A very brave girl called Malala

Lately I have been reading many books about teenagers but the one I am presenting today even though it’s narrated by a teenager is far more than a YA book. It’s the history of people who life under oppression, who struggle every day and constantly have to fight for their rights.

malala2I am Malala is the story of Malala Yousafzai a teenage girl from Pakistan, an activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. Malala had quite a busy life  and manage to get a Nobel Peace Prize at age of 17. Now that is what I call achievement. Malala’s book has to be read by most of us, western people, because we have no idea how things really are in the Islamic world: My father told me that life was harder for women in Afghanistan. The year before I was born a group called the Taliban led by a one-eyed mullah had taken over the country and was burning girls’ schools. They were forcing men to grow beards as long as a lantern and women to wear burqas. Wearing a burqa is like walking inside big fabric shuttlecock with only a grille to see through and on hot days it’s like an oven. At least I didn’t have to wear one. He said that the Taliban had even banned women from laughing out loud or wearing white shoes as white was a color that belonged to men’. Women were being locked up and beaten just for wearing nail varnish. I shivered when he told me such things.

But the Taliban did come to the Swat Valley, where Malala was living when she was ten. They made changes, started to destroy schools, fine arts, museums, they were punishing people who were against them, women who were not wearing burqua or girls who were caught going to school. Malala wasn’t intimidated by all that. She continued her work as an activist for women and girls right to education. She didn’t cover her face, wrote a blog diary for BBC Urdu about her life after Taliban invasion and went to different press conferences around the country. She did all that not because she wasn’t afraid, but because she knew that somebody has to do it. Inspired by Martin Niemöller’s (who lived in Nazi Germany) poem she was ready to fight for her rights: First they came for the communists,/ and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist./ Then they came for the socialists,/ and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist./ Then they came for the trade unionists,/ and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist./ Then they came for the Jews,/ and I didn’t speak out because I was not a Jew./ Then they came for the Catholics,/ and I didn’t speak out because I was not a Catholic./ Then they came for me,/ and there was no one left to speak for me.

Malala’s life changes when, one day while she was getting home from school, she got shot by the Taliban, Luckily she was saved and sent to Birmingham where she could be treated properly. Malala was a public figure known by governers, president and media,but what happens to people who fight every day for their rights but don’t receive any attention from media? What happens to people who get shot and don’t have the chance to meet a doctor who will take them to a better hospital? What happens to children whose parents are not like Malala’s? We, as human beings, have to concentrate on these issues and forget any other trivial matters. Pretending to live in an evolved world, where we visit other planets and travel through space are not enough. We concentrate on the outer space, more than we do on the things that happen within our planet. It is time to change that.

“I wanted to reach all people living in poverty, those children forced to work and those who suffer from terrorism or lack of education. Deep in my heart I hoped to reach every child who could take courage from my words and stand up for his or her rights.”

More about Malala Yousafzai work and projects you can find here and here.

A musical journey around Europe in the 80’s

Hello friends! We’ve seen the greatest songs of the half of 80’s decade. Now, as a special edition, I decided to show you how the music world looked like in some of the countries in Europe in the 80’s. Let our journey begin!

Choosing to start alphabetically, my first pick is France. From France I already mentioned Vanessa Paradis with Joe le taxi, but there were many other songs that impressed the public’s ear. One of the biggest hits in the language of love was Voyage, voyage which you’ve probably heard here and there. I also found another song from Vanessa, about Marilyn and John and one from Didier Barbelivien about Elsa (not connection to Frozen whatsoever). Herbert Leonard was singing about Power and Glory and Alain Chamfort about Bamboos. Even though she’s Canadian I couldn’t help to mention her here: Ladies and gents, Celine Dion, who sings about love and friendship.

That’s pretty much it, in France, as I don’t want to stay only there. Moving towards East we end up in Germany where Nicole wanted just a bit of peace. I totally understand her, considering the events in the late 80’s and the falling of the Berlin Wall. No wonder why her song was a big hit there. Nena wanted not one, not two but 99 Balloons don’t ask me why, I barely understand “Ja” and “Nein”. DAF were singing about love at first sight and Münchner Freihet also something about love since the song is called A thousand times you or maybe it was blaming you a thousand times. Whoever knows German, please help me as I’m lost in translation. I left Falco in the end as even though he’s Austrian, the language is still the same. Falco was a big hit in Europe in the 80’s with Jeanny and Rock me Amadeus.

