Category Archives: possibilities

power to the average by remy arthur

Director’s note: In this summer series, an original thinkpeace girl, Remy, writes about the ups and downs, ins and outs of being an “average” girl.  This is her strength, her bond with others, her realness. Currently a rising junior at Sarah Lawrence College studying International Politics, Human Rights, and Ethnic Studies, she is interning this summer for an NYC councilwoman. While living the college-girl life in Manhattan, she’s discovering more about herself, gluten-free cooking, the Upper East Side, Brooklyn, food truck dining, and how to survive sweltering humidity and overcrowded subways. Read about her “average girl” life on Mondays. It’s girl-to-girl talk. It’s a thinkpeace girl finding her way from suburbia to the big city within the global girl community. It’s about self-discovery and acknowledging that who we are right here, right now, matters. And who we become could be something pretty magnificent. After all, the ‘journey is the destination’! Imagine.

 

the average girl

Hello, internet. It’s me, an average girl!

What can I say, I am totally, completely, average.

I grew up in suburban America. I have an average family: mom, dad, two siblings. I graduated high school; I go to college… Pretty average, right?

I never really thought about this until I was applying for summer internships (which I personally feel is expected of college students nowadays) and realized just how average I was.

I was perfecting my resume and writing so many cover letters, all bragging about how I am special and “different” from any other millennial applying for the same internship when I realized how crazy that was! Why am I special? Because I actually do things that I am passionate about? Because I was a teen advisor for a UN campaign when I was 14 years old? Because I like attending and working for my mom’s nonprofit because it’s my mom and that’s where all of my friends are??

To be completely honest, I am not that special. There are literally thousands of people just like me. And that’s ok. I think that with social media and just this day and age, there is so much pressure to ‘be something.’ I know that if I were to talk to someone and say. “yeah, I’m average” they would respond with something to try to make me sound and feel special. Something like, “but you are interning in New York City!” Hello… there are thousands of interns in this city right now. “You go to a school with no majors?!” Yes, I do. What does that have to do with me, though?? I don’t have a “quirky” or “artsy” or “I’m not a hipster, hipster” aesthetic like everyone I go to school with… I am not the world’s best guitar player. I’m a little behind in “meme culture” and don’t know my best selfie angle. I am just me.  At the end of the day, I have my own private little things that make me special, like the fact that I can always make myself laugh or the fact that I may or may not have tried fitting a square inside a circle.

I am never going to be a “superstar” or one of those girls that everybody looks to in awe. And to be honest, I am actually glad that I am just an average girl. I don’t always want to be surrounded by geniuses or rock stars. Give me the quiet girls! Give me the messy girls! Give me the girls who are really good at being lazy! Give me the girls who don’t follow trends! Give me the girls who do! Give me girls who like to code! Give me girls who like to paint! Give me girls that like to binge watch Netflix!

You see, I think there is immense power in being average or normal or whatever word you want to use. I am just me, and at the end of the day, that is all I can be. I know my strengths; I know my weaknesses. I set my own expectations for myself. And no, that does not make me special! It has taken me almost 20 years to get to this point (so. old.), and it’s not like I don’t feel subpar when I see the Instagram models’ most recent pics, but I have to be ok with myself, because if I am always looking for what makes me special, I will probably never be happy. And life is too short for that. There are more than 7 billion people in this world. There are going to be people who are smarter, prettier, and more talented than I, and that’s ok! The biggest lesson I have learned this past year is to stop comparing myself to others. I compare myself to me, and that is the best way for me to grow. I am not going to actually be more special if I spend all of my time trying to outdo somebody else. The best way that I can learn and grow is to keep checking in with myself. How can I be healthier than I was a couple of months ago? How can I write a better paper than the last one? How can I make my selfie game stronger than the last one I took? All any of us can do is just be ourselves and live comfortably with that. I think life should be about growing and changing, taking things one step at a time, and trying to live as authentically as possible.

My goal with this blog series is to show other people that it is a-ok to be average. I also want to write it so when I am going through a spell of self-doubt, I can read something that reminds me that everything is going to be ok! This summer has been crazy for me so far. I have learned a lot, and it isn’t even halfway over yet! I hope to share some of what I have learned with anybody who is willing to listen because I wish I had known how to handle New York City morning rush hour before I did it for the first time! Fingers crossed I actually keep this up. Talk to you soon!

the regular girl’s guide to activism

-Gandhi. Artwork by thinkpeace intern Remy

Have you ever felt all stirred up about something but not able to get the words out? Have you watched classmates stand up and speak out and think, “dang, I can’t do that”? Have you wanted to be an activist but in your own quiet way? Truth is, we aren’t all comfortable grabbing a megaphone, getting up on a soapbox, or simply speaking up at all. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t necessary to a cause and can’t invoke the change we hope to see! Let’s talk strategy for the regular girl…

SHOW UP.  “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”—Desmond Tutu

Recently a super shy thinkpeace girl who feels anxious in crowds was determined to step out of her comfort zone and take part in one of the Women’s Marches. She was passionate about the need for women to collectively raise their voices in mass numbers, sending a clear message that our voices, minds and bodies matter. She knew she needed to be there. But the anxiety was almost too much. The solution? She needed a plan. She needed a small group around her to keep her feeling safe. She needed an exit strategy, just in case it became too much. And she needed a poster that spoke for her.  SHOWING UP matters.

During the  UN climate negotiations in Paris, youth delegates were not able to carry signs advocating their beliefs. They came up with an alternative idea to symbolize their interest in the need for zero carbon emissions: they painted a black zero near their eye. No words were spoken and no signs were held, but the message was heard loud and clear.

GET CREATIVE.  Are you a songwriter or a poet? Are you a photographer or a dancer? You have a unique way of expressing yourself that can powerfully reflect upon a social justice issue! Using your creative expression of your values and beliefs can light a spark in someone else. Post your work. Put it out there for others to see.  This form of indirect activism has an impact.

WRITE IT OUT. A lot of thinkpeace girls are more comfortable writing about causes they believe in than speaking out loud. Recently one wrote a fiery op-ed piece on campus sexual assault and racial hate crimes. Others write for their school newspapers on issues ranging from why feminism matters to the importance of community service to the need for responsible gun control legislation.  If there is a local, statewide, national, or international issue that sets your heart on fire, write about it! Speaking out, in written form, can prompt important dialogues which lead to action and change.

WEAR YOUR CAUSE. thinkpeace girls recently held a community event for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. Many conversations were started that day due to a variety of tshirts worn by facilitators and participants. One said “We are Selma” which started a conversation about Black Lives Matter. Another said “Women’s Rights are Human Rights” which prompted a discussion about human rights violations. Many thinkpeace girls wore pink pussy hats in January to Women’s Marches and some are busy making brain hats to wear for the Science March on Washington in April. This is an extremely meaningful and easy tool for igniting conversation about your cause. Posters, phone cases, shirts, buttons, and hats are small ways to show your position, often prompting good dialogue.

