BRAZIL: Saving the World in Small Ways – Part I

BRAZIL: Saving the World in Small Ways – Part I


When I was a teenager/young adult I wanted to change the world (as it happens with so many youngsters). And changing the world usually meant Doing Big Things.

Now, three kids and more than twenty years later, my saving the world efforts seem so distant. I grapple with alternating days when I stay home with the kids, sorting socks and washing dishes, and days teaching classes at the university, advising students’ research, and trying to do some research of my own.

At one point of my life I thought my career would be in the non-profit sector; i.e., I would be a professional environmentalist, forever. By then my volunteering efforts had evolved into parallel paying jobs related to social-environmental issues, and this kind of lifestyle went on for 12+ years.

I continued on to graduate school not because I wanted to become an academic, but because I thought it would be a great addition to what I already did. I found it exciting to go from project to project, often working on more than one at once. I felt almost repulsed by the thought of staying in the same job for the rest of my life, always doing the same thing. I even got a certain thrill from not knowing where my salary would come from after the current project ended.

My husband (who worked for the same NGO) was not as thrilled and dreamed of the day at least one of us would have a more stable job. Since I was already on the academic path in one way or the other, that person became me.

When I first became a professor I wasn’t overjoyed. Although I love to do research, teaching is a different story and it was very hard in the beginning. At this point I already had three children and the “saving the world” type of projects were in the past. Another dream that I tried to pursue (to become a professional writer) had also been buried. I sadly realized I wasn’t really passionate about anything anymore – except, of course, my kids.

By this time my husband had gotten a relatively stable government job, although he didn’t really love it. We were finally okay financially and we were living a comfortable life. Nevertheless, we began to question ourselves about our choices.

Were we still living according to the same principles we followed when we first met (especially in relation to the environment)? Were we fleeing our responsibility of making a difference in the world? Had we left our ideals aside for modern, middle class comforts? Were we still being true to our dreams?

At first I had a good excuse to avoid these issues because two of our kids were very small and I had to deal with all of the related motherhood issues. In parallel, I tried to make the most of my job focusing on the good things: stability, flexible hours, and the possibility of quantity time with my children even if that meant doing a lot of work at night and during the weekend. I told myself (and I still do), that there are many means to make a difference, even if in “small” ways.

After all, in practice, there are no real big things. Big things take place in small steps and often need more than one person involved. Also, what seems like small, local things, often involve a lot of work and may have a greater impact on the world than expected. No wonder one of the most popular environmentalist mottos is, “Think global, act local”.

Today, in my attempts to continue to be of service to the world, I try (for example) to be a good listener to my students because sometimes I sense they are more in need of a friendly ear than anything else. A great number of students suffer from depression and other related disorders, for instance. And it’s not that I serve as a psychologist or anything, but I frequently feel that just treating them kindly and making an effort to advise them extra well regarding academic issues makes a significant difference.

Yet the fact is, regardless of how we do in our present jobs, the sort of questions I listed before has been haunting us for the past few years. Now that our youngest is past three, these questions have resurfaced. The biggest issue that remains is how to be true to our dreams and ideals while at the same time guaranteeing enough food on the table (and healthcare, and a good education etc., etc.)?

This post will be continued in Part 2.

Please share your story below on how you have managed (or not) to follow your dreams, personally and professionally.

This post was inspired by two other posts: “Surviving the turmoil” and “My frame world”.

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Ecoziva in Brazil.

Photo credit to Claremont Colleges Digital Library.  This photo has a creative commons attribute license.

Ecoziva (Brazil)

Eco, from the greek oikos means home; Ziva has many meanings and roots, including Hebrew (brilliance, light), Slovenian (goddess of life) and Sanskrit (blessing). In Brazil, where EcoZiva has lived for most of her life, giving birth is often termed “giving the light”; thus, she thought, a mother is “home to light” during the nine months of pregnancy, and so the penname EcoZiva came to be for World Moms Blog. Born in the USA in a multi-ethnic extended family, EcoZiva is married and the mother of two boys (aged 12 and three) and a five-year-old girl and a three yearboy. She is trained as a biologist and presently an university researcher/professor, but also a volunteer at the local environmental movement.

