Monday, July 14, 2014

Positive Vibes.

Sometimes, focusing on the positive is really hard. It's hard when it seems like life keeps throwing curveballs, and it seems as though you're treading water forever, just trying to stay afloat. 

I used to love my job. I used to wake up every morning excited to go in, excited to create fun lesson plans so that I could teach a lesson, but still encourage my students to love to learn. I used to stay late, either to help struggling students, or to plan lessons and get things done ahead of time. There used to be no down time in my class, no filling out worksheets or practice tests - everything was hands on and very dynamic. I used to feel supported by my principal, even though he really wasn't very hands-on and didn't give compliments frequently, when he gave them, you knew it was genuine. 

This year has been different - it's been a constant battle every single day. The clientele (students) that I deal with are very different - very few seem to want to actually be there; many are forced to be in school as part of parole or a supplemental government program, and that attitude is very debilitating. This year alone, I've been spit on, called every single name you could imagine (for real - name one, I've been called it, sometimes by parents of students), had things thrown at me, etc. to which I've been told by my boss, that I need to "toughen up and deal with it." I've been pushed against a wall by a student high on PCP, only to be told that I shouldn't have removed him from my class, that he needed a warning first, and I overstepped. I was told I'd be moved downstairs next year because I'm "too good of a teacher and they don't want to lose me," only to find out that my boss is telling other people I'm being moved because I "have no heart for welfare clientele and they need someone who is warm and not completely cold to human suffering." 

It's been hard to walk in and hold my head up high - it's hard to feel happy about the students who are passing the test and are opening up a new chapter in their lives based on their hard work and effort, and it's hard to want to teach. It's hard sometimes when I get overwhelmed by the students who don't give a shit about being there and feel like it deflates me from helping the ones who are there every day. 

But it's those students who I hold on for and who remind me that things come in waves

Lately being in my room has shown me that there is a conscious choice - each day, I can go in and be miserable and be focused on the ones who don't care one way or the other. Or - I can go in and spot the ones who are there every single day - who get there at 7:45 a.m. even though class started at 8, who waited outside in the cold because the guards didn't open the doors, who come with their homework completed and want feedback on how they did, the ones who went up 4 grade levels on their lowest scoring subject. 

So now, I look at every day as just this karmic opportunity, where I am presented with a choice in my attitude and behavior. And I choose positivity - which at first, was me totally faking it, but now, I am actually positive about it. I'm happy to help those who want my help, and I'm not stressing over those who don't. I avoid coworkers who make me miserable, and maintain politeness while being distant. 

So for those of you going through tough times - as cliche and silly as it may seem - I promise that if you make an effort to find five good things in every day, eventually, you'll start finding ten good things, and so on and so forth. Sometimes happiness requires an effort, it's not just given. 

Choose positivity and choose happiness - if for nothing else, do it for the most important reason - for yourself and your health. 


What are some of the ways you bounce back from tough times? 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Exploring, Carbs, and Too Many Pictures - Part Two of Day Four of Paris.

When Edwin and I finished up browsing at Shakespeare and Co. (check it in the first part of  this two part post) which as I said, was highly shortened because the place was PACKED, we headed across the street and over a bridge to Notre Dame. It was another totally surreal experience, even as we avoided the crowds and the street vendors lined up along the street selling their original art (that was strangely the same at every stand), old books, I heart Paris or "Bonjour!" t-shirts, etc. 

As we got closer and closer, we weren't even speaking to each other - both of us were just in absolute awe, phones in hand (for moi, it was phone + Nikon, and the struggle was real) and taking a million pictures at a time.

Like basically everything else that we saw while we were in Paris, it was incredible to see all of these things that I had seen pictures of, in the background of a movie, or in a French textbook, but never saw firsthand.

The Seine and Notre Dame - getting closer (though at this point, it still wasn't that close, it is just immense).

Notre Dame was stunningly made, with the famous gargoyles on display, and the flying buttresses that were so intricate. When we finally did talk to each other, we commented on how buildings like this just don't exist in the United States.

Seriously, this is so gorgeous - and it was fascinating to see people of all different cultures, and I assume religions, gathered at a religious place to admire its beauty and incredible architecture.

Close-ups of the architecture (and some sun glare, which I couldn't seem to avoid).

