I applied for a new job today.

I don’t think I’ll actually get it, but I applied anyway. I applied for a number of different reasons, but the main one being that my boss told me I should.

OK, that sounds weird. Why would my current boss tell me to apply for a new job? Well, it’s pretty simple – I am a casual employee going nowhere fast and the only way I can move up in the company is by getting a job in the union. Ugh.

So now you’re probably curious as to what job I applied for. Well, I won’t ruin the surprise, but I can tell you that I’m actually somewhat qualified, and it’s an internal job posting so it’s not open to non-company employees.

I definitely thought long and hard before applying to this job, even though I am well aware that applying for a job doesn’t mean accepting a job. The first thing that came to mind was, “Why would I want to leave a job I love?” And as hard as that is to do, I know that I can’t stay here forever. I need to acquire new skills and new experience somewhere else, so that I can hopefully someday come back and get a permanent job doing something I love even more.

Who knows if that will actually end up being at the zoo, but I kind of have my fingers crossed. I love everything about where I work right now. I love where it’s located, I love the people I work with, and I love my non-human workers just as much! I love the routine, and I love the spontaneity of everyday problems. I love my office and all of tasks. And I am super fine with admitting that I love being surrounded by toys and stuffed animals every single day. Oh, and organizing. Duh.

But deep down, I know that all of that is not enough. All of that won’t bring me anywhere, because this job is at a standstill. It’s a casual position, 9.5 months of the year, 3 of which are not full time. No benefits, no sick days, no vacation. And of course, no weekends off, and no overtime pay. Basically, it whomps.

It sucks to think about leaving – which is not necessarily the case – but I know it’s the right time to be doing it.

So today, I filled out a huge form – half of which I did not even understand – and I sent off my cover letter and resume to apply for a new job. I have no idea if I’ll even get a call for an interview, but I did it anyway. I took a shot. And I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens next.

We’re moving back home

It’s official – both Max and I are moving back home!! We didn’t want to start announcing it too soon, but things are coming along pretty quickly, and then yesterday I got an e-mail from my boss in Moncton who asked if I could come back next week to start work early, so I figured it was probably time to tell everyone. 🙂

It’s not that I don’t like it here in Alberta, but I am beyond excited to go back to the East Coast! I never thought I would miss it this much, but I do. So as always, I started planning this trip way in advance and I basically just have to pack my clothes and toiletries and everything is done!

Initially, the plan was for me to go back to Moncton to work for the summer since I had received a job offer back at the zoo. The contract is for a maternity leave from May to mid-august, at which point I planned on slowly making my way back to Grande Prairie to continue working in schools when September came around. However, things changed a little bit – twice.

The first circumstance was when we got the news that our landlord was selling the house. For Max, this was sort of the final push that convinced him it was time to move back home. I had asked him before – duh – because we both want to be living there; the only problem is finding a steady job. Right now in Grande Prairie though, Max is only working a scarce few days every month, which was another contributing convincing him to move back.

So that was the tentative plan a few weeks back. All Max had to do was figure out how to get all his stuff – mainly his truck and his motorcycle – back home. He started talking with one of our mutual friends, Ben, who has a truck that could potentially haul all of Max’s stuff, and he confirmed that he would be moving back to NB on May 5th. It’s unfortunate that it wasn’t closer to my tentative departure date, which was April 25th – until today.

The second circumstance mentioned above is when I got an e-mail from my employer in Moncton saying that their budget was extended and that they could hire me three weeks earlier. So guess what? I’m leaving in next Monday! I’ll be driving across Canada all by myself, and so I knew I had to give myself lots of time for rest. I plan on doing the drive on a span of 6 days, leaving Monday April 11th. I’ll be stopping in Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Blind River, Montreal, and then home base: Moncton. I might make a detour and stop in Charlo, NB, but it’s still to be determined.

Of course, typical me rushed to make sure I could find somewhere to sleep in every region, and so far, so good. The only place I don’t have any contacts is in Thunder Bay, ON, but I plan on either doing some couch surfing or maybe getting a place through AirBnB. I actually found a place that’s within my price range, and that way I could even have access to a kitchen to cook food instead of getting take-out! But let’s slow down and focus on stuff that needs to be done here in Grande Prairie before we start working out all the details about travelling.

