I’m not one for resolutions. Most tend to go the way of the dodo. I’d much rather reflect on things about this year and ways to improve myself or evaluate my goals and dreams.
Okay, so yeah it sounds like resolutions, but I don’t really see it that way. Not because I’m stubborn or anything (am not), but because my goals may change mid-year and that’s okay. And resolutions are so…resolute. Final. While change is tough for me, I don’t want to be tied down to a resolution or feel like a failure if I don’t achieve it.
Rather, I’d like to see what I’ve done to challenge myself. What I’ve done to make improvements in my life. Being the quiet, shy, introvert that I am, things like this tend to stress me out and make me feel crazy for even considering it.
Which is why I need to push myself. I’m truly the only one who can. While I have some close friends and family that encourage me to branch out, the ultimate decision to take those flying leaps (more like bunny hops) is always up to me.
So here’s my Top 40 list of reflections, goals, dreams, things I love to think about, etc. Why 40? Well, I’ll be turning 40 in 2017. Some of it will be education related, but not all of it. I’m not really writing this in any particular order, just as things sort of jump into my brain (you may want to cut out now or skip to the end).
- My students – Past and present, they have taught me more about being a teacher than all the workshops I’ve attended so far (and that’s a lot – I’m a bit of a workshop junky). Even when they drive me crazy, I’m grateful to have had them in my life and to have learned from them (mostly patience). My greatest fear is failing them. Those times when I’ve not been at my best, whether it’s been my attitude or a poor lesson, those times weigh heavily on my heart. This is why I feel I’ll just never quite be good enough, and why I always look for ways to learn and grow as a teacher.
- My teammates – I’ve had many teammates that I’ve worked with in my ten years of teaching (not sure if that’s a good thing or not). I’ve learned something from each of them and I’m grateful for those opportunities and the friendships made.
- My school – I’ve been at the same school for all my ten years of teaching. I can honestly say I’ve loved every bit of it (even on those bad days). The teachers and staff there are dedicated, caring, and uplifting individuals. There has always been someone there I could lean on and go to for help and advice. They are truly a second family to me.
- Workshops – As I mentioned before, I love them. If I think it will be beneficial to me (and ultimately my students), then I’m there. I’m always terribly disappointed when they are boring or not what I thought it would be. Time is valuable. I’m also not a fan of being put on the spot and asked to share stuff. That’s the shy, introverted side of me, though. Overall, if I can improve my teaching, I’ll be there.
- Politics – Sucks. I absolutely cannot stand that education is used as a pinata for politicians to whack at and attack. It’s exhausting fighting for bare necessities and being told to be happy with what we’ve got (which is nothing) and why can’t we do more! While it would be nice to stick my head back in the sand, it doesn’t do myself or my students any good. I believe that’s what the politicians want. They make things so confusing and try to push through a ridiculous amount of bills, that the average person cannot keep up with the mayhem. Easier to just hope for the best when you vote (which is why we are in the mess we are in). Anyway, politics sucks.
- Music – I love music. I’ve got my favorites of course (lately alternative and hard rock), but I’ll pretty much listen to anything. In my life I’ve learned to play the piano (and occasionally reteach myself when the mood strikes), viola, and recorder (hey, I’m counting it since I was required to learn to play it). I’m over the moon proud to be the parent of two musicians. My oldest son plays the trumpet and my youngest is a percussionist (which means he hits all kinds of things to make music). They are both very talented (unapologetic mom-bragging here) and love what they do.
- My oldest son – He’s a senior in high school this year, so everything is a bit bittersweet these days. For the most part, he’s a quiet kid with a wicked sense of humor that I just love. While I can relate to his quiet nature, he is willing more and more to put himself out there, especially when it comes to his music. I’m so proud of him for that. I’m proud of him for so many things and for so many things to come.
- My youngest son – He’s a sophomore in high school. He’s very independent and always willing to take risks (which makes me nervous as the shy introvert, but for the most part, he lands on his feet). He’s the type of kid almost everyone likes instantly. He’s outgoing and willing to work hard for what he wants. He’s loving, caring, and has a good sense of humor. As a percussionist, he strives to learn to play so many different percussion instruments so he can be a well-rounded musician. He’s an amazing kid to know, and I’m blessed that he’s my son.
- This school year – It’s been a bit of a bumpy ride for me this year. I spent the first 9 years of my career teaching 3rd grade. Now I’m teaching 5th. There are so many things that have changed for me, it’s been overwhelming. Just when I think I’ve got a handle on things, the rug gets pulled out from under me on something else. I keep telling myself this is a learning year, but at the same time, I cannot let these kids down (most of whom I had as 3rd graders). So, here’s to things smoothing out and ending this school year on a high note (not sure what that will look like, but being hopelessly optimistic is my best bet here).