This was just part of the line - it wrapped at least three blocks down. Needless to say, we did not go inside. This was also the only time that we encountered one of the Parisian scams that we had been warned about (first, someone offering to make me a free friendship bracelet, then someone asking me to sign their petition).

And then, since it was about 1:30 p.m. and I was on the eating schedule of a 15 year old boy, we decided to head  to Galette Cafe to take advantage of more carbs. Please note that while in Paris, I rarely wore much makeup beyond concealer and never did my hair - so this is in fair warning!

Une beure sel crepe.

Une fleur de sel crepe (salted caramel, which was to DIE for).

From there, we (shocker!) walked more, over to the Louvre, which I did not realize is massive. Like, would take you over two weeks to just have a glance at every piece there. I knew it was big, but didn't know it was THAT massive. 


There were gorgeous sculptures of famous and prominent French men carved and prominently displayed. 

We didn't go inside the Louvre either, because that had a FIVE HOUR WAIT, but we did see the Mona Lisa as we walked to Pierre Hermé for macarons.

Womp, womp - I know. 

And that is where I will cap this post - the next will finish up day four (because seriously, I have way too many more pictures to post on this day alone!) and go onto oucinquième jour.

Monday, June 30, 2014

SpringFling VoxBox Reviews

One of my favorite things is when I get an email from Influenster telling me that I've been selected for a special VoxBox - aka a box sent via Influenster filled with samples of various amazing products, all themed. This current Influenster that I was lucky enough to qualify for was the Spring Fling VoxBox.

You get the email letting you know that you qualify, and then it's a little bit of surprise as to when the box will come, and what will be in it.

This mint green box filled with goodies from Playtex, Nivea, Paramount's Labor Day movie, Kiss, and Rimmel arrived on a day when work was awful, so it was an extra exciting treat (plus, mint green is my favorite, and the perfect color for spring). 

Item by item, here's my breakdown of the goods in the box - my opinion is totally unbiased, despite the fact that I received this complimentary from Influenster. 

1. Nivea Skin Firming Lotion
I love lotion - I used to NEVER get dry skin, but once I hit 25, I swear that my body and skin changed so rapidly. This lotion smells fantastic, and wasn't heavy, which to me is super important when it comes to a lotion. I want it to work, but I don't want it to leave a film or residue, which this didn't. 
Nivea is actually offering a free sample of this lotion too, so click this link to grab yours! 

2. Playtex Sport tampons - encouraging women to #PlayOn.
Periods are never a fun topic. With it alone comes thoughts of bloating, being starving all the time, mood swings, pains and cramps, sensitivity - it's awful. As someone who constantly strives to work out as much as possible, periods are a serious cramp on that (no pun intended). 
I know it's not a fun or lovely topic, but feeling comfortable and protected during workouts is definitely more of a motivation to continue working out (once you pop Advil for cramp pains). I found that these were fine, but didn't provide me with anything extra that my normal tampons don't (I think may I was expecting them to make me run a faster mile or something - didn't happen). ; ) 

3. Kiss #everlastingFrench press on manicures.
I love a good French manicure. What I don't like is when press on French manicures rip my nail because of the glue. I have super, super weak nails (mainly because my school buys the cheapest chalk imaginable that literally chips the manicure off my nails), and I really can't do tips or fake nails because afterwards, my nails are left so brittle. The application was extremely easy, and the length was absolutely perfect since I could still do the things that I normally do - like button my jeans and text, things that some people I know cannot do  because of too long nails - but taking them off was not fun.

4. Labor Day movie from Paramount Pictures
This was a very cute movie - I hadn't read the book, and now want to based on the film. The movie takes place in 1987, about a single mother, her thirteen year old son, and the convict who makes his way into their lives. I love Kate Winslet , so I'm a little bit biased, but I thought she was excellent and compelling as a character. I can't say too much in risk of giving anything away though, so check out the movie if you're in the mood for something a little girly, it's a nice one.

5. Rimmel #RetroGlam Mascara
Mascara is one of my absolute favorite beauty tools. I'm usually a MAC girl, however, when I got this, I figured since I had to review it, I should be using it. Let me tell you, this creates some big, flirty lashes. I'm a HUGE fan. It did clump a little, but nothing that couldn't be fixed with an eyelash brush.