Leaving the cold Germany, we move south towards sunny Greece where Demis Roussos was singing so beautifully. Even though he was born in Egypt and sang either in English or French, he’s nationality is Greek. He had a lovely voice as you can tell if you listen to The beauty of Your eyes, The wedding song, Marie Jolie and Medley. More 80’s Greek songs you can listen to here.

From Greece we take the ferry across the Ionian Sea and land in the country of pasta, romance and pizza. Bienvenuti a Italia! In Italy Al Bano Carrisi and Romina Power were big stars in the ‘80s at San Remo Festival. Songs like Sempre Sempre, Felicita and Sharazan were rocking the parties all over Europe. In the same decade Toto Cutugno was singing about the true Italian man and Richi e Poveri was wondering why he loves Sara. Also from Italy comes Umberto (not Eco although you can always read In the name of the rose) Tozzi who is singing about a girl called Stella.

From Italy we move north-east to their Latin brothers. Welcome to the country of beautiful women and good food, welcome to Romania. In the 80’s Romania had really good rock bands like Iris with Flower of Iris and Who calls me in the night and Holograf with Instead of saying goodbye and I will always love you. There were also Red and Black band (like Stendhal novel) and Compact. A great artist, resembling Leonard Cohen, Nicu Alifantis was singing about Rain in March and Stela Enache about High school years. Romania’s Madonna, Loredana Groza was saying Good evening to her lover, while the video was about the Revolution that took place in 1989 in the country. Not very inspired theme for a video to a love song, if you ask me. I cannot help but mention a very nice song dedicated to all the mothers in the world thanking them for all the effort and love. And finally we have a cover after Jennifer Rush’s Power of love.

Moving North, we end up in the country of vodka and tall women, Russia. Not a big fan of Russian music, as I don’t understand a thing, somehow I managed to find the big hits in the 80’s. One comes from Alexander Barykin who sings about a Bouquet, maybe the bouquet he’s planning to give to his lover or maybe is the bouquet of A million Red Roses that Alla Pugacheva was singing about. Russian coalition! Laima Vaikule went to a Vernissage and Sofia Rotaru and Nikolai Baskov had a song about Levender.

Going back and forth around Europe is quite tiring. This one is the last stop I promise you. We’re going back south where the weather is warmer and people are having more fun. Bienvenida a Espana, the country of sangria, paella and flamenco. Spain had really great hits in the 80’s you can check over here. Among them I chose to present you two of Soda Stereo’s greatest hits: De musica ligera and Cuando Pasa el Temblor,  Mecano’s tribute to Laika (you know, the dog who flew out of space) and Alaska and Dinarama’s Who cares. Julio Iglesias held the number 1 for 13 weeks with The best of my life and Yuri was no1 for 16 weeks with Que te pasa. If we are in Spain, it was impossible not to mention Rocio Durcal and her lovely voice.

Wow, that was a long post! The longest so far, but I had fun and hopefully so did you. What do you think of this trip? Do you have any other good songs from the 80’s to add? Maybe from another country I didn’t mention. I would be more than happy to read from you. Till next time, don’t forget to listen to good music and dance like there’s no tomorrow.

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Teenage diaries with Mia and Anne

I love reading diaries, first because they are easy to read and second because it’s like you enter directly into the character’s soul, without any intervention from a narrator. Also noted that diaries are a big hit in the movie industry The Vampire Diaries, Bridget Jones Diary, The Princess Diaries, The Carrie Diaries or My Mad Fat Diary. Today we are going to see  how much teenagers life changed during the years depending on the society they live in. And the best choices to do so are two teenagers’ diaries.

First one is The Princess Diaries where we meet Mia Thermopolis, who is a princess, but doesn’t know it from the beginning. She is just a normal teenager obsessed with Star Wars and in love with her best friend’s brother. She has a normal life in New York, up until she has to travel to The Principality of Genovia (a small fictional European state where she is the heir to the throne). Through the 10 volumes (quite a lot, I know) we travel with Mia through her teenager years, we laugh and cry with her and connect in a deeper way or feel a bit melancholic, remembering your own teenage period. The Princess Diaries is a good young adult fiction that describes the life of a teenager in our modern society, with small worries, some drama and lots of laughter.

