Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Charlie Bit Me- Remixed

You need to watch this first (if you're one of the few people who haven't):

To understand the amazingness of this:


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday! I am thankful for the health of all my family and friends, and the fact that I have a job and can support myself. (awesome pic up top, right?)

A holiday note for me is that I am bringing Romo home to be reunited with his brother Milo. If they don't like or remember each other anymore, I might cry. But at least I will have pumpkin pie & pumpkin cookies to ease my sorrows.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Hodgepodge of Things

Hello! I hope your Monday is going smoothly and you had a great weekend gearing up for a short holiday week (Wooooo)! In keeping with the craziness of this week, I have an array of thoughts to share.
#1. HARRY POTTER. The 7th and second-to-last movie came out this weekend (as if you didn’t know that, right?). I prepared for this showing by re-reading the book last summer (see post here). I thought the movie did a great job of keeping with the book, but I still get annoyed when they change little details that I don’t think need to be changed (like the fact that in the opening chase scene, Harry is found out by Hedwig being killed and not the curse he sends out. Stupid detail, I know, but why did they change it?). That is one of the issues with reading a book close to the movie- you become picky. BUT even when things like that drive me made, I enjoyed the movie, though I must say that knowing it would not have resolution within it kinda made it a little less enjoyable. It’s interesting to split a movie into two parts. I saw it with a friend, and how we got two seats in the very center of the pact theater (without coming in very early), is beyond me.
Also, for critics of HP out there- I understand. I don’t read Twilight or see the movies and get annoyed when they come out and people go crazy. But don’t hate on the movie if you have never read or liked the books. Yes, we know they don’t follow the books exactly and that you need to have seen the movies and read the books to understand everything clearly. That’s why random people don’t go see the movie. But don’t be cruel (cue Newsweek review where I actually laughed it was so mean).
#2. Social Networking. I found an interesting article by Newsweek  about how online socializing often makes people feel more lonely. In some ways I have to agree. I am a very social person- I do things with my friends or roommates most days or nights- but I do sometimes get on FB or twitter or what have you and seeing what OTHER people are doing makes me feel like I am leading a boring life (well, sometimes it makes me feel like I am leading a much more exciting life, too). It’s just something that I have noticed lately, which is why I actually use facebook less now, because I am happier when I am not on it as much. However, I do think it is also a choice- facebook can make you feel more connected or less connected depending on how much you use it and what for. I also agree with the author of the article that social networking has brought us closer to people who live further away. But if you live close to someone, facebook or twitter shouldn’t be the way you primarily contact them. It is sad that a random friend of mine, who I never see and haven’t seen since high school, knows more about me than my friends or family who aren’t on facebook. Or that the first thing I say when I talk with someone who I haven’t seen in a while, is something that they said or posted on their facebook page. Life is getting a little too out in the open to people who don’t know us.
Why do I feel this way, yet have a blog for everyone to see? Good question…I may change my mind about this in the future. For now, though, blogging is a hobby and a fun way to journal. At least I know that one other person may get entertainment from it. I also like to write, and I figure the people who know about this have either been told by me about it, or like me enough to find it on my facebook page, click on the link and come back frequently. So there you go.
#3. Planning. I have had conversations with people that I need to stop planning my daily activities and be more spontaneous. I find that certain friends, who shall remain nameless, do things at the drop of a hat, but when it comes to me organizing things to do with them, they never follow through and often don’t come because of other more spontaneous things that come up. It drives me mad, because I like to know what I am going to do, and, if I really want to do something, planning to do it so I am able to! Apparently, I am not normal in this sense. I am working on being more spontaneous.
#4. Holiday’s. This is the first year I actually have money to spend on Christmas gifts. I usually hate spending my own money, but this has been SO FUN. I already know what I am getting everyone, and I have gotten over half my gifts already. I am enjoying swiping the plastic. It is so nice to be able to support myself and my spending habits. I am very lucky.
Also, bring on the holiday music. Glee has a Christmas album out, so I am ready!!!!!
#5. LASIK. It’s official. I am getting LASIK January 17th. I have to go back out of my contacts after Christmas for 3 weeks (as opposed to 2 weeks this time), but it is soooo worth it. I am using the Flex Spending account I get through CCPS, so I will end up saving over $1,000 bucks. A little bit of money will come out before taxes of each paycheck, so I will pay it off over the course of the year. I am PUMPED. I am getting it done on a day off too, so I will probably only miss a half day of work (the following day I have to get an eye exam to make sure everything is good). After the surgery I can’t wear eye make-up for a week, and I have to make sure I don’t rub my eyes a lot for a while. I am becoming very conscious of that already, though. And eye drops, eye drops, eye drops along with no contact sports for a month, so no dodgeballL. Oh, well- small price to pay for perfect eye site without glasses or contacts!
Ok, I’m done!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A tell-tale sign that I am getting older...

