Sunday, January 13, 2013

What to do... what to do.

Last week I got a catalogue from an online teacher development program called Learners Edge.  As I was perusing the catalogue to see if there might be a class or two I’d like to take during the summer I found a section that talked about getting a Masters of Education online.  Apparently the Learners Edge programs are linked to several colleges and universities here in the western part of the US that are offering this option to both individuals who are already teaching (meaning they have a bachelors in education and are looking for a pay bump) and individuals like me that can’t seem to figure out what they want to do (meaning my bachelors is in something else entirely).  I have all the prerequisites covered with the degree I already have and because I’m already working at the school as a teacher’s aid and a special ed. paraprofessional I have the resources at my fingertips to get in my experiential portion of the degree while I’m doing the course work at home. 

So to put it quite simply I’m seriously considering doing it.  It’s a 30 credit regiment that is put on the fast track and completed in 19 months starting in the summer and ending the following spring.  There are three options for specialization, one of which is in special populations, which would probably be the one I’d do since I really do love working with these kids that need the extra help both in the areas of learning and coping with emotional distresses.  I find it rewarding and challenging, yet I still come home at the end of the long day happy.

There are really only two things stopping me or at least making me hesitate,.  The first is the expense of it all.  Granted doing it this way is a heck of a lot cheaper than say going back to a brick and mortar school to get a Masters but its still $10,000 for the program which on my paycheck is really, really, really, really tight, but in the end I think it’d be worth it and would give me a lot more options for a career in the future regardless of what I choose to do.  The second is that I’m just plan scared of going back to school.  I know I shouldn’t be, especially if I’m doing everything from home, but still I feel like I’ve been out of the game a while and don’t know exactly how to get back into it.  But are those reasons enough to stop me?

The other option I found while I was perusing this same catalogue was the possibility of getting a special populations certificate.  Now if I did this I’d take 12 credits (9 of which would transfer over to the Masters program if I chose to do that later) with course work dealing specifically with autism, ADHD, emotional disturbances, and at risk youth in the school setting.  Now while I think this would be great for me personally so that I could apply what I learn to the students I have now, I’m not sure what it would do for me in the long run since I’m not already a licensed teacher.

I keep telling myself I should be getting back to doing stuff in wildlife but really I’m having so much fun working in education and with these amazing kids that no one else is giving a chance that I wonder what my calling truly is.  I’m so conflicted that my heart hurts over it.  I worry that my family will think I’m copping out of what I went to school for for all those years.  But really I started with a plan to go to Pharmacy school so I could have a fall back and a way to pay for Vet school.  That didn’t work out.  I hated pharmacy school and it wasn’t what I wanted to do so I switched to wildlife biology, which I loved and I’m gladded that’s what I got my degree in.  But the jobs right now just aren’t there unless I want to travel all over the country for seasonal and temporary work right now.  That’s no way to live and frankly I just don’t want to do it that way. 
So here I sit at another crossroads and I need to figure out where my life is going and what path I’m going to choose.  I need to make sure that no matter which I pick that I’m going to be happy with myself and able to live the kind of life I’m proud of.  That seems like it should just be a simple thing to do but for some reason it feels very complex right now.  I am giving myself a month to figure it out.  The application for the Masters program and the special populations certification programs are both due on April 15th but I figure I need to have it sorted out by the end of February for my own peace of mind.  Wish me luck.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Here's to a New Year!

2012 was in interesting year.  I had a ton of ups and a ton of downs yet in the end it doesn’t seem like a bad year overall.  Granted I’m not working in the field of wildlife which makes me feel pretty disappointed in myself, but I am working which frankly in this economy is a true blessing.  I’d been subbing at the local school for a while and working for the school’s preschool as an aid 2 days a week for the entire 2011-2012 school year and got to know some great people.  Apparently I did a good enough job with those two little endeavors to spark the interest of the principal and she offered me a position as a Special Education Aid (along with continuing to work with the preschool) for the 2012-2013 school year.  Not only that but I was also offered a position as a member of the brand new after school program team.  So I’m working 40 hours a week and come home with energy to spare so I must be doing something right.  I’m still not sure what my destiny is when it comes to a career but I’m giving Special Education a serious consideration.  I’ve come to realize I really enjoy it because each day has new challenges and trials that keep my mind going at full speed.  I also realized that I am a very patient and flexible person and when something goes wrong I generally can figure out a way to still get the job done while making the kids feel good about themselves.  Some of these skills are the same ones I used daily while working at my sister’s nursing home over the summers while I was in college.  I enjoyed that kind of work too so maybe I really should be doing something where I can put those kinds of skills to work for others.  There is a big part of me that still wants to go back to wildlife and use my education but who knows… maybe that’s just not in my cards.  So while I’m enjoying this I’m looking into what it would take to get a Masters in Education specializing in Special Ed.  My BS covers all the requirements except one and that’s Montana History which I know I could easily pick up in a semester but I struggle with the idea of going back to school myself.  It frankly scares me but it might be worth it in the end.

