50 shades of ambition

When I was growing up both my parents worked. My mom didn’t have a fancy well-paid career. She was an accountant and we needed the money. She had been working very hard all her life. Not in jobs where she can enjoy martinis with her colleagues after work. Not in places where you get bonuses, travel around the world and desperately try to fit in a competitive form of a superficial made-up ‘cool’.

It was difficult for her leaving us and going to work or, later on, coming back home long after we finished school. My mom didn’t work because she wanted to have it all – a perfect independent career and a family to boast about –  she was educated enough to know that this would never be possible.

She did the best she could, raising three children the only way she knew how and working full-time not because she wanted to move from a big house to an even bigger one, not because she had 10 pairs of shoes but wanted 20; she worked all day long so that we could be able to get educated, clothed and fed.

Every family has its own dynamic – this is absolutely true. However, babies/toddlers/children need their parents. All mammals on this planet do. They need their mom to feed them, nurture them, connect with them and provide them with comfort and safety. Grandmother, nurseries, au pairs, aunts and other relatives or friends are great BUT they can never replace a parent for the above needs to be met.

Sadly, nowadays, societies are desperately trying to persuade women that motherhood is not enough. Female empowerment, it seems, means successful careers and a lifestyle where children are only seen as accessories. As an advocate for children’s emotional well-being and respectful upbringing, it saddens me to see this kind of mentality existing in many young parents nowadays.

It is disappointing how the people who are wealthier are the ones wanting to stay as far away from parental duties as possible.

Women can and should work if that is what they want to do – there is no doubt about that.  Staying home is also a choice. I hardly ever complain about this choice of mine with the exception of fed-up moments which I share with family and a couple of friends.

However, in the past couple of years, I have had people commenting on how I lack ambition since I chose to be a stay-at-home mom. A friend of mine recently told me that: moms don’t raise their children, nowadays, – it’s 2017 – nurseries do this’. I was told to ‘wake up’ and realise that ‘women now are independent, they work not raise kids’. In the same conversation, I was told how it’s normal to put your child in a nursery at 3 months of age, besides, ‘everyone is doing it’! In another occasion, someone said to me that ‘some women HAVE ambition and successful careers, they go to work’.

I wonder how would I feel hearing this if I didn’t have a profession. If I was working as a waitress at a restaurant or I was a street cleaner,  a babysitter, worked in an old people’s home or at any other ‘non-glamorous’ job.

Today’s rhetoric is this: you are empowered if you make a lot of money. You are empowered if you wear business clothes. You are empowered when someone else is raising your children so you don’t feel as if parenting has brought any changes into your life and everything is the same as before. 

What about the women who work as the cashiers in a supermarket? How much do they matter in this whole female-empowerment-third wave feminist move? How will they feel empowered if they are not included in the image of the successful woman? Is ambition equal to making lots of money? Or is it measured in business suits?  Do women who raise the children they gave birth to lack ambition because of wanting to ‘JUST’ be mothers? Is the woman serving drinks in a bar less empowered? 

Isn’t the greatest ambition of all to be a person of decency, integrity and always trying to become better? Isn’t it to successfully raise decent, emotionally intelligent human beings who won’t have to recover from their childhoods?

I have taught myself a defence mechanism against ignorance. It doesn’t always work, though. Today was one of those days. My efforts for a bit of ‘me’ time in order to finish up an important assignment were fruitless. And then there are the failed job opportunity attempts. There is the work gap, you see, which now acts against a mom like me who literally buried her ambitions in favour of fulfilling unquestionable parental duties.

Maybe if governments allowed more paid time off for new moms and employers were not prejudiced to gaps in employment, things would be different for everyone, including the ones who matter the most: the children.

Stay-at-home moms have ambition too, and so do all the other women who have become invisible cause…  wrong work outfit I guess. 

Till next time xxx




First ever Aniridia Day

I have written before about my daughter Sofia and the rare genetic condition she was born with – Aniridia. Today is a good day for me and everyone who is involved with the condition either as a sufferer, their parents, friends or siblings. Today is the first ever Aniridia Day and that is great news for this small community of inspiring people. It signals the next step in worldwide awareness, which will hopefully trigger more fundraising and research.

Being so rare, Aniridia lacks vital medical research which could give hope to many children and adults around the world who are threatened by complications which can possibly lead to blindness.

Social media has luckily enabled the creation of groups and online communities where people can get together, share information and knowledge and of course awareness aimed at the public.

The Aniridia Network UK alongside Aniridia associations in Europe and International have helped launch the first ever Aniridia Day which is on the same date as the solstice – a property of how high the sun is in the sky – the brightness and position of the sun greatly affect the quality of vision of people with aniridia.

Sometimes people give me a sad look after hearing about my daughter’s condition. This attitude couldn’t be further from the fact that Sofia has been a blessing in more ways than I can count. Her kind, strong and positive spirit keeps amazing us daily!

I choose to see Aniridia as an ongoing hurdle which we overcome one step at a time.

Along the way, we have come across some very very brave small heroes and formed friendships with people who share a strong, focused and powerful goal – to never stop doing the best we can so our children can have the quality of life they deserve. 

Today, I hope that from now on awareness will keep spreading, Aniridia will become more known and funds will keep coming in so that research can offer a glimmer of hope for small children whose lives shouldn’t be threatened with blindness.




When you are unhappy, no role is enough

Waking up this morning, although a bit tired, I felt really content.  I magaged to beat my own PR in a 5k race yesterday! I run for a staggering (for me) 27.33 minutes! 

I then spend Sunday with my children enjoying the sun and nature doing some trail walking, picking up flowers, stroking slags, horses and climbing on mud. 

Then…I read a comment on a newspaper online where a woman said: “it’s so nice to see successful, super fit women rather than the usual wives, mothers, victims.” ….
There are many things wrong in the world and our society and this is one of them. Women are not victims, wives are not victims and mother are certainly not victims. 