Rep. Jackie Speier and thinkpeace girl Diana

HOW ABOUT A LATTE?  Sometimes the most powerful thing we can do is simply talk it out with one other person.  You don’t have to talk to the entire community to be an effective activist. Every single person matters. Every vote, signature, and commitment matters. Often people need an opportunity to hear another point of view. All too often we get stuck in pockets of agreement, whether on social media or our friend base, where we are all of like mind. It really helps to talk respectfully with someone with other views and listen, really listen, to one another. Ask someone who might have a different perspective than you to grab a coffee or hot chocolate with you and dive into the deep end. What ever you do, don’t run away from the hard conversations. Turn toward them. Soften your heart. Hold your ground. Listen. Speak your truth. Listen some more. This is a great way to practice peaceful activism!

 READ ALL ABOUT IT. We encourage you to read as much as you can from reliable sources. Do your homework. Fact checking does matter. There’s this idea out there that media can’t be trusted but we believe that there are in depth reports, unbiased research, and scholarly writings that are not only worth your time but imperative to your activism. Fake news is dangerous and you need to be educated on how to discern fact from lies. We suggest this article to help guide you: http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/12/05/503581220/fake-or-real-how-to-self-check-the-news-and-get-the-facts. “If you see your friends sharing blatantly fake news, be a friend and kindly tell them it’s not real. Don’t shy away from these conversations even if they might be uncomfortable.” Know that what you think and what you say is based on fact.

You can choose to be an ally for others facing injustice. Your presence can offer a safe place, simply by  standing next to someone or walking down the hall with someone. Recently riders on a NYC subway took out hand sanitizer from their bags to erase swastikas on the subway walls.  Take initiative! Look around and see what you can do. Your quiet activism will inspire others like you to spark fires of their own, and this ripple effect will help transform the world. So regular girls– the ones with quiet voices and pounding hearts– let’s do this! Take what stirs you up and ACTIVATE! And, as always, know that your global girl community stands with you. You are not alone in this business of difference-making. We are here cheering you on!

step up, girl!

 

the hijab and its purpose, part 3 by mariyah rehmani

director’s note: In this third installment of Mariyah’s ebook, The Hijab and Its Purpose, the author presents various women who have made the same decision that she has and how they are not limited in their actions as a result of their choice. Mariyah also addresses questions most frequently asked of her. We encourage you to read her thoughts and think about your own values and how you present yourself to the world. We’ve been getting a lot of feedback on this series, with a multitude of opinions and attitudes. We’re so happy to have this opportunity to learn, share and support the choices of girls around the world! Imagine!

Hijab doesn’t stop you from doing what you want

Shireen Ahmed – A passion for the game, a passion for her faith

Here is the story of Shireen Ahmed: a hijabi who shares her experiences with her passion for football, her connection with her hijab, and the ups and downs she has faced due to this. On March 1, 2014 something happened that changed Shireen’s life forever. On this day FIFA [The Fédération Internationale de Football Association, or the International Federation of Association Football] announced that the IFAB [the International Association Football Board] had overturned their decision on banning head covering on the field. Friends, relatives, family, everyone was congratulating her and sharing this exciting news. Ever since July 2012, Ahmed has written, blogged and talked about her hope, gratitude and frustration with the process of the ban. When she heard the news, she was elated. But she was also exhausted and drained from the time lost from the sport she had come to know and love as a child. “It was a part of my identity. It was a part of my routine. It was a part of my life.” Ahmed says. In those years when the hijab was banned, she tried to find other ways to occupy herself, to keep her motivated and give her a sense of fulfillment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She writes for the Huffington Post saying that she could relate to the anger and frustration felt by so many women who were told “NO” by an organisation that was supposed to create opportunities and advocate for the beautiful game of football. (Ahmed)

But life went on. She got on with her life, still watching football games but not playing as regularly. Later on, after what she says felt like several lifetimes, she found a league that would accept her and her hijab. She loved having to be able to play the sport again, the sweat rolling down her face, and the thrill of the game in her heart.

“And I remember what I always knew: I was a footballer who wore hijab. Not a hijab-wearing woman who played football. Fast forward to 2014 when Jerome Valcke announced: “It was decided that female players can cover their heads to play.” Muslim women could always play. Now they are permitted. Semantics.” Ahmed quotes.

She also states that she thanks God that her daughter will not have to go through what she did. She also says that today, she is not “happy”; she is disappointed that she lost so much time and energy. She pledges not to let it ruin other childhoods and affect and exclude people.

Football is for all of us. It should always have been. – Ahmed

Tawakkol Karman – Striving for Justice

Yemeni woman Tawakkol Karman- a journalist, politician and human rights activist was one of the youngest people to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 (Age 32), alongside Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee. Karman was awarded the Nobel Prize for her ‘non-violent efforts towards women’s safety and the right to participate fully in peace initiatives’. In 2005, she founded an organization named ‘Women Journalists Without Chains’ that documents unfair treatment of writers and newspapers and also reports human rights abuse/violations in Yemen. She was the face organizing weekly protests against the Government corruption and suppression in the year 2007 in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen. She continued on her journey against injustice, encouraging public to support the Arab Spring Movement taking place in 2011 and was an active vocal opponent against President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime. When giving her acceptance speech in Arabic, she spoke about the struggles of the Arab women and how the situation must be changed. She says: “To all those women who are still stumbling on the path of freedom in countries with no social justice or equal opportunities, to all of them I say, thank you. This day would not have come true without you.”

When she was questioned about her hijab and how it is not in proportion with her level of education and wisdom, she replied saying: “Man in early times was almost naked, and as his intellect evolved he started wearing clothes. What I am today and what I’m wearing represents the highest level of thought and civilization that man has achieved, and is not regressive. It’s the removal of clothes again that is regressive back to ancient times.” This is one of her most widely circulated quotes, and one that has stirred much passion as well as criticism.

Mariah Idrissi – “Your personality isn’t restricted when you’re wearing a hijab.”

 Mariah Idrissi was taken aback when she heard her model booker friend ask whether she wanted to pose for H&Ms latest ad campaign. “You know I wear a headscarf, right?” She said in reply. Idrissi, currently 23, is H&Ms first model to don a hijab and has begun a lot of discussion on Muslims, the Hijab, and the modelling industry. She is attempting to send a message to everyone out there: “People have said, ‘Wearing a hijab is about being modest so how come you are posing?’ But why can you not look decent and covered? You don’t need to be naked to look good. There is no restriction on having a personality if you wear a headscarf,” she says.

While the shoot was taking place, Mariah says that she ‘pushed her opinion on what to wear’. There was one pair of trousers that was a bit cropped and I had to tell them there was too much ankle on show,” she laughs. “We went with the big flares instead. Then we picked the checked scarf because of the colour but it was too short to cover me so we had to find a sewing machine and stitch two together.”

