new year’s, all year: 2012 reflections

All year long, you have read posts from the New Year’s, All Year series. Every month, I created new goals in categories that I (at the beginning of 2012) had recognized as the current major areas of my life: health, finances, relationships, career, wedding planning, and self-enrichment. These goals were made to be stepping stones for the “endpoint” goals I had set for each of these areas – basically, how I wanted to end the year in regards to each area. I set “stepping stone” goals in order to to take into account any new obstacles and then set realistic, measurable objectives. That way, I didn’t make a ton of super specific goals in a year-long format and then have to scale them back throughout the year due to unexpected challenges.

I like this revised, 2012 format of the New Year’s, All Year Challenge much more than the original one from 2011. It made me really assess my desires and actions every month and be more mindful and reflective in my habits.

Source: pinreach.com via Kelly on Pinterest

 

So, what were my endpoint goals for 2012? Here they are:

  • Health: live an overall healthier lifestyle
  • Finances: be more organized, balanced, and responsible
  • Relationships: maintain mutually supportive relationships that are in balance with one another
  • Wedding: have location and date set and all major vendors booked
  • Career: aggressively pursue full-time teaching position; develop my coaching skills and knowledge while also developing the school’s swimming program further
  • Self-enrichment: allow “me” time without overindulging; actively participate in passions, hobbies, interests, etc. further

And what type of progress did I make? 

  • Health: I did improve my lifestyle, though I still have a long way to go. I lost some weight, which I needed to do, I learned more about how to eat best for my needs and lifestyle by seeing a nutritionist, I joined a gym, I tried new classes and two 5Ks, and I returned to counseling to manage new challenges in stemming from my issues with anxiety. I have more progress to make, but, overall, I think I’m leaving 2012 healthier than I entered it, and I consider that a success.
  • Finances: I am definitely more responsible and organized, though I do think I can still be more balanced and more attentive/pro-active.
  • Relationships: While I am only one person in each of my relationships, so I can’t speak definitively, I would say my relationships with my family, fiance, and friends are pretty solid and mutually supportive. I hope to do whatever I can to help them get stronger and be even better of a daughter, sister, fiancee/wife, friend, etc.
  • Wedding: locations are set, date is set, caterers and baker are set, music is set, photography is set…but there is still so much to do!!!
  • Career: I did aggressively pursue a full-time teaching position, and struggled with that challenge quite a bit. While I did not obtain one this school year, I did have an opportunity that was amazing for me and has opened up more doors and support. Also, the swim program has grown in strength and size.
  • Self-enrichment: I think I still need to find a balance between work and play and how much time to devote to each without being self-depriving or over-indulgent, but I think  I did a good job this year of letting myself enjoy life and not worry as much as I used to.

 

I am grateful for this year. It was hard, at times, for various reasons: self-confidence, career success, finances, family’s health, concern for others, changing negative habits, balance of relationships, wedding planning, loss, etc. But it was also a good year, for many, many reasons: learning how to better stay positive and grateful, career opportunities, grace and kindness of others, health problems having manageable solutions, progress in goals and plans, cherishing memories, and the power of love, laughter, and the little things in life that brighten a day. Some of my favorite moments of the year: celebrating Dan and I’s three year anniversary, the success of my first swim season as head coach, setting a wedding date, Bowling Green visits, seeing The Beach Boys, Indians games, another summer as a lifeguard, having my own classroom, seeing my sister in plays, being hired as a district substituteand countless “little things”: Netflix nights and dinners with my family or Dan, trivia nights with friends, going to the Starbucks drive thru with Madison and Sasha in the back seat, babysitting and housesitting, listening to podcasts on drives to and from Columbus, visits with my grandma or godchildren, lunch with my colleagues at school, naps on my parents’ porch, coffee every morning, and so, so much more.

I am greatly looking forward to what 2013 holds. Even if it brings some hard times, it will be okay. Life is hard, but I’m going to enjoy it anyway.

