Life

A Mom type post

Last week, my daughter (not my son) was diagnosed with ADHD. This was not a total surprise to me since there had been some issues at school over the past year. When you start getting phone calls about how your child goes to the bathroom for extended periods of time and wanders around the classroom instead of doing her work, you start to suspect that she may have a problem. After several phone calls, I had a good idea that perhaps we needed to see if there was a medical problem at the root of this.

In retrospect, I can see the behaviors and how she just adjusted by herself. She just finally reached a point where that wasn’t possible. I would work with her behavior too, anticipating certain things and working to prevent them or at least minimize them. Schedules were always big with her. I wasn’t expecting what could happen with a little help though.

The doctor wanted to put her on medication. This wasn’t a surprise to me since there aren’t a lot of other things that doctors can do. The medicine is amazing though. When she takes it, she has a totally different behavior. She can focus on a task for more than five minutes. She actually is really creative but now she can get that out of her head and create something. There are fewer trails of disaster around the house too. She used to look like Pigpen from Charlie Brown, with a little trail of destruction behind her. Not so much anymore.

We’re going to work with a behavioral therapist as well. Hopefully she can work with us on some of the more challenging issues that come up when she gets very frustrated. I’m also hoping that those moments are fewer with the medicine. And then there’s the school aspect. I emailed the school counselor to ask her about setting up some accommodations. I now have a lot of papers to fill out and sign and one for the doctor to fill out. Then once that’s done, we can sit down with the team at the school and create a document for her that will help her.

I’m hoping that all of these things together will make the next school year better. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to see what she can really do academically when she can focus on a task, as opposed to half doing something before wandering off to do something else. Sometimes, you get surprised, even when you aren’t expecting it and sometimes, those surprises are really wonderful things.

I hope everyone has a good weekend. I have a test on Monday, first one of the new class. Three weeks of class left… then I get summer!

Life, Nursing School

Stop saying I’m smart!

The conversation goes like this:

Random Person: Can you show me how to do this (fill in math problem, science problem, etc , etc)?

Me: Sure.

Goes through entire process to show how to set the problem up and get the answer.

Random Person: Wow, can I just have your brain? You’re so smart!

It sounds like a complement, right? I mean, in a way it is. They are clearly impressed by what I am able to do. So what’s the problem?

Well, more often than not the person who is talking to me is also smart. And honestly, I’m not that smart. No, seriously, I’m not. I’ve never taken an IQ test but I don’t see myself blowing anything out of the water. I am not Mensa level.

Let me address both of these things. We’ll start with the fact that I’m not that smart. And I will immediately brag on myself. I took lots of math in college – Calculus (3 levels, in fact), Linear Algebra, Statistics, as some examples – and science classes too – basic Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Earth Sciences and then some more advanced Chemistry and Physics classes. I also took a long list of general education classes spanning from Economics to Theater. I earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry. I completed a semester long research project under the supervision of my advisor. Clearly, I’m not dumb. However, I’m no smarter than any of the other people that I took those same classes with. There were a lot of us. I will say, I was one of the few females in most of those classes. That doesn’t and shouldn’t matter though. So why does everyone think I’m smart because of this?

Honestly, I think the answer is two fold (and will lead to my addressing the other point there about those other people also being smart). First is that those classes are not easy. Nobody has ever accused a chemistry class of being easy. Or a physics class. Or most math classes. People will often refer to things like psychology as easy though. What’s the difference? Well, it has a lot to do with how you have to think about these things. Science and math demand that you think critically all the time. Very early on, you learn how to deduce things from information that you don’t have in order to make educated guesses. If you can’t do that, you probably won’t do well because those classes are dependent on that skill. In psychology classes, most people can get away with a very basic understanding of what’s going on and never really put much thought into the deeper connections at work. You can memorize your way through psych class to a passing grade. You can’t do that with science and math because it’s not about memorizing. There’s no way to predict in the real world what numbers or situations will present themselves.

