5 Reasons Moms Make Great Advocates

5 Reasons Moms Make Great Advocates

As the world struggles with the pandemic and increasing political division, it is more apparent than ever that government policies – local and global – greatly affect the fates of our families. Many moms have awakened to this reality and are trying to be strong advocates. Yet many don’t know what to do beyond protesting in the streets to get the attention of decision makers. They get frustrated to the point of throwing up their hands and saying, “Why even bother?”

I encourage every mother to engage in the next steps of reaching out personally to elected officials, because we have the motivation and skills to change hearts and minds! For over a decade, I’ve coached everyday folks to meet with members of U.S. Congress. I continually see the characteristics that mothers have that make us powerful advocates.

Here are five reasons that you should tell your government what’s on your mind: 

#1 Moms are powerful

Have you ever been reduced to a weeping heap after watching a news story or a movie about children in distress? In those moments, many of us think, “I wish I weren’t so fragile.” Yet those maternal moments of vulnerability are precisely what give you special strength to speak out for those who needlessly suffer. As mothers, we often find ourselves momentarily consumed by crushing empathy when we encounter stories of parents who can’t give their children what they need. But this emotional response isn’t a sign of weakness. Instead, this ability to internalize another person’s story gives you great power because caring and empathy are contagious.

Your passion can incite a riot of emotion and resolve in your hearers even if—especially if—your voice cracks when you retell it. If your audience is a senator, a congressional aide, or anyone in the path of power, you are in a position to create change. Your emotional retelling is more likely to inspire action than a dry recitation of facts and figures.

Your vulnerability can be your strength. And the ability to turn your emotion into positive, constructive action can be your superpower. When you learn to combine your emotions with information and clear requests, you become dangerous to the status quo. You threaten systems that keep families stuck in cycles of suffering. And that is a very, very good thing.

#2 Moms explain things

If you can sit on the floor and explain a concept to second graders, then you’re speaking plainly enough to be understood by a member of Congress. That may sound like a joke, but I’m quite serious. Explaining concepts to kids means boiling your message down to its most basic parts and delivering it in an engaging way. Even though U.S. representatives might sit in high-level briefings all day, that doesn’t mean they relish listening to someone reel off a bunch of statistics out of context. Children love to hear clear explanations accompanied by stories, and so do adults! Never forget that they’re as human as anyone else. 

#3 Moms are persistent advocates

It would be nice if governments were so efficient that a single conversation could convince a policymaker to support your request. In reality, it usually takes time, patience, and more reminders than you give your children to get their laundry off the floor.

Unfortunately, no matter how urgent you feel your issue is, there will always be hundreds of other matters clamoring for a congressperson’s attention. Plus, if the office staffers are not already aware of your issue, they’re going to have to research and consider your request even if they don’t oppose it. A mother’s touch to provide helpful information and consistent reminders is an incredible advantage. 

#4 Moms are responsible

Once you’ve been the sole person standing between a happy family and total family chaos, you start to view your place in the world a little differently. Some moms are fortunate to have responsible spouses to shoulder a lot of familial tasks. But women in every part of the world bear the heavier responsibility for household chores and child-rearing. Moms are generally the ones making lunches, outfitting diaper bags, scheduling play dates, and making sure you don’t run out of toilet paper or cheese sticks. Moms are chess players looking two, three, and four moves into the future.

So, how does a responsible nature translate to successful advocacy? It allows you to stay organized and prepared to react to the needs of your volunteer groups. It gets you to meetings on time with all the materials you need. It helps you respond to emails from congressional aides in a timely manner. Moms are welcomed at advocacy conferences because we are low-maintenance, responsible, capable people who get things done.

#5 Moms are experts in the most important skills

I won’t tell you that everything I needed to know about advocacy I learned in kindergarten. But I insist that the most critical lessons were learned around age five, especially since the most successful advocates believe in strong teamwork. Advocates should always be prepared to:

  • Treat others with respect;
  • Share;
  • Give everyone in the group a turn to play;
  • Avoid calling anyone a hurtful name;
  • Apologize when you hurt someone; and
  • Say “please” and “thank you” (this is the number one lesson and the step that is most often forgotten when talking with members of Congress as well as other volunteers).

