So Long, Sweet Summer

As a teacher, summer has been over for about a month now. As a human being (and according to the calendar), the curtains of summer are drawing closed this Thursday.

Either way, I have some thoughts to share as the transition from summer freedom to autumnal mayhem continues to build (or begins, depending on which way you look at it).

This summer was great. I accomplished a lot what I set out to do (as seen here) such as traveling, developing my Stats course, taking pictures, and working out consistently.

This summer, I fell in love with lifting free weights. It was scary in the beginning as the free weights area is typically 95% dudes. But I love the freedom that it offers; I can do so many things with a set of dumbbells versus only being able to do one exercise at a time on the machines.

I got to travel quite a bit this summer, too. I began the summer going home to Western NY for our friends’ wedding and to see friends and family, then I went to the Poconos with my high school friends in July, and then Tom and I went to Virginia to celebrate our birthdays and anniversary all in one trip. We also spent the last couple weeks out with my in-laws in Long Island which is totally traveling and feels like a vacation. I went to the beach a couple times and hung out with friends quite a bit. [Check out my Instagram for pictures]

Volleyball started the day after my birthday and by then I was really excited to get back into having a set daily routine. The following week was the start of teacher meetings and classroom setup. I had been in my school at least 10 times over the summer to get work done, so it kind of felt as if I had never left. We then had students the week of Labor Day and that was a rush of stress and excitement for sure.

The following week (last week), we had 2 days of school and then we went on our annual retreat with all of the students. In past years, the 9th and 10th graders went to a Quaker conference and retreat center 3 hours north of the city while the 11th and 12th graders went to a summer camp 2 hours north of the city. My first year teaching at my school, I went with the upperclassmen, and last year I went with the lowerclassmen, so I had been to both places and had my opinions about both.

Last year, we all realized that there was no way we could continue going to the 9/10th retreat center because we just had too many people squeezing into the place. I was in a committee meant to plan the retreat and we decided that all four grades would go to the summer camp this year. I was pumped. I loved my experience at the summer camp and couldn’t wait to go back.

And this year’s retreat didn’t disappoint. It was frustrating and exhausting at times, don’t get me wrong; teachers spending 2.5 days with their students is not a bed of roses. But this place made for such an amazing time; from the ropes courses and the various sports courts/areas, to the delicious (in comparison to the retreat center) food, to the beautiful weather, and of course just being in nature, I had a fantastic time and can’t wait for next year’s retreat.

Retreat 2016
                               Post sunset first night; Sunrise second morning

This weekend was spent recuperating, catching up on sleep and alone time (with the exception of Tom), and preparing myself mentally and physically for the first full week of school. Not only do we have classes all 5 days (haha that sounds so dramatic but the past 2 non-full weeks have left me feeling totally wiped out) and I have 3 volleyball games to coach.

And as I’m sitting here writing this, I am in awe of how I am less anxious and worried about everything than I usually am this time of year. I tend to go through major problems this time of year: both of my Crohn’s flare-ups happened during this time of year, I went to a doctor for anxiety and sleep problems 2 years ago (my first year teaching full-time), and I just tend to have a low self-esteem regarding my teaching abilities and an overall low sense of self-worth during this time of year. It’s a lot, all at once, and I get a little [read: very] emotional when I’m tired.

And yet, here I am, feeling capable and ready to take on this week. I think it helps that I have become accustomed to working a bit on weekends: I have grown to like going to Starbucks for a few hours on Sunday mornings to get ready for the week and set my mind at ease while enjoying a PSL and a bagel.

>>Side note: I’m reading a book for school called Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do and it’s all about stereotype threat. While in line getting ready to order, I realized that I was feeding a stereotype threat as a white female ordering a PSL. I felt like maybe I shouldn’t order it because that would make others confirm said stereotype…but I didn’t care and ordered it anyway.<<

I hope to continue on with this feeling and not wake up at 2 a.m. with overwhelming anxiety such that I cannot fully fall back to sleep until my alarm goes off at 6 a.m. It happens sometimes.

I hope to continue to pump myself up and stay on top of things to aide in this general feeling of well-being and happiness.

I hope to continue making gainz in the gym and make it a priority even with school. I didn’t go at all this weekend because I pulled a back muscle (are you ready for this?) while pulling my shirt over my head to get dressed on the last day of the retreat.

Yeah. It’s embarrassing. I was up a bit early, getting ready for a morning run with the cross country team, and as I was pulling my shirt over my head, I felt a sharp pain, couldn’t breathe fully, and couldn’t move or find a comfortable position. I ditched the run, took some Aleve, and am still feeling a bit sore in that spot tonight. I’ll blame it on the uncomfortable mattress in the bunk and on playing tennis without warming up first. Getting dressed must’ve just exacerbated it.

So anyways, I hope you’re soaking up the last bits of summer (although, according to weather reports, we’ll be enjoying summer weather for at least another 2 weeks) and have a good transition to fall and all that it offers. Cooler weather. Sweaters. Boots. Excitement for the upcoming holidays. And pumpkin everything.

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?