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Happy Holidays

The new year is coming. The New Year is coming!

I'm on a small winter break from scholastic pursuits. The travelers have been funneling into the airport, the location of one of my part-time jobs. I worked all of Christmas Day this year. You might imagine that Christmas travelers have a sort of empathy for those who are similarly trapped in an airport on popular holidays, but you'd be wrong. Especially when flights get delayed. It was not a very profitable holiday, but I did get to practice some mediation skills and I wore a cute red sweater over my uniform to spite the seasonal sag.

AND we're no longer forced to endure Christmas music while working, which is a gigantic relief because the Christmas Muzak begins on or possibly before Thanksgiving.

The last of my families’ celebrations ended yesterday. We enjoyed coffee, and it’s complement coffee cake, and gazed upon the sea of presents bestowed upon our kiddos. We adults had organized a Secret Santa exchange with a maximum spending limit of $10. I made my gift, a collage made entirely out of wallpaper I accidentally stole when I was 19 (long story) of its’ recipient’s house purchased just months before. It was pretty darn cute if I may say myself, and I spent $0. A relief and an accomplishment.

There was also a separate adult gifting to charity, where each couple or independent piece of the puzzle that is family chooses a charity to donate to and lets everyone know a bit about the organization.

Manpanion and I had decided on Venture North, a North Minneapolis Bike and Walk center that operates an earn-a-bike program, and hosts the only POC-WTF (people of color, women-trans-femme oriented) Grease Rag Open Shop night in the city. This marries our support of underserved, racially disparaged communities like North Minneapolis, which has been in the spotlight for the last several months as Black Lives Matters protests and occupation of the 4th Precinct drew national attention. We were as active as we could be with this occupation, bringing firewood between classes, and hot meals to those who could hold it down while we could not show up physically. Venture North provides an opportunity for independence by teaching and empowering young people of North Minneapolis how to ride, build, and maintain bicycles – a gift that opens up a new world of freedom.

The rest of the family pooled their money and gave it to ME.

I was the charity.

Christmas season is a mixed bag. The stress of various family dynamics can be very tough on a person. Any person. It’s tough on me. I barely made it out alive from my family-of-origin celebration due to a misunderstanding about Christmas music and a Bluetooth speaker. Writing that out should help us all laugh about how ridiculous tensions can be over the holidays. So when my In-Loves (non-legal In-Laws) communally pooled their money to give it to me, to this campaign, I sort of froze.

And then I did what any reasonable person who is me would do: I cried.

It’s part of that whole, weird gray space of money and families. It feels strange to be viewed as a charity case, and yet, here I am – asking for and accepting money, so why the waterworks? Tears of hopeful celebration, and yet incredibly fearful and shame ridden simultaneously. That, paired with my sincere admiration and adoration of these people who have adopted me into their clan, and unconditionally treated me with the kind of family intimacy and love that is the stuff of fairytales.

What a gift! Such a generous family! Not only this gigantic donation but for the opportunity to look deeper into my feels and suss out the roots.

So, with THAT holiday said and done, the New Year approaches, and I've been analyzing my goals, as we all tend to do at this time of year. Resolutions, we call them, but the last few years for me have been about setting my intentions.

I found this other article as I was literally doing a very similar activity to keep my brain sharp during this break. Rather than Resolutions, you make lists of very specific examples of times you were AWESOME. On the flip side, you also make a list of fears. Fear tends to be a giant barrier to accomplishment or even action at all. By identifying your fears, you can map them onto specific situations and occasions, which will assist you in overcoming that fear by owning and reasoning your way through it.

On a similar note, this great article helps to recenter your intentions on growth rather than the concrete goals we often cast as Resolutions. This has been a mindset that I've had to adopt in my academic career, which is usually focused only on such difficult concrete goals. The next paper to write. The next book to read. The next A you need to earn.

It's these achievements that potentially separate out the non-traditional student experience. When you're a 30-something, no one hangs your A+ paper on the fridge. I mean, I totally do that for myself, but I also still have a blue ribbon from a school Field Day in 1989. You know the ribbons they give all the kids, kind of a pat on the back for not peeing your pants. Completing these scholastic achievements really only opens the door to the next piece of work you'll have to do.

And because you're stuck in a holding pattern where you're strenuously working on a VERY BIG goal that won't be fruitful for several years down the line, you have to find a new scale of measurement for celebration and success. That's where growth must stand in, so that you continue to learn deeply and make lasting changes - even if they're not so abrupt or apparent.

Just some tools that might be useful to us all, as we close the curtain on 2015. I am grateful for your support and encouragement this year, and happy to end the chapter on another year of very hard work. I'm celebrating my untouched 4.0 GPA, having aced a very very difficult semester in a tumultuous social climate, and I am looking forward to the research project of which I am charged to perform in the new year.

So much love and joy to you all.


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