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End of the Year Musings

As 2014 draws to a close, I find myself in a reflective mood.

It’s natural…and healthy…to look back.

Last Christmas season, I spent nearly two weeks with Chicky, helping her get back on her feet after her ACL reconstruction surgery.  Those were difficult days that had finished off a stressful fall.

The winter and spring seasons found me rejuvenated, though.  I hit my stride with my teaching, and my students responded very well to my carefully crafted lessons.

I developed a good rapport with my kiddos and ended the school year very confident.

During the summer, the Mr. and I spent a week at Disney World…our first adult-only vacation since our children were in elementary school.  It was a wonderful time for us…a time that strengthened our marriage.  Empty nest syndrome has been challenging for me.  Our trip helped me see what lies ahead…after Rooster flies the coop permanently.

When the new school year started in August, I was resentful.

One of my best friends had been assigned to another school, and my mentor was also being moved to cover other schools.

I felt alone.

At the same time, I was called on to mentor a couple of teachers.  My heart is in helping people, and I’ve had such wonderful mentors (thanks, Barb and Cinda), that I’m channeling their wise words to the new teachers.

Still, it’s been a tough few months with some very challenging moments.

I’ve begun to doubt myself again…my effectiveness as a teacher, as rated by a ridiculous VAM score that makes absolutely no sense given what my kids accomplished last school year.

At the same time, former students have been coming back to visit.  I’m positive that God is using their visits to show me that on a personal level, I am more than effective.

The imprint I’m leaving on my students’ lives isn’t going unnoticed by those who matter the most…the kids themselves.

My workload at the beginning of the year was overwhelming, and I have cried a lot this school year.  It reminds me of my first couple of years in this profession.

As a result, I’ve made some adjustments.

I’m normally a workaholic.

For the last four years, I’ve worked nearly nonstop…until 1am on weeknights…entire weekends…to fine-tune lesson plans.

I’m burned out.

So, I started making lesson plans on either Monday or Tuesday nights.  That leaves me the rest of the week and weekends to whatever I want, whether it’s taking care of the family, house, or indulging in non-school related activities such as knitting, reading, or watching TV.

I think that a lot of my resentment stemmed from fatigue and the inability to set firm boundaries between work and home.

I’m beginning to feel more balanced.  I’ve started giving myself permission to leave things undone if they aren’t finished by 3pm, as long as those things don’t run past deadlines, without stressing too much.  A cluttered desk doesn’t always make me want to puke.

This year, I’ve learned that being an overachiever can be good, when it means that I’m working hard in my relationships, but it crosses a line when I allow my over-reaching standards to interfere with those same relationships.

I’ve seen some immediate results to my most recent changes.  Thanksgiving and Christmas were nearly drama-free.  I think I was easy to be around and didn’t grump or run and hide from family.  Yeah.  I can be a hot mess sometimes…sad to say.

The ultimate lesson I’ve learned this year is that it’s not worth stressing over things that I cannot control.  Doing the best I can, despite what others might think or how some asinine evaluation formula might rate me, is all I can do.

For most of my life, I have placed too much value on others‘ standards.  I somehow keep forgetting that man-made standards are subjective.  God’s standards are the only ones I can trust to stay constant and true, so His approval is all I need.

My prayer for myself is that I would continue to strive for balance in my life…that I would say yes to those things that draw me into a life that honors God…that I would say no to attitudes, inner voices, and nay sayers that try to pull my attention from God.

I don’t know what 2015 will bring.  I do know that I serve a living, loving God who will be with me through every challenge and success.

New Year’s Eve Hodgepodge

I haven’t participated in the Hodgepodge the last few weeks because time has always gotten away from me.  I’m here this week and would like to take the opportunity to wish my fellow Hodgepodgers a Happy New Year!  Joyce, hugs to you as you watch your eldest marry the man of her dreams.  I cannot imagine the many emotions that have been flooding your tender Mama heart.  I cannot wait to read all about the festivities!!

1.  Share a favorite moment from your Christmas holiday celebration.

Gosh, but you want me to pick just one?

Hmmm…whenever you get ten family members together, there are bound to be TONS of memorable moments.

There was the real Family Feud that ensued when we tried to play the game by the same title.


There was the realization, when my father-in-law opened his Auburn Dockers, that every male in the family could now boast owning a pair and, thus, could say they would be properly attired when watching our Tigers play.

