Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein To Release “The Truth, Diary of a Gutsy Tween” – http://ow.ly/xSiwz
How My Family and I Experienced Tet, Our Most Important Holiday, by Tieu, Linh, our Teen Journalist from Hai Phong, Vietnam
(Tet is the most important national celebration in Vietnam. The full name is Tet Nguyen Dan, which means “Feast of the First Morning of the First Day’. Our Tet has the same objective as the Western World’s New Year. It is a chance to welcome and celebrate the new year and hope for health, luck, happiness and achievements.) And now on to more of my story:
Hearing my dad’s voice, I opened my lazy eyes and tried to drag my body out of the bed. The day was so special. Instead of seeing clunky clouds in the sky and thinking about how to confront another ordinary day, I could feel the sunshine already and see the bright blue sky.
“Well, Tết is here. Light the flame inside you, Linh !”, I whispered to myself.
After having got through all the household chores and getting ready, we left home and got into the green taxi, which had been waiting for a few minutes. At first, we visited pagodas that we knew were where our ancestors are worshipped. Then, we were in the intimidating crowd at Nghe Temple, trying, along with everyone else, to express our respect for General Le Chan, who had founded Haiphong City with the original name “An Bien”.
I gazed at the map of Nghe Temple and made efforts to find out something interesting to meditate upon, although that was not the first time I visited this remarkable temple. Leaving there I was still excited as the day was just beginning to unfold. A wonderful journey was still waiting for us. “Heading your way !!”, I playfully thought.
It took us about one hour to reach Hai Duong Province. My mother had suggested that we should visit An Phu Temple, or Cao Temple, where Prince Yên Sinh – the first emperor of Trần Dynasty’s elder brother – is worshipped. It was quite hot, different from the usual rainy and wet weather of Tet in Vietnam. Hot, and tiring. The temple is located right on top of the mountain, so we had to climb – to be more exact, walk many steps – to eyewitness the ancient beauty of An Phu Temple.
We took numerous photos, and I followed my parents to explore the structure of Cao Temple. I smelled the ancient, orthodox scent of incense sticks visitors had burnt. Not very sweet- smelling, but it reminded me of the solemn atmosphere at a sacred place.
I memorized some historical events that had happened to Prince Yên Sinh, shaking my head as I realized the irony of what he had been compelled to suffer.
Saying goodbye to An Phu Temple, we left Hai Duong Province for Haiphong City again. But, we stopped at Do Son District to visit Ba De Temple, which is situated near the sea. “Up to the forest, down to the sea”, this is the saying that most depicted our travels. Ba De Temple is associated with a love story between a powerful king and a beautiful and glamorous commoner, who ended up suffering.
After finishing all the holy procedures, we went down to the sea and felt extremely refreshed to take photos, draw on the sand and join in some activities which were kinds of horseplay. I constantly had a bee in my bonnet about the unlucky fate of the beautiful commoner and I could understand how painful women’s lives were and are when they had and have to live amongst male chauvinists.
I’m still lucky, and I think I ought to look up to my life better. And that’s the truth.
PS *: () Mi is the name that my intimates call me at home.
What is a special trip you have taken with friends or family? Share with us. We want to share meaningful experiences that girls have from around the world. Send your e-mail to email@example.com
Linh is The Truth for Girls first international young journalist. From Vietnam, she was given a copy of The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) by her mom, translated into Vietnamese. She loved the story and found my e-mail address at the back of the book. She wrote to me and I answered. That was the beginning of a three year correspondence. As I realized how perceptive Linh is and how versatile her Englih is, I invited her to write articles for other girls around the globe who follow The Truth! We hope you enjoy her article about New Year’s in Vietnam that follows. And remember The Truth is always ready for more young girls from around the world to be journalists. If you are interested write to me, Dr. Barbara at firstname.lastname@example.org .
When I was in the third grade I couldn’t read and I was ashamed. I pretended to read by trying to memorize some pages in the reader. I sat in agony hoping the teacher didn’t call on me. Phonics just made no sense to me. I couldn’t understand what the teacher was trying to teach when she gave us different sounds that different letters made. I loved Miss Johnson, my teacher, but school was scary. Someday everyone would realize that I couldn’t really read past the first grade level!
But Miss Johnson was going to save me! And that is what you will find out now by listening to my video. She saw more than I realized and she knew how to turn a deficit into a talent!
And see, not only was I saved, but I ended up writing two easy to read books for girls and tweens, The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) and Secrets: You tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine…maybe, so that other kids could feel comfortable reading about growing up in a way that didn’t task their reading skills! There is enough in life to task all of us!
Sometimes as parents or teachers or grandmoms we forget the pain and suffering that go with certain milestones in growing up. One of those milestones is Valentine’s Day. In America we celebrate the day with fervor and make a lot out of it.
