ISRAEL: Thanksgivukkah, A Reminder of Grateful Kindness

ISRAEL: Thanksgivukkah, A Reminder of Grateful Kindness

Lighting Chanukkah CandlesThis year, we have a unique occurrence, Thanksgivvukah. (Yes, I know that by now the phrase is probably coming out of your ears.) There are debates as to whether  Thanksgivukkah is a once in a 70,000 year event or a once in a decade event. Either way, the last time it happened was 1888 and I doubt any of us will be around for the next one.

The Jewish month of Kislev, the month in which Chanukkah occurs, is considered a month of miracles. It’s a month that serves as a reminder to actively do something to banish the darkness from our lives and be a light unto others and the world.

Last night was the first night of the 8 day Jewish holiday of Chanukkah and tonight is the American holiday of Thanksgiving.

I’m grateful for the unique convergence of the two holidays because I think that the message of Chanukah and Thanksgiving is really the same; practice gratitude, practice kindness and be the love you wish to receive. That is the only way to banish the darkness from this world and spread the glow of goodness to the farthest corners of the earth.

So in honor of Thanksgivukkah here are some ideas for making the world a better place.

Embrace the Thanksgiving tradition of practicing gratitude, but go one step further and practice it daily. Be grateful for all the gifts in your life be they big or small.

Embrace the Chanukkah tradition of spreading your light, your inner light, far and wide. I think that the best way to combine gratitude and being a light unto the world is to get into the habit of doing acts of kindness.

So here are ideas for 8 acts of kindness for 8 days of Chanukah, or for that matter, any day of the year.

Smile at everyone you pass

A smile costs you absolutely nothing and you never know what a potentially big impact a single smile can have on someone else’s day.

Write a letter to someone who has made a difference in your life

People don’t always realize the impact they have had on someone. Why not let them know?

Give someone a big hug

People need physical contact and hugs make (most) people feel good.

Forgive someone

This is actually kindness that benefits you the most because forgiving is really for the forgiver.

Ask if you can help

Some people don’t know how to ask for help or don’t think there is anyone who can help them. It can be as simple as asking a parent with a screaming child in a grocery store if they need help or lending your expertise to someone who can benefit from it.

Offer to babysit for someone

Every parent knows that as much as we love our kids, sometimes we need some time apart. Give the gift of sanity to another parent.

Leave a note in a library book

A little note of kindness and encouragement left inside a library book can make all the difference to a struggling parent. Take a look at this amazing note my sister found tucked into the pages of a parenting book.

Note in library book

Note in Library book 2

Listen, truly listen

Each and every one of us can learn how to listen better. Listen without thinking about what you are going to reply. Listen with an open mind and most importantly, an open heart. As Buddha said: “A thousand candles can be lit from the flame of one candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness can be spread without diminishing that of yourself.”

So Happy Chanukkah and Thanksgiving to everyone. This holiday season go out and be the light and light the way. Be the person whose act of kindness or love inspires other people to pay it forward and spread kindness and love. One person DOES have an impact, it all starts with the will to make a change.

What is your favorite act of kindness?

This is an original post by World Moms Blog Africa & Middle East Regional Editor, Susie Newday in Israel. 

Photo credit to the author. (And to her sister.)

And just for fun, here is a Thanksgivukkah spoof. (If you don’t understand some of the words, they are probably in Hebrew. Just ask me in the comments and I will translate them if you want.)

Susie Newday (Israel)

Susie Newday is a happily-married American-born Israeli mother of five. She is an oncology nurse, blogger and avid amateur photographer. Most importantly, Susie is a happily married mother of five amazing kids from age 8-24 and soon to be a mother in law. (Which also makes her a chef, maid, tutor, chauffeur, launderer...) Susie's blog, New Day, New Lesson, is her attempt to help others and herself view the lessons life hands all of us in a positive light. She will also be the first to admit that blogging is great free therapy as well. Susie's hope for the world? Increasing kindness, tolerance and love. You can also follow her Facebook page New Day, New Lesson where she posts her unique photos with quotes as well as gift ideas.

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BRAZIL:  Patience, Acceptance and the Symbolic Mother

BRAZIL: Patience, Acceptance and the Symbolic Mother

patienceMy maternity leave is now coming to an end, but throughout it a typical week day has meant about 12-14 hours alone with the kids.

I usually wake up at 5:20 a.m. and my husband leaves with our eldest around six. I spend my mornings with our 2 ½ year old girl and our six month old baby boy. Our son returns from school approximately 1:30 p.m. Sometimes my husband returns early, but he usually gets home between 6 and 8 p.m. depending on traffic, his schedule, etc.

