I’ve seen an abundance of posts about tips and suggestions for teachers who now must conduct their courses online, ideas on how parents can keep their children entertained, and working form home for the first time. The missing group of people here are students.
Having to make the change from in person classes to online is hard for everyone, but especially the students. Technology has grown to be a large part of the school system, but it is a different ball game in having to take courses online. To some it may feel like something is missing when not being able to properly interact with the teacher and other students. Some may thrive in the environment of working at their own pace, if classes aren't synchronous (or live).
I’ve been taking online courses for the past two years to complete my master’s degree while also working full time. I would like to offer suggestions for those who are now taking courses online. Results may vary.
Over this past weekend, I went to Yogaville with my friend and co-worker Liz. I've wanted a vacation for the longest time, and after hearing about this place from Liz for a while, I thought I'd give it a try since I recently got into yoga and greatly enjoy it.
I'm sure you all are wondering what Yogaville is. No, it is not a cult. I thought the same thing after hearing about it and doing a bit of online research. It is a yoga retreat tucked away in the mountains in Buckingham, VA. You get to take yoga classes, do guiding or solo meditation, listen to guest speakers, and go to Saturday night programs. People can even join a program called Lyt aka Living Yoga Training, where you get to stay and live in Yogaville for at least a month. You can even work in the community, either on the farm or in the kitchens in trade of staying in the community.
2016 was a very, very hard year for me and I was looking for any excuse to go on a vacation; to be able to get out of the city I work in and not go home. So, I decided to go to Yogaville from Jan 13th-15th because it wasn’t expensive, it wasn’t far away, and it included an activity I enjoyed doing. Liz always talked positively about it, so I decided to go. In fact, I’m pretty sure she’s been trying to get me to go for a few months seeing as she was super excited when I relented. She was originally going to go around Christmas, but pushed back her plans to come with me, so in short, she invited herself on my trip. I didn’t mind it, because I’d be able to have someone to go with who already knows everything about the community.
The drive up wasn’t too bad, there wasn’t any traffic, but I’m still not used to diving for that long. I was so happy to get out and stretch once we arrived. Liz and I stayed in the dorms with another roommate. In fact, she had warned me about possibly sharing a room with someone else. I didn’t mind – seeing as I’ve spent 24 years and 6 months of my life with my three sisters as roommates. We didn’t get to Yogaville till around 4:30, so we ended up missing a program Liz really wanted to do. Instead, for the first night we unpacked, had dinner (all meals vegetarian) and then Liz showed me around to see the lit up shrines. We also checked out the gift shops and boutiques.
On Saturday, we went to an early morning hatha yoga class, which focuses on general yoga poses and deep relaxation. It was a nice and steady pace for such an early class, especially after the little sleep I got the night before. You would think a super dark and quiet space would help someone get to sleep. I guess I’m used to the sounds of trucks and cars outside of my apartment window. We then had breakfast before listening to a “Yoga in Daily Life” talk by a Swami. It really put a lot of things into perspective. Afterwards, we decided to go on a hike in the surrounding areas. Liz was excited to show me the farm, the swimming area, and the Ashram Alcove. It’s a holed out rock face that has perfect acoustics.
After the hike we went to a deep relaxation class. This course helps you with meditation and in turn helps you learn coping techniques to deal with stress and how to relax in various settings. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep twice. It really helped. In fact, the minute we got into the community, I had felt the most relaxed in a long, long time. After the class Liz took some time to meditate while I took the time to get some journaling in. I really enjoy being outside, so even though it was cold, I felt the most at ease. We then had dinner before retreating back to our room for the rest of the night.
Sunday, instead of staying to take a few more yoga courses, we decided to checkout early and head to Rosslyn, VA to go to CrabTree Falls to go on another hike and to look at a waterfall. Sure, it took us an hour out of the way for our return trip, but it was worth it. The hike was great and the waterfall was breathtaking. After about 45 mins or so, we headed back. The entire time, I didn’t have cell service, but there was wi-fi. Aside from watching a few videos, I was essentially away from electronics the entire weekend and I really enjoyed it. I like to be unplugged from electronics every once in a while. It helped me clear my mind and fully be immersed in the community. Plus, it helped me be comfortable with how quiet I can actually be, and it gave me time to get to know Liz a bit more. We already have plans to go back during the summer so we can go swimming in the James River.
