March 31, 2010

The Truth About Afghanistan!!??

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:22 pm by lbrosch

I just finished a book entitled A Woman Among Warlords (2009) by Malalai Joya. This was an astonishing revelation to read! Malalai Joya (which she says in the book is not her real name) is an amazing woman who tells us the story of her life so far. At the age of 31 she has been a teacher, social worker, elected member of the Afghan Parliament, star of the documentary Enemies of Happiness and worldwide speaker for women’s rights. She describes the difficulties of growing up female in Afghanistan and her family’s struggle to provide for their children both economically and educationally. With a good education and being well read she discovers the truth about the governmental situation in her country at a very young age and sets out to help her people. She becomes politically involved and is elected to a government post where she is dismayed when she finds that the U.S. has supported the warlords who have long terrorized her people and they are now the ones sitting in the Parliament and passing laws to give themselves amnesty and further prevent the progress of education and justice for violations of women’s rights. When she attempts to speak out to the Parliament she is silenced, threatened and finally framed and suspended from her government office. She is still hiding from the officials who would wish to assassinate her. The information she provides on the true status of women and the poor in Afghanistan is appalling. Here I include a quote from her book that is part of her speech when accepting the International Human Rights Film Award in Berlin in 2008:

Although the authorities in my country tried every possible way to prevent me from being with you here today, I am here and accept this award on behalf of oppressed Afghan women who do not have the opportunity to speak for themselves. But they are brave and fight for their rights. You gave this award to a daughter of  a land that was bombed by the U.S. and its allies for seven years in the name of democracy, peace, and human rights. But today we are as far from these values and these vital human needs as we were in 2001.

I dedicate this award to my betrayed people who do not have liberation at all…. I want to announce to all human rights defenders that the U.S.-occupied Afghanistan is still a burning hell and a brutal joke made against democracy and human rights. Unfortunately today the worst enemies of these values are the current policymakers of my country.

Near the end of the book she devotes a chapter to telling the world what should be done about the present situation. In brief, the ideas she covers are: end the war, send real humanitarian aid, put an end to the rule of the warlords, and withdraw all foreign troops. She further adds that one of the most important things each person can do is to stay informed about the reality of Afghanistan today. She suggests a website: RAWA news. She says to get involved with groups that are working honestly to support women and men in Afghanistan and monitor, criticize and work to improve your own government’s foreign policy.

Read more about Malalai and her work at these websites:

March 18, 2010

Over 50? Need Some Guidance?

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:12 am by lbrosch

Over the past 6 months I have been reading books by Joan Anderson. You can learn more about her books and retreats at http://www.joanandersononline.com. In her first book A Year By the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman (2000) she describes her feelings as she has just discovered that she is facing life on her own, So with her mothering years having finished and her husband busy with his career she decides to spend some time on Cape Cod by herself to think about where to go next with her life. She happens to meet Joan Erikson, wife of Erik Erikson, the famous psychotherapist who is noted for designing the Eight Stages of Life. After spending several months with Joan as her mentor she comes to discover how to set a course for a purposeful, energetic life. This book was full of helpful advice for me and I truly identified with many of the feelings she was going through as I have just retired from a full time career and am looking for ways to find purpose in my own life. After reading this book I was immediately drawn to find more of her work and a few months ago read her newest book The Second Journey: The Road Back to Yourself (2008). This book again affirmed many of the thoughts I was having about how to best make use of my time. Though not as specific in goal setting as the first book, it was a good chance to see how Joan is not always the best teacher and falls victim to some of the pressures many of us face as we try to reset our lives to new goals. In this book she finds herself dealing with an aging and frail mother who is becoming more helpless and demanding of her time. Again, we all can gain insight into how to face our midlife crises through Joan’s guidance. She talks about women’s phases. These phases cause us to change emotionally, spiritually and physically about every 7 years. 1-7 we are filled with wonder; 7-14 is the hormonal stage (no explanation needed); 14-21 sexual stage; 21-28 desire to procreate; and then the resulting stage of mothering and losing ourselves to the needs of others. By 35-40 we are looking beyond the stage of selflessness to what may lay beyond and then by 42-49 we see approaching menopause. 49-56 is a desire to live without rules and find out who we are and who we want to be. She says this is when we truly become who we are, what she calls the ‘watchwoman’. She says that Joan Erikson gave her the idea that ” a full life is about self-cultivation. We owe it to ourselves to create something out of nothing.” She talks about evolving inwardly, the situation of facing downsizing and a dilemma of being in two states, the human condition of wanting to be alone and wanting to be in a relationship. I can really relate to that one and it was so affirming to see it talked about in her book. There are so many more nuggets of wisdom for women within her books. A Weekend to Change Your Life (2007) describes the agenda used during her weekend retreats with many of the exercises. This book can be used to design your own weekend retreat with a women’s group or group of friends. Her other books include A Walk on the Beach (2005) and An Unfinished Marriage (2003).

Another book which caught my eye recently, especially after remembering a theme of “share what you know” from Joan’s book; is What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self (2006), edited by Ellyn Spragins. This book contains letters from a wide variety of successful, confident women ranging from Madeline Albright, Maya Angelou and Ann Curry to Noor Al Hussein, Kitty Kelley and Nora Robert. Women of all ages and walks of life share their advice on how to face life.

If you are approaching 60 then you might like Carolyn G. Heilbrun’s The Last Gift of Time: Life Beyond Sixty (1998). This was a New York Times Notable Book and has gotten great reviews. With a wise and compassionate voice Carolyn will help you ease into this next phase of life. She is still writing books to help women gain a clearer perspective on their roles with her more recent bestseller, Writing a Woman’s Life (2008).

Before I end this post I must tell you about a new book that was recommended to me a couple of days ago and definitely intrigues me. Listening Below the Noise by Anne D. LeClaire (2010) is the story of this novelist’s decision to start a practice of spending 24 hours not speaking for twice a month. She explains how this period of silence brings her to a greater self-understanding, deeper observation of nature and a spiritual contentment. I think this will be yet another way of dealing with our encroaching stresses as we age.

March 8, 2010

Apologies

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by lbrosch

Well, I will give you a list of excuses as to why I have not been posting but none of them are worth much I am sure. I have been working on writing a review column for another blog. I was away for a brief while. I have become busy with a new group of friends and activities and I have been reading books for book groups but the titles have not been fitting to the theme of this blog. So, I have decided to push ahead with some posts on what I will be reading and what I recommend from my reading of reviews from around the web. Then I will get busy reading these books and blogging here!!!