All posts by Anna

My hobbies include, playing in the forest, playing with my dog, and playing in the forest with my dog. I also enjoy repeatedly picking up heavy things and then putting them back down.

Wherever You Might Call Me: Part II.

Exactly one year ago, somewhere between Billings and Glendive, (before I puked in the park) I decided that I didn’t want to be a teacher anymore. After Stella and I arrived in Bismarck that night I wrote a blog called Wherever You Might Call Me beginning my summer of desperately trying to figure out where my life was going.

Eventually I got to a point where I was applying for jobs in both Missoula and Bozeman and wherever I got a job first was where I was going to move back to at the end of the summer. In my job application process, I reluctantly applied for a longterm sub position teaching 6th grade at the school I worked at in Bozeman before I moved to St. Regis. I was offered that position pieced together with being back as a para in the Life Skills program. I was not excited. I felt like I was exactly back to where I had started, that my time in St. Regis didn’t matter.

I moved back here at the start of the school year confused, lost, and a little bitter about having to work in someone else’s classroom. Until my angel Garrett reminded me that Special Education is my calling and at that moment I was exactly where I needed to be. I recommitted to pursuing my Masters for Special Ed and will complete it before the end of 2019. I decided my dream was to one day have my own classroom and run my own Life Skills program.

I have a firm belief that The Plan is The Plan, and we’re all just here to go where we’re called. The Plan was for me to be a para in Life Skills this year so I could take a leadership role on the team. The Plan was for me to work on my Masters while not having to teach full time.

The Plan was for me to at the very last minute accept an offer to be the classroom teacher in the Life Skills Program for the 2019-2020 school year. I did it. I achieved my dream.

I could not be more proud, excited, or nervous about the journey I am about to embark on. My heart is filled with gratitude for the people who have helped, loved, and supported me on my way to where I am.

Go in peace. The mission you are on is under the eye of the Lord. Judges 18:6

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What’s in a Name?

Riley, Ranger, RileyRanger, Rooey, Roo, RooBear, Roob, Roobiee, Roober, Rooberton, Roobertown, Roober Anthony Towns, RAT. She responded to all of them. The poor puppy never had an official name. She was the dog that no one, except me and WahhnieeLee, knew we needed. We tricked Mom into letting us get this cute little puppy from a PetCo adoption event not knowing a whole lot about her background, except there there was a little bit of trauma in her first six weeks of life.

We brought her home to nearly thirteen years of a cushy suburban lifestyle- playing in the yard, laying in the sun, countless snuggles and p butter snacks. Of course, she had some adventures along the way. She got her head squished under the garage door and spent a few days in the emergency vet. She ate an entire bag of mini Snickers and earned herself some “detox” time outside. She consumed a furnace filter, fiberglass and all. Someone once left their basketball bag open in the laundry room, and she ate a ziplock bag full of Advil, followed by another trip to the emergency vet. She survived all of these endeavors and continued to be the sweetest, most loving pup in all the land.

She wasn’t fat, she wasn’t skinny, but she was shapes. We were never really sure what kind of dog Roobiee was. According to her adoption papers, she was a corgi/dachshund mix, but I’m not sure how true that was. Her head was triangle shaped, her softer-than-velvet ears were kinda squished. She had a huge barrel chest and a short, fat tail that wagged a warp speed. Her long, skinny legs ended with paws that were too small for her body. Her thick, fluffy fur was always everywhere.

In the summer, she would become obsessed with the bunny nests under the porch in our back yard. Roobiee used to stand out on the screen porch for hours on end, nose on the carpet, sniffing and huffing and puffing. So much so that she would rub the fur off of her lips. She once successfully caught a baby bunny and killed it. She wasn’t quite sure what to do with it after that though, so she just laid next to it looking guilty and sad.

Fiercely loyal and protective of what was hers, Roober aways greeted her humans with a sound that can only be explained as “row roe” and tried to act tough when strangers were around. She had to know where everyone was and that everyone was safe. As a starting member of Dave’s Dog Pack, Roobiee Referee always made sure everyone played fairly. Whatever kind of dog she was, it wasn’t one that likes to give kisses. You were lucky if you could get one “Roober Kiss” every once in a while. This meant that she put her tongue on you anteater style for .3 seconds. RAT hated being alone, and was glad to have Jordan and then Maiziee always by her side.

