January 1, 2013

2012 Highlights | Mi Mejor de 2012

Every year has its ups and downs, and with all the challenges we face it's easy to lose perspective. I'm usually good at affirming and reminding myself of all the good things. But all the world tragedies, and seemingly impossible goals can put me in a funk. Yoga is something I do to clear my mind and regain strength. The end of my practice today was my last meditation of 2012. In my mind's eye, as the debris of frustrations and negativity fell away, I saw life as a diamond—precious, illuminated with the light of love. At its heart, through all the rough, the past year has indeed had many diamonds.

My husband and I made a renewed commitment to each other and embarked on a regular effort to strengthen our relationship by improving our communication and seeking more ways to enjoy our time together. Our daughter has been an endless source of joy and growth amidst all of her smiles, precious innocence, discovery of the world, fast-developing personality, love for us, tantrums and toddler opposition. My grandmother turned 90 and my brother was married, both opportunities for the extended family to come together and spend time celebrating timeless rite of passages. I got to know my sister-in-law and her sisters a little better in that special way that only bachelorette parties and the crush of preparing for a wedding can do. On a weekly basis, I marvel at technology's ability to keep our family in touch across great distances in ways that would never be possible otherwise.

I had the wonderful opportunity, after a 3 year absence, to return to California and participate in my good friend's wedding, spending 4 days in the Sierras. As if that wasn't lucky enough, I also got to see many other friends in a mini-tour of San Francisco and the Bay Area and Coastside, proving that, with the exception of changing poopy diapers at the beach, traveling alone with my daughter can still be fun—especially with the help of my friends. I also feel incredibly lucky to have friends from all walks of life back home in Queretaro, living here by choice, as well as a circle of friends I feel happy to have my daughter growing up among.

Creative expression
2012 didn't produce much artwork on my behalf, but I found an outlet with photography, crafts, and most importantly, the written word. We finished our coauthored book Amor and Exile in November, and despite the regular challenges collaborative editing sometimes presented us, it's been an incredibly satisfying endeavor that I have no doubt will produce meaningful fruit in 2013, no matter where its seeds end up being planted (that's my botanical metaphor to say that we shall soon find out whether a publisher is visionary enough to take us on, or whether we will have the liberty to publish ourselves independently). TBA.

Self care
For the first time probably since high school, I spent a full-year in a regular sport: swimming. It's been over two years since I had done yoga regularly (since my daughter was born) but it was something that I've been trying to commit to ever since. I finally began to reestablish my regular practice toward the end of the year. Staying active is difficult to fit in with a child, but it's been perhaps one of the most rewarding things I've done this year. I began to see a naturopathic doctor in neighboring San Miguel de Allende, taking a more natural approach to address some ongoing health issues. I began to cut out sugar and white flour in favor of more whole foods and whole wheat foods. I'm pretty happy with the change as it's inspired me to try out new recipes, and new foods are always welcome in this home.

As a conservation biologist, all the poaching, pollution, and development in our city is very troubling. But nature's capacity to sustain our lives still inspires me greatly. The simple act of planting seeds (and teaching others to do so) continues to be a source of satisfaction for me. For the first time my daughter was born, I gave a local horticultural workshop. We also restored some of the our garden spaces. Seeing our greywater irrigated fruit trees bear fruit renews my resolve that small acts can indeed have big effects.

When it comes to setting aside the letdowns in order to embrace the victories, I don't think the metaphor really matters—if it results in a deeper appreciation the very powerful experience of being alive, then it would be a blessing to have the chance to do this over and over again, in the year to come.