Monday, December 30, 2013

Let It Begin!

     So I don't know about you, but I really love the beginning of a 
new year! There's something about the beginning of a New Year and how it feels like a clean slate that holds all kinds of possibilities.       

      I've been thinking a lot about what I want this year to be like. I was even making plans to start on my Masters. I did some praying and chatting with the Big Man and just couldn't get a peace about it. I even spoke to a few people with different programs and just never got a peace about what to do. 
  That's how I make decisions, I pray about them and then I ask God to let me feel a peace about what path I am to take. Sometimes it takes pursuing what I think is right, and then having the lack of peace to let me know I need to take a step back. That's what I did with my Masters. I thought that was the next step, what He wanted me to do. So I looked into programs and spoke to admissions, and spoke to friends who were in programs or just finished them. But it seemed no matter what I found and who I spoke to it just didn't feel right and God just wasn't giving me the go-ahead. 

     I kept on saying that I needed to get my masters so I could have insurance (I don't have a degree in art. I'm certified to teach it but my degree is in Secondary Ed Social Studies). I felt that if I were to ever go looking for another job one day then I wouldn't be able to find an Art position due to the lack of my degree. But again, I think this was me limiting God. If I really trust Him then doors will open when He says they should. This is again all based on the fact of me doing something in the future. Right now I have no desire to move to a different I guess you could say that I'm borrowing worry. 

       So I'm taking a step back and asking myself, 
"What do I really want right now, For right now??"
 (And not what I think I need for later) 
     It would be so much easier if God would just write it on the wall...but seems he's not really into posting on walls lately. 

So as I said, I've been thinking about what I want this coming year to look like and this is what I want:

Grow Closer to Him
I work on this every year (I guess thats a good sign) but
I hope that I can really embrace being His. 
I want to study His word more, reflect His love in my life to others,
and spend more time seeking His presence.

Explore My Creativity
I really want to tap into my art and creativity. 
I want to explore different forms of art, creativity, and mediums. 
I also want to refine some that I already do.
I want to keep a yearly creative journal and blog more.
Oh, and take some art classes and or workshops.

Continue Healthy Habits
Stick with my gym time and healthy eating habits. 
I know that they help me both physically and mentally.
Get myself to a place were I can run for longer spans then I am now.

Prioritize Things
I'm so guilty of letting work take over.
Not this year!!!
I've gotten sooo much better at this but still want to work on it.
My priorities are going to be:
1. God
2. Me
3. Family
4. Mr. Bingley
5. Work
So the plan is to:
 -Work less and play more. 
-Remember "It's No Big Deal," 
and that it's "Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys.
-Remember it's ok to say No and not feel guilty!

Better Money Management
Oh what a tangled web we weave when spend as if we had a sugar daddy (haha... I tried to make it rhyme and just couldn't so I went for funny)
Some people battle bad eating habits or other nefarious sins...Yeah well my real struggle is Spending!
When I say better money management I mean that I want to stick to my budget! 
Once again, this is something I'm already working on but know I can do better. I have already laid the foundation for this to be the year I see some big headway in this area. 
I made the decision to not travel out of the country this year...(I know...shock and horror!!!)
This will be the first time in 8 years that I have not traveled out of the country and I can already tell I'm going to have withdrawals!

In the past I have done resolutions, To Do List, and yearly goals. 
I like having a plan! 
This year I think I will go with a list again.

"Things I Want To Do In 2014" 
(resolutions just sound so stuffy and committal)

Some of the items on the list are no brainers, some are uncompleted items from past list, and some are things I just want to do this year.

1. Find a good year long devotional and complete it.

2. Stick to my Budget, build up my Emer. Fund, do the Debt Snowball and Pay off 2 credit cards.

3. Start a book club. (I Pinned this great Pin thanks to my friend Ashley on 10 Easy Steps to Starting a Book Club Check it out here )

4. Complete my year long Creative Journal.

5. Hike Tunica Falls. (This has been on my list since 2010 as well and I'm so doing it this year!!)

6. Ride a New Orleans streetcar. (This one has been on my list since 2010!! What the heck, I"m so checking this one off this year! Brandon looks like you will be helping with this one)

7. Take an Art class. Right now I'm looking at a Pottery class.

8. Take some type of creative workshop.

9. Blog the "List" 

10. Do the Susan G. Koman Race with Beta this year and run the whole thing.

11. Go rock climbing.

12. Renovate the Cottage.

13. Read a book a month.

14. Work on de-cluttering and reducing stuff in my life.

15. Create at least one work of art a month.

16. Lose 10 pounds.

17. Start using my planning period more productively. No more lesson plans on the weekends. 

18. Do my yearly Jar of Goodness. (I can't wait to open it up and read all that happened in 2013)

20. Build a coffee table. I have a few ideas pinned :)

21. Build a kitchenette in the cottage. Think I found out what I'm going to do for my counter out Bob Vila!

22. Turn a globe into a light.

23. Visit the Insectarium.

24. Go to the Art museum.

25. Go a whole year without traveling out of the country. (I couldn't leave the list at 24 so I added this one and its one I really need to keep!!!)

