Monday, July 20, 2009

We are the world

I read this somewhere that as human beings we are genetically programmed not to tolerate unfairness. In other words, regardless of laws that try to tell you what's right or wrong, or religion that tries to be your moral compass, we humans inherently, deep down at a cellular level always know when something is unfair, and we cannot tolerate it. Now we may try and shield ourselves from news that bothers us, turn off the TV, don't read the paper etc. Our way sticking our fingers in our ears and screaming lalalalalalalala, but the truth is, the minute we know, something starts to gnaw at our soul and well, it won't quiet down unless we do something. Maybe it's writing a letter or blog, maybe it's spread the news and making people aware, maybe it's going out in the streets and protesting and maybe is writing a song...

These past few weeks, multitudes have come up with their own way to bring the news of what is going on in Iran to the forefront. Many are not even iranians. I personally have felt the love from people from around the world, all offering their help in anyway they can. I have watched and become part of an online community on Twitter with the mission to keep Iran in the headlines and to spread the news far and wide. I have watched avatars go green one by one and I have seen those that have a voice that carries far, celebrities and such, stand up and speak in support of the Iranian people.

The world is going green and I for one am very thankful. Not just because of the support everyone is showing towards iranians, but because it re-affirms that we are all in this thing called life together, that we all feel each others pain and sorrow and we all will rejoice when we see one another succeed. We are one, we are the world. On Saturday July 25, people around the world have the opportunity to support the people of Iran in their struggle for democracy, freedom and basic human rights by attending rallies in dozens of cities around the world. Let us come together, United for Iran, Global Day of Action July 25

It is a good feeling to know no matter where we are in this wide world of ours we are not alone. That there are always people that will stand up and be there to support us when we have been wronged. Isn't humanity awesome. I thank you all...

Peace and love

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Divided we fall

I sit here late at night with a very heavy heart. I have watched, heard and read about the events unfolding in Iran these past few weeks. Events that appear to be converging on this massive protest that is to happen today in Iran to commemorate the 1999 student uprising. And I wish I could say with certainty that I was hopeful for the future, that I could see peace and freedom reign in this land. Do I wish it? Absolutely. Do I see it happening soon? I don't think so. What I have seen and heard from those inside Iran and those outside, is not just a growing resentment towards a government that has been oppressive and unjust. What I see a lot is hate. Hate for the special forces, the security guards, the members of the ruling party... What is wrong with that you might say. These people have been wronged, they have been shot at, imprisoned, terrorized, hate is the least we should be feeling for these animals.

The problem with hate is it blinds you. It stops you from seeing that you are drawing a line and you are creating a divide that with every day that you let that hate fester in your soul, gets wider and wider. Hate never solved anything. And divisions never make a people or nation stronger.

There is always two sides to a story and not everyone should be painted by the same brush as the rogue elements. The evil Basijis, were the same people that didn't hesitate to lay their lives on the line to fight for Iran and their republic when Saddam attacked Iran. I had cousins at the time of draft age that went into hiding for a few years to avoid being sent into battle. While they were hiding, those young basiji kids were running across fields of land mines and getting blown to bits. They did it for their country. They did it for their faith. And their efforts saved Iran.

I am not defending the actions of those that caused the deaths of so many young people in the days since June 12th. That is a tragedy beyond measure. But hate is never going to honour their lives. Hate is not going to reach across to the other side and make them put their weapons down. It is not going to make them see that they are staring into the eyes of their brothers and sisters. All they will see is an enemy.

Iranians are Muslims, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians and non believers
Iranians are Kurds, Turks, Turkamens, Lurs, Ghashghais, Baluchi, Gilani, Mazandarani, ...
Iranians are white, brown, black, yellow, ...
Iranians are poets, writers, rebels, painters, philosophers, teachers, engineers, doctors, lawyers...
Iranian are straight, gay, lesbian, transgender, ...
And Iranians are liberal, conservative, communist, basiji, reformist, monarchist...

