Christmas morning at my sister's was lots of fun; watching the kids open presents, drinking coffee and eating cinnamon rolls and quiche, and just general warm and cozy feelings. I felt happy with the gifts I gave everyone, especially my nieces and nephew, (wish I could have spent more time with them to read the books, make baked clay objects, etc.), and my Dad (some nice long-sleeved t-shirts he wanted - he wore one the next day so I know he liked it :).
I received some nice shoes and workout clothes, but my favorite gift was the awesome travel suitcase for teaching. Last year, I lugged around my files/books in an over the shoulder bag or large purse, jeopardizing the well-being of my back and shoulders. This suitcase is perfect and has several compartments for organization and an extendable handle for rolling it along with ease behind me. Can't wait to use it next semester! *As a side note, the number of registered students in my class has ballooned over the last couple weeks from 10 to 27!
Dinner that night at my brother's was another cozy gathering, the only drawback being my sister's family, including oldest niece and nephew, J and E, were leaving the next morning for a family trip down to the Rose Bowl so they had to cut the evening a bit short. I feel sad and miss my nieces and nephew, especially J, but hopefully I will see them again in not too long.
Two last trip highlights: Having a mellow, connecting breakfast with my mom and dad, which I have enjoyed the last couple trips up there, and having a night out with my two older cousins, who were like sisters to me when I was younger. My cousins are big drinkers, so that night was pretty alcohol-focused, but we had some really good conversations about family, work, and our parents (who are brothers/cousins). Our family (my dad's side) are not very communicative, so I was surprised to find out that one cousin's father had cancer - luckily very treatable - this last year, and his wife had a preventative mastectomy. She, in turn, did not know about my mom's illness. My dad later said he had told her dad, who I guess had not yet passed the information on to her. Anyway, it was good to see them and share stories and laughs. I did end up a little too drunk and paid for it the next day. Note to self: stay away from hard liquor.
Oh, and I also spend a lovely afternoon on Christmas Eve at my Aunt and Uncle's house, opening presents and eating a meal with my one cousin's family, which includes two little girls about my niece and nephew's age, and my other cousin's son, who my Aunt and Uncle adopted since my cousin has been unable to get his act together. His wife is mentally ill, and he is currently in prison - I am sure fetal alcohol syndrome has unfortunately played a big role in his life decisions (he was adopted). In any case, this is my birth mom's side of the family, and I am coming to appreciate having them in my life more and more (even though we don't share education or political backgrounds). I feel a lot of love when I am with them.
This post is getting really long, but I also want to share some New Year's reflections.
I spent the day yesterday doing a reflective exercise that my ex-life coach shared with her past and present clients. It included writing out your top 10 joys/wins/celebrations, your top 10 disappointments/failures, and what learnings you want to carry forward into the new year. I culled the lists down to the top five or six in each category below:
- Completing the Ecology of Leadership program and insights and connections that came out of that, including perspective on the disconnection that can come up for me in groups. Clarified social change theatre goal and met a few times with interested people.
- Successfully completing my first college teaching experience in Spring and second in Fall; third to follow next semester. It can be arduous, but I am liking it and starting to have sense of competence. Also, my new work collaboration that may lead to writing a book together...
- Moving to Alameda! Was sick of my Oakland neighborhood and feeling it was not a good fit for me. This place is not perfect but definitely better. I’ve settled in and we’ll see what new year brings…
- Making trips to Oregon regularly. Prioritizing and nurturing family connections, including taking several actions on behalf of my mom (as a way to support her in lieu of emotional sharing, which she does not currently seem to want).
- Zoey! Our companionship – continuing to love and appreciate her. She brings a lot of joy and play into my life.
- Starting to work out at the YMCA.
Disappointments/Failures/Losses – 2014
- Threat of loss/challenge with mom’s illness. Don’t know what will happen so feels uncertain and scary at times.
- Didn’t get two full-time counseling jobs after interviewing.
- Dating life is a big failure with capital “F” (haha). Lately been dating, tried to meet people – went on couple dates but weren’t that great. Trying to be positive/optimistic and keep putting myself out there… realize I need to go out more into circles I have been meaning to attend. (NVC, HSP, Transition, EOL, etc.) Open to wherever he may show up.
- It not being as different as I hoped it would be at the new house. Tend to create same channels/habits. Still looking for more creative outlets and creative collaboration.
- Loss of more functional backyard at old house – especially with regard to Zoey (but gained a lot as well).
What I learned and want to bring with me with purpose into 2015:
- Support and love can be shown through conscientious actions on behalf of someone. (Mom and actions taken this year) Give love in the way the person is open to receiving it. Family is valuable and worth nurturing these connections, even when challenging.
- Wherever I go there I am. Physical location change does not equal a change in habits or lifestyle – that emerges from within and supported by routine/rituals. But availability of resources and the aesthetic environment adds to quality of life (Alameda vs. Oakland).
- Theatre/Dance Performance – physical/creative expression - and sharing that expression - is a strong drive and best manifests for me within a collaborative container or focused on performance or meaningful purpose.
- I am open again to foster/adopt and housemate seems open, as well, to me possibly doing that here… plan to continue moving forward with inquiry.
- Excited about possible book collaboration (and art collective in Berkeley). Continue to take next steps. Increase in income through increased counseling hours or increasing number of outside clients.
- Dating through internet not working well for me… need to get out a little more through groups that fit my values/interests.
Wishing you many blessings in the New Year!!! If you haven't commented before or haven't commented in a while, please take a moment to say "hi" in the comments below. I look forward to following your journeys and continuing to share my own in 2015.