I always found the topic of "arranged marriages" interesting. Surely, some people believe that arranged marriages are the only route to take. This may surprise some of you, but I believe this too! However, my marriage with Ashish wasn't arranged by two families coming together and discussing the details. No. Instead, our marriage was arranged from someone with much more clout; God.
How else can one explain two people growing up on opposite sides of the ocean- actually meeting and falling in love? Pretty Amazing! Random? Eh. Destiny? Maybe. Arranged marriage by God? Certainly.
The newest addition to our front porch. The boys kept saying how beautiful our flag is. I agree. The first week of school- Check!I made the boys colorful panny-cakes this morning. I simply used food coloring and poured the batter into a plastic bottle intended for ketchup and mustard from the Container Store. Presto! Like magic, I'm an artist and the skillet is my canvas. Yes, I've always been "that" kind of Mommy- and always will be! I even made a few snakes which were fun to gobble up!
Halloween Costumes discussed and ordered with the boys- Check. That's right!! Bring on Fall! Last year, both really wanted to be sharks...but, I started too late in the game (and Auntie Kelly aka, the costume designer was very busy). With the leaves changing colors and bringing to fall, there are a plethora of traditions our family takes part in...However, we DID already visit an apple orchard, but one never needs an excuse to visit again! Birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving...Pumpkin Spice and Apple Everything!
Like most people, the week leading up to 9-11 is a difficult week filled with many emotions. I feel like I've cried on and off all week. So, in honor of those that received their wings 10 years ago, as well as those on earth that now have special guardian angels, including those angels on earth... I have decided to shift gears. To simply write about our week. No, we will never forget...and as a nation, we never should. I am not about to tell someone how they should or shouldn't deal with the anniversary of the day- this is just my personal way of getting through this day.
I was inspired to write this post after I read a post from another blogger. The blog post was in regard to "pretend make-up tutorial for girls between the ages of 3-6." I replied questioning the topic. I did. It wasn't out of disrespect, but rather disappointment. I replied, "Eek! I would be more impressed with a lesson in NASA or cause and effect- anything but buying into a trillion $ industry at such an early age to add to an already intense amount of pressure placed on girls as "objects"...just saying'." Hey, it's a free country, right?
Umm, yeah. My comment wasn't very popular among the crowd that day. I picked "NASA" and "Cause and Effect" just as examples. Why do we feel compelled to place stereotypes on little girls? Why do we feel compelled to place more pressure on them than already exists? Why can't little girls learn about science, math or have a tutorial on the chemistry of make-up...Ah, see! that would have won me over a bit more.
I was met with comments from Mothers of little girls that consisted of telling me "how boring" the topic of NASA or Cause and Effect is. One lady said she'd look those topics up on a night she couldn't sleep-- that should do the trick. Another, a bit more diplomatic said that [she] "is trying to come up with fun ways to have PRETEND makeup instead of having 3 and 4 year olds in blue eye shadow and bright pink lip stick."
Here's MY issue. Little girls are not PRETENDING, they are PRACTICING.
Look, little girls have played dress up for decades. I guess I am just someone who has hope that women today are more insightful and armed with possibilities of greatness for their daughters beyond their physical attributes and "traditional" roles of yester-year. We already know that they will be enveloped in the beauty industry...why help the industry out? Instead of handing over our daughters willingly, why not create a protective barrier that marketing and media have to get through prior to defining - and polishing your daughter? Perhaps the longer we prolong this process, the more the individual spirit is able to develop. Perhaps by prolonging this process, we can arm our daughters with self esteem so that they don't feel the need to 'have their face on' before they go out. Why not engage your child in conversations when they see you apply make-up? Honestly, share why you apply cover-up, etc. and why they don't need it.
So here is my disclaimer: I say this as a Mom of two boys. I say this as someone who is an advocate for children. I also say this as someone who attends a feminist, Catholic University. I say this as someone who has researched the effects of dioxins, chemicals and prolonged exposure to them in females from make-up and feminine products.
In a day and age when 2 and 3 year olds already have "Spa Days" with their Mothers, I say this not to be viewed as judgmental, but as someone who believes in empowering women of all ages. Despite our progress as a gender, we still have a long way to go. I suppose seeing the "make-up tutorial post" shocked me back to the reality of that.