...when the first thing I notice when I meet someone is if they have a ring on their ring finger or not!

Ahhhh when did this happen?

I honestly have NO idea when this began! But I have noticed it very frequently lately. I think it started once I graduated college and everyone started getting engaged and married. It is not necessarily a bad thing, but something I never did before. It's just a sign of the changing times and the life of a mid-twenties girl! I can only imagine that I will be doing this for the rest of my twenties until it is not even necessary because people will either all be married or their kids will be with them everywhere.

Oh, to enter adulthood. Again, when did this happen?!

Not too shabby of a look on my own finger, though....

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Thoughts

My view of religion is a hard thing for me to put into words. I was baptized and grew up going to a Methodist church, but religion was not reinforced much at home. We were taught to be good people and could believe what we wanted to as long as we knew enough about it to reinforce our views. I never was forced to read the bible, and the most religious day-to-day activity we did was saying grace before dinner, which was usually just a mumbled quick few words so we could get on to eating. I always remember thinking in church, 'how can one religion be right at the expense of all others? How do we pray and praise a being that no one has even seen and we do not even know is real?' Therefore, I was open to spirituality but never strongly felt pulled towards a certain belief system. In my mind, praying to Buddha, God, Jesus or being Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Buddhist was fine, because being a good, kind person was above all the most important thing.

Through college I studied many religions and went to religious gatherings to learn about cultures and how other people think. It was like a history lesson- I could see what past people were drawing from and how it influenced their future. I stopped going to church sometime in high school, so I developed my views from what I learned in classes, in life, and from friends. Religion at some point, though, started making me uncomfortable because I felt it could push people apart. People believe certain things because of what their belief system says about them and can discriminate against others because it is not acceptable in their religious documents. I felt people did not get "with the times" on issues that have changed since B.C. when many religious documents and ideas were developed. Also, if you "confessed" you could be "forgiven of your sins" no matter what horrible thing you did. It didn't make sense to me- what happened to being a good person above everything? Did it matter if you prayed to someone or worshipped somewhere? Isn't goodness and kindness the most important? Especially in regards to the GLBTQ community and women's rights, I felt religions were lacking what they preached most about: acceptance and forgiveness.

Obviously religion is not cut and dry. Religious people can be more open and accepting than non religious people and non religious people can be better people than religious people. Your religion does not make you, but you can become a more satisfied person with some kind of belief and support system. Life is hard and what I am realizing is that religion, even with it's flaws, can provide comfort and support to make the journey a little easier. It can also teach us lessons about how to be better people and live more productive, influential lives.

Why am I talking about all this? Well, I went to church today for the first time in probably ten years (not including weddings, of course). I have been wondering if church would be a good place for me to learn and gain insight on my life now that I am an adult. I found the sermon and lesson to be very relevant to my life now. The sermon was from Luke 11:17 about leprosy and how Jesus cured ten lepers, but only one came to him to give his praise and thanks. The message was simple: Do not take good things for granted or think they are deserved. You should always give thanks to those (God) that have given to you. Don't always ask for more but be grateful for what you have. Don't relish on what you don't have. Want what you have.

