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Weekly Photo Challenge: LOCAL


“No soul or locale is too humble to be the site of entertaining and instructive fiction. Indeed, all other things being equal, the rich and glamorous are less fertile …” John Updike

Weekly Photo Challenge: LOCAL - Hudson River & Tappan Zee Bridge from RiverWalk Park

Weekly Photo Challenge: LOCAL – Hudson River & Tappan Zee Bridge from RiverWalk Park

Weekly Photo Challenge: LOCAL - Hudson River and docked boats

Weekly Photo Challenge: LOCAL – Hudson River and docked boats

Weekly Photo Challenge: LOCAL - Hudson River & Tappan Zee Bridge from RiverWalk Park

Weekly Photo Challenge: LOCAL – Hudson River & Tappan Zee Bridge from RiverWalk Park

For this week’s photo challenge on  – local , I chose to add photos of the the Hudson River and the Tappan Zee bridge taken from the Scenic Hudson RiverWalk Park in Westchester County, NY. I am drawn to the water because I find it so calming and beautiful, plus we have several parks on the river’s edge that make it an attractive place to visit and relax. If you’ve seen photos from my Hudson River collection, most of them were taken from the other Hudson River Park. From time to time, I love to come up to this park and take photos of the setting sun. It’s a beautiful, albeit smaller, park. It is also very close to the bridge and water so it gives me a different perspective from the one in my village. Today, I was drawn here because I wanted to see how the renovations on the bridge were going.
The Tappan Zee bridge is undergoing an extensive facelift so there was a lot of activity going on on the water; there were cranes everywhere and small boats carrying workers to the site. I wanted to capture the full length of the bridge from the park but, I couldn’t quite get the shot with my smartphone. Perhaps, the strong Fall sun got in the way because I couldn’t quite capture the activity and was a bit disappointed … anyway, the photos from this locale are fit for today’s local assignment.

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We Will Rise: Empowering Girls Education Globally


“Unlike so many girls around the world, we have a voice. That’s why, particularly on this year’s International Day of the Girl, I ask that you use yours to help these girls get the education they deserve. ” Michelle Obama, We Will Rise

Reflections: We Will Rise - Empowering Girls Education Globally

Reflections: We Will Rise – Empowering Girls Education Globally

CNN International: “We Will Rise” promo

Globally, 62 million girls are not in school. As a girl grows older the fight to get an education becomes even harder. Her family must be willing to pay school fees. She risks long, unsafe walks to school. She may be forced to marry. And she often lacks access to healthcare and the support she needs to learn. USAID LetGirlsLearn Initiative

What issues matter to you and your loved ones? Did you know that yesterday was the International Day of the Girl Child?  Did you also know that our first lady, Michelle Obama, in collaboration with CNN, has created a documentary that speaks to the challenges and issues facing young girls around the world?  The documentary, We Will Rise: Michelle Obama’s Mission to Educate Girls Around the World, which airs tonight on CNN at 9pm EDT focuses on how education for girls can empower and increase their participation as productive members of society. The inspiring piece is a stark and powerful reminder that girls education and empowerment must remain one the most important goals of the 21st century.  We live in a world where 62 million of 1.1 billion girls do not have access to an education. Tied in with the denial of educational opportunities are the lack of equal economic opportunities and the freedom to shape their own destinies.  When girls are denied access, the impact is long reaching and increases lingering generational poverty.

While many of us live in nations where we enjoy the right to express our opinions on a wide range of subjects, many girls are forced into silence because they live in countries where girls and women remain subservient to males.  According to data gathered from UNESCO and other sources, girls remain the highest percentage of victims of violence globally. Girls lag behind in education  with 30% not enrolled  and forcibly discouraged from going to school. Sadly, what is often forgotten is that when a society encourages all its people to step up and participate in all arenas, such participation leads to national growth and prosperity for all.  In the documentary which shows Michelle’s visit to Liberia and Meryl Streep’s visit to Morocco and the conversations they have with young women in those nations, I am reminded again and again how fortunate those of us who live in countries that offer some modicum of equality are, and how much work still needs to be done globally.

