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Back to School...Ready or Not!

Jennifer Smith - Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The phrase "back to school" can illicit different reactions in different people.  Some people may feel excited to go back - to see their friends and start something new.  Others may feel nervous or scared.  Many students just feel dread - the homework, the schedule, the stress!  Whichever category you fit into, the one thing you all if in common is this - it is here, and what you make of this school year is entirely up to you!

Starting a new year can feel a little like New Years, er, in August.  It is a chance to reassess yourself.  To look at how you did last year and make new goals for this year.  Think you could do better on your grades?  Need to be more organized?  Want to try out for something new?  Well, here is that chance to start fresh and have a better year!  

At the beginning of each new school year, we sit down as a family and talk about what is ahead.  We encourage the kids to set goals and to "start strong."  Emphasizing that it is a lot easier to start on top then to try to pull yourself up after a bad start.  We are full of all kinds of wisdom like that.  Having said that, we didn't start so strong this year.  

We started school on August 5.  Yep, here in blazing Arizona, we start school early!  I'm not sure why that is (and if there are any member of the Arizona Dept. of Education reading my blog, feel free to pass my sentiments on at the next board meeting).  On August 5 we are still in summer vacation mode.  Frankly, we are just too hot and lazy to take school seriously.  This year in particular we were still at the lake until a day before school started.  Come monday morning, I threw some pencils in a backpack and sent my kids out the door.  The week pretty much stayed that way - chaotic, unorganized, frenzied.  And with 3 out of the 4 kids now with raging colds.  

Lesson learned?  I'm a bad mom.  Another lesson learned?  School is here - whether I think it is too early or not - and you have the power to make it a great (or not so great) year.  I encourage you to sit down and think about what you want this year to bring...and how to get it!  I found a saying on Pinterest (because Pinterest knows everything) that outlined 7*UP lifting goals for starting back to school:

1. Wake up - and decide to have a good day

2.  Dress up - the best way to dress up is to put on a smile!

3.  Cheer up - say nice things and have a positive attitude

4.  Stand up - for what you believe in.  

5.  Look up - to the Lord.  He is only a prayer away

6.  Reach up - for something higher.  Set some good goals

7.  Lift up - be a good friend and help those around you

Well said unknown author on Pinterest, well said!  Now get out there and make it a great year.  Set some goals, try something new, be confident, make a new friend!  And for heaven's sake...start STRONG!

Brand New Year (and You)

Jennifer Smith - Tuesday, January 15, 2013

At the end of December I went to get my hair cut with the same stylist I have been using for years. When I walked into the salon the first words out of her mouth were "I am sooooo excited for the new year!" I laughed and asked her "why?", assuming she would tell me about some fun plans she had. Instead, she proceeded to tell me how New Years is her very favorite holiday - not because of parties, or friends, or football, or traveling - but because it is a brand new start. She loved the excitement of not knowing what this new year will bring. She loved the feeling of getting a fresh start and making new dreams and goals. She loved reflecting on the last year and assessing where she was and where she wants to be.

As I have spent the last week taking down decorations and cleaning up the Christmas clutter, I have thought a lot about Aimee's excitement with the new year. My house always looks bare where the decorations come down, but it also looks clean and fresh and I have had that same sense of "out with the old, in with the new" that a new year can bring. As a family we talked about making new year's resolutions and the importance of setting goals for yourself and working hard to achieve them. We also talked about how to do this - because it requires so much more than just thinking "I really want this!" It requires a plan on how to achieve it and regular assessment of where you are in relation to that goal. Say you want to get straight A's. How are you going to make that happen? Maybe it is setting a certain amount of time you are going to study every night, or joining a homework club, or getting a tutor. Whatever your goal is, carefully plan out the steps you need to take to reach it - and then DO IT!! It also helps to tell your family and friends about your goals so they can help you and keep you focused.

I truly believe that with enough desire, hard work, and determination, you can achieve anything you want to achieve! So what will 2013 bring for you? A spot on the volleyball team? The lead in a play? Maybe a new friend or the ability to speak French? Perhaps you want to run a marathon or learn to snowboard? Whatever it is, go for it...and good luck!

P.S. Thank you for your inspiration and enthusiasm, Aimee!