Lemon Chicken And Asparagus

This recipe is super easy!

I meal plan once per week and get all the ingredients at the grocery store pick up service on Sunday night.  This helps me prepare easily for the week! We utilize a lot of recipes off our “netflix for workouts” service, that also includes an entire cookbook in pdf format.  When I meal plan, I print the recipes to access them easily when I’m tired and hungry.

Here’s a great go-to on a busy night.

 

Fixate-Lemon-Chicken-and-Asparagus

The truth about anxiety.

It never fails.

I feel my chest tightening up, my breathing quicken and the panic set in. My husband leans in, wanting to fix it, says, “what’s wrong?”

I don’t have the words. I just say,” anxiety,” meekly.  In his desire to fix things, he’ll say…”from what?”

This is where I run out of words.

Anxiety isn’t just a feeling, it’s a state of being, and it isn’t always from a particular cause. In fact, it might be triggered BY something, but it may not be in fact ABOUT something.  Most of the time, I just have to ride out my anxiety and later reflect on what triggered my response.

Anxiety has roots deep down in you. They could be from experiences in your youth, environmental or simply genetics. In any of these cases, working with your doctor to rule out any medical conditions is important.

For me, my anxiety started as a child and amped up through the seasons of my life. I had dealt with abuse growing up and my mom was a single mom early on. I remember sitting at the window at a young age and being fearful that my mom had died in a car crash because it was later than usual. I feared peer rejection most of my life. I struggled with coping in highly stressful situations. I still border on panic attacks at new restaurants.

Interestingly enough, because I had had abuse growing up – my most stressful situations were times of the least amount of stress.  I would subconsciously create stress to feel better.  It instilled chaos in our daily lives until one day I broke. I took myself to urgent care and got medicated.

Over the next year, I was medicated and did relatively well this way. The problem was…I was gaining weight. As my moods stabilized, my awareness of my weight increased. I was miserable in the fact that I had gained over 15-20 pounds.

I knew it was my medication, but I didn’t want to live in anxiety. So…I started experimenting. I created a process which I followed to completely get off my meds (*note* check with your doctor before).

  1. Add exercise. This helps increase “feel-good” endorphins, interrupts “looped thoughts” and creates “nanny neurons” that quiet brain activity.
  2. Add supplements. What’s the difference between medication and supplements? I always think going with more natural methods is preferred. Medication is needed sometimes, don’t get me wrong, but I was able to wean myself off (again follow doctor’s orders) by utilizing supplements.  These are called adaptogens and help the body deal with stress.
  3. Add nutrition. Sugar and caffeine in the body can significantly increase anxiety. Personally, I drink coffee and eat sugar in moderation. That said, when I eat too much, I feel the impact in my stress load.

Anxiety is a very real condition that goes beyond “stress”, the way we treat our body daily can prevent us from having to utilizing medication. That said, sometimes it is distinctly needed. Its OK to medicate, but understand it isn’t always needed the rest of your life. With your doctor, you can increase the above methods to help yourself become more resilient in day to day situations.

Do I still struggle with anxiety? YES! Is it all consuming? NO!

Grab my anxiety tool kit here to help you manage your anxiety naturally.

How to make meal planning easier

Have you ever thought to make dinner and said…I can’t figure out what to make?

Well I totally get you girl. I love cooking…so much! I’m always so tired at the end of the night, though. This was made worse by the fact that we would bulk buy groceries with nothing on the plan for making dinner.

We wasted so much time and money…then we’d have to go out to eat anyway.

I have three top tips for maximizing your meal planning to make it easy and effective.

The two lies we tell ourselves about meal planning

Ugh meal planning. I don’t have time for that! Have you ever told yourself that lie? Me too. Watch this video to see what I say about it.

When I first starting meal planning, my goal was simply to save money.  We were deep in debt and I had a dream to be able to work part-time or start my own business.  We had a lot of bills that we couldn’t control much: electricity, water, gas, car payments.  One of the variable categories was simple: GROCERIES!

Do you spend over $500 a month on groceries?  Girl, we were spending…ready for it…$1,000 a month on groceries, sometimes even more!  It was mind blowing. The worst part was, we never had anything for dinner…!

So, we started meal planning weekly and looked into quick, money saving options.  The first thing we did was grab recipes for each day of the week.  Then we created a simple calendar (here) that we wrote them down in.  Finally, we used a grocery pick up service (priced it out and it was much cheaper) to save time going to the grocery story.  Easy peasy.

While this was a great system, it was also easy to throw it to the side when we were tired at night. HELLO PIZZA! So, we also had to make it flexible and common sense for those nights we didn’t feel like what was on the menu, or cooking for that matter.

I created my busy mama meal planning system to help keep things running smoothly, keep us on track financially, but also, keep us on track with our food when we started on our health journey.