Well I wish you the Happiest of New Years
and pray that God would bless you with His
presence and peace. 
May you remember the truly important things in life and accomplish all that you set out to do!

~Till Next Time :)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Coughing, Cold Meds, Journaling, and Some Picture Bling

It seems this girl has caught herself a nasty cold
I'm absolutely SICK of coughing!
So besides sleeping, sipping hot tea, and doses of cold meds I have tried to do a little blogging and journaling.

I had a moment were the cold meds had kicked in and I got my Christmas tree dismantled and all the Christmas decor put away

Mr. Bingley was enjoying all the stuff everywhere and seems he found a new hiding spot
One of my FB friends left this comment after I posted this pic
"He looks like a grimlin."

So...anyway I got all of my Christmas put away and I'm looking forward to the New Year!
I did my "Let's Reflect on 1013" post and I have already started on my New Years post. 
I went back and looked at some of the lists that I have made before and some of the "New Years Resolutions" and I decided that I'm going to do another list of things to accomplish this coming year. 
I'm also going to do my journaling for the year in my new Smash Book. 

In the past my Smash Book was just a catch all for "stuff."
But this year I'm going to do some creative journaling.

This was my First Smash Book and I really didn't have any clear direction with it.

Here is my 2014 Smash Book Journal all ready to go.
I'm excited about doing a yearly creative journal and mixing scrapping, Journaling, and Instagram all together. I'm sure I will also be blogging some of what goes in there :)

You may have noticed that I have a new cute twist to my photos...Yep, a little Picture Bling!
Yep, I am happy to finally have Rhonna Designs now for the android.
I love her stuff and realized that I have had some of her printable stuff way before I know about her photo app. 
Since I've been stuck sick on the couch I have been playing around a little with her app 
and made a few "fancy" quotes...
You know how Much I LOVE quotes!
This is one of my favorite quotes from Gossip Girl 

 this one

Well I'm off to medicate and switch to the next Harry Potter
 (Yep, figured this was a great time for a marathon...I'm on the Prisoner of Azkaban)

~Till Next Time

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Reflecting on 2013

     It always amazes how fast a year can go by! I have found that I am a reflector...I like to look back and reflect on what happened in the past year, how it affected me, what lesson I learned from different events, and what knowledge can I take with me. 

     I have always kept a journal, something I think I get from my Mom. I have recently gone back and read some of them as I have been trying to make some decisions in my life. It really helps to see what you thought was a trying situation and how you handled it, what part God played, the lessons that you learned along the way. They say that, "Hindsight is 20/20," so looking back and reflecting makes sense. Now I'm not talking about dwelling...that's a whole other post I'm sure. We shouldn't dwell on, "What could have beens," and "What should have beens." No, I think it's important to learn from the past but use it to move on. Sometimes reading about your past can really help you to see trends in things that you struggle with, things that make you stumble in your walk with God, and can also really build your faith. 

     Recently, during a chat with a friend, we talked about how my journaling evolved into blogging and she encouraged me to share some of my journal entries in my blog...I may do that some in the coming year. But I think it's important to understand the differences between blogging and personal journaling. I think that there needs to be a boundary that one keeps. 

    One thing that I do like about the use of blogging to reflect is that I can do it visually (which I'm a visually learner so makes sense). I love to do a post that shows my year in words and images. (That's what this post started as...not really sure where the "intro" came from  haha!)

     So, 2013 started with a list... (yeah, I'm a list maker)

I have to say that I'm pretty proud of myself and my ability to do the items on my list. Of course it wasn't a very large list...but I think I was going for my quality over quantity.

#1 To Display God's Love in my life:
Now I'm not sure how well I did with this one??...I hope I did ok. But I guess God and others would be better at answering this one.

#2 Be Healthy 
I was really happy to see myself a lot healthier in 2013. 
I was able to get off of all of my medications (was taking meds for migraines,  and for stress). 
I started working out and going to the gym. 
I made some really good eating changes (I cut back on my coffee intake, got away from artificial sweetners in my coffee, and started eating a lot healthier).
I reduced my stress level at work and learned that I needed to be able to say No... and to not worry about it once I wasn't involved. 
I also found out that if I worked out (meaning spent time on the bike and treadmill) that it really helped with my migraines and stress. I guess that whole endorphins thing Elle talked about was true!

