Wednesday, June 12, 2013

January - Out of 24 holidays, only 14 are public holidays celebrated throughout the country. The first holiday  is New Years Day.  Although the traditional New Years celebration is  in April for the Songkran Festival, publicly it is celebrated on January 1st . Much like the New years' Times Square ball drop in New York City, the countdown for the new year in Bangkok, Thailand happens at their world trade center.

February – Like in the U.S. Valentine's Day is celebrated on February 14th. It is the one  day of the year where public displays of affection aren't frowned upon.

Makha Bucha is another public holiday that is celebrated at the end of February. This is a religious holiday to commemorate Buddha's speech given to 1250 people. So on the day of Makha Bucha, citizens gather at the temple for ceremonies and at night they walk around the temple three times with lit candles.

April – Celebrated on the 6th, the public holiday Chakri Day acknowledges the establishing of the Chakri Dynasty and King Bhumibol Adulyadej.(Rama IX ). April 13-15 is the public traditional New Years Day celebrated with the Songkran Festival . The people of Thailand spray water on the statues of Buddha and each other with the spiritual meaning of purification.

May – May 5th is Coronation Day to represent the ninth king, King Bhumibol Adulyadej's coronation.  The Royal Ploughing Ceremony on May 13th is presented in front of the king to bring good luck to the rice planting season. Visakha Bucha is a widely celebrated holiday to celebrate the birth of Buddha  and the enlightenment of Buddhas nirvana. People listen to Dharma and in the temple there is a candle lit procession around the statues of Buddha.

August – In August the Chinese Ghost Festival is on Sart Chin Day where the three realms of heaven, earth and hell open so the spirits can roam the Earth looking for food and entertainment. The citizens create food offering ceremonies and give out food and other items to people who need them most.

November – In November Loy Krathong is celebrated on the first full moon in November. Thai citizens buy or make krathongs which are banana tree boats with flowers and candles in the center. They then  float along a river or pond to wash away their sins.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

My friend Janet and her husband James are parents of six. Their fourth child has learning disabilities. This necessitates his learning in a Special Education school. Their fifth child is hyperactive and difficult to handle .When their second child was fifteen he was diagnosed as suffering from epilepsy. If this was not enough, James developed a heart condition. He requires constant monitoring. The doctor warned him – keep away from stress.
Great idea but how is it done.

Stress meets up with everyone at some point in life. Nobody is exempt from it. For the more fortunate its visits are rare. However for the parents of a special needs child it visits, without invitation, very frequently. How can we control it from disturbing our life when it does appear?
A professional might draw up a plan for you similar to:
  • Take a course in relaxation.

  • Take regular vacations

  • Eat healthy food – cut out smoking.

  • Get enough sleep.

  • Exercise.
In a lot of cases this probably will reduce stress. However in a lot of situations, especially in a family with a special needs child or two, it just isn't practical. My friend Janice just doesn't have time to exercise, take vacations, and, oh, how she dreams to get enough sleep. To try to implement the above advice would make her more stressed than she already is.

However, my friend Janet is an amazing person. Despite all her challenges she smiles and is happy. She takes care of her family, and even finds time to help others.

Her unique personality is an encouragement to others in difficult situations. She is a one-man support system to all who know her; a power-house of positive energy and healthy self-esteem.
I once asked her for her secret. This is what she told me:
  • It all depends on the attitude.
  • If you can do something to improve the situation – surely you should go ahead and try to improve it. If you think there is nothing you can do, you are making a mistake, there is something major you can do. Accept the situation. Make peace with it . Try and find the good in it.

  • Become more caring and compassionate towards others undergoing challenges.. You can not imagine how much caring for others eases your own situation. I personally look for the time to volunteer to help people arrange funding for therapeutic services for special-needs children, among other things. This gives me immense pleasure and, when I see the challenges of others, I do not pity myself.

  • Take each day as it comes.Don't brood over the past. Try not to worry about the future. Live in the present as much as possible

  • Cherish your sense of humor and learn to laugh. I try to see the bright or funny side of everything. You will be pleasantly surprised how many humorous things you will find in difficult situations when you look for them. Remember, humor diffuses tension.

  • Learn to love and respect EVERY child. They are all special and unique. When you realize and internalize this the children themselves, almost by osmosis, will have a good image of themselves. This is the basis of everything. With high self-esteem, they will be able to reach new heights –heights that were previously thought unattainable.

  • Encourage and give support to others. When I encourage my family, I am actually also talking to myself. I constantly encourage myself in order to keep going.

  • Keep busy. Even with all my responsibilities to my husband and children, I find time to be involved in other projects.
When I look at my friend Janice I simply marvel her; her strength of character, her love of life, and her coping powers. I wish her continued strength to continue to be an inspiration to all who meet her.