Notes From a Mid-Winter’s Day

Facebook Memories sent me this photo today.

The photo was of our new-at-the-time pup. I was just starting out on a walk with him, enjoying the warmth of the sun and my my increasing comfort with his response to training. Life the pulled one of its 180’s, and we were at the vet hours later with a broken leg that needed emergency surgery.

The next month was rough. I took the night shift, sleeping on the sofa and stumbling out into the dark while trying to carry my dog’s back end. My husband took the day shift, adding stress to his job while he tried to balance client’s needs with the dog’s. So that cute little Facebook picture brought back memories of a pretty rough time.

Fast forward a year and the leg is completely healed. We welcomed a new addition about a month ago and after the inevitable learning curves (for everybody) with the addition of a new family member, we’re settling into a new routine. Only this one with a lot more mud (how is it that doubling the number of dogs somehow quadruples the amount of dirt???).

The informal pit bull boot camp we ran over winter break is paying off. Emma, the new adoptee, is in better shape, both physically and in her training. It had its interesting moments, especially because her older brother is the kid who ends up sobbing with a simple, “I’m disappointed in you” and Emma is the one who says, “That’s all you got?” when you ground her for a week. It was a good reminder that sometimes you have to modify your approach even as you keep your goal.

Speaking of goal-setting… The school year is at that strange point where we’re living in two years – living in the second semester of this year while simultaneously planning and preparing for next year. I always struggle with this, especially because I have a hard enough time as it is staying in the moment.

I’m hoping that I can simplify my work load some next year. I hate feeling like I can’t be the best teacher possible because I’m pulled too many directions. I always have professional goals each school year where I focus on areas of instruction that I want to improve. My goals this year are smaller in scope than usual. Of course, maybe that’s okay. I know that I have a tendency to put more on myself than I need to.

I’ve been doing a little better than I was at the beginning of the school year at taking care of myself. I finally reinstated my habit of a daily gratitude journal. I had it set to send me a reminder at 7:00 every morning. At that point, I’m already at work and I always found something “better” that needed doing. So now, I pause in my car in the parking lot at work and I don’t open my door until I have listed three things in my gratitude app. Linking these two things seems to have done the trick.

I’ve also been able to get some “smiles” on the calendar. I’m heading to San Antonio for a long weekend in February for some time with my mom and (weather permitting) Mexican food on outdoor patios. In May, my husband and I are planning on going to a heavy metal music festival over a weekend in Florida. I’ve never been to this type of music festival. I’ll definitely have to pace myself, since I always end up with whiplash from a single concert. I’m really looking forward to it, however, because I find that heavy metal is one of the few ways that I can forget that I am apparently a grown-up with grown-up responsibilities. A weekend with nothing to do but hand out at the beach during the day and lose my voice screaming along with my favorite bands at sounds sounds amazing.

Then, this summer, I plan to go to Latvia (I know, right?!?) to visit a friend and explore the surrounding area. I’m a little nervous about navigating foreign airports alone, but the excitement of seeing a whole new area of the world more than makes up for it. I still feel guilty for spending money (thanks to my ex husband), but damn, it feels good to finally be at the point where I have the option.

Speaking of progress, these “ten years ago” pictures that have been going around have really made me reflect upon my last decade. I haven’t shared any pictures, but there’s one that keeps coming to mind. Ten years ago this summer is when my ex left and my life imploded. Two weeks after his exit text, my mom and I were in the state where he was arrested for bigamy. There’s picture of me with the officer that arrested and questioned my husband. I hadn’t brushed my hair or eaten in two weeks. I was weak-looking, but I had a smile because I was hoping that I would soon have some answers and some justice. Little did I know how elusive they would prove to be.

My pictures now definitely show the aging process. If left to its own devices, my hair would be fully salt-and-pepper now. My face, which was slow to age, has now begun to wrinkle as the skin becomes a little thinner. I’m at a healthy weight, yet the weight room cannot defeat gravity and certain areas have started to settle. And the beginning of middle-age check-ups and tests is a reality now.

The changes are not only physical. I have a tendency to be a little more in my head now, a little more cautious. Yet, at the same time, I’ve tackled things I never would have braced before and I’m proud of that. I also like the wisdom and compassion I’ve gained in the last decade. Those were hard-won. Like with any time span, it’s had its share of smiles and tears, successes and defeats, additions and losses. And the good thing about aging is that it becomes a little easier to accept each of those in turn.

For today, I’m enjoying a day off work with a morning hot yoga class and endless mugs of tea. Oh, and plenty of puppy snuggles. Sounds like a perfect way to spend a mid-winter’s day. I hope you’re enjoying yours.

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