Iran is a land as diverse as the threads that go into the making of an ornate and colourful persian carpet. And as long as we stay divided we will be nothing but bundles of coloured tread.

united we'll paint a picture like one you have never seen. My hope is of one day being able to see that canvas, proud and free...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tribute to a people and a man

Warning, contains graphic scenes....

Monday, June 22, 2009

About a girl

So the world is reeling from footage it saw yesterday plastered on youtube, facebook, news sites etc about a young girl named Neda getting shot in Iran. She was standing with her music teacher, watching the protest and for reasons we will never know was targeted by a single bullet that pierced her heart. She collapses as people around her try to aid her. In less than two minutes, blood pours from her mouth and nose covering her face, except for one eye, that stares lifeless as her young life is extinguished. I was drawn to that eye, hugged by her perfectly groomed eyebrow. I wondered to myself, was she thinking anything? Did she know she was about to die? Did she love someone? Was she thinking of him? The crowd was screaming "don't be afraid, don't be afraid" and you can hear her teacher's cries. Was she afraid?

Many may watch the events happening in Iran and find themselves unable to relate. But let me tell you something. The geography may be different but youth is youth everywhere. In the past few weeks facebook had opened up in Iran after having been blocked. I saw many I knew in Iran rapidly joining and getting in on the craze. I got quiz requests. I got gifts of hugs and kisses. I got pictures from Iran's new years celebration. I read about the bands they liked, the food ( sushi!!) they love, their favorite sports team, or the latest movie seen on bootleg video or on banned satellites. And I saw the jubilation they shared online regarding the upcoming elections, how they turned their avatars green and how they encouraged everyone to "rock the vote". Does this sound familiar? No, they are not that different from you and me. But the geography is different. And that makes all the difference.

Because of where they live, they share what they should be able to share openly and in the public, on the pages of a virtual society. Because the one they live in won't let them live.

Neda has become a martyr in that cause, that is all about being free to live your dreams. Being free to be who you are. Being free to choose your destiny. Neda was not given a choice about dying . A bullet decided that. But Neda made a choice about living, that fateful day when she left her house to join the protesters. She chose freedom.

Rest in peace Neda

I leave you with this song, one that I have been listening to in the past days, when I can cry no more for the youth of Iran that are so bravely fighting for their rights, knowing each day that they may not be returning home that night. It is a hopeful song. About the ending of the winter of our discontent.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Be Free...

To say that the protests happening now in Iran are over an election would be simplifying the matter. It may have been the trigger point, but there has been increasing resentment towards a regime that has taken away what most of use consider basic human rights and now that resentment has exploded forth in the unrest you see in the streets of Tehran.

Iran is the birthplace of Cyrus the Great, who's charter of Human rights sit on display at the UN. This is the country that gave the world Hafez and Rumi, that spoke so eloquently of love and humanity. And here is Iran today a far cry from the nation once led by Cyrus. It is now country that human rights, basic rights no longer exist. It is country where you cannot read, you cannot write, you cannot say, you cannot love what and who you want. It's a country of youth, the majority of Persian are now below the age of 30, that can only dream of what it would be like to enjoy freedoms that you and I consider matter of fact.

You can squeeze a person just so much, at some point they will scream, at some point it will not matter anymore that there are bullets showering on them. What is death when you are the living dead .

And basic freedoms is just one side of this story. Iranians should be enjoying booming economic times. Just look at all the gulf countries around Iran and how they have thrived these past few years with the increases in the price of oil. Instead Iran has had a president that was more concerned about establishing himself as a threat in the eyes of the world. Maybe it's his short stature that makes him crave power so, but because of his obstinate insistence on taking a stand against Israel and US, his countrymen have had to suffer sanctions that have left the country with a overwhelming 25% inflation, crippling them. People are suffocating, emotionally, mentally and financially.

And the biggest crime in my eyes is how the world has seen Iranians in the past 30 years since the revolution. We have become radicals, backward people, zealots. Our rich colourful history has been forgotten and instead the world sees us in the eyes of those that assume to speak for us.

