Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Forum: Down-time

Our summer hiatus this week has gotten us thinking about ways to relax. Most of us are constantly running around trying to keep up with work, family, friends, chores, hobbies, etc.

What are your favorite ways to relax? Do you curl up with a book, take bubble baths, spend time with your children...? How do you like to spend your down-time?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Finding Faith & Learning Lessons

For those of you who have been keeping up with TWM's summer book club, you know it's about time again to announce the next selection. The details for the meet-up itself are still in the works, but we want to make sure you have plenty of time to get your reading done so we're posting the book info now and will update you all on the rest later. The details for the meet-up have been added below. We hope you enjoy this month's pick!

TWM'S SIZZLING SUMMER BOOK CLUB!
Tuesday, August 18th 6:30pm-8pm

Two down, one to go! Read our last book club selection and then join TWM Members and guests to discuss it over classic Italian cookies & pastries at Veniero's in the East Village!

COST: $20; $15 for TWM Members
LOCATION: Veniero's 342 East 11th Street
Includes coffee, tea or soda and an assortment of Italian pastries and cookies!

AUGUST'S BOOK SELECTION:

book cover artMeeting Faith: The Forest Journals of a Black Buddhist Nun by Faith Adiele
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co.
ISBN-13: 978-0393326734

Jan Willis meets Anne Lamott in this funny, observant memoir by Adiele, an English professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Burned out by the pressure of undergraduate studies at Harvard, Adiele took a year off to get her head together and do field research in Thailand, where she had once spent time as a Rotary exchange student. She became fascinated with Buddhist nuns and began soliciting their stories, a process that led to her rather impulsive decision to seek "temporary ordination" as a nun herself. The nominal-Unitarian-turned-Buddhist is humble about her spiritual insights: "Where I should be ├╝ber-nun, I'm not even what is perceived as a practicing Buddhist. I don't meditate regularly; I nurse anger; I despise tofu. Dammit, I don't appear to have learned anything! So how can anyone learn from me?" But readers can and will learn from Adiele, who parses out her second stay in Thailand with a comic's timing, a novelist's keen observations about human idiosyncrasies and an anthropologist's sensitivity to issues of race and culture. Her main narrative is almost talmudically surrounded by commentary: all along the outer margins of the book, quotes from Buddhist luminaries mingle with excerpts from her own very raw journals from that year. As she admits her fear of the rats that infested her meditation cave or chronicles her pride in gradually increasing her meditation hours, we are privileged to see an unvarnished vulnerability.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Summer Break at CHICKS ROCK! Day 3

We hope you're enjoying a trip down memory lane during our summer break here at CHICKS ROCK! Today, you should definitely check out Pauline's posts. See what she's covered in these last 10 months, and leave a comment to join the discussions.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Summer Break at CHICKS ROCK! Day 2

We're still on summer break here at CHICKS ROCK! While you're lounging at the beach (or just wishing you were), check out some of Sally's posts. Feel free to start the discussions back up by leaving a comment.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Summer Break at CHICKS ROCK! Day 1

There's been a lot of great blogging here at CHICKS ROCK! these past few months, but it's not time for us to take a little summer break.

In the meantime, we encourage you to check out some of Kekla's posts. Read what she's got to say and throw in your 2 cents in the comment section. Enjoy!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Forum: Your Life, the Movie

Let's have a bit of fun for today's Friday Forum. We often hear people say that their life is like a movie, and we all know how big reality television has gotten. Taking a look at your own life, what movies or books parallel the events in your life? Or, if it's a story not yet written, what would you call your life, the movie?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Link Love for 7/23

It's time again to spread around some of that link love. Here are some great posts we've read out there in the blogosphere.

In Good Company has an interesting post up about blogging and web 2.0 users, along with some good links.

Girl w/Pen has a review up of a book about the lives of women in the military once they've returned home. It seems like a great read!

Savvy Ladies reminds us that it's time for our financial fitness checkup, so check it out to see where you're at.