 

my life: missing sasha

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I’ve mentioned a lot had been going on in my life lately, mainly focusing on work. However, some more personal, weighty things did take place. A couple weeks ago, my family unexpectedly lost our dog Sasha.

We adopted Sasha eight months after losing our first family dog, Charlie, who, despite being a husky-German shepherd-black lab mix (so basically, a big dog), lived to be 15 years old. He was an amazing dog – loyal, loving, adoring, fun, wise – and our family wasn’t sure we would get another dog for a long time after we lost him.

However, my dad saw a picture of Sasha in the local newspaper. Then named “Snowy,” she had been at the local animal shelter (the one I volunteered at in the spring and summer) for a few months, and the paper was featuring her in hopes it would lead to her adoption. She had been a stray and was estimated to be one to two years old.

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My dad read about her, thought about her, went to visit her, and fell in love with her. My parents adopted her within days, right around Thanksgiving of my freshmen year of college.

Sasha loved to play, walk, and run, and was super vocal. She loved to cuddle and demanded the attention of every creature she came into contact with – human, cat, dog, whatever. She was extremely smart, but instead of using that intelligence to be as human-like as possible, sort of like Charlie did, she used her smarts for the most clever, dog-like means. We originally thought she was a border collie-retriever mix, but as the years went by, we weren’t sure if that was right and could never quite pinpoint what breeds she was. We think she was probably a retriever of some kind and possibly American Eskimo as well.

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She was beautiful, sweet, loving, loyal, sassy, and full of energy. Everyone always asked if she was a puppy still – but she wasn’t, she was six or seven. So even though she was older, we were worried when her energy started to decline and she seemed sort of depressed. We noticed swelling under her chin (where she loved to be scratched) and went to the vet. He discovered a puncture in her mouth (we thought it was from playing with Dan and I’s dog, Madison) and gave her antibiotics.

Sasha just got worse. We took her back to the vet, who sent us to a dental vet specialist. The specialist discovered that it was not a outside action that caused the puncture, but rather inoperable tumors rapidly spreading. Sasha had cancer, and though it was so sudden and we weren’t ready, not even in the least bit, we had to let her go.

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We all miss her still, every day. Here is what I wrote on my personal Facebook the day we had to say goodbye: “Losing a pet is hard, because what we see consistently in pets is what we wish we steadily had in ourselves – loyalty, compassion, and joy. The ability to let go of small betrayals or mistakes easily, the instinct to always help those in need and protect others, and the happiness in all blessings, no matter how small or big….a cuddle, a bright summer’s day, a person’s kindness. Pets are the ultimate optimists, the most enthusiastic beings, and the best of friends.”

It’s easier when we are away from home, in places Sasha normally wasn’t. And that is another reason, I finally realized, why losing pets is so hard and it hurts to see pets scared, in pain, etc. I finally realized why I never doubted or questioned pets being part of the family, and just inherently felt it and accepted it as truth as a child in a house with animals – Pets make a house a home. It feels emptier with them gone. Life is missing a substantial measure of love, acceptance, and warmth. And if those things aren’t what makes a person feel at home, I’m not sure what does.

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Miss you, Sasha. So grateful and glady you were part of our family and home. Love you always.

 

new year’s all year: november reflections, december goals, and december reflections

In January I introduced the 2012 New Year’s All Year Challenge, in which I made broad “endpoint” goals for the year and explained that each month I will make specific small goals that are stepping stones to my endpoint aims. Each month I will also reflect on the previous month’s goals and efforts.

 

Source: imgfave.com via Kelly on Pinterest

 

Though I did not create a post about it at the beginning of the month, I did reflect on my November goals and decided on what December goals to work on.