The uprising that you see is really about claiming what is rightfully ours. Our dignity, our freedom, our respect and our right to the pursuit of happiness.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Where is my vote?

Well as much as I wanted to stay away from the politics of Iran I got sucked in bad today after reading about the massive fraud that occurred. I got sucked in because of my sister. You see she is 26, idealist, hopeful and young and believes that the world can one day be a better place. She asked me on Thursday if I was going to vote in the Iran elections. I doubt my answer will win me friends in the Iranian community, but then again I never really cared what people thought of me, specially the persians. I told her I was not voting. Because Iran is not my home. It is my birth country yes. But the day I left that country I knew I was leaving it never to return again. I was leaving for a new world and with it I was giving up my rights to have a say in what transpired in Iran. The law may say I have the right to vote. Okay I actually don't have any documents I could have used to vote, but that's another story. But my point is on principle I don't believe you should get to decided the fate of people living in another coountry. No matter that you share the same birthplace.

I know my sister felt somewhat let down by my response. She wanted to believe that change could happen. That I believed in that change and wanted to be a part of it. Don't get me wrong. I want good things for the people of Iran. I know what these people have gone through. I was there... But like I said my interest in Iran is more as an outsider. I want people of all nations to have the kind of freedom that I enjoy in Canada and the US. It's human right issue afterall. And my interest in the fate of Iranians is no different than my interest in the fate of people of Darfur, or the people of Iraq or anywhere else in the world where tyrants rule...

So when I read the news this morning, I felt I needed to do something. To show my little sister that I cared. So I set up a group on facebook and proceeded to collect all the news, pictures and videos from around the internet and post it there. It's a very small step, but it was the least I could do.

One of the links I posted was a slideshow on youtube that used the persian version of the protest song El Pueblo Unido Jamas Sera Vencido as musical score.

It is a protest song that rose to popularity in Chile in 1970's by the leftist marxist supporters of President Allende. Over time is has been used by many nations including Iran as an anthem to call people to rise up. I heard it first 30+ years ago when another revolution was taking place in the streets of Tehran. When idealist students marched the streets and sang this song, with the goal of overthrowing the monarchy and bringing freedom and a republic to its people. Little did they know that the republic would turn out to THIS republic.

Nonetheless the song is about hope. About overcoming. About rising up and taking a stand against tyranny. It was also part of a sound track to a movie about Allende that I saw as a child and that I will never forget. I wept for Allende, even thoogh I did not know who he was, or that he was a leftist marxist or what that even meant. All I knew was he was fighting for his people, to give them a better life and the brutal General Pinochet destroyed that hope and dream. And to this day whenever I hear this song I cry. Beacuse I think of all the youth that have lost their lives fighting for freedom and marching to this song.

Here is the translation of the song and regardless of your political views, you have to agree that it IS a beautiful song. It is a hopeful song...

Peace and love and may the people of Iran know real freedom one day
Join me on Facebook:

The people united will never be defeated,
The people united will never be defeated...

Arise, sing
We are going to win.

Flags of unity
are now advancing.
And you will come
marching together with me,
and so you'll see
your song and your flag blossom.
The light
of a red dawn
already announc
the life to come.

Arise, fight

the people are going to win.
The life to come

will be better.
To conquer
our happiness.
and a clamor
of a thousand fighting voices will rise,
a song of freedom.
With determination
the fatherland will win.

And now the peo
who are rising in struggle
with a giant voice
crying out: Forward!

The people united will never be defeated,
The people united will never be defeated...

The fatherland is
forging unity,
from north to south
they're mobilizing.
From the salt mines
burning and mineral
to the southern forests.
united in struggle and labor
they go
covering the fatherla
Their steps already
Announce the future.

Arise, sing
the people are going to win
millions now
are imposing the truth
Their steel battali
are on fire,
taking in their hands

justice and reason.
with fire and courage
is already here
Along side the worker.

El pueblo unido jamás será vencido,
el pueblo unido jamás será vencido...

