Monday Motivators: 65,000 Steps

Challenges:  They get me in trouble.  I cannot say “no” to them.  So when my blogging buddy Laura started her Monday Motivators to challenge and motivate herself and her friends to do whatever it is they need to do that week, I signed on immediately.  My challenge: walk 60,000 steps in 5 days.

The fitness powers-that-be suggest 10,000 steps a day, but working at a school and being on my feet all day helps me attain almost 6-8,000 steps.  Walking to the mailbox and regular daily living walking helps make up the difference.  That’s not very challenging. 12,000 steps requires more from me, and to reach that goal, I need to come home after being on my feel all day and do a workout.  That is a challenge.

But I made it.  I actually did a little over 60,000 steps and here’s my plan of attack:

1. Wear the FitBit.  My FitBit tracks all of my steps, and sometimes after I shower, I forget to put it on right away.  That means I walk around the house getting ready for work and those steps are not tracked.  This can add up to over 500 steps!

2. Plan ahead.  Last week I knew I had an all-day meeting Wednesday, a book club in the evening Thursday, and a tuckered body on Friday.  These days were going to be low-step days, so I planned to work out Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday afternoons.  On Monday and Tuesday I exceeded 12,000 steps in order to make up for the rest of the week’s deficit.

3. The mini-challenge.  On Thursday and Friday, know that I would need to get in some good steps at work, I gave myself mini-challenges.  For example, during class I checked my steps on my FitBit (I love my FitBit) and challenged myself to walk a certain amount of steps in a limited amount of time.  This had an added benefit of keeping my students on task: at any moment I could be doing a lap around their desks.

4.  Take the long way.  My classroom is close to everything: the front office, the library, the bathroom, the elevator.  Fortunately my room is on the second floor, so there is ample opportunity to take the stairs.  However, with everything so close I often create “long ways” of getting places.  It might take a minute or two longer to get somewhere, but the steps add up quickly (you’d be surprised).

5. A little help from students.  Some of my students know that I am trying to get in my steps.  Some cheer me on, while others are sneaky.  One day a student called me over to him. After walking across the room to see what he needed, he grinned, “Nothing.  Just helping you get in some more steps.”

This week has less demands on my time, so my goal is to reach 65,000 steps.

Readers, if you have not met my lovely friend, Laura, click on the link above and check out her blog.  Let her motivate you, too!

Please Read This Post Before You “Like” It

I have a blogging bone to pick.  Recently I have had a rash of other bloggers liking my posts without reading them.  It’s pretty easy to spot them– I hit “publish” and within minutes I have 3 views and 5 likes– two did not read what I actually wrote, but hit the “Like” button on the reader page.  There are only three reasons bloggers do this:

1. They want to increase their readership through their “likes”.  It is common courtesy to check out someone’s blog after they “like” it and hopefully find something in their blog that is funny, inspiring, provoking, or strange to “like” back.  However, when it’s just rampant liking without reading– that’s just blatant attention-getting self-promotion.

2. Same as #1, but they have their ebook to sell.  More self-promotion.

3. They have no life and sit in front of the computer scanning the reader page and liking everything.

Why am I so annoyed?  I mean, really, having a bunch of likes on your post is impressive to other bloggers to see when they stop by.  It’s also really nice to get a “like”.  I am annoyed because it is empty, meaningless praise given for the sake of self-promotion.  I am annoyed because I spend a lot of time writing, as I’m sure you do, too, and someone is passing judgement on my work without even knowing, or taking the time to consider, what I wrote.   I am annoyed because when I go check out the “liker’s” blog, it is selling something.  I am annoyed because it is inauthentic and degrades the sense of community and sharing among bloggers.  I prefer an honest empty like space at the bottom of my post over a space full of “empty likes”.  If you like it, “like” it, but only then.

Whew!  I had to get that off my chest.  Those of you who honestly like my work, I know who you are and your support keeps me writing.  Thank you.

