Water, Water Everywhere

Today I am writing you two weeks sans caffeine. In addition, I have been drinking more water. Not necessarily enough water, but more water. I began with the crazy idea (or not so crazy, depending on your feelings about caffeine) that I wanted to kick my caffeine addiction before the new year, so I needed to go at least a month without coffee or soda. I randomly started the Sunday before Thanksgiving (American), and have pretty much kept that up since.

In order to kick the caffeine, I chose to drink lots of water out of a 20 oz. tumbler cup with a straw. For some reason, this makes it much easier to drink more water. Plus, I have two insulated tumblers, so I can put ice cubes in them, and the water stays cold longer. I can alternate them every other day, and wash them in the dishwasher in between.

I didn’t keep a day-to-day log of what I noticed changing, although I certainly thought of it. Truthfully, I was sick with sinusitis for the first week of this experiment, so I was able to mask the withdrawal symptoms with my medications. I know that if I wasn’t taking medicine for the pain of sinusitis, then I would have had very bad migraines for a while.

The biggest thing I have noticed is that, in the few times I have drank soda since giving it up, it tastes horrible! It was the same way when I became a vegetarian, in the few instances when I had meat after that. The food (drink) I once craved no longer satisfies me, and no longer tastes the same.

Can I keep it up? Only time will tell. But I do know this: everywhere I go, I take water with me.

Have you ever tried to kick a caffeine addiction or any other habit? What did you do? What were the results?

Loneliness: Anxiety

This week I took a sick day, and I wasn’t even *physically* sick.

Let me rephrase that: This week I took a mental health day.

Let me back up a bit further.

I haven’t blogged in a while, not because I wasn’t thinking about blogging, or didn’t want to, I just kept finding reasons not to: I have nothing to say, no time, no one reads this anyway. But I’ve been going to the Panera bakery in my hometown a few hours a day a few times a week, where I read blogs, write for NaNoWriMo (not that I will finish, or win, it’s the effort that counts, right?), and generally try to make myself more productive. Since I can no longer update blog posts on my breaks at work, I am forced to only blog off hours, which really cuts into my blogging time. I am just not as productive after a day of work or on the weekends as I am during work hours during the week.

I spent last weekend feeling incredibly anxious. My parents had gone to New Orleans for a few days to celebrate their 30th anniversary, so I spent the whole weekend freaked out by every sound I heard: If there was a car driving I worried that it wasn’t coming up the neighbor’s driveway, but ours. The wind blowing against the garage was someone trying to break in. Someone rang the doorbell and left some tools on the front porch, but since the front door was unlocked, I worried someone had gotten in. The laundry detergent was not in the spot on the washer where I usually put it back, so someone must have come in and moved it. Or we have ghosts.

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Storm 2012. How I was feeling inside.

Needless to say, by Tuesday, I was a mental wreck, and needed to take a day off. The stress had caused me to have restless sleep, and I couldn’t handle going into work. So I called in sick, went to vote, then holed up at Panera for the day.

I spent time in the Word, first and foremost. I read the Word of God, prayed with him, and focused on trying to root out my anxiety. (Still not sure why, though…) Then, I a chapter for NaNo, then I waited for my friend to show up, so that we could discuss sharing an apartment next year. At 10:00 AM, my mother texted me, saying she was on her way home. I felt a huge weight lifted when that happened. My parents would be home by Wednesday. As the day progressed, and they texted that they were getting closer to home, my anxiety started to disappear.

It was clear that my anxiety was triggered by loneliness. I am a homebody and often a “loner”, but my ambivert nature still thrives around other people. Just knowing there are other people around to call on or talk to calms me.

Now, it makes perfect sense that I was anxious. Human beings are created to be in relationships with other people. It is clear that when we aren’t really seeing people, we get caught up in our heads, nervous, anxious, depressed. It’s why my sister drove three and a half hours with a travel-phobic cat Friday night, just to be near family for 48 hours (literally. She has to leave by 5 tonight.)

I’m better now, I suppose, but not fully. Putting this out in the world is scary, but I hope others can benefit from hearing it. I’ll leave you with a few thoughts to ponder.

