Redefining "Seizing the Day": Mother's Day Edition

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Redefining "Seizing the Day": Mother's Day Edition

One of our hopes behind the 7dayring has always been that it would empower you to seize the day. Carpe diem. Live fully. I think that somewhere along the line, this phrase became a commercialized saying that lost much of its breadth of meaning. When I think, “seize the day,” I think of sunny beach days. I think of running from the waves in slow motion, of tossing heads back in laughter. I think of windswept hair, toothy grins, and fulfilled dreams.

But how do you seize the day on a day that bears feelings of grief, or anger, or frustration?

Mother’s Day is a difficult day for many, maybe just as many as for whom it is a joyous occasion. Whether you have the most wonderful relationship with your mom, or the most strained, whether you live a 15-hour plane ride or a 15-minute drive apart, whether you’ve known your mom your whole life or just for a part of it, my hope behind this short blog post is that it would expand the meaning and expectations of Mother's Day, and even in that, to expand the meaning of “seize the day".

For the first three years of my undergrad degree, talking to my mom looked like this:

I lived in Vancouver; she lived in Beijing. The time difference was irksome, the Internet was spotty, and the frustration was palpable. Like many international university students, I went from seeing my family everyday to maybe seeing them once a year if plane tickets weren’t bank-breaking.

The number of times I got to actually talk to my mom was meager. In those years, our relationship was mostly comprised of hurried texts sent during a 10-minute break from class, received during the middle of the night. Whenever Mother’s Day would roll around, I would feel frustrated by my inability to celebrate my mom the “right” way – breakfast in bed, a spa day, cooking dinner for the family.

I can’t begin to imagine the sorrow that Mother’s Day brings for those who have lost their mothers. I can’t begin to grasp the hurt and the anger that Mother’s Day brings for those whose mothers have been unkind. And I can only begin to understand the weight of the expectations that Mother’s Day brings for everyone – expectations of sunny beach days, of heads tossed back in laughter, expectations of breakfast on trays, of toothy grins and warm relationships.

These expectations – they’re not for you.

I’d like to think that the beauty of “seize the day” comes from its breadth of meaning. It’s impossible to spend everyday laughing, frolicking in the sand, and dreaming big. Sometimes, seizing the day looks a little bit quieter. Writing a letter to the mom you never met – that’s seizing the day. Getting out of bed the day after everything fell apart – that’s seizing the day. Forgiving mom for the ways she has hurt you – that’s seizing the day.

This Mother’s Day, when I think, “seize the day,” I want to think of sunny beach days. I want to think of trembling hands, of sorrowful smiles. I want to think of breakfast in Styrofoam containers, of unanswered phone calls, and of moments of quiet courage.

We’re rooting for ya. Don’t be afraid to create your own expectations for how to best celebrate mom/grandma/aunt/sister/friend for how they’ve had a part in raising you.

So how are you going to seize the day this Mother’s Day?

 

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ALLISON YANG

Content Marketing Coordinator at the7dayringproject

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7 Mother's Day ideas that aren't breakfast in bed

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7 Mother's Day ideas that aren't breakfast in bed

Mother’s Day is just around the corner – can you believe it? This year, May 14th marks the day we get to celebrate (more than usual) all the moms, grandmas, aunts, and other incredible women that have had a part in raising us.

Let’s be real; there’s really nothing we can do or buy for these women that adequately captures our gratitude for who they are and what they do. But that shouldn’t stop us from trying! So we at the7dayringproject have stuck our heads together to come up with seven things you can do this year to make Mother’s Day extra special for your loved ones.

 

1.     Grow her flowers

That’s right – don’t just buy her flowers; grow them yourself! Zinnias, cosmos, and marigolds are all types of flowers that begin to sprout just a week after planting. Water them and care for them well, and they should start blooming about a month after they’ve sprouted!

 

2.     Make her a lemon poppy seed loaf (with an Earl Grey glaze to boot!)

You know how the saying goes: When life gives you lemons, make loaf.

The fantastic ladies over at Port and Fin have come up with a recipe for this beautiful lemon poppy seed yogurt loaf with a lemon Earl Grey glaze. Trust me, I’ve tried this one out myself, and it’ll take the classic Mother’s Day breakfast in bed to a whole new level.

The picture on the left is documentation of when I made this loaf last spring!

 

3.     Build her a tea kit

Oh no, not just any ordinary tea kit. I call it the empaTEA kit. The empaTEA kit includes at least three or four different types of tea leaves that you’ve chosen out and put into little containers. Now here’s the kicker. Label each container a different mood, so they will read, “For when you’re happy” or “for when you’re tired.” Try to coordinate the tea leaves to the mood if you can – might I suggest a bright raspberry zinger for when she’s happy, and a soothing lemon ginger for when she’s tired?

