While the distance between December 31st and January 1st is no greater than 60 seconds, the psychological space that the New Year provides allows for new thinking, fresh starts, and goal setting. While the traditional New Year’s promises to take off a few pounds or save more money have made the entire idea of resolutions almost trivial, let’s not fail to seize an opportunity to attempt something that brings meaning to our lives and those of our children over the coming year.
Cause & Effect: If 2012 has shown us anything, it’s that in the blink of an eye, life can change. Whether it was the catastrophe of Hurricane Sandy on the New York metropolitan region or the unthinkable tragedy that occurred in Newtown just several weeks ago, we were made keenly aware this year that life and home are precious. With this in mind, consider committing you and your family to a human service cause in 2013. Whether related to poverty, education, or rebuilding neighborhoods, find something that you and your children can participate in that addresses an actual crisis facing our fellow New Yorkers. Not only will it demonstrate to our children that we all have the capacity to make a significant difference in people’s lives, but it will also provide perspective that will better inform their worldview for years to come.
Eat & Explore Ethnically: In 2013, as part of an effort to think differently, consider engaging topics of continued exploration with new approaches. At the Mandell School, we work regularly to expose and introduce our children to new cultures and ethnic backgrounds in our experiential curriculum. Consider committing as a family in 2013 to an exploration of new cultures and customs through participation and direct engagement. Try to fit in at least one meal a month that’s cultural distinct, or instead of choosing the usual family favorite restaurant, have dinner in an ethnic neighborhood with traditional ethnic fare. Once a month, let a member of your family choose a neighborhood within the five boroughs that is home to a specific ethnicity or culture. Spend a day there visiting the parks, eating the food, and checking out the busiest streets.
Unplug & Engage: As a mother and an educator, I’m a firm believer in integrating technology and social media into our lives, as a means to harness its positive potential for society and as a means to constructively engage it. With that said, it’s vital that we take the time to invest in self exploration and self reflection, which requires we “unplug” every now and then. One of the greatest lessons learned in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy was that we can survive just fine without access to our gadgets and social media for a few days. As a goal for 2013, consider carving out some unplugged time for the family. Even if it’s just two hours a week or one afternoon a month, think about setting a goal of being unplugged from your devices and plugged into your own family and personal thoughts. It’s amazing what we can discover about ourselves when we’re not distracted.
Remember, a New Year’s resolution is a goal, not a guarantee and as with all goals, we have triumphs and we have setbacks. When you decide on a resolution or two, don’t let the small setbacks actually set you back from continuing to work toward the goals you have set out. If one month you wind up plugged in when you didn’t want to be, or you were unable to make it to the local shelter to help serve meals as you planned, don’t let it get in the way of fulfilling that goal for the next month. Resolutions aren’t about perfection they’re about striving toward goals. And as with all things in life, you will never be successful if you don’t keep trying.
From all of us in the Mandell community, we wish you a prosperous, healthy, and meaningful 2013.
Gabriella Rowe is the third generation Head of School of the family owned and operated Mandell School. Gabriella also serves on Community Board 7 which plays an important advisory role in New York City Municipal Government affairs. She has two sons and is an avid sports fan. Follow her on Twitter @Gabriella_Rowe