Christmas is one of the few global celebrations that touches every home. Today we take a look at some of the different ways this occasion is acknowledged in multicultural homes around the world. A sneak peak into the lives of those who have let the spirit of Christmas into their homes in-spite of it not necessarily being from their own culture even. Be prepared to smile with joy.
At home we celebrate Christmas Eve by eating a huge dinner of diverse dishes from Venezuela, the US and Germany. On Christmas Day, we adopt the American style and have again a nice family meal and open presents from Santa Claus. We are a Venezuelan/American family living in Germany.
We love creating space every night of December to reflect as a family and to sing villancicos ( traditional Christmas Spanish songs)!! I remember doing it as a child and for me is so important that my children learn those songs also!!! I grew up with the Catholic tradition of Las Novenas!!!
At home, we start our celebration with Advent and counting down the days to Christmas. On Christmas day we celebrate with a multicultural (Southern and Puerto Rican) meal and opening gifts. We keep our Christmas tree up through January 6th because we celebrate Epiphany “Día de Reyes” (Three Kings Day/Day of the Magi) my son cuts some grass and places it in a box (and the magi leave a gift behind). What is fun about celebrating Epiphany is that he’s already back in school and we continue to celebrate the holidays!
We read books and sing in both Spanish and English throughout the month of December. We usually have a church service Christmas Eve, wherever we are. When in the US, Christmas Eve is a quiet night in front of a fireplace. When in Peru, the weather is hot and we have fireworks at midnight, when most families eat dinner together here.
At home in North Carolina, we attend festivals with Santa and Latino festivals with the traditional food, songs and dance. We celebrate Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) with the Ecuadorian traditions and celebrate Christmas Day with the American traditions.
As a Muslim convert living in the UK, I do not celebrate Christmas in my own home. However, my family are Catholic so we go to see them on Christmas day. We exchange gifts and have a big roast turkey dinner. We eat Christmas pudding and mince pies. Then we sit down to watch the Queen’s speech. The rest of the day is spent playing board games and watching Christmas TV specials. On boxing day we go to see the Mummers performing out in the street. This is an old English tradition. The actors wear costumes made out of shredded newspaper and act out a play and sing songs!
Siena decorates its streets with Christmas lights and Christmas trees so there will be plenty of opportunities to take lots of holiday photos with your family. The church bells ringing, the chestnuts roasting and the holiday lights sparkling will surely bring joy to kids and parents alike. You will also find a traditional nativity scene as well as a giant and real Christmas tree in Piazza del Campo. And if you’re lucky enough, you might be able to see the March of the Santas!
Many Filipinos attend the “misa de gallo”, a Roman Catholic mass celebrated around midnight of Christmas Eve. After the mass, church goers would eat special Christmas desserts such as “puto bumbong” ( a purple rice cake sprinkled with coconut and brown sugar) and “bibingka” (a glutinous rice cake with margarine and sugar). The traditional Christmas drink is called “mainit na tsokolate”, a hot chocolate drink made with tablea cacao and peanut butter.
Every Christmas eve, my Indian friends and I get together and treat the kids to some presents from each other. We enjoy a mutli -cuisine meal as the food is provided by different households and take pictures with the Christmas tree. On Christmas Day, my kids bid farewell to the mischievous elf “Rudy” who comes to our home December 1 and open the lovely presents with all their excitement. The day passes in fun and evening we go around looking at Christmas lights around the city.
We bring to you the fascinating Niyati Desai-Kadakia. During the day, Niyati runs her tech start up – Nulern. She is also an expert packer-of-lunchboxes, kid activity coordinator, chauffeur and PTA enthusiast. At night she moonlights as a story-teller, spinning tales to answer the darnedest questions posed by her twin daughters. Her stories are mostly inspired by her own experiences of being an immigrant student and then a first generation Indian-American mother. Her stories focus on questions, concerns and feelings children have as they are being raised by parents who grew up in a different culture than theirs, which encourages them to create their own unique identity that is whole and complete.
She founded KidzBelong to meet a pressing need to have picture books address needs of children of immigrant families who are particularly vulnerable to feeling marginalized and different.
Niyati holds a B.S. in Biochemical Engineering from USC, B.A. in Literature from Scripps College and M.A. in Biotechnology from Columbia University. In the past, she has worked as a scientist in several biotech start ups and innovation centers, that specialize in Brain Health and Drug Delivery. She has lived in 3 countries, 5 states and 8 homes (although not all at once) with her husband and daughters. She currently enjoys life with them in Greenwood Village, Colorado.
Tell us a little about yourself and your family.
(A long long time ago, in a galaxy far far away), I came to the US from India, to study for my bachelors. I met my husband, Niraj, during my under-graduate studies and we noticed that we laughed at each other’s’ jokes, when others around us didn’t and we liked the same movies, so we decided to get married.
Soon after we got married, we found every chance to camp, backpack, binge on TV shows and make moderately edible food together. Although all that was a whole lot of fun, we proceeded to bring twin beautiful girls into this world – Nivedita and Niharika. In our sleep deprived state, we went on to live in 3 different countries, 5 states and 8 homes. We continue to camp, backpack and binge on tv shows – we just do it with our 10-year-old daughters now. Life has never been more fun.
Which cities have your lived in/ visited in your lifetime? Which is your favorite?
It is virtually impossible to pick a favorite city. Each place that I have lived in has so many beautiful and cherished memories that picking one out of them would be unfair.
I have liked living in the following cities:
Baroda, Gujarat, India – this is home for me. I grew up here, went to school here and learn ow to ride a bike here. I describe this city with the words – home, roots, security, family, food and love.
Los Angeles, CA – I studied here at USC and Claremont. I also met my to-be husband here. I grew from a girl to a young woman here. It is also the first city I landed in as an immigrant student when I came to study in the US. So this city always brings back a lot of emotion. I describe this city with the words – studies, competition, immigration, homesickness and letters.
New York City, NY – I did my graduate school here, at Columbia. I decided to get married in this city – and have some beautiful memories from here. I moved on from being a young woman to a wife here and made some of the most important decisions in my life in this lovely city. I describe this city with the words – love, marriage, energy, immigrant crossroads.
San Jose, CA – I lived here soon after I got married. I was getting used to getting called someone’s wife. This is also the place where I started my professional life as a scientist and worked in several biotech startups in the bay area. I earned my first paycheck here and learnt what a 401K is here. I describe this city with the words – married life, natural beauty, adventure, money and profession.
Philadelphia, PA – My husband and I moved here, while my husband studied towards his business degree at Wharton. My twins were born here. 2 Biotech startups I worked for also got acquired while I worked for them here – so lots of activity here! I became a mom in this city and will owe a lot to the hospitals that helped my preemie babies. I describe this city with the words – motherhood, chaos, prayer and family.
Bombay, India – My family lives in Bombay, so this city is (sort of) home for me too. We also moved to Bombay with our daughters to try-out moving back to India. Although we enjoyed our life there, we could not settle down professionally and returned back to North America. I describe this city with the words – immigrant decisions, homesickness (but homesick for the US), citizen for the world, identity crisis and dual culture.
Toronto, Canada – My kids went to kindergarten in this beautiful city. And started elementary school here. I describe this city with the words – diversity, acceptance, home and friends.
Denver, CO – We live here currently and love the mountain that surround us. My daughters move from elementary to middle school in this city. I started my own startup here and am trying to manage being a mom-entrepreneur. I describe this city with the words – mountains, parenthood, entrepreneurship and family.
What brought you to what you do?
I run an online learning startup – Nulern. Nulern enables live, 1 on 1 learning in lifestyle based skill sets with globally accessible, vetted experts.
Since our family has moved a lot, we felt the need to start an online learning platform that makes learning proactive and removes restrictions like geography, time and location from accessing wonderfully nurturing experts in skill sets that are under-represented in our current learning environment, like music, language, cooking and art.
