Birth Day Reflections

As a birthday gift to myself, I thought I would write a reflection on my 40th year today. It’s really meant for me, so for that, I apologize. I wanted to reflect on the changes, achievements and disappointments of this past year. I guess I had in mind a sort of written and organized time capsule. Something I could look back on in a year or two…or ten, and remember the moments that built my life.

As I said, today is mostly reflections of my life…but if you’re curious, or even just bored, I welcome you along for the ride.

This was a very eventful year for me. It was one with many life changes, and it gave me several reasons to smile. To me, those are moments worth cherishing, so I’ll start with those.

This year, I changed jobs. I left the school I had been teaching at for three years, which was sad in many ways. I have been teaching for 10 years, but I really felt comfortable and happy for the most part, so leaving was hard in several ways. There were just too many changes and too many faults in the system, and sometimes, you just have to remove yourself from the situation. Nonetheless, I missed many of my co-workers and I definitely missed many students, who I grew to care for and respect. But, as they say…life goes on.

I moved to another school several miles down the road. I was hesitant at first because I was so comfortable with my former co-workers and students, but I quickly became adjusted to my new surroundings. For the first time in my teaching career, I had my own classroom and my own homeroom. It was nice to have so much connection with my students, as I saw them several times a day. I felt like a platoon leader, in many ways. It gave me a real sense of belonging, and I felt even more connected to my students than I have in the past. It was a nice situation.

To make a long story short, this school year was possibly one of my best so far, for several reasons. Some of them came from within, but many of them were external. Those external factors are the tough ones, because you’re not always in control of those things. I was relieved and excited to learn that my students, their parents and the administration were incredibly supportive and nurturing, especially being the new teacher in a new environment.

As I have said in earlier posts, it was a very empowering year, and much of that was due to the fact that the school recognized the effort and ability I brought to the table. Instead of micromanaging me or imposing their own system or individual methods on me, they trusted my methods, and allowed me to function and run my classroom as I saw fit. They heard the feedback from my students and their families, and that was the validation they needed.

As I said, giving me time and space to operate and grow allowed me to have a wonderful year. I learned a lot about myself, my job as their teacher and mentor, and it is such an empowering feeling to work in an environment where you feel supported, respected and valued. It allows you to breathe, to grow and most importantly, to feel nurtured.

Overall, my work life this year was fulfilling and wonderful.

The other big life event I had was getting married in April. I had been dating my fiancée for several years, and we both made the plans to get married in Las Vegas, as it is a place we both love and enjoy. It was also sort of an “in between” location for her family and friends and mine. We basically were able to have the wedding of our dreams. A huge part of this was due to the fact that her closest friends and my closest friends were all able to make the trip. That meant so much to me. I know how hard it is to get together sometimes as we get older, and sometimes it feel like pulling teeth even to meet my guy friends for drinks, but I felt so blessed and grateful that they made the financial and time commitment to be there for my wedding. I realize the flight from Boston to Las Vegas is not cheap, not to mention hotels, food and other living expenses. They all have wives and several kids, but they sacrificed to be there, and that meant the world to me. It means the world to have your closest friends and family there for such a huge moment in your life. I will never forget that.

And then there’s my new wife. We’re both teachers, so we share that in common. I think we are both blessed to come from wonderful and supportive families, and that makes a huge difference. I hear nightmare stories about “in-laws”, but in my experience, I have nothing but great things to say. Her parents, her brother and sister, and her whole family have been nothing but supportive and accepting of me. I will always be grateful for that as well.

And that leaves my new wife, herself. She is a wonderful woman, highly motivated, and very intelligent. She has an undying devotion to her friends and family, and will go to great lengths to make plans and ensure she spends quality time with the people she loves. She’s also an incredible mother, and even though I consider myself to be pretty expressive and extroverted, she encourages me to talk, share and communicate, especially when it’s hard. I think that’s a wonderful characteristic.

If she reads this, she’ll probably kill me for saying this, but I dated many women to get to her. I’ve dated some wonderful women who just weren’t the right fit, and I’ve dated some less than wonderful women who sometimes make me wish I could travel back in time and avoid that moment I met them. But in all seriousness, as is usually the case in life, the things that happen to you, both good and bad, become a foundation and learning process. Each learning experience was designed to bring me to where I am now, so that I may fully appreciate what I have. I think without those moments in between, you won’t truly see when something is placed in front of you worth grasping on to.

Overall, its been a wonderful year. There were some setbacks, and several disappointments, but I have grown and matured this year, and ultimately, I feel I’m in a better place than I was one year ago.

At the very least, I know I’ve grown and learned many things about myself and the world around me, and to me, that’s what it’s all about. Growth.

My wife Anya and daughter Aitana

-Z

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