SOUTH AFRICA: Surviving the Turmoil

SOUTH AFRICA: Surviving the Turmoil

3465337579_609eeba69d_b

I recently read a very thought-provoking post by a fellow #WorldMom with the title of My Frame World. In it, she wrote,

The manageable reality is my reference, a framework to enable me to keep functioning. It enables me to get up at a quarter past seven to cut some pieces of imported mango for my precious children. To sigh when looking at overflowing laundry baskets. To nag about an energy-devouring meeting that took longer than expected. It’s the framework that’s keeping me whole. The Frame World.

She ended her post with the question: “How do you deal with the discrepancy between your own private life and the tragedies around it? Does your Frame World help keeping you sane or is it rather keeping you from acting?”

I’ve been sitting with the abovementioned questions for a while, because they deserve a serious answer. It made me think about how we’re all first and foremost mothers. As such, our first duty is to protect our own children to the best of our ability, and to raise them to become contributing members of our society . My late grandfather always said; “Charity begins at home”.

9217004099_5d7d3c52b0_k

I was born in Rome, Italy. My family emigrated to Cape Town, South Africa, when I was 8 years old. My husband’s family emigrated here when he was 5 years old. Both of our families were thinking that Italy was doomed, and that South Africa was the “Promised Land”. We grew up here, met and married here, and raised our children in “The Mother City”. 

I love this country and this city, but lately the tragedies have hit very close to home. South Africa is currently in turmoil.

Municipal elections will be held this year and (like every other election year) the violent protests have become so commonplace that they’re not even really considered “newsworthy” any more, which is sad. The violence makes many people afraid to speak out. From my experience, caucasians are afraid to speak out against the ethnic majority, when it comes to any government issue, in fear of being labeled racist.

The wounds of Apartheid are still very raw in our country, and inequality still exists. Even though the ethnic majority and ruling party have been in power for over 20 years, the road to repair the wrongs of the past is long and winding, and the ride is bumpy. We are experiencing the growing pains of bringing South Africa to a true equality. The weight of a pendulum swings from side to side until it achieves equilibrium. I can’t help but feel that South Africa is still a swinging pendulum as it seeks equality for all of its people.

16496582868_30b2abd610_b

So how do I deal with the discrepancy between my own private life and the tragedies around it? The same way that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

I have learnt that I need to pace myself because if I burn myself out, it doesn’t help anyone. There’s a reason why air hostesses always say that you need to secure your own oxygen mask first, before trying to assist anyone else!

I also make constant use of The Serenity Prayer (God, please grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the Courage to change the things I can and the Wisdom to know the difference). I’m not always wise, but I know that I am doing the best that I can, and that must be enough, because nobody can do more than their best!

Mother Teresa has been quoted as saying; “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

That is how I deal with the fact that the needs of the world are so immense, that they can become completely overwhelming, if you let them. Like the little boy throwing starfish back into the ocean – he made a difference to that one, and that is good enough.

So I pick small things that I can do with great love, and I do that. I also decided to concentrate all my fundraising efforts to one charity that is very close to my heart: www.cupcakesofhope.org. We raise awareness of the early warning signs of childhood cancer. The money raised is used to help the families affected by childhood cancer with whatever they might need.

15318490720_25cfaf5537_k

In the end, though, I survive the turmoil by being grateful.

Grateful to be part of this amazing community of World Moms, who have become my Soul Sisters around the world. Grateful for my 19 year old daughter and 23 year old son who make me so proud. Grateful for my husband of over 25 years who takes such good care of me and our family when I’m not able to, due to my health issues. Grateful that I have a roof over my head and food to spare. Grateful for every “good day” that follows a “bad pain day.” I could go on and on. You see, I’ve learnt that nothing can make you feel better than feeling grateful for even the smallest thing.

When you start noticing how many things you actually have to be grateful for, it gives you the strength to deal with anything life throws at you!

What are you grateful for? What helps you deal with turmoil in your life?

This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Mamma Simona from Cape Town, South Africa.

Photo credits: Image of inked thumb courtesy of Darryn van der Walt / Flickr. Image of Nelson Mandela statue courtesy of Everyman Films / Flickr. Image of Cape Town via David Stanley / Flickr. Image of South African flag courtesy of flowcomm / Flickr

Mamma Simona (South Africa)

Mamma Simona was born in Rome (Italy) but has lived in Cape Town (South Africa) since she was 8 years old. She studied French at school but says she’s forgotten most of it! She speaks Italian, English and Afrikaans. Even though Italian is the first language she learned, she considers English her "home" language as it's the language she's most comfortable in. She is happily married and the proud mother of 2 terrific teenagers! She also shares her home with 2 cats and 2 dogs ... all rescues. Mamma Simona has worked in such diverse fields as Childcare, Tourism, Library Services, Optometry, Sales and Admin! (With stints of SAHM in-between). She’s really looking forward to the day she can give up her current Admin job and devote herself entirely to blogging and (eventually) being a full-time grandmother!