When asked about her relationship with the hijab, and how she started wearing it, she said she started wearing it at age 17. “There was no pressure,” she says. “My dad is a more relaxed Muslim. But I started teaching at the school so it made sense, I did Islamic spoken-word poetry and started praying five times a day so had to cover up for that anyway. My mum started wearing it at about the same time I did.” She also shares that wearing the hijab has been a very natural to her, and that she hasn’t really noticed people treating her differently. “London is the best place in the Western world to be a Muslim. It is so multicultural.”

Why is it worn?

It is worn for a variety of reasons, because there are a variety of women who wear it, and do so for different causes. Some wear it because they believe it is God’s command, an obligation, and they must do so. Some do it because they feel more confident. Some do it so that people judge them for their mind and character rather than their physical appearance. Some wear the hijab because they are drawn to it. I, like many women, wear it for all the reasons above. (see section on why women wear it)

Is it compulsory?

Again, this is a matter that is widely been debated upon. Some believe that it must be done and is obligatory, a duty that must be completed. Some say it is a matter of personal choice, and some say it is not needed at all. It all depends on your culture, how you have been brought up to think of it as, and your personal perspective.

What is its message?

The message of the hijab to everyone else, is whatever the wearer wants it to be. This is something that is very subjective, changing from person to person. Some might want themselves to represent their community, their religion. Some just want to be taken seriously, and for their intellect, their personality, and their mannerisms rather than what people can see on the outside. I personally wear it to let others know what I believe in, that my creator has asked me to do something, whose benefits override any other doubts I had. I want people to know me for the words that come from my mouth, and my actions, rather than perceive me based on physical traits.

What is the historical context/reason behind it, if any?

The most accurate historical context behind the hijab would be the revelation of those particular verses that ask the believing women to cover themselves and ‘place their khumur over their bosoms’ (AlIslam.org). These verses are speculated to be revealed in the latter half of 6 A H (in accordance to the Hijri or Islamic calendar). This when converted to Christian (Gregorian) dates is 627 A.D. The women of Madinah, considered to be the most pious and believing, tore their aprons apart and covered their heads when they heard this commandment from God. Please see the ‘Purpose behind the hijab’ section for a detailed explanation of the same.

Is it for culture or for safety?

Some may say that the hijab is merely a cultural tradition, while others may argue that it is a commandment from God. My personal view is that although the style, material, and fashion with which a woman covers her head, chest, and neck area etc. may be largely influenced by her cultural environment, wearing the hijab is an obligation a Muslim woman may choose to fulfill. I certainly believe that there is a certain amount of safety that covering of the head and bosom as well as wearing modest, loose clothing has to offer.

Is it comfortable?

It is as comfortable as you choose it to be. Wearing the hijab is something that a woman must be comfortable with, and she has to do it because she wants to. There are many different styles and materials to choose from, depending on what is available and how the weather in your country is, one can always choose the kind of covering one is comfortable in.

Does the colour matter?

One of the very first Hadiths I memorized as a kid was “innama al-a’mal bi-l-niyyat,”. What it means is that the judgements of a person’s actions are made based upon his intentions, i.e. if his intentions were good he will be rewarded and if they were evil, they will be punished. Similarly, the colour and the way in which you wear the hijab (or do anything for that matter) depends upon your intention. Generally, it is advised to stick with colours and prints that are not too eye-catchy or flashy so as to attract unwanted attention. However, it all depends upon one’s intention while wearing it. If a woman wearing any kind of scarf intends to do so to attract attention or to lure males, then the entire point of wearing the hijab is rendered moot. The point being, the intention and thought behind wearing your hijab is more important than the colour of your scarf.

Why only women?

As mentioned in the earlier chapters, the hijab is not only for women. Moreover, the hijab is more than a scarf on your head. It is your mannerisms, your thoughts, actions, the lowering of your gaze, and modest behaviour and attire. This applies not only to women, but to men too. However, the satr or the portion of one’s body that must be covered in public is different for women and for men. Indeed, God has made these guidelines with his unparalleled wisdom.

How was the orientation/structure of it decided?

As mentioned before, there is no particular structure or style of the hijab. Women all around the world wear it, and do so in a variety of different ways, using a vast selection of materials, colours, and styles. There is no set structure to it. Each country, or culture will have women wearing their hijabs in a different manner.

How long is it lengthwise?

Scarves and hijabs come in a variety of sizes and lengths. Typically, they are rectangular in shape and around 2m lengthwise and 2/3m in width. However, their length and width can vary greatly and this is just a rough approximation.

After what age do girls begin to wear it?

It is a girl’s choice whether she wants or doesn’t want to wear it. It is also her choice as to when she wants to begin wearing it, as and when she is comfortable. However, some girls are encouraged to begin wearing the hijab as they start puberty.

How did the hijab come into being?

As stated in the previous questions, the hijab began being worn after the verses regarding the same were revealed around the latter half of the 5th century. Although, covering of the head is much older than that. “Most people think of the veil solely in terms of Islam, but it is much older. It originated from ancient Indo-European cultures, such as the Hittites, Greeks, Romans and Persians. It was also practiced by the Assyrians. Veiling had class as well as gender implications…” (Dashu)

Why is it generally black?

The hijab and burqa (outer loose covering) is most commonly black, although it can be of any colour. Black is a basic colour that goes with almost all other colours and different styles. There is no such compulsion to wear black but it is definitely preferred by many women.

What is the use if it only covers your hair?

This is something I get asked A LOT. People are quick to question how covering only one part of your body “makes you modest”. That is something that needs to be understood, beauty is not just in the head and the hair, and neither is the hijab. As I have tried to clarify time and time again, hijab is not defined just by the covering of the head, although this is what the term has come to be known as. The hijab is more than a piece of cloth, it is your behaviour in front of others, the sincerity and intentions behind your speech and your actions, the way in which you interact with all those around you, how you present yourself. Refer to the previous chapters for more detailed information.

Do you wear it at home too?

I generally do not wear it at home, as I do not wear my hijab in front of my mahram, i.e. a list of people in front of which it is permissible to not wear the veil. These include people like your parents, younger siblings, grandparents, mother’s brothers, father’s brothers etc. Although, if we have (non-mahram) guests over I do wear my hijab at home.

What are the consequences of not wearing it?

In most parts of the world, there is no consequence of not wearing it. As it is an individual’s choice to wear or not to wear the hijab, it is also her choice if she wants to take it off. For most people that believe in the hijab, and covering up, also believe that it is a sin to not wear it and the consequence is in God’s hands.

Are you going to teach your children to wear it too?

I have always been an advocate of letting people make their own decisions for themselves. When my kids are of the right age, I will help them understand what the hijab means and figure out what they want for themselves. I will show them the verses in the Qur’an and from the Hadith. I will make sure they understand why I do it and what the true meaning behind it all is. They will have to make the decision by themselves.

How comfortably can it be followed at a workplace like a school in India?

