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

Serendipity, Happenstance and Toast with Guacamole

I do believe in serendipity and happenstance.

And I believe that things happen for a reason. At that happening moment, often, we don’t realize what that reason maybe; over time, we understand why this just needed to happen.

Also, I see, that the series of experiences I have had, were just preparing me for this moment of time.  

Today, I closed on my first holiday-home (and possible final home) in Oakland Park, Florida. For seven months, I have been following the construction of this home; cinderblock by cinderblock, windows, doors, electric wires and tile work. As if, I am preparing for a child to be born. 

When you talk about serendipity or happenstance, on this same date, I arrived in the US, some 32 years ago. Maybe the date is just a coincidence.  

I started my new life in this new country, bursting with desire and ambition. Even after so many years, my heart and mind are just as excited by possibilities of love, friendship, a great meal, or a bottle of wine.  

This morning, Shania, my twelve year old and I drive to sign the paperwork at the closing office; all the way, I keep thinking of the first home I bought on Merrimack Lane in Toledo, some 24 years ago. I remember the night before the closing of my first home; my mom and I kept talking about the concept of buying a “home”. She was worried that if I bought a home in the US, I would never return to Bangladesh. She was right.  

She sat with me through the signing of papers, insurance and documents. At the end she asked me, “Bujhcho, shobkichu?” (Did you understand everything?)  

Today, my strong Shania sits with me, quietly, for more than hour, while we go through some 30 signatures, deeds, titles, insurance….all of it. Later, she acknowledges, it was really boring, but she didn’t bring her headphones to the closing because she thought it was impolite. I am grateful she is here; I believe she is here for a reason more than, just that I asked her to be there. Just like my mother, twenty-four years ago, she is is providing me strength and support to nurture my dreams along.  

We get home and Daiyaan arrives; we unpack boxes and put things away. We are sleeping on air mattresses tonight, just like camping. Sheets are unfolded. New dishes are put in the new dishwasher; new towels are hung up. All to the girls’ favorite music – dancing, joyful and bright.  

In the evening, my friends Toby and Ray, bring champagne. We toast in our new glasses, nibble on tapas, listen to good music and break out into utter goofiness. I feel like I have been designing and planning for this day, all my life.  

The goal tomorrow is to make breakfast for my girls, at our new home.  

Multi-grain bread with Guacamole, sunny-side up eggs on toast, and a sprinkling of Sriracha. Orange juice, hot tea or coffee.  

This is a great day for my family. 32 years from landing in this beautiful place, to 24 years from learning to buy a new home, I am here today because I have been preparing for this day. This is no coincidence. This was meant to be; Guacamole toast for my princesses, and a hot cup of red-rose tea for me.  

Our First Drinks at our New Home

Attainable Goals, Undefined Destinations: December 2011

Choices we make everyday!

My personal “happiness” goals for 2012 are:

  1. Kayak on the inter-coastal canals (at least) 5 times
  2.  Explore the option of making a new “best friend”: a Golden Lab (dog)
  3. Take two intriguing vacations (Alaska? Israel?Brasil?)
  4. Buy a hammock for the patio and use it once a week!
  5. Volunteer (at least) 6 times, at a local food kitchen or charity and bring the girls along
  6. Buy beach chairs and at least go to the beach 12 times in the year

In the past, I have set lofty goals that were never accomplished; I always have justifications as to why they didn’t happen – too big, brash or audacious!

Last year, I set three goals: lose 20  lbs,  learn how to play the guitar and start learning Spanish!

I have only achieved the first goal.

Never went near a guitar store, never bought that package of the Spanish Rosetta Stone (even though I have walked by their airport kiosks many times). In the mean time, I have signed on to some other goals that were not part of the thought process. Life takes such curvy turns, I have all the excuses ready as to why I didn’t accomplish my other personal objectives.

If I was a working in my “Life” business, I believe, I would have been fired by now. Finishing one of three objectives in a whole year, gives one a failing grade of 33%!

We are pretty good at setting work related goals – since corporate objectives have to be met. Why do we get have difficulty with personal goals?  These are things we always wanted to do or things that at that particular time thought, would make us happy!

I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we don’t memorialize or socialize our goals with others. Most of us lack the discipline to set and prioritize our own goals.  We set too big goals setting ourselves up for failure and then, let “life” get in the way of “living”!

