When Indian activist Rita Banerji asked me to post an excerpt from my memoir on her blog, Gender Equal, I didn’t just feel humbled – I almost felt ashamed. Gender Equal seeks to raise awareness of global gender inequities. The blog is an initiative of the 50 Million Missing campaign, which is fighting female genocide in India. What could my book, about a Western woman professional empowering herself through a solo trek around the world, add to her mission? Then it occurred to me, it might offer hope: I enjoy a kind of freedom many women long for. It also occurred to me that I didn’t start out a fully-realized independent woman. At the start of my book, I was a victim of domestic violence. If you haven’t yet, I hope you’ll take this opportunity to read the opening excerpt from They Only Eat Their Husbands: A Memoir of Alaskan Love, World Travel, and the Power of Running Away. Then please read about India’s 50 Million Missing. If we want to empower other women, knowledge is a start.
Most of my friends are adventurous, with active lives, open minds, and generous hearts: they’re travelers, hikers, writers, photographers, dancers, activists, and more. Kim Kircher balances skiing, traveling, and writing – and gets paid for it. She’s on the ski patrol at Crystal Mountain in Washington, so at this time of year she skis, rides in helicopters, and sets off explosives for avalanche control. She’s an Emergency Medical Technician who has saved at least two people’s lives! Her memoir, The Next Fifteen Minutes has just been picked up by Behler Publications. It’s the story of how she applied the lessons learned in a life of adventure to help her husband through a bout with cancer. She’s fascinated with what adventure can teach all of us, and has asked me to offer my take on the subject. I hope you’ll head to her blog to read my guest post: What Adventure Has Taught Me. Then I hope you’ll check out the rest of Kim’s site. She’s amazing!
I’ve been eager for writer Cat Kurtz to return to Girls Trek Too, to tell us more about her adventure among Buddhist nuns fighting for equal rights in Thailand. Cat Kurtz is the author of My Heart the Sun, a non-fiction account of Theravada nuns and their battle to become bhikkunis, fully ordained monastics. You can read her previous guest post here: My Heart the Sun: A Book Excerpt. After visitors and I read it, we wanted to know what happened next. Cat was kind enough not to say, “You’ll have to wait for the book to find out,” but instead to generously provide one more excerpt! First, she has written a brief set-up, to let us know where we are in the story:
Lee was a nun who threatened the Thai power gender hierarchy, where only men were permitted to wear full ordination orange.
Cat Kurtz: Ajahn Yai Guong Saeng was a fully ordained Buddhist nun living in Bangkok, but unlike my new friend Lee, she did not practice Theravada Buddhism, the national religion of Thailand. Ajahn Yai was Chinese and ordained in Mahayana Buddhism. While Lee was a nun who threatened the Thai power gender hierarchy, where only men were permitted to wear full ordination orange, Ajahn Yai slipped beneath the country’s radar wearing Mahayana grey. This allowed her to build the only temple in Bangkok dedicated to a female deity and run entirely by women. Lee decided that visiting this temple was the best way I could spend my first day in Thailand…
Once upon a time, when I was only 56, I followed a dream. I had wanted to visit Norway ever since I first met my mother’s Norwegian uncle, Peter Ringstveit, who emigrated to the U.S. in the late 1800s. Since I never met Peter’s brothers, including my grandfather Lars, Peter was my only link to the family’s Norwegian roots.
Oddly enough, Uncle Peter’s stories were rarely of Norway.
Uncle Peter told great stories, but oddly enough, his stories were rarely of Norway and his family. He focused on his life in Montana as a sheepherder on the 3,000-plus acres he had accumulated, his treks to move sheep into Yellowstone National Park for grazing and back to the plains when the seasons changed, and the harsh northern frontier of the early 1900s. When my adventurous mother was in high school in the mid-thirties, she and a friend took the train from northern Illinois to visit Uncle Pete. While he slept at a neighboring ranch, those two girls camped in the sheepherder’s wagon. The way the confirmed bachelor told it, two giggling girls had invaded his camp and he needed to go pretty far away to get any sleep.
I’m excited to introduce you to a writer and adventurer who has witnessed a unique battle for women’s rights in Thailand, specifically, the rights of Buddhist nuns. Cat Kurtz is the author of My Heart the Sun, a non-fiction account of Buddhist Theravada nuns’ fight for the right to become bhikkunis, fully ordained Buddhist monastics.
Bhikkunis are fully ordained Theravada Buddhist monastics. These nuns were ordained in Sri Lanka.
Cat has been a witness to this Southeast Asian women’s movement and spiritual revolution since its beginnings in 2002 and she still communicates regularly with nuns in Thailand. Her hope is to keep her promise to give voice to their untold story. Here is a piece of that promise:
In the economic meltdown, the specter of homelessness looms over many people who once felt secure. So, when PlatteForum and Lighthouse Writers Workshop gave me the opportunity to create a short film exhibit on the theme of community, I wanted to relate that topic to homelessness. We often hear that Americans have lost their sense of community. I wondered, “Have I?” We often hear that homeless people have “fallen through the cracks.” I wondered, “How do they hold onto community?” Homes Within, Communities Without is a pair of digital stories in which a young homeless woman and I each explore our experience of community. Audrey Haynes lives just two miles from me, yet worlds apart. Still, we share one important desire: to connect.
You’ll find Audrey’s brief video below. Next week, I’ll share mine. I hope you’ll watch both, and that they’ll prompt you to share your own thoughts. What connects you to community?
In my life before kids, I might have traveled to a seaside resort in Mexico to relax, troll for shells, and enjoy a sense of calm. There would be a lot of sitting around staring at scenery, reading, and languishing over meals completed without disruptions. Nobody would jump up from the table and dash off into the darkness to chase something, whine for ice cream, or spill lemonade all over themselves five minutes after we sat down.