Vigor: Part 1

Have you chosen your One Little Word for 2012?  I chose a word for 2011.  What it was I can't even remember because I didn't choose it with authenticity or clarity and I didn't actively pursue it with awareness.  I was, as Christine Kane puts it, putting my word in a microwave oven and waiting for the bing and changes that followed.  Not surprisingly, my word and those changes did not manifest themselves.

But 2012 will be different because it has to be.  In 2010 Mr. Cook's resolution was to be more positive.  And he has become an entirely different person.  That's what I want for myself and 2012.

These are my answers to Christine Kane's "Your Word of the Year Discover Tool".  If you want to choose and live your word with intention you can get a copy of the tool here.

Write the word (or words) you are choosing for the coming year: Vigor.

Source: flickr.com via Summer on Pinterest

Why is this the perfect word for you this year?  2011 has been a year of a lot an insane amount of change.  Most of it good, some not so great.  Mr. Cook getting home from Afghanistan.  Learning to live together.  Learning to love together.  Learning to be married all over again.  Learning to be best friends again.  Learning to have a roommate again.  Graduation from college.  Learning to be a grown up.  Learning to accept opportunity and blessings.  Learning to pursue my true desires.  Struggling through a summer school teaching experience that left me in daily meltdowns.  Landing a position as a high school English teacher and letting go of incredible co-workers and an amazing 'work' environment, knowing that I was disappointing a staff of blooming young adults and people who have incredible hearts for service and pursuing a job I am qualified for, but terrified of...daily.  Navigating all that is the first year of teaching.  The "first year of marriage".  The "first year of home ownership".  Talks of little Cooks to be.  Exhaustion. Not taking care of myself.  Not taking care of our marriage.  Of my friendships.  Of my family.  I am tired of being tired and run down and constantly saying, "Maybe. When I have time."  I need to infuse my life, my relationships, my career with VIGOR in 2012.

If you embraced and lived this word daily, what would be different for you?  I would wake up every morning with an incredible desire to tackle the day, to "Wake Up and Fight" (Woodie Guthrie's 33rd resolution for the year 1942) and go to sleep with a sense of peace that if that day happened to be my last I had made a mark on the world.  I had spoken kindly to a student.  I had kissed my husband so completely he didn't stop thinking about it all day.  I had made my dad's day with a phone call.  I had made two puppers very happy by taking them on a walk.  I had taken care of my body by feeding it with the right foods to live vigorously.  I had taken time to journal.  I had lived my passion.

My schedule would be intentional.  I would make time for writing a letter to a friend in Germany.  I would drop a treat off to my sister.  I would cut out the 'time-consumers' that took away from my VIGOR.  Things  like (prepare yourself for the shock and horror that is to follow) catching up on my DVR filled with Real Housewives and fictional TV characters whom I live vicariously through because I am 'too tired' to get off the sofa and live for myself, ensuring my googleReader has a pleasant (0) blogs unread, that I know the comings and goings of everyone else's lives lived by checking in on facebook and that I've accomplished a sufficient amount of pinning despite never accomplishing the ideas pinned.

In what ways do you already live/embody this word?  Currently very little of my life is lived with VIGOR.  I have been in survival mode.  Surviving re-integration (the military's awesome terminology for learning to live all over again after you've ripped the band-aid off and you know he's home, really home this time) and my first year of teaching.

The only thing currently being done with VIGOR is the work we are putting in on our marriage.  We are learning and practicing how to love and communicate so that we can be experts at marriage and being one another's best friend.  It is a skill you know.  And it is a lot of hard work, being taken on with VIGOR and hope.

