Tag: life

Life is just a ride…you must keep pedaling!

Life is just a ride…you must keep pedaling!

It’s May and that means school is almost out.  I did a podcast at the beginning of the month with a very cool person that found me via Twitter.  His name is Chad Smart and he is the host of Positive Cynicism.  Check him out at jitterymonkey.com and listen to his motivational and fun podcasts.  Here’s a link to hear the one he allowed me to participate in: http://jitterymonkey.com/positive-cynicism-42-question-everything-jenna-jamieson/

I also did some volunteering this month because it’s kind of my hobby.  A hobby that I allow to take over my ‘normal’ life on occasion.  I volunteered at SIU’s graduation for probably my 10th time or more.   It was a simple gesture to help others out and give back to my community.  It’s important to recognize the impact volunteering can have in your local community.  With all the ways to make a difference, to give back to organizations, and to help others in need, volunteering can be one of the most simple ways to do that.  Not only does it help your community and people in it, but beyond that it gives you a sense of purpose.  That is at the core of finding and achieving pure happiness – finding genuine purpose that can give your life meaning.  I challenge you to add more volunteering to your life where you get nothing in return, not something you do at your job or at your church, or as part of a club you are in, but pure volunteering with no sub-lining or sub-benefit.  Volunteering where you give your time away for free and get nothing in return.  It will give you purpose – specifically, a purpose you have probably never felt before.

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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Curriculum that comes to life!

Curriculum that comes to life!

It can be a lot of work to be a teacher that truly takes the time to create ‘fun’ curriculum which to me (as a teacher) actually means meaningful curriculum that makes the topics and concepts come to life.  Books have tons and tons of definitions, topics, and concepts, but they aren’t always exciting and thrilling.  They don’t always make learning fun and often times as teachers we recognize that making learning fun is actually a lot more work.  After all, students often want things that are interactive and hands-on, but what they don’t realize is that the ‘fun’ things that teachers plan require a lot of organizing, coordinating, and most of all time.  Remember that this is the type of curriculum that helps the students retain important information, but also provides life lessons.

This past week I have done quite a bit of self-reflection on my activities and lessons in hopes of becoming a better teacher and improving my projects for future classes.  I recently planned my annual ‘Cutthroat Food Truck’ project where there is auctioning and chaos within the classroom.  It’s during my Supply & Demand Unit which makes it really fun.  There’s a shortage of ink in the marketplace so there is no printing allowed, there is an unlimited supply of white computer paper available because there is a major supplier producing it, markers are readily available and not in short supply, but due to the demand of scissors, glue, tape, and colored paper there is a limited number of premium resources available and the groups must bid to obtain these wants.  It’s quite entertaining because I do most of the auctioning while students are creating their food cart which adds an extra layer to the project.  Students must pay attention to items that are up for bid as they create and brainstorm on their food truck.  They get a set amount of ‘money’ (yes, it’s fake!) to use toward bidding on items.  They must consider whether they will bid each other up for items, trade-off items, or how they will strategize to create a cool and fun food truck.

It is quite exhausting to coordinate, organize, and implement (and a bit costly because I bring in patterned decorative tape and paper, special stickers, etc), but it turns out to be a cool project that teaches supply, demand, wants, needs, scarcity, and limited and unlimited resources.  What is most important about this project is that it brings these complex, boring economic concepts (okay, let’s be honest I am a Financial Economics major so it hurt to have to type ‘boring’ to describe those concepts, but for most students it is the reality) to LIFE!  It gives meaning and excitement to these students.

This also helps bring your students that have different learning styles and levels to an area that connects with real life.  Nearly all students can relate to some of the concepts and it puts money in their hands!  They have to figure out how to spend it efficiently or else they learn a lesson on how not to spend money (which can be equally as important)!  My point is that if you bring your lessons to life you will find so much more success in your classroom.  I will guarantee that!

This one is for my fellow teachers, economic lovers (me!), and all those that strive to make a difference in every single student’s life.

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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Ice cream before dinner…why, yes!

Ice cream before dinner…why, yes!

