Saturday, December 31, 2016

One Little Word for 2017: Priorities

We've come to the end of 2016.  Honestly, I've attempted to write a meaningful reflection a few times, and have found it just terribly difficult to truly capture my feelings for it.  It was a year of great personal and professional growth for me, but at the same time a completely disheartening year overall on a larger scale.  

So, I now choose to look ahead.  I'm going to take what I've learned and connected with in 2016 to build an incredible 2017.  To do this, I am embracing one little word for 2017:  priorities 

Perhaps I am technically cheating with this whole one little word idea.  So many great beginnings happened for me in 2016.  To see them through and accomplish what I've started, I have to consistently keep my priorities at the forefront.  Those priorities fall under three main aspects of my life: health, writing, and relationships.


2016 was a milestone year for my health.  I finally decided to go under the knife
April 2016, four days post surgery
and shave off some extra bone on my femur that has been there since birth. Well, it's not actually as dramatic as I just made it sound. To shorten a long story, I was born with hip dysplasia.  It went undetected for years.  Around the age of 28, intense pain started to develop while I was training for my second marathon. Fast forward 10 years (did I just give away my age?), I finally found a great doctor, received a correct diagnosis, was referred to a stellar surgeon, and underwent surgery to correct my bone abnormality.  Now, I am once again running and cycling pain free after many years of struggle.

So, I am going to keep health as one of my three priorities.  I greatly miss being an avid triathlete and Crossfitter.  These are two aspects of my identity that I have not prioritized in a couple years.  Needless to say, I have really felt that hole.  Now that my hip is fixed, I can once again prioritize one of my deep loves in life:  being an athlete.  How will I do this?  Since being an athlete is not something new to me, I'm fortunate in that I already know what works.  For me, committing to 30-60 minutes of physical activity every weekday and 60-120 minutes every weekend day is a doable goal for starters.  I've achieved this, and much more in the past, so I know it is something I can prioritize again moving forward.


Kari and me at the Stenhouse booth at
 NCTE 2016 in Atlanta this November
Much of my time spent not being able to run and cycle in 2016 was spent either writing, talking about writing, reading others' writing, or teaching writing.  Hands down, the best thing that happened to me in 2016 was connecting with my now dear friend and writing partner, Kari Yates. Shortly after my hip surgery, Kari reached out and asked if I'd like to join her in doing some writing together. Since I admired Kari's work for a while and we shared the same educational philosophies and mission, I jumped at the chance!  Our collaboration of thinking and writing turned into a book contract with Stenhouse Publishers in October. Kari and I are currently co-writing a book about conferring in the reading classroom.  It has been both a joyful and fulfilling adventure thus far! Needless to say, this has been a complete dream come true for me.

Therefore, in 2017, writing is going to be one of my biggest priorities.  Simply put, books do not write themselves.  The only way to write a book is to sit down and actually write.  Plus, in addition to co-writing our book, I also am committed to keeping up The Teacher Triathlete, writing in my classroom with my students, and working on some other writing projects.  This takes time- a lot of time.  So, writing has to be a huge priority.  My goal is to write for at least an hour a day or at a minimum- 7 hours each week.  


My brother, parents, best friend since high school, and
her kiddos who call me Auntie Chris. December 2016
Ironically, the two things I love the most do not really help in relationship building with those that I love. Triathlon is a solo endeavor.  Even though I am a member of one of the largest and most active triathlon clubs in the country (hurray, Golden Gate Triathlon Club!), the great majority of most triathletes' training time is spent going it alone.  In addition, writing must be done alone.  I do not know any successful writers who can write in the company of others for the majority of their time spent actually getting words on the page.  Despite the fact that I am cowriting with Kari, much of our actual hand to keyboard or pen to paper time is spent on our own.

So, since both of my loves are mostly time consuming independent endeavors, I must prioritize how I spend my relationship time with those I love.  After all, at the end of life, no one ever says they wish they worked more or spent more time exercising. Most say they wished they spent more quality time with loved ones.  
Auntie Chris' kiddos: How could
I not prioritize these faces? 

My final priority for 2017 will be to foster the healthy and loving relationships I have now and only make room for healthy, positive new relationships to come. Since my first two priorities are mostly time consuming solo endeavors, I will make a larger effort in 2017 to prioritize those who are closest to me. This means more car time to see those close and more phone time to connect those far way.

2016, I bid you farewell.  Thank you for all that you have given me both health-wise and professionally.  It's now time that I give back and keep my one little word at the forefront of everything I do. My priorities will be everything to me in the coming year: health, writing, and relationships.  Despite the overall sadness and eye opening insanity that encompassed 2016 on a larger scale, it will always be a year of new beginnings for me.  2016 helped me realize my priorities in life.  For that, I will be forever grateful.

My one little word may have turned into three bigger words, but that's ok. Alas, none of those words have anything to do with following rules or staying within boundaries! Here's to a year ahead of priorities: health, writing, and fulfilling relationships. 

Happy New Year, Friends! 

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