STORIES OF BEAUTY! Paint your world beautiful …

You know, everywhere I look there are #StoriesOfBeauty … people committed to #MakeTheWorldBetter … Everywhere. This week PEREIRA QUERENDONA and Khuyay and some of the city’s best urban artists are painting the world a better place with huge murals.
At the end of October, they’ll be doing an activity with children, so that our kids can get involved and participate in this world building.
This reminds me of the StoryPeople Quote: One day, I decided to help wherever I could, & it was almost like magic because I was exactly what the world needed everywhere I went.

Stories of Beauty: Dedicating Poems

If you could send a poem to anyone in the world, who would you send it to?
And, really, is that outdated?
Have you forgotten so quickly that we’re talking about #StoriesOfBeauty?

It’s the most beautiful thing. The Cabina Literaria goes to book events and fairs all over the country, giving people the chance to choose a poem and call someone they love. What a phenomenal way to #MakeTheWorldBetter. The girls got to dedicate poems to their grandmas. (Yep. They do international poem dedications as well!)

So, I’m asking, who would you send a poem to? Who would you want to remind they are loved? Who do you want to reconnect with?
Share peace. Share poems. Connect to someone you love, to someone you haven’t spoken to for a long time, to someone who needs a lift.

Challenge of the day: Call someone you haven’t talked to in a long time. Or send someone a note. Just check in and say, “Hey. You were on my mind.”

On that note, I’m going to share a snippet of a poem with you. (Yes, YOU!)

Thanks, Robert Frost

Do you have hope for the future?
someone asked Robert Frost, toward the end.
Yes, and even for the past, he replied,
that it will turn out to have been all right
for what it was, something we can accept,
mistakes made by the selves we had to be,
not able to be, perhaps, what we wished,
or what looking back half the time it seems
we could so easily have been, or ought…

Stories of Beauty

Every single day, I have the privilege of meeting and working with people who make this world a better place. So, I am officially embarking on a new campaign to share #StoriesOfBeauty. Everything from the smallest act of kindness to huge regional, even nation-wide campaigns, that give hope and love to the world, will be posted here on these pages. Good people, great people, are working to chip away at hate, crack open doors of possibility, and #MakeTheWorldBetter … 

What story would you tell if you could photograph of your life?
These beautiful kids had their first photography exhibition last week in La Cuadra Talleres Abiertos … It was called LA IMAGEN COMO LENGUAJE (Image as language). It was an international effort because the event was supported by the Ministerio de Cultura, the U.S. Department of State, the Fundación Crearte, the Colombo Americano Pereira – Cartago. Juan Cristóbal Cobo came to give 6 hours of workshops. Then, on top of that, the community lent cameras and smart phones to 20 kids to take home and use to take photos of their lives, their context. Perfect strangers who don’t even know these kids. And these kids shared the narrative of their lives, which took so much courage and introspection. They trusted us with their stories.

Live the Book – A Bottle in the Gaza Sea

I became a pen-pal to a girl in Israel and young man in Palestine. It breaks my heart to see how helpless they feel, and how the violence has impacted their lives in such crippling and terrifying ways. And they both, so much, want peace. They have hope, though, so I guess I must have it, too. I hope to meet up with them in a few years in Italy.



#LiveTheBook #WhereWillYouGoToday

Live The Book – Touching the Void

Over the past two days I was the first to summit the Siula Grande (in Peru) from the West side, crushed my tibia into my knee joint, got caught in a blizzard, fell 150 feet into a crevasse, hiked out, and crawled my way back to base camp with frostbite while going snow blind, suffering from dehydration, almost dying of ketosis (not to mention hypothermia, dehydration …), using the last ounce of my energy to call out for my climbing partner. I’m down now. I’m okay. Not to worry. I’m okay.
I’m freaking exhausted.

#LiveTheBook #WhereWillYouGoToday

Colombia from the Hip … The “Recolectores”

Walking downtown the other day, I met the most phenomenal delivery man. He takes this crazy-heavy wooden cart around town to make deliveries for people. I’m not talking pizza and Chinese food … I’m talking furniture, helping people move offices … you name it, he’ll carry it. Basically, the cart itself is heavier than anything I can budge.
And he was so happy to let me take pictures and show off his colorful cart, painted like a Chiva with “Jesus is my savior. God. Faith.” and similar signs everywhere.
I’m amazed at what a hard job this is. To get up and carry hundreds of pounds every day. I’m constantly in wonder by the drive of  people to make their lives better, to drag a cart around town hoping for work, not knowing, from day to day, if there will be work.
There’s definitely a huge element of faith in that.
And I feel fortunate to have celebrated his work with him for a moment. It’s humbling.

I think about Alicia Keys’  HOLY WAR. Maybe if we all took a moment to share and celebrate one another’s work and life challenges, we could bridge the hate and divide.

“What if sex was holy and war was obscene
And it wasn’t twisted, what a wonderful dream
Living for love, unafraid of the end
Forgiveness is the only real revenge

Oh, so we can heal each other and fill each other
We can break these walls between each other
Baby, blow by blow and brick by brick
Keep yourself open, yourself open”

#ColombiaFromTheHip #HolyDeliveryTruckBatMan !!


Ahhh … The New Year Post …

With its utter lack of creativity. Everything feels so derivative. Everybody’s gung-ho, ready to make changes, ready to take tap dancing lessons, learn a new language, travel more, eat less, start a new page of a new book, try chapulines, grow a beard, and be better, stronger, prettier, more handsome,  more educated, more cultured, more of the good, less of the bad  … And I don’t have much to add to the pot.