#3 Reduce Stress, Learn to say No:
This one was a little harder for me and took some work. I went into what I knew was going to be a rough school year (Fall 2013) with a motto to help me deal with all the changes I knew where coming. 
Well I had two mottos really 
"It's No Big Deal"
became my daily mantra going into what I think was my craziest school semester. We started the new school year in one place and 3 weeks in we packed up a whole school and moved to our new school. Yep, right in the middle of teaching, starting a class of new students on a daily routine (this is always must for classroom management), creating SLT's, trying to implement common core, mentoring new teachers, and trying to get a grip on new policies I was boxing up 5 years of teaching stuff and an Art room. Then there was the endless changes, disorganization, and problems that come with moving and change. I had a lot of prayer and reminding myself of the above motto. 
I also stepped down from some organizations that I had been previously involved in, and thus the next motto was adopted

It seems that #4,  5, and 6 all kind-of go together.

#4 Reduce Spending:
I always struggle with this one! I did do much better...but as always I have a lot of growth left in this one.

#5 Pay Off Debt:
I did this...not as much as I wanted but I made some headway!
I paid off my car 3 months early!

#6 More self-control: some areas I did ok but in others...lets just say it's a work in progress. 


Brought a lot of changes.

My new classroom is amazing!

Was a time of healthy eating and creativity

We welcomed in Fall and had a fun month

Got to hang out with the family

My favorite time of the Year!!

Wow what a year!!!
I'm so blessed!

(This post only took me retyping it 3 times!! 3 times it lost all of my pictures and that is why it is a pieced up mess haha!!!)

~Till Next Time

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

God Know's Just What We Need...

Ever feel like you need that little push?
Ever feel like you're just not really "cutting" it?
Ever feel like you don't have much to show for what you do with your 525948.767 minutes (yep, that's what we get in a year...I Googled it)
Ever wonder if you are making a difference?
Yeah, me to...

When I'm feeling this way I have to remind myself that I'm a child of God, and I'm pretty sure I'm His special daughter. Yeah, I like to think that I'm God's Agnes in this Despicable world (Ok...yeah, I've watched it a few times haha!) 

And because He loves me so much (and because I'm so special!) He knows what I need and when I need it! 
I have been struggling with self doubt about myself as a teacher, artist, and with my ability to be able to complete a Masters program.
I also haven't had the best semester and feeling a little so so, and yeah, just a little nervous about my classes this semester and my final evaluation (the dreaded SLT score!!!!)
But it never fails, when I need a little push and something to help me become the "hill seeker" I want to be, God in some way gives me the inspiration and push I need.
So I mentioned in a previous post that my friend Danielle is in the Boston University Art masters program that I am looking into. Well, she had to do an assignment where she interviewed a person in the art profession that has been an inspiration to her. For some strange reason she picked me :)
Well, we did the interview (love that we got to Skype for over 2 hours and chat and catch up!) and she finished her assignment and sent it to me. 
I got it on Sun morning and as I read it I cried!! (they were tears of joy) 
Here is her slide show 

Again... Thank you sooooo much Danielle for this beautiful gift! It humbles me and gives me more of a desire to rise to the challenge of putting forth 110% everyday. I know that I am extremely blessed that God allowed me to "fall" into this position and live my dream every day! (well....almost the dream. Would be a much better dream if I was coming home every night to a handsome rich husband, but I guess a girl can't have it all right?? haha)

This slideshow, on top of the fact that I received my "You Made A Difference" award and the letter of nomination that was actually submitted by the student, made my year! 
At least my teaching year ;)
This is why I do what I do!! 
I hope that I never forget that its about showing I care, what I do, how I speak, the smile I wear, and the love that I show that makes the difference! (I also think that my quirky personality, witty remarks, belief in the magical, love of gnomes & unicorns, as well as my snazzy dressing, plays a BIG part!!!)
Permission to post the above letter from Taylor Williamson. Love ya Tay :)

So here goes...I'm off to start the application process for my Masters. 
~Till Next Time

Friday, December 13, 2013

Trying To Be A Hill Seeker

 I need to be a hill seeker! But sometimes deciding which hills I should take on are a bit daunting. Sometimes I really wish that there was a husband in the picture just to be there to help me make some decisions (and he could also take half of the blame, if and when, things may not go as planned). But the flip side is that I'm also glad that I don't have to worry about anyone else when trying to decide what I feel I should do. Just God and I and...yep, we got this. But still, I won't pretend that it wouldn't make things so much easier to have someone there beside me telling me that I got this, it's the right decision, and that they just know it's what I'm supposed to do. 