In what ways do you not live/embody this word?  I do not work out, despite my gym membership.  I do not eat healthy, despite having a health nut for a husband.  I do not fully invest myself in anything because I am too distracted by the magnitude of everything.  Apathy is a good way to describe it.  I tried to explain it to the Mr. the other day and it went something like this, "I'm trying to make myself un-numb.  I spent so much of the deployment being numb because I wasn't sure what would happen if I allowed myself to feel.  I've gotten really good at not feeling and waiting for the worst.  Now that the waiting is over, now that the worst didn't happen, I'm afraid to feel again because I know the next deployment is always around the corner".  Apathy out of necessity?  I'm not sure, but it has infiltrated every aspect of my life.  It's time to feel and accomplish things and life and relationships with VIGOR.

If you were to live this word daily throughout the year, how would your life be different one year from today? What would you have created or attracted? How would you feel?  I will be healthier.  I will have taken care of myself physically and mentally.  I will have impacted a student, far beyond their life in high school.  I will have happy puppers who are taken care of, loved on, and walked.  I will have a happy husband who wakes up excited to see me and goes to sleep longing for the next day to spend together.  I will have nurtured friendships.  I will have shown my family how much they mean to me.  I will have become less selfish, less tired and more ready for little Cooks.  I will have started my free lance writing and submitted work for publication.  I will have cut out the distractions and lived fully with VIGOR in my day to day.  I will have picked up my guitar and french horn.  I will have utilized my creativity instead of comparing it to others'.  I will be surrounded by positivity, by energy, by builders.  I will have cut negativity, apathy, and downers.  My energy and passion will be contagious.  I will feel alive, not numb.

Source: flickr.com via Hannah on Pinterest

"Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation... even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind." -Leonardo DaVinci

I've shared my one little word over at Stephanie Howell's Blog Your Heart, a monthly link up dedicated to being honest and authentic about what is going on in your heart.

Thankful: Days 26-30

Day 26:  Craft Time.

So thankful to have a craft room to call my own.  It's a work in progress, but I am so happy to have it.  A space to organize, to play in and to collect delicious crafty goodness.

But I'm even more thankful to spend time with friends and craft with them.  Accountability? Slim.  Conversation and good food? Overflowing.

                                           Source: marthastewart.com via Summer on Pinterest

By the way.  There should be a board on Pinterest, called "You Lied".  Specifically for things like hair tutorials or these pumpkins I attempted to make, for 5+ hours.  They are currently in the fall decor box and will not reappear until next year.

Day 27:  Donors.

We celebrated a Friends Thanksgiving with our friends Scott and Kristen.  Scott received a heart transplant on St. Patrick's day this year.  It was a long hard journey for them.  So thankful for donors and what they do for families and their friends.

Day 28:  Reading.

Although I rarely do it anymore, I love snuggling up with a good book and just escaping for a while.  The last day of the week in my Cornerstone class, 20 minutes is set aside for the kids to read.  It is a really cool experience.

I'm currently reading The Hunger Games and I'm loving it!

Day 29:  Quiet.

                              Source: wwwcastlescrownscottages.blogspot.com via Summer on Pinterest

After a day of teaching and all of the constant noise that comes with being surrounded by teenagers I long for quiet.  Literal quiet and mental quiet.  I drive home in silence, breathe and let the day go.  My favorite time of quiet is in the weekend mornings when the Mr. is still asleep and the sun hasn't come up yet.  Quiet bliss and calm before the day begins.

Day 30:  Hope.

It's pretty powerful thing.  Even more, I love seeing hope renewed in others.  Of dreams let go and rekindled.

Thankful: Days 21-25

Day 21: Marriage Counseling.

{Our rings, photo taken by the incredibly talented Toni Jewell}

Yep.  We're going.  We needed to after the wake-up call.  And it has been really good.  Did you know having a good marriage is a skill?  That it takes more than just loving the person you're with?  So happy we went when we did.  That we have an awesome counselor.  That she gets "us" and where we're coming from and how much we are both invested in making this work.

Day 22:  Bunko!

There is nothing quite like this monthly get together of women.  I love it.  Not for the dice rolling or the awesome home cooked meal.  But for the girl talk.  The conversations.  The laughter the Tuesday pick me up at the end of the month.  So happy to be a part of this special group of ladies.

