A Retrospective: 2012 Has Taught Me...

That Nothing Comes Easy:
This past year was really, really hard. Whether it was work, school or raising my daughter, nothing came easy. I think the economy is taking so long to heal, it's making everything that much more difficult. The stress of moving forward in this economy seeped into finances, work/life balance, school resources-the list goes on. Every success or win we had in all aspects of our lives was hard won. Every step forward with our daughter, her transitional 4th grade year or her school as a whole was a rocky road. As the year comes to a close, I feel a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm not afraid of hard work, but my goal is always to reap the value of energy and time that goes into it. This year, things seemed way off balance. I hope that 2013 allows us to reap the rewards of the hard work we put in this year. I hope next year goes a little smoother.

That Getting Involved has It's own Rewards:
This year was the year I have given the most to various charities and organizations, whether it was my time, talents or money. My husband stepped back as we looked at the infographics I created for our end of year holiday card and said, "Out of all years, we chose the hardest one for us to do the most. Kind of ironic! Maybe that's why we're broke!" He was being silly and factitious, but it stopped and made me think, "Yeah. Why did I do that?" Maybe because if we weren't reaping tangible benefits from all our hard work, maybe it would feel good to give back to others? I think I needed something good to come out of something this year. If I could make an impact in someone else's life somewhere, that was worth more than anything. All this charity included my daughter's school, where I felt the more I involved myself in volunteering and projects, the more I could make an impact there. I thought all that could translate to help for her. All the organizations I helped were incredibly grateful, and I know my efforts went to good things. I hope 2013 will allow me to have a more balanced approach to our giving. and focus it so I don't get burned out. Hopefully I can put our family's time, energy and resources towards where it would make the best impact.

That if it's One Thing that's Constant, it's Change
Change is so hard sometimes. On a very personal note, this past year has slowly changed our family for the better. After our struggles with our daughter and 4th grade (without much school support) we took it upon ourselves to do some private testing. We found our daughter to have mild ADHD. Learning about ADHD and what makes my daughter tick is changing how we parent. We are also finding how diet affects her symptoms, so it is changing the way we eat and shop. We are only beginning our journey with these new discoveries, but I think the more we learn about ADHD and adapt, the closer we are becoming as a family. I am also seeing my daughter grow and mature, equipped with this new information about herself. This year has reminded us that nothing is set in stone, and we need to be open and flexible to what life throws at us.

Nothing has taught us that lesson more than the recent Connecticut shootings. The unwritten rules of safety and security for our young children in school evidently was a false rule. We have all lived in a bubble that has abruptly popped, similar to 9/11 in many ways. This awful incident has transformed my family, and me personally. I appreciate what I have more, and treasure the people around me more. I am painfully aware that each living day is a blessing and a privilege I get to spend with them. I approached the holidays differently, and I think I am also re-prioritizing what's important in life, too. I think the recent tragedy has changed us all as a country. I hope in 2013 we continue to learn and change for the better. I hope we never have anything so horrible happen again. I also hope that my family can continue to grow and change together, for the better.

Hard Work does Reap Rewards, Big or Small
It hasn't been all gloom and doom. Hard work does pay off, just not as quickly as I wish it to! To start with, all the review sheets, time, patience and investing in our daughter gave us a really great report card this 1st quarter, with just one C! I see her growing in independence, planning ahead on big projects on her own, and taking greater ownership and pride in her work. These are all recent big wins for our little family. On a sweeter note, I still reign supreme as baker, winning two 1st place awards for my apple pie submission in our parish apple pie contest this year! To that end, this blog is ever growing, too! I am slowly getting new comments and followers every day. And my writing successes don't just stop with the blog. All the writing I have been doing from a PR angle for the agency I work at has given us more opportunities. In fact, a couple editors ask specifically for my POV on things which is very exciting. On a personal note, the charities I have helped have been extremely grateful for my efforts. It was a positive experience where I've met amazing people that will be part of my life for a long time. And most importantly, I have received much appreciation and thanks from scouting parents this year. I have seen my Girl Scouts excited and inspired to do side projects on their own from what my co-leader and I have taught them. I see them excited to come to meetings and sad to go. Knowing I am making an impact in these little girls' lives is the biggest reward I could ever ask for. I hope 2013 allows me to build on these successes, as well as give us more opportunities.

Change brings Enlightenment
With all the changes that have happened for us this year, it's no wonder that they came with many discoveries-the first of which was work related. The beginning of the year had me dabble in writing as a thought leader for the agency. What I found is that I liked writing in general, and I especially liked writing about the agency business. I always thought my writing was limited to this blog, and about my recipes and crazy life as an urbandomesticdiva. Work opened up a whole new growth path for me that's very exciting. I also discovered how much better I could be at sewing and crafts. I took on bigger sewing projects this year. I am constantly inspired by Pinterest boards, and even taught my Girl Scouts sewing basics for a badge. It 's given me a lot more crafting confidence. On a more personal note, the academic/social/emotional testing for our daughter helped us discover what she is truly talented and gifted in, and where she needs help. We turned what was confusion and frustration at the beginning of the year into clear understanding, validation and direction. It was such an emotional road, as most roads are when it comes to your children. But the testing was the best investment we could have done. We learned so much about her, and about ourselves as parents. It was incredibly eye opening. And a final discovery relates back to the economy (big surprise). The economy is continually forcing us to self evaluate and discover, isn't it!? This year, we continued to downsize and discover what we really needed, and what we could do without. I also tried to make things or upcycle things versus buy new. This helped build my crafting skills and creativity as well. We also discovered how deep our generosity could go, giving away things we didn't need to charities. My daughter participated in this as well. Through cleaning and organizing her room over Winter break, I discovered how grown up she's getting. She was very mature as she put more and more things in the donation pile, as well as things to give to her younger cousins and close friends. This was a big change from when she was younger. In fact, I think I wrote a post about how Hoarders taught my daughter how to get rid of things a few years ago. But that's not to say that it didn't come with a lot of tears and emotional baggage when she was younger. Discovering how generous and mature she is getting was very special, indeed. I hope 2013 allows us to continue to learn more about ourselves and each other. Let's just hope the road is a lot smoother to get there in 2013!

As we close 2012, I wish you and your families a happy and safe New Year, with many future successes! Thank you for all your support on this blog journey. You help keep me going!



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