Everything Will Change In A Year: April 20, 2019

I saw a quote this morning that made me think: “Look around you, and enjoy, be grateful; in a year, everything will be different.”

Last Weekend, April 13, A beautiful day in Ogunquit, ME

As I look back a year, with or without the help of social media, so many things have changed, for me. Especially, in the lives of my children. But also, in my own life.

Last Spring, I was a pensive from the roller-coaster feeling from my constantly changing role at work; I was also in pendulum motion, from my home that I love, in Florida, to the cold of Boston. I had a feeling that this Boston chapter of my life, has to come to a close soon. And, by Fall, my role ended; allowing me to seek what I have wanted all along.

This Spring, I am ready to move to Florida, permanently.

Some things have become more certain, and other, more dispensable things, people or feelings, have dissipated. There is no lingering nostalgia about losing these feelings, which didn’t serve me.

My children have made tremendous strides in a year.

After a re-defining 2018, Daiyaan graduated college in 2018 and found her professional footing, bought her “dream” Jeep (that she has named Natasha, after the singer Natasha Bedingfeld) and now wants to buy her first home this Summer/Fall. She is starting to put down her own roots, in a place she loves. She has chosen a healthy lifestyle of balance. She took her first ever solo trip, and conquered Puerto Rico; she has grown up.

Last Spring, Shania, competed to become her Middle School Vice President and won! She has switched from softball to golf and today, loves basketball as her main school sports; instead of acting in plays, now she is co-directing, for the second year, a school play! She was accepted to attend the prestigious Dana Hall school in Wellesley, MA, but instead, is heading to be with family and joining the pre-law program at her new choice school in Florida.

As their lives unfold, and I see these two beautiful women take their next steps, I enjoy listening to their musings, and life interactions. The new friends they make, and the relationships those fray over time. I tell them my stories, from that particular time in my life that maybe relevant to their experience.

Even though I was raised as a teenager in a different continent, in a completely different era, with no electronic gadgets, or Google, to help answer my questions, the struggles of all awkward teenagers, or young people defining their dreams, are still the same.

Whether you are 13, 23 or 52, Constantly, we search for belonging, love and certainty; it’s tough to accept that none of these feelings are constant, and just to maintain an equilibrium, is a lot of work!

This morning, five of my close friends (same age group), are in deep pain: one from a broken hip (from a fall), another from domestic abuse, and one more, with cancer. Two of my best childhood friends lost their mothers in the last weeks – I knew these loving moms – I have eaten meals with them at their dining tables; having lost my own mom a few years ago, I know that big hole in their hearts are not healing soon.

I pray that my friends have the courage and support to bear the pain they are feeling today. When you experience pain, the depth, the excruciating nature of it, numbs us. There is nothing anyone can say or do, to make you feel differently.

Like last year, I know with certainty, this year, there will be those moments of joy, and sadness. You know there will be a Spring of hope, and the still of Summer.

I know, that whatever incremental, or disruptive changes we are experiencing, pain or happiness, it too shall pass.

It fatigues me to think that, the pain and frustration of the political turmoil we experience today in the US (and resultantly, the world) will only sharpen in the next twelve months.

In my adult life, I have seen and experienced progress, and I don’t give up hope, but I choose to take a long view on history. While things are not perfect, I see progress in health, well-being and innumerable sources of joy.

This weekend, in my little microcosm, I am again, taking a good look at everything and everyone around me.

Acknowledging and accepting that change is continuous and constant – I will do my best to appreciate all those gifts that I have in my life today. I am grateful to the Universe for the love, beauty, health and contentment that I am experiencing today.

I know, everything will change in a year.

Hanging out with Daiyaan and Shania @Portsmouth, NH
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US Elections 2012: The Choice

Shania and I stand out in a line for two hours to see Michelle Obama; it’s yet another hot and sultry day in Florida.  One of the volunteers helps me change my address with a new voter registration ID; button and t-shirt sellers abound. We buy a “Michelle Rocks” button! Every few minutes, a volunteer reminds us of the “airport style” security to get into the auditorium. Bottled water in hand, we wiggle along a snake queue, experiencing this magic of our first- ever, grassroots political rally.

Shania and I wait in Line for the Michelle Obama Rally

I want my seven-year-old to experience this political process; be aware of her rights and exercise these rights diligently. I want her to be involved in civil society. As a child, growing up in a non-secular, non-democratic society – I never enjoyed such a privilege. As a parent I try to enhance their curiosity and respect of the political process.

Someone texts me, “Do you even like the Obamas?”  I am not sure how to answer that question.  I don’t think it’s any longer a choice of whether I like them or not.

