A collection of Notes for 2022

A note from Courtney

Like most people by the end of 2020, I was feeling less than inspired. As a working mom, all of my time and energy revolved around work and family schedules. Ballgames, bedtimes, groceries…lather, rinse, repeat. I was feeling a little lost, a little defeated, like I had no goals or plans for myself. Was this what
my life was supposed to be?

In order to answer this question, I decided to my goal for 2021 was to learn more and try new things, so I laid out plan. Each month I wanted to read one nonfiction and one fiction book and I wanted to try something new. I wanted to learn. I was hungry for new information, new hobbies. I wanted to quit saying “I’ve always wanted to…”, without ever actually doing anything.

As the new year began, I started reading more books, instead of buying them and leaving them to collect dust on my bedside table. I read books on leadership, decorating, cooking, minimalism, and I also read romances, mysteries, and poetry. I learned to bake bread, I booked facials and massages, I went
antiquing, I floated in a dark room (try it!), I took my kids on adventures, I practiced yoga (briefly), and in the spring, I signed up for a pottery class.

One evening in March, my husband came home with his new golf league schedule…which ran from April to September, and they were to play every Thursday. For years golf league had always been our big hot button issue. I had no idea why, but every Thursday through these months, I was irritated, irrationally
irritated. I was so grouchy that he was gone all evening, leaving me to do dinner, bath, and bedtime on my own, taking this time away from his family to play a game. A quick temper flare got us to the heart of the matter very quickly that night. He said to me, “how can you be mad at me for having a hobby.
Maybe you should get your own!” This comment stopped me in my tracks. He was right. This was what it was all about. I was jealous that he had something all for himself and I didn’t. The next day, I booked the pottery class that I had “always wanted” to take.

My class began at the end of May, and from the first solo drive, I knew it was exactly what I needed. Once a week, I drove an hour alone, spent two hours with my hands in clay, and drove an hour home, alone. It was like therapy. When my class ended, I kept going back for studio time. This time to clear my head, be creative, learn, and to fail, has been an enormous gift. Some nights I crank out several pieces, and some nights the wheel wins and I end up with nothing to show for my time. Every night, I come home refreshed and ready to take on another day of being a mom and an educator. Seeing my husband, parents, and friends excited about my work has been an added bonus. Let me be clear, I am
not good yet, but seeing my husband drink his coffee out of a mug I made gives me joy. I am proud of myself for the first time in a long time.

Friends, in 2022, I hope that you take some time to learn something new, take some time to find what lights you up and challenges you. As parents, we often feel guilty to spend our spare time, money, or energy on anything other than our families, but it is so necessary to remember our own value. I venture to say that our kids need to see us learning, they need to see us taking time for ourselves, they need to see us fulfilled. Otherwise, they will not give themselves permission to do the same when they are adults. Whatever it is that you have “always wanted” to try, do it. Sign up for the class, Google it, make the appointment, set aside the time, spend the money, take the trip, you will be better for it.


Courtney Hiler is a principal at Central A&M School District in Assumption, IL. She is a wife of a farmer and a mother to three. George is in kindergarten, and twin daughters, Grace and Gentry, are both in preschool.  Courtney loves her small town, her students and staff, and her family...not necessarily in that order.


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Thank you for sharing these notes from these brave women. Sharing their stories could not have been comfortable. It reminds us that life isn’t always comfortable or perfect. I am so proud of you all for taking the time and effort to share your story.


Cheryl Swigert – 07/31/2022

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