To Not-Mothers and Not-Standard Mothers

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. It’s good to celebrate Mothers. Mothers do a lot that is often unpleasant, unrecognized, and unrewarded. And yet… Mother’s Day is woefully narrow-minded. There are many mothers that don’t fit the “mold.” There are foster mothers, step-mothers, males who mother, mentors, friends, sisters. And then there are the not-mothers. The single women who want to be a mother but aren’t, the single women who choose not to be a mother, the women who cannot carry a pregnancy to term, or those mothers whose children have died untimely deaths. To not-mothers and not-standard mothers, I offer some reminders.

A joyful woman silhouetted against a sunset is a salute to not-mothers and not-standard mothers.

“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.” Maya Angelou

Strong back.  Soft front. Wild heart. Just be you.

Brené Brown

“Encourage yourself, believe in yourself, and love yourself. Never doubt who you are.” Stephanie Lahart

I can’t think of any better representation of beauty than someone who is unafraid to be herself.

Emma Stone

“There is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” Virginia Woolf

The great courageous act that we must all do, is to have the courage to step out of our history and past so that we can live our dreams.

Oprah Winfrey

“Your life isn’t yours if you constantly care what others think.” Unknown

Never bend your head.

Always hold it high.

Look the world straight in the face.  

Unknown

“You have just one life to live. It is yours. Own it, claim it, live it, do the best you can with it.” Hillary Clinton

“Find out who you are and be that person.”

Ellen Degeneres

“Stop waiting to find the light at the end of the tunnel and be the light for yourself.” Unknown

“Above all, be the heroine of your life. Not the victim.” 

Nora Ephron

So to not-mothers and not-standard mothers, treat yourself to something a little special today. Celebrate your not-mother or not-standard mother status. You are heroes and heroines in your own right. I see you.

Check Your Core Values

Check Your Values, Lynette M BurrowsEvery decision you make is colored by your core values whether you know it or not. Do you know what the phrase means? Do you know what your core values are? How do they line up with the core values of your workplace? Your school? Your significant other? Your nation? It is important that you know these things.

We live in troubled times. Every nation seems to be facing political, financial, and/or social challenges. We are besieged with political bickering, name calling, fake news, faulty products, shoddy services, abuses, and mass shootings. We have endless arguments over the best way to solve ‘our problems.’ Yet, we can’t agree on what ‘our problems’ are. What has happened to us? We’ve lost our core values.

Too many people are acting out of their emotion of the moment. They never stop to consider if their actions reflect their core values. Perhaps they don’t know what their core values are. When you act in a way that is incongruous with your core values you feel unvalued and unfulfilled. And out of those feelings come more emotions—depression, resentment, anger, etc—and those are acted upon. It’s time to stop and think. It’s time to remember what a core value is and what it means to us.

What is a Core Value?

“A principle or belief that a person or organization views as being of central importance.” —Oxford Dictionaries 

It’s a rock-bottom, fundamental truth serving as the foundation or basis of a belief. Something that you give importance to, that you trust is THE truth.

Core values exist whether you are aware of them or not. They influence how you prioritize things, how you choose relationships, and how you judge success (yours and others’).

If you don’t know exactly what your core values are, how do you identify them?

How to Identify Your Core Values

1. Identify times you were the happiest in your personal and work life. Identify how and why the event or action made you so happy. What is the common factor between your examples? Is it ambition fulfilled? Then ambition may be one of your values. Is it that you felt loved? Love is also a value.

2. Identify times you were the proudest of in your personal and work life. Again, look for the common factors between your proud moments. Did you feel pride in a job well done? Hard work or professionalism may be one of your core values.

3. Identify the things that you must have in your life to be fulfilled or happy. Is it creativity? Or love? Or being surrounded by nature?

4. Make a list of your core values. Some articles on identifying 10 words that represent one of your values. That’s because you value many things. If you need prompts, there are many lists on the internet. Try to do it without a list. You’ll be truer to your personal values.

5. Prioritize your list. In other words, narrow your list down to a handful of terms that are the rock-bottom principles upon which other values are based.

5. Ask yourself why. Why do you believe that this value is more important than any other value? Flip the value to its opposite. What does its opposite make you feel? Don’t give surface answers like—it’s only fair, or if it’s unjust for one person it can be unjust for me. Get down to the nitty-gritty. Such as “it causes me pain to see someone bullied” or “it would terrify me to be arrested because someone didn’t like the color of my skin.” Did that change your list?

