Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Putting the "happy" in "Happy New Year."

"Mexico's like the moon, dude."--Student

Dearest readers,

I must apologize for not writing for so long. The last couple of weeks before winter break were crazy stressful, and then my brain pretty much felt like mush over vacation. But, as it is a new year, I am resolving to be much better about posting, and will try to do so a couple times a week. This post is going to be a mish-mash of things: what's been going on at school, a review of this past year, and a look ahead.

Like I said, things at school have been kind of hectic, though not totally in a bad way. Some of my classes were recently very busy writing papers. My honors class had to write a 4-5 page paper using two dystopian novels. It was definitely a bigger challenge than they are used to. But I'm determined to whip them into shape. They're capable of good writing, but they have to be willing to put in the hard work, which some of them still don't quite seem to have figured out. Others, however, are making good strides, so that makes me super happy.

I also received a great shock right before break. Every single student in my F period CP1 class turned in their research papers (only two were late)! It was a frickin' Christmas miracle or something. I'm still struggling against the great amount of apathy in my other CP1 class, so it gave me hope to see that even though so many students in this class are failing due to not doing much/any work, they haven't given up on themselves. I'm desperately trying to send them the message that I'm not giving up on them, so hopefully the attitude is catching.

Oh, and I don't think I ever updated you on the fundraiser my students did. They raised over $100 for a local women's shelter. They were very excited about this, and I was very proud. It wasn't as much money as I was hoping for, but every little bit counts. I hope this showed them just how wonderful it can be to do something good for others, and that what we do in school really does have a connection to the "real world."

Okay, now for my little "year in review" and look to the future:

My New Year's resolution this year is the same as the one I made last year: to be happy. I don't like making little specific resolutions, because I always seem to be bad about keeping them, and then I just feel like crap about myself. And who wants to start off the year like that? So instead, I'm going with an overall attitude about/approach to life. I'm not saying that I'm always good at being happy. I probably cried this year more than I normally do. But a lot of that was due to the fact that I took chances and opened myself up to new experiences. And you know what? This past year actually ended up being really great. I'm certainly not the same person I was a year ago. These past two years, since I graduated college, I've definitely grown up a lot. I've always had a good sense of who I am, but being out of the safe student bubble has allowed that identity to become more fully fleshed out.

This year, I gained a new cousin (good lord he is such a little cutie), and had to say goodbye to a family member who had to move away due to failing health. That darned circle of life certainly giveth and taketh away. I was also asked to be a bridesmaid for one of my dearest friends, which was such an honor. She is the first of my friends to get engaged--just another reminder that we really have grown up! I survived my first year of school with a bit of emotional scarring, but a still unwavering resolve. And I was asked back for another year, and while this year continues to be challenging, I am much more confident in what I am doing. (My cousin once told me that it'd be a good three years before I stopped feeling like I'm fucking up kids' lives....well, I'm certainly feeling like I'm fucking up less of them this year. Yay, progress!) I had my heart broken a couple of times this year. It hurt like hell and made me feel almost as angsty as my students, but I've come out of those experiences a better person and with a better understanding of what I want and need out of life. I've also been learning to fight my instinctual shyness and to be open to meeting new people. Over the summer and now during the current season, I've been hanging out with my soccer teammates. When people ask if anyone wants to go to a bar for a team bonding session, I've learned to say yes, and have actually had fun and made some new friends. I've also been spending more time hanging out with some of my colleagues, and now truly feel like I am part of the group and can call them my friends. I also have been renewing my friendship with my best friend after a couple years where we weren't so great at keeping in touch, and being close again makes me so so happy. And last, but certainly not least, I flew the nest and got an apartment this year. So THAT'S what those wings are for! It's taking some getting used to, but I love this feeling of independence. I always used to be so scared of change, but lately it's been feeling so much more exciting.

I hope that this year I will continue to experience lots of wonderful things and fulfill my resolution. I want to be happy in both my personal and professional life, and I think I'm getting better at it. As Voltaire said, "I have decided to be happy, because it is good for my health."

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