Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Same Time Last Year

June has been a "this time last year" kind of month. This time last year, I was packing up 27 years worth of memories (and purging lots of stuff that had seen better days), preparing for a life change that was more scary than exciting. Last week, for the first time since September, it felt weird not to be part of the transition from one school year to the next. Maybe that's part of what's behind my take stock mindset at home this week.

It's been quite a year - as those of you who've been following along well know. For 27 years, I identified myself as a school counselor, and always thought of myself more as counselor than educator. This year, as I moved away from that role, I discovered that it was the educator part of me that endured. Rules and regulations closed counseling doors, forcing me to think about how badly I wanted to continue that aspect of my career. Not very badly, as it turns out -- at least not in any formal capacity.

This time last year, I was a frazzled mom. Impatient. Tired. Pulled in too many directions. This year, I learned that it's possible to feel that way even with few formal constraints on my time. Somewhat surprised by that reality, I worked on learning how to balance the constraints I put on my own time with one of the main reasons I retired -- to have more time with my family. Last Friday, I took the afternoon off so I could take my daughter and a few of her friends out to lunch after their last day of their freshman year of high school. Unconstrained by work responsibilities and schedules, I needed only to navigate my own expectations -- and, of course, the rules of teenagers when it came to lunch selection and being seen in public with adults.

It's been a year of being home when my daughter leaves for school and being home when she gets home. A year of picking her up on moment's notice when she's sick or when she and/or friends simply need a ride. We take turns appreciating this level of availability; I revel in the being home for her part, and she has come to take the chauffeur service for granted. Next year, she will get her driver's license, as will most of her friends, bringing the chauffeur service to an end as she transitions all too quickly into riding with friends, a change I am not anxious to usher in.

This time last year, I was juggling classes, small groups and consultations with teachers, students and parents by day and eking out writing time on the weekends. With two books published in the educational market, I had yet to find the magic key to open the door to the publication of my first novel, though I signed with an agent four years ago. The writing and revising process was so slow as to be cumbersome when it was limited to nights, weekends and summers, and the abundance of ideas in my head couldn't find their way onto the page because time and energy were in short supply.

It's been a year of seeing how far I can go with my writing now that I don't have to limit it to weekends - a time of reviving my freelancing skills and working on my fiction. A year of figuring out how to harness the abundance of ideas and concepts swirling in my head and lasso them onto the page. It took much longer than I thought it would to develop a routine and a system that works, and now that I have it in place, it's summer again -- a season when my time is no longer my own if I want to keep my primary goal of availability for family in my sights.

And despite this temporary bout of nostalgia -- inspired as much by my daughter's milestones as my own -- it has been a very good year. Now that I've figured out how the school year looks from this new perspective, it's time to tackle the summer.

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