I remember in elementary school it was very important to me that my mother let me buy packages of Valentine’s for the whole class. Some years they were finished Valentine’s and some years I had to punch them out of the paper that held them. And some were more personal than others with cute sayings. I would have a method to my madness and of course my closest friends got the most pretty and personal cards. I supposed most of the kids had the same method. And there in lay the first potential trauma of that day. Would my best friend Lynne, send me one of her best?
I would only know once the Valentine Box had been opened and some lucky child was picked to be the first person to hand out Valentine’s. That was a treat also. Sometimes I was chosen, but often not. It only took 4 or 5 children to get them all passed out. I was only at peace that day when I opened my Valentine’s and felt remembered.
My video is here to remind all of us grown-ups that children have very deep and powerful feelings:
The Girl had a crush which even made her feelings more dramatic on Valentine’s Day. Not all girls and tweens have crushes. But still be sensitive to the fact that the girls in your life may take Valentine’s Day very seriously. Here are a couple of suggestions to weather the day:
1. Make sure you have remembered the girl(s) in your life in a way that she will feel very special.
2. Be sensitive to her feelings as the day approaches. Maybe share your own memories about the holiday.
3. Ask her if you can help her in any way. Maybe she would love to make cookies or fudge for her special friends and you can have some fun in the kitchen together!
4. Most of all, make sure she knows that she is Your Valentine!
~ © Barbara Becker Holstein .
Reader submitted diary entry.
Thanksgiving is next week and I can hardly wait! I love this time of year and all of the family activities. Every year all my family comes to our house and brings something to eat. My Mom calls this a ‘pot luck’ but I have no idea how a pot can have luck so I’ll stick with calling it a family dinner.
It is …
always fun seeing all my aunts, uncles and cousins. Even my Grandma comes and she is so much fun! Sometimes it is stressful though. Sometimes my cousins fight, those dumb boys won’t ever learn to get along I think but it’s funny to hear them fighting like little kids and they are older than I am!
Sometimes my parents fight before everyone gets here and then they try to act like nothing happened but I can see on my Moms face that she is still sad. I’m sad too when they fight. I don’t understand it. Normally the fights are about stupid stuff like if the turkey is big enough or if we have enough plates and some how it just turns into a fight. Maybe it’s the stress of it all? Mom is under a lot of stress for 2 weeks while she plans for Thanksgiving dinner and tries to make sure that everyone doesn’t bring pumpkin pie and nothing else. That would be funny though!
I hope this year there won’t be any fighting and that we can all enjoy the family time because it is so rare that we can get together.
Dear Reader, I also hope you have a wonderful day. Here are a few suggestions and tricks that might help: Doing a special treat for your mom may really help her mood. Maybe you can clean your room and surprise her or set the table before she asks or something else that will make her surprised and pleased. Also look for moments during the day where you can make a real difference. Perhaps you can take the other younger cousins into another room and lead them in some fun games. Or maybe you can graciously offer to slowly walk with grandma in the neighborhood. Anything you can do to make people feel special or to make sure everyone has fun will make a difference. The last thing for the moment, is since your mom worries about the desserts can you make or buy one that will make sure there is a good variety? Chocolate chip cookies never go out of style on any holiday!
(submit your own diary entry to email@example.com)
I hope so much that when a girl or her mom or her grandmom or her teacher finishes reading The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) what will happen next is an open dialogue. That’s why I put in the back of the book questions that naturally lead to deep conversation. Some people think The Truth is an easy read. It may be, but it is a deep read. Just as an Emily Dickenson poem can be very deep in only four lines, so can the thoughts and feelings of this nameless girl who touches our hearts. She is unique, but also one of us. Any girl or woman will identify somewhere in the pages with her. For some it is her energy. For others her ability to solve problems. For others it is her realization that she knows so deeply so many truths. And once we identify then it becomes easy to want to chat and share. I hope you will do so after you read the book. The genuine connection that you will feel with your daughter, yourself and the girl in the book will warm your heart. Please let me know what questions you enjoyed most in the back. You can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several years ago I received an e-mail from a young girl in Vietnam who had read The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything), in Vietnamese. She loved the book and decided to write to me. It is a long story, but Linh and I have been penpals for almost two years now. And not only have we written about our lives and our families, we have talked about many subjects, including how important charity is and how important it is to try your best to make the world a better place. Linh shared with my the problems on an orphanage in Vietnam that she is very concerned about. They don’t have enough money and certainly inadequate equipment to try to rehabilitate children with physical and mental disabilities. The women who work at the orphanage try their best, but still the children are not getting the chance they deserve.
