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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#MeetAWorldMom: Karyn Willis of New Zealand

#MeetAWorldMom: Karyn Willis of New Zealand

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

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

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

WMN: What language(s) do you speak? 

KARYN: English

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Tes Silverman

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

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World Moms Network is BACK!!

World Moms Network is BACK!!

Hello, there! Remember when the World Moms used to jet set off to parts unknown? Or were always busy covering conferences and events around the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals? Well, the pandemic has provided our editing team time to reflect about a lot, including about what the future of World Moms Network will be, and I’d like to share with you what’s been going on behind the scenes over the past year!

How World Moms Network Got Started

First, if you are new here, you may be wondering how we got started…Back in 2010 when I had a toddler and another one on the way, I was interested to find a site to read that had perspectives from mothers from around the world. When I couldn’t find it, I decided to create it by getting a bunch of books out of the library, creating a website, and (kindly) harassing mothers I knew to write for the site to get started. If you build it, they will come. And they came! I have met so many magnificent women through this site! And if I knew the impact we were about to make in the years to come, I may have been even more nervous on day one – not being able to see the future, is bliss sometimes! 

Over the past more than a decade we grew to over 70 volunteer global staff. Our World Moms wrote their hearts out on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights, and social good. They also made global friends along the way, championed social good causes, were sent on international reporting trips, spoke at the World Bank, and more! Then in more recent years we began to slow down…

The Slow Down…Was This The End?

Maybe it was because our kids were getting a bit older and we found ourselves with less time in front of the computer, maybe it was because we got more involved in our local communities, maybe it was because we went back to full time work or our work responsibilities grew, maybe it was because we all just needed a break, maybe blogging was losing steam, maybe we had had a good run, and this was it. However, amid the slowdown, the site stayed up. There were still World Moms who felt motivated here and there to put a post up. They kept us active, and we were still around. 

I thought during the wind down, “This might be it.” We had an amazing run which led to invitations to places like the UN and the White House. (We still can’t believe that all happened!) Our editors had new things going on in their lives, too. Not to mention, the political climate of the world began to change and became more polarized (and depressing). 

Messages From World Moms

I thought we were all ready to move on. Then the messages started rolling in. When are we beginning to ramp up? When can I write again? The World Moms wrote to me asking when we were getting back up and running. It was a pattern over time. The messages came in like delegates deliberating at a UN conference — from Europe, from Asia, from Africa, etc. The world was nudging World Moms Network that there was still a need for us.

Once the pandemic hit, we decided to have a few video calls to catch up with old friends and do a mental health check in. Every time we had a call different World Moms would show up. The questioning continued, “What are the next steps with World Moms Network?”, and they talked about how much they needed our community. It was their happy place. And, of course, we laughed A LOT! We’d hear stories that World Moms Network would come up in a mom’s therapy session as being something they really loved doing and that made them feel good about themselves and the world. Having their roles here made them feel important. Connecting with moms outside of their culture made life exciting and interesting! This was all true for me, too!

I always thought that the site was for our readers. Well, it very much is, but I completely underestimated how much the site is for us, the World Moms contributors, too. We’re here for you, but we’re also here because we need to be. There’s just something brewing in the universe that is tugging at us to be together and to get back to writing and convening. Coming from a group of global moms who are so used to giving, it was quite impactful to realize that we were all getting something out of what we do here, too. World Moms Network is a place where we belong. That sense of belonging is important to me, too. I had just been too focused on what we were doing, and I needed time to think, to take a step back, and to see the greater picture. 

Rebuilding World Moms Network

After our group calls at the beginning of the pandemic Senior Editors, Purnima in India and Elizabeth in the US, suggested we get on a call one day just to catch up together in a small group. That chat led to more chats. Those chats turned into action items. Before we knew it, we were meeting more regularly, having weekly calls, and our planning circle grew wider. 

Then I started a grad school program at Columbia University to earn my Executive Masters of Public Administration with a global policy studies concentration. I used my Quantitative Analysis class to create an effective survey for our moms. I thought, “What the heck! Why don’t I poll the World Moms and see how many were actually interested in starting up regular posting again?” They responded!!! They wanted in! I was really quite overwhelmed.

Purnima, Elizabeth, and I took the survey data and began running with it. We rebuilt our editing team. That was the easiest part. To our luck over time we had some editors come and go and many wanted to come back! We started working with a web designer to rejuvenate the site. Our informal chats turned into 2 weekly meetings (at different times to accommodate time zones).

