education, fitness, goals, life, Peloton

Carbs

I fell. Hard. Off my relative clean ways into the abyss of food happiness, otherwise known as the mexican donut. There is nothing like the lard laden happiness that drips in true sugary sweetness. It is perfect. Enough said. You get it, we all have our weaknesses. Mine our carbs and the country of Mexico has perfected that art.

The saddest part about the fall is climbing out of the long slide down. Truth be told, it did not start or end with one donut. There were mini-slips that led me to the sweetness mountain of delight this early morning. As I watch the clammers gather the goods for the day, I had choices but my heart went straight to the lard. It is probably also now sitting in a rear area of my body, as well…or at least very soon…

The donut takes me to a carb laden drink. Adult style. With thoughts of chips and salsa in my future. I used to eat this way with no cares in my south of the border home life. But now every carb has guilt and future weight in every bite. It feels like culinary abandon but leave it does not and with the added years it tends to leave unwanted memories. My struggle for taste, freedom, a younger self all wrapped up neatly in a fabulous food group.

With every sip and bite I am stuffing my feelings of stress and a body which in a week’s time has gained three infections and run out of steam. My abandon is a major middle finger to the clean ways that broke me to this place. Kinda clean ways. So where am I going with this dribble. Ah, the epiphany, of course, that surrounds me in the quiet of our Mexico getaway. Of course.

So as mentioned, my body broke this week and broke hard. It will recover once the promotion reel is played, our readers theater link is sent to the critical teaching masses, and my last shift for laptop turn in is complete. Gaining my former self is around the corner with the help of a doctor appointment in the mix…it is the keeping it that way. There is no secret I struggle with balance, healthy ways, etc. But my new riding ways have taught me that the secret to health is not x amount of minutes each day…it is just getting on and doing it every single day coupled with food that fuels instead of food that stays around past its expiration date. Sounds easy, it is not for those of us trying to create habits we never had. One or two slips equate the starting gate again filled with self-doubt and anger at being at the beginner stages over and over again.

My pride at my 100 was real, earned, and then I slipped not having a clear direction. With that moment came the eating slips as they go hand in hand. Who knew I work out for accolades other than body fit and functionality. So, I have made them. Here we go. In print.

1. Ride number 200 by the end of August.

2. July Pelofundo Goal 30 miles

3. 100 strength, 100 cardio, 100 yoga, 100 meditation by the end of August.

4. No carbs. Bye-bye. Not Keto but no processed carbs.

5. Meal plan, prep and make the in-person school transistion not dependent on eating out.

6. This is the toughie. Biking in the AM. We shall see. Not a morning gal. This is a maybe.

7. Stop kicking myself and accept my 58 and all its glory with refining changes happening daily, note the good and learn from the rest without a guilt trip.

All of these goals wrapped up in the goals of goals…not killing the hubs in our upcoming road trip or eating my frustration along the way. We leave in June and yes, the chaos will be shared as I have never spent more than 8 hours in a car, ever in my life. This will be the journey of a lifetime and hopefully will make you laugh.

Until then…here is our hastag. #thetravellinglivingstons

education

How to Say Goodbye…

How do you say goodbye to students you have never met? This year was virtual. My students are bubbles of all different colors and images. Just bubbles. Some, greeted me daily, others were hit and miss due to all different types of reasons. Now, don’t get me wrong I could recite a poem, grab some quotes, and call it a day. But that is cheesy. I am not, and truth be told, while my bubbles hated to share their faces for that next level interaction, we connected. I fought for those that struggled, texted and called parents daily, and begged for students to not give up when their lives were crashing around them. I am that teacher who cheers students on throughout their lives, and feels privileged to take home much more than a salary. I have memories for a lifetime and beyond. While never meeting my students I feel a connection that might be deeper than other years. We fought a pandemic together. Pretty strong. So this group deserves not only my gratitude but a few memories that made our year a bit brighter.

So 8th Grade class of 2021…Thank you for:

1. Laughing with me when for the 9,000th time I made a technology error, lost the meeting, forgot to record, re-record, figure out Kami and of course how much you hated Kami.

2. Going on a virtual field-trip with initial hesitancy and some sadness. We made it to the Capitol, with alot of help. All of your questions and grace made me proud.