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
Facebook

Truth is most often used to mean; “being in accord with fact or reality, or fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal.”  Sadly though, it’s not as simple as that, because all human beings have unconscious “filters” which lead to bias.
 
Let me use a silly example to illustrate what I mean.  I love coffee.  I have many friends who love drinking coffee, I’m part of a group of “coffee lovers” who share stories, pictures and anything else related to coffee on Facebook, and I love reading articles which tell me why coffee is good for me. I happily share these articles with everyone I know.  There are also many articles which tell me why coffee is bad for me, but I either don’t read or don’t believe those articles, and I definitely don’t share!  I’m aware of this bias, but I don’t want to give up drinking coffee, so I ignore anything that counters my belief that coffee is good for me.
 
However, as I mentioned before, most of our filters are unconscious. So even if we think we’re being objective and reporting only facts, what we believe and what we share is shaped by the filters which were created by the way we were raised, and what we were taught by adults we trusted and respected.

 
Currently there are two human tragedies unfolding; The Gaza War and the Ebola Outbreak. Both of these stories have generated a type of media frenzy.  It’s impossible to remain neutral. I know what I, a Caucasian, 45 year old woman, mother of 2, non-practicing Catholic, Italian living in South Africa, believes but for the sake of illustrating my point, I’m going to take the opposite stance regarding the Ebola Outbreak.
 
I was born and raised in rural Sierra Leone.  I’ve never heard of viruses.  I’ve never met people of a different race.  One day these strange people come to my village and the police and soldiers come and block roads.  Some people I know just disappear. People I trust tell me it’s because these strange new people have come to our village, and are making us sick because they need our bodies to do witchcraft. I am very frightened.  I see them carry away J and I never see him again. When I ask those strange people where is J, they tell me he is dead …. but they never give the body back to the family to bury as is proper. Now I know the truth, what the people are saying is right, why else would they not return the body to the grieving family?  It must be because they are using his body parts to do witchcraft.”
 
Can you see how his “truth” differs from ours? Do you understand how logical it is for him to come to the conclusion he has, given what he “knows”?

I’d like to suggest that we all pause a minute before assuming that other people are “stupid”, “ignorant” or “liars”.  We need to check our own filter first!  We are all much more alike than we are different, but we’re the ignorant ones if we don’t really take the time to find out why someone else’s truth differs from our truth.

 
Can you remember a time when what you remembered an event in a completely different way to the way someone else remembered the same event?  Thinking about it now, can you accept that you were both “right”?

 
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Mamma Simona, who lives in Cape Town with her husband, daughter, 2 dogs and 2 cats.  She also has a 21 year old son currently living in Germany.
 
Photo Credit to Susie Newday.

Mamma Simona (South Africa)

Mamma Simona was born in Rome (Italy) but has lived in Cape Town (South Africa) since she was 8 years old. She studied French at school but says she’s forgotten most of it! She speaks Italian, English and Afrikaans. Even though Italian is the first language she learned, she considers English her "home" language as it's the language she's most comfortable in. She is happily married and the proud mother of 2 terrific teenagers! She also shares her home with 2 cats and 2 dogs ... all rescues. Mamma Simona has worked in such diverse fields as Childcare, Tourism, Library Services, Optometry, Sales and Admin! (With stints of SAHM in-between). She’s really looking forward to the day she can give up her current Admin job and devote herself entirely to blogging and (eventually) being a full-time grandmother!

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
Facebook

FIFA World Cup 2014 – Who Do You Support?

FIFA World Cup 2014 – Who Do You Support?

This week, the World Moms were found discussing the FIFA World Cup 2014 football. Here is what they answered to the question –

Is your country playing the World Cup? If not, what team are you rooting for and why?

The kids in the favela in Recife talking about football

The kids in the favela in Recife talking about football

Jennifer Burden of New Jersey, USA says: When it comes to the Olympics, I am Team USA all the way!!! But the World Cup is a little different for me. I root for USA and England because my husband grew up watching England play and our family in the UK is involved with the FA there. It’s both a country and a family thing for me and my kids!