Day 23:  Sleep.

I am so thankful for sleep.  It quiets my mind.  It is the only time I can really turn off and tune out to the to-do list, the grading, the stress.  Most days I need a twenty minute power nap when I get home from school to turn off my teacher brain and turn on my wife heart.

I am thankful that I can sleep in peace.  That I do not have to worry about not waking up or what might happen while I rest.  A feeling easily taken for granted by most of us.

Day 24:  Family.

Today was a great day spent with family.  It was just the 7 of us, for the first time, in a long time (or maybe ever) together on Thanksgiving.  Cook and I hosted.  The meal was delicious, but more importantly we spent time together, as a family.

Day 25:  My Relationship with my Mom and Sister.

I'm pretty blessed to say that they are my friends, not just my family.  We get together often (although I think we'd all like to get together more) and laugh and talk and enjoy one another's company.  Even when it is raining and cold outside and there are cops everywhere at Target on Black Friday.  So happy to have both of these women in my life.  They are great examples to me, but also great friends.

Thankful: Days 16-20

Day 16: Supportive Coworkers.

This was a crazy week.  An observation by one of the curriculum coordinators at district office.  It went really well.  But I was really nervous.

Another observation by my new teacher mentor, provided by the district to first year teachers.  I bravely invited her to observe my 'worst' class.  They are, by no means 'bad'.  It was awesome.  She said, "Look at how many boys are in your class and how many girls".  Say again?  Awesome that I had never noticed that.  28 boys, 2 girls.  "Look at how many students you have with exceptionalities in this class".  5.  In one class.  And now I know to embrace the 4A craziness that is.

The icing on the cake?  My mid-year formal evaluation with a different administrator.  Whose content area is math.  Terrifying!  But the lesson rocked and the kids were awesome.  And he made me feel like a million bucks in my post evaluation follow-up.

Day 17:  Idaho's 2 Degrees of Separation.

{via here}

Sometimes this little quirk of living in Idaho drives me crazy.  Like seeing someone you went to high school with at the grocery store, who wasn't the kindest to you then, but suddenly wants to reminisce now when your hands are full of double stuff oreos and a 2 gallon jug of milk because you "didn't need a cart"  (seriously why do I feel victorious in bypassing carts?  it always ends badly.  hands cramping.  groceries on hips propping.  looks from strangers.  note to self: using a cart is not a weakness)?

But there are times when it's pretty cool to know someone who knows someone.  Like my new teacher mentor.  She was my English teacher my Junior year of high school.  And now she gets to mentor me and see me grow in a profession I never thought I'd pursue.  Pretty cool.

Day 18:  School Vacations.

Enough said.  Good for teachers.  Good for students.  Good for families.  Sweet, sweet Thanksgiving break.

Day 19:  Music.

I love it.  I need it.  I used to play it.  I normally listen to NPR on the way to school and ride home in quiet (I know this is weird, and my weirdness will be explained) but otherwise I love having music on.  I play it in the classroom.  I need it to stay motivated during a workout or run.  I love to turn it up in the car or when I'm cleaning and pretend that my voice is as good as the person who should be singing.  Music made our wedding, our wedding.

I love Pandora.  I love Genius.  I love discovering artists.  I love the memories that come flooding back with certain songs.  For some people it's smells.  For me it's music and temperatures (yes temperatures, as in weather).  Here is one my favorite songs, not because it's so incredible but because of the memories attached to it:

My dad used to sing this to me when I was little and he would dance with me (because the opening line is, "Hey little sister, what have you done?" and obvees I'm a little sister who was notoriously mischief making).  I almost played this as the  song for the father-daughter dance, but well that would have been weird.

Day 20:  Wake-up Calls.

There are moments where life has a really great way of waking us up from the day to day.  Snap out of it moments.  I am not thankful for the call itself or what it consisted of but I am happy for what it is bringing about for our marriage.  I'm not intending to be cryptic, I'm just not ready to share the depth or shock of the wake-up call.

