World Mom: Elizabeth Atalay of The USA

World Mom: Elizabeth Atalay of The USA

To give our readers a glimpse into the world of our global writers we have introduced the Meet a World Mom series. As the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly gets underway in New York City, today World Moms Network interviews our former Managing Editor and current United Nations Liaison Elizabeth Atalay.

WMN: What country do you live in?

Elizabeth: The United States of America, ( not as united as we should be these days! )

What country are you from? 

I was born and raised in the USA and have only ever lived in this country.

What language(s) do you speak?

English and some Spanish.

How many children do you have and what are their ages?

I have four “children,” two boys and two girls ages 22, 20,18, and 16. Here’s a family photo from 2012.

How did you connect with World Moms Network?

When I became a blogger in 2012, I looked for a global community of mothers and found it at World Moms Network.

How long have you been a part of World Moms Network?

I reached out to World Moms Network Founder, Jen Burden, as soon as I found it and asked to get involved. At the time, the North American roster of writers was full but serendipity brought us together at BlogHer later that year, and she brought me on board.

How has your life changed since you joined World Moms Network?

When I joined WMN almost a decade ago, my youngest was six years old. Our town did not have full-day kindergarten, so this was my first year with all four kids in school full time, and I was excited to get back to work. World Moms Network has led to some of my most fulfilling work experiences since then. Jen Burden and I have attended Fashion Week, the Social Good Summit, and UNGA in New York City. I’ve worked with the United Nations Foundation, traveled on reporting trips to Ethiopia, South Africa, and Haiti, and advocated on Capitol Hill. I credit World Moms Network as a launchpad to reach my career dream goals while forming deep friendships with some of the most incredible women from around the world.

How do you spend your days?

A decade since I started with World Moms Network, my husband and I have just become empty nesters. For the past several years, I have been working as Social Media Manager for small business clients. I’ve eased back, working part-time from home, allowing me to be fully present for my kids while they were still young. As a stay-at-home mom re-entering the workforce a decade ago, I wondered if and how I would ever be able to make up for the years taken off.

Through digital media and World Moms Network, I found that I could get back to my career goals. With a Master’s Degree in documentary film and Anthropology I aspired to share stories that would promote cross-cultural understanding. After several reporting trips, I realized that it was not too late to achieve those goals, I was able to pull back again.  When my oldest went off to school a few years ago, it reminded me that I didn’t have a lot of time left to be there for my kids while they were still home; they’d all be off at college soon. I lost both of my parents when I was young, so one of my main life priorities is to be present for my kids as long as they have me in this world. Now that they are all off at school, I am excited to refocus my energy on what’s next.

Elizabeth Atalay (r) with her family in Turkey, 2021

What are the top 5 places on your travel wish list? 

  1. The Maldives
  2. Bhutan
  3. Mongolia
  4. India
  5. Vietnam

Is there a book, movie or show you recommend?

I love to read and watch movies! I think the book Caste by Isabel Wilkerson should be required reading for all Americans. Favorite movies include The Life of Pi and Romancing the Stone.

What is your best motherhood advice? 

With four kids, I feel that my kids were each born hardwired in some ways and they are all different. My parenting comes from a place of support and love for who they each are as individuals.

What is your favorite place you have traveled to? 

I spent six months in my early twenties traveling overland through the African continent from Morocco to Botswana. We shopped at local markets, made the fire that we cooked over each night and camped in tents or under the stars the whole way. It was an incredible adventure.

What is your favorite family travel destination? 

We try to travel abroad for two weeks each summer with our kids. It’s hard to choose a favorite but our Tanzanian Safari and Zanzibar trip was spectacular, We visited several different tribes and I loved giving my kids the opportunity to visit cultures and lives so different from their own. We have also been to Turkey a few times where my husband has family, there are so many beautiful, fascinating and historic locations to visit each time we go.

Zanzibar, Tanzania

What is one random thing that most people would be surprised to know about you? 

I was a member of the sky diving club in college. (Don’t tell my kids!) 

What brings you joy?

My family. Our dog. Close friendships. Reading. Movies. Food and drink. Travel. Skiing. Creative endeavors.

What UN Sustainable Development Goal are you most passionate about? 

#13: Climate Action

We are at the tipping point of an Environmental crisis.  The climate crisis impacts all other aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals: displacement, extreme poverty, food insecurity, clean water, equality, education, and global health. 

