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This is my first blog for Mom’s Rising and so I thought I'd start by introducing myself. I'm the 35-year-old mother of Maayan who just turned 6 months. In addition to being a new mom, I’m a documentary filmmaker. FRESH, the documentary that I completed last year, celebrates the farmers, thinkers, and business people across America who are rethinking the way we eat.

Although FRESH focuses on food, in a way it’s just an excuse, or an opportunity, to talk about our place in the world. We are living in a time of multiple crises. It was my hope in creating FRESH to inspire each one of us to see this time as a time of transformation and MaayanHeadB&Wpossibility, and to find our own special contribution towards creating a healthier future. I believe that in order for this to happen, we all need to experience a deep shift in our perspective; a shift away from focusing on consumption and towards recognizing that we are all interconnected and part of a beautiful web of life where each element has its place and role. But in order to experience this shift, we need to get rid of a lot of physical and mental clutter.

Since World War II, our standard of living has risen dramatically. Our houses have become bigger, and we've got lots more stuff - electronic stuff, convenience stuff, pretty stuff, lots of plastic stuff – and, in order to buy all this stuff, we're working longer hours and often commuting longer distances. Not only do we have less free time but our minds have also become cluttered with desire and no matter how much we have, we're unsatisfied. (See Ed Diener’s studies on this subject here).  I don't think it'll come as a surprise to any of you that you can't buy happiness. If always wanting more is the culprit to our growing dissatisfaction, the answer seems to lie in seeking, once again, simplicity.

I joined thousands of Americans as a down-shifter when I quit my six-figure legal job to pursue film-making, and overall, a life with more free time, more flexibility and more meaning. Now, the birth of my daughter has brought on many new questions and challenges. I'm not just talking about my changed economic reality (like buying medical insurance for the first time!). No, I'm talking about how to give my daughter an upbringing that will help her develop into a happy person.

In my recent visit to Israel, my husband's home country, we visited good friends of his in a village in the mountains of Galilee. I was deeply affected by the way they were raising their two children: there is no TV in the house, and the children's toys are simple and meant to stimulate the child's imagination: seashells, wood blocks, cloth dolls. What contrast from our home already filled with toys Maayan can't yet play with!

The simplicity of this family made so much sense. I felt like these children were given the wonderful gift of inhabiting and discovering their inner-world not burdened by multi-colored high-tech "educational" toys. It's not that I think there is anything wrong with toys. But it seems like children are taught to want to be entertained (from the outside) from a really early age. We keep them busy with television, bouncing chairs, musical toys, etc. The children of our friends were not missing all this entertainment, while their parents saved money and a whole lot of space! How can I create such a simple environment in Brooklyn? The question is not only how I resist buying Maayan great-looking toys (or explain all my family and friends not to buy them either!), but what to do when she'll go to her friends' houses, or walk by a toy-store, and desires enter her little brain?

I realize that Maayan will learn as much or more from her community, from the culture around her, than from me. And so, with plenty of doubts and even more questions, I am embarking on my journey as a mother. I hope to create a simple environment for Maayan, one that emphasizes that happiness is a quality that can be nourished -- nourished by relationships, by meaningful activities and by a healthy environment. I'm very early in this journey, and it's already quite bumpy. But I don't mind. Simplicity may be happiness, but it doesn't mean it comes easy!

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