Maternity Leave Laws F&#* S!€%!!! Gaaaaahhh!!

I don’t live in the US, but I still find this incredibly frustrating! As the (currently) most powerful country in the world, shouldn’t you be setting a much better example? Much of the world still needs fairer parental leave laws which are harder to justify and demand when the US is famously lagging so far behind. A lot of developing nations do look at the US as an example to follow in many aspects. Get your act together please!

It’s things like this that have had a lot of us women (myself included) worried about “leaning in” in the world of work, because when the time comes, will we have any support? Will we even have the time to enjoy raising our own families? Or would we just have to pay someone else to do that?

Another thing: I do not call it maternity leave. That puts a lot of unfair pressure on women who may lose out on opportunities because an employer may not want to hire a woman who could, at any moment, “run away for a year to have children”. I actually read about an employer saying this when discussing why not as many women are hired for high level positions (read Darling, You Can’t Do Both: And Other Noise To Ignore on Your Way Up, AMAZING book!) It also does not favour families where the woman may actually be the main bread winner or have the more demanding job.

Call it parental leave, and do like some central European countries where a very decent amount of time (say… one year) is allocated to a couple to split between themselves as they see fit! Yes, there are cultural norms and yes, the majority of families may swing one way, but leave room for change. Leave room for flexibility because not everyone is the same. Our societies are shifting and those in power need to catch up!

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Somewhere to Share

I have been trying to write a post for a while and have not yet been able to finish one.

But.

I read this today and I really want to share it, although I did not want to share it on Facebook. So here it is on my blog:

A Lot Of Hush: Motherhood Lost

Ramadan Kareem

Ramadan Kareem

Wishing all Muslims a peaceful and faithful Ramadan.

I’m a little afraid to write this post cos it’s a hot topic in the world today :s

But this blog doesn’t get much traffic anyway so maybe I am safe?

As I think I mentioned in this post one half of my family is Muslim. Therefore I grew up celebrating both traditions, however whenever someone asked me what religion I was I used to say that I am a Muslim. This was until I started university when for a while I would say that I am “undecided” and then eventually became a practicing baptised Catholic :)

One thing I LOVE about the Catholic faith is this:

843 The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as “a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life.”332

Everyone is searching for God.

We are not perfect human beings and on top of that we are all different.

I don’t think God would close himself off from people just because their circumstances led them to a different religion.

The truth is that most people are taught only one religion and that will be which ever religion their parents follow. Also, if someone does want to decide it can be quite difficult when EVERY religion claims to be the one true path to salvation!

I find too many people have such an exclusive view on religion and I don’t like it. And everyone always emphasises that “we ALL have to make a choice!”  and that is why there is no sympathy. Yes it is true that everyone has to make a choice. But making a choice to break a family tradition or even face ostracism from either your family, community or country based on a change in your belief, is not nearly the same thing as making a choice to stick with the religion and traditions that you and many generations of your family have safely and happily grown up with. That applies to all religions.

So to all Muslims, have a wonderful Ramadan. I am definitely looking forward to Eid as it just so happens to be on the same day as the Rehearsal Dinner!! AAAAAAAHH!! Can’t wait to see my family and friends!!! :D

Lots of Love

Engaged Lady

I would love to read more blogs that say this!!
Enjoy :)

My First Grown Up Christmas :-D

* started writing this Christmas Eve… got half way then had to finish the rest today!

Our very full Christmas Tree!

Our very full Christmas Tree!

*Oh my gosh I have SOOOO much to rant talk about!!

But it’s Christmas Eve.

I have today off!

And everyone else has work :D so it’s just me, Bob Marley and my laptop :)

And rather than rant today it would probably be much better for me and my wonderful readers to reflect upon the importance of this season and what it means to me.

First of all, what this means to me :)

The first time I really discovered Bob Marley was Christmas time when I was about 15… So now Bob Marley never fails to put me into the Christmas spirit!! Is that weird?

Some other “Christmas” albums for me include:

Usher Raymond – 8701

Destinies Child – Survivor

Miseducations of Lauryn Hill

Wale – Ambition beautiful song, but I decided to link to a clean version for the sake of the internet!