#MeetaWorldMom #WorldMoms

World Moms Network

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.

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Acknowledging White Privilege

Acknowledging White Privilege

Being Latina AND white

A few years ago, I wrote an article about being a white Latina. It didn’t go down well. I’ve learned a lot about white privilege since then, and it’s definitely made me see things differently.

Through my erroneous view of how being a white Latina was a disadvantage, I learned just how much easier I had it than lots of other people. Being fair and nice to my long-time Andean maid wasn’t and will never be enough.

When I was young, I was an immigrant in the United States. I hardly spoke any English and my family shrunk from having tons of uncles and cousins around to just me and my mom. I never really noticed how being white made it easier to be an immigrant until I was much older. It was only when I traveled as an expat/digital nomad in my 30s that I came to terms with how my White Latina existence was actually a privilege.

I’m no longer blind to my white privilege and how it’s made things easier for me and my family to move around the world and get ahead. With my work in social media management, I’ve tried to look beyond my own existence and try to be as diverse and inclusive as possible in my language and content output.

Raising kids with awareness

As a mom, it’s my job to impart my children with the right knowledge of how and why their life is privileged. On this front, I can’t say I’m doing a great job. My kids need more first-hand experience with other realities of human existence. So, as a way to teach them about white privilege, I put together some resources to help.

Here are some tools:

Since I am a visual person, I collected infographics and illustrations to get the point across.

First, I found this infographic, visualizing one of the most important articles about white privilege, written by Peggy McIntosh. The infographic is by The Visual Communication Guy and I think he did a great job. The context is based around the United States but the teachings apply to any white person anywhere.

Privilege or Racism?

Here is a series of illustrations titled, A Guide to White Privilege. It simplifies the most important aspects but I feel like the biggest point is that white privilege is tied to racism in a very close-knit way. On the last slide, the artist includes suggestions on what to do with your white privilege.

Test Your Knowledge

This next video is a TEDx Talk by Lillian Medville who created a card game called Your Privilege is Showing. Her talk is a great starting point for those of us that need to learn about accepting and acknowledging privilege. Not just white privilege but also societal privileges like gender and socio-economic.

I am considering getting a copy of her card game. I’m interested in how it might help both in my work and with my kids’ relationships with all humans.

And finally, this article, written by Gina Crosley-Corcoran, titled Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person. It’s a personal reflection about recognizing white privilege when it’s difficult to see it.

After all of that, here is a white privilege test that anyone can take. It was created for British people, but applies to anyone. How will you score?

What’s your take on white privilege, either in the US or elsewhere in the world? Do you have a personal experience you’d like to share, from either side of the coin?

This is an original post to World Moms Network from our head of Social Media & Technology, Orana Velarde, in the Ukraine. The images used in this post are attributed to their links.

Orana Velarde

Orana is a Writer, Artist, Mother and Wife; Peruvian Expat currently living in Kyiv, Ukraine with her husband and children. She works as a writer, designer and social media manager for diverse organizations around the world.

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Twenty Years On: Reflecting On 9/11

Twenty Years On: Reflecting On 9/11

On September 11, 2001 – the day known to the world as 9/11 – I was a year into my new life in Canada. My office in the west end of Toronto had a perfect view of the Toronto skyline, including the distinctive CN Tower, then the tallest free-standing structure in the world.

About an hour after I got to work that day, I got myself a cup of coffee and was walking back to my desk. A colleague stopped me and handed me a printout from the CNN website.  It showed a picture of the World Trade Center’s North Tower with smoke billowing from the top half.  My immediate reaction was that this must be a Photoshop hoax. When I realized that it was a legitimate photograph, I thought the same thing as everyone else: that a freakish and tragic accident had occurred.

As I scrutinized the picture, I heard a shout coming from the direction of the conference room. Someone had been able to get the temperamental TV to work, and we all spilled into the room just in time to see live footage of the plane hitting the South Tower.  An hour later, we were still sitting in the conference room.  We were incapable of speech; someone muted the sound on the TV because the frantic commentary of chaos was violating the silence that we all needed. 

I don’t think anyone moved for about ten minutes.  Eventually, someone at the back of the room whispered, “Oh my God.”  That utterance was a catalyst for everyone to rush to their phones to call family members, pausing on the way past the window to see if the CN Tower was still there.