One Writeous Chick wants us to start making fun a priority in our lives, not just during the summer, but throughout the year.

Meanwhile, Lindsey Pollak has a post up about how you can make the most of a jobless summer, with ideas good for those of us with jobs as well.


That's it from us for now, what have you all been reading and writing?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Of Fashion, Fairness, and Friendship

It is a gift when people can hold it together in stressful situations and be pleasant to people around them at the same time. My friend Catherine reminded me of this as she prepared for a fashion show she designed for last week, in honor of Bastille Day.

When I visited Catherine backstage as she got ready for the Planete Chic & Naturally Couture Fashion Show, she, her models, hair and makeup stylists, and her assistant were decidedly calm and composed. I was impressed by the professionalism and civility they had towards one another. I mostly observed and stayed out of everyone’s way as the tension slowly began to mount. Even when some of models had not arrived yet, and their walking order on the runway had to be changed because of these delays, Catherine and her assistant never broke a sweat as they kept re-arranging their plans. In spite of all of this, she maintained her composure, which was a good influence on everyone else in her team.

In Catherine’s case, I think it has to do with her self-confidence. Like many small business owners, she has been affected financially and emotionally by the recession. At the same time, she loves what she does and is really good at it. We met at the CHICKS ROCK! Launch Party last September, where she first impressed me with her intelligence and kindness. Our friendship really began when she told me how she uses recyclable items (such as discarded umbrellas and other fabrics from clothes and furniture) to create bags and clothes. While things haven’t been easy for Catherine and Himane Inc., she has always demonstrated admirable leadership skills. As a friend and advisor, I hope to learn more from her in the future.

Is there a friend/colleague/family member you admire, especially during these difficult times?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Taste of Victory

When I was growing up, my mother refused to teach me and my sisters how to cook. She insisted that if we learned how to cook, particularly at a young age, we would grow up having to serve people and always at the stove. She said that if we focused on studying, we would make enough money one day to hire somebody to cook for us.

I appreciate her attempt at breaking down the notion that women are more than housewives, but I don't think she fully realized that not knowing how to cook for anybody else meant we also wouldn't know how to cook for ourselves. Fast forward to a decade or so later and there we were, not able to afford the chef she imagined us hiring and barely knowing how to boil water. I have often heard people express their surprise -- sometimes outright shock -- at the fact that three twenty-something Dominican women don't know how to cook.

In college, I became addicted to the Food Network, which simplified cooking for me. I got my hands on a few easy cookbooks and gave the recipes a shot. Most of these ended up failing miserably, but it made me more comfortable being in the kitchen. After a few years of doing that, the kitchen is now one of my favorite places. My cooking skills are still not the best, but I love finding recipes, putting all the ingredients together, and getting the instant gratification that comes from cooking a great meal. Baking, although more time consuming, is even more fun. There's nothing like the sweet taste of victory when you finally bite into the dessert you started hours earlier.

I guess you can say my mother's plan might have backfired a bit, but I don't think so. I think she just wanted us to figure out how to do it when we really needed the skill, not when we should have been focusing on our studies. But I certainly hope my sisters figure it out sooner rather than later or we're all doomed come holiday season.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Independent Loner

I recently attended a conference in Chicago. It was a good professional networking opportunity, but it was also quite fun to play in a city other than New York.

I went to college near Chicago, so the city is familiar, though I haven’t spent time there in years. Things came back to me, just by being there: memories of the buildings and streets, my experiences there, and the range of emotions I experienced back then. The flavor of the city pulled me back in time in fascinating ways. So, I plugged around town, visiting my old favorite haunts: restaurants, shops, tourist attractions, neighborhoods. I gorged on stuffed pizza, swung by my favorite non-chain sandwich shop (twice), ducked into a popular but out-of-the-way Italian restaurant, and hunted down several desserts whose taste I’ve been able recall over the years, even from many miles away.

