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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A welcome to 2014

Othman and I are back in Morocco after a much-too-short trip to France. Both of us are really missing the little girls today, as well as the not-so-little cousins! At least that means we really did have a wonderful time. It was decided we need to visit again in the summertime, when days are longer and warmer, and the castles/caves etc. are open to viewing! I'll continue posting some pictures from the trip, but am interrupting today with a post focusing on the year 2014 that has just begun.

To be perfectly honest, I've never been one for New Year's Resolutions. Making any amount of promises to myself while knowing full well I'd break them (and sooner than later) never seemed the best way to start a new year to me. But after having a few conversations recently, reading some other people's New Year's thoughts, and thinking a bit, I realized there were two resolutions I could make this year that were 1) realistic and 2) would enhance my life. Having figured them out, I decided this was a good of a year as any to join in the resolution hype!  

My first one goes back to the topic of thankfulness. Reflecting on the good things that happen each day and giving thanks for the blessings in life is something so important, yet I so often forget to do it. Beginning this year, at dinner each night I will name two or three things I'm happy happened that day. It'll be easy enough to do, Othman can remind me if I forget, and I think it'll help me keep things in perspective. Even the worst days have highlights, and focusing on them will be good for me. I've heard of quite a few families doing this with their children... but if it's good for kids then why not adults?

Thankful everyday that this man is in my life!
Yesterday I read a post that a friend from college wrote about things she learned in 2013, and really identified with one. She realized doing activities that brought her joy earlier in life had the same effect on her now. I found that to be true this year when I joined a choir and started singing again. Something else that was a big part of my life in high school and college was doing volunteer work, but since graduating from Notre Dame I really haven't gotten involved with any sort of community service. Considering I live in a country where a large percentage of the population is impoverished, it's really a pity that I haven't created the opportunity or the time for that. Othman and I have participated in a couple of things here and there, but nothing at all significant.

After arriving at the airport at 6pm yesterday and battling traffic jams until 8pm, Othman and I went to spend a quiet New Year's with 5 other people at a friend's house. One of the people I met works with an NGO called SOS Children's Villages. She told me all about her work and the positive and not-so-great aspects of the organization, and I told her about some of the different work I've done, including the summer I spend in São Paulo working with an NGO that helps foreign women caught working as drug mules and trapped in the Brazilian prison system. It was a kind of conversation that I hadn't had in quite a while. Then I told her how I haven't done much volunteering here, partly because of the language barrier, and asked if she knew about any French-only opportunities available. She said she has many contacts in Moroccan non-profit circles and that she can help me find something. 

Giving my time to help people that are less fortunate than me has brought me great joy and peace in the past. Knowing that I'm doing something, however small, makes me feel less selfish, which is interesting because most people, myself included, volunteer for selfish reasons. Any of you who have done extensive volunteer work have experienced that feeling of lightness and pride you get from helping others. It makes you feel selfless, but in a way seeking that feeling through volunteering is an act of selfishness. This circle is necessary though, to keep us going back to helping others, and it's a circle I want to jump into again. So that's my second resolution for 2014-- to go back to volunteering in some capacity.

Highlights of 2013

2013 was a good year for me. Got married, got two turtles, got an apartment, was in Morocco, the US and France, had some good career development opportunities, started a blog, pushed myself to be more creative with poetry, photography, painting and singing, and continued to learn about life, love and the world. I can't ask for much more from 2014 but to continue the trends that have already been developing in my life, and that during this year I never stop loving, learning and growing!

1 comment:

  1. That's a good question, the one of how we volunteer to feel good about ourselves. I guess people could join fun volunteer groups with little selfless motives, just because its something fun to do. And yet I wonder if we can call true volunteering selfishness. Maybe selfishness is to put ourselves first, ahead of other people. The feeling, or interior (and wonderful) peace and joy we get from helping others, I believe, is the God-given reward, the natural consequence of peace and "feeling good, feeling right", that human beings have when they exercise Love. It's no wonder so many people volunteer, so many people give, so many people live lives completely devoted to the other, to Love. How could ou explain religious orders, for instance, people who make a lifelong decision of penance and charity service, and do it in utmost joy? Or marriage for that reason: isn't it amazing that we say to Another person, "I will love your fro all my days until I die, no matter what"? Talk about a step in courage and faith and in the name of Love. I don't think a person without a firm hold in what this feeling of what Love can give us, interiorly, could really mean the words, or understand their true weight. Love you, daughter, loved the post.
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