Monday, January 16, 2023

Between Us: how cultures create emotions

 


  Batja Mesquita was born and raised in the Netherlands, and when she moved to the United States in the year 1993, her colleagues at the University of Michigan welcomed her. Yet she sometimes felt out of sync because she was not familiar with various aspects of the American culture, and her lack of understanding led to awkward situations. Mesquita shares her experiences with honesty, putting the pieces of the emotional puzzles of two cultures together.

   Coming from another culture, she was sometimes misunderstood, even when she had the best intentions in mind. There is a process of emotional acculturation that may take place over several years. I was enthralled by how she clearly described her personal experiences, making sense of what happened to her in ways that will relate to others.

  As a person who has lived and worked in different cultures with people from various countries, I think her book is relevant. Over time there is a shift that happens as a result of a process of learning and adaptation, and people become more aware of the nuances that can be the source of misunderstandings, insecurities and disappointments.

   After an insightful introduction rooted in her personal experiences, the author moves on to explain how various cultures mold and shape emotions, and how differences in upbringing condition people to experience and express emotions in certain ways.

   I was touched and inspired by the way Japanese mothers raise their preschoolers to foster empathy in them.  Learning about the unique aspects of various cultures can help us to be more tolerant and understanding of other peoples’ emotions. It can also make us humble and less judgmental. It is a reminder to stay open-minded when in doubt, and to simply accept that we do not have the power to know what is going on in somebody’s unique emotional situation, no matter how much we think we know.  

  Mesquita points out the ways in which cultures differ in terms of emotions. For instance, she states that happiness in American culture is experienced as “excitement”, whereas in Daoist cultures the concept of happiness is associated with a sense of inner peace and being calm. In the case of happiness, I think she seems to paint a black-and-white picture that does not always reflect reality. In our global world cultures influence each other, so it makes sense to accept that the concept of happiness transcends the boundaries of a specific culture.

   The information she provides encourages us to be more empathic toward others’ emotions rather than judgmental. As cities become more multicultural and diverse, this book awakens our awareness on the complexity of  cultural landscapes that may differ from our own; it also invites us to be open to explore emotional terrain that is not consistent with what we are familiar with.

  We have all been guilty of misjudging and misunderstanding others whose upbringing is very different from our own. Between Us lets us see a new perspective and another side of the story.

   It is also necessary, however, to read this book with an open mind, without placing our thoughts and interpretations into rigid boxes, because it is still possible that learning something about somebody’s culture is an open door to stereotype and label others.

   Even though I do recommend this book, I need to admit that there are a few caveats to consider.

    In many ways Between Us feels incomplete. There is too much emphasis on the emotional differences that are forged through distinct upbringings, and the author forgets that despite our differences we share much more common ground than what she cares to acknowledge. For example, imagine a family losing their home to a severe weather event. This can happen anywhere in the world. Irrespective of their cultural background, there will be emotions consistent with grief, such as sadness, distress and uncertainty. I feel the book could have also worked with that which makes us whole: our common ground is a potential medium to awaken empathy toward others. When I read this book, however, I get drowned in the idea that we are so different we should tread carefully as we interact with people of other cultures, but what about our needs? We all have needs; we all wish to be respected and loved. We are not isolated from the environment where we live, so how are emotions connected to the natural environment and to other living beings?

  She  ignored connections that make us who we are, and how cultures may experience these relationships differently. I consider this a weakness of Between Us, for human beings are not the only inhabitants of the planet. If emotions are viewed not just as individual features but as patterns that connect us to others, then we cannot disregard this integral aspect of the situation. 

 Another important weakness of Between Us is that she barely discusses the role of gender. Gender is also an element of influence in the ways emotional expectations are set in various cultures. Yet the fact that she deals with it in such a superficial way is an indicator that she is not paying enough attention to something that influences the process of creating emotions, biases and stereotyping. She could have included gender as part of every culture she mentioned. This topic could have been fleshed out with more information and research. Strangely enough, she said that all her university professors in Amsterdam were male except for one, and it made me wonder why.

