Not your typical New Years resolution

I really love making New Year’s resolutions, I really do. A new year feels like a new beginning and it is always a great time to reflect and be motivated to make a few changes. But at my age, I’ve gone through the whole realization of ‘the best time to make changes is now, regardless of the time of the year’ and the typical focus on health, fitness feels overdone. Therefore this year I am going to focus on two things that I think will make a significant difference in my well being:image

1) Acceptance

Sounds random right? It is actually a lot bigger than most people think. Allow me to explain.

– For work projects:  accept the way ‘others’ are. There is little I can do to change others (in the short term), so instead of being frustrated by things such as the lack of efficiency, I will work on accepting it and see how to best work with that. Hopefully this goes both ways as I am sure I have my own tendencies that drive people crazy

– For myself: accept where I am in life (career, relationship with others etc).  Stop the useless thoughts of ‘where I should be or could be’ and focus on what I can do with what I’ve got

– For my kids: accept the way they are and spend energy on ‘what is best for their unique personalities’ instead of ‘how to get them to meet my or others expectations/standards’

2) Being present

I don’t mean getting down on the floor to play superheroes and crafts with my kids all the time; I simply want to focus on ‘this moment’ more, whatever it is I am doing.

If I really need to answer work emails, then I will say “give mom 5 minutes of uninterrupted time” and do it with focus, then come back to my kids without thinking about emails and pretending to pay attention to them. When I spend the time with family, I will work on really being with them and try not to let my brain wander back to work, to do list, chores etc…

The other day I was walking in the path of Financial District, and I consciously practiced this – I stopped the chatter in my head about what’s happened in the past and what to do in the future while walking, instead I focused on the moment, and I was quite amused to discover how many interesting things, people you see and hear for a mere 3 minutes walk. The constant thinking in my head was keeping me from living the moment!

Here you have it, my two not so typical New Years resolutions. They require a lot of practice – consciously choosing your thoughts and emotions are not natural. I am determined to do it because I know they will greatly impact my emotional health and other important aspects in life. I will keep you posted on how I am doing throughout the year.

Happy New Year to you all!

 

 

Balancing work and family – response to “What if the best years of your life just aren’t”

 

In the past two days, this article – What if “the best years of your life” just aren’t went viral on Facebook. when I read it, I thought it was very well written but something about the article bothered me a little; I couldn’t put my finger on it. Today I discussed it with a good friend on Facebook and that really helped me organize my thoughts.

safe_image Here are the issues I have with this piece.

Before I start, I’d like to say that I am not saying that these ‘issues’ I have are what was wrong with this article. To be fair, the author wrote about her personal experience and her personal opinions based on her experience and her message is very supportive of moms going through a hard time. Most parents have shared similar sentiments at some point of time, me included. Although I don’t agree with everything in this article, it is a beautiful piece nevertheless!

Now, onto MY ‘issues’ with it. These are my issues because my blog is about my opinions. I get her but I see a different perspective that I wish to express on this particular subject. This different perspective does not mean I only see the negative sides of this article. OK, let’s talk about these ‘issues’.

1) The first few paragraphs are all about her own life, wonderfully written and easy to relate. Then it got to this:

“When I was a teenager, schoolbags were plastered with bumper stickers that said “girls can do anything”. Career counselling consisted of lectures about law, medicine, physiotherapy, stockbroking and journalism. Home economics was removed from the curriculum. It would have been considered downright sexist to point out the paradox. Some careers can accommodate the needs of a family better than others; those choices – whether we like it or not – exist. We can do anything. But if we want healthy, happy, satisfying lives – we can’t do it all simultaneously. Man or woman, there are choices, sacrifices and losses down either path.” OK, a general statement, but still mostly true. Then it continued:

