As I write this post, a battle is raging in Kabul. The Taleban have apparently launched their infamous Spring Offensive in the city. I’ve been checking in on friends via Twitter and Facebook all day. My favorite updates came from a friend who was stuck in her office with a cat and a litter of new-born kittens. Her tweets about the gunfire, helicopters and explosions were interspersed with updates as to how the kittens were coping (pretty well, as it turns out).
I’m due to head to Afghanistan myself next week, so I’ll be watching developments closely. But for now, I’m kicking off this weeks round-up with some more optimistic links about Afghanistan.
Good Things From Afghanistan
- Fawzia Koofi , a candidate for the Afghan presidential elections in 2014, is the author of a new memoir “The Favored Daughter.“
- Cool street photography by Skateistan photographers in Kabul (via @ElSnarkistani & @skateistan)
- An exhibition of photos by Afghan IDPs (internally displaced people) in Kabul this week (via @nickschifrin)
+ Local Champions Day
Around this time last year I declared “I’ve had enough of feeling helpless about the war in Afghanistan. It’s time to take action, and stand with one woman who is waging peace and prosperity for Afghan women.” That woman was Suraya Pakzad, who is one of my heros, and a true local champion. I mention her today because Monday 16 April is Local Champions Day - a day to celebrate “stories of local action working successfully to address local needs” rather than Whites in Shining Armor.
Aid Work, Empathy & Resilience
At the recent Skoll Forum the “Next Big Thing” in the social sector was tipped to be, wait for it, empathy. I confess I find it astounding that empathy is not already considered the first and most important thing in thge sector. But hey, I’m crazy like that.
Next up – it’s becoming a habit of mine, linking to posts from Alessandra of ‘Mindfulness for NGOs‘ but I can’t help it. I love this woman’s approach, her wisdom and her writing – especially not when she writes on topics like ‘post-traumatic growth’:
So how do we allow ourselves to be touched but not crashed by the difficulties of being a humanitarian? I think the concept of post-traumatic growth can offer some insight into this.
Thirdly, in what may well be an example of post-traumatic growth: a veteran-operated, pro-soldier, anti-war coffee shop.
And fourthly a similar topic, this article from The Guardian on whether sustainability professionals can avoid burnout asked: What methods do you use to stay happy on the inside whilst working effectively on the outside? (via @intldogooder)
Good Things for Building Resilience
First up – I’m planning a special community edition of all my 30 days courses starting mid-May. The plan is to celebrate my 40th b’day by holding a great big group event where we all start the courses (you can choose between the four yoga courses – Standard, Beginner, Busy or Curvy – or the Courage course) on the same day. More soon!
Secondly, this looks like a wonderful offering from Eric Klein (who is one of my guests on the 30 Days of Courage course audio guide) and whose 50 Ways to Leave Your Karma book – on which this program is based – I loved. You can get a preview of the program here.
Also, my own meditation teacher Peter Fernando (who you’ll know and love if you’ve done any of my 30 Days courses) is offering his online meditation course on a ‘pay-what-you-can’ basis.
Good things on Gender & Motherhood
On the subject of aid work, this article on Gender and Aid Work by @onSanity makes the important (and often repeated point) that the aid/humanitarian sector might want to sort out it’s own backyard before telling the rest of the world what to do:
We are talking about regrouping families in Africa and Asia, and at the same time about ways to get the women away from their own children so that their careers wont suffer.
By far the most powerful post I’ve read in a long time on the topic of not having children, On Being Childless by Marie Phillips had me nodding, linking and forwarding like crazy. A few gems from her article:
The fantasy of the thing you don’t have is a fantasy of perfection … You do not need to manufacture a new human to have love. There are already so many people surrounding you who want your love very much, and all you have to do is give it to them. Of course there are some who will reject it, but you can never love with expectation, only with hope, and that goes for your children as much as for anybody else.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Badinter, in Lost Ground, asks whether a ‘new feminism that glorifies pregnancy and childbirth’ is holding women back. Referring to Carol Gilligan’s work to back in the early 1980s,
An approach that makes biology the source of all virtue condemns, in one sweep, all men as well as women who have not had children.
My friend Doug Mack’s hilarious travel memoir, Europe on 5 Wrong Turns a Day is out and getting rave reviews from publications like National Geographic.
Refreshing in its intelligence, candor, good-humored self-deprecation, and insightful redemption of the much-maligned tourist, Mack’s account is a trail-reblazing testament to the transformative power of travel in the modern world, and to the enduring richness of those well-trod places where authenticity, history, culture, and fame compose their own never-ending narratives.
And I’m fairly certain you already know this, but if somehow you missed the news, the very funny, very wonderful Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess, also has a memoir out, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. I haven’t read it yet. But I’m willing to take Neil Gaiman’s word on it:
The Bloggess writes stuff that actually is laugh-out-loud, but you know that really you shouldn’t be laughing and probably you’ll go to hell for laughing, so maybe you shouldn’t read it. That would be safer and wiser. ~ Neil Gaiman