Sunday, December 8, 2019

My Journey to Self-Care

Hello, friends!  I hope you all had a great weekend.  Today's post is all about the ever-so-important SELF-CARE!  I have people message me and ask about this, because I often post about my own self-care on social media (Instagram: @mrswheeler44).  Self-care is something that I am very passionate about.  However, I this wasn't always the case.  Today's post explains my journey to self-care.  I feel like I'm at a good place with it now and want to share what I do for myself that helps me keep my sanity.

If you've followed me for any length of time, you know that I have been teaching in a Title I school for 16 years.  I have also maintained this good ole' blog for 9 years and maintained a Teachers Pay Teachers store for 8 years.  For the first 13-14 years of my career, teaching was my LIFE.  It consumed every moment of my day, from start to end.  I served on tons of committees and attended every "family night" or district event we had.  I would wake up early to sift through ideas on the web, laminate, and plan out activities for my students.  After working all day, I'd come home (sometimes go to the gym...maybe 3-4 times a week) and scarf a quick dinner down in front of my computer.  I would sit at the computer for HOURS each night, creating things for my classroom and my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  I enjoyed doing all of those things, so it never felt like "work."  Throughout those years, I didn't allow time for myself, because I would fill up the little free time I had to hang out with family and friends.  As time went on, I noticed that my energy level was drastically decreasing.  I also noticed that I was having severe pain in my shoulder as well as pain in most of my joints.  I attributed it to the gym (maybe I hurt myself?) or just "aches and pains."  However, my husband kept reminding me that people in their early to mid thirties don't get major "aches and pains" that keep them up crying all night.

Fast-forward to 6 months after excruciating pain in my shoulder: I went to an orthopedist and found out I had torn my rotator cuff and needed surgery to repair it.  I followed doctor's orders and had the surgery.  The recovery was a NIGHTMARE to say the least.  I did all of my recovery exercises just as prescribed.  Yet each time I went to PT, my therapist would comment on how tight all of my muscles were.  The therapy would be so painful and would bring me to tears.  However, I continued on with therapy but wasn't recovering.  No one could figure out why.  My "few weeks off from work" turned into 13 weeks.  I was in PT for 6 months.  It took me over a year to heal.  I was in so much pain and definitely feeling low from being forced to stay home and "recover."  Throughout my recovery, I was still having a lot of pain in my joints.  My family physician referred me to a rheumatologist after hearing about my problems and my slow recovery.  *I had been to a rheumatologist years prior for fatigue and joint pain, but my numbers in my blood work weren't elevated enough to cause concern.  My rheumatologist took more blood work and did a clinical exam and sure enough, my numbers had doubled since my prior appointment, years before.  I was officially diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.  If you aren't familiar, RA is an auto-immune disease in which the body's immune system attacks the lining of the joints.  In addition to attacking the joints, RA also causes extreme fatigue.  It's a systemic disease and the inflammation also affects organs and systems in the body.

Needless to say, once I had my shoulder surgery and diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis, I had to slow things down in terms of teaching, blogging, and creating.  Stress plays a role in the inflammation that causes pain.  I knew I had to do something to help manage my RA.  It was time to take my time back and focus on ME.  For 13-14 years, my focus was always my students, school, husband, family, and friends.  I never took care of myself as I should have.  It was way past due.

I began working with a personal trainer at the gym 3x a week.  He taught me a lot about lifting and exercises that are safe on my joints.  I signed up for Cycle Bar, an indoor cycling studio and began taking classes 2x a week.  I also drastically cut back the amount of sugar I was eating.  I started watching what I was eating and began incorporating more fruits and vegetables into my diet.  I cut back eating red meat to once every few weeks.  I began consistently meal prepping my lunches.  I stopped bringing hours worth of school work home.  I started going to bed at 8:30-9:00.  I committed to putting myself and my health as my #1 priority.

I get monthly medical massages, and I treat myself to manicures every few weeks.  I LOVE the hand massage that comes with my manicures!  I ensure that  throughout every weekend, there is time built in for ME.  Even if it's something as simple as going to the gym or wandering around TJ Maxx or Home Goods with a coffee.  Just time for myself.

I've had to say no to a lot of things at school.  I have to be really cautious about overdoing it.  I can't stay for late-night events at work, or I will pay for it the next few days.  I say no to doing things with friends on school nights.  My body is so physically exhausted after working and going to the gym.  I simply can't do it.  Most of my friends understand this and are accepting of it.  Friday nights used to be date nights or nights out with friends, but in recent years, my Friday nights look like this: laying on the couch watching tv and heading to bed as early as 6:30.  I use my weekends for recovery from the long weeks at school.

I decided to forgo prescription medicine to treat my condition.  For me, the side effects are too risky.  I am told over and over again that my choice of not taking medicine is not a good one.  That without medicine, I am allowing irreversible joint damage to occur.  I am fully aware of that, but am willing to risk the unknown.  I've never been one to take pills.  I hate putting foreign things in my body.  I take a lot of vitamins that were recommended by my rheumatologist.  I also take weekly juice shots of ginger for immunity and turmeric for inflammation.  I started using DoTerra essential oils, as well.