I got my one-week unlimited transit card loaded up and whenever I had a free moment to sneak away from the conference center, I headed into the city... by myself.

My mother would readily tell you that among my first words was “myself.” (As in, “I want to do it MYSELF.”) Yes, I’ve been blessed with an independence and spirit of adventure that have served me well. It got me to NYC, where I’ve had no choice but to go it alone. It’s gotten me a lot of places.

I’m okay on my own. I like being able to decide where to go and what to do, as I please, without having to negotiate or organize or compromise. That’s fun. But this week, I found myself thinking things like, “This delectable meal would be better if there was someone across the table.”

Let’s face it: there’s really no such thing as a table for one. What this week showed me is that I may be independent, but I’m not a loner. I like having people around, at least some of the time, although I like to do my own thing as well. Somewhere in there is a balance that I will have to learn to strike at some point.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Fun: An Evening with Inspiring Women

We often tell you about upcoming TWM events we'd like you to see you attend, but this time we want to tell you about the WNBA's NY Liberty upcoming annual Inspiring Women Night game. This year's focus is on honoring women who lead non-profits that are focused on empowering women and inspiring young girls and we're excited that they've chosen Kristina Leonardi and The Women's Mosaic as one of the honorees! Check out the info below for more details:

On Thursday, July 23rd at 7:30 p.m. the
WNBA's NY Liberty are having their annual Inspiring Women Night game. Click here for more information and a list of honorees.

Ticket Prices:
$30* Game only
$50* Game + Pre-Game Reception/Networking
*$5 will be donated to TWM for every ticket sold!

Purchase your tickets here, and be sure to use the special
offer code WM so that The Women's Mosaic
can receive a $5 donation from your ticket purchase!

RSVP to us after purchasing your
tickets so we know to look out for you.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Professional Make-Over


CHICKS ROCK! welcomes our latest guest blogger, Monica:

Monica Diaz is owner of Style Matters, Inc., a style consulting firm catering to image needs of individuals and corporations. Monica offers one on one personal consultations as well as group workshops. Look for Monica when she demonstrates personal style makeovers at our upcoming TWM Members-only Event on August 26th!



Helping others organize themselves is part of my business as a personal style consultant. But when it came to organizing my schedule, I was in desperate need of a make-over. I was given some advice from a friend who suggested I stop relying on scattered notes on different pieces of papers.

So I put together a plan -- it was time to get a calendar and start crossing items off an actual To Do list. I’m already seeing results. I feel my work life is more focused and at the end of the day, I feel accomplished. I’m so excited about my results that I want to share the plan I’ve implemented.

I began by looking through papers to get rid of what was completed. This gave me a sense of accomplishment from the start. Next, I organized files so that each project has its own folder. Before, I had one big pile that left me feeling tired just by looking at it, so this helped a lot.

Once I was rid of the clutter, I found a calendar that fit my needs. I prefer one with month-at-a-glance, then broken up by weeks, and a To Do section. I list items on the To Do list in order of priority, indicating how much time it will take to complete each task. I then enter each item from the list to the calendar with designated dates and time allotted.

The last few tips are sure to come in handy:
1. Don’t be too ambitious: only have a maximum of six things to accomplish per day.
2. Don’t get distracted -- if you have a deadline, don’t answer calls or respond to messages until you’re done.
3. When setting appointments outside of your office, schedule traveling time. Then call before leaving because your appointment might be running late, which can change your schedule.
4. Finally, make sure you cross off completed items from your To Do List; the items you have not completed carry over to the next day.

Hopefully you can benefit from this plan as much as I have - feel free to share any of your own organizing tips, too!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dark Side of Idol Worship

The recent death of Michael Jackson, and the aftermath, really opened my eyes to a dual condition many of us have: the need to idolize other human beings for their talents, looks, wealth, etc., and the tendency to tear down these people at the same time. I don’t envy anyone who has been on the receiving end of this, because I can’t think of anyone who has fared well as a result. Diana, the Princess of Wales, was one of those people who was relentlessly stalked and harassed until her untimely death in 1997. In the months before the tragic accident, I distinctly remember seeing the sensational headlines and intrusive photographs of Diana on vacation in the south of France, all while waiting on line in the local convenience store. I was thoroughly disgusted by the nerve of the professional stalkers (aka the paparazzi) and hoped that significant changes would be made to regulate their activities afterward; I was wrong.