I found out at the beginning of June that I wouldn’t be teaching at CCHS next year because I don’t hold an endorsement that allows me to teach Webpage Design and Programming classes and those are two classes that will be offered next year.  I’m not going to pretend that I wasn’t disappointed.  I was disappointed.  And, a lot.  I live right by my high school and I drive past it almost every single day.  To be honest, it just sucks (and sometimes you face these types of challenges on the way up the mountain of life).  I loved my job, and more than anything I loved inspiring my students.  I’m going to let my guard down a little bit more than normal in this post, and it will probably humanize me more to others and show you that life really is like climbing a mountain.  Just when you think your hard work, dedication, and passion will pay off that may not actually be the case (at least, not at the time when you think it should be.)  I poured my heart and soul into this last semester at CCHS (not to impress anyone), but because it’s part of my spirit.  I love giving back and that’s just what I chose to do at the high school by volunteering at the robotics competition, judging the high school talent show, passing out pizza to the freshman class, chaperoning prom, coordinating a backpack drive, and attending the Multicultural Festival as well as participating in it by going to each table to learn more about other countries. It was certainly a fully-filled adventure that I had (and a learning experience, too)!

I am strong though, so I knew I could and would move on (and that’s just what I did.)  I decided the evening I found out and the next to begin the process of cleaning out my classroom.  I didn’t want to waste any time getting it done. After all, I had so much in my classroom from team building games I created, a Food Truck auctioning project we did, risk management games we played, and the like.  But, one thing about cleaning my classroom was that it actually was a bit therapeutic.  I decided to clean out my classroom and then as an adult I chose to drown myself in some delicious ice cream before dinner. Yes, you read that correctly. I wanted (and probably needed) something to make myself feel better about what would come next.  That would be the ever so dreaded task of job searching.  One of the things I think I might hate most in life.  After all, I have 221 cover letters in my ‘Cover Letter’ folder on my jump drive and that isn’t even all of them.  I have been searching for jobs in my life more than I would like to even think about.  After all, my professional career is something I have dreamed about ever since I was a little adopted Indian girl.  It is something I have always taken great pride in.  And so, while my professional life certainly has been more like climbing a mountain, it has always taught me a lesson.  That lesson is that somehow everything seems to work out and that’s something I can rest assured about even if it does mean moving on to something new and different.  Remember, life isn’t easy, but it does provide lessons that we can learn from and carry with us through life.

Now that I have eaten my ice cream and packed up my classroom, it’s time to move on to what’s next.  And, there is always going to be something next (when and where is TBD).  So, now you can translate this into your own life’s adventures, the ups and the downs, and remember that moving on after disappointment is key to picking yourself back up and being better than you were before.

The cherry on top of my ice cream is that on my very last day one of my students from spring semester came up to talk to me.  I told him that I wasn’t rehired and that I wouldn’t be back at CCHS next year. He said, “I’m going to miss seeing you next year.”  He is one of those students that always said, “Hi, Mrs. Jamieson” in the hallways and always interacted with his teachers.  As he walked away after I told him good luck at his SkillsUSA competition that was coming up he said, “I liked having you as a teacher, Mrs. Jamieson.”

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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Finding meaning among structured chaos!

Finding meaning among structured chaos!

This new adventure at my old high school has proven to be a very fun one.  I love getting involved and supporting the students.  The atmosphere is awesome and that’s probably what I love most about being there.  There are great ways to give back and that’s what I find really cool about it.  I have the opportunity to impact the lives of young high school students and that’s pretty remarkable.  I have the chance to inspire, motivate, and encourage them to follow their dreams and find something they are extremely passionate about.

Since joining the CCHS team, I have helped at a robotics competition (which I knew very little about), volunteered to judge our school’s talent show, and on a more personal level I have begun working on a project to collect backpacks for Carbondale students who cannot afford them.

I have learned that some things work really well in the classroom and some ideas don’t come to fruition the way I anticipate them to.  I have taken notes and written pointers, hoping to improve projects and activities for next year.  I have gotten to know my students much more, and that’s something I really enjoy.  Beyond the quizzes, handouts, projects, presentations, and work that I do with my class, I hope I leave a small imprint upon their life that inspires them to go out into the world and do something for others – to give back, be kind, and be willing to offer a helping hand to someone else.  I hope I inspire my students in ways that help build their self-esteem and confidence.  More than anything, I want my students to know they can come to me when they need a listening ear.  After all, teachers are not only there to teach their students, but to motivate them, mentor them, and offer positive reinforcement along the way.