Kyla was back. Kirsten was back. Margie was back. Tes was back. Oh my gosh, this band was ready to practice! That plus Orana was back and ready to pump up our social media. Nicole was back and thinking about ways to align us with nonprofits. Erin was back and wanted to run a yoga and meditation month. I was running lots of meetings again! Each editor had a geographical region of writers. The majority of our writers returned.

Among those that didn’t return – some were having babies or just moved and needed some time. We began to feel empowered and soon realized that you never quite say goodbye to a World Mom. We expected lot of No’s. To hear stories about people had moved on and there was no longer room for World Moms Network. On the contrary, we received lots of yesses and responses from people who wanted to stay on board and help with photos or offer to help in some other way if they couldn’t write. Even Asta, a World Mom from Norway who wrote our very first post on November 1, 2010, is back to help with photos!!

World Moms Network Relaunches!

The connections we have made over the past decade were real. And strong. Here we are again! Readers and World Moms, welcome to World Moms Network 2.021! Beginning next week, we’ll be posting twice per week (be on the lookout on Tuesdays and Thursdays!) and are planning to cover more UN International Days and continue to align our site with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals because they are at the core of what is important to us globally. Also, we have taken feedback from our contributors and rearranged the site into updated hot topic columns: “World Voice” (human rights and social good), “Let’s Talk About Racism”, “Health and Wellness”, “COVID-19”, “World Parenting”, and “Meet a World Mom!”.

We’ve become a family. We need this network as much as you do. World Moms Network is a community that people enjoy being a part of. Get ready for another long ride. Get ready to hear more about the behind the scenes, as we try out better ways to bring that to the site. World Moms Network is BACK!!!

Thank you for being here with us!  Please subscribe to our newsletter (sign up on this page) to keep up to date with our posts and engage with us on social media. We have a LinkedIn page now, too! Stay tuned for great things to come from World Moms Network!

Jennifer Burden, Founder and CEO, World Moms Network

Beginning next Tuesday, June 8th, 2021, World Moms Network will return to regular posting twice a week!

This is an original post to World Moms Network by founder and CEO, Jennifer Burden, who hails from New Jersey, USA. Photo credit to Shilpa Iyer Photography.

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India. She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls. Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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Happy International Women’s Day!

Happy International Women’s Day!

It’s been over 10 years since World Moms Network published its first post. We’re still all here in the trenches. Planning new things for 2021. Watch this space over the next few months. We are reorganizing and getting our site touched up!

In the meantime, I’d like to share a photo of me and one of my favorite women that I met from World Moms Network (when we were just World Moms Blog!), Purnima Ramakrishnan in India for International Women’s Day. What a ride we have had over the years, and the future is bright! That’s us at the BlogHer conference in Chicago in 2015 when Purnima was there advocating for global vaccines for children in the developing world. I look forward to doing more good with you and the rest of my most favorite women to make the world a better place, here, in this space!

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India. She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls. Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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Lockdown Reflections: Musings From a COVID-19 Warrior’s Wife (Part 2)

Lockdown Reflections: Musings From a COVID-19 Warrior’s Wife (Part 2)

We hope you had the chance to read Part -1 of our WorldMom Purnima’s family’s experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. Below is Part 2.

My husband’s COVID-19 experience has awakened many feelings that seem to be coming to my conscious mind in layers, in time. I had probably shut out everything when while undergoing the experience. With each memory, new wisdom emerges. A new level of consciousness opens up. Each reminiscence ushers in an opportunity for transformation.

Here I will try to put a few of those into words!

My husband, nor his friends and colleagues, allowed any wasted time in sympathy. They had a job to do. Their duty came first, and I am proud of the COVID-19 warriors worldwide who pledge their lives to do what they think is the right thing to do. Work is worship, for them, and may the world be more blessed by such giving souls. 

They go to work every day, not thinking that it is the end of the world. For them, it is just routine. These physicians have been active healthcare workers during the bird flu, the swine flu, and many other pandemics. They feel humanity will endure and come out stronger and better. At least that is what they perennially convey to all of us – eternal hope, and loving-kindness.

If today you have an opportunity to show kindness to one soul – please do it. You may be doing much more than helping out with grocery shopping, or baking a cake, or running an errand for your friend or a stranger.