Michael Jackson, like Diana, was hounded by the media until his sudden death. His fans around the world continued to adore him beyond reason, while his critics demonized him for being charged with sexual molestation of young boys. When Jackson died, television news shows captured scenes of the inconsolable and the curious all around the world. His public memorial in Los Angeles, California was lavish enough to suit his title as “The King of Pop.” While it is unfortunate that he died at the mere age of 50, I choose to remember him as a person who had exceptional musical talents. Yes, he also helped many charities with his financial resources and considerable clout as a celebrity. However, no one has ever done more for the economically and socially disadvantaged than Mother Teresa, who died the same year as Diana, Princess of Wales. While I understand the interest in celebrities to a certain extent, I will never condone the frenzied hero worship our society is guilty of.

Why do admiration and idolization go hand in hand, in many cases? Why do we relish our idols’ destruction at the same time?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Packing My Bags

One thing I always regretted about college is not participating in a study abroad program. I hear the stories of so many friends who spent a winter in Ecuador, or a summer in India, or a semester in Rome and wish I had a similar story. I've always loved to travel, but just haven't gotten much of a chance to do so.

So this makes it even more exciting to think that this fall, I'll be going to Europe! My sisters planned a two-month backpacking trip that made me jealous beyond words, but I managed to save up some money and get some time off so I can join them for a couple of weeks. I'll be starting my trip in Paris with my guy, meeting up with my sisters and a friend in Barcelona, traveling to Marseille from there, meeting some more friends in Cinque Terre, and finishing up my trip in London.

Planning a trip like this is going to take a lot of organizing, negotiating, and compromising, particularly because of how different all of us are. Just between my sisters and I we have a theater geek, an architecture buff, and me, who prefers to spend time walking aimlessly through cities rather than have a set schedule of activities. My guy and the other friends joining me along the way also have their own ideas of fun, so reaching a common ground will be the biggest challenge. Thankfully, I don't think this challenge will be enough to get in the way of anybody's fun. I think the stress of planning over the next few weeks will be worth it once we're there -- nobody will be able to take that experience away.

Have any of you been to any of these places or gone backpacking through some of these countries? What tips do you have for me?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Writing Everybody Else

A few months ago, I put up a post called Writing Black, in which I discussed a conflict I feel within myself, as an author: the desire to write books with black characters so there will be more of those out in the world vs. the desire to write any book I feel inspired to write, regardless of the main character's race. I have yet to resolve it in my mind.

Recently I've been participating in an online "round table" with a group of diverse female authors who write books for teens, called "What a Girl Wants." We're talking about a lot of things, but we're trying to get at the heart of what young girls want and need to hear from us, as their older sisters (in a community sense). We all take this role very seriously, even though our profession is pretty much fun most of the time.

Last week, we started talking about multicultural characters in books for teens. The discussion kind of blew me away, because there were so many sides all coming together. We all want to speak to a younger version of ourselves... by reaching the teen girls running around high schools today through our books. Does that mean we should each only write characters who are like us?

When I wrote the Writing Black post way back when, one thing didn't occur to me: if I write books starring non-black characters, how might those stories be received by non-black audiences? I worry about shirking a responsibility to represent on behalf of my own race, but should I also worry about overstepping my bounds and tromping on someone else's?

Some of the ladies in the round table say yes--the only authentic portrayal of any culture or race can come from within. Others say no--anyone can write about any culture, as long as they make a serious effort to get it right.

