As the New Year is upon us (be GONE, 2013, don’t let the door hit you in the A**!), I’m reflecting on the lessons I learned, the moments that will be remembered, as well as contemplating what’s to come. I’ve made a list of 13… nothing better than writing it all down to flesh out the perspective… take-aways from this year:
1) Expect the unexpected – no matter how well you’ve planned your life out, how perfectly (in your head) the details all fit into one beautiful mosaic, curve balls will be thrown and you must be ready to catch them
2) Be kindER – as a result of The Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, coupled with my reading of R.J. Palacio’s book Wonder, I have a heightened sense of just how much benevolence matters.
3) Believe – in something, a higher power, perhaps, or simply the power of people. I’ve tattooed myself with the word on my wrist to remind me that there is a plan bigger than myself, bigger than what I can see in front of me right now, and I just have to trust it.
4) Be resilient – changes happen around us all the time: some we easily ebb and flow with, while others are like trying to swim against a powerful tide. In these moments, we must focus on our own goals, do what we need to do with the power we’ve been given, and forge ahead resiliently according to what we know is right.
5) Learn to let go – in life, I’ve come to count on some things, like my family being together — it’s comfortable and it feels right. However, in the grand scheme of parenting, I know I’ve raised my children only to set them free. Many things are like this. Change is uncomfortable, but in order to let the new in, we somehow need to let go of the old (even when we aren’t necessarily ready to). I’m learning. So, in the spirit of being a taker-of-baby-steps, I am finding comfort in the benefits of letting go.
6) Be thankful – as an experiment, I wrote down every day, for 30 days, during one of the most trying periods of my life, something I’m grateful for. And what I learned is that sometimes big goals are overwhelming, so in making strides (small ones) toward something positive, the journey is much less painful.
7) Seeing Chicago and my son’s new beginning (his world) through his excited eyes. It amazes me that after all these years (twenty-two), I’m still seeing the firsts through his eyes.
8) In a moment of real connection (and with teens, these are few and far between) my son told me that I’m his best friend. While, as a parent, you tell yourself over and over, “I must be his parent, not his friend,” particularly in getting through the obstacles of this stage. If through all of that hard parenting, he can tell me that I’m his friend (with no strings attached), I have truly succeeded as a parent, in my eyes.
9) Laughing. Simply laughing with my daughter. No matter how hard life gets, I find comfort in the playful moments we share– two girls who love & respect one another, as well as enjoy each other’s company.
10) My sanctuary. The building of it mostly. For years, I’ve waited for some place in this house to be only mine. Putting the words on the wall, and standing back to admire them– such a cathartic experience. I finally, again, have a room of my own.
11) My students words. Two, in particular. First student, “Somehow I just feel a connection with Mrs. Carbone that I haven’t felt with any other teacher. We have a lot in common.” Second student, “I always feel comfortable in Mrs. Carbone’s class. She makes me love learning, and the best part is that I’m learning a lot about myself.” These gems are the reason I love my job.
12) Live in the present. Love it. Cherish it. Recognize it as the chance to do something I’ve never done before and will never do the same again.
13) Follow my dreams, my intuition… ultimately, be truest to myself.
And as an added bonus:
30 Days of Thankful
LEGACY: The People Who Leave
The Magic of Teaching: First-Day-Ever Teaching Advice to My New-Teacher Friends
Wonder, R.J. Palacio- So much more than a review, a call to action