You may be touching the soul of a person in an irrevocably good way for eternity by a very simple act, and sometimes that could make all the difference between life and death.

Compassion, affection, and empathy – are the fuel that runs the world. While you are wrapped in kindness outpouring from all quarters, you can endure anything. I received only gentleness from all quarters, and perhaps that was the most important factor to ensure my sound mental health, lack of stress, and lack of worry. Not one patronizing word. No condescension. No holier than thou talk, or wise-talk, no nothing. Just pure love, care, and concern from all who knew of our situation. We also did not face a single social stigma; of course, we had the personal discipline to socially isolate as per standard health guidelines.

In the midst of everyday challenges and the pouring of wisdom from within my heart, I realized that as humans, our collective compassionate consciousness was being elevated.

Wisdom is perhaps already inherently present inside every one of us if we listen. Wisdom is what probably enables us with creativity, and intelligence, when we decide to look deeper than what our immediate current perception show us. My wish for all of us is to go beyond that tangible thought or feeling and wait, like we do, as a family, both physically and emotionally.

Let wisdom decide to enthrall us, and in that one moment of revelation, you can feel the Universe’s love, and if you continue to stay there for one extra moment, perhaps that would allow us to perceive the kindness and compassion in our immediate surrounding, from the Universe.

As humanity, we endure with some hope, some gratitude. We are always offered a choice at that one moment when we are faced with life-altering adversity – we can choose hope and gratitude and be transformed by our choices. And this perception can make all the difference in lighting the path – for ourselves and for people around us. 

I remember this excerpt from Carl Sagan, inspired by an image taken by Voyager 1 on February 14, 1990. Voyager 1 was about 6.4 billion kilometers (4 billion miles) away, and approximately 32 degrees above the ecliptic plane, when it captured this portrait of our world. Caught in the center of scattered light rays (a result of taking the picture so close to the Sun), Earth appears as a tiny point of light, a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size. 

The Pale Blue Dot – Our Home, Planet Earth
Image Credit: NASA

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor, and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

― Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

To be continued …

Purnima Ramakrishnan

Purnima Ramakrishnan is an UNCA award winning journalist and the recipient of the fellowship in Journalism by International Reporting Project, John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Her International reports from Brazil are found here . She is also the recipient of the BlogHer '13 International Activist Scholarship Award . She is a Senior Editor at World Moms Blog who writes passionately about social and other causes in India. Her parental journey is documented both here at World Moms Blog and also at her personal Blog, The Alchemist's Blog. She can be reached through this page . She also contributes to Huffington Post . Purnima was once a tech-savvy gal who lived in the corporate world of sleek vehicles and their electronics. She has a Master's degree in Electronics Engineering, but after working for 6 years as a Design Engineer, she decided to quit it all to become a Stay-At-Home-Mom to be with her son!   This smart mom was born and raised in India, and she has moved to live in coastal India with her husband, who is a physician, and her son who is in primary grade school.   She is a practitioner and trainer of Heartfulness Meditation.

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Lockdown Reflections: Musings From a COVID-19 Warrior’s Wife (Part1)

Lockdown Reflections: Musings From a COVID-19 Warrior’s Wife (Part1)

Jennifer Burden, the founder of World Moms Network, asked me to share my family’s COVID-19 story from India. I have been reluctant because our hearts go out to so many I know, who have lost family and friends near and dear to them in India and across the world, from COVID-19. I hope our story can help paint the picture of how the virus is affecting the daily life of families of health workers, around the world, to our global readers. So, with that intention, I tell my story…

My husband and I are so different, we come from different cultures and languages within India, however, one of the few things that bind us together is our love for travel. We had planned to spend our 15th wedding anniversary somewhere trekking up a mountain or looking at art pieces in a museum. Thankfully, we have similar tastes in the type of travel we do, and so that is one thing less to quarrel about in our lives! 

Instead of celebrating our anniversary in some far off exotic location, we knew that we would celebrate our love and togetherness from the quarantined confines of our home, as times were now difficult and different. And that was okay too. 

BUT – Today I dreaded waking up to our wedding anniversary. 

The author’s husband who is a physician.

You see, my husband is a frontline healthcare worker, a pulmonologist, and is involved in the treatment of patients in the COVID-19 ward in the hospital where he serves. He is in contact with hundreds of COVID-19 positive patients every single day. Several days before our anniversary he was down with a high-grade fever. Slowly this took a worrisome enough turn, for him to call up the technician to come home to test him. Thus, the whole day of our 15th wedding anniversary was spent waiting in prayerful anticipation. Well, to cut the long story of the day short, he turned out to be positive for COVID-19. This was definitely not the anniversary we were expecting, and we were now worried. 

