I. Am. Stressed. And I definitely am the worst at maintaining my integrity. Can I just say, “will power ain’t my thang.” I am probably also one of the most inconsistent people ever. Lemme just introduce you to my week and you will know what I mean. I’m pretty eccentric so I don’t know if anyone will relate to my “crazy” thoughts, but maybe? Okay, here goes.

This week I started teaching sixth grade. I went into it feeling like SUPER WOMAN! I am not sure why I thought I could ever take something like this on again when it went so incredibly awful last year. The honest truth is that I was feeling pretty solid in my life. I have a couple of friends here in Minnesota who I see frequently and in whom laughter is never scarce to be shared. I was also doing as well as could be expected toward my training for my marathon. If at any time in my life this last year I was more prepared for teaching, it would be now. The other truth is, the co-teacher I work with does all of the preparation work. All I have to do is pretty much show up and try and teach the material she has prepared for me. Easy right?

Let’s go back to Saturday. Or better yet Friday. Friday was the last day of the current 6th grade teacher I was about to replace. It was also probably one of the better days I have had this year thus far. I spent the school day in the back of the classroom cutting this or that and laminating like a boss (I love laminators). I felt nervous, but I was pretty confident that if I had a great system that instilled a lot of structure into the classroom (which previously there had not been any…at all. We’re talking about kids running around the classroom, throwing balls around, and playing games about every 20 minutes or so for about 20 minutes) everything would be, as the saying goes, “smooth sailing.” That afternoon I got to go on probably the easiest 8 mile run I’ve experienced as running with Sara (that’s not really her name) is nothing but laughter, and smiles. I left the school day and the run feeling higher than high. I remember exclaiming to myself how amazing and lucky I was in my life. God truly was blessing my life with so much good. Maybe he was trying to tell me to go into elementary education after all? After the run I went straight to the school and set up the class with the help of my wonderful parents. We got all of the students’ previous work organized and set up their tables, and table jobs (my room is scuba diving themed–“Dive in to Learn”–and every table has an assigned fish I saw down in Curacao [Squirrel Fish, Drum Fish, Blue Parrot Fish, Honey-Combed Cow Fish, and Striped Butterfly Fish] and their jobs are titled shop keeper [aka cleaner], Deck Hand [aka gatherer] and Dive Master [aka table boss who does nothing but have a sweet name and bask in doing nothing]. By the end of the night I seriously felt like I was on the top of the world–though admittedly the stress was already kicking in. I tried desperately to tell myself that I was A-O-K. FALSE. Never, ever try to convince your body it’s wrong. It fights back–and doesn’t play fair.

Saturday I woke up with a craving. A craving for a very specific brand of gluten-free cookie dough ice cream for breakfast. Saturday, I knew before waking, was going to be one big, and daunting day. I had the task of cleaning the classroom (which was still a complete disaster even after 3.5 hrs of tackling it with my parents). I also had a list of things to do around the house a mile high AND I had the ever daunting task of running farther than I ever had in all my life–14 miles. Before I began to tackle the beast of “To-Dos” I wanted/had to have that gluten-free cookie dough ice cream. To be straight, it wasn’t like getting this ice cream was some easy, quick, mindless task. It’s not like the idea just popped into my head and I mindlessly ran to the grocery store 5 minutes down the road, bought the thing, and then stuffed my face with it. No. The only grocery store that carried this particular brand and flavor I craved in fact was over 15 minutes away and completely out of the way. I laid in bed for over an hour trying to come up with a list of justifications as to why I should get this ice cream or why I deserved it and why a 30 minute detour to procure it was 100% reasonable: “You’re about to start teaching. This is your last weekend of freedom. Live a little!” “You worked hard last night and you’re going to run 14 miles tonight anyways. You’ll work off that pint in no time.” “It’s therapeutic. So, it’s okay.” “I don’t need to worry about what goes into my body–ice cream for breakfast is totally FINE and on occasion…healthy. Yeah, healthy.” I’m not kidding when I say I did this for over an hour. Well not quite the whole hour as with all good self-justification sessions you need good rebuttals in order to push you to coming up with the winning justification that will get you to the prize you want (I’m a master at self manipulation when I really want something). My rebuttals were the intentions I had set the few days previous: Listen to and respond to your body’s natural cues for thirst. Differentiate between hunger cues, and cues for thirst. Eat until satisfied. Essentially I was trying really hard to do what the month of March was supposed to be all about: integrity to the body. Listening to, and treating well the temple God gave me. Ice cream for breakfast definitely did not fit this bill–in case your wondering–the winning justification was….drum roll….”While you should ‘most’ of the time listen to your body and feed it the way it wants to be fed, sometimes it’s okay to just feed your spirit and not worry too much about it all.” (I totally live by this, by the way, in everything–queen at exceptions and living loosely).

After eating my pint (which in all actuality was not an enjoyable experience as I had to eat it with a fork and the only part I really wanted was the cookie dough which there were only 7 pieces the size of my pinky tip in the whole darn thing), and cleaning the classroom with some fellow teachers, I ventured on completing my 14 miles. Again I was confronted with the irony: I was trying to study integrity of the body and yet I was about to venture at running 14 miles with tendinitis in my ankle and deep aches over the entire body. My only hope at getting through this run was to dope up on Tylenol Extra Strength and Ibuprofen. In addition I had my sister come with me on my bike with music for a backup. I made sure to have many distractions so that I could do anything and everything BUT listen to my body which screamed the entire way.