READ: CNNWe Will Rise: Michelle Obama’s Mission to Educate Girls Around the World.
USAID: Fact Sheet Let Girls Learn


“Empowerment of and investment in girls are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights” United Nations Resolution 66/170  – via

Reflections: We Will Rise - Empowering Girls Education Globally

Reflections: We Will Rise – Empowering Girls Education Globally

The First Lady Speaks on the Film We Will Rise – This new film tells the story of adolescent girls overcoming incredible challenges to achieve their educations and change their own lives, with contributions from Mrs. Obama, Meryl Streep, Freida Pinto, and CNN journalist Isha Sesay.

The documentary stresses the importance of girls’ education as their potential and contributions to society are what ultimately strengthen communities and nations. The film is inline with the First Lady’s Let Girls Learn initiative, which seeks to break barriers to education for girls around the world. Rolling Stone

Female empowerment is not an anomaly and it begins with us.  We can support the various initiatives that  encourage gender equity by educating ourselves and others about the merits of encouraging all our children to receive an education. When girls are included in the conversation of a nation’s prosperity goals, everyone benefits. As a mother, I know that because my daughters were able to go to college and find jobs in their fields of interest, they will contribute their skills to society and be able to make choices freely.   This year, the  UN theme for International Day of the Girl (11 October) is  Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress: What Counts for Girls. One of the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to support gender equality globally, and we can only achieve that goal if we support programs and demand laws that lift barriers to female empowerment.

In the USA, we can support equal-pay-for-equal-work in our places of work, and encourage our daughters to venture into fields that were once dominated by males.  Globally, we can support organizations that fight to increase female education and socioeconomic participation, and make a commitment to practice what we preach in our homes.  We can choose to wear blinders or make a concerted commitment to encourage our daughters, sisters, and other females to reach for their dreams. We can do our part by sharing information on data and programs that help build gender equity, that offer opportunities for girls to get an education, and  that help them to become fully vested in participating in building their communities. It is an arduous but not an impossible task. It will take our commitment to reach that goal.

READ: CNN –  Michelle Obama: This issue is personal for me
RollingStone  – Michelle Obama, African Girls Talk Education in Inspiring ‘We Will Rise’ Clip

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Motivation Mondays: World Mental Health Day


“We know that mental illness is not something that happens to other people. It touches us all. Why then is mental illness met with so much misunderstanding and fear?” Tipper Gore

Motivation Mondays: World Mental Health Day - Impacts Us All

Motivation Mondays: World Mental Health Day – Impacts Us All

The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day, observed on 10 October, covers “psychological first aid” (PFA). Efforts in support of the day will focus on basic pragmatic psychological support by people who find themselves in a helping role whether they be health staff, teachers, firemen, community workers, or police officers. World Health Organization
Mental health needs a great deal of attention. It’s the final taboo and it needs to be faced and dealt with. Adam Ant
Self-esteem is as important to our well-being as legs are to a table. It is essential for physical and mental health and for happiness. Louise Hart

Did you know that today is World Mental Health Day and Columbus Day? While the jury might still be out on whether Columbus discovered the Americas, what is certain is that Mental Health issues affect us all; even though, it remains a subject that some would like to sweep under the table or wish away by shaming those who live with it. According to the CDC, mental illness can be described as “collectively all diagnosable mental disorders” or “health conditions that are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior (or some combination thereof) associated with distress and/or impaired functioning.”2 Depression is the most common type of mental illness, affecting more than 26% of the U.S. adult population.3...” On any given day, we, our friends, and any of our loved ones are at risk of facing an emotional, psychological or social stressor that could impact our mental health, our overall feeling of well-being,  and push us to the brink. How those around us handle the episode can make a difference between life and death.