Are you spending time with other people, or are you getting all your interactions with others digitally? When you feel anxious, nervous, or depressed, where do you turn?

Life Update Sept 2014

I feel like it has been forever since I have posted, and that’s because it has been. I last posted on August 1, about my not attending graduation, and to be honest, I don’t regret it.

I feel like I have done a lot of living in the past month. I have gone back to work, celebrated finishing my second Master’s degree, taken up a lot of responsibilities at my job thanks to a new (to-me) principal who tends to let the teachers lead in a lot of ways, and done a lot of knitting. I have also begun developing my 30 list, a list of things I want to do or accomplish by the time I am 30, which is in a little over two years.

The process began when I realized in June that I was 27 and 1/2, and that I was already three-quarters of the way through my twenties. Yikes! I thought about what I want to accomplish in life, and how much I could accomplish before turning 30. The thought of missing out on life because I am scared was too terrifying to think about, so I hope my thirty list will help me step out of myself on that. I’m not quite ready to put it here, but know that it is coming, and that it involves putting a piece of my heart online, and that is intimidating for me.

I wanted to post today, to let you know that I have not stopped thinking about this blog, it is just a little harder to post now, since my employers have banned personal blogs, social networking, etc. at work, which is where I used to blog (during my planning/lunch times). Now, I have to make more of an effort, and that is also hard.

I will be back, I promise.

Why I’m NOT Attending My Graduation

Everyone reading that title is probably yelling at me through their computer screen. “WHAT?! YOU’RE NOT GOING TO YOUR GRADUATION? AFTER ALL THAT WORK?”

You might be right. Everyone I am graduating with thought the same thing. My response?

“I just don’t feel like going.”

The thing is, at my school, there is no summer graduation ceremony, so if we want to walk, we have to return in December. My program’s organization (TESOL Grad Student Organization) organizes (I know, right?) a little celebration on Saturday following our classes. However, it’s nothing official, and the only people who are there are people in the program, and possibly their families.

It doesn’t really seem that appealing. And I have a few reasons why:

1. It’s not like high school or college graduation. In many instances, high school and college graduates invite their parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. These are the people who helped make their graduation possible through their encouragement, love, and support. However, in graduate school, it’s not necessarily the same. For me, even though my parents helped me pay for it, the ceremony itself is not a big deal.

2. It’s not my first Master’s degree. I earned an M.Ed. a few years back, and walked at graduation there. So this one isn’t as big a deal, either. If it were my first, I would make more of a deal about it. Or, if it was the first in the field.

3. It’s not the biggest accomplishment of the program for me. For me, getting a teaching job that I love is a bigger accomplishment than actually completing the program. The fact that the program opened the doors for me, taught me what I needed to know, and challenged me mentally, is just a side benefit. I am a teacher! And that is the best benefit of my degree.

I’m not writing this to convince people to agree with me, or because I feel guilty for not going. I just want a record of why I chose not to attend, for future reference. Plus, I intend to attend a fiber fair an hour away, and might not make it back in time!

Did you attend your graduation? Did you regret not attending?

 

Father’s Day Is Not Just Once a Year

Father’s Day

 

On Father’s Day, we usually spend time with our Dads, Granddads, Uncles, etc. However, the idea of Father’s Day reminds me of a very special Father who gets little attention on this day.

 

Sure, it happens on a Sunday usually, which means that the preachers will be talking about honoring your fathers…but this means more than your earthly fathers. This also means your Heavenly Father.

 

As my good friend, Alice, suggested recently, perhaps my feelings of bitterness towards the people in my life who don’t love and serve me the way I want to be loved and served (thus, taking the first step towards rebuilding our relationships…) is looking at it the wrong way. How would God’s character change if they didn’t take the first step? How would God change?

 

The answer, of course, is that it wouldn’t, and He wouldn’t. He is infinite, perfect, and just. And my feelings about Him doesn’t affect that. So, when I’m feeling unable to move past the crap from my past, I need to remember that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me forever, no matter what, and that He was there first. He has already gone ahead of me to love and serve my brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

Powerful stuff!