Part of me knows it would be best for me to take as many shifts as possible at the schools before I leave. But part of me is going to be really stressed out about packing and planning if I don’t take some time off to organize everything. Most likely, I won’t be working the rest of the week, but I’m still on call until Friday. I have lots of stuff planned out for how I’m going to pack and bring everything, but I think I need to take the time to actually do something concrete with these plans.

I don’t own that much stuff here, but I still need to pack efficiently and see how much of Max’s stuff I can bring with me too. So far, I’ve written up a list of everything we own, and then divided all those belongings into four categories: Packed, To be Packed, Sell, and Donate/Give Away. The good thing is that we have a good amount of stuff that we can pack beforehand and it won’t be too stressful to live without them. For example, Max packed up almost all his paintball gear, and I packed up all my arts and crafts products. That plus anything we’ve bought in bulk.

Sometimes I feel like we own so much stuff, but making the list made me realize that we really don’t, and that made me proud. All I have here are clothes, a few kitchen items, my electronics, my toiletries, and some arts and crafts. As for Max, he owns his guns, ammunition/reloading materials, paintball gear, his electronics, his truck, his motorcycle, his trike, and his tools – a LOT of tools. He also owns a computer, a desk, a table, a dresser and a bed, but we’ve already started selling all of that so I’m not too worried about furniture.

So now we just have to determine what is going into which vehicle/who’s bringing it back home. I figure I’ll just bring everything that’s ready and packed, whereas Max will bring everything else on May 5th since he’ll be the last one moving out of the house. (Side note: our roomies are gone!)

AHHH! I’m just so excited! I feel like I’m typing lots of stuff but I’m not aware of what I’m really typing. Maybe this whole blog post is just word-diarrhea. Let’s hope not…

Long story short, we’re moving back to the East Coast very soon! So if you’d like to see one of us along the way, leave a comment or send us a message to get in touch! And if you have any words of wisdom to share with a girl who’s never done any road tripping alone, please feel free to leave me some tips in the comment section below!

xo

A change of routine

I never thought to myself “Man, working a full time job is exhausting.” Not to say that I have that many years of experience, but from that experience, this was never a thought that crossed my mind. Sure, some days would be extremely tiring, especially working with kids every day, going outside to run, swim, play games, organize activities, etc. But I never felt as though the bigger picture was draining me.

This week, I got a call every morning to go work as a Substitute Educational Assistant. And every morning, stress would overwhelm me at the thought of going to work again. I kept thinking to myself “What’s wrong with me? I should be grateful that I’m getting this many calls!” Honestly, I think the biggest reason I become stressed is due to the fact that I never know what to expect when I get a new call, and I never have any idea what kind of kids I’m going to be working with. I keep wondering what it is that convinced that lady to hire me in the first place – I’m not even qualified to do this job! And speaking of which, one of the teachers I worked with this week did not seem impressed that I had never taken the EA course.

Let’s rewind and go back to the beginning of the week. I got a call on Monday to work at the same – and only – school I had been to since I got hired. That day, I was assigned to a 5th grade class that consisted solely of special needs students.

Ok. Take a deep breath. 

You’re going to be fine…

You can imagine I was starting to feel anxious. I know I don’t have to feel that way, that no one is expecting me to perform miracles working with these kids, but I can’t help but want to thrive for greatness in everything I do – and it’s hard when you have no formal training and no idea what do in basically every new situation.

Turns out the homeroom teachers are always very understanding and they usually switch the EAs around so that the sub can work with one or some of the easiest students. What a relief!

My day consisted of supervising 1-3 students throughout their classes. I went to French with one girl and I was pretty stoked to be in a class where I felt very comfortable with the material, and I knew I would be able to help if my student needed any help. I also went to gym, and that went fine, and then it was off to music class with 3 girls. Although I loved the fact that they were doing choir, it was a more difficult period because they refused to participate and wanted to go back to homeroom. Luckily, another teacher saw us in the hall and helped me out by coaxing them to go back to music class.

Pause!

OK, so that moment right there was specifically only difficult for one reason: nobody trains you or explains all the school rules to you when you’re a sub. No one tells you what kind of discipline is appropriate, especially in special ed, and often, no one tells you what is the best way to handle tough situations with specific students. I’m standing there in the hall with 2 of 3 girls and they are complaining that they want to go back to homeroom. I have no idea if they’re allowed to do that. I have no clue what kind of tactics will work best with them individually if I need to get them back to music class. All I know is how I’ve handled somewhat similar situations back at the daycare in Moncton. Except this isn’t daycare, it’s school. Nobody at school treats kids like we did at the daycare, and I get that, because it’s a completely different – and very structured – environment. Ok, maybe I use the word structured a bit loosely when it comes to special ed, but still, more structured than daycare would be.

