The Countdown Started Already…

I guess it isn’t too early to start the end of the school year countdown? Our seniors will graduate on May 25th, I’m pretty sure. It still seems a bit early to start counting days, but then again, it’s been a few years since I’ve taught seniors.

Most of my high school teaching years have been spent with juniors. They are just as ready to wrap up the year, but not as excited (yet!) as the seniors.

Today was a teacher work day for us. Students had a 4 day weekend, and I’m glad for them and for us. Last year (2020-2021), our district started working in these teacher work days. We’d never had them before (we have a daily team planning period, unless you have to do other duties -like sub). It was so crazy last year though because our district offered both face to face and online learning -yes, at the same time- that teachers were losing it left and right. It truly was a nightmare, and one I, a seasoned, and level headed (I think) teacher, barely made it through. The teacher work days they gave us last year were needed very much indeed.

Luckily, and probably due to the positive feedback, the district kept some of those days for this school year and also for next school year. We do appreciate these! We have no campus meeting nor training commitments, unless our department meets, or teams meet to plan, or we individually schedule something. So this means that much of the day, we can use grading, calling parents, creating lessons, building in the learning management system, completing paperwork, etc. Oh, and you know, actually see and talk with other teachers on our campus about stuff! πŸ™‚

Research essays were due this past Thursday for my English dual credit students. While I opened those up in today, and I was proud I was only missing one (out of 114!), I had a tough time getting in the groove of grading them. I’m not sure why though because every student was able to select his/her own subject, and we’ve been working on this since the beginning of February – not the essay itself but the research process. Maybe I’m having “senioritis” too?

I’m sure I will kick into gear tomorrow on the grading front (hopefully). While I was productive today, it wasn’t exactly as I had planned. But, that’s ok.

One awesome thing that I was able to do today (not the only thing btw) was to meet with one of the Math dual credit teachers and one of the History DC teachers along with my teaching buddy for English. We all were able to sit down together, talk, plan, and visit. I haven’t seen the History DC teacher since September. We’ve all been at our campus over a decade, and it was great to collaborate with them about the college and high school finals coming up.

I know, I know. This post is full of teacher talk LOL I try not to do much of it here because I’m sure it isn’t exciting to most people. I hope all of you had a great weekend.

And I hope nice weather is around the corner for many of my visitors! Down here in SE Texas, we’re just trying to savor these days of 85 and low humidity; the heat is coming and way too fast! Take care!

P.S. JIC you were wondering…only 30 more class days until graduation πŸ™‚

The Truck Project

Happy March 30th! I hope all is well in your neck of the woods. So, I wanted to share something positive going on for us.

My husband has had mini trucks since we’ve been together (15 years), and they’re always used trucks. He and his dad always worked on cars and motorcycles, and I don’t even know if his parents have ever bought a brand new car. I’ll have to ask! My FIL just always fixed whatever was(is) broken, and my husband does that, too.

Anyway, when Joel’s little red truck broke down about 2 years ago, he said it was time to say goodbye to it. But he really needs a truck for all kinds of things. Projects all the time and sometimes side work building decks, or picnic tables, etc. For him to go without a truck ..But, even basic trucks anymore are priced at ridiculous amounts.

So, we started looking at used trucks. This was probably April 2020. We debated: buy new and take on payments (we had no car loans at that moment, and had just paid off our daughter’s Corolla), or try and come up with the money for half or ….

We started saving money. Here and there. Joel hustled side jobs; many people wanted decks built in the spring of 2020. He also works a side job as a go-kart race director once a month. I put my dual credit stipends into the pot, and we just kept at it. Also, we were lucky too in that we were able to keep our jobs during the 2020-present of this pandemic, we didn’t have debt besides the house mortgage, we had no major health issues/surgeries.

We were able to purchase a 2015 GMC Sierra at auction in April of 2021. Y’all, I was terrified. Joel and his BFF – Mr. B, an auto tech teacher, who is amazing with auto anything, bought the truck online. OMG. I tried to stay calm. It only has 86,000 miles on it, but the front end was pretty damaged. The insurance company had totaled it, and this why it was at auction. It freaked me out to buy this way.

Again, luckily, Mr. B knows everything about autos, and he has lots of connections in the industry. Let’s just say that without Mr. B’s help, it would have cost way more for repairs! Way more! Yes, it’s taken a while year for Joel to get everything completed. And for us to get more money together to get those repairs completed. BUT, it’s ready to go! I honestly wasn’t sure for awhile! At one point, the truck went to a guy for frame repair and didn’t come back for 3 months. But this gentleman was doing it as a side job on his own time on the weekends. It was worth the wait.