Grab it here: https://bit.ly/2CY5RSA

Change your mindset. Change your teaching life.

Change your mindset. Change your teaching life.

Last post, I talked about how we needed to change our expectations.  Today, I’m going to concede that it’s simply not that easy to do. You aren’t going to follow those steps I laid out for you in Want to love your job again? and suddenly become happy.  However, what you can do is start to slowly change your mindset over time.  Then, and only then, can you experience happiness.

Let’s practice with a few different ideas.

  1. You get a nasty email from a parent and start to lean into the fight.  The parent is upset that their child is in trouble and demands answers now.  How can you change your mindset about this obviously annoying situation.  First, be mad if you want to, vent about it, talk to your significant other or best teacher friend. Then, when you are done with that, we can start dealing with the reality.  This parent is upset because their child is upset and they’d like an explanation.  Change your mindset from “wow, how dare him/her!” to “hm…they sound upset because their child is upset. I wonder how we can work together.”  Instead of getting defensive, choose to wonder how you can work through this to best benefit the child.
  2. You are upset that your kids are barely listening today, and the one student got out of their seats frequently after you told them not to, and you are at the end of your rope about behaviors.  Instead of cracking up and going into a spiral about how children are so disrespectful these days (but I mean…anyway…), go into a mode of wonder.

Accept that they are where they are, and be able to start pursuing solutions almost immediately. What has changed? Why are they suddenly struggling? Why does that student need to get up, do we need more brain breaks? Have you approached things differently? At the end of the day, you need to solve this problem. Spend your energy making that work, instead of placing your anger out on the kids.

Changing your mindset means you have to be willing to make concessions that your job is hard, different, and much more challenging than it ever was before.  This is the time to ask yourself if you want to make yourself happy, or spend your energy complaining about how it used to be?  Changing your mindset requires discipline, letting go of your right to be angry, and accepting that it is your responsibility to have a good life – no one else’s.

Want to stop hating your job?

Want to stop hating your job?

I never thought I would be a teacher.

Why?

I had seen my mom work with kids my whole life. She talked a lot about how her job was great for a single mom. I agreed with her. So, when I became a single mom, despite already deep in a business program, I fell into a preschool teaching position.  I used it as a launch pad for my teaching career.

And so it began.

I went to school to become a teacher after I finished my BS in Business. I wanted a practical degree, and I enrolled in a MAT program a few years later. I wanted a practical profession. The one my mom had talked about. Never did I ever think it would the way it is today. Frankly, she didn’t either.

Teaching is demanding. It is challenging because we must fill everyone’s needs first. We must fill them quickly, immediately, and our off days cannot be spent behind a closed door. We have to live them out in front of an audience. Having a rough day? Too bad; smile, perform, and take care of others first.

Teaching has become so demanding that there are shortages everywhere. We see more and more qualified, talented, and caring teachers leaving the profession to pursue other professions. Ones that they can come home from work and leave their job back at the office.

Teaching isn’t that job.

So, if you are in a space where you are burnt out. You are considering other avenues of making money, it’s time to consider this…

Teaching has changed. I know that from listening to other teachers constantly.  Children have changed, parents have changed, teaching has change…what hasn’t changed? Our expectations.

We expect teaching to be a profession that it used to be – less red tape, fewer demands, more compliant children. Yet, the reality is, teaching has become a minefield. It is filled with red tape, expectations that are borderline unrealistic, and classrooms full of challenging behaviors in our children.

So do you want to stop hating your job, or to be fair, aspects of your job?

Change your expectations. Accept the reality. Live in the world we are in, instead of wishing for the times that have passed. We have to give less of our hearts, be wise about our energy levels and take care of ourselves again.  The necessity to preserve ourselves, love for teaching, and our sanity is now.

The reality we live in is that kids are more entitled, less disciplined, and parents are less likely to support our decisions. Administrators are worried about getting sued. The state tests are important for funding, parent approval, and looking at your abilities.

It’s true. It’s not fair, but it’s the reality.

So, how do we love our jobs again? How do we accept that reality.

Here’s what I have been thinking about:

  1. Create systems in your life that will drastically increase your energy levels. Systemize the way you do groceries, laundry, meals, pick clothes and even taking your children to their activities.
  2. Limit yourself to the minimum amount of grading.
  3. Skeleton lesson plan first, then go back and add any details needed.
  4. Choose 1-2 things to be good at: : Literacy? Math? Centers? Classroom management? Work on that!
  5. Take criticism with a grain of salt. Got a bad review, a nasty email – bring yourself back to your core. What is true for you?
  6. Meet everyone’s crankiness with kindness. Realize that almost everything that comes at you from someone is ABOUT THEM! Meet it with firm kindness.
  7. Give yourself a vacation from your own expectations. We are our worst critics! You have to give yourself some wiggle room to be late home sometimes, take more papers home than you wish you were for grading, not get back to that parent within 24 hours, and sometimes let your kids silent read too much.
  8. Keep high expectations for your classroom, but let go of the small stuff. The kid who is always tipping his chair back, quietly correct him, but after the 14th time, let. it. go.

