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The Word for the Year

February 7, 2015

2015 has arrived.  I know your thinking, “Yes, Melani.  2015 arrived one month and one week ago.”  That it did.  I, however, spent the month the January on the slow recovery from the flu I had over Christmas and trying to keep (get) my kids healthy again.  Thus, only one month into the year, I failed at my goal for the year—to show up here and write once a month.

I am generally not one to give up though.  I am persistent (also translated as stubborn).  One failed or mediocre attempt isn’t generally enough to know me out.  Here I am at the beginning of February, sitting at the computer on Saturday morning when I should be at the grocery store, enjoying a slow (ish) morning drinking coffee in my pajamas.

When I made my goal of writing once a month, I wondered what I would write about when I sat down.  Would I contemplate the struggles of working outside the house full-time for the first time in 8 years?  Would I spend the whole post telling about the occasional book I’ve read, the restaurant I ate at, or the one awesome meal I made for the month?  I am still not sure of my purpose for writing.  I only know that the process of sitting down to write is part of who I am.  I am slowly trying to add in one lost thing back into my life at a sustainable rate. I am trying to reclaim pieces of myself that I was forced to leave behind when I returned to teaching.

So here I am.  I am writing–without a plan.IMG_3062


Anytime there is a major life transition–moving, new job, new baby, a break-up, or an illness for yourself or a loved one, we switch into survival mode.  I figure out what I need to get to bedtime that night, the end of the week, or the next day off.  I grit my teeth and settle in.  Once upon a time (maybe quitting my job and having baby number 2), I realized that writing was one of those things that made surviving a tad easier.  Even longer before that, I discovered when stress set it, I stopped singing.  More recently (baby number 3), I discovered I needed to bake.  Through all of those times, I learned that somehow I needed to find a way to keep learning new things and keep creating things.

That’s why I am drawn to teaching.  There is no shortage of learning new things  (Electrical circuits!!!) or creating (Lesson planning!!!).  My book reading is switching back to fiction, because of my need for an escape.  (I can’t totally leave the nonfiction genre–it’s just taking me longer and I’m more selective.  Anything by Malcolm Gladwell is always on my list–Tipping Point currently–along with a few of my favorite Christian authors like Rachel Held Evans, Sara Miles, Sarah Bessey, and Jen Hatmaker’s new releases).


DSC_3930If I would have one word for the year, it would probably be Intentional or Flexibility or maybe even Gentleness.  I know this year I am not the same teacher I was 8 years ago–it would be impossible for me to be.  I know this year I am not doing as much at home as I did a year ago–our house is generally not spotless (it wasn’t spotless a year ago, but it’s a bit worse now) and my projects keep piling up.  I am not exercising like I should be (like at all) and my quiet time is now crammed into my morning reading as I inhale my cereal or into Madeleine’s Celtic prayers at night.  Things don’t look like they did a year ago.  I’ve had to let things go and be happy with good enough instead of great.  That’s a hard thing to do.  My expectations for myself are high and I find I measure up very little.  My thankful list template still sits on my computer, waiting to be taken to the printers to be printed.  Last December reminds me of my failure every time I go to the fridge.  I leave it there though, to remind me that the printers is still on my to do list:  it is still my intention.


Gentleness when I look longing at my chair where I spent time praying and reading the Bible.  Gentleness when I am close to tears because I am dragging the kids on an errand after school because I just can’t bear to be apart from them another minute.  Gentleness when I am hard on myself because I am frustrated when they are sick and upset because I am leaving their sick, pitiful selves with some one other than parent.  Gentleness when I teach Sunday School and I know it is a half-hearted effort.  Gentleness when I leave my name on the church committee, but wonder if I will ever make it to a meeting.  Gentleness when I look at my bike hanging in the garage and wince because adding exercise to my weekend increases my stress level exponentially.  Gentleness when I open the scrapbooking box and feel bad because I have no idea when I will ever finish the started scrapbooks.

Gentleness it is, I guess.

Because the flip sides of all those apparent failures are achievements–I found a prayer and meditation that fit into my life.  I am slowly trying to fit in other moments of prayers and words to remind me what centers me.  I love my children and want to be with them.  I can check on my children easily at school when they go to school feeling a bit pitiful (but have been 24 hours fever free).  Preparing for my pathetic attempt at teaching Sunday School reminded me of the importance of corporate and regular prayers.  I am still passionate about adult curriculum and want to be involved.  Knowing that while I may not exercise this weekend, some weekend I will get on my bike again and it will be wonderful.  Being reassured that someday those scrapbooks may happen and whatever I complete will remind my children exactly how loved they are.


We all need a little a more gentleness with ourselves and with each other.


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