Saturday, December 31, 2016

What I learned in 2016

If you've stuck with me through this year of not blogging very much at all 
you'll know that 2016 was a big year of change for me. 

I started working full-time (something I hadn't planned at all).

I studied part-time - something I never expected to do again.

One daughter is now an adult, still living at home, but not needing us so much 
(except to drive her sometimes). And the other daughter's almost grownup, also. 
Family life is very different from even a couple of years ago.

So ... what have I learned?

Working full-time is easier than doing lots of activities part-time
Yep, it's true. 4-5 years ago I was leading bible study, teaching recorder at a school, teaching piano at home, teaching piano at a school, selling stamps, learning ballet, going to church and being a mum. Each of those activities took 2.5hrs or less, not including travel time, so in theory I still had lots of free time. This year I've worked in a school full-time, and taught piano two afternoons a week. The piano teaching turned out to be too much, but I needed to keep it on in case my job didn't last. 

Instead of my mind being stretched in many different directions and locations, managing all my varied commitments and interests, and feeling guilty that I wasn't giving any of them enough attention, I enjoyed being at school and focusing on school only for 7+ hours a day. I'm looking forward to the day that I don't have to study anymore, when I can work and then come home and relax instead of hitting the books ;)

Maybe I'm not such an introvert after all
I've spent a few years thinking about my introvert nature, and using it to justify many quiet hours on the sofa, recovering from social gatherings, and quietly planning my life with noone else around.
This year changed all that, and it turns out I cope just fine interacting with 500 kids and 40 teachers every week, in fact, you might say I thrive on it. Looking back, I think my health and other issues were factors in my need to be still and quiet in the past, plus the busyness of doing all those activities. Plus it was a different stage of life with our girls being a bit younger. (Also, the girls are home so much now that alone time at home would rarely happen, even if I wasn't working).

Children's books are amazing
Ok, I already knew this one, but I love that my job as a teacher librarian lets me soak up all sorts of wonderful picture books and novels, just when my girls had grown out of them.

When I really have to want to do something, I can
All these years, I've given myself excuses, saying I was too busy to practise piano, read the bible, exercise, make phonecalls ... the list goes on. But it turns out that - even with full-time teaching - I have a few hours a day that I can (and do) put to studying, because I'm determined to be approved as a primary teacher, and then as a librarian. I do have some self-control, after all. Imagine what I will have time for once I finish studying!

It's important to keep learning
A year ago a friend said to me that he thinks it's important to keep learning. While I agreed with this in principle, having learnt two new instruments and taken up ballet in the last 8 or so years, I hadn't been learning then to the extent that I have this year. Now I can say even more wholeheartedly that I agree with him. This year I've learnt procedures, teaching philosophies, class and library management, and what feels like a whole new language with all the jargon in education. My brain feels stretched in a good way. 

I can be brave
I think this has come with age. Instead of being fearful of new situations and expectations, I look at them as challenges, and embrace them. 

God is good
Ok, I knew this one, as well. But in 2016 there have been many, many reminders of His goodness. 

What has helped?
Thinking about how I've coped this year ...

I love Trello to manage my lists of things to do, and my ideas.

Pinterest has helped so much with teaching ideas.

Eating healthily and sticking to a pretty simple eating routine has really helped. I eat almost the same foods every day, except dinner, and even our dinners usually all have some kind of meat with roast veges on the side, or are a mince dish. When I stick to it, my body thanks me.

I'm working on getting a good night's sleep every night, but I still love my late nights ...

Seeing a good chiropractor has helped, and I've started using some essential oils, which have often helped with pain or emotions. 

Walking and listening to a good podcast has given me new ideas and brain breaks. My favourites are Feathers and Mud Stories.

Steve has helped, enormously, often picking up my slack with cooking and chores while I studied. He did the bulk of driving the girls around - somehow 2016 involved more of this than ever. 
Bring on P-plates. 

Getting to church every week, and bible study as often as I can, has helped - I need friends, and I need to be reminded what God has done. Seeing my extended family from time to time has helped, too.

I'm excited to see what 2017 holds. I don't expect so many changes next year, but that it will be a year of consolidation and growth and improvement in what I'm doing. I'll be studying a new course, and doing at least one block of professional experience. 

I hope over time I can give more to other people, and, having done the whole learning curve thing this year ,I hope to be a bit more outward-looking as the year progesses. 

How was your 2016? What did you learn? What did you love?
What worked, and what didn't work?

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas 2016

Some time during October I had a bad dream.
In it I realised suddenly that it was Christmas Eve, and that we had done nothing to prepare for Christmas. I guess that was my way of dealing with the fear I had then, that I just wouldn't cope with Christmas this year, on top of work and study and everything else. 
October was a crazy month, I had 5 massive deadlines to meet.
After that I was sick with the flu, and after that, things got a bit better. 

Although I have been very busy with school and uni, and school end-of-year events,
we did get to prepare for Christmas. We did almost everything we normally do, and this last week, especially, has been lovely.

Hoping you and your family have had a wonderful Christmas, too.
Merry Christmas!