It’s the best time of year, and the worst time of year. While I wind down 2015, I can look at my annual bucket list and go, “Yeah! I did that!” and then also see the others lurking, unfinished.

Yesterday I made reservations for Holiday Tea, and sent out three letters, so some of my goals are in the bag…but spending a weekend on Sauvie’s Island? Probably not going to happen. Running at the Oregon State Prison? DEFINITELY not going to happen since there aren’t anymore races until 2016. Building a snow cave? Based on the recent snowfall, it’s possible.

At the same time, my draft of 2016 goals is so absolutely IMMENSE that a paring down process is also necessary before I wrap up the year.

But you know what? At this point, I’m just TIRED. I’m working something like 55-60 hours a week right now, and since I’m committed to getting my workouts in and watching every episode of The Young and Restless, there’s very little precious time left. So if I don’t learn to needle felt this year, I’m just going to have to let that one go.

That being said, I did build a new ikea armchair and redecorated my office. The next day I made a stash of handmade ribbons and certificates for the honor roll students at school.


THEN hosted a pancake breakfast for close to 100 students, and because I had a couple free minutes, I pulled out my toolbox and fixed two broken tables in the library. The librarian called me “Jane-of-all-trades.”

The point is that I’m not letting my J-O-B get in the way of my A-D-D. (OK, bad joke). No really, you know that feeling you get when you’re past exhaustion and suddenly get a second burst of frenzied energy? I’m there.

Once December officially hits, I will start categories my goals for 2016. Until then I’m just going to take Thanksgiving break to veg out, eat some sugar-free pie, catch up on Netflix, and maybe take up needle felting at the same time.



My triumphant return to soccer

For four years, I’ve been lamenting that I can no longer play soccer (since some horrible girl blew my ACL). Snowboarding, cross country skiing, and long distance running were also eliminated from my activity schedule. And while I’ve clearly trained hard to stay active in many other ways, soccer nags at the back of my brain. Last spring, I wrote a post where I was considering rolling the dice and playing on a team again, only to have my knee completely act up after bending down the wrong way in my classroom. Not only was soccer officially off the table, but I was having trouble walking and returned to my surgeon with an attitude of “I probably need surgery and this time I’m going to rehab ever better!” The surgeon shook his head and said, “Less squats and less running.” (Such is the reason I haven’t been able to take on the prison 5k).

Soooooo, ok, be less active…and be less healthy. Or be more active…and be less healthy. WTF?!

But you know me: I’m a bit compulsive. Tell me not to do something, and surely I’ll find an angle. In August, when I started at my new school, I immediately noticed a group of teen boys who played soccer on the field with the most busted, flat soccer ball I have ever seen. The PE teachers shrugged their shoulders when I asked for a better ball, and everyday I wondered why the school couldn’t pony up $15 for a measly piece of equipment.

Instead, I went out, bought a new ball, and threw on my workout clothes at lunch. At first the boys were confused, but as soon as they saw me dribble the ball around a couple of them, they were even more enthusiastic to play. Whereas I could never get them to bring in the shitty ball they used to play with, now when the bell rang they literally hand-delivered my ball back to me. From that point on, I’ve played with them essentially every single day.

We started with a group of maybe 15 boys, and are now pushing 30; I’m considering breaking us into two groups. Everyday they ask me, “Did you bring your soccer clothes??” and on the rare occasion that I forget, they look legitimately sad (as do I). Since I’m more of an administrator than a classroom teacher – they don’t quite know what I do around the school, but when I come into their classroom to observe a lesson, they call me “Coach Deacon” or “Mrs. Soccer.” It seems I always find a nickname no matter where I go…

When I first decided to play, I thought it might be a once a week kind of thing – but once I realized how fun and skilled the boys are, I just kept playing. Instead of worrying about winning or losing (or fighting traffic to get to a game on the other side of town), we just play some really scrappy street ball. I’m pretty sure they are all swearing in Spanish, too, but that’s part of the fun.

For years I would have thought dressing down and playing soccer at lunch time would have been impossible – but frankly it takes me less than a couple minutes to change, and I usually beat the boys to the playground when the bell rings. Sometimes I take the couple minutes after lunch to change back into my dress and heels, and sometimes I’m too busy and finish the day in my Nikes. On the day before Halloween, I played in my full body skeleton suit (so aerodynamic!).