I challenge teachers who feel stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted (which I do!) to remember to channel the reason why you entered the profession to begin with.  You have the power to do so much in your classroom.  While there are benchmarks to make, topics that have to be covered, and work that has to be completed, remember that your students need you.  They need your support, kindness, and help because while you’re pushing papers around and doing work, you are also shaping a person.  We, as educators, have the ability to change a student’s life!

As this second semester wraps up, be sure to consider your role in your students’ lives and in the community.  As a new high school teacher, I feel a bit overwhelmed, at times lost, and sometimes surrounded by structured chaos.  Sometimes adding more stress, more projects, more chaos, or more anything seems impossible, but it is actually always possible. With a wedding in less than a month (that has turned into something far bigger than I wanted or anticipated), the publication of my #ProjectKindnessBook, and planning meaningful lessons, I feel like my life is zigzagging in lots of directions.  Some days I feel defeated, but I keep swimming.

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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Make #GivingTuesday and #SmallBusinessSaturday an everyday thing!

Make #GivingTuesday and #SmallBusinessSaturday an everyday thing!

There are lots of organizations, big and small, all around the world that would LOVE to receive a donation from you this #GivingTuesday.  I got at least five or more emails asking for donations today.  I usually give donations to big and small companies or organizations throughout the entire year, but more times than not my time and money goes to local initiatives and events.  I do on occasion reach out to larger organizations because I like helping both in some capacity, even if it’s a very, very small amount it can make a profound impact.  Kind of like being a teacher, while you may only work with a student for thirty minutes, one hour, one day, one month, or one year, the way you approach and work with that student can leave a footprint on their life forever.  It’s the beauty of teaching, giving quality service to others, listening to those around you, and reaching out to those in need – you have the power to make a difference in the life of someone else.  And, to me, that’s pretty cool!

One thing I chose to do this year for the holidays was to give money to the Shawnee Hills Arts Council when I ran their Reindeer 5k to provide additional funding to performing, visual, and literary arts.  Not only was it a great way to give back to a local organization, but it also fell on #SmallBusinessSaturday which is a vital day for many small businesses and communities that depend on that economic boost each year.  It is so easy to order from online retailers where the prices may be a few dollars cheaper, but those few extra dollars you might spend at your local toy store, pet shop, or restaurant really boost your local economy and help money stay in the area.

Another donation I am planning to give this holiday season is my hair – literally!  It is almost time for me to head to the chopping block so that I can donate at least eight inches of hair to a woman in need.  This is something that you can give no matter what time of year.  You can make the commitment to grow your hair out without coloring it to send to an organization that will help change the lives of others.

You can do similar things in your local area to keep your economy thriving.  #GivingTuesday and #SmallBusinessSaturday aren’t just once a year if you make the commitment to help improve your local economy – volunteer, buy local goods, go to your Farmer’s markets, eat at your local restaurants, and make a commitment to helping with events, initiatives, and activities in your area.  After all, your local economy depends on your support and willingness to make a difference in the many lives and communities in which you are a part of.

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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Thinking beyond the obstacles!

Thinking beyond the obstacles!

My fiancé and I have been working on applications to teach in South Korea or some other place in the world (location will depend on what kind of teaching contracts we can find and negotiate).  It is a long and daunting process, but an incredible learning opportunity if we can make it come to fruition.  It will provide an experience in which we will be forced to think outside of the box, learn about another culture, and reach beyond our own horizons.  This is an adventure that is different than what is considered the “typical” life plan, but an opportunity that can provide an exceptional way to think beyond the American culture that we have both become accustomed to.

So often we follow on a path that society tells us to take or encourages us to follow.  We go to school, go to college (if you’re lucky enough to be able to afford it), get married, buy a house, and have kids. Typically, we are required or encouraged to work for 30-35+ years for some type of company (or companies) to support ourselves.  It may sound perfect to some, or even to most.  The problem is this isn’t always the reality of the chapters that life presents.  For starters, this plan isn’t for everyone. Some people change jobs endlessly throughout their life while others don’t want to follow the typical plan society has set forth. Regardless of how you feel, whether you like society’s plan or want to pave your own new path, life will present challenges and obstacles no matter whether you’re rich or poor, young or old, male or female, gay or straight, and race doesn’t matter either.

