This is late. Very late. I didn’t start thinking about 2012s reflection or my resolutions for 2013 until long after the Champagne buzz of New Years had worn off…about three weeks after the Champagne buzz to be exact. But every year deserves some recollection and recognition, 2012 included.
A year ago today was my sisters 24th birthday. We celebrated by going out to an awful Mexican restaurant that tasted more like Punjabi cuisine then anything South of the border (sorry Lis!). Being a vegetarian with no meat free options on the menu, my sister ordered a bean and beef burrito without the beef. The waiter smiled and said ‘yes of course’ and then promptly served her a beef stuffed burrito. Such people pleasers these Pakistanis! This is one thing I’ve learned the hard way, smiling and nodding and saying yes does not mean anything other than the person wants to tell you what you want to hear! But I digress. Following this disaster of a dinner we ordered tea and smoked hooka in a nearby park.
At this point last year I was still a baby to life in Pakistan, wide eyed and lost. I’ve now progressed to a toddler if that, meaning I can get around but I tend to jump between wild elation and temper tantrums. Around this same time I also had a sick and ferral cat, appropriately named, Loca living with us. She drove me crazy. I loved the idea of saving a deaf and scared kitten, I did not love the broken possessions and frequent claws-out attacks. Intentionally or not, Neil one day left our front door open and that was the end of our relationship with Loca. Somehow, after ‘the cat debacle’ I convinced Neil to give another ferral kitten a go. Cue ‘Rice Cake’. Appropriately named since, as our cat garberator, she has a fondness for leftover rice. Never mind that I had to sink to all time lows to convince Neil (I may have enlisted the help of a very cute 7 year old girl and her begging skills) Rice Cake is now a permanent fixture. And she’s lovely, even when she sticks her dirty paws into my water glass to clean them.
On the personal note, 2012 (and the later part of 2011) marked the time where Neil and I moved in together and where my parents split up, selling our family home and reorganizing our family life. Changes, would be an understatement. And these changes, for me, all happened long distance, across oceans and skype calls. Thankfully Neil understands that I’m crazy about weird things and accepts them. Thankfully my family is strong and loving and only crazy and weird sometimes.
Probably the most monumental thing about 2012 was my summer in India. Think: hiking in the Himalayas, Reiki, Yoga, isolated villages, seafood curry and beautiful, beautiful people everywhere. Also, throw in human feces, the hottest and stickiest weather possible and car horns that rattle your skull. I took courses in acrobatic yoga, reiki, cooking, henna and meditation. Un-officially I took courses in patience, acclimatization to high peaks and thin air and eating sketchy street food. No one leaves India the same.
I came home to Pakistan from this and fell into a health kick. I started running for the first time in my life. And the experience has perfectly matched my preconceived notions of running, confirming what I always knew – it sucks. It really does. It’s hard and it hurts and it challenges you mentally more than physically, which is really just cruel. If your body is already hurting we don’t need our minds tossing in the towel as well. The first time I did a 2.25km lap around our local Jilani park I felt like vomiting. It took me about 15 minutes, made my face pulsate with blood flow and my head spin. But slowly it became easier and better and soon we were running 11K around the park, feeling no worse than that initial 2.25. Since then I ran my first race, a 10km, and (only because this is Pakistan) won a first place medal in the Woman’s under 40 category. Just in case you were wondering…that isn’t first place overall. There were some 40+ and 50+ women who kicked my butt. Still, to have ran up the hills that seemed like mountains and threw cramps that felt like appendicitis, I felt like I had something to be proud of.
This September, I feel like I’ve hit my stride with teaching. Don’t mistake this for confidence or competence – it’s neither. But I started to realize how teaching works for me and for the first time since starting out (3 years ago) I feel like I’ve built a strong classroom community and that I genuinely love going to work. A part of this was meeting a wonderful individual in India who introduced me to the concept of Mindfulness in Education. I was then lucky enough to attend a conference on this same topic in Thailand. I won’t go into all the details, but for me, it’s been transformative.
So cheers to 2012. A year that brought me Pakistan, gastro-intestinal distress in India, running, new family dynamics, Rice Cake and mindfulness. A good year.