On the homefront: I had a good first day of school today.  My students seem nice, if a bit squirrely.  I think I am going to have a good term.


The Results Are In! What Toby Thought…

For the very first ever “What Is Toby Thinking?” challenge we have a tie!  To add to the whole competition fun, the winners’ names correspond so well: they are Dad Knows and Shut Up Dad.   If you have not checked out their blogs, please do so.  They both have wry senses of humor but about disparate topics.  Dad Knows will help you determine if that is really a praying mantis you’re seeing, while Shut Up Dad can help you determine your favorite instrument.

Here is how they both have given me insight to my enigmatic Toby:

The image in question.

Dad Knows: “The sunset sure is a fine one tonight. I wonder how quick first class mail is these days. Did I eat dinner? I think I’ll turn in and listen to Coltrane while I do some reading.” Oh, wait – what’s TOBY thinking. In that case, “I don’t think she saw me sneak that second sip of her wine. But, darn it, my tongue is numb.”

Shut Up Dad: Cat food? I said seared tuna…(in a “no duh” monotone style)

Round of applause everyone?


Remember it could be you on the leader board!  Watch for the next segment of the “What’s Toby Thinking?” challenge!

Recognizing Others

One of the things that makes the blogging world rock way more than the “real” world (no, not the one on MTV, but the one on your side of the computer screen) is that we can openly recognize and appreciate each other.  In the real world we work and toil, wipe the sweat off our brow, and maybe the boss, client, student says “thank you for _____________ (fill in the blank with whatever you excel in)”.  A little “thank you”or recognition every now and then goes a long way.  It lets us know that we’re on the right track and that we matter.

It is very cool that there are a variety of “awards” that bloggers can use to recognize each other.  This week I have been fortunate enough to receive the Liebster Award from Nomadic Noesis (who also has another blog Gen BLT). Her first blog is made up of her poems and excellent book lists.  If you want a book to read that is of high quality, check out her blog.  Her second blog is for the “sandwich generation”, those who are in the middle with grown kids and aging parents.  She provides many resources and support for those who are making the difficult transition into parenting the parent.

The Liebster Blogger Award rules are:
1. Thank the one who nominated you by linking back.
2. Nominate five blogs with less than 200 followers.
3. Let your nominees know by leaving a comment on their sites.
4. Add the award image to your site.

Jodi Ambrose , a very fun sass mouth who helps people get the most out of their relationships, nominated me for the Sunshine Blog Award.  She blogs about more than just relationships, and each post is always entertaining.

Rules to Accept the Award:

  1. Include the award logo in a post or somewhere on your blog.
  2. Answer 10 questions about yourself.
  3. Nominate 10 to 12 other fabulous bloggers.
  4. Link your nominees to the post and comment on their blog, letting them know about the award.
  5. Share the love and link the person who nominated you.

Answers to the Ten Questions About Me:

1. What is a favorite childhood memory?

Eating zucchini bread with Country Crock butter spread at my grandparent’s house in the summer while watching Bewitched and the Beverly Hillbillies.

2. What is a real fear you have?

Gravity letting go.

3. How would you describe yourself?


4. What states have you lived in?


5. What is your style?

Preferably jeans, t-shirt, Converse.  No muss-no fuss.

6. What is your favorite breakfast food?

Oatmeal with apples, walnuts, and cinnamon.

7. What are some of your hobbies?

Reading.  Writing.  Walking. Napping.

8. If you could tell people anything…what would be the most important thing to say?

Do good and do well.

9. What is one of your “passions”?

Helping kids do good and do well.

10. What is one truth that you have learned?

There’s always more to learn, books to read, and roads to walk.  It’s never finished.

I have been very fortunate to have been nominated for awards before, and I have nominated many others (see this post, this post, and this post).  My list this time is a bit small since I am currently befriending new bloggers, but here are some new ones that I have enjoyed and hope you will, too.