Now I’m not suggesting saying “screw it” to everything. I’m simply stating the importance of making life easier for you, because the job is getting harder. The areas that we can make easy: home, kindness to ourselves, and expectations. Most importantly, change your mindset (which we’ll talk about more next week), remind yourself that nothing “should” be a certain way.

Accept your reality and teach on!

Lessons from running

Lessons from running

As the month began, I was in a grove. I was weight lifting, eating well, and meal planning.

Then I got injured.

I thought if I took a few days off, it would get better.  So I took some time off and continued to eat as if I were on track. In fact, I was enjoying my hot chocolate so much every night that my husband could predict exactly the voice I would use when saying “hoooonnnneeeyyy” for hot chocolate.  Luckily, my husband is the best and made it for me every time.  But I digress…

I finally got frustrated enough that I just worked out anyway, which seemed to miraculously heal my back. Not really, but I felt well enough to continue.  The problem was, I had gained quite a bit of weight and I was feeling pretty awful.  So, I needed to get myself in check and do something that contributed to my mental health again.

I chose running.

We already had a race day scheduled.  My husband and I got a kick in the pants to get our training on.  So after searching for training plans, we settled on one that would kick our butts.  It did. Like really did.

On Monday morning, I was fueled with coffee and dreams. Yet, I struggled to make it through 2 miles. We were scheduled for 3.  I cried through the entire 2 miles, beating myself up for how out of shape I was. I came in the house and bawled while I stretched, my husband helplessly looking on.  I realize that I do what I always do…beat myself up when I’m not perfect at them right away. It got me thinking…why did I think this would be easy?

Why do we think anything will be easy?  Why do we think that educating children will be easy? Why do we think dealing with parents will be easy?  Why do we think that keeping track of 20-35 kids progress will be easy?  Why do we think life will be easy?

It shouldn’t be.  We are growing, changing and aspiring to be more daily.  We are literally changing people’s minds. Our job is to inspire others and take care of ourselves. Why should that be easy? It shouldn’t, it won’t be and the suffering sometimes comes from thinking it should be.

As I pushed through the ending lap on mile 5 this week, I finally remembered why it felt good to do hard things. Then you can revel in your accomplishment. You can smile and realize that when you collapse at the end of the day, you earned it.

Teaching is life’s work. It should be hard. We are amazing every day we complete it.

 

You can’t care more than they do.

You can’t care more than they do.

I have been listening out there. Teachers are BURNT. Not in like a cool way either. In a very real, I-don’t-know-if-I-can-keep-this-up way.  It lit a fire under me, because something has to change.

This is where you think I’m going to go into a side speech about how society doesn’t value teachers, children are more difficult today than they were, kids are being parented by electronic devices…ok…and maybe all of that is true.  I will be honest that the amount of behavioral issues that I see now in the classroom have risen to extreme levels.  That said, we can’t control any of that.  So how do we fix it? Do less.

Say what?

The demands of teachers have risen exponentially. Between student learning goals, standardized testing, running records, test prep, merit pay, etc, we can sometimes feel like a victim to our circumstances.  We feel like we lack control as professionals to do what we think is best, and honestly – we do. So, since we cannot fix that – we must fix something else.

Anna, you are confusing me…what is your point? Ok. I’ll get to it.

We can’t control the world, we can only control our outlook and how we approach every day. 

There is something I say to my class when they are feeling demotivated, “I can’t care more than you do.” Your extra care doesn’t make up for the parent that won’t discipline their child at home. Your three hours after school designing a test won’t change the fact that the child didn’t study. Grading at 6am on Saturday won’t magically make a child pass.

It’s time to cut out our extra heart that we put into the profession.  We are professionals. Yes, we care but we don’t have to pour our soul into a profession that simply cannot give it back to us.  Yes, we do it for the kids, but kids needs adults that are well rested and balanced.  Yes, we go the extra mile to make sure kids are successful, but they also need to be taught to go the extra mile for themselves.

Put your energy into the things that will pay you back. Instead of designing the pinterest-worthy lesson, sit down with a kid who is struggling and talk to them about what’s going on. Instead of grading at 6am on Saturday have your kids self-correct, only grade 3 problems, or check it off as participation. Instead of spending your energy wondering why that parent won’t back you up, invest in a good bottle of wine, therapy, netflix, your energy into building partnerships with all parents so you have a variety of parents that will help.

That’s real.

