May Update

Experience spring in the south: It’s refreshing to experience spring in Ontario!* We had some unusual winter weather last month and even a terrible ice storm in the middle of April. The past two weeks, the leaves are finally coming out. It’s so nice to drive down the street and notice how green everything has become!

Updating teaching blog: I have not been focused on classroom teaching this year, which has been a nice break. I recently updated my teaching blog name from “A Sine of Madness” to “Math with Ms. Tong.” I was afraid that ‘madness’ might be a pejorative term. Oddly, in all the time that I’ve used that name, no one has suggested that to me, even when I asked on Twitter.

Not being vegan: I was eating fairly consistently eating as a vegan at the end of 2017, but when I started dating back in January, it all went out the window. I still don’t know have too many adult friends in the Kitchener-Waterloo area and ultimately want to fit in. Well, to be honest, I’m probably just being selfish. Groceries are still vegan but when I go out, I’m putting butter on my Tim Horton’s bagels (just not cream cheese).

Travel: I have a plane ticket to go to Portland, Oregon – which I first visited a few years ago – for four days! Will be there to see my cousin from Hong Kong. My sister will be meeting there too.

Substitute teaching and kids’ yoga: Going well. I’m still taking Wednesdays off to teach yoga at an elementary school. Two more session of yoga!

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*It was 6 year sago since I first moved up north

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OAME 2018

The annual OAME conference is the only teaching conference I’ve consistently been going to. This year, it was at Humber College in Etobicoke, on the west end of Toronto. Last week, we had two days – Thursday and Friday – of workshops and speakers. Just as usual, I had fun! I missed a few sessions here and there as I’ve learned to take better self care when I’m feeling overwhelmed or tired.

It’s also really cool to see Twitter celebrities from the #mtbos (Math Teachers Blogosphere) community. This Twitter hashtag changed my teaching career and really got me involved in things like Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces (VNPSs), interactive notebooks and growth mindset. I’ve gotten great ideas from other teachers’ blogs; I would not have done so well in the north if it weren’t for these resources!

Saw a friend too, J., who teaches in Barrie. Got some new resources and will try to sort them out so that I can be better prepared for next September, when I take on a math LTO.

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(More) April Updates

Library Course: I previously had mentioned that I completed my course in the first week of January. Got my OCT certification upgraded. This means that I can receive calls for this subject area!

YTT Weekend: Just finished a wonderful weekend We had a lovely day with Carly Stong, from Kingston, Ontario. She is a fat activist and yogi who has been teaching us about body positivity and explained why the word fat is not an insult. If you’d like to hear more about Carly, check out this podcast interview with her from Kathryn Bruni-Young. Here’s a shot of my lovely studio while it’s empty on the lunch break:

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Kids’ Yoga: I’m now volunteering to teach an hour of kids’ yoga at a local elementary school. I’ve blocked off my Wednesdays for work. Good to add to my resume if I do decide to apply for yoga teaching jobs in the future. So far, I’ve completed two sessions.

Walking: I’m pretty much afraid to show people my pedometer; it is an embarrassing mess and I’m nowhere near 10,000 steps a day.* Thankfully, I can be motivated by friends and am in an online step challenge with high school friends on the Canadian-funded Carrot Rewards app. Yup, sometimes shaming works! It has helped a lot since I check the app everyday and if my steps are low, I’ll take a walk at the end of the day to hit my goal.

Here’s a shot of the beautiful Victoria Park in Kitchener, Ontario.

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Health: Earlier last month, I got a local family doctor, which is hard to come by in Kitchener-Waterloo. I got a general blood test and it appears I have healthy levels of vitamin B12 but low levels of iron storage. Currently trying to find a brand of iron supplements.

Also, I recently discovered this amazing chia seed pudding at Freshii, which is a Canadian fast food restaurant chain. OMG – sprinkled with mango, strawberries and coconut, this healthy dessert is soooo delicious!

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*I do try to set down my cellphone, which is what is tracking my steps, when I’m at home. This likely reduces my step count. I’m waiting to get a FitBit off of Bunz. The trade has been negotiated but the original swap got canceled due to the great ice storm last weekend.