If you’re looking for some ethical tea brands, check out JusTea or O5 Tea! They’re both Vancouver-based brands that put a lot of care in to sourcing their tea leaves fairly.

 

4.     Learn something together

Experiences are a powerful gift, and the educational component is just a bonus! Here in Vancouver, you can find workshops for learning pottery, making sushi, and even flight lessons. Who knows when you or your mom might need to fly a plane? Pro tip: Groupon often has great deals for these kinds of things!

 

5.     Do something scary together

Is there something both you and your mom are afraid of? It could be the mutual fear of snakes, bees, or heights, perhaps. Find a way this Mother’s Day to face your fears together, whether that might be visiting a bee farm or going bungee jumping; it’ll make for an unforgettable experience, and maybe even help you overcome your fears!

The Honeybee Centre in Surrey has a live observation hive, is always stocked with samples of honey, and even offers basic beekeeping classes – check them out here!

 

6.     Volunteer together

Source: https://www.facebook.com/RunForWomenSeries/

Source: https://www.facebook.com/RunForWomenSeries/

Spread some of that love around to your community – find a soup kitchen or a shelter that both of you can volunteer at. (Hint hint, the Downtown Eastside Women’s Shelter offers their next volunteer orientation the day before Mother’s Day!) Not only is this a worthwhile way to spend time with your mom, but it also is a meaningful act of service to people who are in a tough place. It might even be as simple as going through your closets together and picking out clothes to donate!

Or how about something a little more active? The SHOPPERS LOVE. YOU. Run for Women is happening across the country, with Vancouver’s being on May 13. Run 5k with mom, and raise money for women’s mental health programs in Canada!

 

7.     Get her a 7dayring

I mean, how could we not? The 7dayring is so much more than just a ring – we make sure that your purchase goes right back to Salem and her team in Ethiopia, the brilliant creators of the ring. We also donate a good chunk of your purchase to imagine1day, a Vancouver-based nonprofit organization that supports girls’ education in Ethiopia. If that’s not a good way to say Happy Mother’s Day, I don’t know what is.

We also have a special for you! Use the promo code: 7DAYMOMS17 to get 15% of your purchase by May 4th!

 

Sending much love from our team,
the7dayringproject

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Publicly Exposed

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Publicly Exposed

Kinsey Powell is a good friend of the7dayringproject. Kinsey is a Commercial Banker with a specialization in Not For Profit Organizations, and women’s rights activist in Toronto, Canada. The following post are her thoughts:


On March 8th, 2017, many women will refuse to go to work.

They will refuse to clean their family homes or cook for their spouses. They won’t drive their children to school. They will not purchase or sell goods and services. It will be like they don’t exist. It will be a day without women.

Source: The New York Times

Source: The New York Times

A Day without a Woman is an extension of the Women’s March that swept the globe on January 21st, 2017. Its goal is to show just how important of a role women play in the functioning of our society and our economy. As 40% of the workforce, the primary caregivers in the majority of homes, and the top purchasers of discretionary consumer goods, women around the world hope that ‘going on strike’ will reveal just how important of a role they play. They are hoping it will be another piece of evidence supporting the need for policies and laws that respect women’s rights… especially because women are impacted the most by public policy decisions in gendered economies.

Global markets as a whole are still gendered economies. In North America, a woman’s quality of work is valued between 20-40% less than her male counterpart’s, depending on her industry, region, and physical appearance. Traditionally, “women’s work” in the home is not included in the measurement of the productivity of many economically powerful countries, via GDP, despite the fact that it enhances the earning capabilities of their spouses, families, and children. This is obviously problematic for many reasons: respect, inequality, economic agency, and miscalculated national productivity, to name a few. However, a less-discussed consequence when talking about gendered economies is how it disproportionately leaves women more susceptible to the negative impacts of public policy decisions.

When we discuss public policy impacting women, we often talk about more transparently gendered policies—such as limiting reproductive rights or lack of responsiveness to instances of domestic assault. Now, these are very important conversations to continue. However, as was so astutely and powerfully highlighted by the intersectional activism around the Women’s March, in gendered economies, public policies that we wouldn’t conventionally associate with women’s rights are impacting women on a more profound level than their male counterparts. Affordable healthcare. Access to public education. Heck, even public works.

Why?

Because in gendered economies, when resources are expensive, prohibitive, or scarce, women are rarely the first to receive them. If your potential earning power is less, your priority in receiving resources is lower.

Although this is a relatively new conversation in popular North American discourse, it has been one that NGOs and community activists have been having for decades.

Kinsey (right) and her friend, Jonathan, in Kenya.

Kinsey (right) and her friend, Jonathan, in Kenya.