Sophia of Florida, USA says:  This is very nationalist of me or … continental of me, but I go for any African country. I think this year the World Cup should have told Brazil police they need to stop killing children from the favela & as they have continued, the World Cup either needs to bring it up in mass conversation whilst there, or not hold the event there at all.

Check these news articles here and here.

Simona of South Africa says: Even though I live in South Africa, my husband and I are Italian and Italy is the only team I REALLY support! If Italy isn’t playing I root for Spain (my mom-in-law was half Spanish) then South Africa (although their soccer playing is worse than the Italians playing rugby)!!

Hannah Ashton from United Kingdom says: I’m a dual UK/US citizen. I’m not massively into football but I like the World Cup games. I root for England first and USA second. If either of those teams win I would be very happy but very surprised!

Maman Aya of New York, USA says: We are USA fans all the way in this house, unless they don’t make it, then we root for the underdogs.

Karyn Van Der Zwet of New Zealand says: Not sure if we are or not. (You can probably tell how much I’m into it. )

TaraB of Washington, USA says: of I cheer for USA but will watch any match. My father is a huge soccer fan, and we always watched the World Cup. We made signs, decorated, and created special food even though it was just us in the basement. And when the USA hosted the Cup back in the 80’s or 90’s, my dad took each of us kids to a game. I saw Norway play Ireland in a 0-0 draw. It was still one of the most amazing experiences. The people from all over the world … the costumes … such fun!

K10K of Belgium says: Belgium is in, so we (mostly the kids) will be following and cheering! It’s like the entire country has gone mad!

Purnima of India says: I already wrote about it elaborately here. India is completely a cricket-crazy nation. In our household, (mostly my son) is supporting Brazil for reason known to himself. I am of course partial to Brazil myself, but I am happy to see the most talented team win.

Did you all catch our World Moms’ posts the past week about the World Cup? EcoZiva from Brazil wrote about it here and Purnima from India wrote about it here. Two different countries talking about it in two different ways.

What about you… Which country do you support for in this year’s World Cup?

This post has been compiled and edited by World Mom, Purnima of India. Photo credit to her.

– World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

More Posts

South Africa: Pain Taught Me Contentment

South Africa: Pain Taught Me Contentment

thorn flower2

PAIN,  a short, seemingly innocuous word with a myriad of meanings.

Right now, for me, pain is central to my existence. No matter what I do, it nags at me like an incessant demanding toddler.  It robs me of my concentration, of my memory, of my strength. Yet, if you were to see me, you would have no idea of the war raging inside my body.  I smile politely and do what needs to be done, because I still feel blessed.

You’re probably shaking your head and wondering what medication I’m on.  Let me explain. Many years ago I had no physical pain but I was clinically depressed.  Anyone who has experienced depression will tell you that it’s a numbness that’s so much worse than the strongest pain anyone could experience.  When I was at my worst, I was completely unable to function.  It took many years of trial and error with different therapies, doctors and medications (including a month in a Psychiatric Clinic) before I truly came out of that quagmire I was stuck in.

My “regular” Fibromyalgia pain reminds me that I’m alive and I can feel things again.  I’ve been living with Fibromyalgia for a long time now.  For the most part, I can pretty much ignore it because I know it’s not life-threatening.  I see it more as an inconvenience, not even worth mentioning. Every once in a while I overdo things and I then I experience bad to really bad pain days. Those are the days when I find it hard to do even the most basic things.

I think human beings are very resilient. We quickly get used to living with chronic pain and/or fatigue and/or any other kind of disability.  It becomes the new “normal” and you don’t really remember what it felt like “before”.

So, if I’m used to my Fibromyalgia, what pain am I referring to?  I have Trigeminal Neuralgia on top of my Fibromyalgia and it’s no picnic, especially since there isn’t much you can do about it.  This is the fourth time in my life that I’ve had a Trigeminal Neuralgia “flare up”.  In the past it normally went away after about a week.  This time it has come and doesn’t want to leave. It’s been 3 weeks and counting.  Surprisingly,  I’ve pretty much gotten used to it too.

Believe it or not, what finally broke me down, reduced me to tears and sent me to the ER was lower abdominal pain.  A new pain, one that I’d never felt before.  It turns out I have an ovarian cyst and enlarged left ovary. Again, in the grand scheme of things, no big deal.  It’s not life-threatening.  They often clear up on their own. The positive side of going to the ER was that I was given a wonderful injection (sorry, can’t remember what it was) but for 12 hours I felt NO pain of any kind from anything at all.  I’d forgotten what no pain felt like.  It was like a holiday.