Work wasn’t my only life area with ups and downs.  At the end of last year I was fed up with how horrible I felt every day.  The weight I’d gained while dad was sick and I was stressed was just more than I could handle so I said enough was enough.  I spent the last year transforming myself but inside and out.  I started eating healthier, or at least eating only when I was actually hungry and not bored or stressed out and started working out each and every day come hell or high water.  It hasn’t been easy by any stretch of the word but I’ve lost 70 lbs and am still going. Since working at the school I’ve kind of slacked a bit but have maintained the 70 lb loss but having really done too well losing any more since about October.  I still want to lose at least another 30 to meet my goal and had really wanted to do that in a single year but that didn’t happen and I’m starting this new year with the goal of losing that 30 before the school year ends.  That means rededicating myself to this mission.  Getting up that extra hour early to get a workout in and forcing myself to eat breakfast in the morning before heading to work.  On the bright side I do feel fantastic, look a heck of a lot better, and have more energy than I know what to do with which sometimes drives Mace nuts.  I love being able to go for a run or hike a mountain without hurting or being out of breath.  It’s such a welcome and of course needed change.  I’m just hoping that I can keep it up.

Things were also a bit stressed on the family front.  In September my mom had another gall bladder attack that was so severe that she developed a case of pancreatitis.  It also caused a severe UTI which of course needed to be treated before the doctors felt comfortable removing her troublesome gall bladder.  This isn’t the first time she has had problems with this particular organ.  When she was at the Mayo Clinic getting her heart checked out several years ago she had an episode of issues with her gall bladder and her doctors there suggested it be removed.  For some reason, which frankly I’ve never understood, she didn’t have it taken out then even though she’d had several problems with it through out her adult life.  Anyway the most recent problem created a domino affect of health issues for mom and she was in and out of the hospital 5 times in the course of three months and was staying for weeks at a time.  Of course having allergy problems with antibiotics and severe reactions to certain anesthesias didn’t help her out much either.  But by Thanksgiving everything seemed to be back to normal and I’m happy to report she doing fine –minus the gall bladder.  But 2012 brought some great things to the Bennett clas as well.  My sister Brenda started a new job as an administer to a residential nursing home and assisted living facility for a non-profit Christian based company just down the street from her house.  The first month was rough for her with employee issues but those have sense resolved themselves and she is learning the ropes of assisted living work which is a new endeavor for her.  She seems happy and for that I am always greatful.  Brenda wasn't the only one that started a new job this year.  After working for Mulvaney G2, and archetechtual firm in Portland,  for the past 15 years or so, my brother gave notice went in a new and adventurous direction.  For years a buddy of his from college had been half joking about starting a private archetechtual firm with him and Brian had always kind of kept it in the back of his mind.  When the kinds of projects that Brian wanted to be involved in started dwindling (ecomony issues), he stayed loyal to Mulvaney but after several years and a new offer from this buddy to partner up he made the switch.  From the sounds of things, he seems really happy and has more free time to enjoy his family.  Plus he is lining up projects that he is really excited about and learning all the ins and outs of owning your own firm. 

After months of not getting home til 6 and trying to get normal daily things done in the few short hours at the end of the day I’d been neglecting really getting out and having fun in the woods like I love to do.  I mean on the weekends Mace and I would go for short hikes or most of the time, because of the constant need, go cut firewood for the winter but non of it was really satisfying my need to be out in the back country.  So for the past 10 days that I’ve been off of work for Christmas break I set out to go frolicking in the woods near by as much as possible.  I love playing in the snow and going out with all the tree’s flocked with feet of snow and working my way through waist high drifts reminded me of going Christmas tree hunting with my family as a kid. I of course took my camera with me everywhere and got some incredible pictures, including a few of Mace being a goofball which is a rarity.  All in all the last 10 days have been an amazing ending to an interesting year.

I’m not at all sure what 2013 holds for me but I’m determined that whatever comes my way I make the most of it and just roll with it.  Life is way to short to stress like I have in the past and when I’m stressed I’m truly unhappy.  There are certain kinds of stresses that are normal parts of daily life but still I think minimizing those parts are critical to both mental and physical health.  So I look forward to the coming year and have and open mind and open heart to what lies in the future.  I wish you all a very Happy New Year and hope that you too will also find peace and joy in what the future holds.