What is one aspect in raising multicultural children do we need to be MOST aware of ?
While raising multicultural children, I most emphasize on the empowerment of having a duality in the child’s identity. While it is easy and often natural to select one or the other definitions of identity for a child (I am Indian or I am american etc), it is important to emphasize the completeness in also having more than 1 identity (I am Indian, American and canadian etc) and still being whole, complete and unique.
My daughters have 3 passports and while they often talk about patriotism in confusing terms, I encourage them and those around them to see them as complete individuals without any 1 patriotic leaning or cultural heritage, but more than 1 heritage and still have a wonderfully complete and complex identity.
What is one personal challenge you have overcome growing up?
I learnt about how money works much later on in life and wish I had learnt those lessons when young. 🙂
Share with us two parenting hacks that have made your/child’s life easy.
My husband and I set rules that we never break – there is almost no argument in our home because of these rules (no phones around family, no tv on weekdays, read 30 min before bed, no shoes in the house, in bed by 8:30 etc).
We always sit together and eat for dinner (this enables us to connect as a family and talk about what is happening in each of our lives).
We write letters to family abroad (helps with practicing how to write a letter for kids and helps them keep in touch).
Door are never locked in our home (enables us to be open and receptive at all times)
We emphasize that school and grades are not everything. Believe it or not, this has helped them look at life quite differently.
What projects are you working on next?
I am the co-founder to an online learning startup – Nulern. I am consumed with that.
What is one thing piece of advice you would give to children?
Be good, kind and useful. Everything else is extra.
Tell us three things that are on your bucket list?
To hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim.
To backpack across the country.
To maybe one day, meet the Dalai Lama.
What 3 books/movies would you say changed your life?
As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
The living Gita by Swami Satchidananda
Where this is love, there is God by mother Teresa
Millionaire next door by Thomas Stanley
‘It’s a wonderful life’ movie
Green for life – Victoria Beutenko
Do you have any freebies for our readers/listeners?
Buy one get one 1/2 off (non-amazon orders only)
Readers can place orders on email@example.com or call/whatsapp 720-899-2590/or my PMing of FB/Instagram
You can find & connect with Niyati on social media here —
Most importantly, it is important that we read books that help them build on the many values that we need them to have in order to grow to be thought leaders.
Below are some of the books I have found to be incredible in shifting my child’s perspective. Trust me. You won’t regret any of them!
Where Am I From?
Every child needs to know this in order to be aware of their surroundings. The question “Where are you from?” is a complex one in this multicultural environment.
The Jelly Donut Experience
Let’s talk about kindness. This book provides a wonderful way to be kind to those around us in the simplest of ways.
Guess How Much I Love You
It all begins with love. Let your child know how much you love them with this amazing book that talks about how much a parent loves their child.
Charlotte and the Quiet Place
We breathe along with Charlotte, bring calm in your child’s life with these words. My little ones can’t help but calm down as a result.
I am Enough
To be content with oneself is an important trait to develop. To be happy with our flaws and strengths equally. An important life lesson here.
This picture book teaches kids how to looks at the positive in others while also making you giggle.
Princess in Training
For little girls and boys to see how amazing it can be to learn about being a princess in a unique way.
A Sick Day for Amos McGee
Being a friend means being there for someone else when they need it. A beautiful book.
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon
Prepare your child to be bully free.
Little Giraffe’s Big Idea
Every person has different qualities and different ideas and not everyone can fit in. And yet it is okay to be inclusive of everything. A beautiful book of this big idea.
I Believe In You
Let your child know that YOU know that they are amazing and can do everything they put their heart to. I got this book for my son when we were learning cycling and it was a lovely re-iteration.
I’m So Thankful
Being happy means being grateful. This book is a fun little way to help children see the beauty in every day.
The Most Magnificent Thing
Not everything you do is going to be perfect, but everything you do leads you up to that magnificent thing.
Not for Me, Please!
Encourage your child to be world wise by being environment friendly.
Thankful For God’s Blessings
What If Everybody Did that?
This is a great series to teach kids why it is important to do OUR part, even when others are not.
You Can Face Your Fears
Yes, we all get scared. And yes, we can try our best to overcome book. A book to build persistence.
Listening to My Body
So important to pay attention to your feelings and what your body is telling you. A wonderful book to develop coping skills.
BONUS BOOK FOR PARENTS
Want your child to have strong values? Want to learn what to do other than reading to your child? Here is the book that gives you real world ways to helping your child be self confident, rooted while helping them develop a global mindset.
The Webster dictionary has many definitions for the word “family”. For me the one that held true for most of my life is “Family: a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head”.
As a kid I was not comfortable being alone in the house for long periods. Though it mostly never came to that as there was always family around. Many a times I tried to get over this seemingly silly hang up but then consoled myself I don’t really need to as we had a full house.
Fast forward 30 years and I’m no longer the sacredly kid that I was. You see, now there is no way I can avoid being alone at home and even look forward to some alone time.
In a few sentences this is the evolution of Indian families over the years. This transition might be common across many cultures but few would have been as drastic as ours has been.
What does family mean to you? It does not matter how close you are to yours but we need to go that extra mile to give our kids that strong sense of family.
Families come in varied shapes and sizes. The most weird thing is, other peoples families always seems to be way better than your own, which is mostly not true.
For me a family is this group of people who always had time for each other with wholehearted dedication.
THEN:As the saying goes “It takes a village to bring up a child”.
This was most Indian families for you once. We grew up in a household conisiting of grandparents with a healthy sprinkling of aunts,uncles and cousins thrown in.
There were ready playmates those cousins your first friends. With no dearth of people ready to meddle in your life, you were never left alone. One persons problems were tackled by the whole clan.
Even with the over indulgence and continuous sense of being watched family was what you would return to at the end of the day.
New mothers never had to face the dilemma of how to do and what to do, there were always a hand to help. Every aspect of things had a listening ear. Overly patient grandparents with their own life experiences were a treasure trove of guidance.
Like everything this package came with its drawbacks: over interference, over indulgent kids difficult to discipline and not getting independent, to name a few.
NOW:The change in family dynamics over the years has left the family units some what fragmented.
Today’s Indian society is mostly nuclear families with busy parents and limited communication with the extended family. These families see much less conflict of interests leaving breathing space for each other.
Kids in this generation are more self-sufficient and open to change.
A sense of family and belonging that children learn from sharing their life and space with an extended family. Children growing up in nuclear families do not get exposure to that extra love and warmth.
What is really sad is Children completely missing the life experiences and stories from a whole generation.
HOW FAMILIES ARE BUILT:
Living together makes a family but strong roots need a deep rooted value system. How do we teach our kids the value of families? One of the foundation bricks that make a family strong is tolerance.
There will always be someone in a family who will think and act unconventional.
Everyone’s threshold of tolerance is bound to be different.
What might be a non-issue for one person might mean the world to the other.
Every person’s reaction to a similar situation might differ.
You might be a multitasking genius while some other can barely accomplish one thing at a time.
The basic comes down to each pillar of the family unit not being alike. What matters is love, tolerance and unconditional acceptance with a slight nudge in the right direction.
Children and especially teenagers should have the confidence that families don’t judge, they just help each other become happier and better version of themselves.
KEEPING IN TOUCH:
The bane of recent times is being busy. Everyone is juggling a million things, some doing a better job at it then the others. Being so occupied leaves us very little time and patience to keep in touch with even those who matter.
The simplest solution is make time. Remember those important dates of family members. Not all communication has to be long. Drop in simple messages or short calls.
Loosing touch with family is the main reason for widening gaps overtime. Distances might make the hearts fonder but will definitely leave relations strained.
Let your kids see you make those efforts. Don’t wait for the other to take the first step, go ahead and initiate communication you won’t regret it.
Even in a deeply materialistic world giving someone your time is still precious.
FAMILIES GIVE ROOTS AND WINGS:
I believe my parents gave us siblings both roots and wings. We are not afraid to encounter the new while staying true to our beliefs.
This is what I look forward to passing on to my children. Children need strong roots so they can fly.
A big tree rooted in the ground can withstand any storm while weeds just float.
Have small family traditions, holiday celebrations. Talk to your kids about your own childhood, delve into your own background to give them the understanding that family is there to support them and not arrest their flight.
I’m positive I may never approve of all the life choices that my kids will make but i want them to know that whatever they encounter there is always family to count on.
There are friends and friends like family but there will be no one else like family .They accept you just the way you are.
They might judge you at times, drive you crazy and there are phases in life when you run away from them .
Family inundates you with emotional baggage but it is the anchor that ties down a ship to prevent it from going astray. Even when they might throw you to rough sea at times.
Today life is fraught with too much exposure and trying to overcome distances can be hard. So it becomes a task to make sure the familial bonds are strong enough to stand the tides of time and circumstances. But the first step is to ingrain in our kids the value of these family bonds and all else just follows.
Do you live in an extended family or a nuclear family?What steps do you take to make your kids understand the significance of family?
As a parent, it falls on us. To raise boys who respect girls. We are aware of this need. But do we remember that we need to be raising strong girls who are respectful? Who grow up to be not judgemental of other’s choices and situations?
International Women’s Day is a wonderful time to bring this home! Raising women who celebrate other women.
I have seen it. You have seen it. Every so often, we come across women who don’t understand our choices. Their snark comments and sly compliments leave us gaping and disheartened. What reels us more though is that this person is a woman.
At an early age, we see it in play-yard bullying. As we grow, we see it in our “frenemies”, when we get older we see it the judgment of our #momlife. In India, we see it from older women. A subtle condescension of our way of life when compared to the hardships they have endured. Women very easily forget that they have been girls.
I saw a video recently, that said that girls are as aggressive as boys and that aggression only grows emotionally, with age. It is only more visible in boys in physical action. In girls, it’s all about how to manipulate and vent on those closest to us. Namely the friends. And this is actually true!
Counter Mean Comments
This is so important to teach our girls, the effect that their words have on those around them. Mean comments, back handed compliments and snark responses are so potentially harmful. A great way is the toothpaste method. You take a tube of toothpaste and ask them to take out some onto a plate. When they do, ask them to put it back. When they respond helplessly, explain to them that this is how words are. When you say things that are unkind, it leads to a mess and that cannot be cleaned up no matter how much you desire or are sorry.
Ask your girl to compliment other girls as often as they can. Building others up and appreciating what other’s have is so very important to teach. Ask them to think about what they are going to say. Is it kind? Is it a compliment? Is it respectful? It is necessary to say? If not, it’s better to keep their comments to themselves.
No other time than now, to make sure our girls comprehend the ever lasting effect and consequences of words said in haste or spite!
Avoid Being Territorial
Girls, are very territorial. There is something innate within us, which protects viciously that which we consider OURS. Probably an instinctive thought that is a big part of our make up. This may be why we tend to feel threatened when our friends make new friends. But we need to impart to our girls early, that they need to be kind and nurture those we consider close to us.
A great way to do this is to be as social as possible yourself. By this, I do not mean parties every weekend but be friendly to every single person. Build your community with friends, acquaintances and strangers alike, caste, race, religion aside. The more our girls see US being open to new relationships, the more they open they will be.
Not everyone is a best friend. Little girls tend to think that every person they play with is their best friend. Specially if you have a people pleasure on your hands, who loves being the center of attention. This is what allows them to let slide a lot of mean comments passed by their so called friends. Relational bullying is the worst kind and our girls need to be able to identify that early. If your child is one, recognize and act on this instantly!
Not happy enough. Not thin enough. Not fashionable enough. Just not enough. These insecurities make us do a lot of weird things. Women, from the time we are girls, are often fearful of losing what we have. We need to counter this by letting our girls know that they can depend on themselves for their happiness. Jealousy is possibly one of the most dangerous things to harbor within.
A wonderful way of this is to cheer for others in their joy. Often, parents seeing other child succeed worry about why their own child is not doing the same. Verbally. If instead of that, we rejoice in the success of others and use that to positively inspire us our girls will learn to do the same.
Breathe, Assess Before Reacting
A book I read recently, “Men are Waffles, Women are Spaghetti” spoke about how when women react to something, it is a reaction with a lot of history behind it. That women minds are intricate webs where everything is connected to teach other.
That really need not be the case. When some supposed infraction happens, we need to first see if it really has anything to do with us? Was the decision one for the person’s personal gain/needs or was it some way to hurt us? And even, if it was going to hurt us, is this really going to matter in 5-10 years time? This silly thing that someone has done that will soon become a thing of the past?
How do we impart this to little girls? By making them understand practically why they weren’t invited to a birthday party or a play date or why they aren’t getting something they really want. By focusing their thought process to think logically about they WHY of a situation. To teach them to see the other side of a conversation or situation.
Often, when we grow we harbor resentment and use it in consecutive situations. That just leads to lot of build up. Not every battle is worth fighting. Not every situation needs a reaction. Also, when you see your child being overly emotional about something and that time, bringing up other topics, make sure you bring their focus back to the situation on hand. Talk to her about how precious her tears are and how important it is for us to be mindful about what we are crying about.
Participate in Healthy Conversations
Everyone talks behind you. Again, this is an innate thing that happens between people. Not just girls. But there is a difference between gossip and unhealthy conversations.
Vents what happened to them and works on a solution to figure out how to better handle the situation. Unhealthy gossip is where people talk needlessly about other people’s lives, passing on rumors which are probably untrue or saying vicious things about someone just because they have been wronged in someway.
How do we teach young girls to not do that? When your child tells you something, be practical in your response to it. Divert their attention to how to better the situation the next time instead of calling up the other child’s parent and being aggressive. Recognize when children are being children and the consequence of your own actions before acting out.
Also, make sure your child knows the importance of keeping a friend’s secret. And that before passing on information, to be a 100% sure it is true. For a misplaced rumor is damaging and it all comes back to you.
People, not just children are most susceptible to peer pressure. It all begins with what other kids have and just never ends.We need to teach our girls to be able to own their choices. To stand tall for themselves and for others, if need be. That we don’t need something or have to do something, just because another has it. Our actions are based on our family’s needs and the circumstances unique to us. This also helps build empathy and understanding of others, for everyone has their issues.
Give them ample respectful answers for things they are teased about and let them know we as parents stand behind them a 100%.
Make sure you read to them stories of friendship, love, caring and kindness.
If we want to raise girls who do not judge other, we need to first and foremost stop judging other women and celebrating them. Let those small things go and fight for what’s right.
My son refused to speak or learn Hindi. Even though, we could see he could understand Hindi completely. How we knew was when his grandparents were visiting and he responded appropriately to their discussion solely in Hindi about when they should go back. Besides, he would vehemently respond should we ever talk about something he did not want to do. But embracing it, was a struggle!
But why did this reluctance exist at all? I thought about it and related to it with my own upbringing.
My mother tongue, the language I grew up with, would ideally be English. Since I spoke it most often with my parents, friends, teachers etc. The language of my mother though is Marathi. The language spoken in my maiden home is Hindi as is the same that is spoken in my home today, other than English. My mother tried to teach me Marathi but at the time, I jumbled them all and she dropped it. Gave her an edge to talk in secret with her family members too. haha! I did learn to understand it completely but I wish today I had all the advantages to learning a native language. After all, most people around me are multilingual.
It was gradual, the shift in mindset. I kept working with my children constantly. With my two children I have often seen that if I need one to learn something, being persistent with one improves the other. Seeing his sister picking up the language so excitedly, sparked an interest and maybe a little competition edge too as he would see our joy at her attempts.
Friends Who Spoke Their Own Native Language
This was a wonderful happenstance. During play dates, his friends would talk about going to learn their mother languages and one even spoke to me in Marathi. That made him realize that this is something most people do. And it is fun when you can connect with your friends. Even in my book, I have used Hindi proverbs to bring home life lessons that are essential for children to grow with strong values.
Speaking It With My Own Friends
It is rude to talk in a different language in front of others, but bringing it up in reference to something while talking about life back home or how something is done in your own heritage or maybe a quote shows kids that there are things unique to your language that is interesting. Kids are always listening.
Watching Fun Movies
Most Hindi movies are not very child friendly. I found a few that I knew would pique his interest. About warriors, sports etc that had good messages. Reading subtitles, he developed a desire to watch more content.
Simplifying The Learning
I did everything. Made up simple stories. Taught them a couple of words a day. Fun little quizzes when we were walking around. Spoke to them only in Hindi on weekends.
I essentially took the pressure off the learning. Instead of committing a time, I did it almost all day long, in various sneaky ways. The progress he shows now is overwhelming. His sister is way ahead of him now, but his desire to learn his mother tongue is heart warming.
What helps YOU in teaching your kids? Was anyone you know ever reluctant to learn their mother language? What helped them in the mental shift?
Why are harvest festivals celebrated at all? Does it really matter if we mark this time of the year?
Makar Sankranti is the time when new harvest is gathered. Not just that, it heralds the onset of new seasonal change, marking the end of harsh winters and welcoming the blossoming spring season. A slight rise in temperatures, warming and stirring the soul is what marks Sankranti. In fact, it’s not just makar Sankranti, every harvest festival marks a season of change.
It highlights change of weather, change of crop, change of some kind! And change is good! Change is inevitable and so we should learn to embrace it, whole-heartedly, with the right spirit and nothing better that embracing this change, right at the beginning of the year!
I will not talk about how the festival is celebrated because we have already shared all about this season here – Each culture brings about their share of festivities with this harvest festival and so do we, the Bengalis. We make the customary “khuchudi” with the first rice of the season, served with chutney and fried fritters to go along. Apart from that our range of sweets like “pithey” and “patishapta” all flour based sweets, made with “nolen gur” or date palm jiggery, is often the staple dessert menu on this D-day.
What I love most about the festival is that, I embrace the seasonal change and gear up my spring wardrobe slowly and steadily. The house looks and feels warm with the warm morning sun. The beautiful warmth of the streaming sun rays just makes the house glow with a magical spirit!
I remember the entire household décor would go for an overhaul. My mother would vacuum the heavy carpets and curtains and seal them in bags, stuff them in box beds, bring out the lighter curtains, followed by our light upholstery to mark the idea of living with change, while staying the same!
Small superficial things, would often undergo change around us, with slight change in routine too. For example, play time getting extended in mornings (provided there was no fog), a new school routine with more serious tone of work (post the large winter vacations) and less holidays to merry make. Although, in some way, we would feel sad, but the weather always told us to stay hopeful as another change would bring us a new routine!
For instance, for Bengalis, Sankranti is soon followed by “Saraswati puja” or popularly known as “Basant Panchami”, marking the full blown season of spring, dotted with blooming flowers and greenery everywhere.
My mother would often tell me that change to some, can get quite overwhelming, but when you celebrate it, it becomes a happy event and thereby, the change seems more welcoming and seemingly easy!
That’s why celebrating seasonal festivals is good, because it cleanses your mind and soul, and somehow preps you well for the upcoming change in season and maybe, even a routine.
That’s why even though, I don’t do anything more elaborate with these harvest festivals, but still I try and create a different aura at home, to make it feel different that before!
Even I see my son, responding well to the change via festivity of some kind. He looks forward to a different menu, different home décor, maybe a temple visit or visiting some festival related event or simply gathering with friends and family, to spread the cheer! The sheer joy and twinkle in his eyes are more than enough to convince me, that I am doing maybe something right, to make him feel happy!
After all, as parents, we need to create happy memories, to strengthen a happy solid foundation for our children. This will serve as the impetus for their solid growth in the future years! So to me, as a parent, seasonal festivals like harvest festivals are the perfect platform to teach them to value and embrace change, of any kind!
When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there? – Thich Nhat Hanh
Here are some shocking statistics on holiday gifts. About $16 billion were predicted to be wasted on unwanted gifts in 2017 holiday season in America alone. 1 in 2 people dislikes at least one gift each holiday. (Source: https://www.finder.com/unwanted-gifts)
Do you realize how much waste of energy and time that is? So many meaningful things could be done with that money and time by so many people. I recently conducted a poll in a group that I am a part of and the top 3 holiday stressors were money, relationships, and shopping.
If we are spending money on unwanted gifts for people we are stressed to meet in the first place, there is something to be looked at and changed.
But before that let me share a story about a time when I received a gift that I immediately threw in the trash.
A Birthday Gift That Ended In Trash
It was my birthday a few years ago . One of my acquaintances (after this incident I do not know if I should call them friends) gave me a gift basket. My primary love language is receiving gifts.
Of course, I was very excited to receive it. As I opened it, I happened to find a love note from another friend to this friend in the basket. Ta-DA! It was re-gifted!
I took a deep breath in and let go. This was the second time, I had received a “re-gift” with a note inside from the same person. I unwrapped the basket.
I decided to let go of the re-gifting thought and took the products out from the plastic to see what they were. At this point, I was still into the gift.
I have a habit of reading at the back of the product to see the ingredients, etc. This was a bath products basket and it was Made in China (which is fine because what is not made in China these days?). But it came with a warning. “Throw this product if you get urine infection after using it.” WHAT????
I looked at all bath products I use and none of those had that warning. I took the basket, sighed and threw it in the trash. For a person whose primary love language is gifts, a gift this unthoughtful on her birthday is a horrible mistake.
Yes, the thought counts. But a thought would have been enough if there was no thoughtfulness involved after that.
I worked for a fabulous company that made high-quality fragrance and bath products. I know first hand it takes a lot of stress on people who work in gift industries to make sure they put gifts in the retail stores on time.
It is a pretty stressful time as much as I remember when people are striving to get those holiday orders in.
With all this background, all I could think was that this gift was a terrible waste of time and energy of the entire supply chain.
Now you might be wondering what a love language is, so here is a small introduction before we move forward:
Five Love Languages
In The Five Love Languages book, author Gary Chapman outlines the 5 ways that a person may express and experience love. Everyone has a primary and secondary love language. He uses examples from his counseling practice, as well as questions to help determine one’s own love languages.
The list of 5 Love Languages is as follows:
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
His theory is that people have specific ways in which they receive love and usually use the same ways to express their love. If you pay attention to how people love to communicate their love, you might be able to understand their expectations better.
How can we be more present in this holiday season?
1: Learn and use love languages as a guide to picking gifts
If you take the time to notice people in your lives, you can discover their love languages. Maybe they are giving you hints by doing something nice for you quite often.
Maybe they give you compliments all the time. Maybe they like to hold hands or touch your shirt or love a blanket or scarf or velvet. Maybe they are always planning activities to spend time together.
We are growing to be a generation of less attention span. But at the same time, we are moving to be a more mindful generation as well.
When you are more aware of our surroundings every moment and have an intention of understanding your partner, loved one, child, friend or colleagues love language, you will, of course, find it.
2: Add thoughtfulness to your thought
When you give a gift to a person, it shows that you care about them. That is a nice thought. Now go one step ahead and be thoughtful. Ask a few questions to get clarity on your gift for this person:
What does this person remind you of?
What difference have they made to you in your life?
What would help them feel special with your gift?
Do you really want to give them a gift and go through all this process?
Are they really that important to you or is this really another check mark?
3. If not sure, ask!
If you have not been present too much and not aware of this person’s love languages and you still want to give them a gift. Ask if they have a gift list they can share.
You can look what they like on their social media pages, Amazon wish lists to get hints. You can ask their close friends or relatives if you know them.
4. Keep essence of the season in mind
If you are getting too worked up, about giving gifts, stop. Remember the essence of the season. It is not about gifts.
It is about the celebration of life. It is about counting your blessings. It is about remembering what you are grateful for.
There are times when you might not be able to give gifts to everyone you know. In those times, let your actions and your presence be the greatest gift.
Smile. Make people smile. Give compliments. Show them that you care. Be there.
Remember, people do care about how you make them feel. Most importantly, remember your children are watching how you treat your relationships.
Materialism is secondary. But if you have decided to re-gift, then all I want to say is, please remember to remove the old tag!
Bio: Sneha J is the CEO and Founder of Stress Less With Sneha J (https://stresslesswithsnehaj.com). Sneha is passionate about helping men and women in leadership roles stress less and connect with their inner-happy using mindfulness, mindset, and energy healing principles. She helps them channel their stress-inducing emotions into productive outcomes. Get her free Stress Free Holidays Playbook at https://stresslesswithsnehaj.com/stress-free-holidays/
“Preservation of one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures.” Ceaser Chavez
In a world where many buy into the rhetoric of otherness and extreme nationalist sentiments creep on today’s political scene, raising global children becomes a necessity that cannot be overlooked by parents and educators alike.
Nowadays it is important to embrace the fact that gaining a global mindset should not be conceived as an “either-this or-that” subject. To support globalism doesn’t make us less patriotic. To favor nationalism doesn’t stop us from being global aware. This otherness idea is pulling our world apart at the moment and our children are the only hope to bring it back together in the future.
From our own experience as a multicultural family living overseas, we conclude that to increase our children’s cultural intelligence we needed to keep track of the three Big C’s: commitment, consistency and creativity. Commitment to the important objective of thinking globally and building bridges between our differences and commonalities. Consistency to constantly feed our kids with useful information about other cultures. Creativity to promote global awareness in a fun way while using age appropriate language and material.
How to bring the three Big C’s to the reality of your own family?
Here are a few tips to help you raise global minded citizens at home. Remember that this list is by no means exhaustive, if you decide to start the rewarding adventure of promoting cultural awareness in your family make sure you use as many resources, tools and creatives ideas as possible to obtain the best outcome.
Make room for a world map
Children learn a huge amount through their senses and for that they need lots of relevant opportunities to explore the objects around them. What better way to understand the abstract idea of countries, geographical distance and cultural connections than with a world map?
World maps come in every size, color, texture and some even include sounds! It doesn’t have to be an expensive map, that’s up to you, but it is key to acquire a map that is colorful to attract your child’s attention. Additionally, choose a special place to hang your map up. Family rooms are great places to display your map. We spend a huge deal of time in the kitchen, so ours is hanging up right there in the kitchen next to our breakfast table.
Once you own a world map, use it! Ask your children to point where their home country is and go from there. The possibilities to explore a world map are numerous! Some fun ideas is to work with your kiddos locating countries where Halloween is celebrated; write some sentences about an specific country chosen by your family or even make a 60-second presentation of Christmas around the world during snack time.
Did I already say that you need to be creative?
Start exploring your own culture
It is proven that to respect somebody else’s traditions you need to start by embracing your own. For your kids to grow up global, it is necessary to build a foundation strong enough to support all the new info that will improve their cultural intelligence.
Please do remember that to love someone or something we have to love and accept ourselves first. Same applies to culture. If you and your child don’t know your own traditions, how will you establish commonalities between you and other people’s culture?
Therefore begin by exploring local language, festivals, food, literature and art. Schedule a few weeks for your family to really experience its own cultural identity. Highlight things done at home that are part of your cultural background. Help your kids express who they are, form ideas and connections over this period of time. If they are too young to express their interests and opinions through language, encourage them to use art as a form of communication.
Don’t forget to enroll relatives and friends in this adventure. If you don’t reside in your birth country, connecting with grandparents who can provide a clearer idea of your family’s cultural identity is a must! Your mission is to expose your child to his or her roots. This is something that will benefit all family members and surely increase your CQ (cultural intelligence).
Discover your artistic side
Art projects are a wonderful way to explore culture. But how to use crafts to learn about other countries? Gather information from the Internet to write a schedule of art projects for your children. Also, highlight important holidays around the world and search for fun ideas to use art to discover new traditions. The arts provide a fantastic opportunity for young children to holistically learn about the world.
It is a great idea to invite relatives and teachers to help children with their multicultural art projects as well. Keep in mind that the possibilities are endless and crafts aren’t restricted to just painting and gluing stuff. Encourage your kids to take photographs or draw an abstract picture of their lives at home and of what they see during travels. For more cross-cultural inspiration visit multicultural blogs, Pinterest, and other websites that promote diversity awareness.
Time for Journalism
Provide your children with a notebook, pencil, colored pencils, old magazines, and newspapers and invite them to put on their writers cap. Journalism is a powerful tool to learn about ourselves, our own culture and other countries’ traditions. It is also a great way to track progress, so your kid can see for himself how far he has come since starting his growing-up-global journey.
By setting aside fifteen minutes twice a week in the evenings to journal, your children commit time to their multicultural adventure each week and that allows them to check in, express their own emotions about traditions, and redirect their focus. Maybe there are certain aspects of a culture that they don’t agree with, or that they don’t understand well. This is the opportunity to review the impact of diversity awareness in your child’s life and learn how to accept other people’s traditions in a respectful manner.
Put on your aprons and chef hats
Cooking can be an effective way to protect our culture, our food and our family stories. It is also a great resource to learn about other country’s identity and connect with people from around the world. The significance of a meal goes beyond the taste and aromas, a traditional meal creates a deep connection between food, kinship and culture. And what’s best? Children love to cook!
Arm yourself with recipes from around the world including your own family recipes. Involve your children in the cooking part and explain to them the relevance of such a meal for the culture of a country. Relate food to holidays to enhance the learning experience. I have always stressed the story of the ingredients, where they come from, their taste and unique features. The goal is to teach our children about diverse others by doing and tasting culture.
Did you find some other great ideas of your own while reading this article? If yes, share them with us down in the comments.
If no, don’t feel discourage. Here is a tip you can use right away: talk to your children about their favorite traditions from your own culture this evening during dinner. Remember to be passionate and curious about cultures and your kids will follow your example. Be driven to spread cultural awareness and appreciation of your own culture through art, writing, food, and observation.
The “Horror Movie” is back! Just like the Australian band the Skyhooks used to sing – “It’s the six-thirty news! Right there on my tv!” It is irksome, maddening and frustrating when a I thought we could sit down together to watch the news, we catch a snippet of gangs harassing people, particularly women, being described as “boys being boys!”
A presenter, excusing this unlawful behaviour as boys always follow the leader! Have they thought through the message they are presenting to our children, and society? Particularly, to the young men and women watching these stories unfold!
Please think before you speak: Our children are listening!
Upon changing the channel over to a different news report because my young son does not need to hear how a woman standing up for her rights is facing formidable ostracizing. No reprieve is forthcoming, in summary another reporter describing the bunch of hooligans as predators and then subtly suggesting an erroneous assessment as there were only questionable victims seeking justice (translation = young woman with their friends in the evening).
Then we come to the memes about the news story. My goodness, many feed into the very behaviour we wish to eliminate! Think! Children are watching! I wish people would be more thoughtful creating them.
People forget that children look up to them and are monitoring their actions. What happened to giving alms to the poor and protecting the weak?
What happened to empowering those that would speak out and stand up for others?
What happened to the amnesty for whistle-blowers?
What happened that allows harassing and predatory behavior to be excused as “boys being boys”?
What happened to make it acceptable behavior to blame the victim?
What happened to justify “trial by media” developing as the only way victims may secure consideration?
The issues I fear are greater though – worrying about someone being falsely accused when there are symptoms of dis-ease infiltrating our society. This is what leads to the real fear our daughters may be assaulted!
Our children should be safe playing in the street, at the movies, going to a friend’s party, or shopping with a friend! We, as parents, grandparents and guardians of children should not have to second-guess our decision anytime we let our child leave our side.
I have again turned off the horror movie on the tv, but it had already had a resounding effect on my young son. I am now answering his questions, carefully, one by one.
Parenting young sons and a daughter does not need to become more difficult! Mothers need to learn how boys’ brains work. Instinctively, we can make a reasonable guess on our daughters’ concerns.
Boys think differently. They act differently.
Before you jump up and down, there is science to support this remark. Boys hang out together – typical boy behavior mothers across the world encourage for developing healthy energetic sons. Honestly, their energy level makes me dizzy! Sending them to go rumble and play is a sanity saving exercise for mothers. I can channel my daughter’s energy into positive easily without the extra exercise because I am a girl.
Although, with two younger brothers “outside to play, please” works quite well for the time being. The exasperating, trial-and-error filled experience that ensue on occasion, for a mother finding the same positive distraction for her small sons does not leave one looking favorably on media who are not thinking through their remarks.
Small mischievous boys grow up to be kind caring young men whilst playing with their siblings and friends. Some enjoy playing soccer, playing chess, making cupcakes for afternoon snacks before dinner time, kidnapping the washing from the washing machine to hang on the line without being asked, and watching Star Wars movies, and the like, so that they can be discussed ad nausea. Usefully engaging is the aim of the game here, and whether athletic or geeky these activities should be described as “Boys being Boys”!
Playing is how we learn the right way to do things so:
Let’s teach all our children, no matter how small, when someone says “No!” “Stop!” “I don’t like it!”, then it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure the game stops regardless of whether you are a boy or girl, and even if everyone was having fun the minute before!
Let’s stop small boys asking questions like “Do they think we are all bad?”
Diwali, Christmas, Eid, Holi, Navroz, Lohri, Onam, Pongal and the list can just go on. Festivals are a very important part of the Indian culture. If festivals are the heart of India, festive sweets are like their soul. Festive sweets are like food for the soul because they are not only irresistibly delectable but also have a ton of emotions and memories attached to them.
You can never get over your childhood favorite ‘sheer khurma’ made by Grandma on Eid. And the Diwali aura around the mithai/sweet shops at Chandni Chowk in Delhi. The aroma of ‘Christmas cake’ that fills the streets in December. And the irresistible smell of ‘hot jalebis’ during Holi.
And the irresistible smell of ‘hot jalebis’ during Holi.Taste and aroma are well-known to transport us back in time, to some of the best memories we have lived. In India, any happy occasion calls for sweets. Whether a baby is born, a marriage is fixed, a new job or promotion is acquired, or a cricket match is won, “Kuch Meetha Ho Jaaye!” is how most Indians bring in a celebration.
“Kuch Meetha Ho Jaaye” literally translates to “Let’s have something sweet!” but the translation doesn’t really do justice to the essence of this phrase.
Traditional Indian Sweets
Gujiya is a sweet deep-fried dumpling made with a stuffing of coconut or semolina and dried fruits. These are especially made during Diwali, Holi and Christmas.
Besan Ladoos are gram flour balls made with ghee, sugar and nuts. They are made for most festive and religious occasions. Ladoos are childrens’ all-time favorites.
Coconut Barfi is a dense sweet made of coconut, condensed milk, sugar and cardamom powder. They are very popular during Diwali and Christmas.
Kala Khand is a dense sweet made out of cottage cheese, solidified milk and sugar. They are widely consumed during festive and wedding occasions.
Cham Cham is a traditional Bengali sweet made with flour, sugar, lemon juice and coconut. They come in a variety of colors like light pink, light yellow or white. Cham Chams find their fans in most kids because of their colorful appearance.
Kaju Pista Rolls are cylindrical rolls made out of cashew and pistachio. They have the texture of play-dough and are green on the inside (pistachio dough) and white on the outside (cashew dough). Most Indian festivals are incomplete without these famous nutty rolls.
Gulab Jamun is the Indian version of doughnut balls. Deep fried and then dipped in sugar syrup, this sweet is indulged upon on any given happy occasion. Gulab Jamun is almost every Indians’ favorite dessert.
Sheer Khurma is a special vermicelli pudding, prepared on the festival of Eid by Muslim households. The main ingredients of this dish are vermicelli, milk, sugar, cardamom powder and dried fruits and nuts. No Eid celebration is ever complete without the family-favorite Sheer Khurma.
Shahi Tukda is a rich and decadent bread pudding made with fried bread slices, condensed milk, cardamom, saffron and dried fruits. Shahi Tukda is synonymous with wedding and festive celebrations, and is also a Ramadan and Eid staple.
Meethi Seviyaan or sweet vermicelli is made by combining vermicelli, sugar, ghee, cardamom and dried fruits. This simple dessert is a Ramadan and Eid favorite too.
Badam Kheer, also known as Phirni and Payasam is a simple rice pudding made with broken rice, milk, almonds, raisins and cardamom. It is a commonly made during Diwali, Ramadan, Eid, Pongal, Onam and other Indian festivals.
Rose Cookies or Achu Murukku are fried cookies shaped like rose petals. These crunchy cookies are lightly sweet and absolutely irresistible. They are very popular during Christmas.
Kalkals are bits of sweet fried dough, which are shaped as tiny curls or shells. Crunchy outside and chewy inside, these heavenly bites are a Christmas favorite.
MarzipanFruits are made with almond meal and sugar and come in various fruit shapes and colors. This traditional Christmas dessert is a favorite of kids and adults alike.
Fruit Cake is made with dried fruits like raisins, cherries, plums, currants or sultanas, soaked in fruit juice and then added to flour, sugar, butter and eggs. Christmas can never be complete without this cake, which is also famously known as Christmas Cake.
At Raising World Children, we are on the constant look out for world changers. People who are trying in small or big ways to make the world a better place. Today, we meet Ajanta Chakraborty, a fascinating woman of wonder : choreographer, author, you tube content creator, teacher, mom and much much more !
Culture Groove publishes bestselling children’s books and has an educational kids YouTube channel.
Bollywood Groove teaches 30+ dance & fitness classes in Chicago to kids and adults.
2. How did you come about this passion/profession?
A techie by profession, I worked in Silicon Valley for 7 years before realizing that my true passion was to spread the joy of Indian culture! In 2011, I quit my job to pursue Bollywood Groove first and then Culture Groove and have never looked back.
3. Tell us about your family.
My husband, who is also the co-author of our Maya/Neel book series, and I live in Chicago with our 4-year-old son. Other than the usual trucks and light sabers, my son has developed a strong interest in our work. He is officially a YouTuber helping his mom teach about India! The funniest experience is watching him trying to sell our books at various events 😊
4. How many places have you lived? How has that affected your world view?
I was born and raised in the small city of Bhopal in India. Since then, I have lived in Vancouver, Canada for education, California for work and now in Chicago.
Living in multiple cities has given me the unique immigrant lens of learning, comparing and picking the best of two worlds. It also opened my mind to not only embrace diversity but also strive to make it a norm.
5. What do you think are three biggest struggles most parents go through teaching kids about Indian culture?
The lack of quality and fun content. A lot of the content is either superficial – they provide very little actual knowledge or they are too boring for kids to engage in.
The lack of non-religious content. Believe it or not, there are lot of families like ours. They want their kids to learn about the cultural aspects without religion.
We have to accept that kids of Indian origin around the world are growing up in a different environment than someone in India. No matter what we are trying to teach them about our culture, it has to be done in a relatable manner. The 100% immersion is not the right approach for every kid and it’s hard to find resources that adhere to that mindset.
6. How do you suggest parents encourage kids to follow their passions?
Don’t impose your dreams on them. Let them navigate the world at their own pace and in their own way. We are supposed to give them wings and watch them fly. Teach them the importance of finding joy in their everyday life. My parents did precisely that I am incredibly grateful for that.
6. Please tell us about your vision to teaching kids about the world.
We have a 3-fold mission with our work:
Help raise multicultural kids irrespective of their ethnicity and background. This extends to adults as well!
Help kids connect to their roots.
Help kids of color to see themselves in literature and media.
This is exactly what has driven us to teach a unique combination of dance and culture classes to 200 kids every year; to write children’s books exploring festivals, places and cultural concepts of India; and finally to create a free learning resource via our YouTube channel.
8. What are your three top advice to parents?
Read, read, read to your kids! It is such a wonderful way to open up their minds.
Teach your kids that there are many ways to live in this world – try new foods, explore a different festival, do something that helps them experience the diversity in this world.
Constantly reinforce the message of standing up to discrimination, intolerance and bias because of who they are. Proactively help them gain pride of their origin, their orientation, and anything else that the society boxes them in.
9. How does one raise multicultural kids today in an ever evolving world?
I believe it is actually getting easier. With technology bringing the world closer together, we now have more opportunities to learn about each other. Even in places where there is an environment of intolerance, I see parents and educators working ever harder to ensure that the kids grow up with an outlook of acceptance.
CLICK HERE TO VISIT HER YOUTUBE CHANNEL
10. Do you have anything exciting for our readers?
We produced 8 books in 2 years so there is always something exciting 😊 Our latest book is about Delhi and Taj Mahal and it recently hit the Amazon bookshelves. But we are equally excited about our videos. We add one new video a week and there is so much more coming in the way of learning about Indian languages, festivals, food, clothes etc. We request parents and educators to help us spread the word about this free resource and to join us in our mission: CultureGroove.com/YouTube.
Who is your support system? The people you call on the toughest of days? What do you turn to for comfort when you are stressed out? Where can you go to get relief and peace when life feels chaotic?
The answers to these questions are important parts of your unique support system. A support system is a catalog of resources that offer you practical and/or emotional support. More specifically, these are people, places, and things that bolster you.
I encourage you to keep this living document somewhere you will be able to see it and access it with ease. Reflect: Can you remember the last time you felt overwhelmed and unable to take the next step, or even figure the next step out? This trapped feeling can be tough to get out of. However, the closer we keep our tools and supports, the more frequently we are reminded of the resources around us, and the easier it will be for us to reach out and ask for help.
Parents, especially parents of teens and emerging adults, often share that they feel isolated. Once school drop-offs and play dates are things of the past, parents and caregivers tend to have fewer organic opportunities to interact with one another. This feeling of isolation is an opportunity to build and maintain your systems of support– an important aspect of self-care.
Developing a Support System
Recently, I have become more observant of the ways that I use my own support system, and I’m excited to share how this network has served me. When I brainstormed my own system, I sat with some of the words that I use to describe myself: highly sensitive, empathic, introvert, anxious, curious, detail-oriented, antsy, creative, and so on. As I considered each of these traits, I asked “What brings me comfort? What brings me stability?” Then, I generated broad lists and ideas for supports that were already in place, as well as supprots I wanted to integrate.
Today, I’m sharing some of the specific ways I use my support network to inform daily and weekly practices. These ideas are meant to be examples for you to consider and explore as you dig deep into your own needs and preferences for support. I invite you to edit, revise, revision, and recreate your own map of supports and structures for including these into your regular practices.
10 Ways to Integrate Your Support System into Daily Living
Slow Down. I notice that I feel most supported when I am not rushed. When I take the time to transition from place to place or role to role, I feel more grounded. Observe your transitions and find ways to slow down throughout the shifts you endure daily.
Accountability Partners: I talk with my accountability partner weekly for 20-30 minutes each Friday. We cover celebrations and accomplishments for the week and set goals for the coming week. Explore an accountability relationship with a friend or colleague! Email me for more info on how to get started.
Top 3: When I have a work-related situation that I don’t know how to solve, I have 3 close friends who are also solopreneurs that I can contact to share, brainstorm, and create a plan. When I face depression, I reach out to my partner, my sister, and a close friend. Consider having a top 3 list for personal life, as well as work life.
Shared Interest Groups: I meet weekly with my writing group. We are building a culture of support, resource sharing, and feedback around our work as writers. This helps me know that I am not in isolation as I do my creative work. Join groups of people who have similar interests and projects as you.
Scheduled Self-Care: Yoga and walking in nature support me in feeling strong in my mind. I set aside time for these activities (and others– like baths, reading Young Adult fiction, and meditation) because they help me refuel. Plan time for the self-care activities or your choice.
Structured AND Unstructured Family Time: Each week, my partner and I typically designate two “date” nights. This is time that we are dedicating to one another and to our relationship. While we don’t always have plans and rarely leave the house, we have a plan to be with one another. This gives us plenty of other time to connect spontaneously or to work on our individual projects. Explore supports like family meetings, movie night, or walk and talks with your family members. Be mindful of leaving plenty of downtime in the weekly calendar too.
Less is More. Whenever I notice that I am overwhelmed, I (attempt to) stop adding to my plate. I also check the calendar to see if there is anything extra or unnecessary that I can eliminate. I’m finding more and more that a “no” can really be the biggest “yes” to myself and my mental health. Know that it’s okay to say no, to cancel plans, or to decide not to add anything else to your to-do list.
Professional Supports: I’ve always been an advocate for seeking the help of professionals, from therapists, to coaches, to yoga teachers, to acupuncturists, to doctors, to editors. I spend time curating my list of professional supports and depending on my needs in a given season, I prioritize different appointments. Seek professional supports that align with your values and needs (including insurance, location, and services). Don’t be afraid to “shop around” until you find a great fit.
Happy spaces and places: I travel to happy space figuratively through safe place meditations. I also know that a nearby trail and green space always brings me comfort, as does a bookstore or library. Identify the space and places that can help you shift your energy and find a sense of safety.
Screen-time Limits: Because so much of my work and communication involves screens, I can become overly exhausted and unable to focus. This leaves me switching between tabs or apps and in the end, I feel like I accomplish very little. When I set timers or myself, limiting my time on a given task and setting an intention to attend to one task, I feel more efficient and calm. Set limits for your technology usage. Be curious about the amount of time that feels healthiest and most enjoyable for you; let this inform your limit-setting.
It is my wish that you leave this article with new ideas and awarenesses for building and maintaining your unique support system. Get your free guide and support system map here to help you begin this process. Furthermore, I invite you to share this process and practice with your family. Noramlize asking for help and utilizing resources. We are all in this together.
I’m here to support, and I can’t wait to hear about and learn from your unique map!
As a Life Coach for Teens and Parents, Courtney supports tweens, teens, and young adults in finding their voice, growing confidence, and thriving. Through 1:1 and small group coaching sessions, teens and tweens are able to overcome anxiety, disconnect, and isolation as they explore their truest sense of self and develop a deep sense of empowerment. Courtney supports parents in practicing self-care and growing alongside their children. Sessions with Courtney lovingly guide families in developing the trust, communication, and connection that’s crucial for a life of ease.
Beethoven, my favorite composer went deaf before he composed some of his most famous piano and orchestral musical works. He was very poor, living in Vienna, but didn’t let his financial hardships or disability deter him from playing and composing music.
In my opinion, he was one of the first true composers to really understand the piano. Other composers before him helped bring the piano to the forefront as a true and important instrument, but the harpsichord was very famous still too. I believe that the culture he lived in was a major influence on his music.
Music Around the World
[bctt tweet=”Every composer creates music based on their experiences and culture” username=”contactrwc”]
Every composer creates music based on their experiences and culture. While playing piano for vocalists, they would sing in different languages. Depending on what language they were singing in would determine how I would interpret and play the piano accompaniment part.
