Afghan Women Writers

February 27, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

The Producers Guild of America, Women in Film and the women’s committees of the Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and Writers Guild of America West, have organized a night of dramatic readings of blogs, essays and poems written by Afghan Women living in Afghanistan who are mentored by American novelists, screenwriters and journalists. This mentoring program, Afghan Women’s Writing Project, was started by novelist and journalist Masha Hamilton, whose efforts have given Afghan women something to hold on to – their voice.

In supporting their right to think, speak and write, nationality and religion are not important; we are human beings reaching out to one another.

It is hard for us Americans to understand that there are women in other parts of the world who are victimized on a daily basis simply because they are women. It is hard for us to grasp that a young woman not wanting to be married off, has no recourse.  Or that education is denied to women and that often they are treated as no more than possessions.

We are astonished when we read: “When I open my eyes to this world, everyone turns sad. When they learn of my gender, people say; oh my God. When I am small and need my father’s love and kindness, he turns his back on me, giving all his love to his son instead”.  And our hearts ache when another woman writes: “…Suddenly the blast took all my happiness and its grimy smoke brought darkness into my life. When I opened my eyes everything seemed in disarray. I checked my American watch.  I found my hand full of blood”. And our hearts beat with theirs when we read: “I am fifteen and the boy I cannot forget waits on the street to see me with my burqa…he knows my smell, love is blind for him”.

So on March 8th, Jennifer Beals, Summer Bishil, Nadia Bjorlin, Conchata Ferrell, Jodi Long, Nichelle Nichols, Teal Sherer, Bahar Soomekh and Marcia Wallace will read the words of these brave women who risk their lives every time they put a pencil to a paper and we will listen to their voices with compassion, admiration and exhilaration.

In helping produce this event it is my sincere hope that we can continue to find ways to support the rights of women to thrive – at home and abroad - independently of political and socio-economic interests; just human beings reaching out to one another.

The program, “Out of Silence” will be held at the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance on March 8, 2010 – International Women’s Day, and is directed by Frederick Ponzlov.

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Colombian Teacher Brings Education On a Donkey

February 27, 2010 by  
Filed under Inspiring People

All we need in order to help is the want to help.

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100 Year Old Doctor

February 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

I love this story.  Doing something you believe in just keeps you going.

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Caviar For The Brain

February 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

A couple of days ago I went to see Shutter Island, the new Martin Scorsese film with Leonardo DiCaprio.

Without giving the plot away one of the main topics of the film is mental illness.  While I didn’t love the film it was good enough to make me think about our mind’s fragility.  It took me back to when my husband was sick with liver disease and could barely put a sentence together because all of the ammonia in his brain.  It took me back to when after his transplant the combination of steroids and the ammonia turned him into another mind who thought our reality was a fiction of a parallel world.  And it took me back to when exhausted from lack of sleep and the emotional drain of three months fighting to keep my husband alive, I doubted my own sense of reality and thought maybe he, through his illness, had found the truth about life.

Of course these are all extreme cases but it all points out to how fragile and susceptible our minds are.  Feed your mind confusion and sadness and your life will be confused and sad.  Feed your mind love and hope and your life will be filled with love and hope.

I’m not trying to be simplistic about life and feelings. Actually I think life is very complicated.

Many things happen to us that are beyond our control and hurt us deeply but a mind that tries to see and experience beauty more than despair, is a mind that will help navigate us from darkness to light when life becomes too hard.

Recently talking to a friend we came to the conclusion that our sense of survival is one of our strongest driving forces if not the strongest.  Some of us have seen and experienced situations that are so devastating that we wonder how we’ll be able to continue but somehow we do.  We do because first our survival instinct takes over than we do because our mind follows.

Cognitive science (study of how information is represented and transformed in the brain) affirms that the vast information and experiences that we store inside our brain are all interconnected and related with each other, some more strongly or loosely than others and that the well being of the organism is determined by the degree to which the organism feels in control of its environment or situation. Health varies with the level of control that is perceived.

So as the saying goes “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right”.  Or: “Every man has in himself a continent of undiscovered character. Happy is he who acts as the Columbus to his own soul”.

But most importantly let us not feed our minds junk food.  Let’s feed them with the most exquisite delicacies and most likely the glass will most often be half full and not half empty.

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Pablo Neruda

February 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

Beautiful Pablo Neruda poem. Enjoy!

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms,
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers.
Thanks to your love a certain fragrance,
risen darkly from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride,
so I love you because I know no other way than this:
where “I” does not exist, nor “you,”
So close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
So close that your eyes close and I fall asleep.

-Pablo Neruda

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Stillness Is A Powerful Action

February 21, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured

Find stillness in chaos.

“Activity conquers cold, but stillness conquers heat.” ~ Lao Tzu

Post written by Leo Babauta. SSS

It’s a bias of our culture that stillness is regarded as lazy, as being stuck in inaction, as a negative.

It’s not. It’s an action, and a powerful one.

What’s more, it can change your day, and in doing so change your life.

You’re in the middle of a frazzled day, swamped by work and meetings and emails and interruptions, or hassled by kids and phone calls and errands and chores.

You pause. Stay still for a minute, and breathe. You close your eyes, and find a stillness within yourself. This stillness spreads to the rest of your body, and to your mind. It calms you, centers you, focuses you on what you’re doing right now, not on all you have to do and all that has happened.

