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The Female Quotient: Happy Birthday RBG


Wandering Educators

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by Lisa Ellen Niver that have appeared at Huffington Post Books, Huffington Post World,, Wandering Educators, Jewish Journal and Westside Today.

During this sabbatical year in Asia, my husband, George, has inspired me to follow the road less traveled. Over the last seven weeks from Kolkata (Calcutta) to Mumbai (Bombay), we have spent nearly 130 hours on buses and trains traversing and learning about parts of the East and West coasts of India. During the 10- to 20-hour rides, my companions were travel literature by incredibly creative authors. Several of them offered to share personal encouragement and enlightenment. Read the full article on Huffington Post Books.
Huffington Post World Section: Reading Chetan Bhagat‘s Revolution 2020 in December 2012 while traveling by bus throughout India, it has seemed that art imitates life. The newspaper has been alive with the protests in the street with the “pink revolution.” The people of India are angry about the mistreatment of women and the lack of government response and protection. Read the full article here.


Bohjalian’s narrator tells us: “History does matter. There is a line connecting the Armenians and the Jews and the Cambodians and the Serbs and the Rwandans. There are obviously more, but, really how much genocide can one sentence take?” I agree with the Jewish World Watch that we must not stand idly by, and I want to recognize his story and all it represents on this day, April 24. To read the full post: CLICK HERE


Can Mothers and Daughters be friends or are they always foes? Mia and Claire Fontaine’s travels together in Have Mother, Will Travel: A Mother and Daughter Discover Themselves, Each Other, and the World tell a story in two voices of each women finding their footing in their complicated lives. One in a quarter life crisis and one in a mid-life crisis–although they desire to support each other, they have been ignoring each other. Mia wonders how her mother could move across the country, bought a crumbling home which mirrors the state of her latest marriage and changed to a completely unsuitable job. As she says, “Mom, is this how you pictured your life would be when you’re fifty?CLICK HERE to read my full review.


The Voluntourist: A Six-Country Tale of Love, Loss, Fatherhood, Fate, and Singing Bon Jovi i Bethlehemby Ken Budd starts with the line, “I want to live a life that matters,” and so he does. Inspired by the need to deal with the loss of his father, he searches for answers, but this quest requires a passport and patience. Patience to wait in line at customs, for airplanes, for young children in China and Costa Rica, for Ecuadorian birds to fly in the cloud forest, and for all things in Palestine. During his journey, he states, “I’m not only working for free, I’m paying for the privilege.” Read the full review

In Chetan Bhagat’s One Night at the Call Center, six Indian coworkers share their life stories while working together during one night at Connexions. Due to their hours, the story begins with Shyam Mehra (Sam Marcy) missing a family wedding. Over the course of the narrative, each team member reveals various secrets, dramas and personal traumas. Issues from arranged marriage to relations between genders and generations were all pertinent issues dealt with in this novel. At one point, on the verge of personal and physical disaster, the team is asked, “Are you going to answer the call?”

Read the full article

The conflict is estimated to have killed up to 80,000 people with over one million displaced…Both sides may have committed war crimes…Sri Lankan refugees are still living in transit camps while the land is being de-mined…The government continues to hold 11,000 alleged LTTE in ‘rehabilitation centers with no legal representation, no access by human rights groups or relatives.” BOOKS:  Not Quite Paradise: An American Sojourn in Sri Lanka
by Adele Barker. Ru Freedman’s A Disobedient Girl: A Novel Michael Ondaatje’s Anil’s Ghost: A Novel


His new book talks about types of travelers and travel books: those in search of food, who travel to break a record, who travel alone or “lie” about being alone, learning about how long do people stay in a place, those who survive an ordeal, those who never actually went to a place they write about, and those who stay home like Emily Dickinson. I enjoyed hearing the categories from the books and his incredible anecdotes about different authors and locations.

In answer to the question, “are you still traveling?,” Theroux said “it is a stimulating way to live my life.” I agree travel is amazing. When asked about writing, he said, “Writing is not hard. Living is hard. Being a plumber lying on your back is hard; writing is not hard. Art is easy. Life is difficult.” Read the full article


Greg Cumming’s Gorillaland describes a compelling and terrifying trip through the heart of Africa. The reader is treated to a cast of characters like individual strings in a Byzantine intrigue, from the pristine to the corrupt, to the archetypal and historical. When each is tightened into place and woven more completely together the story’s tapestry reveals the chaos, greed, natural beauty and power of Earth’s largest continent.

