I'm {almost!} 28. An Ass-Kickin' Year in Review.

Tomorrow is the big day, folks. I turn 28.

I'm pretty excited! And I'll probably be excited next year, too. I really want to make these next two years in my twenties kick ass. More kick ass than 27 was.

Seriously - 27 was a great year for me.

I started out The Year of Kickin' Ass by going fishing in Canada with my family. It was kind of a feat to work it in to my summer schedule, because I also picked up a part-time job at a retail clothing store for women. Things were crazy busy, but this fishing trip is an important event for my family, and I couldn't miss it for the world.

My crazy summer schedule didn't stop John and I from heading to Yellowstone for almost two weeks last year, then to the Ozarks for a week in August. In between vacations, I went to farmer's markets and worked in my vegetable garden every second I could spare. I canned a lot of good eats, spent time with friends at music concerts uptown, and prepared for the upcoming school year.

In August of last year, I began what I would soon come to realize was my last year of teaching high school English and journalism. I mean, I might return to the profession later in life. I still plan to keep my teaching license current. Who knows?!

Shortly after the school year began, John started to travel for work again, which was (one of the many) catalysts that prompted me to take a break from teaching. He was working fairly locally, and was able to come home on weekends. It was, and still is, very hard to have him work out of town and/or state, but it's going to provide us with such an adventure this year, the year I am 28.

One of the highlights of my entire professional career happened in November of The Year of Kickin' Ass: I went to the NCTE conference in Las Vegas with an amazing colleague and great friend. I learned so much and grew in my practices as a teacher. It's something I will compare all professional learning experiences to from now on, no matter if I return to teaching.

Also in November, John and I had the opportunity to provide respite care for a 7-week old baby boy. We have provided respite care for his foster family several times since then, and hoped that we would be considered as potential adoptive parents, should be become available for adoption.

(Of course, reunification with his birth parents is the first priority, and we found out this May that he would likely be returning to his birth parents, and we shouldn't get our hopes set on adopting him. The chances were slim. This was very, very emotionally challenging.)

Just when mid-winter hit and I thought I was reaching my maximum level of stress at work and thought things couldn't get any worse, our trip to Mexico was cancelled due to a massive snow apocalypse (or so Delta Vacations thought). I spent my half-birthday drinking beer in a snowsuit, instead of a swimsuit.

Throughout the winter I continued to volunteer at the Cedar Valley Humane Society in my free time. It was amazing how those animals at the shelter helped me through one of the most stressful years of my adult life. Regardless of the stress level, rest assured: I still kicked ass.

All. Year. Long.

There was a moment in March when I didn't think I would make it until the end of the school year. My stress was mounting and my anxiety was at an all-time high. I quit my part-time job, a decision that I do not regret, but feel bad about. I made so many great friends, and am so very thankful they are a part of my support system to this day!

Also at this point in March, John was heading down to Arkansas, and I spent a week with him down there on my spring break. Granted, it wasn't Mexico, but it was still pretty fun. This also meant that John wasn't able to come home on weekends, like he'd been doing for a while. He's still in Arkansas, and is slated to come home in mid- to late-August.

Sadly, after John left in March, I didn't see him again until we reunited for the Beale Street Music Festival. That's when he found out that he would be staying in Arkansas until August. No bueno.

Since May, things have been a whirlwind. (Which you already know, especially if you've 'liked' us on Facebook. You haven't? Shame on you. Do it NOW!) I've transitioned my curriculum and classroom so my replacement can begin her work as English and journalism teacher in the fall. I've said my goodbyes to students and teacher friends - the same students and friends who have seen me at my worst, and celebrated with me at my best. It was hard to leave, but I look forward to this year.

My year.

A year of being 28. And kickin' ass.

Tell me friends, what should I do in my 28th year to make it bigger and better? Give me a goal. Give me something I should put at the top of my list. 

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