As far back as I can remember I always had a clear idea of what a strong woman is and how she should behave. A strong woman would do whatever she could to have all situations under control, would not need help and would not ask for it either, would manage on her own and would succeed alone.
This was before. Before what?
Before I had no other choice than say “I need help”. I need help to go through the day. I need help to wake up, stand up and live. I need help to overcome my fears, doubts. I need help to love my child. I need help to face past memories. I need help to rebuild my life. I need help to forgive. I need help to love myself.
And my idea of what a strong woman is changed.
We often think that asking for help is a proof of our inability to face life and its challenges.
If you ask mums, friends, people around you, I bet that the answer you’ll hear most of the time will be something like this “I don’t want to ask for help. I’m fine. I’ll deal with it like a big girl”.
Why can’t “being a big girl” and “asking for help” go together? Why do we, women, mums, think that if we ask for help, people will consider us failures?
I took the step of asking for help, feeling lost and guilty at first. But what I received out of it was worth the try. People who were there, at any time of the day (and night) reassured me – this was the first step towards a better life for me and my child. There was no judgement on their side, only kindness and the assurance that I had made the right choice by reaching out to them.
As women and mums, we have a lot to deal with. Our kids count on us. People count on us, from our partner to our boss, our parents to our friends. And we do make it an important part of the deal that we are the ones in charge. But when something gets in the way, would we rather keep going until we fall or ask somebody to take our turn for a while?
Nowadays, I believe that a strong woman is a woman who knows her limits, who can acknowledge her weaknesses and still feel proud of who she is and who could ask for help knowing that this is the best for her and her family at any given time. A strong woman knows when she can’t take it anymore and feel like her duty to take care of herself, in order to take good care of the ones she loves afterwards.
Your turn, world moms, how do you feel about asking for help? Are you good at it? Or are you finding it hard to do?
This is an original post for World Moms Network written by Marie in France.
After 6 years in Ireland, a failed marriage, I started over again, back to France with my baby boy.
I love to say that I am a work in progress. Life is a process and I am slowly reconnecting with who I am, learning to love and take care of myself, rewriting my dreams and making new projects, adjusting to single motherhood, trying to find my balance, and enjoying the little things.
I am a life lover and I believe in the goodness of humanity, in peace, empathy, tolerance, gratitude. I try to teach my little one about these values as well as helping him connect with others without being too judgmental. “Sharing is caring” is our motto!
I started a blog to connect with women engaged in a bicultural marriage. I was at a crossroad in my life and I needed some guidance. I met wonderful people and some ladies became very good friends. I felt part of a community and everybody was there when I decided to leave my abusive marriage and my country of adoption.
My blog evolved with me. I do now share poetry, posts about my life and about domestic violence.
World Moms Network and the Heartfulness Institute have partnered to bring forth a series of online monthly webinar workshops for women called GLOW which stands for ‘Genuine Loving Outstanding Women’. This helps women everywhere to learn and practice Heartfulness meditation from the comfort of their homes or workplace. The aim is to help women integrate meditation into their daily lives to achieve a more peaceful and balanced life, and a better environment. Each webinar will also feature an expert speaker, chosen from women who are outstanding in their fields, and are influencers and change makers.
Taking Time for Ourselves:
Today’s women take on multiple roles, in the family, and in the society. And to fulfill all these myriad responsibilities which a woman takes on, she needs more and more of time, energy and giving-of-her to it. Her role as a nurturer is predominant in today’s society, more than ever.
Taking Time for Ourselves
While meeting all these external demands, women need their inner strength to steady the mind, and calm the senses. None of the world cultures or education explicitly teaches a person how to go within, take time to nourish the soul, and feed the spirit.
The poet, Mary Sarton said, “women need open time, with no obligations except toward the inner world and what is going on there”.
Only in these serene moments of prayer and meditation can we balance the pace, competition, and rigors of today’s modern world. As women, more than anything we need to find that beautiful space within ourselves, and bask in those moments of bliss and peace, to come back to this world to play our own balancing act, and while at it, try to retain that pristine condition.
Lorraine McLoughlin, Ireland
Lorraine is a Project Archivist living and working in Dublin, Ireland. She is currently working at the National Gallery of Ireland on a collection relating to the study of seventeenth century Italian baroque painting. Previous projects include work for the Abbey Theatre (Ireland’s National Theatre), the cataloguing of medical paintings in collaboration with the Wellcome Institute, and a stint as a senior manager in Ireland’s largest law firm. She has her own Archive Management Company and is constantly broadening her experience by taking up varied and interesting projects. Prior to obtaining a Masters in Archive Management, her academic background was in Fine Art, Cultural Anthropology and Spanish.
