As cliché as it is, I cannot help reflecting on the year we just finished. I should be a 7th Day Adventist in that I don’t like certain days to define how we feel or what we do. If you love someone; tell them, buy them roses, take them out to dinner. If you want to buy someone a present; don’t wait until Christmas or a birthday, buy it for them because they are special. Every day. And resolutions are just as likely to fail any other day of the year than they are January 1.
Despite all that, I could not help but lay in bed last night and reflect. I had high’s, I had lows…. I laughed and I cried. But in that half sleep state of total brilliance I was reflecting on the themes of my year:
I’ll start at the bottom. Anxiety may always be a theme for me. It is just a part of me. And when I looked back at facebook status’s and blog posts, that word showed up a lot. I have my irrational anxiety (people puking), my professional anxiety (when will they figure out I am not qualified) my parenting anxiety (again… when will they figure out I am not qualified) and my personal anxiety (am I good enough? do they like me? I wish I was skinner.) But I have also made many gains in my anxiety. It may not seem profound to just have a normal day, but I do have a lot of them. Normal kicks anxiety’s butt. And I am calling my anxiety out for what it is, instead of hiding it, or running from it. By naming it, I do not have to fear it. (I learned that from Harry Potter when Dumbledore says: “Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.”)
Then we move to angry. I do get angry quickly, I always have. I can be something little like trying to help kids with homework or trying to learn to arm knit, or something big, like exploitation of children, and unethical practices by governments or corporations or non-profits. With the little things, I learn I am good at blaming other people. Like when I ordered pizza and went to the wrong pizza place and then looked like a fool and had to drive to the other pizza place to get my pizza…. I was very angry at the car in front of me driving super slow and coming to a complete stop before turning because THAT CAR was making me late. Certainly not my mistake. I might resolve to work on that…
But for the big things, anger turns to advocacy. As many of you know cause you get to read and or listen to my many soap boxes. And I just don’t want to advocate, I want to make other’s advocates too. I want to fight for justice and equality. And in my work, I can advocate. I can advocate for children and parents and social workers and agencies. I can advocate for better policy and program and prevention. Because if you can not believe that the world can be better, how can one get up in the morning. With out advocacy, every day would be utterly mundane.
And in case mundane-ness is near, there is always adventure. Family adventures brought us to Washington DC where we learned to navigate the metro system and found great places to visit, eat and relax. It brought us to new hidden beaches on lake Michigan and hikes in our neighborhood. Adventure brought us to Chicago and Detroit. Adventure has us planning new and unique vacations from now until our kids graduate from high-school. Adventure has me teaching a 2 week class to high-school students.
Adventure brought me to Uganda for the first time. And made me face the hard fact about myself that I need a lot of creature comforts. But it also brought me to Jinga (the source of the Nile) and to stand in front of a group of social workers in the private sector and the government and teach them what I know.
Adventure brought me Peter, who is a regular Ugandan man who works with street kids and knows nothing formal about social work and really doesn’t know any other social workers. And Peter came up to me at the end of our training and said “This is the FIRST time I have been in a room of people that think like me and want the same things I want. This is the FIRST training I have ever been to. This is the FIRST time I have felt affirmed in my work and this is the FIRST time I have been given actual knowledge and tools I can use with these kids.”
So there is my “A list” year. Don’t worry I spent a lot of time in my comfy chair under my quilt watching trashy t.v or reading frivolous books. I hit snooze every day at least once and more likely 4 times. I yelled at my kids and fought with my husband. I gossiped, I lied, I ate a lot of candy. I did not floss. I coveted. But they did not fit in the alliteration so I can keep them off the official list