Calling all guys! (Girls, you can come too!)

Men, I would like to ask you a favor. It only requires you to do what you do best – think like a guy. I guess I will begin by giving you my motivations for writing this post and asking this of you.Uncle Sam

First and foremost, I am a female. It’s as simple as that. I always hear guys say they don’t understand women, and I totally get it; we are complicated creatures with complicated feelings and ways of thinking and acting that even we don’t understand most of the time! But the same goes for guys; I admit, you seem much more simple, laid-back, and easy to read, but sometimes you make it difficult because (this is my theory, so you can correct me if you disagree) you don’t want to hinder your masculinity or the way people view you as a “manly man”.

Second, I am an educator and have dealt with, am dealing with, and will deal with in the future adolescent and teenage boys. Over the past two-ish years, I have been a student teacher, substitute (per diem and long-term), and am currently a teacher assistant for students ranging from seventh through twelfth grades. So I have been able to witness the difference between the younger boys and the older ones. I admit, they do a lot of growing up in those 5 years (which sometimes may seem unbelievable, but they do).

Third, I hope to have children of my own someday, and I am hoping some of them are boys.

And finally, I have been reading this great book by John Eldredge called Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of A Man’s Soul. In the introduction, Eldredge speaks about the purpose of the book, saying, “I believe it will help men get their heart back – and women as well. Moreover, it will help women to understand their men and help them live the life they both want” (p. xii).

So with this said, I want to ask you guys what it was like being a young and/or adolescent boy. Working with my current students (eighth and fifth grade boys) I have been trying to figure out their strengths, weaknesses, what makes them frustrated, what gives them motivation. A lot of the time, I also look for what makes them constantly talk/move and distract/bother others during class, causing the teacher or I to incessantly ask them to “stop [being rude; talking; etc]” or “don’t [hit him; flip the chair upside down; etc]” or whatever. I look at these boys’ behavior not only in terms of math students, but also looking at them as people and if these behaviors stem from something more than just disliking math or disliking school in general.

I try not to nitpick every act of defiance or every little annoyance because, honestly, I would be so tired and I think it would do more harm than good. I understand that boys (and girls, for that matter) would rather go outside and play, or watch TV, or just run around with no purpose. I get that; I was an active kid too. Eldredge addresses three desires that are universal of males: “They may be misplaced, forgotten, or misdirected, but in the heart of every man is a desperate desire for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue” (p. 9).

So I, in no way, will expect my students or future children to sit perfectly still, not making a peep, for more than 10 seconds (unless you make it a game and the winner gets ice cream or a new Tonka truck, or something). I get it; kids need to move and be kids.

So here is where you come in guys (and I completely open the floor to women who have insight as well!). Do you remember what you were like at the middle and high school ages? What makes boys tick? Is there a way to handle “hyperactivity” (medically diagnosed or not), whether you used it on your own students/children or it worked on you growing up? Any other tips or insight into the minds of boys is greatly accepted and appreciated!

Also, I am not even halfway through this book, but I highly recommend it to guys and girls alike! Check it out here on Amazon (there’s a Kindle version!).

Gym Etiquette

I am well aware that there are plenty of gym etiquette blog posts, YouTube videos, and Facebook statuses to last a lifetime. With the fixation on losing weight and getting in shape, a plethora of people visit (or at least try to visit) the gym a few times a week. Most come alone, with the exception of their mP3 player. Others come with buddies to give them motivation and spot them as they use free weights.

As with any public place, there are rules everyone should abide. Along with the written rules (for example, signs, posters, laws, etc.) there are plenty of unwritten “rules” that are broken every day at the gym. So here are my top 3 rules that are broken ALL the time.