I understand that this writing is all over the place and a little unorganized. There’s a lot to say about my last childhood pet. Quite possibly the best dog ever born, our sweet Roober now gets to reunite with her BFF Jordiee in Puppy Heaven. Rest easy, baby girl.

Well. Here we are in 2019.

Remember when 2018 started like two weeks ago? Oh. That was a year ago? Well, shoot. That was quick. Anyway, here we are in 2019, so let’s talk about how 2018 went.

Originally I tried to write about the year chronologically, but writing about St. Regis got too sad. I have decided to split up my reflection of this year into the following categories of my life: Career/Employment, Transient Lifestyles, Stella, Family, and Other Neat Events. Please enjoy the following highlights.

Career/Employment

In February, I officially decided not to renew my contract in St. Regis for the 2018-2019 school year. This was actually the hardest decision I have ever had to make, and I have cried about it approximately forty-two billion times, including today. This began my second year in a row of writing ALL the cover letters, filling out ALL the applications, and not getting offered a contract for Fall 2018.

After leaving St. Regis in June, at some point along I-94 in Eastern Montana, I decided that I didn’t want to be a teacher anymore. I spent the entire summer in Minnesota working for the YMCA (which was THE WORST) and having a quarter life crisis about what the hell I was even doing with my life.

I ended up being called back to the classroom, returning to my role as a para in the Life Skills program at Chief Joseph as well as my stint as a 6th-grade teacher. Turns out, 6th-graders are so cute and nice.

In 2019, I will start (and hopefully finish) my Masters for Special Education.

Transient Lifestyles

In 2018, I moved from Montana to Minnesota and then from Minnesota back to Montana. There was a brief period of time when I was homeless. Thankfully that only lasted like a week. I am probably going to have to move in 2019, but let’s hope is across town and not across the state or across the country.

Stella

I’m still obsessed with my dog. Stella Sky turned one this year and is still the best adventure partner in the history of earth.  She’s still the cutest dog in the world, and she’s still nuts.

Family

I became a sister-in-law twice this year, when both of my siblings got married. (Welcome to the fam Kary and Brobeans) Those weddings were some g timez. Also, I became an aunt/godmother this year. (Welcome to Earth and The Kingdom, Youngblood)

 Other Neat Events

On the second leg of my journey to Minnesota for summer I was very sick the whole day. I stopped at a park in Glendive to let Stella run around for a little bit after two full days in the truck. About 15 minutes into this walk, I puked very loudly into some grass. People saw. Have you ever thought you were going to die in the parking lot of a Flying J in Beach, North Dakota? I have.

The one good thing about working for the YMCA in summer was that I got a free gym membership. There was literally no excuse not to go to the gym because I was already there for work. Because of this, I was able to get back into my routine of lifting four or five days a week. I can proudly say that I am currently the strongest I have ever been, and my mental health has improved significantly as well.

In August on my way home from spending summer in Minnesota, Randolff (my truck’s name is Randolff) decided he needed a new water pump about eighty miles east of Billings. Stella and I got stuck in Billings on a Sunday night and missed the first day of school.

The next trip I took was a quick weekend adventure to Milwaukee for my friend Rico’s wedding. Super fun time for many reasons. Milwaukee is neat. On the way home from that, my flight from Minneapolis to Bozeman got canceled and I got to spend an extra night at my parents’ house. Hey, if you’re going to be stranded somewhere, it’s good to be stranded at home.

Goals for 2019

  • Add the Special Education certification to my teaching license
  • Conquer my fear of the dentist
  • Continue to work hard on my fitness goals
  • Continue to work on my mental health goals

Adventures in Traveling with Stella Sky.

Today on another episode of Anna and Stella’s Transient Life, we see Anna’s biggest fears realized when Randolff overheats on the Interstate. Buckle your seatbelt, we’re in for a bumpy ride. Here’s the story told from Stella’s perspective.

HI!!!! My name is Stella Sky, and I am by far the BEST adventure dog in the history of Earth, just ask my mama. She’ll tell you how cute and good and nice I am. Today, Mom asked me to tell you a story. Typing is one of my many talents. I swear I’m doing this all myself.