In the end, that situation was resolved somewhat quickly, and so I was thankful for that. I tried singing alongside them, sight-reading the sheet music they had on their desks, but it didn’t really convince them to join along. Ah well.

Then it was lunch/recess. I was actually pretty relieved that I didn’t have to go outside. It’s not that I don’t like being outside with the kids, but it’s just more likely that the kids will get in trouble while they’re outside, and once again, I have no idea what the discipline policy is like.

After lunch, I was assigned to be with 2 boys for Language Arts, followed by Science. Unfortunately, I was unaware that they had swim between these 2 courses, so when they said they thought it was time to go to swim, I followed them back to homeroom only to find we had missed it. They were pretty disappointed about it, but it didn’t affect their work ethic so the afternoon went really well nevertheless.

As soon as the bell rang and I was free to go home, a wave of fatigue washed over me. Ouf. That was exhausting – and it’s only been one day! Luckily, I have the most amazing boyfriend who prepared and made supper all by himself so I could sit down and relax for a bit.

Then came Tuesday. Once again, my phone rang at 6:30AM. The calls are from an automatic dispatch system, so you never actually get to speak to the person you’re replacing. This particular message made me quite anxious.
“A new assignment is available at… [Something] High School.”

A HIGH SCHOOL?! THEY WANT ME TO SUB AS AN EA AT A HIGH SCHOOL?! I’ve only worked 2 and a half shifts, I have no business being sent to a high school!!

Honestly, I was hardly able to eat anything for breakfast I was so nervous.

What if I get assigned to a blind student?? I can’t read or write in Braille!!

What if i get assigned to a violent student?? They’re all taller and bigger than me, I’ll never be able to get control!

Obviously, I forced myself to calm down and tried to stay positive about the situation. I’m sure it won’t be that bad…

Luckily, when I get to the high school, there’s plenty of parking and the entrance is super easy to find. The inside of the school, however, is not so easy to make your way through. It’s probably the most confusing school I have been to in my life. And the worst part, the secretary at the entrance told me she couldn’t help me, that I had to go see the other secretary in the main office, smack in the middle of the school.

Did I mention I have a horrible sense of direction? Fortunately, all the male teachers at this school wear shirt and ties, so they were easy to pin point to ask directions.

I made it to the office and was redirected to another lady working in an office. This lady gave me a badge and told me to go see a teacher in room 204. Ok, it’s starting to feel like a game of ping pong now.

Nevertheless, I try to find the stairs and after three attempts of walking aimlessly down hallways, I found them. Unfortunately, this meant I now had no idea how to get back to the main office.
In the classroom, I was greeted by a very nice lady. She said she hadn’t had time to do up a schedule for me yet so she started making calls to different teachers.

This seems odd… no fixed schedule, no fixed students… 

She got a hold of two teachers and they said they could use some help during Block A. She gave me instructions and sent a student with me so she could show me the Staff Room and where I would be working.

Now it gets weirder. I talk to the two teachers. Both have students missing. One teacher sends 3 students with me into an empty classroom. They have an assignment to do. I was not told what my job was, other than to supervise. Okie doke.

Twenty minutes or so went by. The teacher came back to get her students because they were already done the assignment in class so they were moving on to the next activity. The teacher told me she didn’t need my assistance anymore, so I went to see the other teacher. She also told me she didn’t need any help. Ok. So now I have absolutely nothing to do for the next hour and I have no idea how to find that lady to see if I can be reassigned. Great.

Well, I had two options: literally sit there and do nothing until the class was over and hope the lady would come downstairs to find me; or walk around aimlessly in the halls until I could find the stairs again and hope that lady was still in the same classroom to give me some guidance.