When you hear music from around the world, it will all sound different. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why? People from other cultures are also unique individuals.
Even though I am from America, I could compose a song and my neighbor down the street could compose another song, but they would still end up sounding completely different.
Because we’re both from America, we may use a lot of the same sounds, rhythms, and instruments, but our own personal style will go into our music. Most of the time when you are from a different country, you can tell if music is from Jamaica, Africa, Mexico, India, or Italy just by hearing it. Your experiences and knowledge bring you to this understanding.
So many different cultures have shaped me as a music teacher.
My Musical Journey & Influences
My journey began in my first grade classroom one December day. Our class was called to the carpet to sit around the piano. It is not very often that a classroom teacher has an instrument in their classroom, so I thought this was pretty cool that our teacher played for us daily.
On this particular occasion, she played the song “Jolly Old St. Nicholas.” I ran home from school that day and couldn’t wait to sit at the old piano my dad had just gotten from our church. After picking at the notes for a little while, I finally figured out how to play the melody of that song we had just learned, all by myself. It felt fabulous!
I went on to take piano lessons and learned how many famous composers played piano and composed such amazing music and the rest as they say is destiny.
I enjoy teaching the African, American, and Spanish cultures the most. I love to teach and play the African drumshey are a great way to teach rhythm and steady beat. Student’s love learning how to play the different types of African drums (djembe, talking drum, and African drum) and the dances to go along with the drumming as a group.
When teaching a song from the Spanish culture, we learn the Spanish language first, then the dances that go along with the song like flamenco, and sometimes even add maracas.
When learning American music, my favorite type to teach is folk music. Students love learning how these songs have been passed down from generation to generation and are songs even their grandparents used to sing. There are so many folk dances where kids have a partner and can dance down the middle or in a circle while singing the song.
When I taught piano and music in the classroom, teaching music from other cultures was so important to me. Not only would my student’s learn the music, but they would learn about what the people of that culture or country liked to eat, how they liked to celebrate, what their families were like, clothes they enjoyed wearing, and so much more.
We would immerse ourselves in the culture we were studying and when it came time to learn a story or song, the students were so into it. One of my favorite memories of teaching about music from other cultures was when I introduced my students to Native American music. They got to see and hear me play the Indian flute I had made in my music in diversity class in college.
The students understanding before that day, was that a flute was just a flute you would see in a modern day orchestra. They had no idea that a flute can look different in so many different cultures but still go by the same name.
I love to hear stories from my friends or other musician’s about their favorite music to study or listen to. There is so much amazing music out there and I love to continue learning more and more about what’s out there. There are chants, raps, gospel, country, pop, rock, jazz, blues, Classical, reggae, and so much more.
Every single style of music originates from somewhere and there is a story behind every single song written. Do you create music? What has country influences your music the most ?
Jessica Peresta is a mom to 3 little boys. Music has always been a passion loves teaching kids of all ages, inspiring them towards music. She has taught elementary music for 7 years as well as private piano lessons. Seeing many who did not have access to quality music education, she started The Domestic Musician site. Her goal is to teach music to as many children as possible, no matter where they live, what their demographic is, what culture they come from, or what disability they may be facing. Every child can and should learn music. You can follow her on Facebook @thedomesticmusican or Twitter @thedommusician
Childhood is often reminisced with fond memories, especially around special occasions like festivals, summer or winter vacations and of course, birthdays.
My childhood is replete with such fond memories and I often like to revive and relive these memories through each passing year, in my own small way.
Although, a tad bit older, none the bit wiser, I try to recreate the magic of those moments. Memories around birthdays don’t need an “age” or a number specificity to cherish and celebrate.
I choose to celebrate each and everything, including birthdays, which my parents celebrated to make us feel special and loved.
My Special Days
Birthdays for instance were a big deal for me, especially in my growing up years. I remember it was in standard 5, when I decided that I was too grown up for childlike pompom laced birthday parties. I clearly remember how I had declared that I was a grown up then and strictly told my parents to stop creating a hullabaloo around my birthday any more.
To respect an eleven year old child’s decision, they made sure my last formal, childlike birthday party was way beyond “normal”. They got me a special castle shaped cake with all fancy sugar decorations (in those days getting ice cream cones as the castle tops with silver balls and bells was a great deal on cake). Apart from that, they called almost everyone from their world, arranged some fancy games, and literally hosted a party that lasted to the wee hours of night.
Honestly, as an eleven year old, I felt I had grown up, but my parents hadn’t. I was all the more certain of not repeating the celebrations anymore to save myself from further embarrassments caused through my parents over-indulgence.
Anyway, the years rolled by, but my parents didn’t leave any stone upturned to help me savor my birthdays. The years since then, still were laced with birthday celebrations of a different kind.
Although, there were no “party” parties as such, yet there were gifts wrapped and placed near my pillow, surprise cake in the morning, special breakfasts, formal lunches with friends all laced with homemade fancy food, and night time were reserved with cozy dinners with family. From morning to evening, I was made to feel as if I had done something great by simply taking birth on this planet.
As I look back now, I feel my parents left me more than fond memories around my birthdays.
What It Meant
They left me a treasure chest of feelings indescribable into words. They chose occasions like birthdays to help me realize that I was that special thing in their life that made their life worth living. Birthdays were a way to be thankful for everything they had and felt, through me or my siblings. To help us understand the happiness that they felt, they created that soft cocoon of happiness around us, which till today we would like to carry as part of some unstated legacy.
The fact that we were cherished, loved and respected is what has made us, the siblings grow strong, emotionally stable and mentally secure. We now don’t crave for material cravings, but rather the companionship of our loved ones on special days to nurture that feeling of warmth and security.
Doing the Same for My Child
This feeling of security is what I wish to create for my son too. A feeling of belonging, being accepted, loved and respected is something that creates that strong capsule of security in our kids’ minds. This feeling of being wanted is what makes them strive towards perfection, in order to please us, or to sustain that feeling of being loved and cherished forever.
Any pitfalls, by way of unacceptability or disrespect from our end, is what throws them off balance and they tend to deviate.
My mother always said that with freedom came responsibility. She extended freedom to me, without drawing any boundaries, sometimes even scaring me. Her excessive faith and freedom is what sometimes scared me and I often questioned myself with my own given freedom.
This fear she believed, created that sense of self-realization in me, the ability to assess myself. This fear of failing in her eyes, shunning the faith that she had put in me, was what helped me pull the reins, when I felt the need to (without having her telling me). I guess it was the fear of me being unaccepted or looking at something they loved and cherished, so defeated, is what spiraled that sense of responsibility in me.
And this feeling of acceptance and belonging got strengthened on such occasions, when I was made to feel special and accepted and loved, despite all flaws.
Although, we don’t need special days to cherish the companionship that we have, yet I wouldn’t deny that birthdays or special occasions are sure shot means of celebrating the bonds that are so special in our lives.
I always look forward to celebrate the birthdays of my loved ones by doing something special. It isn’t always about material things, but definitely the ways in which we make our loved ones feel on their special days that counts. The feeling of being needed and belonged is what makes their D-day, a special memory in many years to come!
As a mother, I would always love my child to remember our special equation through the happy feelings he had on his special days and on not-so special days.
The material things will eventually fade away, but the feelings are what will last in his heart and mind for eternity! He should be able to hold onto these fond memories, and use them as base, to create some more for himself and others in life ahead, even when we are not around.
After all, parenting is all about building memories and what better way than using special occasions like birthdays to create them!
A freelance creative writer and blogger for the past 7 years, Malvika Roy SIngh writes about subjects like travel, food, lifestyle, health, interior designing, real estate, digital entertainment, media and marketing, education etc. Her parenting blog helps her be a conscious parent (www.wipmom.com) When she is not writing, she can be found either running or playing with her 4 year old son enjoying time reading. She resides in Hyderabad and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org