“We do not raise boys or girls to think like this. We don’t educate them to jobshare, downscale, work from home. We raise them to take every opportunity, rise to the occasion, get a bigger office, build a more impressive client list, fulfil their potential. No one mentions what we have to surrender, on the professional or personal front, to do this.” This is where my disagreement started. It is true to some people but not true to others. “Jobshare, downscale, work from home” are not necessarily the opposite of “take every opportunity, rise to the occasion, or fulfill their potential”, especially in today’s day and age. The author’s own experience should not be extended to all professions. I for one, work for a company that is very flexible and does offer these choices to most employees. One of my best friends who is a very good doctor, treats cancer patients 3 days a week, and spends the rest of the week with her kids. That is more time spent with family than most 9 to 5 jobs. She is able to do that because a) she makes good enough money part time to support the family b) when you are good at your job, in a more specialized, highly skilled field, sometimes you actually have more say in terms of your own schedule. The CEO of Yahoo Marisa Mayer built a nursery next to her office so she can see her baby whenever she wants. Sometimes the ‘bigger fish’ comes with bigger perks, and seeing your baby may just be one of them.

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The author is not wrong, and in many people’s cases, it is true. However, it is not always true and we should not assume it to be. Women tend to scale back in career way before necessary in anticipation of motherhood. If that is what they want, then by all means but if it is not, I’ll quote Sheryl Sandberg on this one: “Don’t leave until you actually leave“! Let’s continue to teach our kids to be ambitious, to “get a bigger office and build a more impressive client list”. Meanwhile, let’s push and educate everyone on work flexibility and other arrangements to pursue their dreams. If scaling back is needed, then offer support. Let’s not put in our heads or our children’s heads that it is an absolute ‘either, or’ situation when it comes to career and family.

2) My second issue is with this paragraph:

“Once kids start school, they enter a vortex from which they never return to be fully, totally ours again; time with them is negotiated around a timetable of school days, weekends, social lives, activities, term dates and holidays And they emerge young adults, with dreams, plans and all those forks in their own roads to navigate. Much of their journey will be done without us. We will never stand by their side as we do in those first five years.”

This is also my favourite paragraph. I share the exact sentiment! Because of this, the author claims that “you will be filled with gladness for every moment, good and bad, that you experienced with them”. I am not sure…Just because time is fleeting, does not take away the fact that even though there are a lot of joyful moments and you are heart felt happy during those moments, the majority of the days of being full time mom is mind-blowingly tedious and brutally unfulfilling on an intellectual level. I think it is totally ok to not enjoy some parts of it. If I had to hear or sing one more time “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” which is THE magic song to make my 6 months old smile, eat, stop crying, take a bath happily (you get the idea), I’d ignore my alcohol intolerance and start drinking!

I love spending quality time with my kids, but that doesn’t mean I want to spend EVERY moment with them before they turn 5. I will miss their littleness for sure but I am also glad they will never be fully, totally ours again. That means I will not be fully, totally theirs anymore so I can have a bathroom break in peace!

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When we look back, the past always looks sweet because the human brain’s memories on parenthood works like Instagram pictures: cropped, romanticized and various sepia toned filters added. That is why we would want to go through labour again. Don’t fool ourselves, acknowledge that good moments will be good and bad moments will be, well bad. There will always be nostalgic, Instagram photos to look back on, but some moments will suck ass!

3) My biggest thing is this statement she made: “I can promise you one thing. You will never regret the sacrifices you make for them now.” This is simply not true. I know someone very close to me who truly regretted having children. Mind you, her children were brought up in a loving, financially secure environment and are grown adults oblivious of their mom’s feelings, but the truth is she did regret not sticking to her intuitions and choosing a childless life. Now in her 50s, she is the happiest ever because her kids are out of the house and she started to pursue the degree she always wanted. She may be a rare case, but all I am saying is that you simply cannot promise this one.

Some women may have become moms by accident and some may have been pressured. Some may feel really bad that after all that sacrifice, their kids did not turn out as well as they had hoped. That is another important issue: does spending more time (quitting your career to stay home) with the kids make them better adjusted, more successful in the long term? Like Seinfeld joked: we are all just too into this parenting thing these days. The verdict is still out on whether this ‘super involved’ parenting style produces better results. You may say what if quitting career is a personal choice for the enjoyment of the parent? What if the mother or father WANTS to be there for every moment because she/he enjoys it and has nothing to do with producing more successful kids? Well, if it is for personal enjoyment, it cannot really be called a sacrifice can it? If you choose to do so solely because you like it, I call that a hobby!