I didn’t know which to choose. I would definitely be more comfortable sitting here doing nothing, at least that way I didn’t have a responsibility that was overwhelming. But I didn’t want to get in trouble for not at least having tried to find my way back to room 204 so I started walking around. I ended up finding the Staff Room, where I thought maybe I could stop to use the washroom. Turns out the staff washroom is not located inside the staff room. So confusing. They weren’t too far away though and luckily someone left the ladies’ door unlocked. Afterwards, it was a 10-15 minutes adventure to find the stairs, and then find the right room only to be greeted by an unfamiliar face. Dammit! Just my luck. I didn’t even know the homeroom teacher’s name. I tried to explain who I was looking for and if she knew where I could find her. Turns out she has an office inside her classroom and she was in there doing some work while someone else taught English. I snuck to the end of the classroom to go knock on the office door. She answered, surprised to see me. I explained why I was back so early and that I wasn’t sure what to do. She was kind and understanding. She apologized that she hadn’t had time to find me other classes for the rest of the day, but she started making phone calls right away to see if anyone needed help.

I ended up being sent down to a class of 9th graders, and it was basically my worst nightmare. I’m still not sure what my job was supposed to be, but there were no special ed students, and all the students in class were loud, disrespectful, and CONSTANTLY on their cell phone. Some even had i-pads and were just playing games and talking with their classmates. The teacher didn’t seem to care.

When the period ended, new students filled the classroom. I was staying with the same teacher, but this time it was with a group of grade 11 students. Fortunately, they were much quieter and actually had some respect for the teacher, but they still all had their cellphones out while they did their work. The class went pretty well, although I was pretty useless once again.

I literally spent all day walking around each class, keeping an eye on students to see if they were getting their work done. I hardly spoke a word except in math grade 9, where some students asked me a few questions, most of which I knew the answer to. Last period I was sent to grade 10 science, and that was a bit different. There was a deaf student, but he had an EA that would do sign language for him all class. I didn’t know whether or not it was my job to help him specifically, or just walk around class like I had been doing all day. The teacher was a bit more helpful in guiding me/explaining what I should do during the class, but I was still pretty much useless given the fact that they were doing a test for half the class, and working on computers by themselves for 15 minutes.

As uneventful as that day was, it was absolutely exhausting to have been on my feet all day. I was used to working with young children with special needs, most of the time sitting with them and helping when they needed motivation or guidance. I was definitely not used to standing, surrounded by teenagers twice my height, most of whom had very little respect for authority.

As I went to bed that night, I was praying not to get another call to work in a high school. To be honest, I was hoping not to get a call at all. I was drained, physically and mentally, and I desperately wanted to stay home and get back into my unemployed routine.

No such luck. On Wednesday, the phone rang at 7:24AM. Side note: this is actually a pretty late call, because I have to leave the house at 7:50 if I want to get to school on time.

I was actually kind of happy as I listened the details of the assignment. I was going to be working with the same class as Monday!
The day was pretty similar, since they switched the schedule around again so I could be in most of the same classes as Monday. I also offered to go to music class, because it’s by far my favourite class to sit in on. Oh, and we all went to swim together on that day, although turns out it’s not mandatory for me to go swimming. I ended up sitting on a bench beside the pool with one of the students who doesn’t participate in group swim.
Honestly, the day went super well. Sure, there were hiccups here and there, but I felt a lot more comfortable with the students and the environment so I wasn’t as nervous or hesitant about interacting with them. I was even told later on that the teacher thought I did a pretty good job and would be happy to have me sub again. Oh, and turns out that EAs are allowed to request a specific substitute, so one of the employees from that class asked me if I would like to sub for her next week!

And then came Thursday. Once again, I was hoping not to get called, out of pure exhaustion. But the phone rang, as it does.

Come on, you can do this. You just need to back in the saddle. 

I can’t believe I’ve gotten used to this routine of staying home. Not that I stay home and do nothing, I always have plenty to do. But all of a sudden, I realized that going to work every day was harder than it used to be. I had to change my routine again.

I’m proud that I could at least stay motivated enough to accept every assignment that week. I still said yes even though I was not in the best shape. I still got up and I went to work, and it almost always turned out to be a good day despite the fatigue. And now was the last day of the school week, so I could definitely tough just one more day. Side note: there’s no school today.

Even though I was feeling nervous again Thursday morning, I was starting to feel like it was more bearable, and easier to cope with the fact that I was saying yes to the unknown. It definitely helps that it was at the same school again.

I got to school earlier than usual so I took my time signing in and whatnot. When the secretary told me where the class was located though, stress propagated quickly through my body. She pointed down the hall way labelled “Therapy Wing.” Oh dear.

It’s gonna be OK. It will be a HUGE challenge, but it’s going to be OK.

