Redefining Success:Looking Back at 2012 and Ahead to 2013

Happy New Year, Meltingpot Readers All Around the World!

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

As you know, I’ve been struggling to share more of my personal life here on this blog. You know, bring more me to the Meltingpot. It’s hard for me as a journalist to do that sometimes, but I’m trying. Last night I wrote a long entry in my journal and realized it would be great to share some of what I wrote, because while it is deeply personal, I think there’s also a lesson that others might learn from as well.

So, here’s the deal. This year, many of my friends sent Christmas cards with the requisite cute pictures of their kids, but also with a top-ten list of family highlights from the year. I thought that was a really cute idea and considered adding such a list to our Christmas cards. It didn’t happen though, because I just sent our Christmas, New Year’s cards out yesterday and didn’t have time to create a personalized card. But the other thing was, when I tried to compile a list of my own personal 2012 highlights, I came up short.

Last night, I paged through my journal from the last year and then thumbed through my calendar. Nothing jumped out as particularly memorable. I didn’t publish any books, win any awards, write any great articles or take any fantastic trips. I applied for a couple of fellowships and received rejections. I tried to plan a fabulous family vacation to Montreal and we couldn’t go because of finances and el esposo’s exam schedule. I started jogging in the early mornings, but quit when it got cold.  By the end of my trip down memory lane, I was feeling pretty depressed. I felt like such a failure. Like 2012 was a wasted year. I almost cried.

But being a glass half-full kind of girl, I forced myself to find at least one thing to put on my 2012 Highlights list. And you know what I came up with? Good health. For the first time in what feels like years, I didn’t get any major illness and neither did my kids. A few colds and a quickie virus here and there, but nothing like we’ve been seeing. Then I added another accomplishment. I went back to work when babygirl was five months old, found a wonderful babysitter, taught my classes and neither my students nor my daughter lacked for attention. Sure, I’m not going to get any awards for doing what millions of women do every day, but I was terrified that I wasn’t going to be able to handle it all without losing my mind. But I didn’t fall apart. I survived. And that was number three on my list. I survived three kids, a full-time job, a freelance writing career, and a full-time student for a husband. And I even hosted Thanksgiving this year. Move over, Martha Stewart.

All told, I came up with a list of 16 personal ‘highlights’ from 2012 and yes, one thing on the list was finally being able to see my belly button after three pregnancies. (Thank you Mummy Tummy workouts.) They’re not exactly Christmas card bragging-worthy, but they’re good enough for me. This list will help me remember that the work I do as a mother and a spouse and a human being is important and worthy of a pat on the back. This is also when I remember that all of the big-ticket items that I want to accomplish — travel, writing, fellowships– will come in time. I can have it all, just not all at once. And that’s okay.

With that ‘everything in moderation’ mode in mind, I also plotted out my resolutions for 2013 last night. Knowing that babygirl will be even more of a challenge in some ways as a toddler, and that my job is going to be even more intense as my tenure-clock starts ticking faster, my list was short and sweet. Like Mitt Romney, I have a five-point plan for making Ms. Meltingpot a happy camper in 2013. Here’s what I’m hoping to accomplish:

1. Find a sport to practice and stick with it all year. (I am leaning towards karate with the kids. I love martial arts. Anybody else out there want to encourage me?)

2. Secure a book deal for my book on color bias. (Two agents are looking at the proposal, but I’m hearing crickets right now. I’m hoping it’s because it’s the holiday season and not because the proposal sucks.)

3. Get my kids and self to Spain. (If enough students sign up for my summer class at Temple in Oviedo, it’s a go. Please. Please. Please.)

4. Get out of debt. (Um, Could I win the lottery?)

5. Add video and audio to MyAmericanMeltingpot and make it the online destination of choice for Meltingpot lovers the world over. (Just call me online Oprah)

So, there you have it. I think that’s a pretty reasonable list. I’m putting my desires out in the atmosphere so that I cannot pretend they don’t exist. Also, all of you, dear readers, have permission to ask me throughout the year how things are going. You can also give me any tips to accomplish them. You know I’m listening. Really.

Happy New Year!


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6 Thoughts to “Redefining Success:Looking Back at 2012 and Ahead to 2013”

  1. Jane

    Your wonderful things you did was wonderful itself. It’s a good reminder to all of us to concentrate on aspects of life that don’t include “work”, outward or publically recognized achievement and other areas where often most of our time and attention are focused. And I think your getting a babysitter and recognizing that toddler time will be even more challenging is a great thing to do. As someone who went to graduate school and then worked while raising 3 children I know how hard it is to do it while doing right by your kids and satisfying your (usually) high expectations of yourself.

    1. Ms. Meltingpot

      Thank you so much for that thoughtful response. It actually really just helps knowing that other people get me and my issues.

  2. Lucy

    Hey my wonderful friend – you know what one of my highlights of 2012 was? The day you and family came to visit us in NY and our kids bonded and we realized that we were so right as teenagers in Morocco – we will be bosom buddies forever! xoxo

    1. Ms. Meltingpot

      Agreed. Visiting you was way high on my list. And meeting your kids and seeing you be a mom was awesome. We’ve come so far and that alone is an accomplishment. right?

  3. Wendy

    I’m hoping to see you in Spain! 😀 I will be in Salamanca from the 22 of June to the 26th of July!

    Feliz año nuevo!

    1. Ms. Meltingpot

      Ojala! I’m feeling the pull of Spain more than ever. Stay tuned to the blog to find out why!

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