4 Lessons You Learn When the Power Goes Out

As large parts of New England are covered in snow, possibly losing power, missing school and work, and other factors that come into play, I am sitting here at work on my lunch break, looking over old drafts of posts that I never published. I came across this one, which details what happens when your plans change. Besides the fact that this occurred last summer, it totally applies now, too.


I’m on summer break, and taking two classes, yet I have so much time to fill each week. This week I had the very best of intentions to complete a myriad of tasks, including writing two papers, doing some online training, and knitting a lot of things. However, our Ohio weather had something different in mind.

About 6 PM last night (Monday), it began storming. By 6:30, the power had flickered twice, and was out completely. I left for Bible study like normal, but checked in with my Mom before returning home, just in case I needed to take a different route home (I did) or charge my iPhone and iPad Mini in the car on the way home (I did).

I slept restlessly, as no AC + no electricity = bad sleep for Whitney.

This morning, I woke up for the fourth time at 6:30 AM. I couldn’t work on any of my intended projects at home, so I packed up a few things, and headed out for the day. As of right now, 4:30 PM, I am sitting at the library at school, using their internet, AC, and electricity to charge things, get work done, and stay cool. However, there are several things that happen when your plans change.

1. You learn to rely more on God, less on yourself. This isn’t the first time our power has gone out for a while (last time it went out in the summer like this, it stayed off for over a week!), so it is also not the first time I have gone with this little sleep. When that happens, it would be easy to just curl up in bed and close my eyes all day long (forget the fact that I still wouldn’t be able to sleep very well). But I have learned that in times like this, relying on God means receiving His strength and power to get through anything for the duration. Prayer can be a powerful weapon in fighting of exhaustion.

2. You get more work done when you have fewer online distractions. It’s not surprising that I get more work done when I don’t use the internet. I tend to get distracted (hello, Pinterest!), and then I don’t get my work done when I need to. And yes, I am on the internet right now, but I was able to spend time studying teaching material, read the Bible, and edit another paper while I was away from home today.

3. You become more flexible when things don’t go according to plan. Because your plans change, you have to learn to adapt. It’s not easy, but it is so worth it. It is because I am flexible that I can be relied upon at work to cover if we are out of substitutes for the day. It is because I have had plans change on me so much that I have learned ways to adapt.

4. You learn to appreciate those things you are without just that much more. In Costa Rica, I had no AC, no internet, no phone, and I didn’t quite speak the language (I could understand a bit of Spanish after the fact, but not much before that). However, I survived that because I was flexible and willing to do so. Now, without electricity, internet, running water, and AC, I know I can get through it, and that I will appreciate those things a lot more when they come back on.

The Thirty List

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I realized this summer that I was three-quarters through my twenties, and there were some major things I wanted to accomplish, Three-Quarters, meaning 7 1/2 years past my 20th birthday, and I still had major things to do. In an attempt to rectify the situation, I began making a list of the things I wanted to do by the time I am thirty. Many are things I have hoped to accomplish before now, but somehow never did. I plan to chronicle my attempts to complete this list in writing and pictures here.

Part of the reason I haven’t done some of the things on the list are because I live my life extremely fearful – of what people will say/think, of having what I need to make it to the next paycheck, of rejection, etc. It has taken a lot to get me to the point where putting myself out there in this way is tolerable. I know this will all be hard, but I also know that continually living in fear will hold me back from being happy.

I’ve limited my list to 15 for now, because I don’t want to overwhelm myself, or set unrealistic expectations. Also, I know my list might change a little bit as I get closer to thirty. Some of the things on my list are self explanatory, but I will go into more detail about them anyway. I hope to begin making progress right away.

1. Lose weight, so I (finally) weigh what is on my driver’s license.

I have struggled with my weight for a while now. For years, I have tried to eat less, eat healthier, workout more, sleep more, drink more water, all (it seems) in vain, as my weight keeps gradually increasing, then fluctuating back down again, all the time. I have a few medical conditions that factor in – hypothyroidism, sleep apnea – but mostly, I just like to snack, to eat sweets. My goal is to get all this in check, so that I can lose the weight I desperately need and want to!