PEOPLE are victims when one of two (or both) things happen: 1) they choose to be, and 2) they have been psychically, emotionally, mentally and psychologically abused. 

Women (sadly mostly) are so desperately trying to impose unrealistic standards to other women – it’s crazy! 

So first , motherhood is not good enough, screw the children – they can be raised in a nursery or by grandma or a nanny – depends on how much money you can spend. What really matters is to WORK even if your children are really small, even if you can afford not to go to work, even if for your own reasons you don’t want to. Send them to an all day school and follow your career cause THIS IS the only way to feel fulfilled as a woman. 

Then, even this was not enough. In order for women to be really empowered, apparently, motherhood and successful careers are NOT enough. 

I read this morning that women, now, also need to be super fit, complete marathons just before going to work or be able to cycle from London to Paris on a weekly basis. 

Right. To all of this I say: 😐 . All I see is unhappy women trying so hard to prove something… probably to themselves even if they don’t know it yet. 

There is NOTHING wrong with wanting to work, be healthy and fit and also have children. But there needs to be a balance and a realistic take on what is sacrificed each time.

I don’t need to be the CEO of any company to feel empowered. Money doesn’t  empower me. Going out naked doesn’t empower me. Flying to business meetings every second day doesn’t empower me. Body image standards also don’t empower me. Arrogance doesn’t empower me, ignorance doesn’t empower me and blaming others for all my problems certainly doesn’t empower me!

I don’t hate men, I don’t feel the need to do so, I don’t feel victimized, a lesser member of western society because I am a woman, or that I need to be able to do exactly what men do! It is not a competition – men and women have different qualities, skills and strengths and that is OK! 

I want to and know that I can do more! 

I feel very empowered that I have been lucky enough to live through every single experience and developmental stone of my children!

Teaching them, guiding them, working through issues together with them, showing them, talking to them, learning new things with them, supporting them and evolving together with them – requires physical presence, at least for the first few years of their lives . 

I feel very empowered that I have gone through many difficulties in life and havent become bitter and negative. 

I feel empowered that, after hard work with myself, I am slowly getting to the point where I delete toxic people from my life and surround myself with the ones that love me and make me happy. 

I also feel empowered that I try every day to love myself more, stay as active as possible, lead a healthy lifestyle, learn to make myself happy first and teach my children to do the same. 

Being in a healthy relationship or marriage an choosing to be with the people you deserve is VERY empowering! 

If you want to be perfect at everything – please don’t let your children pay the price! 

Happy Monday and don’t forget to smile ☺ Life is what we make it! 

Till next time x 




How to lose weight, for real!

No, this is not a click-bait title, not at all. I can’t stand those and I wonder how people still fall for them.

This is an empirical account of a really busy person, ex-University-lifestyle student, ex-overweight woman, stay-at-home working mom, world traveler, expat, food lover, MS sufferer, multiculturally oriented psychologist, who has had many years of experience in human behavior, and tons of hours spend talking to women and men facing all sorts of issues, weight loss ones included.

I have also done every single (almost) diet is ever known to man and have attended gyms in 4 different countries.

I have struggled with weight since the age of 20 and I was an on/off overweight person – it varied according to how I felt like during that period. Being an emotional eater, like many women translates to: “I eat more when I am depressed and down. I also eat more when I feel anxious or stressed. I kinda eat more when I feel disappointed and let down, too.” 

I have done aerobics, weight lifting, virtual gyms, rope hanging, spinning, swimming, outdoor cycling, and Zumba.

 

All this is great but it will NEVER work if ONE very special ingredient is missing. I have said in a previous article how all the ‘expert’ online free or paid weight loss advice is written by thin people who don’t like food, have never been overweight and clearly, have 10 hours a day (at least) to work out.

 

THIS IS HOW TO LOOK GOOD

The truth is that people, and especially women, will manage to adopt a permanently healthier lifestyle which includes physical activity and better eating ONLY when they learn to love themselves and consequently have a good psychology.

That’s right. Fab diets and everything miraculous doesn’t work or ‘works’ only for a short while because we are not happy and don’t truly love who we are.

It means that you want to get what you really deserve and you will try for it no matter how hard it is. 

Being overweight, with the exception of some medical conditions, means you are unhappy. Body image has nothing to do with what is acceptable by society or what is considered fashionably ‘good’. Losing weight is about being HEALTHY. 

My weight-loss journey only really started when I stopped dieting. It started when I learned how to love ME and to want positive and great things for me. When I decided that I would not settle. On the contrary, I would find a way to a healthier mental state which would eventually enable me to be in a healthier physical state, too. I decided I want to be around people who truly love, respect me and make me happy.

 I have to this day lost almost 30 kilos, taken part in many running events and have completed a half-marathon 🙂 (yayyyy)

Being diagnosed with MS doesn’t make me a victim –  it’s just an extra hurdle to get over in this loving-myself adventure 🙂 I have also met so many physically disabled people and suffering from all sort of conditions who are bravely living amazing lives and don’t give up … so really, there are NO excuses. 

So you can either invest time and money on diets/exercise machines and pills that will eventually fail OR find a way to fix what it is that is making you unhappy. 

 

Join me on social media and let’s get motivated and inspired together! Feeling good and energized is so addictive – once you feel it, you won’t be able to stop 🙂 My running group on Facebook is made of inspiring people who also love themselves and want to feel/look better!

Until next time x




Women’s Day revisited

 

I grew up in a country where ‘women’s day’ was marked by presents, chocolate, flowers and dining out. Women would get together and make restaurant reservations or attend female-only house parties. I couldn’t wait to become a woman, too so I could take part in this exciting fun day which mostly involved alcohol. Looking back now I really wonder how many, if any, women then even knew what the day was really about.