You’ve now identified what your core values or primary values are. These core values are generally consistent throughout your whole life. They rarely change much. The rest of the values you identified can be thought of as your secondary values, important, but not immutable. For example, when you are single you may value working 12 hours. When you have a family, you may value time with your family over time on the job.

Use your Core Values

Next time you’re faced with a decision think about your core values. Will that decision align with your primary or secondary values? You may not immediately be able to make all your decisions based on your core values. But over time you will get closer and closer. See if that doesn’t lead to a more fulfilled life.

Perhaps, if we are all living fulfilled lives with clear core values, we will we have lots of reasons to value each other.

Have you identified what your core values are? Was this article helpful?

17 Celebrations during the final week of December

It’s the end of December but not the end of the holidays, feasts, and celebrations.

December 24

Christmas Eve

The evening or the entire day before Christmas is a time of many traditions and celebrations.  Many attend a special midnight service commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. Some fast this day and feast after the midnight service. Others exchange gifts on this day.

In many countries, the Christmas tree is brought into the house and decorated on this day. It is also traditionally the day the Yule log was lit. See more about the Yule log here

Learn more about the customs across the globe here.

In my home, we take time to listen to Christmas carols, nibble on some treats, read, and enjoy each other’s company.

 

December 25

Christmas Day 

This is one of my favorite holidays. It commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, son of God. Linus from Charlie Brown’s Christmas sums this event up very nicely.

Anastasia of Sirmium Feast Day 

Anastasia was a matron of a noble Roman family married to a pagan. Little is known about Anastasia. She was martyred in 284-305 when despite decrees from Diocletian, emperor of Rome, she stood up for her faith. Learn more about Anastasia of Sirmium here 

Twelvetide

Also known as the Twelve Days of Christmas (not the song), runs from December 25 through January 6th. Is a tradition that began in the Middle Ages as a pagan celebration. It evolved into a series of days of fast and prayer commemorating a different saint each day. Today there are many people who only know about it because of the song. When the Twelvetide is celebrated it is often a series of feast days celebrated with a gift each day and culminating on the twelfth night or the Epiphany. Learn more here

Malkh

Little is known about this ancient holiday. Historically the Vainakh people of the North Caucuses celebrated their primary deity, Deela Malkh, and the birth of the sun on this day. Learn more here or here

Dies Natalis Solis Invicti 

This day was a festival celebrated by the Romans. It is thought that this was a day celebrating “unconquered sun.”  More information can be found here or there.

Quaid-e-Azam‘s Day

Muhammad Ali Jinnah is to Pakistan as George Washington is the United States of America. His birthday, December 25, is a national holiday.  The national flag is on prominent display. Pakistani citizens visit his tomb, wreaths are laid at the mausoleum, and children often perform ceremonies. Read more about Jinnah and the national celebration here.

 

December 26

Saint Stephen’s Day 

Saint Stephen was a Christian deacon known for his service to the poor and mentioned in the book of Acts in the Bible. This day is dedicated to Stephen who was put to death in 36 AD after angering Jewish authorities by professing his faith. There’s more information about St. Stephen here and here.

Boxing Day

Originating in the United Kingdom, Boxing Day is the first week-day after Christmas-day. It is unclear historically what Boxing Day was at first. The celebration may have been a tradition of gratuities given to servants (who worked through Christmas) on their first day-off after Christmas. Or it may have been a tradition opening the alms box the day after Christmas to distribute the donations to the poor.

Today a “Christmas-box” is given with gratuities for services rendered. These gratuities were intended for service providers for which there was no direct payment (post-men, errand-boys, and tradespeople or servants of various kinds). Learn more at the factmonster or Wikipedia.

Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration honoring African heritage in the Americas. Created by Maulana Karenga (born Ronald McKinley Everett) in the mid-1960s to give Blacks an alternate holiday. See the official website for more information.

Saint John the Evangelist‘s Day

This feast day commemorates the author of the book of the Gospel of John.

 

December 28

Feast of the Holy Innocents’

A day to commemorate the boys slain by Herod the Great in his attempt to kill the baby Jesus. All boys two years of age and under were slain and are regarded by some as the first martyrs. Learn more here

I’m including the last day of December since it’s the only December day next week.

December 31 

New Years Eve

The last day of the year is celebrated with social gatherings with food, drink, and sometimes, fireworks.

