Graduation blues

This end, this thing that you’ve worked so long and so hard for, is really just preparation for the real work that’s about to begin.

As parents watching our children graduate, we know this, which is why graduations are the very definition of bittersweet. We are proud of our children’s accomplishments because they are also our own accomplishments. Graduation says we did something right. We got our kids through school. We gave them the tools they needed to find success. We supported them when they needed it and made them accountable for their own learning when they didn’t want to be. So when we cry tears of joy, we are happy not only for their good decisions and hard work, but also for the part we played in raising them into fine young men and women.

Our tears also hold sadness, however. We are sad that an important stage of our children’s lives is over. We are sad that they must now grow up and be exposed to the adult world without our protection or the safe haven we have provided them. We are sad that reality will demand much from them  – pursuing a college degree, fostering a career, paying bills, leaving childhood behind. We are sad that they are doing exactly what we hoped they would – leaving us. Moving on. Moving out.

Graduation –parenthood – is painful. It swells the heart and crushes it at the same time. It is endings and beginnings and regret for what is lost and excitement for what is to come.

So as someone who has experienced an inordinate number of graduations, let me offer some advice as you prepare yourself for your children’s next steps. Are you ready?

1. Try not to cry.

That’s really the only advice I have to give. It ruins your makeup and makes your face splotchy, which you will lament years later when you revisit the graduation photos. And on a much more serious note, it makes your kids uncomfortable. They hate to see their parents cry, especially on what is supposed to be a happy occasion. They need graduation to be about them, not about you. They need you to beam with pride and joy and complete confidence that they are absolutely ready for the next stage of their life. It really is all about the tone you set at this point, and you must convey a tone of positivity and the full belief that your children are about to be even more amazing, even while you secretly die a little inside.

Once you’ve accomplished that, and your graduate has gone off to a party or gone to bed for the night, have a good cry. Let it all out. Feel every emotion of pride, heartsickness, relief, worry, and love. Then pull yourself together and start strategizing. Because you’ll have to hold it together again and again, with every bump they encounter and every landmark they reach, for the rest of your life.

That’s what parents do. Congratulations, Mum and Dad. You done good.


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Happy new year

As I approach the end of the year I have been thinking of all that I have experienced through the year.

2014 has been a mixed bag. It started with our fantastic whole family  trip to India and Bangladesh . The year was marred by  the horrific car accident sufia was involved in in May and ended with my early retirement in December. In between we bought 3 cars had 2 holidays and lots of visitors from far and near.

I only have 1 resolution for 2015, live in the present moment. That is, not to obsess over what has happened in the past or lose myself in visions of the future. Focus on what is right here, right in front of me. Make the most of it, and enjoy myself. This moment could be all I have after all–it’s so much better to think that 2015 is not a guarantee and then to be grateful for all of it, then to have expectations and entitlements that go unfulfilled.

As a final parting thought, remember that we choose whether this was a good year or a bad year. We choose whether everything is good or bad. As Seneca said, “a good person dyes events with his own color…and turns whatever happens to his own benefit.”

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Early Retirement- will I survive?

Ahhhhh…retirement. The word conjures up wonderful visions of being on vacation all the time. Sleeping late. Taking trips. Finally having enough time to indulge in whatever hobby or interest catches your fancy. Free at last from the stress of the workplace. No more stressing over meeting deadlines, competing for promotions or absorbing yet another policy change. No more training sessions and learning new technologies No more demanding colleagues  or customers to face every work day. Life will, instead, be a perpetual weekend or better yet, a vacation. Or will it?

When it comes to retirement, there appears to be two camps: those who hate the idea of quitting work and those who can’t wait for the day they can walk out of their office and never turn back. I can’t put myself in any one of these groups.

I am lucky that I chose to retire. Not everybody retires by choice. Sometimes people are forced to do so due to illness or physical problems that prevent them from continuing in their careers, or financial considerations such as redundancies.

Like it or not, whatever identity we have , comes from what we do for a living. It’s among the first questions we ask and are asked. “Retired” is not an identity, it’s the lack of one. I’ve only been retired for a week and already someone has asked me what I did before I retired!