3. All of your daily sweet greetings and 👋

4. Seeing your faces, once in awhile.

5. Your honest feelings about the pandemic, online life, and your hopes, fears, and dreams made my days in my bubble special.

6. Your constant questions and desire to be your best in a virtual surrounding which was challenging each and everyday.

7. Watching your excitement when the highschool counselors came to present and all the questions afterwards, along with the excitement of leaving the computer behind and celebrating school as we once knew it!

8. Your fear of failure and how all of you pulled yourself up out of virtual boredom to cross the finish line.

9. Having to tell you that promotion was virtual and how your sadness and excitement poured through the messages. Both feelings valid but filled with compassion for others.

10. Finally, thank you for being part of our countries future. Work hard, follow your dreams, spend your money wisely, and vote using research and your smarts to make our country a better place, travel, laugh, sing, and reach for the stars. You are our future! Congratulations!

Mrs. Livingston

Maybe this is their goodbye!

education

100

Today, two days before my goal, I achieved my 100th ride plus 3. Do the math. By this time today, so have millions around the globe. So the special feel while not monumental to those riding for many years before the peloton, or in my case pechelon popularity overcame our world, is sweet.

This newbie found her groove and todays ride and pride was all mine. I did not take a live ride to pray for a shoutout and possibly fall of the bike if called out…No, I crossed my line for my own praise and satisfaction with a pre-recorded tabata ride. It was my perfect. I started for me and finished for me while singing “Fat Bottom Girl” at the top of my lungs, when I could breath. As proud as I feel I unfortunately spent most of the ride concerned about what’s next. Maybe everyone does, enter pelofondo…100 miles in a day. Right. This is the super extreme of home spinning goals. I salute all that survived the day as fitness is an addiction with the stakes only getting higher, riskier, and at a certain point possibly damaging. But I will take this addiction over many others that surround our society. It is obvious that with the popularity of fitness via peloton, pechelon or the other possibilities advertising for everyone’s passions, so are others. Will I ever pelofondo? Doubtful, but not out of the question. No, probably out of the question. Baby steps. 💯 is my today’s happiness and huge accomplishment.

Again, back to my thoughts during the ride…the what is next? Leaving this lifestyle is not an option, but my goals need to be realistic and not overtake my life. I want balance, health, happiness, the whole enchilada. I do not want to wake up and punish myself for not riding. That is not healthy. The instructors have become not only trainers but mental cheerleaders that allow me to push myself in all areas of life while spreading the reality of days will be days and some days we just don’t have it in us or even if we do we don’t as our bodies are needing rest. I want balance. The last two weeks have been double rides. I felt exhaustion and fighting for a number not a physical goal or enlightenment. But during the push I learned how much I can do, how much I love to ride and move my body. Now my work is on balance and a consistent better nutrition. As a member of WW for as long as I can remember I have always been at the moment of the last ten pounds, knowing full well what to do and how to do it…now that should be my goal. If I can do the rides, I can eat the right way, everyday. So, my numbers on the bike need to transfer to the numbers on the scale. So my new goal is ten pounds or so…200 rides by June and the addition of meditation, and barre to my daily workout All while trying to keep the balance and enjoying my workouts instead of chalking them off for the day which was necessary for this first testing round of goal achievement. I feel with the wisdom and strength of the trainers by my side, my favorites BTW are Robin, Alex, and Tunde and my go to rides are HIIT and Tabata. I know, crazy, right? This next go around will not only add to my numbers but include other options to my day and increase my saddle time from 20 minutes plus to 30 minutes plus on a daily basis so I build more muscle and burn additional calories. Now before all of you pelofondo achievers laugh, my ground zero point 100 rides ago was five minutes. Yes, five. I have come a long way and prouder than proud in my own quiet way.

Enjoy the ride, I know I have and will continue this passion.

2020, education, life

Next year is 21…

Next year I will begin my 21st year of teaching. This year was hell. We can all agree. But what was worse than teaching to my little lost bubbles, was the digging deep to not emotionally lose them, and crying during the times I truly almost did. I found myself lost in my own shell as a teacher to the mysterious virtual world I lived inside. My normal soft hearted ways turned tough. With every new build of a virtual modules with countless varieties of materials needed to reach my peeps, another wall went up. The creative work allowed me to hide from our year long reality. I just kept busy. Each wall I built protected me from the kids truly difficult lives, and my own occasional pity party. Losing a year of human connection especially for a teacher is odd at best. It was hit and miss in the beginning but now I cannot remember what it is like inside the not so virtual walls of education. To me that is scary.

