Friday, February 25, 2011

Story of a Child Soldier

DID YOU KNOW THAT: over 30 wars and conflicts rage around the world.Many of these wars go unreported, often due to political expediency or lack of interest. -WarChildInternational-


I  just finished this book and it was incredible. It's about the civil war in Sierra Leon and Ishmael and other children and families' fights to survive. Young boys were turned into soldiers in order to defeat the rebels and many many lives were ruined. It's a tragic story. As far as my opinion of the book... it has a lot of difficult things to read but was written incredibly well. I know that I personally enjoy reading about controversial topics and also enjoy true crime books, so I have a little higher tolerance for that sort of thing. But the way that Beah wrote the book was in such a way that the painful things did not completely overwhelm you. They are facts, as I'm sure they were to him at the time. Get through the day. That's it. Cut & Dried.

Here is Ishmael reading an exert from his book

I'd like to make a comment the part that music played in his life. I've always thought that music can heal and in this case it not only helps him do that but saves his life in certain instances. Growing up he listened to American rap music with his friends and they would learn the lyrics and dance and sing for crowds... not too different from what my friends and I used to do back in the day... after the war started and they were forced to run from village to village people didn't trust them because so many young boys were being recruited into the war; both on the rebel side and the soldier side. They were taken into villages and threatened and given tests to prove they weren't soldiers. Many times his rap cassette saved their lives. And after he was taken to the rehabilitation camp listening to music again brought him back to reality and sanity. Props to rap music! I never would've thought!!! -----------sidenote----------- in the last youtube clip I've included here he mentions hip hop; he says that he enjoyed the early hip hop because of the words that were used in the lyrics, like soliloquy... which he says are not used in rap music today. Interesting. ----------------------------------

When I read a true story I like to do more research after I've finished it. I've read enough memoirs and non-fiction that I can say I believe that truth is stranger than fiction. It really is. You can't write some of the things that come up in non-fiction books. It's incredible. I have such respect for this incredible person. And he is so well spoken. I've included several links throughout this post - UNICEF was the organization that stepped in to help rehabilitate these children. I've also found WarChild which is another organization that does the same things. TheChildrenOfWar is another one.

Here's another interesting clip from youtube... it's a clip of Ishmael on some tv show talking about the book. It's a great clip, especially if you'd like to hear about the story before reading the book, or just hear about stuff from the author himself. check it out.......

And another... where he speaks at a school. Very interesting. This one is a lot longer than the previous one. His English is so good! .....cute guy too :) Too bad his facebook says he's "in a relationship". darn that facebook! haha Oh well. ;)

Ishmael's attitude is so inspiring. For a child to go from incredible daily violence to the well spoken and positive man he is today is incredible. He mentions how the human spirit is resilient. How true. Especially a child's. It never ceases to amaze me the things that people get through and can turn around and use for good. "it's a long term goal, it is difficult, but it's possible". These kinds of stories remind me that life is ultimately beautiful and we should respect it.

Oh, I also have to mention... when he finally comes to New York for a child of war conference they didn't tell him that he needed a COAT in DECEMBER in NEW YORK!!! What!? hahaahahaha. How could they do that to this poor guy from Africa!? He had no idea! He says it was snowing and the only relationship he had with snow was Christmas movies and he said he thought "it must be Christmas every day!" I love the way he describes his experience of New York in the book. It's so funny! He says it's the most uncomfortable country in the world! Freezing cold outside and HOT inside! (cuz they didn't show him how to turn down the thermostat!). The things we take for granted... interesting stuff man.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I'm trying to speak your language

I have some thoughts on friendships. I've had the good fortune to have some wonderful ones over the years, some that I've had since middle school. I am slow to make friends, I always have been that way. But when I make a friend it's usually for life. I have been burned by people who I thought were my friends. It happened recently and was a shock to me. I'd never known people like that existed, at least not in my world. I guess maybe it's made me take another look at how I trust people. I trusted those people and they turned on me and made my life as miserable as they possibly could. I thought I'd always been careful to keep those kinds of people out of my life. But they got in and that kindof shook my little world.

It's not just that though, the past 3 years of my life have brought people into my life and I've also lost people. It's caused me to value my true friendships that much more. I realize that I may have alienated a few friends more than I thought I did. It's a shame, but in the end you find out who your true friends are.

Some people have not made much of an effort to be my friend and I have to accept the fact that maybe they don't really want to be. I have to be okay with that. People grow, People change and if they don't want to put value in my friendship then that's the way it has to be. I can't force people to give me the attention I want. I have to recognize that maybe they don't value me in the same way I value them. And so be it. Instead of focusing on a loss I can focus on those people who have reached out to me and been there for me.

One thing I've learned over the years is that sometimes you have to be the one to mend a friendship, even if you don't believe you were in the wrong. I've been through some rough times with friends and at times I truly felt that they were in the wrong. But in the end, I value their friendship, I value them as a person. So I reached out, and it's been so much more rewarding than focusing on anger and resentment.

Also, sometimes you have to speak the other person's language. I think it's the same as a love language; it's the way that person communicates and feels valued. For example, I'm a letter writer and I love to write and send letters. I realize that not everyone likes to write letters. But, I have a friend who takes time out of her busy day to send me a letter every once in awhile. It's nothing long or elaborate, but she's speaking my language! It makes me feel special and loved to receive a piece of communication from my friend who is trying to communicate with me in a way that she knows makes me feel good.

Give your friends a break. This can be hard for me sometimes. I want my friends to do everything the right way! haha. But that is just not real life. Sometimes my friends frustrate me and really anger me, but I have to remember that they are people too. If I expect for my friends to cut me some slack sometimes then I need to do the same for them. It's all small stuff anyways. In the end, it doesn't really matter.