1. Wipe off the machine. Now, each machine usually has a sign on it asking you to do this. In my opinion, the sign is meant to be read in a pretty friendly manner. It’s as if someone is saying, “Hey there, I’d greatly appreciate it if you would clean the machine after you use it. Not only is it sanitary for the next person, but it also maintains the quality of the machines. Thanks again, and have a great day.” Then I picture him or her smiling, maybe even winking.Why wouldn’t you want to make this person happy? I mean, they asked quite politely, with no hint of rudeness or sarcasm; they’re just looking out for the other gym members, and keeping quality of the machines only benefits you as a user.

However, we all know the reality is that not everyone follows these rules. I have seen way too many sweaty people use a machine extensively and then just walk away without ever giving the paper towels and spray bottle a second glance. So to these people, I think the sign is actually yelling, “Hey you! Clean off the machine after you plunked down your smelly, sweaty rear on the seat! No one wants your disgusting sweat everywhere. Don’t forget the handles too. Jerk.” Now this guy/gal is pissed. He/she is pointing fingers, turning red, and maybe even spitting when they’re yelling. I imagine super angry people are always spitting when they talk.

Ugh, people. And these people are usually the sweatiest of all. So not only do I clean after myself, but I also end up cleaning before I even use it because I saw them leave the machine without sanitizing it. And, okay, I realize that these sprays are not an end-all-be-all for killing germs, but it definitely helps. All I’m asking (very nicely, mind you) is to clean off the machine after you use it so that I don’t have to do double duty.

2.  Wait your turn. The other day, I was on the chest fly/rear fly machine, just finishing my first set of each, when this guy came and just kind of stood near me. I just figured he was taking a breather, or thinking, or something. But then, he stayed there. And then he came closer. He asked me a question, but I had my headphones in, seeing as no one really converses while working out. He repeated himself. “How many more sets do you have to do?” Ugh. “2 on each side,” I replied. He looked kind of lost before walking away.

It doesn’t stop there! He then came back and asked the girl at the machine beside me the same thing. She said she still had more to go as well. Really? You honestly couldn’t find another machine to use for the next 3 minutes? There are so many other machines you could use! Or just go get a drink of water and chill out for a couple more minutes! I’m just happy he didn’t come and stand by us, waiting for us to finish. I probably would have done 6 sets on each side instead of 3.

3.  Personal space. Another time that I’ve noticed people being impatient is on the track. Our track at Columbia is indoors and one lap is only 1 km long, so space is kind of limited. However, there are 3 lanes (dedicated for walking, jogging, and running), so passing slower people is not difficult.

So then why is it that some people feel the need to pass you with just enough space between you so that your arm hairs almost touch? I’m walking…in the walking lane. You are jogging or running. Go around me, use your five senses (seeing as you lack the sixth one: common sense), and give both of us our personal space.

There is plenty more that I could say about this topic, but for now we’ll stick with these three. Also, I would disregard all rules if this guy was the perpetrator…

Until then, what is a pet peeve (ha, pet peeve. ^  Get it?) of yours at the gym or any other public place?

Halfway There

So I have not written a post in a couple of weeks. I have a good reason, I promise. Just hear me out!

I started graduate school this past January at Teachers College, Columbia University. And just an hour ago I finished my last final for the semester. I survived a semester of graduate school in New York City!

Up until about 2 weeks ago, I had planned on getting my degree next May. However, 2 weeks ago, I realized something. I am only 1 credit shy of being halfway done with my Masters requirements. What the what?! After crunching and re-crunching the numbers, reading and rereading the requirements, I spoke with my advisor just to make sure I was not overlooking something. Sure enough he confirmed that this is more than doable.

I kid you not, the clouds opened, the angels sang, and God said, “Holliday, you shall finish in December.” So that’s what I plan to do.

How awesome will it be to save a whole semester worth of housing and credits and the God-forsaken ‘College fee’ that is mandatory but no one knows what it is used for. Oh, maybe to supply us with those goofy ‘Student Senate’ plastic Ray-Ban wannabes. And our 20 “free” printed pages per week.

Anyways, so saving money will be fantastic. Except then reality hit:

“I will be done in December. That means I have to be an adult that much sooner. I will need somewhere to live. I will need a job to support myself. Not to mention, student loans will kick in that much sooner. Gah, what did I get myself into?!”