Now, this is also very true in psychology. People who go on to higher levels need to learn how to take the basic knowledge and use it to develop critical thinking skills. Nobody ever walked into a psychiatrist or therapist’s office and said “You know, I think I have some PTSD going on. Tell me how to fix that.” Instead, the professional needs to talk to the person and get a deep understanding of their past and what could be going on before they can begin to think about diagnosing a problem. That’s critical thinking.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying that most college majors don’t need to critically think. It’s more about how much critical thinking needs to happen at any given level. Scientists have to be able to think critically like that from day one. Often, people can take an introductory psychology class and never think critically once (this isn’t the teacher’s fault, by the way and I’m sure they intend for their students to think critically).

The other issue at work is this idea that win order to do math or science, you have to be “smart” and if you struggle with it, you’re not “smart”. Some of us have those things come to us more easily than others. For example, I can not spell. I rely on spell checkers heavily and sometimes still have mistakes slip through. My brain works in images and pictures and while I can visualize an atom in my head, that means that I see words that way too. The word dog brings an image to my mind and not letters. While dog is pretty easy to spell, there are much more complicated words out there and the letters elude me. A lot. Nobody would say that makes me not smart. And yet when the same is true for someone who can’t visualize molecules like I can, they feel not smart. That’s silly.

We also have a heavy stigma around women and their abilities to do math and science. I am a woman and society says, I shouldn’t be able to do math and science well. Yet I do, so I must be really smart. Except I’m not. I do, however, work very hard. Effort is what got me this knowledge, not some random gift bestowed upon me that makes me different from everyone else. I will admit that I have some skills that make parts of this easier for me, but that’s not true for everything. I still have nightmares about trying to derive Schrodinger’s wave equation (look it up). I kept at it until I learned how to do it though.

Some of this may be because people see applications for psychology more easily than they see applications for science. Ot perhaps it has to do with the fact that dealing with people is easier than abstract concepts. Either way, the fact is that a lot of people walking around seem to think they’re not smart with regards to critical thinking skills.

So, please, stop calling me smart. Take credit for what you know. Give me credit for the work that I do/did to understand these things. We can all do this, if we’re motivated to do it. I have confidence that you can do it. You’re smart.

Until next time lovely readers.

Bucket List, Bullet Journal, Life, Nursing School, Travel, Writing

Day Zero Project

So, I am an adventurer of sorts. When I graduated from college I decided that I needed a fresh start. I moved from Rhode Island to Boston. Granted, this isn’t a huge move but I was going from a place where I knew a lot of people and the area to a place where I really didn’t know anybody. Just because. When I picked a college, I deliberately picked a school where I would know nobody. Just because. I have a desire to go to places that I don’t know and where I don’t know anybody. I feel a need to find new places and explore new things. And in the past several years I haven’t been able to do those things. Or at least, that’s how I’ve felt. But I had no idea how to get out of that rut. Until I found this.

The Day Zero Project, as I’m working on it is to do 101 thing in 1001 days (or just under three years). I have started working on a list of things that I want to do. These are not all things that involve travel but they are things that are pushing me to do things that I never would have done otherwise. So, as of July 1st, I am officially on the path to completing 101 tasks by February 26, 2020.

Now, honestly, I don’t have 101 things on my list yet. I actually only have 51 things. So I need to add 50 things still. But some of my tasks are not exactly earth shaking. However, I tried to pick things that would push me to do things that are different. For example, one of my tasks is to ask 20 friends to choose a book for me to read. That’s 20 books that other people think I should read. Some of them may be books I don’t like, but I think it’s important to see other people’s ideas. Hence, the task. Other goals are ore challenging and will require me to get creative. For example, run a 5K a month for a year. I don’t think I can do that while I’m in nursing school, so it needs to wait until I finish (which granted isn’t to much longer, but still). Some things are travel related, like sleeping in a travel train and eating a lobster in Maine. But others are simple like perform five random acts of kindness for strangers.

