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Betsy Platkin Teutsch "100 Under $100: One Hundred Tools for Empowering GLobal Women" RSS Feed (Philadelphia, PA USA)

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Even in Darkness: A Novel
Even in Darkness: A Novel
by Barbara Stark-Nemon
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.13
46 used & new from $9.69

5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't Put this Uncannily Evocative Book Down, April 26, 2015
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Even in Darkness is a sweeping novel, taking one character through a very long life - which she had the challenge of living as a German Jew in 20th century Germany. It is very close to home, since my husband's parents escaped Germany in 1939. I was hesitant to start it, really - what more is there to say? Once I finally opened the book, it was hard to put down. I loved the rich detail, often flowers and birds identified by the main character, emphasizing her ability to find beauty and hope even in the abyss. Stark-Nemon's depiction of language, food, clothing, bearing and decor is spot-on; these characters sound just like my husband's family and dress and behave in uncannily similar ways. The trauma is not prettied up, but the main take-away is that people that survive terrible times often have a hidden reserve. None can do it alone, and the power of love is ultimately redemptive.


Renewable: One Woman's Search for Simplicity, Faithfulness, and Hope
Renewable: One Woman's Search for Simplicity, Faithfulness, and Hope
by Eileen Flanagan
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.56
44 used & new from $9.70

5.0 out of 5 stars Way Opens: Love the Concept!, April 18, 2015
Eileen Flanagan had me at "I served in the Peace Corps in Botswana." I have unconditional respect and awe for Peace Corps Volunteers. I think they are undersung heroes. I never thought for one second of looking into joining the Peace Corps - I was way too timid. I loved reading about her open-hearted, bold engagement in her Botswana village.
The book takes us through her gradual transition to wife, mom, and writer. Striving to keep life simple is not easy in America, especially once one has children. I loved her descriptions of settling into a vibrant spiritual community at her Quaker Meeting, providing a pathway to collective civil disobedience to fight for our planet.
Sometimes I only remember one really great concept from a book without even remembering the book's name or author. Not long ago I read a book about thinking which identified "nexting" - humans not being in the moment but thinking about what they want or need to do next. This is such a helpful concept when one's mind is racing! (A quick google search suggests that book was "Stumbling on Happiness" by Daniel Gilbert.)
My takeaway treasure from Flanagan's beautifully crafted book is "Way opens", a Quaker concept which Flanagan uses as an compound noun or even an adjective- "Way opens and I knew my answer", or a "a way opens insight". When you are searching, a way opens. Of course the way opens because you are on a path leading you to it. A less spiritual way of framing it is Louis Pasteur's "chance only favours the mind which is prepared" Way opens comes from a place of spiritual openness and gratitude. I had no language to describe that experience, and am sure I will be noticing way-opens moments moving forward - bringing me back, happily, to Eileen Flanagan.


Jewish Wisdom for Growing Older: Finding Your Grit and Grace Beyond Midlife
Jewish Wisdom for Growing Older: Finding Your Grit and Grace Beyond Midlife
by Dayle A. Friedman
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.61
21 used & new from $10.32

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fortunately Rabbi Dayle Friedman is there to help us get ..., March 28, 2015
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For the baby boomer generation who has changed every life stage as we've passed through - fomenting a sexual revolution, reclaiming our bodies (Hello, Our Bodies Our Selves), demanding less medicalized childbirths, doing yoga, running marathons, et al - now we are getting old. Fortunately Rabbi Dayle Friedman is there to help us get used to the idea, and give us support in facing limitations and finding spiritual expansiveness. I think this is an excellent book not just for us old people, who are taking care of even OLDER people, but our children. Baby boomers and our kids are much closer, in many ways, than most of us were to our parents, and our soon-to-be middle-aged kids will be happy to avail themselves of Friedman's description and insights, too.


Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending Women
Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending Women
Price: $8.69

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revisitng the Dumps with Self-Compassion: Priceless!, March 17, 2015
Nina Gaby has curated women's essays on this provocative, under-discussed topic: how girls - and later, women -- befriend, become intimate, inseparable even, and then one of them bails. The dumper rarely does it with explanation or grace. The dumpee is left stunned, hurt, humiliated, and perversely bereft of that very dear friend she is accumstomed to confiding in.
One of life's great mysteries is what's up with the dumpers? When approached, decades later, none of them seem to acknowledge having dumped the friend. The stories they tell themselves would be interesting to hear, too - perhaps the next book, Nina Gaby?
Having been through this a few times, while I approached Gaby's collection with eager anticipation and curiosity, I was not without dread. What old crap was going to be dredged up by these stories? They are achingly, beautifully told. Each writer shares the rejection and then her self-narrative about the rejection, and the lack of resolution that haunts women their whole lives long. That these female writers generously and candidly share their experience is by itself reassuring and heartwarming. It happens.
It did bring up some old experiences, but with the lens of time, I am much more able to see how I set myself up for rejection in friendships by being Lady Bountiful, all give and little expectation. I picked needy friends because I needed to be needed. I was lonely. I didn't really know how to make adult friends and having moved thousands of miles from my home turf, switched colleges, and married young, I missed young adult women's bonding. Once i learned to take friendships slower and be more self-protective, I am happy to say this stopped being a pattern. But when I was experiencing it, I was outraged and incredibly hurt.
I recommend this book for anyone who has ever had an adored friend turn on them. In other words - every woman in the world!