When I was 17, I had the opportunity to travel to Kenya for the first time. While exploring the Maasai Mara, I spent time in a community that was receiving aid from a North American NGO. A lot of the NGO’s efforts were focused on empowering the children in the community, which often meant empowering their mothers. As someone with an interest in social and economic development, I followed the community leaders and NGO workers around with a long list of questions.

One afternoon, I sat in a local clinic chatting with a Kenyan health practitioner. When I asked him about the challenges of his role in reaching the women of his community, he explained that when healthcare is prohibitively expensive, families tend to save their funds to spend on the men in their home. Fathers and sons have greater earning potential and, therefore, hold greater value in the family. For this reason, a lot of women never see a doctor—which causes the obvious physical suffering or death due to illness—but also limits their knowledge of the needs of the human body and what symptoms indicate that they or their children need to go to the doctor.

Later that day, a local educator echoed the health practitioner’s sentiments. She said when free public education is unavailable, families tend to pool their money to send their eldest son to school, not their eldest daughter. If they can only send one child, they will send the one with the highest earning potential.

She added a discussion of public works. When water is far, waste disposal isn’t readily available, and the local government doesn’t maintain community infrastructure, women are tasked with the responsibility. While mothers and daughters are walking to retrieve water, finding places to dump waste, and repairing community roads or wells for no compensation, fathers and sons are receiving education or going to work—again, to maximize the earning potential of the family.

Although the impact of a gendered economy is greater felt in the Maasai Mara than it may be in many parts of North America, we are not exempt from its effect on the vulnerability of women at the hands of public policy makers. For example, as the Canadian population ages, the government will need to introduce adequate care for its senior citizens. We are already starting to see, in our gendered economy, working-age women having to limit their engagement with their careers to care for aging parents, more than their male equals. Additionally, we shouldn’t assume that our progress or protections are absolute. As we have seen recently with President Donald Trump’s Executive Orders and Cabinet choices in the United States, public education is not sacred, safe and effective public works is not a given for all citizens, and affordable healthcare is not a universal right of the 21st century.

The Women’s March reminded us that affordable healthcare is a women’s rights issue. Universal public education is a women’s rights issue. Access to safe drinking water and stable infrastructure is a women’s rights issue. It reminded us that, particularly in a gendered economy, women are impacted by public policy decisions to a greater extent.

If we are the ones being impacted to the greatest extent by public policy decision, women need a prominent voice in that decision-making.

Oh, the Women’s March also reminded us of one more thing:

If we aren’t offered a prominent voice, we will demand it.  

 

the7dayringproject stands with women and believes that empowerment begins with education and unity. Learn more here.

 

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KINSEY POWELL

Commercial Banker + Women’s rights activist
Day Seizer

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Finding Community and Challenging Individualism in Ethiopia

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Finding Community and Challenging Individualism in Ethiopia

Alyssa is a good friend of the7dayringproject. During the summer of 2016, Alyssa had the opportunity to work for imagine1day, the not-for-profit we partner with, in Ethiopia. We asked her to write about her experience and how it impacted her. The following post is a collection of her thoughts and photos.


I’ve always had an independent spirit. Like many kids growing up in North America, my parents raised me to be strong and determined and boundless in the dreams I set out to achieve. As a toddler, I used to yell “self!” whenever my parents tried to help me with something, asserting that I could tie my shoes or brush my teeth on my own. But this summer, through an internship with imagine1day in Ethiopia, I learned that self-sufficiency wasn’t what it was worked up to be. I learned that we, alone, are not enough, not nearly as much as what we are together. I learned that the success or privilege that I enjoy in life is not a product of my own effort, but a rich rendering of the sacrifice and work of those who went before me.

I’m a daughter of a German mother and an Ethiopian father, raised in Vancouver, BC, a mish-mash upbringing that spanned language and culture, and inspired a passion for learning about the world. My dad is from a little town called Shashemane in southern Ethiopia, and taking his example, I’ve always taken pride in my Ethiopian heritage and the beauty and strength of the country. When I applied for an internship with imagine1day, I was so excited to be a part of an organization that is empowering young Ethiopians to achieve their goals, but I had no idea just how much I would learn about my family, my country, and myself.

Me and my Emaye!

Me and my Emaye!

My dad moved to Canada alone when he was seventeen years old. It was the height of the civil war in the 1970s, and violence was ripping the country apart. Hearing my aunt and my Emaye (the Amharic word for “mom”… it’s what we call our Grandma) talk about that time, I realized that it was the ultimate sacrifice, the most difficult decision, to send their son away to the safety of Canada so that he could seek a better life. I can’t imagine what it would have been like for my dad and his parents to say goodbye at the airport, not knowing when or if they would see each other again. My Emaye is this tiny, feisty Ethiopian woman, constantly thinking of others, and always giving, worrying, fussing and loving. When I visited her over the summer, she was always asking if I was warm enough, if I had enough to eat, or if was doing okay. Her courage, and my dad’s courage as he stepped into a completely unfamiliar life, will always inspire me. This was the inspiration I held on to as I stumbled through adjusting to life in Ethiopia over the summer, thrown into a new culture, a new language, and constant feelings of discomfort and inadequacy that forced me to stretch and grow and learn.