If you are interested in the project, you can visit the site for ideas at Day Zero Project. I am hoping that this will get me jump started on my bucket list as well. My bucket list is a source of consternation for me because I have done almost nothing on it and I’ve had it for quite awhile now. I keep using nursing school as an excuse but it honestly does eat a huge amount of time since I have to work on the weekends and have school five days a week. This will get less difficult once I finish this first part but that’s still eleven months away.

As an aside, I have almost finished week three of eight. There is very little of this first class left – just next week, really and then it’s on to a second class in another four weeks. This is a hard road since it’s almost no time to think about what we’re learning and that frustrates me but I keep reminding myself that I just need to get through this. The fall will be better, with less stress, even though the work load may be heavier. More time always means a little less stress.

So that’s it, my lovely readers. Take a gander at day zero, if you’d like and see what kinds of adventures you can embark upon. Find yourself and be that. Until tomorrow!

Life, Minimalism

Minimalism/declutter update

It’s been awhile since I updated about the declutter effort in my house. This is in large part because there isn’t as much stuff and therefore there is less to declutter. I am still working on the process though and trying to refine it. As I move into my new bullet journal, I have to redo some spreads. One of those spreads is my wardrobe spread. So I created two lists on the new page: a warm capsule and a cool capsule. There aren’t really four seasons here, so it seemed easier this way. I found some issues as I was working on that and it tells me that I still have some things to work on.

For example, I own five white tank tops. They all look a little different but honestly, I don’t need five white tank tops. I don’t even like the white that much. So, I can get rid of at least three, probably four. I also realized that I have some t-shirts that I kept but I really don’t like them because I don’t wear them. So a few more t-shirts are going as well. I have four pairs of shorts and that seems good to me. Once I get rid of some of the shirts, I will have six tanks and five t-shirts. Again, this seems good to me.

I also realized that I only own one long sleeved shirt. I love it but I need more than that. So once cool weather clothes are out again, I will have to acquire probably 2 long sleeve shirts. I have three sweaters and a cardigan. I’m separating that because the cardigan isn’t a sweater I would wear alone, obviously. I own two pairs of jeans but the size eight may be to big come cooler weather, so I may need to replace the eight with another six or possibly a four, depending. I have a couple of pairs of dress pants and two pairs of leggings. I have nothing to wear with the leggings though, so that’s problematic.

I may also get rid of some shoes. I have a pair of Sperry’s that I almost never wear. I’m going to wait and see what happens come fall though before I decide. Mostly, the shoe situation is good.

I have a bookcase that is empty sitting in my dining room. I don’t know what to do about that. I don’t want to get rid of it yet because I feel like it could be used someplace but I don’t know where right now. I had the large cabinet in my dining room that I turned into storage in my daughter’s room. I consolidated all of her stuff into that closet, which is great and also put chalkboard paint on the doors, so it serves two purposes. It also allowed us to rearrange her room, which is a bonus.

I can always go through my books again but I don’t have many left and several are books that I still want to read because I haven’t yet. Of course, nursing school means that I have almost no time for reading, so it may be awhile before I get to them. I need to create a list in my bullet journal so that I can keep a running list of what I still want to read but don’t own. I have decided to not buy anymore books until I read what I have. I’ve started utilizing the library more too, which is better for my wallet.

As a side note, I have started a Day Zero Project account and I will talk about that soon. If you don’t know what that is, I’ll explain it all in another post. I also need to talk about my running journey soon, so keep an eye out for that. I’m back at it and trying to stick with it. I still have a marathon on my bucket list and I feel like it’s attainable if I stay on track. So that’s it for now lovely people. I’ll be back tomorrow with more good stuff (like vacations!). Until then, love to you all!

