It’s that time of year again where I indulge my self-absorbed side and review the year that has just passed, and I drag you along for the ride. As I was reflecting on what I would write about, I was pleased to realize that 2017 was a pretty good year. Not too many negative things happened, so this post should be a pleasure to write! So here are 10 things that are meaningful to me from this past year, in no particular order, except I’m gonna get the yucky things done first!
1.) Jim got hit by a car. While this is something we can all kind of joke about now, when it happened, it was not so funny. It was actually quite fortunate that the driver was not going too fast so Jim was not seriously hurt. But that does not mean that moving on past this has been a piece of cake. This happened in August, and Jim needed shoulder surgery and he is still in physical therapy from the surgery. The medical bills are impressive, I must say. And like I said, he wasn’t really hurt too seriously. I can only imagine what the bills would be had he been hurt badly. As a result of the accident and the resulting surgery, Jim was unable to run the Chicago Half Marathon, for which he had completed 9 out of 12 weeks of training. I guess this just gives him something to aim for next year, right?
2.) Family friends experience a trauma and devastating loss. My oldest and very dear friend, Jennifer, called me on a beautiful spring morning to tell me that her eldest daughter had been seriously burned in a fire at her apartment and her grandson, a mere toddler, had died in the fire. It was news that sent my dear friends reeling and me feeling at a loss as to how to help. When the agony is palpable, transmits itself in the air between you and the person you are friends with, you desperately want to help and ease that pain, but you feel helpless because it’s so hard to do, if it even can be done. It pains me to see my friends, who are really more like family, go through this kind of hell, but I will continue to try to be supportive of them because, like I said, Jennifer and her family are really my family, too.
3.) Donald Trump elected President. Sorry to all my friends and family who supported Trump because you really thought he was the best/a good candidate — I’m gonna say some not-so-nice things about him. That being said, I will temper what I say because he IS the President-elect and I have great respect for the office and job, if not always the person holding that office. This Presidential election was the most gut-wrenching I have ever experienced. I have never seen our society so bitterly and viciously divided, and if I’m being honest, I have felt and experienced that divisiveness on a personal level with some family and friends. I have found myself feeling hostile and being hostile toward people I care deeply about — all because of politics. I think Trump is a poor choice to lead our country because he lacks character, in the simplest terms, and so many people in society find horrible behavior from themselves and others to be acceptable because of the example and tone that has been set by Trump’s election. I thought the vitriol would diminish after the election, but I’m wrong about that. It’s still as bad as ever, and I pretty much keep my opinions to myself because I don’t want to deal with the hateful, mean things said to me if I share my opinion anyway. It’s really quite sad.
4.) I turned 50. Actually, this wasn’t as bad as anticipated. I got way less grief this birthday that I did when I turned 40. But there’s something about that number that sounds so old. I don’t feel old. Other people I know who are 50 or in their 50’s don’t seem old to me. But I still have a hard time processing that number in my brain.
5.) Dad comes home from India. After working in Mumbai, India, for almost 5 years, my father has finally returned home to the United States. Part of me is a little sad about this. It was cool to hear the stories my father shared of life in Mumbai. I felt sad for the people who live there that had become staples in my father’s life, that the relationships they all had were changing so drastically — not ending, but becoming truly long distance friendships. But a big part of me rejoices that he is here, where I can call him without having to do a bunch of math in my head to calculate the time difference, where he’s not living alone, where either of us could jump on a plane and get to the other if the need arises (like his cardiac arrest last year).When it’s all said and done, he’s back in the States where he belongs, and I am very glad for that.6.) Becky graduates from college. In May, my beautiful, smart, kind, caring daughter graduated from college. It was a momentous occasion — one I dreamed about from the time she was a baby. I have never been more proud to be her mom as I was that day. She overcame a lot of obstacles and fears and insecurities to get to that day. Her graduation was so impactful, I wrote about it. 7.) My job got exponentially fun. I transitioned back to being the full time Instructional Technology Resource Teacher this school year, and I hate to break this news to all the teachers I work with — but I have THE BEST JOB in the whole school district! Things really started to turn when our new superintendent came on board last school year — he had a really inspiring vision for our district that really gelled with what I had been dreaming about as a dream workplace. This year we hired a Director of 21st Century Learning who is so inspiring professionally. I have learned so much from him in such a short amount of time. We have made so many changes in our district over the past year and a half, and the teachers I work with are simply amazing. They roll with the changes so well — and they could be really crabby about the changes and be totally justified, but they’re not! They are adventurous and taking risks and creative and innovative. They are the reason I have the best job in the district — I get the honor of working with them on so many fabulous lessons, they let me come into their classrooms and teach their kids, and they make me have fun while I work. I am so incredibly fortunate to be a person who loves going to work every day.
8.) A changing relationship with my brother. My brother Joe and I have always gotten along, but if I’m being honest, we haven’t been terribly close. I always wanted a brother who was a friend, but I had no idea how to do that. I was envious of other brother-sister relationships I would see, like my cousins Robyn and Peter or my friends Jenny and Jeff. But somehow, this year, I have felt a shift in our relationship. It’s like suddenly we realize we like each other and we have things in common that can bind us as friends. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and I really am enjoying being friends with my brother.
9.) Robyn: cousin and co-worker. My cousin Robyn got a job working as a building-level technology specialist at one of the schools in my district. I love that we get to see each other and talk to each other more often and that she gets to be part of my work world, which I love (see #7 above). It gives us a whole new set of things that we have in common! It is such fun being able to work with her!
10.) Chicago Cubs win the World Series. For as long as I’ve known my husband, he has wanted me to like baseball and hockey. I finally got caught up in hockey probably 4 or 5 years ago, but baseball has always been a yawner of a sport for me. Until this year. I got caught up in the fun and excitement of the wild ride that was the 2016 Chicago Cubs. It kicked in near the end of the regular season, crescendoed during the playoffs, and bubbled over during the World Series. Yes, I am a bandwagon fan, and I’m not ashamed to admit it (as a quick side note: the established Cubs fans were much more welcoming to the band wagoners like me than the established Blackhawks fans were to the people who jumped on that bandwagon — thanks, Cubs fans, for accepting me so readily into the fold). So now I’m learning to like baseball, and my husband is not happy about it. The problem is he always said he wanted me to like baseball; he never said he wanted me to like his baseball team, which is the Chicago White Sox. Be careful what you wish for, Jim, because you just might get it. #GoCubsGo