Angela Vierling-Claassen

Good Old Girl


All That Charms


Also, make it a daily challenge to yourself to find a couple new bloggers a day and comment on their posts, because the next best thing to an award is a comment.  It’s a great way to recognize others and make a new friend.

What To Do, What To Do…

Alright fellow bloggers and readers, I need your input and advice. I have been feeling very melancholy and reflective of late as the graduation of the class of 2012 nears.  Of all the graduating classes I’ve taught, I have connected to this class the most, and I am sad to think of going to work next year and not having all of their friendly faces around me.  Then there is also the intimidation of two months of blogging a post a day without my source material.  Like my students, I need some summer “work”.  Left to my own devices I may just write about my daily routine all summer long (yoga, oatmeal, walking, reading, nap), and this might get really old for all of you really quick– especially if you’re working and not doing yoga or napping.  I don’t want you shun my blog thinking, “My gosh, it’s yet another pigeon pose post!”  While I have some ideas floating around my noggin, I’d like to get some from you for my brain to play with.  So fess up and give me some suggestions of things to write about, things that inspire writing, or ask a question.  Thanks!

Genuine Sunshine

When I started this blog two months ago, I really had no idea what would happen as a result of it.  Would anybody read it?  Would anybody like it? Would anybody care?  Now this is my 65th (?) post and from post 1 to now I’ve developed a nice group of followers that span the globe, I have had my blog deactivated by WP (got flagged as spam), and I have “met” some  amazing and supportive co-bloggers.  It’s them who keep me coming back.

Sometimes I think about giving it up and getting my reading time back, but then I think about weird conflicts and what’s going on with his students and children, and they’re both lucky to have him.  Or I think about my new Michigan friend Dad Knows and his views on family and nature; he doesn’t consider himself funny, but he’s funny.  Then there’s the wry humor of Sweet Mother who reflects on the ridiculous in the world.  Then there’s Abbie at All that makes you… who shares her very funny stories about raising three boys.  And Omar at underdog comedy who provides a glimpse into the world of stand up.  For new poetry everyday, there is Five Reflections who writes amazing haikus and Dean J. Baker who writes compelling poems that, for me, remember lost moments.  And Habiba at My Word Your who also writes poetry and provides insight into Pakistani life.  And That Fred Guy who has a crazy Canadian sense of humor who cracks me up.  Even though you would have to pry away grains from my cold dead hands, I do enjoy reading glutenvygirl as she explores the gluten-free life in a fun way. And then there’s bohemianspiritedmom who nominated me for the Genuine Blogger and the Sunshine Award. Her posts about being a mom and raising a family in this crazy world.   So it is not WordPress that keeps me here, it’s all of you.

Genuine Blogger Awards doesn’t come with any specific rules, however, the Sunshine Award does, and here they are:

  1. Link the award to the person who gave it to you.
  2. Answer the questions that come with it.
  3. Pass it along to 10 people and let them know they have received it.

The questions are:

  • Favorite color: Blue
  • Favorite number: 9
  • Favorite Non-alcoholic drink:  water
  • Facebook or Twitter:  Facebook
  • My Passion: Toss up between reading, writing, and napping
  • Favorite pattern:  Stripes
  • Favorite Day of the Week:  Friday
  • Favorite Flower:  My blue rose

My nominees are listed above.  Please check out their blogs and their work. Again thank you, bohemianspiritedmom and all of you who follow and read my blog.

Do They Make A Stats Page Patch? I Need To Quit.

Guess which one's me.

Ever since I’ve started blogging last month, my stats page has been my new BFF.  And it’s been a very good BFF.  It’s always there when I need it, ready to proffer up the amount of views, gossip about the tags that are most popular, and spy on those from Nepal and the Republic of Georgia who read my blog.  My new BFF has made me care about numbers and percentages in a way that I have never cared about before . (Don’t believe me?  Ask my high school Algebra II teacher who let me pass the class even though he admitted that I was “terrible, terrible at math”.)  My stats page has been generous with its time and views.