     The drive home from town tonight ended up like most of my hour long drives from town...I listen to some music, and then me and the Big Guy have a good ol chat. Tonights chat was basically one sided (Im sure that if I ever heard an audible voice reply from the Big Guy, I may just have a moment of freak out). Anyways... He's pretty use to my endless chatting with him, and tonight was no different. 
     Tonight I was asking Him to really let me know what should be the next step for me in the matter of getting my Masters. This is something that I have been back and forth about. Deep down I feel that I NEED to climb the "Hill" and just take the plunge and do it. But then the other parts of me are voicing their opinion pretty loudly...Like (here are a few of the thoughts that popped up):

  •  "How are you going to handle 20 more hours of reading and studying a week on top of all the other things I do at school???" 
  • "I'm not sure I even can even do all of the work?" 
  • "Do I really want to invest more money into my education??"
  • "Do I need this?"  
  • "This is going to be hard...I just know it?" 
  • "I swore I was done with school after the last 13 semesters to get my first degree!!!" 
  • "What if I have to take the GRE???!!!"

Those are just a few of the things rolling around in my head. I hate that I struggle so much with self-doubt! I have to say that talking to my friend Danielle, who is presently in the Masters program that I'm looking into, freaked me out a bit. But she also really encouraged me to do it while giving me a realistic viewpoint of all that is involved. 

     I know one day I may move on from the school I'm at right now (Not any time soon that I know of...well of course if my Millionaire Mr. Right should show up I would be open to relocation  haha!) so I need to make myself more marketable in the case that I every have to go looking for another art position. 
So I just need to suck it up, stop talking about it and JUST DO IT ALREADY!!!
Coming from another Sylvia...seems like a good reminder! 
     I know its not going to be easy, neither was college before, neither was going through Katrina, and my first year of teaching was no walk in the park. But I survived, I stuck it out, heck I even got freaking teacher of the year! I got through college with a learning disorder and all, I've beat the 3 year teacher burnout rate, heck I even survived bringing 10 High School kids to Europe and lived to tell about it! I got this!! I will no doubt drive myself insane, stress beyond belief, and vent a lot through my blog and FB... but I'm sure I will get through this and come out better just for having pushed myself. 
     So I finished my painting class I was taking this semester with an A, I've started on my portfolio, and now trying to decide between two Masters programs. I continue to pray hard, press on,  and let God show me which direction to go.
~Till Next Time

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep...

So as I lay here in my bed these are the things running in my head.
     What the heck was I thinking when I bought Mr. Bingley a collar with a bell? Sounds like he's trying to perform Jingle Bells while licking his butt!!
     Why am I not asleep???? I did just set that alarm for 5:30...Oh mannn...

     Then I start to chat with the Big man and it goes like this (and no Lydia, this is not the ambien) my prayers are more like chatting. This is me:
"Geez Lord why is my nose running all of a sudden...didn't we just get the sick thing all under control?  Now my eyes watering, nose running and I'm sure you just heard that string of sneezes...could ya take care of all that? Oh and by the way, Im 33 years old, single and sleeping in a twin bed with a cat...don't ya think that's more then enough to keep me humble did ya have to let my face break out like this craziness I've got going on? Could ya maybe please help a girl out and if your going to continue to let me enjoy singleness could I at least look like I didn't get attacked by a pack of tracker jackers! Please bless my school, family, and friends, and pretty please let you peace and joy calm the kiddos in my classroom tomorrow.  Amen
"...geez how long is that cat going to lick his butt?? Maybe I should set the alarm to 6...nahhh I can just snooze. What am I going to wear? I really need to go to bed...hmm this would make a funny blog post...I bet they will think I'm crazy lol!!!!"

