Halloween dates back to the 8th century when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts during the Celtic festival of Samhain. Celebrated on October 31st, the festival recognized the end of the summer and harvest and the beginning of dark, cold nights. Ghosts of the dead were believed to return on that night and the boundary of the worlds of the living and dead blurred. Somewhere along the line, going door to door looking for candy became involved.
Primarily an American celebration, but also still celebrated in Ireland, Halloween is also one of my family’s favorite holidays. I remember my mom sewing costumes for me and my sister when we were little and my dad still carves intricate designs into pumpkins to display for trick-or-treaters.
I can’t quite remember when I stopped dressing in costume and going door to door filling my Halloween bucket with candy. But when I did, I remember having just as much fun opening the door to kids in costume and handing out the candy. I have to admit I loved dressing my kids in costume when they were little and marching with them down Maine Street in our town’s Halloween parade before going trick-or-treating.
My gym helped bring back my love for dressing up with lots of fun workouts where I’ve shown up as a mermaid, a cop and Wonder Woman. Since my divorce three years ago, I moved into a neighborhood that is one of the busiest in our town on Halloween. It’s the neighborhood where houses decorate with jack o’lanterns, graveyards and spider webs and play spooky music. Friends come over to visit, cars line the road, people come from all around town and the street is packed until houses run out of candy and turn their lights off.
While I’ve loved taking my kids trick-or-treating with a couple of other moms for what we call our “accidental tradition” we started after the parade 3 years ago, I decided I wanted to actually be one of the houses to entertain the revelers this year. My boys and I planned for weeks how we would decorate. We decided I would dress as a witch and hand out candy by a smoking cauldron, which we would create with a fog machine and green light projector. We would turn the lights off in the house and lead people up our driveway with tea lights and into our dark garage where trick-or-treaters would find the green light of the cauldron. I started buying bags of candy four weeks prior to the holiday. There would also be scary music playing in the background.
Our only glitch with the plan was the big wind storm that hit Maine two nights before Halloween and left much of the state without power. Though I was ready to create my smoking cauldron effect with a generator, my town decided to postpone the holiday until the end of the week when more people would have power and the streets safer to walk. Even with the delay, my neighborhood did not disappoint. My oldest, at 12, and went off with his friends for the first time. My youngest, at 8, went with one of the brave moms who took him and 3 other very excited 3rd graders to venture through the kid-lined streets.
Not only did I pull off the smoking cauldron, I was complimented all night for being one of the best houses to visit. My kids had a blast both hanging at the house with me and exploring the neighborhood. We had tons of fun with friends who shared the experience. I got to see kids of all ages in costume, some of them wide-eyed trying to figure out how my smoking cauldron worked and asking me what I did with it.
My kids counted their candy at the end of the night and reported a record year. And for the third year in a row, we ran out of candy to give out. Another fun night of Halloween memories and a new tradition in the books. Not even a storm could keep away the fun. I wonder what we’ll do next year.
Do you celebrate Halloween or something similar? What are your traditions?
“Has anyone ever told you that you look like a young Lynda Carter?” an older man asked me in a park. I was in my 20s at the time.
“Yes, actually,” I replied. “Thank you.”
I smiled and walked on. It wasn’t the first time I heard that comment. A few people likened me to the actress who played Wonder Woman in the mid-late 1970s on television. Though she started to portray Wonder Woman the year before I was born, people would mention her name as my apparent doppelganger from an early age. I guess it was the dark hair and eyes.
I’ve always had a thing for Wonder Woman. I wasn’t really ever into comic books or superheroes, in particular. But I had Wonder Woman underoos and a felt a connection to her character. Maybe because she had similar features as me. It could also have been that she was a strong, badass female. What girl doesn’t want to be like Wonder Woman?
I dressed as Wonder Woman two Halloweens ago. I hadn’t dressed up for Halloween in decades, but my gym was having a fun outdoor workout that encouraged Halloween costumes. I bought a costume in a local store. I knew exactly who I wanted to be. When my ex-husband came to my house to pick my boys up for the night, I was outside dressed in my full Wonder Woman costume. He didn’t say a word. I posted something on Facebook about the encounter, thinking it was a funny/awkward little encounter. I left my phone for a bit, worked out, dragged a tire a few times and found over 200 likes to my funny little post.
I felt pretty badass that night and have been told that the Wonder Woman character fits me well.
It wasn’t until I saw the most recent Wonder Woman movie that I truly understood why I’ve felt a connection to the character for so long. Watching her story unfold reminded me of my own. It’s hard to explain, but I saw a girl who grew into a woman that, despite being told “No” a whole lot, fought for what she believed in. She appreciated life, truth, babies, ice cream, didn’t have a need for the acceptance of men (and pointed out that besides procreation weren’t really needed at all) and rocked a tiara. She was kind, funny, had a need to defend the world from bad and was ready to fight if the need arose.