What do you think? Whose responsibility is it to tell certain stories?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Forum: Checkpoint

Summer is in full swing, the major holidays have passed, and we're well past the midyear point. So it seems a good time for a resolution checkpoint! Do you all remember your resolutions for this year? Have you stayed on track? This is a good time to re-evaluate and set some goals for the rest of the year, so please share what those are.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Highlights from TWM's Spotlight on Zimbabwe

On Tuesday, June 23, a diverse group of men and women met at Xai Xai South African Wine Bar in Hell's Kitchen for the TWM event, Spotlight on Zimbabwe: Crisis, Cuisine & Crafts.

The evening began with some mingling, where we learned that many attendees had lived in an African country at some point in their lives. For those not familiar with the culture and crisis in Zimbabwe, we were unsure of what to expect. Thankfully, TWM provided a pamphlet with a country profile, which listed demographics, highlights about travel and tourism, and its history and politics. A table was set up with beautiful crafts sold by Eco Africa Social Ventures, whose mission it is to empower women by creating jobs for them based on their skills. Conversations continued over South African wines and hors d'oeuvres, until we settled down to hear from the speakers. The panelists were Tanya Nomaziko, a Zimbabwean actress and activist, Rory Kugler, a Peace Corps volunteer who served in Zimbabwe from 1996-1998, Jane Madembo, a Zimbabwean writer currently living in New York, and Janice Ashby, co-founder of Eco Africa Social Ventures, which received a portion of the event's proceeds in order to continue its great work.

Just as the backgrounds of these women are different, so were the experiences they shared about their time in Zimbabwe and reflections on the current situation. Tanya was the first to give some background about Zimbabwe, and answered questions from the audience about her time as an actress there and the importance of pan-African unity. Rory spoke about her time in the Peace Corps, including a story about how she struggled to learn how to carry a bucket of water on her head and how she enjoyed more freedoms than the average Zimbabwean woman during her stay. Jane expressed her gratitude for being in the U.S. at the moment, but also voiced hope for a better future in Zimbabwe, letting us know that race relations there have improved greatly. Janice told the story of how she founded Eco Africa after importing papers from Zimbabwe for her crafts and designs, and the challenges she has encountered to help her women artisans with their basic needs, especially in recent years.

Together, they started to weave together a story of a country of generous and happy people, who have struggled over political turmoil, human rights violations, health problems, and economic collapse, particularly in the past decade. It was a humbling moment to hear about Tanya's loss of many family members as a result of the crisis there. Janice told us that she knew of girls who were prostituting themselves just to obtain a crust of bread or a cookie. One woman in attendance became emotional when she expressed anger and sadness about the death toll in the country that she's left behind physically, but is still in her heart and mind. Jane, however, continued to remain optimistic and said that it's important to start by doing just what we were doing: talking openly and honestly, sharing information through personal accounts, and supporting the people in Zimbabwe through organizations like Eco Africa.

Attendees were inspired and enlightened by the event, and were motivated to support Zimbabwean women by offering to volunteer for Eco Africa Social Ventures and enthusiastically purchasing their handmade products. These women reminded us of how interconnected we are, and how much we can all help each other no matter the geographic distance between us. For those who attended, what did you get out of the event? For those who didn't, is there something you'd like to know more about? Share it all in the comments.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

TV Wasteland of the 21st Century

I don’t envy my younger cousins at all. In addition to sky-rocketing unemployment and the increasing difficulties to obtain adequate college loans, the quality of entertainment has really gone down the tubes. Television is one of those mediums that has suffered creatively, especially when it comes to programming for people of all ages. It is so bad that I actually pity my cousins’ lack of exposure to better television.

MTV is a sobering example of how bad television has become, especially during the first decade of the 21st century. As a kid, I remember seeing music videos and other music-related programming on the channel, and MTV V-Jays (video jockeys) who interviewed musicians about upcoming albums, tours, the industry, inspirations for their music, etc. It might have been corny at times, but there was always something interesting to watch because it was almost always about music. Now I think MTV should change its name to Reality TV, because the channel consists of one reality show after another.