     ~Till Next Time

Monday, December 9, 2013

Hi, My Name is Sylvia and I'm a Poser

Let me confess...Most of the time I feel like a poser. 
      This latest revelation came when I was asked by a friend if she could interview me for an assignment that she had. I thought, "Hmm... really?? You want to interview me??" She said she needed to interview someone who has inspired her in her profession (she's an art teacher as well). Let me just say that she is by far a much better artist then I am! So I was really wondering, "Why me?? There has to be a better person??"
 She was the art teacher at our school before me and did a great job of starting an art program at a school that didn't have one prior to her. I got to work with her when I was still teaching Social Studies and then for one really great year we both taught art. It was so great to work with another art teacher teaching the same subjects. Now I won't lie, when she was there and we were both teaching the same class I would worry so much. You see I was first a SS teacher and I felt like such a poser teaching art. She was such a better artist then me that I worried I wouldn't cut it. 
 I guess I always wanted to teach art but didn't want to put all of my eggs in one basket (aka, an art degree).  I was in school when No Child Left Behind was being put into place and also a time when a lot of the art classes were being cut from schools. I didn't want to get out with a degree that I couldn't use. So I decided that I would go the SS route (I've always liked history and government), and take art classes along the way so that I could get a job and then get my certification to teach art. So thats what I did, I graduated with a degree in Secondary Ed SS and went and passed the praxis to be certified to teach art. I taught SS for 2 years, then 1 year of SS and Fine Arts, and the last 2 years have been just art. Nope, I don't have a degree in art...Yep, I feel like a poser. 
     So many times when I am talking to other art teachers I don't feel like I'm one of them. Also...most of the time I don't feel like an artist. I feel like I'm a great copier and reproducer but I really truly never feel like I'm an artist. I guess my stuff seems more crafty and in the art world...well thats almost a sin. haha! 
I have no dark inner turmoil, I like Color! I can draw so so, and I don't really have this certain style that defines me or my art. I get most of my inspiration from (Wait for it...) PINTEREST!! Shocker right???!!! 
I found this quote
Maybe, if this quote is right, then maybe thats how I'm an artist? Maybe it's the fact that I help inspire the kids around me...haha again I feel as if I'm failing/posing at that part.
I looked up the definition of the word Artist, here is what had to say

1.a person who produces works in any of the arts that are primarily subject to aesthetic criteria.  
2.a person who practices one of the fine arts, especially a painter or sculptor. 
3.a person whose trade or profession requires a knowledge of design, drawing, painting, etc.: acommercial artist. 
4.a person who works in one of the performing arts, as an actor, musician, or singer; a publicperformer: a mime artist; an artist of the dance. 
5.a person whose work exhibits exceptional skill.
I guess as a teacher I may meet some of the above requirements.
I also found this and thought it was pretty interesting.
  Yeah, that about sums it up haha! Seems even if I don't call myself an artist I tend to act like them. 
Maybe one day when I grow up I can be an of right now I'm still not sure. 
Wed. night I do the interview. Should be interesting since I have no idea what I'm going to say, especially since deep down I really feel like a poser.

But as this quote says:
Guess I've been posing for some time, and not just as an artist ;)

~Till Next Time 

Worried Sick? Nope...I'm a Teacher So It's More Like, "Sick and Worrying"

So I'm home sick for the second day. I had to call in sick on Fri and really thought I would be doing better by today. But no such luck! I woke up at 4am and thought, "Oh God please let my head fall off!" 
I'm not sure what I had since I didn't want to pay the copay to go to my Dr. I diagnosed myself and called it Flusicksinuanadess. I basically had fever, body aches, sinus pressure headache, and woke up early Sun morning thinking I was going to blow chunks (and thinking I would feel so much better if I would). Thankfully I never did throw up and I feel a lot better today after sleeping till noon. I slept so much this weekend! After work up from what I think was my 5th nap on Sun I WebMDed Mono just to make sure I was covering all of my bases (you know, getting my second opinion). 
Well, I'm 78% sure I don't have was touch and go for a bit there. Thanks WebMD!
So your probably wondering what my title has to do with this post...Well I'm glad you asked. 
You see as a teacher we do tend to worry ourselves sick (and if anyone could or would do that it would be this girl) But nope, thats not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the fact that when you are a teacher and you call in sick you tend to sit at home and worry about what the heck is going on in your classroom when you're not there!  
Plus, I called in on a Fri. Thats the day that ends your week, journals to collect (thank God I have my kids trained and they know that they better put those in the "Turn-In Basket"). And then I missed a Monday!! Thats the start day! Plus I was supposed to give a quiz on Fri. and then in my optimistic state after taking some meds I sent out a Remind101 text to my classes telling them I would give it on Mon. Well, then I had to have my Sub tell them the quiz would be Wed. (thought I would give them a day I was for sure would be there for). 
So while I'm home sick I did some grading, posted my lesson plans, and worried about how my turn-in basket must look like a bomb went off in it, how many paint brushes got put away with paint in them, how many kids just acted like they were busy, and if the kiddos got anything done. 
So being the control freak that I am I'm going to run up to the school and check things out and make sure that everything is ready for tomorrow...I hate surprises and theres nothing worse then going in and having to deal with surprises in your classroom early in the morning!! 
Reminding myself
It's NO Big Deal!!

 LOL...another reason I'm ready to go back.
~Till Next Time