J. Cole – Cole World: The Sideline Story

Drake – Take Care

Note that the last three were all out before last Christmas and always take me back to my days sitting on the tube on the way to work in North London….. I know that NONE of these tracks actually have anything to do with Christmas!! But it’s the memories I associate with them! There’s more too but I guess these will do for now :)

My job in North London wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for as an architecture graduate. I was a site secretary (a.k.a. secretary in an office on a construction site) and there were many days that I really had to draaag myself out of bed and into the 75 minute commute to work. But in this world there is beauty that can be found in everything. Looking back I am VERY happy for my experience there and the many fun/different/annoying/happy characters I got to work with. Even my daily commute provided much needed time for prayer, contemplation, reflection, people watching, entertainment and observations. I tried to make sure I always had a rosary in my pocket :)

One moment of beauty was when I was sat on the tube and the last view I had before going underground was a wet and grey Hammersmith… then about an hour later I came out from the tunnel and was greeted by a wonderful snowy white view of the park, roof tops and trees! It brought a smile to my face, it was beautiful!

There were other funny/awkward memories, like when I was rushing into the next tube in the middle of my journey and was elated to find a carriage with THREE free seats all next to each other! So I rushed in and sat right in the middle, only to notice everyone nervously staring next to me. I looked to my right and, yep, I was sitting next to the crazy person! Changed carriages at the next stop :-p but not before he had time to stare in my face and proclaim to everyone that “she must be in love!!”

* So I have just spent my very first Christmas with the fiance.

He is amazing.

I really do miss my family a lot. They went to visit my Granny and Uncle in Wales, and are now in Switzerland for a week as has been the tradition for the past four years… I know… lalalaaa the life of an expat brat!

This is also the first Christmas I have not taken time off for. The office has been closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Today is a half day and tomorrow of course I have off again :) Last year I took two weeks off. The year before that I was free as a bird (a.k.a. unemployed/volunteering :P) and before that I was a student….

My first GROWN UP CHRISTMAS!!

And despite my little emotional outbreaks I get from time to time, especially when I miss my family but am trying very hard not to(!) my fiance has been wonderfully supportive and I am very happy to be with him this year.

This little reflection I am doing right now on where I was this time last year in relation to now is a wonderful perspective to view the past from… So although I have things to rant about at the moment and probably always will, a year from now these inner rantings will probably cherished memories. Why? Because it is all part of making me who I am… dare I say that in the past year I have (gasp) become me again?

I cherish the memories I have of being miserable on the tube for two-and-a-half-hours a day! It makes me appreciate my current position even more!

I wasn’t always, but I am now VERY grateful for all of it :)

Now on to the next part!

Christmas in this country is certainly different e.g. NO SNOW! It is warm and sunny at the moment, which kinda adds to the reason why it took me ages to realise we are actually in December. Christmas music is Parang (Spanish instrumentals, usually English lyrics these days) food is more ham and pastelles than turkey with brussel sprouts and yorkshire pudding… similar but different! No one really stays home either, everyone is driving around to say Merry Christmas to all the different family members and friends.

I think I’ve just given away where I am living with all of those links… oh shucks! Not writing it down here though!

As for the religious part… well this is a Catholic multi-religious/cultural society!

Lots of church! And lots of people proclaiming the joy of Christ without being afraid of sounding over religious or freaking out the secularists :P Haha!

I love it!!

Happy New Year everyone!!!

P.S. If anyone from work ever happens to stumble across this… don’t worry… I LOVED working with all of you!! I didn’t like the commute :P

Cute Angel!

Cute Angel!

Shubh Diwali!

Pretty!!!

Deya’s!

I love living in a country where people embrace the good in all faiths!

I’m sure that anyone from here will be able to guess where I am now, but hey as long as I’m not actually saying it :P

Christmas, Eid Il Fitr and Diwali are all public holidays here. (Yes I know that does not encompass ALL religions, but they are the most prevailing faiths in this culture) That means that multiculturalism is embedded enough into society that decades ago the GOVERNMENT decided to make it official. Think about it!

Multiculturalism is embedded into society at all levels to the point where it is actually official.

I know I can’t say that we are living in peace, or that racism and prejudice are dead and all that… They definitely aren’t. But I trust that we will get better. And I can say that at least I am living in a society where FAITH is respected and not mocked or scoffed at! Whichever faith it may be!

My mum’s side of the family is Muslim, and my Dad’s side is Christian. I grew up celebrating both Eid and Christmas. Merging cultures is a concept that up until I was 11 years old had been ingrained into my family and our upbringing alone, separate from everyone else in our neighbourhood. I didn’t mind, people were curious and interested in my background and I was always happy to share what I knew! My background was a spark for conversation, for learning, for self expression and for my own sense of self, sense of pride and my interest in other cultures. That being said, I was very happy to discover when I first moved here the last time (just over 12 years ago now) that this concept is actually ingrained into an entire society.