I love my kids dearly. Yet any mother knows that such a routine is not easy. On the typical day, by 6 p.m. my patience starts to wane. By nature I have a calm personality, but if there is screaming on my side, 90% of the time it will be after 6 p.m.

I once heard that 6 p.m. is one of the most difficult times of the day. On an individual level it is the time when stress peaks and on a collective level it is the time when most crime, car accidents and other such things happen. I don’t know if there is data backing that, but in a way it does make sense.

In my case, it is around 6 p.m. that the less-than-noble feelings will start to take over my mind, such as resentment, self-pity and repetitive worrying about pending work (although I have been legally on leave and have not been teaching, I did choose to maintain some activities from home). Other days I wish I could just stop working and truly be a full-time mother.

One thing that has helped is practicing acceptance and gratitude: A student sent me her research project two weeks ago and I haven’t even managed to open the file. Sorry, I am doing the best I can. My daughter has been screaming for 15 minutes in a temper tantrum. How great that she is healthy and her lungs are working! The kitchen sink is piled with dishes and the whole house is a mess. Things will get better as the kids grow older.

Of course it is easier said than done and one thing I try to do every day is to pray that my patience lasts past the kids’ bedtime.

I recently thought about how in the past it was a custom here in Brazil – a mostly catholic country – for the radios to play the Ave Maria in Latin at 6 p.m. In the small town I lived in when I was little, the Catholic church’s bells also tolled at six.

I haven’t been much of a radio listener for the past few years so I went on the web to check if the custom was still present. I learned it is a practice that has been carried out here in Brazil for the last 54 years. It comes from an old Portuguese tradition that in turn derives from the Angelus [*] – a Christian devotion recited at 6 a.m., midday and 6 p.m., which refers to Mary and the Annunciation. In simple terms, it is a time of prayer and meditation.

While reading about the 6 p.m. devotion and thinking about the emotional condition of mothers who spend the whole day alone with their children, I realized that it was the kind of practice that makes sense in the context of motherhood. After all, regardless of religion or debates on the specifics of Mary’s story, in a greater context she can be seen as a symbol of an inspiring and caring mother.

With that in mind, this week I am experimenting with short “Mary meditations” around 6 p.m. to see if it helps extend and deepen my patience and acceptance.

And you? What strategies do you use to help you face the challenges of the day-to-day motherhood routine?

[*] If there are any Catholics out there reading this and I am explaining this wrong please correct me! I was sort of raised Catholic in a Catholic country but I’m not actually Catholic, so I don’t have in-depth knowledge of the Angelus.

This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our devoted writer and mother of three in Brazil, EcoZiva.

The photo used in this post was taken by the author.

Ecoziva (Brazil)

Eco, from the greek oikos means home; Ziva has many meanings and roots, including Hebrew (brilliance, light), Slovenian (goddess of life) and Sanskrit (blessing). In Brazil, where EcoZiva has lived for most of her life, giving birth is often termed “giving the light”; thus, she thought, a mother is “home to light” during the nine months of pregnancy, and so the penname EcoZiva came to be for World Moms Blog. Born in the USA in a multi-ethnic extended family, EcoZiva is married and the mother of two boys (aged 12 and three) and a five-year-old girl and a three yearboy. She is trained as a biologist and presently an university researcher/professor, but also a volunteer at the local environmental movement.

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SOUTH AFRICA: How Much Medical Intervention Is Too Much?

SOUTH AFRICA: How Much Medical Intervention Is Too Much?

medical interventionSome religions have followers who refuse to accept blood transfusions, and other religions actually prohibit medical intervention of any kind. They believe that prayer alone will save those who are ill or injured, and if it doesn’t that it was “God’s will” for that person to die. 

Those of us who don’t belong to those religions tend to shake our heads and feel that they are being unreasonable.  After all, if medicine and/or medical knowledge is available, why should we allow our loved ones to suffer or even die without making use of it? Some would even argue that “God’s will” has allowed us to create the life-saving hospitals and medicines in the first place. Surely, if we love someone we will do everything in our power to save them, won’t we? We pray, but we also avail ourselves of doctors and hospitals.

The question we must then ask ourselves when someone we love is suffering is: At what point are we just prolonging the inevitable demise of a person?  Is it “living” if we are not aware of what is going on around us and can’t breathe by ourselves, or talk, or feed ourselves and have no control at all over our bodies?  How much is too much? (more…)

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!