When every man on the screen told her not to cross No Man’s Land, Diana Prince became Wonder Woman. She took her coat off to reveal her true self, raised her shield and walked straight there, deflecting bullets with her bracelets. The men followed. Like others, I may have teared up a little during this scene.
But it wasn’t about winning a war. It was about love.
As Diana said, “It’s about what you believe. And I believe in love. Only love will truly save the world.”
I write this here because I think most moms feel the same way. As a single mom, my kids see me mow the lawn, lift weight, cook dinner, watch their sporting events, go to work, among other things, every single week. They’ve seen me at my highest and lowest points and love me no matter what. They roll their eyes at me, tell me I’m mean and still give the biggest, most loving hugs I’ve ever received.
As moms, we are all wonder women. We persist when we’re told no. We seek truth and justice. We keep going because we are out to protect our kids and our love. Nothing will stop us.
Have you seen the Wonder Woman movie? Did you feel a connection to Diana?
Today (March 22) is World Water Day, a day devoted to bringing awareness to the global water crisis and taking action to end it.
Last year, I wrote about why the cause is important to me and how the privilege of access to clean water and sanitation does not go unnoticed in my day to day life.
Ending the global water and sanitation crisis once and for all starts with addressing its effect on girls and women. We have made huge strides over the years in tackling the lack of clean water and sanitation around the world, but there is still work to be done.
Today, 663 million people globally are without clean water and the vast majority of them—522 million—live in rural areas. Women and girls are disproportionally affected due to barriers relating to geographic remoteness and gender roles.
To help bring light to the issue WaterAid just launched a new campaign, Girl Strong, to offer a glimpse into the problems that many women and girls face day in and day out.
Every year, women and girls spend 40 billion hours collecting water — that’s the equivalent to all the hours worked in a year by the entire workforce in France.
Women and girls walk an average of six miles round-trip to collect water, carrying an average of 40 pounds (approximately the same amount your checked baggage can weigh on most commercial airline flights).
In India alone, it is estimated that collecting and carrying water costs 150 million work days every single year.
It is estimated that women and girls spend 97 billion hours each year looking for a place to urinate or defecate, because they don’t have access to a toilet.
To put the above facts in perspective, those numbers represent about 10 times more hours collecting and carrying water than all Americans spent sitting in traffic last year. This isn’t a quick trip to the store or faucet for water.
The truth is that with full access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services, women and girls are not only empowered but they can reclaim their time, safety and dignity. This poster illustrates the amazing positive effects on women and girls that will occur with access to WASH.
To celebrate World Water Day, here are a few ways you can take action:
Wear blue on World Water Day (March 22) and post your photos to Facebook or Twitter using #Blue4Water for #GirlStrong!
Take the Just Water Challenge to drink just water for World Water Day. No coffee, no soft drinks, no smoothies. This may make you feel a little ‘blue’ – but tell the world why you‘re #Blue4Water, donate what you would have spent to WaterAid and you’ll feel much better!
The words were chanted by women, men and children around me as I marched past the Washington Monument with 499,999 other people on Saturday in Washington D.C. A band played ahead of us, giving me a little extra pep in my step despite a churning stomach and a feeling of overwhelm from being in such a large crowd. Thousands of colorful signs – literally and figuratively – brightened the otherwise gray day.
I was with my good friend, Beth. The day after the American presidential election we declared that if we had the opportunity to raise our voices in Washington for women and girls, we would. We didn’t realize the time would come so quickly.
On Friday morning, we hopped in a car in Maine and drove to Delaware, where we stayed with Beth’s friend, spotting fellow marchers along our route. On Saturday morning we drove to a Maryland Metro station and waited two hours to get onto a train. We wore “pussyhats” and soaked every moment in, including a Metro transit policeman asking to try on a fellow marcher’s hat. There were photo opportunities and conversations and lots of anticipation. No one complained.
Once on the platform, a woman with a megaphone gave us the ground rules for the train to ensure our safety. Though she was working and dealing with an amazing amount of people, she smiled and thanked us for coming. Before the train arrived she asked us, “Who run the world?” We replied, “We do!” And we were off.
The train was full, but the Metro station in D.C. was even more packed. Wall to wall people, mostly women, were patiently waiting to exit the station onto the streets.
Chants of “keep hope alive” and “this is what democracy looks like” enveloped the station.
A rendition of “This Land is Your Land” spontaneously broke out. We were crammed like sardines with no place to go and happy as could be. When we passed a Metro worker, we made sure to thank him.