Moms keep all of these skills top of mind because we coach our kids to use them. We should be able to follow them even when our children aren’t in the same room. We can model these important skills for young college activists and aging senators alike.

Our mom voices need to be heard more than ever before in our political climate of nastiness that permeates cable news and social media. Mom advocates can be at the forefront of carrying a positive tone of reason, kindness, and respect into politics. Whatever the cause is that drives you to protect your children, put yourself forward. You are more powerful than you think.

Have you, or would you, approach your government with issues in your community? Has being a parent helped you in this quest?

This is an original post for World Moms Network by Cynthia Levin. Photo credit to the author.

Cindy Levin

Cynthia Changyit Levin is a mother, advocate, speaker, and author of the upcoming book “From Changing Diapers to Changing the World: Why Moms Make Great Advocates and How to Get Started.” A rare breed of non-partisan activist who works across a variety of issues, she coaches volunteers of all ages to build productive relationships with members of Congress. She advocated side-by-side with her two children from their toddler to teen years and crafted a new approach to advocacy based upon her strengths as a mother. Cynthia’s writing and work have appeared in The New York Times, The Financial Times, the Washington Post, and many other national and regional publications. She received the 2021 Cameron Duncan Media Award from RESULTS Educational Fund for her citizen journalism on poverty issues. When she’s not changing the world, Cynthia is usually curled up reading sci-fi/fantasy novels or comic books in which someone else is saving the world.

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A Forever Friend Brought Me Out Of The Pandemic

A Forever Friend Brought Me Out Of The Pandemic

I was on the road for my family’s much anticipated summer vacation when I received a text from my friend Amy, whom I had not seen in over a decade. She saw my post on social media about my destination, which is where she now lived, and asked if we could get together. Gracious and thoughtful about how family vacations can be, Amy left it up to me if I wanted to see her one-on-one, get our families together, or take a pass if it felt like too much during a pandemic.

It was June, just after my kids got out of school. While we were in some ways moving out of the pandemic, the inertia of it was still in effect. I wanted to see Amy tremendously, but I had to take a beat to assess my comfort level and that of my family. We determined we would be okay meeting up. One thing led to another, and we were invited to dinner at Amy’s home.

I knew in my heart it would be great. Amy was the first friend I made when I moved to Washington over 20 years ago. We worked together for a time and then stayed connected as we both got married and had our first children. Then she and her family moved, and while we remained committed Christmas card exchangers, we had not been in touch frequently. Yet the few times we did connect, it was like old times. There was never any weirdness or blame over who was supposed to call whom. We were just two forever friends picking up where we left off.

Excitement built for me as we drove to Amy’s home. Her family greeted us at the door. We got to hug each other and meet the youngest kids who have come along since last we visited. It was surreal. While my family had seen people in the past eighteen months, this was the first time we all went to dinner together inside someone’s home. I was overwhelmed by how good it felt to receive deep hospitality again, to be invited into someone’s intimate living space, offered a home cooked meal, and made to feel so welcomed and loved. It was like waking up out of a dream. And the best part was our kids all got along splendidly.

After several hours we took our leave, armed with recommendations of things to do on the rest of our vacation. Over the next few days, Amy checked in to see how it was going and if we needed anything else. Her care rippled forward. As I reflect back on this simple dinner, I am flooded with gratitude. It is more than the fact that Amy and her family showed us a wonderful time. This interaction helped me re-engage in the world. Amy was like guide welcoming me back to life. She reminded me of the importance of connecting after so long apart, and I am trying to pay it forward as each day leads us to the next phase of this uncertain future.

What has the pandemic been like for you? Are you able to have social gatherings in your part of the world?

This is an original post for World Moms Network by Tara Bergman. Image by congerdesign from Pixabay.

Tara Bergman (USA)

Tara is a native Pennsylvanian who moved to the Seattle area in 1998 (sight unseen) with her husband to start their grand life adventure together. Despite the difficult fact that their family is a plane ride away, the couple fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and have put down roots. They have 2 super charged little boys and recently moved out of the Seattle suburbs further east into the country, trading in a Starbucks on every corner for coyotes in the backyard. Tara loves the outdoors (hiking, biking, camping). And, when her family isn't out in nature, they are hunkered down at home with friends, sharing a meal, playing games, and generally having fun. She loves being a stay-at-home mom and sharing her experiences on World Moms Network!

