Day 9: A Splendid New Year’s Eve

1 Jan

So this post is coming to you all a little late because I didn’t get home until 5am! But it’s all about NYE- the 31st!

Exercise: I went on a walk with my moms today. We got our bodies moving, took advantage of the weather AND had some quality mother/daughter time. We actually talked about some personal topics pertaining to mine and my sister’s dating lives. It wasn’t always the case that my parents and I got personal– I used to keep them at arms length from anything remotely vulnerable. But I’ve been actively working on this by realizing I need to take ownership and start the hard conversations and also be mentally in a place of calm to handle them when it gets difficult. ALSO my friends will note I have at tendency to walk crooked….basically if I’m walking next to you I’ll eventually end up walking into you and run you off the sidewalk. My mom totally does this!! She was in denial but she kept running into me! GENETICS.

Journaling One Positive Experience & Three Sources of Gratitude: Does the whole night count? So many great things happened today, I’m going to focus on my top 3 in chronological order…

  • First, I fixed my parents universal remote and got it up and running! This made me feel so good because they have five separate remotes…my cousin bought it but it was acting glitchy so I spent a few hours and got it all good to go. It’s nice to actually check items off their “I need your help with X” list since usually I’m only here for the weekend and too tired/lazy to scratch anything off.
  • Second, I went to this amazing Russian Family New Years celebration. I have one really good Ukranian Russian friend, but have never been immersed into Russian culture to the extent I was tonight. The music, the dancing, the clothes, the food, the warmth and joy– it was incredible. To set the scene, I tagged along with my friend J who was invited to his friend D’s house (D and his family are all Russian). We arrive a bit later than planned around 10pm and enter to a full fledged skit in production for the children. There were props and beautiful costumes, and even audience participation as we shouted Snegurochka. The Russian Santa, Ded Moroz and his granddaughter, Snegurochka, visit children and deliver presents on Dec 31/Jan 1. All of this has to do with the different calendar systems. The Orthodox Church follows the Julian calendar which has Christmas falling on Jan 7th and New Years on Jan 14th. Overtime the Gregorian Calendar’s “New” New Year of Jan 1st has become, for many Russians, the start of the holiday season. It seems that the Soviet Empire’s ban on public celebration of Christmas also helped shift many of the traditions and importance to New Years. But the long and short of it is– New Years is a big, welcoming celebration in Russian culture. And I had no idea! Well the family members were also kind and boisterous and it seemed like every round of shots was preceded by a lovely toast honoring family and new friends and old friends. I felt so welcomed and loved by complete strangers. It just warmed the sould.
  • My third favorite moment was making a new friend. O is a visiting professor from South Korea. His discipline, MIS, actually crosses over in some of the analytical work that I do and some of the User Experience work that my friend J does. We had such a nice conversation and O and J even exchanged e-mails since they both work at the university. It was interesting hearing his perspective on America vs. South Korea. South Korea’s New Years, I learned, falls in January/February time frame. And there are a lot of traditions involving the family and going and showing respect for your elders. O has also fallen in love with Mexico 🙂 The diversity of ages, cultures, languages warmed my soul.

So I think the above stories have highlighted some of the wonderful elements of life I’m grateful for

  1. Diversity: This probably sounds really weird but I love diversity: ethnic diversity, age diversity, vocational diversity..all of it. I really love that people from all different backgrounds can come together and share joyous moments. I think it might be the most beautiful thing about humanity.
  2. Cultural Immersion:  I don’t really like traveling because of the logistics, but I do really enjoy learning about other people’s cultures particularly over a conversation or a rich new meal or looking at traditional clothing. This night had all of those things!
  3. Sharing Your Family and Traditions: This is incidentally on my resolution list of 2014– sharing my family and Indian culture with my non-Indian friends. The evening’s hosting family has 5 children and each of the children and parents had their own friend group in attendance. It occurred to me that the youngest, who might have been in high school or college, could easily have chosen to spend the night with his friends (same could be said for all of the siblings) as is I believe tradition. The idea that young kids want to rebel and “be with their friends.” Instead each of kids combined the two. Why should family and friends be separate circles, after all? I used to think they had to be because my friends wouldn’t get my family and my family wouldn’t get my friends. Language and culture seemed like insurmountable barriers or more effort than it was worth. I’m  mistaken though, because there is a huge payoff in compassion and understanding. In particular I can share myself fully with those that I love because by background is part of who I am. And my friends are so important to me. Two and half years ago my biking buddies and I all pit stopped for the night at my house and had dinner hosted by my parents and family friend community. This was a wonderful night and my friends enjoyed it immensely. They loved the food and the warmth that my family showed. I shouldn’t underestimate my parents and friends, these circles most definitely can merge.

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Meditation/Reflection: So I’m thinking I might start a variation of Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project. Haven’t figured out the full details yet but I have written down 12 resolutions that I’d like to guide myself by. I’d like to log my progress in each area somehow but not create too aggressive expectations. Maybe I’ll try to practice at least one these each days? Haven’t figured it out yet. If you have suggestions I welcome them!

  1. Think before you speak
  2. Talk to strangers
  3. Find what’s interesting in everything you do
  4. Do what you think is interesting
  5. Tell people you love them and why
  6. Write. Write. Write. It does you good
  7. Practice compassion for yourself: Learn to forgive yourself, you have a good soul.
  8. Practice compassion for others: Treat people with the compassion you want them to have for you.
  9. Focus on the moment.
  10. Don’t be afraid.
  11. He is only human.
  12. Share your culture, share your family, share yourself. Open up more.

Random Acts of Kindness: Today I’m going to e-mail my Uncle A. I’ve been dragging my feet on this one a little bit because I care a lot about what he thinks (he’s in my inner ring) and I was letting my perfectionism self get to me. But seeing as #10 on my list of resolutions is “Don’t be afraid” I’m going to jump in feet first. A has be instrumental in my development and values– he used to give me reading lists as a kid. He is the reason I read The Wave, which is probably the single most influential book I’ve ever read. From this one story I learned to always challenge ideas, don’t just go with the flow, scrutinize and draw my own conclusions. Pivotal.

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