Stephanie Whitecloud-Brass column

Whenever December rolls around, I like to sit down and take a moment to reflect on the year and determine if I cranked the proverbial ball out of the ballpark or completely struck out!  2015 is no exception and as I sip on a fresh cup of coffee with my deadline looming, here are some of my thoughts:

Chronologically, I turned 40 in 2015 and I am very happy to say that I don’t feel like how I thought turning and being 40 should feel.  Every single day I wake up, I am grateful for my life and for my health.  It is true what they say, that growing old is a privilege denied to many.  I take nothing for granted in that regard and I am just happy to be here.

Physically, I made a commitment to be more active this year and this has been hard, especially in light of the amount of travel that is required for my job.  From driving or flying, grabbing food on the go and staying in hotel rooms, most times, I’d be lucky if I simply just watched what I ate, never mind getting any exercise.  The commitment kicked into high gear though, when I learned that my son’s soccer team needed a coach, so I volunteered for the job.  Our soccer season just ended just before Christmas and I must say that I had a great time!  I’m happy that I stuck with it, so much so that I hope to take some official training in the future.

Emotionally, I am in the middle of taking some training in the area of personal development.  Working with clients certainly takes its toll.  This is nothing new and it certainly not something that is unheard of.  As I am sure it is the case with any professional degree program, we were warned about this back in law school.  Charging out of the gates with my law degree and license to practice in hand, I wanted to change the world and save as many people as I could along the way!  That got exhausting real fast and before you know it, I had to slow down and start spending some of that time and energy on myself and on my family.  This training has assisted me in finding better ways to communicate with not only others who are in my circle, but with myself, as well.  I’ve started listening to what my body and my emotions are telling me.  When it’s time to take a step back and assess where I am at, that’s what I do.  Without this type of stability, I am of no use to anyone.  I have a few more modules to complete, but I am hopeful and open-minded to what it can do for me.

Intellectually, I don’t know if there is much more that I could have done this year, given that I am pretty committed to keeping up with current events and researching various the things that flow from there.  Being a lawyer, you never run out of things to read, unfortunately!  The internet and social media are great tools to have at your disposal when you are searching for information at the speed of light and I am grateful for said technology.  With that being said, I will say that it has been very interesting to watch my three year old son learn, develop and even teach me things that I either never knew (i.e.: songs) or have long since forgotten (i.e.: learning the differences been past, present and future tense through speech).  He’s starting to grasp the concept of telling time and the basics of reading and so far, it has been pleasant.  I hope that we both continue to find these lessons fun in 2016!

Spiritually, I have always found it important to remain grounded in both, who I am and where I come from.  Equally important is the acceptance of others for who they are and where they come from.  This is something that we’ve heard a lot about in the media given the issue of Syrian refugees coming to Canada.  It’s a touchy subject because unfortunately, it involves one of the many things that divides us as a human race – religion.  Granted, given the various acts of terrorism that have occurred in recent months, I, too, have my questions and concerns and maybe even reservations about this.  However, in reminding myself that it is no one’s fault where they were born or into what family or faith, I have found some understanding and compassion to at least give the issue and the people that it involves, serious consideration.  I was reminded of this last week when my husband and I attended our son’s very first Christmas show.  Our son is in Pre-Kindergarten and he is one of two First Nation students in his class.  The rest of his classmates are of varying descent and I assume, religions, too.  To see these little people run and play with one another was extraordinarily cute!  When it came time to perform, they banded together and put on a spectacular little show.  To see them come together in a place where colour, race or religion played no factor whatsoever was awesome; a lesson that we can all learn from three- and four-year-old children!

No matter which way you look at it, I am hopeful that each year moving forward will be better than the last.  From my family to yours, here’s wishing you a healthy and prosperous 2016!

Stephanie Whitecloud-Brass is a member of the Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation. You can reach Stephanie at Sunchild Law, her email address is: stephanie@sunchildlaw.com

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