There was no question of any work getting done that day.  We all spent the day on the phone, contacting loved ones south of the border to find out who was alive and who wasn’t.  My parents called from South Africa, unashamedly relieved to hear my voice.  Toronto is not that far from New York, especially to people watching the chaos unfold from the other side of the world. 

After talking to my parents, I frantically tried to get in touch with my friends in New York City.  By late afternoon, there were two people I had not been able to reach – Luisa and Jason.  I went to bed that night not knowing whether they were alive or dead.  I didn’t sleep.  I suspect that most people didn’t that night.

Luisa’s husband emailed me early the following morning.  As soon as the South Tower had been hit, she and her coworkers had been evacuated from their office a block away to some hall somewhere.  Phone signals were jammed: for several hours, Luisa’s husband did not know whether she had been buried in the rubble of collapsing towers. It was almost midnight by the time she got home, traumatized but alive.

But what had become of Jason? At lunchtime on September 12th, I spoke to a mutual friend, Mark, who had commuted to work with him the previous morning. Jason had dropped his dog off at the vet on his way to work, so he was late.  The two friends had gotten off the subway at the same stop, and then they had gone into a Starbucks for their morning coffee.  With coffee in hand, Jason had gone into the North Tower, waving goodbye to Mark, who had to go a few blocks further.  The time was about 8:35 a.m. 

Eleven minutes later, the North Tower was hit.  I tried to convince Mark that Jason could have left the building in those ten minutes. Mark said it was unlikely. Jason had said something about a 9:00 meeting for which he had not prepared.  He would have been sipping his coffee and working on reports at his desk, which was right in the flight path of a hijacked plane. 

I said to Mark, “I hope Jason got to finish his coffee.” People say the oddest things in times of stress.

9/11 memorial museum
The 9/11 memorial

Now, twenty years later, I reflect on that day along with the rest of the world.  I think of Jason and hope he died instantly, with no pain or stress.  I look at my two children, neither of whom was alive on 9/11, one of whom is on the cusp of becoming an adult, and I wonder what kind of world their children will live in.  I look at the world around me – at the discrimination and violence that almost seem to have become normalized – and I wonder if we have really learned anything.

Poignantly, I wonder what became of Jason’s dog, the one he dropped off at the vet on that terrible morning. The dog is certainly not alive anymore, but I hope it found a new home, and perhaps helped some family get through the unspeakable collective grief from 9/11.

This is an original post for World Moms Network by Kirsten Doyle.

Kirsten Doyle (Canada)

Kirsten Doyle was born in South Africa. After completing university, she drifted for a while and finally washed up in Canada in 2000. She is Mom to two boys who have reached the stage of eating everything in sight (but still remaining skinny). Kirsten was a computer programmer for a while before migrating into I.T. project management. Eventually she tossed in the corporate life entirely in order to be a self-employed writer and editor. She is now living her best life writing about mental health and addictions, and posting videos to two YouTube channels. When Kirsten is not wrestling with her kids or writing up a storm, she can be seen on Toronto's streets putting many miles onto her running shoes. Every year, she runs a half-marathon to benefit children with autism, inspired by her older son who lives life on the autism spectrum. Final piece of information: Kirsten is lucky enough to be married to the funniest guy in the world. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Be sure to check out her YouTube channels at My Gen X Life and Word Salad With Coffee!

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Self love is key of happiness

Self love is key of happiness

In a very fast pace world we lose connection with our true selves and we may become unaware of what really happiness means to us. Across my journey of growth and personal development I always came by the expression SELF LOVE. I remember very well the first time I heard this expression. It was twelve years ago, while studying coaching, in one of my sessions with my coach she said “Love yourself” and I asked “How can I love myself?” but she didn’t answer and since then I am looking for the meaning of self-love.

We spend years running to achieve different goals like earning more money, getting a new house, latest mobiles, watches , cars, clothes brands but we may still feel that our happiness is incomplete, something is missing. If I ask: “What happiness means to you?”; most probably I will get different answers about materials, other persons love, or achieving goals. They are all external ways or tools to bring happiness. While different psychological studies and spiritual practices found that happiness comes from the inside. It is within us we just need to dig deep to find it.