I would love to say where I am right now, but unfortunately when I did a search on posts that this country has been tagged in it came up to maybe one or two posts a week… I don’t want anyone guessing who I am! That happens when you live in a small world!

Anyway, for anyone who doesn’t know, Diwali is the Hindu Christmas! As in, it’s the biggest festival on the Hindu calendar. It is known as the Festival of Light and celebrates the triumph of light over darkness. Of good over evil.

To everyone who has decided to stumble across a blog named The Story Of My Dark Side, I believe that this is a concept we can ALL vibe with! That ultimately Light will triumph over Darkness.

Sincerely

Smileyface :)

My Sunday (Thoughts About Faith and the Material World)

Did you know that The Big Bang Theory was invented by a Catholic priest?

Look him up! His name is Georges Lemaitre.

I love science, so was very happy to find this out! About 10 years ago I did have some trouble with the whole “science vs. religion” debate as although I did want to believe that there was a God, I didn’t want to forget science. It was one of my best subjects at school! Luckily I learned a few years later that actually science and Catholicism can easily go together and one very useful way to see it is that science is merely another one of Gods tools with which he creates this world :)

Boom! I find that quite easy to comprehend, and any science nerds that still try to debate that whole aspect of religion with me (a.k.a. Dad, brother, sister, classmates…) I feel just can’t handle losing that argument :P haha!

I could write an entire post about science and religion but would instead rather talk about my day today! Might come back to this later.

Today’s Gospel reading at church was the one where the rich guy asked Jesus how to achieve eternal life and Jesus tells him to give up all his possessions and follow him. Then the rich guy walks away feeling sad and Jesus proceeds to say how difficult it is for a rich man to go to heaven.

Right.

I know this passage might bring relief to a lot of people who are struggling financially. As for me, on the other hand, this passage always makes me feel kinda uneasy. I’m a spoilt expat brat. No other way to say it! Sure, I have known P-L-E-N-T-Y of kids who were more spoilt than I am, but I also know plenty of people who are much less spoilt than me and all I can do to make myself feel better is resort to relativism e.g. “at least I am not like them!”  In this case, “them” referring to all the other spoilt kids I ever knew or encountered! Although, I do try to hide it as much as I possibly can I am sure it must show through sometimes.

Today has been one of those days…. Nuff said, moving on!

Another thing I can say is “well, I don’t know anyone who would be willing to give up all of their stuff!” with the exception of the few nuns I’ve met briefly at church of course… They are different!

And also, by nature, as an artist and a designer I have an undying desire to surround myself with pretty things! My clothes, my accessories, my home decor, my blog theme etc…. My career (oh yea! I finally got a job!) is based on the principle of making material possessions both practical and aesthetically pleasing.

Human beings appreciate beauty! I love just being able to see! From the trees and birds, to the cities, home decor, fashion, people and my own reflection. Yea, I said it. I am not one of those girls who always hates the way I look! No way! I appreciate it whole heartedly and I hope 30 years from now I can still say that!

I appreciate the things I see so much that I thank God for allowing me to see everything I get to look at everyday.

I also appreciate the things I see so much that I always want more. I always want more clothes, hair styles, shoes, ornaments, lamps, clocks, bed sheets… you get the picture?? It was a task being able to give away everything (yea right! Not everything!!) that I didn’t need in order to ship the rest during my move over here.

People do soften the impact of this particular Gospel reading by instead saying that it means that God does not want us to be “too attached” to our material possessions. That does make me feel better. I know that if I had to give away all my possessions then I could. If it was out of necessity. There are more important things out there and I know this at the bottom of my heart. I just hope that I won’t have to, and I hope that by writing this post I have not jinxed myself. Eeek.

Anyway, I am not quite sure how to conclude this post… I always suck at conclusions!

After hearing todays Gospel reading and then analysing my own attitude… I can at least thank God that he has brought this to my attention again and continues to on a regular basis through the world around me. I am reminded all the time that I should be grateful for everything in my life, material and immaterial. I pray that he continues to remind me, that I continue to grow in my ability to show thanks for all the good blessings in my life, and that I can grow and learn new ways of showing thanks and gratitude by contributing in my own way to the world I have been given.

Faithfully,

Smileyface! :)

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