2014-15 Reflections, 2016 Ambitions

I realized, with only a few days of 2015 left, that I did not make an “official” list of “resolutions” for this past year. I did, however, make one two years ago and I’m actually really happy with how much I’ve accomplished from that list (which are in red below)! Along with my achievements, I’ll follow the same format by including my regrets from the past two years and ambitions for the coming year.

2014-15 Achievements:

√  Survived 2 months of a 4-hour round-trip commute to and from work. It wasn’t easy by any means.

√  Moved into an apartment with Tom in Brooklyn, cutting commute time to less than an hour round-trip. We pay too much money for too little space, but for now it works.

√  Graduated from Teachers College, CU with my Masters in Mathematics Education.

Columbia grad

√  Made it through the remainder of my aide job and booked my first real teaching job at the school I was already working at.

√  Got married and it was the most perfect day. Everything was as we wanted, except for my mom not being there.

Wedding collage

√  Had an amazingly wonderful honeymoon in Montauk.

√  Had our second reception to include my mom and upstate family and friends in our celebration.

Reception #2 Family shot

√  Kept up with student loans and actually paid the higher interest one off! We also refinanced the rest so the payments and interest rate is lower.

√  Survived my first year of teaching and re-booked a job at the same school as a full-time Math teacher.

√  Started working out regularly after school and even got one of my coworkers to join me – we still work out 2-3 times per week together!

√  Endured foot surgery to finally remove my bunions.

√  Celebrated our one-year anniversary by going to Montauk; we stayed in the same B&B as our honeymoon. It was tough with my feet all wrapped and swollen, but we had a good time regardless.

√  Became close friends with my coworkers because I work with so many amazing people.

I have amazing coworkers

√  Became more confident in myself and my abilities AND feel a little more confident when it comes to debating. I’m by no means perfect or a know-it-all so I’m still working on this; it’s a daily struggle.

√  Finished my Invisalign!

2014-15 Regrets:

  • Not getting any pets. This is a regret that couldn’t be helped since our landlady is anti-anything-that-might-cause-bugs-of-any-kind-to-invade. I have a small Christmas-tree-esque plant…shhh, don’t tell her!
  • Not becoming friends with people sooner; this has been happening with me for years, and I hate that I miss out on so much potential time with awesome people because I doubt myself or feel too overwhelmed with life/work/what they think of me/etc. to make the effort.
  • Not reading enough due to lack of time and energy.
  • Not actively finding a church to attend regularly.
  • Not visiting friends and family more.
  • Not traveling more, in general. This includes exploring NYC.
  • Not working out more and having more self-control when it comes to delicious treats and all other foods that I like.

2016 Goals:

  • Continue to grow my self-confidence, especially when it comes to how well I do my job.
  • Read more of everything, especially current events and other important historical stuff.
  • Write more – on this blog, in my journal, letters to people, etc.
  • Find a church to attend consistently and become an active member in; this has been a work in progress for quite awhile now and has become one of my biggest struggles.
  • Get a frame for my Masters degree; it’s the most expensive piece of paper I will ever own, so why not  try to keep it safe?
  • Travel more – we already have one trip set for spring break, but I’d love to go anywhere and everywhere.
  • Become more disciplined when working out and choosing to eat healthier. I’m starting by trying to replace one meal with a homemade juice/smoothie/protein drink 3 days per week. If this works, I’ll do my best to increase the frequency.

I’d be interested to hear your greatest (or smallest) achievements in the past year as well as what you hope to accomplish in 2016 and beyond. I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year’s Eve as well as an amazing 2016!

Stress and Journaling: An encouragement to write

I’ve been literally filling journals with my thoughts, problems, prayers, memories, joys, and tears since I was able to write somewhat cohesive sentences. I have a few short entries from when I was about 5 years old in a little diary with two little bears on the front of it. Back then, my problems were so simple – one such entry was from 1996, and I wrote “I will never forget my bum bum hurt.” Bless my little heart. And bum-bum. It was nothing a little Preparation-H could have solved. You can read more entries from that diary here.

Journals Bookshelf

From ages 6-12, I would occasionally write but I think I spent more time playing outside (in the street because we were rebels…and lived on a tiny side street that everyone complained should have been a one-way), watching movies and TV and the like. My writing really picked up when I was 13; eighth grade was when boys started showing interest in me, so naturally that was something exciting to write about.

