Friday, January 1, 2016

The Ride that was 2015 and Forecasting 2016

I have loved reflecting on the past year ever since I was a kid. It feels like since becoming a mom and starting a business that it has been more difficult to look at my own personal growth and development because in the big picture so much is about the ones we care about. Right, mamas? Well, one of the premises of me starting this blog was to take back my identity as a person and I'm committed to continuing that. My husband will tell you that the person I am today is completely different from the person he married. We all change, hopefully for the better! If we're not growing, we're not living.

At the beginning of 2015 I was working part time as a teacher at a charter school and loved it! That school faced a legal battle and was subsequently closed. However, I think that job that serendipitously found me in 2014 affirmed my conviction that I am meant to teach. While it was frustrating to not begin the new school year with a new job I continued to be deliberate in my intentions to the Universe. There were only about 5 or 6 schools I had researched that would really be a match for what I offer. Through networking and amazing friends who wholeheartedly believe in what I do I have found myself fortunate to be at another amazing school and begin right after winter break! The power of our thoughts is pretty amazing. Innovations Academy was the school I was most drawn to when I first sought out to seek another ASL teaching position. The philosophy that the school is founded on is aligned with what I believe is key to successful learning and growth. Of course none of the other charter schools had this position - it was a matter of putting the possibility out there and creating a position specifically to use my skill and talent. This is proof to me that what I want can manifest itself in 2016 and beyond. Hooray for a new job!

Just as I've been setting the intention of wanting to be back in the classroom the Universe aka my network has been presenting opportunities in the last couple of weeks for my Sign4Baby classes. Funny how that works. I really didn't market my classes over the past year and a half because I was teaching and then summer and being home with the kids and then blogging and then being out of the routine of marketing.... so it was really like starting over to get the word out on my private classes again. Again, this is such a passion for me that I accepted that despite my practically non existent marketing my classes would be found by the right type of new moms.... and I have continued to meet moms who find me organically - which is really amazing. With the conversations I've had over the past month I may be adding as many as 3 new class locations in 2016 which would be a great balance to the new part time teaching position.  I'm so eager to be touching the lives of new moms and their babies in the coming year.

While away at a conference I colored my hair red. It was something I'd been thinking about doing for over a year and had the box sitting in my bathroom but didn't feel compelled to make the change. I learned my hair doesn't hold color as well as I'd like and it fades, quickly. Even a professional coloring I did a couple weeks later faded too quickly. I'm not sure what I'll do about my hair just yet. I'm in limbo on whether I want to dedicate the time to the constant visit to the stylist. And I'm a bit concerned about the harsh chemicals drying out my scalp. It made me wonder what I was after with the color change.... I just wanted something different in part. But, I also wanted to draw attention away from the other outward appearances I've been struggling with. Namely my weight. I remember that when I was think I had zero desire to change my hair color. Totally happy with how I looked. Well, what I have come to realize is I've got to pee or get off the potty. Either be accepting and happy with how I look or do something to change it. Both are fine choices and I'm happy for anyone who has the ability to love the body they're in.... but I haven't been able to. So for me, the choice is to change it. As luck would have it our neighbor was looking to give away their eliptical and we picked it up yesterday! Actions speak louder than words so if you're friends with me on facebook get ready for some posts on my progress towards the healthy me. Your likes and comments will be signs of encouragement. It is not lost on me that this realization comes right before my 20th high school reunion.

Earlier this year I planned on becoming a surrogate. I applied with an agency. The agency and I did not see eye to eye on how the communication was supposed to work and I decided this was a signal that it was not the right time to pursue surrogacy. But I still think this is on the horizon for me. Perhaps right after my high school reunion? Even before I had kids I thought this was something I would do for another couple. There was a fear I had that I wouldn't have an easy time conceiving myself since I had been on birth control for so long. Well, that turned out to be a completely unfounded fear as I have yet to meet someone else as fertile. I have this deep seated feeling that I am to connect with another hopeful mama to help her fulfill that strong desire to nurture and raise a child. Being that the clock is ticking on my age I know that it has to be sooner, not later. I'm also of the mindset that it is probably through someone I know that I will be connected to the right couple.  Just another reason why I'm focused on my health in the coming year.

