Pause

Lots of people like to choose one word for the new year. The idea is that that one word guides your whole year.

I have never participated because all the words people choose–things like courage, love, hope, inspiration, etc–feel sort of cliche and not very applicable to me. Don’t get me wrong, people have done lovely things by focusing on these words. They are great words! Just not for me.

As usual, I was just going to start 2016 like any Friday without work: cleaning some things and reading some things and napping. While I napped, though, I dreamed about how I tend to have knee-jerk reactions that I don’t necessarily keep to myself. My worst offense is text messages or emails received.  But I am equally bad about yelling at my kids or making snap judgments about others.

I need to practice “wait time”.

I need to let time pass before reacting.

I need to pause.

As a teacher, I know the importance of the pause. In the wait, something is created. In the pause after I ask a question, thoughts are happening. I let one hand raise. I wait. Another couple go up. I wait some more. A few more hands will raise. Then we proceed. But in the pause others were creating opinions, thoughts, guesses.

In my life I don’t stop and wait enough.

When Charlie smacks Eddie for no reason for the eleventy billionth time, I don’t pause. Instead I grab and arm, I yell about being kind (yes, I see that ridiculousness too. Yelling about kindness. Oh, Katie.) I hustle to time out not waiting for any explanation–in fact, I discourage it by adding, “I DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT!”

When I get an email at work (or I suppose from anyone, but really real people rarely email me except for at work…which is a whole other issue. Probably.)  suggesting something I don’t immediately fall in love with, I have a tendency to fire back defensively. I don’t walk away, think it over, let it settle in, and then form a logical, rational response. In fact, my email back is probably too long, includes too many exclamation points, and has an ALL CAPS word or two thrown in for emphasis since the reader can’t see me talking with my hands. It’s no wonder people avoid emailing me.

I know most of these snap reactions are fueled by my anxiety, and I would probably be a lot less stressed out all the time if I could find a way to reel those outbursts in a bit.

That is why I am choosing the word “pause” for 2016.

But not just for the bad stuff!  Yes, I want to pause before I raise my voice at my kids (and hopefully not raise my voice at them), and I want to take time before responding to people on social media or email. But I also want to pause in conversation. I want to pause in work. I want to pause in small moments.

I want to step back from the crazy after-school-routine of emptying backpacks and lunch boxes and sorting homework from returned papers and planners. I want to pause and talk to Eddie about his day while I look at him. In the face. Rather than give him monosyllabic responses while I dump carrot stubs and squishy rejected grapes from his lunchbox, I want to sit down next to him and see his eyes when he tells me about something that made him happy, or watch his face as he tells me about a frustration or disappointment. I want to hug him rather than mutter, “I’m sure you’ll do better tomorrow.”

I want to take a breath when I am feeling overwhelmed. I want to be able to pause and lie down when too much is happening in my head. I don’t want to plow forward just because I feel like a “normal” person would. I want to be quiet and listen to what I need.

The pause has always frightened me a little. I’ve always felt that I needed to fill the silence, react immediately, be more “on the ball”.  I thought that is what was expected of me.

But that is not working for me.

And so I will pause this year.

Out With The Old

Well, well, well 2014. So you’re finally over, eh?

Can’t say I am too sad about that.

Don’t get me wrong; you had your high points. Actually, you started out super great!

You sent us a LOT of snow...which I hate, BUT it made for lots of fun snow days...which I love. And my district didn't have to make any up!

You sent us a LOT of snow…which I hate, BUT it made for lots of fun snow days…which I love. And my district didn’t have to make any up!

You brought the baptism of my little nephew, Ezra.

You brought the baptism of my little nephew, Ezra.

you encouraged me with some of the most lovely friends I could ever ask for.

you encouraged me with some of the most lovely friends I could ever ask for.

Charlie had his first haircut.

Charlie had his first haircut.

Charlie turned 2.

Charlie turned 2.

I turned 36 with this crazy crew.

I turned 36 with this crazy crew.

We took Eddie to Chicago for Spring Break.

We took Eddie to Chicago for Spring Break.

I went along on the Spanish Trip to Chicago and got to hang with these weirdos.

I went along on the Spanish Trip to Chicago and got to hang with these weirdos.

The world came out to help me build my classroom library.

The world came out to help me build my classroom library.

I said goodbye to my best year (and students) in my teaching career.

I said goodbye to my best year (and students) in my teaching career.

I was published and did a book reading with my biggest fans in the audience.

I was published and did a book reading with my biggest fans in the audience.

Eddie turned 5!

Eddie turned 5!

Cortney took a day off so we could take a family trip to the zoo.

Cortney took a day off so we could take a family trip to the zoo.

we grew a garden again.

we grew a garden again.

we took boat rides

we took boat rides

I got pregnant!

I got pregnant!

my nephew, Harrison, was born

my nephew, Harrison, was born

I went to BlogHer in California and was honored as a Voice of the Year.

I went to BlogHer in California and was honored as a Voice of the Year.