 

Life in Ethiopia taught me the true meaning of the term “just roll with it”. From daily mountain commutes on overstuffed buses (aka, fifteen-passenger vans) filled with people, babies, instruments, food, and live animals, to creatively overcoming language barriers, to adapting to a more relaxed sense of time, to saying yes to all sometimes unidentifiable (but always delicious) food, to learning how to be the only recognizable “ferenji” (foreigner) in town… I learned what I was capable of. And crucially, I came to appreciate and be okay with leaning on other people. I realize that I would not have had anywhere near the same experience if it wasn’t for the support of my family, the friends that I met along the way, and the amazing staff at imagine1day.

This collective mentality and understanding of the role that we all play in each other’s lives was common in the people and communities I met in Ethiopia. I learned to identify myself in the context of my family, as people would understand who I was if I introduced myself as the daughter of Aklilu or the granddaughter of Mulatu Baffa. In Ethiopia, your lineage determines how others see you, and you are loved because of the collective character of your family, not just whether you have earned the love. Distant relatives or friends of the family that I had never met before would take me in and invite me over, lavishing extreme generosity on someone who was effectively a stranger to them.

Through my work with imagine1day, I encountered this community-oriented mindset in many situations, but two distinct moments stood out for me.  

Near the beginning of my internship, I spent time at a primary school in the remote community of Maykoho, in northern Ethiopia. After a bumpy drive over switchbacks and a half-hour scramble down a rocky mountain path, we eventually made it to the school, the only large structure in a hilly landscape of green fields and small huts. Greeting me at the cluster of three rough buildings, the principal took me past the library, which they don’t use because they don’t have books to fill it with, to one of the classrooms. I stepped inside, and as my eyes adjusted to the dim light, the first thing I noticed was that one of the walls was almost completely destroyed. I was told that because the school is constructed out of mud and rocks, this happens often. When the rains come, they come right through the huge hole on to students’ notebooks as they write. In the dry season, the wind whips through and picks up dust from the dirt floor, blowing it into their eyes. But the community is committed to providing for their children’s education, so much so that they constructed this school on their own, without any governmental or outside financial support. Tsegaye, the local priest, told me that every time the school needs to be repaired, the community comes together to donate land, money, and labour. For 12 years, they built and rebuilt and rebuilt, even with the knowledge that the next season might bring the same problems. The conditions these students are in- exposed to the elements, sitting on stones, writing on their knees, no water, no books – I can’t imagine learning like this. But Rahel, a grade six student, told me that she comes to class every day, working hard in her English class so that one day she can become a teacher.

I also spent some time with some of imagine1day’s high school scholarship students, like those whose high school education was funded through the amazing achievements of the7dayringproject. One of the girls, her name is Kidan, was a world-changer in the making- a girl who saw a need beyond herself. Her focus? Deforestation. Not only was she aware of the issue, but she was already taking steps to solve it by planting trees at her school, explaining to her friends why the environment is important, and working towards going to university to study plant biology. And I was just standing there, thinking “wow, here is a girl whose experience of the world has been limited to the village she grew up in, a girl who has enough obstacles to overcome in her own life, and yet she’s committed to solving an issue that affects people on a global scale”.

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As a Canadian, and especially as a student, I tend to measure myself in terms of my achievements. The grades I receive, the skills I have developed, the number of friends I have, the way I present myself…the list goes on. But after a summer in Ethiopia, I have begun to understand how if we only perceive our success as a result of our own efforts, we miss the wider, wilder tapestry of the threads of lives that have influenced and played roles in who we are. I think of the sacrifices that my family made so that I could enjoy the life I have. The generosity of the friends and family and coworkers that I met during my time in Ethiopia this year. The selfless determination of a community in Maykuho to see their children have a chance to go to school. The desire of a young Ethiopian girl to see the world change for the better. The myth of independence is a society that tells us that we can achieve our goals on our own. In understanding how our lives are interdependent, we can begin to understand the impact of those whom we’ve relied on over the course of our journey, and how we can become a positive part of the journey of others. I think this is what I so appreciate about imagine1day’s operational model: their vision is to see a global community come together to empower each other, working together to transform lives. Working in Ethiopia taught me that I’m not, and will never be, self-sufficient. Like when I was a kid, I am still strong and determined, but I know now that I am a product of those that went before me, and that my value lies in the interconnectivity of the community that surrounds me.

And Ethiopia? I’ll be back soon.

 

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ALYSSA MULAT
Administration + Communications Intern at imagine1day
Day Seizer

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