During the last two years I’ve met several people who retired earlier than planned due to the stress of being in the workplace. Stress happened to me  because I  could not take one more thing. As the pressures piled up, I felt a lack of control. The idea of leaving all of that pressure behind to enter retirement was, indeed, enticing. However,  I hope that  the pressures of work are  not replaced by new pressures in retirement.

You might ask , What do people  have to stress over in retirement? Well, I guess that the number one stressor is money. Luckily I didn’t have that issue. A close second to money is  health. Some people retired due to health issues, some of which may be the result of stress in the workplace. My doctor has said most illnesses are the result of inflammation in the body brought on by stress. Or I know many people who  have retired in excellent health only to be diagnosed with an unexpected condition such as diabetes, heart disease or even cancer. The other thing I worried about  was my husband. After spending so many years  apart during most days, to suddenly be together 24/7 how am I and how is he  going to cope with it? And, then, there’s the big question of, “What am I going to do that has meaning and purpose for the rest of my life?”

I don’ t think that there is  such thing as a stress-free retirement just the same as there is no such thing as a stress-free workplace or a stress-free life. I’m going to engage in stress relieving activities.

I am keeping a gratitude journal, taking time at the end of each day to name the things that I am are grateful for in that day. It could be as simple as seeing a rose bloom in my  garden or taking a walk around the block with a friend. Yoga, meditation, journaling, gardening  or a run through my local  park will I hope will relieve stress.

I need the perception of control, I am going to  have to accept change. I’m going have  to let go of the things in my life that I can’t control, (which, by the way includes most things)! The serenity prayer comes to mind

SERENITY PRAYER “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Even though retirement will never be stress-free, it can be a less stress time of life if we focus on the positive. Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives. Nor the most intelligent that survives. It’s the one most adaptable to change.” So I guess I will have to be a person who adapts. with the help of my  wonderful  support system.. Family, very close friends and community. ….I will survive!

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There at least are two sides to every story

There are at least two sides to every story.
From the start of this conflict, more than 1,800 Palestinians and 64 Israeli
soldiers as well as three civilians in Israel have been killed. Each and every one of these lives lost — children, babies, elderly people, women, men, in Gaza and Israel alike — is tragic.
This conflict did not start because of three kidnapped teens; it started because Gaza has been under literal siege since 2000 — 14 years, every day.
Gaza has no access to the outside world. The borders are locked, the port is closed and everything is under siege. The tunnels are how people get things in and out of Gaza.
Some tunnels go to Israel, but the vast majority go to Egypt, where people broker the sale of medicines, groceries and other dry goods that they need.
No communication, no import or export, no one comes in, no one goes out. Civilians can see tanks in the distance and there are constant water, food, medicine and fuel shortages.
Hamas won a free election in 2006. Instead of being supported as the popular government of choice, they were cut off by the international community, causing them to re-harden their approach to Israel and diplomacy.
The Palestinian population may see Hamas as an incompetent source of leadership, but they don’t place blame for the massacres that have transpired these past few weeks on Hamas.
The current casualties are a continuation of more than 60 years of systematic oppression and land theft by the Israeli government.
What Palestinains need is a new government and a cessation of all settlement building. Only then will they be able to reach a lasting agreement. If the settlement building continues and they aren’t allowed to elect their own leaders, Palestinians will fight to the last man.
There are at least two sides to every story.
The Hebrew wiki page on the conflict opens with a photo of the Iron Dome anti-missile shield as it intercepts a mortar fired from Gaza towards Ashdod. Scroll down and you will see a graphic showing the range of various types of rockets used by Hamas militants and how far they can reach into Israeli territory. Beside this is a graph showing the number of shells fired from the strip over past 18 months.
It goes on to show a photo of cars destroyed in Ashdod on the third day of the military operation, while another depicts what remains of a house that was hit on the fourth day in the southern Israeli town of Be’er Sheva. In an effort to provide a degree of balance, the page gives a glimpse of the destruction in Shuja’iyya when 12 Israeli soldiers were killed and at least 68 Palestinians died. In addition the page carries footage of the bombing of a house in Gaza City.
On the whole there is little photographic reference to the more than 1,800 Palestinians who have been killed and 10,000 wounded over the 30 days. Of the 22 images on the page, there are six photos that depict rocket attacks on Israeli towns such as Ashdod and Sderot and two graphic illustrations of Palestinian rocket deployment. There are four photos of IDF tanks or artillery and one of an Israeli sniper taking aim. There are also photographs posted by the IDF illustrating the two principle reasons Israel is giving for its military operation: an image of a bag of weapons with the caption “These weapons were seized from terrorists attempting to carry out a massacre in an Israeli community” and a photo of a tunnel captioned “used by Hamas to carry out attacks on Israelis.”
While the Hebrew page is thorough in presenting what the IDF says is evidence of Hamas’ atrocities, there is little – photographically in any case – that alludes to what is happening on the Gazan side of the border. Two photos show the aftermath of Israeli strikes on Palestinian houses
Prominent on the Arabic page are graphic pictures of dead and injured Palestinians. Like the Hebrew page there are 22 images. Unlike it though, there is plenty of evidence of civilian suffering; two (of which one is extremely graphic) show dead bodies. There are three photographs of very young injured children and six that show damage to Palestinian buildings.
Where the Hebrew page is lacking in pictures of civilian suffering in Gaza, the Arabic page has no illustrative evidence of either rockets being fired into Israel, damage to Israeli buildings or Hamas infiltration tunnels.
Gaza is an extremely small place, among the most densely populated in the world, so it is impossible for Hamas members to be in Gaza and not be among civilians.
The human shields argument is simply a propaganda tool. “Rockets in schools” is an Israeli claim without evidence to back it up, which is a convenient smokescreen.
Peace is not an option Palestinians want their own state, but the Israelis would never do a one-state solution, so they want to secure as much land through illegal settlements as possible.
That way, when they are finally forced to make a deal, they will come from the ultimate place of power, where their “concessions” are settlements they had no right to in the first place.
By continuing to support the Palestinian Authority, the US is reinforcing a leadership that was not elected, had no oversight on how humanitarian aid was spent and has no popular election planned for the near future.
1800 Palestinians are dead, 80 percent of those are civilian casualties. It shouldn’t even be a discussion as to who is feeling the pain in this exchange. The Palestinian people are surrounded by broken homes, infrastructure destruction and death.
While there are two sides to every story, one point is painfully clear in these discussions: Both sides are suffering and it doesn’t appear as though we’ll reach a resolution anytime soon.

