Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Looking Back & Looking Ahead

We're in the final days of 2016 and that's always a good time to take a look back as well as a time to gaze into the future.

My fourth post of 2016 was titled "Hanging on by a Thread," and, as I review the year, that seems pretty fitting. In January, my two youngest daughters were in the middle of their first year at a new school where I struggled to fit in more that they did. My oldest was barreling headlong into the end of her middle school "career" and facing some tough decisions about high school. My husband had just gotten a promotion (Yay!) which meant even more traveling than normal for him (which was already A LOT). Personally, I was still struggling with my own self image, trying to find a little "me time" among chaos, and beginning to lose my writing motivation. It was a rather stressful, not-so-happy time for me. In fact, it felt like a bit of an existential impasse. However, like most of those cycles, it eventually passed - not without a few roller coasters, though.

After much anxiety and many tears, my oldest daughter finally decided on a high school placement. (Seriously, when did choosing a high school turn into something similar to choosing a college???) She chose an advanced college prep program where she will basically do four years of high school in two years and spend 11th and 12th grade taking basic college classes on an actual college campus. She will graduate high school with enough credits to be considered a sophomore in college. It's a great program and she is flourishing, but, as you can imagine it is A LOT of work and I often feel our lives revolve around her homework load and/or her project deadlines. We have made it through one entire semester, so we only have three more of the really cumbersome ones to go.

My younger two girls are at the same school they moved to last year. The middle one is fully entrenched in middle school - work load, social circles, crazy hormone swings and all!! She is also doing very well, but I could stand to see a little more Dr. Jekyll and a little less Mr Hyde! 

The youngest is in fourth grade, which, at their school, will be her last year in elementary school (5th graders bridge up to middle school). In fact, as I helped with her class Christmas party it occurred to me that that was the last elementary class party I would help with and I'm not quite sure how to feel about that - overjoyed or very sad. She is thriving as well, though she has learned a few tough lessons about studying and completing assignments. She has developed an even deeper friendship with one sweet friend in particular. They are indeed BFF's and are making plans to go to college together, live on their own in NYC together, and have a double wedding in the future. We'll have to see how all that works out, but it is fun to watch their friendship and to see my daughter emerging into a social butterfly.

Overall, this fall, we are a bit more settled into our routines and, though I still spend far too much time in the carpool lines, we are finding our rhythm a little more easily than we did in the spring. 

As for me personally, I'm in a better place than I was nine months ago. 
  • My job that was interim for almost two years was made permanent in March. That gave me more stability and a steadier pay rate, but also more time and responsibilities. I really do love it, but it is sometimes hard to juggle along with all the other craziness in our schedules. 
  • At the beginning of 2016, I was really struggling with self-image having gained more pounds than I care to number in a relatively short period of time. I had even visited doctors hoping for an easy answer, but there was none to be found. I dropped my gym membership this fall which has, ironically, helped immensely. Going to the gym was something I did not enjoy at all and really just made me feel worse about myself on top of being something else to figure into my already full schedule and to feel guilty about when I didn't do so successfully. Now, I am still not really happy with my body and would love to drop about 30 pounds, but I have reached a point of contentment and taken an "it is what it is" kind of attitude. I may not be a size 6, but I am healthy and I realize that I have to stop beating myself up and making myself miserable over a number on the tags of my clothes. 
  • For better or worse, the writing/blogging mojo that was on the decline early in the year completely disappeared somewhere along the way. At first, I felt like I needed to be writing and keeping this blog active, but I had no inspiration and no time, so it became just another stressor. This fall, I decided to stop stressing and just put it on the back burner - write whenever I felt like it instead of putting pressure on myself to post regularly. Well, "whenever I felt like it" became not at all for about three months and, honestly, I didn't really miss it at all. Now, I am missing it a little and trying to figure out a new approach moving into 2017. Amidst the demise of my own blog, though, I did help to start a new blog for my department at work and wrote a few posts for it! 
  • My five most viewed posts of 2016 were as follows:
  • I also started 2016 with a list of 10 books I wanted to read. I actually read 14 books this year, but only two of them were on that original list! 
Now that I've looked back,it's time to look ahead. What lies ahead in 2017? Well, if 2016 taught us anything, it's that life is always unpredictable!

As far as school is concerned and careers are concerned, I don't anticipate that much will change. All three girls will still be at their same school this fall. The only change will be the youngest moving up to middle school. (😳Wow! Did I really just write that?!?!) As I said, I'm in a better place personally, so hopefully that will continue and I can make it through my impending 40th birthday without too much of a midlife crisis! 

As for blogging, I want to get back to it, finding a happy medium with where I began 2016 (stressed out and frustrated) and where I ended (basically not posting at all). I'm aiming for posting twice a month, but still considering what that will be. I would love to get back to Finish the Sentence Friday linkups and I'm considering returning to my original 2016 goal of doing a "Currently" post once a month (and maybe making that a linkup?????). I think, however, as my blog evolves, it will continue to be more about me and less about my kids. As they are getting older, it is just harder to write about them and I am more concerned about respecting their privacy. 

So, how was 2016 for you? What are you hoping for in 2017?

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