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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. Swimming. 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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Wonder Basket: Sustainable Cooking From The Heart Of Africa

Wonder Basket: Sustainable Cooking From The Heart Of Africa

Food.

No matter what is going on all around us, we need food. Too often lack of food is what is going on in certain parts of the world, while where there is plenty, we might enjoy a morsel on our own or with our neighbors, family, or friends.

I would like to ask you: what tools do you use to cook? Is it a kerosene or gas stove? Charcoal or electricity? A combination? If there was a way to cook your food using less energy, would you want to know about it? This post is all about that, so you are in the right place!

Bibi Saleha (Sally) Qazi is a Tanzanian woman who came up with a brilliant idea. We call her Bibi, a title of respect that means “grandmother”. Bibi Sally is my mother, which might make one question whether I am biased, but once you read on I believe you will see that it makes good sense.

Bibi Sally
The author’s mother, Bibi Sally

The idea is the Wonder Basket.

So what is it?

The Wonder Basket is a cooking tool that is made with all* recycled materials. Use of the Wonder Basket helps with busy and lazy schedules, as you can use your stove of choice for a short time and turn it off (or use it for other foods). You then transfer your pot to the Wonder Basket to continue cooking without additional energy, using only the heat it has already gathered. The Wonder Basket saves energy, which is good for the planet, people, and the pocket.

Where may one find one of these amazing Baskets, and is the answer Africa? Well, as much as you are welcome to visit Tanzania (as you should) and attend a training session with Mama Sally, you can make a Wonder Basket on your own!

Speaking of bias, I’ll be honest… as her daughter and a woman who has always wanted to be financially independent, the fact that my mom freely shares this information sometimes bothers me Why? Because through this knowledge she could provide for herself, which is something that is needed. However, as a human being I am so thankful, humbled, and proud that she does freely share, and I hope that this universe will continue to provide for her all that she needs and more. My mom rocks as a human, as a woman and as a mom!

How Bibi Sally makes the Wonder Basket

The Wonder Basket is made using ten items:
1) A basket or large wooden box
2) Nylon sheeting large enough for two linings
3) Thin sponge mattress for insulation or enough large wood shavings for lining
4) A piece of sturdy cotton cloth to cover the nylon
5) A nylon bag for a cushion lid
6) Sponge for the lid
7) A pillow slip for cushion lid
8) Some string and big needle
9) A pair of scissors
10) A small square of cardboard to put under the pot in the basket

How to make it

Take a large basket or box (around 50cm x 50cm x 50cm).
Line it with the nylon sheet to insulate it.
Create a base 3–4 cm wide at the bottom.
Apply the second sheet of nylon to cover the base , and fill in the space between two nylon sheets to create a wall inside the basket or box, either with wood shavings or the sponge mattress.
Seal the wall which is 3-4 cm wide by folding the nylon sheet overlap.
Cover with the strong cotton cloth. I used a large pair of skintight pants as the elastic waist band covers the nylon wall perfectly and the legs can be folded into the central well.
The cloth can be arranged to cover the inside of the basket and overlap over the basket walls.
Give it a shape with the scissors or tuck it in and stitch with the string to hold it all together.
The pillow must not be rigid.
Fill the nylon bag with wood shavings or sponge; give it a shape to fit snugly into the well in the basket.
Cover it with the pillow or cushion slip and stitch it shut.

How to use the Wonder Basket

All cereals/grains and most foods cooked in water can be cooked in the basket!

Measure and clean the cereal/grain to be used, soak it until saturated.
Put it in a pot without salt and with enough water to cover it completely with 1 cm of water above it.
Bring it to a boil and stir. Cover and boil for one minute. Then transfer the pot to the insulated basket and cover it immediately with the cushion lid.
Make sure no hot air comes out or cold air goes into the covered basket.
The cooking time is the same as when you use the stove.

Wonder Basket in use
The Wonder Basket in use

A note about rice

One cup of rice absorbs about two cups of water, sometimes a bit more for mature grains. Soak the clean rice for a few minutes. Then heat the necessary amount of water, salt it and bring to boil; you can put in some oil and spices if desired. When it boils, put in the strained rice, and stir. When it starts boiling properly, cover it and move the pan to the basket, and immediately put the cushion lid on.

