Balance for Better

womens day and gender equality concepts

I’m ashamed to say that I completely forgot that today is International Women’s Day.  There was a time when I was on top of these important days/events.  I’m grateful to my son for reminding me this morning.  He came into the kitchen and wished me a “Happy International Women’s Day”.  I was surprised that he knew about it and asked him if his teacher had mentioned it.  He told me that he saw it on the computer.

This year’s theme is BalanceforBetter which is a call to action for driving gender balance across the world. Women have come a long way but we still have some distance to go.  The best way to achieve greater gender equality is through challenging bias and celebrating women’s achievements.  According to International Women’s Day website, “the race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage.” 

International Women’s Day isn’t just a day for celebration but a call to action for women and men to push for complete gender equality because “gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive”.  Gender equality benefits everyone.

A balanced world is a better world. How can you help forge a more gender-balanced world?  Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality – International Women’s Day

Sources:  IWD; Global News; NBC News; The Sun;

 

Rashida’s World/Timeless #writephoto

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Photo by Sue Vincent

 

She ran to the stone.  It was her escape from her world.  She always made sure she was alone before she clung to its sides, said the words and was transported to another world—a world where slavery didn’t exist.  One of these days, she would remain there and never return to her life as a slave.

The coast was clear.  She held on to the sides, recited the words and poof…she was gone.

When she reached the other side, it was in a wide, open field with wild flowers, their sweet scent filling her senses.  She laughed and ran among them, stopping to pick some until she had a bouquet.  She twirled around like a ballerina, her long skirt bustling about her ankles, the sunshine warming her face.  Giddy, she dropped to the ground.  She lay on her back in the emerald green grass, staring up at the sky.  Yes, one of these days, she was going to leave her other life for good.

Suddenly a figure materialized in front of her.  She sat up, shocked and afraid.  “What-what are you doing here?” she asked.  How on earth did he get here and how come she didn’t see him.  She was positive that she was alone.

“I followed you,” he informed her, his blue eyes narrowing as they traveled over her.  He reached down to help her up but she pushed his hands away.

She scrambled to her feet, her heart pounding.  This was all wrong, she thought in desperation.  He wasn’t supposed to be here.  “You don’t belong here,” she told him.  “In this world there’s no hate or whippings or slave or master…”

“That kind of world doesn’t exist,” was his harsh reply.  “It only exists in your pretty little head.  And no world can keep me from finding you.  Face it, Rashida, there’s no escape from me.  You belong to me.  The sooner you accept that, the better it will be for you.”

“No!” she cried.  “I belong to no one, especially not to you.  I hate you.  You are a wicked and cruel man.  I would rather die than be with you.”

His face hardened and reaching out, he caught hold of her wrist, his grip tightening as she struggled.  “You belong to me.  I bought you.”

“I don’t belong to you.  I belong to God.  He bought me at a price that you could never afford.”

His face suffused with color.  “I don’t want to hear any preaching from you, girl.  You’re coming back to the plantation with me now.”

“No!”  She managed to free herself from him and gathering up her skirt, she ran as fast as she could across the field.  She didn’t stop running until she was sure that he wasn’t following her.  Exhausted from running, she leaned against a tree to catch her breath.

She couldn’t go back to her old world but she couldn’t stay in this one either.  He knew where to find her.  There seemed to be no escape from him.  She meant it.  She would rather die than be with him.  She couldn’t bear the thought of him touching and kissing her.  It filled her with disgust.  Disgust at herself for wanting the man she despised.  Even as she hated when he went in onto her in the nights when everyone was asleep, she didn’t lie there like a log, wishing for it to be over.  She clung to him and gave herself to him.  In the mornings, she was filled with self-recrimination.

There was only one way out of this dreadful situation but she was a Christian.  If she took her life, she would end up in Hell. The thought of burning forever terrified her.  Dejected, she knew what she had to do.  Moving away from the tree, she returned to where she’d left him.  He was still there.  “I knew you’d come back,” he said smugly.  “You can’t run away from me, Rashida.  You belong at the plantation with me.  I’ve been good to you, haven’t I?  It was I who taught you how to read and write.”