Most healthcare workers have been facing enormous challenges – physically, mentally, and emotionally. They see in the eyes and hearts of patients, so much loneliness, pain, and fear, that, that in itself drains them out completely. It can be very overwhelming and many times the doctors and nurses die hundreds of deaths inside, as they let a life go.

As his wife, I seek to understand, yet, sometimes I do not. At times, I can sympathize. Other times I get frustrated, caught up in my own other problems or worries. 

We have missed him at times when he used to come home very late, long after my son and I had fallen asleep. At other times, I have learned to stay indifferent. I remember, once when we were on our honeymoon, he received a call from one of his patients. I don’t always have him to myself. Being married to a healthcare worker has been a very enlightening journey, living with him and his profession for the past 15 years.

The author’s family.

At times, he indicates that he understands and explains patiently how he cannot make more time for us. At other times, he is full of his own joys or sorrows of work.

In the midst of such a life, where I did not know when he would be back home for the day, things had only worsened in the past 8 months. Being part of the first responders in the fight against the coronavirus, I cheer for him. 

Every night our family wait, patiently. I say, ‘patiently’, because, the hardest part of this COVID-19 pandemic was always to constantly wonder when my husband was going to contract it. I never doubted that he wouldn’t contract it. After all, his whole day, more than 12 hours, was spent with people who had contracted it. I just prayed and hoped that at least he would be asymptomatic or he would recover very quickly.

Now, that worry was gone. He was COVID-19 positive, and I knew how the next fortnight was going to be. All of the regular COVID-19-words now stared at my face – quarantine – social distancing – uncertainty – grocery shopping for the next 15 days, etc.

I decided to take one hour at a time and gave my attention to only the most important tasks of the immediate hour. The most important thing to do, of course, was to take care of my husband.

The next thing I decided was to get off my phone, unless absolutely necessary, such as the phone calls from my parents or from my husband’s colleagues. I uninstalled all the Apps from my phone temporarily, and that is probably the best decision I have ever made in this current digitalized year.

One thing that helped me stay positive and resilient is an everyday meditation regime, and the online group meditation sessions every Sunday morning with our Heartfulness community.

I suddenly realized how close my husband was, with his colleagues, friends, seniors, juniors, students, and the Dean in his workplace. I entered his workplace that I wasn’t as aware of, prior to his sickness in our busy lives. There was an outpouring of love, concern, affection. Most days he was on his phone, when he had the energy, talking to his students, or discussing regimes and protocols with his colleagues. He never gave me the impression that he was sick. But he gave me a lot of reasons to worry too, as he was still symptomatic with fever, respiratory infection. However before I knew it, he was back on his feet and on his job (from home, as we had to be in quarantine for few more days).

One hour at a time, one day at a time, we let time pass at her own pace. The hours were long, but the days were short, as they say.

Fifteen days, after our 15th wedding anniversary, we tested again, and the results were negative. He is back to work now, and treating patients, in one of India’s hotbeds of COVID-19 – Chennai.

The author and her husband.

Our wedding anniversary will have to wait until another day, another year, but I am proud of him for being a part of India’s fight against the pandemic. He makes me proud. 

To be continued …

Read Part – 2 here.

Purnima Ramakrishnan

Purnima Ramakrishnan is an UNCA award winning journalist and the recipient of the fellowship in Journalism by International Reporting Project, John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Her International reports from Brazil are found here . She is also the recipient of the BlogHer '13 International Activist Scholarship Award . She is a Senior Editor at World Moms Blog who writes passionately about social and other causes in India. Her parental journey is documented both here at World Moms Blog and also at her personal Blog, The Alchemist's Blog. She can be reached through this page . She also contributes to Huffington Post . Purnima was once a tech-savvy gal who lived in the corporate world of sleek vehicles and their electronics. She has a Master's degree in Electronics Engineering, but after working for 6 years as a Design Engineer, she decided to quit it all to become a Stay-At-Home-Mom to be with her son!   This smart mom was born and raised in India, and she has moved to live in coastal India with her husband, who is a physician, and her son who is in primary grade school.   She is a practitioner and trainer of Heartfulness Meditation.

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