Such a simple message, but one that resonated with me. I have thought for years that religion did not teach anything worthy to me, because of it's old and outdated books, but I am finding that it is more than just an old cultural establishment. Case in point: I have been walking around in a "funk" lately, where I have been wanting what I don't have and feeling sorry for myself. I have forgotten all that I do have and how great my life is. Sometimes, though, we can caught up on the little things and always want more. I am taking what I learned in church to get myself out of my "funk" and to be grateful for all the wonderful things. The message was so simple, yet powerful, and something I needed to hear.

While I took the message as less of a religious message and more of an insight into life, I think that is my right. We all take what we want out of religion. Though I doubt I will ever be the person in church to scream and praise loudly with my hands held high, and I may never pray much outside of religious events, I do appreciate what I can get from religion, and I hope if I continue to go to church or read the bible, it will give me insight on life and how to be a better and happier person. Religion to me is about teaching myself how to live a better life. That's what I want out of it- to believe that there is something great I should strive for and to hope that someone is watching over me, when I can't control what is happening. I so often want to think I am in control of everything in life, but I am quickly learning that is not the case.

So as I have always said, believe what you want to believe, and religion should have meaning for you in your own way. Still, acceptance and generosity should transcend all religions, and I hope no matter what the texts of your belief system say, that you take them to mean something specific and meaningful to you while simultaneously taking into account the world we live in now. The writings of religions are old and ancient, so do not forget to live in the present and to bring what religions teach you to make our world a better place now, and not one of more hate and discrimination.

And if anyone wants to talk religion with me, I am open:)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Day in the Life #2

To piggyback on my post yesterday, I thought I would just let you know what a day in the life of a school counselor is actually like. It is always different, so this is just a snap shot of what my day was like today. If you’re not too excited I also included pictures of some of my saweeeet office:).

7:10- Arrive at work
7:15- Meet with students and/or parents that stopped in before school begins
7:30- Check and respond to email
7:45- Go to a UVA-Wise College Admission Counselor Visit with Seniors
8:15- Make passes for Juniors and Sophomores that are failing a class
8:45- Meet with upset student about fight at home
9:00- Meet with Juniors who are failing classes (what’s up with an F!?!)
10:30- Take pictures of counselors for our bulletin board “Counselor Bios”
10:35- Meet with a Senior who wants to drop a class
10:45- Continue meeting with Juniors
11:00- IEP meeting
11:30- Parent phone calls and student walk-ins
12:00- Lunch duty. Holler. Like I could do anything if a fight broke out?
12:45- Winston Salem College Admission Counselor Visit
1:05- Meet with student wanting to graduate early
1:15- Email people with questions on if graduating early for this student is a good idea
1:20- Finish meeting with my Juniors
1:40- Parent walk-in!
2:00- Meet with students as they leave for the day with various issues
2:10- Finish up on emails and other loose ends
2:30- Leave!

Some pics of my sweet office! Windows galore!

Oh, hey! Hard at work, as always:)

Monday, November 8, 2010

"So, what do school counselors actually do?"

People often ask me, “What do school counselors actually do?” There is this thinking that all we do is hang in our office, drink coffee, play on the computer and occasionally meet students. That is SO not the case. But it is still a hard job to describe.

We literally do a little bit of everything.

Being a school counselor is a multi-faceted job. It’s not like being a teacher (which is why when people say I teach, I quickly correct them). I don’t grade papers, plan lessons, or teach classes (well, sometimes I do teach classes, but it’s only one lesson at a time and usually only one week or so a month). It’s not an administrator job. I don’t have to expel students, deal with discipline and manage all the employees. But it’s also not strictly counseling. I am not legally authorized to counsel seriously disturbed students or handle certain issues. I often have to refer students out for services. It’s not that I don’t want to provide them. It’s that we are a public school and legally can’t provide them.