Meat, potatoes, and cassava can be cut into inch-long pieces and cooked as desired. Then add a little boiling water, put the lidded pot in the basket, and cover instantly.

The basket will cook the food and keep it hot for a long time. You don’t need to watch it for fear that it may get burnt, as there is no flame or live fire. Don’t open the basket to check the food before passing the minimum cooking time has elapsed.

You cannot fry, grill or bake with this method. You can sterilize juice, food, and bottles in the basket. Take it on safari or picnic, or the office or the farm.

Food made in the Wonder Basket
Here is some delicious food, some of which was made in an original Wonder Basket made by Bibi Sally herself

Bibi Sally has been an advocate for nutrition and nutrition education in her community for decades. She has always been passionate about women’s rights, human rights, children in poverty, self-reliance, and having a good hearty laugh! She is also a phenomenal translator, having translated many of the Baha’i Holy Writings from English to Kiswahili, as well as other independent translation assignments.

If you have any questions about the Wonder Basket, please do ask.

*all recycled materials: Sometimes you might have to buy the basket, box, or other materials.

This is an original post for World Moms Network by ThinkSayBe. Photo credit to the author.

ThinkSayBe

I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!

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COVID-19 Vaccine: Listen Like Lives Depend on it

COVID-19 Vaccine: Listen Like Lives Depend on it

(Trigger warning: references to sexual abuse.)

The United States is one of the few countries in the world providing the COVID-19 vaccine for anyone who wants it, yet our vaccination rate stagnates around 49%. America has lost precious ground against misinformation. What can we do to convince vaccine-hesitant and vaccine-opposed people to get immunized?

For early COVID-19 vaccine adopters, it’s baffling that anyone would refuse a solution to a disease holding the world under siege. The choice to immunize is so obvious to some that they heap insults on those who choose not to vaccinate instead of trying to understand how to change minds. I’m no behavior expert, but I’m certain that demonizing an audience is not a convincing strategy to change behavior.

Personally, I wrestle with two questions:

Why would anyone oppose a life-saving vaccine?

and

How can we change their minds?

To help us better answer these questions, my friend Bernadette shared her story. Now a proponent of vaccines with grown children, she was once a young mom planning not to vaccinate her baby.

SETTING THE STAGE FOR VACCINE HESITANCY

The first part of understanding Bernadette’s early vaccine suspicions is to know that her first pregnancy at 19 years old resulted from an act of violence. Young and vulnerable, she fled from a friend who had suddenly become an abuser.

She sought medical care from four different obstetricians, but as a single, low-income mother, she received little compassion for her traumatic history. The dismissive attitudes of male doctors eroded her trust in traditional medicine.

Image by freestocks-photos from Pixabay

She eventually decided on an illegal home-birth with “underground” midwives because she feared her abuser could find her at a hospital. Bernadette recalls, “The midwives were the first people to ‘hear me.’” They gave her excellent advice about nutrition and childbirth.

The competence and kindness of these caretakers primed Bernadette to accept that the medical community was not all-knowing. Unfortunately, these particular women also gave her misinformation about the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine. It’s important to note that midwives are valuable, trusted birthing partners around the world and often support immunizations.

When her baby girl was born, Bernadette still wanted to provide the best protection she could. So she took her daughter for vaccines. It horrified her when a lump the size of a walnut appeared at the injection site of the first shot. The follow-up shot caused an even bigger lump. Even though lumps are a common side effect, it convinced Bernadette that her midwives were right in opposing vaccines. She added her voice to those expressing mistrust about immunizations.

CHANGING HER MIND

Eleven years later, Bernadette was pregnant with her second child. This time, with a loving husband and health insurance, she looked forward to consistent care for the new baby and her daughter. However, she still distrusted vaccines, and brought that attitude with her to interview doctors.

That’s when she met Dr. Patricia Wolff, a highly respected St. Louis pediatrician. Bernadette remembers her as respectful and unflappable with a wry sense of humor. It was a very impactful conversation. She says, “She didn’t seem like she was standing four steps above me. We were having a discussion. She wasn’t trying to make me submit.” Bernadette wanted to work with this woman!

