Thursday, August 28, 2008

New Year, New Me?!

I'm beginning my 4th year of teaching this week and I must admit that it kind of tripped me out at first. I remember being the "baby" of the faculty...just kind of floating along and letting people take care of things for me. Coincidentally much like the same way I lived my life when I was younger and the "baby" of the family. In my first full year at the school I teach at, I was the bubbly, outgoing and eager young teacher - always up for a happy hour and trying to make everyone like me. To a certain extent, I still felt that same "youngness" last year even though it was my 3rd year teaching.

But something in the past year has switched. I've've evolved. Feel free to disagree, but I feel that I have gained a level of maturity about what is important in my life and where my priorities lie. My circle of friends at work has grown smaller, but closer. The number of evenings and nights out has diminished greatly, but yet the contentment and satisfaction in my life has flourished.

I look back on the girl who started teaching 3 years ago and I imagine her as a little girl dressed up in her mother's clothes. I was trying so desperately to figure out my place in the grownup world, but I ended up realizing that you can't "find" your place in the world - you have to create the person you want to be. I feel like I honestly had an awakening in the past year as to what is truly important...
- the fact that a person brought you your favorite meal from Taco Bueno because you sprained your ankle.
- giving kids the benefit of the doubt and showing compassion and concern.
- spending time with the family...thanks to my appendix I remembered how good it feels to just be in my parent's presence (and home cooking!).
- friends that know if you don't talk for awhile it's nothing personal...everybody's life is getting busier but that doesn't mean they don't come running when you need them.
- being myself.

I feel as if I've started another year at the school, but people expect me to be the same crazy girl that I used to be.

Case in point: it was my appendix - NOT a hangover!!! :)

To a certain extent, I'm embarrased of the person that I used to be - because she was completely out of control and incredibly immature. Not to say that I'm not still immature. I can't help but giggle everytime someone says the word "balls," which is unfortunate since I do coach volleyball...

Regardless, there has been a major shift in my outlook, my persona, my interactions with people, my level of commitment, and my priorities.

Wow, you must be thinking. Where did all this come from?

Let me tell you - he's a pretty inspiring person. He has inspired me to completely be myself and cherish who I am. He has challenged me to approach life's sticky and uncomfortable situations with maturity, dignity and grace...yet allowed me a safe place to be completely silly. I haven't CHANGED who I am or what I believe in by any means. I think he's just encouraged me to be my "adult" self.

Of course, there have been other contributors - I couldn't have done it without three very important co-workers. Women who have not too long ago been in my position. All three who have come from entirely different backgrounds, lifestyles and mindsets...yet are all incredibly successful and supportive of my personal growth. I have really looked to them as to how to not only handle the professional world, but find balance and contentment in my personal life as well. I hope that they have seen a growth in me...and I hope they know how grateful I am that they took the time to help me along the way.

It's almost as if I have women in my life showing me along the way of who I am at the present time, ten years down the road or so, and then the ultimate impact I want to leave on the world.

In the present, my personal friends - the ones with whom I shop, eat, drink and lean on. They cultivate the persona that I am right now...and as we get older, we will all mature at more or less the same rate. They almost serve as a mirror as to my position in life - the fears, frustrations, challenges and triumphs of being in your mid twenties. We experience everything together and find our way through this grown up world by leaning on each other.

Then there are my co-workers, most of whom are approximately 5 to 10 years older than me. Generally married and some starting families. They show me my nearest goals - what I want to be in ten years. Married, successful, confident, compassionate, fun....and content with who they are and their place in this world.

And then we come to my mother and grandma. Two women that have had several lifetimes of experience and learning. They embrace life and all it's challenges, quirkiness, irony, gloriousness and beauty. There is no experience that they do not learn and grow from...nor is there one that they haven't endured with grace, dignity and a wry sense of humor. I want to eventually be their age and look back at my life with a triumphant and satisfied smile at the life I have lead. conclusion...I have a lot of people to be grateful to in my life. More people than could actually fit in this blog at this point in time (I do have to get up early tomorrow!). I can't forget my patient and hard working father, nor my playful and protective big brothers. But those shout outs must come at a later time. I have the youth of America to raise at a VERY early time in the morning.

Love and Nutra System

I am a good girlfriend. I am a good girlfriend. I am a good girlfriend.