So I vent about things and complain. So what! Who doesn't? I just hope that my friends know how much I value them in my life. You should tell your friends too. Every once in awhile let them know you care. It will mean a lot to them.

"Whoever says Friendship is easy has obviously never had a true friend!"
- Bronwyn Polson

Sunday, February 13, 2011

here i be!

Well I finally made it to Montana. Took me 3 1/2 days. I got to drive through some of that wonderful weather that Texas and Colorado got, but luckily I missed the worst parts. I didn't have to drive through the storm, I basically followed it. I know a lot of people don't like long drives like that but I enjoyed it. Something about the solitude; being alone and thinking, listening to music, audio books. It was nice. Just me and Sally. My car can hold a LOT of stuff!


The Destructiveness of a Love that Never Changes
click to view this artist's other work
I listened to Wuthering Heights on the way . I read it in high school. For some reason I really love it. Neither character (Catherine or Heathcliff) have any redeeming qualities. But something about the story draws me in. Maybe I like the fact that they aren't good people. They don't win in the end anyways. Books don't always have to be written about good people. In the sparknotes to Wuthering Heights one of the quotes is explained, where Catherine says I am Heathcliff - In following the relationship through to its painful end, the novel ultimately may attest to the destructiveness of a love that denies difference. It is explained that in literature, love is described in terms of opposites; like the sun and the moon, frost & fire. So I understand why Catherine's words do not make sense. We have to recognize differences and she does not. 

Also, they refused to allow change. Young Catherine and Hareton (in the second half of the book) allow themselves to change and accept each other's changes and differences. Heathcliff and Catherine are stuck in their childhood love and although take on different lives refuse to adapt to those lives and in the end their refusal to accept it and move destroys them. This is not a love story, it's a story of revenge. Sortof like The Count of Monte Cristo, where revenge also destroys him.


I like reading classics when certain things can be explained. That's what I loved reading literature in school; the teachers would explain the era and why things were important. It make the books so much more interesting and relevant. Here's an interesting short summary of the book. (the narrator of the audio book was excellent by the way).


 So, here I am in Montana. It's quite surreal as I've never actually had my own car here even though I've been back several times. It seems unreal to be living here. I hope everything turns out alright. It's nice to be close to other family members, although I still miss my mom a lot. She's off meandering in Peru!

I also started another audio book after finishing with Wuthering Heights. It's called The Last Girls, by Lee Smith. It's quite a good book; it reminds me of The Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood. It's located in the south; Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi... and it's kind of a coming of age story; like Now and Then where the girls are adults now and are remembering their childhoods. I really like the style of the book; each chapter is written from a different perspective and that keeps me interested. The audio book is narrated by the author herself and she did a great job! (you know I always enjoy a well-narrated book).

Well that's all for now. I'm glad to be off the road and now we'll see what new adventures Montana can bring.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

February Goals

I have not been very diligent in my monthly goal postings, or my monthly goals at all for that matter. I've just kind of been all over the place, physically and mentally. So making goals and posting them has just not been on my radar. But I am ready to get my life back on track and ready to start focusing on goals again. I'm moving back to Montana and I am looking forward to it but also very sad that I can't see my mother as much as I would like. I've very much missed having her around and this last month has been so nice. But I have to do the right thing for me, which is moving to Montana.

Nothing is Permanent. Nothing is Wasted. I don't have to worry about making the wrong decision. Just because I move somewhere doesn't mean I have to live there forever. And things can always change. Because Change is the Only Constant. I love that quote.

Over the next month or so I would like to...

Find a job or two. I actually have an interview! Hooray! So hopefully that will work out and I will also be able to find another one as well.
Save money from those jobs that I WILL find! 
Pay off bills/debts (not necessarily all in one month, HA)
Connect with the Bitterroot CASA program. CASA is such a great program. I'm a guardian ad litem for at-risk youth and CASA connects me with a child and I advocate for that child's best interest in the court and with all of the people that are involved in the child's case. The child will most likely be in foster care and needs extra attention in the court system. It's a great way to give back and you can really make a difference just by being there.
Connect with Bitterroot Therapeutic Riding Program. I adore horses! I've just found this program and I've sent in my application. I'm hoping that I can be a part of it. They seem like a very well put-together organization.
Get a haircut. I am such a procrastinator.
See old friends. 
Do things that I enjoy, for me.

click to view this artist's gallery 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I just wanted to update on the Phoebe the hummingbird and her little babies. Well, they're not so little anymore! You can see their little tongues poke in and out! so cute! I've noticed she doesn't stick her beak as far down their gullets as she used to. haha. Man you would think she was stabbing them!
If you're interested in feeding your own hummingbirds, please check out this website. They have feeder care tips for feeding your hummingbirds. You don't want to do it incorrectly because you could make them sick. They are very sensitive. 

Most Important Tips
Clean the feeder regularly!!!
Don't use Dye/Honey/Artificial Sweeteners
Make your own "juice" don't buy commercial food 

Here are some interesting clips of Phoebe. If you're not constantly watching you can miss stuff, so it's nice to be able to go back and see some clips and pictures. Here's another interesting website on hummers.

Hummingbird Food Recipe
One (1) Part Granulated White Sugar
  mixed into:
Four (4) Parts Boiled Water(measured hot water has small
evaporation loss so you will end up 
with the required one to four ratio)
COOL to Room Temperature
then fill feeder.

I enjoy wildlife. Isn't it great that we have these cameras and are privileged to see these amazing birds up close like this? I think it's the coolest thing! I hope you enjoy it too.