Monthly Goals – March

Health and Fitness
  • Catch up on YTT class hours (3/5): I need to attend 30 more classes before end of June, as part of my homework. That means I need about 10 classes each month, before July In March, so far I’ve had 7 classes. Need to keep attending more!
  • Try a new studio (4/5): Did this on the last day of March! Part of my yoga teacher training homework. Now have to fill out my participation worksheet.
  • Start a spreadsheet to start claiming medical expenses (4/5): While doing taxes, we realized I will need this for 2018 taxes. Got this started but need to revisit the exact dollar mounts through my receipts. Carry this over to next month
  • Go climbing (3/5): Went climbing twice – once at GRR and once at The Core
  • Order a Squatty Potty (5/5): This has been a goal I totally forgot about for at least a year. Just did it last week. It should come in by April. As Bowman says, #stackyourlife!
Teaching
  • Start using Twitter again (3/5): Share math resources and get active again.
  • Be amazing at practice teaching (3/5): Didn’t do as much full yoga class practice teaching with friends and family. Practiced with P., N., J. and Liz. Also did the glute/hip/quad work with two people, including my sister.
  • Get feedback for YTT classes (2/5): Developed a Google Form to received feedback. Only used it once as I didn’t do many full yoga classes.
Finance / Professional Development
  • File taxes (5/5): Mom helped me do most of the work and even got my return back! Last year that I get to enjoy the benefits of Northern Residents Deduction. Sigh.
  • Apply for EI (3/5): Applied a bit late but yeaaaahhhh, not eligible because my last school board has not officially sent off my paperwork to the government. GRRRRRR.
  • Send in certification rating to Human Resources (5/5): Oops. Forgot to do this earlier and only completed it in the last week. This took a few months as I had to send off all the transcripts to OSSTF. I’m currently ranked in Group 3.

First Yoga Class and Teacher Training Feedback

Taught my first yoga class last night at Queen Street Yoga, Kitchener, Ontario!

I had a 60-minute scripted class that I split with another colleague, L. She and I had met up twice over the past week and discussed our approaches. On Wednesday, we brought three friends together to practice our entire sequence in the studio and it helped us immensely. Our $5 Intro to Yoga class was a hit last night.

Normally, we could pack 12 people in the room but we were busting at the seems with 15 enthusiastic yogis. There were also 4 classmates, who wanted to come and support us. It was so nice to be embraced by the community. So much love!

Also, I’ve been working on a Google Form for teaching feedback. I asked a friend to fill it out when I went over my lesson on Wednesday. I had been planning on doing this early, but oh well …better late than never. Here’s a chunk of the form:

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If you’re interested in trying a (free) lesson with me, please let me know. I do need practice and I appreciate anyone who is willing to give me the energy and the time.

Net Worth – December 2017

Late posting my net worth, but here it is.

A few points of note over the past 2 months –  I got some cash gifts from my family (~$600) for my 35th birthday. Big expenses included paying for dental cleaning out of pocket ($100) as I currently do not have health insurance, my license plate renewal ($240) and a cancellation fee from Sirius XM ($40)*. Also, I bought a booster for the car ($155). The largest expense was the Additional Qualification course that I will be starting at the end of January ($685).

In general, over the holidays, I have been generous with my spending as I want to enjoy the time I have with friends and family. This is something I’ve made peace with on a personal level, knowing that being away for 5 years in Quebec has made me feel a bit more disconnected with loved ones.

My Honda CR-V is paid off, as is my Motorala phone, so I am debt-free! That is a good feeling and of course, I never have a balance on my credit cards. I have also decided not to make any clothing purchases this year and in a way, that feels quite freeing.

Having said all that, I’m still waiting for the second half of my December pay to come in. Overall, I’m down about $3000 from October 2017, but at least I’m glad that I have maxed out my RSP contributions. I knew that I would not be saving at all, but my goal is to break even while reestablishing myself coming back to city life and enjoying the process.

Even without health insurance/coverage, I have still decided to pay out of pocket to take care of myself in ways that I could not previously (due to isolation, not lack of funds). I am basically spending the money now instead of over the past few years, which would have been the intention. Tomorrow I have an initial assessment with a physiotherapist for my right leg/knee (~$100), on Tuesday I will have my 3rd appointment for massage ($85) and Thursday, my counsellor ($60). Please note that I do generally space these appointments out but I ended up accidentally pushing them off into the second week of January.

I’m going to try to monitor my groceries by paying in cash for the next month and see how this feels. I do buy some expensive items (i.e. vegan meat replacement, vegan junk food) and want to make sure that I’m not just blowing it all.

