As a teacher of women’s studies I often talk about “the gender lens”—the notion of adopting metaphorical spectacles to view the world so that you start seeing things through a special filter and with a special light.
Enrich Your Life by Living Gratefully!
By Rabbi Rami
What are you grateful for? Try not to cough up the usual suspects: sunsets, daisies, puppies, babies, and babies playing with puppies among the daisies at sunset. True, I’m grateful that the earth orbits the sun, and I love dogs and babies, but being grateful for these things is too easy. Being grateful requires more than warm fuzzy feelings; it requires clear seeing and right action.
Not long ago a woman shared with me her experience as a lung transplant recipient. She was grateful to the organ donor, and the doctors and nurses who performed the operation. What about the drunk driver who killed the woman whose lung saved her life, I asked; was she grateful to him as well?
She just stared at me. No one had asked her that before. To her credit, she closed her eyes, took a moment to see what was true for her, and said, yes she was grateful to the man who killed her donor and thus saved her life. Then her eyes filled with tears, and said, “And I hate myself for that.”
As we talked she realized that it wasn’t self-hate she was feeling but extreme humility. After all, she neither wished the death of her donor nor did anything to cause it; she simply benefited from this tragedy. But that realization was huge. What if the deceased woman had a family, she mused. What if she had little children who would grow up without a mom? What if she was caring for her parents? A single death can have so many ramifications. How do I live with this, she sobbed.
Your situation may not be this extreme, but the question she asked is your question as well. You are being gifted by people and things all the time. How do you live with this? This is what gratitude is really all about: not feeling grateful, but living gratefully.
Chances are you too have lungs, and don’t need a transplant to be grateful for them. But what about the Brazilian rainforest? Are you grateful for that? After all, your lungs are useless without oxygen, yet neither they nor any other organ in your body produces oxygen. Trees and plants in partnership with the sun do that, and the Brazilian rainforest processes 28% of the world’s oxygen, so the forest is a vital part of your body as well. If you are grateful to your lungs, you must be grateful to trees and plants as well. How do you express your gratitude? What do you do to help secure clean air for your lungs to breathe?
Despite clichés to the contrary, it isn’t the thought that counts; it is the deed that counts. Gratitude that is merely attitude is cheap and meaningless. If you are grateful to your lungs, don’t poison them with carcinogens. If you are grateful for oxygen, protect the living system that produces it. Or, if you don’t, at least have the courage to stop claiming you are grateful for lungs and oxygen.
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I wear Rockport shoes and return them to the company for resoling. The first time I did this the shoes came back in near mint condition accompanied by a hand-written note from the person who restored them. He explained how very disappointed he was that I disrespected the shoes he works so hard to make: the leather was scuffed and unpolished; the shoe backs were broken; and the toe box was misshapen because I didn’t keep my shoes on a shoetree. He concluded by asking me to treat his work with more respect.
That was 30 years ago, and I have never treated my shoes the same since. What about you? You would be lost without your shoes. They support your arches, protect your feet from hot pavements and dangerous debris, and (along with your shirt) allow you to eat in restaurants. So how do you show your gratitude? Look at your shoes and see.
What about the rest of your clothes? Do you keep them clean, neatly folded or hanging properly? When you no longer need them, do you toss them out or do you donate them where someone else can benefit from them?
What is true of shoes and clothes is true of everything. It is easy to assess the quality of gratitude in your life by examining how well you treat the people and things in your life. You are being gifted by people and things—seen and unseen, known and unknown—all day, every day. That should make you feel grateful, but more importantly it should cause you to live gratefully.
Living gratefully means taking nothing and no one for granted. It means treating salespeople, stock clerks, bank tellers, and cashiers kindly. It means not polluting your body with excess sugar, fat, and salt. It means not polluting your community with bigotry, fear, anger, gossip, and ill-will. It means saying thank you to everyone and everything by treating them all with utmost respect.
Be grateful for babies and puppies, just don’t stop there. Join with others to offer a scholarship at a local daycare center, adopt or rescue an animal companion, or support a local animal shelter. Gratitude is not a way of feeling, it is a way of doing. If you aren’t living gratefully, feeling grateful means nothing at all.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro, PhD teaches religious studies at Middle Tennessee State University and is the director of Wisdom House Center for Interfaith Studies in Nashville. He has written over two dozen books and a new series, Rabbi Rami Guides: Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler, available at Spirituality & Health Books and Amazon.com; see www.rabbirami.com. SMITH PUBLICITY, INC. 856-489-8654 x326
As reality TV has become staple entertainment for young people and adults alike, tween and teen girls who regularly view reality TV accept and expect a higher level of drama, aggression, and bullying in their own lives, and measure their worth primarily by their physical appearance, according to Real to Me: Girls and Reality TV, a national survey released today by the Girl Scout Research Institute.
Sociologist Diana Russell has organized for decades to end violence against women. Here she argues that labeling the most extreme form of such violence is essential to combating it.
