Monday, December 31, 2012

Gratitude Overload

i realize that nearly every post of 2012 was about chickens.  that's funny!  if i were an alien reading this blog, or even just some other random human (hello aliens and random humans!), i might think that pretty much the only thing going on in my life in the past year (and ever!) is with regard to chickens.  which is certainly not a bad thing; chickens are funny and cute and interesting and i pretty much love them.  i've sure learned a lot about living with chickens this year...there have been many successes/gains and a few failures/losses.  and as of this moment, this 60th post, we are getting the best egg production we've ever fact, just the other day, we had the FIRST FIVE EGG DAY.  seriously.  like a couple weeks ago.  the TUF holy grail!  every hen actively laying!  we haven't had another one yet, but there are consistently between 2 and 4 eggs in the coop every single day for weeks now.  so 2012 has most definitely been a powerful personal poultry year.

however, MUCH has gone on beyond chickenry.  so much, in fact, that i didn't instantly write about the 5 egg day!  i know, i couldn't believe it myself.  so on this last day of this year, i find myself contemplating past events and on-going processes that have filled the non-chicken aspects of my life, and i find myself to be Unbelievably Grateful. in the name of documentation, and at the risk of extreme self-indulgence, i will use this space to ruminate upon these things. (if you are not into the personal ruminations of random humans who are not you, now would be a good time to run away! i won't be offended. remember that "ruminating" literally means "chewing cud.")

i haven't discussed my job on here at all!  my current professional incarnation is teaching 7th grade science.  this was my second year to teach science; the previous two years were spent teaching theater at a different school.  when i started out thinking about becoming a teacher, i kind of figured i'd be teaching language arts (NOTE: i do understand proper capitalization, grammar sticklers!)  but my whole career thus far i've been taking opportunities and learning experiences as they come, and i've felt very successful in the professional growth i've made, no matter how mad-lib-esque the process.

i feel pretty complicated about teaching right now, and the complications could fill a-whole-nother blog all by themselves.  it's a challenging, draining, invigorating, intellectually-stimulating, anguish-causing gig that takes up a lot of my mental spacetime.  2012 has been much more successful-feeling than 2011, and i have done a lot of growing and learning and working toward becoming better.  and i can see that i AM becoming a better educator, which makes me really happy.  i like doing things to the very best of my ability, so for a while i was discouraged when my teaching experience ranged from less than successful to really hard to damn near impossible.  but this year my perspective changed a bit--i've found that the thing i can do to the best of my ability is grow, and keep growing.  teaching is a process, and a practice, just like learning.  i strive to be the best student of teaching that i can possibly be, open and curious and observant, willing to try new things, continually evaluating my experiences, above all paying attention to the myriad needs and incredibly varied personalities of my students and classes.

but i am not gonna lie; just maintaining that perspective is its own studied practice.  this year i also found the words to tell myself this truth: i am not one of those amazing people who glean the majority of life satisfaction from the practice of teaching. i know incredible individuals who embrace the long hours and emotional drainage as the natural way toward personal fulfillment via their highly successful career in education.  my personal fulfillment comes from the availability of many different experiences, as evidenced by my mad-lib style career and multi-interest life. my optimal identity would equally balance chicken farmer/wife/cook/writer/musician/poet/pet enthusiast/philosopher with /teacher. often i find that these identities are not optimally balanced, and pretty soon there is going to be another REALLY BIG new identity to balance with these others. so i wonder what 2013 will bring in that regard.  more on the new identity shortly.

i will say this about teaching, though: i am extremely grateful that my job has built-in time during the year to take big brain breaks and work on re-balancing my various identities.  for all teaching's less-desirable aspects, getting paid to do things other than work for weeks at a time is a great, great gift.  this is not lost on me as i consider other possible career tacks for the upcoming year.  plus i love those dang kids.

i love them!  we had a big one to korea, several smaller ones to the beach (twice), ft. worth (anniversary), houston for dear darling sister's wedding, and any number of home-based ones regarding pets, holidays, food, friends, and new experiences. we also started the process of a brand new kind of adventure, which goes with the new identity, which deserves its own discussion.  here is a pictoral recap of many 2012 adventures!
first time beach dogs!
seoul romantic!
snake charming!

xmas tortilla soup attempt!
gorilla bonding!
sister's wedding makeup!
xmas eve party!

twenty twelve was a really good year for the relationships in my life.  my sister got married to a wonderful man at a spectacular party, and we did some very grownuppy holiday management together.  i am so thankful for my close and powerful relationship with my brilliant, loving, considerate and hilarious sister--she is an amazing listener and has such spot-on insight about things.  we are very different, complementary people, and her energy is both grounding and uplifting.