But I have to look at myself in mirror and ask “Have I been good to my stats page?”  For all its beneficence, I have turned into a needy, clingy, bunny-boiling blogger.  I sit at my computer demanding everything and more from my poor, abused BFF.  I constantly refresh the page calling out, “I will have new views…. Now!  Gosh darn it!  Still stuck at 8.  Hmmm…. Now!”.  My ability to focus is diminishing as I am like the anorexic who repeats everything she has eaten that day, steadily re-calculating the calories and fat grams,  “I shouldn’t have eaten that one M&M!”.  I believe I see a little orange box in the corner of my Word documents, imaging that someone out there likes the lesson plan I am typing up.  I drift somnolently up to the office in a trance to my computer.  The boundaries have been obliterated between me and my BFF.

Can this man empower me to stop checking my stats page?

It has to stop.  But how?  I’ve wandered the aisles of Rite-Aid and Walgreens and they have patches to ease pain, quit smoking and relieve car sickness, but do they have a patch for Stats Page Stalking?  Is there a gum?  A 12-step program?  Do I contact Tony Robbins to get results in not tracking my stats?  Do I seek Deepak Chopra’s help in creating a stronger, healthier body, mind, blog connection?  Do hypnotists specialize in stats pages or is it just losing weight only?  Or do I cut it out cold turkey?  But what about my i-Phone? Could I fall off the wagon by checking my WordPress app?  Maybe I should drop it in the toilet again– that solved my Words With Friends addiction.

Oh, wait!  My box is orange!  Gotta go!




Photos via and

Monday Madrigal: Try It, You’ll Like It

Home at last and where will you find me?

No, not in the kitchen cooking dinner,

nor reclined in a chair watching TV,

nor taking a nap (always a winner),

but you’ll find me working my noggin’,

typing away, thinking and bloggin’.

Today’s Monday poem form, the madrigal, is brought to you by The Teachers and Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms.  Madrigals originated in the 14th century (a.k.a. a long time ago), and it originally had two or three tercets (three-line verses) followed by a rhyming couplet (two-line verses).  However, everything loosens up with age and the form is much freer except that it still keeps the ending rhyming couplet.  Madgrigals are also meant to be sung, so the use of big, complicated words is frowned upon.

So I know my readers are a creative bunch.  What would your Monday (or depending on your time zone, Tuesday) madrigal be?  Please share your creation!

Me? A Beautiful Blogger?! Why, Thank You!

Over the past few days my husband and I have had a rather emotional experience taking care of his mother who recently had a total hip replacement as the result of a fall.  It’s been difficult to watch her be in pain (she has a very high threshold for pain, so when she shows it, we know she really hurts), and it’s been difficult watching my husband go on an emotional roller-coaster as he grappled with living far away, made arrangements for her care, and struggled with the fact that his job is demanding and he could not stay to be with her.  She is doing well, but there were occasions when we just felt helpless.  For those who are the care-givers of family members, I salute you.

So, it was a really nice surprise this morning to discover that I had been nominated for the Beautiful Blogger award. (Maybe the person who originated this award wanted a means to rank bloggers’ Gravatar images… then it got misconstrued and was applied to content.  Who knows?  Any-hoo, I’m happy to have it.)

Rules for the award are:

1.Thank the person who gave you the award
2.Paste the award on your blog
3.Link the person who nominated you for the award
4.Nominate your choice of bloggers
5.Post links to the blogs you nominated

Thank you My Word Your Ear for contributing your reflections on everything from life, poetry, medical school and Harry Potter.  Your writing is thoughtful and funny.  Thank you for giving recognition to my little blog a half a world away.

Here are my nominees and they represent a wide view of life.  They are in no particular order:

1. Bohemianspiritedmom

2. Cricketmuse

3. Weird Conflicts

4. thatwritinglady

5. Sweet Mother

Happy reading and writing fellow bloggers!

