I (Amy) have always dreaded packing.  There’s something that feels so overwhelming to me about it.  I think it all boils down to the paradox of me striving to be both a minimalist and an overly prepared person.  That is, I try my best to bring the bare essentials, but what that ends up looking like for me is putting together the bare essentials…for each type of activity.

Kyle and I are leaving early Friday morning for our Thanksgiving trip.  (By the way – thanks to Kyle’s mom for being willing to drive us to airport before the 5 o’clock hour arrives!)   We’ll be spending all of Thanksgiving week with the Wing Family in MI and we are traveling by way of Chicago this weekend to celebrate the marriage of one of my college friends, as well as the upcoming arrival of 3 of my college friends’ babies.  Needless to say, we have a full week ahead.

That means I have a lot of activities to be packing for: a wedding, swimming in the hotel pool, a possible workout here and there, Thanksgiving dinner, hanging around the house, and doing things around town.  Besides the clothes, there’s all the other little details of bringing the camera (and the charger), bringing the ipod (and the cord to charge it), and picking out jewelry and other things like scarves to go with each outfit (but trying to choose accessories that would go with most outfits).

The other thing is that I’m one of those people who likes the leave the house as clean as possible so we can come back to an inviting home.  So, it’s not uncommon for me to change the sheets, do the laundry, and want the bathroom cleaned and the floor swept before we leave.

As much as I’m looking forward to our trip, I’ve just reached the extremely overwhelmed stage.  I’ve realized that after work tomorrow, we have to do all our packing (which for me implies making hard decisions about what to bring), and I’ll inevitably want to be getting the house looking spic and span as well.

I can’t wait until we get on that plane Friday morning because 1) it means we’re on vacation to reconnect with friends for the weekend and spend time with our family all next week and 2)the packing stage will be done!


Swimming Rama and Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Brownies

We had an innovative dinner tonight.  Awhile back, I cut out a recipe for a peanut sauce for chicken.  Using that recipe, I made a homemade version of “Swimming Rama.”  It was fantastic.  I took only one picture of it because I was so anxious to dig in. 🙂

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And for dessert: a recipe that Katy just passed on to me for Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Brownies.

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Greek Salad for lunch on a Wednesday

I usually bring pretty straight forward lunches to school.  It’s usually something like a yogurt or soup or a PB&J for my entree.  My side dishes usually consist of a vegetable (carrots) and a fruit (apple or grapes or a banana or something simple.)  Occasionally I’ll have crackers or a granola bar or something.  But today I had this:

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Amy's Greek Salad

I made a decision to get a substitute and work from home today using one of my IEP days.  IEPs are the Individualized Education Plans we write for students who receive special education services.  It’s not typical to receive an allotment of IEP Days; it’s just something that my district does as a nice benefit to being a special ed. teacher.  They actually give us the option of choosing extra pay as a stipend for the additional work it takes to manage our caseload of students or choosing the release time.   I always take all the release days because there’s no requirement on how we use these days.  We could use them as mental health days if we want to.  We can work at school or work from home if we choose to actually be productive on an IEP day.  And – we don’t need to concentrate our efforts on IEPs; we can work on whatever we want to.  There’s no one checking in on us when we use these days.

So, today I’m using an IEP day to do a little bit of everything.  I’m working from home on IEPs and other random school things.  I’m also taking advantage of working from home by getting some home projects done, too (like laundry).  (I’m also home so Mr. Appliance could be here to come and fix our fridge.  And, the best part of being home today is that I had time to make a little bit more of an exciting lunch, which is definitely good for my mental health. 🙂

Vocational stress

I just told Kyle I’m experiencing vocational stress.  He replied, “You mean you’re stressed out about work?”  While the quick answer to his question is yes, I told him it’s more like “vocational calling” stress.

Depending on the degree that you know me (or my family members), you probably know that I had an incredibly emotionally overwhelming first two years of teaching.  I ended up seeing a counselor each fall to help get through those tough patches.

This year I’ve felt more emotional stability as the school year has started, which has been really helpful.  I haven’t been feeling that hopelessness that I felt the past two years, but I am still quetioning whether it’s the right job for me.  Right now, it seems silly to change jobs, but philosophically, or rather, emotionally, I don’t know if this is the right job for me.  (Or…at least I don’t know if I’m working in the right area of Special Ed.)

The thing that is getting to me most right now is that I constantly feel out of my element.  I feel like people look to me for answers that I really don’t know.  I feel like there are limited aspects of my job that bring me pleasure .  And that is precisely what I wonder about.  How normal is that?  How many of you wake up looking forward to going to work?  How many of you go to sleep at night without a worry about your job?  Is it rare to be a person like me who is overly sensitive to the question of whether my job is a good match for me?

My mom once described me as an intense person.  And she’s absolutely right.  I do everything with intensity, or I don’t do it at all.  That is, I intensely don’t do it.  So, right now I’ve reached a point of having been intensely over-involved in my work thus far (because it feels like I’ve had to be involved to that degree to even stay afloat), and now it’s catching up to me.  Now I’m feeling like, “How in the world is this worth it?”  Why spend 9+ hours of each work day and several other hours emotionally invested in something that isn’t bringing pleasure to me?

Do I continue to just do the job with the mindset that I am completing a challenge?  Or do I continue on my search for a more personally satisfying use of my work time?

Is this typical?  Do any of you struggle with the same type of “vocational calling stress”?