I Dreamed a Dream

[Indie authors have an uphill battle getting their books noticed. Bloggers can make all the difference. One such amazing blogger is Sue Vincent. Sue hosted me on her blog and shared the following post with her readers; to visit her site, click the link at the bottom of this post.]

 

It was daylight.

I was alone on a dirt road that stretched as far as I could see.

There were no houses…no trees…

Just me.

I glided along the road.

I couldn’t see my hands, or anything that would identify me as me.

“Who am I?” I wondered.

What did I look like?

What colour was I?

I didn’t know.

I tried guessing—I thought I was probably a deep brown.

But I wasn’t sure.

All I knew was that whatever I looked like,

I was me.

I dreamed that twenty-five years ago.

I had recently been introduced to the concept of Unity in Diversity, the understanding that although people were diverse, with different skin colours, different languages and ways of doing things, humanity was one.

The dream unseated my unconscious identity of myself as a woman with white skin. In the dream, I was just me. None of the cultural packaging of what being “white,” or “brown,” or “black” meant had any reality.

My picture book, The Nightingale’s Song, sprang from that dream.

It starts out,

“Last night, I had a dream,

That my skin was brown, like mahogany,

My outside had changed,

But my inside was ME,

And a nightingale sang from the nearby tree…”

The Nightingale’s Song is about the beauty of humanity, about how our diversity is a strength. Children reading this book see themselves in its pages, and see themselves as beautiful, as they are. 

It was published in 2018, but shortly thereafter the publisher closed its doors. In its short time out, it won silver in the Nautilus Book Awards as a book that promotes peace.

I am getting this book back out there. I am running a Kickstarter campaign through Kickstarter Canada, entitled, “Changing the World, One Child at a Time,” to fund its reprint.

As the nightingale sings in The Nightingale’s Song

“Brothers and sisters we shall be,

Stars of one sky, leaves of one tree.”

That dream changed me forever, and by its inspiration, I hope to be part of the change toward a world in which every human being is cherished.

Join me.

Visit my Kickstarter campaign, Changing the World, One Child at a Time, to back this project, and be a part of the change to make the world a place fit for children.

 

Guest author: Andrea Torrey Balsara ~ I Dreamed a Dream   

 

And We Will Light Up This World

 

 

Why does the change of a number, 2018 to 2019, feel like a chance to take another try at things that have eluded us in the past? After all, every day, every moment, we have the chance to make different decisions, to live more fully, to wake up a bit more. But there is something about a new year that feels different…

 

2018 was a hard year. Midway through I had already dubbed it “The Great Scouring,” when assumptions I’d had were challenged, when my most cherished dreams were upended, and when everything I thought I knew was on the table. To be honest, I am glad it’s January 2019, and not 2018.

 

And yet…

 

2018 taught me that my worth isn’t measured in dollar signs. It taught me that the fate of the world is not just in my hands, but in the hands of a human collective worldwide that is working to bring true justice, unity, and dignity to all life. It taught me that in the face of corruption, cynicism, violence, and extremism, there are people of goodwill who will not back down. It taught me that doing something for love is, in the end, the only real reason to do something. Love transforms. It lights the darkness. It is the underlying purpose of life, running through the length of our days like an underground river.

 

Yes, every day I can make choices. Every day, I can wake up a little more. But now, at the break of a new year, I consciously choose to live more fully in each moment, to let go of trying to control the future, to be here, now. I consciously choose to reject the many messages of society which teach me that I am not enough. I choose love.

 

In 2019, if enough of us choose love, we will light up this world.

 

 

The Book of Negroes–A Review

THE BOOK OF NEGROES was as brilliant as I thought it would be. It follows Aminata Diallo, a young African girl in the mid-1700’s, in her village, until she is kidnapped by slavers. She is forced to walk naked to the coast, where she is branded, and stuffed into a slave ship bound for the new world.

The account of what life was like for those stolen from their homes, bound in heavy chains and thrown into the hold of the slave ship was no doubt based on historical accounts. It was hard to read. I kept imagining what it must have been like. How would you go on? Some didn’t. Some people flung themselves into the ocean, or committed suicide by attacking the crew. Although the events depicted occurred over 200 years ago, there was little comfort in that. The prejudices that allow for one person to do to another such heinous acts are still alive and well. This is not just a tale of yesteryear, but a story of today. How we treat groups of people that we see as “other;” how we allow horrors to occur for them, that we would never want for ourselves.

Aminata Diallo narrates the story, and through her unflinching honesty, dignity, and wry humor, we walk through events that would shatter most people. She is highly intelligent, and learns on the fly how to navigate the new culture in which she finds herself. Through the beginning and middle of the book, her life is recounted in detail. My one critique of the book is that as she ages, there is less detail and more summary of events. That aside, it is a powerful narrative, told by a heroic woman. While she is fictional, she represents the thousands and thousands of heroes who survived against all odds to make a life—if not for themselves, then for their children and grandchildren.

On a side note: while slavery is illegal on paper, there are millions of modern-day slaves working in agriculture, in the fishing industry, in the sex trade, and many other areas. The issue of viewing some people as “other,” continues. There are abolitionist groups that are working to make change, and to finally, finally, free the slaves. Some groups are: Free the Slaves (https://www.freetheslaves.net) , Beyond Borders (www.beyondborders.org/en/home) Modern Abolitionist Coalition (on Facebook under the same name), and the Frederick Douglass Foundation (www.tfdf.org).  There is also a course through FutureLearn called, “Ending Slavery: Strategies for Contemporary Global Abolition (https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/slavery/1)  which I took, and highly recommend.

While THE BOOK OF NEGROES dives deep into the depravity to which human beings are capable, it is also about the human spirit—its strength, its inherent beauty, its stubborn hope against towering odds.

The Great & the Small–Top 10 List

Thank you to reviewer Scott Cahan for adding The Great & the Small to his Top 10 list for 2018. Scott is an author/illustrator and wrote a beautiful, thoughtful review. It means a lot that he added it to his favorites for 2018.

Here’s the link to Scott’s list, and to his blog:

My Favorite Books of 2018