  Last but not least, one person’s emotions should not be used to justify a physical threat toward another person. Yet the author insisted on doing this. I disagreed with her assessment of the situation as she trivialized a physical threat on the grounds of one person’s emotions.  Boundaries are necessary as the foundation of respect between people.( I suspect there is an implicit gender bias in her judgment, but she is not even conscious of it!).

  All in all, I do recommend this book, but I think it is incomplete for the reasons mentioned above.  I have raised some points of contention that I hope will inspire the author to write another book, or to encourage other authors to navigate these issues with more insights and research.

 

 

Friday, January 6, 2023

Inside Animal Hearts and Minds by Belinda Recio

 


If a cat and an iguana nuzzle each other and nap together, and a dog and a fish can ‘kiss’ upon meeting at the boundary between their terrestrial and aquatic worlds, then it’s time for humans to take a lesson from other animals in how to get along.”

Belinda Recio

 You wouldn’t imagine a crow saving the life of a kitten. Yet this is what happened in Massachusetts. Ann and Wally Collito knew that people would find the situation difficult to believe, so they videotaped the interactions between the crow and the kitten. Initially, they thought the crow would attack the kitten.

  The kitten had been abandoned on their property, and the couple witnessed how the crow, which they named Moses, fed insects and worms to the kitten, which they named Cassie. Moses nurtured Cassie and made sure she was safe at all times. This was a clear act of empathy and altruism between species.

 Cooperation used to be understood as one of the qualities that distinguishes human beings from other animals, but scientists are now starting to understand that cooperation is an important element of survival in the natural world. It is not unique to humans. Examples of cooperation in the animal world abound, and this book brings some of those together in a delightful, inspiring read.

   Qualities like loyalty, friendship, a sense of fairness, curiosity, empathy, creativity and even spirituality are not unique to humans. With both research and anecdotes, this book will broaden your perspective. It will help you to dissolve negative stereotypes attached to many animal species, and will enhance your understanding of the world around you.

 The book contains a foreword by ethologist Jonathan Balcombe, who has published over fifty scientific research papers on animal behavior and protection, and is also the author of Second Nature, which I reviewed in My Writing Life blog last year.

 Belinda Recio’s book showcases an amazing variety of heart-warming photos that make this reading adventure even more vivid and vibrant.



 The bad reputation assigned to rats is not justified. Research showed that 50 to 80 percent of the time rats were more interested in helping another rat in trouble than in a chocolate treat. Female crocodiles respond empathetically not just to their own hatchlings but also to those of other crocodiles. They even have playful relationships with river otters. You will learn about dolphins, octopuses, prairie dogs, orangutans, gorillas, parrots, goats, and many other animals.



 Albert Einstein once said that it is easier to disintegrate an atom than a prejudice. Hopefully, Belinda Recio’s book will prove him wrong.

Dive into Inside Animal Hearts and Minds, and immerse yourself in a world of wonder, awareness and empathy. Make sure you share it with the children in your life as well.



If you enjoyed this post, feel free to read my writing on Unlikely Friendships and Unlikely Heroes.

 Till next time.

Friday, December 30, 2022

Counting Breaths by Jen Kress

 



“tenderness will

always remain,

look at the horizon and watch

for a new day will come…”


Jen Kress (From her poem “Meraki”)


To inhabit the world of poetry is to sail a raft on unsteady waves while relishing the vastness of the sky and savoring the beauty of each moment with a sense of ease and hope.

To inhabit the world of poetry is to meet the uncertainty of life with courage, breathing in the light that keeps oneself strong and balanced.

 Jen Kress’s poetry collection is an adventurous quest for resilience, a poetical oasis where the waters of solitude and understanding intertwine into a harmony of souls to persevere and look forward to a new sunrise.

 Her personal journey evokes the depths of inner joy and sadness, merging them into breathtaking stories. Her expressive skills are outstanding; her metaphors evince intimate aspects of herself, painting the quandaries, struggles and longings of her heart with delicate precision.

