Time of Joy, Time of Anxiety, Time of Uncertainty

It’s December once again!

I have always found December to be a time of joy. As a child, I absolutely couldn’t wait for December to arrive; because, with December came Christmas! To quote from the iconic Christmas classic, A Christmas Story, “Christmas was on its way. Lovely, glorious, beautiful Christmas, upon which the entire kid year revolved.” That completely sums my childhood! 🙂
As a child I loved EVERYTHING about the Christmas season–decorating the house, Christmas music, baking, parties, caroling with my church choir, even school was more enjoyable near Christmastime. It was a joyous time of year in my little world.

I taught in public schools for 12 years, with 10 of those years spent in kindergarten. December was again, one of my most favorite times of year. My Kindergartners were always so excited about everything going on in our little classroom (come to think about it, they were typically excited about the goings on in our classroom year round, but December had an extra spark of excitement). Our school days were filled with joy as we prepared the classroom for the holiday. It was a truly happy time.

I left kindergarten three years ago to pursue a PhD in education. While there have been joyous moments, there has also been significant anxiety tied to this experience. December seems to be that time of year when anxiety is at it’s peak. As a student, December brings end of the semester deadlines & final exams. However, this semester, I’ve found those end of the semester deadlines to be exponentially greater for professors!

I accepted a position as a clinical instructor at my university in August, and have been balancing the demands of full time faculty & dissertation writing doctoral student for the past four months. I absolutely love my position as faculty! I have had the opportunity to work alongside a brilliant panel of faculty, & eager, conscientious students. However, I’ve had to remind myself that the dissertation simply won’t write itself. So, now I’m down to the wire! We’ve reached the last week of classes, which means TONS of papers are due; and, final exams are next week. Assignments plus finals equals a mountain of grading in my near future. AND, I have one month to finalize my dissertation before presenting it to my committee. BRING ON THE ANXIETY! 🙂

It seems the past few years, at least one family member has had a health issue during December. Two years ago my Dad was undergoing prostate cancer treatments. Last year my Grandmother fell, broke her arm, had surgery, & was admitted to a nursing home. This year my Mother-in-Law suffered a severe stroke, & has many lingering complications. Thankfully, my Dad’s & Grandmother’s conditions improved significantly. However my Mother-in-law is another story. I know the stroke was recent, & long-term prognosis for stroke patients can be very unclear in the beginning, but she’s not really showed any signs of improvement. In fact, she has significant brain swelling right now. We’re literally in watch & wait mode right now; everyone & everything is in a stall pattern. So much uncertainty surrounds her present condition. We hope, we pray, we wait.

This time of year evokes so many feelings, emotions, & memories. For me, it is my goal to never lose the joy that comes with the holiday season; no matter how anxious or uncertain the situation becomes. So, this year, in an effort to retain my sanity amidst the chaos, I choose to be joyful & take a few minutes each day to enjoy the splendor of December.

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