Let’s imagine two bottles; one contains crystal clear water while the other contains dirty water. If we pour clear water into the dirty water, does this latter become clear or does it remain dirty? It’s the same for us. Is it enough for a person with a lot of limiting beliefs, anger feelings,  hatred feelings, and negative thoughts to be happy, lasting happiness, just because they got a new car or a new house? I believe it is a temporary happiness because later they will look for a newer car or a bigger house. Real happiness starts from the inside of us when we can discover our true selves and purpose in life.

Louise Hay wrote, in her book “You can heal your life” that to make any change in our life we need to accept and approve ourselves exactly the way we are. I went to one of the Heal Your Life workshops in Egypt. It was an amazing eye opening experience,it helped me see clearly that everything in my life depends on how I see and feel about myself. To continue the work after the workshop I needed to do some daily exercises. The first was to repeat the affirmation “I love and approve of myself exactly the way I am” 300 to 400 times a day for four months in a row. The second is to repeat the same affirmation few times a day in front of the mirror while looking in my eyes. In the beginning, frankly, I couldn’t believe what I  am saying and when I looked in the mirror I started criticizing my face, my hair and how I looked bad, but later on these voices calmed down and I started to feel this love and its energy. It is real love. Last month I went to a retreat continuing the work of the workshop, and after several sessions and meditations I could heal my biggest childhood wound, feeling unloved and unaccepted the way I am from my mother; a very deep wound that prevented me from enjoying my life for years. Finally I could realize that the pain was because I couldn’t love and approve of myself exactly the way I am, now I feel totally different. A very simple action of self-love and self-approval can make a big difference in your life. Start today to repeat, daily, kindly and tenderly to yourself in the mirror while looking into your eyes: “I love you, you are beautiful, and you deserve happiness …” or whatever positive words that come to your mind and feel the love and happiness. This is how I bring more real happiness into my life. Do you have your own ways that bring you happiness?   

Nihad

Nihad is an Egyptian woman, who was born and has lived her whole life in Alexandria, Egypt. She says, “People who visited this city know how charming and beautiful this city is. Although I love every city in Egypt, Alexandria is the one I love the most.” She is a software engineer and has worked in the field for more than twenty years. But recently she quit her job, got a coaching certificate and she is now a self employed life and career coach. She says, “I believe that women in this era face big challenges and they are taking huge responsibilities. That's why I have chosen my niche -- women looking for happiness and satisfaction. I help and support them in making whatever change (career change, life change, behavior change, belief change…) they want to bring more satisfaction and happiness in their lives.” Nihad is a mother of two lovely boys, 15 and 9 years old. She states, “They are the most precious gifts I have ever had. I madly love them, and I consider them the main source of happiness in my life.” Our inspiring mother in Egypt can also be found at Aurora Beams Life Coaching.

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#MeetAWorldMom: Karyn Willis of New Zealand

#MeetAWorldMom: Karyn Willis of New Zealand

Who are the World Moms behind the posts? This is the first of many mini interviews with our World Moms contributors that we will be posting! We want, you, our readers to have a window into the life of our global writers! 🙂 First up is a longtime writer for our site, Karyn Wills of New Zealand. Let’s see what she has to say!

World Moms Network (WMN): Hi, Karyn! First, tell us about where we can find you on the globe!

KARYN: I currently live in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Previously, I lived in London, England for four years in the 90s, before Covid.

WMN: What language(s) do you speak? 

KARYN: English

WMN: How many children do you have and what are their ages? 

KARYN: I have three sons: a 19-year old, a 16-year old, and a nearly 12-year old.

WMN: How did you first connect with World Moms Network? 

KARYN: I messaged Jen Burden to see if she wanted a contributor from down under!

WMN: Nice move! Jennifer Burden is our founder. 🙂 So, how long have you been a part of World Moms Network? 

KARYN: Very close to the beginning of the original site. (World Moms Network originally launched as World Moms Blog in November 2009!)

WMN: How has your life changed since you joined World Moms Network? 

KARYN: I’m now a solo mother, have been for six and a half years. I have my younger children 12 out of 14 days ,and my eldest full-time. But he’s likely to move out in the next six months or so. I work as a SENCo, basically the safety net for everyone at our local Rudolf Steiner (Waldorf) school. I live in town, not on the land. It’s practical, but I miss the bird song, especially in the morning when I used to have an absolute dawn chorus.