While I did feel a bit uncomfortable at first at Yogaville, I tried to be open to everything and it worked. It is a great way to relax and get away from it all. In fact, even though I overslept on Sunday and missed a class, and didn’t go to too many of the night programs, it still felt like the vacation I wanted. In fact, even if I didn’t do anything all weekend, it would have still been a great place to go.
Today, I have been working at the library for one year. It's kind of hard to believe it's been that long already. Initially, when people would suggest that I do something in the library science field because of how much i liked to read and write, i would be very skeptical. I was essentially basing my thoughts on librarians through the media, which happens with everything shown through the media, and didn't really like the idea. My goal is to become a writer - more specifically a novelist.
Going through school, reading and writing were definitely my passion along with music. I majored in English/Creative Writing and minored in Music. No matter where I go, i usually bring a book with me. I remember in high school I would regularly get my hair done on the weekends. After chatting with the hairdressers and answering their questions about being a multiple, out came my book and i read for the remainder of my time their until i was picked up. They were happy that I enjoyed reading and always encouraged it.
I kind of stumbled into my position at the library I worked at. I was just browsing online job posts looking for a second job when I found it. I wasn't looking for a library in particular. I was just looking for a second place of employment to be able to pay my bills and to make a living. I had started at my retail position around the holidays, and making that much money was nice because I had an open schedule. However, i knew the hours were soon going to dwindle so i needed something else.
I had found the library/computer aide position and sent in my application on New Years Eve of 2014. Then i had assumed I didn't have the right qualifications because I hadn't heard back from the HR department. I followed the status of my application online every day, but it was sitting at 'Review of Training and Experience', for weeks. Finally, around the middle of January, I was contacted for an interview.
Just a side note, but here's a little tip: For all the places you're applying to, save the company phone number in your cell phone. This way you'll know who's calling you for an interview, and you won't have to guess between every phone call that happens. I mean, sometimes I still get people that dial the wrong number. It's just so you'll be comforted knowing that the right person is contacting you.
It was kind of short notice, but my interview was scheduled a few days later after the phone call. Thankfully it would be held on a day where I had the day off from my job. The position was for a part-time Library/Computer Aide and after doing research I found that the library was only up the street from my retail position. It sounded perfect. While filling out the application i looked over the job description and found that i would need to know about technology and various computer systems, customer service, video games, and library application like shelving. It sounded way too perfect.
The interview went really well, and i was told that i would be notified by mail if i were offered the position by the end of February. February came and went, and I hadn't received a letter. I would always be the one to go and check the mail because I was excited to see if i were offered the position. The interview and everything just felt right to me. So, when the letter didn't come it was now about the first week in March. I had previously told my parents and a few people close to me about the interview, so i was constantly being asked what had happened, what was going on, what have i heard. I'm going to be honest, my annoyance level at that point was pretty high, not just because I was being asked the same question over and over again and not have an answer, but I didn't receive communication like i was told i would have.
I gave it a week, so it's about the second week of March 2015. I still hadn't heard anything. I had kept my interviewers phone number in my files so I decided to call her and see what was going on. She then directed me to another woman, stating that I should have definitely heard back from them at that point. Once I had contacted the other woman, she had stated that i was in fact offered the position and was surprised that i wasn't notified and equally surprised that i hadn't responded. I told her that i was initially told I'd be notified through the mail, but she said it should have been a phone call.
At that point, the rest of the week was a whirlwind. I had to go and fill out my paperwork, get a background check, and do a drug test. I had to find ways to do this all around my main retail job. So i was essentially busy every day of the week, especially because that week I also had to do big floor moves and stay at work longer than usually scheduled. Finally, after everything was processed, I was told that I would be reporting to the 2nd floor of the library aka Childrens. I was a little crushed at first because I really wanted to be on the Teens floor with the video games and the computer lab and the board games, but I was hired and in a library which had something to do with my degree so i was happy nonetheless. Then, about two days before I was to start I was switched to the Teen floor and had to give them my availability for the upcoming week so they could schedule me. I based it around how i was scheduled at my retail job for that week, and it's stayed the same way ever since.