Nowadays, people have many different ideas about what women’s day is all about. Reading posts, articles, tweets and Facebook updates this morning really opened my eyes to the perceptual diversity of this day. Out of touch celebrities are trying hard to persuade the world that stripping is somehow artistic, that feeling empowered as a woman means posting naked selfies on social media. Apparently, naked pregnancy shoots are the norm.

Other posts were rants on how to hate men because…well, just because and also women are better, obviously! Angry women who use ‘feminism’ to post about sexual liberation, the Madonna hatred monologues and the hypocritical liberal feminism, which supports that we should sell sexy lingerie to seven-year-old girls because children need “sexual choices.” Right.

But going back to the International Women’s Day, I also read some posts on helping women abroad to have access to education, medicine, equality in work and more choices and opportunities. I fully support that and I think that all of us should try to stay up-to-date and informed on those issues and contribute financially or in any other way when they can.

However, today, more than any other day I felt really sad reading all these updates and seeing the chocolate-themed pictures. What we should do today and every day is to acknowledge issues faced by women closer to home. We all know of a woman who is a victim of abuse.

RELATED ARTICLE: “Speak Up!” 

Whether it’s physical, mental, emotional or even psychological. This woman, along with thousands of others mostly suffers in silence. She might not have the right skills or knowledge in order to change the situation she is in. She is probably not financially independent and has nowhere to go. She might be frightened of her abusive partner or even family member. She is most likely scared of the stigma around abuse. She feels ashamed and staying silent is a much safer option than the alternative.

You could be this woman. Maybe you are still haunted by parental abuse or you are a victim of workplace bullying. Perhaps you are an unhappy wife, fed up, beaten up, worn down, exhausted. Maybe you feel unappreciated and you have settled.

I have met many unhappy and abused women. Also men but that’s for another article. These women don’t speak out. The support around them is very limited if any. The majority of these women are also caring moms who unfortunately raise daughters who are learning that being a silent victim of any kind of mistreatment is something that has to stay secret – it’s something that they should be ashamed of.

WORTH READING:  “Reader’s story: Break the chains of abuse” 

I think that today should also be about the happiness that all women deserve and should pursue. It should be about the emotional liberation of women.  It should be about making domestic violence and abuse education a compulsory subject in all schools. As parents, we should acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to teach our daughters to learn to love themselves – which will lead them to better choices in life.

Teach them that body image is not about weight but health. Teach them to feel confident, strong and empowered and not always victimized. Teach them to speak up when others mistreat them or they witness abuse of any kind. Teach them to not hate men or other women but fight for equal rights and opportunities in life for everyone.

WORTH READING: “Reader’s story: In bed with abuse” 

We should teach our sons that it’s ok to clean, cook,  and equally contribute to the household. Teach them how they should also fight for women’s rights to a better quality of life. Teach them to become good fathers, who will raise emotionally healthy children and will respect and love their mother.

There are women around me who will spend a couple of hours today celebrating out with friends only to come back to their miserable, unhappy reality tomorrow. Rather than tweeting, sharing quotes and eating chocolate, do something more important today – be there for a woman who needs you.

Till next time x




Ik ben…

There is nothing wrong with princesses  – they are beautiful, are with Prince Charming and most importantly… they are filthy rich. However, I feel so relieved that for this year’s carnival dress-up my daughters decided to NOT get yet another princess costume.

It was enjoyable watching them scroll through many pages of costume pictures and finally choose the ones they wanted – Mega Minty, a Dutch superhero and Rainbow Dash, the colourful pony. Carnival in The Netherlands is a totally different experience than the one I am used to, in my homeland Greece. Here, the carnival is serious business –  both for adults and children, a week long event and even the schools are out.

It was really nice to see a band playing music at my children’s school today and everyone being so cheerful and carefree.

For a few moments or days, at least pretending to be someone else can be so refreshing 😉

Till next time xxx and Happy Carnival!

 




There is no Zen in parenting

This morning I was a silent observer of a debate in a parenting group. There is a great deal of misunderstanding among moms, on different parenting styles. I noticed that it is often assumed that following an attachment parenting way of raising children, means that your family is pretty much perfect and that you are always the ideal example of being zen!

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Attachment parenting is about creating a safe and loving environment for your children to grow in.

It’s about building an emotionally and psychologically healthy bond with your children, based on trust, empathy, nurture, respect and effective-dignified ways of communication.

You are still human. You are allowed to get upset, lose your patience and feel mentally, (mostly), drained. And if you lose your temper once in a while, that’s NOT the end of the world.

It’s the way you react and express those feelings and handle your emotions, that will determine the kind of parent you want to be. 

Let’s stop generalizing and devaluing parents who try their best to show respect and understanding towards their children. They are not perfect. They don’t feel perfect. Parenthood is not about perfection.

You can still apply mindfulness, attachment and emotional intelligence while setting boundaries, applying rules, modeling positive behavior and teaching good values

I have a lot of respect for parents who try to raise their children the best way they can – whether they follow any ‘guidelines’ or theoretical approaches. You don’t need to be any kind of professional in order to treat your children with love and respect.

We all have the capacity to adopt new ideas, improve our parenting skills, change things that don’t work, evaluate our methods and become the parents our children deserve. Let’s do it together ☺

Till next time xxx




Crying moms; are children assholes?

There is a new mom-trend around most groups, forums, and videos, lately. I am not sure when it started but it seems to be everywhere now: exhausted, fed-up, pissed-off, unappreciated moms going viral for posting drama overloaded videos where they mostly rant about their miserable mom lives and ungrateful, difficult kids.

I get it –  I am tired too. Unless you are a Holywood celebrity mom and you have another 5-6 (plus) people looking after your children, instead of you, then are most likely an exhausted mom. If you are a working mom, you are tired. If you are a stay-at-home mom, you are tired. You start being tired (among other things) from the morning after the night before, already.

