Tuesday, December 31, 2013

13 Things I Learned in 2013

I can't believe 2013 is winding down to a close, but I'm fairly certain my suspension of belief on this fact does not diminish that it's real- 2013 is over and yet again, I stand at the brink of a new year wondering where the time went but thankful I was able to be here to experience it nonetheless. I got the idea to share this list from Natalia Sylvester, a beautiful way to reflect on the year and the lessons learned that will hopefully carry over to the new year.  
  1. That having one kid does in no way, shape, or form, make me an expert on subsequent progeny. Because you know, they're people and individual and stuff. Also, because I [apparently] suffered complete and total amnesia at some point in the parenting journey rendering me confused about nap schedules and the weaning process despite having done this all once before [likely resulting from sleep exhaustion from a certain someone who begins dutifully pulling my hair and squealing at approximately 5:45am]. 
  2. That love never divides, it only multiplies. I knew this always, and yet, with two children I feel it with a certainty I never had before.
  3. That the kitchen-aid mixer is a beautiful glorious thing. For years I coveted this mixer and for years I told myself that God gave me a hand an arm for a reason, to mix chocolate chip cookie batter with. Besides, the price was staggering and the odds were high it would be yet another thing I couldn't manage to dust on a weekly basis. But then, I got it as a gift, and my world changed. From rotis to cupcakes to three tier cakes, I've made things I never could have imagined because the shiny red object sat so pretty on the counter and I couldn't resist its wily charms.
  4. That the more you cook, the better you get. I started 2013 with the goal to try ten new recipes. To date, I've tried forty. They range from simple things like Teriyaki chicken bowls, to Pad Thai, General Tso chicken to more complex things like my personal holy grail of all that is good and lovely: kacha gosht biryani. I did this to encourage myself to try new things but I had no idea cooking would  crack open my world in such a beautiful way. I love the creativity and intellectual stimulation of researching and picking and choosing from different recipes, the togetherness of cooking with my family, and the witnessing of simple alchemy as separate raw ingredients meld into something that tantalizes the senses. Seriously, when I first made dinner rolls from scratch, how they rose after an hour covered under kitchen towels, and then browned honey-gold in the oven, I nearly wept from the simple miracle that is a dinner roll. While I've cooked for over a decade, this is the year I fell in love. And as with anything you love, you put more of yourself into it and are rewarded inevitably in dividends.
  5. That I can grow a garden. And not kill it immediately. For years I not only lacked a green thumb, I had the thumb of death but this was the first year, through container gardening,we planted jalapenos, chilies, tomatoes, green peppers, and sweet peppers and they bloomed, and we ate them, and we were happy. And yum. 
  6. That in order to find peace, one must live and let live. Sometimes people hurt us. Repeatedly. And sometimes we keep waiting for them to change even though they've given no indication they ever will. This year I've accepted that banging my head against a brick wall will only lead to bruises, the brick wall will forever remain impermeable. Instead of staring at it and wondering why this is so, I can choose to spend my energies on things more worthwhile instead.
  7. How to use twitter. I've had a twitter account for years but never understood it. Okay, I still don't really understand it, but the tiny bit I am beginning to get, I like. Like the wonderful conversations that can happen in 140 characters or less, connecting people who never otherwise would have met. 
  8. That the bricks which line Hemingway's home cost .01 each. Have you ever learned something random but something you can't completely shake? Well, this is my random tidbit of 2013 learned while riding around on the Conch Train Tour in Key West, that Ernest Hemingway purchased his bricks that created the gate surrounding his home at a price of one cent each and I'm fairly certain short of a game of Trivial Pursuit one day, this is something I will have absolutely no use for, but will nonetheless, forever know.
  9. That e-library books are all kinds of awesome. Free, automatically returnable and a pretty great selection to boot. I try very hard to limit my impulse e-book buying because I inevitably wish I had it's paper version to scrawl on and pass on to friends, but for library books its pretty much perfect.
  10. That the more you write, the more you write. My first novel came to me like a vision- a force all its own. I merely sat down at the keyboard and brought into light what I saw in the shadows of my mind's eye. After that one, I worried I would never write another novel again. And yet I did. And this year, after a year of not working on a new piece of fiction, I'm knee deep in my third manuscript. I've learned much like love, the more you write, the more that comes, and I am thankful because while writing is difficult, one of the more difficult things I do in a given day, it will be there for the sculpting so long as I work hard and give my all.
  11. That beautiful sunshiny days necessitate stopping everything and everything to spend time outdoors. This was a brutal rainy year in Atlanta. But while in years past, a sunshiny day would make me smile but not move me outdoors posthaste, because of how brief the lovely days were this year, we barbecued, and swang, and slid and to outsiders would have seemed like hardcore devotees to that bright star in the sky.
  12. The meaning of life. Yes. A grand statement, one people spend their whole lives searching for with great angst- but absolutely true. What is the meaning? It's love. The answer came to me in a flash when I held my newborn son, surrounded by family but I thought the feeling would leave as the hormones left my body, but no- it still is the truth that I gained insight to this year because it is truly the meaning of life, when we boil it down to it down to its essentials, at its core all that matters, is love.
  13. That hope is a good thing. Hope is a beautiful thing. And one should never ever give up on hope. I know I didn't. I know I won't. And for this I remain forever grateful.
Happy New Years to you and yours! Any life lessons you learned in 2013?

2 comments:

mystic-soul said...

Beautiful post!.....You made my day!

Natalia Sylvester said...

What a beautiful post, Aisha! I especially smiled at #5. I too have a black thumb but I'd love to grow food and savor it. Perhaps this will be the year?

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