There was the quiet conversation that Super Sis and I had while washing Coupon Queen’s dishes after dinner…the kind of dialogue that forty years of a sister-to-sister relationship brings on…and the way that God ministered to both of our hearts as we were reminded that He has bound them together perfectly.

There was the selfie moment that Super Sis, Coupon Queen, and I took…which I wish I could post but can’t because I respect their privacy.

Which reminds me of another funny series of moments that happened after I sent a group text message to the nine other members of the family.  I had taken a selfie picture of the Mr., Rooster, and me in the car as we left for Bigger Podunk City, Florida.  I was letting everyone know we’d be there shortly.

To which I got responses from EVERYONE…selfies.  One included Chicky and my nephews, who were out shopping.  Super Sis sent a picture that depicted her in the kitchen, making chocolate covered peanut butter Ritz crackers.  Coupon Queen sent a picture of Cali, Chicky’s dog, and Super Sis sent a picture of Gracie, her dog.  The picture that cracked me up the most was of my brother-in-law…holding up a flexed muscle as he ate lunch during his work day.


Ultimately, my favorite moment was a quieter one…during the Christmas Eve service that the family attended…when voices were lifted up as we sang Silent Night and lit candles.

It was a poignant reminder that it is only because of the birth of the Savior that we celebrate moments like those I described above.

2.  What would you say has been the biggest news event during your life so far?

I’d have to say that the biggest news event would be 911.  This event affected thousands of lives and really did cause life in the US to pause in shock and sadness.  It removed the sense of safety and naivety that many, including myself, possessed.

3.  The Pantone Color of the Year for 2015 is Marsala. What say you-like or no like? Would I find this color anywhere in your home or wardrobe? Will you add something in this shade to either? 

I like this color…a lot!!!  I have a sweater this color and wouldn’t be opposed to adding more items of this color to my wardrobe.  I also have a throw on my couch that is this color.  It’s a color that definitely suits my style!!

4.  Would you rather meet your ancestors or your great grandchildren? Explain why.

I think I’d rather meet my great grandchildren.  I want to see what kind of legacy I and my children have passed down.  I want to know if they are Christ-following and Christ-loving.  If not, I’d straighten them up really fast!

5.  Share one life lesson learned in 2014?

My biggest life lesson this year is that it is possible to lead a balanced life…that it’s all about choice.

I’ve learned, the hard way, that I will NEVER be able to please everyone…that no matter how hard I work or what results my efforts yield, someone will be unhappy, be it a person or a system.

As such, I’m putting less pressure on myself, doing what needs to be done, but allowing myself down time…more of it than in the past.  In other words, I refuse to be a workaholic.  It’s not worth it when other things go by the wayside…time with family…time with my fur babies…time spent on hobbies…time just being quiet.

I’ve made it through what are normally very stressful holidays for me…while being completely (or nearly completely) relaxed.  I am determined to keep up this slower pace.

6.  What was your best or favorite purchase made in 2014?

I’m going to have to say that the recent purchase of my new RAV4…welcomed to my home this past Saturday…tops my list this year.

I blogged about it a few days ago.

The purchase was much needed because of the many, many breakdowns my other car had over the last couple of years.  Relying on others to take me to work or pick me up when I was stranded had gotten old, as had the expensive car repairs.

This car is perfect for me.  It’s a little bigger than the Ford Escape I had before but turns on a dime.

I am loving it!!!

7.  What is one thing you’re looking forward to in the new year?

One thing I am looking forward to in 2015 is a Spring Break trip to Universal Studios.  The Mr. and I spent a week at Disney last summer…without children…best thing ever!  Now that I knit for a Harry Potter group, I’m all about this book series.  The Mr., bless his heart, has agreed to endure an entire park dedicated to all things HP.  This is love, wouldn’t you agree?

8.  My Random Thought

As mentioned before, I’ve been able to relax this Christmas season.

I’ve done a lot of this…Trivia Crack, I cannot get enough of you (hence your name, I suppose)…

I got this one right. Don’t know the answer? Google it! I didn’t though…to my credit!!!

I’ve enjoyed wearing new clothes…courtesy of Hopes, Express, and American Eagle.

Love this dress from ShopHopes!

I’ve done more shopping…hello Kohl’s…

Had my nails done…

Snuggled with fur babies…

And begun watching Season 4, which left me boo hooing…

Oh Carson, how I love you…

I plan on enjoying every single moment left of my Christmas vacation!

Happy New Year, all!!!

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