I felt for these children and sent money to Linh, mom, Le Thi Hoai Thanh, who took the money for me to the orphanage. Of course Linh went with her. They have actually gone twice and I have been awarded two certificates! Here are a few of the pictures.
Linh and I are determined to raise money for these children and hopefully find some ways to get them the resources to develop their minds and bodies that they need. I never thought I would be working on a cause with a girl I have yet to meet in person, who lives 8000 miles away from me. But Linh has an unbelievable heart and the ability to convince a grown-up like me that we must try to save a small part of the world! These are babies and children and they need our help and resources. Here are some reactions to Linh’s second visit to Hoa Phuong Village:
“Well, Hoa Phuong Village is here again, I thought.
I was standing with my mother in the boundless garden of the village. Truthfully, I wanted to visit families there very much ; but first of all, we had to meet the village Vice-director. She was still friendly ; I felt so because she gave me a lot of guavas. They were very sweet and tasty….My mother took a number of photos. After that, a woman took us to a family in which babies and homeless children were brought up. The family had many lovely kids. They were so cute that I just wanted to kiss them, especially an innocent baby. Unfortunately, I don’t know his name. We talked to the two mothers in that family. They were both middle-aged women and they told us a lot about the children. Finally, we said goodbye to the mothers and the kids, and we left with packets of guavas.
I had nice memories after going to Hoa Phuong Village. Therefore, I think all of us-everyone all over the world-should help poor people and children with all our best. To be more exactly, please don’t make them feel lonely and disappointed….” Linh Hoai
Often, when I speak to groups or on talk on the radio, people want to know why I wrote a certain book. I believe that my introduction to The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything), designed to be read by the girl, her mom or grandma, or teacher, or guidance counselor, explains best why I wrote the book. Here is what I say:
“When I was ten, and eleven, I knew so many things. I knew a lot of important stuff that my parents and other grown-ups had forgotten. I promised myself that I would find a way to hold on to my knowledge.
Then I grew up and became a teacher and a psychologist. I got married and had children. At work, as a psychologist, I listen to a lot of people’s problems, children and grown-ups. I always try to help them. One of the things I do is to point out to them what is right with them, rather than what is wrong. Another thing I do is to teach them how to have more fun. I also help them to remember their own wisdom and the truths that they already know in their hearts.
One day I decided to find a way to combine what I already knew as a girl with the knowledge I have as a psychologist. I had to find a fun way to do this that would really help girls and mothers recognize that what we know growing up is just as important as what we learn later.
One day, the ‘girl’ just appeared. She knew what to say and how to say it. She did a much better job of sharing THE TRUTH than I ever could have imagined. So I just let her go for it.
Here is her account of THE TRUTH. I hope you enjoy it. Remember your promises to yourself when you grow up and don’t forget to listen to your kids someday.
I better get out of the way and let the girl begin……”
I would just add, that since the book has been published, most girls relate to THE TRUTH at a deep level of connection. Most have had a crush, or a problem in school, or been afraid of moving to a new town, or upset if parents did not get along. However, some kids have a whole other ‘TRUTH’ that is uniquely theirs. And that is great. Even those few kids that don’t relate to the girl at all, if they take from the book to be true to themselves, and have the courage to grow up strong and resourceful, then my mission as a women, who was a girl,and a psychologist has been successful!
I thought a lot of you might enjoy seeing some of the diary entries that are only being read in China at this point in time. Some of course, may appear in the second book in The Truth Series in the United States. Here is one of them. Let me know what you think.
“My cousin Eddie isn’t in college anymore. My parents were all upset yesterday because they got a call from my Aunt Lil saying that Eddie was thrown out of college. She was crying so hard on the phone that my dad had to keep telling her that it would be alright and just take a deep breath and get a drink of water.
I was eating breakfast and listening at the same time. I heard my father also tell my Aunt that probably he could go back to school but after he was clean. That didn’t make any sense to me.
So I made my mother tell me everything after my father left for work.
She said that Eddie was caught taking drugs. He was swallowing stuff in his room that could have made him very sick and he was giving it to other kids in the dormitory. The Dean of his college made him leave. My aunt is trying to find him help so he won’t do bad stuff anymore. That’s what my dad meant by getting ‘clean’.
I know what drugs are. But I never knew anyone who took any.
I play cards with Eddie when we go to visit once a year. He is five years older than I am, but I still liked playing with him and he never teased me. He was nice to me.
It is sad and scary what happened to him. And that’s the truth.”
Barbara Becker Holstein At the Girl Scout meeting in Ocean Township a couple of weeks ago, the girls and their mom’s really enjoyed dividing up into groups and discussing different topics generated by The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything). I think they most enjoyed issues around moving and also family relationships. Here is what one girl said would most concern her about moving: 1. making new friends, 2. what I would have to leave behind, and 3. getting used to new things.