As I stated my chosen virtual world was sketchy at first but now part of me absolutely loves this new gaming world due to the creative methods of teaching, and let’s just say after twenty years I have done it all, literally. So this keeps my spark going. But that teacher part, the heart part, aches. That is something I cannot get back. However, since I am a positive gal I found a huge silver lining. My knowledge of technology went from a solid low single digits to triple digits on an average day. I began with just the basics of social media platform knowledge and texting with one thumb, which still plagues my cell saviness, but I am quick, know the lingo, and can challenge you on any tech platform to date. Ok. Not worth a year away from humans but the skills are priceless for my students and ultimate bragging rights for this old gal.

This post began with our recent “celebration” of the anniversary of hiding away from a virus that attacked the life we once knew. So much has changed. As a teacher at this time of year we start planning for next year. However, I do not know my next years direction. So the planning will have to wait. I am unsure of my school and grade level and at spring break this is frustrating but understandable. Districts around our state and the United States are still figuring out where our kids have been, as many have floated in and out of the public system long enough to be part of school, but educationally lost and without an actual daily home of learning. This did make me cry at night, in the beginning, but with the fortress I have built during this travesty, the tears have stopped. I am not proud of pushing away my feelings, but I had no choice. My long game was to survive the reality and damage education went through this year.

Next year, wherever I land, I will ring in 21 with joy and hopefully a softer heart. The outings will increase, the smiles will come back, and life will begin to make sense again. As for this year. I believe kids and teachers will eventually be ok. We all need a long summer of hugs and tons of fearless outings to welcome back a life after Covid-19. I will not forget this year, but perhaps, I will take more away from it aside from being ultra tech savvy. Just perhaps, I will enjoy life more sweetly than before and that will bring my hardened heart back to life.

echelon, education, fitness, goals, Peloton

50!

50 is a badge of honor in the Peloton world. I earned it. After my ride I danced…part tik tok and all embarrassing…no one was home. I inserted the word beast all day in every possible and impossible use just to tie me back to my tabata ride with Robin. The feeling I held with me that day and since this accomplishment is ecstatic as a beginner in the Peloton family. This is just one step one of many that I want not for the spin but the feeling afterwards. All these years I thought I would fall in love with a fitness routine. No. It is the moments after, that you fall in love with, that keeps you coming back. Ok the music and trainers are awesome, but it is the after.

My rides are saving my sanity. In a course of one week…deaths hit too close to home and my age, I became another pin cushion for Pfizer as I turned in my golden ticket for THE second shot, and muddled through the slight after feelings as the vaccine does it stuff. This was enough during an already over covidized lifestyle along with my yearly “I hate testing” mode that came kicking and screaming a few weeks weeks early. To add insult to injury my being raked over the coals for my ideals that state testing is the answer to everything or anything. It is my my opinion, but it was canceled quickly.

As a teacher, such speak is foreign to the trained union ears, but I have never have liked testing. Never. Ever. It brings out the worst in all teachers as they try to race to the top of the heap only to be publicly shamed if that years group does not measure excellence. FYI not every year brings testing success for a variety of reasons. It’s true. I have had great scores in my life, blue ribbon years in fact. How, I just teach. Thats all. You can’t push a score, child, or base your entire career around a number, but some do. I just teach and during testing I create cheers, dances, chants, and allow kids to breathe, chew gum, eat jolly ranchers galore as I just monitor and cheer.