With that being said, if you would like to check out some sites that empower women of all ages, with varying topics, I've included a few links below. No promises....zzzzzzzz. ;)
Despite my previous education, I feel like my 'real' education has begun at St. Kate's. This education extends far beyond the classroom walls, with community service projects, networking, fulfilling needs and inspiring, empowering and exploring my true vocation. Perhaps, it's because I more seasoned than when I was in my 20's? Perhaps, I look through a different lens as a wife and mother? Perhaps, I'm evolving and at a point that I actually enjoy being enveloped in a world of academia and embrace the challenge it presents with "all I thought I knew." Perhaps, I 'believe' we are all life-long learners, and it's not just a line in an essay I wrote in one of my papers that seemed to sound good while in the College of Education? Or, perhaps, perhaps...I am surrounded by greatness and I like the company I'm in?
Today, was the first day of my new term at St. Kate's. Last night, my husband and I had a really thought provoking conversation about leadership. As a Director at a Twin Cities Company, he naturally has a rather skewed corporate view of things. He thinks more people should take initiative and be leaders. I feel that though individuals can have leadership qualities, not everyone is 'suppose' to be an actual leader.
With that being said, there are so many different types of leaders. The emotional leader, task maker leader, etc. So, though you may be seen as a leader in one situation, it doesn't mean you must be a leader in all situations that arise.
My least favorite 'leadership role' is the silent leader. Some people get in roles of leadership by being silent- not creating any waves, going with the flow, avoiding confrontation, latching on for a ride to gain position. We all know one of these people-- either at work, or serving on a board with them, etc. Often times other people propel them into these positions so that they can be easily manipulated, like a puppet. So, in reality...they too are "really" not leaders.
With that being said...I stand firm on my first belief, "Not everyone is suppose to be a leader." It's OK to be a follower. Why, oh why, in this country do we place such an emphasis on 1st place, leadership, etc. We expect children to excel at EVERYTHING when the reality of the fact is, we as adults do not. Experience has merely taught us to play to our strengths...
For me, what is more important than any actual leadership role....is a position of INFLUENCE. To inspire, to empower, to be a catalyst for positive change in yourself, others, the community and world. I suppose titles may look good on a resume, however, I've never been one for titles or labels. I'm the kind of person who sees a need, rolls up my sleeves and tries by best to fill a void.
I know my education at St. Kate's has influenced who I now am. More so, the people that comprise this special community. Whether it be Dr. C who helped me find my voice again. JH who taught me how to dream again. MT who has helped me remember all that I am and to keep focused on where I am going. Or, MB "Shelly" who has always taken time to listen and support ideas with enthusiasm. I can't leave out the many women in my classes who have influenced me.... Some in silence, others with a great roar.
Today, I met a women in class that has her BA in Psychology, working on her masters in education. She was homeless when she was younger. She is one of the most amazing people I think I've ever met. Her insight, her open heart, her intellect and understanding of what really matters left me feeling inspired...INFLUENCED.
I met another women in class that speaks 4 languages. She was having daily migraines. After starting yoga from a book she checked out at the library, she's never had a migraine again...INFLUENCED.
I listened closely, as another woman shared in our small group discussion about how she was a cancer survivor. She has a few more chemo treatments to go, but the doctors say she is now in remission. She is training to run a marathon. She said, now more than ever, it really means a lot for her to be able to do this. Yes, 26.2 miles...INFLUENCED.
I couldn't help but walk out of class today on a bit of a high. How lucky am I to be surrounded by such greatness? And...to go home to return home to my biggest fans; my husband and kids. By far, they are the biggest influences in my life. xo
So whether or not I am or am not a leader, doesn't really matter to me. However, I'm pretty sure I am in the company of many. I guess I know how to pick my company well. ;)
I was awakened by a frantic call from my friend John. On the other end of the receiver, a shaken voice, lacking breath conveyed to me that the US was under attack. "BEV! Turn on the TV." As I did, a second plan crashed into the Twin Towers. "Oh, my God...Oh my God" was all I heard on the other end of the phone. I didn't speak throughout the majority of the phone call. I found myself speechless- unable to utter a word until I was about to hang up. "I love you, John. Be safe." John and I first met when were in high school. He and his family were like a second family of mine. I walked outside the backdoor, and stood on the landing looking up at the Sear's Tower (it will forever be the Sear's Tower to me despite the name change) off in the distance as I dialed my friend Jessica. Jessica and I too met in high school. I was numb and my voice was so quiet, she could hardly hear me. She suddenly said, "Oh my God...the whole house just shook!" Not five minutes later, so did mine from the fighter jets flying over...the loud rush over to head directly to guard the sky over the city I grew up 20-minutes west of- certainly, "my kind of town."