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we are funny

We are such funny people. We create concepts like God and religion, write books and call them holy and fight with each other to establish their supremacy.We create weapons and then do R&D on them to create still better and more powerful weapons to use them on each other. (Where else would we use them?)

We are such funny people. We create homes, cars, gadgets and various other objects and struggle throughout our lives to acquire them.

We will cheat, murder, improvise every fraudulent means in our greed for acquisition.

We think we are superior and will do anything to prove and establish this concept.

We are so funny that now we have started carrying a portable gadget to keep ourselves imprisoned in this mirage – we will play games on this gadget, watch movies and send tweets and emails and then pat ourselves on our backs, saying that we are connected with the world.

Which world is this – the world in which you were born or a world which you have created in these gadgets?

We will prefer to waste away our precious lives running after a mirage and will not, even for once, pause and wonder as to where we are, and why we are.

Once in a while, someone simply steps away and finds peace and happiness. The rest of the world first wonders at this person, and then gets back to the job of chasing the mirage.

We are such funny people.

I sometimes wonder how people in the other worlds would be living. Would they, like us, be killing each other for concepts, money, food . Would they be doing jobs to acquire objects and buying foods which actually Nature gives freely? Or would they be established in togetherness and living with each other as equal partners of this creation?

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25 years and I still miss him every day

When my father died, it was as if I had lived in a house my

whole life, a house with a huge window looking out on to the Himalayas. Then one day, I looked out and the mountains were ………………gone.

My dad died October 24, 1988. He was 54. He was diagnosed with lung cancer just 6 months before. It had spread throughout his body.

The missing comes and goes but never fully stops. And now with every other milestone or good thing that happens to me I become upset that he’s not here to share and enjoy it with me. I talk about my dad with my kids and share memories about him, but it’s not the same. I want for them to have their own memories of him and that can never be. I know they would have loved him and he would have loved them.