November goals:

  • Health: make attending the group exercise classes I enjoy a priority and don’t feel guilty about using that time for exercise instead of work! Also consume less caffeine.
  • Finances: budget and stick to it; meet monthly savings goal
  • Relationships: make sure I thank those in my life for the ways they enrich it
  • Wedding: Ask for help with planning and start figure out best florist/flower option
  • Career: reflect on how my first quarter of teaching went and make/implement plans on how to improve the second; start swim season off on a great note with the students, continue working on fundraisers, and get all home meet preparations done well ahead of time
  • Self-enrichment: schedule regular pockets of time to myself to unwind (read a book for fun, bake, cook, watch a movie without also grading, BLOG, etc.) and don’t feel guilty about doing so!

November reflections:

Health: I did attend a couple yoga/pilates classes, but I didn’t do as great a job as I wanted to, mainly because swim season began full force along and I was working to balance it alongside my full-time long term sub position, which I was still in at the time. Due to that juggle, I did not do great at consuming less caffeine, as you can probably imagine. Finances: Didn’t do so great at budgeting, but did meet savings goal. Relationships: I think I did well at showing others I am grateful for them, but one can always do better. Wedding: I did ask for help. Career: I did reflect on how my first quarter of teaching went and implemented plans on how to improve the second, but in November I found out my long-term position was coming to a close, so I focused on providing the teacher taking over and the students with the best transition possible. I do believe swim season goals were met well. Self-enrichment: I did do a good job of finding time to myself, though not of not feeling guilty about it.

Source: bellamumma.com via Kelly on Pinterest

 

December goals:

  • Health: Work out regularly (min 150 minutes a week) and cook for myself more (to save calories and money).
  • Finances: Spend wisely when I do spend (as it is almost unavoidable during the holiday season). Save as much as I can.
  • Relationships: Spend as much time with family and friends as possible and give thoughtful holiday gifts.
  • Wedding: Figure out florist/flower options and take care of it, map out honeymoon options, book a place for our picnic reception, send out save the dates for wedding day and picnic, and look for bridesmaid and flower girl dresses.
  • Career: Give 110% every day and be a flexible and positive presence in the buildings in which I work. Stay on top of planning ahead for swimming and continue learning more about coaching and the sport.
  • Self-enrichment: Allow myself to relax when I feel anxious. Finish Team of Rivals!

December reflections:

Health: I did better at attending yoga/pilates class in December than I did in November and searched for apps to use for working out at home. Didn’t do so great with cooking for myself. Finances: I did spend wisely on gifts and wedding expenses, though some unexpected expenses came up with the vet and my family pets. Relationships: Did well with these goals! Wedding: Basically failed at all wedding goals. January is going to be busy with wedding things!! Career: Did well with career goals, though I could procrasinate less on getting things taken care of, as in all aspects of my life. Self-enrichment: Tried harder to relax when necessary. And finally finished Team of Rivals, which was excellent!

Overall I think November and December went better than expected, though not perfect, of course. I will post soon about my reflections on 2012 as a whole and my goals for 2013! : )

 

my life + musings: finally a new post!

 

 

It goes without saying that I haven’t updated this blog recently, and when I was updating it wasn’t frequently.

All I can say is I’m not made to be full-time blogger, I suppose. I love the blogging community and I’ve dreamed of working from home and blogging full-time like every other blogger out there, or at least of having a blog that reaches many people and creates  a mini-community itself. But my life isn’t fit for that. Blogging semi-regularly, in ways that enrich the activities I already engage in? That encourage me to be a better person? Yes. But full-time, scheduled, disciplined blogging? No, at least not right now.

I think a hard part of growing up, at least for me, is letting go of expectations. Specifically, expectations I have for myself. I was that kid in high school, and I guess in college, who wanted to do everything, be everything, and do it super well. Not be a jack of all trades, master of none, but a master of all trades attempted. I still have been attempting to do that in life. Be the best daughter, fiancee, friend, coach, teacher, blogger. Be good at cooking, cleaning, working out, being on top of things. I can do it all and I can do it all well.