The feelings change though when you read The diary of a young girl. Anne Frank is 13 and lives in Amsterdam with her family, back in 1942. She has a normal life for the times being, goes to school and dreams to become a writer or journalist. Everything changes when the war starts and because they were Jews, Anne and her family, have to go into the hiding far away from German army. In the hiding place Anne keeps a journal in which she writes about her contrasting feelings, about her life surrounded by 7 other people, about the changes that took place outside and inside the Annex (the place where they were hiding), about her reflections to life in general and about how she discovered love. It breaks your heart to see how those eight people lived for 2 years and the things get even tougher in the end. Even though we have a lot to learn from Anne we must realize this is not a fiction. She was a young human being who suffered a lot in The Second World War and like her there were plenty of people, children and teenagers, who didn’t have the chance to keep a journal. This book takes you back in time and makes you realise that what happened to Anne and her family, happens today in countries where the war never stops, where people have to hide constantly and leave with fear that next moment they could be dead. It’s a great book that should be read mainly by worldwide leaders who still fight unreasonable causes. Maybe Mr Putin needs to read it and some Islamic leaders also.

So teenagers are quite the same everywhere, they still discover life and their personalities. They still make plans for the future, dream and love. What makes them different are the times and the societies they are living in.

At the time being I am still in the war zone with another teenage heroine and I will come with a post about it shortly. Meanwhile I totally recommend you to read The Princess Diaries and A Young Girl Diary. First ones are lighter, easy-reading books (you can start with the first volume and decide if you want to continue), while the second one will make you realize certain things about us as humans.

Things that really matter

We are only humans,

And little we know,

About other lives or beings

That play in this show.

We prefer to hide and wear different masks

And play our role…deal with the tasks.

Maybe learn a few lessons,

Or share our thoughts,

Impress other humans

For the sake of the show.

But what if all those don’t matter?

What if we’d look around?

Forget all the masks and roles and pride

Observe other beings and nature and stuff

That are pure and simple

And true to their ground.

Maybe we’d change and realise at once

That life is not about shows or tasks

Is about being honest and true

To us, to them … to you.

Best of 1989

Hi friends! It’s Friday and it’s the end of a decade. 1989 was a year of change in many aspects, political mainly, but you can see a change in the music also. Take for example Lullaby, which I really love or Personal Jesus or Toy soldiers. They are all different from what we were used to. We still have the love songs If you don’t know me by now, Don’t know much and Right here waiting. Elton John was singing about Sacrifice and Madonna about prayers. Very interesting year, I tell you. The one who was cheeky was Chris Isaac playing Wicked Games and Belinda Carlisle was afraid of the dark. Michael Bolton was asking a difficult question and Phill Collins was spending Another Day in Paradise. There was also Milli Vanilli whom I grew up listening to. I remember we had some vinyl records at home and this song was my favourite. Sweet memories! Later on I found out they were actually a fraud. And if all these songs didn’t cheer you up, this one will surely work its charm. No PG here, just lovely, Disney. And now, I will list my top 5 favourite songs from 1989 and you must know they are all on 1st place in my heart.

I Want It All-Queen – because apart from Milli Vanilli, Queen was the other band I listen to when I was child. There was also Kansas, Olivia Newton John, Abba, Boney M’, CC Catch, but another time about them.

If I could Turn Back Time-Cher It just sounds so good and when you hear it in the speakers it’s impossible to sit down. For that Cher, I give it to you this time. It is also one of my 80’s favourites.

The Best- Tina Turner I dedicate this to my father who is simply the best. Thanks to him I have some music knowledge today.

Lambada- Kaoma – I still love this song, even though by the time it was on top I couldn’t dance it and was envious on all my friends who were dancing so nice in their lovely Lambada skirts. Even now, after all these years I still freestyle on it.

Listen to your heart- Roxette because as I previous stated it was my favourite band in the 90’s and this was their first hit that reached my heart.