We visited Papa Steve.

We visited Papa Steve.

I ate these ribs.

I ate these ribs.

Eddie started Kindergarten.

Eddie started Kindergarten.

I started a new teaching position.

I started a new teaching position.

Eddie played soccer

Eddie played soccer

I was published again!

I was published again!

We found out we were having a GIRL!

We found out we were having a GIRL!

I presented about using Reader's Workshop at the MCTE conference.

I presented about using Reader’s Workshop at the MCTE conference.

I was published...AGAIN!

I was published…AGAIN!

Eddie learned to read and write.

Eddie learned to read and write.

This guy turned 36

This guy turned 36

My dad retired after 46 years with the same company.

My dad retired after 46 years with the same company.

We celebrated Christmas

We celebrated Christmas

Behind these pictures though, somewhere in June, a deep sadness set in. There were a lot of unknowns going on, disappointments, and changes that I didn’t want to accept.

It’s hard because as I started inserting the pictures from June on, I felt the sadness all over. Graduation was my last truly happy photo.  I can see the forced smile on my face. I have so many blessings, but this year has been tough. Pregnancy is hard on me both physically and mentally. Change is hard for me…even when it’s good.

I am truly happy with the changes in our lives, but it’s still a ball of emotions for me.

So yes, I am excited for a new year. 2015, I’m looking at you. Please be kind to the Sluiter Family.

*************

BTW: if you usually find your way here via the Sluiter Nation Facebook page, you might want to go over there to my sidebar where it says “enter your email” and go ahead and do that. Facebook isn’t going to let me share links on my page anymore starting in January. ::cue sad trombone”

2013: A Look Back

We started 2013 with a three-year old and a nine-month old.

2012-12-24 07.27.42

In January, Charlie was newly crawling and Eddie gave up his Pipey during the first week of the new year. It’s hard to believe Eddie has been pacifier-free for a whole year.

February brought snowy weather and Charlie’s first steps.

March was a big month. Charlie turned one and I turned thirty-five. Birthdays are big deals, yo. Oh, and I got glasses and a new hair stylist. Those are big deals too.

April was a celebration month too. Cortney was honored for being in the top 5% of his graduating class and my parents celebrated forty years of marriage. We also celebrated spring break, Easter, and the start of the Tiger baseball season.

May was the end of the school year, the release of The Great Gatsby in theaters and Tulip Time.  It was also Memorial Day and when Eddie and I decided to plant a garden for the first time. Eddie took swim lessons and Cort graduated from college. I did the Stomp Out Stigma for Mental Health Awareness Walk with my sister-in-law and my writing was published in Baby Talk Magazine. Mother’s Day happened and so did my first taste of Listen to Your Mother.

June is Eddie’s birthday month and this was the year he turned FOUR. Cortney and I also celebrated eight years of marriage while summer break started. Father’s Day happened and so did Eddie taking gymnastics.  We went to the zoo, played with friends, and welcomed a new little friend into the world when my best friend gave birth to her first.

July was so very busy! Cortney and Eddie went camping. Cortney and I went to Pearl Jam at Wrigley in Chicago. BLOGHER happened! We hosted a neighborhood ice cream social with two other families. We hit the beach a few times and took boat rides on the Big Lake. We said goodbye to Granny’s pool as she moved with Grandpa to a condo, and we cleaned up my classroom after a vandal destroyed much of my personal stuff.

August was difficult. We lived through another year of wishing Cortney’s dad was here. Friends lost babies and loved ones. I took on too much too close to the start of the school year. But we had good times too. Lots of friends and fun. We took a family “vacation” to the cottage with the rest of my family and spent fun in the sun. And then I went back to school.

September brought a new school year. I was at the high school full-time instead of split between the high school and junior high. I was teaching English instead of Spanish. And I was teaching a college composition class.  Eddie started preschool and we started going back to church more regularly. We also got the devastating news that our unborn niece was going to die.

October brought more and more words out of Charlie as he ran through life. He also started expressing frustration with tantrums.  We talk a lot about heaven because our niece Arabella went from womb to heaven.  We choose pumpkins and costumes.

November was parent/teacher conferences and an ear infection for me (that I don’t take care of until December. Oops). Both of our nieces turn one. Our nephew Ezra is born. Cort starts a new job (no, I haven’t talked about this. Yes, there is a post coming on it because it’s sort of huge for our family). Thanksgiving rounded out our month.

December saw Cortney turn thirty-five and also has a colonoscopy. We celebrated Advent and watched Eddie sing in the church’s children’s Christmas program. Christmas brought us joy and Charlie’s vocabulary has quadrupled.

And here we are. The last day of 2013.

It was a good year.  A year of plenty and joy and saying YES to opportunities.

2014 is tomorrow and I have lots on my mind about that…but…tomorrow.

Oh, and for reference, we are ending the year with a four-and-a-half-year old and a twenty-month old.

Sluiter Nation

 

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