It is that time of the year again, when our home smells of Maple for weeks -due to the dozen or so batches of Blondies I bake-, when red, silver and gold ornaments fill the house, when the kids are (mostly) in a great mood because of Winter School break, when I start thinking of gifts, gifts and then some more gifts even though the previous Christmas I promised myself to spend less this time of year.
A time when I reflect on these last 12 months, when I slow down a little bit at a time, as if the countdown to the Years’ End is supposed to mark a final moment of meditation. A moment to STOP and think. To freeze time and peek into the highs and lows of the year.
Did I accomplish my goals, or even remembered my resolutions? Did I surprise myself by exceeding them? Will I remember this year when I am 70? Or 80 if God allows me so many years?
It is not December 31st yet, but today, December 30th, I have mixed feelings: pride, disappointment, happiness, and absolute sadness and sorrow too. Melancholy and regret, and a feeling of total bliss too.
This year, my children grew more than a year’s worth intellectually and in terms of maturity too. They figured out more about themselves than they think. They learned how babies are made, they understood more about home economics than most kids their age. My son completed a difficult school year in June after having one of the hardest, toughest teachers I have met. Some weeks after school was over, while chatting about this Military-style teacher and his “suffering”, he said to me: ”Mom, he was very strict, but our group is better than the rest of the 4th graders because he was so hard on us, so let’s not criticize him”. So my son learned, to see the good in the bad…and I with him. I just hope he extends this sentiment to other day to day life experiences. He learned about Dinosaurs more than I can describe in this blog, because of I don’t have the right words and concepts; Actually, I can’t even pronounce most the names. He learned empathy and patience, and the most important one for me: he learned to be affectionate, to not be afraid of showing his feelings. To hug and let himself be hugged and kissed.
My daughter experienced the loss of a best friend that moved to Texas. The loneliness, the challenge of “fitting in” again and finding a new group of friends. It is easier said than done at 9, so she made me real proud as she tried hard these first months of the school year –today has good new friends. She overcame her fear of the stove! She now makes her quesadillas all by herself, and has been a wonderful helper when I bake. She transferred her Math concepts of Fractions, into the kitchen by using measuring cups and it all makes more sense to her now.
She learned more gymnastics skills by watching You Tube videos than in 3 years taking lessons. She earned a spot in a competitive dance team, and even though the competitions will not take place for another 3 months, she has learned to work hard, to dance her heart out when it is not all fun and games, to live up to the expectations of her teacher. She might learn what it feels to loose next year, or to win. Both will teach her a life lesson in 2016.
She has watched her body change, just enough so to make her proud and a bit embarrassed at the same time.
My husband went through one of the toughest years at work, for several reasons. And with it, I learned some of what many wives go through, emotionally supporting super stressed out husbands that work many long, long hours, bringing the work to the home, and often sleep deprivation due to the work load too. Fortunately this did not last more than some months (or so it seemed to me). I learned to be content in his absence, even if all I wanted was to be with him, watching one of those Science Fiction movies he likes and I find funny.
I learned that I am capable of learning brand new concepts and skills at work that I thought were too complex for me. That I can still create and keep an organized mind with more processes to supervise. That I can make new friends and make them feel welcome in my home soon after.
I learned that my children have more to teach me than I thought. The first weekend of December, I found myself overwhelmed one Saturday afternoon, with a mental list of a dozen things to do, while I yearned for a nap and a quiet afternoon with my kids. My son noticed my absent mindedness and asked what was in my head, when I explained my inner thoughts to him, he said to me in total seriousness “Mom, don’t worry about doing it all. Choose one or two things that really need to be done today, and leave the rest for tomorrow. Don’t stress out.” Such a simple concept, yet invisible (or forgettable) sometimes to any busy mom/housekeeper/wife.
My daughter taught me some cool Hip Hop moves because she realized that she has surpassed my Hip Hop knowledge and experience (by far), so I taught her some Tap steps as a good trade off. So we both learned new moves, and we danced together many afternoons in our kitchen, while pancakes cooked, while blondies baked, while eggs boiled…or after dinner just for fun.
I started the year attending a whole weekend workshop about Co-Dependency. I learned much about addiction; about an addict’s challenges and difficulties. About how our childhood carries so much weight in our adult life. About forgiving and letting go. About taking ownership over our actions, and also about self-awareness and good will to take corrective measures.
Even though the year did not go as planned for several of my loved ones in the matters of addiction and co-dependency , I want to believe that the workshop we all took part on, taught us how to live as emotionally healthy as possible- NO MATTER WHAT.
I can say it did help me, more than I ever thought it would. I learned many things about why I behave like I do with my husband and children (mostly bad habits of course), and why it is important to take action and improve my quality of life and hence, theirs.
Sometimes it is very hard, sometimes it hurts, but in the end, I have seen positive outcome which makes it worth the effort, the time and the painful self-analysis.
One of my resolutions for 2015 was to read more Non-Fiction books. And I did. My favorite one so far is called Super Brain.
I could fill many pages with my favorite quotes by the highly acclaimed Physician Deepak Choprah, a prominent alternative-medicine advocate.
This is one of those books that you read and along the chapters you think of many friends and relatives that could get so much out of it. My sister was sold on it as soon as I told her about it, she now owns a paper copy and is loving it too.