This Is Mexico: Tales of Culture and Other Complications
This Is Mexico: Tales of Culture and Other Complications
by Carol M. Merchasin
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.56
49 used & new from $9.70

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For All Us Baby Boomers With Retire-in-Mexico Fantasies!, March 10, 2015
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If you, like I, am a baby boomer with Mexico fantasies, this is a must-read. Carol Marchasin invites readers to share her life, experiences, and impressions of leaving sturctured, prestigious situations in the United States for the adventure of living in San Miguel. She is witty and self-deprecating, a highly intelligent, educated woman who explores her own pre-conceived, inaccurate ideas and wills herself to adjust to - and ultimately appreciate -- the realities of life in her adopted city. Full of practical information, it is not a guide but more like having a knowledgable next door neighbor guiding you through the experience of becoming a gringo over a margarita. Lots of fun, you can have the adventure in advance of making any of your own decisions!


Where Have I Been All My Life?: A Journey Toward Love and Wholeness
Where Have I Been All My Life?: A Journey Toward Love and Wholeness
by Cheryl Rice
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.56
38 used & new from $9.15

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There's No Such Thing as The Perfect Mother...., October 7, 2014
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Cheryl Rice shares her journey, trying to figure out how to be in the world after her mother's death. Seemingly the mother-daughter bond superceded the author ever getting truly comfortable in her own skin. A classic good girl, eager to please, and sure than any failure or set-back is her fault. Even if you and your mom weren't that close, all women know that part of the story!
Rice is an elegant, witty writer, endearing as she shares her confusion, panic, and sense of inadequacy. She narrates, with compelling elegance , what it means to strip your psyche down and meet yourself as a unique being, not as the person your parents want - or need - you to be.
The deep grief she writes about is unfamiliar to me, and I found her vivid description of the physical and cognitive experience of this type of grief very informative. My own mother died 20 years ago, but was sick and out of it for 10 years longer. I left home at 17 for college and while my mother was loving and devoted, I bolted and she didn't know how to relate to adult children (I was her baby, with two older siblings.) Since her death I think of her, but since she hadn't really been there in my adult life, I don't actively miss her. Contrast that to the intimate real-time connection Rice enjoyed with her mother; ironically, it was crippling. Hard to get the right balance, isn't it?!

I myself have an adult daughter and I cherish our closeness. Sometimes I would like more of her attention or time, but when she is not available, I do congratulate myself on having raised an independent daughter. I rejoice that she has intimate friends with whom she is deeply bonded. One of them lost her mother at the end of college and was in a deep funk for nearly two years. My daughter reported that some days her bereaved friend could barely get out of bed, which my daughter seemed to think was entirely understandable given the loss.

At some point I mentioned to my daughter that when I die, I would feel I had failed her if she was so grief-stricken that she couldn't get up in the mornings. Not to judge her friend, but the job of a mother is to love deeply & be available, but also rejoice in your child's self-reliance, social network, and independence -- and not expect your daughter to meet your own need to be needed.

HEnce, I was particularly touched by the author's painful realization that her mother, beloved and delightful as she was, had not been able to do this for her daughter. fortunately she has been able to do it for herself - though getting to that point required enormous effort and much painful work. Bravo the author got to the other side! Readers - daughters AND mothers - enjoy Where Have I Been All My LIfe! It is deeply satisfying.


The Bright Continent: Breaking Rules and Making Change in Modern Africa
The Bright Continent: Breaking Rules and Making Change in Modern Africa
by Dayo Olopade
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.69
66 used & new from $9.94

5.0 out of 5 stars Dayo Olopade, Global Citizen Journalist - a Writer to Watch!, September 8, 2014
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Dayo Olopade is a fascinating tour guide on a trip through 17 African countries. Her recent book The Bright Continent: Breaking Rules & Making Change in Modern Africa is not just a great read, but she writes from the inside out as a 21st century phenomenon - a global citizen. While reared in Chicago and wholly American (though her Ivy League credentials are not one of a "typical" American), her parents are Nigerian immigrants. Unlikechildren of immigrants of the past who strove to assimilate - especially if their families left because of poverty and discriminitation in their countries of origin - this new 2nd generation is different. They can travel between the old country and the new, cross-fertilizing and understanding more about their cultural DNA. They also serve as change agents, bringing ideas and skills back and forth between Africa and the USA. This is increasingly common in the form of tech transfer, but in Olopade's case, she is transfering her observations and insights, useful to anyone interested in global development and travel to Africa.

Thus did Olopade spend three years in Nigeria, embedded in local culture. While American, with American experience, insights, and an topnotch education, she also was able to interpret what she saw with the help of family, language skills, and the ability to blend in - and experience wholly unavailable to non-black Americans hanging out in Africa. I found her own story as fascinating as those she describes.

