Seeking a Higher Resolution

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So I have some goals in mind for 2010.

I am now officially certified and I already have some interviews scheduled for substitute teaching. Once I'm fully employed I will begin the process of getting certified in a few other states down south and then seek interviews with districts down there.

I will finish my book list from last year, finishing up Boundaries by Henry Cloud, More than Enough by Dave Ramsey, and Stop Acting Rich by Thomas J. Stanley. I have a few more books to add to this year's list and they include The Go-Getter by Peter B. Kyne, Integrity by Dr. Henry Cloud, and Scratch Beginnings by Adam W. Shepard.

Another goal is to save up roughly $4000 by June in order to move down south. I have not set a specific location yet, as I'm still doing research, but I hope to have a good idea by the end of March.

I have realized that my weight loss is at a stalemate until I can have the skin surgery. Most of what I have left is excess skin, so I cannot get a good gauge as to how much more I can lose until that's removed. My goal then is to maintain my current weight and physique through my current diet and exercise regiment.

Finally, I plan on making one of the biggest leaps of my life. Surgery was pretty big, but this time I am moving to another state, possibly with no friends or family. It is scary, but I have faith in God and He will guide my path. I feel drawn down there, and I believe it is where I will make my fortune. Wish me luck!

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Goodbye 2010, Hello 2011

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I'm starting this post with a review of my previous resolutions.

By the end of 2010, I will be down to at least 250lbs.

I didn't quite get down to 250lbs. I was at 270lbs for a long time, and right now I'm at a stable 280lbs. It really did get tougher as I lost more and more. I'm convinced that what I have left is mostly skin and that will take plastic surgery to remove.

By the end of 2010, I will either be working full time or hired full time as a science teacher with my newly obtained teaching certification.

I wasn't too sure at the time of this post as to how the process of going from certified to working worked but I understand it now. My certification is going through the bureaucracy right now and I should have the official certification within a month. As of now, I have been accepted at one district and I will have an interview for another on January 20th. So far I have applied at 5 districts total.

By the end of 2010, I will have read seven books [...]
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Dr. Stephen Covey
48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller
The Millionaire Next Door and Stop Acting Rich by Thomas J. Stanley
Boundaries by Henry Cloud
More than Enough by Dave Ramsey
The Bible.

I made a great deal of progress on this list. If you check my list on the right hand side, I managed to get through the first 4 books. I have not finished Boundaries or More Than Enough but they are on the list. I will add more books in a future post.

By the end of 2010, I will have made more real-life connections than connections over the internet in order to ground myself with my community

I believe I have done this. I have had many coworkers a friends, and I've joined several real life groups as well. Online video games no longer dominate my social life and I feel I have a stronger connection with my community.

For the summer of 2010, I will have successfully maintained my primary job and a second part time job

The interesting thing about this resolution was that I wasn't expecting my company to offer so much overtime during the summer. It was a boon for me and I used it completely. The extra overtime served well as a second job.

By the end of 2010, my debt snowball will be smaller.

My debt snowball is considerably smaller, and I continue to pay down my debt.

Overall, I would say I was successful. While I did not meet all the resolutions, I do not consider them failures. I maintained the spirit of the resolutions and I will continue to build on those successes for 2011. Next up: Goals for 2011.

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Another Chapter

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I've done it. As of December 17th, I have completed my student teaching and I now await notification that I am certified by New York State to teach High School Chemistry and General Science. What does this mean?

Well the last few days I've been completing applications and delivering resum├ęs to a couple districts. Today, however, the districts are closed for the holiday and I'll have to wait until the new year to keep going. So this means I've got all this free time.

AND ITS DRIVING ME CRAZY. I feel like I need to do SOMETHING productive, but I don't know how to go about being productive. People are telling me this is a well-deserved vacation. It's very hard for me to imagine it as such. I'm not one to just sit around anymore, and I don't want to settle into a routine where I don't get things done.