I walked down to the classroom and was greeted by the teacher and another EA. The teacher greeted me and explained that the student I was supposed to be working with is sick and won’t be coming to school. She said she might have to reassign me to another class.

Sweet relief!!

A few moments later, another EA sub walked in. I took her in. She was dressed all in black, wearing gym-type clothing, her hair loosely and messily tied back. She looked impatient and cranky. She didn’t even say a word when she came in, just sat down. Regardless, the teacher went to greet her and that’s when I learned that she was also a sub. She quickly and sharply added that she was only going to be here for half the day, as she had other things to do.

This is when it hit me: I’m not in Moncton anymore. Not everyone is polite and friendly and trying to keep a positive attitude. I’m in a big city on the West Coast, and things are different here, people are different here. I had almost forgotten that, being in school all week, working with such great teachers and assistants.

I shook it off and told myself to stop being so judgmental. It was certainly not the time nor the place.

The homeroom teacher ended up sending the other sub to get reassigned, and I ended up staying with the class. Ruh-roh…

Ok, just to give you a brief explanation, in comparison to the other students I worked with, these kids were on a different level of special needs. I had absolutely zero experience working with kids like these, so you can only imagine my level of anxiety when the teacher told me I had to be in charge of 6 of them throughout the day, and that at times, I would be alone with all these students.

I tried not to let myself think about it. We had lots to do, so we got right to it. First class was gym, so the students led me there. There were also two other EAs with us in the class, although one had to take her student back to class for misbehaviour, and the other had a different schedule so she also left with her student. Bam. I am now alone with all the other students in gym class, at the very first period. I tried to coax them all into playing tag and it wasn’t too bad. That’s pretty much all we did until the teacher came back to get us so we could go back to class.

Important info: we now had twice as many kids in the class because one teacher slipped and fell on the ice outside of school and had to be picked up by her husband so she could go home. Anxiety levels started rising a bit.

Shortly thereafter, the teacher explained the class would be divided in two, and I would be with my students on her side, as well as another EA. The class was actually pretty fun. I sat down and coloured with them for a while, and then it was time to work on pronunciation of vowels and how to identify the different pronunciations of the same vowel. We sang songs and did a little test, and then I helped correct them. The group’s attitude was great throughout the whole thing.

I was actually having a really good time with them.

Recess time was up next. They would bring their snack outside to eat, and I was warned that one student usually took a long time to get ready because she didn’t want to go outside. If that was the case, I was to continue on and just let the teacher know about it after recess. Fortunately, I had no problems whatsoever, they were all on best behaviour!

The day just kept going well. I was assigned to go with one student to do Work Experience. Her job that day was to put the laundry in, clean tables in the staff room, and clean tables in the courtyard. She knew exactly what to do and didn’t need help at all. She enjoyed my company and we were actually joined by a sub teacher because she hadn’t received any sub plans from the teacher who had slipped and hurt her back.

We walked back to homeroom after the student had finished her tasks and had been rewarded with a little free time on the i-pad, and it was already time for lunch. I was assigned to supervise the courtyard while the students ate, and then to supervise outside for recess. I was so surprised to see how respectful and understanding all the students were with me. One student kept asking if he could run outside before the group, and I didn’t know if he was allowed to do so. Another student calmly talked to the first boy and explained that I was new and that I didn’t know all the rules yet, so it would be better if we all just stayed in one group and listened so it would be easier. I almost cried.

The whole day just went so well! After I took my lunch break, it was time to head to math class with the same student who did Work Experience. There, we worked on additions the whole time, and I could tell she was getting frustrated/bored of doing math around the end. Luckily, it was time for group swim so her mood stayed pretty positive and we walked back to class together to get ready.

This time, I did have to go swimming because one student was working on treading water and needed assistance while in the pool – or so that’s what they told me. She seemed great and was a pretty good swimmer too, although we were only allowed in the shallow end, of course. It was at this point though that I was told I wasn’t allowed to wear a bikini to go swimming. Crap!! I don’t own anything else! The lifeguard asked if I had a T-shirt, and I said yes, but only the one I would be wearing again to class. She gave me a spare T-shirt from the lost and found and said it would be fine if I swam with that on to cover up. It was something that had crossed my mind, but in Moncton, it had never been an issue.

Anyway, the student I was with did a great job practicing treading water, taking breaks to show me all kinds of tricks she could do in the water. And then it was time to hit the hot tub! Side note: it wasn’t like a really hot one, just warmer water to relax in.

