What’s Your Grade?

If I ever wondered where my love for writing came from, I really shouldn’t. My grandpa writes a Chaplain’s Corner column for a local newspaper. He writes on purely spiritual matters. A couple of times a year, he sends out a couple of his recent articles to family members. A recent article challenges:

“A simple approach to planning for the next year is to make a short list of priorities. The top four or five would be sufficient. … What kind of grade would we give ourselves in each area for 2010?”

He then went on to list some of his own priorities, being physically – eating and getting exercise, mental and emotional attitude, and, most importantly spiritual (including studies and prayer). In each category, he gave himself a grade and discussed why.

I got to thinking about my own “priorities”. His were as good as any… So, what grade would I give myself?

Physically
This year, I gained a bit of weight. Not enough that my doctors are concerned, but enough that I notice. When you take into consideration that two short years ago, I was so thin that my massage therapist jokingly offered me a sandwich, my weight gain disturbs me. I went from being unhealthily thin, to uncomfortable with my reflection in the mirror. My Mom warned me that might happen in my 30’s, I just hoped she was wrong! I haven’t been eating that great, but have done better about eating less food from a box. In the area of the physical “priorities”, I would grade myself at a C.

I am getting married this summer. I will be wearing a gorgeous dress with spaghetti straps. This means I need to do some serious toning of my upper body… My fiancée and I are also working on eating better in general. For us, that’s going to be a challenge! By challenging each other and holding each other accountable, we will accomplish our goal. If I can raise my grade to a B+, I will be happy.

Another area I should take into consideration is my physical health… Working with young children, I am constantly exposed to germs, and get sick fairly often! I have been quite susceptible to bronchitis as long as I remember… This past year though, it seems as though stomach bugs were my nemesis. I am currently in pursuit of trying to find out why I keep getting sick. I’d like to get to the bottom of it soon to help raise my grade in the physical realm of “priorities.”

Mental and Emotional Attitude
My grandpa defined this area as “being loving, serving, giving and encouraging.” I would like to think this is an area I do OK in. I love the people close to me, I serve the families of the children in my class… I give more than I probably should of myself to way too many people (so people have told me), and I try to be encouraging to everyone I can. Often my efforts fail, or just come out wrong. Sometimes, I am so busy taking care of other people, or trying to do the right thing, that I forget to take care of myself. I try to always keep a positive outlook, and look for the best in everything, but, admittedly, there are times when my emotional health suffers some. My attitude takes a hit. I would give myself a C in this area. Average, but I could use improvement.

Spiritual
Well, this is another area in which I could improve. Sure, I taught Sunday School periodically over the past year. I read the Bible some, and I prayed. I haven’t gone to church as much as I should. These facts don’t make me any less of a believer. I’m not going to make any excuses – I likely was just being lazy. This is an area I hope to do better in over the next year. I know it is important. A relationship is a two way street. Your relationship with God doesn’t get stronger without you making some efforts as well. I’m guessing that my “grades” will go up in each of my priority areas when I put more effort into my relationship with God.

I have two more areas to add to my list of priorities. I would add the professional aspects, and my role as a mother.

Professional
This is an area I really focused on in 2010. I completed about 50 hours of Continuing Education. I also worked on some new strategies in the classroom (with the help of some co-workers) that worked pretty well. My focus has been on renewing my MN Teaching License, and I’m very close to meeting that goal. I also started blogging this year, with a lot of positive feedback. A future goal is to get published in a professional or parenting magazine/web site. I have had a few articles published by an article engine, but I hope to step that up this year. I would give myself an A- in this area. There’s always room for improvement, but I think I’m doing pretty well!

Parenting
This past year has been interesting in this aspect. As my children are getting older, and still adjusting to the divorce of their parents, 2010 was a bit of a struggle. Single parenting is not an easy job! I was lucky that their father still takes them every other weekend, and at least one weeknight. I really don’t know how single parents who don’t have the other parent in the picture do it! We had a lot of great times, but we also had our battles. My grade for myself, a B-. My focus on my kids and their needs is a priority for the next year.

My grandpa’s technique is a different way of reviewing the year before. This is about the 3rd different way I have looked at the last year, and thought about how I want to make 2011 better. I know what my goals and priorities are. They mainly revolve around improvements in my family life (including my new family), spiritual life, physical health and continuing to build my professional career.

I wonder what grades I will be giving myself at the end of the year… how would you grade 2010?

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