Should you shut up about it? ABSOLUTELY NOT. You should discuss it, express it, you should exchange opinions and ideas with other moms, family members and professionals about it, you should ask for help if you need it and you should find ways to deal with it for the sake of your whole family.

However, I don’t get why moms feel the need to constantly moan about motherhood – since it’s something they chose to do. Why do they feel the need to call their children ‘assholes’? –  … and that is of the nicest things I heard. Being a mom is really hard, indeed. Moms should get together and find healthy, respectful – for their children, ways to address issues, deal with problems and get the support they need.

We maybe need to learn new parenting skills or adopt new parenting styles that might work better and commit to an attachment type of raising our children and building strong relationships with them.

If I was a child, today, and my mom was a blogger, I would be so upset with her telling the whole world about all the ‘bad’ and ‘wrong’ things I did. I would not like it if she had called me an ‘asshole’ in one of her quotes on her Facebook page, or posted about that day she told me off in public. Humiliating me, embarrassing me and moaning about how bad/hard/sad her life is because am in it – would be devastating to me.

I believe that these moments with your children are sacred and private. How would you like it if your partner posted about how bad you were in bed one day, talked about your arguments, the fact that you are a bad cook, or that the house is a mess cause you couldn’t be bothered to clean or share things that are embarrassing or humiliating and definitely personal to you? Why do some parents think that it’s ok to do it with their children?

I often find myself in conversations where moms complain that their children are ungrateful, rude, dishonest, they lie, cheat, speak back to them or are difficult and even ‘horrible’. Many times I end up being the odd one out for supporting the view that children are NOT born bad. They aren’t born rude. When giving me my daughter for the first time to hold, the doctor didn’t say: ‘congratulations, it’s a girl. A dishonest and stubborn girl’.

It is, indeed, easier to blame others, – even our own children – rather than facing our mistakes and downfalls.

When our small children misbehave in any way then that is the perfect time to reflect on our parenting methods. Children learn by mimicing what we do and say. The way we treat them and each other becomes the standard which they develop with and learn from. For some parents, accepting their own flaws and embracing change is really hard.

Understandably, social norms, their own upbringing, educational background and their current relationship status affect the depth or self-reflection and openness to change and provide a ‘safe’, in every way, family environment for their children to grow in.

I was recently ‘kicked out’ of a Facebook parenting group for stating that reward is a much more effective learning method than punishment and that ‘hitting’our children is abusive. Sadly, so many parents do so and strongly believe that it’s the best way to ‘discipline’ their children.

Perhaps, it is about time governments realize the importance of investing more resources in educating new parents and parents-to-be on how to raise emotionally and psychologically healthier children.

I am a tired stay-at-home mom, often exhausted, many times dreaming of sunbathing on an island alone, sipping on martinis and being massaged… even for 10 whole minutes. I get angry, lose my temper, have no patience at times and need a time-out. I have my good and bad days, problems, health issues, worries and struggles –  like everyone else.

However… –  I chose to become a mother and since then I have made a promise to myself to try my hardest to treat my children with respect, raise them with love, parent them with mindfulness and raise them to be emotionally intelligent. I make mistakes, like every other mom and I try to fix them and not do them again. I don’t always succeed but I keep trying. I apologize to my children and when they behave badly I try to find out what we have done as parents for them to act this way.

I don’t feel the need to post daily about how ‘bad’ my children are or how ‘angry they made me feel like.  I moan about my bad days to my husband and close friends and I am grateful every day for my family. I am not living on cloud 9, I don’t pretend to be perfect or have it perfect either. But I also don’t choose to feel like a ‘victim’ mom either. 

In a world where it’s ‘trendy’ to blame others for our own problems –  be different and do something much more liberating and healthy. There is NOTHING wrong with admitting to making mistakes (and owning up to them),  –  it’s human and it’s OK! Our children deserve the best parents they can have and we can all be that.

Till next time xxx

Some more of my thoughts on parenting…:

 




Frozen 5

A year has gone by so fast when  Emilia had her Baymax party 🙂 Since then there have been 365 days of: around 5 billion kisses, 10 billion cuddles, more than 3 billion hugs, 10 billion laughing moments to go with the other 10 billion of crying ones, around 30 million hours worth of talking, give or take 40.000 melt downs, countless sleepovers, hundreds of hours of walking/cycling/running/playing together and more than 100 trillion moments of pride, love and gratefulness.

No, am not exaggerating – moms don’t do that, of course! 🙂

Emilia mostly likes ‘traditionally’ boys’ toys  – although we have never implied or set such limitations (pink is for girl, blue is for boys). She likes Lego’s, Baymax, Transformers and lovessss Spiderman. So while I was searching You Tube for a DIY Toothless cake, Emilia told me that she had ideas and thoughts about her party.

She wanted everything Frozen themed, Olaf everywhere, the house in blue, pink and white, she wanted to be dressed as Elsa and all her girlfriends to come at the party as princesses. 

I was taken aback. My daughter wanted girly stuff and I soooo wasn’t ready for that! A quick online research and I was convinced that there no way I would be able to make a Frozen cake on time so I settled for ordering one instead.

Emilia likes to be involved. In mostly everything. She chose all the presents for her classmates, she had strong opinions about what type of bags to put them in, she spend more than 15 minutes choosing the candy (!) and she helped me make all 28 🙂 We spend the night before,  decorating  – which I did most of – while Emilia was bossing everyone around and supervising the preparations.

At school, they gave her a nice little tiny party and she was so excited to give out all her goody bags. I am not sure how in 3,5 hours of school you can fit hundreds of events but apparently so many things took place that morning and she told me all about it on the way back to our frosted house.

Covered in snow and feeling really cold we kicked off the party under heavy weather conditions. Thankfully Elsa and her gang of powerful princesses were in good spirits and they didn’t turn us into ice statues! 

Party was great, lots of pizza was consumed, Frozen overload around, all children were happy and tired too, like mommy.

The latest online parenting trend, seems to be…moms, usually drinking wine/eating ice cream, generally being frustrated or angry and ranting about how fed up they are. I sometimes feel like that too – tired, exhausted, sleepless…but I guess I’ll be the black sheep and will choose to opt out of ‘offspring bashing’ and I’ll focus on how proud I am of Emilia.

I like the fact that she is a child – meaning, she is loud, she runs around, she complains, she demands, she laughs loud, she plays, sometimes she is too energetic, other times moody and many times she pushes our boundaries.
I like the fact that she tries to get away with everything, she sometimes secretly looks for where I left the cookies, her favorite meal is chocolate and if she had it her way that’s the only thing she would eat daily. It’s funny that she doesn’t want to go to school in the morning but she is so happy while she is there. She is 5 and acting like a 5 year old is kinda the norm 😉

Emilia we love you more and more and remember that really… Elsa has nothing on you! 🙂




Don’t be just another bystander

I recently read the story of Kitty Genovese, an American woman who was stabbed to death outside her apartment building in Kew Gardens, New York, on March 13, 1964. The story became quite big after it was reported that at least 38 people heard/saw/knew of the attack going on and did nothing about it. Later, other reports found flaws in this initial investigation saying the number of bystanders was much smaller.

Whether the number of witnesses that did nothing to help a woman in need is small or big is besides the point. Over the years, around the world, in thousands of cases we always see people who fail to help/report/get involved in attacks, domestic violence incidents, beatings, any kind or abuse or even step in to offer assistance to people lying on the floor somewhere.

Many social experiments have unfortunately reached the same conclusion. ‘The apparent lack of reaction by numerous neighbors purported to have watched the scene or to have heard Genovese’s cries for help, although erroneously reported, prompted research into diffusion of responsibility and the bystander effect.

Social psychologists John M. Darley and Bibb Latané started this line of research, showing that contrary to common expectations, larger numbers of bystanders decrease the likelihood that someone will step forward and help a victim. The reasons include the fact that onlookers see that others are not helping either, that onlookers believe others will know better how to help, and that onlookers feel uncertain about helping while others are watching.

The reasons could be many, the end result remains the same: someone might be getting hurt or even dying and there is a high chance they could survive if us, the witnesses DO something about it. 

Years after the murder, in December 28, 1974, ’25-year-old Sandra Zahler was beaten to death early Christmas morning in an apartment within a building that overlooked the site of the Genovese attack. Neighbors again said they heard screams and “fierce struggles” but did nothing‘.

Next time you hear/see/know of someone screaming for help, someone getting beaten up, a girl being repeatedly slapped and pushed in the street, a baby/dog locked unattended in a car, someone being chased, someone lying helpless on the floor, someone that looks like he/she needs help/fainting/in pain/struggling…any human being that really needs help….. DON’T just be another bystander.

Make sure you and whoever is with you is safe and then try to DO something about it. Remember that this could have been your son, daughter, husband, wife, mother, relative, friend. 

Till next time x




When everything is blue…

We all go through times in our lives when we feel really frustrated, let down, and sad. It happens to us at work, personal life, sports, friendships and many times, we feel disappointed with ourselves. Some disappointments disrupt our daily routine while others could change our lives. When something or someone fails to meet our set thoughts and ideas, we feel let down, sad or even betrayed.

All disappointments, no matter how big or small, come out of our expectations for how something should have been.

You feel disappointed because you might have recognized that you don’t have, didn’t get or might never get to have whatever it is you wanted.  You had expectations of your life and future and things didn’t turn out the way you had hoped they would.

The extent and severity of the disappointment we feel is determined by the level of emotions we have invested on specific outcomes or people. Love and health disappointments can really challenge and greatly influence our sense of self.

Disappointment comes with a lot of sadness. And what should you do when you feel so sad? Unfortunately, there is no magical cure or easy fix. But there are a few things you can do to speed up your healing process and help you work through these issues more effectively.

There is no easy way out of sadness…

I am afraid you will have to go through the whole process from start to finish and the more you accept that truth the faster you will feel a little bit better.

  • The first thing you should really allow yourself to do is cry. So, go ahead, there is absolutely nothing wrong with crying. Let is all out and cry as much as you need to. 
  • Another thing you should come to terms with, is the fact that right now you are not in a good place and that is normal, it happens to all of us. Feeling hurt, disappointed, betrayed, let down, or sad doesn’t make you weaker. These are all normal human feelings and there is no person on the whole planet who also hasn’t felt this way at some point.
  • If you feel like expressing this frustration and sadness physically, you can do that. Physical activity is a great way to let all this tension out so go walk, run, stay in the middle of a field and scream, kick a wall. Do (safely) what it takes to not allow your emotions to boil inside you.
  • Some people feel reluctant when it comes to confronting the person or situation that made them feel sad and disappointed. Others, though,  feel the need to do so and that probably helps them heal in more ways than one. Try to be mindful of how you express your feelings and frustration – words can really hurt. Do not be afraid of telling the person who made you sad and upset how you feel. You have the right to do so and you should. 
  • Do allow yourself time to ‘mourn’. Many times sadness and disappointment, especially when it comes to health or relationships, feel like grief. There is no easy way out of it, am afraid. Give yourself time to go through all the emotions and embrace them. The more you resist these stages of the sadness process the longer it will take you before you feel better. 
  • When the time feels right, move on. Surround yourself with positive friends and people who love you. If you are lucky enough to have a healthy, loving and encouraging support network take ‘advantage’ of that. People who care about you will never leave you on your own especially when you feel so down. They’ll help you stop dwelling on the negative experience and get up on your feet.
  • There are things you have to do. A whole life ahead of you. Many amazing experiences to still enjoy. Lots of chances to be happy, succeed, travel, achieve, evolve, be a good partner, parent and enjoy yourself and those you love. The faster you heal, the more time you will have to do all these things and more. When its the right time.. let things go and be hopeful for what comes next. 