The “march” started well before anyone walked towards the White House. When we peacefully made our way out of the station, the chants continued as we made our way to Independence Avenue. Signs and pink hats were everywhere. People walked the streets while others lined them simply observing. There were people as far as the eye could see. People of all ages, genders, colors and ethnicities. It was incredible.
Beth and I made our way to Independence Avenue in a sea of people. When we stopped, we could barely move. But the energy was positive and the crowd peaceful. We found an alcove and listened to some of the speakers. We heard Alicia Keys and smiled as a little girl peaked around the wall to see the big screen behind the crowd, standing close to her mom.
When we started to collectively march towards the White House, I began to feel the importance of the day. It was historic and powerful and filled me with hope.
Though the movement was slow, it gave us time to read signs, chant some of our beliefs and soak it all in. Beth and I took a selfie by the Washington Monument with a “We the People” sign in the background.
After the election, I had talked to my sons about how we would use our voice and stand up for our fundamental beliefs if we felt the need. That even if we don’t agree with our new president, we should allow him to lead while also making sure he understands what is important to us. Like I’ve said here in the past, “As moms, it’s our job to show our kids how to be kind and tolerant of others while also knowing when to use our voice to stand up for what we believe in.”
Saturday wasn’t about protesting. Not for me and Beth. It was about making our voice heard for women and girls everywhere. For my boys, who I hope will be feminists in their own rights. It was about making sure women’s rights are seen as human rights. With so many marches for women around America and the world, I hope our leaders are listening.
What message do you hope we sent with the Women’s Marches?
This is an original post written for World Moms Network by Jennifer Iacovelli the author of Simple Giving.
The author with her boys on Election Day in the USA.
I have giving on the brain.
We’re heading into the season for it in America, though I’ve never understood why we tend to pack all of our giving into the last couple of months of the year. Are we trying to make ourselves feel better before the calendar changes? Are we making up for what we lacked during the firs 10 months of the year?
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could just be thankful every day of the year? We could even make big turkey dinners and drink peppermint-flavored coffee whenever we desire. We could actively spend time with those that mean the most to us, send cards and give gifts of love.
I try to live my life this way, but I’m guilty of getting wrapped up in the craziness of everyday life as a single working mom.
It’s been an emotional week. If you’re American – even if you are not – you’ve no doubt felt it too. I’ve personally gone through disbelief, anger, sadness, confusion and frustration. I’ve had some interesting conversations with my kids, and I’ve promised (myself and my kids) to take action if / when necessary. I always tell my boys that we have a voice, but no one will hear it if we don’t use it.
Along with our voice, we also need to pay attention, listen and ask questions.
I am reminded of a call I received at work a few weeks back. As a director of development for my local homeless prevention organization, I work with a lot of donors. The man who called me said he was on our website. He appreciated our work in the community and wanted to help. He saw our general wish list of items we typically need and called to ask what items were on the top right at that moment.
I can’t tell you how much I appreciated his call. I thanked him and told him we really needed diapers, size 4 specifically, for a mom our case manager was working with on an outreach basis. He came into the office within an hour to drop off 4 pick packages of diapers, which I then dropped off to our homeless shelter. He made an immediate, positive impact in someone’s life and made my job a little easier that day.
All he did was take some time to do a little research and make a phone call to ask a question.
A few weeks before that phone call, I received a message from a woman who called simply to thank me for calling her to let her know that I could not take a donation she wanted to make. She appreciated that I took the time to call her back and even try to give her some suggestions as to where she might take her donation.
When did we get to the point that these phone calls are unusual? Where asking what someone else needs or telling someone no thank you is met with surprise.
I’m a big proponent of finding simple ways to give every day. So much so that I wrote a book about it. Simple, kind gestures can make a difference in other people’s lives. And though it may not seem like it, you don’t know what kind of positive impression you may have made with your action.
In my book, I talk about how acts of kindness can be a pathway to even more giving. It feels good and makes you want to spread more positivity. It seems fitting that last Sunday was World Kindness Day. It also happened to be a day that seemed to be flooded with hilarious Joe Biden memes.
As moms, it’s our job to show our kids how to be kind and tolerant of others while also knowing when to use our voice to stand up for what we believe in.
I think we could all use some positivity and kindness right about now, no matter what part of the world we are in.
I don’t know what will happen in America moving forward, but I do know that now, more than ever, we need to pay attention, listen, ask questions and make our voices heard. We need more kindness and more willingness to understand the needs and beliefs of others. Not just during the giving season or in an election year. Every day of the year.
This is an original post by Jennifer Iacovelli for World Moms Network.
Do you have any good simple giving or daily acts of kindness stories? Please share them with us!