 I will be revisiting her poems in search of new meanings and inspiration.

 

“This journey light, to follow through

my tunneled dreams;

heaven’s woven map hides your chosen path,

a constellation, home… picture the stars above,

a blanket littered with uncharted possibility!”

 

There may be no clear answers to life uncertainties and mysteries, but there is poetry…




I thank the poet for sharing Counting Breaths with me for My Writing Life blog.


If you enjoyed this post, you may also appreciate my writing on “The Winds through the Trees at Night.”

 

Till next year.

 

 

Friday, December 23, 2022

She Sells Seashells by the Seashore by Lawrence Jean-Louis

 


 Over 2.7 billion women are legally restricted from having the same chance of jobs as men, according to UN Women. Fifty-nine economies have no laws on sexual harassment in the workplace. In 18 economies husbands can legally prevent their wives from working.

 The introduction of She Sells Seashells by the Seashore shares the statistics mentioned above.  The title of the book alludes to the life of Mary Anning, a pioneer paleontologist. Male geologists bought the fossils she discovered and published them as their own work, without giving her credit. Scientists doubted the validity of Mary Anning's findings.

  Mary Anning (1799-1847) had no formal education in science, but her father taught her how to search for and clean fossils. Mary could draw, read and write, and she applied her skills to the science of discovering and studying fossils. Her dedication and motivation led her to take over the family business after her father passed away, when she was only eleven years old.

  Mary Anning discovered the first plesiosaur in Lyme Regis, a small town on the Southern coast of England. Yet the finding was not considered valid until a famous anatomist, Georges Cuvier, acknowledged her discovery. From that point on, the scientific community began to take her family business seriously. Yet recognition was limited. She worked hard, but the stress of her financial constraints may have taken a toll on her health. She died from breast cancer when she was only 47 years old. Her life story is a reminder of the crucial role that any kind of support has on the impact of a person’s life.

 She Sells Seashells by the Seashore includes twelve biographies of entrepreneurial women who moved forward against all odds.  The women in this book have various ethnicities and cultural backgrounds, and their stories transport us to different periods in history. As we examine their struggles and accomplishments, we can reflect on the challenges that still lie ahead for women today.

 In addition to Mary Anning’s life story, the biographies that interested me the most from this collection were those of Josephine Baker (1906-1975) and Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965).

 This is a good opportunity to remind the world that blocking women in any way undermines humanity as a whole. The grim situation of women in Afghanistan and Iran is the result of abusive men in power. Religious and political fanaticisms have no boundaries. Totalitarian regimes are driven by extremists who have no respect for democratic principles. Let’s not confuse the word democracy with theocracy. They are not compatible.

 Speaking up to support women is not against any cultural norm. Education and human dignity are basic human rights; those who justify the oppression of women on the basis of culture are simply trying to justify violence and injustice against women. They are trying to silence us. Let’s take a moment to remember Mahsa Amini whose life was cut short in Iran by the so-called “morality police” because of a dress code imposed on women. I just signed petitions to protect the life of other innocent people in Iran, like actress Taranech Alidoosti and actor Hossein Mohammadi. Let’s speak up for their lives. Let’s tell the Iranian government that executing people to suppress dissent is an atrocity. Human lives matter. My heart is with these people; I admire their resilience and I think of them often.

 An important aspect of gender inequality that is often ignored is the current climate crisis. I was surprised that the introduction of She Sells Seashells by the Seashore did not mention anything about the ways climate change amplifies gender inequality.

 Across the world women are more vulnerable to the effects of the climate crisis. Tasks like finding fresh water, collecting firewood and taking care of the land are mainly done by women. Climate change hinders these duties, forcing women to make longer journeys to accomplish their goals. Women and girls are more likely to be vulnerable to all forms of gender-based violence, human trafficking, child marriage and other forms of violence.

 Research shows that women are 14 times more likely to be displaced because of climate change.

