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Barack Obama and Prince Harry at the Invictus Games in September

Barack Obama and Prince Harry at the Invictus Games in September


"There was a sense that we had run a good race." Former President Barack Obama told Prince Harry in an interview broadcast for BBC Radio 4’s flagship news and current affairs program "Today" on Wednesday.

In the interview, which was taped during the Invictus Games in September, the former President talked about his last day in the White House, his new life as a private citizen and his future plans.

"One of the metaphors I've always used for the Presidency is that you are a relay runner." Mr. Obama said when asked if he felt a sense of relief after leaving the White House. "I always viewed it as taking the baton from a whole range of people who had come before me. Some of whom had been heroic, some of whom had screwed up, but wherever you were in the race, if you ran hard, if you did your best, and that you then were able to pass that baton off successfully, the country was better off, the world was a little bit better off than when you got there, then you can take some pride in that."

You can listen to the full interview here. It will only be available for six days.





Demetria Obilor/Facebook


Dear Demetria Obilor,

First of all, thank you. Thank you for being such a vibrant woman who makes even the traffic news exciting. You and my local news hero, Jamie Stelter, make me wish I pursued traffic reporting. Anyway, enough about me. Let's talk about your clapback to your haters. It made my month. Literally. You did it with such class that I immediately said, that's my bff.

When you said, "This is the way that I'm built, this is the way I was born, I'm not going anywhere, so if you don't like it, you have your options...We don't have to put up with this, alright? And we're not going to," I was beyond amazed. A lesser person would've lost their temper but not you.

So, keep shining. Continue being as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside. And keep inspiring us to love ourselves just the way we are.

By the way, why are your curls always on fleek?




Demetria's response to her haters




A Syrian refugee family in the Azraq camp, northern Jordan Picture: Russell Watkins/DFID

A Syrian refugee family in the Azraq camp, northern Jordan
Picture: Russell Watkins/DFID


When we see Syrians on the news, we see them as refugees fleeing a war that has turned their country upside down, and killed their relatives and friends. They're no longer human beings. They've become talking points and statistics.

Wendy Pearlman's We crossed a Bridge and It Trembled tells the story of hundreds of Syrians by interviewing them. This first-hand accounting of their experiences before, during and after the Syrian Revolution, sheds a significant light on the plights of the interviewees who are from various social and economic backgrounds. They've lived through devastation and horror, and all they want is to live like human beings: free and with dignity.

In her Introduction, Ms. Pearlman wrote, "Politicians and commentators throughout the world talk about Syrians as victims to be pitied, bodies to be sheltered, radicals to be denounced, or threats to be feared and blocked. In the whirlwind of words spoken about Syrians as a global problem, it can be difficult to find chances to listen to actual Syrians, as humans beings.”

But Ms. Pearlman listened.

The stories are arranged chronologically and is a great read for the uninformed and the misinformed. It always breaks my heart to see the images and videos out of Syria. Who can forget three-year-old Alan Kurdi laying facedown on a beach? This book will make you cry. It will make you understand. It will make you a more compassionate person. We've become immune to the hate and struggles of our fellow man. It's time to change that, and this book is a good start.

It will show you that Syrians are more than numbers. They're our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers.

We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled

Reminiscent of the work of Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, an astonishing collection of intimate wartime testimonies and poetic fragments from a cross-section of Syrians whose lives have been transformed by revolution, war, and flight.

Against the backdrop of the wave of demonstrations known as the Arab Spring, in 2011 hundreds of thousands of Syrians took to the streets demanding freedom, democracy and human rights. The government’s ferocious response, and the refusal of the demonstrators to back down, sparked a brutal civil war that over the past five years has escalated into the worst humanitarian catastrophe of our times.

Yet despite all the reporting, the video, and the wrenching photography, the stories of ordinary Syrians remain unheard, while the stories told about them have been distorted by broad brush dread and political expediency. This fierce and poignant collection changes that. Based on interviews with hundreds of displaced Syrians conducted over four years across the Middle East and Europe, We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled is a breathtaking mosaic of first-hand testimonials from the frontlines. Some of the testimonies are several pages long, eloquent narratives that could stand alone as short stories; others are only a few sentences, poetic and aphoristic. Together, they cohere into an unforgettable chronicle that is not only a testament to the power of storytelling but to the strength of those who face darkness with hope, courage, and moral conviction.


