Friday, December 30, 2016

Christmas Inventory

This year was a very unconventional Christmas for me. I did some Christmas baking and gave plates to friends and coworkers. That means that loved ones in Glendora didn't get a plate.

My parents came up here, so I got to spend some time with them. We hung out at my grandma's on Wednesday night. I went with my dad to Mo Bettah and Swig (mom stayed at grandma's to see the twins) on Thursday night. I went to PF Chang's and the Harry Potter Symphony with my dad on Friday. Dad and I went to Smashburger and saw Fantastic Beasts on Saturday (mom was running errands), and I helped mom prepare a little bit for dinner. I helped cook for Christmas dinner on Sunday. I Face Timed two of my brothers for opening their gifts, and got to talk to the other one on the phone. We hung out and went bowling on Monday. They left on Tuesday and got home on Wednesday. It was a short and good trip, I think, for everyone.

Every year I make a list of what I got. And every year I explain that it's not because I'm materialistic. For whatever reason, I like to make lists. I make to-do lists. I make lists of places I've been or want to go. I make lists of restaurants that are close by. I even make lists of gifts I gave to people (the past few years of Christmas are all in one notepad). I just make lists. It's who I am I guess.

So here goes!

From boss 1: a Megaplex gift card
From boss 2: a Starbucks gift card
From Pam, a coworker: black gloves and a story
From Jeff, a coworker: a Bath & Body Works gift card
From Greg, a coworker: a family card
From Claire, my tenant: a red velvet Nothing Bundt Cakes bundtlet

From Brittney F: a cute necklace, Swig gift card, and stove top potpourri
From Allyn: a homemade cookie mix and recipe in a Mason jar
From Jon & Kjarinda: mini coconut banana bread loaf
From Raytch: a cake pop maker and all the necessary utensils (measuring cups, etc.), Ritter macaroon bar, and clotted cream and jam!
From Patrick: Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool on Blu-Ray, Abbey Road on vinyl, See's nuts & chews box, valance clips (couldn't find the right ones anywhere), bamboo cutting boards, glowing arm bands for running, extra wide headbands for workouts

From grandpa Gabe: card and money
From grandpa Mike: card and money
From grandma Carrie: card and Cinemark gift card
From Carmen: a card
From parents: money, lava lamp Bluetooth speaker, candy, nail polishes, a magnification pocket mirror, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, pumpkin candle, naughty/nice list pads, In-N-Out gift card
From Jared: a Harry Potter sweater. It is amazing. A. Mazing.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

My 2016 Christmas Letter

My mom used to do annual updates on our family—things we did, new and exciting things on the horizon, talents we had developed, that kind of thing. If I wrote a Christmas letter (if people actually wanted to read that much about me), this is what I’d say.

While a lot of people have said 2016 was rough, I feel it’s all in how you look at it. I also tend to go day by day, or even on a weekly scale. I find that once in a while, like maybe four times a year, I’ll say, “It’s been a rough week,” or “this week has been a doozy.” Some years there’s been enough bad, especially toward the end, where it does sort of taint the feeling of the year.

But this was not that year. This was a good year. It was mostly because I decided to make it that way.

This year was my first full year in my condo, and I didn’t have anything major break or need repair. It's been an adventure with five different tenants in a year and four months. 

This year I read lots of personal development books and have dabbled off and on in running health challenge groups via Facebook. I loved providing support in helping people achieve their goals. I accomplished my own goal in running my third half marathon in May. 

This year in January, I started an online course to become a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. 

This year in May, I bought a plane ticket to England. I skipped down the hall at school and told everyone. 

This year on May 28, I became a certified personal trainer. I didn’t think I’d make it; I stink at anatomy, and the test was hard. But good things happen to those who work for it.

This year in June, I started working as a personal trainer at the gym I’ve gone to for the past 6.5 years. It was a cool experience, but short lived. I voluntarily resigned in December because I couldn’t meet sales expectations. Still, I got some good experience and gained the courage to train people on my own in the future.