Read the full review on


Elisabeth Eaves, in Wanderlust: A Love Affair with Five Continents,tells tales of love, misadventure and wringing every second of life out of every moment. She says: My life wouldn’t be so easy to fix. I’d woken up at the age of thirty-four to realize that I wanted to go home, only to discover that I had no idea where that was. Wanderlust, the very strong or irresistible impulse to travel, is adopted untouched from the German, presumably because it couldn’t be improved upon.” Her questions about life are important to me …what will I do with the year ahead? What are my goals and what should they be?

Read the article.


In Heather Poole’s insider memoir, Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet, she says, “Just goes to show anything can happen if you just take a chance!” Her story will inspire many to finally take that next step and make their dreams a reality. While her anecdotes are not all of the fairy tale variety, many of her moments along the path to dream come true are sticky in many unpleasant ways! But she does share her hopes, and her disappointments and she does get to live the life she imagined.

Read the full book review at Wandering Educators.


“From the moment this suspenseful book began, I was hooked into a tale of good and evil with Roger Housdenand his journey to the present and the ancient past, laced with his poetic recitations of Rumi and Hafez. Never having been exposed to the treasures locked in the country, my curiosity had been piqued after watching a Rick Steves special on Iran. Now, after reading this book – even with its tumultuous journey -I am ready to go!” 

Read the entire review.


Halle’s vibrant examples and personal tales draw me in to her writing style and I feel I am also sailing in a private Nile cruise on Momo’s boat, The Alfandia (which means The Old King)…“Our lives are braided like DNA, and we so often fail to recognize that we are here, not by ourselves, not with our spouse, our children, our friends, but with everyone we touch, and everyone they touch and, by extension, the whole world.” Read more…

And so Rachel Friedman’s The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost is a Jewish journey, a personal narrative of facing fears, transforming internal ideas and metamorphosing into an adulthood grounded in the art of wanderlust. Getting Lost is part travelogue and part personal transformation. This memoir combines the author’s personal journey and travel discoveries woven into her stories, along with her reflections about success, failure, life and the meaning of the aforementioned.

VIDEO of EVENT: Rachel Friedman’s “The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost

Yemen: To Go or Not to Go? Yemen has been on my mind lately with the recent intercepted mail bomb, the attack on the USS Cole and the book, The Woman Who Fell from the Sky in the news.  I was scheduled to travel to Aden, Yemen, in 2001 as Senior Assistant Cruise Director on Renaissance Cruises’ 50-day sailing from Athens to Bangkok. Prior to our sailing, the USS Cole was bombed on October 12, 2000. 
In the book, The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World, the three “lost girls” are in Africa and learn the word, Muzungu.  “I learned that [muzungu] originally meant ‘one who travels around,’ referring to the European traders who came in the 1800s.” As a “muzungu” or one who travels around, I really enjoyed this travelogue with the three 20-somethings on a mission to see the world, have adventures, and as with all long journeys, to find themselves.


As Laura Fraser says in her new book, All Over the MapMy desires—to be free and to belong, to be independent and to be inextricably loved, to be in motion and to be still—pull me back and forth.Fraser states in All Over the Map, “Almost anyone who is middle-aged can give you a long list of things that have gone wrong or that didn’t turn out the way they expected. But at least by now we have some measure of experience and wisdom to deal with it all. Things definitely aren’t easy for anyone.” 




Susanna Quinn’s Glass Geishas is a compelling and cautionary tale. Just reading the sub-heading: “Every Girls Has Her Price,” I was drawn in. From the first lines of the prologue, “Breathe in, Breathe out,” I felt like I fell down a rabbit hole. What world had I tumbled into? The stories of young blond Western girls made me think of my hometown of Hollywood, where naive young girls hope to make it “big.” The mystery of “Where is Annabelle?” and the drama of Julia not knowing Steph, and the many parallels of Mrs. Sato’s daughter, and Mama-san’s desire to support her missing daughter all create a fascinating read. I rooted for the main character, Steph, at every turn and could not put this book down. 