As part of the canceled teacher culture. I am keeping to myself, teaching to my kids, smiling, and riding with numerical purpose. The new age of teacher (or those fixated on the score) has never understood me. We can’t all teach the same, test the same, be the same, and turn pages of text at the same time. However, we should all teach to the same standards at the same time with our materials of choice and share our knowledge and curriculum creation talents to bring the best to kids. If you love Common Core that’s cool, but in my opinion it has killed the overall creative spark of the teacher. Just my opinion. I love different. I create new lessons every year. I have never used the same plan twice. Ok, just one…but it’s really good. I will never change. Never. Truth be told I actually love a good test that shows a childs real growth or non-growth with the added caveat that the test must matter not for a pie in the sky score but true advancement. Give me any test that is meaningful to the tester and I am all over it as the purpose has changed. No longer is it a number it is a number for the child not the teacher. Big difference. We need a great test like Cambridge, ACT SAT, Stanford 9 that is used for student advancement. Not our current battle of the scores for only the teachers, districts, and states etc.

So how does my Peloton 50 celebration equate with my recent frustration surrounding my yearly testing woes. It is the difference between wanting the number and riding with no purpose. I worked for the number, I made the number happen. Our kids, especially our little humans don’t care about the number they just want the stress to go away. That feeling they have in their tummies and heads when some of our great teachers go overboard and our kids don’t see a connection to the test and life. Give it connection and we will see real scores that match to capabilities from our kids. But for now we are just ringmasters trying to squeeze out effort that many kids see no overall reason to give or just keep spinning with to please a system. Real meaning to testing will allow us to truly see the light of day. We would have invested kids, teachers teaching with true meaning, and correlation to the score and success which would have a higher impact on true data.

That’s all I want. That and my next Pelotin goal 100 by 4/19. Is it really too much to ask?

education, goals, life, Peloton

Just Show Up

The first step of Peloton is “Just show up.” The epiphany is not mine, it is the company way, stated often, and a brilliant marketing tactic and a simple explanation of life. “Just show up.” After only twenty-five rides I am addicted to the mantras, coaches, entertainment, and the new fitter person I am becoming. Now, getting on the bike is not always easy, pretty, or physically pleasant. But it is my time where my showing up does equate to a better overall day due to endorphins and a mindset of positivity.

This week I taught my kids, during SEL time, about dreams, goals, and how to keep in the game when life keeps hitting us hard. My sweet 8th graders have survived unreal scenarios with no answer in sight. I reached into the social emotional learning lessons and inserted a few Peloton expressions and their little faces lit up. I guess it is true that everyone needs a little Ally Love in their lives!

Of course a lesson and a few fun quotes won’t solve the future issues looming over our littles lives. My kids find time to search me out or wait until class is over throughout the week and ask questions for which I have no answers. The frequency of their questions shows me that their stress level is going higher as the days pass. The questions are always the same but stated with their individual flair.

What will school look like next year?

Will it be scary to be back with new kids?

Will we wear masks forever?

Will the shot work?

What about the new strains?

Can we just stay virtual?

Will anyone remember me?

Will anyone like me?

That last one gets me in the heart. But my kids have been missing in action, coping with family, and trying to learn in a bubble chosen by their parents for a variety of reasons. My kids are home by choice and waiting out a storm that keeps bubbling up at every surface. Obviously, I have no answers but their fragility is noted. I shared that I am going to get the vaccine during my “lunch bunch” one student cried real tears as she thought that meant I would not be her teacher. I calmed her down and after I got off camera. I cried. Not even Ms. Love’s spirit and words could calm me down. A “Boss” I was not at that moment more like a puddle of emotions.

All of their questions are now in overdrive due to high-school enrollment on their plate. So I have adopted the Peloton mantra of just showing up into my virtual classroom. Everyday I welcome them by noting their good choices of showing up, being present, turning on the camera, and participating in school and life. This new phrase of congratulations of just showing up seems simple but to my littles they understand that this is the first step to each and everyday. To acknowledge the good choices they are making is my attempt to counter their fears and teach that no matter what the day brings we all have to decide to “Just Show Up” and tackle the day bit by bit. If mantras and power of positive thought can get this 57 year old to ride everyday because of that feeling of wow that I feel during and after the ride, just think of how consistent power of positive thought can transform my littles overwhelming fears.