- Last school year – Without a doubt, last school year was an amazing year (I’m mentioning it because the last half did occur this calendar year, so there). Great students. Great teammates. It’s part of what’s making this school year so difficult for me. And I’ve got to quit comparing the two years. It’s not fair to me or my current students and teammate (they’re great, too, by the way). If anything, I need to take things that worked for me last year and see if it can help me with this year’s kiddos. I’ve started doing this and some things I’ve tried have been helpful.
- Elections – To say the least, they did not go the way I had hoped they would. To say the most, well, it would require its own post for that. I’m hopelessly optimistic that things will improve, but know, for the most part, they won’t (I’m also a realist). Despite my plans to move on from this state after my youngest finishes high school, I’m committed to the good fight for this state that I love (but has become dysfunctional in some ways and is falling apart) while I’m here. Here’s to politicians that will actually listen to us and make sound decisions (I’m trying not to laugh out loud as I type this).
- Writing – This is one of the hardest endeavors I’ve decided to take on. I’ve never considered myself a writer, but have always loved writing. The hardest thing about having this blog is hitting the publish button. I’m a very private person, so I absolutely love the option of setting it to post at a time when I’m away from the computer (don’t know why, but it works for me). It’s also difficult to ‘find my voice’ so that the writing actually sounds like me. One of my goals is to try to write something every day (not necessarily to post, but just writing to write).
- Reading – I’m an avid reader and one of my goals for myself as a teacher has been to bring a love of reading to my students. I don’t feel like I’ve done a bang up job with this goal this year, but one thing I did was started giving my students 10 minutes of silent reading at the beginning of each day. They have actually loved this and look forward to it. I read along with them. It’s given me the opportunity to read the books they have recommended to me. They love seeing me reading something they have read recommended, and love getting to talk with me about it, too. Win-win. The best thing about this silent reading time is hearing the groans or the students saying, “No!” when the timer goes off and we have to stop reading. They think it’s funny when I do this, too (how does that timer know when I’m at a cliffhanger?).
- Star Wars – I was one month old when Star Wars, Episode IV, A New Hope was released. This saga will be turning 40 years old in 2017. So will I. Coincidence? I don’t think so. You’re welcome, world.
- Tom Petty – I love Tom Petty. If you have to ask why, then we just can’t be friends. Is it a coincidence that he’s going on a 40th anniversary tour also? Nope. You’re welcome, again.
- Seinfeld – The best show about nothing. Period. I fell back in love with the show this summer and have been enjoying the reruns since.
- Sooners – Enough said.
- Football – It’s just a great sport. Period.
- Authors – Writers of books, I salute you! Here are the authors I read this year from my Goodreads list (in no particular order) – Terry Hayes, J.D. Robb, James Patterson, Lawrence Block, Dean Koontz, Anthony Burgess, Mary Higgins Clark, Virginia Woolf, Madeleine L’Engle, Tahereh Mafi, Amy Hest, Christopher Paul Curtis, Mary Pope Osborne, Anna Meyers, Patricia Polacco, Allen Say, Debbie Diller, Elizabeth George Speare, Janet Evanovich, Kathleen Krull, Jonathan Auxier, Rosalyn Schanzer, Margarita Engle, Larry Dane Brimner, Clement C. Moore, Lynne Cox, Mary Downing Hahn, and Elisa Carbone.
- My mom – My mother is a truly special person. To have put up with me and my shenanigans and still love me anyway, well, she’s got a very sweet soul to be able to do that. She’s always been my biggest cheerleader and tried to push me to go farther than I could imagine. She sacrificed so much for my sister and me, being a single mom who went through a nasty divorce and constant custody struggles. She has always shown me to never give up, even when times are tough. This summer, she moved down to Louisiana to be with my sister and her two young children. It was a difficult call for her. She’s an Okie, through and through. She’s been here to watch my boys grow up, and they are very close to her. Her being gone and not, literally, right around the corner from my neighborhood, has been harder than either of us could imagine it would be. Phone calls and texts just aren’t the same. She came up and spent two weeks with us for Christmas. It was the best two weeks ever! She even spent the day at my school on our last day before break, which my students just loved. I’ve always tried to be the kind of mom she was, and while I know I haven’t always hit her high marks, I’m so glad I have her as my guiding light.
