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The first word everyone says every year. 

Happy.

My eleven-year-old dawned that knowledge on me at 11:26 on New Year’s Eve night.  She’s brilliant, really. 

Every New Year’s Eve when the clock hits midnight, we yell, “Happy New Year!”  We never really know what the year will hold, but still the first word of the year is always “happy.”

I found myself lying in bed on New Year’s Eve night wide awake.  (Thank you to the 8:00 p.m. coffee I drank to make it until midnight.)

I thought about my daughter’s wise words.  I thought about everything that life has thrown at me this past year.  I laid awake for hours just thinking, and do you know what I think?

I think this is my year.  I think it’s OUR year.

I hate making statements like that because it puts so much pressure on expectations, but I mean it.  I don’t care if I have to manifest the crap out of the happiness shit everyday of the year.  I believe it.

I believe that this major life move was the right choice.  I believe that the hard and the struggle and the sadness I’ve faced as we tackled this past year are worth it.  I believe that amazing things are in store for me this year.  I believe that so many wonderful things are just waiting to appear.

Let’s all be honest, since 2020, life has not been the same.  I don’t know about all of you, but it wrecked me.  It ruined so many parts of me, and I didn’t even realize it until we were deep into the craziness that 2020 brought.

I left one of my favorite classes of students that I’ve ever taught for Spring Break and never saw them in my classroom walls again.  I single-handedly packed up all of their belongings in tear soaked Ziplock bags.  I had to leave them on the side of the school building for contactless pickup.

We were secluded and scared and living in an alternate reality.  Then, when life resumed, I was both elated and angry.  I spent almost a year asking students to wear their masks and racking my brain for hours and days on end trying to create seating arrangements and lessons that kept students connected but apart.  How do I let them hang out with their friends (who they missed for almost eight months), but still maintain Covid protocol?  How do I teach them to be team players without allowing them to do anything in teams?  How do I give them a magical classroom experience when all I can think about is whether or not I took their temperatures that morning before attendance?

I watched my daughter’s dance performances in masks and spent the weekends defending my vaccination status to parents.  I worried every time someone coughed, sneezed, or blew their nose.  I prepped emergency plans for teaching a regular classroom through a computer screen in case I got quarantined.  I juggled teaching quarantined students online at the same time that I had twenty students in the classroom.  On top of all that, I worried about my own family.

It was a year that left scars in my heart and on my soul.

Life never really returned.  It was forever altered.

But this year, this year we heal.  This year, we move forward.  So, in that spirit, here is my letter to 2022.  

Dear 2022,

Thank you for the lessons, but it’s time to say farewell.

This past year has been educational in all aspects.  Thank you for teaching me perseverance, perspective, and purpose.  Thank you for lessons in decision making and tough love.  

Thank you for forcing me to grow, reminding me of my purpose, and challenging me to leave behind things that were not meant for me.  

Although I will look back and see many tears, I won’t forget that the reason for those tears were situations so happy that they were hard to leave.  

Thank you for reminding me that while I need to be forced out of my comfort zone every now and again, I never have to be forced to be anything but who I am.

I am not the same person I was a year ago.  I have grown stronger.  I have internalized memories that have both inspired me and broke me.  I have used both to define the parameters of my purpose.

I would be lying if I said I was sad to see you go.  I’m ready for the next chapter.  No, I won’t forget you, but I’ll gladly leave you in the past—not because you treated me poorly, but because I need to leave you behind in order to move on.

To 2023, I say, “Bring. It. On.  I’m ready.”

So, to make this full circle… 

Happy.  It’s what I’m manifesting.  It’s what I’m expecting.  It’s what I’m creating.  Happy.

Signed,

A happy, homeschooling and online graduate teacher who writes, feels, and dreams of the great to come…while being a mom, wife, chauffeur, cheerleader and aspiring optimist.

Be grateful (for new beginnings), water your own grass,

…and drink coffee.  

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