So as you can see, my journey was a long one.  I finally came to the realization that you truly can't pour from an empty cup.  I feel as though I'm a better wife, teacher, and friend now that I put myself first.

Although most of you reading this don't have an auto-immune disease, I am hoping that something struck a chord with you and that you, too, will start taking care of yourself.  It's long past due.  Start small.  How about a weekly trip to a local coffee shop by yourself or incorporating drinking more water into your day (I love the water bottle shown below...affiliate link)?  Whatever you choose, just remember that you are worth it.


Sunday, December 1, 2019

Sunday 6 November 31

 Hi, friends!  Hope you have had a wonderful Thanksgiving break!  We return to work tomorrow.  For those of you that don't, enjoy your last day off!  Christmas break will be here soon.  We got this!  Today's post is a collection of 6 random events from the past week!  Enjoy!
To kick off the Thanksgiving break, Mr. Wheeler and I went to an outdoor mall near us and did some shopping.  While there, we took a "margarita break" and enjoyed some drinks and chips/queso.  I thought these glasses were super cool, so I snapped a picture!

I received my December "Kindergarten Crate" subscription.  If you aren't familiar with this service, KC is a monthly subscription box that follows a theme to correlate with the month.  KC has box service available for Pre-K through First Grade.  I obviously receive the First Grade box.  It always includes a picture book, teacher gift(s), and several activities as well as all materials to implement them.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE getting this box each month!  To check it out, sign up HERE.

I treated myself to a massage during break.  I get massages once a month for maintenance for my Rheumatoid Arthritis.  It really helps with my pain management.  This past time, I tried a hot stone massage.  It was amazing!

Mr. Wheeler and I did some traveling over the break, and while we were in the car, I kept myself busy by cutting out holiday centers.  What you see below is my "Christmas Parts of Speech Sort."  Love using these for a center in December!

I added two more packs to my "Cut, Glue, Write: Seasons & Holidays" BUNDLE, Christmas and Winter.  If you want to check them out, you can click the covers below.  I am obsessed with using these once a week in my classroom (I have them for all sorts of Phonics skills).  These are great practice for sentence writing.  You can see a preview of what these pages are like below.  Rubric included.

I started carrying a backpack to school as my "teacher bag."  I bought this backpack two years ago and had been using it solely for travel.  However, my teammate carries a backpack and I thought it might be a good idea for me, as I have a lot of joint problems.  Hauling a heavy tote on my shoulder can't be good.  If you want to check out this awesome bag, I'll link it below.  *affiliate link*  Warning: it is so good!  You will love it!!!!


Monday, November 25, 2019

Thanksgiving Ideas

Hi, friends!  Today's post is short and sweet and to the point.  I'm on Thanksgiving break all week (woo hoo!) but I know many of you have to work a few days this week.  Below are a few quick ideas that may save your sanity!  Enjoy!

These Thanksgiving-themed sentence writing pages are a great way to practice writing!  I love using these year-round (I have a variety of these in my TpT shop!).  The included sentence rubric gives kids reminders and is a great self-assessment.

Always fun for Morning Meeting (or when you have that awkward 5-10 minutes to fill) is playing I Have, Who Has.  This is the Thanksgiving edition!  I have a variety of these games in my TpT shop, as well!

We always take a field trip to a local historic museum in November.  To give the kids background information about life long ago, I begin with this then/now sort.  I love the cut and paste that accompanies it!

This is the time of year when we hit related facts hard.  I created a fun Thanksgiving-themed review for us as a simple activity to do in small groups.  Kids match up the 4 related facts and then write them on the provided recording sheet.  So fun!

This simple turkey craft from Crafty Bee Creations will keep your kids busy while you take a little break (or try to!).

I love showing A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and having a real "feast" with my kids.  They are always thrilled when they see that we are eating the same foods at Charlie Brown's friends!  Grab the DVD below.  *affiliate link*

 Popcorn, buttered toast, jelly beans, and pretzel sticks!

My favorite craft of the year are these pilgrim kids by Kindergarten Smiles.  Obsessed!

Kids love writing "notes" to one another, so writing thankful notes to our friends is always a hit!  Grab the freebie by clicking HERE.  I love reading "The Thankful Book" by Todd Parr.  Grab it below off Amazon.  *affiliate link*

 If you're feeling extra, you can have your kids make these turkey cupcakes!  I did this one year.

We love reading a book about the first Thanksgiving and then making these re-tell bracelets from "Fluttering Through First Grade."  Grab the bead box below from Amazon.  *affiliate link*

This mini-book is a great read and gives kids a glimpse of what it was like to be a Pilgrim child long ago.  We like to hunt for "trick words" AKA sight words after we have colored and assembled the book.

See all of my Thanksgiving resources by clicking HERE!  Happy Thanksgiving!