On my first day, I arrived about 5-10 minutes early and was given a tour of the facilities. I instantly fell in love with the building. I started to like the idea of potentially becoming a librarian. This library had more areas, spaces, and equipment than I'd ever seen. It was then I had learned it was recently opened in January, a few months earlier. For the first few days, I learned all there was about the Teen floor, i played a few video games to get used to the handling and controls just in case a patron has a problem, and I learned how to take down stats and monitor people's use on the computers.
I believe I am very spoiled where i work. I'm in close proximity to the mall so i can go shopping or find something to eat during my break, there are various restaurants around the block so i could eat there, a naval museum and theater are right down the street, and I can expect free/leftover food from various events in the break room. Plus, the view from my floor is spectacular. But that's not why i feel spoiled.
I feel spoiled because I have some of the best co-workers in the world. We all actually like each other. Side note - that's a running joke. We help each other set up from programs without being asked, or even if someone says that they have everything under control we help anyway. We can easily tease or make fun of each other without worrying about it turning into something bigger. Even if we talk about potential polarizing topics, we can talk about it in a calm way and not think any less of each other. I'm always excited to go to the library because I get to spend time with them.
Of course, I'm the youngest once again and everyone else is older than me, but I never felt like they saw me as a young twenty-something but as a person. I've even grown close to one of my co-workers that we now attend a yoga class together. I've grown close to another co-worker who recently left, but she's a great friend. She styled my hair recently and we have plans to go thrift shopping together once our schedules line up. Plus, whenever something bad happens or something potentially good happens, I get tons of support from them. It's a great feeling to know that they have my back.
It never feels like work when I'm around them, granted my job description doesn't make it feel like work. Whenever I tell people that I get paid to write, read, or play games, its all true! I can't wait to see what the next year brings me. There's just so much more I want to do and learn here. I can't wait to see what the next year brings me.
PS - I'm planning on writing a book about the things I've seen or have been a apart of at the library. You won't believe some of the stories I have! :)
Happy New Year!
Now that 2016 has arrived, I usually take this time (like a lot of other people) to reflect on the past year. It had a lot of ups and downs and troubling times, especially with Rosie (my car) and her seemingly constant tire care. Sometimes, I sit back and wonder how I survived it all.
For the past two years, I made a list for the goals/plans of things I'd like to do or accomplish throughout the year. Here is a list of the things I have done:
-Traveled to a new city
-Enter writing contests
-Create/Use a 2015 good moments jar
-Update my stories on FF.Net more often
-Continue to eat healthier
-Become more spiritual
-Push myself out of my comfort zone
-Dye my hair
-Learn a new language
-Learn a new skill
-Explore Norfolk/Newport News
After going through my 2015 good moments jar, I found that I had stopped slipping in good moments after the first few months of the year; around April or so. I decided to do it again this year so I can really keep track of everything that's been going on.
As for my goals this year, normally one of them revolves around losing weight or keeping the weight off. That's usually what everyone's goal/plan for a year is and then they stop going to the gym or trying that new workout by around the middle of January. They do say that New Year's Resolutions are hard to keep. This year, though, I'm doing something different.
I'm not going to focus on my health or my weight, but have more of a focus on my wellness. Health and wellness go hand in hand, but I've had a pretty good grasp on my health. I eat pretty decently, and I don't restrict anything, I just slightly change my portion sizes. However, if you have sour patch kids or hot tamales near me, or even German chocolate cake, then this would be a whole different story.
Wellness is more of the idea of choices you make to have better health and a better lifestyle. I need to focus on myself more, and not worry about pleasing other people. The most important thing in my life should be myself. I always say I love helping people but I worry that one day it'll come back and bite me, which it has. Or, it had, in this case.