I recall how incredibly beautiful weather was- the sky was bright blue with big puffy clouds. Y'know, the kind of clouds that you look up to while laying down on a bed of grass as a kid and imagining the cloud formations are different things: a unicorn, a bunny, a turtle... Who knew such danger and hate lurked among the sky? It wasn't before long that a silence filled the air. Growing up under a flight route between ORD and MDW, I had almost grown immune to the sound or visual of a plane in the sky. However, now that they were gone...there was something wickedly unsettling in my bones.
I was suppose to head to class at Concordia University in River Forest where I was a teacher candidate in the College of Education. Instead, I found myself picking purple phlox from my Mother's garden and placing them in a big vase in front of our house with a sign on the porch that read, "Prayers. God Bless the US." I found the US flag, and placed it out in front our house for the first time ever. As the TV blared in the background, I sat on the front steps taking in all that I could with deep long breaths...feeling so helpless.
Helpless because I immediately wanted to comfort all the families of the victims. As a daughter of a Mother who died when I was 17, my heart ached for all the children who suddenly had lost a parent, or loved one. As someone who was to be a teacher and taught dance (for 16 years while in Chicagoland), I immediately thought of the children. How would this impact them? What new tangled web are we now forced to get in that they will end up paying for? What to say...?
I went on to dance. Yes, though I missed my classes that day, unable to find motivation to attend....I was able to DANCE. I went on to teach dance that night to an ocean of pink that filled the room with giggles, smiles and a precious innocence that I prayed would stay one day more than it was suppose to. More than ever...we needed to express, to freely dance...
To be a female born on this sacred soil...what a blessing! True, our country isn't perfect-- what country is? However, thanks to a line of strong women (men too!) before us that paved a way to ensure our rights and freedom we will never know the fear, oppression and unjust that many women live on a daily basis in other countries.
Ten years ago, I just met Ashish. We started dating the October after 9-11. He's of Indian decent. It seems like anyone with brown skin, regardless of where you were from, were under suspicion. So, not only were we a interracial couple and looked upon 'differently' but he had brown skin which of course, many people looked at as an obvious indicator that he was 'one of those' people. Airport security became a bit of a predictable situation for us when we would travel. In our dating days, we'd fly on Southwest. So, as one of us were detained at boarding to be 'further searched' the other would run and grab us seats. I look at a lot of things that happen in life like a piece of thread. When things happen, it makes a knot. The knot isn't necessarily a bad thing in the thread-- but instead, it's a good thing! It ties to closer together...it makes the thread stronger.
9-11 also taught me how we really are a global world. Nothing happens in the world without a ripple effect. NOTHING.
I found myself ending conversations with, "I love you." I found myself hugging people until THEY let go. In many respects, it made me grab on to what was important and hold on and never let go. In this case, that was Ashish.
My heart still aches for the lives lost in this tragedy, the families and friends of the victims, the 'heroes' that rushed in when everyone else was running out... 10 years later, there is another thing that now haunts many New Yorkers; cancer from the toxic dust. 10 years later, we still hope for peace on earth for our race- the human race.
I recently found a company that helps me think of possibilities beyond September 11th. As per website, Peace Cord Bracelets"is a a partnership between ARZU STUDIO HOPE and Spirit of America, like-minded nonprofit organizations affecting positive change in communities across Afghanistan. Production of Peace Cord™ creates jobs for impoverished Afghan women, delivers access to education and healthcare, and provides funds to U.S. troops for humanitarian projects to supply necessities like shoes, food and school books to isolated Afghan communities." I just ordered my bracelet and look forward to wearing it as a symbol of peace.
As we remember, may you find hope and peace in your heart.