I’m not a resolution-type person. I set goals. Some I’ll set today. Some later. But there is something to be said about reflecting on who we are, the mistakes we’ve made (don’t dwell! Dude, it’s Facebook. Everybody looks like an asshole on Facebook at times.), and the possibilities we have to be better.

So, I propose an ongoing resolution policy. DON’T WAIT UNTIL DECEMBER 31, 2015 if something cool occurs to you in the next month or so. And since I’m pushing on a resolution blog on you, I’ll tell you my resolutions. So here goes!

I resolve to:

  • work harder … (I need to get up earlier to get more work done!)
  • keep taking swimming lessons … (I learned how to swim this past year! For real! And am so happy with my swimming lessons.)
  • be kinder …
  • be more tolerant …
  • not judge those who selfie while trying to pretend they’re acting spontaneous but, you know, from their posture and perky boobs, duck lips and coiffed hair they’re really selfieholics, selfiemaniacs, selfiers in the most selfier possible way … (Okay. They’ve got a three-strike selfie allowance. If, in one month, someone’s selfied more than three, she’s an egotistical ass. Unless she’s selfie-ing in the Lost City of Atlantis, next to Amelia Earhardt’s crashed plane, or the Loch Ness Monster. Then, by all means, those discoveries entitle anyone to an infinite selfie allowance.)
  • Shit … that wasn’t very tolerant.
  • Erase be more tolerant.
  • That wasn’t very nice, either.
  • I’ll be kinder. I won’t call the selfie-prone “egotistical asses.”  I’ll just laugh at them to myself.

I’m not doing too hot, am I?

How’s this? I’ll just give you my 2015 wishes for you and everyone I meet (selfiers included)…

Make your year wonderful. Create memorable, unexpected moments. Surprise someone you love. Surprise yourself. Find your courage. Read more. Listen more. Have one of those in-the-rain kisses you see in the movies. Stomp in puddles and crunch on leaves. Hold someone’s hand. Give more hugs. Climb a tree. Expect the best from everyone, from yourself. Forgive yourself. At least once every few months, eat dessert for dinner. Try something new. Stumble and get up. Value the people in your life. Value yourself.

HAPPY 2015! Let’s make this year the best … and then some!

A book (every other) day! Day 21 and contemporary Colombian authors!

When we think about Colombian literature, we think Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But that tends to be tunnel vision, as if we were to only think about American lit and Ernest Hemingway.
Contemporary Colombian authors have added to the body of Latin American literature in phenomenal ways to paint Colombian life with words, stories, and such far-fetched tales of truth that you’d think that you were reading about another place on another planet.
One of Colombia’s challenges as a place to project its talent is the lack of a major publishing house. So there are many voices lost to the fact that there’s no major distribution for some pretty spectacular works. That said, Colombian authors looking for a bigger platform have to look into Spain, Mexico and Argentina.As with the arts, it’s an uphill battle to get things out there, but the ones who have managed to break through the barriers and hurdle obstacles are noteworthy.

Here are three of my favorite, contemporary Colombian authors:

Jorge Franco is best known for Rosario Tijeras, the tale of a woman sicario (the motorcycle-riding hitmen in the 1980s) and the dark side of life in Medellin during the 1980 and 1990s. One of my favorites of his, though, is Paraiso Travel, the story of two young Colombians who go through the “hueco” in Mexico to get to New York, then get separated and lose each other. The story of an illegal immigrant in the States is powerful. Franco’s voice is a gift in the world of literature and one that explores contemporary Colombian realities.

German Castro Caycedo, like Gabo, has a background in journalism. He’s written many chronicles about the curious, folkloric, and inconceivable realities of Colombia — everything from a gypsy witch’s power in Colombian politics and with local drug lords in la Bruja to the dangerous illegal crossing to the United States in el Hueco. He’s written about unresolved mysteries and anecdotal historical events that weave great investigative journalism with the magic that’s so proper to Colombian writing.

Laura Restrepo is, to date, the most well-known contemporary female voice in Colombian literature. She’s had an extensive career, even writing a children’s book. (So she must be good because only the best write for children).  Delirium, her 2004 novel about a man who returns from a business trip to find his wife completely mad, is the novel that gave her the extra push into the spotlight she deserves.

Happy reading!

A Book (Every Other) Day … Day 19 and Waiting for Snow in Havana

A good friend of mine lent me this book a couple of years ago … and I think it’s super appropriate to recommend it today! And now I want to re-read it because I read it with “baby brain.” (My second daughter was a newborn.)
Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy by Pedro Eire is a what feels like a fairytale, this-can’t-be-for-real memoir (see … I’m telling you, this is the year of the memoir for me) of a young boy who lived a life of Cuban aristocracy (with a father who was a judge who believed himself to be the reincarnation of Louis XVI),  the depression and fear he lived in post-revolution, then leaving Cuba in Operation Pedro Pan — an operation that flew thousands of Cuban children out of Cuba without their parents and plopped them in Miami. These children became “lost boys.”
What makes the memoir so poignant is Eire’s incredible voice that’s both nostalgic and indicting … a powerful way to view the world and take a scalpal to his memories to extract vignettes of beauty and tragedy and bring us along this journey he lived.

Today, I celebrate the walls that are crumbling away to creating a more hospitable, decent world.
Today, I celebrate Waiting for Snow in Havana