 According to a report released by the secretariat of the Bonn Climate Change Conference in June 2022, “the adverse effects of droughts, floods, hurricanes, extreme rainfall events and sea level rise are often felt more keenly by women than men as a result of systemic gender discrimination and societal expectations related to gender roles.”

 Last but not least, extreme heat increases the incidence of stillbirth and makes pregnant women more vulnerable to various medical conditions that threaten their lives.To understand the link between climate change and gender inequality, feel free to check the supplementary reading material I am sharing at the bottom of this post.

  I thank the author of She Sells Seashells by the Seashore for sending me a copy of her book for My Writing Life blog.

 Today My Writing Life blog turns 12 years old. I feel thankful for having this space to express myself. The right to read books and to write about them is a right I do not take for granted. I am honored to have this space; it has been a unique journey.

 Thank you for reading these words, and for making this blog a meaningful endeavor. It is an honor to have you as a reader. I recently learned that in certain places-- China, for example-- blogger is censored by the government, and this made me reflect on the fragility of the freedom to communicate. 

  My Writing Life blog supports the freedom to read books as an essential foundation of democracy. 

 I have been asked how I choose books for My Writing Life blog. There is no specific answer to this question. I read books that interest me, books that satisfy my curiosity. Hence, I select books that educate and inspire me. I also feel inspired to inspire others by sharing the wisdom of books that leave me in awe or make my heart sing.

  I also cherish books that connect me to my deepest self and ignite a spark of hope and understanding between cultures; I appreciate books that have the potential to make some kind of positive impact on the world.

 I explored the kinds of books I read over the last 14 months. These graphs show the results.

 

                  


 


 

 

If you reached this point of the blog post you deserve something delicious.

I created this recipe. You can make this special soup to celebrate the existence of My Writing Life blog. It is gluten-free, diary-free and plant-based.

It is also easy to make and very nutritious. This special soup nourishes the mind and body:

                           

                             Ingredients (for about 3 people):

-One onion

- Leeks (two)

-1/2 a teaspoon of Turmeric

-1/2 a teaspoon of Oregano

- 1 Tablespoon of Nutritional Yeast

-One and a half cups of chopped butternut squash

-One and a half cups of uncooked chickpea beans

-1 cup of chopped spinach or chard

                                           -1 Tablespoon of soy sauce (optional)

-1 cup of chopped mushrooms

-2 cloves of garlic

- 1-2 tablespoons of Olive oil

-Half a cup of cooked quinoa

Instructions

Place the uncooked chickpea beans in a big saucepan adding 10 cups of water and place it on the stove to let it boil. The water used to cook the beans is called aquafaba and is full of nutrition

Place the chopped leeks, chopped onion and chopped butternut squash along with the olive oil, turmeric and oregano. Mix it well, but before it is fully cooked pour the mixture into the saucepan where the chickpea beans are getting cooked. Add the nutritional yeast, the soy sauce and the cooked quinoa. Let everything get cooked as needed.

During the last five minutes add the chopped spinach (or Swiss chard). Let it simmer there for about five minutes

In a separate pan, add the mushrooms with the garlic and some olive oil.  Cook this for a few minutes. When the soup is ready add the mushrooms on top of the soup.

 I hope you enjoy this warm revitalizing soup for the soul.

 While you savor the soup, celebrate the birthday of My Writing Life blog by listening to this thought-provoking  talk by Jonathan Friedman of PEN America about the freedom to read books:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGxCT6kzQ5Y

 

                     Wherever you are,  I wish you a healthy and safe holiday season.

