February purification: What did you learn from 2012?


My personal retrospective on 2012

As 2013 is well underway, I made it my weekend resolution to reflect upon 2012 and learn from it.  I know, I know. Most retrospectives come out in December. And, as a matter of fact I did a psychology-related one right before the end of the year. So, I joined that bandwagon back then. I am not that much of a rebel by doing my personal 2012 retrospective in February 2013.

While, January is a month for the blues, February is a true time for reflection as the Roman month Februarius was named after the Latin term februum, which means purification.  So, January can bring you down but February can cleanse your soul.  As February  goes by so quickly, the groundhog sees or does not see his shadow forecasting winter’s length of misery and many countries celebrate their independence or liberation day (Kuwait, Dominican Republic), take some time to reflect on the year that has passed.

Below are my personal high and lowlights of 2012.  They are in no particular order.  They are in fact, many of things, that I have blogged about this past year.

  1. I discovered a love of Japan and all its quirkiness. And quirky that country is.  The people, living in a world observing tradition and modernity simultaneously, were unbelievably friendly walking with pockets full of candy to give to my son.  I cannot wait to return! Speaking of February, Japan celebrates its national holiday annually on February 11, celebrating the foundation of Japan and the accession of its first Emperor, Emperor Jimmu.
  2. I found that grief is always in the soul, if not always at the surface.  With the one-year anniversary of my mother’s death and the unexpected passing of my beloved dog in early 2012, I have come to realize that one never gets over the death of a loved one.  I have also learned that I hate Januarys.  In terms of grief, you just learn to manage it. But if you stop and think about it, it still hurts.   This is not a deep revelation for many have gone through this and stated as much.  As a matter of fact there are 829,000 results in a google search on just the word grief. However, when you go through it yourself, you come to realize all grieving is personal. There is no one way to handle it.  But you do get by and at some point you return to thriving.
  3. I developed an intense sense of awe and wonder at the developmental milestones of a four year old.  As a psychologist I have learned about our mind’s development.  But observing the development of a four year old is just a thing of wonder.  In Japan, this past year, I gave him a camera and he became a photographer. He was able to capture the light-hearted nature of many Japanese people.  Every day he learns a new fact and everyday I learn from him. Last night, when I got home I mentioned to him that I couldn’t get much work done because everyone kept coming into my office asking for things. He turned to me and said “mom, just say no” and he proceeded to draw me a self-portrait that I am to hand in my office so I remember his words of advice. No truer feedback has been given to me.  I just have to say no.
  4. Developed a healthy fear of global weirding.  Ok. We got how many hurricanes and superstorms in New York this past year? Just not cool. I have now progressed beyond global warming to just understand that is all global weirding; which seems to go hand in hand with all the oddities I have experienced at the office and on the road. What is normal anymore?  I did luck out in that I was n Curacao when hurricane Isaac hit the United States.  I was actually “stranded” there for a few extra days.  Blue curacao at sunset, goat stew and angry ostriches were all part of my global weirding experience.   Could have been worse.
  5. Re-discovered my voice. I had been so stuck in the plain, boring academic writing for so long. A reviewer even recommended rejecting one of my manuscripts because I use flowery language.  Oh, the stale mind of tenure.
  6. Honed my sense of justice and revenge.  Ok I haven’t really exacted revenge on anyone, nor am I too sure I want to since I believe in karma and how things come back to you threefold.  But I sure delight in the new television shows (such as Revenge and Arrow) that write down and cross off names on a list per a certain code of justice.  There must be something in the collective consciousness that is pushing us towards watching these type of shows. What is the grand injustice we all perceive?
  7. Came close to reaching the intense and exhausting goal of traveling and spending significant time in each of the 50 states.  I just have seven more states to go. While attaining 50-state club status is thrilling, it did take a lot of my energy and time this past year.  My body and mind were fairly exhausted this past year.  I spent time in Texas where I got to do karaoke, and in Mississippi where my tummy ingested some great bread pudding.  I went to the fields of the Kentucky Derby and had an amazing experience learning about its backside community. Overall, I ate a lot of barbeque last year.  What will be the food du jour  this year?
  8. Developed an appreciation of the overused and simplified phrase of “staycation.” As a result of the extensive business travel I had to undergo last year, staying at home took on a whole new meaning.  Sitting on a couch, watching TIVO and eating curry for breakfast were a true delight. Moments where I let my mind go blank were rejuvenating.
  9. Reconnected with my Latina side.   It was fun learning about my Latina self and what it means to be a Hispanic woman.   My little boy reminded me that there is a heritage to build upon.  The media kept reminding me I was part of a sleeping tiger population. Whatever that means.  Latinos came out and voted.  Cool beans. Latinos are using twitter and cell phones at higher rates than most other groups.  Awesomely awesome in terms of Latinos now connecting with each other.  I, for one, am loving that blogging platform for it allows one to “desahogarse”  (to undergo a catharsis and attain a sense of relief).


What a year.  Many highs and a few lows.  Looking forward to new travels and hopefully getting some sleep.  I am looking forward to some more days where I can stay in my pajamas and catch up on the latest over-the-top drama.  How about that Homeland, eh?  Sure do hope that there isn’t another snowtober or superstorm for a while.  Which reminds me:  I need to get going on writing that emergency office contingency plan this year.  Looking forward to watching my little boy grow up some more; while I savor each of his little ”lightbulb” moments. He won’t remember many of these days when he is older. These days are for me to enjoy and forever delight in.

Did you know that the Anglo Saxons called February ‘Sol-monath’ (cake-month), because cakes were offered to the gods during at that time.  So, cleanse your soul, free your mind and eat some (rum) cake.


6 replies »

  1. You changed tracks nine times writing this but it was like light reflecting off nine different facets of a gemstone – keep this up and ignore the ‘stale mind of tenure’ : ) Reconnecting with the Latina side sounds like fun. I was so captivated by all the people of Spanish descent I met in South America that I took a course in Espanol (how do you fix the tilde on the o?) when I returned to India. Sadly it’s rusty as there’s no one to talk to! Comprende ud?


  2. ‘Global weirding’ – love it! What is normal these days? ‘Grief, you learn to manage it, …but it still hurts.’
    You speak my mind, I can very much relate to everything you write. Only that I am not a Latina, I’m German.
    Like your style,


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