But with that came frustration and heartache as I realized that these boys were not really giving me attention because they liked my good-natured heart, were intrigued by my silly personality, were ensnared by my sense of humor, or because they wanted to be that knight in shining armor that Disney hyped me up for. Nope, these guys [read: high school boys] were only noticing me and showing interest with hopes for physical pleasure. And when they didn’t receive what they wanted, they swiftly moved on to someone else who would gladly give it to them.

So at that time, most entries were about boys, friends, and my life. As high school progressed, my writing became more frequent, the entries became longer, and my ability to write became more fluent. I know that many entries probably reiterated the same feelings over and over – it was my way of dealing with issues because I was not one to lay my burdens on others or tell secrets to friends. I was always close to my mom, but I didn’t want to put my (seemingly) silly, high school level complaints and issues on her; she had enough to deal with already. I know she was always willing to listen and offer advice, but I just could never bring myself to tell her at the time it was bothering me.

So my journal became my friend and confidante. Yep, I know that sounds super strange and quite pathetic, but at the same time, I am now able to look back at how I was feeling for more than 10 years of my life. Not many people can say that, so I think that’s pretty cool. I can go back and see the crazy rollercoaster that has been my life, with lots of ups and downs, knowing that everything in those journals has miraculously led me to where and who I am today. Cheesy, but whatever.

To make my entries and writing more fun (or maybe personal?), I started to write each one in a different color. There was never any pattern or set rotation; I would simply pick a color that I hadn’t used in awhile, maybe the color of the shirt I was wearing, or a color that matched my mood. Many entries are on the sad or frustrated (even depressed, if I looked back at it now) side and were, therefore, in black. Those were days when I honestly felt I had no one else to turn to, so I needed to write my feelings on paper in order to get them out of my head. It was therapeutic in a way.

ALL the journals

I have many memories that I can look back at and know exactly what day they happened. Lots of high school memories with friends, my high school boyfriend, my mom. Then there was college – a lot of difficult ones take place then. The time after college was probably the most depressing of all – that’s when I was still dealing with the emotional impact of the break-up of my long-term relationship, leaving the safety and comfort of college and the new friends I had made, still unsure of things with Tom who moved away after college, trying to figure out a job situation, dealing with my Mom moving into a nursing home, and living in a house all alone at the age of 22. Whew, it stresses me out just thinking about it.

So anyways, I want to encourage anyone reading this to write. If you’re dealing with a hard time at work, at home, at school: write! Even if it’s just a temporary way to let your emotions out, jot ideas down, get your thinking juices flowing (weird phrase, but okay): write! Even if you don’t think you’re a good writer: write! You don’t have to have a poetic flow or use crazy big words or sound sophisticated at all – it’s for your personal use, your eyes only, so who cares? Get it yet? WRITE for goodness sake!

Now, obviously there are other mediums in which you could let your stress out: music, video, sports, other exercise, cleaning, organizing, etc. Part of the reason I have this blog is to share my ideas and get some emotions (whether silly or serious) out of my head! I still write in my journal every now and then, but this is the place where I can share ideas so that I might help others in the process. When I need to get something out and I don’t have Tom to talk to at the moment or if it’s something I want to remember, I write it in my journal.

I also want to encourage you to seek out someone that will sincerely listen to your hardships without judgment or criticism. I know it’s not easy – I know I could have confided in my Mom for these things, but back then I honestly thought I had to figure things out on my own and keep her from unnecessary stress. I have since learned that it is important to hear and share ideas with others because collaboration is an awesome thing!

Talk to a parent, a friend, a pastor, a teacher, anyone who you are close to and whom you can confide and feel comfortable with. Someone who won’t judge you or criticize you, but will also not beat around the bush and throw a bunch of fluff into their advice. Honest but truthful, caring but not judgmental. I know, I know, easier said than done.

Yes, you’re more likely to get an answer you don’t want to hear. Yes, it’s hard to be vulnerable with people and show real emotions. But it’s so healthy to let your feelings out instead of letting them fester inside of you; I’m 99% sure that my Crohn’s flare-ups were caused by my inability to let out my emotions. Honestly, the stress of keeping things in literally started eating away my insides. Gross. I’ll stop now.

So your assignment is to go (you guessed it) write; you can always open up a Word or Google doc, but I prefer handwriting journal entries. Either buy a composition notebook from the dollar store or one of those fancy journals from Barnes and Noble. Even a napkin will do! Just grab something to write with and something to write on, and start writing! Don’t force it but write what’s on your mind. Let it flow. You can sing that to the tune of Frozen. You’re welcome.

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