Then again, sometimes writing through the bad is a good way to unburden...and going back to read about the shadows when you are finally standing in the light provides a very real sense of joy and satisfaction.
I became free of a lot of things in 2014: an unhappy marriage, some toxic friendships, some strongly held (but incorrect) beliefs about myself, a few bad habits and a few unproductive committments. Is my life perfect? Am I dancing on rainbows? Not exactly...but I am unburdened in a way that I have never been before, even though in theory I should be struggling under the weight of some of the bigger changes I'm facing.
Last year I got busy picking up all the loose ends in my life so I could try to weave them back into something strong and durable. Going back to finish my grad school work to become a certified teacher was my first step. It had been 5 years since I'd dropped out of classes so I was scared it would be hard to go back, but I HAD to do it for myself and for my kids, so I took the leap and got very lucky. A few good connections and the blessing of a wonderful advisor dropped me right back into the program much more quickly that I'd even anticipated. One day I was tentatively sending emails about finishing my coursework, and 4 days later I was student teaching (right at the end of the school year, no less!).
I was placed in one of our local Catholic schools and from there, my blessings multiplied. My supervising teacher was kind and funny and supportive. My advisor placed herself at my back to push and encourage and support and facilitate my goals. Being in a classroom invigorated me all over again. The people I worked with were lovely. And the kids? Oh how I missed having students! Before the year was over I had an offer for part-time employment in the fall that my advisor said I could count towards my final student teaching credits (a HUGE break for me!) In between all of this I was still doing coursework while simultaneously trying to recreate a new life as a single parent (again) and find firm footing in a life that was turbulent and uncertain and stressful.
So here I am, halfway through the school year, loving life way more than I should if you looked at my life on paper. I'm not going to lie- it's been hard - and it is still hard at times. We're not yet divorced, but I think Rob and I have mellowed into a place of mutual respect and understanding. All of the kids have weathered all these new changes and challenges with varying degrees of ennui and resentment and disappointment. In between, they have all been growing and changing and maturing and developing - all things which bring with them their own difficulties. Hayden is a driver (!) He is talking about college (!!) Larissa is a full-day kindergartener and every minute leaving her "baby Riss" status in the dust. Eliza will be a teen in a few short weeks. Weston will be getting his learner's permit. Kellan is the master of all things Pokemon. Working and parenting and trying to find myself in the midst of al this chaos has been hard. It is still hard. I learned quickly that I had to be okay with things not being exactly the way they used to be or precisely the way I wanted them to be. I had to give up on some of my expectation and lower my standards in a few places. THAT IS HARD. I am a perfectionist. I struggle with change. I like to have control over things. THAT IS AN IMPOSSIBLE WAY TO LIVE. It took some tears and some struggles and a LOT of prayer, but I think I'm finally wearing the mantle of my new life less like an ill-fitting, itchy sweater and more like a t-shirt that just needs a few more washes to feel broken-in.
And that is why my word for 2015 is:
There are so many interpretations for the word ENOUGH which is what makes it so perfect for the place I'm at right now. This year.
The STUFF "enough" is the worst. I will never make enough money on my own to raise 5 kids. I could, but at the expense of my time with them...time that I know is fleeting and finite. I wish I could afford fancy clothes and great vacations and even simple pleasures like a manicure every now and again. College looms. The kids' activities are expensive. Just plain living costs an arm and a leg. I'm sure at some point we'll have to move and I wonder what kind of home I'll be able to afford. I have to time my own haircuts to ensure that they occur after I have covered all of our "necessary" expenses. I envy my friends with "new" everything, and fun vacations, and nice clothes and pretty hands. I wish I could replace our dingy carpets. I would love to have a nice, new, not 16-years-old mattress. I would love to buy clothes from a real store - not TJ Maxx or Goodwill or Kohl's with a coupon. Very quickly that envy destroys me, so I have to remind myself that everything we have right now is totally enough: a roof over our heads, money to get us what we need, our health, each other. When I focus on being grateful for what we have, It is indeed, enough. The blessings will come. I have faith.
This has already been a tough year and it's only just started which is why I have to keep the mantra of "enough" in my head. Eyes on the prize, look straight ahead, don't doubt, don't judge, don't panic, don't fear, don't despair.
JKL as Matthew McConaughey would say...
I am going to start writing more. Maybe not every day, and maybe not a whole lot, but I'm going to try. And that, my friends, is ENOUGH.