I have to laugh.
Who was I kidding when I thought November was a busy month? November had nothing on December! Despite my busyness, I kept to my Happiness Project resolutions (as this December summary will show.)
I had a beautiful holiday season despite the hustle and bustle which comes with this time of year and with getting the flu.
My attitude was different this year. It is incredible how our take on life changes when we resolve to see the world with gratitude. Being busy means, I am alive and that I have tasks to fill my life. This makes me smile.
Granted not all my daily activities are a bundle of fun. However, choosing to focus on the glass half full means I have no time to focus on the emptiness in that same glass.
There is a law which says that what your focuses on expands. Physics not being my strong suit, I am not confident this is a bona fide scientific law. Nonetheless, it has proven accurate so far.
Take a Friend to Lunch
This action step was both a success and a dud. The dud part was that I was not successful in going to lunch with a friend (old or new).
The success part in that I was able to go to lunch with a friend although she paid the tab. Confusing huh?
Let me explain further. My best friend was due to give birth late November. I had promised her I would make the trip to California to be her doula. My ETA was well planned since I arrived in time for lunch (smart huh?)
We had a girl date scheduled for the following day (hopefully before baby girl made her grand entrance): A 60-minute reflexology massage and lunch sans kids.
I intended to treat her. She steadfastly refused saying it was "for your birthday." No matter who paid, we had a great time. I love that woman.
I stayed a week during which time baby girl doggedly stayed put.
At this juncture, I had a dilemma. One of my sons had an award ceremony to attend and his birthday party the following day. My son Jacob is sweet, and he loves my friend to pieces (we all do) so he said it was okay if I stayed in California.
Sunday morning, I decided to drive out to attend his banquet that same night. A decision I did not regret as I saw my son being honored for his incredible character. A proud mama moment to be sure.
Baby girl arrived after my departure, and while I was hugely disappointed, I also trusted the process and the reason why I wasn't able yo attend.
With the assistance of my daughter, I had those cards send by the end of the first week in December.
Since my December goal was to learn more about forgiveness, I read quite a few books—some helpful, some not.
Ultimately, forgiveness comes down to me doing the work and being willing to let go. I was finally able to see forgiveness as a defiant act of freedom rather than giving the offenders a free pass. In light of this change, forgiveness became an action done for me rather than the "other."
Case in point: we had a repeat of Thanksgiving with the in-laws. Namely, grandpa informed me he was alone on Christmas day because they "all" were getting together on the 26 at one of his girls' home in Phoenix. But the invitation had not been extended to us. While the same occurrence had me go "historical" last month (yes, historical not hysterical), I had a very different reaction this time.
I became excited for grandpa at the prospect he would get to see his girls, their significant others or spouses as the case may be, and two of his grand-kids for Christmas. I rejoiced for two reasons, I did not have to be where I was neither wanted nor welcomed and that I, on the other hand, would get to enjoy my holidays with my loved ones sans stress.
Finally, I invited grandpa to join us on Christmas day so he would not be alone.
I must say, this feels great.
I did start a book of events, people, and "things" I am grateful for, and I usually write every morning and night. My books sports over 380 entries so far. I feel incredibly blessed.
Learn Something New
At the advice of a friend who is learning ASL (American Sign Language) for her daughter, I focused solely on the alphabet. I spell everything as often as I can, and I am excited about my progress.
Meditation was mostly a dud. I did meditate a handful of times but nothing consistent enough to make it a practice.
My December Bleeding Themes
For more information on bleeding themes read this post.
I had four themes which snuck into December.
We always have had a budget in place but I have gotten lax on occasion in the past few years, and this fact was bothering me. I intended to tackle this issue in the coming months.
Instead, I created a new budget at the beginning of December and immediately implemented it. We do the envelop system by Dave Ramsey. I also started using his free app called Every Dollar.
This new budget was a complete success as we stuck to it like velcro, no small feat during Christmas. I am pleased.
Words of Praise
You can read about this action step here. I did it loosely and was mildly successful.
Abe (my special needs child) does not learn well one-on-one for a few reasons.
When he cannot do something, he will always blame someone else and will violently lash out at them. Additionally, he will loudly whine and bellyache (for hours). Moreover, he will furiously try to anger the other person (one of his favored pastime). Lastly, he will be so busy doing all of the above; he will not learn. In conclusion, this endeavor will be a waste of time and energy for everyone.
Years ago, I came up with a new plan of action: the iPad. I purchased a gently used iPad, encased it in a heavy duty protective case, and downloaded some apps.
You see the iPad does not care if one whines or blames it for something. It cannot get angry. When you're successful you get gold stars, and when you miss, you get a no-nonsense "try again." You can throw it in anger, that's fine, it has no feelings. It is not a person you can hurt.
Operation Abe's iPad has been vastly successful as he finally mastered the phonics and reading, two activities which had previously been flops.
Now, I would like for Abe to learn empathy. You see Abe only care about his feelings, his stuff, his world. He entrenched at the center of his universe which considering where he comes from, is understandable. However, if you are the recipient of his lack of kindness and empathy, you sometimes need more than the ability to understand, especially if you—like Abe—are a child.
I have been researching empathy training and found a couple of apps which might be helpful.
While the iPad is a successful strategy, it also has a drawback--namely that it is highly addictive. I have to strike the perfect balance between learning vs. too much time or Abe will melt into tantrums. Moreover, I also need to make sure time on the iPad is not seen as a reward nor as a punishment. For these reasons, all I have done so far with empathy training is research and download some apps. More to come on the subject later.
I have always wanted to start a Foundation to help others. The motto has been "when we strike it rich" which loosely translates as "this always will be a pipe dream unless something radically changes in our lives."
I recently decided I did not need to be wealthy to help. Therefore, I have been doing some research in this area.
I have a lot to be grateful for: