Here, There and Everywhere

Archive for May, 2013

Girl with the Crooked Smile

0988465620.01._PC_SCLZZZZZZZ_Girl with the Crooked Smile: Stuck in a Moment. . . and the Pearls of Wisdom That Pulled Her Through It
by Darah Zeledon
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans
New York Journal of Books

For writer, speaker, and “Warrior Mom of five” Darah Zeledon, life’s joys and calamities have been abundant and enlightening. Talk about making lemonade out of lemons, this woman has found a way to make fertilizer out of a truckload of shit.

Armed robbery, a suicide, complete financial ruin, an accident that almost took her life, and a brain tumor while pregnant with her fourth child are but stepping stones and mere folly for this matador of life.

There is no bull in this story, only honest and brutal reality with doses of humor and insight gushing from its depths like a glass of refreshing clear water to quench the thirst after travel through the desert.

Here is an example of what she says after being diagnosed with a brain tumor and previously being told she will either lose her baby (at five months in utero) or her own life, a neurosurgeon (who says he can save both) offers her some choices:

“Hmmm.” Darah writes. “What were my choices again? 1) High likelihood of facial paralysis and probable deafness on the left side, or 2) guaranteed left-sided deafness with a high probability of no droopy face, or 3) a degree of unconfirmed damage to either of the above-mentioned plus God knows what else. Wait a minute. What the hell am I doing—choosing toppings on a pizza?”

The book takes place in several locations (New York, Panama, Barcelona, and Florida) and hops from one situation to another, but it doesn’t seem choppy or discombobulated. Somehow, like the author’s thought process, it all makes sense.

Her “pearls of wisdom” at the end of each chapter aren’t poetic spiritual New Age bits of gibberish, but practical suggestions congruently arising from her experience. For example, at the end of the chapter about her brain tumor and all the chaos and decisions that entailed, she writes “Be true to yourself and resist peer pressure. Come clean about what you believe. Recognize blessings. Trust your instincts.”

Girl with the Crooked Smile is a real kicker. It has wit, cultural insight (Latin American, Jewish, Floridian), and a warmhearted embrace of life as it is—not as we wish it to be.

Darah Zeledón is a gifted storyteller equal parts psychologist, teacher, mother, philosopher, partner, and friend.

Read this review and others at New York Journal of Books.

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Films That Transform

Films That Transform

Kathy Barbini and Simon Weinberg at Big Boy Pictures have produced two films that are a must see for those who desire personal and communal peace and healing.
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Boys and Men Healing is a documentary about the impact the sexual abuse of boys has on both the individual and society, and the importance of healing and speaking out for male survivors to end the devastating effects.

The Healing Years, broke ground in the field of women’s issues and child sexual abuse prevention. The film has been broadcast on PBS stations nationwide, screened in international film festivals and leading conferences worldwide, and has become an acclaimed film in the field of child sexual abuse prevention for training and education.

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BIG VOICE PICTURES produces social issue documentaries that give voice to emerging and cutting-edge issues, with the intention of motivating discussion, creating change, and offering new insights and hope for individuals, families, and communities through strategic national outreach campaigns and collaboration with communities and organizations. Their films have received worldwide distribution and recognition.

The Leaping Gazelle Smoothie

The Leaping Gazelle Smoothie

Gazelles are one of the oldest mammals in existence – they’ve been around for over 12 million years! They are admired for their graceful appearance, and have been known to leap as high as twelve feet straight into the air. This smoothie won’t make you leap that high, or you’d hit your head on the ceiling, but it will make your insides jump for joy.

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Yield: 4 cups

1 cup apricot juice, or 1 cup sliced apricots
1 cup raspberry juice, or 1 cup raspberries
1 cup cranberry juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 ripe banana

Place all the ingredients in a blender, and mix on low speed for 30 seconds.

Pour into tall glasses, keep your feet on the ground and serve.

Great-Am-SmoothiesExcerpt from Great American Smoothies: The Ultimate Blending Guide for Shakes, Slushes, Desserts, & Thirst Quenchers by Gabriel Constans

Stop Execution of Torture Victim

Dear Gabriel,

W1305EAIAR1_2Please help Amnesty stop the imminent execution of my brother, Abdullah Al Qahtani.