That’s because life has a way of being an adventure that is sometimes fun and sometimes not so fun.  It should be a reminder that you can plan your life or schedule as much as you want, but planning life can often leave you disappointed.  It rarely follows plans and always includes obstacles, challenges, and hurdles, most of which give us the opportunity to learn and grow.

So as we set out on this teaching adventure abroad, we most definitely will need to remember that the cultural and language differences will at times present challenges we will have to overcome.  But, that’s life.  We must all remember to put one step in front of the other and move forward despite life’s obstacles.

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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Find your passions {express yourself & decompress}!

Find your passions {express yourself & decompress}!

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Life can be a mountain.  It is much more a mountain than a beach.  There are challenges to overcome, hoops to jump through, and hills to climb to meet your goals and achieve your dreams.  Passions, hobbies, and ways to fill your time in a meaningful way for yourself and others help combat the challenges and obstacles.  You may not even think about the hobbies or things that you do to relieve stress, whether it be spending time with your kids, going on a date with your spouse, exercising, reading, cleaning and organizing your house, or some other hobby that you love.  There are hundreds of hobbies you can use to enhance your life and those around you.  It will make you stronger, happier, and more relaxed to devote some of your own time to your health.  It may just seem like everyday life to most people, but having avenues to decompress are vital.  They keep you happy, healthy, thankful, and sane.

Not only are hobbies important to decompress at the end of the day or week, or at the end of a very traumatic or draining month, but they allow you to express yourself in a unique way.  I often scrapbook and exercise to destress and reduce any tension that I feel.  I love to scrapbook to get my creative juices flowing and to reconnect and visit all the fun adventures that I have been fortunate enough to be able to experience.  I have been scrapbooking for 10 years and it is one of the most calming and refreshing hobbies that relieves stress.  On the other hand, I love a good workout and sweat session to boost my energy and rejuvenate my body after an exhausting or frustrating day.  Both are great hobbies that help my mind and body in different ways.  My small hobbies have helped me maintain a balance in my life and a thankful spirit in my heart.

Finding your passions and sticking to them will make you feel more at ease with your life, giving it more depth and meaning.  You might also find that channeling your hobbies will give you energy, express your creative side, and remind you to be thankful for all that you have.

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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Quality over quantity…in life and in health!

Quality over quantity…in life and in health!

“Quality over quantity” fits my life mission and many of the goals I set for myself.  When I workout I like to keep it in the back of my mind.  I want quality over quantity.  What does that mean to me?  It means using the correct form for the exercises I perform and creating a workout that fits my lifestyle and body.  It is for my sanity, strength, and a stress reliever at the end of the day.  In other words, I would rather do fewer reps and sets during my workout than lots of reps and sets in the incorrect form.  That can cause pains, strains, and injuries.

The same can be echoed for the career paths I have gone down.  I have come to appreciate (and enjoy) having a job that is far more “quality over quantity”.  That may not even make sense, but let me explain.  I work in public education and I don’t get paid a lot, but the work I do and the students I touch are the reason I have come to like the work that I am doing (after having changed career paths several times prior).  The quality or meaning it brings to my life far outweighs the quantity or money I am making.

Lastly, I love to travel.  It is probably one of my favorite things to do and I wish I could do it more often.  I love the experiences it gives me, the memories I create, and learning about the world.  I like seeing other cultures, gaining new perspective, and more than anything the quality it adds to my life.

The meaning behind this post is to remember that in life it is far better for your health and happiness to appreciate life and people, not things.  Take pleasure in the small things…the things that create memories, experiences, and teach you something about yourself and others.  Make your life center around quality and experiences.  You will be happier if you do!  And, more than anything remember to appreciate your health and the aging process.  After all, good health and aging is something that some never have the privilege of experiencing.  As my grandma once said, “If you have good health you don’t realize how lucky you really are.”

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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Why I cheer myself on every single day!

Why I cheer myself on every single day!