Truck + trailer = awesome

We’re now just waiting on the front seatbelts to be unlocked (from the wreck). There was so much that had to be fixed on this truck. My husband has worked so hard on this for a year. And Mr. B has been a lifesaver.

But now, we have a full sized, basically new truck! New to us! It has a new paint job and everything is running great. It has GPS, stereo system, big double cab, seat warmers- what the heck?!? (lol)

It took us a couple of years, but we got what we wanted. Yippee! Joel won’t use it for his commute, but I’m sure he’ll be using it a lot. I’m really glad he has almost a new vehicle (I don’t think he’s ever had an actual new vehicle in his life), and we didn’t have to take on any debt, at least for now.

Used tool box a friend gave us πŸ™‚

Sorry, I know this is a long story just about a used truck, but we’re really happy! It’s just cool and much needed in our family. Best wishes to you all. Peace – b

After Spring Break

Hey my people, in my head, I’m writing blogs a lot! In reality, you know this isn’t true. I’ll be honest, I made it from when I returned to work from my medical leave in January about February 7 until Spring Break, about March 12th, doing alright. Holding my own. Actually doing regular people things like working, cooking, grocery shopping (curbside pickup, but still!).

But, about Tuesday of break, the severe fatigue was back. I spent most of the break sleeping and/or just resting in bed. No stimulus at all. Usually with my eye cover on. No reading, music, tv. All of that was too exhausting. The days we were out of school were mostly beautiful and coveted southeast Texas weather. I did try each day to get outside for an hour doing something.

I tried not to get swallowed back into the black hole of severe chronic fatigue. This time, I thought to myself, I’ll be the winner! Not so much. I did go back to work this past Monday, telling myself that I can take days off if needed (can I though? I’m out of sick days completely and getting docked pay is – yikes). But that’s the story I’m telling myself to try and pep talk myself every day. How’s it going? It’s going.

I’m working. Definitely not doing much else. I’ve managed to take care of our dogs and cats, sweep the floor a few times, and do laundry. Otherwise, I come home from school, do a few things that have to be done like feed those pesky pets (joking- I love them all), then lay down. I still can’t believe it’s only been a week back since break. It feels like it’s been 3 weeks.

At my doctor’s visit last week, I told her that I am feeling like I did when I had to take medical leave. The Epstein-Barr virus is still active. She checked for some others viruses and my thyroid but everything else appears normal. She said it’s the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and that I may need to take another medical leave to rest. I’m trying to hang in as long as I can. School isn’t out until right before Memorial Day weekend, and like I said, I’m out of sick/personal days. I’m still waiting to see if the disability claim I made with my disability insurance is going to pay for the leave I took in Jan/Feb. I should know soon.

Again, I’m very grateful to all of you out there writing your lovely blogs. I try and read religiously! Your posts keep me out of my head and give me so many new perspectives on all kinds of things. While I’m just laying around in my very dark, cool bedroom, you help me to travel into new places doing new things, learning new things.

I’m hopeful I can get out of this flare or episode or whatever we want to call it without taking another leave or missing days. But right now, I just don’t know. I have lots of strategies I’m using, but none seem to be helping right now up against the wall of fatigue. I hope spring has arrived for or is at least just around the corner! Take care. Peace and joy to you – Belle

OH! The pups in the pic above are from left to right: LuAnn, with her head on Newton, on the couch. And Zola and Pico, with his pink winter jacket on, laying in the dog bed on the floor. These are 4 of the 6 dogs who own us. πŸ˜„

Good Stuff

Last week was a busy one filled with a failed starter on my 2009 Civic, and then issues with our well at the house. The well issue isn’t completely finished yet, but, our water is now running, and it isn’t a pump issue. Yippee! Big props to my husband for fixing the car and the well!

Although it’s been challenging being back at work, trying to pace myself and meet all the requirements of the work at hand, so far, it’s going well. It’s been great being back with my students. We’ve just now started our research unit required by the college portion of this course, and honestly, I really enjoy it – my students probably don’t feel the same! However, it is an argumentative essay (product), and we let students choose their topics. The requirement is that the topic must be debatable and current. Most of them have been able to find something interesting to them and something they want to spend a few months with exploring and learning.

