Monday, December 31, 2018

Best and Worst, 2018 Edition

2018 was the worst year for posts in the ten years I've been blogging.

Ten entries for the entire year.

It made me sad when I looked back over the year and saw how many memories I missed.

I've found writing outlets elsewhere--between working the first few months of the year and then going back to school nearly full-time in September--but I missed preserving the small family moments.


One of my resolutions for 2019 is to blog once a week.

And I thought I'd end 2018 with a quick roundup of the best and worst of the year.

Just like past years, I wore a necklace every day to remind me of my goals. One thing I did differently this year was setting eight smaller goals that I recorded in my planner daily. 

In addition to my goals, I also kept a journal of my daily moods, recorded nightly. 

This I found quite interesting as the data accumulated. I can look back on the colored boxes and try to recall what made a day amazing or what made it awful. Certain stretches of time are easy for me to remember what happened (April and May of 2018 were two of the hardest months of my entire life and June was spent mostly in Italy on my trip of a lifetime), while others are impossible to recall.

 I for sure will do this again in 2019, with some possible adjustments to my mood categories. 

Now for the best and worst of the year.

Habit best/worst
Worst--Picking Diet Pepsi back up again. I gave it up for Lent, and although the Lenten period this year was the hardest of my life, I didn't drink a single drop, even for weeks after. Then I began to drink one a week, one every other day, and now I have a few a week. My goal is to kick this habit for good this year.

Best--Learning to like water. I've never liked water. That's the truth. But this year, I started drinking 20-30 oz. before 9 am each day, and I found my body really liked it. Who knew? Now I'm convinced.

Book best/worst
Worst--The Shadow Lands by Elizabeth Kostova. One of my all-time favorite books is her Historian, but this new one was really a let-down. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. Save yourself.
Best--Just Mercy by Bryan Anderson. This non-fiction work describes Anderson's mission to save wrongfully convicted murderers on death row in the poor South. It was a perspective changer for me, and I recommend it completely. Be prepared for your convictions to deepen or to change on the death penalty. Really provocative read.

Family best/worst
Worst--Lily in jail. I didn't post anything about this on my blog, but I did post much of the drama on Instagram and there was a Facebook battle . . . and an interview on the news when she wasn't allowed to walk at graduation because of her senior prank (harmlessly locking up the school overnight with a few padlocks, chains, and a bike lock). Much of the issue surrounding her time in jail was repercussions from the principal and my firing, and that made it even harder for me to understand. She missed her high school graduation (and her seminary graduation and banquet) and spent four hours in a holding cell, but in the end, all charges were dismissed and she only had to pay about $65 in fines. Forever she will have a great story to tell, and I'm starting to let it go. Finding forgiveness in my heart for Lily's poor treatment was harder than finding forgiveness for my own, but I'm there. It's all behind us now.

Best--(tie) New babies and girls' trip to Utah. Caroline Belle Denton joined our family in June, and we have two new grandbabies on the way for 2019. Nothing makes me happier than my little grandkiddos. I had a wild idea in November to get all my adult girls together for a quick weekend, and we ended up spending a few December nights (all five of us) in a Salt Lake hotel room, eating way too much, staying up way too late, getting pedis and home face masks and enjoying the time together. I hope this becomes a frequent weekend away for these girls I love so much and count among my best friends.

Exercise best/worst
Worst--Injury. I got back into running for the first time in years, and I was loving every second back on the road and the canal. My right foot hurt for a while, but I kept at it, thinking it would go away. It didn't. My doctor performed a series of treatments on it in May, and it was fine, but then it got worse. After an MRI, I found out I had torn my plantar fascia and that this wouldn't be a quick recovery. In October, the doctor debrided it then did a platelet injection. After a few weeks of physical therapy (which did help me heal but also gave me tendinitis on the side of my foot that I'm still fighting), I'm slowly but surely getting back to the canal. I actually speed walked the distance of the canal on Saturday! Small victories.
Best--Plowing through anyway. I reluctantly retreated to my stationary bike in the basement, and while it's not the same as 5:30 am laps around the neighborhood, I did maintain some level of fitness. Another small victory.

Mothering best/worst
Worst--Eve and Santa. While there were other, private moments where the worst came out of me as I mothered my children, Eve and Santa was pretty bad. You can read about that here.
Best--Learning to let go. You'd think I would have learned that lesson years ago, but 2018 ramped it into overdrive. I love the adults my kids are becoming, and I see they need me less and less as time goes by . . . and that's just as it should be. Plus, I got my little kids a dog, and Cleo fills in those moments when a mom doesn't have the answers. 