Due to the nature of her work, Lorraine has moved around a lot. As a result, she found that she needed to find a practice that would help her feel grounded. Heartfulness meditation has helped her in retaining a sense of stability and confidence. Lorraine began practising Heartfulness meditation just under two years ago. During the webinar, she is going to speak about the importance of making time for meditation, and how it benefits women, and those around us, to turn our attention from the external to the internal.
The hosts for this webinar are our very own #WorldMom, Purnima Ramakrishnan, from Chennai, India and Judith Nelson from Scotland.
World Moms Network is an award winning website whose mission statement is "Connecting mothers; empowering women around the globe." With over 70 contributors who write from over 30 countries, the site covered the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good.
Most recently, our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan was awarded "Best Reporting on the UN" form the UNCA. The site has also been named a "Top Website for Women" by FORBES Woman and recommended by the NY Times Motherlode and the Times of India. Follow our hashtags: #worldmom and #worldmoms
Formerly, our site was known as World Moms Blog.
The election of the next President of the United States is drawing near with just two weeks to go. Many Americans (and I suspect many non-Americans as well) have been counting down the days to the end of what has been a brutal campaign. Like many parents I’ve struggled with just how, exactly, to talk to my kids about this election.
Earlier this year, I started to see articles popping up about how to talk to children about Donald Trump, specifically. But I wonder, too, about how to talk to children about the extraordinary thing they are witnessing in this election cycle: the breakdown of mutual agreements – spoken and unspoken – about how political discourse happens in an open and free democracy with peaceful transitions of power.
To be sure, American politics have always been contentious. Heated debates and party divisions are not new. What feels new to me, though, is the unwillingness on all sides to truly listen with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.
It is this type of listening that I try to model and teach my children. It is this type of listening that helps me to experience being seen and understood. And I think it is this type of listening that can and will ultimately create healing if we are willing to step into it.
Listening is one of my greatest challenges as a parent. In the hustle of day-to-day life – school, work, meals, nap, laundry, dishes – I can sometimes become so focused on what needs to happen (according to me) that I don’t always stop and listen with a willingness to be changed when my kids try to express something to me. I might stop and look at them and pay attention as they speak. I may even silently congratulate myself for being so patient.
But if I’m just trying to make them feel heard rather than actually listening and taking in what they are saying, willing to adjust course based on what they express, am I really modeling how I hope they will show up in the world?
As adults, whether we mean to or not, we are constantly setting an example for the children of the world. They see and pay attention and learn from us, for better or for worse. It is for this reason that conversations about Donald Trump are essential. And it is also for this reason that I think we would all do well to consider whether we are confusing polite waiting for true listening. Are we sitting quietly while our fellow citizens express their frustrations and fears, congratulating ourselves on being so cool-headed, while we simply wait for them to finish so we can respond with whatever preloaded retort applies? Or are we truly listening with a willingness to be changed, to consider the other side, and to wonder, together, how we can address and ensure our common well-being?
How open are you to changing your position after listening to someone’s point of view? Has this ever happened to you?
This is an original post to World Moms Network by Ms. V of South Korea. Photo credit: Jay Phagan. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.
Ms. V returned from a 3-year stint in Seoul, South Korea and is now living in the US in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her partner, their two kids, three ferocious felines, and a dog named Avon Barksdale. She grew up all over the US, mostly along the east coast, but lived in New York City longer than anywhere else, so considers NYC “home.” Her love of travel has taken her all over the world and to all but four of the 50 states.
Ms. V is contemplative and sacred activist, exploring the intersection of yoga, new monasticism, feminism and social change. She is the co-director and co-founder of Samdhana-Karana Yoga: A Healing Arts Center, a non-profit yoga studio and the spiritual director for Hab Community. While not marveling at her beautiful children, she enjoys reading, cooking, and has dreams of one day sleeping again.
Earlier this year, the Ghanaian Food and Drugs Authority announced that it would enforce a ban on the importation of skin bleaching creams that contain the harmful ingredient known as hydroquinone. The news was received with much anticipation, and has since been talked about on many news platforms all around the world. Hydroquinone is noted to cause damage to the skin and can cause severe skin dermatitis. According to research quoted by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, hydroquinone may even act as a carcinogen or cancer-causing chemical.