 



Supplementary links:


https://fortune.com/2022/07/25/why-climate-change-disproportionally-impacts-women/

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/06/explainer-how-gender-inequality-and-climate-change-are-interconnected

https://www.npr.org/2022/10/04/1126680819/the-death-of-a-young-iranian-woman-in-police-custody-continues-to-reverberate

https://www.cnn.com/2022/12/23/middleeast/iran-footballer-amir-nasr-azadani-execution-intl/index.html

https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/dozens-protest-afghan-capital-after-taliban-close-universities-women-2022-12-22/

https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-53640382


Monday, December 5, 2022

Spirit Woman: The Diaries and Paintings of Bonita Wa Wa Calachaw Nunez

 


Puritanic resistance has prevented many of our greater minds in their work of discovery. And that is why freedom of thought must by all means be the cause to fight for.”

Wa Wa Chaw

 Before turning twelve years old, Wa Wa Chaw was already making professional medical illustrations. She was a self-taught artist with various talents. Her poems and paintings are an expression of her exquisite sensitivity, intelligence and deep understanding of the challenges faced by the Indigenous people.

 Today I have the honor to dig out a unique gem from the ashes of indifference. The content of this book could have ended in the garbage bin had it not been for a friend of Wa Wa Chaw who cared to rescue it. His name was Stan Steiner. He edited her diaries and was able to publish them with many of her impressive artworks in the year 1980.

 


  Wa Wa Chaw died when she was 84 years old. Strangely enough, she somehow anticipated her own death; she contacted her friend Stan Steiner, and made various arrangements before going to the hospital. The hospital workers found nothing wrong with her. They even scolded her for seeking medical care, but before she was discharged from the hospital she passed away peacefully, on May 12 1972, leaving behind an enigma without answers and a legacy that has the potential to illuminate the hearts of the oppressed people everywhere.

I first learned about Wa Wa Chaw when I read the book Unstoppable Native American Women, which I reviewed recently in My Writing Life blog. 

 Wa Wa Chaw was an avid learner and an original thinker who tried her best to support marginalized communities at a time when Indigenous people were considered inferior. Even though they had been born in America, they were not even considered American citizens. They were forced to live on reservations, and if they left those reservations they were labeled as “delinquent”. When somebody got sick, they were unable to get medical care due to the isolated nature of these places.

  Native Americans were denied jobs and accused of being lazy. Native American children were forced to attend segregated boarding schools, where they were emotionally and physically abused. Many of these children lost their lives there. Others survived, carrying the trauma of those harrowing experiences inside themselves.

 Wa Wa Chaw was born on the Rincon Reservation in Valley Center, California, on December 25 in the year 1888. She was adopted by a very intelligent woman: Mary Duggan, an Irish American. Mary Duggan raised Wa Wa Chaw in New York with the help of her brother, a physician who also instilled in Wa Wa Chaw the desire and freedom to learn as much as she could throughout her life.

 The candid introduction of the book by Stan Steiner adds various interesting facts about her life:

 Her anatomical drawings, when she was still in puberty, made an important contribution to Dr. Duggan’s research, not merely in medicine but also in studies of the properties of radium and radioactivity—experiments he conducted at the time that Pierre and Marie Curie were at work on radium in Paris.”

 Wa Wa Chaw was educated at home with the aid of private tutors. It is inspiring to learn about the way her teachers guided her to become an independent thinker and a lifelong learner. However, Wa Wa Chaw was denied a college education because of her Native American background. Mary Duggan was devastated by this rejection, but Wa Wa Chaw refused to get discouraged. She reassured her mother and continued to be active in a world that treated her with disrespect and hostility. She wrote articles for magazines, gave lectures on women’s rights, painted, danced and advocated for those who were oppressed by discrimination and injustice.

 The first part of her book shares engaging details about Wa Wa’s childhood and youth. Her irresistible narrative is a reflection on her life experiences and observations. The second part focuses mainly on the stories and experiences of Native Americans that she met, but there are also personal insights, thought-provoking statements and personal experiences.

 Wa Wa Chaw and her adoptive mother travelled and witnessed the plight of various Native American communities. The readers of this book can learn history from the point of view of those who were oppressed and condemned to live in poverty. In her writing  Wa Wa Chaw refers to them as the “Indians.”  

 Wa Wa Chaw and her mother also travelled to England, where the artist was shocked by the poverty she encountered in the English territory. 