De pie, cantar
que vamos a triunfar.
Avanzan ya
banderas de unidad.
Y tú vendrás
marchando junto a mí
y así verás
tu canto y tu bandera florecer,
la luz
de un rojo amanecer
anuncia ya
la vida que vendrá.

De pie, luchar
el pueblo va a triunfar.
Será mejor
la vida que vendrá
a conquistar
nuestra felicidad
y en un clamor
mil voces de combate se alzarán
canción de libertad
con decisión
la patria vencerá.

Y ahora el pueblo
que se alza en la lucha
con voz de gigante
gritando: ¡adelante!

El pueblo unido jamás será vencido,
el pueblo unido jamás será vencido...

La patria está
forjando la unidad
de norte a sur
se movilizará
desde el salar
ardiente y mineral
al bosque austral
unidos en la lucha y el trabajo
la patria cubrirán,
su paso ya
anuncia el porvenir.

De pie, cantar
el pueblo va a triunfar
millones ya,
imponen la verdad,
de acero son
ardiente batallón
sus manos van
llevando la justicia y la razón
con fuego y con valor
ya estás aquí
junto al trabajador.

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Liberate me

Saying fuck off can be quite liberating. I don't mean in the "someone cuts you off in traffic and you flip the bird" kind of way. I mean more like standing up for yourself. Saying I've had as much as I can take and I won't be putting up with this anymore so fuck off, thank you very much.

Maybe you are stuck in a dead end job, you are not having fun anymore, but the job pays the bills and you put up with the boss from hell. You're being nagged at home that you would not be making enough money if you changed your job and so you are stuck. Then one day, you go to the boss and say thanks but no thanks, my sanity is more important. And you tell the spouse, take it of leave it, or maybe you should get a better job. Fuck off people. It's me time

Or maybe you're in a relationship with someone that doesn't get you and you are sick and tired of having to explain over and over what the hell is wrong. This one is tricky because I really don't have a good answer for why people stay in relationship that are not good for them. Maybe they think the other person will miraculously change. Maybe they are afraid of being alone. But at some point, you'll find your back bone and you will be saying fuck off. I'm off to better things. I deserve better.

Or perhaps it family members that think they can tell you how you should live your life. Always offering "advice" that really is a thinly veil criticism of who you are. Like you can't figure it without them. Or that you are too naive to be capable of making clear and solid decisions. And you being the sweet person you are, smile through gritted teeth and listen to the character assassination they do on a regular basis. One day they will be hearing fuck off as well. Because life is too short to be living a life that is not yours.

Or maybe it's a "friend" that keeps on not so subtly pointing out that you are chunky, because you know they are the epitome of health all stick like. Every time you see them they make you feel bad for finishing all the food on your plate or really enjoying a meal. Fuck off. I love my body and I love my food and if that bothers you go find another stick friend.

Speaking of friends , we all have our share of folks we lump in that category that are really not friends to us. Who knows why we connected in the first place but you realize you have nothing in common with them. Maybe they are mean or bigoted. Maybe they are self-centered and selfish. Either way, you are probably friends because you are being too nice to end things. My advice? Say fuck off to them too. You need people that surround you with love and positive vibes and you don't need "friends" that bring you down.

Think of it this way. We do spring cleaning to get rid of the clutter in our home, perhaps we should do a spring cleaning of sort with our lives. Examine the relationships we have with those around us. Look at the stuff that is grating on our nerves and then bade each a fuck off and good bye. Because what are you waiting for... Your life is happening right now.... celebrate your own D-Day. Be liberated...

Monday, May 25, 2009

In Flanders Field the poppies bloom...