Thankful: Days 11-15

Day 11: Our military men, women and their families.

{photo taken at the World War II Museum in New Orleans, LA}

A chilling representation of the armed forces of the three major powers going into World War II.  There are no words to describe my gratitude for those hearts.

I cannot explain my depth of gratitude for our military.  It is deeper than being an Army wife, or an Air Force daughter.  Yes, our life, or a large portion of it is determined by the Army, but even more by his soldier's heart.  It is something hard to explain, the heart of someone in public service, but it is a heart that is selfless, that longs to help others, and yes that often has trouble when it is 'just at home'.

I thought about enlisting, after high school.  I knew that my parents had saved for my college education and that they would do what they could to support me financially throughout college.  There was something very appealing about having college paid for and then being paid to attend.  But my heart is not a soldier's heart;.  I have a deep compassion for others and a desire to make a difference, but there is no way I could do what our incredible men and women do on a daily basis.

So I am thankful for their service, their sacrifice and their hearts.  They are the backbone of this country.    They are freedom embodied in a uniform, the soldier's creed, and in the hearts of their families.

Day 12: Financial stability.

We spent Veteran's Day (the 11th) a little differently than we had planned.  Our jaunt to Seattle to visit our best friends was delayed a day by a freak snowstorm over Snoqualmie Pass.  We made the most of it and stayed in a seedy motel, watched House Hunters, ate convenience store snacks and slept in separate beds (I can completely understand the twin beds of the 50's by the way; it was pretty awesome sleep).

Even though it put our trip behind schedule, I was so thankful that we were not one of many slide-offs that night and that we had the financial stability to be able to stay at motel (even if seedy) when we forced off the freeway.

Day 13: Girl Talk.

Sometimes I am an introvert, sometimes an extrovert, but I live for conversations with my girl friends.  It can be the simplest things or really big things, there is just nothing quite like a good talk with your girl friends.  Especially with your bestie.  We needed to kill some time before she dropped me off at the airport (I flew home, the Mr. stayed an extra day to watch an NFL game and then made an equally frightening journey back over the pass) and kill it we did.

What is it about Forever21 and Fuego that spark stimulating discussion like the appropriate amount of sequins for New Year's and "Are ear muffs a fashionable accessory, or am I just delusional because of the amount of sequins my eyes just took in?"

Day 14: Noah's Bagels.

                                           Source: smittenkitchen.com via Season on Pinterest

After reading this recipe, I appreciate my bagels even more.  That is a lot of work!

Oh. em. gee.  They are all that is good about the Northwest.  As much as I love going to see my bestie, my trips to Seattle are just as much about feeding my bagel addiction and my craving for assembly required Swedish furniture (that's right my mecca, the IKEA).

Oh how I ;&hearts thee, Noah's Bagels.  For breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  It doesn't really matter.  Pizza bagel?  Why certainly.  Bagel bites? Say what?!  Need to take the edge off that stressful shopping you've been doing?  Peppercorn bagel.  Box of bagels?  Amy, please, get this for me for Christmas.  Seriously.  I would love to open a box of Noah's Bagels and cream cheese on Christmas morning.

Day 15:  Thoughtful Teenagers.

Real life started again.  Buh-bye vacation.  We started front loading To Kill a Mockingbird today.  One of my favorite activities to do with the students is to read them a series of controversial statements/themes from the novel we are about to read.  And they must either agree or disagree with it.  They cannot 'be in the middle'.  They physically move to one side of the classroom or another and then share their reasoning for their idea.

"All men are created equally".  This is the part of the activity where students struggle with semantics.  "Created or treated?" "Created".  This prompt lead to an hour of really. incredible. discussion.  Don't underestimate what is going on in a blossoming young adult.  We got onto the discussion of people born with exceptionalities.  "Everyone has disabilities and flaws, some people's are just visible to everyone else".  Wow.  These moments are why teaching (yes, even teaching teenagers) is awesome.