In 2013 I said “YES!” to a lot of things.

I decided to “go back” to school via some online classes so I could get my “Plus 30”: thirty credits beyond my Master’s Degree that will get me up to the next level in our pay scale in my district. I have four more classes to go (two this semester and two this summer) until I am done.

I said “yes” to going back to my adjunct position at the local community college. I taught two nights a week during fall semester and I loved it.

I said “yes” to freelance writing.

I say “yes” to my job of teaching every day.

I tried to say “yes” to doing more with my family and my kids–especially during the summer.

As a result of all those times I said YES gave my year some very rich joy and a sense of accomplishment.  But as with anything I do, it also resulted in some tremendous stress and anxiety.

Work and home and grading and writing and family and my time ended up all rolled into one big tangled ball of ugly from time to time. There were times when I fell asleep putting Eddie to bed only to wake up two hours later, trudge upstairs and stand looking from my computer to my pile of work to my bedroom door.

This year, instead of doing a resolution, I am choosing one word to guide me for 2014.

My word is:


Yes, in 2014 I want to “disentangle” myself from the pitfalls of saying yes.  It doesn’t mean I am not still open to possibility, it means that I want to free myself from the extraneous details and the snarls of things that don’t matter.

I want to wander the internet aimlessly less often.

I want to be able to say “no” when I really, truly just want to have a free weekend with my family.

I want to be able to leave work at work.

I want to remember that putting my own children before my students is not a bad thing; in fact it is the right thing.

I want to strip away the things that I do for no other reason than I think I should do them.

I want to rid myself of the piles of nonsense at the end of each day and find my husband–my friend–waiting for me to engage.

I want to shed the shackles that keep me saying “yes” to things out of pride that I can add more to the list of what I can do and what I have done in the hopes of impressing…who?

I want to let go of the things that I have been clinging to that are of no use to me, and may actually be harming me.

I want to unleash the grip of finding comfort in food and other unhealthful things that have woven their way around me.

I want to let myself have room to think and breathe before making commitments.

I want to do things that make me happy, even if other people know nothing about them.

I want to continue to untangle the thoughts on my mind and in my heart here and on real paper.

2014 is the year I hope to Disentangle myself from myself in order to really BE myself.

What is your word for 2014?

cautiously optimistic

I have always said resolutions are stupid.

They always sound so…stock. Hackneyed.  Trite.  Unoriginal.  And then? They are forgotten before January is over.

There is a reason gyms give you the first month free.  They know you’ll be lured in with “free”, then pay for more because “free” rocked, but then never come back.  Easy money.

So for the 35th year in a row I wasn’t going to make a single resolution.  It’s not that I am perfect or that there aren’t aspects that can’t be worked on, but well, I don’t enjoy setting myself up for failure.

I don’t like to be called a pessimist, by the way.  I don’t just assume everything bad will happen.  I prefer the label “cautiously optimistic.” I mean, my glass is half-empty because I drank the first half, not because life sucks.  I like to believe the waitress will probably come back and refill it.  But she might not.  And I will be prepared for that disappointment and be happy for that delicious first half while looking forward to the half I have left.

2013 is the year I will turn 35.  For some reason that is already bringing some serious introspection to my brain.  But with this new year and this big birthday, I am feeling cautiously optimistic.

I have, in fact, let myself resolve on some specific plans of action.  That’s right…I made some resolutions this year.

First, I have been thinking a lot about this blog.

Next week Sluiter Nation will get a shiny new look.  I’m working on making my pages match without looking too similar.  I am reworking my About Section so that besides giving our story in a nutshell, it also effectively spells out my intent for this space: To be a legacy.  To be the stories of our life when we are no longer here.

My resolutions for this space are to tell our stories honestly.  To put more of our beliefs and practices here for our children to know about.  To talk more openly about topics I wish my parents had talked about with us…or at least written down for us to pour over as adults.  To remember that when I write about us, I am writing about US. It has nothing to do with what others think of me/us or what they choose to do.  To be honest anyway.

I’ve also been thinking about my job and my education.

Today I applied for another Master’s Program.  I already have a Bachelor’s in Secondary Education with a major in English and minor in Spanish.  I also have a Master’s Degree in English with an Emphasis on Teaching.  This program would give me a Master’s in Educational Technology/Media Center Specialty.  Not only is technology something I am interested in, it will also open a few more options for me in my field be it training other teachers or moving from the classroom into the Media Center someday.

Most importantly it will help me get the 30 credits needed to get to the top of my pay scale at work, which my family desperately  needs.

I applied to begin in the fall of 2013, so that gives me time to figure out financial stuff and put away some bucks so we can afford to pay for it.  Also, the classes are almost all online, so I won’t have to spend more physical time away from my family than I already do.

Of course, my relationships have been on  my mind too.

I want to spend more quality time with my friends.  It’s not that I need to go out more or pack more into my busy schedule, but I do want to spend time with those who are important to me.  I have a handful of close girl friends who I just want to get coffee with once in a while.  Or lunch on a Saturday.  It doesn’t have to be hours and hours. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate play date.  I just want time to chat and catch up.

I want to date my husband.  I miss being alone with him.  Alone in a restaurant or a movie or out shopping.  Getting in an out of the car without unbuckling car seats or lifting babies.  Having a conversation that isn’t interrupted.  Saying the inappropriate thing we are both thinking, but can’t say in front of the littles.  And then giggle madly about it.

Lastly, I have been thinking about me.

I need to find time to spoil myself.  And not with coffee treats or cookies.  That just ends up making me feel bad about myself.  No, instead of eating my feelings, I need to use some of the bits of money I make here and there with freelance writing and ad revenue and treat myself to a pedicure.  Or go to the library to actually just read.  Or let myself buy that pair of skinny jeans I am afraid of, but really REALLY want.

Not because I met some goal or resolution, but because I need to like myself. I need to remember how it feels to just be Katie.  To just smile about things that are a wee bit selfish because they make me happy for me.

I need to feel better about me.  Maybe that means cleaning up my diet even more or taking the time to hit the gym or maybe it just means going to bed a bit earlier.

Maybe it’s all of these things and more.  But this year I will try those things and find what makes me feel good.  I will pay attention to my mind and body and learn to take on or turn down opportunities depending on what my gut (and tear ducts) say.

And I will moisturize.  Because dang it, I am sick of dry hands, feet, and elbows.

2013 is going to be great.

I am cautiously optimistic about it.

2013 looks pretty good from here.

2013 looks pretty good from here.