Year-End Reflection

I've usually been pretty good about writing here, but ever since school started, I've been enjoying life offline so much that there hasn't been time. Now that I have two and a half weeks off, here I am.

This year has been crazy, in both good and bad ways.

Matt and Amy and their boys moved to Texas. While we're stoked for them, we sooo miss them! Also, our friends Robert and Justina moved to northern California for Robert to get his teaching credential. We miss them and hope we eventually live closer together again.

Our friend moved in with us for awhile until she gets closer to her personal goals toward the middle or end of 2014. Since she's a little younger than us, it's been eye-opening to see things that we've done that she is doing now, and we are trying to share our knowledge to help her avoid the mistakes we've made (coughdatingcough) and we also enjoy seeing the good things going on in her life.

During the summer, we went to a few awesome shows (Train, Gavin DeGraw, Panic! at the Disco, creeped out by 30 Seconds to Mars). Mike continues to work at his healthcare job and we love that he doesn't bring any work home. I finally have the job I want.

Having a teaching job has been one of the greatest blessings in my life, and the biggest highlight of my year. I finally  feel like everything that I've worked so hard for is now coming alive. I couldn't say that in spring. Every time Mike and I would leave my parents' house after a weekend visit, I would end up crying in the car or when we were back home. One time we pulled over into the I-HOP parking lot  five minutes into the drive home, and I bawled. I felt like I wasn't doing anything purposeful with my life. I was searching and searching after 5 years, and nothing was working out. I was lost and frustrated after working so hard for so many years, and felt like I was disappointing my family (when really, it was me being super hard on myself).

I had a job interview for a teaching position I was already in, so I should have been a shoe-in. But then rumors of favoritism and politics came to life, and I became victim to a system I had no control over; a fourth teacher was put in place to finish the last two months of the school year. She had been a student teacher there two years earlier.

I got over this after a few months, but stopped substituting at that school. At the end of the summer, I was fortunate enough to land an interview at a high school down the street from where we live. My ego was bruised but I learned so much about myself from earlier in the year. I walked into that interview with these thoughts: They may already have someone in mind. However, I am the first interview of the day, so I'm just going to be me, be awesome, and if they don't like me, it's not a good fit, and I can go on with my life. After a great interview experience and baking lemon bars from that school's recipe book from the 80's, I got the job. I. LOVE. This school. And I especially love how wonderful my department is.

Early in September, I suggested to my Aunt Pam and Uncle Mike that it'd be special if they and my Granny Jean got to see my first official classroom. I didn't know that this visit would not only be special for Granny Jean, but for Uncle Mike. I still remember how proud he was when I told him I got the job. I remember everyone walking to the classroom with me on a hot afternoon. I remember his smile when I told him and Pam that I signed my contract and would stay the whole year. I remember his face light up when I first came over wearing a blue staff shirt, even though he was feeling awful. The cancer he had had for several years was finally too much. I miss knowing that he's just a mile away and that I can see him and Pam on a walk with the dogs in Serrano Park, or sit in front of the fireplace at their house, or out on the back porch with the waterfall running. It feels like he's still there. I still talk to him in my mind. I miss him so much and it all happened too fast.

The week of Thanksgiving, Mike's dad had a heart attack. You don't want to think that your parents age and these things happen, but they do. It's a scary wake-up call. We have our beliefs, which are reassuring, but time on earth is too fragile. Very scary. He is doing very well, and is likely going to move closer to us and also to stay in the vicinity of LA and acting. Looking out for each other is so important.

Mike has a great job. I have a great job and I love it. I'm getting another class next semester. We have great friends we miss and great friends we plan on spending more time with. Mike and I have a few vacations planned (Las Vegas, Disney world) which we're excited for. Our dogs are great. Life is bitter and mostly sweet at the same time.

Here's to a new and better year in 2014! I'm starting that mindset today.

And Christmas? Well, this sums it up for me:

Maya and Harley's Halloween costumes.
All of my cousins on the McFadden side.
Shaver Lake for Robert and Justina's 5-year anniversary.
The puppies at Christmas.
Uncle Mike and Khalue.