She didn’t answer.  She let him put his arm around her shoulders and take her back to the other world where the plantation was.  Her dream of leaving it was now in vain.  She resigned herself to life as his slave and concubine.

The stone remained there, timeless and neglected.  She never went near it again.  It was pointless.

 

 

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Timeless at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

Remington/Fragrant #writephoto

rose-garden

It was a beautiful summer day.  The roses were in full bloom.  Their sweet fragrance filled the air.  Blue lavender added more color to the lush garden.  Mrs. Middleton was throwing one of her extravagant Garden parties.  Guests milled about, chattering and admiring the rows of flowers which lined each pathway.  She stood by the weeping rose which stood where the four pathways intersected.  Everyone was there by invitation only.  For her part, she was there because she worked for Emma Middleton, the hostess’s eldest daughter.  Come to think of it, she hadn’t seen Emma for a while now.  Sighing, she was starting down the path which led to the pond when she heard her named called.  She turned around.  It was Emma hurrying towards her.

“Oh, there you are,” Emma exclaimed.  “I’d been wondering where you had gone off to.  Come, there’s someone I’d like you to meet.”  She grabbed her hand and hustled her over to where a tall, well-built man stood talking to a group of people.  Emma drew him away from them.  “Remington, I’d like you to meet Talisa, my assistant.”

Remington looked at Talisa.  His amber eyes studied her.  He was blown away by her eyes which were slightly slanted and the most striking features of her face.  She wasn’t a beautiful girl but she was stunning.  She looked to be in her early to mid-twenties.  Her hair was pulled back in a hairdo which didn’t quite suit her.  It seemed rather severe but the dress she wore was very flattering to her figure and her complexion.  He held out his hand.  “A pleasure to meet you, Talisa.”

She smiled as they shook hands.  “Likewise.”

Emma tucked her arm in his.  “How’s my favorite cousin?” she asked.

“Busy.  I just got back from Singapore.”

“Business or pleasure?”

“Business.”

“Hmmm.  Well, I’ll leave you to tell Talisa all about it.  Excuse me.”  And she was gone.

Remington and Talisa stood there for awkward minutes and then, he smiling apologetically, said, “You’re not obligated to hear about my trip to Singapore, you know.”

“Actually, I would like to hear about it,” she said.  He was extremely good-looking with his dark hair and amber eyes.  He looked elegant in a white silk shirt which accentuated his olive complexion and navy blue trousers.  She realized that she was staring and looked away.  “Was it your first trip to Singapore?”

“Yes, it was.”

“And how did you find it?”

“Pleasant.  The Singaporeans are generally very open but it’s best to avoid topics like religion, racial issues and politics.”

“What did you think of the women?  I read somewhere that they are ranked the 4th most beautiful in the world.”

“The ones I saw were attractive, pretty and beautiful but as far as them being the 4th most beautiful women in the world, I don’t know if I agree.”

“Sorry.  I didn’t mean to put you on a spot.”

“You didn’t.  Where are you from originally, if you don’t mind me asking.”

Luanda, Angola.  I came after high-school and came here as an international student.  I studied at the University of Brighton and after I graduated, I moved to London after applying for and getting the job with Emma.”

“How do you like working with my dear cousin?”

She smiled.  “I like it very much.  She’s a great boss and friend.”

Remington was about to ask her something when a woman’s voice exclaimed in delight, “Remy, darling!”  They both turned to see a vivacious blonde with outstretched arms and a big smile on her face.  She brushed past Talisa as if she weren’t there and wrapped her tanned arms around Remington’s neck.  The hug lasted for a few minutes and then she drew back to look up at him.  “You’re back from your trip.  Welcome back from the world’s priciest city.”

“Thank you, Evie–”

“Are you free this evening?  Please say yes.”

“Well, I am free but–”

“Good.  There’s this new Italian restaurant I’ve been dying to go to.  I have a friend of a friend who knows the manager and she could get us reservations this evening.”

“Fine.  Evie, allow me to introduce you to Talisa.”

It was the first time Evie even acknowledged that someone else was there.  Her green eyes swept over Talisa.  There was disdain in them.  Without offering her hand, she said rather grudgingly, “Hello.”

“Hello.”

“Remy darling, I’m starving.  Let’s go and see what there is to eat.”  She clutched his arm possessively as she said to Talisa, “Excuse us.”