There is no doubt in my mind that if she had been a man, her works would be celebrated today. I encourage educators in North America and beyond to include this book in their school libraries. It is an invaluable historical record that deserves attention. It will contribute to the understanding of history in North America.  



Wa Wa Chaw expressed her dismay at any kind of religious and political fanaticism. Her words continue to be relevant in today's world. 

I will share the fragment of a powerful poem she wrote called Wisdom, You are Sweet.

“Beware you will be denounced

Walk lightly little feet--

Speak softly little Voice--

Be careful with your smile--

Wisdom will condemn you

Before the eyes of the people.

Lo, Indian-you are pronounced

Guilty for thinking.

Thinking, says Wisdom, is my friend.

Ay, sometimes Wisdom tells me to be silent.

Time says when to act. Obey or fall.

Wisdom asks questions,

Wisdom can recreate Mind and body.

It honors the word- humble. It holds the secret of understanding.

Lo, the Truth is friendly only in terms

Wisdom leads one into many ways to fight for a Great Cause.

We must have the Wisdom and Courage will follow.

Wisdom is the master Mind that gives and takes.

It often gives more than it takes.

There is often a golden moment and a minute for Wisdom.

I can play hide and seek, says Wisdom.

Hidden in the pit of Man’s ego I live--

Ay, the Eye may not see-

The tongue unable to speak-

Limbs may be dead--

I am the master in Man’s head…

Ay the vulturish Nature of civilization

Awaits Man. Even in Greater

Force than ever. I often wonder if this

Would be a good World if tolerance was a law. There is Land and Water everywhere. Thinking and thoughts, Questions and Answers, Everywhere.

Tolerance is needed-with Wisdom and understanding.”


This thought-provoking poem could have been written today. It is timeless, touching, profound.

This past weekend I learned that Afghan women  are banned from visiting parks in the city of Kabul. This article from the BBC recounts details of the indignities and the oppression they suffer in the hands of the ruling Talibans, but the world is busy watching the World Cup games in Qatar, a monarchy that treats women and LGBTQs as second-class citizens, a country where migrants’ lives are exploited.

  Why is the world forcing us to normalize the abuse of women, LGBTQs and migrants? This is not normal and I refuse to accept it as normal.

 Human rights matter.

Today I read that three high school students were executed in North Korea for watching and sharing South Korea’s TV shows with their peers. The evils of censorship have no limits. Totalitarian regimes and dictators don’t have limits, either. Beware of those who admire and support these dictators. 

 It is  necessary to stop empowering these toxic men (“dictators”), and the world should stop turning a blind eye to human rights violations.

 Human rights matter; women’s rights are human rights. Democracy matters. Freedom of thought and speech are essential. Let’s stop pretending otherwise.

 

To learn more about the struggles of Native Americans to become American citizens and to be allowed to vote, you can check this post:

https://www.history.com/news/native-american-voting-rights-citizenship

Here's another relevant article about teaching Native American history in schools. This one is from The Smithsonian Magazine:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/inside-new-effort-change-what-schools-teach-about-native-american-history-180973166/

 

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Deer Man

 


"The Universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.

Eden Phillpotts

Deer are intriguing to me.

I remember being drawn to the fleeting gaze of a deer, perceiving in her gentle eyes the radiance of her friendly nature and intelligence. My curiosity was satisfied by Geoffroy Delorme’s Deer Man, a unique book that surpassed all my expectations and became an all-time favorite.

  During his childhood Geoffroy Delorme had a disappointing experience at school, so the decision was made to homeschool him. This period of his life afforded him the time and space he needed to explore his interests in the natural world.  He devoured books by Dian Fossey, Jane Goodall and other naturalists. He also learned as much as he could about the forests in Normandy, France, where he lived.

 He researched the kinds of foods in the forest that could nourish his body, gleaning information about the rich variety of plants and trees.

Geoffroy bonded with the forest when he was a kid.