New Books Tuesday



Dear Carrie Bradshaw,

I completely understand the dangers of believing that you, a fictional writer with curly hair and a complicated history with men, and I could truly be friends but I'm willing to take the first step and say that we can be more than friends. We can be best friends!

First, let me explain. I was eleven years old when you first dazzled everyone on Sex and The City. But eleven years later (what's up with the number eleven??), I discovered you and bought all six seasons. At the right time too! I'd just started dating and you, Sam, Miranda, and Charlotte were like the older, wiser, fairy godmothers I needed.

Your relationship with Big is still the highlight of my twenties (I'm currently re-watching the seasons...currently on Season two when you decided to get back together with him and you exchanged 'I love yous'). What a jerk he is/was! But I've learned from your mistakes. Or have I?

Your witty one-liners, writing struggles and victories, and love of your curls way before many embraced theirs (myself included) never cease to amaze me. And who can forget your relationship with Stanford? Carrie, you have made me realize that it's ok to be human. It's ok to wear my heart on my sleeve. It's ok to hurt and to forgive.

It's ok to refuse to settle for "anything less than butterflies."

It's ok to be a struggling writer, as long as it's what you love to do. And it's ok to love shoes!

I can go on and on about what a cultural icon you are, but you already know this.




Favorite scene ever!





What's your first memory as a child? One of my first memories is my first day of nursery school because it was on my birthday. I was four, in my shiny new uniform, new shoes, and a big smile on my face. Afterall, I was a big girl, and I was ready for the world, or to be more accurate, ready to take my small village by storm. And I remember my mother fussing with my hair before I had my photograph taken. She was always fussing with my hair. I spent a good portion of my childhood on her lap, or in a chair while she made sure my tiny curls were just right.

After reading Zinzi Clemmons' novel "What We Lose," I've found myself in a rather peculiar place. One, where I keep thinking about my past. You know you've read a great book when it stays with you for days (I read it over the weekend).

Sidenote: Guru thinks I have a problem with reminiscing about my childhood, but I really don't! I just remember it so well. It's unbelievable. I guess not growing up with a TV helps. I had an active imagination (I usually re-played my favorite adventures in my head at nights). Ok, I sound a bit nuts.

In this debut novel by Ms. Clemmons that affected me so, her main character struggles with her mother's death and her mixed race heritage. It's a riveting read. You'll lose yourself in this novel, but then, you'll find yourself again, and you'll be thankful for all you have.


What We Lose: A Novel

By:  Zinzi Clemmons

Raised in Pennsylvania, Thandi views the world of her mother’s childhood in Johannesburg as both impossibly distant and ever present. She is an outsider wherever she goes, caught between being black and white, American and not. She tries to connect these dislocated pieces of her life, and as her mother succumbs to cancer, Thandi searches for an anchor—someone, or something, to love.

In arresting and unsettling prose, we watch Thandi’s life unfold, from losing her mother and learning to live without the person who has most profoundly shaped her existence, to her own encounters with romance and unexpected motherhood. Through exquisite and emotional vignettes, Clemmons creates a stunning portrayal of what it means to choose to live, after loss. An elegiac distillation, at once intellectual and visceral, of a young woman’s understanding of absence and identity that spans continents and decades, "What We Lose" heralds the arrival of a virtuosic new voice in fiction.


New Books Tuesday



It’s the last week of June! How's your summer reading coming along? This month has given us nothing but good books. "Beren and Luthien" by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien, "Dear Cyborgs" by Eugene Lim, "The Answers" by Catherine Lacey and a personal favorite of mine, "The Gypsy Moth Summer" by Julia Fierro.

