Sweet Silver Lining

just watching the clouds…

Career Choices August 15, 2009

Filed under: raNdOMnesS — dragonfly180 @ 6:11 pm
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Isn’t it funny how we choose our careers? When I was a child, I remember wanting to be a veterinarian. I loved animals. Someone told me I’d have to cut them open and put them down. Not for me. Then, I remembered hearing about anesthesiology and decided that such a cool career name must be a great profession. I quickly abandoned that goal, since it turned out not to be so exciting. In high school, I had lofty dreams of becoming a lawyer, primarily because my dad wanted me to. Also, I could argue like no one else I knew. In college, I began to realize that it was his dream and not really mine. But I didn’t do much soul searching to figure out my career.

To be honest,  I am terrible at math. I wanted to be a nurse or maybe a vet, but those required too much math. And could I really take blood and clean up vomit? Or kill someone’s lovable furry companion? Nah! Then, I came upon the education department part of the college handbook. Almost no math and only two semesters of a foreign language??? Sold! It was that simple. I had gone from the girl who hated high school to the girl who would be teaching high school. Weird. Anyway, I embraced the idea and did really well in the education and English departments. I liked the idea of going into a field where I was just about sure I would find a position. I also liked being able to have so much free time throughout the summer and holidays, especially if kids were to be in my future. I’d be out of school when they were out of school.

Just because teaching wasn’t my lifelong dream does not mean that I don’t love it. I truly care about the kids I teach, and I want them to do really well in my classes. But I often wonder what I would have been had I not had the math holding me back. I know that I love all things creative, like painting, writing, and music, but I know my personality and would never have been comfortable pursuing something so unsteady. I also love working creatively with software. When I worked for our county’s Economic Development office, my favorite part of the job was making brochures, updating our website, working in Excel, designing flyers, anything like that. When I worked in Financial Aid at college, I hated answering the phone but preferred to input data into the system for student loans.

I still get to be creative in my teaching job. I like to assign fun and creative activities, such making paper mache masks of gods and goddesses in mythology and decorating them to represent the diety. I get to be creative in my theatre class almost daily, and I write my own scripts for plays. Having the new Promethean Board in my classroom lets me converge my creativity and love for technology. Of course, I still dabble in the creative at home with various blogs, being the webmaster for my running club, painting, playing instruments, writing on occasion, and learning to cook new dishes.

I guess we do what fulfills us, and if we can’t get absolute fulfillment from our daily work, we just supplement it by adding in what we need to after the work day is done. I don’t think there is a career out there that would have fulfilled all of my interests 100% anyway. So I chose teacher, and that’s my career. I still want to be a writer, too. I’ll keep pursuing that, probably until I die.

What did you dream of becoming?


Look, Think, Ask August 7, 2009

The first few days of school went pretty well this week. I’ve definitely had worse starts to the school year, so I can’t complain. This year, I tried a new tactic to begin my classes. Usually I do some type of getting to know the students exercises, which the students half-heartedly participate in. This year, I let them write down some stuff about themselves on an All About Me worksheet, and then, I made the rest of the class period about ME!

Well, sort of. What I did was a lesson called Look, Think, Ask. I brought in some important items from my house (a painting I painted, a silly hat I got on Beale St., an afghan that I crocheted for my grandmother before she died, a framed baby picture, and the race shirt I got from my first 5K). I told them that they needed to look at the items I was bringing out, think about questions to ask to find out more info about the items, and then raise their hands and ask the questions. This activity served two purposes. For them, it stressed critical thinking skills, and for me, it helped them see me in a different and more personal light. I think that if students can relate to you and see you not just as “teacher” but more as a human being, they will find it harder to be disrespectful or to act out in class. I hope this will make the first few weeks a smoother ride.

You know, work or other relationships might even benefit from the Look, Think, Ask activity if we only take the time to notice little things about those people and get to know them better by asking questions. After all, everyone likes talking about themselves, at least a little. I know there are certainly coworkers at my school that I haven’t gotten to know very well, even though this is the fourth year that I’ve worked there. Maybe I’ll mosey into some classrooms and see what i can Look, Think, and Ask about this year.