This year on July 1, I started a new position as executive secretary for a local durable medical equipment company called Alpine Home Medical. I work for great men and with great people. I feel blessed. The schedule has been a big adjustment for me. I still get up at 6am, but it’s to work out instead of to go to work. Getting done at 5pm leaves you with a lot less time to do what you need and love to do. 

This year in September, I went skydiving with my uncle (who’s 9 months older than me). It wasn’t what I expected, and I don’t know if I’d do it again. Mind you, that is mostly due to discomfort and not due to fear. I wasn’t afraid.

This year in November, I spent 10 awesome days in the U.K.—seven in England, 2 in Scotland, 1 in Dublin. I was able to bring my best friend along as my tour guide. It was beautiful and amazing and all the things a first foreign trip should be. 

This year in December, I learned how to wash my hair less (and embrace the dirtiness). I stayed in Utah instead of going home for Christmas. My parents came up to Utah. I took my dad to the Utah Symphony for the live performance of the Harry Potter music, accompanying the first film. It was beautiful. 

This year, I learned a lot about what I’m capable of. This year, I re-learned that I can be happy. I can do the things that I enjoy, and I can accomplish the goals that I set. I can live fearlessly. I’ve learned the importance of self-love. My faith has been tested, but I think I’m back on the right track and am learning to trust my Creator to lead the way.

This year, I changed. I grew. And that’s really all it takes to make it a good year.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

To Those I Left Behind

A lot of people ask me if I miss teaching.

I don’t think much about it right when they ask. My answer comes almost instantly and without restraint: no.

I don’t miss being told all the ways I’m failing. I don’t miss not being told thank you. I don’t miss lesson planning on Sundays and being told my class was boring. I don’t miss making seating charts. I don’t miss grading essays. I don’t miss the excuses from parents. I don’t miss lies from students. I don’t miss the teacher “trainings.” I don’t miss the early mornings. I don’t miss testing. I don’t miss bad attitudes. I don’t miss teenage drama. I don’t miss seeing teens making out, and I don’t miss hearing them swear. I don’t miss the bells or the drills. I don’t miss trying to convince them that reading and writing are important in “real life” but also in their personal lives. I don’t miss the noise. I don’t miss the rude and disrespectful ones.

Here are some things I do miss, though: Vacations. Seeing a student work really hard. Hearing a student tell me that s/he didn’t used to like English, but now they love it. Hearing the occasional ‘thank you’ or ‘this is my favorite class!’ Laughing at the many ridiculous things students would do or say, sometimes not until after they left class. Reading the occasional intelligent thought. Watching them perform at talent shows. Asking kids hard life questions and making them really uncomfortable. Pushing kids to think. Having kids laugh at my nerdy jokes. Making them laugh during Faculty Follies. Getting some sweet and thoughtful cards and gifts. Showing kids that their lives really aren’t that hard (read: Holocaust). Witnessing them realize that some books are good. Trying to show them that they’ll just have to work harder at some things, but they’ll get there.

One of the biggest things I miss, though? The community.

I had dessert with some teacher friends last night. I miss the feeling that these people knew exactly what I dealt with every single day. Teaching was hard. But at least everyone around me felt the same way. There was an unmatched support system between teachers. A knowing nod. A sympathetic glance. A supportive sounding board. Equal frustration. Just that comforting feeling that you were not alone in the battle of every class period, every day, every week for 40 weeks. We linked arms and marched forward in strength to the battlefield of the classroom, picking each other up when we fell. And that is one of the greatest parts of teaching that they don’t tell you when you go to school.

That’s the part that they don’t tell you you’ll miss when you leave: the friends you won’t find anywhere else.

My heart is with those of you in the field that I so readily abandoned. You are doing a great work. Just know you’ve got someone in the stands cheering you on.