It is Memorial Day and I thought it would be fitting to write something to honour the fallen heroes. In Canada and most other commonwealth and allied forces countries, Nov 11, Remembrance Day, is the day that the heroes of war are remembered. And every year, on November 11, I wear a poppy pin and I post the John McCrae Flanders Field poem.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

It's a beautiful poem that captures the sacrifice that men and women around the world made so that you and me could live in a free world, and to have the right to exercise that freedom. And when you look at the images of row after row of white crosses at the Arlington Cemetery, you can't help the shiver that goes down your spine knowing of all the lives lost for your life today. To serve ones country is not just an honour, but the highest form of duty and one that not many of us in this day and age will think to do. But there are still folks among us that will bear this duty and stand up when their country calls them forth. No matter what you think about the current state of affairs, and the wars we are fighting today in Iraq and Afghanistan or elsewhere, no matter what your ideology, your political belief, you cannot deny that what those men and women are doing, risking their lives everyday, is something to be proud of, something to honour. We wish them a safe return home, these brave men and women, we wish they will be led by leaders that will not places them in harms way unnecessarily, because they have placed their trust in those leaders. And they have placed their lives on the line, to serve and protect us.

I remember a Canada parade years ago in Ottawa. There was a military parade past Parliament Hill. I remember that the last remaining veterans from World War two, marched in that parade. There was a couple that were in wheel chairs, but they were dressed in their crisp military uniforms, backs straight, head held high and the solemn look of one that had seen so much in this lifetime. And they marched. Those few remaining heroes, and I remember not being able to stop the tears because at that moment I truly felt that I was there, because of them. I truly felt I owed these men my life. Because they fought for a future that became my present, my life today.

Two years ago I attended a funeral for CWO Cornell Chao. He was the brother of a coworker of mine. It was his third deployment to Iraq, when the Apache helicopter that he piloted was shot down as he provided support to ground troops. The funeral was with full military honour, 12 gun salute, white doves, folding of the flag and all that. Ceremony and rituals, but anything less would not have done. Because he was too young to die. He had hopes and dreams like everyone else. He was planning a life with his fiance. And he was on his third and last deployment. He was not from a poor family, that the military was his only option. He joined because he wanted to join. Because he saw it as an opportunity to give back to the country he loved. And he paid for that love with his life.

So today I think back to all those that followed their call to duty and lost their lives fighting for their country. I salute their families that have lost loved ones. And mostly I salute their bravery. Because to put oneself in harms way, so that others may live, that is a selfless act I don't think many can claim. That is the meaning of hero.....

Today is also a reminder to all of us why we need to stand up for what is right, because the road to freedom, the road to the rights we enjoy today, is awash in the blood of so many fallen men and woman. Let their sacrifices not be in vain....

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tough girls do cry

I may be generalizing here, well because I am using myself as an example and other "tough" chicks that I am friends with. I know the tough girl thing may be a turn off to some folks. We are no girlie girls, we are not helpless damsels in distress, we do not need rescuing. We are independent women, can do anything women, nothing is too big of a challenge. And we don't cry

Except that we do.

Underneath every tough girl I have known lies a sensitive heart. And invariably there will be some tale that left them no choice but to be strong, because that was how they were going to survive in this world. Maybe they grew up in a dysfunctional family. Maybe they faced some tragedy. But at some point in their lives, they made a conscious decision to be tough. It's a survival mechanism you see. They know the extent that they can feel things and they know if they let themselves feel everything, they may in fact dissolve into a puddle of goo.

By all definitions my childhood was a blissfully happy one. I was always a tomboy and generally liked playing with boys because they were more fun. I do not recall playing with dolls, but Mom will firmly refute that, somehow I think she thinks not playing with dolls is akin to announcing to the world that I am gay. I was always climbing trees, getting cuts and scrapes, but no matter what I was up to, you can bet that I was having fun. I was a happy kid. Loved to laugh. And loved to make others laugh. At school I knew everyone. This is not an exaggeration, I mean from kindergarten all the way up to the high school seniors, I knew them and were friends with them. I was the funny little brown girl, with long long eyelashes and the mischievous streak of a monkey. I was surrounded by love , from loving neighbours that were like grandparents to me, to caring school teachers, to friends and of course at home all was well.