So there it is. Wasn’t long, was it? Hoped you enjoyed it. For more good music, check here and don’t forget to dance to impress or for success. Whichever you prefer 🙂

Image source

10 Pieces of Advice On The Art of Living

Great minds are everywhere, in every corner, we just have to stop and listen to them. One of these great minds was the Romanian monk Arsenie Boca. He was born in 1910 in a small village in Romania. He was just a normal child, but very clever and interested in everything around him. When he was in year 7, he told his classmates that during their drawing and painting classes he realized that “the man is not simply, blood and bones, but there’s something else. The inspiration is not related to matter and reason.”

Even though he studied Belle Arte in University and had vast knowledge of psychology, anatomy and philosophy, was playing the flute and was fluent in French, in the end he became a monk. Being tortured by the communist regime wasn’t easy, but he never gave up on his beliefs. He died in 1989, before the falling of the regime and left many teachings and inspirational quotes to our nation.

1. Never stop learning. Learning involves reading a lot, but you have to live the ideas you are reading. “What is left after you forgot everything you’ve read is truly yours; that’s what you assimilated.” You have to raise your heart and soul through reading and learning. “Great knowledge gets the man closer to God”.

More pieces of advice on healty and happy living you can find here or here 

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The Art Of Not Making Your Life Bitter

One of the books, that helped me find my way and find happiness was El arte de no amargarse la vida (The art of not making your life bitter) by Rafael Santandreu. Unfortunately it has only a Spanish version. Too bad, because this is not a self-help book we are used too, but a scientific discipline with over 2000 studies that can transform your thoughts and life. Here are 5 things I learned from this book:

  1. Improving our relationship with ourselves is required in order to be happy.

Only by accepting who we are for what we are, can remove all the negative thoughts and feelings that keep us for being happy.

  1. We are the victims of necessities.

Having the wrong impression that we need so many things in order to be happy, we lose touch with things that really matter.

  1. In order to live happily we have to set barriers between yearning/ obsession and necessity.
  2. Set borders and be aware of your limitations.

In one interview the author made a connection between ecology and psychology stating that we won’t ever save the planet if we don’t give up on some things stuck into our brains. Constantly being in a competition with the others leads to irrational consumption of goods and energy.

  1. Stop being co-dependent in relationships.

We often see in the ones we love a necessity, someone to make us happy. And if the loved one fails to do that, we are disappointed and end up breaking up. When in reality we don’t need somebody to make us happy, because the happiness is in ourselves, ready to be found. You are ready to be with somebody when you don’t need that person.

These are only some lessons I’ve learned by reading this book, but truth to be told, it really changed the way I see the world and life in general. It help me understand things and become a more powerful individual.

If you know Spanish or have a Spanish friend who can translate you the book, here it is.

Party time in 1988

Hi there! It’s week-end, it’s time for our night fever with tons of good music from 1988, this time. As we saw in the previous years this decade is full of good music. Main theme is love, of course and some broken hearts on te side. In 1988 very young Kyle Minogue was thinking that  she should be so lucky in love, Belinda Carlisle was making circles in the sand and Robin Beck was singing about her first time…first love. Guns N’ Roses were pleading to take them home to Paradise City and Enya was sailing away. Billy Ocean was a bit rude and straightforward, saying Get outta  my dream, get into my car (not my kind of lyrics), but I love Bobby McFerrin’s message: Don’t worry, Be Happy. Rick Astley was in love and Kim Wilde was…well you decide. My favourite band in the 90’s, Roxette, released their hit The Look and Everything but the Girl made a cover after I Don’t Want To Talk About It– a great song by the way. Maybe one the most intriguing song of the year was Yé ké yé ké. I have no idea what Mory Kanté was singing about, but the song has good rhythm.

Great songs 1988! And now my top 5 favourites are:

Fast Car-Tracy Chapman– love the voice, the guitar and the lyrics. It also reminds me of this.

500 miles- The Proclaimers– I know that How I Met Your Mother made this song very popular to my generation, so popular that one NYE, two or three years ago, I listened to it for the whole night. 🙂

Waiting For A Star To Fall- Boy Meets Girlnow this is a song to dance on for a whole night, week, month and year. I absolutely love it. Even have it on my mp3.

The Twist (“Yo Twist”)- Fat Boy &Chubby Checker – since we’ve start dancing already what’s the point in stopping? Do it till we drop.