We spent the warm, sunny days in this place called Minnesota (Minnesnowta?). It was pretty neat, but there were no mountains. BUT I got to hang out with my BFFs Maiziee and Roobiee. Roobiee’s name might also be Ranger or Riley, no one is really sure. ALSO I got to see my aunt WahhnieeLee and hang out with my grandpawrents.

ANYWAY. Yesterday Mom got real sad and told me to “get in” the truck. I don’t know why she was so sad. How could anyone be sad when they get to “get in” the TRUCK? Especially since she told me we get to go home to MOUNTAINS. I’m a mountain pup, so I’m real big on mountains.

I snuggled Mom while she sat in the truck and we magically moved down the road. Then we got out and went to a magical building with lots of smells and we slept in a giant comfy bed.

When it was light out, we got back in the truck. I wasn’t too excited about getting back in because we had to be in there for a LONG time yesterday, and I was getting sick of it. Mom made me get back in, but she fed me breakfast which was DELISH. I heard a rumor we were gonna get to Bozeman and see Aunt Sadie.

Mom sat in the truck and we magically moved down the road again. I did my job of making sure I took as much room as possible. Then the magic moving down the road stopped, and Mama was scared. I don’t know anything about trucks, but I heard something about it overheating. I knew I had to be brave for her because she was scared.

THEN I had to be REALLY brave when a strange man approached our truck. Mama told me it was okay though and that it was just a state trooper here to help us. He was super nice and wanted to pet me. He stayed with us on the side of the road for a while. When Mama finally got a hold of someone to tow our truck, she said she had to go to the bathroom. I don’t know why she couldn’t just go in the grass like I did, but humans are weird.

Next thing I know Mom puts my leash on and tells me to get out of the truck. THEN she tells me to get in the car with the state trooper. THIS WAS MY TIME TO SHINE!! I WAS GOING TO GET TO BE A POLICE DOG!! I thought of all the places we might be going. To rescue someone lost in the forest? To check for drugs? TO CHECK LUGGAGE AT THE AIRPORT?! Except I realized I don’t know how to do any of those things. I know how to sit and high five, though, so I’m super smart. I just had to pretend I was a police dog. Pretending is probably just as fun as the real thing.

We just went to a gas station and waited while Mom went inside to go bathroom. Again, why can’t humans just go in the grass? Such weirdos.

When we got back to our truck, I waited in the police car while they loaded our truck onto this other truck that was REALLY loud. Mom lifted me up and made me get in that super loud truck. We rode in there for a while with another man that was super nice and even had toys for me!

Here we are in this strange town calling Billings (Bilwings?). No sign of Aunt Sadie. Mom says we’ll get to Bozeman tomorrow.

After this whole day of adventures, I am glad that those nice people helped my mom and wanted to pet me. At the end of the day, I have my mama and my chewies, and that’s all I need.

Far Too Tired To Fall Asleep.

Remember the time in 2013 when I didn’t sleep for 3 weeks? Or the time in October 2017 when I didn’t sleep for a week, this happened, and then I woke up to April and Shaun doing a welfare check on me at 9am after not showing up for school? G timez.

Insomnia. It’s a war I’ve been fighting for as long as I can remember. It’s another tactic that The Monster uses to try to ruin my life.

I have figured out that if I stick to a strict sleep schedule of going to bed no later than 10:30 and sleeping in no later than 8, I can control it pretty well. Naps during the day? Out of the question. Caffeine after 4pm? No thank you. If I stray off of that schedule, it takes me a while to get back into it.

It works in a vicious cycle with anxiety. When my anxiety gets high, it keeps me up at night. At a time in my life where I’m not sure what I want to be or where I want to be, my anxiety is a little higher than usual. When I stay up a night, it fuels the anxiety, and I get anxious about going to bed for fear that I will be up all night again.

It inhibits my ability to concentrate. It makes it hard to do my job.

I have tried every trick in the book when it comes to sleeping better.

