Saturday, January 19, 2013

Resolve to Resolve

A new year is upon us, and though it will take me until June to remember to write 2013 instead of 2012, I'm going to focus anew. In case anyone didn't notice, I did not complete my goal last year of writing once per week. I got to 50/52 I think...I'm choosing not to look back. I am not going to see this as a failure because the product was great and my expectations are always too high. I did what was intended: I wrote more and ended up with lots of new pieces I'm quite proud of.

There is a Homily that has always stuck with me - forgive me for always repeating this story - about how one can go about becoming their best self (in the image of Him). In realizing that trying to change everything is very difficult and being perfect seems unattainable, this particular priest talked about a system akin to Ben Franklin's. For those of you who don't know, Ben was very interested in being perfect, and he systematically eliminated sin from his life until it became too much (starving yourself and also trying to remain active are a bit contradictory, his standards were too high as well). Nevertheless, this system involves choosing one thing to focus on at a time and making it  a natural part of your life, a conscious change. Once this conscious change becomes part of your routine, then you begin with another, periodically returning to the first to check in (Ben had a lot of trouble maintaining because he never re-reflected on the sins he was eliminating). In the Homily, this referred to the weekly reminders given in the Homily - be conscious of God, set an example for others, forgive - to name a few. A week is not enough time for me to do this, so I've started with years instead.

Last year, I wanted to write more and expand my portfolio of work. With that accomplished, I am starting with a fresh addition to my routine. Those who know me well, know me as a reader. Throughout my childhood, I would not be found without a book so long as I was indoors. I read through the smoke alarm on my birthday one year, during my family birthday party. I would read in class and listen with my other ear for directions (I used to be so good at that and now I find it impossible). When completing work I would listen to the reading group at the front of the room. To this day I've never read that book and I don't know the title, but I know just what it's about (dog-sled team run by a young boy whose best dog dies before he can cross the finish line).

As I've gotten older, reading has stayed a passion, but it has died down a bit. I still get a new stack of books for Christmas every year, but instead of finishing them by my birthday, they sit in a stack until summer. I read for my English degree of course, and have a love for good literature and analysis, but that was more likely to take my focus off reading for pleasure than to kindle it, because it involved writing huge papers or preparing for class. I rarely read a book I don't enjoy, which helped when I was in college and reading nonfiction and textbooks, but didn't thrill my brain and make me smile. I get distracted by my todo lists, planning for classes, spending time with friends, etc. There is always something that needs to be done, and reading takes a back seat.

This last half year that I've been a teacher, I've been teased. I read books so that my students can analyze them (or not). I'm in a book club with my best friends, but we only discuss a book a month and I don't always have time to read them. This incessant nagging of having books to read and putting them aside has made me jealous of my young self. Thus, I am remedying this problem by resolving, in 2013, to read 50 books. I'm starting low, so as to not overwhelm myself or set the expectation too high. I'll get about 12 from book club and a few from work, so I have a built in motivation. Reading books feeds my motivation to read books. I want to feed my passion. I'm going to hopefully track the books I read on this blog because I love to write about what I read.

I've already completed one book, Oliver Sack's "The Mind's Eye" which is a bunch of psychological case studies about losing particular abilities and how they affect one's life. That is the January book club book. I'll leave the discussion for that one to my friends and I because I don't want to spoil it for them, but it truly makes you think about how the body/brain adapts to not only function, but thrive.

My second resolution is also quantifiable. I would like to take and pass both Praxis I and the Praxis II tests I need for my teacher certification this year so that I can begin the process. I'm already taking a Praxis I preparation class to take the Praxis I sometime after the school year ends or in April if I'm feeling spunky. Then I'll begin studying for the second set of tests, to hopefully pass by the end of the summer. That way, I can turn in my initial review and figure out what classes I need to take. I found out that I can use my GRE instead of Praxis I, but I had already signed up for the class, so I'm just going to take it and go from there.

I have goals for my job as well (we had to put them together in Professional Development), but they are easily summarized: use parent suggestions, track what works for students, and develop personally by reading education research articles.