a year of reading

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads, lives only one.”

George R.R. Martin

As we grow up, our lives become overrun by responsibilities. Going to work. Paying the bills. Car maintenence. Attending appointments. We often forget to take time for ourselves, because we become so consumed by these mundane tasks. It’s difficult to find a happy balance. For the year 2016, I’ve committed myself to making time for me. More specifically, I plan on reading more books. I have always been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, but unfortunately, somewhere along the way, I’ve forgotten how to incorporate reading into my busy schedule.

I’ve currently set my reading challenge goal to 12 books for the year (1 book per month). It may seem like a small number, but to me it’s manageable and realistic. Hopefully I’ll be able to go above and beyond that number, but if not, I won’t be disappointed.

As I complete a book, I’ll add it to my list below. By doing so, I’m hoping it will keep me accountable. And more importantly, I look forward to re-reading this post at the end of the year to reflect and celebrate my achievements.

If you have any book recommendations, please feel free to comment. I’m open to any and all suggestions.

Happy reading!

MY 2016 READING CHALLENGE:

1. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
(Although Wonder is considered to be a children’s literature book, I think every human (young and old) should read this beautiful story. In some way (big or small), we can all relate to Auggie Pullman at some point in our lives. I loved that this was the first book I read for my challenge. I completed it within a week, and to be honest, I was quite sad that it came to an end. Hopefully more people read this book, and hopefully more people choose kindness)

2. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
(“You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.” Yes, this book does involve a love story between two very different people, but I don’t think that’s the entire focus of the story. The most important take away for me, is that life is precious and we shouldn’t settle for ordinary. The story is about pushing your limits, living boldly, loving life and never holding back. ‘Me Before You’ took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions that I think I’m still trying to recover from. However, I’m looking forward to seeing the movie and reading the sequel.)

3. What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey
I’ve never been a huge Oprah fan, but I do respect her. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and found myself highlighting/bookmarking specific inspirational quotes that I could relate to. Someone describes this book as a “deep cleansing breath” and I couldn’t agree more.

4. The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith
The moment I started reading this book, I couldn’t put it down. I actually finished it in 4 days. The subject of this story is pretty sensitive in nature. It’s about the sexual assault of a young teenage girl named Eden. For me the story was heartbreaking, yet beautiful at the same time. I sympathized with Smith’s characters and felt that Eden’s story was powerful. Her experience pulled at my heartstrings. A worthwhile read, for sure.

5. The Season of You & Me by Robin Constantine
If you’re looking for a simple beach read, then The Season of You & Me is for you. I liked the concept of the story, two teenagers looking to escape the realities they are faced with in their lives. A summer romance. It was good in theory, but I just didn’t really enjoy the writing. The author utilized a hashtag throughout the story (#wheelchairperk), which just didn’t make sense to me. I know this was to appeal to an adolescent crowd, but it made me cringe every time I read it. It just didn’t seem to fit in. A little disappointed by it.

6. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (currently reading)

 

all good things must come to an end

On Friday afternoon, I said goodbye to my first classroom and my first group of students. As I stood in the classroom at the end of the day, with all of my belongings, it almost brought me to tears. I did it, I thought to myself. I followed my dreams and (hopefully) touched the hearts of 15 little kindergarten kids. A bittersweet feeling.

I think back to my first day in September. I couldn’t sleep. I was anxious. I didn’t know what to expect. Basically, I was being thrown to the wolves. I had to make my own path, set my own classroom rules, be the teacher I had always dreamed of. I was just trying to figure things out day by day (with the help of my teaching partners of course). And, although there were endless work nights, and days where I felt tired and run down, it was all worth it.

Not only did I grow as a teacher, but I grew as a person too.Β Patience. Compassion. Flexibility. Parenting. Sense of humour. Open-minded. Firm. Just to name a few.Β 

For 7 hours a day, 5 days a week. 5 months of the school year. These children were learning with me. Growing and maturing. Interacting with other kids. Developing their self-regulation skills. Yes, there many times when I felt frustrated. Overwhelmed really. After three months of school, I felt like some kids still weren’t quite getting it and that worried me. As a result, I was really hard on myself. What was I doing wrong? What could I be doing better? Am I really cut out for this?Β 

I doubted myself at times. After all, they do say we are our toughest critic. But, this process taught me not to be so hard on myself. Sometimes I had to take a step back and appreciate these little humans for who they were. Take each day as it comes. Enjoy the little moments. Learn from your mistakes. And remind yourself, that it’s okay to cry on your drive home from work (as long as it’s not every day).

During my last couple weeks at my school, the other teachers were asking me if I was feeling happy or sad about leaving. I always kept my head held high and answered, A little of both. Truthfully, I was looking forward to taking a couple days off for myself to get caught up on some work at home. Some much needed “me” time.

But when Monday came this week, I woke up feeling like something was missing. I missed interacting with my fellow staff. I missed being greeted by my students when the bell rang. I missed the excitement of when my students learned something new. I missed the little letters my kids would leave for me. I was feeling emotional. I know this isn’t the end for me, but this is the last “first” teaching experience I’ll get.

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So as I sit here, I can’t help but think, I hope my students remember me. I hope they know how special they are and how much of an impact they had on my life. And, if I could tell them one last thing, it would be from my favourite children’s book:

“You’re off to great places. Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!”

– Dr. Seuss

Sometimes, good things come to an end, so better things can begin. On to the next teaching adventure…

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teachers have ‘first day of school’ pictures too.