I’ve been journaling off-and-on since I was about 11 years old, so that would be about 35 years. Many of my journals have been lost or destroyed. But in all that time, I don’t believe I’ve ever written a journal entry anywhere about my reflections on the previous year.
This past year brought many changes, as years are apt to do.
In 2011 we discovered that my dad has stage 4 lung cancer (notice I stated “has” implying that he still has it and is still alive). There was a strong belief that he would not see 2013. 2012 was full of very emotional moments with recollections, apologies, long unspoken things revealed, and advice given. The thought of his passing has given me reason to think of my own mortality, my own accomplishments, and more importantly, my own failures. Thinking of my dad passing away reminds me that I’ve been blessed in that I’ve not experienced much death of close loved ones in the recent pass.
I also started my third year of teaching. The third year of teaching is a milestone for many teachers. If I’m not mistaken the third year is when many teachers decide to quit and move on to something else. And indeed, I’ve considered it. I’ve thought of finding a job working with the military. I’ve spent five or six years away from it and was glad I did. I did not miss it, but as time goes on, I realize that I do miss the camaraderie of the military and serving them in some small way. Working in an alternative school is not easy. It’s emotionally difficult and it’s academically difficult. But the blessings are enormous. You see kids who have been told they’re bad their whole life to see that they can make choices and decide for themselves what to do and what they will become.
There are many other small things that happened in 2013 that have had an effect on who I am today and what I am becoming. These daily events and thoughts are too numerous to mention and would take a book to fill and I’ve already spent too long reminiscing on 2013.
The last thing I want to mention though is my daily Thought for the Day. I had done a daily thought for the day since I started teaching. At first I found a new thought almost every day and then reused them the next semester. As time went on my collection grew. But I started seeing that some of the quotes weren’t accurate or were misquoted. I tried to verify the quote to the best of my ability. Finally, this past summer I decided to be done with it and find 365 (+1 for leap day) quotes that were fully verified and cited. This would eliminate my need to find a new one every day or change the dates. This way I can use the same group year in and year out. This took me about three to four weeks. During that time I realized that it might be nice to post them on the internet and so I started to include more information – Facebook pages, keywords, notes, etc. Then I realized that if I did it for one year, I may want to do this every year. So my effort to be proactive for my classroom actually increased my overall workload. But at least I’d contribute to the effort of getting rid of false internet quote memes, which annoy me to no end, and maybe help other teachers and simply help educate the general populace at large. Isn’t that a teacher’s job after all? What I did not expect and should of, is that these quotes effected me most of all. In researching them and reading line after line, paragraph after paragraph, chapter after chapter of text in an effort to find applicable quotes I started changing. In the almost six months I’ve been posting quotes I’ve discovered that I’m the one most changed. I’ve realized that one can be miserable or happy, that the choice is yours and the amount of effort is about the same.
Winston Churchill was absolutely correct when he said, “It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations…The quotations when engraved upon the memory give you good thoughts. They also make you anxious to read the authors and look for more.” (Churchill, Winston. My Early Life, 1874-1904. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996.). Which is why this was my first quote that I posted on July 18th, 2012.
Finally, when 2012 started I looked upon it with great trepidation. The entire year I felt as if I had my heels dug into the dirt but was being pushed toward a cliff and there was no way to stop it. Now 2012 is in the past and while things weren’t perfect the world didn’t end and my dad didn’t pass away. 2013 is here and while my dad’s prognosis hasn’t really improved, my outlook on the future has improved. I have a wonderful job with great rewards. I have four fabulous kids who are unique and have blessed me and changed me through the years. And finally, I have a wonderful wife who has stuck with me through thick and thin for almost 19 years. God has richly blessed me and has shown me these blessings over the last six months. I am grateful to Him for those blessings. This next year I hope to see many positive changes to show Him that gratitude and to show those around me the love I have for them.
May your year be blessed, rich, and rewarding. May you recognize that you are the author of how you react to your surroundings and to those things that happen to you. They do not define who you are. Your reactions to them define who you are.
Happy New Year everyone.