The Year of Letting Go


On Friday of last week, I closed out my twelfth year of teaching. After teaching for more than a decade, I still find the profession highly rewarding, but also very challenging.

At the end of every school year, I have a ritual where I stand in my classroom with the lights off. I take a few minutes to reflect on the year as a whole, considering everything from failures to victories. While the walls can boast many days of laughter, I can’t deny it was a tough year. After a few moments of contemplation I realized this was the year of letting go.

In the space of nine months, my life has irrevocably changed. I am still the same optimistic and happy person, but I’ll be honest in admitting it has been a struggle to hang onto the parts of my personality that matter the most to me. The changes around me range from deep personal losses to trivial, stupid things that are simply gone. Either way, where I started in August is very different from I where I am in May.

A number of things have changed both personally and professionally, some of which are so new I’m still trying to wrap my mind around them. There are, however, five things that have sunk in and I’ve figured out how to let them go in different ways.

1) Grandma.

I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to say goodbye to her as I still feel her presence. She left us back in December, but in many ways it’s like she’s still whispering in my ear. I treasure that feeling, but Friday nights just aren’t the same without seeing my Grandma across the craft table. I haven’t made a card or scrapbook page since she passed and I think it will be a long time before I pick up another rubber stamp.   On the bright side, I swear she’s right by my side as I knit. She was a master knitter and whenever I get stuck, I always seem to find the answer and I like to think it’s from her.

2) Nearly Perfect Attendance.

From my first day on the job, I hardly ever missed a day of work. I’ll take a personal day or two around my birthday, but that’s it. This year I missed a ridiculous amount of work due to health issues, a funeral, and family emergencies. Perhaps, it’s my  tendency towards perfectionism, but I felt incredibly guilty for missing 9 days of work. It’s a matter of personal pride to do the very best work I can and to be present for a job I am paid to do. Letting go of that pride was hard to do this year, but I also realize I didn’t have much of a choice. Sometimes there are things beyond my control.

3) MacBook

Five years ago, my school switched over to Apple for all teacher issued laptops. I was skeptical at first, but within a week I was a total convert. My transition was so complete, I turned off my PC at home and just used my work computer for everything. My MacBook traveled all over the country with me to workshops, vacations, and writing retreats, (including London). I wrote my first novel and part of my second on that laptop. This year, they gave us new computers and I had to return my faithful old friend. Call me crazy, but I had a relationship with that laptop and the break-up hurt. Luckily, I now have my own non-work related MacBook Pro, but our relationship is still pretty new, (my weird sense of humor is part of this list item, in case you haven’t noticed).

4) The Office and Twilight

This is going to sound crazy, but just roll with me on this one. Back in 2005, I started watching a little show called The Office. After a couple of episodes, I was obsessed. Obsessed to the point of going to the 2007 Office Convention in Scranton. For me this was more than just a show as it got me writing again after a 5 year hiatus. I wrote analytical posts about each episode and gained a strong reader base, which gave me the encouragement to keep writing. I am still writing today because of what The Office gave me: Inspiration and Confidence. The Office came to an end on May 16 and yes, I cried. That being said, my work keys are still securely fastened to a Dunder Mifflin lanyard, (I will always be an Office fan).

Twilight also came to an end with the released of Breaking Dawn: Part 2 back in November. For five years, I fawned over the books and movies, drooled over Edward and idolized Stephenie Meyer’s courage to re-imagine  vampire lore. Beyond the fandom, my foray into novel writing began on the night of Twilight’s movie release. I think I’m still in denial that all things Twilight have come to an end, but I did pack away all my Twilight posters. Next year, I have no idea what posters will hang on my “fun wall” in my classroom. Superheroes, maybe?

5) Chalkboards

During the last week of school, I found out the district made an executive decision to replace all chalkboards with whiteboards. I am devastated by this as my chalkboard is something I really loved in my classroom. The dark green keeps the room warm and cozy (instead of white and sterile).  Next year, I am stuck using stinky markers and I have to figure out how to keep those boards clean (which is by all accounts impossible). Never mind the glare.  The one silver lining? I think I remember seeing dry erase crayons at Target. That could be fun.

– – –

Instead of fixating on what has changed, I’m choosing to be curious of what lies ahead. I am so thankful for my family and my home. More changes are on the horizon, but my anchors remain firmly in place. Letting go is a natural part of life and makes way for new paths.

– – –

c.b.w. 2013


21 thoughts on “The Year of Letting Go

  1. it is strange how supposedly little things like a chalk board and a particular laptop computer are really important water wings that help keep you afloat in your life. They don’t have the same impact as losing your grandma, but they were still important. I think the posters next year will be enlargements of the cover art of your published novel!!!! (You can keep the title and author off so you don’t blow your cover.)


    • I tend to keep my focus on the little things (as they are the thing that make life grand), so when a bunch of them go missing at once, I feel it! For some I’m sure this post seemed a bit ridiculous, but I needed to write it. I’m so glad you “get” where I’m coming from. 🙂

      p.s. I LOVE your idea for the poster wall!