Life, Minimalism

Maintaining minimalism

That title is a mouthful, for sure. It is nearly June and therefore, almost six months since I began this journey of decluttering in earnest. In that time, I have gotten rid of a LOT of stuff. I’ve made numerous trips to various donation places and thrown away all kinds of garbage. I’ve eliminated dozens of storage boxes and found room in my house that I didn’t know was there. There are still places to work on but now I’m working in small pieces instead of huge chunks. The things I get rid of are things that are simply not getting used like I thought they were. I am better able to see that now that there is space and I can see all of my things. There are projects that I want to undertake in my house to make storage spaces that fit my things without it turning into places to accumulate things. It is a process and I keep working at it everyday.

Now, however, the bigger task is maintaining the minimalism. Keeping the clutter from reacquiring. That task is more daunting than you would think, somehow. I have set the goal of not spending every week for a month. I keep failing at making it through a whole week. It may be that I need to redefine how I am categorizing things but I don’t want to make excuses for purchases that I make. So I am trying to figure out what’s going on here. I don’t need more things. I feel like I’ve done a good job not getting things for me (although, I will admit to buying a t-shirt today that I adore and can’t wait until I get it in my possession). This is not to say I haven’t bought anything for me – I have bought journaling supplies. A greatly reduced number for sure though.

So my victories: I haven’t bought any new makeup. I bought a blush and a mascara to replace ones that I used up which was fair. I haven’t bought any more art supplies (I am separating this from journal supplies because I mean my actual art supplies – paint and colored pencils, etc). I haven’t bought any physical movies (although, I have bought several episodes of CHiPs on Amazon as I finish episodes). I also haven’t bought any more books although I’ve seen several that I want to read. Those were my main source of spending before, so I am proud of what I have managed to do there.

My failures: Journal supplies. I bought some stickers. I don’t need more stickers. I bought some anyway. I also bought some washi tape, which I also didn’t need. I tend to buy my kids stuff a lot. This is partially because they ask for stuff constantly but I don’t need to give in as often as I do. I am working on this. In a semi-failure vein, I have bought some nicer things to replace older things. This would include a couple of bras, some pants (also because I lost so much weight the ones I had didn’t fit anymore) and a pair of sneakers. These are things that I didn’t necessarily need to have right now but did need to be replaced because they were really old. My sneakers are especially important because I run and it’s harder on your body to run in old shoes. I did buy the new ones on clearance (I almost always do though) so it wasn’t an incredibly pricey purchase.

I know it’s progress. Before I would have been stuffing things into boxes and then getting more boxes to make everything fit. Now, I’m working with the space I have. I am not getting any more boxes because I don’t need more. I need less things. This is an important distinction. I am also trying to work on food. I keep ending up with to much stuff in the pantry. I’m trying to find the line between enough and to much. This is a trickier balance than I anticipated and I’m working on it. Every week I get a little better at it. I’m also better with it when I a) menu plan (even when my planning sometimes fails) and b) sticking to my list. I’ve gotten a little lax about the list lately. I am going to rededicate myself to it.

And now, I am going to study a little more. I have my first test tomorrow. I am doing well with this material (I think) but I also have my daughter’s Girl Scout bridging tonight, so I have less time to study. Until tomorrow, party on! 😉

Fitness, Life

Yoga for stress relief

Sometimes you just need some way to get out the stress. When I have the chance to run that’s a wonderful way to decrease the stress. Unfortunately, sometimes leaving the house for a run isn’t an option. It may be too hot or it may be storming. On occasion it’s actually too cold. When those things happen, I need an alternative. I’ve tried a lot of things but there are really only two that work. I’ll discuss the other one at another time. Today I’m going to talk about yoga.

I started doing yoga in January as a way to try and tone muscle. It works well for that. It’s also caused me to become more flexible and allowed me to listen to my body in a way that’s resulted in a developed sense of what is to much, just enough and not enough when it comes to effort. All of those things has been useful to me in my fitness journey. Especially listening to your body and learning what it can do and what is beyond your limit.

However, most importantly, yoga has given me the skills to relieve stress. It sounds a little silly because it’s exercise. Most people simply view it as a path to fitness. It goes deeper than that though. When you truly start to practice yoga, you listen to your breath. You learn to sync your breath to your body movements and different ways of breathing. You learn how to meditate in some practices. A good yoga session ends with a savasanna (which may not be spelled right), which is essentially a mini-meditation. Those skills have been crucial in allowing me to relax in moments of great stress.