TV best/worst
Worst--Kid TV. Seriously. It's mind-numbing. I walk in the the room and after two minutes of unoriginal, catty, sarcastic dialog, I want to turn it off. And often, I do. What has happened to kid TV? 
Best--This is Us/Survivor. These are the only two shows I watch any more. Survivor has been a family staple around here for over 15 years, and we still love to watch it as a family. This past season was especially interesting. And I became a This Is Us fan when I made Lily's graduation quilt. I love all the characters in this show and how relatable their lives are (except for Kevin the movie star). I watched every episode available in a week (first binge watch of my life) and now I can't wait to see what happens next to the Pearson family.
It was months late because of the crazy circumstances surrounding her graduation, but it's filled with so many memories.

Personal best/worst
Worst--Losing my teaching position at Heritage Academy. Not getting my contract renewed for 2018-19 school year was devastating to me. I lost a job that I treasured and daily contact with people I came to love dearly. 

What made it worse is that this lesson wasn't a one-day experience. It lasted from the first interview with administration in February, through a surprise meeting and ugly mudslinging and accusations in March, an unexplained escort off campus in April, and refusal of administration to allow my attendance at school events or even graduation in May. Just thinking about it all takes me back to a place I don't like to dwell. Lessons learned: 1) I can't force anyone to forgiveness (and reaching a place of forgiveness myself takes time--but I did get there, eventually). More important was 2) Even today, I would still stick up for my values and defend those who needed defending. So even though this was by far the worst thing that happened in 2018, I wouldn't trade the lessons I learned from the experience. So there's that.

Best--Harvard. Last year at this time, I never thought that a second master's degree was anywhere in my future, but I am in a truly happy place right now. I love school. I love thinking and stretching and learning and changing and growing. I love it. I love how hard it is. I love how easy it is. I love everything about it. And it looks like I'm on track to receive ALM (Master's Liberal Arts) with a concentration in American Literature in May 2020. I feel more like myself when I'm buried in textbooks and writing assignments and research than anywhere outside of mothering my family, and I'm so thankful I found the Extension program and that Brad supports me getting a third degree. It truly makes me happy, and I'm so content being the student again instead of the teacher. For now.

Overall worst
1. Losing the job I loved. I loved every moment I was in the classroom. I loved grading assignments, creating tests, and writing lesson plans. More than anything, I loved my students. 

I wanted their horizons to expand and their writing to improve. When I lost that, I lost a big part of who I had become, and it took months to work through the fall-out, refusing to allow others' perceptions to define me. 
2.  Helplessness to fix others’ problems, illnesses, hang-ups, hate. I've always been a fixer. The most important worst that I experienced in 2018 was the realization that not only can I not fix others, I need to find a way to be ok with my inability to change them. Whether it's acquaintances or bosses, sometimes I can't affect their perceptions, even when they're incorrect. I can't change them, even if it's hurting me or someone I love. That's their job, not mine. It was a tough lesson. In addition, I learned I can't fix those I love. I can be a shoulder to cry on. I can be there to pick up pieces or apologize for my actions or even stand just off stage behind the curtain as the tragedy unfolds. This was the hardest lesson of 2018, and I know it's not over yet.

Overall best
1. Italy. Brad took me on my dream trip to Italy in June, and it was all I ever imagined. I shed tears at the foot of Michelangelo's David and Pieta. I stood in awe beneath da Vinci's Last Supper. I walked the tower of Florence's Duomo and the galleries of Uffizi. I wandered the Colosseum and the Roman Forum and ate gelato till my sides split. It was incredible, but the best part was spending two weeks away from my corner of the world with the one I love best. The longer we're married, the more I love him and need his comfort, counsel, and conversation.

2.  Learning that progress isn’t in perfection, it’s in persistence. In September, I realized that I had unintentionally collected data on myself--my perseverance and my lack of it. In 365 days, I only had two perfect days all year long (the first was in July!), but the perfect days didn't measure my successes of the year. I got better in most areas and know I need to improve in two others. I even missed ten days in April and May, but that didn't derail me for the rest of the year. A few years ago, I would have abandoned the project completely, but I didn't this time. That's change.

I don't know if I will maintain this same system in 2019, but I do love having a detailed analysis of my efforts at improvement this past year.

There you have it. Most of 2018 summed up in one quick post. Tomorrow is a new year, and I'm ready.

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