In a nutshell, is describes all that our brain encompasses, all that it is responsible for, and yet, it states repeatedly throughout the book that we should never let our brain be “the boss”. It is a part of our body that we control. It explains the difference between mind and brain, and how the latter should always be subordinate to the first.
It gives much useful and relevant information about the research done that proves how there is energy and bodily reactions to this energy between one human and another, without physical contact. It touches upon religion, forgiveness, emotional well-being, about the importance of exercising our brain just like we exercise the body.
Nutrition as a key in mental health also plays an important part of this book. And throughout its chapters, it mentions the importance of Meditation, which is mostly forgotten or ignored in this fast paced lifestyle of the Western Culture. By the way, is one of my 2016 resolutions: learn to meditate and practice it… frequently.
This year, I also learned that despite my doctor’s efforts to encourage a healthier lifestyle by lowering my sugar intake and exercising more, I lack will power to make a change and have found myself very slow to react to a sugar level that leaves a lot to desire. Every time I find myself eating chocolate, (or a cookie, brownie, blondie, cake, etc.) I think of addiction; I think of a body that screams for more, a bottomless pit, and mostly, I think about one of the people I love most in this world and his struggle to stay sober.
Having said this, I have to include in my resolutions a healthier lifestyle. I can’t give up on a resolution that was not resolved.
During 2015, together as a family, we did our annual Camping Trip with friends, and we did several hiking trips that reminded us of the beauty that nature has to offer. This time with no wires or electricity seems priceless.
This year, was worse than 2014 (I think) in terms of World Peace. The situation in North East Africa as well as in Libya and its surrounding countries was horrendous. It was painful to watch the news (nothing new there). The number of refugees fleeing their countries to northern Europe was in the millions. Germany (due to their decrease in population of young people) has taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees from many countries, hoping to strengthen their workforce, improve their skills and hence, their economy.
Many other European countries took refugees as well, that came on flimsy life boats, crossing dangerous waters from North Africa to Italy, Greece and Turkey. Thousand have died in the attempt, and will keep dying as the migration continues.
Terrorist attacks jumped from suicide bombers killing a dozen or two, to skillfully planned attacks in largely populated areas and venues in Paris, killing over 100 innocent people that were enjoying a meal at a restaurant or music at a concert hall. In this regard, the year culminated with a terrorist attack in US soil, just 100 miles from where we live. A random shooting by two Isis Supporters killing just over a dozen people (San Bernardino shooting).
I lost count of the number of massive shootings in the U.S. , most of them at schools. Equally, the number of victims (most of them black) who died due to abuse (excessive use of force) from law enforcement employees, was alarming.
Added to my resolutions: stay away from the news shows and try to keep my kids away to. All they have done this year is cause (more) anxiety.
A piece of news I heard on the radio that made me smile: on August 2015, Saudi Arabia allowed women to vote, for the first time in history. The news, which truly made me feel happy for all the women that fight for their rights (actively or in secret), was overshadowed by the next pieces of information on the news show: thousands of women who had registered to vote, did not make it to the voting posts. Why? Because women are not allowed to drive. Also, they can only participate in Municipal elections.
The header of my blog states that my views here are expressed “as a Mom, woman, daughter and sometimes an extraterrestrial”.
Here I put on my E.T. hat and look down from space at these human beings, living Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and many other African countries and wonder. How can it be that women are not worthy to talk, to attend school, to show their faces (where burkas and other head scarfs are mandatory), to travel and see the world. To have a say in the political arena!
I makes me real mad, even as an ET… It almost seems like the efforts of a country like Saudi Arabia are just for show, to be relieved of some pressure from the fighters and their advocates.
One step at a time, I guess. I hope my children live to see real change for all those oppressed women.
My son and I read the children’s version of the life of Malala Yousafzai. I believe it is important for our kids to know what other children face when it comes to education.
To end my entry on a happy note, I can say that 2015 is a year that I will remember very dearly, not only because of what I already wrote here, but because my husband and I set the wheels in motion to start our dream come true: building our home.
After months of dealing with the bank, filling out and signing our lives away on endless forms and carefully choosing a contractor, the ground was finally broken this summer.
We personally chopped down trees, chipped them into mulch and cleared as much as we could to give way to the tractor. With the help of some good friends and our kids, it was all done.
I have a separate link on this blog to report on the progress via photos, but I can say I have enjoyed very much every store and website I visited to see dozens and dozens of tiles, appliances, hardware, paint, fixtures and many more things. Link to House Progress Images here.
I know 2016 will bring some stress and challenges to complete our house, but I will gladly take on anything that comes. I have the BEST teammate. He has entrusted me with many choices and has given all the freedom to pick and choose what I like to make our home beautiful. Can’t ask for more (actually I could: the lottery to pay off the loan!)
I will end my entry thanking all of those who listened to me vent when I went through a rough patch, who helped me with my kids so I could keep my work commitments or just to have a night out with my husband, thank you to all those who still call instead of text, -just to say hello-who like me, enjoy a face to face conversation, much more than any email or whatssap string of words.
I wish all my readers a wonderful and memorable 2016. Thank you for taking the time to read, for commenting and for passing it on to your friends.
2016, here I come!