You can’t save every student. You can’t win every battle. You can’t even win half of them.  The only battle you can win is the outlook you have on the profession. To do this profession, we need to treat it like a marathon, not a sprint. We must work hard, care about our students, but move away from the idea that our lives must be teaching.

Put down the grading, step away from the computer (unless you are watching Netflix, do that), and leave that teaching bag in the corner!  Then, and only then, will we start to see a shift in the culture around teaching. If we can’t make decisions about policy, standardized tests, or pay…we can make decisions about ourselves.

You need this, because you are an amazing teacher. You deserve to be an amazing human too.

If you still hear yourself saying “I have to do this,” check out Stop being a martyr!

Laundry getting you down? You got this!

Laundry getting you down? You got this!

 

Ok…by now, you may have noticed that I am all about systems to make life easier! Self-care is not just the beauty of bubblebaths, but it’s making the must do’s very easy, so you can enjoy all parts of your life.  Believe me, there was a time where our housekeeper folded our laundry and I didn’t have to (heaven!). However, when she quit for a different job that didn’t involve folding underwear, we had to develop a better system. So here’s my laundry model in 10 steps.

  1. Choose one day and one day only to do laundry. No laundry midweek.
  2. Separate all the laundry into like piles.
  3. Carry them through rotations down to the laundry room in a free basket. Leave the basket there once you have one pile waiting for the washer, and one pile in the washer.
  4. I always start with the first batch being the one that is necessary for the next day, just in case I don’t do all of them.
  5. Start a load and take the basket back up for the next round of clothes to bring down.
  6. Now when the first load comes out of the dryer, fold it and put it into like piles on top of the dryer or counter (if you have one)
  7. Here’s the trick.  When you put them into the basket, they need to go in the way that they will be put away.  So, all shirts for one drawer go in a pile, all socks for one drawer go in a pile (husband and my socks are in two separate piles). All closet things are not folded but put over the top and they go away first.
  8. Now carry them to your bedroom, and put things away in the order you put them in the basket. Closet stuff first, then drawers.
  9. Now take another load to the laundry room and do again.
  10. Make your grocery list using my system here: bit.ly/2rudAm6
  11. Watch netflix, take a nap, go for a run, spend time with your kids..the point is…having a system drastically cuts down on the wasted time and energy that it takes to do this mindless task. You will feel much better for the week too!

 

This system will save you time, energy, and will put it into a format that will make you get it done!

If you love systems too, make sure to “like” my page: https://www.facebook.com/DesalvoAnna/

The 10 minute recharge.

The 10 minute recharge.

 

Education is an extrovert’s job.  Almost every personality quiz I’ve taken has put me in a quieter profession.  That said, I’m what you might call a social introvert. I like people, and I enjoy interacting with them mostly, but it simply wears me out.  This was never more true than this week. I tried self care but couldn’t get the balance down. There was always something else to do, or get done.  Somehow I ended up laying on my couch, completely victim to my own burn out.

Have you ever been there? Retired to the couch each night just trying desperately to recharge before waking up and doing it all again? Education can wear you out in the best of circumstances, but if something is off in your kids, the environment, or way the wind blows – it can be downright miserable.  It’s the reason for the rise of teacher memes, comedians and web shows.  The fact is, teaching is hard, and we’ve got to find the joy in the dark parts to stay afloat.

I received a call from my Principal after a particularly rough day.  She told me to scale back, maybe not push myself so hard. I assured her I would keep trying to do this. As a perfectionist, I’m never quite sure where my “balance” might be. That said, I also intended for my kids to work hard, perform well and behave equally well. There was little time to scale back.

My pod teacher and I had already been working on strategies to leave me more filled at the end of the day.  She is an extrovert, so while she didn’t quite understand my plight, after a few minutes watching in my classroom – she could see how the kids were wearing on me. She suggested a 10 minute block of silence at lunch daily.  This could help me recharge and prepare myself to take on the rest of the day.

So, I set to work doing this, but that meant my lessons were a bit more scattered. I wasn’t quite as on top of things because I didn’t use my lunch as prep.  Well, I had to be OK with it. Mainly because, I wasn’t going to last the year otherwise. I believe sometimes the universe will knock you on your butt if you don’t listen to the quiet signals. I hadn’t. So it was time for me to be more deliberate.

Self-care isn’t an act, it’s a habit. It’s something you must build in, so that when times get busy, it’s still there to sustain you.  I wrestled with the lack of sleep in the last week, so I struggled with my kids. I didn’t have “time” to have family meals, so I was challenged in my classroom. I didn’t spend time reading at night, so I went to sleep depleted.

Exhaustion won this week, so it’s back to resetting my intentions and self-care habits.

Goal: 10 minutes of quiet at lunch every day.

What’s yours?