The TV audience is inundated with reality television programming on a daily basis on several channels, not just MTV. I don’t watch “American Idol,” “Dancing with the Stars,” or “The Bachelorette,” but I know what goes on in these shows because I hear updates on almost all of the radio stations I listen to in the car. I am out of touch when it comes to these shows, and I am unapologetic about it.

As a whole, I also believe that scripted televisions shows are also less than stellar. The original “Beverly Hills 90210” was never a great show, so when I heard that a new version was coming out last year, I was less than excited. There are obvious exceptions on cable networks, and I sometimes go on YouTube to watch clips of great shows from the past. In some ways, I am glad that TV isn’t as good as it once was; it gives me numerous excuses to pay attention to better entertainment choices.

What are your thoughts on TV today?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Learning a New Instrument

Over the years, I've heard countless metaphors and analogies about the body, as I'm sure many of you have. One that always sounded right but I didn't really understand: "the body is an instrument." I heard it again last night as I prepared for my workout and finally got it.

I found myself comparing the body to the voice as an instrument. Back when I was in chorus, our voices were top priority. We practiced daily, learned new techniques, and never settled for less than excellence. We warmed up our vocal chords every day to prepare us for our day's challenge. If we were going to hold long notes, our warm-up included breathing exercises to strengthen our diaphragms. If we were singing very low or very high notes, we warmed up by pushing ourselves higher and lower in our ranges. We never did the same combination of warm-ups twice. If we got sick, we were not allowed to participate and were instructed to speak as little as possible, drink tea with lemon and honey, and gargle with salt water every morning. Like I said, our voices were top priority.

So now I understand the need to treat my body the same way I treated my voice. I have to protect it. I should never get stuck in the same routine because my body will stop responding to it. I have to challenge myself, learn more each day, and, above all, make my body top priority.

Don't ask me how I never really made this connection before. I suppose we all need our ah ha moments -- the moment something really clicks. This new perspective makes me see it less in terms of what people tell me I'm supposed to be doing and more in terms of what I want to do to keep my body tuned, flexible, and strong, just like I used to do with my voice. We can create beautiful things with our bodies, if we give them the right love, attention and respect.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Books and Movies

Okay, people. I need your help. If you read the blog regularly, you know by now that I’m an author of books for teens. My novel, The Rock and the River, is getting great reviews, and selling particularly well for a first young adult novel. All good. Yippee!

So... now I am working on a screenplay version of the novel, and I’m doing a little bit of research on book-to-movie conversions. My question to all of you is: What are your favorite books that have been turned into movies? Did you like the movie? Why or why not? Are there any cases where you liked the movie better than the book?

I happen to be a lover of both books and movies. I find myself inspired and enchanted by both, differently but equally. The hush of a darkened theater... a big loud screen... yummy popcorn... I’m there. The coziness of my couch... thick socks and a blanket... pages turning in the quiet of the room... I’m right there, too. But as much as I love both media, I am deeply aware that they’re very, very different. So I need to study, and learn.

I’ve realized over the years that as an independent woman (and proud of it!) I tend to try to do everything on my own. I want to find solutions with my own brain, see things through my own eyes, touch them with my own hands. And I do. This tendency is good in some cases, not so great in others. This is a case where it can’t hurt me to work on my own, but it will take much longer. It will help me to get some other heads into the mix. So I am asking. (See? I am growing.)

Send me your suggestions in the comments section, and let’s discuss. Thanks!!!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

TWM & The Declaration of Independence

The Fourth of July holiday honors the daring, courageous and visionary founders of this country who could imagine a world, a state of being, much more advanced and just than anyone could have conceived of at the time: the simple act of declaring one's independence and universal right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

The Women's Mosaic seeks to build upon this sentiment and embrace its essence by helping to make it tangible to each and every one of you who are a part of this organization. As women living in the 21st century in the United States, we are in a position to be the leaders for the rest of the women of the world to carry out this mandate of true independence, liberty and equality in its purest form - the essential right of every human being to create their own destiny that is fulfilling on every level.