I started this article this morning, but here it is late at night and I have a few ideas on how to stay busy despite not being able to apply for jobs. First order of business is to clean my apartment. It's been getting a bit messy so I want do a good cleaning. Second, I'm going to get my extra stuff set up to be sold on Craigslist and eBay. Third, I am going to continue to search for online applications for local school districts, get those filled out so on Monday in January, I'm ready to roll out to each school and hand them over.

I'm so excited! Focus can do that.

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Time is a Pig

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Time is a pig because it's flying. I've moved into my second placement quite well. The students are getting used to me teaching and I'm getting much better. It is so different than my middle school placement!

This placement requires that I keep up and I have so much more writing to do to maintain that fast pace. My middle school placement was more relaxed- the concern was more on the teaching than the content. Don't get me wrong, I love both placements and I'm equally adaptable to both types of teaching. They're just very different.

Thanksgiving came and went. I managed to enjoy the meal with the family on Sunday and it was pretty awesome. I managed not to gorge myself too, even though that's hard to do with my stomach. I did take a few leftovers though, especially pie! Thanksgiving day I spent fixing up my computer. I hope I don't have video card problems again now that I've reinstalled the operating system. Tech guys recommend reformatting once a year or so but I thought that it wouldn't be as necessary with Windows 7. Apparently not.

Christmas is coming up but before that I will have finished my student teaching and hopefully will be fully certified. I'm so looking forward to teaching! I know I've been telling everyone that I'm planning on moving south, but before I do that, I'll need to sustain myself for the spring. My best chance at a job will be to apply during the summer and move around then as well. I'll be student teaching during the spring, hopefully. I'm sure it won't be too much of a problem. Stay tuned for more!

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New Days

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I've been at my placement for almost 2 weeks now and it's going wonderfully. My teacher was impressed on the first day I taught a lesson and he really liked my ideas. I really am in my element.

There was a bit of a scuffle early on though. It turned out that as a student teacher I needed to be approved by the school board. The principal had notified my teacher and I but acted as if he had no idea that I was going to be student teaching. I can only guess that he was trying to save face and not make himself look like a fool. Nonetheless it only turned out to be a matter of paperwork which I got completed. I got notification that I was approved and as far as I know, everything is fine.

I hadn't realized just how many opportunities there are in teaching. I can be making a great deal of money right off the bat if I time things right. However, money isn't the object. I realize now that I'll be in a position to really make a difference in children's lives, and I intend to make the most of that position. This is where I want to be.

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The last day of school

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Today was my last day teaching middle school kids. Never in my life have I experienced such a bittersweet day, and I'll tell you why.

The 8th grade students in the first two periods wished me luck. A couple even wanted to give me a hug and thanked me for being there. This was surprising because I didn't teach this class very often- only a few days here and there. It was heartwarming to see that I did have an impact on their lives and that they were going to miss me.

The 7th grade honors students were the hardest in which to say goodbye. When the class started I still had to go over their exams with them. I was even called to another room to talk to another teacher. Little did I know that it was a trick to get me out of the room. When I came back, I finished going over the exam and at that point my teacher encouraged the students to speak up. That's when they surprised me with cupcakes, several thank-you cards and a gift. The gift turned out to be microwave popcorn! Our last lab activity was popping popcorn for science so this was a sweet gift from them. The whole class was so charming and magical I was almost in tears. Several kids were shocked at this and shouted, "I didn't want to make Mr. Rada cry!" which made me feel all the more emotional about it. We spent the rest of the period talking and relaxing. I had half of the same students for the next period so we decided to spend the time playing games and talking. It was wonderful.

The biggest surprise was the later class- the regular 7th grade science class. I've always found these students a challenge to wrangle into paying attention and I didn't know at the time if I was really affecting them. I was absolutely surprised by a request they made the day before- they asked if they could have a party for me on my last day. I told them I don't have stuff to bring to make it exciting, but several of them said they would take care of that. I had no expectation that they would bring anything, being 7th graders, so I was still planning a regular lesson with them. However, I didn't want to disappoint them too much, so I bought a bunch of cookies from the cafeteria to share. By the time that class arrived, I could tell that those students certainly pulled through as they brought in chips, candy, and pop to share with everyone. Not only that, but my teacher brought in a whole bunch of cupcakes decorated in the shape of a snake. We enjoyed the candy and food and just talked about random things. This group was really rambunctious but they made the day special with this wonderful surprise.