Just keep telling myself I shove down another piece of salad, when what I really want is a big fat Taco Bueno burrito drenched in cheese and salsa.

The BF has started subscribing and eating the Nutra System diet plan this week. Coincidentally it is also the first week of school...therefore moderately stressful and a bit chaotic. The perfect emotional recipe for lots of dinners out, lunches from Chick Fil A, as well as beer and wings while watching the Cowboys play tonight.

But no. He decided that the first week of the new school year was the best time to turn over a new leaf and start leading a healthier lifestyle. Don't get me wrong - I am totally supporting him becoming healthier and therefore happier with himself.

But he's HUNGRY. And that makes him CRANKY.

Wish us luck while this whole lifestyle sets in...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My List

I turned 25 last week and while filling out a survey on myspace, I realized something...I'm going to be 30 in five years. Not that I'm afraid of turning 30 - but I see it as a sort of milestone and a slight turning point in my life.

So...on a recent flight home from my birthday celebration in Las Vegas, I began thinking about my place in life (very content with it currently) and where I want to be in five years. So, I began making a list of things that I wanted to do before I turn thirty and just kept going.

Here it is...

Before I turn 30, I will...
- pay off my car and NOT immediately buy a new one!
- buy a house. I'm tired of renting!
- go back to Italy with just my mom and take it more leisurely.
- find a church where I can find faith and attend regularly.
- get a really awesome dog.
- buy and keep plants alive.
- take a cooking class and learn more than just pasta.
- learn to speak Italian.
- participate and volunteer in a non profit organization.
- make a list of places to go and start checking them off!

Before I die, I will...
- go on a really long mission trip to a third world country.
- write a book of my life and experiences for my children like my Grandma did.
- have a daughter and name her Elizabeth and raise her in my Grandma and mother's images.
- marry my best friend.
- make sure I've left the world a little better than it was when I entered.
- Go to the Olympics.

Monday, August 4, 2008

My summer vacation is coming to an end in the next couple of weeks and it has not gone exactly as planned, but I have grown up just a little bit more and learned more about myself and the life I want to lead.

I felt betrayal, but learned unconditional forgiveness.
I felt like throwing a fit, but learned to speak so that things got sorted out.
I felt excrutiating nausea and pain in my abdomen, but learned it's not ALWAYS a hangover.
(Those appendixes are tricky!!)
I can't stand not knowing, but learned being surprised is half the fun.
I have become my own adult, but remembered how good it feels to be taken care of by my mother.
I feel anxious and have cravings, but I realize for the happiness of my future - it's better to quit.

Awhile back, I blogged about how I wanted contentment. Not eternal happiness, but contentment. It might not last forever, but in this moment - I feel content. I look around my apartment, see my couches, my curtains, my furniture, my pitures, my bedding, my clothes, my mementos, my movies, my books - and I see myself reflected back. And I'm proud of the person that I am. I am proud of the people in those pictures. I'm proud of the relationships I have and even more proud of the unhealthy ones that I have either let go of, or stopped depending on.

The thing about growing up, is that it truly never is over. I remember my Senior year of high school, I reflected on my four years of high school and couldn't believe how far I had come in just 4 years. I did the same at the end of college...and then my first year of teaching...and now I'm just looking back 8 months. Although I know that I started this most recent growth process on my own, I couldn't have done and can't continue doing it without the loving support of that best friend turned boyfriend I talked about awhile back.

Yes...the very same one who royally screwed up at the beginning of the summer. We've moved past that incident - but no, even though it was forgiven, it has not been forgotten. On that note, a little explanation: I couldn't sleep one night because I was so ANGRY with him. I wanted to just love him the way that I used to, but because of his crappy judgment call, I couldn't. So...I prayed. A lot. I prayed to God and I prayed to my Grandma. Not just for everything to be okay, but for a real resolvement of the situation. Tears were shed and it was sometimes hard to breathe. But then I heard this clear voice...and believe me - it wasn't that little voice in my head. It was some other being, presumably my Grandma, and it told me this: I can't love him the way I want to until I truly forgive him. I realized I was going about things the wrong way and therefore in order to release the anger, I had to forgive first. So, against my more logical judgment, I did what the voice inside told me...and it worked. He and I talked. And talked. And talked. I asked questions and he gave answers. The situation is resolved and he knows the expectations that I have for the future. In short...we're back together and actually more connected and stronger as a couple. That's a big lesson for me fo sho.