Hi there! It’s certainly been long enough since I have posted anything, so I’m hoping to get back into a routine and blog more frequently in the coming weeks. I hope you all had a relaxing and enjoyable holiday season with family and loved ones.
I enjoyed a nice and long two weeks off from work for Christmas. I was able to spend some time reading (I just finished Shauna Niequist’s book, Bread and Wine. Highly recommended!), and traveled to see family in Ohio.
Of course plenty of time was spent baking Christmas cookies!
Before Christmas break, it seemed like my days in December were filled with an endless amount of paperwork, education acronyms, and a to-do list that only seemed to grow with each passing day. As a Special Education Teacher, paperwork comes with the territory. Students in public schools in Maryland will be taking PARCC this year instead of MSA as the state test. Enter, more paperwork to complete! We are now mandated by the state to complete approximately 95 forms for each student for this test, forms that are seemingly revised as soon as I fill out a few or think I’ve got things down. In my opinion, lots of the paperwork we are required to complete seems redundant and unnecessary. This was easily a stressor for me during the last couple of months, but I’ve learned a lot through the process!
Teacher friends: If you need a laugh, check out more pictures like the one above here!
It’s easy to get caught up in the paperwork side of things when everything piles up and forget the reason behind why we do what we do. It’s all for the students – seeing the smile on their faces when they realize they have the correct answer, handing a test back to a student with a 100% at the top, influencing a child to realize he can achieve anything he puts his mind to.
Amongst the busyness, the last couple of months have been a time of learning and reflection in my life. With the new year upon us, most people write goals and set New Year’s Resolutions. I didn’t make a list of goals this year, the way my OCD, type-A personality calls me to. Instead, I am focusing on one theme for my life this year.
This year, I am choosing to be present. To live in the moment. To celebrate the extraordinary nature in everyday moments, to live with intention, to love the people in your life like nothing else matters.
“The purpose of life is to enjoy every moment”
Sidenote: Yogi Tea bags are the best. My new favorite! An inspirational message or saying is written on each tea bag – and not like some of the ones on Dove chocolate wrappers. (The ones from Valentine’s Day say things like “buy yourself flowers”). The quotes on Yogi tea bags are so much better!
I chose this theme to focus on because I don’t think I was very good at being present, at being in the moment this past year. It’s easy to always think ahead to the future – what’s coming later, the next thing on your to-do list, goals you are reaching towards, etc. It’s not a bad thing to think about what’s coming next but the problem comes when your focus becomes more on the future than it is in the present. I can’t think of a more perfect way to describe this than how Shauna does in Bread and Wine. She writes, “I want to cultivate a deep sense of gratitude, of groundedness, of enough, even while I’m longing for something more. The longing and the gratitude, both.”
I traveled to Ohio over Christmas break to see family, and while it was a good trip, there were difficult moments for me too. My grandmother passed away last fall, and it’s hard to visit her house sometimes. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing, that she should be there. Talking with my aunt really helped, and I was thankful for the chance to chat with her. She said that things don’t necessarily get easier with time; you learn to create new memories.
This picture is one of my favorites now! Every time I look at it, I am reminded that everyday is a new memory we create.
So the theme for my year is to be present, to not miss out on those everyday moments that inspire us to be more. When you’re breathing in air during a run, convinced you can’t keep going but do; when the plates have been cleared but you sit for hours around the table, sharing stories with one another; when the sunlight fades into a mixture of golden amber and blush tones, with the promise to rise in all its beauty in the morning – that’s when the best of life happens.
What will the theme of your new year be??