But, in all honesty, I am excited to see what will happen. I am over the moon that I get to start my “real-world” life sooner. I have been exploring careers outside of the typical ‘math teacher’ realm; coming to TC has really opened my eyes to the possibilities outside of the classroom.

funny_math_teacher_womens_light_tshirt

I am not completely abandoning the idea of becoming a classroom teacher (especially because I totally want that shirt!), but it is exciting what new and improving technology is creating in terms of jobs and experiences.

So the point of this post was:

1.  To apologize for not posting in awhile. I’ve been a good girl, telling myself that instead of writing a blog post I should be studying and doing homework.

2.  To let out some built-up fear and excitement for the future.

3.  To share this journey and hopefully help others who may be going through or will go through similar situations and may have similar decisions to make.

So what are your thoughts? Any ideas about what future endeavors a Masters in Mathematics Education could possibly explore? What do you hope to do by the end of this year?

“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” OR Happy Birthday to me!

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. –Ephesians 2:8-9

5

This past Saturday, April 27, was the five-year anniversary of my being saved. I found myself thinking a lot that day about how things change in five years; how much we grow (physically, emotionally, mentally), how many decisions we make (whether right or wrong), the people that come and go. I think it is important to reflect on our lives often, not just to reminisce, wish for the past, or dwell on regrets, but to realize how far we have come in our lives and all the events and people that God has placed in our paths along the way.

April 26, 2008, I was in a car accident (ironically on my way to an event at church) that I came away with just some scrapes and bruises. I don’t know if I have any pictures of my car anymore – it was considered totaled after it flipped over, both of us upside down on the side of a country road. I rounded the curve too close to the outside, hit some gravel and overcorrected, then swerved violently before finally flipping over and landing upside down. My stomach still drops when cars make swerving motions, and I still feel anxious when I hear the sound of screeching tires. I called my mom sobbing because I didn’t know who else to call; she has Multiple Sclerosis, so there wasn’t much she could do for me other than making some more phone calls and worrying about me. Real smooth, Holliday. Real smooth.

The next 20 minutes were such a blur, but the people that I encountered are still pretty clear. A man drove by the scene shortly after and called 911 for me; I remember he had a verse of scripture on his shirt. I had been following my friends’ family so when they realized I was no longer behind them they came back for me; their hugs were so comforting at that moment. The police officer in the ambulance told me that God had a bigger plan for me that day. God certainly provided me with comforting people that day. How else could it be explained?

Later that day, my boyfriend at the time had asked me, “If things had turned out different [AKA if you had not made it out of this alive], do you know where you would be right now?” I had been attending church regularly for the past year. I volunteered for church events. Heck, I had been on my way to bond with a group of women from the church to make soup! I had never done drugs, I didn’t drink, I didn’t swear; I was a good person. But somehow I knew that these things weren’t enough.

So the following day, Sunday, I walked into Pastor’s office and prayed to God to save me and take hold of my life. I was baptized a couple months later; my testimony verse is Romans 5: 3-5, which says

More than that we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Over the past five years, I have stumbled. I have looked to God for selfish reasons. I have tried doing things my own way. I have been impatient. But just as well, despite all of these things, God has never ceased to bless me. No matter how many times I fall, God has never failed to pick me back up. He has thrown things in my path that, at times, seemed insurmountable. But He has also blessed me immeasurably.

Five years ago today, if you asked me where I would be in five years, I would have never guessed where my life is today. I never would have thought I would get accepted into SUNY Geneseo, get involved with InterVarsity, meet so many wonderful, amazing people, and receive my Bachelors degree. I would never have guessed I would meet and fall for a tall, red-haired guy named Tom at a church event. Who knew I would be accepted into Teachers College, Columbia University, and move to New York City?