Anyone that follows me on Facebook, Twitter, or is in usual contact with me would know that I had faced the toughest time in the last few months. Both of my part time jobs had extended/holiday hours and I was stretched to the max. It's a given that in the world of retail you're going to have holiday hours. At my library job, I had taken on more hours around Sept/Oct because we were understaffed, and I would be going from working 19 1/2 hours a week to 29 1/2. I could easily handle that with working my retail job as well. Then, we were given the green light to work more hours through Jan because we'd still be understaffed until HR hired more people in the division/department I work in.
Honestly, I was skeptical at first, and worried how I'd be able to handle working extra hours at the library and at my retail job. I told my supervisor and she was kind of wondering the same thing as well, but slightly changed my schedule to give myself at least one guaranteed day from off from both jobs, because of the way my schedule fell in-between both. So, in a way, I agreed to take on the extra hours and I was also essentially told I was going to have to take them because of how understaffed we were. At the time, i didn't mind it because I love love love love love my library job, all the people i work with, and what I get to do everyday. Plus, i had wracked my sick hours so if I every needed a mental health day, I don't think my supervisor would have minded if I used some.
So, at this point, as the holiday/extended hours started at both of my jobs at the beginning of November, I was working about 50+ hours a week. I've worked a 40+ hour a week job before when I interned at HRA, but this was different.
Even though my two jobs are a block apart, I have to change my thought process to accommodate the two. My library job is more relaxed than my retail job, the two have different dress codes, one I have to get up early to work and the other (or sometimes both) I have to stay late to close. At my retail job I just help people and at my library job I have to enforce rules/policies and play games or entertain people at the same time. Both jobs I have great company with people I work with, but my retail job I felt was way more demanding than usual, even for a holiday season and I've worked the holiday season at my retail job the year prior. Sometimes I felt I was someone's main go to to person when something needed to be done, and while I like that people trust me to get things done, i quickly felt overwhelmed.
See, sometimes, I have a problem with saying no, especially when it comes to taking extra shifts at either of my jobs. Bottom line, I'll be earning more money. In most situations, though, I can say no easily because I know what i want, what i like, and what i feel comfortable with. While I do push myself out of my comfort zone from time to time, i can put my foot down when needed.
This winter/holiday season I felt like I was on the precipice of a mental breakdown. I was so stressed I would have constant headaches, I'd feel irritable all the time, and I was close to snapping at everyone for no apparent reason. I was very forgetful, somewhat sluggish, and every time I did something wrong at work, or something went wrong it felt like my world was going to end. I was getting less and less sleep, and not eating properly at all because my schedule was constantly changing. I almost lost it when I arrived at my library 30 mins late because I read my shift schedule wrong. My supervisor wasn't concerned about it at all, which confused me, but I guess since I'm usually 5 mins early for my shift and we were very very slow that day it wasn't such a big deal.
After talking to one of my co-workers at the library, I discovered meditation. I was pretty much at my wits end and was looking for a way to make my headaches disappear aside from taking ibuprofen from time to time. My co-worker knew I was having a hard time with everything, and I didn't even have to tell her. She could just see it in my face, the way I easily forgot things, or the way I acted and she's only known me since April. That's quite a feat, in my opinion, because I can hide things pretty well.
Meditation was really hard for me to get into at first because my mind constantly raced. Not only because I was working so much, but because I had a lot of writing ideas floating around my head, but that's a usual occurrence. I borrowed two mediation books from my co-worker and read each of them for an hour before i went to sleep, so 30 mins for each. When slowly starting it, i was a little bit skeptical, but still open minded. I mean, if it worked it worked and if it didn't it didn't.
Now, I try to meditate every day or every other day. My headaches where finally gone and I felt happy again, I felt like myself. Although, spending time around my family and my sisters during Christmas instantly put me in a better mood. I was happy just from knowing that I was heading home the minute I jumped into my car.
I've learned various techniques of meditation, where I can meditate for three minutes up to half an hour. It's nice to clear my head and just focus on nothing. Quite frankly, aside from writing down my new story ideas, I think it helps clear out all of those thoughts as well.
Now that the extended hours at one of my jobs is over, I feel like i can breathe again. Don't get me wrong, I'm kind of glad I was super busy. If i were stationary for too long I'd feel weird that I was alone during parts of the holidays since my sisters were already at home after finishing their semester of grad school. Don't get me wrong, I did go out and hang out with my co-workers and friends doing various activities like seeing movies and stuff, but when I'd be back at my apartment eating my super late, and light, dinner before heading to sleep is when it'd kick in.