This is a stupid, obvious thing to say and I’ll probably come to this realization over and over again in my life: “I can’t do it all and do it well. I can do some well and I can do some others decently. Other things, I just don’t have time to do in a positive manner or plain just can’t do. I definitely can’t please everyone. I can’t achieve all I want. I will fail. I will let people down. Things I want will take time. Everything will be okay. Most things are not as big of a deal as everyone makes them out to be.”

My life is fit for a unique sort of rhythm, and I have to find ways to make it the strongest, most beautiful rhythm it can be – not alter it. Change the tempo, change the volume, sure. Change its basic make-up? No. And that means realizing what is most important to me in life, and not apologizing for it: my family (fiancé, his family, and our dog included) and our all-around health; my friends and my career; pretty much everything else. Unfortunately, highly time-consuming hobbies? Turns out they are not a great fit for what has become the natural rhythm of my life the past several months or what I currently anticipate my life will be like…and blogging is definitely a time-consuming hobby.

So the past few months, blogging was toward the bottom of my daily agenda. I was hired as a long-term substitute for at my alma mater, an urban high school in a suburb of Cleveland, where I taught and cotaught U.S. Government. Though it took up every ounce of my time that wasn’t reserved for eating, sleeping, family and friends, and then some, I was thankful just to have such an opportunity. Little did I know how much it would truly impact me.

It was stressful. I am highly knowledgeable in my content area, and due to my participation in a special program during my undergraduate studies, I do have more experience in the classroom than the average first year teacher. However, having control of your own classroom for the very first time is so much trial-and-error, especially when you work with students who are not always very motivated or organized. I learned so much every day. Was there ever a second where I didn’t feel like the stress was worth working through? Absolutely not.

If you have read this blog in the past, you probably know I have anxiety. When I get overwhelmed, I try to reason with myself if what I am worrying about actually matters. When I would worry about my job and ask myself that question, the answer was always YES. It did matter, because it would impact if a student understood something about the government of the nation in which they live. It did matter, because it would impact grades in a class required for graduation in the state of Ohio. It did matter, because it influenced young adults’ attitudes toward learning, responsibility, and themselves.

Instead of overwhelming me, it empowered me. I can’t let my students down, so I better suck it up. They are struggling, so I better show them what a product of this school can grow up to be. They may not remember me, but they are as sure as hell going to remember the lessons I teach them.

However, my long term sub position ended due to some reassigning of teachers within the district, and I was hired as a district substitute, meaning I work every day at various schools in the district as a sort of “teacher on call.” While this is a wonderful opportunity that does provide for more free time outside of the work day, I greatly missed my students, so I added this new cache of unused energy and time to my coaching efforts. So after time with my family and friends, and career efforts, I haven’t had time to blog. I’ve barely had time to plan my wedding, get a good night’s sleep, make it to the gym. Do I want to live every year of my life like that? No, of course not. You have to take care of yourself if you are going to effectively take care of others. But will I ever regret or resent sacrificing for students in my classroom or on my team? Never. Learning how to balance all aspects of life comes in time, especially once you have a firm grasp of what those most important aspects are.

Since graduating from college, I’ve learned a lot of life lessons, including about what is important in life – what’s worth worrying about, what you should cherish, how you should approach situations. But the past few months deepened these lessons. They filled in the details and hardened the roots. This year was pretty hard at times, but it was also pretty darn great. It taught me so much – how great the people in my life are, the power of staying positive and focused on moving forward, how to take better care of myself, how to take balancing life demands day by day, the importance of relaxing and enjoying life, and that working and waiting for a full-time classroom position is 150% worth it.

Hence the lack of posts. I still greatly enjoy blogging! and I hope you still enjoy reading my blog when there is new material, and that you will continue to do so. I just wanted to share why it hadn’t been updated much and why sometimes there might be lulls in my posting pattern. Because despite my best intentions and efforts, I can’t be a master of all trades attempted. And I’m okay with it : )

Here’s to a great 2013, full of all the things we love and cherish. I hope it’s even better than your 2012 was.