  2. Sherrey Meyer

    Yours has been a year of change and loss, all of which created stressors in your world. It isn’t surprising that you have these feelings which you expressed so eloquently. I never had a grandma who was the least interested in me or what I was about, so I’m that yours is still whispering knitting help to you! Love your blog, love your writing.


    • Thanks for such lovely words. I was hesitant to post this, but I’m glad I did. It’s the little things that matter the most, so I had to say my goodbyes. My grandma, after all is the one who taught me to explore and embrace small things in order to have a big life. See, she’s still sharing her wisdom! 🙂


  3. You’ve always handeled change better than I have. I would like to tell you that you should go out and buy chalkboard or the spraypaint and make some to tack up over the whiteboards, but that is how I would handle it. And you shouldn’t feel bad about missing work. I learned too that “sick leave incentive days” for perfect attendance are also not all they are cracked up to be. You have to take care of yourself above all.


    • I was going to invest in some chalkboard paint, but after thinking about it I realized it’s not really my classroom. My stuff is in it, but the room essentially belongs to the school. They can do whatever they want with it. I can choose to kick and scream or I can find a way to make those whiteboards work for me. One way or another, my personality will be all over those boards. 🙂


  4. catherinelumb

    Letting go sounds a little sad, though I can understand why it feels like this. I read this post and thought: Learning how to adapt to change. It’s a difficult process, which includes letting go, but it also encompasses the strength it takes to continue on and fight for your dreams regardless.
    Either way, it seems to me that there is a lot to be proud of from this post…from your year. Thank you for sharing, and for reminding me that oving forward can be hard, but also important to do well. 🙂


    • The last couple of months have felt “lighter” in that I don’t feel like I’m fighting anymore. Writing this post allowed me close that window, so I can open a new door. It’s a nice feeling. 🙂


  5. At first I thought you meant you were letting go of teaching! Here’s hoping you move quickly from whiteboards (though I know you’ll find something fun to do with it) to SMART Boards. We have those and I know you’d have a blast with one in your classroom. Here’s to your next school year — challenging and fulfilling.


    • With our budget constraints, SMART Boards are pretty far into the future! One way or another I will find a way to gave fun in my classroom – that’s something I work really hard at every single year. 🙂


  6. That’s a lot of change to face in nine months. With how it compounds emotionally, it’s no wonder that even the small things hurt so much. But, as mentioned above, learning to let go is one of the most important things that we can do. It’s not easy (and I know because I’m sitting on the verge of having to let go of something as well), but it’s such a relief once it’s truly been put aside.

    The good news, though: rubbing alcohol. My classrooms have white boards, and some rubbing alcohol and a good rag (or paper towels) seem to cut through anything. : )


    • It’s amazing how finding an outlet can make letting go a little easier. I had been holding onto these feelings for a long time and it was nice to have a place for them to go. I feel like now I get back to the business of feeling normal. 🙂

      Rubbing alcohol? Wow! I never would have thought of that! Thanks for sharing! 🙂


  7. Lots of changes in your life!

    With regards to scrapbooking, I found it very cathartic to make albums of both parents after they passed away. Going through boxes of old photos, especially of my mother, I learned a lot about their lives as a children and remembering fun moments we spent together. I enjoyed incorporating those photos into hand-crafted pages and sharing them with the people who loved them. Maybe, when the time is right for you, you will find comfort remembering your grandmother in a similar manner. 🙂

    Your attendance record is admirable. So many people in our school system do not have the same work ethic, unfortunately. Kudos to you! 🙂

    Hope you will become just as attached to your new Macbook as with your previous one. 🙂

    Glad I’m not the only one who gets inspired to write when a beloved series ends. lol

    It does seem strange to walk into a classroom without those green chalkboards, doesn’t it? I do like the new ‘Smart boards’, though, that have electronic ‘markers’ and ‘brushes’ and will project whatever is on your computer. The fact that it is electronic means you don’t have to deal with odiferous markers or chalk dust (which I have recently become allergic to). The downsize would be when it malfunctions, I suppose, and you have to bring in a techie to fix it. 🙂

    Hope your next school year will be more comforting with less ‘letting go’ of things. Enjoy your summer off. 🙂


    • Knitting has been a very cathartic practice. I learned how just before my grandma passed away. Along with my mother, she showed me how to cast on. 🙂 One day I’m sure I’ll get back into paper crafts, but for now everything is in my craft closet. My muse will let me know when its time to pull it all out again.

      My new MacBook Pro and I just celebrated our 1 year anniversary. 🙂 It still looks and works like its brand new, which makes me very happy. Slowly but surely, our bond grows. Haha! 🙂

      Smart Boards are amazing, but our budget has been slashed yet again. At the moment, I’m fighting to have enough text books for a new course I’m teaching in the fall. I’ll never understand why government on the state and federal level continue to cut funding for education.

      I am optimistic about next year. In a way, the challenges of this year have made me stronger and more willing to look at the future with curious eyes, rather than with pessimism. 🙂


      • Glad your knitting brings you joy and I’m sure your scrappy muse will return one day. I hear you on the subject of government funding. Things are getting tighter and tighter here, too. Glad you’re optimistic about next year. 🙂


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