Girls, Dogs and Gratitude

give a girl a break film video Jenny Laura dog training school mentor

Last night, during dinner with my writer-friend, I raised the issue about which medium tells a better story – writing or video.

A reader since childhood and now a writer, I cannot imagine life without printed words.  My kids’ generation, the Millennial generation, don’t know an Internet-less world.

We live in a country where public libraries do not exist and books cost more than most people’s daily salary.  YOUTUBE is free and pirated DVDs can be purchased for less than a cup of coffee.  Instagrams to family 2,000 miles away are cheaper than a phone call.  Twitter is the source for local, breaking news.

Visual and graphic communication are the future.

Inspiring stories about young women who overcome emotional and financial barriers to creatively express themselves are the topic for the GIVE A GIRL A BREAK contest.

Through video, three, young females filmmakers offer their stories both as an artistic expression of themselves as well as highlighting how a small bit of support helps other reach for their dreams.  Created in Los Angeles, these girls had access to lights, cameras, computers, actors and great locations to create their short-films.

On the other side of the planet, a smaller exhibit highlighting women and communication took place.

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Graphic communication was the focus of the EIGHT DEGREES OF DIFFERENCE exhibit in Bahrain.

Eight, Bahraini women presented their graphic design, video and digital photography projects.  They focused on life-affirming topics such as gratitude, family communications, healthy eating, and imagination and on clear communications through maps, typography, signage and even graffiti.

Milling with the audience composed of Bahrainis, Pakistanis, Africans, and Europeans, it became obvious to me that the women’s messages transcended culture.  Whether one spoke English or Arabic, the visual exhibits spoke a language everyone could understand.

ABOUT GIVE A GIRL A BREAK

team alana matching making skills

My best friend Jenny is featured as the inspiring mentor to Laura, a young woman in this film TO THE RESCUE.  Watch TO THE RESCUE and the other two finalists and vote by JULY 2nd.

Always is sponsoring Give a Girl a Break.  Three aspiring female filmmakers are vying for a Talent Grant to help them pursue a career in film.

ABOUT EIGHT DEGREES OF DIFFERENCE

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June 26-27, eight, female students at the Bahrain Polytechnic Institute displayed their third year projects.  The depth and quality of their work was evident.  I was so pleased to see how Bahraini women envision effectively engaging others using modern methods.

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Golden Anniversary

My In-laws wedding photo from 1962

Fifty years ago today, my in-laws got married.  Technically they signed the “kettel khitab” or marriage contract.

Today we are in Cairo at the Pasha Restaurant on the Nile celebrating with family and friends.

This is the second Golden Anniversary I have celebrated.  The first was my grandparents.

I wonder whether Mojo and I will celebrate our 50th?  I wonder what the world will be like in 35 years.

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

"Why are you here?" "I dunno. Why are YOU here?" "I wish I knew."

I am quite certain that each of us is born to learn something.  As we encounter challenges, it is imperative to ask ourselves, why am I seeing this challenge?  What am I supposed to learn from it?

Sometimes the challenge is very obvious as in the case of Carly, a sixteen-year old girl with autism.

When Carly and her twin sister were two years old, her parents noticed a significant difference in their development.  Carly was diagnosed with autism while her sister was not.  Carly was completely non-verbal and displayed the challenges other autistic children exhibit – flapping arms, tantrums, banging her head on the floor, and other uncontrolled movements.

Then the break-through.

One day she ran to the computer and typed HURT.  Next she typed HELP before throwing up.

Using the computer, the eleven year old Carly finally began to communicate.  The amazing thing was she saw herself as a normal girl trapped in “this body”.  Her body was highly sensitive to stimuli so normal sounds, smells, tastes and touch overwhelmed her.  To manage the stimulus overload, she countered the input with output.

Fast forward five years – after many hours of working, Carly has become a celebrity particularly within the autism community.  She has been interviewed by Ellen Degeneres, The Talk and CBS News.  Her blog has 15,000 followers and she is writing a novel.  I was overwhelmed with admiration for this young woman who typed out

“I am autistic but that’s not who I am.  Take time to know me before you judge me.”

Whatever obstacle I identify during the Brand New Me class tomorrow, I can hardly imagine Carly would call it a challenge.

I copied a quote of hers and taped it to my bathroom mirror.  Tomorrow when I brush my teeth, Carly’s words will be in front of me.

“I think the only thing I can say is don’t give up.  Your inner voice will find its way out.  Mine did.” – Carly

You can read Carly’s Blog and watch the CBS News segment on YouTube.

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