To continue to minimize my spending, I’ll continue going to my yoga studio ($3800/10 months) and use my Goodlife gym membership ($400+tax/year). I have paid for two months of Cody app subscription ($10 USD/month) but will be cancelling it by January 17th. Gas is a big expense, and while I have not been tracking that, I should and will try to only go to Shell using my American Express credit card.

I’ve also applied for EI for the two week seasonal layoff (i.e. Christmas holidays where substitute teachers are not offered work), but likely won’t see any of that until later down the road. I still need to get a Record of Employment and am waiting as I’ve officially resigned from my former school board as of January 1st, 2018.

It really felt cathartic to write all this out and take a look. It’s important to do this work for myself. I know I get a lot of help from family**, who pay for groceries, take me out and take care of me in ways that is not measured monetarily. I am going to make better efforts to show gratitude to others through time and still be mindful of spending.

Here’s to an exciting 2018!

*Pissed at myself for this as I didn’t note the subscription roll over. Normally, I note these things in my calendar and set an alarm.
**My brother-in-law and sister let me hop on their TV account.

Applying to Another School Board

Took the day off.

Went to a Kitchener library in the afternoon and sent in an application for the Avon Maitland District School Board. It costs us $12 for each application on the Apply to Education website, which is the site that most public school boards in Canada now use.

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While I’m not particularly focused on entering this school board, I figured it would be wise to have options. It extends northwest of the Kitchener-Waterloo area. I figure if work is slow with my current school board, I can also take full day work with Avon-Maitland.

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November Update

Lots of life updates. Here we go ….

Yoga Teacher Training: I won’t write so much here. I tend to microblog important notes on Cody, since that’s where other people discuss anatomy and yoga with me. Otherwise, this is the third weekend and it’s going well. The studio director, L., spoke with me privately yesterday. She knows that I have been feeling going through an emotional rough patch (still dealing with my break-up), but at the end of the night, she told me that she’s very glad to have me in the program and in Waterloo. It was really sweet and it meant a lot to me.

Also, can you spot which one I am?

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Accepting compliments: I used to struggle with accepting compliments and brush them off / deny / deflect. Over the years, as I spotted this behaviour, I worked on it. I am better at receiving them, which includes simply looking at the person who said it, smiling and saying thank you.

As I’d mentioned above, the director gave me a HUGE compliment last night. Today, I also got several compliments. 1) The (same) yoga director said that she liked my pineapple tank top, which was nice on a cloudy and dreary day, 2) a classmate that I ate lunch with said that I was smart, attractive and charming and lastly, 3) another peer said that my teaching instructions were spot on and that I was a natural at it! Internally, I can still have difficulty accepting these as truths, but I want to embrace that this means I am valued and worthy, which isn’t a feeling that’s consistent when you are living in a new place and still trying to make new friends.

Occasional Teaching: Hard to believe but I’ve already hit the minimum 20 days I need to apply for the LTO list next year. So far, I’ve worked about 30 days. I took this week off as a much needed mental health break. I only worked a 0.5 on Thursday. And that’s fine. No need to shame myself for taking a break.

Career options: On Friday, I went to EdTalent, which is an annual job conference held in Toronto by Apply to Education. I got a chance to say hello to the Cree School Board and chat with my friend, E., who is now a vice-principal. We gabbed for 15 minutes and it was really nice just to say hi to a friend. But I still have wanderlust that will never ever die, and after sticking around Canada for 5 years – yes, I did travel during the holidays – I still want to go somewhere. I spoke with a few UK agencies. They will do anything as short as one month but I was considering a 2-month term.

Reading: One of the optional books to read for Yoga Teacher Training, is The Gifts of ImperfectionBe compassionate with yourself, according to Brene Brown. As I’d mention above, shaming myself for taking a mental health break is not productive. I used to do it but I don’t anymore. Over the past 4 years while working in the north, I took days if I wasn’t physically sick but was emotionally overwhelmed and needed a recharge.

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Employment Insurance: I need to apply for EI for Christmas! My classmate, N., tipped me off as she also works for the same school board. She said you can often get more money from EI than a summer job.

Financing my car: I paid off my car in 52 months, instead of 5 years! This is 8 months ahead of schedule as I threw several years of tax returns at the balance. I am feeling very proud about this! It helps too as I’m not making very much money right now.

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