All of a sudden, it was almost 3 o’clock and it was time to get changed and head home! I couldn’t believe how fast the day had gone by. As I said goodbye to all the students, it hit me that despite the fact that I was most nervous about working with this level of special need students, it was the best group I had worked with and it was the most fun I had had since I started working as an EA.

Maybe this job isn’t so bad after all.

PS: Following this link to read about great tips for returning to work and coping with the stress.

I FINALLY WORKED TODAY!

You read it correctly – I went to work today! After five and a half months of being laid off and unemployed, I finally got a call to work a shift today as a Substitute Educational Assistant at a local school here in the GP Region. And guess what? I loved it!

I was so nervous when I got the call. And it was so weird because I had this feeling that I was going to get called. My mom phoned me around 10:00AM by accident and it woke me up. I thought to myself ‘Man, it would have been so shitty if I would have gotten a call for a shift and I wouldn’t have heard my phone ring.’ About 5 minutes later, my phone rings again. It’s an Alberta number. I answer with my english greeting, trying to sound as sweet as possible.

“Hello?”

“Hi, Carmen? This is Melanie, from the Grande Prairie Public School District.”

OH MY GOD, WHAT?! 

“I was just wondering if you wanted to come in for a shift today.”

Oh my God, I’m not ready for this. I can’t do this. Say no!

“Uh… sure. What time?”

YOU SAID YES, GOOD FOR YOU! Now stop sweating and finish the conversation… 

“It would be for this afternoon, so if you could come by in an hour, that would be great.”

And that was that! Max basically booted me out of bed right away, he was probably more excited that I was! He also offered to make me breakfast, and I gladly accepted. I got dressed and got ready while he made some grub. I ate as much as I could, and then I headed out the door!

The nerves were starting to kick in, but I was still feeling confident. Yay me!

I had to look around for parking when I got to the school because the preschool kids were finishing up for the day and all their parents were waiting in the parking lot. I found a spot that I thought – and hoped – was legit, and made my way to the main entrance. I walked up the secretary’s desk – passing ponds with actual live fish in them!! – and explained to her who I was and why I was here. She directed me to an office and I waited until an employee came to greet me. It was Melanie, the same lady that hired me. It was a relief to see a familiar face, and she just has this great vibe that radiates contagious positivity.

She led me to the sign in book, given the fact that I wasn’t even in the online system yet, and I wrote down my name and signed. She then led me to the kindergarten classroom and briefly explained who I would be working with. She left me there, and I was kindly greeted by the kindergarten teacher (whose name I have already forgot – oops) and another Educational Assistant. The teacher was sitting feeding a disabled little girl while the Educational Assistant was cleaning up with three boys. I wasn’t sure if this was the entire class or just the special needs students, but I figured either way, it was a good way to start off.

Mrs Blank – that’s what I’ve dubbed the kindergarten teacher – talked me through what we would be doing all afternoon and explained how I could help. She also introduced me to the Educational Assistant and to all the students who were in the classroom. Despite how unfamiliar and foreign this all was, I was beginning to feel comfortable already. I helped clean up and then we sat down with the kids to eat lunch. One boy started to take a liking to me right away – it’s like the daycare all over again!

The kids all finished their lunches and I was starting to get a good feel of what kind of discipline techniques worked best for different children. It was definitely a lot easier to handle compared to supervising 30+ kids all in one room – during the summer.

After lunch was over was when my heart started pounding again. I started to sweat a little bit too when Mrs Blank asked me to clean up and watch over the little girl, who’s disabilities were more extreme than the rest of the kids in class. My initial thoughts: Maybe I shouldn’t be doing this, I have no idea what I’m doing. There were only 2 kids at the daycare who had been diagnosed with a mental disability and both were very calm and didn’t require much one-on-one attention, not more than any of the other kids anyway. So as you can assume, my experience is somewhat limited to those two kids.

The disabled girl in the classroom was sitting in some sort of contraption, and I think Mrs Blank may have asked me to remove her from it, but I had no idea how so I just sat down and tried to keep her entertained. Shortly after, the other Educational Assistant, let’s call her Mrs Edmonton – that’s one of the few details I learned about her, she’s from Edmonton – showed me how to release the girl from the contraption and she walked her over to a floor mat. It took us a few minutes to get there but then she and I sat down and played with some toys. Huh, this is going better than I thought…

I hadn’t caught on, but the little girl had a specific Educational Assistant who was always with her, and she had just been absent because she needed to fill out an accident report. So now she was back and I was off girl-duty. Back to supervising the boys!