The only way out is through the pain.

When you feel sad, hurt or disappointed – no reasoning will heal your pain. That’s right. No matter how many pieces of advice and comforting words you get to hear, they won’t be able to give you an immediate relief. Sadness can be a healthy part of life if lessons learned by it make you a stronger person. Am afraid no person on Earth is except from pain, sadness, disappointment and grief. After you give yourself the space and time to go through all the emotions then how you deal with the situation is what really matters. Ask for help if you have to. Stay hopeful. 

Till next time xxx

 




When there is a will… mommy finds a way!

Are you a busy, tired mom who is looking forward to some alone time to work-out/run/be with your thoughts and relax but you don’t have anyone to look after your children? Well, I have the solution! And no.. it’s not staying at home drawing some more or making play-doh snakes (euw).

The solution is much simpler than that and I felt like a genius when I came up with it!

You take your children with you!

Yes, no stressing over babysitters or missing out on your favorite activities!

I got my daughters really excited about going together on my usual running route!  We (well,..that’s a lie… THEY decide on their own what they want to wear and gave me the ‘you can’t tell us what to wear’ speech when I tried to intervene so.. yeah.. 🙁 ),  chose really comfy and warm ‘working-out’ clothes, (so what if it’s the middle of August? …its the Netherlands here … the summer took the year off). We made really nice ponytails, made sure there won’t be any toilet emergencies on the way and we were set to go.

Oh… we also ate magical cereal bars that give lots of strength and apparently make hair blonder 😀

Me, Sofia and Emilia ran and walked for 4,01 km in 45 minutes and it was absolutely great! 

And although we have been going for many walks and outdoor activities over the years and even for test runs before a school charity event, this was somehow different. Sofia seemed to be better at endurance while Emilia was faster 🙂

Teaching children positive values, learning to love themselves and lead healthier lifestyles, are all things they will naturally mimic (among with everything else too).  Being a good role model is not as hard as some people think. It all starts from changing yourself first and the rest will follow.  

Till next time xxx




Nobody owes nobody nothing. You owe yourself.

In 2014 I started running on the treadmill my mom gave me years ago. Having it in my garage was a great asset. When you have to look after 2 small children, do housework, cook three times a day for 4 people, work, study and spend a bit of time on yourself too…. going to the gym or even walking outdoors is not really an option.

Especially in the beginning of a difficult weight loss journey where motivation is non existent. I am sure many women know exactly what I mean.

I was doing a combination of walking/running for 20 minutes once a day. At first this was, as expected, really hard. Mostly because I wasn’t in the right psychological state for something that requires a lot of self-discipline, strength and incentive.

As I have written before, all the ‘great’ work-out/healthy eating advice is meant for people who are already fit and have lots of time.

In real life, most women/moms do not have the right emotional, mental and physical resources to follow such regimes. If only trainers and healthy eating gurus were able to identify with the every day person and with people who go through all sorts of problems, including mental health ones, they would be able to help more.

I have talked to so many women who end up feeling worse and confused after visiting such health websites or weight loss YoutTube channels rather than motivated and inspired.

I decided to ditch all that and follow a strategy that felt more natural to me… more humane.  Feeling restrained from eating specific things is kinda depressing and goes against my Mediterranean ‘enjoy life while you are still alive’ view.

Balance is the key here so in moderation you can eat everything you want as long as you are sensible about it. I was never the one to live off salads and herbs all day long.

I love food, I love cooking for my family, I love sweet treats and I love my relaxing wine nights! Losing weight, working-out or making any change take place needs conscious effort and mindfulness! It will not happen on its own, not by magic, and not by someone else. It is all intentional and committed work determined 95% by YOU. 

In August 2014 I would have never believed that one day I would be able to run a lot. In 2015 I was officially diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a cracked heel, a bad ankle and other health issues. After a compulsory running break of 4 months, ordered by my doctor, I was back at it.

This time I started running in the fields, streets, grass and up the hills (although there are soooo few of those in Holland).

There were some bad days and then some harder ones. On those days I was inspired the most.

Very few people in the world wake up carefree and motivated  – the rest of the human population lacks that. That’s ok, though, because I learned that MOTIVATION FOLLOWS ACTION… so you  do it anyway regardless of how much you really want to or not.

However, I have decided long time ago to love myself first and that is more important than any of the things above.

Last night I slept for 2.5 hours..because…children. This morning I felt exhausted and the weather was so cold and rainy. The Dutch apparently have skipped the summer season entirely 😉 I made a plan of going running later on the afternoon.

Then I read a story of the girl who has MS and collapses on the floor after each run. I also saw a post from a brave woman who despite her Rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis has taken part in so many Marathon events. I then thought of all the strong men and women I have met and  who are so supportive to each other every single day. So I stopped stalling and headed out. 

Thirty-three minutes, 5km and a lot of Rocky themed music later I was back enjoying a nice cup of coffee celebrating my own record-breaking time.  (Almost) everything is possible 🙂

Till next time xxx

“Until you start believing in yourself, you ain’t gonna have a life.” – Rocky




Mom wants to work, children want to play…

People who have a relaxing/care-free and easy-lifestyle view of stay-at-home moms (specially when the children are very small) are either childless, or never had to spend a lot of time with children or are plain ignorant.

Saying that, before I was a mom myself I understood the struggles of women who craved alone toilet time and more than 4 hours of consecutive sleep (so not having children is not really an excuse).

I am a stay-at-home mom and seeing its many benefits on my children I wouldn’t have had it any different. Employing a babysitter or paying for extra time in nursery and ending up giving 3/4 of my wages in childcare didn’t seem to be worth it! 

On the same note, I have total respect for the also tired moms who can’t wait to come home and see their children and  who end up missing so many ‘first’ moments in their lives. 