i deepened my friendships with several women i met through work at various points, and now i am so grateful for each of them in my life.  one helped me fight off a snake and introduced me to raw kale squished salad, and also can linguistically nerd out in a flash.  another lets me come in her classroom and scream and storm and rant and rave and then geeks out about gross sciencey things with me.  yet another is going to be present at the birthing due to her big calm energy, invaluable experience and blissful prenatal massage techniques, which she is willing to TRADE for various sundries, as well as being a fellow aquatic invertebrate dork.  yet YET another lives down the street and has a toddler of her own, and is always available for support and advice and opinions and toddler practice and baby stuff.  i am so lucky to have these friends!

i am so thankful that dan and i have a couple amazing couple friends, and that we have our individual friendships within the couple friendship. c and j have been our friends for a long time, and j is an invaluable ear and inspiration for me.  she is articulate on subjects ranging from food to music to life etc, and has great perspective on all kinds of things.  c is hilarious and full of interesting ideas and thoughts.  plus they play music and cajole us into being social even when we're in full-on homebody mode.  aaaaaand, j's sister b and her fiance d have become our good friends too, and we've even had all sisters and husbands together for rousing karaoke fun!  can it get any better?

i connected and reconnected with many friends through various media and for various reasons this year, and i hope to build and maintain these relationships, new and old, in 2013.  one thing i'd like to work on about myself is friendship maintenance, and it's fun to have so many awesome people to practice on.  i am grateful for people who have visited from far away, for dear ancient friends getting engaged to wonderful new friends, for people who have moved away but stayed in touch and visited, for meeting new friends through old friends and expanding circles, for friends of unique circumstance (like having the same due date and doctor, as well as mutual friends).

i am always grateful for my parents--they are endlessly supportive and now very excited about the new addition coming right up here.  mom has been visiting from dallas, since i can't seem to ever get up there (i know, bad daughter!!), and has been a source of advice and comfort always and especially lately.  dad just moved a mere 30 minutes away, and i'm so excited to hang out with him more often. i am grateful for his calm insight and willingness to talk about anything and everything.  and my mother in law and father in law are also unbelievably supportive and generous, and i am ever thankful for my relationship with each of them.  we're also so lucky to have my aunt and uncle in town, and a new year's resolution is to make more time to spend with them--uncle  p. has been a major influence in my life since i was a baby, and i don't see him nearly enough.  and i also want to make sure to get to san antonio to see uncle r. and my incredibly tough grandma, who made it through open heart surgery and rehabilitation practically unscathed at 89 years old.  i'm so glad that the new addition has so many amazing family members...he doesn't even know yet how lucky he is, but i do.

and finally, i am so thankful and grateful every moment for dan.  my life is so full of delight and creativity and humor and adventures because of him.  i could write for days about it, but really there aren't enough words, so i'll just say here that i love him so much.

i still kind of can't believe it, but we are expecting a baby boy in early march.  that's really soon.  i wish and hope and think and wonder about so many things regarding him.  i have insomnia dedicated just to thinking about conversations we might have as he grows up.  i can't wait to see what he looks like, what he sounds like, what he IS like, what he likes.  i sure hope he likes us; i sure hope we are "adulty" enough to do this crazy next adventure.  i think we are; i have a lot of faith in us.  and, i mean, there are nine billion people on the planet, it can't be TOO hard to raise a kid, am i right?  i just hope we do it right. and by right i mean...well, i don't even know what i mean yet, i guess we'll see.

as of today i am 31 weeks along, and i've heard that the last weeks of pregnancy serve to ensure the mother is willing to do JUST ABOUT ANYTHING to get the little one out and on his physical own!  there have been discomforts, but they have been blissfully minor (heartburn, insomnia, early food aversions), and all in all i've had an easy and comfortable pregnancy.  so thankful, so lucky.  though the idea of birth is a little daunting, i'm going to be with people who are positive, loving influences in my life, and i'm going to be in a safe place with a doctor i like.  i am going to be able to focus on empowered openness to do whatever it takes to ensure healthy him and healthy me.  so, crazy as it all sounds, it's going to be fine!

i also hope he likes chickens.  and here we are, back to chickens. there was definitely a lot more to 2012 than just chickens.  and i am thankful for every chicken, every person, every experience that has taught me something about life this year.  so happy new year! 2013 is really going to be something!