Only a few moments went by until we heard the bell ring and all the other kindergarten students showed up. Ah, this makes more sense now. I had been wondering if the class consisted only of special needs kids or if there were others combined. And now my question had been answered.

All afternoon they worked on various projects and did lots of fun activities alone and in groups. Most of my job was just walking around, giving them all positive feedback and keeping an eye on two of the boys from the special needs group. One was super well behaved and hardly needed any help, while the other did pretty good but apparently was a lot more needy today than most days. As for the third boy, he had to work alone in a separate room with Mrs Edmonton because I think being with others stressed him and made him act out.

All in all, I had an amazing day. Time went by super fast, all the kids were great to work with, and there was a perfect amount of kids for my first day on the job. The other Educational Assistant were actually surprised when I told them it was my first day, so I guess I did a good job. Now let’s just hope I can get some more shifts! 🙂

Today, I’m not OK. 

Everybody has bad days, and for me, today is a bad day. I got some good news, but from my current point of view, it means making a hard decision, which kind of turns it into bad news. And it’s one of those situations where both options lead to a good thing, but also a bad thing.

Let me be more precise. One of my previous employers in New Brunswick sent me an e-mail this morning to say there would be a job opening (full time) and that she had me in mind for the position. She was aware that I was out of province, but she wanted to let me know about the possibility of employment in case it was something that interested me.
So here’s the problem. If I take the job, I have to move back East. If I move back East, I have to leave my boyfriend and go back to being in a long distance relationship. But if I stay in Alberta, I still have no job, which means no income, and I have no leads on any full time position either. I am torn.

Do I choose to stay here and be with my boyfriend, but struggle financially? Or do I move back East for a job that I know I will like, but feel the ever present heart-ache of willingly having chosen to be 5000kms away from my significant other?

Can we just pause time so I can play every possible scenario in my head before I decide? I can’t decide. I don’t know which one will make me happier. Both decisions stress me out, because there’s going to be something missing in my life. And today, I’m not OK with that.

But I have to be OK – and I will be ok –  because life isn’t perfect, and it works in mysterious ways. Now if only I could figure out where it’s trying to lead me.

Being unemployed

Let’s just put it out there: I’m unemployed.

But the weird thing is, I’ve never actually been unemployed until just now. I mean, why would I have been? I had been a student for the majority of my life and always managed to find some kind of work for the summers. And then reality hits you in the face when you – like all the others – come to realize that you have no idea what you’re doing with your life.

Ok, that sounds a bit over-dramatic – for some people. I know myself as a person. I know what I like, what I dislike. I know what kind of jobs I have enjoyed doing, and which ones I have not. I have work experience and 5 years of university studies under my belt. But that doesn’t mean I know what I want to do with all of that baggage.

As soon as I got laid off from my previous job – did I mention it was a full time position with benefits? – I had to begin job hunting. I decided to start with a simple google search for job openings in my area. Of course, numerous job bank websites pop up in the results and you have the debate as to whether or not you want to create a profile on every single one of them. Well, that’s pretty much what I ended up doing. But you know what sucks? There’s still not that much out there.

I will admit that I don’t live in a really big city (population of 60 000) so that might be one of the reasons that job opportunities are limited. But have you ever noticed that every single job posting requires years of experience? How in the hell am I supposed to get a decent paying job when all I have is the experience of two summers as a student employee? Luckily, I am somewhat optimistic and I apply for jobs regardless of my lack of experience. Sometimes, it works out; and sometimes it doesn’t.

Here’s the thing though. I keep thinking about the fact that this is the first time I’ve ever been unemployed, as a non-student adult, and I wonder if there is an advantage to this. I currently don’t have anything tying me down. I can travel, I can write music, I can spend my time doing whatever it is I want to be doing. But on the other hand, the lack of routine stresses me out. I don’t know what to do with myself. How do people make the time go by? I’m still trying to figure that one out.

Those are pretty much my thoughts on unemployment, or at least, my current state of unemployment. I try to take it one day at a time, give myself objectives and daily goals so I don’t go crazy thinking about all the nothingness that lies ahead, and I make plans that I can get excited about.

Life goes on, and I know that good will come from this.