I felt on the phone. We connected so well, and the nervous butterflies were fleeing. We talked the entire evening, and I left with a smile on my face. But also torn, since I liked two guys but for totally different reasons. This new guy was beyond anyone I imagined meeting. I had almost given up on the idea of actually meeting my Mr. Right. Even though I had been praying to God about it, I was worn out after going through the divorce (which was still going on) and having my heart crushed after loving someone for so long who destroyed my trust. Guy #3 turned my world upside down. And then I left for South Carolina.

While away, I tried my best to get rid of guy #2, but his charm kept me interested. And I was distracted by the training, the people, and the fun I had in South Carolina to really focus on the fact that I was texting two guys in Chicago who were crazy for me. I also (not so secretly) really enjoyed the attention. It was like I was finally released from my tower that I was trapped in for years. I came back to Chicago on a Friday night, went on a date with guy #2 Friday then guy #3 Saturday. On Sunday morning, guy #3 came to my church with me. He far exceeded my expectations when he purposefully went over to my pastor and talked to him. They instantly connected and it was amazing to witness that.

That was when I knew. I called up guy #2 on Sunday afternoon and dumped him. I couldn’t continue on dating both (and had been honest with both that I was dating another). The break up went well and the guy was happy for me that I found what I was looking for. I also decided that I wanted guy #3 to be my boyfriend. Which is crazy, I’ve never wanted to go this fast before ever, with any other guy I’ve ever dated.

But Grey isn’t like any other guy I’ve ever dated. He likely is an alien from another galaxy, I think maybe the same galaxy where Gwen Stefani is from. He has met all my deal breakers, and has gone above and beyond my expectations. He’s mature, honest, smart, handsome, funny, and a really great listener. His stories amaze me, and he keeps me interested. When we’re together, we lose track of time in the best way possible. We’re like two peas in a pod, and I look forward to getting to know him better over time.

In addition to being an amazing person, he also is a gentleman: opens doors for me, gives me flowers, and writes some of the sweetest things I’ve ever read. I don’t know what I did to deserve such a sweet guy, but I know I’m not letting go of this one. 🙂

 

 

Grad school and beyond [This is Thirty series]

Previous post: The year between

It was May 2009, and I finally got a new job after suffering a cut in pay and hours at my previous job. After months of applying to animal hospitals and none of them calling me after the interview, I decided to go back into IT. The pay was decent and the hours were solid. I got this job through something one of my friends on facebook posted. He had become the IT Help Desk manager at a law firm and they were hiring. This friend was the same guy I worked with at Hewitt that I mentioned before (my supervisor during the 2nd summer I was there).

I also had a new relationship that was only a few weeks old, and I was anxiously waiting for Alabama and California to contact me in regards to vet school: I was on both their wait lists. I was entering this summer with a big question in front of me: what next? I took a summer course, some human biology class to try and up my science GPA, and I started the application process for vet school again, in case I didn’t get in this round. My relationship was great for the first two months. Then something happened, and my boyfriend became more and more distant from me. We had talked more as friends online than when dating. And when I brought this up to him, he said that’s how relationships were supposed to be! He literally said friendships are more open than dating relationships. I was in shock and tried to tell him otherwise. I told him it should be the opposite, that you should be closer with your significant other than your friends.

Not only this, but over time he also acted like he didn’t care about me. He would constantly be late to every date with excuses like he had to do laundry. There was this one day that was very important to me and he blew me off to help his friend, which would have been fine if he told me that was what he was going to do. Instead, I had to call him to ask where he was and he was waiting at home for his friend to call him over for assistance moving stuff or something. I ended up breaking up with him at the end of July since it felt like I was trying to talk to a wall whenever I tried to get deep with my boyfriend, and I realized I needed depth to my life, my relationships.

It was around this time that I also decided to go to grad school (unless a miracle happened and I somehow last minute got into vet school). I didn’t do the typical apply to grad school standard procedure. Instead, I kind of fell into it. My friend was in grad school at the time, and I reached out to her advisor who agreed to take me on. The classes met at the Shedd Aquarium, and I also fell into an opportunity to move into the city for really cheap rent through a family friend. I signed up for classes and moved in the middle of August. Out of pure boredom, I signed up on free dating website OKCupid and within days found a guy who I was interested in. Scratch that, two guys, but one ended up living way too far away from me for it to work so I ended up just keeping him as a friend. I started grad school and I started dating this guy after I met him right around the end of August. Our relationship lasted two or three weeks since he was also in grad school but had no job (I was still working full time while attending classes). This resulted in me having to pay for everything, or nearly everything. And he wasn’t willing to even drive to see me due to gas money, he would take the Metra train instead. This was fine until one night he decided to stay the night and take the train in the morning, but then at 2AM freaked out and said he HAD to get home, and I HAD to drive him. I told him I was too tired to drive him, and he told me to drink coffee and drive him anyways!

Needless to say, I was beyond pissed. After taking approximately 24 hours to calm down, I dug deep and gave him another chance. Unfortunately, for him, he blew it. I dumped him after he made yet another mistake where he forced me to drive when I didn’t want to. It was around this time that I found myself getting closer and closer to my friend who I worked with (technically my boss at this time). He was married though, and I found myself beating myself up over having feelings for a married man. I even encouraged him to work on his marriage and seek counseling/therapy. He felt the marriage couldn’t be saved and that he shouldn’t have ever married his wife in the first place. He confided in me how he proposed thinking it would solve their relationship issues: she cheated/was planning on cheating on him and he had caught her. From basically September to the end of the year, his marriage unravelled and I could be to blame for it. He moved in to my place in 2010 and we started dating as he went through the divorce.

Our start was very rocky, everyone hated us from the start. I had to dig deeper than I ever have to really ask myself if this is what I wanted. And it was. We have been through a lot, even more than our hard beginning. I have unfortunately fallen into a period of deep grief over the past several months over my mom and my dad moving on in his life so quickly. I have been seeking therapy and have been seeking God for help. It has taken time, and I’m still working on it, but I have been healing. Sometimes it feels like the sadness stretches on and on and isn’t getting better.

I don’t know how to explain what I’ve been through over the last year watching my mom slowly die, and seeing my dad change and start a new family within 9 months of my mom passing away. I don’t wish this on anyone on the planet. I miss my mom. She was my best friend, we would talk anywhere from 3 to 10 times a day. She knew everything about me, sometimes too much probably. Seeing her in pain and suffering over the last few years of her life hurt me so much. Watching her wither away and die last year? It still haunts me. I still have nightmares.

All I can do is cling to the things that help me: God, Jesus, my therapist, writing, listening to peaceful music, kung fu, running, lifting weights, etc. These things have helped me tremendously. All I ask is that people be patient as I pick up the pieces. I’m getting there, but not quite there yet. I love you all. Thank you for reading my story.

(The end)