4) My last point is personal. The author states of her dying grandmother: “She had raised sons, grandsons, nursed a dying husband and buried a son.  She had been a community member, friend, devoted great-grandmother, card writer, tennis player, book lover and never forgot a birthday. And in that moment of death, that is all that mattered, that’s all that remained, treasured.”

Am I the odd one here of wanting to leave something else behind other than my children? Of wanting to be remembered for some other contribution I made to society other than being a mother? If I am authentic to myself, I hope in my moment of death, the fact that I raised son, daughter, possibly grandkids would NOT be ALL that mattered, ALL that remained and treasured!

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Do share your thoughts!

 

A Look Back

Today was an ordinary day in my house, nobody’s birthday, not our anniversary. On our drive back from grocery shopping, we passed a restaurant we once dined in, before we even dated. Ethan exclaimed: “It has been 9 years since that night you tried to introduce me to one of your girlfriends!” In the midst of my afternoon energy crash, I tried to remember: “how did we end that night?” to which he wittily replied: “I married YOU”!

In our daily hustle and bustle, sometimes we really lose sight of the wonderful things we share in life, moments slipping through at lightning speed! Sometimes I wish I could capture all the images my brain fails to retain. So today, just an ordinary day, I took 5 minutes to take a look back and relive those moments…

First trip as a couple

First trip as a couple – 2005 Montreal

Paris! 2006

Paris! 2006

Wedding Day - 2008

Wedding Day – 2008

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Family shot -2010

Leslieville - 2011

Leslieville – 2011

Family complete - 2013

Family complete – 2013

Thanks honey for an amazing 9 years! So excited for many more (decades) to come!

Why we stopped buying the lottery

My 2014 new year resolution: stop buying the lottery.

As we are coming to the end of the year again (so fast! I feel like I blinked and the year is over), I am doing some thinking and soul searching as usual. My first conclusion of what I learned in 2013 is that I am going to stop buying the lottery and I will tell you why.

#1. The Obvious: the statistical chance of winning is extremely small, 1 in 13,983, 816 to be exact (for 6 49).

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When I was getting epidural during birth, the doctors ran all the stats with me in terms of risk. I felt pretty good choosing when the chance of something bad happen was less than 1 in 1000. The chance of winning the lotto is less than 1 in 13 million, in English, that means you will almost NEVER win. But believe it or not, this is actually not the main reason I stop buying. Keep reading.

#2. The main reason: What would winning the lottery give you? Have you thought about that? No, I don’t mean the million dollar house, fancy stuff, travel that you are going to do, or the choice of quitting your job. I mean thinking REALLY HARD what more it would give you in life besides the material stuff, how it will make you happier.

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To answer this question, you need to answer another question first: what do you truly want in life?

  • If your answer is health, family, love etc, then winning the lottery is not going to help you.
  • If your answer is along the lines of achievement in career, then winning the lottery may even make it more difficult because you may be less motivated.
  • If your answer is time with family, working less, then I personally think everyone has a better chance budgeting or finding other work options to achieve this than waiting for the lottery. ANY other option you explore to work towards this goal will have higher chance of happening than the lottery.
  • If your answer is small material stuff such as bigger house, fancy car, great trips or designer clothes, here is the news, you can still budget or work to obtain these, with much higher likelihood of success.

For some people, if they really want a celebrity lifestyle they cannot earn, then buying the lottery is probably necessary. But if I were them, I’d re-examine the wants in life. Happiness does not come from living in a dream!

Maybe I am getting older, and thank God not crustier. I feel wiser than my younger days. When I look at my life, I feel blessed that I have most of the important things I want already: health (for now, really need to get on a work out regimen though), love, kids I adore, good friends, and the financial means to enjoy life to a modest extent. Sure, I want more, the shallow stuff too, like a well renovated house and a pair of killer Louboutins, and I will continue to work towards those, but I just don’t see how obtaining all those ALL AT ONCE will make my life happier and more fulfilled.