This week my brother’s life could be taken for a “confession” he was tortured into making. Abdullah was beaten, burned and asphyxiated by Iraqi security forces into “confessing” to being a member of terrorist organization al-Qaeda.

Now our fear is that the Iraqi authorities will execute Abdullah without even allowing him to have a fair trial first. It could happen at any time now.

Please do what you can to stop this execution.

About a month ago, Amnesty called on you to stop my brother’s execution. Together, we have been successful in buying some time. For that, I would like to express my family’s heartfelt thanks and gratitude to you, Amnesty supporters, for your precious help and support. It has brought much needed attention to Abdullah’s plight.

However, Abdullah’s time is once again running out. If the Iraqi court agrees with the prosecutor that Abdullah should not get a new trial, then a deadly chain of events would be put in motion. In less than 24 hours — without fair trial or even a phone call to us, his family — Abdullah’s execution could be carried out.

Abdullah needs an opportunity to present his case fully and fairly. He deserves the chance to exercise his human rights.

This risk of execution has placed our family under great stress. Abdullah is in poor health after enduring both torture and the effects of a hunger strike. Our parents are suffering. I don’t know if our mother has the strength to survive if Abdullah were to be executed.

We plead with Amnesty and its supporters to do everything possible to stop Abdullah from being treated inhumanely and for his rights to be restored.

Please take this action now. Help me save my brother’s life.

My deepest thanks,

Brother of Abdullah Al Qahtani, Saudi man at risk of execution in Iraq

Drink The Elephant’s Child

The Elephant’s Child

What mammal often lives to be 70 years old and can feed itself, spray water, and lift heavy objects with its long, flexible trunk? The elephant of course! As you might guess, elephants have a strong sense of smell. They can smell water – or a smoothie – long before they see it. If you practice, you, too, may soon be able to smell The Elephant’s Child from afar, but that means drinking smoothies on a daily basis, using proper “smoothie etiquette” at all times.

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Yield: 3 cups

2 cups soy milk
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons of your favorite jelly
1 ripe banana
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons oat bran

Place all the ingredients in a blender, and mix on medium speed for 30 seconds.

Pour into tall glasses, smell the aroma and serve.

Great-Am-SmoothiesExcerpt from Great American Smoothies: The Ultimate Blending Guide for Shakes, Slushes, Desserts, & Thirst Quenchers by Gabriel Constans

Reporter Shot In New Orleans

Online campaign raises $15,000 for reporter who was shot in New Orleans
by Taylor Miller Thomas
Published May 23, 2013 on Poynter.org

An online fundraising effort for New Orleans freelancer Deborah Cotton met its $15,000 goal within four days. While some of the donations came from her friends and family, others came from people who have never met Cotton.

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Cotton was shot while covering a parade in New Orleans on Mother’s Day. The campaign has since increased its goal to $75,000. With it, Cotton’s friends hope to “help with the enormous expense she will incur from her injuries.”

Crowdsourced journalism yielded less-than-stellar results after the Boston Marathon bombing: Reddit users identified the wrong suspects; the police asked people to stop live-tweeting from scanners. But the intersection of crowdfunding and journalism grows more interesting every day. A Gawker Indiegogo project is attempting to raise $200,000 to buy a video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking a crack pipe; it’s raised more than $132,000 so far. Planet Money raised more than enough to fund a story about the global garment trade.

Read entire story and more at Poynter.org.

Drinking A Wiley Coyote

Wiley Coyote Smoothie

The coyote is a North American wild dog closely related to the wolf. Many native peoples have stories and beliefs surrounding the coyote, often referred to as the trickster who outsmarts both friend and foe. Coyotes dfend their chosen “territory,” howl in chorus, and mate for life. The Wiley Coyote may make you howl, too. As far as mating for life goes, that’s another story.

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Yield: 4 cups

2 tablespoons raisins
1 ripe banana
1 cup apricot nectar
1 tablespoon carob powder
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 cup firm tofu

Place tall the ingredients in a blender, and mix on medium speed for 1 minute.

Pour into tall glasses, serve, drink and howl for more.

Great-Am-SmoothiesExcerpt from Great American Smoothies: The Ultimate Blending Guide for Shakes, Slushes, Desserts, & Thirst Quenchers by Gabriel Constans

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