Life is a mountain, not a beach.  I don’t think you could convince me otherwise. Plus, I like the mountains more than the beach and I like challenges more than being bored, but positivity is often what keeps me moving forward.  On hard days, long days, rough days, and all the days in between I need to hear the voice in my head cheering me on.  I like to cheer myself on when I go through life and when I workout.  It keeps me going.  See previous blog post from October 2014:  Cheer yourself on—be your own cheerleader!

In America, we have become a nation that doesn’t associate fun with working out.  I often hear people say they lack time to workout, but in reality it’s not a lack of time, but not having the right attitude.  We don’t think of working out as a stress-relieving, fat-burning, energy-creating, life-changing, and fun-loving activity that makes us happy.

Don’t convince your brain that you don’t like working out!  Find an exercise or workout routine that you love and then let the cheering begin!  An exercise routine or workout that makes you feel at your best…it de-stresses you, relaxes you, and rejuvenates you after or before a long day.  If you need a mind-clearing workout consider yoga or some form of meditation, if you need a good cardio sweat consider a run or cross training session.  Once you tell yourself you don’t like working out or it’s not fun your brain starts to believe that and you begin to convince yourself of that.

Instead, cheer yourself on!  Tell yourself you can get through it and be a better person because of your workout.  Let your positive attitude cheer you on through life whether it be your workout, your job, your educational goals, and everything else you set your mind to.  Start adding positive thoughts to your daily planner, your workout routine, and all your little activities throughout the day.

I am the door monitor at school as the second and third graders get off the bus or are dropped off by their parent.  I love this because I can set a positive attitude for the children as they enter the school building.  (I like early mornings so that helps things, too!)  I always say “Good Morning, we are having pancakes for breakfast today (whatever is on the menu for that day).  Happy Monday!  I hope you have a great day!”  Most of the students are still tired from getting up early, but I like to put some positive energy into their day.  I also say good morning to all the teachers, but I think my bubbliness might get on their nerves on occasion.  I go through the day with some of the teachers probably wondering why I am always smiling and talking to the kids.  I love it and it makes the day more fun.  I hope this gives you a little inspiration to add positive energy to your workout and life!

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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Giving is good for your health!

Giving is good for your health!

Emotional and mental health are important.  Very important.  Sometimes these two components of health take the back burner to social and physical health.  We might focus on our social media relationships, comments, and statuses.  Stuff that in the scheme of things won’t matter when we look back on life.  I am even guilty of this sometimes.

I actually have someone in my family that struggles with finding a balance between her emotional and mental health versus her social and physical health.  She struggles with finding happiness, being self-confident on the inside, and feeling a sense of contentment.  She chooses to focus on her social and physical health as a way of combating the struggles she faces with her emotional and mental health.  She walks daily and puts effort into how she presents herself to others, but in reality it doesn’t fix how she feels about herself.  She is missing a sense of self-purpose in life.  She struggles with identifying meaning by the roles in which she chooses to play in society.

Giving may not seem like it has to do with emotional or mental health.  It may seem like a big stretch, but it actually isn’t a stretch at all.  Giving provides purpose to a person’s life.  It gives meaning.  It is a reminder to be appreciative for what we have.  It feels good to give to others.  It gives you that warm and happy feeling on the inside knowing you contributed to a good cause, helped someone that is struggling, baked cookies for your local police department, or helped a stranger on your way to work.   The feeling you have from doing those things contributes to your emotional and mental health.

You do not need tons of money to give.  Giving can come from the heart.  It can be coloring a picture for someone, writing a “Thank You” card, volunteering with a local organization, helping someone into their car, or a multitude of other ways to be kind and give back.  I work at an elementary school where I am given pictures and coloring pages almost every single day.  While students love to give me pictures and have a huge smile as they hand me their masterpiece I feel equally as blessed.  It warms my heart that they want to give me pictures that they work so hard on.  It is a reciprocation of mental and emotional health.  It makes them feel good and me as well.

In a world full of consumerism and materialism, I challenge you to remember to give (year round)!  Just because the holidays have passed and it is a new year doesn’t mean all your time has to focus on New Years weight loss resolutions or bikini bodies for spring break.  It is still important to smile at strangers, say hi to people you pass in the hallway, or compliment someone.  I challenge you to increase your purpose and role in the world.  I challenge you to remember what giving will do for your emotional and mental health.

I hope this blog, as short as it is, captures how much giving can do for you and the world.

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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