After taking up mediation, I'm kind of leaning towards yoga, but I'm not too sure about that yet. I enjoy high energy, high action things like dancing and martial arts. I mean, where else but in martial arts can you punch something and not get into trouble for it? My co-worker who got me into meditation has told me about this retreat kind of place where it's all about yoga and meditation. I think I'd like to try it one day. She enjoys doing it. I think she's trying to get me into it so she can have a friend to do the activity as well. She's always so excited and willing to listen when I talk about having a slight interest in yoga. Maybe I should start with YouTube videos first.
The ending of 2015 was okay. Don't get me wrong, spending New Year's Eve with my sisters by going out to lunch/dinner and playing video games for the rest of the night was great. And yet, I was ready for 2015 to be over. I had a lot of setbacks the last few days of the year and I wanted to start anew. Now that I have my positive mindset back, I don't think of them as setbacks anymore. I see them as a set ups for a comeback.
2016 has started off great, so I'm hoping that it sets the tone for the next month and then eventually the rest of the year. I already can see good things coming (Circus Camp at the library, two of my sisters getting their Masters, hours at my library job slowly decline back to the regular 19 1/2 per week), so now that a positive change has occurred, I'm ready to see what is bound to happen.
Today at work, I was complimented on how patient I was with a customer. They were trying to use a $10 off coupon they received as a reward for collecting a lot of points from shopping in the store. We had to go through so many steps for her to complete her rewards profile (something you need to do before you can start getting your rewards, usually customers do this after initially signing up for the rewards program) that I ended up trying various different steps for her to get her coupon as well as typing things into her phone for her since I can type pretty quickly. You should actually see how wide people's eyes get when I breeze through typing in their info to sign them up for the rewards program.
I would think people's first impression of me is different than how I actually am. I can actually be shy from time to time, and I think I have the "resting bitch face" so people either assume I'm upset or something is wrong, or that I'm intimidating. This isn't the case, or at least, it's not the energy I want to put out into the world. Most cases, I'm just thinking about something very hard. After graduating high school, I've tried to adopt a more positive outlook to life and it's been very beneficial for me. I just have this drive to help people. I like helping people even if its as small as holding a door open. I'm just very perceptive and sometimes I can tell when someone needs to vent. I just want to put others before myself, even though I worry I will be burned in the end. Unfortunately this has happened numerous times, and yet, I still want to help people.
When I was younger, I strongly disliked being called sensitive. Growing up in a family with 5 siblings, with three of them being the same age as me, and looking exactly like me, it was hard for me to find where I fit, not just in my family, but in society. People would just call me "Jackson" or "Quad". Now, don't get me wrong, I love being a multiple, and I wouldn't imaging my life any other way. They're my best friends. I know it must be hard to remember whose name goes to who. Some have told me they were embarrassed that they couldn't tell us apart, but they tried. I always knew the difference with those who tried and those who didn't.
With not really knowing where I fit, I think i found myself just filled with a lot of different emotions. I was easily offended by something or upset by something and people would say, like clockwork: "Why are you so sensitive about everything?" or "Stop being so sensitive."
Unfortunately, I think that had affected me a lot. It's made me somewhat hard and some could see that as me being cold. I'm not that harsh of a person; however, if anyone messes with anyone in my life, I will be quick to knock them down a peg, so I guess there is a bit of a spin to it. Because of those comments, I don't cry that often. I hate to cry, i don't like how i feel after i cry, and sometimes I just feel like I'm weak after I do it. There has yet to be a movie where I cried while watching it. I do admit though, i did get misty eyed during Toy Story 3 and Inside Out. Also, who can keep a straight face when watching those videos on YouTube when those in the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, etc return home.
Now, i see being sensitive as a good thing. It means people can trust me with their problems, and that I will actively listen to them. It doesn't matter what my issues are at the moment, if someone needs to vent I'll give them my full attention. It may take a bit for someone to find out that side of me, but it's always been there, just buried a bit.
"Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you." - Walt Whitman