13872973_1337995592901026_1859633837765626915_nLately, I've been focusing very closely on my mental and physical health and figuring many things out about myself. After the year I've had, I want to make sure I keep my body and mind healthy so that I know how to detect that I am losing touch with the world and how to prevent that increase in anxiety and depression so that it doesn't happen again. 

Lately, my focus has been my career. I went to the University of Lethbridge  to become a music teacher. Wonderfully, and troublesome  as well, the University I attended is one of the best in Canada for Education. Many graduates leave the Education faculty with high esteem and are usually employed within 1-2 years on contract. There are exceptions, but in general, if you have successfully completed your practicums, have good recommendations from your University consultant and mentors, you are on a fast track to becoming a tenured teacher. 

In comes my dilemma: yes, I have much to be thankful of. I graduated from said University with a GPA of 3.4, was accepted by 3/4 teaching districts within Lethbridge to substitute teach which gave me many connections, and last year I taught a full year of maternity leave in Calgary teaching K-4 music. This year, I was accepted to the 4th district, and largest, to substitute teach. When I write it all down like this, it is very humbling and I believe I have truly made a difference and an impact as a teacher. But before writing down any of this, internally reflecting, I felt like a failure. 

Many, if not all, of the graduates from the same Music Education class as I have contracts, and if they don't already have it, are pursuing tenure. Only a few stayed in Lethbridge as their connections paid off and are teaching here, but many left because the teaching climate in Lethbridge is over-saturated with 1st year teachers excitedly trying to find their dream job, or any job in general. With over 200 education graduates PER YEAR, it's no wonder many decide to spread out around Alberta. But, having found a house and a husband, moving is not in my future. In fact, I love Lethbridge. I don't see myself moving any time soon. 

Now is the time for Self Reflection. 

I've written about self love, self acceptance, self care, but as a part of all of those, you need to self reflect. Don't reflect about others around you unless they have a direct impact on you. Be selfish when you self reflect. Proud of that 5k walk you did on your own? Put it down. Blessed to have 3 cats in your house? Write it down. Proud you know how to make an origami snake? Write it down in bold. Here is one way to self reflect that won't make you feel torn between emotions. 

Take a pen (not pencil! Remove the urge to erase.) and a pad of paper. Set a timer if you like, or use a piece of music as your timer. In the amount of time you've given yourself, write down all the things that are GOOD in your life. Not the things you're thankful for or you have. A lot of times, we gloss over the good when trying to weed out the bad. Don't ever forget how awesome you are because of the doom and gloom of the moment. Once your timer is done, read it, out loud if you can. Don't contradict anything you've written down by crossing it out, or think about how it could have been better (or worse). This is the power of self reflection. Your list should be filled with things that make you smile, laugh and cry happy tears. Read it to someone else or type it up and share it. No matter what your accomplishments are, you should be proud of where you came from, where you are going, and most importantly, where you are.

As I have been self reflecting lately, I've felt less lost and more in tune with what I have already. Yes, I want to know what direction to take next or what I'm aiming for, but for right now, my direction is forward and I'm aiming for happiness. Simple as that. 

Published by Margaret Geary-Merkl