We had a teacher work day Friday, and today, another teacher work day filled with professional development sessions. Only just last year has our district added real teacher work days – days without students where we have the entire day to plan, grade, call parents, etc. It’s been amazing. It became a severe need last year when we were teaching face to face and online. Lifesavers, literally. The district decided to keep in a few of those days, a couple each semester, and it rocks.

And, one more good thing this past week is I have been able to catch up with some colleagues/friends at work (mostly on these past 2 work days). Since I was out on medical leave since the semester began, I’d missed seeing people after winter break. Of course we don’t have a lot of time to chat, just seeing someone I haven’t seen in months just to say hi and see what’s new, has been refreshing. It reminds me why I love my campus.

In a building that’s 1/4 of a mile long, filled with 3,200+ students and 300+ staff, it’s easy to lose the feeling of community. I’ve felt that the past few days, and I have obviously been missing it. I’m keeping it as one of the things I want to keep at the forefront as I move forward daily.

Health wise, I’m hanging in there. I rest a lot during the work week, I’ve put off things I want/need to do, and I’m resting a lot on the weekends. I’m at the very least, making it to work every day. Go me! My husband has had a cold for about 7 days now and while he tried to not infect me … Yeah, well. It hasn’t been too bad, but I hope it’s gone soon!

I know many of you are in the midst of winter right now, all the cold, snow, dreariness. I feel for you. We had a cold snap over the weekend (like high of 50), but they say it will be 80 tomorrow with another cold front behind it Thursday. So, maybe 55 as the high for this weekend. This will probably be it for the colder weather for us in the Houston area. But just think, in the summer, while you all are enjoying decent temps, we’ll be stuck inside because of 100+ temps and humidity. Hang in there! Spring is coming!

Take care, dear friends. -belle

Catching Up

I think I can say that my first week back after 5 weeks of medical leave was successful, at least according to me LOL However, my teaching partner had really done much of the prep work and graded a major essay this past week and so that wasn’t on my plate. She insisted on grading the essays, which I’m not going to lie, was a relief not to have that pressure ….yet.

I was able to setup this next week in our LMS, and I had time to get things sorted on the community college side of things as well. I told my teaching partner that if she would like me to cover her last class any day just to let me know (I have my conference period then). I’m trying to think of something or some things to do for her to say THANKS. She did so much for me when I was out. Lifesaver!

Getting back into being up physically (not resting in bed or on the recliner) more than 4 hours a day has been a challenge. And starting the day at 5am is also big. But, it also wasn’t not doable. I was so worried I would go back to work and then have to take a day or more off immediately due to fatigue and/or other issues. Nope!

It’s been great to see all my colleagues and my students. Everyone has been very kind and understanding. Tasks are piling up, but I’m just trying to keep my to do lists current and to not get anxious if I don’t complete everything at once. We’ll see how that goes. I keep telling myself to take a breath and or break when I start feeling the stress building. One thing at a time works way better for me than trying to multitask.

One kink that happened was when I went to leave work Thursday, my car wouldn’t start. It has a new battery, so I figured it wasn’t that. It would turn over just a bit. It took me about 20 minutes to find someone to jump the car, and then, there were like 4 of us out in the parking lot. It wouldn’t jump. Everyone was really nice. Students and teachers were checking if they could help. About 4 pm, my husband headed over from his school to check the car out and pick me up. We ran the battery to an auto store nearby…all good. He checked out some other things, and we finally headed home about 5:30. Diagnosis was the starter. It is a 2009 Honda Civic with like 205,000 miles so that’s not surprising. Home by 6:30, and that is pretty late by my health issue standards. Long day. But we managed to eat and get to bed at a decent time. Friday was tough since I didn’t sleep well, and I was debating on what time to try and get the car towed. It all worked out and my husband was able to replace the starter! Fabulous! Just it was another long day (for my world anyway).

I did some housework today, and I’ve been resting. My husband isn’t feeling great. It may be a cold or he’s just worn himself out since he worked both days last weekend (at the race track) and he’s worked late every day this past week. He’s been sleeping a lot today, and hopefully he’ll feel better tomorrow. If not, it will be time to go get covid tested JIC.

Stuff I’m grateful for:

1. Being back at work

2. Roasted deli chicken – dinner!

3. My mom letting me borrow her car Friday for work

I hope you had a good week as well. Best wishes to you all. Peace – b

Taking a breath

So, today I’m definitely feeling the impact of being back at work full-time. I thought I was doing pretty bada$$ until I woke up this morning (more like tried to!) Yep. But I made it!

