I met up with Leymah Gbowee a week ago just before she gave her talk at the LA Public Library with the Aloud program. This was four days before she won the Nobel Peace Prize along with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Tawakkul Karman. We had green tea at her hotel. Although very jet-lagged and gearing up for her talk that night, she gave me thoughtful, considered answers to my questions. I’m very grateful to have met her and heard her speak at Aloud.
I’ll let you all know when the full article comes out. In the meantime, I highly recommend her book, Mighty Be Our Powers.
It tells her story of surviving the war, keeping her children safe and working to bring peace to Liberia through non-violent means after 14 years of war. The book conveys Leymah’s passion, sadness, desparation, fear and anger as she grapples with personal struggles, finds meaningful work and raises her family. Leymah describes the book as her therapy. But none of what I’m saying really gets to the core of what makes this book so good, so profound, so heartbreaking and powerful.
In the past, I might have passed the book over and thought, what does the story of a Liberian woman struggling with war and basic issues of survival have to do with my life? It’s not easy to admit that. But the truth is that I am inspired by Leymah. I am carrying her presence with me and as I try to get my writing out more and overcome some of my own fear obstacles, I hear her voice. I also hear the other women I’ve met lately like Abby Disney, Pam Hogan and Gini Reticker from Women, War & Peace. I’m thinking about a woman named Kerry who I met at the WIE Symposium. She’s off in Kenya right now working on a book. This sounds very cool, no? Kerry left two days after I met her and we’ve been in brief email contact. I’m hoping the writing is going well. We talked about finding a mentor and actually daring to say out loud–I want to be a writer.
But as I wait to hear from a bunch of newspapers and magazines, I’m feeling less than confident in my ability to pitch my work. Time to switch that around. I really want to share the conversation I had with Leymah. I want more people to find her work, her passion and her message. I want to find a way to be of use.
Do something today that scares you. Take a big or small step. And then report in. Let us know what you did and how it went. You can do it.
Here’s the trailer from Women, War & Peace. I love this project and the women who produced the series are all wonderful, creative, committed filmmakers. The series starts Tuesday, Oct. 11th. I’m sharing this just because it’s good (no kickbacks).