There are so many things that I never would have imagined for my life. But God is funny in that way; we think we know what we want, we think we know what is best for us, but God knows so much more and has so much more planned for us. Like Isaiah 55:8-9 says:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

These past five years have shown my how much deeper my testimony is; in the beginning, it was because I was afraid of dying and going to Hell. I realize that I was saved even though my reasoning may have been pretty shallow – I mean, being saved is being saved, we shouldn’t feel the need to compare our testimony with others.  Tim Hawkins is a Christian comedian and he has a short skit that addresses this need to compare testimonies and the desire to have a “good” testimony (watch it here). I have grown to realize that my whole life is a testimony to God; He has gotten me through pretty crappy stuff, sometimes without my consciously realizing it.

Who knows where I’ll be in five years? I sure as heck don’t! And I don’t really feel like limiting myself to who/what/where I think I’ll be in five years. Whatever I think, God’s plan is so much better than I could even imagine. Cheers, God. Here’s to another five.

ENFJ FTW!

What’s that spell? Holliday! Keep reading to see how…

So last weekend I visited Geneseo, NY to hang out with friends from my alma mater (that’s SUNY Geneseo, for those who have never heard of this small town…which is probably most of you). Whilst partaking in delicious Indian food at Haveli’s in Rochester (check them out here), my group of 8 friends started spewing out the alphabet. Okay, it wasn’t the alphabet, but it sure sounded like it. Letters were flying from one end of the table to the other.

Enter Myers-Briggs personality test. Apparently everyone knew their personality – consisting of four letters – and were comparing certain traits of the different types. I had not taken this test, so I was unable to participate in the conversation. Part of me wanted to just start calling out random letters – ‘I’m B-L-U-E’ (reminds me of that song from the 90s…’I’m blue, if I was green I would die…’ Still not sure what he was really saying.).

Instead, I decided that upon our return to Geneseo, I would take the test and find out once and for all who Sir Myers and Mr. Briggs think I am. I took a poll from everyone at the table of what they thought I would be. After each person’s name, I recorded their guess for my personality type, followed by their individual personality type. As you can see, most guess E, T, and J for my personality. Lauren guessed her initials (super helpful). And Emma is my favorite.

myers briggs

So the moment of truth arrived; I pulled up the test (we used this one here) on my computer and had Erika read me the questions. Now, I’m not sure if this is an acceptable method due to a possible bias when answering in front of other people, but I figured if I did it myself I would probably think too much about each question and end up with a bias anyway. You’re supposed to just answer based on your initial instincts; but I must warn you, some of the questions can be very situational, so there’s not always a clear-cut answer.

72 questions later, the results came in. According to M and B, I am an ENFJ; that is Extrovert iNtuition Feeling Judging. My friends were pretty astonished that I was not a T. “Should I retake the test?!” Anyways, the site provides you an entire profile that describes what this personality means in terms of the way you interact with people, the way you make decisions, and all sorts of other things. It was really strange reading my profile and realizing how true most of the ideas were.

I think it’s fascinating, but I’m still skeptical about the idea that answering these questions determines your personality. Especially because there were a bunch of questions that I couldn’t answer right away because I’m a very situational person. I’m constantly saying, “Well sometimes I feel this, but other times I feel this way.” So making clear-cut decisions is sometimes difficult. And other times, it is not. See?

I’m curious to know what personality types you all are and whether you agree with your M-B outcome. Is this an accurate test? Do you know of a better test than the one I took?

Yes, Virginia (and everyone else), I live in New York City

So for those of you who did not know, I have been living in the City That Never Sleeps.

Yes, Virginia, I have been living in New York City for two and a half months now…and I forgot how many people I didn’t tell. I guess maybe they thought I was just working as a substitute teacher and glamorous Walmart supervisor for these last few months. Others, well, either don’t care to know my whereabouts or thought I fell off the face of the earth?