I am fortunate enough to be studying in an international school that promotes values like openmindedness and intercultural awareness. I did not hesitate to start wearing the scarf at school; I knew I was doing it for myself and to strengthen my relationship with God, rather than for the people around me. Alas, many schools in India do not allow headscarves to be worn and have strict rules against anything that deviates from the dress code or uniform. As for me, I think I am very much comfortable with my hijab and can do everything that I did without it. I can study, take part in discussion, play football, run around, pretty much everything. I don’t feel bound by it because I know my hijab is in my hands. I do get the occasional stares or questions about “HOW can you possibly wear a scarf in this heat!?” to which I answer that over time you get used to things and disadvantages like hot weather are much smaller in comparison to its advantages.

Qatar womens basketball team

Next week: A hijab Look Book!

the hijab and its purpose by mariyah rehmani

 

director’s note:  Mariyah is a dynamic, fun-loving, artistic, bright and compassionate 15 year old from Pune, India. When she arrived at camp 2 summers ago in NYC she appeared confident and completely at ease wearing her hijab around the city.  Some of her thinkpeace sisters had questions and even judgments, and she addressed them all graciously and with determination to educate them.  As our society becomes more xenophobic and fearful of anything associated with Islam, we think Mariyah’s study on the purpose of the hijab is more important than ever. We encourage you to learn about differences– racial, gender, religious, sexual, economic– and see that differences don’t have to separate us. In fact they can be the beginning of meaningful dialogue that can open our hearts and minds, bringing us together and truly creating peace. It starts with listening and respecting… Please join us as we journey into discovering more about differences every week in our thoughtful thursdays posts… Today we begin with Mariyah’s choice to wear a hijab. We will be posting sections from her ebook over the next few weeks.

 

The Hijab and Its Purpose

This eBook is intended for the purpose of helping the reader understand what the hijab really is, and what it stands for.  It has come to my understanding that the people around me, and those not around me too, have a very hazy perception of the hijab.  Many people ask me about why I wear it, and even if my dad forced me to wear it.  This inspired me to write about the hijab, and why it is close to the hearts of millions of women worldwide.
Inside, you will find everything you need to know about the hijab; everything from its origin, to its purpose, its message, its types, and even the science behind it! This will give you a holistic idea of what it is all about.  Understanding the hijab, and even Islam is very important in this age.  Islam is one of the fastest growing religions worldwide (“The Fastest Growing Religion in the World Is … – CNN.com.”).  Unfortunately, it is often portrayed in a bad light by the media, and ongoing violence and terrorism is almost always attributed to our peaceful religion. The hijab too has been shunned by many as being “oppressive” and “restrictive”, even though thousands worldwide can testify to it being exactly the opposite. My aim is to help clear misconceptions and preconceptions about the Islamic veil and dress code in general.  Along with this, you will find out more about the concept of modesty and about successful women who wear the hijab with pride.  At the end you will discover a gallery of pictures showcasing how different cultures affect hijab styles and the variation in the hijabs themselves, country to country. Finally, there also awaits a LookBook that portrays just how modern trends are seamlessly integrated with the hijab creating a whole new category of ‘Hijabi Fashion’.  So please do not hesitate, and flip through to find out more about this beautiful concept of the hijab.

hi-jab, (hĭ-jäb′) n.

1. Any of several cloth head coverings worn by Muslim women.

2. The veiling of women in some Islamic societies, customarily practiced in order to maintain standards of modesty.
[Arabic ḥijāb, cover, curtain, veil, from ḥajaba, to cover] (“hijab”)
Many use the following verses from the Holy Qur’an to help describe the requirements for a Muslim women’s dress:

Although this is not commonly known, there are also dress codes for Muslim men to abide and they include covering of the body from at least the navel to the knees and not wearing excessively tight, sheer, or flashy clothing. (Islam101.com)  Most rules regarding the Islamic dress code and the verses from the Qur’an that they have been derived from have been interpreted differently by different people. This is why that there is a diverse world of
views and opinions on whether women should wear the hijab or not, or to what extent. This will be touched upon in further detail later in this book.

 Modesty can be defined as “regard for decency of behaviour, speech, dress, etc.” or even “the lack of vanity” (TheFreeDictionary.com) Contrary to popular belief, modesty is not about “how much skin is too much?” or “How much can I leave uncovered until I get into trouble?”  It is certainly much more than what you wear or how you look.  Modesty means acting towards others in a way that is humble and compassionate. Modesty means avoiding vanity and striving to be pure in your thoughts, in your words and in your actions. It means dressing yourself in a way that not only makes you comfortable, but protects you from unwanted catcalls and lustful stares.  Of course, it is not a women’s sole responsibility for what goes on inside a man’s head, but she can certainly make a big impact through the way she dresses, speaks, and carries herself.  Men are accountable for their own thoughts and actions, and they too are expected to practice modesty in all spheres of life.  Ask yourself: “What impact do I want my personality and my appearance to have? What message am I trying to convey to everyone around me?” It is through the very concept of modesty that the hijab tries to make a positive change in society.

Why wear it?

The first important thing to understand about why women wear the hijab is that there is not one universal reason behind choosing to veil oneself. There can be multiple reasons for different people based on what they choose to believe or interpret. Some say the verses in the Qur’an indicate that they are obligated to cover their heads and chests. Others believe that practicing wearing the hijab is the best way to exercise modesty. Some wear it in order to stand as a symbol of their religion, to stand out from a crowd. A lot of people wear the hijab because it makes them feel more confident. Many claim that while wearing the hijab, the feel they aren’t being judged for their looks and rather for their manners, personality or intellect. Most of all, women wear the hijab because they like it, and they want to wear it. The bottom line is; women use the hijab and wear it for a multitude of reasons, each helping a woman grow and succeed in a different way. An article from UK’s Telegraph Newspaper that reads “Feminism, fashion and religion: Why Muslim women choose to wear the veil” beautifully illustrates the point I am trying to make. In the article, numerous women share their reasons for practicing the hijab on Reddit, a popular social media platform: A user named ‘Captain Monkee’ writes:  ”I like to use it to promote feminism, however it is very hard to express it because of how people view it. There ARE a lot of women who are forced to wear it, and I think that’s really wrong, no matter how religious or what country. The hijab is forced in some places in the world, or by certain people – especially men in many cases. I will not deny this. This is not feminism. I want to take this hijab and make it my own. First choose if I even want to cover or not. Define WHY and HOW. I will choose what colours I will wear. What materials. Not just black and white.”

This highlights the freedom that a woman has when she is wearing the hijab. She decides what she wants to do with it. After all, it is HER body, HER head, and HER choice. No one should be forced to do something they do not want to. The user ‘Pharmersmarket’ writes: “I genuinely like wearing it. It makes me feel put together and confident in a weird way. Maybe because it does take a certain level of courage to visibly separate yourself from normal society. To start wearing a hijab I had to stop caring about what other people thought and now I can be proud of that. (6) 10 “It definitely doesn’t stop street harassment, but men do treat you with a bit more respect. I don’t think it’s right to treat a girl differently because of how she’s dressed but it does happen.