Yes, I’m in a lot of pain right now, but I’m still blessed.  I’m blessed because I don’t have a terminal illness and will likely live to meet my grandchildren one day.  I’m blessed because I have two awesome children that I am extremely proud of and with whom I have a great relationship.  I’m blessed because I have a husband / best friend / partner who has truly stuck by me for richer for poorer (often poorer) in sickness and in health (often sickness) has never complained about it, and loves me despite it all.  I’m blessed because none of this has kicked me back down the bottomless black hole of depression … and, because of all this, I am CONTENT.

Of course I’d love to be pain free – or (at least) back to only my “regular” pain, but this is proof positive that contentment doesn’t come from exterior circumstances.  More than anything else, this understanding is the reason that I am happy that this has happened to me.

One of my favourite Dr Phil quotes is: “No matter how flat you make a pancake, it has two sides.”  Indeed it does, EVERYTHING does.  What I have discovered is that there are truly positives and negatives to everyone, everything, and every situation.  If you are able to see and accept the duality, you’ll always be content!

Have you ever experienced anything that at first seemed really bad but then something really good came out of it?

Mamma Simona lives in Cape Town with her husband, her daughter, two cats and two dogs. Her son recently moved to Germany.

Photo credit to Susie Newday

Mamma Simona (South Africa)

Mamma Simona was born in Rome (Italy) but has lived in Cape Town (South Africa) since she was 8 years old. She studied French at school but says she’s forgotten most of it! She speaks Italian, English and Afrikaans. Even though Italian is the first language she learned, she considers English her "home" language as it's the language she's most comfortable in. She is happily married and the proud mother of 2 terrific teenagers! She also shares her home with 2 cats and 2 dogs ... all rescues. Mamma Simona has worked in such diverse fields as Childcare, Tourism, Library Services, Optometry, Sales and Admin! (With stints of SAHM in-between). She’s really looking forward to the day she can give up her current Admin job and devote herself entirely to blogging and (eventually) being a full-time grandmother!

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
Facebook

SOUTH AFRICA: Terrible Twos AND Terrible Teens?

SOUTH AFRICA: Terrible Twos AND Terrible Teens?

Parenting Styles

I clearly remember (as a young first-time mother struggling with my son’s colic and projectile vomiting) being told by other mothers;  “Oh, that’s nothing, just you wait until he hits the Terrible Twos!”

That colicky baby turned 21 last month, and I have learnt a few things along the way!  First and foremost, children tend to live up to our expectations (even our subconscious expectations).  If you’re sure that you will experience the “Terrible Twos” chances are better than fair that you will. The sad thing is that most parents don’t know that it doesn’t have to be that way!

Every child is unique, and every parent-child relationship is different, that’s why there are as many parenting styles and beliefs as there are parents.  That said, most parenting sites and blogs tend to reinforce certain ideas (like that of the Terrible Toddler years and Terrible Teen years) so that new parents accept them as being inevitable stages of life.

Robert Rosenthal brought to public attention a powerful type of self-fulfilling prophecy, in a classic experiment about the expectations of teachers (Rosenthal & Jacobson, 1968). In the experiment, all the students in a class were given a standard IQ test. After the results were scored, the researchers informed the teachers that five students in the class had unusually high IQ scores and would probably be “spurters” who leaped ahead of their classmates during the remainder of the year. In reality, the five children were picked at random. By the end of the year, all the children had gained in IQ, but the five “spurters” had gained much more than other students. Evidently the teachers treated them differently after being told to expect sudden improvement.”

Since 1968 many similar experiments to the one cited above have been carried out.

“Rosenthal notes that the expectancy effect has been documented in business management (where the biasing effect is the expectations of employers about their employees), in courtrooms (where the biasing effect is the expectations about the defendant’s guilt or innocence), and in nursing homes (where the biasing effect is the expectation that a patient will get better or worse). 

In all cases, the expectations tend to come true, whether they are based on any objective evidence or not. 

 Apparently, as a general rule, people make their expectations come true. Rosenthal’s research shows the Pygmalion effect is not only important; it is robust. It is a strong effect that occurs in many situations.”

I believed in the “Terrible Twos” with my son (because I didn’t know any better) and we battled for 2 years!  By the time my daughter was born, I’d learnt a lot, and I believed we wouldn’t have any trouble at all … guess what, we didn’t! We also haven’t experienced any of the unpleasantness that some believe is unavoidable during the pre-teen, teen and early adulthood years.

Given the above,  I feel that the Terrible Twos and Terrible Teens are only fact if you believe them to be!