I’m really trying not to over think and stress about all of the things that need to be juggled, at least at work. In my head, I thought I was pacing myself well. Clearly not! Since being chronically ill, I’ve tried to complete tasks early due to not knowing exactly how I might feel day to day, or sometimes, hour by hour. My goal was to leave every day planning as if I might not make it to work the next day.

While not a bad plan in theory (it’s served me well over the years), I think last year, I may have taken it too far. The added stress of teaching both in-person and online at the same time really took it’s toll, and certainly not just on me. We could never get far enough ahead in planning, building lessons for students in the learning management system, etc. Instead of letting go and accepting that nothing would work as it once did, I kept at it as though at some point, I’d be back in control (as if I ever really was), that I could complete tasks needed ahead of time, that I could prep for the next day or week in case I couldn’t make it to work.

And I stayed in this mode for this school year. Which means that every single moment at work is filled with well, work. I would maximize every single minute doing something that needed done along with teaching 5 classes. This isn’t a terrible thing to do once in awhile. I convinced myself that if I worked every moment during the school day, I wouldn’t have to bring much home. I could use home time to try and rest. This was my “pacing.”

But, I’m not sure this plan is working to my benefit anymore. Yes, it allows me to rest at home and with chronic fatigue I do need this. But it certainly isn’t a good plan for work anymore or right now. I get too focused on getting everything completed as quickly as possible, but then I have no time to really breath at work. Not good!

I need to find a better balance. I need to give myself a break on these expectations I set to try and complete everything every day. It’s a ridiculous standard and one I would never encourage my colleagues to follow because hello: burnout. The first step I’m taking is that when I’m feeling really overwhelmed or compulsive about finishing a task, that I stop and breathe. For me and maybe for you, this is harder than it sounds! I keep telling myself that it’s ok if I don’t get something done right away. I can still complete things in a timely manner. And if I can’t? It’s not the end of the world. We’ll see how this goes. Please wish me luck!

Stuff I’m grateful for today:

1. My seriously amazing and supportive admin. They’ve really helped me throughout my medical leave and as I segue back.

2. My teacher mentee. He’s great and has awesome stories to tell about teaching overseas.

3. The beautiful day we had today: sunny, breezy, and about 70 degrees. A memory for when it’s 100 in July!

Please take care! – belle


I was able to return to work today after a medical leave of 5 weeks. And while I am glad, I’ve been very anxious about it. I guess because I got so worn down and in such a chronic fatigue flare (plus reactivated EBV), I wasn’t and still am not 100 percent I’m going to make it every day. And that worries me. Acceptance is definitely something I need to revisited and reflect on constantly at this point.

Sleeping barely a few hours last night was not ideal at all, but also not unexpected. I’ve been out since we started winter break December 17th. And most of the past 5 weeks, I’ve spent in bed or at the very least in the recliner. Not a lot of up and at ’em time if you know what I mean!

Today went well. I was very happy to see my students and colleagues. Everyone was very supportive and welcoming. I’ve never missed this kind of time for sure. It will take a few days or a week to get back into the groove with my students, but they’ve been real champs.

My hope is that I can make a few changes that might help me pace myself better. It’s hard not to get into just survival mode (which obviously even that wasn’t working). I thought I was doing a decent job managing the chronic illnesses, but I guess not so much.

Grateful list for today:

1. Getting to see and interact with all of my students for the first time in 2022

2. Staying upright for about 7+ hours today

3. Cinnamon apple tea

Take care, my friends. Hope it was a good day in your world. – b

Rainy, Winter Day

It’s the end of January 2022. I haven’t been back to work this semester. It’s weird. I just cannot manage the fatigue right now. It’s been incessant.

Luckily, I still had some sick leave. Not a lot, so now we’re in pay dock mode. On January 24th, at a follow-up with my doctor, after seeing my labs, added reactivated EBV (mono) to the CFS and Fibromyalgia and extended my medical leave until February 14th. She added an antiviral that will hopefully help suppress the EBV. I’ve been on it a week now. Fingers crossed. I need to get back to work.

Most of the time I’ve been off, I’ve been in bed. Sleeping a lot. Resting. The brain fog has been something else. I don’t really read nor watch a lot of TV. I’m just laying in bed. My teaching partner at work has had to do everything. She’s been awesome!

My husband has also been great. I’ve been chronically I’ll for years now, but it’s been awhile since it’s been really bad like this. He’s my rock. I’m grateful to have his support every day. My mom as well. She lives right next door and has kept an eye on me this past month. I couldn’t do it without these two.