Memorial Day 2012 (2 years later)

 

 

Today’s post is in remembrance of those who fought wars. While it is no longer Memorial Day, I hope you will still enjoy this post. This is re-posted from two years ago, but it is still timely.

 

Today, I fought the 90+ degree heat to attend a brick dedication at Veteran’s Park. The day was beautiful, despite the heat, and there was even a breeze for most of the ceremony.

 

 

In part of the ceremony, a wreath was placed at the memorial site, to honor those men and women who fought in wars overseas.

 

 

My grandfather’s brick: Wm. Jashinski Jr, US Air Force, Korean Conflict 1948 – 52.

 

I am very proud to be his granddaughter, proud that he served his country and sacrificed so much for us.

 

However, as the minister and keynote speakers were talking at the ceremony, I couldn’t help but to think about someone else who gave his life for the freedom of others – Jesus Christ.

 

I know, it’s kind of preachy, but the fact is, Jesus died on a cross for our sins. Not, because we deserved it, but because he cared about us. It is this kind of sacrifice that our troops give. They care about the people they leave behind here so much, that they will go there and fight so we don’t have to.

 

Although the battle against the evil one is not against flesh and blood, like wars here on earth are, it is nonetheless a real thing. The spiritual war that Jesus fights for us is no less powerful than the ones on earth. In fact, neither one is very thought of much. Most people ignore that there is still conflict overseas, unless they have someone they love actually fighting the war on terror. However, the struggle is still ongoing. In the same way, most people ignore the reality of Heaven and Hell and the spiritual war waging on around us. We tend not to think about these things until we reach the end of our life.

 

I was reminded today about how precious that life is, about how short that life may be. As I looked at the bricks, I saw one for a soldier who died in action. This young man was not much older than I was, only a few years, and he was killed when I was still in high school. I remember lining the streets with my classmates the day of his funeral, and crying tears of sadness because the war was becoming more real.

 

So don’t forget the soldiers this Memorial Day, or the next day, or the day after that. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers, because while we are sitting here, living out our lives, these men and women are choosing to go out there and protect our ability to do so. 

 

And keep also in the forefront of your mind the sacrifice made by the Son of God, who chose to die rather than let us keep suffering. His death means our freedom. Praise the Lord for what He has done!

 

Much love,

Whitney

 

 

Pictures and Stories from Costa Rica

 

From June 1 through 17, 2013, I was in Atenas, Costa Rica with a group of students and professors from Ohio Dominican University. I had the opportunity to work at a bilingual school for the duration of the trip, as well as learn Spanish, stay with a host family, and visit the tourist sights. All of the following images were taken by me and are not allowed to be taken from this site. Enjoy!

Here is the whole group, minus Tony, our other “chaperone”, who took the picture of us, the ESL crowd. We are at the DC airport, and just waiting for our flight into San Jose, Costa Rica.

This is the view from the porch of our house in Costa Rica. There was a church that held prayer meetings there a few nights a week…and they played loud Spanish worship songs until 2 in the morning. (In retrospect, I wish my Spanish had been better. I might have gone to join them…)

Coming up the street, we can see the local Iglesia, the church. This was our meeting spot every morning as we waited for our taxi van to the school.

 

On our second Wednesday there, I got the morning off, because I wasn’t going to be helping with any English lessons, so I went to the internet cafe to do some work for school, and to check blogs, email, etc. Then, I had lunch at this cafe next door, which had the cutest tables! I had a frozen mocha drink and a spinach quiche.

 

 

Costa Rica is home to many beautiful views, which I wouldn’t mind waking up to every day. Maybe someday I will retire there!

We drove past this daycare center every day. I love the mural on the wall!

The first Monday, we spent the afternoon in San Jose, but since the Chinese president was in town, most of the streets were blocked off, and the restaurants weren’t able to get their shipments of food. So we ate at this Chinese restaurant.

San Jose has some beautiful architecture and statues from throughout its history.

 

Mercado Central – a famous place, similar in design to Columbus’s North Market, except of course, everyone speaks Spanish instead. I got some postcards and magnets here. I also had to avoid a whole section, because it smelled so much like meat. Ack!