Are you prepared to offer compassionate support? As we all strive to maintain some form of equanimity or balance in our lives, and the lives of our friends and family, we need to be attentive to shifts in mood and behavior. If we make a concerted effort to check in regularly with our loved ones, it will be easier to recognize when a family member or friend has crossed that delicate balance and is in need therapeutic and psychological support. If you’ve ever lived with someone with mental illness, you’d know that a lot of thoughtful care and consideration must be exercised to get them the help and critical attention they need. When they are going through a down period, we must step in and advocate for them and there is nothing shameful about it.  The real shame is in the stigma that uninformed people attach to it.

“Mental health is often missing from public health debates even though it’s critical to well-being.”  Diane Abbott

Motivation Mondays: World Mental Health Day - Impacts Us All

Motivation Mondays: World Mental Health Day – Impacts Us All

What is PFA? – Pragmatic Tools
Humane, supportive & practical assistance to fellow human beings who recently suffered a serious stressor:
•Non-intrusive, practical care and support
•Assessing needs and concerns
•Helping people to address basic needs (food, water)
•Listening, but not pressuring people to talk
•Comforting people and helping them to feel calm
•Helping people connect to information, services and social supports
•Protecting people from further harm via WHO/PFA
Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all. Bill Clinton

How would you handle a mental health crisis for a loved one? Whether we are directly or indirectly affected by mental illness, it is imperative that we spend time reflecting on how we can help in an honest and meaningful way. One thing that is clear is  while approaches to handling mental health situations vary, addressing the complex issues around it with sensitivity is key because each of us come to the subject from different backgrounds and experiences.  It’s a delicate topic that affects millions of households and we can’t address it by offering a cute picture or a bold statement as a panacea for a condition that impacts so many, many lives. Over the years, I have lost people close to me to this crisis, and when I think about their pain and suffering, and the lingering sense of loss felt by those left behind, I know that we must do more.  All I ask is that we take a moment each day to remember that the face of mental illness is all of our faces,  It is you, you, and me because we know people close to us or others in our community who struggle with this disease.  By the same token, we are affected through our interactions  by the fallout and the daily challenges that those who struggle with mental illness face.

What about Psychological First Aid?  The World Health Organization has recommended that in addition to recognizing the theme for 2016 which is: Psychological First Aid “psychological first aid” (PFA). Each of us can offer support by employing the pragmatic tools listed above and in the pdf as a way to assist those in a mental health crisis. As fellow citizens, we can play a pivotal role by offering a calm hand and immediate comfort to someone in a mental health crisis while reaching out to professionals who are qualified to assist them. There are no easy solutions on how we can/must deal with mental health issues, however, shaming, blaming or escalating the situation for the individual is the wrong path to take. Even if you don’t agree with the many therapeutic options available to people with mental health issues, it is not for us to decide for them. Our role should be supportive, to look out for the well-being of the individual, and to focus on serving in a helping capacity until professional/medical assistance arrives.


The details for Motivation Mondays are below. Join in! The themes for August  and September 2016 are:

09/05 –   Labor Day,  International Day of Charity,  8 International Literacy Day,
09/12 –  15 Day of Democracy Day,  17 Constitution Day
09/19 –  21 International Day of Peace/ World Peace Day, World Rhino Day
09/26 – National Preparedness Month, National Childhood Cancer Awareness, National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, National School Success Month, National Childhood Obesity Awareness

10/03 –  2-4 Rosh Hashana,  6 German-American Day,
10/10 –  10  Columbus Day, World Mental Health Day, 11 International Day of the Girl,  12 Yom Kippur
10/17 –   16 World Food Day / FAO World Food Day
10/24 –  24 United Nations Day,  28 National Chocolate Day, 29 National Cat Day, 30 Diwali
10/31 —  31 Halloween


Are You Looking for Ways to Stay Creative in 2016?

– Join the Daily Post Post-a-day or Post-a-week Challenge.




— Join the BlogHer Writing Lab

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