- Fitness – About 3 years ago, I made some changes that have helped me to be healthier than I have ever been in my life. While I’m not perfect or an expert by any stretch of the imagination, being physically fit has been a serious goal of mine that I work at and try to improve. During the past 3 years, I’ve hit some plateaus that made me make adjustments so I could continue to see improvements. I’ve hit another plateau, again. It’s been increasingly frustrating trying to figure out how to move on from where I’m at. My goals are to try to push myself more (cardio, ugh) and use my workout time more wisely. Hoping this will help to break past this plateau I’m stuck on right now.
- Running – I’ve always said I wasn’t a runner. I just didn’t think I could do something like that. I don’t have long legs and I’m not super skinny (always what I call to mind when I think of runners). However, the past couple of years, I’ve become absolutely obsessed with running. Like ridiculously obsessed. I chart run times and distances. I constantly set running goals for myself and work hard to achieve them. I. Just. Love. It. I went from someone who became winded just running from one mailbox to another (my first running goal), to having now run three 5Ks and running in my first half marathon this year (which was amazing!). My goal is to run in my first full marathon (that’s 26.2 miles, folks) in 2017. Oh boy.
- Travel – I’d love to travel to somewhere new next year. Well, every year, actually.
- Warm weather – I’m ready for spring and summer, please. I. Hate. Being. Cold.
- Rock on – I mentioned earlier that I love music. It can take me completely outside of myself and into another world. Just like books. So here are just a few of the bands and artists that I’ve listened to quite a bit this year – Chevelle, Seether, Foo Fighters, The Black Keys, and Foster the People.
- Edubloggers – I’m not even going to attempt to list all the education bloggers that I follow and that have had a major influence on me. If I’ve shared your work via social media, then you know who you are. Thank you for all that you do.
- Muscle cars – Not many people know how much I love muscle cars. They are just bad a$$.
- Sports cars – I like sports cars, too. If I could drive any sports car on the planet, I would want to drive a Bugatti Veyron. I mean, just look at it! And this baby can MOVE.
- Speed – Obviously if I like muscle and sports cars, I like speed. To be clear, I am a law-abiding citizen. I’m a rule follower by nature. But I love to drive as fast as the law allows (I tend to choose routes where the speed limit is higher on certain roads than others). It doesn’t help that I currently have a car that likes to go fast (it’s the car’s fault). Let’s just say, my husband is thankful I don’t have a hemi. I also love the feeling I get when I’m running so fast I feel like my feet aren’t even touching the ground. I also get a thrill running as fast as I can into a curve or a straight away. It’s an incredible feeling. Love it.
- Dodge Charger – They are awesome and yes, honey, I do need a hemi.
- Beach life – I’ve never been to a beach in my life, but something tells me I would like it. Bucket list location that I would like to check off in the new year.
- Boston – I went to this amazing city several years ago, and just fell in love with it. The history alone here is worth another trip. Soon.
- NYC – Bucket list city I’ve just got to visit one day.
- Ice cream – It is my one true weakness.
- Languages – I love language. One of my bucket list items is to learn several (I actually have quite a dream list), but I’d be happy to learn at least one other language. I took French in high school, but sadly don’t remember much of it. I also grew up listening to Hungarian (and other languages) being spoken by my father’s side of the family. It’s just something I’ve got to make time for one of these days. Perhaps next year I can make a start.
- Big Bang Theory – I love the characters on this show. I think it’s because I can relate to not always fitting into ‘the norm’ (we all have probably felt that way at one time or another). I was lucky to get to see Mayim Bialik, an actress on the show, at an NSTA conference several years ago, and I was really impressed with her (still am).
- The Princess Bride – It’s. Just. Awesome.
- Star Trek – Another sci-fi movie series I was raised on, and I’ve seen all the various TV shows associated with the franchise (for better or for worse). I feel I was raised right watching Star Trek and Star Wars.
- Family – Being a teacher (or just a working mother, period), means feeling like you are always falling short with spending time with your family. I’ve been trying to do better, especially with this being my oldest son’s senior year. I can always do better, and want to make a more concerted effort to spend more quality time with them.
- Positivity – I need to make a bigger effort to also be more positive in the new year. I feel like I let all the stress and anxiety I’ve been dealing with bring me down and be negative to those around me. I don’t want that for my family, friends, and students. I’ve been trying to put things into perspective when the stress and anxiety take hold and realize things probably aren’t as bad as they seem.
I hope that by writing this list, I’ll actually take the time to occasionally look back at it from time to time. I hope to read some of the things I want to improve at and that I’ll keep working at them. I hope that I turn to the things on this list that I love as a way to deal with (escape) stress and anxiety that tends to creep up in life. I hope 2017 turns out to be a wonderful year, and that I do my part to make it that way. Happy New Year!