2015 was the year I gave up coffee. But that was for a little over 6 months. The road trip to the Grand Canyon and the cold weather of late has me sipping warm beverages every other day. I don't have the same craving for it that I once did so that's an improvement. It was twice a day I was filling the sugar/caffeine void. Giving it up didn't affect my waistline so that was discouraging, but now I'm ready to let the sweet holiday indulgence be behind me. I'm still debating if I could tolerate a sugar detox. I keep reading about it. My mom has type 2 diabetes and my aunt recently shared with me that she has it too. That might be the thing that pushes me over the edge! If you've recently given up sugar and have kids, I'd love to know how you did it. I think if I were making meals just for me it would be less of a challenge because I could simply not have any of the processed foods in the house that have the extra sugar. We've been changing our eating habits slowly over the last 5 years - but to get the whole family to do a sugar detox is a bigger challenge than I can face right now. One of the other things holding me back is the cost of a very specific diet. Cost being both time and money. I've already got 2 things in the works for next year to help and will be sharing the success and pitfalls so stay tuned.

A few years ago date nights became a top priority for us and this year we fell way behind! I'm thinking we maybe had 5 or 6 this year. We don't have babies anymore so that number should be much higher! I can see how it affects our relationship when we don't take time to go out and enjoy ourselves as adults. We are not immune to the struggles of any marriage. When you don't make the time to enjoy life together as a unit it makes the daily burdens of life bigger.... totally a fail this year and I own it. We don't even have an excuse to speak of. We haven't been completely broke the whole year. We have at least 3 baby sitters to call on. We even have friends that we could do date night swaps with but we just fail to plan! UGH. Along with health, dating my husband is a top priority in 2016.

In addition to alone time with my husband that was lacking, so was alone time with each of the kids. They are totally at an age where we need to carve out more individual attention. As much as they have going on with sports it just becomes difficult at times. Again, though, a total lack of planning! There's plenty that we can do that doesn't cost a bunch. We'll spend some time brainstorming ideas tomorrow to set the stage for the new year - I'm sure they will love creating their intentions for a year of dates with either mom or dad. Each of our kids has amazing qualities that I love and I struggle with those feelings of guilt like any mother in not creating moments to let those qualities shine through. Despite my intention at the beginning of this post to honor the reclaiming of my personal identity, let's face it, the relationship I have with each of my kids is a big piece of my identity and these years are fleeting.... FAST! More fun in the coming year through GEMs = Genuine Encounter Moments. Something I learned from Redirecting Children's Behavior. I'll be totally honest, part of this is my selfish attempt at self improvement and cut down on yelling at my kids. Secretly I always think I'm screwing up and not being the parent I set out to be. It's way fucking harder than I thought and no matter how many times I try to be forgiving of myself I waiver on the border of does that mean I'm giving myself a pass to not be the kindest most gentle parent I could be? It sucks feeling like this and the problem isn't my kids. It's me. Whew. Writing that kinda hurts. But now it is written in black and white and I can own it. I have said out loud more than once that I was practically the perfect mom up until they hit age 3. No, maybe age 2. Maybe age 1? Never mind, I was never the perfect parent! Surrendering the idea of perfect mom halo that is still hanging over me from a conversation I had in my college days and all my judgement against my own mother will need to be things I reconcile to manifest the thing I truly desire.