Thanks, Rimmel for much full eyelashes!

What is the best sample you've ever received in a VoxBox?
What's your go-to mascara?


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Half of Day Four - Paris 2014.

Day four of Paris was one of our most photo-worthy, mainly because it was the day that we crammed (in a good way) a TON of sightseeing, since so many key places in Paris are located in similar areas. 

As in days one, two, and three (which you can catch up on respectively), we walked almost everywhere, not realizing that things on maps are apparently are lot farther than they may appear to be. 

Obviously we began our day with French breakfast, which as I've said previously, was one of my favorite things that we did, seeing as how I eat coffee for breakfast (I don't need a lecture, I know, I know) when I'm home. We had planned the day prior, when we were at Les Frangines, to take advantage of their amazingly priced petit déjeuner, which consisted of une tartine et confitures, un croissant ou un pain au chocolat, une boisson chaude aux choix, et un jus d'orange (toast with butter and jam/homemade Nutella, a croissant or chocolate bread, a hot drink of your choice, and orange juice). 

Les Frangines had le déjeuner on lock, and we went there every morning that we were in this area, because it was perfect - especially the homemade hazelnut spread. One of the cool things was that on this morning, the hostess/waitress hadn't gotten bread yet, so she left us in the restaurant alone while she ran to the boulangerie to grab some baguettes. Vive la France!

The green confiture was a mix of four different tropical fruits and was PHENOMENAL. I'm pretty Edwin ate some just with a spoon. 

After a very delicious and filling breakfast, we headed on our way to Notre Dame, and cut through Jardin du Luxembourg on our way. The jardin is massive and we tried to see as much of it as we possibly could. It also houses the French Senate, which is the huge building near the pond that you'll see way too many pictures of. 

I think one of the funniest things about this trip in entirety (which I can't remember if I posted about or not, because grant writing and submitting final grades are destroying my short term memory) was that before we left for France, my dad, who has been to Paris more times than he can count, gave us this advice: "The thing about Paris is that it's very grey - the buildings are grey, the weather is grey, the people are grey. But grey is a pretty solid color, just don't expect more than that." 

So I'm expecting rain and unpredictably cloudy weather - it rained ONE day we were there, that's it. Other than that, it was blue skies and gorgeous weather. So take that, mon pere. 

It was honestly breathtaking - I love Central Park, but really, it can't compare to this. 

The first view of the French Senate - though at the time, I had 0% of an idea of what this building was - probably because unlike Edwin, I did not examine the map. 

One of the few areas in the entire jardin where you could be on the grass. 

The French Senate building is absolutely gorgeous, and has a boat pond that everyone was hanging out in front of. 

This was one of my favorite pictures of the jardin.

More exploring around the Jardin. 

After exiting the jardin, we headed towards the Panthéon. I actually didn't know what the significance of the Panthéon was, but it was originally built as a church, and now houses the remains of famous French citizens (like Voltaire, Pierre and Marie Curie, Louis Braille, and tons of others). It was under construction when we got there, but we still were able to walk around outside. 

The architecture was absolutely unreal, especially when you think about how long ago they built this. 

And the view that oversaw the Eiffel Tower from a distance wasn't too terrible either. 

We took off, Edwin having a direction in mind, and moi being totally in the dark. 

We ended up at Shakespeare and Company, a huge, and incredible bookstore that's on the top lists of "bookstores you must see before you die." It was incredible (though no photography was allowed, and it was PACKED with tourists, but it was definitely still worth seeing and exploring). 

From there, we meandered through the streets of Paris until we arrived at Notre Dame - which is why this post is only half of day four (I took over 100 pictures of Notre Dame - I promise, not even a quarter of them will be on the next post!). 

Currently: Binge watching Orange is the New Black because how did I not know about how good this show was? Also - no joke, the inmates on this show are HIGHLY similar to how my students (many who are ex-inmates themselves) act. So please picture those dynamics in my classroom. 

Also, thank you all for your supportive comments about my last post - it was something that was really weighing so heavily on me, but it took me about six times before I actually posted "Publish," because I was so afraid of backlash like I received on Facebook. Reason #1000382243 why bloggers are the best ever! 
I love you all.