The stillness becomes a transformative action.

Stillness can be a powerful answer to the noise of others. It can be a way to push back against the buzz of the world, to take control. It can remind you of what’s important.

How to Practice
Stillness, oddly, doesn’t come naturally to many people. So practice.

1. Start your day in stillness. Whether it’s sitting with a cup of coffee as the world awakes, or sitting on a pillow and focusing on your breath, stillness is a powerful way to start your day. It sets the tone for things to come. Even 5-10 minutes is great.

2. Take regular stillness breaks. Every hour, set an alarm on your computer or phone to go off. Think of it as a bell that rings, reminding you to be still for a minute. During this minute, focus first on your breathing, to bring yourself into the present. Let the worries of the world around you melt away — all that is left is your breath. And then let your focus expand beyond your breath to your other senses, one at a time.

3. When chaos roars, pause. In the middle of a crisis or a noisy day, stop. Be still. Take a deep breath, and focus on that breath coming in, and going out. Find your inner stillness and then let your next action come from that stillness. Focus on that next action only.

Let stillness become your most powerful action. It could change your life.

“Through return to simple living Comes control of desires. In control of desires Stillness is attained. In stillness the world is restored.” ~ Lao Tzu

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Even Werner And John Brown Save Woman Trapped In Jeep

February 21, 2010 by  
Filed under Inspiring People

Evan Werner and John Brown save woman trapped in Jeep after multi-vehicle crash

Evan Werner and his friend John Brown, Jr. were on the Capital Beltway near College Park, Maryland when they saw the immediate aftermath of a tractor-trailer slamming into the back of a woman’s Jeep Wrangler on December 16, 2009. The Jeep had been shoved some 75 ft. and its gas tank ruptured and caught fire. The woman was trapped inside. Both Werner and Brown jumped out of their car and ran over to help. Werner knew something of Jeep Wranglers and Brown had a fire extinguisher. While Brown worked the fire, Werner tried to get the door open but it was jammed. He then jumped on the hood and removed the Jeep’s soft-top roof. Once done, Werner jumped inside the burning vehicle and worked to free the woman’s trapped legs. The flames had spread to the back seat. Werner managed to free the woman’s legs and helped her toward the open roof. Brown and another by-stander helped the lady out and Werner then crawled out as well. The lady was taken to hospital with a broken leg and/or hip.E

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Gold Wrapping Paper

February 21, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

The story goes that some time ago a mother punished her five year old daughter for wasting a roll of expensive gold wrapping paper. Money was tight and she became even more upset when the child used the gold paper to decorate a box to put under the Christmas tree.

Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift box to her mother the next morning and then said, ‘This is for you, Momma.’

The mother was embarrassed by her earlier over reaction, but her anger flared again when she opened the box and found it was empty. She spoke to her daughter in a harsh manner.

‘Don’t you know, young lady, when you give someone a present there’s supposed to be something  inside the package?’

She had tears in her eyes and said, ‘Oh, Momma, it’s not empty! I blew kisses into it until it was full.’

The mother was crushed. She fell on her knees and put her arms around her little girl, and she begged her forgiveness for her thoughtless anger.

An accident took the life of the child only a short time later, and it is told that the mother kept that gold box by her bed for all the years of her life.

Whenever she was discouraged or faced difficult problems she would open the box and take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there.

In a very real sense, each of us, as human beings, have been given a Golden box filled with unconditional love  and kisses from our children, family, friends  There is no more precious  possession anyone could hold.

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My Mizpah

February 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

The Lord watch between me and thee while we are apart and absent from one another. Genesis 31:49.

The Mizpah. An emotional bond between people who are separated. Separated either physically or by death. My husband and I shared a Mizpah medal since we began our life together in the middle 1980s. Always on our key ring, after a while you didn’t even notice it was there. Years passed. Good times. Bad times. Then shattering challenges. Out of our control, we struggled, trying to regain our world. Then life threw us in opposite directions. He moved out of state. Emotions flew out of control. We lived as if the other one no longer existed. All conversations ceased. During one period of deep sadness, I took the Mizpah off my key ring and mailed it to him.

Then late one night I finally realized, it was time. It had been 3 years of silence. Was he the man I fell in love with? Or was he the man who left? It was time. I had to know who he was. So it came as a shock for both of us. I called him. Then we spent months of long nights, hours of mosaic phone conversations. Ultimately in total unison, we began rebuilding our new life together.

And then one day he gives me something, it’s wrapped in this kleenex. I was without words. It was my Mizpah. He had kept it. He had also kept his part on his key ring. We had been physically separated yet truly, God watched over us… our love was protected.

It’s been 14 months that again, again we are separated. Only now we are separated by death. A life of sleepless nights, I feel so alone without feeling his body next to mine. All I have is memories. I look at our photos and find myself trying to mentally go back in time, to be back in that moment. A life where my husband held me and we danced.

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The Building Blocks Of Connection.

February 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

I have just read an interesting blog about connecting with others.  Here’s the address http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jessica-zucker-phd/pbs-this-emotional-life-t_b_465968.html

Although her presentation is based on the relationship between a baby and the parents, I find the points raised worth while in self-reflection. Write in and let me if it resonates.

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