Loco in Acapulco- The Four Tops– because it reminds me of one of my best friends so every time I listen to it can’t help but smile. Love Acapulco.

One moment in time-Whitney Huston. You probably wonder if Whitney is going to be present in all my tops from now on. Probably yes and you can hear the reasons why.

For more good music check here and till next Friday dance yourself dizzy.

Three days in “One Day”

Disclaimer: This is not a book review. I don’t do book reviews, but when I find a book I really like, can’t help not to write about it here. So there it is, one out of many (!!Hope) books I fell in love with.

One day-David Nicholls

This week-end (or most of it anyway) I was entertained by Dexter and Emma, Em and Dex. I haven’t read a book with such joy since Twilight saga, five years ago, when I stayed in the house for one week reading all the books. Must admit I began reading One day, at the beginning of January, but wasn’t so found of it. I just put it aside and decided to leave it for another time. But this Friday, while on Goodreads, decided to give it a try one more time. And couldn’t stop until this morning.

At first I thought it’s just another romance novel, another cheesy love story, plus it was quite long for my taste. But God, was I more wrong. This is not a love story, at least not a typical one. It is love in all the aspects and forms. A kind of love you rarely meet in your life and if you do, make sure not to blow it. It’s the pure love that comes along under the shape of friendship and if you are wise enough you can keep it for as long as you live. Frankly, I don’t know what made me fall in love with this book, was it Dexter- the charming man, was it Emma and her wise remarks and sarcasm, was it their story or was it the whole concept. Truth is, it made me go back in time in the university years where everything was so fun and reckless. Made me think about all the friends I’ve made there and lost along the way, all that life that transformed me.

If you’ll ever read this book, as I truly recommend you to, you’ll probably fall in and out of love several times with the characters, as I did, along their journey. You will probably find out that you have many things in common with one of them or even both, or you truly think they are stupid, but you can’t stop reading to see what happens next. And the suspense is so big, that you expect for something bad to happen while you turn the page, but it doesn’t so you feel relieved. But when you think that everything is safe, it does and you continue reading to see what comes next. That’s how I felt for the past two days.

Great novel, David Nicholls! Great novel!

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The Best Music From 1987

Hi friends! Are you ready to listen to good music? Today is 1987’s turn and I prepared some great songs for you. 1987 was the year when Dirty Dancing ruled the Box office and two of the songs on the soundtrack are on my top 5. But this year was very intresting in terms of music. Take for example U2 who despite stating that haven’t found what they were looking for, released With or Without You somewhere where the streets have no name. Michael Jackson was very contradictory this year. After telling us he was bad, he sang about a Smooth Criminal and decided to melt our hearts when singing I can’t stop loving you. Even R.E.M. thought it was the end of the world, Richard Marx was singing about holding on to the nights, only Belinda Carlisle figured it out. Maybe it was something in the air. Sting was a bit more relaxed explaining how an Englishman behaves, Vanessa Paradis was singing for taxi drivers and Suzanne Vega had a crush on Luka. Heart and Tiffany wanted some time alone with their lovers. Inner Circle and Madonna were testing us, asking 1.what are we going to do when the bad boys are coming to get us (self-defence is the correct answer) and 2.Who’s that girl? (Madonna Louise Ciccone is the correct answer). Both Aerosmith and T’pau were singing about fragile things or concepts. The good thing is that nobody could stop dancing on La Bamba and Got My Mind Set On You. But now it’s time for my top favourite 5 (or actually 6 this time because I couldn’t decide) looks like this:

Man In The Mirror- Michael Jackson – because it’s a lesson to be learned.

Everywhere and Little Lies- Fleetwood Mac– they both sound so good and put a smile on my face every time I hear them

I Wanna Dance With Somebody- Whitney Houston– because I can’t stop dancing!!!

And because I mentioned in the beginning Dirty Dancing here are the two songs I’ve been talking about:

(I’ve had) The Time of My Life- Billy Medley, Jennifer Warnes – I must learn the dance moves.

She’s like the Wind-Patrick Swayze – because it’s such a beautiful love statement.

This is it! Hope you enjoy it and had a great time listening to these great songs. Till next Friday, don’t forget to dance like nobody’s watching! 😉