For those living in, as the writer describes it, fat countries as opposed to lean ones, infrastructure is taken for granted. We turn on faucets to run potable water, we flip switches to turn on appliances. We drive cars on highways, count on public transit funcitoning. Farmers use reliable transportation networks to ship their produce (unless the live in North Dakota and the fracking boom has commandeered freight cars, leaving soy beans rotting in the fields.) Schools might be good, or they may be lousy, but we do have school buildings, school busing, books, teacher salaries... We have regulatory bodies serving as watchdogs; when they do it poorly, it is a news story. We have health systems that may be inequitable, but kids are immunized and rarely malnourished. Not so in most countries in the developing world. As Olopade describes, this leaves large chasms, gaps to be filled by innovative entrepreneurs.
Her chapters are ffilled with great stories of alternative ways of delivering what people want and need, creatively and often surprisingly effectively. Unhampered by schlerotic beaurocracies, kanju - the slang term she introduces us to, for getting things done without benefit of supply chains or reliable systems -- is remarkably effective. Kenyans shoot money anywhere and everywhere by early stage cell phones, just using texts; light years ahead of fat America.
Olopade is descriptive without being preachy, and helps us appreciate not just what Africans are up against, but also the resilience and cleverness many bring to the table. We will hopefully be shaking off our image of Africa as a basket case/ebola incubator, and see its billion people moving up out of extreme poverty and creating new ways of doing things, hopefully better. Can't wait to see what Olopade - just in her early career - will do with her insights and talent! Stay tuned. More brilliant work is coming from this impressive young woman.


Just Parenting: Building the World One Family at a Time
Just Parenting: Building the World One Family at a Time
by Julie Greenberg
Edition: Paperback
Price: $18.63
7 used & new from $0.40

5.0 out of 5 stars Best Definition of the Job of Parenting I've Ever Seen, April 20, 2014
Rabbi Julie Greenberg's particulars are unique, to say the least. An intentionally single mom with 5 children, two with the same donor, one with another donor, and two adopted. The benefits of large families are unsung, but she manages to pull it off and create a materially modest, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually rich family life.
I especially loved her definition of being a parent: you are
1) the family nurturer-in-chief
2) the family funder
3) the executive. You make the decisions about your family's structure, management, schedules, values, etc. I think this role is poorly understood. She really elucidates it thoughtfully.
I would recommend this book for anyone planning any kind of family, and especially excellent advice for single parents. Enlist support! Involve yourself and your family in community! Excellent advice for everyone, really.


The Widow Waltz
The Widow Waltz
by Sally Koslow
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $27.95
98 used & new from $0.01

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Page Turner!, July 18, 2013
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This review is from: The Widow Waltz (Hardcover)
I saved The Widow Waltz for my very long flight home, and it delivered as I was immediately drawn into the mystery and grief of Georgia Waltz, the protagonist of this fine book. Shockingly widowed at 50, and equally shockingly, is learning her luxe lifestyle was defunded by a husband who had drained all their bank accounts, a Madoff nightmare. Though devastated, Georgia Waltz is not destroyed, and she uses the situation as an opportunity to become a grounded, reinvented grown-up. This is the crux of The Widow Waltz.
It was especially engaging to read about her complicated relationship and observations about her young adult daughters, also grieving their daddy's death, spoiled and unfocused girls who also need to grow up fast. How can they help each other do this? Each daughter matures over the course of the book, in surprising and intriguing ways. Whoever gets to play Louey in the movie will have one fabulous role!
Koslow has a very sharp eye for detail, armed with a strong bull detector. I especially enjoyed the way in which Georgia made no bones about having enjoyed the lifestyle of a rich person, but was under no illusion that she had any merit. Her privilege was totally unearned, and she owns that.
The book has a very interesting story to tell about what constitutes a modern family, and I totally loved The Widow Waltz's denouement. No spoiler here, you must read it!


Unexpected Intimacy: Everyday Connections that Nourish the Soul
Unexpected Intimacy: Everyday Connections that Nourish the Soul
by Sarah Gabriel
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.32
29 used & new from $1.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Expanding our Relationship Reperatoire, May 20, 2013
Studies are showing that Americans have fewer intimate friends and really suffer from loneliness - it is a major stressor. Sarah Gabriel explores this territory in an interesting form, vignettes of personal experience where she catalogs a plethora of different kinds of intimate connections. I think I would call them bonding, rather than intimacy, but that quibble aside, this is a book that will help you appreciate that there are all kinds of ways to promote more bonding and intimacy in our lives. She is perhaps bolder than most of us - she's lived in many more countries than most people I know - but that helps her expand the definitions of how to bond.
She is a very mindful parent. I especially enjoyed her descriptions of how parenting brings all kinds of new relationships into your life, which are invaluable - not just with your child, but with a whole web of others raising and educating kids. I often wonder how people manage to get through the inevitable vicissitudes of life without friends to rely on; Sarah shows how beautiful it is when people come through for each other, even if they weren't previously each other's closest friends. that's just how people are!


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