When do I eat lunch? The funny thing is that I’m usually not hungry because I’m busy playing – I grab a snack here and there, and that’s all I need. That afternoon exhaustion that normally comes with teaching is also totally gone because I went out and got some exercise. For a job that’s been riddled with stress, lunchtime soccer has been the ultimate solution.

I hear so many teachers (or even administrators) right now thinking there is no way they would ever have time for this, but I challenge that notion. I, too, would have once said that – but even the last couple years I made it a point to join PE with my students and it was always fun. You just can’t say that grappling with the copy machine is more beneficial than exercising with your students…if something is truly important, you make time.

And really, adolescent boys are wayyyyy more likely to respect to you in the hallways if they’ve seen you knock a header into the goal.

Let me tell you about my OTHER new job…

Oh come on – you know me. One job is never enough; even two seems a little too manageable. When I was something like nine years old, I vaguely remember my great-grandma telling me, “Everyday you should be making money, even if it’s just a dollar.” And if you know me, you know I’m always figuring my next angle.

Having multiple jobs isn’t a new thing for me. In college, I worked at a call center for General Motors, and while you’d think that being a full-time college student with a job would be enough, it certainly didn’t pay enough. To supplement my income, I collected free promotional posters from the local record store everyday on my way home from class and promptly spent hours selling them on eBay (My roommates can attest that I had posters and shipping supplies cluttering our apartment).  Later, when I got my first teaching job, I still made batches of 100 chocolate chip cookies every Sunday on the side for extra cash.

Over the last few days, I’ve been in Denver for an awesome coaching conference, but tomorrow I fly home early so that I can hop right off the plane, into my car, and teach a night class at Concordia University. Having led some professional development at other universities before, I wasn’t sure what to expect – but so far it’s definitely my jam.

The students show up on time, they do their homework, and they are excited to learn. Of course, give them three years in public education and all of that will be sucked out of them, but for now they are really fun to work with. Beyond the fact that I get to help new teachers learn critical skills for the classroom and blah blah blah, I get to tell bad jokes, show funny Youtube videos, and then end the night with motivational true stories about former students. So far, it’s a great gig.

But as I sit in my hotel room, it’s hard to process that I will be finishing a conference tomorrow morning, hopping on a plane, teaching a night class, and then waking up and going back to my regular day job. This IS how Warren Buffett does things, right?

You see, I’m on a quest. I can’t just sit in a meeting, day after day. I can’t just teach the same lesson, day after day. I can’t just see the same paycheck, month after month.


Despite all the evidence, I’m certain there is something else out there for me; a perfect fit. So I’ll just keep working until I find it – whatever that it may be.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t work EVERYDAY. This weekend I’ll be back on a plane to Vegas, totally un-work-related. If there’s one thing us teachers do, it’s party hard. Ask a teacher, they’ll tell you.Friday-Work-Meme-02

How I Make My Annual Buckets Lists…sort of…

A few friends have recently asked me how I come up with my annual “bucket lists”, and meanwhile, some of my new coworkers are starting to get a taste of my… ummm… interesting hobbies?

So how DO I get these ideas and put my lists together every year?

First off, I keep my list on the Notes app of my phone. Anytime something pops into my head, I put it in my notes, no matter how big, small, or crazy since I know I will revisit the list later. Trust me, if you don’t write it down, you will forget. But I also keep it private – I don’t want anyone else messing with my head.

Then in December, I start prioritizing by coding each item *, **, or *** depending on a combo of how realistic and interesting the goal is to me. For instance, back in 2014, I considered “Learn to love sauerkraut” in hopes of understanding what everyone loves about such a disgusting food, but ultimately it didn’t grab me so it didn’t make the cut.


I also try to narrow my final list to 20 items (give or take a couple) – anything more than that would feel overwhelming, anything less feels sparse. Finally, I code my goals into a few different categories: some goals where I will learn something practical; something that relates to my professional life; some fitness goals; and some fun events that will involve my friends.  Many of these can be combined – i.e. last weekend’s “Go Bag Party.”

By keeping a living list, I keep myself grounded – for instance, something that seemed like a great idea in March can seem pretty stupid or unrealistic in December when I’m drafting the final list (Learn Latin – I’m talking to you). It’s important to sleep on some ideas – for several months.

At the most basic level, this blog is about me having FUN, but also improving myself.

Have you ever seen this billboard?


I remember driving past it one day, thinking, Well, I’ve got the eccentric part down… 

In my opinion, if you make a list for yourself, just go for it. Don’t limit what you initially write down; you can always cut it later. And if all else fails, Google “bucket lists.”