Dr. Wolff told Bernadette that she wanted to work with her, too. However, for the safety of her current patients, she wouldn’t be their doctor unless Bernadette agreed to vaccinations. Dr. Wolff didn’t show anger at the anti-vaccine position, only disappointment. Bernadette’s desire to work with Dr. Wolff won out. The doctor was flexible enough to alter their vaccine schedule, so the kids only received one shot at a time.

When Bernadette talks to anti-vaccine folks in 2021, she feels a reluctant kinship. She remembers the temptation to dig into a position when others belittled her intelligence. It was empowering then to think, “I know something those so-called experts don’t know.”

Image: The Guardian

She believes the speed with which COVID-19 covered the globe contributed to helpless feelings. People act illogically, faced with helplessness and fear. Nobody wants to feel ignorant or out of control. They can’t control job loss or ventilator supply, but they can control whether they get a needle in their arm or wear a mask. She sees their hardened beliefs and notes, “Once you take a stand, it’s hard to reverse because that would make you look and feel stupid.”

LEARNING FROM EXPERIENCE

What can we learn from Bernadette’s experiences as we talk to people who mistrust the COVID-19 vaccine?

  1. Listening + Respect = Trust

I noticed themes of listening and respect. The midwives were the first people to hear Bernadette. The doctors who wouldn’t listen made her feel small and ignorant. Why would she trust them over the women who took the time to care for her emotions and her body?

Dr. Wolff listened to her. It didn’t cost the doctor anything but time, but she gained trust. Far too many people in Bernadette’s life were condescending and dismissive when she longed for validation and respect.

  1. Trust is essential

Trust was the element that caused Bernadette to change her mind. Once you stoop to ridicule or insults, there’s no trust in the relationship. If you make fun of others, they can dismiss you. They no longer see you acting like someone with their best interests at heart. You go from being a friend and resource to “one of them.” The response switches from “I’ll hear her out because I respect her” to “I don’t care what she says.”

  1. Stand firm without punishing

Dr. Wolff didn’t berate her potential patient. With compassion, she denied services based on the safety of her patients. She was accommodating, but never compromised the protection of children under her care. We can be firm without being hateful.

PUTTING LESSONS TO THE TEST

After talking with Bernadette, I reached out to a vaccinated friend who hadn’t taken her 12-year-old for his COVID-19 vaccine. I recognized her desire to protect a child was the same reasoning that led me to vaccinate my kids. Focusing on that common emotion helped me speak less and listen more. Shortly afterward, I received a message from her saying that her son received his first dose!

Of course, not all conversations will go that smoothly. Yet I hope others might find inspiration here to help start the hard conversations. Lives depend on it.

This is an original post for World Moms Network by Cindy Levin. Featured image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

Cindy Levin

Cynthia Changyit Levin is a mother, advocate, speaker, and author of the upcoming book “From Changing Diapers to Changing the World: Why Moms Make Great Advocates and How to Get Started.” A rare breed of non-partisan activist who works across a variety of issues, she coaches volunteers of all ages to build productive relationships with members of Congress. She advocated side-by-side with her two children from their toddler to teen years and crafted a new approach to advocacy based upon her strengths as a mother. Cynthia’s writing and work have appeared in The New York Times, The Financial Times, the Washington Post, and many other national and regional publications. She received the 2021 Cameron Duncan Media Award from RESULTS Educational Fund for her citizen journalism on poverty issues. When she’s not changing the world, Cynthia is usually curled up reading sci-fi/fantasy novels or comic books in which someone else is saving the world.

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Alcohol Addiction: Swimming To The Surface

Alcohol Addiction: Swimming To The Surface

Two heavy blankets are on top of me. I am shivering so hard that my teeth are chattering but I’m also sweating so profusely that I look as if I’ve been standing in a rainstorm. My hands shake, my legs twitch, I pull my legs up under me and then I stretch them out, ball them up and stretch them out.

I repeat this routine for hours. I smell myself and it’s not good. I haven’t had a shower, and if I’m being honest, it’s been more than a few days. My stomach rolls and I’m nauseated. I try to drink water and Gatorade but I know they’re both going to make me vomit. My mind tries to remember when I last ate; I think it was five days ago but that might not be true, it could be longer. My hair is matted from the sweat and my curls are turning into massive knots. I toss and I turn and time drags endlessly. What feels like hours has only been an hour.