“It was nice talking to you, Talisa,” was all he managed to say before he was hustled away.

Talisa watched him go, crestfallen.

 

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

Sources:  Denmark in Singapore;

Thinking of Her

She ran along the beach, laughing.  When she looked back and me and smiled, my heart stopped.  The sun hit her at just the right angle.  I envied it because it was caressing her face.  The hands holding the camcorder ached to hold her instead.  I forced myself to concentrate on my task.  I wanted to capture every moment.

Surrounded by sand and sea, we were in paradise.   As I watched her dancing, her arms spread out like a bird’s wings clad in that swimsuit that drove me crazy, I thought of what a lucky guy I was.

Yes, I was a lucky guy.  I married the woman of my dreams and we were blissfully happy until that day when fate intruded upon our happiness and snatched her away from me.  I sit here now on the beach, thinking of her and missing her.  It’s a grey and dismal day, reflective of how I am feeling inside.  The sea seems angry.  I close my eyes and think of that day when we were walking along the water’s edge on a beautiful beach, our future ahead of us.  Not once did it ever occur to me that a year later, she would be gone from my life forever.

Yes, fate dealt me a cruel and heavy blow which has knocked me down.  I don’t know if I will ever be able to get up again.  I can’t imagine going on without her.  She was my life, my world and now she’s gone, leaving this emptiness behind.  I don’t know how long I will sit here and listen to the waves or the cries of the seagulls.  Right now, I can’t face going back to an empty apartment.

There is no armour against fate – JAMES SHIRLEY, The Contention of Ajax and Ulysses

 

The Sunshine Comes

Do not lose hope, please believe that there are thousands of beautiful things waiting for you. Sunshine comes to all who feel rain. -R.M. Drake

After staring at her painted toenails, she finally raised her head to look up at him.  They were standing by the lake on a cloudy Sunday afternoon.  They had just gone for a bite to eat at their favorite Greek restaurant.  All during the meal, she wrestled with herself.  Should I tell him today or wait a while longer?  They had been dating for a while now and things were becoming serious between them.  He had a right to know.  If there was to be any future together, there could be no secrets between them.

“Ishmael, I have something to tell you.”

He looked a bit concerned.  “What is it?” he asked gently.

She took a deep breath.  “I suffer from bi-polar disorder.”  There, she said it.  Her heart pounded as she waited for his response.  Would he act all strange or come up with some excuse and walk away and out of her life?  It had happened before with other guys.  She hoped that he would be different.

An expression of relief came over his face.  “Is that all?” he exclaimed.  “I thought you were going to tell me that it’s over between us.”

She stared at him.  “You mean you don’t mind…?”

He shook his head.  “No.  Mental illness isn’t something to be ashamed of.  And it doesn’t define you.  I look at you and still see the amazing woman I fell in love with a year ago.”

Tears welled in her eyes.  “I was afraid to tell you but you had a right to know.”

He reached out and drew her closer, his thumb caressed her cheek as he rested his forehead against hers.  “You have nothing to be afraid of where I’m concerned, okay?” he assured her.

She nodded, not trusting herself to speak just then.

“I have something I need to ask you,” he said, raising his head.

She looked at him, curious.  “What is it?” she asked.

He didn’t answer right away.  Instead, he got down on one knee, fished out a little black box from his jeans pocket and holding it out for her to see as he opened it to reveal an exquisite diamond and gold ring.  “Nadya, will you marry me?”

Nadya began to cry and in between the sobs, she managed to say, “Yes!”

Grinning broadly, Ishmael slipped it on her finger, kissed it and then got to his feet.  Cupping her face between his hands, he kissed her.

She put her arms around his waist and kissed him back, her heart almost bursting.  At that moment the sun began to shine.

couple-touching-with-heads-before-kissing

January 30th is Bell Let’s Talk Day when Canadians and people around the globe join the world’s largest conversation about mental health.  The impact has been great. Overall, 87% of Canadians say they are more aware of mental health issues than they were a few years ago. Additionally, 85% think attitudes about mental health have changed for the better and 75% believe the stigma around mental illness has been reduced. The numbers are even more impressive among young people aged 18-24: 88% think attitudes are better and 77% believe stigma has been reduced – BCE

Mental illness is something that affects everyone in some fashion and there always needs to be a conversation.  I have been personally affected by it.  My sister has bipolar disorder as did two deceased cousins.  I knew two co-workers who had it as well.  Those who have it need to know that they have support.