 When he was nineteen years old, he decided to immerse himself in those forests, living close to the roe deer. As they foraged for food in the same areas, the deer were very curious about his presence.

What was a human being doing there? The interest was mutual, and their interactions evolved into friendships.

 Geoffroy got to know each deer as a unique individual; complex relationships developed as they cooperated with each other, living side by side for seven years.

 Roe deer have the ability to tell the difference between good and evil, or between those who wish them well and those who wish to do them harm.

 Geoffroy Delorme learned as much as he could from the deer.  He adopted their sleeping habits and gained insights from them about the ways he could support his own nutrition; similarly, Geoffroy was able to guide the deer to safety at times, when hunters tried to attack them. Surviving in the forest was not an easy feat. Winter is harsh, and Geoffroy shares the details on how he was able to endure the season. It is also made harder by the way humans destroy the forests, threatening the sources of food needed to survive and thrive.



Adaptation to the natural environment is a long process that demands patience. Your metabolism changes. Your mind changes. Your reflexes change. Everything changes, but slowly.”

 It was human encroachment what pushed him out of the forest after seven years of living in the forests in France. His need to speak up for the deer and the forest compelled him to write Deer Man.

 The forest brings us food and medicine. Without it, our landscapes would be nothing but desolation, and life would be reduced to the most total silence. It is the forest that purifies the atmosphere and allows us to breathe the oxygen indispensable to all living creatures”.



 The experience of living side by side with his deer friends taught him a lot about himself, and he dedicated this book to Chevy:

 “To Chevy, my best friend.

You taught me to live, to feel, to love,

To believe that everything was possible,

And to become myself.”


 

 I cried many times with Deer Man and I’m sure other readers cried too. This book warms the heart and educates the mind. Inspiring and mesmerizing, Deer Man will hopefully instill in peoples’ consciousness the wisdom to guide themselves toward respectful empathic choices, to genuinely honor life through their own humane behaviors. Jane Goodall makes it clear in one line: “Read this book and enter into another world.”

 You can learn more about Geoffroy Delorme’s forest experiences by checking this fascinating conversation at the Greystone Books site.

 

Friday, November 11, 2022

Healing Comes from Within

 


Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.

Lao Tzu

 Every day is an invitation to make choices that help us grow; every day is an opportunity to be kind to ourselves and to others.

 Today’s post is about healing.

 Among other medical conditions, Isabelle Adolfsson had malignant melanoma for which she required two surgeries. She received excellent medical care to treat her condition, but healing is not limited to the effects of a medical treatment.

  Healing comes from within. It comes from us being in a good place, doing what we feel is right for us. It comes from us leading a life that feels in tune with our heart and soul.

  Her book Healing Comes from Within reveals the details of her spiritual journey as she navigated various life challenges.

  Due to a condition called alopecia universalis, Isabelle lost all her hair over time. Her grace and wisdom through the situations she had to encounter make the read engrossing. Her own story becomes a spiritual sanctuary to ponder upon one’s own life story.

  Her spiritual memoir is written in the form of a journal, and it can be compared to a precious delicate quilt whose patches assemble to form a beautiful composite. I believe the gems of her wisdom stem from her love for life, Nature and people. 

 From her experiences she built physical, mental and spiritual resilience, the core themes of her memoir. Isabelle has a lot to be thankful for; celebrating the bright side of her journey inspires her to move forward with hope.



Isabelle has a rich spiritual life, but what is spirituality?

Spirituality is love,

Spirituality is knowing that we all come from the same source,

Spirituality comes from within,

It comes from your soul,

It comes from the heart,

Spirituality comes from knowing that

We are all one.

 The aura of her spiritual memoir swathes the soul of the reader. It is the warmth that the concept of love offers. Love means respecting boundaries and understanding others. Love is being genuinely happy for others’ happiness. The concept of “mudita” comes to my mind as I type these words. “Mudita” in Sanskrit means finding joy in the happiness of others… I wrote about this word when I published my post on loving-kindness, a few years ago. Strangely enough, there is no word in the English language for the word "mudita"… why? 