Public awareness about violence against women has increased dramatically over the last four decades in the United States, thanks to women’s multi-faceted activism. Click here to read the entire article
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Members of the Nobel Women’s Initiative are marshaling their collective wisdom and experience to tackle the challenge of ending rape as a weapon of war. Certain topics have always been hard to talk about—rape and sexual abuse ranking high up on that list. And yet we must speak up more because of the many women affected.
When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children. (United Nations Population Fund, State of World Population 1990.)
Women’s History Month is over for this year. But I confess I haven’t been in much of a celebratory mood. March 8th (2011)was the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. The UN theme for the celebration was “Equal Access to Education, Training and Technology: Pathway to Decent Work for Women.” Ironically, this March was also the 100th year commemoration of the tragedy of the Shirtwaist Triangle Factory Fire in New York City. On March 25, 1911, 146 people died from a fire caused by unsafe workplace conditions.
The second annual Women in the World summit started on Thursday with a welcome from Tina Brown, Editor in Chief of Newsweek and the Daily Beast, who hosted the event, and ended with a farewell on Saturday. Watch the video
Womansong is Asheville’s oldest and largest women’s chorus which started almost 25 years ago. Over time more than $45,000 from proceeds from concerts and donations have helped women in transition make new beginnings.
At a recent concert, Womansong performed the song “Help Somebody.” A line in that song captures the philosophy of the New Start Program (NSP), Womansong’s charitable arm: “Got plenty and then some, what do I do…I go out and help somebody get plenty and then some, too, that’s what I do.”
For more than twenty years the New Start Program (NSP) has provided grants to fill the gap for women in need when other funds are not available. More recently, the Womansong NSP has begun funding scholarships to help women improve their lives and better their prospects for meaningful employment.
In 2009, the NSP set up the first annual New Start Scholarship at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College to assist a woman entering a degree program. The recipient of that scholarship in 2010 was Katonya Owens (pictured at Scholarship Luncheon at A-B Tech with co-chair of the New Start Fund, Nita Walker.) Katonya is working on two Associate Degree programs in Automotive Systems Technology and Heavy Equipment Technology.
In December 2010, the NSP established eight more scholarships, four at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and four at Haywood Community College to be awarded to women entering non-degree diploma or certificate programs. Generally, these programs can be completed in a shorter time period so that recipients can more quickly find employment. Additionally, Womansong has set up a special fund at both A-B Tech and Haywood Community College to help students who are in need of assistance pay for the initial immunizations required for their programs.
Womansong is committed to the New Start Program and believes that by giving these women a hand, the women, their families, and their communities are all uplifted.
For more information about Womansong, upcoming concerts, and the New Start Program, please visit www.womansong.org. Press Release from Marilyn Hubbard, Womansong Publicity, 828-686-9010 email@example.com Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or need more information. Thank you.
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Before I Disappear, by Barb Herding, chronicles the story of Lauren Stafford, a 16 year old girl whose self-esteem has been crushed by rejection from everyone in her life. Lauren develops a skewed perception of her body as a result of the rejection that she experiences, which turns into an eating disorder.
When her eating disorder spirals out of control and she is rushed to the hospital, Lauren meets other teens who are suffering from the same problems, and she sees that she is not alone and just how many different types of people are affected by the same affliction. As she is introduced to both males and females, she learns about teenagers from all walks of life who are internalizing different types of pressure. In group therapy, she meets Bridget, a ballerina who collapsed during her solo in The Nutcracker, Paul who should be fighting in his first championship wrestling match, and Vivian, a model who never made it to her first real photo shoot. Then there is Jenny, who does not want to tell her story to the group, as her eating disorder and near fatal episode result from a dark secret rooted in her childhood.
According to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, approximately one percent of adolescent girls develop anorexia nervosa and another two to three percent develop bulimia nervosa. Alarmingly, one out of every ten anorexia cases is fatal, resulting from starvation, cardiac arrest, suicide, or other related medical complications.
Herding’s story provides an important message about eating disorders, their potential consequences, and the road to recovery, addressing an issue that is prevalent in our society through fiction. Before I Disappear is a heart-rending story that is certain to tug at the emotions of its readers, provide teens with an important message about eating disorders, and help parents to understand their teenagers who suffer from eating disorders.
Contact: Emily – email@example.com
Three women are sharing the 2011 Nobel Prize for Peace. One is Yemeni human rights leader Tawakul Karman. The other two are African: Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Liberia’s current president and Africa’s only female democratically elected head of state, and her countrywoman Leymah Gbowee who is a peace activist and spellbinding challenger of the ultra-male, brutality-wielding world of warlords.
The people who were part of what is often called the First Wave of feminism in the United States didn’t identify as “First Wavers.” That designation was applied to the suffragists retroactively after a second swell of activism by American women occurred, in the 1960s and 1970s. Click here to read the entire article
Saudi Women to Subaru: Stop Selling Cars Where Women Can’t Drive Them
Saudi activists call on Subaru, which markets heavily to women, to pull out of Saudi Arabia until women get the right to drive; Change.org campaign already attracting 1,000 signatures an hour.
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA – More than 1,000 people an hour are signing a new viral Change.org campaign created by a coalition of leading Saudi Arabian women’s rights activists calling on Subaru to stop selling cars in the oil-rich kingdom until a ban on women driving is lifted.