I’ve always been a dreamer and still am, but I feel like my life is speeding up, at least psychologically (kids will do that to you), and it is that much more important to enjoy it and live it NOW! So here is the ultimate reason why I won’t buy it anymore, at least not regularly (I won’t exclude the odd time that I get a crazy cosmic intuition :)):

I am going to save that $2.00 which gives me a ridiculously low chance to achieve the false hope that my life will somehow be better, to actually enjoy a good quality latte, and savour it while reflecting on how wonderful my life is at the present and watch the world go by – which is what I’d do if I were multi millionaire anyway! So by not wasting it on the lottery, I AM living the dream.

I will be too busy to hope for a lottery win, because I will be busy LIVING my life, working toward my bucket list, and becoming 10 million richer all of sudden is NOT on that list!

Happy new year!

Don’t forget your partner!

Rose and Ethan

I always tell people that I have won the lottery in the marriage department. My husband Ethan, is the most wonderful husband I ever imagined having. Sometimes I wonder what I have done in life to deserve him. As lucky as I am, we have our moments too. A marriage is always organic; it sometimes blossoms lusciously, sometimes becomes unruly and always, always needs nurturing.

I have to admit that when our son Blake was born, our marriage definitely got sidelined. Blake was borderline colic, we had no family help. We poured both of our energies into taking care of him and paid minimal attention to each other. Although we discovered our groove as a team, there were times we snapped at each other due to fatigue. Most of all, I missed my husband terribly. I saw him everyday, but was unable to spend quality time with him.

When back at work, life was always hectic. Both of us worked full time. Life became a game of logistics. You pick up Blake, I cook. You bath him, I do the dishes. You take him to Mandarin class, I do groceries… Not to mention my driven husband, trying to find every minute of his free time to catch up on work, and completing his MBA program.

As a woman, immersed in this daily routine, I admit I sometimes long for the old, romantic days when I carefully picked out the outfit to go on a date with him and held his hand, shared our thoughts for hours while walking along the lake shore. Occasionally, I let my insecurity seep in and wonder if he would find the attention and intrigue in a different person, perhaps a svelte, smart 20 something at work who will have intelligent conversations with him during lunch time.

We’ve tried the date night thing but it didn’t quite work. We were usually too tired to do anything exciting and the babysitter’s cost really added up. Finance and the lack of help made date nights less enjoyable and we decided to cut them out.

Now I am 8 months pregnant with our second, I do wonder if it will be even harder for us after the new baby comes along. Taking some friends’ advice, I picked up ” The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” from Amazon. I’ll leave the book review for another day to blog, but I do want to mention an exercise I went through with Ethan.

It was one of those ‘how well do you know your partner’ kind of thing, nothing fancy. We picked 20 questions randomly out of a list of 60 and simply tested each other. Questions include “name your partner’s best friends”, “what are your partner’s life long dream and current aspirations” etc. We did very well as expected because we really knew each other. However, there were still questions we weren’t sure of.

When I asked Ethan about his “3 most special events/moments of his life” and “the most stressful event/moment of his childhood”, he had to think hard about them. Then to my surprise, he got emotional when answering. I listened intently (which I am really guilty of NOT doing enough) and felt ever so connected to his tender heart. As I pictured these moments when he described them, I felt his sorrow and happiness which as a typical man, he rarely let out easily. Our son was sound asleep in the room next to us, dreaming of super heroes, and I wrapped my arms around Ethan, sharing his memories and feelings, cherishing this moment of closeness.

That brief half an hour reminded me how connected we used to be, and the moments that made me fall in love with him at the beginning of our relationship. I should’ve never taken that for granted. It also confirms that although life is different now, we still are each others soul mates, and our love for each other runs deep in us. It also gave me a wake up call of the importance of paying undivided attention to the other person. Next time I feel tempted to run the to-do list in my head instead of listening to Ethan when he talks, I will remind myself of this moment.

I once read somewhere that one of the best thing you can do for your child, is to love your partner. When parents are in love, kids are happier and more positive. For all my busy mom friends out there, have you invested in your marriage lately? Not just time, but emotionally as well? Have your complaints trumped gratitude? Have you paid undivided attention to each other lately? When was the last time you felt the feelings you had when you first fell in love with him?

I am certainly going to try harder, the to-do list can wait, but my marriage cannot!