One Month Of Blogging: Before And After

Well, here it is: my one month anniversary of being a blogger.  This is my 31st post (?!).  The irony here is that I don’t like to use computers or like typing, yet here I am at my computer typing.  Voluntarily. This is not the only thing about my life that has changed; there are many before and after “shots” of my life.

Before: In the evenings you would find me on the couch reading (or as my husband would call it: napping) or screaming out the questions to Jeopardy! “What is Belize!  Come on you guys, Belize!  Isn’t that moron supposed to be a Geography teacher?! BELIZE! BUH-LEEZE!”

After: I am no where to be seen in the living room; I have not tested my random knowledge of Central America, Heading To Cla “ss”, or World Explorers; I only read three books in March.  I am holed up in the office.  Typing.

Before: I had real human friends and a husband (though I believe he’s around here somewhere, I hope).

After: The stats page is my new BFF.  It tells me everything I need to know, such as the fact that people in the Philippines and the Netherlands have broken away from their busy blog schedules to read mine.

Before: Tinged with anxiety and depression.  Endless loops of negativity played through my brain as I had mental arguments with people/students/computers.  Worry constantly beset me.

After: Now I think about how I would portray the issue in writing.  As I crafted my future boo-hoo blog in my mind, I realized that I didn’t want to spend time writing about it and hence, didn’t want to think about it anymore.  A-Ha! Problems presto gone-o. Now I think of things that are blog-worthy– events that happened in the day that resonated with me.

Before: I didn’t know anyone who lived in Missouri or Arizona.

After: I have two steady followers who have consistently provided feedback and support from the beginning. One is a music teacher from Missouri who always has a thoughtful and unique perspective on life.  You can cheek out his writing at weird conflicts. The other is a stand up comedian from Arizona who reflects upon his craft and has made me realize that as a teacher, I am a stone’s throw away from a comedy club.  You can check out his writing at underdogcomedy.

Before: I had a mother who had never read Pride and Prejudice.

After:  My mom, being the good mother she is, reads my blog everyday.  She elevated herself to the “best mother in the entire world” status (oh, wait, she already held that position, make that the best-best mother) when she decided to read P&P along with my senior class.  She also emailed me a sketch of Mr. Darcy done in the 19th century.  Excited by her decision, I told one of my senior boys, who responded, “Your  mom is really cool!” (he wasn’t being facetious either).

This first month of blogging wouldn’t have been nearly as fun without those who helped make it all happen.  There are many people to thank:

1. My husband.  First of all, he brought home a new computer that doesn’t take forty minutes to load email or two days to open a Word file.  (I’m not kidding.)  We’ve never had internet connection this fast and we’re still in shock.  Though my constant blogging has confounded him, he has been supportive.

2. My parents.  When I started this blog, I thought it was kind of silly; I could just blog about whatever.  Then during a visit to my parents during spring break, my mom complimented my writing (she doesn’t just dole out compliments, so this really meant something to me), and my dad expressed his concern that I may get too busy with stuff at school and it would “get in the way of blogging.”  Could a kid ask for more support?  I think not.

3.  My readers.  When I started this, I didn’t know if I’d have any readers (besides Mom and Dad).  My readers have been wonderful and supportive.  Many of them I work with or have worked with, and their responses motivate me to keep writing.  The blogging community has been very welcoming, and it’s been fun “meeting” other bloggers and reading their perspectives.

4.  My students. They are my muses and the source of much material.  Though some of them help keep Advil in business, I feel very fortunate to spend my days with them.

5. Molly.  She has spent many an hour in my lap, pinning me to the computer chair, purring and nipping my chin.  I am unable to move, so therefore, must keep writing.

Molly likes to hold things down.

So readers, as I enter my second month of blogging, what feedback do you have?  What would you like to see on this blog?  Are there any topics you’d like to see?  What can I do to improve?