She focuses more on what she believes defines being Muslim, or rather helps send a message to others around her. She also emphasises that in the end of the day, it’s a choice; you do it if you want to, or don’t do it. Another user ‘Boggle_leged’, who states she is a lawyer, begins:

“I, as well as most Muslims I know in the West, am not fond of the burka or niqab here, because it could expose an individual to unnecessary harm and harassment. Since there are strong religious opinions that permit just the hijab without covering the face, I personally feel that it is a better choice. (7) 11 In the end, however, as long as that individual has made the decision independently and knows why she is doing something, I respect her decision.” An important thing to note is that the only reason that she is not in favour of other women wearing the burka or niqab is that she feels it causes unnecessary “harm and harassment” to women. I believe that this is something that should be changed. Everyone has a choice to wear what they feel like and express themselves in whatever way they choose, so long as they do not cause any form of harm or hurt to anyone around them. Yet another user, possessing the screen name ’474064′, says: “Personally, I love wearing the hijab. Nobody could pay me enough to take it off. It honestly liberates me because I get to choose how much of myself I reveal to the public. It’s awesome. I have drawers full of a variety of vibrant colours and prints. I match them with my outfits and wear a different style every day. It’s kind of like a beautiful, religious fashion statement.” These are some of the many reasons behind why different women from different parts of the world feel the need to wear the hijab. I hope they not only help in understanding the concept behind the veil better, but also serve to inspire and enlighten.

 next week: different types of veils

on playing and giving, winter spring summer and fall

service

 

These past couple of months I often heard people refer to “the season of giving.”  The holidays seem to bring this out in people more than at other times.  It made me wonder, why is there only one season for giving?  Why limit ourselves?  There are opportunities to give every single day, 365 days a year.  Sometimes I think people equate giving with money only.  Sure money helps a lot but money won’t keep an elementary school kid from being teased or a middle school kid from feeling lonely or a high school kid from feeling overwhelmed or a college student from feeling lost or a new mom from feeling exhausted or a father from feeling pressure or a teacher from feeling unvalued or a grandparent from feeling forgotten. Perhaps the most important thing we each can give is, simply, kindness.

Still, thinking kind thoughts, wonderful as they are, is not enough.  Your smile, your compliment, your acknowledgment of another is action, real action that you can take that will impact another.  Similarly, thinking about poverty, homelessness, gender violence, global warming, etc. isn’t enough.  It’s a place to start.  The issues sound so big and we’re left feeling that there is nothing we can do that will really make an impact.  There is this pervasive belief that we’re all too busy.  We’re already pulled in a thousand directions– who has time to take on world hunger?  Sometimes I hear from other parents that kids need to be kids and have more time to play and shouldn’t be burdened with the harsh realities of the world around them just yet.  So they play a lot of sports and a lot of electronic games.  I love play! Love, love, love sports! And I still think we have time to care about others and give.  Recently I was watching my son and his friend laugh together while sitting side by side on the couch playing games on their devices.  I so love hearing the laughter but after an hour of this they seemed caught in a zone. I asked them if they wanted to take on a challenge.  Knowing me and my ways, they were instantly suspicious!  They took a chance and said, sure– bring it on.  I placed 5 food items in front of them and asked them to create a winning appetizer. My son’s friend hasn’t cooked much and began to get agitated.  He had no idea what to make. He stared at the ingredients for a long time.  5 random things.  We started to talk about food choices and how many we have and how we take it for granted that meals come easily to us.  Most of us. I asked the boys if they had any idea how much money the 5 ingredients before them might cost.  They were shocked when we figured it out.  We started to talk about the poverty line and how people can possibly manage to live on $1.25 a day in this country. They asked how kids living below the poverty line get lunch at school.  Fact is, more than half of American kids who attend public school rely on a meal at school for the only one they’ll get.  As my son and his friend talked and had fun while creating their culinary masterpieces they were thinking about hunger and poverty.  Then we talked about action, what could they do, how could they give of themselves to someone who is cold, hungry, homeless in our own community.  And so it begins…

There ARE things we can do.  Kids can volunteer at local shelters for certain needs.  You know that laughter coming from the couch of two boys playing electronic games?  What if those boys went to the shelter with some hot chocolate and sat with someone there and  played with them for an hour?  It’s a simple act, requiring no real money.  What if that smile shared felt so good that they went back again another evening?  I can honestly tell you that giving from your heart is just as addictive as video games or the adrenaline rush from a perfect shot on the court.  We can play and learn.  We can play and think about others.  We can play with others who don’t have much of a chance for play.  We can play and give.

It’s the little bits of good that each of us can do that truly can overwhelm the world.  Every day, every season…

P.S. the boys made the most delicious crostini with toasted marshmallow, basalmic-infused sun dried tomatoes!

Imagine.

so you want to change the world?

you can change the world

The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems. –Mahatma Gandhi

I was at a party last year, telling friends that I was excited about a class I was taking. After lots of “good for you” and “wow, that’s great” comments, someone asked what the class was called. I proudly said, “How to Change the World.” There was laughter. Eye rolling. Even a little snickering. And then someone said–out loud– “You really think YOU can change the world?”

Yes, I do.

I can change the world because I believe in the ripple effect. What change I want must start with me. It takes real action to create change. It takes steps…

1. Change yourself.
“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”
Holding onto negative thoughts like anger and jealousy, keep us from fully engaging in the real work of creating change in the world. When we change ourselves, let forgiveness, compassion and positive thinking take hold, it opens us up to all kinds of possibilities. The world around us changes because we radiate positive energy! Honestly, so often it is our own ego that gets in the way of changing the world. So many of us think that we are “not enough” or that someone else is “better than” us. What if we decided that we are enough and that comparing ourselves to others only leads to more problems and conflicts– what if we could shake those feelings off?
2. You are in control.
“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”
That whole comparison thing we do eats away at our potential for happiness and real difference making. You can choose to dwell on negative feelings or wishes that your life was different. You have control over these thoughts. What if you choose to think of yourself in a more positive way? What if your own thoughts, ideas and actions mattered the most to you? What if you could look in the mirror and say, “I matter.”
3. Forgive and let it go.                                                                                                                                              “An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”                                                          Have you ever wanted someone else to hurt as much as you have been hurt? Fighting evil with evil won’t help anyone. Hurt is hurt, no matter what. I remember when Malala Yousafzai was asked about seeking revenge on the men who shot her… “I’ve always been a daydreamer, and sometimes in lessons my mind would drift and I’d imagine that on the way home a terrorist might jump out and shoot me on those steps. I wondered what I would do. Maybe I’d take off my shoes and hit him, but then I’d think if I did that there would be no difference between me and a terrorist. It would be better to plead, ‘OK, shoot me, but first listen to me. What you are doing is wrong. I’m not against you personally, I just want every girl to go to school.” You can always choose how to react to something. Forgiveness can open us up to endless possibilities to move forward. Living with negative memories won’t help; you’ll probably just cause yourself more suffering which will keep you from taking action to heal the world.                                                                                                            4. Without action you aren’t going anywhere.                                                                                        “An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”                                                                   I have this amazing friend who is a Priestess. The thing that makes her so amazing is that she not only preaches, literally, but she also PRACTICES. Every. Single. Day. And the thing that makes her beyond amazing is that she actually practices by the ounce! People are always saying “What can I do, I’m just one person, one vote, one insignificant voice.” I see people posting on Facebook daily about things that stir their souls, break their hearts, anger their sense of justice. I’ve done it myself. I read articles and books on social injustice and I post, post, post. When I realized that posts were being “liked” and no action was being taken, I thought more about what my goals were. My Priestess friend preaches about concrete actions that can be taken and takes them herself. Sometimes they are small actions. Sometimes they are huge! An ounce here, a pound there… it adds up to a whole lot of good work getting done.