To top it all off, my teacher planned on giving me a double-layer chocolate fudge cake and was going to share it at the team meeting, but we didn't get to share it as time ran out. I ended up taking it home and I plan on sharing it with my sister and my Dad.

I ended up with so much from that experience. I miss my students already and I'm even questioning if I really want to teach chemistry. I loved teaching 7th and 8th grade so much! However things go, I know I'll make the right choice when I come to it.

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I AM TEACHER.

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I'm nearing the end of my first placement and I'm already sad. I'm going to miss my students so much. They're all so intelligent and eager to please and I want to keep teaching them for the entire school year. Alas, that is not to be and I will need to move on up to the high school placement next Monday.

I got reviewed again on Friday and my supervisor said he found no problems. He said I'm doing really well and that I'm ready for teaching. It was so exciting to hear that! He also gave me some advice; the perspective to have is that you're not getting paid to zoo around with kids all day. That's the easy, fun part and isn't where the work is done. He told me I'm getting paid to stay up to do all the paperwork after school. Staying up until 2am Sunday night grading papers- that's the real work and that's what I'm getting paid to do. What an interesting point of view!

It's been getting really cold now and last year I had a gym in which I could continue to work out during the winter months. However, I only go down to Buffalo State once a week and any more than that would be difficult and costly. I've been looking around for a local gym that doesn't cost too much.

That being said, I've fallen in love with a local athletic center- the equipment is top-notch and it's very beautiful. it's just down the street and I'd say I could get whatever I wanted done at this gym. However, for a three-month membership it's $189. That's $63 a month or $3 a day. In other words, this gym is more expensive than I want to spend. That's the cheapest deal without spending for a whole year(and I don't know if I'll be around for an entire year). I'm going to find out Monday if my COBRA extension includes the gym membership reimbursement. If it does, then I'm going to use it. If it does not then I am going to seek out a cheaper gym. I hope things work out though!

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Autumn is my favorite seasoning!

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I hope you ignore the fact that I haven't posted in nearly a month and just enjoy this long-awaited post for what it's worth.

I love teaching. I've been doing it for a couple weeks now and I can't imagine doing anything else with my life. I've had some good days and a couple bad days, but at the end of the day I reflect, I puzzle out what I could have done better, and then I come back and really hit the mark the next day.

My favorite class is the 7th grade honors class. They are so eager to please and are very well-behaved. They don't take advantage of my ignorance or my inexperience. I love them to pieces and I look forward to teaching them every day.

The other two classes, the regular science kids, are much more challenging. This is not to say I don't like them- they are a great bunch. However, because of the pace at which they learn, they force me to think of new ways to teach and to really draw their learning skills the surface. I love them too, because they will be the ones who will make me a better teacher, as I have to constantly adjust and adapt.

I am doing great with the workload and I'm getting the necessary work done. I'm quite proud of my ability to focus and work things out. I keep myself on my toes all the time and try not to get overconfident.

Financially speaking I am in great shape. Even though I am not working I've managed to stick to a bare-bones budget and in the long run it will allow me to last longer without an income, or even if I start getting an income it'll be a good nest-egg.

Health-wise I am doing wonderful. I'm already fitting into smaller clothes and I'm steadily approaching a 5K run. Today I managed to run for 15 minutes straight(about 1.25 miles) without having to rest, and that's pretty awesome. I may not be losing the pounds but I am still losing the inches.

I can't believe how lucky I am right now, so I am counting my blessings as God is giving them. I trust in the Lord with all my heart, and He is pointing me in the right direction.

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So long and thanks for all the fish.

