A three-hour drive home on a Sunday morning at the beginning of a new year seems like as good a time to reflect on life as any. So today, as I came home from a relaxing visit with a wonderful old friend (all alone in my new-to-me Rav4), I thought about everything I have to be thankful for, and many of the goals I still need to set and reach. I also thought back on a Kurt Vonnegut quote that I love… “And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.'” I think of this quote often, when I am happy, and I try to enjoy it, but also consider why that moment is so special.
Today, it was a combination of things…
First and foremost, as it should be, are my children. I love them more than life, but recently our time together has been pretty strained. I could pretend that life is perfect, but we all know that isn’t true for anyone. We have suffered a bit lately because of being busy, different personalities developing, stress all around, and lots of other factors. Something I need to work on is providing them with more structure, never my strong suit. I’m more of a free spirit, do-whatever-I-feel-like-in-the-moment type of person, and that doesn’t always work in parenting.
I’m looking forward to seeing them this evening, and to putting some new ideas into place that we have worked on together. Ideas that will turn to actions and hopefully new habits that will cut back on some of those stresses. Less phone time, more reading time. Journaling, especially about what we are grateful for. All of us showing one another respect. Less yelling, more talking and listening. Trying our best to leave school/work/outside relationship anxieties and pressures at the door and making our home back into a peaceful sanctuary where we all feel safe and loved. And appreciated.
Money, unfortunately always an issue, has been tight. That’ll happen when you have multiple major home repairs within a few months, not to mention November and December birthdays, followed immediately by Christmas. Also, vet bills, doctor bills, bills, bills, bills. Although taking classes and doing student teaching were quite obviously my smartest career move yet, the six months with little to no income it required took a lasting toll on finances. Getting caught up in the near future is something I am looking forward to, and it really feels like it’s going to happen.
Speaking of teaching, I go back to work tomorrow after two weeks off. It has been an enjoyable break, overall, despite a bout of depression somewhere in the middle there. It is not something I talk about often, but I, like so many others, do struggle with anxiety and depression. I have to work to get myself back into the right way of thinking, and there are times I need to let myself stew in it for a minute. I can just never stay there, but crawling out of the hole is sometimes easier said than done. This weekend went a long way in getting over my stresses and getting my mind right to get back in the swing of things. I’m trying to finish up some work today and get ready to help motivate my kids to go back to school tomorrow as well.
I am thankful that I have a job that I love. I am not dreading going back tomorrow, and that is huge considering how I have felt about jobs in the past. I am looking forward to seeing my students and helping them achieve more.
My daughter is on new meds that I hope will help with her migraines. She takes pride in her work, and I love watching her dedication turn into success. My son is starting off the second semester with new accommodations that I expect will help him to see more success in school as well, and I really hope these changes will help ease some of his tension.
I am also loving our involvement with Misty Eyes and all our work with saving animals. I am proud to be a part of current and future efforts to educate the youth on the importance of kindness and responsible behavior with animals.
On top of all this, I am starting master’s classes Saturday, and I am so excited about this new chapter! I feel like we are exactly where we need to be in so many ways, and that we are setting ourselves up to keep getting better.
I guess my point in writing this is to say, life gets hard, but then it also gets totally amazing. If I don’t teach my kids anything else in this world, I hope that they can learn from my successes and my mistakes. I wish for them that they will catch on early in the game that life really is, for the most part, what you make of it. We are all, always, a work in progress, and if you don't think that's true, then I think you're doing life wrong.
Staying positive, looking at the bright side, continuing to work hard, and loving yourself, but also putting in constant effort to grow, evolve, and improve are keys to a happy and fulfilling life. I wish it hadn’t taken me 40 years to fully realize this!
Note: The above photo gallery is simply some highlights from our break. :)