I took that class, “How to Change the World” and read and studied issues facing the world. The best part of each week’s class came when the professor said, “Okay, so now you have read about the issue and studied it in depth. Now, what are you going to do about it?”
It’s so easy to say that we’re doing our bit to change the world by “raising awareness.” And yes, awareness needs to be raised! AND then what? I think that to really create change, to understand yourself and your world, you need to practice. Books, articles, workshops, classes can mostly just bring you knowledge. You have to take action and translate that knowledge into understanding and results. Ounce by ounce.
5. Everyone is human.
“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”
Remember that thing about not “being enough” or someone else being “better than”? This being human thing means that each of us has strengths and weaknesses. There’s such a tendency to elevate others to some mythical status of perfection. When we put others on pedestals it automatically makes us lower, or less, and creates a lack of connection between us. What if we could believe that each of us has value? What if we accepted that we all are human? What if we knew that being human means making mistakes and having successes? What if I could celebrate you AND celebrate me, recognizing that we are different in many ways and commonly human no matter what? Instead of beating yourself up over mistakes that you have made, look with a bit of clarity where you went wrong and what you can learn from your mistake, with no comparison to others. And then try again.
6. Persist.
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
Be persistent. Find what you really like to do, what you feel compelled to do, what you want really do. Then you’ll find the inner motivation to keep going, going and going. When we know ourselves and trust that we are absolutely enough– the next step is persistence. Real change in the world will come when we persist in our work. Many times, when the self-doubt and inner sabotaging sets in, I have been tempted to give up. These are the moments when it’s vital to dig deeper. There aren’t magic wands or quick fixes to the world’s greatest challenges… it takes work. It takes rolling up the sleeves, getting sweaty and dirty, opening up our hearts and minds and making the commitment to persist. After a while you will not be ignored. You will not be laughed at. You will not be fought. Because your persistence will have opened someone else’s heart and mind and they will join you, in their own way.
7. See the good in people and help them.
“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.”
Growing up my mom would often tell me that there was always something good in everyone. I absolutely believe that in my heart. People have rolled their eyes over that conviction many times throughout my life and some have even gone so far as to try to prove it wrong. Human rights atrocities around the world can really mess with this belief I continue to hold. When I focus on the bad it seems too big to change. By shifting my focus to the good it becomes easier to motivate myself and others to be of service. By being of service to other people, by acknowledging their value, seeing the good in them, you make their lives better and your own. In time, the people you help may feel more inclined to help other people. Together we can create an upward spiral of positive change that grows and becomes stronger. What if we lived each day with kindness and respect? What if we focused on the good in people?
8. Be authentic; be your true self.
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
So this is the big one. We live in this Facebook world now, where what we put out to the world is what we want the world to see. Some people are full of love and hope. Some people want others to see the bad stuff. Some people want to showcase themselves. Some people share things that lift them up, or bring them down, or twist them around. The point is, does your “Facebook world” reflect who you really are? Is your Facebook world authentic? If you can’t sleep at night because you’re worried about the unethical treatment of animals or the kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls, are you finding ways to take action? Are you walking the walk, not just talking the talk? People really like authentic communication. And there is much inner enjoyment to be found when your thoughts, words and actions are aligned. You feel powerful and good about yourself. Then the most amazing thing happens! Your VOICE is heard. People will be motivated to do more than press the “like” button. They will listen to what you’re saying. You are communicating without mixed messages or perhaps a sort of phoniness. When your actions aren’t in alignment with what you’re communicating you start to hurt your own belief in what you can do and other people’s belief in you too. Let your voice be truly heard!
9. Continue to grow and evolve.
”Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.”
A good friend of mine in college was a serious Conservative– swimming alone in a sea of very vocal Liberals. Knowing him changed my life. He challenged me daily, and himself.  He was there to grow. He was there to listen and evolve.  By sharing our differences we discovered our similarities. Though we had opposing belief systems, we stayed open minded and curious and were able to learn more about ourselves and the world. We helped each other see that there is more than one way, one position. In a fast-changing world it’s important to keep taking in new information. It’s also vital that we understand that each of us is important to the work of changing the world. I want to share the job with you. We are capable of so much. I starts right here, right now, with me, with you.

So, you want to change the world? What steps will you take?

Wonder Woman Wednesday: Shannon Galpin

Director’s note:  This is the first post in a new thinkpeace series about girls and women doing some pretty amazing things with their lives. At thinkpeace workshop summer camp 2014, thinkpeace girls met with women from a variety of organizations. They talked about how their journey, from childhood dreams to what they studied in college combined with personal life experiences, has led to the work they are doing now and the visions they have for the future. We were inspired and motivated by these women– and others we’ve connected with– and would like to share some of these stories with you. Most of these posts will be written by thinkpeace girls who were literally energized by these Wonder Women!

Mountain Mover, Shannon Galpin                                                                                                                                by Reese Arthur

Shannon Galpin is one of the bravest women I have ever met. Not because she took her life savings, sold her home, quit her job and invested every bit of herself into giving a voice to girls and women halfway around the world… not because she got on her mountain bike and pedaled across a country where women were not allowed to ride bikes… not because she refused to be a victim to gender violence… to me Shannon Galpin is brave because every day she gets up determined to try harder, give more, and push through the obstacles. She works endlessly to help Afghan women and girls get an education and have opportunities for a better life.  Shannon gives of herself every moment in every way.

