3 Must Read Memoirs

On My Own Two Feet: From Losing My Legs to Learning the Dance of Life - Amy Purdy 
At the age of 35 Amy is already a world famous snowboarder and 2014 Paralympic bronze medalist in Sochi, co-founder of Adaptive Action Sports, professional motivational speaker (Ted Talk and Oprah tour), clothing designer, finalist on Dancing with the Stars and competed in the Amazing Race. I had never heard of her before but was checking out the $2 kindle deals and thought her book had a nice cover so I thought I'd see if it was interesting. She lost both her legs beneath the knee at age 19 to a near death experience with bacterial meningitis then later got a kidney transplant from her father. Her book is so incredibly inspiring, I couldn't put it down! She believes that your thoughts are powerful and can change your life so she has shifted her mindset to believe in gratitude, power of intention, and vision boards to keep herself surrounded in positive energy. All things I try to do as well. No surprise she's a fan of Wayne Dyer (as is my mother). She doesn't want to be called handicapped or disabled because she can do anything she puts her mind to. She decided long ago never to feel sorry for herself because she could have died, but she chose to stay here and thus she says she is not a victim. She's sharing her story because she "wants you to see what's possible in your own life." Reading her story gives you a reality check if you complain a lot about your life. After reading this amazing book, I checked out video clips from her time on DWTS. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book: 
"My legs haven't disabled me. If anything they've enabled me. They've planted my feet on the spiritual path I was meant to walk and have taken me to amazing places."

What has helped her through her darkest times is: "Gratitude, focusing on what I have versus focusing on what I don't have. Being thankful for everything, even in moments when it seems we have nothing."

"Our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but by how we respond to what happens to us."

"These legs do not define me. I am not my legs!"

"A fulfilling life isn't based on what we have or don't have; it's based on what we give of ourselves."

"I used four different sets of feet during DWTS - none of which moved the way normal feet move."

"When you have prosthetics, you can never again just dash out of the house with a purse, some lipstick, and your phone. My bag was filled with all kinds of tools, because I could never be sure when a screw or bolt would come loose. "

"My goal is to not let my legs be a burden."

"We always a choice whether to focus on the negative or positive."

Desert Flower by Warie Dirie

Waris Dirie is a former supermodel (late 80s early 90s) who grew up as a nomad in the Somali desert where she slept under the stars, took care of goats, didn’t have shoes and often had nothing to eat. She ran away from home to avoid an arranged marriage to a much older man. She eventually made her way to London to be a servant for the Somali Ambassador who continued to keep her impoverished and illiterate into her teens. Several years later she was discovered as a model and appeared in a James Bond movie, the famous Picilli calendar, on the cover of major magazines, and Revlon ads worldwide. Once she moved to New York she decided to end her shame and share her courageous story with Marie Claire magazine of how she was a victim to the inhuman procedure of female circumcision (FGM). She also did a special for 20/20 and then the UN named her a special ambassador for FGM. In doing so she brought world wide attention to this silent practice that few knew about in the western world. She quit her modeling career to dedicate her life to fighting this barbaric ritual or butchering children and inflicting a lifelong pain.

 I was absolutely engrossed in her autobiography and highly recommend this extraordinary book. It is not just a wonderful memoir and a tale of amazing bravery of Waris Dirie, but also an detail account of FGM from the perspective of a victim. She’s overcome obstacles that most of us wouldn't even dream of to get to where she is today so for that matter I think that this is a tremendously important book. I was totally mesmerized by her story and how resilient Waris is. She said, "I learned that happiness is not what you have, because I never had anything , and I was so happy." She appreciates the simpler things in life since she grew up with nothing. "One of the greatest benefits of living in the West is peace."

The Underground Girls of Kabul: The Afghan Girls Who Live as Boys

In Afghanistan, a culture ruled almost entirely by men, the birth of a son is cause for celebration and the arrival of a daughter is often mourned as misfortune. A bacha posh (literally translated from Dari as “dressed up like a boy”) is a third kind of child – a girl temporarily raised as a boy and presented as such to the outside world. This book tells the story of those secretly living on the other side of a deeply segregated society where women have almost no rights and little freedom. 

The book tells the story of several people: Azita, a female parliamentarian who sees no other choice but to turn her fourth daughter Mehran into a boy; Zahra, the tomboy teenager who struggles with puberty and refuses her parents’ attempts to turn her back into a girl; Shukria, now a married mother of three after living for twenty years as a man; and Nader, who prays with Shahed, the undercover female police officer, as they both remain in male disguise as adults. 

It gives an perspective on the extreme sacrifices of Afghan women and girls against the violent backdrop of America’s longest war. Divided into four parts, the book follows those born as the unwanted sex in Afghanistan, but who live as the socially favored gender through childhood and puberty, only to later be forced into marriage and childbirth. 

If you're looking for more books to read, check out my other book posts.

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