A group of us outside Mercado Central. We are all so excited to start our work in Costa Rica.

Every Friday there is a farmer’s market in Atenas, where locals sell fruits, vegetables, yogurt, goods, etc. Here, a local chops up some Guanabana for us to try. It has the consistency of a pineapple, but tastes a little bit sweeter.

Recycled bottle animals! They were everywhere at the Recycled Bottle Zoo. This is where we had our cooking lesson on the second Tuesday evening.

This is Fabio’s (our dance instructor) mother. She is a gourmet chef, and gave us a cooking lesson. We made empanadas and dessert.

I’m grating coconut for the dessert.

 

 

 

My three empanadas – potato, bean, cheese – were so delicious!

A view from outside Manuel Antonio – our final weekend outing.

 

Lauren 3 and Emily F. riding the seesaw outside the hotel restaurant.

There are lots of plant and animal life in Costa Rica. I don’t know what all the plants are, but they sure are beautiful.

The entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park. We had to walk through a rainforest to get to the beach, but the water was so beautiful, and it was all worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here we are, enjoying a break outside one of the classrooms at Green Valley School in Atenas. Even having to wake up early every day, we still seem so happy to be there!

It rained almost every day there, this was just the first day, from the bus. Some days we even got caught outside in it.

Jaco Beach, Costa Rica – our first weekend excursion was just for the day, but it was so sunny and beautiful! The waves were crazy, so we mostly stayed at the pool. We also took a small shopping trip through town, and I took photos of signs, flowers, and little statues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We took Spanish lessons at ATESA Spanish Academy, and we sat in these little pagodas for our lessons.

 

 

 

This is the national football stadium (football in CR = soccer in USA). The building, materials, and work was all donated to Costa Rica by the Chinese government. Reason unknown.

The best coffee in the world comes from Costa Rica. Everywhere else it pretty much sucks.

The most common teaching strategy was writing on the board, and having students copy it into their notebooks. This flies in the face of everything we learned in teacher school here in the US, but I’m not really in a position to make those kind of changes overseas.

Our daily schedule. It varied day-to-day, and each time a new class was offered, a new teacher came to the room. Not to worry about the students being left alone, each classroom had a teacher’s aide in the room to help out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lela, my host madre, made delicious empanadas and presadas for us!

 

 

 

Our dance class, where Fabio taught us to merengue and salsa!

 

Los professoros, newlyweds, dancing at the lesson!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Felix (our driver) and Javier (our tour guide)

 

 

 

Los professoros (Tony and Michelle) were so awesome, helping out wherever needed, and helping us to communicate with our hosts.

 

 

Me, Katie, Hillary, Amy, Megan, and Emily C.

 

 

un gato!

 

 

Lolly, a green parakeet, was a friend to Stephanie, Emily C., and Lauren L.

 

 

 

 

Some random decorations and flowers from Baldi!

 

 

 

 

 

Baldi, in La Fortuna, is a hot springs located on a volcano. We had a day pass, and spent the day there. As you move from pool to pool from the bottom towards the top of the volcano the waters get hotter and hotter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is Indian Cane. The natives used this to make their skirts.

This is the volcano. It was very cloudy that day, so I couldn’t get a good view.

 

 

These are the only animals I ate while there. ; )

 

They came from the bakery down the street from our host family’s house. It was right next to the sports bar, where we got our internet!

This is the piñata factory down the street from the school. We got a chance to tour it.

 

 

The view from the corner of our street. Our house was at the end. I had to walk up this hill every day.

 

 

 

 

 

Ha! Pizza in Costa Rica! It was muy rico!

 

 

 

Outside the pinata factory:

 

 

 

ATESA:

 

 

Maricela, our Spanish teacher:

 

 

 

I got a certificate from completing my Spanish class!

 

 

 

This is the park at the center of Atenas. We met here every morning.

 

 

Outside Green Valley School:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manuel Antonio National Park:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our home in Costa Rica:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for sticking with me. I hope to update more in the future!