Those certain "unalienable rights" are in our hands - women are the force to be reckoned with at this time in history and are the key to making the world a better place.
--excerpted from TWM eNewsletter, July 2005. Click here to read the entire message.

In the four years since this was written, so much has changed in the political, corporate and social landscape for women - but we still have a long way to go!

The Women's Mosaic is the non-profit organization that hosts CHICKS ROCK! In honor of Independence Day and to keep all of us CHICKS-A-ROCKIN', we are hoping you can help us by becoming a member or making a tax-deductible contribution today.

Thank you for your support and for spreading the word about our work and our blog!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Friday Forum: Holiday Weekend

This week, our readers of the north celebrated Canada Day, and Fourth of July weekend is finally here, so we want to know what everyone has planned for this weekend. BBQs, fireworks, beach plans, our book club selection -- what's in your schedule for the holiday?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Travel the World from Your Seat

For those of you who have been keeping up with TWM's summer book club, we hope you enjoyed reading our last pick, The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan. The details for July's pick and this month's book club meeting are below. Get started on your reading while you're relaxing this weekend, and we hope you can make it to the meet-up!

TWM'S SIZZLING SUMMER BOOK CLUB!
Monday, July 20th 6:30pm-8pm

One down, two to go! Get away this summer with a captivating book each month and then join TWM Members and guests to discuss it over classic Italian cookies & pastries at Veniero's in the East Village!

COST: $20; $15 for TWM Members
LOCATION: Veniero's 342 East 11th Street
Includes coffee, tea or soda and an assortment of Italian pastries and cookies!

RSVP to christianna@thewomensmosaic.org

JULY'S BOOK SELECTION:
Without Reservations book cover
Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman by Alice Steinbach
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
ISBN-13: 978-0375758454

"In many ways, I was an independent woman," writes Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Alice Steinbach. "For years I'd made my own choices, paid my own bills, shoveled my own snow." But somehow she had become dependent in quite another way. "I had fallen into the habit of defining myself in terms of who I was to other people and what they expected of me." But who was she away from the people and things that defined her? In this exquisite book, Steinbach searches for the answer to this question in some of the most beautiful and exciting places in the world: Paris, where she finds a soul mate; Oxford, where she takes a course on the English village; Milan, where she befriends a young woman about to be married. Beautifully illustrated with postcards from Steinbach's journeys, this revealing and witty book transports you into a fascinating inner and outer journey, an unforgettable voyage of discovery.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Women, Men, and Friendship

Even though we are all Homo sapiens, people have always felt the need to distinguish themselves from one another. While I understand and appreciate the differences (religion, culture, skin color, culture, etc.), I believe that what fundamentally divides us is gender. I started thinking about this when I saw the 1989 film When Harry Met Sally..., which is famous for the arguments surrounding its underlying theme about the inability of men and women to be friends. It’s a provocative topic that remains unresolved for me and many others, I suspect.

While I have been fortunate to have had great friends throughout my life, I have noticed that all of them have been women. Excluding romantic relationships, I have had a few platonic friendships with men since high school, but they were never as strong as the ones I had with my girlfriends. My family relationships with older male relatives have been strained since childhood, but I have had better experiences with my brother and male cousins. Still, I don’t get to interact with them as much as I would like.

Some women I know don’t have or want friendships with men, and they think I am strange because I talk about friendships with men rather than being covetous of those who are married or in serious relationships. While I am an odd individual (and proud of it), I tell those who question me that the basis of all good human relationships is friendship. Most of the time, they agree with me. Since friendships with men have always been elusive to me, I can’t help but wonder about women who do have them. They tell me that their male friends share perspectives about romantic relationships and other topics that they don’t receive from their female friends. In other words, they have access to the overall human experience---at least that is what it means to me.

Do you think friendships between men and women are important?







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