Math Lesson: Counting Calories August 3, 2009

Filed under: food,hEaLtH — dragonfly180 @ 9:02 pm
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I’ve stressed the importance of knowing how many calories to take in each day in a previous blog. You may be asking why and how do you figure this out? Let me answer both of those questions.
You can do all the walking and crunches and swimming you want, but if you’re eating too many calories, you just will not lose weight. For the first entire year I ran, I had this problem. I was running so much each week, but the scale barely moved. I just could not figure it out. I finally read about calories and understood why. I was taking in too many calories daily. My running was burning enough calories that I wasn’t gaining any weight, but I couldn’t lose because I had not created a deficit.

Let’s go back to the Basal Metabolic Rate. This is the minimum that you body needs to survive and run bodily processes throughout the day while maintaining your weight as it is. To find out your BMR, use a BMR calculator: http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/
Or you can use the BMR formula if you just like to do equations!
English BMR Formula
Women: BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) – ( 4.7 x age in years )
Men: BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) – ( 6.8 x age in year )

Now, we have to do a little more math. My BMR is 1402.4 according to the BMR calculator.

Harris Benedict Formula

To determine your total daily calorie needs, multiply your BMR by the appropriate activity factor, as follows:

1. If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2
2. If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.375
3. If you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55
4. If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.725
5. If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9

Using the Harris Benedict Formula above, I am probably “very active” according to these guidelines, so I need to multiply my BMR (1402.4) by 1.725, which equals 2419. This is the amount of calories I need to sustain the amount of activity I’m doing if I want to maintain my weight. But I have to create a deficit if I want to lose weight.

There are 3500 calories in a lb of fat. So to lose 1 lb per week, I have to get rid of 3500 calories for the week through food, exercise, or preferably both. I need 2419 per day for maintenance at my activity level, which comes to 16,933 for the week (2419 x 7). Now, 16933-3500=13433. If you divide that over the seven days of the week, that’s 1919 per day. So I need to consume around 1900 calories per day to lose 1 lb. If I want to lose 2 lbs, I create a deficit of 7000 calories (or 3500 x 2). 16933-7000=9333/7=1419. Therefore, if I hope to lose 1 to 2 lbs, I need to consume between 1419 and 1919 per day. If I stop working out and become sedentary, I’d need far fewer calories per day in order to lose weight. So the more you workout, the more you are able to eat! :o) Never go below 1200 calories per day, though, even if the math comes out to less. This can be detrimental to your health and can also make you stop losing weight, because your body will go into starvation mode and your metabolism will slow down. You can make up for the extra calories by exercising.
For instance, suppose you are a sedentary person with a BMR of 1402.
1402.4 x 1.2 (for sedentary in the Harris Benedict formula above)= 1683 (your maintenance calories)
1683 x 7= 11781 (weekly calories for maintenance)
11781-3500= 8281/7= 1183(amount of calories needed per day to lose 1 lb. for the week)

Since this number is low and can possibly hurt your health, you could supplement it with exercise. For instance, walking for 30 minutes at my weight burns 156 calories. If I did that for four days each week, that would create a deficit of 624 calories that I could add back into my calories for the week, therefore enabling me to eat more calories per day while still losing the 1 lb. This is how the math would look:
11781 (weekly calories for maintenance) + 624 (your bonus calories from your exercise calorie deficit) = 12405 calories
12405-3500=8905/7=1272 calories per day (to lose 1 lb)
So by walking, you’ve gained yourself a few more calories per day to consume while still being able to lose the 1 lb. Imagine if you walked for an hour 5 days a week! But that’s enough math for me today.  ;o) If you want to see how many calories certain activities burn, check out this website:

One to two lbs per week is the suggested rate for losing weight. If you try to create a deficit for more than that, research shows that your chances of keeping it off in the long run are slim. Slow but steady weight loss should be your goal. That will also give you time to adapt to your new lifestyle.