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BRAZIL: My Birth Story, Part III: A Rewarding Peace

BRAZIL: My Birth Story, Part III: A Rewarding Peace

Today’s post is a continuation of a South American birth story from our contributor in Brazil, Eco Ziva.  Click here for part one  and part two of her birth story on World Moms Blog. 
 

Pregnant Woman with Globe

Coincidence or not, about five minutes after the encouraging message the contractions began. At first I didn’t want to admit they were contractions – not even to myself. It is true that they were different from any kind of contraction I had felt before. They were restricted to a small area of my lower abdomen and were less painful. By then my husband had already filled in the tub and after a while I finally accepted I was in active labor and agreed that he turn on the water heater.

The warm water calmed me and I managed to get all thoughts out of my mind. The fear was completely gone. I soon figured out that each contraction lasted exactly the time it took for me to mentally recite four prayers I knew by heart due to my Catholic upbringing: Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Guardian Angel and the Saint Germain prayers. I used that as a meditation and it made the contractions quite bearable.

What was happening around me is all jumbled in my mind and I don’t really remember. I know that our daughter had become fully awake, while our son completely blacked out no matter how much his father tried to wake him. My husband was also running around back and forth organizing things (I think).

The midwife arrived at around 11:30 p.m. with her daughter (an apprentice midwife), a doula, and her sister, an acupuncturist. After talking with them for a while I reluctantly left the water to be examined. The baby’s heartbeat was fine and I was 7 cm dilated.

Since my daughter’s labor had progressed a bit faster I was slightly discouraged thinking I still had another hour or so before reaching full dilation. However, at this point the midwife asked permission to try something new with me. She (who is also an acupuncturist) and her sister had recently learned a way to diminish the pain in labor and I would be the first they would try it on. They also wanted to try a technique where I would push as little as possible and let the baby come out softly in order to avoid tearing (this was due to my big babies and the enormous tear I had the previous time).

No, the pain did not diminish (much to the contrary!). Yet what happened after she placed the acupuncture needles was equally amazing. Things sped up considerably and in two or three contractions I felt like pushing. Not only did I feel like pushing but I couldn’t help it – so much for letting the baby come out slowly! Differently from my previous labor processes, where the pushing phase felt much more like a need to go to the bathroom, this time these contractions were quite painful.

During my daughter’s labor process I held back for a while during the pushing phase because I was afraid of tearing. This time I just wanted to get it over with and see our son. Not simply get over with labor – I wanted to put it all behind me, all the months of illness after illness, all the fear, and now the pain.

At some point our daughter (who was watching everything outside the tub, right behind me) started crying, I guess from all the faces I was making as I pushed. I reassured her mommy was fine and my husband picked her up.

I pushed so hard I began to feel my blood pressure drop as if I was going to faint. I asked for the water-honey mixture my husband had prepared while the midwife pressed an acupressure point straight below my nose, and I soon felt better.

I checked to see how far the baby was from crowning and was once again discouraged when I felt the head about 10 cm away. The midwife reassured me that it wouldn’t take long for him to descend and in the next contraction I pushed with all my might. I checked again and the seemed the distance seemed to have decreased by half.

Amidst all this, everyone in the room was singing a beautiful song that talked of world peace, union and love. What a wonderful way to welcome a new being onto this planet! Over the next days this song was in my head, and every time a warm feeling came to my heart, along with a wish that more children could come into the world in such a loving, harmonious way. I truly believe it would contribute to a more peaceful Earth.

Two or three contractions later he emerged. It was 34 minutes past midnight. I remember the first words the midwife told me, smiling, were “You broke a record!”

I asked if the cord was around his neck and she said yes and removed it. Then he came straight to my breast. I had felt a great sense of relief and contentment after my two other children were born – even after the C-section, but nothing can be compared to this time. All of a sudden I felt like a completely new woman, fearless and full of energy, and who seemed to never have been ill or in pain.

After the cord stopped pulsating, my husband cut it and we waited for the placenta, chatting excitedly. I had thought of having a Lotus birth, but after so much havoc I realized now I just wanted to rest. I donated the placenta to the midwife as she uses it to make homeopathic medicine.

All in all – despite the initial fear and panic – it was a wonderful birth, a great gift after such a difficult pregnancy. As I finish writing this our beautiful baby boy (the best gift of this entire story!) is sleeping peacefully next to me.

How was/were your birthing experience(s)? Please share.