I was actually accepted into Teachers College, Columbia University back in August last year, but coming in the fall was too soon to get everything prepared to leave home. That’s a whole other complicated story (AKA: my life), so maybe one day you’ll hear about it. I’ve always been told that my life would make a good book; I think I should get better at blogging first, then I’ll consider it.

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I applied for two schools: University at Buffalo and Teachers College. I had already been admitted into UB’s Math Education graduate program, and was planning on starting in the fall, so I had a fallback plan if TC didn’t accept me. I honestly didn’t think I had a chance of getting into TC; I mean, come on, it’s affiliated with Columbia! I’m just this small-town girl (though, technically, Batavia is a city), I never received huge awards from high school or college, my grades were good but they could definitely find better people to take my place. It was quite a stressful summer waiting to hear from TC.

And then, on an August evening, I got an email from TC directing me to the ‘decision’ page of my application. This was it. I mentally prepared myself to read, “We are sorry to inform you…” or something along those lines. So when I read, “We are happy to inform you…” I just about wet my pants. I think I screamed.

As excited as I was, the idea of moving in only a month was terrifying. Like I said, it wasn’t going to be as easy as students who move away to college freshman year with parents to take care of all the messy details: house, transportation, the actual moving process, etc. So I knew that if I accepted admittance into TC, I would be deferring to the spring semester to allow me more time to prepare myself mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially.

I only told a select few because I didn’t want to announce it publicly over Facebook that I was leaving town to go to NYC. There are multiple reasons, but one of the bigger ones was due to self-doubt and pride.

Okay, sure, I got accepted into this crazy awesome graduate school, but…What if I can’t hack it in the city? What if I come back after a semester because I hate it there? What if I fail my classes, living far from home, life in general?

And when I did tell people, I would make it seem like I was prepared to fail. That way, if I didn’t like it or ended up not doing well, I would be willing to come home without making a huge scene, reapplying to Walmart (that would make 5 stints there), and assume my old life back home.

If I hate it, no big deal – I’ll just come home.

It was definitely a defense mechanism but, looking back, it was only defense from myself. Everyone I told was nothing but excited and supportive; we were all people living in a small city in western New York, so just thinking and talking about going to and living in a huge city like NYC was thrilling.

Absolutely everyone was pumped for me. Everyone but myself. It’s not that I wasn’t excited. The problem was that I was so excited I was afraid I would overlook the possibilities of failure and end up getting clotheslined by life.

Why do we do this to ourselves? If any of my friends came and told me they got accepted into a prestigious college and/or were moving somewhere, I would be ecstatic for them! A couple of my friends have done this actually (not for school but for jobs) and I couldn’t be happier. And I’m so glad they told me so that I can be excited for them and support them! But when it came to myself, I was so bent out of shape about the negative possibilities, doubting my ability to do well in school or survive a new city, that I wasn’t willing to share it with anyone but those I was closest to.NYC skyline

So to those of you whom I didn’t tell, I really apologize. I was afraid that if I told everyone and made this huge hype, it would blow up in my face and I would end up falling flat on my tush. Then I wouldn’t just be letting myself down, but I would feel as though I failed all the people I told, all the people that believed in me. I felt as though my failure would extinguish any fire in the hearts of those coming from a small city and wanting to explore living in a bigger city. If I couldn’t do it, I know it would discourage me, but would that also discourage others?

I’m glad to say that I love it here. These past two+ months have been exciting, challenging, eye-opening, and amazing. I’ve been wanting to write about my experiences here, but there was still such an uneasiness with letting people know and actually knowing myself whether I liked it here enough to stay. I plan on being here for the next year, and after that, who knows? Maybe I’ll love it enough to find a job here for a few years before I settle down and start a family; I don’t really want my future kids growing up in such a huge, overwhelming city. Or maybe I’ll find a job in another great city. Maybe a different country. Who knows? I do know, now that the cat is out of the bag, that I’m excited to write about anything that may come up.

Cotton Candy…in the bible?