  • White noise: can’t stand the sound
  • Melatonin: one pill was not enough, two pills put me in a weird state between being asleep and being awake.
  • Mirtazapine: turned me into a zombie and made me suicidal
  • Trazodone: turned me into a zombie
  • Zanaflex: made me have terrible nightmares
  • Ativan: zero affect
  • Ambien: made me sign up for professional development conferences in my sleep.
  • Meditation guides: work like 30% of the time if I catch the insomnia monster in the first 45 minutes of going to bed

Also, the medication wasn’t super helpful at 2am when I realized I needed help going to sleep. Taking that stuff put me out for at least 9 hours. Because my insomnia is so unpredictable, managing it with medication isn’t a good strategy.

I have journals full of insomnia entires. I have coloring books full of insomnia art. I have played many a levels of Cupcake Mania and completed my fair share of logic puzzles while trying to will my brain to shut up and go to sleep.

In the last two nights I have slept for a total of 4 hours. As I write this, my brain and my body are exhausted. Let’s hope I’m not too tired to fall asleep.

Wherever You Might Call Me.

My junior year of college, I had to take a class called Exceptional Learners. It briefly covered both special education and gifted education. Our teacher, Mr. Ron, changed my entire life and view of what I wanted my career to look like.

I decided I didn’t want to make a career out of teaching. Of course, I had to finish my elementary degree because it was too late to switch to something else. I thought about pursuing an LCPC certification after getting my bachelors. I graduated in December of 2016 and signed a contract to teach fourth grade in St. Regis for the 2017-2018 school year.

After making the gut wrenching decision to not renew my contract in St. Regis, I applied for probably 100 teaching jobs, got two interviews, two “sorry you don’t have enough experience” calls, and a “sorry we chose another candidate” letter addressed to Ms. Briggs. Needless to say, I do not currently have a contract for the 2018-2019 school year.

My plan B was to move back to Bozeman, go back to making coffee and being a Life Skills Para, and try to bust out my Masters in Special Ed in a year.

Right before I left, my good friend, April, said, “Have you ever considered not going down the teaching path? It seems like God is closing doors for you right now, so it’s something to consider.” This hit me like a ton of bricks.

Then I began the 18-hour drive from Regis to Chanhassen with only Stella to talk to. While Stella is my favorite adventure partner on Earth, she’s not much for conversation. I had a lot of time to think.

I am 100% sure that my calling in this world is to, “be cool and save children.” Now I just have to figure out what that looks like in terms of a career path.

I reflected on this year of teaching. While I fell in love with my kids and watching them learn and grow, I struggled with getting excited about actually teaching.

I was reminded of my thoughts in 2015 when I decided maybe teaching wasn’t for me.

I’m not teaching next year, and it is possible that I will never return to the classroom as a teacher.

I’m praying hard for the discernment to go wherever God calls me. It’s a little scary not knowing where that is. Is this my quarter life crisis?

Go in peace. This mission you are on is under the eye of the Lord.

Pyromania (Except without the Fire).

It’s just regular mania. But I have the Pyromania song stuck in my head. Thanks Cascada.

Anyway, hey friends. Here we are today on the journey of mania. (I made that bold so you’d maybe read it in a deep, ominous voice).

In the last few weeks, I have seen the many sides of mania as I continue to battle my way through the world of bipolar disorder.

Fortunately for me, I only experience hypomania. Unfortunately for me, it still interferes with my life significantly.

Here’s how it goes:

Leading up to mania: 3-5 days of crippling depression

And then……. (AND NO AND THEN)

1-2 days of being so cranky and irritable and angry crying about everything.

7-10 days of feeling like a normal human

3-4 days of crippling anxiety and paranoia about people breaking into my house

We are currently in the mood swings phase. Minor frustrations send me out of control. I find myself running around my house at night because I have too much extra energy. Things that are not that funny send me into uncontrollable fits of laughter.

I find it incredibly hard to get out of bed in the morning, but I haven’t slept a full night in weeks. Given the opportunity, I stay in bed, in and out of naps, for most of the day.

As I engage in the war against this disease daily, I am grateful for my support system of friends and family who are always there for me. I am grateful that I have a job where I am allotted sick days to take when I need them. I am grateful for medication that does its best to help me function.

I have a monster inside of my brain and it is doing its damnedest to kill me. Well, Monster, I have bad news for you, sir. I am bigger than this. I am better than this. I am stronger than this. The war has already been won. Spoiler alert: the winner is me. (Also, Jesus. Jesus won the war for me.)

P.s. Someone PLEASE catch my Dude Where’s My Car? reference.