If you're not a fan of bugs, "The Gypsy Moth Summer" is not for you, or maybe it is, if you're not squimish. However, if you're a fan of Liane Moriarty's "Big Little Lies," you'll find that both books share the same elementts: secrets and scandals, but Ms. Fierro's is coupled with disease and racism. She is a captivating storyteller. She's draws you in and before you know it, you've become invested in the characters and the island they inhabit.



By: Julia Fierro

It is the summer of 1992 and a gypsy moth invasion blankets Avalon Island. Ravenous caterpillars disrupt early summer serenity on Avalon, an islet off the coast of Long Island--dropping onto novels left open on picnic blankets, crawling across the T-shirts of children playing games of tag and capture the flag in the island's leafy woods. The caterpillars become a relentless topic of island conversation and the inescapable soundtrack of the season.

It is also the summer Leslie Day Marshall--only daughter of Avalon's most prominent family--returns with her husband, a botanist, and their children to live in "The Castle," the island's grandest estate. Leslie's husband Jules is African-American, and their children bi-racial, and islanders from both sides of the tracks form fast and dangerous opinions about the new arrivals.

Maddie Pencott LaRosa straddles those tracks: a teen queen with roots in the tony precincts of East Avalon and the crowded working class corner of West Avalon, home to Grudder Aviation factory, the island's bread-and-butter and birthplace of generations of bombers and war machines. Maddie falls in love with Brooks, Leslie's and Jules' son, and that love feels as urgent to Maddie as the questions about the new and deadly cancers showing up across the island. Could Grudder Aviation, the pride of the island--and its patriarch, the Colonel--be to blame?

As the gypsy moths burst from cocoons in flocks that seem to eclipse the sun, Maddie's and Brooks' passion for each other grows and she begins planning a life for them off Avalon Island.

Vivid with young lovers, gangs of anxious outsiders; a plotting aged matriarch and her husband, a demented military patriarch; and a troubled young boy, each seeking his or her own refuge, escape and revenge, The Gypsy Moth Summer is about love, gaps in understanding, and the struggle to connect: within families; among friends; between neighbors and entire generations.


New Books Tuesday



It’s June already! Trees and plants have already bloomed, birds are singing, Johnny is counting down to his big trip to the dog park, and readers everywhere are looking forward to their summer reading.

Per tradition (at this point), I will be starting my summer reading with "Peter Rabbit" and ending with "To Kill a Mockingbird," but in between, there are some wonderful new titles that are being released this summer. Here's one that will surely inspire you.

The inspiration code


How the Best Leaders Energize People Every Day
By Kristi Hedges

This outstanding leadership book by Executive coach Kristi Hedges might just change your life. She refutes myths about executive leadership and argues that any employee, manager, or CEO can inspire others, the same way any child can grow up to be president. You can learn the skills that can allow you to become someone others want to follow.

In this well-researched book, Hedges argues that genuine communication moves people to action. She argues that being authentic and invested in conversations, while displaying genuine emotions can make you an inspirational leader. This book is not only a must-read, it's an easy read. It's so engaging that you'll find yourself turning the pages without even realizing it.



After my Woman’s Best Friend post, many of you were curious to know whether my brother adopted Johnny or bought him from a store.

Unfortunately, it was the latter.

When I found out, I was upset, but there was nothing I could do. He was tiny, and in need of a home. Many pet stores support puppy mills, but my brother didn’t know that.

If you are thinking of adding a dog to your family, adopt one. It’ll be one of the most loving things you could do.

Here a few organizations you can adopt from:

Words From Writers
"Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power to that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared."

Yesterday was First Lady Michelle Obama's birthday! Here's my favorite quote from her. What's your FAVORITE quote from MO?

"I never cut class. I loved getting A’s, I liked being smart. I liked being on time. I thought being smart is cooler than anything in the world."

The First Lady -- one last walk through the People's House


Coffee. Yes. This is a post about coffee. Coffee!

Everyone has their own definition for it. For some, it's an escape -- from the mundane and same old, same old; a quick picker-upper.

For others, it's a beverage they prefer to tea or an addiction they can't shake. 

For me, it's an addiction I gave up, but like to dabble in from time to time.

What does coffee mean to you?