 When you feel true happiness for others, your own happiness increases. When that happens, your own personal growth accelerates.” Richard Belton

 


Here's a reflection from Healing Comes from Within:

 By accepting people for who they are you are setting them free to lead their life. You give them a chance to walk their path. This is the most beautiful thing we can do for another human being. This is the gift of love.

   Her reflection brought to my mind some situations from my past that taught me a lot about self-respect and the importance of standing my ground. If somebody who calls himself or herself your “friend” does not respect your boundaries by  humiliating you in various ways for your life choices, you can conclude  that that person is not your genuine friend, even when you have tried to focus on the goodness in that person. It is an act of kindness toward yourself to let go of that relationship. In doing so, you are not only supporting your emotional and physical health, but also the health of your loved ones.

Setting boundaries is an act of kindness.

 I was intrigued to learn that Isabelle has a twin sister--I’ve always found twins fascinating—and I thought she was going to share more about their relationship.

 Isabelle’s spiritual memoir empowers you to follow your inner wisdom; it encourages you to align your purpose with something greater than yourself.

 There are some gentle meditation exercises to find comfort and peace within yourself.

 Everybody needs to cultivate inner peace to face life challenges. Amid the chaos of the world, balance and inner peace are essential to maintain the focus on our intention.

 Do I agree with everything Isabelle expresses? No, I don’t, but I don’t need to agree on every statement to enjoy a book.

  We will always have disagreements in life, but I think it is crucial to disagree from a place of love, tolerance and cooperation; this book will inspire you to do that.

 

 Courage is to walk your path,

Courage is to do what you feel is right in your heart and soul.

Courage is to stand up for yourself

Even when questioned.

 

I thank the author for sharing her spiritual memoir with me for My Writing Life blog. Isabelle lives in Gothenburg, Sweden.

   I am honored to receive emails by authors from all over the world. I cannot answer every single email or read every book I am offered, but I do feel thankful for each and very reader who cares to reach out.

 Books connect people in meaningful ways.

 I will conclude this post with Isabelle’s words:

 This is what life is about: to love, to live, to understand that all of us are part of everything together. We all play our part in this beautiful dance. We all have our choices to make in order to participate in creating a better world.


 Today I received a devastating report from Amnesty International explaining that Russian forces are separating Ukrainian children from their families:

Amnesty investigations have uncovered devastating tactics by Russian forces that likely amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. In occupied areas of Ukraine, Russian forces have been forcibly transporting civilians to Russia or Russian-occupied territories using torture and other ill-treatment:

·  Civilians are forced through an invasive screening process called ‘filtration,’ meaning they’re subjected to torture, arbitrary detention, and other ill-treatment, including being beaten, electroshocked and threatened with execution: That constitutes war crimes of unlawful confinement, torture and inhuman treatment.

·  Children are being separated from their families after forcible transfer: That’s a violation of international humanitarian law.

·  Older people and people with disabilities appear to have been placed in institutions in Russia or Russian-occupied areas, making it difficult for them to leave Russia or to reunite with family members: That’s a violation of their human rights.

We’re hearing devastating stories from children as young as 11, including one boy who told us:

“They took my mom to another tent. She was being questioned… They told me I was going to be taken away from my mom… I was shocked... They didn’t say anything about where my mom was going. A lady from Novoazovsk [child protection] service said maybe my mom would be let go… I didn’t get to see my mom... I have not heard from her since.”

How can anybody support a dictator like Vladimir Putin? Shame on his “friends” and supporters across the world. They have a lot of soul searching to do.

 My heart is with these children and their families. My heart is with the people suffering the horrendous consequences of Putin's cruel, inexcusable invasion of Ukraine. I also think of the courage and kindness of those who volunteered to fight for the freedom of Ukraine. 

 I hope these Ukrainian children and their families will get all the help they can get, and I hope the world stops empowering toxic men like Vladimir Putin.