I had just left a bad marriage, with the support of my best friend, who would end our friendship just a few weeks later. I was alone. I worked at a good school where I was respected and appreciated, but I was bored and my students weren't getting everything they needed. I was emotionally exhausted and at breaking point.
2012 had a pretty inauspicious start.
Now, I am again alone in my apartment, but this year, I'm marvelling at just how much has changed. I just left a small get-together with members of my community group, all from the church I started attending on Christmas day 2011. I spent the evening texting and tweeting with Andrew, Karl, Crystal, Kate and Carolyn - all of whom I met through the #flipclass community on twitter.
A year ago, I wasn't on twitter. I had never heard of flipped learning. I didn't have this blog. Professionally, I was alone.
This year, while being the most challenging year of my life, has also been the year where I've seen the most grace - in my own life, and in the lives of people around me.
My classroom is transformed. I am a better teacher. My students are better learners too. I'm at a school where I have the freedom to try out crazy ideas, like team-teaching with a guy I've never met 2,500 miles away.
My community is transformed. I have my church, which has been an amazing source of strength and support. My pastors have poured their help, support, affection and wisdom into me, and I am incredibly blessed to have them. My community group has been there, through the deep valleys, and on the mountaintops.
I also have my flipped learning community - the Cheesebuckets - many of whom I am lucky to not just call colleagues, but also friends.
More specifically, I've found a friend who has walked with me through some pretty horrific stuff, and allowed me to walk with him on similar paths. Andrew's friendship has changed me - made me more attentive, more focused, more joyful, more thankful.
When I think back to what my life was like that final day of 2011, I get a little choked up. This year has been a year of grace in so many ways.
Most of all, 2012 showed me that I'm not alone. That no problem is too great that community can't overcome it. That the moments I thought were great before are shadows of the joy in this past year. That there are people who will not only love you for who you are, but will help you change and still love who you become.
As difficult as this year was, I wouldn't change it. I hope 2013 is easier, but I see the fruit that has been bourne out of pain and hard labour in 2012. And I also see the grace that has kept me from bearing that all on my own.
Here's to an even more grace-filled 2013. Thank you all for being part of my community. I have learned so much from you all.
Happy New Year, everyone.