I wrote an essay a few months ago about making checklists and checking it off – making small, daily, achievements meaningful (http://wp.me/pDd9a-6V)!

Similarly, I believe, we need to memorialize our “happiness” goals every year – write it down somewhere where it will be visible on a continuous basis! Hiding these goals away, somewhere, in private only delays or postpones the accomplishment of the goal. I know someone, who has a picture of his ” dream boat” clipped on his closet door!

Socializing these goals, just like we do with work goals, with at least 5 close friends, may actually help us achieve these goals. These “happiness coaches” of our lives, by pestering us to achieving these goals, may actually play the role of being an advocate for making sure we do spend some for our ownselves.

Finally, we need to give ourselves some momentum; setup at least one goal that’s very achievable – very simple and affordable – like buying beach chairs!

Like a meandering river, life takes on its directions; rainfall or a storm may obstruct the flow once in a while – but the river of life continues with its full force. Rarely do we know what heartbreak or disaster lies ahead of us in this journey. Predicting tomorrow  – and it’s uncertainty is no better than playing the lottery.

In this constant uncertainty, let me argue, setting a few measurable, attainable “happiness goals” every year, is ultimately meaningful; otherwise, one day, we may wake up and find that the river has overruled and we have lost the semblence of any accomplishment that we believed could make us reasonably happy.

Happiness is not just a state of mind – happiness must be defined, and achieved on its own merit. Go ahead set a few goals for yourself for the coming year – see how it feels once you accomplish one or two of those goals!

I went to Costco today and bought a couple of beach chairs! I will start the practice of my beach going habits before the end of the year!

Finally accomplished the 3 year goal of parasailing with Daiyaan on Christmas Day 2011

Where My Spirits Live: June 13 2010

Our tour guide introduced me to an Australian Aborigine concept; the Aborigine believed that one’s spirit is connected to the land that they are born. They could never understand how the English traveled thousands of miles to live in a foreign land, thereby never really estimating their need to “conquer” their land.

I have heard similar stories from my paternal grandmother, my Dadi, how she believed that her soul was connected with her land of birth in Kumilla. Even though she lived in Dhaka for most of her life, I have heard the fond stories about her parents’ home in rural Bangladesh.

For many of us, living in lands far away from where we were born, such a statement – sentiment, is both unsettling and disturbing; we search for meaning in the land where we live, but parts of us remain connected to where we were born.

Does this mean that our spirits are fractured? Distributed into many little spirits? Or is it simply that our spirits have lost connection with mother Earth?

Since these are almost impossible questions to answer, using rational facts and figures, one must develop their own hypothesis – paradigm – to give meaning to our existence. One may look at this as another form of rationalization (to fit our needs).

In this lifetime, I believe, I have experienced five different births. 

Of course, there is the physical birth. But it feels as if I was re-born the day I stepped foot in the United States and made this my new home. The day we married, my life took on another new dimension; the day each of our children were born, I became a new person.

Maybe that’s why, I feel happy in all these birthplaces that my life: Columbia, Missouri; Oshkosh, Wisconsin; Toledo, Ohio and Denver, Colorado – in addition to Dhaka, Bangladesh.  

My soul is connected to all these places.

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Columbia, Missouri – after almost ten years. On the sunny fall morning, as I drove by Cramer Hall, or walked into Brady Commons, my heart beat faster. I could see myself walking with a backpack, exploring my new gift of life. Like a child learning to play with a new set of blocks. I was instantly happy.  

It’s amazing, how life turns, like a river, in different angles, sometimes abruptly – others, modestly – very rarely with a strategic plan of its own.

Fractured or not, distributed or not, my spirit has been enriched by its five re-births . Like the meandering river of life, my spirit maybe enriched by the dry air of Denver or the moist rainfall of the Erie  – the calm of Lake Winnebago or the simplicity of the Missouri.

I could not have planned the journey of my traveling spirit. I just happened to be there, as the river of my life turned in one direction or another.

It’s difficult to project where exactly this river will meet the ocean; so far, I have been fortunate by its different turns, in beautiful places – surrounded by friends and family that care. When that day arrives, today or tomorrow, I pray, the many layers of my spirit are nourished by the smells, sights, friendships and melodies of its many births and transcends peacefully to (at least) its five places of birth.