Saint Sylvester’s Day

Pope Sylvester died in 335. Little is known about Sylvester though legend has it that link him with several miracles, or that he healed and baptized King Constantine, or that he killed a dragon. Find more about Pope Sylvester here

Watch Night

The first Watch Night service is believed to have been held in 1733 with the Moravians, a small Christian denomination from the area of present-day Czech Republic. It was a night to meditate or watch over one’s covenant with God. More about Watch Night and the false rumor around it can be found here

Hogmanay

The Scottish New Year’s Eve celebration may be derived from Norse and Gaelic observances. It usually lasts three to five days and includes concerts, street parties, fireworks, and special traditions. One of those traditions, First Foot, is the visiting your neighbor after the stroke of midnight bearing symbolic gifts (shortbread or black bun, a kind of fruit cake). See this website for four more traditions of Hogmanay. 

Omisoka

Omisoka is an important holiday for the people of Japan. They remove last year’s clutter and clean their homes top to bottom in preparation for the new year. Feasting with friends and family clears away food from the old year. At midnight the temple bell is struck 108 times and the faithful visit a shrine. More information can be found here.

This is the end of December and the end of my list. In the interest of space, I’ve missed a number of holidays. Please add yours in the comments below or tell me how you’ll be celebrating one of the days listed above.

Thank you so much for reading and following my blog in 2017.

Have a safe and happy holiday, whichever one you celebrate.

See you next year!

Images courtesy of:

10 Celebrations During the Third Week of December

Continuing my exploration of the holidays and celebrations in December here are ten celebrations held during the third week of December.

celebrations in December,Winter Solstice, Lynette M Burrows

 

December 17

Saturnalia

An ancient Roman winter solstice festival in honor of the deity Saturn. Festivities continue until the 23rd of December. Historically this festival was celebrated with sacrifices, a public banquet, private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival. Most of us only remember the continual partying part. *grin*

Learn more here or here.

December 21

Winter Solstice

Also called the Midwinter Yule, the Winter Solstice takes place in the northern hemisphere on December 21st. This is an astronomical event that produces the day with the shortest daylight hours and the longest night in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, this is the day with the longest daylight hours and shortest night. The northern hemisphere Midwinter Yule is known by many different names and many different peoples celebrate the return of the sun.

Feast of Juul

Celebrations in December, Feast of Yuul, Lynette M Burrows

The Feast of Juul was a pre-Christian festival observed in Scandinavia at the time of the December solstice. Fires were lit to symbolize the heat, light and life-giving properties of the returning sun. A Yule or Juul log was brought in and burned on the hearth in honor of the Scandinavian god Thor. 

Learn more about the Feast of Juul here or here.

 

Pancha Ganapati 

Celebrations inf December, Pancha Ganapati, Lynette M BurrowsPancha Ganapati is celebrated from December 21 through 25 in honor of the Hindu deity, Ganesha. Ganesha has the head of an elephant and has many attributes.  He is the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences, the deva of intellect and wisdom, the god of beginnings, and a patron of letters and learning.

A statue of Ganesha is the center of this celebration. Each day, children dress the statue in the color of the day and prepare a tray of sweets, fruits, and incense as an offering to Ganesha. Chants, songs, and bhajanas (lyrical songs with religious themes) are sung in his praise. After Buddhist devotionals, everyone shares sweets. Each day gifts are given to the children. The gifts are placed before Ganesha and opened on the fifth day.

There’s more information about Pancha Ganapati here and here.  

 

Shab-e Yalda 

Celebrations in December, Shab-e Yalda, Lynette M Burrows

Shabe Yaldç or Shabe Chelle is an Iranian festival celebrating the victory of light and goodness over darkness and evil.  Friends and family gather together to eat, drink and read poetry (especially Hafez) until well after midnight. Fruits and nuts are eaten and pomegranates and watermelons are particularly significant. The red color in these fruits symbolizes the crimson hues of dawn and glow of life. 

Here and here you can learn more about Yalda Night.

 

Soyal

Soyal is a Zuni and Hopi tradition to welcome back the sun and bless their community, their homes, their animals, and their plants. The spirit guards of the Hopi, the Katsinam or Kachinas, dance at the winter solstice.

More information can be found here and here.