Can you think of ways in which your children have lived up to your expectations? Do you believe that by expecting a different result you can create a different result?

This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Mamma Simona from Cape Town, South Africa.

Mamma Simona (South Africa)

Mamma Simona was born in Rome (Italy) but has lived in Cape Town (South Africa) since she was 8 years old. She studied French at school but says she’s forgotten most of it! She speaks Italian, English and Afrikaans. Even though Italian is the first language she learned, she considers English her "home" language as it's the language she's most comfortable in. She is happily married and the proud mother of 2 terrific teenagers! She also shares her home with 2 cats and 2 dogs ... all rescues. Mamma Simona has worked in such diverse fields as Childcare, Tourism, Library Services, Optometry, Sales and Admin! (With stints of SAHM in-between). She’s really looking forward to the day she can give up her current Admin job and devote herself entirely to blogging and (eventually) being a full-time grandmother!

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
Facebook

South Africa: A Reflection On Nelson Mandela’s Legacy

South Africa: A Reflection On Nelson Mandela’s Legacy

Nelson Mandela Statue

On December 5th, I woke up to the news that Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, affectionately known as Madiba, had passed away after being “on his deathbed” for several months.
In the short time since his death, (not to mention during his many years of service to his country and world), so much has already been written and said about this great man that the only thing I can add is my personal story.
My parents, sister and I emigrated to South Africa from Italy in 1977.  Back then, television and radio were heavily censored and through the media, we were taught that Nelson Mandela and the ANC (African National Congress) were “terrorists” who planted bombs and killed innocents.
Our lives were good and we didn’t question the segregation in government schools.  My husband (whose family also emigrated from Italy a few years before mine) went to a private school where people of all religions and colors were happily accepted, as long as they could afford the fees.

In my opinion, Apartheid was never as rigorously enforced in Cape Town as it was elsewhere in the country. Be that as it may, most of us grew up blissfully unaware of human rights abuses and the like.

Fast forward to the 1990’s and most “white” people feared the worst. In fact, there were so many people leaving the country that a common saying was; “Will the last person to leave South Africa please switch off the lights?”

In my humble opinion it was Nelson Mandela, more than anyone else, who allowed South Africa to transition as smoothly as it did. The civil war which everyone feared just didn’t happen. Madiba revealed himself to be a man who was the polar opposite of whom many of us thought him to be (a “terrorist”). He earned everyone’s respect and admiration.  He was a really great leader who never forgot where he came from. By that I mean that he never let “power” go to his head.  He remained humble and approachable, and spread a message of peace and reconciliation. Mandela’s compassion and love for his fellow man are traits we’d all do well to emulate.

Sadly, the Presidents who have come after Nelson Mandela have betrayed his legacy. Madiba wanted everyone to have a better life. Sadly,  things in this country have gone from bad to worse since Madiba stepped down.  The most tragic part of all is that it is the very poor, “previously disadvantaged”,  people who Madiba sought to empower who are worse off now than ever.
I feel I need to leave the last word to Dr. John Demartini, who wrote this in tribute to the great Nelson Mandela: ” From passive to activist and from prisoner to President one man became a legend in his lifetime though stationed in simplicity and limited in residence he moved the world. Nearly a century of living, but ultimately millenniums of presence, Nelson was contributive through the very core of his essence. It is time to reflect on his great accomplishments and revere his message. Let us all dig deeper into our own nature and find grace and poise since this one man’s direction was the purpose of freedom and presence not race. “
What one quality did you most admire in Nelson Mandela? How can use that quality in yourself to help make the world a better place?

R.I.P. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (1918 – 2013)

This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Mamma Simona from Cape Town, South Africa. She shares her home with a husband, 2 kids, 2 cats and 2 dogs.

Photo Credit To: Paul Simpson : Flickr Creative Commons
This photo has a creative commons attribution license.

Mamma Simona (South Africa)

Mamma Simona was born in Rome (Italy) but has lived in Cape Town (South Africa) since she was 8 years old. She studied French at school but says she’s forgotten most of it! She speaks Italian, English and Afrikaans. Even though Italian is the first language she learned, she considers English her "home" language as it's the language she's most comfortable in. She is happily married and the proud mother of 2 terrific teenagers! She also shares her home with 2 cats and 2 dogs ... all rescues. Mamma Simona has worked in such diverse fields as Childcare, Tourism, Library Services, Optometry, Sales and Admin! (With stints of SAHM in-between). She’s really looking forward to the day she can give up her current Admin job and devote herself entirely to blogging and (eventually) being a full-time grandmother!

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
Facebook