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Daniels: Looking back on the year
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 Right about now is when people become really reflective about the year that is soon to end and their hopes and dreams for a new beginning. Indeed, for many of us, despite the cooler temps outside, our internal thoughts are warmed by a holiday glow that gives way to immense thankfulness.

I'm no different. Starting with the run up to Thanksgiving, I began thinking back on 2011 - my accomplishments, my disappointments, joys, and lowlights. What became painfully clear is that I spent a considerable amount of time bemoaning my life in general. You know, the tediousness of being a wife and mother. And, the really big bane of my existence: a change in my work life.

Earlier this year, my company underwent a major re-organization, which led to a dreaded commute for me. Now, instead of a three-mile, five-minute jaunt to work, I slide in line for what can be - on a really bad morning - a nearly two-hour trek downtown. Talk about joyous. No one in his or her right mind would jump for glee at the promise of inching to work daily along an overcrowded thoroughfare.

However, in retrospect, I'm deeply embarrassed by my petty complaints about having to endure traffic to get to a job - which, by the way, is one that I happen to really enjoy. Actually, it was a dear friend who gracefully yet unwittingly pointed out that I had become the Gripe Queen, or at least the Princess of Unhappiness.

In that moment, I realized that every gripe I make represents an insult to our neighbors who are still on the grind searching for work while simultaneously wondering how they'll feed their families and pay the mortgage. Likewise, a slap in the face for those mamas and dads who are dealing with unimaginable issues related to their children's welfare. And, my complaining spirit certainly is a mighty poor example for my own children on how to handle stress and change. Shame on me. But thank God, this season offers redemption and a chance to re-direct. With this, my heart is filled with repentance and my thoughts and prayers are squarely with those who have plenty about which they could complain, but soldier on instead.

Kysa Daniels is a journalist, non-profit professional and mother of three boys. For more Adventures in Parenting and parenting tips, e-mail