I have to admit, it has gotten easier now that my daughters go to school and a few ‘free’ hours in the day feel like bliss – I can work/cook/workout/clean alone 🙂

During school holidays, though, is back to normal and finding two minutes to gather my thoughts and write has become such a hard task.

So … we are all here together… singing, talking, drawing, calling ‘mom’ 9 times a minute and wanting food/water/snacks/gum/toys/books while mom is trying to read psychology books and write an article!

Oh! Sanne the horse is with us too and she is sooooo needy! Always wanting stroking and stuff… pffft

Stay sane working stay-at-home moms – increase your coffee/tea intake, listen to some music and take big breaths! Being around positive people who love you helps a lot as well! If that’s not possible… then do not worry! You are strong on your own too and I am sure you can manage 🙂

Till next time xxx 

 




The perversion of Facebook groups

Don’t talk about women, men, abuse, black, white, left, right, gay, lesbian, fat, skinny, violence and religion – you will offend people. Do not swear – you offend people. Don’t share your personal story – you will offend other people. Don’t talk about politics – highly forbidden, people are offended. Don’t speak against immigration – no, no, no, no, no many people will get offended.

Make sure you write: “TRIGGER WARNING” before you post something cause yeah…you ARE supposed to guess everyone’s triggers….

Do NOT advertise your own quotes or blog… NOOOOOOOOOO big big crime! People might like you and they might even follow you and that’s bad for the group you are posting at.

If you have questions PM the ‘admin’ – (yeah, such an important job. Thank you FB for making everyone feel ‘special’) – but only at specific times cause admins are people and they have lives too (just in case you thought otherwise).

Last but not least, do NOT, I say do NOT make friends with other members of the group, you will get hurt. Yes, you will and regardless of you being an adult and able to make your own decisions, the all important ‘admin’ advises against it.

Let’s take a minute away from the ongoing debate on the Universities’ ‘rape’ culture – which does NOTTTTTT exist (in Western democracies) – and focus on a real problem: – THE FACEBOOK GROUP CULTURE – which is becoming a restrictive cult ruled by people who dictate what you can do and say and who you can be. People who pretend to represent a group of others needing supportive chats but deep down wanting to promote their own agenda, not allowing sharing of information, knowledge, experiences and opinions.

Who don’t really care about the theme of the group itself but indirectly ‘brainwash’ their members into following a specific mindset build on the admins’ own life’s stories and beliefs. Anyone not wanting to comply is immediately banned.

Facebook groups are popular and can be extremely useful. I have met very interesting people in them, I have learned a whole deal of information, exchanged views and asked questions to people having the same problem as me.

However, in certain groups, sadly to see them growing in number and really fast, you feel like you are in prison. There are groups that have pinned 2 pages of so-called ‘rules’ that you MUST read. It got me really laughing once when in one of these groups the members weren’t only obliged to read and follow the rules of the group but also comment that they have read and agreed with the. It’s totally pathetic and sad.

I found myself in a group today where anything you said could be offensive so… you better not post much. Just hit ‘like’ and stay a spectator.

Dear ‘admins’ – please…. focus more on the human interaction experience and less on the ‘i am the boss’ attitude. Also.. the ONLY rule that your group should have is people to be decent to each other. Delete ALL the others – you are just wasting your valuable time writing them up.




Domestic Abuse – Why she stayed

For people who were lucky enough to not have been the victims of physical, emotional or mental abuse, the concept of ‘why I stayed’ seems impossible. They find it very hard to sympathize with those women; they wonder how can someone stay in a relationship where she is undervalued, neglected, beaten up and abused in any kind of way.

Abused women are not to blame for not being able to leave a toxic relationship.They reasons could be hundreds – life is not always so straightforward. They need support, understanding and a non judgmental attitude. They need to feel empowered, strong and not alone.

 

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Mom doesn’t always know best and that’s ok!

Most people like the notion of ‘change’ – it sounds exciting! it is also very popular, nowadays, especially in quotes that go around social media. It is great, right? I have also written an article about it  – you can read it here. The word makes you feel hopeful and good about yourself. On an individual level, embracing change is a fancy idea that self-help, spiritual and meditation groups promote.

In motherhood groups change is frowned upon by some but really supported by most… as long as it is someone else doing it, of course. We like saying that we need to change, things need to change, only by changing habits/ideas we move forward, change leads to evolution, etc. However, in order to ‘change’ anything we need to have a clear and deep understanding of ourselves, our limitations, our current situation, our good points and be mindful of our actions.

In order to ‘change’ and become better, as far as motherhood is concerned, we need to realize the impact that our behavior and decisions have on our children. We need to get away from feelings of self pride and stubbornness and be open to face new realities and process information we didn’t know before. We have to understand how our own childhood is affecting our parenting methods.

It is unfortunate that moms, especially, try to be perfect or want to believe they are. Motherhood doesn’t equal never making mistakes. On the contrary, is a learning process that will continue for the rest of our lives. Motherhood means creating lasting bonds with another person that are based on respect, love, understanding, effective communication, and accepting our own wrong decisions so next time we can improve and change.

Motherhood is based on trying to learn new things, explore areas we might not feel comfortable with, debating new ideas, educating ourselves, owing up to mistakes, and having an open relationship with our children that is based on honesty, humility and appreciation,  (Read: ‘Being the parent your child deserves’).

What I, unfortunately, notice with many moms is the fear of failing that stops them from actually becoming better. Many will support a wrong decision till the end as long as they don’t admit to themselves that maybe it wasn’t the right thing to do at the time. There is nothing wrong with realizing and accepting mistakes – that’s the only way towards change! 

Children are NOT born bad, liars, abusive, dishonest, unappreciative, manipulative, selfish, patronizing, vengeful and nasty. Noone is born that way. We need to take responsibility for our part in our children’s personality and character formation. Children grow up in home environments that directly affect their behavior. They are raised by adults whose own actions have a huge impact on what they project as a role model or how they should act and like. 