It is my hope to turn my puddles of concern to strong personalities of positive thoughts for their exciting lives that await them if they are brave enough to peek around the corner.

education, life

NCLB Dribble

NCLB is the worst policy that still stands. Find the data, test the child, re-test the child, find the data. Rinse, repeat but don’t leave them behind. Ever. While I do not have data to prove that NCLB has failed. I have observations. It has upped my stress levels, given no rocket scientist data points, or increased my value as teacher. The societal view of my profession has dropped, many our leaving, and our kids data is not stellar as compared to other countries, states, zip codes etc. I am a tester approximately 25% of the year and a data digger on my spare time. NCLB has done nothing for the state of public education and everything for the state of charter or private education. They test, yes they do. But for purpose not whimsy.

My educational fantasy is copying the English system. It’s ok to give them credit for a system that works (we won the war) and of course modify it so it is less class oriented. We should have exams, we should have top curriculum, we should have standards that truly point kids to university. But we don’t. Most of the world uses the Cambridge Curriculum and leveled exams that are administratered after all instruction has ended. Again, a fantasy. A few schools/districts are dabbling with Cambridge a system and curriculum with varied reading materials that don’t all come from a text. Real reading out of books. The idea. And their history comes from actual documents think Gilder Lehrman, not our washed out textbooks, which we continue to refurbish at great cost. Give me books and documents and I can create anything. But I am an antique. The new teachers unless they feel education in their bones do not have this gift. So give them a real curriculum to follow…Cambridge. If Arizona was brave and we spent the money once for this amazing stuff we would turn out kids ready for 100 level university classes instead of turning our 000 level students.

You get my idea. Less constant testing and a superior curriculum would have increased our overall numbers in our public schools. Instead, many districts will be closing buildings due to our parents fatigue with a system that is broken. All of this hurts my heart. I am an Arizona public school kid, a public school teacher and all I want is better. My question is how much longer are we going to wait?

education

Oh so serious…

Across the United States children are missing from our educational system. This should trouble you. Greatly. Once upon a time, I believed I could manage the chaos called Department of Education. Today, I still do. However, unlike our current chief aka the winner in fancy political terms. I would address the situation of 50,000 students missing from public and charter schools. Instead our fearful leader trumped for more money to head to our schools on the backs of businesses that are breaking. I would be personally call every household just to make sure they are ok and set them up for success. No, we are allowing them to run from the school-year of chaos. Instead, the department pushes for more money through taxation. This was a gross error as whatever money is gained will not be seen by teachers, we all know this, but many fall in line and believe the fairy tale. I do not. The department cannot continue running on the fantasy that we are the public education of years ago. We are not. We have slipped due to the political mandates pressed upon us, the little people. Only to cause our little people more stress, tests, and the benefits of less teaching. The system needs change and guts to make the changes needed so all kids can have a great education and all teachers can choose where they want to work not hampered by retirement funding. You get it.

Now back to the missing kids. If your head is buried in the sand and you think that they are coming back look at your district trending numbers. Please take a breather…Check your years in, your fancy non-classroom position, and ask yourself…do I have a job next year? No, you are a great teacher, or leader, I am sure of it. The numbers just don’t add up. Research goes a long way. Please do some so you are not shocked at the end of this year as the 50,000 missing are not coming back. Prepare my friends, prepare. The system has failed these kids. They have found alternatives to what many still believe is the only show in town. We are not. This should be on our benchmark test. Perhaps the system would change, let go of what takes great teachers away from teaching, and stand up to our boards and state officials. You see it takes leaders at all levels with courage, conviction, and a clear daily reminder that we are failing to do the right thing as a total system. No, not in our individual classrooms or even throughout some districts. As a complete entity.

Next year will bring change. Unfortunately, those that walk the line of the union are becoming stronger in this state by the day. I will never join. Duh. As such I will never get the accolades or first round choice positions. So, don’t worry if you are at a district with a number risk. You will win over me in in a head to head contest. Quite frankly a teacher without a full degree might win the position over my 20 plus years. Truth. I have crossed them many a time. I am still right and they still wrong in the direction of truly taking care of the teachers, but that does not matter. I crossed. But while on my tour, I had a false sense of freedom and spoke freely about the realities we all face that have only become worse. We need true leaders with hearts, no rational fear, and one who cares more about kids than a political agenda to make the tough calls for our kids and our classroom lives. We need this not only at the top but around the state in a variety of roles. So next time you vote for any position that affects us please check for that factor. I will create a rubric. But until then start speaking up for yourself, our kids, and your classroom life. I am getting a tad lonely.