I always count down the first 24 hours because if I make it through the first 24 hours I know it’ll get better. I hope this time I don’t hallucinate. I’ve actually had that happen before and it’s extremely scary. As thoughts raced through my mind and anxiety and worry and stress and beating myself up for being so dumb once again, I wonder why am I doing this. This isn’t the first time I’ve done this; this isn’t the second time, third time or even fourth time. Detoxing from alcohol use is a hell that I keep allowing myself to go back to voluntarily.

The worst part about it too is that I am an angry raging drunk. I’m not a sweet, fun, happy drunk – I’m a lay-on-the-loveseat-binge-drink-and-cry drunk – one who lets all her anger from past traumas out on everyone around her.

I ruined my last relationship due to this. I no longer speak to my mother after the last time I cussed her out in a drunken rage. My youngest son no longer speaks to me due to how I talk to his grandmother. My dad and I did not speak until recently.

Every time I wake up from a binge I nervously look at my phone to see what craziness I’ve posted on Facebook, or what friend I have cussed out – and there have been quite a few. I have ended some really good friendships and it’s always so embarrassing to see what I’ve done, but I do it over and over again.

When I joined World Moms Network 11 years ago, this was not how my life was going. I was 37 years old and engaged to my now ex-husband. Both of my children were involved in sports and school, I was finishing my bachelor’s degree and working full time at a job that I loved, and then in 2015 I had a gastric bypass. I was so excited in the first year because I lost over 140 pounds. I’d never dreamed I could be that weight again. I never dreamed people would tell me I was beautiful and gorgeous. It was something I had never experienced.

My surgeon did tell me to get counseling, because whatever had fueled my food addiction would not go away. I didn’t listen. I did not know at the time that a large percentage of weight loss surgery patients become alcoholics.

I always like to tell people that when it’s sink or swim time, I’ll always swim. However, I’m no longer able to swim as easily. It started off where I’d be swimming fairly proficiently. Then, as my drinking progressed, I’d slowly start to drown. I would always get to a point where I’d realize I was drowning and kick my feet as hard as I could, and I’d swim, swim, swim back to the surface because I could always see the light. And then the next day I do it again, and the next day I’d do it again, and the next day I’d do it again. Over time my body has gotten very tired of swimming back to the surface. Every time I drown I feel like I don’t care anymore if I swim to the surface. Everything in my mind tells me, Don’t swim, just go ahead and sink. I’ve gotten really close to completely drowning a couple of times. My arms are tired, my legs are tired – but something in my brain keeps pushing me get to the surface and try it again.

So here I am, back on the surface, in the shallow end, trying it again. In addition to weekly therapy, AA meetings, and a strong network of support, I’m also taking medication. This time, things feel different. I’m still cautious, though. I am not going past the shallow end. Addiction recovery is not linear, and I’m wholly aware now of addiction transference. My goal is to heal my whole self and address the internal issues that led to the food addiction long ago.

Do you or a loved one have an addiction? Are you in recovery?

Margie Webb (USA)

Margie Webb is a forty-something, divorced mom of three biracial sons: Isaiah (25), Caleb (20), and Elijah (6/8/1997 - 7/2/1997) and two bonus sons: Malcolm (5/10/1992 - 10/9/2015) and Marcus (25). She lives in Lafayette, Louisiana by way of Little Rock, Arkansas, and enjoys traveling, attending the theater, cooking calling the Hogs during Arkansas Razorback football season, spending time with family and friends, and is a crazy cat lady. In addition to obtaining her Bachelors and Masters degree, she also has a Graduate Certificate in Online Writing Instruction and a National HR Certification through SHRM. She excels in her career as a Human Resources Management professional. Additionally, she has represented World Moms Network as a Digital Reporter at various conferences, including the United Nations Social Good Summit. Her life has been one big adventure in twists, turns ,extreme lows, and highs. After recently embracing her new lease on life and her identity in the LGBTQ community, she is excited about what is yet to come. She can be found on Twitter@TheHunnyB

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