 He is only gone from my sight. I still see/feel him when I look at myself in the mirror, when I give advice to my siblings, when I interact with my children.

I try to keep him alive in the stories I share of him, the values I keep within myself, the way I treat other people. All of these things I get from him and the older I get, the more of them I see come out

I think the thing that bothers me the most was that I felt HE had been cheated.  Cheated of not living past the age of 54, of never seeing all his grandchildren.
I have never lived alone a day in my life.  Most of the time I’m surrounded—by my husband, my children, other people’s children, my colleagues, friends. The telephone is ringing; someone’s at the door. Somebody is finishing my sentence; someone else is eating off my plate. But grief, I discovered, makes everybody solitary; it’s a salty dish we cannot share.

I  cry not only for my father, but for me, His death means I’ll never hear the words I’ve always wanted to hear from him: that he was proud of me, proud of the family I’d raised and the life I live. So that my children never have to feel this way. I want to tell them to know now how proud I am of them and, of the choices they’ve made, of the life they live.

It’s been 25 years and I still miss him every day. I was devastated when he passed away. I have come to accept the fact that I will always miss him.


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And then there was one

For the first time in over 20 years our house is at risk of taking on a tidy appearance, and I, ‘not sure that I like it. Though, the physical separation itself is not the hardest part. It is the daily reality of living with my child no longer at home. Inevitably, I know less about their life; where they are and what they’re doing at any given moment of the day. And worrying about their welfare exacerbates the feelings of loneliness and loss
I have put all my emotional and intellectual skills into bringing up my children I am proud of the achievements of my son and daughters and share their sense of excitement but at the same time, deep down, I feel sad that they are off.
So the day itself arrives, and duvets and coat hangers and miscellaneous items are stuffed into suitcases and bin bags, and I feel dizzy from the loss. But as well as the grief, I feel proud that they are now ready to go into the world by themselves, and make their own path separately from me.
It is a sad and exciting time in equal measure, and the beginning of a new stage in my relationship with my kids; by leaving, they have the chance to become more fully their own person
At this new stage of being a parent, we have to achieve that delicate balance of letting our offspring know they have our support but at the same time allowing them to be independent – often easier said than done.
I don’t want to pass the weight of my own grief on to my children. I think it is absolutely fine to tell them that I miss them, or that I am sad that they have left, but I cannot make them bear the responsibility for my own sadness and pain. It was tempting to ask them to stay, or cry because they are leaving but that will only compromise the possibility of them finding happiness and independence.
“Selfhood begins with a walking away/ and love is proved in the letting go”
What I wonder about is why we love our children so entirely, knowing that the very best we can hope for is that they will feel about us as we feel about our own parents: that slightly aggrieved mixture of affection, pity, tolerance and forgiveness
Parental love, I think, is infinite. Not infinitely good, or infinitely ennobling, or infinitely beautiful. Just infinite. Often, infinitely boring. Occasionally, infinitely exasperating. To other people, always infinitely dull – unless, of course, it involves their own children.
I had children so they can grow up and lead their own lives. If I’ve got it right, their adult lives will include me, and the enriching process goes on, hopefully including their children too. So when they leave home, if the signs look good, I’m pleased for them. And I have a bit of time and space for myself
Their story will only go on forever if they have children.. My fear for them is that one day they will reach my age and never understand the joy they brought me, or have the same love and companionship to soothe their old age.
All those years of the first day at nursery, the first day at school, the first bike ride, the first driving lesson, racing before my blurred eyes. I wanted to yell, to shout, “No, not yet, it’s too soon”. Not too soon for us to be leaving you at the gates, but too soon for my role as a mother to end. Too soon for me not to know where my daughter is at three in the morning. Too soon for me not to know whether she’s eating enough greens.
What had happened to that capable, confident woman who urged her children to be independent and outgoing? I will tell I what happened to her: she woke at 2.30am in a cold sweat wondering whether anyone knew, or cared, whether her daughter was tucked up in bed, safe and sound.
I think communication is key; I need to give my children space to become independent and enjoy their new life, but staying in touch and finding out how they are is important
I feel extremely proud of myself for having raised children who are capable of going out into the world and surviving and thriving on their own. Can I give myself a pat on the back?
I am soooo blessed to still have my youngest at home
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