Friday, July 22, 2016

Things I’ve Learned This Year

Inspired by my younger daughter’s post of 2 weeks ago, reflecting on her first year of teaching, marriage, and adulting. It occurred to me that though I’ve been doing all of those things a lot longer, there are things we learn once and they stick with us, and there are things we have to keep learning over and over again. The important thing: Never stop learning.

Things I’ve learned this year:
  1. When driving in Japan, you have to remember not only to drive on the opposite side of the road from the US, but also that the windshield wiper and turn signal are on opposite sides of the steering wheel.
  2. It is possible to send your children off to college with blithe promises of finding new community, to still be terrified yourself of your first move as an adult, and to survive.
  3. People in Okinawa, Japan, are more open and talkative than people in Tokyo, Japan, as a general rule. (The saleswoman at the cellphone store, the old man behind me in line at the grocery store, the woman sitting next to me in the clinic waiting room…I learn pieces of their life stories. Never happened in Tokyo.)
  4. Empty-nest life can actually become busier because there is no reason to put work down.
  5. You can have 100% humidity and it’s not raining.
  6. It can be too hot and sunny to go to the beach.
  7. Bare feet on tile floors have a great cooling effect.
  8. Family connections via Skype and Facebook are amazing.
  9. But they don’t replace the amazingness of actually wrapping your arms around those people.
  10. Google Docs has an MLA report template.
  11. More about math, science, and all kinds of standards (not just English and social studies) than I ever thought possible. (So THIS is what a curriculum coordinator does?)
  12. The connections between said standards are pretty cool. (For instance, modern language standards emphasize learning subject area talk and actual access to stuff via Internet in that language—connects to subject areas and also to technology!)
  13. Dragonfruit is a gorgeous color with a mildly sweet, totally bland taste. 
  14. Passion fruit is as delicious as anything you ever had labelled with that flavor, but is full of seeds and looks the unappetizing texture of snot. 
  15. What my mom meant when she said how humbling it is when your kids gain experiences, knowledge, and expertise beyond your own. (This is one I’ve been relearning every year for a while now, and every year I’m more awed and humbled and amazed.)
  16. How to design my own web page.
  17. Having your writing rejected hurts. 
  18. I can make carnitas that taste just as good as the ones at restaurants in San Diego’s Old Town. 
  19. Being a grandma is…surreal. My first grand baby hasn’t actually been introduced to the world outside his mother yet, but I have this weird sense of seeing many layers of time simultaneously: from photos of my parents as babies, to photos of myself as a baby, to memories of having my own babies, and now with my own baby having a baby, I can also imagine more generations backward and forward. 
  20. What 2 tons of elementary math books looks like on the back of a flatbed truck, and how to organize 14 people to help unload said books. (More of so THIS is what a curriculum coordinator does?)
  21. The delights of having Goodreads friend and posting reviews.
  22. Spam has its own section of a grocery store aisle in Okinawa.
  23. At 51, I am still growing and learning, and that’s a good thing.
  24. But in those 51 years, I have learned some things. And that’s a good thing, too.
  25. This prayer, adapted from John Calvin in Timothy Keller’s book Prayer. It is taped to the top of my laptop, and I pray it every morning when I first sit down at my office desk and pull my laptop out of its case: “My good God, Father, and Savior, grant me aid by your Holy Spirit to now work faithfully in my vocation, which is from you, all in order to love you and the people around me rather than for my own gain and glory. Give me wisdom, judgment and prudence, and freedom from my besetting sins. Bring me under the rule of true humility. Let me accept with patience whatever amount of fruitfulness or difficulty in my work that you give me this day. And in all I do, help me to rest always in my Lord Jesus Christ and his grace alone for my salvation and life. Hear me, merciful Father, by our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

What have YOU learned this year?

My happy place

Me doing my happy thing in my happy place

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