Görüşürüz, Türkiye.

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As I type this, I am sitting in my grandmother’s air conditioned house on a hot Kansas afternoon, trying to find the right words.  To be honest, I still haven’t processed it all yet.  Leaving Turkey felt like stepping through a portal from one universe to another.  There is a piece of me that still thinks it will all be there waiting for me exactly as I left it, even though my head knows I won’t be going back for quite some time.

I didn’t sleep the night before I left.  The day was filled with tearful goodbyes to students, colleagues, and dear friends, followed by an epic Turkish party at night.  We were packing until the very last second.  I wouldn’t have left any other way.

I am so tremendously thankful for the memories, the people, and the life-changing experiences.

Her şey için teşekkürler, Türkiye.  Sizi özleyeceğim.

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Happy International Women’s Day

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Gift from the art teacher, as per tradition.

This day always sneaks up on me and it sparks so many feelings all once.

Like my sophomore year of high school, when the guy they had hired to train the light technicians for drama club (I was one of two) would only teach the boy (meanwhile asking me to do menial tasks like hold ladders or grab lightbulbs), despite the fact that I had more experience. When I told the drama teacher about it, he simply said he was in no position to turn down free help and that I would just have to deal with it. I quit the next day.

Or my freshman year of college, when my Spanish professor would constantly ask where the female students were if not in class, would virtually ignore make students, and often made inappropriate remarks about clothing. I quit that too.

Or every time I’ve walked home alone ever…special shout out to the creep who followed me home while admitting he’d been watching me for awhile because he liked the way I dressed.

I also think of the good things. Like when I walked into my grandpa’s house and saw the sign that read “A woman’s place is in the House…and the Senate.” Or the time my little brother watched my sister get catcalled…and said how sorry he was that women were treated that way and vowed not to do the same.

I was pleasantly surprised today when I was wished a Happy Women’s Day by several colleagues, students, and pazar salesmen. I also had a good talk with my mentor students about the day; what it means, why we have it, where we go from here.

At times – when I hear sexist remarks, see sexist comments on the internet, or all of the horrible ilk that seems to be all of politics at the moment- I feel discouraged.  But then I see millions of women all over the world coming together to march in solidarity, people standing up and calling others out on their misogyny, and strong, powerful women breaking barriers every day and I feel hopeful again.  The world is far from perfect; we still need a day to remind humanity that it is shutting half of itself out.  It’s a work in progress, but at least we are moving.

Teacher Sanity Pro Tip: Hit the Gym (or living room)

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Super amazing shoe bargain from Gebze Center!

Teaching is hard.

It’s not like that’s a secret, but until you’ve been at the front of a classroom, it’s hard to conceptualize how difficult it really is.  The workload is heavy, the hours are long, the work/life balance can often feel non-existent, and it’s very emotionally draining.  It’s no wonder so many teachers find themselves either quitting or putting themselves on autopilot.

My first year of teaching was rough, as is the case for most first year teachers.  I fell into a lot of nasty stress-induced habits, such as not sleeping enough, working way too much, never exercising, depending on caffeine for everything, and eating junk food.  I didn’t want to have unrealistic expectations for everything when I started my second year, but one thing I did want to focus on was my health.

I am happy to stay that this is something that has stuck.  One of my friends and I meet at the gym 3-4 times a week for an hour of butt-kicking and what a difference it has made in my life!  That’s not to say it’s been easy.  It can be incredibly difficult to find the motivation to go to the gym and incredibly easy to delude yourself into thinking you don’t have time (which is a LIE!  Stop lying to yourself; everybody has time, even if it’s only 30 minutes.)  Having a gym partner has helped immensely…and once we got started, it became addicting in a good way.  I’m healthier, my stress levels are way down compared to what they were last year, and after a good workout, I can think so much more clearly and I get 10 times the work done that I ever could without the endorphin high.

It’s also worth mentioning that working out can be a ton of fun!  I look forward to it every evening because I know that I have a whole hour to do something for myself that doesn’t involve work or obligations.  I believe that variety is the spice of life and always look for new and exciting ways to challenge myself…and I’ve done everything from Irish step dancing to High Intensity Interval Training.

Most of the workouts that I use are free on YouTube and can be done with little to no equipment (and usually with very little space).  Here are a few favorites:

Fitness Blender

This is my go-to channel.  The videos are so straightforward and you can see exactly how many calories you’ll burn by the end.  They also have a huge variety of both cardio and strength training routines.  Most of them are really fun and it’s obvious that a lot of work goes into making workouts that aren’t repetitive.

Blogilates

Perfect for days you really want to kill yourself (or if you love hardcore pilates).  She even posts daily playlists to target different parts of the body each day, which is super helpful.  I definitely feel much stronger and more toned after every workout.

Keiara LaShae

These are really fun and perfect if you are looking for a break from a “typical” workout. She does a lot of fun, high cardio dance routines.  My personal fave is the Reggae Dancehall.

Sarah Beth Yoga

I’m a huge fan of doing yoga…especially after a stressful day or if I’m still sore from an especially tough workout.  This channel includes every type of yoga you could imagine: power yoga, yoga for balance, yoga for flexibility…even yoga for very specific conditions, such as scoliosis or sciatica.  I love throwing in at least one of these videos a week to complement all of the cardio and strength training.

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Post-workout selfie

Whether you are a fellow teacher at your wits’ end or in some other high-stress situation that leaves you feeling exhausted, if you are reading this, I hope you take my advice…get some exercise!  Even fifteen minutes a day will make a difference.

Also, if you’ve already been enlightened to the magic of YouTube fitness, what channels do you use?  I’m always looking to switch up my routine.