2. Finish writing a novel.

Ever since I was little, I’ve wanted to publish a book. I’ve begun many stories over the years, attempted NaNoWriMo, etc., but nothing has worked. I really want to finish something, but always manage to get stuck somehow. I have begun reading some books on the craft, and hope to read more on the subject soon, all in the hopes of increasing the amount that I write.

3. Get another stamp on my passport, possibly Europe.

Even while the ink was still wet on my stamp from Costa Rica, I had caught the bug, and was ready to travel again. A trip overseas is expensive, though, so it is something I will have to save up for. I’ve wanted to travel to Europe for a while now, so I can’t wait to start planning that.

4. Fall in love.

I’ve never been in love. I’ve never even been close. I’ve had crushes, even close friends I’ve liked as more than a friend, but I’ve never been in love. I want to put myself out there more, meet someone, and fall in love.

5. Pay off debts, and actually build a savings.

I am notoriously bad at saving money. I spend my money on books and yarn, and struggle when I try to budget or manage my money. I have about $6,000 left to pay off, and would like to start a savings, and saving for retirement as well.

6. Move out of parents’ house.

I moved back in with my folks during grad school for a number of reasons, one of which being to save money. I’ve stayed this long for a variety of reasons, the main one being that I can’t really afford to move out on my own, yet. I want to change that this year. I’ve given myself a move out date of August 2015, and unless something drastic happens in the interim, I’m working hard to meet that goal.

7. Take a train to California.

I don’t know if I will actually accomplish this goal, but I’ve wanted to go to California for so long, especially to visit family out there. The train would give me ample writing and knitting time, which I relish.

8. Read all 8 Jane Austen novels.

Jane Austen was such a prolific author, and wrote so passionately about love and marriage, despite the fact that she never married. I’ve read Pride and Prejudice and Emma, and I started Sense and Sensibility a while ago. Emma is by far my favorite, but I only have a limited sample. I’d like to read more of them!

9. Learn a new language.

I took German in school, learned a bit of Spanish in CR, and have picked up a bit of French through my work. However, I speak none of them fluently. I read and write German pretty well, but my conversational German is atrocious. I think I want to improve these languages more than anything. Also, when I was in middle school, I wanted to learn many languages: Spanish. French, German, Italian, maybe even others!

10. Read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.

Although I read these books in high school, I feel like I didn’t quite get them. So now, after seeing the movies, I feel like I should re-read the books. It just seems like something I ought to do.

11. Learn to spin yard and buy a wheel.

I recently picked up a new hobby – spindling! While I sort of enjoy it, I feel like using a wheel might be more up my alley. I’d like to learn to use a wheel, and save up money to buy one. We’ll see if this one happens, though, as it might take a while to learn and save up for one.

12. Spend a year saying “yes!” to God.

I’ve spent so much of my adult life saying “no” to God, despite my desire to live for Him. I want to make it to my 30th birthday having spent at least 1 year saying “yes” instead of “no”.

13. Spend a year knitting entirely from stash.

My yarn stash has quietly been increasing over the years, but I haven’t been knitting enough to keep up with it. My goal for 2015? To knit entirely from stash – i.e. no new yarn into stash! I have been purchasing sweater’s quantities of different yarns so that I can knit sweaters next year. A few exceptions: events and commissions. If I go to a yarn event, then I may buy directly from vendors. If someone specifically says “can you knit me…?”, then I can purchase what I need for that.

14. Spend a year writing EVERY DAY.

I’ve let my writing habits fall to the wayside, not making it a priority. I want to write a blog post, or a chapter in a novel, or a poem, or short story, every day for a whole year. Hopefully, this will make it enough of a priority, and enough of a habit, so it will stick.

15. Build an overall healthier, more simplistic, lifestyle.

I want to cut refined sugar, soda, chips from my diet. Also, I want to cook more, spend less money eating out, saying “no” to purchases, and purge what is not necessary for living. I’d like to think that all of my goals really filter from this one, in some way.

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?