Starting Your Dreams Later In Life and Embracing the Detour

Jenee Darden speaking at Creative Mornings I know it's been a while since I've posted anything but that's because of my job. I'm working as a reporter covering Oakland and I host an arts segment on the radio where I get to interview amazing artists from around the Bay Area. Plus I'm publicizing my book  and building my speaking career!  You know what's funny? I thought this would all happen by the time I was 27-30.  Nope. That wasn't God's plan for me. I'm finally beginning to do the things I've wanted to do and I'm almost 40 years old. Some people reading this who are 40 will say 40 is still young. But some younger people reading may think 40 is nearly ancient. But I'm writing this post for those who like me, thought their career and personal dreams would come true much early in life. I'm here to tell you not to give up.  You know, death inspires life. A number of my relatives and friends have passed away, ranging in

"Fly Ladies of the Day "
Afghan and African Girls

Two of my favorite places as a child were school and the library. Yeah I was a nerd and proud of it. Actually, I'm still a bit nerdy. The library and school were my heavens because I loved learning. I grew up in East Oakland and I may not have traveled to Europe or Asia like some of the wealthy kids in the Oakland Hills or Piedmont area. But I could tell you about these places thanks to a book I checked out or my social studies class. Some girls in other countries don't have the privilege of waking up in the morning and going to school. In some places, learning how to read could cost a girl her life. Today's "Fly Lady of the Day" are actually groups of girls. Young women in Afghanistan and parts of Africa literally risk their lives to get an education. In Afghanistan the Taliban doesn't believe women should be educated. Above is a photo from the New York Times taken in January. The girl with the scar on her face is 15-year-old Shamsia Husseini. She and her sister were walking to school when a man pulled up in a motorcycle, asked them if they were going to school and sprayed their faces with acid. There have been other cases like this, but according the Times, the Taliban denies responsibility. These girls have endured acid burning their skin, school bombings and other forms of violence, but they they want to learn so bad, even if they are killed as a result. I'm tearing up just thinking about them.

In some African countries women are also forbidden to learn. When civil war breaks out school buildings are often destroyed. Maryam and Aminata, are eight year old girls from Cote d'Ivoire or the Ivory Coast. UNICEF repaired the school in their community after it was damaged during civil conflict in 2002. And there are other obstacles African girls face. Remember Oprah's special about her South Africa school for girls? I still remember listening to the students talk about how they travel hours by foot and bus to get to their schools. Their journey to the schoolhouse was dangerous because of sexual predators. Girls are getting raped on their way to school. Some have even been raped by their teachers and classmates on campus. But there desire for learning fuels their courage to keep going.

We in America are going through really hard times. Trust me, I know personally. But if these young girls and women can have the strength to get up everyday and go to school, not knowing if they'll be killed or raped--we can keep going. And we can be thankful for what we have. These young girls have incredible drive and spirit. It angers me that we live in a world where they can't learn to read or write in peace. Literally, in peace. It frustrates the heck out of me that some parents here in the U.S. haven't taught their kids to value education.

Being a woman isn't easy. Sometimes it amazes me how much stuff we endure. But I'm even more amazed by how strong we are.

"If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a nation."

---African Proverb

Photo credit:
1.New York Times/Danfung Dennis
2.UNICEF/Bruno Bioni


  1. LOVE this post. You really shed some light on issues concerning women in other countries. I love stuff like this.

  2. Great post and glad to see that cocoafly acknowledged the Afghani women because they are fighting for so many rights that we take for granted in the U.S.


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