Sometimes The Message makes me laugh. I usually cross-reference verses using BibleGateway between ESV (English Standard Version), NIV (New International Version), NLT (New Living Translation), AMP (Amplified Bible), MSG (The Message), and LOLBT (LOLcat Bible Translation). Granted the last one is just for a laugh.

So I was leisurely searching around in my ESV, found a passage in Isaiah, and wanted to see parallels from other translations. And The Message gave me this:

Hey there! All who are thirsty,
come to the water!
Are you penniless?
Come anyway—buy and eat!
Come, buy your drinks, buy wine and milk.
Buy without money—everything’s free!
Why do you spend your money on junk food,
your hard-earned cash on cotton candy? 

–Isaiah 55:1a, 2a (MSG)

cotton candy

I understand that this particular translation is meant for a more contemporary, new-age group of Christians looking for layman’s terms; no thous or shalts or cometh-ing. But some of the content, to me, sounds just plain silly. I mean, come on, you couldn’t come up with something other than cotton candy? I realize that the lolcat version includes cheezburgrz, but it is also not being sold and used in churches. Then again, I guess a pro of The Message is that you can read the bible as an infomercial and sound legit. Now we just need a ridiculous commercial to go with it.

Which reminds me: a couple of friends posted this on Facebook this week; it was a post on Mashable regarding infomercials. I laughed so much I was crying. True human beings in all our imperfect glory.

Tweeze your heart out

A few years ago, my mom bought a new pair of tweezers that have a gripped handle and feature an accentuated circular dip for perfect thumb positioning. I guess they worked better for her hands. Meanwhile, I just ended up with her old metal pair. Who cares? They’re metal, they should last forever, right? I mean, it’s not like they could get dull or anything. I’m just plucking out hairs, not removing screws or staples or something (at least, I shouldn’t be anyways).

Present day: I usually pull a few stray hairs every morning, which may seem daunting and overkill to some, but it works for me. If you’ve seen any of my middle school (read: pre-tweezing) pictures, you would see that I inherited my father’s dark, full eyebrows, which grow quickly. Honestly, not only am I told I resemble Anne Hathaway, but I’m pretty sure without managing my eyebrows, I could turn out to be Mia Thermopolis’ doppelgänger. 06

Over the past couple months, however, I have been noticing a heightened difficulty when plucking. I was unable to grab hold of many of the tiny hairs, ending up with a bunch of little black spots around my eyebrow area. Then I would try digging them out a bit, but that only left my skin red and emphasized the tiny hairs more.

So I made it a point to check out tweezers at K-Mart today. I went to the one in Penn Station, which is 3 stories, but I now have the floor plans memorized. I knew there would be a large selection and vast range of prices; not only that, but there are millions more out there on the interwebs and beyond. I’ve heard marvelous things about Tweezerman tweezers, but honestly why should I pay $25 for them? For a small piece of metal that, while they may be able to take out splinters and ticks (gross), they won’t save lives and therefore aren’t worth spending that much on a college student’s budget (cheap or free if you’re lucky).

So anyways, K-Mart had about 5 different choices that I looked at, and the prices ranged from $0.99 to $10. I could choose from slanted; they offered enamel. Or I could get ones with a special carrying case. And then there was a combo set of slanted and extra pointy. I JUST WANTED A PAIR OF TWEEZERS!

With so much pressure and so little money, I said, “To heck with it!” and went with the $0.99 Image Essentials Slant Tweezers. If they suck, I’d only be out a buck right? When I got home, I figured I’d test them out and hopefully they’d be at least a small improvement from the retiring ones. Needless to say, I’m so impressed! For a little more than a dollar (because of stinking NY taxes), I found a pair of tweezers that pulled out all the teeny tiny hairs I missed this morning!

So all in all, I’m happy with this tiny purchase. I cannot say how long they will stay in such brilliant condition, but for now they work fine. If anyone has tried Tweezerman, can you tell me what the big hype is? Are they made of gold? Do they magnetically/magically pull out unwanted hair? Are they worth the $25?