I could tell you Shannon’s story, but I encourage you to buy her book next month [you can pre-order it now AND contribute to the thinkpeace scholarship fund at http://smile.amazon.com/Mountain-Journey-Adventure-Activism-Afghanistan] and read her personal story. What I want to tell you about is how she inspires me. Before attending thinkpeace camp in 2010, we were asked to bring with us some information about a cause or issue that was important to us. I have always been interested in women’s rights and had seen Shannon interviewed on Dateline.

 http://www.nbcnews.com/video/dateline/30793743#30793743

I was 11 years old and I thought Shannon was really cool! In 3rd grade I did a biography report on Gloria Steinem and became aware of problems facing women and believed that there was still injustice towards girls, despite Ms. Steinem’s work.  When I learned about Shannon’s work, I felt I’d found another Gloria. She was passionate about changing the world too, in a pretty dangerous place. When Shannon responded to reporter Ann Curry’s question of why she was doing what she was doing with, “If not me, who?” I thought, I can do that too! So I emailed her and she got back to me right away saying that yes, I COULD do something to make a difference! I could organize a community bike ride with my friends to raise awareness about girls’ rights in Afghanistan. In upstate New York this was quite a challenge! That first year of what we called the Panjshir Tour, I was lucky to get my neighborhood friends to ride with me in solidarity.

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Over the next few years our ride has grown to include rides in California and India! Whenever I get a chance to talk about basic human freedoms such as riding a bike and going to school, I talk about Shannon and her work at Mountain2Mountain. I currently serve as the youth advisor for Mountain2Mountain and am eager to participate in this year’s Global Solidarity Ride with Shannon and other cyclists around the world. Shannon believes in the encouraging people to use their bikes “as a vehicle for social change and justice to support a country where women don’t have the right to ride a bike.” It’s cool that we have so many boys participating now in our local rides, joining us in our determination to ensure girls rights to an education around the world. The Global Solidarity Ride is scheduled for August 30th and if you want to organize  a ride in your community, let me know!  Just as Shannon has supported me, I’ll support you!

Shannon’s dedication has made such a difference. In just a few years Afghanistan has gone from being a country with no females on bicycles to a country with a National Women’s Cycling Team! It’s so exciting! Check out their beginnings at http://www.afghancycles.com/. Things are looking up for women and girls in Afghanistan, but it’s always a precarious situation. The Taliban is still present and the women who ride are always at risk of being attacked or shut down. Now, more than ever, we need to stand with them in solidarity– to RIDE with them in solidarity– and send a message to the world that girls and women matter. Five years ago I met a real life hero, a wonder woman, who made me more aware, who made me feel  more deeply, who made me believe that every drop in the bucket counts– who told an 11 year old American girl that she could make a difference for a girl on the other side of the world. Now I’m asking you to join us– together we can pedal a revolution!

 

give me the facts sista’: education

At thinkpeace workshop we believe it is our duty as global citizens to be informed and educated on the challenges facing girls around the world. The next couple of weeks here on the blog will focus on some hard core facts of some of these challenging global problems with the intention of encouraging you to develop a critical lens aimed toward finding a solution. Naturally, these posts will not be fully comprehensive because many of these issues are large, complicated, and without simple straight forward solutions. Understanding the basic core of each challenge is the first step in finding a solution. 

This week we will take up the intersection of gender and education.

In this past Sunday’s New York Times, journalist Nick Kristof takes up this issue, “Why are fanatics so terrified of girls’ education? Because there’s no force more powerful to transform a society. The greatest threat to extremism isn’t drones firing missiles, but girls reading books.” I think he’s spot on with this.  It’s why Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Afghan Taliban, it’s why Boko Haram took nearly 300 girls from school, and it’s one of the core contributors towards girl-specific violence. Quite simply the equation is this: girls + education = change

If you haven’t yet seen the video The Girl Effect, it’s time.

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So why would extremist groups and people in general be threatened by educated girls? Some facts followed by an explanation:

  • When a girl in the developing world receives seven years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.

Fewer children means less people in the workforce which means less hands to be able to work the fields and help around the home. It means that girls gain control of their reproduction which gives them more power to create change. 

  • An extra year of primary school education boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10-20%.  An extra year of secondary school adds 15-25%.

More money for women means that the global poverty rate will go down. A woman will work to address problems in her community, and her children will be given a greater chance of survival. 

  • Women in 32 countries who remained in school after primary school were five times more likely to know basic facts about HIV than illiterate women.

Education decreases a girl’s or woman’s risk for contracting HIV or transmitting HIV to her baby. Knowing how to prevent contraction or transmission means that the global HIV/AIDS rate will go down. 

While we know educated girls are the key to global change, the rate in which girls are attending school has not caught up. Day of the Girl and Girl Rising, both organizations devoted to raising awareness on girls issues gives us the facts:

66 million girls are out of school globally.

 Only 30% of all girls worldwide are enrolled in secondary school. 

The average sub-Saharan African girl from a low income, rural household gets less than two years of school and never learns to read and write, to add and subtract, as opposed to the average sub- Saharan African boy who fully completes primary education.  

There are 33 million fewer girls than boys in primary school. 

If India enrolled 1 % more girls in secondary school, their GDP would rise by $5.5 billion. 

So if all of these facts are true, why don’t we just cut to the chase and enroll girls in school? You see, it’s not that easy. School in other countries is not always free, it isn’t always available, and families don’t always want educated girls for a variety of reasons. Educated girls will create change, plain and simple. Change is not always easy.

Knowing the facts is the first step in creating change. Girls + education = change. How are you going to change the course of this global challenge?

Send me your thoughts, questions, concerns. garmin@thinkpeaceworkshop.org

meet a wannabe thinkpeace girl

I have a dream… that someday any girl who longs to connect with the global girl community and learn what she can do to help heal the world will be able to come to thinkpeace workshop summer camp.  This year, in particular, I have been touched by the stories of two girls who have reached out to share a little of  why they want to be thinkpeace girls. One is a brave and bright girl from Afghanistan whose family left behind the difficulties in their home country to start a new life in Michigan and the other, who is a compassionate and concerned 15 year old from Indonesia. In forty-five days we will see if the efforts of our US thinkpeace girls to raise funds will cover the trip for one of these girls… It’s not easy to be a grassroots organization full of teen girls with hearts of gold  but limited resources. Still, we will try. Because Grisella and Hadia need to be heard.  They have voices that can tell stories of things other girls can’t imagine.  Voices that can open minds and hearts to new perspectives and possibilities. We’ll be talking about our fundraising campaign on facebook, twitter, instagram and here… hoping that not only my dream can come true, but perhaps theirs as well.  Imagine!
Today I’d like you to meet Grisella. Grisella contacted thinkpeace via twitter after seeing a tweet about our summer camp in NYC.
Dear Kelly,
Sorry to bother you
My name is Grisella and i am from Indonesia
I want to ask some things about the summer camp
Is the Summer camp held yearly ? i wish it is because i can not join the camp this year because of the flight fare is too expensive and i have not saved my money for it and oh how much is the camp fees ?
That is all. Thank you very much for your attention. I look forward to hearing from you.
Best Wishes,
Grisella

I wrote her back and told her all about camp and asked her about what she cared about, thought about, and told her a little about my kids.  She got right back to me:

