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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.

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