A Former Teacher With A Lot to Learn

My name is Tracy Derrell and I’m really excited to be the Simple Year 4 blogger. I want to thank Kerry for giving me this chance to spend the next year documenting my attempt to overhaul and simplify my life.

I live in New York’s Lower Hudson Valley with my husband, a professor at a local college, and my daughter Emma, age 7.  In 2012 I left a sixteen-year career as a New York City teacher so I could be more present for Emma and pursue new career opportunities which didn’t require me to sit on a train for three hours a day. A long commute and a challenging job took a toll on nearly every aspect of my life, and I hoped that quitting would allow me to make some much-needed positive changes. Even though it’s been nearly three years, my anticipation and excitement are still fresh in my mind.

I’m going to be able to sleep past 4:30 am!

I’m going to have time to exercise!

My house is going to be so clean!

I’m going to finally finish all my organizing and decorating projects!

Well. Here’s my 2015 reality check.

I didn’t think getting up at 6:30 would be harder than getting up at 4:30. (I still don’t understand why.)

I have time to exercise, but my motivation took one whiff of my gym sneakers and died.

As for my house, it’s marginally cleaner, but it could and should be a lot better. I still have a lot of stuff I don’t need, which seems to be an ongoing theme. I donate items pretty regularly, but it’s only recently that I’ve started to see a dent in the house. This photo shows my first haul for 2015.


And I’m not more organized. I look organized but I’m really flying by the seat of my pants. So occasionally I get into a pickle, like the time I went to work wearing two different shoes.

If I could go back in time and visit with my 2012 self, first I would marvel at my ability to travel through time, but then I would pat 2012 Tracy on the head and laugh indulgently, because my grand expectations have not panned out. Within a couple months of quitting my job I was sucked into the vortex of PTA and Girl Scouts and dance and great new friends and challenging new work.  It hasn’t been bad; I feel blessed to have a full and interesting life. But I do want to raise the bar on what I’ve been willing to accept from myself. I’m still a teacher at heart, so while I hope you enjoy reading about my experience, I hope you learn a little something too!


13 Responses to A Former Teacher With A Lot to Learn

  1. I’m so looking forward to reading your posts. Organization, exercise and total house cleanliness are all admirable goals around my house!

  2. You sound like a great candidate for this blog. I too chose to have a better work/life balance a couple of years ago. I realized this year that my scales are starting to tip back the wrong way. I am looking so forward to your blog and progress.

  3. Can’t wait to hear more of the journey!!
    I am making the opposite transition. A stay at home mom mostly for 20 years… back in the workforce, and its mostly throwing me for a loop!

  4. Ha ha, sounds familiar! I stopped work in 2012 too, to become a SAHM with grand visions of a clean and uncluttered house and a beautiful flower and vegetable filled garden with roaming chooks laying beautiful eggs.
    It’s sort of like that … if you look at it through very rose tinted spectacles!!

    Really looking forward to your posts.

  5. Welcome! I’m looking forward to your journey and hope it kicks my . . ahem . . . into crossing off some of the stuff on my list.

  6. Well I have known you for many many years… 😉 I understand getting sucked into things and having things you think will happen disappear into a thin dust. I have a hard time purging and with our small area it is a constant must.

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