Gratitude is a muscle. In our house it is clearly a muscle that needs some work. We almost threw Christmas down the toilet because of some incessant whining about plenty of things, but namely the new/used van we got just before Christmas.  Our 2006 Nissan Quest's transmission wasn't shifting into 3rd gear and it couldn't have come at a worse time, less than 2 weeks before Christmas! Managing how to save Christmas and replace our car (which was economically a better choice than replacing the transmission) was tricky. There was the potential to surrender the big Christmas gift we had intended to do and it would break my heart. Because Cory's parents are awesome we didn't have to forfeit the big gift. The kids didn't know any of this yet. The 2nd day we had the new car there was one of those family moments that you want to erase from your kids' memories. It started with the kids complaining about leg room in the car, about the seat not being comfortable because it reclined back too far.... just nitpicking in general. The boys had been with us at Carmax and seen some of the other car options that were a few thousand dollars more meaning a bigger monthly payment. My husband and I had already agreed to choose something within our means regardless of what we were approved for so it would not be a stretch to make the payment. Just taking on a new car payment is a stretch when we haven't had one for so many years! So the exposure to higher end vehicles with all the bells and whistles was probably a bad idea.  Looking back at the ugly mess that was that night with the threat of becoming a one car family (no idea how we would pull that off BTW) and returning all the Christmas presents - I think will be a mix of both yuck and remorse and even enlightenment. I've still been hearing the kids complain about they don't have. I simply remind them of that ugly night and they instantly recall what was almost lost. It's hard to show kids how fortunate they are when they have friends who have things they want. Heck, I have friends who have kitchens I am envious of and more.... so I get it. We will be looking for ways to get the kids doing things in the community that can help flex that muscle of gratitude and giving. I will be carefully cultivating this intention with them so it comes from their heart and is something they can stick with and be joyful about instead of it turning into a chore. If you've been down this road and have suggestions I am open to hearing them!

Helping moms navigate the new motherhood journey has always been part of my Sign4Baby programs. But in the past few months I've been able to go one step beyond that by becoming a MomCo Ambassador. My friend Jillian had a vision to create an app to help moms connect, share great resources, share their must haves, seek advice and find amazing giveaways PLUS fun events. It is something we will be continuing to grow in 2016 and I'm grateful for being one of the moms that helps put together the play dates and other surprises coming! Every mom needs a few nearby friends she can rely on and getting women out in their community to form those friendships is rewarding. I was lucky to live in a neighborhood where there were lots of new moms and we easily found one another by virtue of living in a condo community and forming a playgroup. When I moved I never quite got the feeling that I belonged to any circle of moms in my community and being that my kids were in school it was a little more difficult for me to connect. Shopping for mom friends shouldn't be so hard. Every year when it's my birthday I think about what I want to do and who I'd invite - but I feel like I haven't invested enough time in my friendships since moving 5 years ago to even know who my core friends would be. It makes me kinda sad.  I don't know exactly how it is that I let the ball drop on prioritizing time with friends but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that I'm more of an introvert and most of what I do professionally forces me to be an extrovert.... it just means something had to give. Well, I'm not going to have a pity party. I'm just getting committed to having time to connecting with women in my life. My husband has a weekly lunch date with his friends and I think to myself "why don't I do that?" And I so miss having Mom's Night Out! So, to remedy this I am soliciting my friends to have lunch with me. Or grab a drink. Or walk. Or get our nails done. Communicating with people online is no longer enough. Seeing people in passing at events no longer suffices.

Family experiences. Generally speaking we have felt either strapped for cash or strapped for time when it comes to family trips. After going to visit my husband's grandma in Arizona for Thanksgiving we are realizing we need more of these mini family adventures, getting away, exploring nature, making memories. It won't be easy to pull off but anything worth doing is usually not easy, right? We've already decided another trip to the Grand Canyon is in order, but this time in the spring. I see Big Bear on the horizon. We're going to figure out what other national parks are within driving distance that we can make into 1 to 3 day trips. You gotta start small and go from there, right?

The best laid plans are those that are committed to a calendar. So I'll be spending the better part of this first week calendaring the year I want. 2016 is the year I take the reigns. How about you?