Lake of the Isles: Mile 5/6

By the end of my run (turned out I ran 15 miles…ooops. Yup. That’s what I was doing on my phone all of church–mapping my run) my legs couldn’t move, I had pain in every bone in my legs. They felt hollow. The bottoms of my feet bellowed in agony. Everything wanted attention all at once, and all I wanted to do was stuff my face. Which I did–very well I might say. Thank You Chino Latino. While I was totally okay by this point to eat whatever it was my body wanted as I had just run more than I would’ve liked, I also felt very in-tune with my body. I ate what it needed and it felt great.

It wasn’t until Sunday really that I realized that this stress thing could maybe really by well, REAL. Let’s just say I had two dinners almost one right after the other and then over a half dozen double chocolate cookies which I don’t even really like.

Then Monday hit and honestly I don’t even know what happened. I felt pretty okay in the morning and jokingly took some pictures of myself freaking out because why not? I really felt like I could do this. I was Confident with a capital C.

That was until the kids all started hating me because I wasn’t their old teacher, and none of the kids were getting their Math, and I couldn’t get everything in that I was scheduled to teach even though I felt like I was speeding through just about everything. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

CANDY, A WHOLE PAN OF RICE KRISPIES, AN ENTIRE BAG OF TORTILLA CHIPS, MORE CANDY, AND I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT ELSE! I find that the irony is chilling. I was trying to learn to listen to my body better–made it a goal as I truly wanted to be “at one” with my body, to be whole body, mind, spirit–and yet the first thing to go is my connection with my body as the inner stress I had ignored or maybe didn’t fully recognize began to take over. Tonight ended in tears and me subsequently writing this post as for the first time this week I actually felt like writing. I’m all about only doing that which I feel like. For instance, I was “supposed” to run 7 miles for my training tonight. I didn’t feel like it–so I didn’t go. A.k.A I felt like eating rice krispies, chicken, tortilla salad, and a whole half of a watermelon more than going running. 😉

The whole “integrity and the body” hasn’t been on my mind alone. I’ve also thought a lot about just being true to myself. Amidst all the teaching and new responsibilities, I have often wondered about how true of a representation I am putting across to others. Because of the need to be strict and maintain structure in the classroom this week I’ve found it hard to connect with the students. My smiles often are fake. When a student even mentions the name of their previous teacher I respond automatically with anger, and I have zero patience for the students who could probably use more of my love than wrath. I’ve sent one of my students out of the room everyday this week. It’s gotten to the point where even I am questioning if I am picking on him, just because I can. The question is brought up: can you always be true to yourself in all situations and still be successful? Can I truly teach these kids structure, organization, and implement a completely new way of doing education without being strict. In the teaching world there is the saying, “start of strict and tight. You can always loosen up and have fun later.” One of my own teachers told us essentially that it is better to be feared than to be loved at first. The love and fun are secondary. I can see the reasoning behind these statements and admittedly am practicing these very principles, yet my true me is fighting the whole idea and every time I talk about how bad the kids in the class are, or I yell at one of the kids, or I go from one subject to another with very few breaks and very little true engagement, a piece of me questions, “Is this right?” The answer is always, “No. But this is what I must do.” I’m glad I’m not God. I don’t think I could do what he does.  “I WANT ALWAYSIMG_2318 TO BE A BOY AND TO HAVE FUN”–Peter Pan.

I think I’ve run out of juice.

Being true to one’s self and being complete/whole in spirit, mind, and body is so difficult. There are so many temptations out there to keep us from reaching high, and succeeding by OUR standards. Finding and then becoming our true, higher selves, our soul, free from ego and carnal desires is so difficult but I believe it is not out of reach. It lies most definitely in the realm of possibility. Perhaps reaching out to God a bit more–or like what we talked about as a Relief Society at church last Sunday–if I listen and act on the answers he has already given me, maybe some of the barriers keeping me from having greater integrity to self will dissipate, or decrease in size. AKA I need to clean up all of my dishes in my kitchen, clean my bathroom, and organize my life in such a way that my home life is stable and without questions while my work life remains to be hectic. Friday Date Night With Self, here I come. Peace. Love. and Happiness.

Brevity really is not my forte. I apologize.


2 thoughts on “Confession

  1. Hang in there Ashley! That really sounds like a rough week. You got this, though. Don’t be too hard on yourself cause you’re awesome and sometimes it takes time to see progress. I’m sure your students will warm up to you once they get to know you better. The first two weeks of teaching are the hardest.

    Be careful not to push yourself too hard with your training. Pain killers during runs can be dangerous since you won’t be as in tune with the signals your body is sending you. Pain has a purpose and while it’s good to manage, ignoring it can lead to serious injury. As you already know, I had a major setback with running this week, which has been so frustrating. But if you decrease distance or take a short break to allow time for your body to heal, you are enabling yourself to run farther later. Cross training is a good alternative and I’ve heard that pool running is a great option if you have a gym membership. Good luck, I’m rooting for you!


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