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AUSTRALIA:  My Own Leap of Faith

AUSTRALIA: My Own Leap of Faith

leap of faithI try to do the right thing most of the time by setting a good example for my teenage / adult children. However, like most mothers, sometimes I’m torn between doing what feels right for me and doing what might be right for the family. I guess that’s because sometimes the two are in direct conflict, or often they seem to be.

On the 9th of August, I walked out of a well-paying job with a company that I’d been with for 12 years. I gave my requisite four weeks’ notice with no job to go to, no immediate plans and only a belief that I had to take the leap because I believed I deserved better.

It was perhaps a little selfish financially in terms of my family, and my husband was totally against me resigning without something else to go to. He had legitimate reasons given that the job market in Australia is considerably flat at the moment, as I’m sure it is in many countries.

I was also worried whether I was setting the right example for my children by just walking away from a good job, I was basically throwing in the towel because things had gotten too hard. My husband is also not a man who likes change, which made my decision even more difficult.

The thing is for many months I felt like I’d been dying inside, I felt like my job was sucking the life out of me. I was working in a company which was under new management and was undergoing massive change and restructuring. The biggest problem was that the importance of change management and communication had gone out the window, things that I hold in very high regard.

Morale had dropped, staff were miserable and were leaving in larger than normal numbers. In the end I decided that my family deserved more than my misery and unhappiness and more than that, so did I. Home was not a happy place for those first few weeks after I resigned, but it hadn’t been for months anyway.

Seven weeks of job searching and plenty of soul searching and I finally have landed the job of my dreams. There are many who voiced their concern and worried about the mistake I was making, those loved ones are now eating their words and telling me that I did the right thing and how brave I was to do it.

My brother recently sent me the following quote, which ironically also arrived in my letterbox in the form of business coaching advertising material in the same week I got the job offer.

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got” Henry Ford

As scary and as uncertain as my decision was, I fully believed in myself and I took the leap. I knew what I wanted and I was determined to find it, plus I was totally prepared to accept whatever might be.

I knew that I may have to take an interim job in the meantime, if that’s what it took to find the right job and still keep my family on track financially.

My decision could have gone pear shaped and turned out badly, but I’m a big believer that sometimes you just have to believe.

The biggest lesson I’ve taught my children is that you have to believe in yourself, fight for what you are worth and be brave enough to follow your dreams. I’m doing exactly that, I’ve landed my dream job with the financial and personal rewards I know I’m worthy of. I’m now excited about going back to work.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve taught your children and do you back up your words with action?

This is an original World Moms Blog post by Fiona from Inspiration to Dream of Adelaide, South Australia. Fiona can be found writing or reading in every spare moment that isn’t filled up with work and her family.

Image credit Cliparto ID 3130264This image is used in compliance with the terms of the Cliparto Standard Royalty Free License Agreement.


Fiona Biedermann (Australia)

Fiona at Inspiration to Dream is a married mother of three amazing and talented MM’s (mere males, as she lovingly calls them) aged 13, 16 and 22, and she became a nana in 2011! She believes she’s more daunted by becoming a nana than she was about becoming a mother! This Aussie mother figures she will also be a relatively young nana and she’s not sure that she’s really ready for it yet, but then she asks, are we ever really ready for it? Motherhood or Nanahood. (Not really sure that’s a word, but she says it works for her.) Fiona likes to think of herself as honest and forthright and is generally not afraid to speak her mind, which she says sometimes gets her into trouble, but hey, it makes life interesting. She’s hoping to share with you her trials of being a working mother to three adventurous boys, the wife of a Mr Fix-it who is definitely a man’s man and not one of the ‘sensitive new age guy’ generation, as well as, providing her thoughts and views on making her way in the world. Since discovering that she’s the first blogger joining the team from Australia, she also plans to provide a little insight into the ‘Aussie’ life, as well. Additionally, Fiona can be found on her personal blog at Inspiration to Dream.

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