Yeaaah! I’m so incredibly excited for the summer camp next year oh my God! Hahaha. I’m going to be 15 this year and i’m in my last year on junior high. Well, i can say i care for a lot of things -not to brag or anything. Since, i live in Indonesia i started to think there’re a lot of things to be fixed. People here are barely well educated. They can’t afford for school fees. That’s why Indonesia stays the same.  They don’t make any better change and even worse they seem like they don’t care. And there’s health problems. This one really hurting. Bunch of people from small area come to Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, looking for job and because of a lot of them didn’t get good education it’s difficult for them to have a well-paid job. Then, because the bills are more expensive than the wage, they can’t afford to buy a house but they still need a place to stay right? To solve it they build houses in the river banks, they use the river’s not-so-clean water for their daily needs such as bath, laundry, and even to cook and drink. I am also concerned about global warming. Why don’t we start to plant trees ? Like one or two trees are already helping the environment right ? Well, that’s about the conditions around me. Globally, i am really concern about bullying. Bullying is almost happening in every school all around the world. The bullies usually are not aware that they are hurting someone else. They are not aware of their words, their actions. They might think that by bullying someone it is proof that they’re strong or they are really envious because other person can enjoy life while they can’t. They might had a bad/dark past. That’s why i think every bullies should not be judged or punished. We must talk to them softly and tell them that what they’re doing is totally wrong and what they do can make the person they bullied commit a suicide. I also support noh8 campaign. Well i guess everybody should support this one because love is all we need. Why need to hate while you can love someone ? I’m 100% sure this world will be a so much better place if we do that. And there’s child labour. I think this is the worst problem ever! Children are supposed to be at school, learning things and socialising with their friends and not to work like adults. They usually do hard jobs which is really really bad for children. I don’t really know how i can solve this because this usually happen in Africa right ? And yeah I’m still under my parents guidance and it seems impossible to solve this by myself though. One last thing i want to stop is racism. Everyone is precious in every skin complexion just don’t judge everyone only by their looks.

But still i really want to stop bullying and child labour.
Well thank you so much for the information. Sorry if my english are terrible. You know, it’s not my language so yeah..
While we may not be able to get Grisella here in time for this year’s camp, we are determined to find a way– for next year. So stay tuned for more information on how to help a girl like Grisella or Hadia realize her goal, to be a thinkpeace girl! They see and feel the issues facing girls globally (and boys too, actually). Together, girls are such a big part of the solution. Global girl voices, and hearts, and hands, working together might just be able to CHANGE THE WORLD. Imagine!

take a deep breath

  •                                                                                                                                                                                         This is part one of my to-do list for the next 12 days. Things you won’t see on this to-do list include: eat sushi for breakfast, care for dying cat, sleep, read bedtime stories, drive in the country listening to TSwift, discuss politics, and be 90% technology free and yet, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing since Friday. I think the universe has a way of telling us to (excuse my language) slow the f*** down. 

I don’t know about you— my life is slightly out of control at the present moment. And by slightly, I mean really. Really out of control. There are only so many hours in the day.  And our go-go-go culture expects us to get everything done, on time, and with 100% accuracy all. the. time. Sometimes, it just doesn’t happen.  I decided months ago to take this weekend off, to go see some friends, see my favorite slam poet and PowerGirl Andrea Gibson perform, and to then go home for the night, sleep in my own bed, get a detox push, and hop on the next flight back to DC. Alas, come Sunday my train to go home was delayed and then we got stuck somewhere between Rochester and Albany and what was supposed to be a 4 hour train ride turned into a 6.5 hour soul-searching-mojo-finding-session on the train. Continue on to Monday, I was supposed to be on a flight back to DC-  oh, don’t you know, DC got 9 inches of snow and my flight was canceled. I then tried to get on a different flight for Tuesday and last night at 10pm I got a call saying that flight was canceled. I’m tentatively scheduled to be on a flight for Wednesday morning.

Now, prior to maybe a month ago this whole fiasco would have been just that, a fiasco. I would have been so mad, I would have been screaming out to the world “HELLO UNIVERSE. CAN’T YOU SEE I HAVE A THESIS DUE IN 12 DAYS? I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS. WOULD YOU JUST SUCK THE SNOW BACK UP AND UNCANCEL MY FLIGHT AND PUT ME BACK IN THE STUDIO? THANKS!”  And yet, this time I literally can’t do a single thing. I don’t have my computer, I don’t have any books, I’m not in the studio, and no planes are moving and so, I’m here. Grounded. Quite literally. Feet on the floor, being still and slowing down, and looking my overachieving-perfectionism in the eye.

Often talked about here on the blog PowerGirl Brene Brown says this about perfectionism: “When perfectionism is driving, shame is always riding shotgun — and fear is the annoying back seat driver. We struggle with perfectionism in areas where we feel most vulnerable to shame. So we’re all comfortable saying, ‘I’m a little perfectionistic,’ which is code for ‘I do things really well’ — but I’m not comfortable saying I have shame. It’s a way of thinking that says this: ‘If I look perfect, live perfect, work perfect, I can avoid or minimize criticism, blame and ridicule.’ All perfectionism is, is the 20-ton shield that we carry around hoping that it will keep us from being hurt.”

Woof. Let that sink in for a moment. I’ll wait.

 

 

Really. Let it sink in.

 

She hits it right on the head. I’ve been living in the perfectionism mindset about my thesis. My thinking goes something like this, “If I do a perfect thesis then a perfect collector will buy my work and then I’ll have money in my bank account and then I’ll be able to go to Mexico on a perfect vacation and then I’ll be able to come back perfectly all blissed out and then my life will be perfect.” Do you see how many times I say the word perfect in my thinking? WAY. TOO. MANY.  My high school advisor at one point said, “Why are you trying to fit in, when you were born to stand out?!” HELLO. TRUTH BOMB. In the past few days my thinking has changed to “Ok. Deep breaths. Your thesis will turn out exactly how it’s supposed to turn out. There are plenty of people who will have a ‘perfect thesis’ there is no need to add yourself to that category. Now, go take a nap and drink some green juice and it will all be ok.” WOAH. Big difference there.

Finally, for one more reinforcement— Germany based PowerGirl-run graphic design/social practice art project ‘Work is Not a Job’ believes that what you create is more important than what you do. When you wake up excited, full, and fresh you create more exciting things and in turn, when you create more exciting things the world changes. I don’t know about you but I don’t create exciting things when I don’t sleep because I’m too busy ‘perfecting’ the hell out of everything. And when we don’t sleep we become what my friend Ellen calls “a walking safety hazard.” I don’t want to be “a walking safety hazard” perfecting everything, I want to be out there knee-deep changing and shaking things up.

Now, I don’t know what the ‘thing’ that you try to perfect the hell out of is: it could be your thesis, or it could be your relationships or your AP Exam, or your college apps, or your sleep schedule— I have no clue and yet, my guess is that ‘perfecting’ it has only left you exhausted and frustrated. And so, just as a possibility for this week, what would happen if you let go of perfecting your life? What would you gain? What could come of it?

As always, send your thoughts, comments, and questions. garmin@thinkpeaceworkshop.org