The weather today is just nasty. It’s about 60, but it’s been raining all day. By Thursday, we’re supposed to have a hard freeze. I hope things dry out so we can get the plants covered up.

I’m adding some pictures I took when it was a sunny, beautiful Texas winter day. We’ve had several of those so I guess I can’t complain about a rainy day. Plus, it’s not like I’m up doing things lol I hope you all had a great January. For my friends up north, hang in there. We’re moving towards spring slowly but surely. Take care -b

Chronic fatigue is flaring

I’m struggling. I’ve been fighting the fatigue for awhile, but for sure it’s reared its ugly head more and more since Thanksgiving.

My out of town doc put me on a very low dose of oral hydrocortisone that I started about Nov 30th and that helped for a bit. Since I’ve never tried this in the almost 9 years of this illness journey, she wanted me to try it out. I’m usually open to trying new things that are doable with our budget.

Boy-oh! I’m not going to lie. Within a few days of starting this med, I really started feeling better. I couldn’t believe it! I had more energy throughout the day than I’ve had this past year. And all at a very stressful time of the semester! My brain felt like a light had turned on. I could think more clearly and stay focused. While this time between Thanksgiving and Winter break is usually a very difficult time for me – grading, finishing high school and college finals and semester grades, etc.- I was able to take it in stride.

At the start of winter break, I was hopeful and looking forward to the holidays. And then. I’m not sure what happened. I did get the covid booster on December 21st. This time was Pfizer whereas my original vaccine was J &J in March. I had no issues in March so I figured no big deal, right? Not so much. I received the shot about 2 p.m. and by 9 p.m., I had a terrible headache and nausea. By early the next morning, I was running a 101 fever with a horrible headache, joint pain, and nausea. I stayed in bed most of that day. By Thursday, I was up, but not feeling great. I have no idea if the booster pushed me over the edge of course, but my H- town doc, when I saw her the 27th, said sometimes, vaccines can cause inflammatory responses. But even then when I saw her, I was feeling better and thought all was good.

But that’s how it goes some or most of the time with chronic illness. It’s a management issue day to day, hour by hour. By December 30th, I was really struggling. I couldn’t get up in the morning. Awaking, I would have a headache and nausea or stomach cramping. I would drink alkaselzer and head back to bed, mostly to sleep. Until 9:30….10:30….11:30…I would then get up, do a few small things, eat some oatmeal, and back to bed. This continued through the weekend. And Monday. We started back to school January 4th but there was no way I was making it.

The rest of this week has been much of the same as last. Mornings are the worst. I’m trying to rest when my body tells me and that’s most of the time. The past few days I’ve been able to stay upright for a few more hours each afternoon; I’ll take the little wins. On Monday, I’m heading back to my H-town doctor, and we’ll see what she thinks. I did blood work for her on the 27th, but I guess with the holidays, COVID, etc., my results are still not back.

I’m trying to stay positive and not beat myself up about not being at work for my students and for my colleagues. When my brain can semi concentrate, which right now it’s mostly brain fog, short term memory issues, and lack of recall, I’m trying to do some work from home.

I’m grateful that I had winter break. And that I still have a few paid sick days left. And that I have colleagues who are very understanding and supportive. That I haven’t been out of work this much for a few years. That my husband and my mom get it.

But it’s still scary. Right now, I’m trying to just take it day by day and not worry too much-yet-about what things will look like moving forward. That’s all too much for my mushy, foggy brain to deal with right now. Maybe tomorrow.

The lilies my in-laws sent us on Christmas Eve are still blooming ❀️

BTW, the handsome boy featured is Newton, one of our smart and clever young sirs. I think he is the most clever! πŸ™‚ Wishing you all joy in this new year. Take care – belle

Happy New Year

I hope this finds you all well. I’ve been reading all of your blogs this fall. Please know that I sincerely am grateful for your posts! When I need to get through the day, I know I can come here and find words and or beautiful photos that speak to me.

Newton with powdered sugar sprinkled on his nose.

I’m hoping to write a proper post tomorrow or Monday. Brain fog is something that’s been a real challenge most of this fall semester. I keep thinking about how to describe it, but nothing comes to mind right now. Life has been a bit hazy to say the least.

But, again, thank you all. I read posts in the deep dark mornings before I try to get ready for work. Or, I read right before I head to sleep. Your words comfort and motivate me to hang in there. I appreciate it more than you know. Happy 2022 to all and best wishes. -b

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