My Prized Possession: A Collection of Letters

For the past several years, just around the first week of December, I go to my closet and take out my box of birthday letters and spend a few minutes reading all the beautiful thoughts 37 people penned to me.

I always tell my family that I want to get my flowers when I am alive; when I can enjoy and feel the joy of receiving them. I always tell my family people need to hear kind words and nice things about themselves when they are alive. Why wait until the person dies? My family heard me. For my 37th birthday, one of my daughters spearheaded the “Mom’s Birthday Letters” project. The 37 letters I received brought immense joy and happiness to me then and still do today. These letters have taken up real estate in my heart! Today, I will share with you one of my letters. I’ve retyped it verbatim, except for my name. I replaced my nickname with my real name.

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Elaine my dear,

Today as you celebrate your birthday, my thoughts will be with you as yours will be with many others as well. It will be unjust if I do not take this opportunity to congratulate Roshini for thinking about you and creating a gift that will probably end up being your most prized possessions; one you can refer to and cherish long after she is all grown up and gone. My invitation to participation in your book of love is indeed an honor.

Elaine, I have known you for about 17 years and I think you look the same – young and pretty.  Your early adult years were fun-filled for your childhood lingered. I realized that only because we worked together which gave me the chance to know you for the person you are. I watched you grow and most importantly mature through laughter and tears.

We spent some school years together, though not classroom time. We were there for each other for support and to lend an ear. Those days were rough ones and I will never forget them. Those were also good years where we actually developed our friendship as it is today. That time in your life was also blessed, for in my opinion, it forced you to grow up fast.

I remember vividly the excitement you displayed on your 25th birthday. I was very happy for you then as I am today. Youthful days gave you extra energy to deal with the trials of motherhood. You did a wonderful job and your success shows in the three beautiful children you have. Now both you and your husband can welcome their accomplishments with great pride.

Over the years, I watched you blossom into the woman you are. Your educational path led you here, your community involvement, your unselfish thoughts and time devoted to others, your family life, a loving wife and mother…these qualities my friend will continue to bloom and take you into the golden years.

On this your 37th birthday, the pleasure is all mine to be able to call you friend. It was God’s will and my good fortune to see where you were yesterday, where you are today and your journey into the tomorrows ahead.

A special wish to you for  a happy, healthy, and blessed birthday. Cherish today and continue to embrace tomorrow with a smile.

Love,

Seroj

bday cake

Raksha Bandhan

On August 20th faces will light up with smiles and hearts will laugh together. Why? This day marks another Raksha Bandhan festival.  Hindus and some non-Hindus throughout the world eagerly look forward to this auspicious day. What is Raksha Bandhan?

Raksha Bandhan is the celebration of the relationship between a brother and a sister. It falls on the full moon in the month of Sravana in the lunar calendar. Raksha means protection and bandhan means to tie. Sisters tie a woven thread bracelet called a rakhi around the wrists of their brothers.

Photo credit: Google images

Photo credit: Google images

As a sister ties the rakhi, she prays for blessings and the wellbeing of her brother and he in turn promises to protect her forever. Although the thread of the rakhi is frail and can easily be broken, symbolically, it has immeasurable strength; it is stronger than iron chains. The rakhi symbolizes that unbreakable bond of love and trust between brothers and sisters.  On Raki day, as it is fondly called, brothers and sisters try to meet, but if this is not possible, sisters deliver their rakhis by mail, call, send e-greetings, or cards for their brothers.

English: A sampling of rakhis. Image by self -...

A sampling of rakhis.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Raksha Bandhan is not only for biological brothers and sisters, but for any sister who wishes to seek the protection of a brother. Additionally, it is not uncommon for Hindu women to tie rakhis on non-Hindu men.

Like most Hindu festivals, Raksha Bandhan brings singing, dancing, and food! Here in South Florida, the Raksha Bandhan celebrations have already begun. Last Saturday, I attended a show presented by the Araya Samaj of Florida which was a delightful treat! As expected, my sweet tooth was thoroughly satisfied. There was also lots of singing and dancing. One young dancer enthralled me with her beautiful and graceful moves.

Lillian Grace Latchmin is a 12-year-old bharatanatyam dance student. She is a dedicated young lady who wants to excel in this Indian classical dance form. Bharatanatyam, the oldest of all the classical dance styles in India is a powerful and dynamic dance that requires patient and committed practice. Lily’s commitment to her passion certainly shone through when she stepped on stage with her graceful moves. Her dance added an extra sparkle to the Raksha Bandhan show!

Lily 1

A happy and blessed Raksha Bandhan 2013!

May the bond of love and trust between brothers and sisters remain steadfast and strong.

Mother: Nurturer, Teacher, and Friend

Today’s daily prompt asks us to write a letter to mom. I gave my mom her letter yesterday. This post is a short reflection.

Every day is Mother’s Day and frankly speaking, we should not wait for this specific day in May to celebrate our moms. Having said that, although I do not tell my mom daily how much I love her or what a blessing she is to me, I am eternally grateful for all she has done to raise me into the woman I am today; the mother I am today. I am thankful for the many lessons she taught me directly and indirectly.

My mother- nurturer, teacher, and friend has helped me to recognize that…

Nothing is a coincidence

Each moment is unique and precious, and once passed it cannot be recaptured

When we ask for something, we ought to ask with the intention of receiving

God places people, situations, and circumstances in our paths to make our lives easier

Each disappointment, hardship, or setback we have, ultimately makes us stronger

People have the ability to collectively channel their thoughts for the greater good

Keeping the spirit of hope alive will make that which seem impossible, possible

Daughters do not truly understand their mothers until they themselves become mothers.

I am proud to be my mother’s daughter!

English: Mother's Day card

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Celebrating Earth Day: The Grocery Bag Project

Every year on April 22, millions of people in thousands of cities in about 192 countries around the world observe Earth Day. Many environmental agencies, faith-based organizations, schools, charities, families, and individuals have week-long activities that focus on raising awareness about environmental issues and reminding us about our roles and responsibilities in caring for and protecting Mother Earth, our home.

How did Earth Day come about? The seed of Earth Day was planted in 1969 by Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin. It sprouted on April 22, 1970 when a grassroot demonstration took place to petition the government to put environmental issues on the political agenda. Today, over 40 years later Earth Day has grown and blossomed tremendously, but the messages to care for and protect our Earth still need to go out. I’d like to share with you how a school in Miami, Florida is sending out those messages.

For several years now, the students at Dante B. Fascell Elementary School collaborate with their local grocery store, Publix Supermarket at Lago Mar for an Earth Day project. Teachers show their commitment to molding caring, compassionate children for the Earth by collecting hundreds of grocery bags from Publix for their students to decorate with Earth Day messages and drawings. The store uses the Earth Day bags to send home customers’ groceries.

The students from Pre-K to 5th grade take pride in decorating their bags and writing their messages. Some students in the bilingual program wrote their messages in Spanish.

Earth Day Grocery Bag Project- messages in Spanish

Earth Day Grocery Bag Project- messages in Spanish

The grocery bag project offers students a prime opportunity to discuss their roles and responsibilities in caring for the Earth. Many of them, along with their parents accompany the teachers to deliver the bags to the supermarket. Hats off to the students at Dante B. Fascell Elementary School for thinking globally and acting locally.
Photo credit: Lily Guevara This is Cailyn Guevara working on her project.

Photo credit: Lily Guevara
This is Cailyn Guevara working on her grocery bag.

This Earth Day grocery bag project is an excellent example of how schools and communities work together for the greater good.

Earth Day messages on grocery grocery bags.

Earth Day messages on grocery bags