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I quit my job on August 27th. I know it's now September 9th, but already that time of my life is fading from memory. I spent 5 years of my life there and one would think I'd feel a certain philosophical loss from quitting a job held for so long. I don't. I certainly miss the friends I've made there and I may miss the steady income, but I've always had a sense of transience while working for Time Warner Cable and my coworkers knew it. It wasn't what I am and therefore I did not define myself by that job's terms.

I have already moved on from that chapter in my life into something new. I've already had two days teaching and I already enjoy the heck out of it. My students are all fascinating, each with a different story and a different attitude and they make the classes that I've spent with them interesting. My only concerns are being overwhelmed too soon, but already I'm confident enough to teach a class tomorrow. I can see myself in front of a classroom and teaching. Not only that, but I can see myself being a great teacher, affecting every student in a positive way.

I am finished with Time Warner Cable. I may look back at that chapter of my life and skim over the highlights, and remember the lessons I've learned, but I was no more a phone jockey than I was a cook at Darien Lake. I am, and have always been, a teacher and I point my life in that direction.

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Virginia Trip

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You can view my gallery by clicking here.

So my trip to Virginia was fantastic. Every aspect of the trip was enjoyable to the fullest. From the drive down there to the things I did, it was a thoroughly satisfying trip.

The drive was uneventful as car drives go. I got to see plenty of Pennsylvania's countryside(and smell it too). I took the back roads and while it was more stop-and-go between towns, I avoided much of the constant construction. I really enjoyed the drive.

As for the actual time there, it was fantastic. I spent time visiting Harrisonburg's Museum, swimming at the local pool, and exploring one of the local caverns. They were fun things to do(I wish I had time to do other things there), but when I look back there was something more that stood out.

When I remember this trip, it won't be the caverns or the museum that stands out. It will be the time I got to spend with my best friend. She was a gracious hostess and we did what we could within the time and limitations we had. I enjoyed the dinner that she, her boyfriend and I put together, as well as making the Twinkie Minions! Also, the countless hours playing Clue or Zombie Dice still remain fresh in my mind. I couldn't have asked for a better vacation.

Now, if only she'd let me put up some pictures of her to share :)

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The wheel that spins

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I've been meaning to post here, but it's been pretty hectic!

1. My vacation was fantastic- more on that in a future post(promise!)
2. Work has been going pretty smooth and I'm getting lots of "you rock!"'s and "gonna miss you"'s at work. I am so glad I had a positive effect on so many people at work.
3. School starts on Monday and I'll be unemployed too. Kinda nervous about it but I'm confident I'll manage quite well.
4. I renewed Activeworlds up for the "AW Reunion in AW." Hope to see some friends!
5. My supervisor and friend at work bought a cake to celebrate my going-away as well as reaching my "half-the-man-I-used-to-be" event. However, I'm still at 270lbs but he said that was close enough.

More soon!

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That's where I keep all my stuff!

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A few quick updates, now that it's August.

1. I handed in my letter of resignation. My last day of employment with my current company is August 27th. At first it was a little scary but I'm becoming more at ease with the idea as each day passes by. I will certainly miss the people I've met and the friends I have made, if not the actual job itself.
2. My weight-loss continues. I'm currently at 274lbs with only 9lbs more to go before I can claim to be half the man I used to be. It is very hard to stick to it, but I'm doing it.
3. My surgeon said I was in excellent health and his aide said that I was a model patient. It seems that many people who get the surgery I had do not stick to the lifestyle change and often fall back into their old ways again. They were quite pleased that I continue to stick to my regimen and continue to lose weight. I've decided that I'm going to volunteer my time for the support groups. I hope I can be an inspiration to people who have had the surgery(or are going to have it done) so that they stick to the lifestyle change.
4. We also discussed the skin surgery and I am absolutely a candidate. There are a few insurance things I can look at but he recommended I pay in cash if I want the best doctor. It makes sense as insurance for cosmetic surgery is a labyrinthine mess.
5. My family is having another yard sale at the end of August and I'm hoping to get in on that. This will give me a chance to sell some of extra junk and I'm looking forward to it.