This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our mother of three in Brazil, Eco Ziva.

Ecoziva (Brazil)

Eco, from the greek oikos means home; Ziva has many meanings and roots, including Hebrew (brilliance, light), Slovenian (goddess of life) and Sanskrit (blessing). In Brazil, where EcoZiva has lived for most of her life, giving birth is often termed “giving the light”; thus, she thought, a mother is “home to light” during the nine months of pregnancy, and so the penname EcoZiva came to be for World Moms Blog. Born in the USA in a multi-ethnic extended family, EcoZiva is married and the mother of two boys (aged 12 and three) and a five-year-old girl and a three yearboy. She is trained as a biologist and presently an university researcher/professor, but also a volunteer at the local environmental movement.

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SINGAPORE: Five Simple Ways to Have More Time In Your Day

SINGAPORE: Five Simple Ways to Have More Time In Your Day

timeformumsMoms are probably the busiest people on earth – from household chores, taking care of the kids, to our work, and juggling our other roles as wives, daughters and more.  It’s no wonder many of us find that 24 hours a day is barely enough time.

But if we are to seriously think about it, is it really true that we don’t have enough time?  Or are there, perhaps, changes we can make that will help us save time, create calmness in our lives and to even squeeze in some me-time every day?

One of the areas I’m working on this year is putting in place systems for my home and my work so that I can be more efficient and effective. Here are some things I am doing that I find are helping me to better manage my time and be more productive.

1. Plan in advance

Planning is probably one of the most basic rules of time management, but to be honest, I’ve never been disciplined enough. So this year, I’m making this a priority. This means to plan my days, weeks and even months in advance. Planning gives me clarity and helps me stay focused. (more…)

Ruth

Ruth lives in Singapore, a tiny island 137 kilometres north of the equator. After graduating from university, she worked as a medical social worker for a few years before making a switch to HR and worked in various industries such as retail, banking and manufacturing. In spite of the invaluable skills and experiences she had gained during those years, she never felt truly happy or satisfied. It was only when she embarked on a journey to rediscover her strengths and passion that this part of her life was transformed. Today, Ruth is living her dreams as a writer. Ironically, she loves what she does so much that at one point, she even thought that becoming a mom would hinder her career. Thanks to her husband’s gentle persuasions, she now realises what joy she would have missed out had she not changed her mind. She is now a happy WAHM. Ruth launched MomME Circle, a resource site to support and inspire moms to create a life and business they love. She has a personal blog Mommy Café where she writes about her son's growing up and shares her interests such as food and photography.

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UNITED KINGDOM: Dreaming of a brighter future? Stop that.

bright futureMy mum used to say to me: “Don’t wish your life away.”

Nowadays I sometimes feel as though that’s all I do.  To be more specific, I’m organizing my life away.

With four kids, my job, my husband’s job, and the diaries of both our ex-partners to co-ordinate, there are often times when I look up from the calendar and realise I’ve scheduled myself right out of the current school term and into the next-but-one.

This can be particularly painful when I have to re-adapt to not being in warm late summer and that campsite in France but instead in bleak mid-winter suburbia. January is a bad month for making wishes and looking away from the here and now. “I want to be thinner/fitter/better employed/better loved by X month,” we tell ourselves, shading our eyes as we scan the horizon for that magical time when everything will be perfect.

The temptation to hurry past moments of disappointment or frustration is immense, and only human. I feel this keenly as the mother of a child with autism. School is a big issue for us, and the day-to-day of persuading my child to go and, once there, to participate, is exhausting. (more…)

Sophie Walker (UK)

Writer, mother, runner: Sophie works for an international news agency and has written about economics, politics, trade, war, diplomacy and finance from datelines as diverse as Paris, Washington, Hong Kong, Kabul, Baghdad and Islamabad. She now lives in London with her husband, two daughters and two step-sons. Sophie's elder daughter Grace was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome several years ago. Grace is a bright, artistic girl who nonetheless struggles to fit into a world she often finds hard to understand. Sophie and Grace have come across great kindness but more often been shocked by how little people know and understand about autism and by how difficult it is to get Grace the help she needs. Sophie writes about Grace’s daily challenges, and those of the grueling training regimes she sets herself to run long-distance events in order to raise awareness and funds for Britain’s National Autistic Society so that Grace and children like her can blossom. Her book "Grace Under Pressure: Going The Distance as an Asperger's Mum" was published by Little, Brown (Piatkus) in 2012. Her blog is called Grace Under Pressure.

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