It isn’t something to be ashamed or embarrassed about.  There is awareness and an ongoing conversation.  And most importantly, there is help.

There isn’t anybody out there who doesn’t have a mental health issue, whether it’s depression, anxiety, or how to cope with relationships. Having OCD is not an embarrassment anymore – for me. Just know that there is help and your life could be better if you go out and seek the help.” – Howie Mandel

“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.” – Glenn Close

“It doesn’t have to take over your life, it doesn’t have to define you as a person, it’s just important that you ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness.” — Demi Lovato

Sources:  WikipediaEveryday Power

Gifts From the East

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him” – Matthew 2:2

Wise Men from the East traveled all the way to Jerusalem to see the King of the Jews.  They didn’t know where exactly to find Him.  They had see His star and followed it.  It led them there in Jerusalem.  They visited King Herod, believing that he would know where the Christ was but the king didn’t.  He was greatly troubled by this and called the chief priests and scribes together to inquire where the Christ was to be born.  They told him what the prophecy said, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:  ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’

King Herod met alone with the Wise Men and told them that the Child was in Bethlehem, tell them to, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”  The visitors left and the star which they had seen in the East went before them and led them to where the Child was.  Seeing the star filled them with great joy and they rejoiced.

They went into the house and saw the young Child with His mother, Mary.  They fell down and worshipped Him.  They presented gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. What was the significance of each of these gifts?  Were they simply customary gifts from the regions or were they chosen specifically?  Gold is a precious and valuable metal.   It is rare and it doesn’t tarnish.  Precious things and ornaments are made of gold.  In this instance, gold represents Jesus’ kingship.  Frankincense is a perfume or incense.  It was used in religious and spiritual rituals all over the world..  It represents Jesus’ priesthood.  Myrrh is a bitter gum and costly perfume which comes from a certain tree or shrub in Arabia and Ethiopia.  It is also an antiseptic used for embalming.  The myrrh prefigures Jesus’ death and embalming.

These gifts were not arbitrary.  They were carefully chosen for the One whom they traveled far to behold and worship.  They brought their gifts to Him because they believed that He was the Messiah, the King of the Jews.  What a beautiful story of faith and the love of God who sent His Son to die for everyone.  It is a testimony that Jesus is Savior of Jews and Gentiles.  He came to save the world.

This Christmas season, reflect on the roles of Jesus–King, Priest and Savior.  Think of someone who needs to know that God loves them and offer them His most precious Gift to mankind–His Son.

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Source: Natural Living Family

Making Plans

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into this city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit,” whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? It is just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you are rejoicing in your boastings. All such rejoicing is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, it is sin – James 4:13-16

How many of us make plans way ahead in the future? And how many of those plans end up going nowhere? Why does the Bible liken making plans to boasting? It could be because we are doing so without consulting God. We act as if we are in control of our destiny when He is the One who is. As Christians, we should make our plans based on what God wants or think is best not what we want. He may have much better plans for us. Take the prophet Jeremiah. What would have happened if he had made plans for a career, travel or marriage? Those plans would have come to nothing because God already had plans for his life.

Remember the Tower of Babel? The people had the bright idea of building a tower so high that it would reach heaven. What were their reasons for building the tower? “…let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4). They wanted to stay put instead of going abroad and populating the earth. In other words, they were making their own plans which were outside of God’s will. They were boastful in thinking that they could do things their way instead of God’s way.

Nothing is wrong with having plans but they must never be contrary to God’s will. To them, it seemed reasonable to stay where they were and build up a city instead of going out into the world to start new lives. There are times when we want to stay put but God wants us to step out in faith as He did with Abraham. And there are times when we want to go places but He wants us to stay put like Jeremiah. We have to be attuned to what God wants for us so that our plans will line up nicely with His perfect will for us.

It is always best to say, “if the Lord wills…” when it comes to making plans. Wouldn’t you feel better knowing that God approves of your plans and will bless them?

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