Hope all that math wasn’t too discouraging. I just wanted to provide good examples. If you can figure out your calorie range and then start sticking to it, losing weight is pretty easy. Here are a few websites that will make it very easy to find calories for the foods that may not have labels you can peruse, such as fresh produce or a meal at a restaurant:



a little more abstract August 2, 2009

Filed under: aRt — dragonfly180 @ 11:10 am
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This is a painting I did in oil of a vase of daffodils and narcissus that I’d picked one spring.

art 015These are a few of my recent experiments with acrylics and other mediums.

art 016art 051I actually used real sand with my acrylic paint on the underwater one above and used plaster on the stars acrylic painting.


Landscapes in oil

Filed under: aRt — dragonfly180 @ 10:23 am
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I started out painting landscapes in oil a few years ago. Here are some of them. Sorry they are so small. I tried to make them large, but it just chopped off part of the image.

12-26-07 001art 002art 004art 009art 010art 060art 063art 067


How I Started Running August 1, 2009

Filed under: hEaLtH — dragonfly180 @ 10:21 am
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When I started running, it was completely treacherous. I started out on a small, cheap treadmill that I bought at Walmart 3 years ago (it’s still going, by the way!). I had stopped smoking a year or so before that, and I decided that I didn’t have the crutch of bad lungs anymore to keep me from exercising. I began by running as much as I could and then walking and repeating it. So I’d run a whole minute or so and I’d walk for a few minutes. Then, I’d run another minute and walk. I never thought I’d make it to five whole minutes of running, then ten, and finally a mile. Those were all really big milestones for me. I remember being so excited that I’d hop onto the beginner’s forum at Runner’s World and tell everyone my accomplishments. They seem like nothing now, but I was really proud of myself for pushing forward. I was running at a 15 minute mile, the pace most people can walk. I was determined, though, to get faster.

I got terrible shin splints about a month or so into running. I was running on crappy training shoes that I bought at a discount shoe store. They were Adidas, but they were the wrong pair to be running in. I didn’t know this, so I kept running in them. The shin splints got so bad that I had to quit running for several weeks. I read up on them and wondered if I had caused stress fractures in my shins. That’s how bad it hurt. I was hobbling around in my classroom like an 80 year old woman. It’s comical now, but it wasn’t then. I finally took the advice of everyone on Runner’s World and went to a specialty running shoe store, Fleet Feet in Jackson, where they watched me run and fitted me with good shoes. They were Adidas Supernova Cushion, and I loved those shoes. They fit me like a glove! If there’s one thing about all runners, it’s that we really love our running shoes. It’s our sport’s main equipment, so it has to be good. After an update to the Supernova that didn’t agree with my foot, I switched over to Mizuno Waverider. They are also really great shoes.

In the midst of those treacherous runs on the treadmill and learning to adapt to road running through my neighborhood, I somehow gained a love for running. This is the part of my running that I can’t explain. It just happened. I remember hating running when I first started, but my goal was to lose weight, and I knew that I had to do some vigorous working out, so running it was. I remember balking at the people on the Runner’s World forums that boasted their love for running. Then, one day, I remember not hating it so much, then kinda liking it, and before long, just loving to do it.

Last fall, I completed my first 5K, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K in Tupelo. It was the most exciting race and a really wonderful experience. I didn’t increase my speed much until I began road training for this race. Up until a month before the race, I had not run over about 2 miles at a time. I was running at about a 14 minute per mile pace. The day I decided to do the race, I had run 2.5 miles, so I knew I could do 3.1 miles. The whole month of October, I trained hard. I ran as much as I could. My chip time for that race was 37:58 , or a little over a 12 minute mile! I couldn’t believe that I had improved my time so much. Since then, I’ve done a few other races and have improved my time even more. I’m running 5K in about 32:30, or a 10:41 minute mile. I’ll run the Komen Race for the Cure 5K again this October, where I hope to have gotten nearer to a 30 minute 5K. Last spring, I had gotten up to over five miles for my long runs. They wore me out, though, so I decreased my long runs but will get back to that distance at some point. I’d like to complete a 10K, which is 6.2 miles. I know I can do it, so that’s my next goal.