Read the entire review.

I read Contagious: Why Things Catch On because as a traveler, teacher, and writer it sounded extremely compelling. I too wanted to learn how to “create contagious content!” As Wharton marketing professor, Jonah Berger, explains in the book, “putting up a Facebook page or tweeting doesn’t mean anyone will notice or spread the word. 50% of YouTube videos have fewer than five hundred views. Only one-third of 1 percent get more than 1 million.”

Read the full review.

Regrets? Are you Living Your Best Life? Many of us are unhappy with our current reality. Games may be the solution!

In Reality is BrokenJane McGonigal states that the solution to hedonic adaption is “to make our own happiness [by focusing]on activity that generates intrinsic rewards — the positive emotions, personal strengths and social connections that we build by engaging intensively with the world around us.”

Read my article in Wharton Magazine!

Make a choice for 2013 to live your best life with no regrets so that on whichever day is your last, you can truly say, you lived fully in every moment.

Five years ago I went on a New Year’s cruise and made two resolutions: To buy a condo and to find a long-term relationship. I had been focused on these items already but now I was ready to make them happen. I as inspired by Atul Gawade’s book, BETTER. He says, “The core requirements for success are diligence, to do right and ingenuity.”

His five suggestions for improving your life include: “Don’t complain!” and “Count something important.” What do you keep track of?

As Rabbi Naomi Levy says in Hope will Find you, “By far the most human condition I learned to guide people through is this: an overwhelming feeling that life hasn’t begun yet…..”I hope that you will not wait one minute more but find an adventure around the corner or plan your trip to Paradise Falls today. Climb about your own “Spirit of Adventure” or float your house with balloons, but live your dreams. You can have the adventure of travel without leaving home if you only look. 

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Dieting Is War! Are You Ready For Battle, Soldier? My review in the  Huffington Post: Laura J Wellington’s book: The Four Star Diet.

Deciding to take control of your life, the impossible will become possible. In the words of General Powell, “You don’t know what you can get away with until you try.” Or as Wellington stated, “Live fearlessly! Life is a privilege! Many people fail to appreciate the gifts they have been given in both opportunity and time.

I Can See My Shoes Again: Technorati Lifestyle: Walter Scott Allen

“Never smile before Christmas…They will eat you alive.” This advice, given to countless new teachers for decades, is given to Tony Danza as he starts his next adventure as an educator. Danza’s warm banter makes me feel I have a front row seat in his classroom and to his dramatic moments—crying over classroom poor performance (his), enthusiasm for team sports (staying in Philly instead of returning to Los Angeles for Thanksgiving), encouraging other teachers in a talent show, and field trips to Washington DC and New York City. Extravadanza, the student run show, raises money for the crisis in Haiti—at every step you can hear Danza engaging students in their own learning.

Reading Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning by Marc Prensky was a fantastic experience. This book details the importance of real learning is our students. As a teacher, I am always looking to share connections with my students. I want them to ask, “Who cares about this topic?” I have a great answer. I know that brain research says it is easier to learn and you will make a stronger memory if you are interested in your topic. Partnering and passion-based learning are two concepts based in brain research. 

Read the entire review.

As a long term traveler myself, people called us crazy to quit our jobs and go to South East Asia for a year, so I surprised myself when Nancy Sathre-Vogel’s family trip sounded even nuttier! Early on she says, “There are moments on a long trip when you just want to go home: while your son is falling asleep on the triple bike, when it is raining on you and you have no tarp or when you run out of water in the desert but then you remember why you did it and how it is all worth it.” I was wondering would I agree with her? 

Read more….

In Here We Are & There We Go: Teaching and Traveling with Kids in Tow, author and teacher Jill Dobbe tells a revealing tale of naive travelers turning into global citizens. She and her husband, who are both teachers, decide on a whim in July 1991 to move their family of four to Guam and teach overseas. As she says, “At times it was frightening and we often asked ourselves, “What did we do?” but it also made Dan and I stronger and closer as we had to rely on each other for advice, help and friendship.” It is clear that they did not realize all they would learn and suffer from living abroad, but during their years of teaching in different countries, their fantastic experiences seem to outshine the daily dramas and hardships of working in foreign lands.

Read the full review.