Wonderful Time with Family
I had a wonderful time visiting my family and friends in Michigan for Christmas. I stayed with my mom and could see the joy she felt with us there. She is getting old and is having some health issues so having her family around was good for her. I saw her begin to make more positive plans for taking care of her health. I watched as she became more engaged with all of us and enjoy being a productive member of the family. The time with my sons, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews was precious. I even spent some time with ex-parents-in-law. I saw friends I had not seen for a while. Going back home is always bitter sweet. It brings back good and bad memories. It is difficult to go home and is difficult to come back.
My dad is not doing well. It is sad that I am away from him and cannot be more active in his care. He has some dementia so I was surprised he remembered me. Even though we have not been in each other’s lives for a long time and even if he remembered a time far in the past, I was still there. I am his only daughter. I am not sure if I was more sad or happy that he remembered me because I knew when I said good-bye, I would not be returning for a long time. The thought that this might be the last time I saw him alive crossed my mind. I had to make peace with that and walk out the door with a heavy heart. I had to come back to Malibu. I had classes next day.
While everyone is enjoying their holidays after Christmas, I am in class at beautiful Pepperdine University, making use of the dead time. A lot of my friends can’t believe that I am in class all day on New Year’s Eve. I plan to graduate this year with my Masters in Dispute resolution from Straus Institute at Pepperdine Law School. It is an intensive course in cross-cultural conflict and dispute resolution. What an amazing teacher and an amazing subject. I was impressed to learn that even little differences in cultural backgrounds change our behaviors, perceptions and expectations of others. Our varied communication styles can cause so many unnecessary misunderstandings and conflicts.
Much conflict can be avoided if we stay open and curious to others’ actions and intentions instead of judging and assuming. If we are patient and try to understand one another, ask for their intentions instead of confirming our own beliefs based on our stereotypes, we might find that most conflicts did not have to exist or are easy to resolve.
In this new year, let’s be more open and curious to learn about each other instead of assuming, judging and condemning each other for reasons we are not even sure about. Let’s first do perception checking and find out what the other’s intentions are before convicting them of the crime. Let’s find more harmonious ways to live with each other. Let’s find more friends this year!