On a final note- I've had so many people tell me that I'm an inspiration for them. I don't really know how to react to that but I end up doing the only thing of which I can think... to all of those who say I am an inspiration, thank you from the bottom of my heart. It is not easy, but it can be done. I can only hope to inspire as many people as I can while I'm still here.

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Success

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Perhaps the comments on my last post have prompted this response. I'd like to make clear what my successes have been these past few months.

1. I have reached 89% of my savings goal for the fall. The overtime did run out sooner than I had hoped but that wasn't something I could control. The goal is a number that I calculated that I would need to survive without working any part-time job. Worst case-scenario. Since I fully intend on working a part-time job during the fall, that goal could potentially be a surplus.
2. I continue to lose weight and get tone. My weight-loss is slow and I often plateau, but during those plateaus I am still slimming down. Pants that were tight are now loose- so I know I'm doing it right. There are times when I don't feel motivated do work out, but then I am quick to remind myself why I am there at the gym 5 days a week and I keep that reason at the forefront of my brain.
3. I have been focusing on my dietary consumption of late. In the past, with an ample budget, I would buy more expensive fresh fruits and vegetables, and expensive meats. Now, I've learned that higher price does not always equal higher quality. I've managed to get my food budget down to $200 for the month of July, and I hope I can keep doing so for the next 6 months.
4. I've become more shrewd when it comes to buying other stuff as well. Going to the consignment shops(Salvation Army, Goodwill) has saved me a lot and there are some good clothes there as well. I've been going through clothes and even some of my favorite shirts that fit fine before now are too big and make me look bigger than I am. The consignment shops have really saved me money.

I'd like to articulate the things that haven't been real successes but rather things I need to improve upon.

1. I really need to draw up a list of the stuff I want to sell. I plan on doing it through craigslist/ebay, but that makes me a little wary when I hear about people getting robbed.
2. I really need to follow up on some the part-time job leads.
3. I need to get better at keeping my apartment clean now that I don't have overtime. It is for the most part clean but I'm sure I can get it cleaner.

That's it for now. Current weight: 277lbs.

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When you're running out of steam, stoke the fire!

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Well the overtime has run out- a little earlier than I had hoped, but what can one do? I have a few things planned to cover the shortfall but those are not guarantees. I should be okay financially but I won't be comfortable. Comfort isn't what it's about though. I can sacrifice for what I want.

I do plan on getting a part-time job, hopefully tutoring. There are also scholarships available once I am in the student teaching position. Additionally, I can start selling stuff too- something I've been meaning to do for a while. I'm concerned about my bills. I could certainly save money if I stopped paying the credit card bills. The only problem with that would be the harassing calls after not paying for a while. I have every intention of paying them, I just won't have any income.

I don't know where things are going to go right now, but I am determined to get through the student teaching. After that, the sky is the limit. I'm very confident God will point me in the right direction and help me out here.

I'm keeping busy now that I'm not working overtime. My workout progresses and while I'm not losing weight fast I'm certainly slimming down. Additionally, I'm catching up on my chores and looking for ways to save money while I can. I need to keep this sense of accomplishment strong in my mind so I don't go crazy with doubt and fear.

My doctor gave me a clean bill of health on all points and that's great to hear now that I'm heading to a health insurance-less situation. I'm preparing on that front too and shopping for my own insurance. There are a few questions I have in that regard but I won't have answers until I approach my current employer about me leaving. I'm getting close to making my mind up on that but again I don't have the needed information. Another classmate who also works with me is in the same situation, and he's still waiting on some answers.

I will be seeing my surgeon at the end of July for my yearly visit. I'm getting this done because I don't know if I'll have insurance in January when it is normally scheduled. I'm going to ask him about the skin surgery and what it entails. I am definitely going to get it done but it won't be this year- I just want to have a good idea of what it will involve.

I'm keeping my head up high and I'm hoping things fall into place- then again God might lead me into another direction, who knows!

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