2011 has been a quite a ride.  It started off with Kyra and Ethan snowboarding, followed by snowmaching and dogmushing in Trapper Creek, then hiking with crampons (yes, even two-year-old Ethan) on Root Glacier in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, photographing 1100 pound bears in Katmai National Park, dipnetting, rock climbing, and moving from Alaska to Virginia.

Oh family standing across a crevasse

Photo credit: Kate Schousen

When I reflect upon this year, I feel like I finally settled into motherhood.  My mother used to always tell me that the best thing that ever happened to her was having kids.  Honestly, while I adore my kids, I have never felt this way until now.  Moving away from Alaska was incredibly difficult for me and my kids were sensitive enough to support me through it.

Kyra has matured into a tough six-year-old version of my mom.  While I balked at the school bus system, she embraced it.  Insisting on the first day of school, just a few days after we moved to Virginia, “Mommy, you are not allowed to take me to school.  I’m a big girl now and I want to take the bus.”

Every morning, she dances at the bus stop excited about going to school.  And when the bus drops her off at the end of the day, she leaps off the steps into my arms and says, “I love you!”

To every question I ask her regarding how she’s adjusting to the move and whether she misses Alaska, the girl always says she’s doing great and showers me with kisses. 

She’s incredibly independent.  This year, while the three of us napped trying to recover from a cold, Kyra decorated the tree all by herself! 

“I’m your best sidekick,” she proudly announces daily as she helps me with everything from putting away groceries to unpacking.  When Thomas traveled in Cambodia and Poland, she even worked up the courage to kill stink bugs for me.  For those of you who are familiar with my phobia of bugs, you’ll know that this is huge deal. I had trapped about five of these ugly critters under cups when Kyra finally said, “Can I just get rid of them for you?”

“Aren’t you scared?” I asked Kyra 

“Nope, I’m brave.”

Ethan is my sensitive sidekick.  He never leaves my side and constantly pays attention to my feelings.  “Mommy, are you sad?” he might say. “Do you need kisses?”

Nearly every day, he finds a tender moment to stroke my cheek, look into my eyes and say, “Mommy, you are so beautiful!  I love you so much.”

Seriously, are all boys like that?  In addition to all that, you’ll find him on my lap most of the time with his arm wrapped around my face, stroking my ear.  He is as devoted to me as my brother was.

And if you haven’t heard, he’ll do anything for you if you call him Batman. He explained that he can’t be Superman because he can’t fly.  But as Batman, he can fly with his cape. He also tries to find spiders in the house that can bite him, so he can turn into Spider-Man.

In the past few months of weathering a difficult move, I really got to know my kids.  I know that sounds strange considering that I am their mother.  I guess I had no idea how resilient they could be.  They laugh their way through all the hard parts of life and they are always, always living in the present.  

They also believe that they can do anything they dream of.  I talk to the kids a lot throughout the day because I’m fascinated by their ability to live in the present with such confidence.  At breakfast, I ask the kids to tell me about their dreams.

My favorite quote from Ethan’s clip:

“Robin was Daddy and I was Batman and Mommy was Wonder Woman and Kyra was nothing.” Ethan said.
“I don’t want to be nothing,” Kyra frowned.
“Kyra was … Kyra.”
“I don’t want to be nothing,” Kyra fussed.
“You are Kyra.”
“Oh,” Kyra smiled.  How did Ethan know that was the perfect answer Kyra wanted?

My favorite quote from Kyra’s clip:

“Once upon a time, we lived in a Castle.  Mommy was making a dragon for herself to ride on.”

I am grateful that this year nurtured deeper roots with my children.  Now, when I leave the house, they both cry, “Your sidekick is going to miss you.” And when I’m away from them, I do miss them because I slip right back into my worries and fears.

Here’s my gift to you all this Christmas.  The wisdom Auntie Rita, one of the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers and first certified traditional healer in Alaska, shared with me before I left Alaska: 

This is how you got to become. Learning to be here and now. We instinctively knew how to do this when we were children and we were busy watching a beautiful butterfly or examining any interesting new aspects of the world.  We were completely absorbed by what we are doing.  We have the capacity to be aware of only that butterfly, that patch of ground or that toy. 

The animal that many have used to symbolize this capacity is the mouse.  Our little mouse sister that’s what she does with her all her tiny being.  Many people can’t do this.  They are always looking to the future or the past.  Or inside or outside or faraway. But seldom to the activity of the present moment. 

The point of power is in the present moment.  Right here and now our minds, it doesn’t matter how long we have negative patterns or an illness or a rotten relationship or lack of finances and self-hater.  We can begin to make a change today.  

Stop for a moment and catch your thoughts.  What are you thinking right now?  If thoughts shape your and experiences would you want this thought to become true for you?  If it is a thought of worry, anger, or hurt or revenge, how do we think this thought will come back to you.  If we want joyous life, then we must think joyous thoughts.  Whatever we send out mentally or verbally will come back to us in like forms.
It is time to listen to the words you say.  If you hear yourself saying something three times, then write it down.  It has become a pattern for you.  At the end of the week, look at the list you have made and you will see how your words fit your experiences.  Be willing to change your words and thoughts and watch your life change.  The way to control your life is to control your choice of words and have no one think in your mind but you.  That’s the first lesson for healing.