We are just past the middle of January 2020. It’s been a tradition of sorts for me since the last two or three years to reflect on the last year and set the theme for the current year. You can check out my 2019 reflective post.
2020 is going to be the same, and a bit more, as it marks the beginning of not just a new year, but also the decade.
My theme for 2019 was ‘Love’. In biblical terms, Christ tells us to love your enemies as much as you love yourself. That’s not easy, at all, but it’s not impossible either.
As I write this post, there’s a sense of joy and triumph. There were three major misunderstandings, and bitter fights, within my family in the course of the last five years. And to my credit, I held onto faith that in time, Truth will prevail and that people are inherently good. I believed in the goodness of people, and hence someday that our relationship will heal. I’m glad that I clung to hope, and didn’t lose faith in the goodness of humanity. We didn’t let hate win over us and our relationship. I’m pleased that love finally won.
In the larger scheme of things and relationships, there’s politics everywhere. At the workplace, and in the government, where hate can take monstrous proportions. Social media especially can be a toxic place. Given my nature of work, it’s something that I cannot avoid, and have to accept its importance in today’s digital world. I like the internet and social media too because it does have the power to do good. It’s how you choose to use it.
My challenge has always been to balance love and truth. Can they exist? Yes, they can but it’s not easy to speak the truth, without offending someone or the other. And I’m not even talking speaking your mind on subjects like religion and politics. Speaking your mind, in general, can offend someone or the other on social media. And in the last year, I’ve learned that people, especially our fellow Indians, have very thin skin. Social media amplifies this inherently Indian trait. So, I found it amusing people unfriending each other for more trivial reasons. And, it just reminded me how much as a society, we have to grow up. A movie like ‘Chhapaak’, which is sensitively made in all genuine intent, is boycotted by the majority merely because of the lead actor’s political stance. Don’t we live in a democracy, where people are entitled to their political choice and vote? It’s high time Indians developed a thicker skin, and not get offended for the flimsiest of reasons. I’m not talking just movies or politics here, but in general, it looks like anything can ruffle up an Indian’s feathers. It’s so hard to have a sensible discussion when emotions run high.
Anyway 2019, and the last decade, in particular, has been one of the most memorable times in my life so far. This time, last decade, I was a mother of an 8-month old baby, who had just started her corporate sabbatical, with a plan to go back after Nadine turns a year old. By the time she turned one, Ryan got an overseas work assignment that took us to California in 2010. We lived there for over 5 years, before going to Wisconsin in our 6th year. Life in the US was nearly perfect. If only I had family around, it would have been a 10/10. I loved the US, and the whole vibe out there. We lived in Southern California, which has a strong Hispanic influence, and it’s a place that has a bit of everything. There’s something for everyone in California. You name it, it’s there! Churches, beaches, forests, mountains, snow, desert, adventure parks, nightlife, great food, and so much more. I was petrified to move to Wisconsin, mid-West, given my asthmatic condition. But, Wisconsin was even better than California. As soon as I landed there, it reminded me so much of Kerala. It was such a soothing sight to see lush greenery everywhere. And don’t get me started on the white winters. Christmas was just like the ones you see in a picture post-card or Hollywood movies. I could live there forever. We lived amidst nature and wildlife. We’d spot white-tailed deers in our backyard every day. That’s the kind of place I want to retire and die. Making friends from different nationalities was such a huge learning experience, and something I’ll treasure forever.
But the comeback to India was not so bad at all. In fact, it is the much-needed change that we needed. Family is something that I sorely missed in my time in the US. The luxury of going to your Mum and Dad’s place as and when your heart wished is something that can happen only in India. And this decade makes me realize, how much more important I need to give to my family.
Nadine, my daughter will be entering into her adolescence in a couple of years. Parenting a teenage child will be a challenge, and opportunity in today’s times. She will be a legit adult by the end of this decade, and I will need to be there, by her side, as a guiding force for her in these crucial formative years. My parents, in-laws, and elderly relatives will be getting older, and I need to pay attention to my family while pursuing my dreams. I will have to strike that delicate balance between home, family, and work.
Some of the things that I want to focus this year and decade are
- Read like the way I used to in childhood. I’ve not been reading as much as I’d liked to in the last decade. This year and decade will have me digest more books.
- Write and explore different genres.
- Self-care – health, lifestyle, fashion, style & beauty
- Love & Relationships
- Get back to public speaking like the way I did in my childhood again. When I could rattle off speeches in front of a huge gathering. Somewhere down the road, I’ve fallen off-track, and it’s time to get the public speaking mojo back this year and decade.
- Cook – Learn all the traditional recipes from both sides of my family. And explore different cuisines.
- Home sweet home
My word for 2020 is ‘Gratitude’ and the decade is ‘Kindness’. No matter where life takes me, or my dreams, I choose to count my blessings and remain grateful. To always be kind, no matter the provocation, and to never ever let hate win over love in my life.