Everything we do and say HAS a huge effect on our children – how can young moms, especially, ignore this real fact? It might feel uncomfortable and unpleasant but we have the greatest responsibility in raising emotionally healthy children. We could be bringing up tomorrow’s abusers, narcissists, wife/husband beaters, criminals and bullies. 

Change starts from us. It is ok to make mistakes. It is ok to have made wrong decisions and believed in things you shouldn’t have. It is ok to change your mind/ideas/opinions based on new information. It is ok to apologize to your children. It is ok to forgive yourself and try again.
It is also ok to tell them that you are angry, tired, upset, annoyed at times – how you handle these feelings is what really matters! It is ok to not feel 100% all the time or super excited about motherhood – as long as you find a healthy way to deal with those times. It is ok to feel disappointed  – you just need to look into why you feel that way and where it comes from.

‘Always remember: the goal is not perfection, the goal is love. Forgive yourself for past parenting mistakes, learn new ways to deal with life’s difficulties, heal and evolve from wrong past choices and start loving yourself and your children more,’ (Always Ladies).

PS: The artists of these drawings are my daughters – I look at them every time I feel like a horrible mom. They are a good reminder of how much our children love and trusts us to be the best we can. x




Being a nice person IS a choice

I was thinking today…-  why is it so difficult for some people to stay good? Society and childhood factors are always influential but at the end of the day no-one can ever force anyone else to behave badly!  No-one can make you bitter or nasty – all that is YOUR choice!

Well, this morning, reading the news , I once again felt kinda disgusted at some people’s choices/actions/behaviors.

I thought that there are people who beat up peaceful activists who try to save the bull from horribly dying in a bullfight…there are men who beat up their women in public. There are people in the street who can’t be bothered to be nice, shop assistants who don’t even smile when interacting with customers. There are sad 16 year old bullies who target a fellow classmate and brutally abuse her.

There are bad parents who hit their children, verbally attack them and destroy everything good of their childhood. And there are other parents who don’t even realize that by being bitter, nasty, rude individuals they teach their children to also become the same.

There are ‘men’ and ‘women’ who verbally/emotionally/physically and psychologically abuse others daily! There are people who abuse animals and kill them for fun… I could go on for ever…

I feel so disappointed  about the negative people who live among us but I am also thinking: screw that! All this will NOT turn me into such a person also.  I don’t quite get how hard such choice is for others but there is NO excuse for treating people like crap and behaving in a pathetic and rotten way (your unfortunate past/childhood is not an excuse, either).

Choose to stay good; positive people with be drawn to you. Try smiling too – it’s contagious 🙂 




Teaching children real values

My daughters’ school organised a charity event a few days ago. They had to run as many laps as they could and raise money, this way, for the charity of their choice. It wasn’t compulsory for all the school children to attend, although, they all did.

Days before the event, I felt like explaining to them what that would be all about. Although we often, in our family, talk about giving and helping others, the idea of raising money for a charity wasn’t quite understood. I showed them photos online of charities, other fundraising events, children in need around the world and explained how this kind of helping works. They had questions, of course, which is always good. Then they were sad and then… excited!

Learning how to be kind, good-hearted, considerate, compassionate, giving, positive and everything else good starts from home!

My daughters were now looking forward to try, to do well, to do as many laps as possible so we raise more money. We arranged to do a little training and since they watch me exercise almost every day, the notion is already a familiar and positive one. We went for long walks and practice runs while listening to music and having fun – yes, we actually did some outdoor dancing too 🙂

I always try to make my daughters understand that the result doesn’t really matter much – they can only do the best they can.

On the big day, we watched them both with a lot of pride and felt glad that schools promote these kind of activities and humanitarian thinking. Not wanting to brag (hehe) but, from the maximum of 22 laps my daughters ran 38 and 33 respectively 🙂 (I know, I know… I’m bragging)

The kind of people your children will grow up to be is right now depending on you! Teach your children the right values in life.

Well done to BS Lahrhof Primary School for organizing it and to all the children who took part in the event 🙂




Women should be celebrated every day

I was reading some posts this morning in various abuse/domestic violence groups. Desperation, sadness and so much anger filled my heart. Young, beautiful women wasting the best years of their lives putting up with ‘men’, (or excuses of men), who abuse then in any manner. Women so broken and hurt that they can’t see the way out, who have no more courage left to take it even when they do see it. Women who can’t understand how amazing, precious, important and beautiful they really are; who don’t realize just how much they are worth.

There are so many women who despite loving, caring and giving to others they haven’t received the same back. Women who are not even aware that they are being abused.

I feel so powerless and furious when I read stories of bruised women, living in fear, scared for themselves and their children’s safety. I am so upset that some ‘men’ think in their tiny brains that they have the right to humiliate, belittle, manipulate, swear at, control and hit ANYONE! I am even more upset at all the people who are aware that abuse is taking place in a relationship/household – they might even witness it  – and they do nothing about it.

Abuse is NOT a matter that concerns only the abusive and abused. It concerns all of us! It concerns our society as a whole, our children, our friends and family and our future. Men and women MUST stand up to it and help each other stop it once and for all.

I feel devastated for all the women, of any age and cultural background who are alone; who have noone to talk to and ask for help.

Today is the International Women’s Day and is not a happy day for thousands of women across the world. Today we should all celebrate every single woman everywhere, (Read: ‘Be Fabulous, you Earned it’),  – our moms, wives, sisters, cousins, friends –  not typing sad smileys under pictures of bruised, depressed faces.

Let’s finally put an end to so much violence against women, let’s not mourn any more victims of domestic abuse, let’s educate ourselves and others, spread awareness, offer support and advice and Speak Up !

“You have what it takes to be a victorious, independent, fearless woman.”

– Tyra Banks