December 23

HumanLight

HumanLight is a modern Humanist holiday originated by the New Jersey Humanist Network in celebration of “a Humanist’s vision of a good future.” This holiday was invented to create a positive, festive celebration that doesn’t need to include any particular religious or national traditions. It’s meant to be positive, personal, and creative.

Learn more about HumanLight here and here.

 

This week we also celebrate my birthday, my son’s birthday, and one of my best friend’s birthday. Let us eat cake!

There are many more festive days in this week and month. Do you know of any not included in this post? Please share below.

5 December Celebrations

Continuing my exploration of the holidays and celebrations in December let’s look at 5 December celebrations held during the second week of the month.

December 10th

Human Rights Day:

In 1950 the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution inviting all states and interested organizations to observe Human Rights Day on December 10th each year.

This year’s theme is dedicated to launching a year-long campaign for the 50th anniversary of the two International Covenants on Human Rights: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The two Covenants, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, form the International Bill of Human Rights.

Read more about this at the United Nations’ website

image thanks to Geralt at pixabay.com

December 12th

Our Lady of Guadalupe Feast Day: Celebrations often begin several days before the 12th. The celebrations include processions, Aztec religious dances, singing, food, and prayer. Bright reds, greens, and are the colors for this feast day. The events and the day honor the mother of Jesus, also called the Virgin Mary.

In the 16th Century, Saint Juan Diego saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary who told him to build a church on the site where she appeared (in Mexico City, Mexico). He relayed this request to the bishop who requested proof that the apparition existed. The Virgin asked Juan Diego to gather roses on the hillside (neither native to the area or in season) and take some to the bishop. So Juan Diego wrapped the flowers in his cloak and took them to the bishop. When Juan Diego opened his cloak, it had an image of the Virgin on it. Check out the link to learn more about the image and the miracles attributed to Juan Diego.

In 1945 Pope Pius XII passed the decree that Our Lady of Guadalupe is the Patroness of all the Americas. 

More on Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe can be found here

December 13th

Saint Lucia Day:   

This festival is celebrated predominately in Scandinavian countries honoring one of the earliest Christian martyrs, St. Lucia.

On the feast day, schools close around noon. Families celebrate in their homes by having their eldest daughter dress in a white robe or gown with a candlelit wreath on her head. She serves the family (and guests throughout the month) treats. Traditional treats include coffee, mulled wine, baked goods, and ginger biscuits.

The festival begins with the selection of a young girl represent St. Lucia. Girls are selected for local and national processions.

The St. Lucia designee leads a procession of young girls dressed in white with lighted wreaths on their heads. Also in the procession are young boys in white clothing, tall paper cone hats, and carrying stars on sticks. They sing traditional songs.

You can find more information about this holiday here.

Image thanks to Sultry/sulky/silly and Flickr.

December 15th

Zamenhof Day AKA Esperanto Day:  On this day Esperantists remember the birthday of Ludwig Zamenhof, inventor of Esperanto. He presented the first version of an international language to friends attending his birthday party in 1878. He was 19 years old. By 1887 he published his international language in a book, giving birth to what is called Esperanto.

Esperantists celebrate the day by buying a new book in Esperanto, reading poetry, or in some way honoring Esperanto literature. Read more about this on Wikipedia. 

December 16th

Las Posadas: 

Spain, Mexico, and Guatemala celebrate Las Posadas. It begins on the 16th and runs until the 24th of December. The tradition commemorates Mary and Joseph’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Each of the nine days represents a month of Mary’s pregnancy.

Each community selects a couple to represent Mary and Joseph. Nine different families agree to house the travelers for one of the nights.

At dusk, a procession of the faithful takes to the streets. Children often dress as angels and shepherds. Religious figures, images, and lighted candles also are part of the procession. The representatives of the Holy Family stand outside local houses singing songs and asking for lodging. House after house refuses them lodging until they arrive at the designated house. Finally, they get permission to enter. They share prayers, food, and festival songs. Finally, activities end with a piñata in the shape of a star.

And so it continues each night with a different house as the chosen Posadas (Spanish for lodgings or accommodations) culminating in a midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

Read more about Las Posadas traditions here.

Image thanks to Anza Trail NPS on Flickr

 

If you celebrate one of these holidays, I wish you the best. I hope I did your holiday justice with my brief intro and I’d love to hear how you celebrate.

Do you have a holiday or tradition during the first week of December?

I learned a lot researching this week’s days of celebration.

Were any of these holidays previously unknown to you?

Please share your comments below.