Saudi Women for Driving, a coalition of leading Saudi women’s rights activists, bloggers and academics campaigning for the right to drive, sent an open letter today to the senior management of the Japanese transportation conglomerate Fuji Heavy Industries, which owns Subaru.
“While Subaru is marketed heavily at women, your company is simultaneously making hundreds of millions selling your cars in the only country on earth where women aren’t allowed to drive,” the Saudi women’s coalition wrote to the car manufacturer. “We write to you with a simple request: that Subaru publicly pledge to pull out of Saudi Arabia until such time as women are allowed to drive.”
Saudi Women for Driving plans to launch similar campaigns against a number of other car companies, but decided to target Subaru first due to the company’s heavy marketing of the Subaru brand to women.
Within hours of the campaign’s launch, Saudi Women for Driving had recruited more than 5,000 supporters on Change.org, the world’s fastest growing platform for social change.
“It’s still early, but recruiting 1,000 supporters an hour while the U.S. is sleeping is an unprecedented level of growth for a campaign,” said Change.org’s Human Rights Editor Benjamin Joffe-Walt. “The amount of momentum these Saudi women have managed to build in one month is incredible: first they successfully mobilized more than 70,000 people to help a Saudi mother arrested for driving her own car, then they successfully led a month-long campaign to get the United States’ top diplomat to publicly stand with them, and now they are taking on their most ambitious campaign yet. I can’t wait to see what happens next.”
The Saudi women’s Subaru campaign follows a significant victory for Saudi women’s rights’ activists. Saudi Women for Driving recently called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to publicly support their right to drive. Her spokesperson responded, and said Clinton was doing so through “quiet diplomacy.” But Saudi women pushed back on that approach, launching a massive Change.org campaign to convince Clinton to reconsider and telling the secretary of state yesterday that “quiet diplomacy is not what we need right now.” At a press conference two hours later, the top U.S. diplomat publicly declared her support for the Saudi women’s right to drive campaigns, calling them “brave”.
Saudi Women for Driving is an informal consortium of Saudi women’s rights activists pulled together after the arrest of Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi mother jailed for driving her car. The group seeks to use online campaigning to build international support for Saudi women’s right to drive. More than 100,000 people in 156 countries have joined Saudi Women for Driving campaigns on Change.org.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 3, 2011
Saudi Women Call on Sec. Hillary Clinton to Publicly Support Their Right to Drive
Saudi women’s rights activists inspired by the Arab Spring call on Secretary of State Clinton to make a public statement supporting Saudi women’s right to drive
WASHINGTON, DC – More than 10,000 people from all 50 US states have endorsed a an open letter by a coalition of leading Saudi Arabian women’s rights activists calling on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to issue a public statement supporting their right to drive.
The initiative follows the success of a series of campaigns by the women’s coalition to free and acquit Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi mother dubbed the ‘Saudi Rosa Parks’ after she was arrested for driving her car. Campaigns led by Saudi women on Manal’s behalf were joined by more than 60,000 people in 156 countries through Change.org, the world’s fastest growing advocacy platform.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world in which women are not allowed to drive a car or even ride a bicycle. With no public transportation system, getting to work, school and medical appointments is complicated, expensive and dangerous for Saudi women. The dependence of Saudi women on men for transportation is repeatedly exploited by abusive fathers, brothers, husbands and hired drivers, and earlier this week a Saudi woman reported she had been raped at gunpoint by her hired driver.
“We were encouraged to see media reports that US diplomats have quietly pressured the Saudi government to give women the right to drive,” reads the open letter from leading Saudi women’s rights activists to Secretary Clinton. “But given the recent arrests of women trying to drive, now is the time for the US to show its muscle and make that pressure public… We believe that you making a public statement of support for Saudi Arabia opening the country’s roads to women would be a game changing moment.”
“Secretary Clinton, you are a friend. Indeed, some of us have met you personally during your decades-long journey as a champion of women’s rights all over the world,” the letter continues. “Now, as we build the largest Saudi women’s protest movement in decades, we need your help.”
Saudi women plan to take the streets en masse on June 17.
Change.org said that Saudi Women for Driving, the consortium of Saudi women’s rights activists, has seen unprecedented success in their online campaigns. www.Change.org
When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children. (United Nations Population Fund, State of World Population 1990.)
An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school: 15 to 25 percent.(George Psacharopoulos and Harry Anthony Patrinos, “Returns to Investment in Education: A Further Update,” Policy Research Working Paper 2881[Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2002].)
The Nike and NoVo foundations have announced a combined $100 million investment in the Girl Effect initiative, which works to help adolescent girls in developing countries bring social and economic change to their families, communities, and countries.
Celebrating International Women’s Day: Reflections from Natalie Portman, Maya Angelou and Other Renowned Women By Marianne Schnall
For the centenary of International Women’s Day this week, Marianne Schnall samples assessments from a wide range of women on where we stand around the world. Click here for A Woman’s Place song by Sara Thomsen
Six-year-old Mehran Rafaat is like many girls her age. She likes to be the center of attention.
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