A campaign dubbed “Love Your Natural Skintone” was launched in Ghana by actress Ama Abebrese, with the support of other female celebrities, to encourage people to love the skin they are in. It spurred a lot of interest amongst the young and the old as the outspoken actress took to radio and television to talk about the cause. The Ama K Abebrese Foundation has erected billboards to create awareness of the campaign throughout Ghana. The campaign “Love Your Natural Skintone” has since engaged students through debates and forums on the subject of self care.
Some months have passed, and we still see the sale and use of skin bleaching creams in the country. Although the ban was reported to officially take effect from August 2016, according to the Ghana Standards Authority, very little has been seen to have happened regarding this subject. I’ve spoken with with shop owners who still sell such products, and they tell me that skin bleaching creams sell, so they keep them on the shelves. Entrepreneurs say that, despite the ban, they will always find a way to bring skin lightening creams into the market for their customers, since the demand is so high.
In my opinion, it will take more than a ban to prevent people who are currently using creams with hydroquinone to whiten their skin. Proper education must be done at both the grassroots and national levels to show firsthand the health implications such creams have on consumers. We must all join together in the campaign to say no to this menace.
Are skin lightening creams popular where you live? What efforts have been made to encourage people to love the skin they’re in?
This is an original post written by Adowa Gyimah of Ghana for World Moms Network.
Photo courtesy of The Ama K Abebrese Foundation, Ghana.
My mother used to say the same thing whenever I was sick: “Well, your hands are not sick.”
She expected me to do my chores and not to make a big deal about being sick. It was a motto she lived by. When I think of her in those days, I cannot picture her sitting down or lying in bed. She was always busy taking care of us and taking care of the house. I can almost imagine her feeling sick in the morning and saying to herself: “Well your hands are not sick,” and getting on with business as usual. I have tried to live up to this motto as long as I can remember.
This image of a mother that takes care of her family regardless the circumstances, was printed in the core of my being.
When I got diagnosed with depression, I was deeply conflicted within myself. Every moment that I needed for myself, every day that I couldn’t go on as usual, troubled me. I judged myself. There is always something the matter with you. Are you sick again? I felt like a sad excuse for a mother. I pitied my children and husband for having to live with me. Being sick has always been a powerful trigger for me to sink deep into depression.
In 2011 I got diagnosed with depression, which led to a long struggle with dealing with my depression and undergoing extensive therapy. Just as I started to feel a little bit better in 2013, I broke my right shoulder and as it started to heal, I had to have my gallbladder removed. After that, a long period of feeling sick and dealing with throat problems, led to a tonsillectomy in 2015. In 2016 my doctor referred me to a rheumatologist. The word rheumatoid arthritis was mentioned. I’m still in the process of finding a diagnosis and proper treatment.
But I am doing fine. In a sense, I am grateful. It is easy to find joy when you’re healthy and pain free. When you’re walking in the sunshine it isn’t as hard to be hopeful. I have learned to enjoy every single ray of light when walking in the shadows. I do have my occasional pity parties, and I indulge in them, because I allow myself to feel, to grieve, to be sad when I need to. But my pity parties end and when they end, I pick up positivity and make the most of what I have.
Depression always lurks in the shadows. But it is more a kind of melancholy that accompanies me, reminding me of its existence. It doesn’t bother me as much, nor does it scare me the way it used to.
I feel fine, I feel happy. We’re almost in the 11th month of 2016 and I have had approximately two days this year without physical pain. The other days have fluctuated between noticeable pain, manageable pain and excruciating pain. All things considered I still feel blessed. It could have been so much worse. I still feel privileged and grateful.
I have reshaped my image of what a mother is supposed to look like. No longer is she shaped like a rock, a bulldozer, a mechanical machine. She is covered in flesh, imperfect, she bleeds, she falls, she lifts, she cries, she smiles. She is shaped like a human.
How has your concept of motherhood changed since you had children?
This is an original post for World Moms Network written by Mirjam in the Netherlands.
Mirjam was born in warm, sunny Surinam, but raised in the cold, rainy Netherlands.
She´s the mom of three rambunctious beauties and has been married for over two decades to the love of her life.
Every day she´s challenged by combining the best and worst of two cultures at home.
She used to be an elementary school teacher but is now a stay at home Mom. In her free time she loves to pick up her photo camera.
Mirjam has had a life long battle with depression and is not afraid to talk about it.
She enjoys being a blogger, an amateur photographer, and loves being creative in many ways.
But most of all she loves live and laughter, even though sometimes she is the joke herself.
You can find Mirjam (sporadically) at her blog Apples and Roses where she blogs about her battle with depression and finding beauty in the simplest of things. You can also find Mirjam on Twitter and Instagram.