WMN: Karyn, that’s a lot of growing and changes! Thank you for finding the time to stick with us through it all. So, how do you spend your daily life in New Zealand? (work, life, etc.) 

KARYN: I’m up at 5am to steal some quiet time for myself, if urgent emails and texts aren’t already coming in. We’re all out the door for school/work at 7:45am! Sometimes there are after-school hours meetings and/or after-school swimming for my youngest. I try to squeeze in some study time as I’m starting Hakomi Therapy training in August 2021 and then will begin talk-therapy training. I’m aiming to be a psychotherapist in six years time. The older boys and I share cooking & night time dishes, a few chores and then bed.

WMN: What are the top 5 places on your travel wish list? 

KARYN: Back to Turkey and Europe; some of the Pacific Islands.

WMN: Sounds great to us! What is your best motherhood advice? 

KARYN: Become trauma-informed and address your own stuff as soon as you can; if possible before you have your own children!

WMN: Wow. That is a great one! Tell us next, how did you get through quarantine/lockdown (2020/21)?

KARYN: We had a very strong (could only leave home for food, medicine, or for outdoor exercise within a close local area – nothing else, no excuses) but short (7 weeks) lockdown from the end of March, 2020 in New Zealand. We have been living normally, aside from overseas travel and tourists, since May 2020. I often think there are so many different experiences of lockdown that we often talk past each other because we’re using different reference points.

I baked a lot of bread and made pasta, and put on 8kg! I helped the kids to stay sane and tried to get some work done. My youngest and I walked every day to a nearby river, while the older two had full control of their schedules as long as they stayed polite, did their chores and finished all their studies, which they did. 

WMN: Thank you for sharing your pandemic experience so far with us! It’s been so interesting to hear how all of the World Moms have experiences that are both, different and very similar, from around the world! Ok, next we have to ask, because WMN is always on social media, do you have a favorite social media platform, if any? 

KARYN: Facebook got me through the last few years of my marriage and the first few years of separation. There, I also made a lot of overseas contacts who I like to keep up with as much as possible. I like Twitter for the politics.

WMN: Ok, here’s another question we’d like to know…what brings you joy? 

KARYN: The usual things, I’m guessing: my kids, quiet time, my friends, dancing.

 WMN: And finally, as you know, Karyn, World Moms Network contributors often align to support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). So, we must ask, what SDG are you most passionate about?

 

KARYN: #3, Good Health and Well-Being. If we got this sorted, everything else would fall into place. Suggest everyone read Resmaa Menakem’s book ‘My Grandmother’s Hands’. Most of humanity carries a history of trauma in one way or another, and if we addressed this properly the world would be able to easily implement all the other goals. I also find it ridiculous that we have more than enough food but people are starving. I’m loving all the food-rescue programmes that are springing up around Aotearoa New Zealand.

WMN: And there you have it, folks! Karyn’s favorite SDG is #3, Good Health and Well-Being. We love it!! Karyn, thank you for taking the time so our network can get to know you better! 🙂

This has been an original post to World Moms Network of our interview with Karyn Wills who writes for the site from New Zealand. We hope you enjoyed getting to know more about a mom from down under! If you have any questions or comments for her, please comment below!

Tes Silverman

Tes Silverman was born in Manila, Philippines and has been a New Yorker for over 30 years. Moving from the Philippines to New York opened the doors to the possibility of a life of writing and travel. Before starting a family, she traveled to Iceland, Portugal, Belgium, and France, all the while writing about the people she met through her adventures. After starting a family, she became a freelance writer for publications such as Newsday’s Parents & Children and various local newspapers. Fifteen years ago, she created her blog, The Pinay Perspective. PinayPerspective.com is designed to provide women of all ages and nationalities the space to discuss the similarities and differences on how we view life and the world around us. As a result of her blog, she has written for BlogHer.com and has been invited to attend and blog about the Social Good Summit and Mom+Social Good. In addition, she is a World Voice Editor for World Moms Network and was Managing Editor for a local grass roots activism group, ATLI(Action Together Long Island). Currently residing in Virginia Beach, VA with her husband, fourteen year-old Morkie and a three year old Lab Mix, she continues to write stories of women and children who make an impact in their communities and provide them a place to vocalize their passions.

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