I am a registered “independent” voter. The label that I identify the most with, is what the Pew Center names, the New Prosperity Independants – The Purple Voter! According to some polls 11% of the US voters are in this category. We don’t align with the traditional views of conservatives or liberals. Typically, we like economic conservatism with social liberties held intact.  However, Liberals (12% ) or Conservatives (10%) tend to dominate the agenda.  Because, they tend to scream their opinions the loudest.

This 2012 election season, I am left without a choice.

I don’t like the heavy handed economic policies of the Democratic party – this process of economic interference and engineering makes me cringe. All this, “I know how to solve all your economic challenges”, or, “I will take care of you, even if you choose never to work” upsets me.

However, I cringe even harder, when I hear the shrill rhetoric of the right-wing fundamentalists of the Republican party. They are against the woman’s right to chose – they don’t want to find a way to solve the immigration debacle – they don’t want to talk about banning assault weapons – they want to cut educational programs and make a big deal opposing gay marriage!  I wonder when Jeb Bush or Colin Powell will get a say in anything.

I have two daughters; I cannot let their freedoms be overtaken by a group of xenophobic bigots. My vote is no longer for my own future; it’s for my daughters’ future. I look at the party that is most likely to protect their rights – promote compensation parity – promote more of a “salad bowl” policy. I yearn for a structure that is informed, empathetic; an idiotic senatorial candidate who believes that women can shut down their body during rape – seriously!?

While economic freedom is vitally important, I have always believed that what makes the US the freest of nation – the most creative, entrepreneurial and liberal in thinking – are its social freedoms.  Stodgy Europhiles may find the US thinking very laissez faire or simply not sophisticated enough – but this freedom to choose – to create – to lead – to pray (or not) – to change, is what’s most attractive of the American fabric.

I want that fabric of our flag, protected forever – for my daughters.

Watching the First Lady Speak at a Rally in Fort Lauderdale

We take our stand in the theatre waiting for the First Lady to arrive. There’s lots of political rhetoric in the air – lot’s of heavy talk about this or that.  Someone hands Shania a political placard; she takes one and asks for a second one for her teacher. We listen to Mrs. Obama, as if she is a rock star. Shania doesn’t understand much of what she is saying; but I notice, she is smiling and listening. I proudly look at Shania as she holds up her placard.

Today, she may not understand the substance of the conversation underway. But she has found a new way to express herself – connect herself – with the greatest democracy in the world.

Next, I want to take her to a Republican rally.  Just like anything else, the most important thing for Shania is to learn that, she has a choice.

Daiyaan and I on the day I received my citizenship (Photo taken by Wasima Wali)

15 minutes of Freedom

I have been thinking about getting new wheels for a while. My Mountaineer: 7 years old has more than 70k miles: a gas hogging SUV. I really don’t need an all wheel drive, designed for the Colorado mountain escapes; nor do I use heated seats in sunny Florida.

My paradigm has also  shifted towards more conservation and being green. I really wanted an electric car: TESLA. But the technology is still not fully tested and the price is “over the top” ($120k) . Maybe in a few years. 

Yesterday, I got a black Audi Cabriolet.

I never imagined that I would own a convertible. It’s an amazing experience; our four year old, Shania, calls it a “cool car”. Our teenager, Daiyaan, believes that she is more “in touch” with the road while “touching the sky”.

Wasima convinced me that one must live their life to the fullest NOW. Who knows what tomorrow may bring.

The internal debate about brushed silver or black, followed me for a while (red cars scares me). Finally, settled for black. Wasima is not ready for me to get “old” that quickly with a silver car….

Why so many confusion points about a simple decision? Does a car really represent me or my feelings?

I didn’t even know what I wanted to do.

It is amazing that with all different  influences in our lives, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what I want. So many options and choices, so many external influences.

This confusion (of choice and pressure) actually makes life intriguing and enjoyable. Knowing that your loved ones care enough to make a statement and they care to make you feel good. When you see them smiling next to you or, in Shania’s case, raising her hand in the car, to touch the air, it’s all worth it.

But, it is also amazing to let go of the “rational” sense of buying a larger car (for carrying bunches of kids around to activities) and just doing what you feel like doing.

Does this car make me feel younger… more hip? Probably.

But I also know that my large bald spot (more like a stadium) will need more sunscreen and will now remained “tanned like a toast” forever. But who gives a ****? My toasted bald spot will enjoy the freedom of a fifteen minute drive from home to work (and vice versa) in an open black convertible while I listen to “Lucky” (Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iraoHE6JlY) with a mega Bose surround System.. and for those fifteen minutes, I will become my own self… free to choose, free to love, free to feel… that there is more to life than just making rational, sane, practical, pragmatic decisions.

For those 15 minutes I will be free.