It also depends on the level. Elementary counseling is more like teaching- you go into classrooms all the time, you run groups, counsel students, and deal with more administrative issues like testing and discipline and just the day-to-day life of an elementary school. Middle school is more group work and individual counseling because of the age and issues (hello, bullying)! It also is scheduling, setting up community resources, SOL testing, and setting up students for high school. In Chesterfield county this also means SPECIALTY CENTERS!

High school is a whole ‘nother bag of goodies.

Sometimes I feel like a secretary, sometimes I feel like a social worker, sometimes I feel like a college admissions prep master, and sometimes I am a creative writer. I wear many hats. I schedule students, change schedules, plan student’s course of study, write college recommendation letters, plan and run testing (SAT, PSAT and some SOL), deal with emotional crisis’s, meet with parents, meet with teachers, coordinate meetings, work closely with the sped department, attend IEP/Triennial meetings, enter data for on-time graduation rates/statuses, enter and fix a student’s academic history (i.e. grades- sounds easy but takes FOREVER), go into classrooms (to talk about the PSAT, Senior year, Careers, Scheduling, ect.), have lunch duty, help out administrators with student data, help students with alternative education plans, helps students get online/night school classes, work with county attendance and homebound workers, send information to schools and agencies about the students, meet with students over a wide array of topics (and always with a smile on my face!), deal with courts/case managers/outside agencies, publish a scholarship newsletter, select students for scholarships, and anything else that has to do with a student and their success in high school. And these are things I have done during my first 13 weeks on the job. The list is constantly growing.

In grad school you learn mostly about how to be a counselor. I don’t get the chance to counsel students as much as I would like, because I really am favored more heavily for academic services, but I do deal with serious issues. They tend to come in waves. I do risk assessments for students threatening themselves or others, and I deal with depression, abuse, eating disorders, unhappy home lives and issues in school. But these do not happen all the time (well they happen all the time but students do not always seek my services). When they do, though, they are my focus to make sure the student is safe. Which means I have to contact the school psychologist, social worker and outside agencies if deemed necessary. It is never easy to deal with serious issues, but it is a huge reason on why I went into this field.

So as you see, it is hard to describe what a school counselors does and the role is ever changing. The work comes in waves- November and December are generally quiet months, but the beginning of the year and after January are insanely busy with finishing up college letters, scheduling for next year and summer school, and getting all the seniors graduated! It’s all fun though, and I try to do everything with a smile on my face.

But please don't call me a teacher!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Debbie Downer

I came across this sketch from SNL during its showing of the "Women of SNL" this past week. I have seen this sketch before but started crying from laughing so hard (it had been a while since I had seen it). Probably one of the top SNL moments of all time. Watch it to see why:

That should leave you with a smile to take you through (another) long week!

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Tell-Tale Sign That I Like School Too Much

Not only do I work in a school and have only been out of school for 6 months after 19 straight years of education, but I already miss taking classes. I miss the friends I make in classes, learning from teachers, taking notes (weird, I know), reading books that left to my own devices I would never touch, and having to study. I think I just have the “school” gene. I love the environment and learning. I still am learning a lot at my job, particularly because I am new, but it’s not the same kind of knowledge. I like the theories and impractical stuff you learn in schoolJ. Screw the actual necessary mindless stuff I have to learn to do my job!

I have always thought I would go back to school. Either get another Master’s or get a Ph.D (if I have time), but I also know that life can sometimes get in the way of those plans. If I have a family it would be hard to do all that, but if I don’t or do it relatively soon, then I will have the time. But I also want the real world experience. I think that brings a whole new dimension to you as a person, and it would make me more sure of what kind of degree I want. Work experience is very important in higher education too- it makes research and theories and practical application easier to understand and apply. I was lacking that in grad school because I came straight from undergrad. So, while I was good at the school part of grad school, I wasn’t always as in-tune with the real-world experiences. I drew heavily from my own experiences in school, which was fine, but if I was further removed from school it would have been harder. But, school is school and you are either good at reading and writing and studying and researching or you’re not. Luckily, that all comes easy for me, so I am always motivated to do well. I think I could succeed in getting a Ph.D. if I get my mind wrapped around it. We’ll see when that happens.