When I’m at home, I can do a yoga practice on my mat, obviously. When I go out into the real world and can’t just start doing yoga (like during a test) I can still use calming breaths to relax myself. I can even take a moment to close my eyes and relax a little further. Those moments are great because it’s like a mini break for my brain. That is the best gift that I can get. Some of the situations that I’m in are high stress and being able to calm down in those moments is critical.

Learning stress relief is crucial for mental health. Otherwise I end up overwhelmed (and you probably do too) and when that happens, I can’t function as well and I can’t think as well. If you have a high stress situation that you need to deal with, I suggest yoga. I also recommend it if you have test anxiety. The ability to calm your brain could help (and it definitely can’t hurt!). Today is a short one lovely people. Consider a new way to relax, if you haven’t. Maybe you too start with fitness as the ultimate goal. I bet you’ll learn something new though. Until next time!

Bucket List, Life, Nursing School

What’s after nursing school?

This is the question, right? I mean, all this time in school needs to lead somewhere. The ultimate question is where. I’ve alluded to this before. At it’s heart is a question of where my strengths lie and how I can best grow as a person and help others. This is no easy question to answer. After all, there are a few things that could be affected by this decision. And it’s also not all about working although that’s the most important point. It’s also a question of where I want to continue my education and what I want to do later on in my life.

I’ll answer the work question first. It’s actually the place where I feel like I have the most options. I have almost always worked with kids of varying ages. I started babysitting when I was 14 years old. While I was in college I became a lifeguard and taught swim lessons to preschoolers. After college, I spent some time as an after school counselor. Then of course, I spent 12 years as a high school science teacher. Clearly, kids are my forte. I already know a lot about children and I enjoy working with them. My thoughts in regard to nursing are in the same vein. I want to work in pediatrics in some way. Whether that’s a PICU or a regular floor in a children’s hospital, I don’t know yet but I feel like that’s where I’m going to be most comfortable. I have also given thought to a labor and delivery unit as I really enjoyed the time I spent on that unit for clinicals. I’ll have to spend some time thinking on it and looking at job options once I get closer to finishing.

Then there is the question of more education. I know that I need to get a BSN. This is my personality but also due to the fact that many employers prefer that degree. So working towards that is going to happen no matter what. I also am considering after that point though. There are a lot of possible avenues there. I could get a master’s that would allow me to teach or one that would allow me to be a nurse practitioner. Both of those options are appealing for different reasons. The ultimate answer may come after I’ve worked for awhile and figured out whether my strengths lie in a classroom as they have before or if they lie in a clinical setting. I may need to consider whether I want a master’s in a pediatric field (for example pediatric nurse practitioner) which may have more limited options in this area. Whether the option to do that online exists, I don’t know because I haven’t looked that far ahead yet. Knowing myself as I do, however, it is very likely that I’ll get a master’s degree eventually.

Then there’s the issue of my bucket list. One of the things on that list is to get a doctorate degree. I know that I am academically capable of that but again, the question of what that degree would be in comes up. That’s a question that I obviously don’t need to answer right this minute but I do need to be able to answer eventually.

Right now, I suppose that I really need to take a deep breath and keep my eyes focused on the immediate. The list of reading that was emailed today for the first unit in summer classes. We start with immunity, a topic that I am very interested in although I struggled with it somewhat the last time we addressed it. That seems to be a trend with me to some extent – areas that I struggle with are sometimes some of my favorite. Maybe because of the challenge that they present. Either way, I will likely look at those readings tomorrow and see what they look like. Some of the sections are short but others are entire chapters so there’s a good bit of reading. Every time, a little bit more. One foot in front of the other.

Reminder to myself… I still need to do the remediation for my Kaplan assessment for last class. I may go back and do those tomorrow as well. At least it’s short.

Happy Wednesday everyone!