I also have goals before I go back to school. I want to work longer and maybe even in another job. I think it would be fun to work in student affairs or admissions at a college, and I think my experience in high school counseling would be good for that. If I don’t switch jobs, I also think I will want to switch schools or levels, to get a more well-rounded experience. I will stay where I am now for 3 years, but could have some options open to me after that that would be fun to think about. I also hope to take a Spanish class this summer through CCPS or JTCC. That would be a fun AND useful class, especially since I work with many Spanish-speaking students. It would just make our lines of communication easier and would make me more marketable. It will also satisfy my need for being in school without actually being a full-time student. If it goes well, I hope to continue learning Spanish as I find courses available.

As for now, at least I get to vicariously live through my student’s in their classes (I even have them show me what they are doing sometimes to see what I remember and still can do). And when they get F’s, I freak out- how can you get an F in school??!!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sample Personal Essay I Wrote for my Seniors

"I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances."
- Martha Washington

        In my life, there is one thing that I have been called that I relish more than any other compliments that have come my way. It was not being called “kind” or “nice” or “hard-working. “ Instead one day my grad school classmate in passing said, “You are my perpetual ray of sunshine.” That was the most meaningful compliment I have ever received.
        It does not come easy being “a ray of sunshine.” It takes a lot of effort, especially on days when I don’t get enough sleep or have done poorly in work or in school. However, partly by nature and partly by sheer will, I am as cheerful as I can be. I smile, keep my eyes wide, laugh, listen and try to be kind no matter how I feel on the inside or what someone is saying or doing on the outside. I love it when people I was speaking to leave with a smile on their face and spring in their step. This feeling helped me find my interest in counseling.
        I wasn’t always this way. In high school my main goal was to get the best grades possible, so I didn’t worry so much about what kind of vibe I was giving people. Somehow though, I began to realize the comfort friends took in my positive attitude, my being on top of things, and how I was always just a little bit clueless, so as to provide a good laugh. I never realized I was doing it, but I always noticed other peoples’ negative attitudes (that I couldn’t stand) and the fact that whenever I was having a bad day, people were annoyed at me. As if I was never allowed to be down in the dumps? “No,” they said, “You are the one that pulls all of us together!” (They never said it in those exact words, but I took their looks to mean that). I hated the look on my friend’s faces when I was not myself. I tried with all my might to never have them look at me like that and to keep myself bright and cheerful. Of course that never completely happened, but it made me check my attitude at the door more often than not - no promises when the 5th million person asks for a piece of gum from my stash, though.
        I learned quickly that being happy was so much more fun than being mean or sad. Even when I was sad on the inside, or in a “funk” as I call them, I tried to bring myself out of it whenever I was around people. Even throughout college, I still loved when my friends brought up stories of things I did or said that made them laugh. I like to think that I brought them joy during those years, and hold a special place in their heart. It makes me feel unique and loved.
        Needless to say, I believe that while some people are naturally more cheerful than others, happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy even when you feel bad, even when it is the hardest thing to do. There is always something to complain about (believe me, I know). But there is so much more to be grateful for. So forget that your waiter messed up your order- enjoy the people you’re with for that meal. Forget that you got a bad grade- let it motive you to do better next time. I’m sorry you don’t like your job- at least you have one. Mad that you’re having a bad hair day? Well…(that sometimes does really stink)…put it up in a new do and wear great clothes! Don’t complain about the card you’re dealt- it could always be worse. You don’t want to ever look back and think, “Man, if only I’d known how good I had it.” At my age, I already see people doing that- we’re too young to regret what we did or didn’t do! Enjoy where you are and make the most of it. Happiness is more than a motto or a mood- it is a way of life. I know that if I am happy, even if there is no reason to be, I will make someone smile that day. And that makes the world, and my life, better and a heck of a lot more funJ.