That is, until we moved from Japan back home. Up until that point, our family was just the four of us. Mom, dad, my brother and me. One happy family unit. Once we returned, I got to meet my extended family. And couple of years after our returned is when the trouble happened. My mother did not have family of her own. So I never knew what it was like to have my Mom's sisters as aunts, or her parents as my grandparents to dote on me. What I did have was my father's very unstable family. He had 3 sisters, one brother and his mother. My uncle was the only one that ever showed me love. I mean the real kind, not the fake I have to pretend to love you because you are my niece. As luck would have it, he was taken from me much too soon, passing away at 46. But my aunts, well they were a different a story and not very nice women. I won't even get into what my grandmother was like. Just that people like her should never be allowed to have children. Whatever was the issue with the women in my father's family, they felt a need to meddle and disturb our happy family equilibrium. And so that is when the fighting started. I was mortified by the thought that my parents would divorce. The house was completely silent, there was a veil of sadness over everything. I thought my heart would stop. I couldn't bear it, yet even at the ripe old age of 12 I knew I could not go to my parents and burden them with my fears. They had enough to deal with. So I internalized everything. I bottled it inside. But the pain was killing me. I used to dream about running away from home just to get away from the silence and sadness. Run to someplace where it would be okay to laugh out loud and be happy. Then I would think about how my parents would miss me and be sad and I would admonish those thoughts. I would pray to god and dead grandparents to come and save me. But no one came.

I remember one night crying so hard and for so long that I finally had no more tears from sheer exhaustion. I remember my brain just telling me, okay, we need a break Marjan. If you are going to cry like this, we need a break. I was always a voracious reader so I turned to one of my books. I suddenly realized that I was able to keep my mind off my troubles and worries. I had an epiphany. My mind was able to compartmentalize, it was my feelings that were killing. So what if I decided to stop feeling? What if I did not let anything move me? Then there would be no pain. And so it was that for the next 4 years I stopped feeling. And read a ton of books. This earned me the reputation of being an insensitive person. And uncaring person. The truth was, I was just doing what I knew best to protect myself. The truth was I was a super-empath, so if I had let myself feel I would have surely have done myself harm.

So it was that I learned to take care of myself. I could not count on my parents to be there to help me out, not when they were hurting themselves. I could not count on their love, their unconditional love because they were suffering. I learned to solve my problems by myself and to keep things to myself. It took years before I could open up to anyone about anything. I felt by telling anyone, I was somehow betraying my parents. 4 years later after that fateful night that I had my epiphany, upon the death of my great uncle, I let myself feel. After everyone had bade him goodbye, after the funeral, after everyone was back to normal, I finally let myself cry. I finally let myself miss him.

That happy, well-loved child, grew up to be a funny tough chick, who secretly craved to be surrounded by the kind of love she once had as a child. I am a Sagittarius after all, and we love nothing more than to love and be loved. That happy kid grew up to be someone that would laugh at the ups and downs of life, shrug them off, pick herself up by her bootstraps and keep marching forward. Always an optimist, I believe tomorrow will be a better day. I try not to let anything get me down. I'll cheer up anyone that is sad, I'll be the best friend you always wanted, be there for you, help solve your problems, and take care of you. But I will never let anyone do the same for me. I can't. Too many years of taking care of myself and handling it all on my own have made me practically allergic to burden anyone else with my troubles. I'll make you laugh instead and help you forget your woes.

And then I'll come home and for a second the realization will hit me, that it's just me. Just me and no one else. And that life sometimes sucks and there is nothing I can do about it. And that's when I cry. But the next day I will wake up, with smile on my face and ready to face the world.

I maybe tough on the outside, but I am way softer on the inside that anyone will ever know. But I think that is the duality of us tough chicks. We are one thing to the outside world and another to ourselves. And everyone of us has a story why we had to toughen up so we could survive. And to those few that get to see the real "me" they know there is nothing tough about this chick.... even if I have been known to make a few grown ass men cry at work hehehe....

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day Mom

President Obama's on the occasion of Mother's day proclaimed:

"Women often work long hours at demanding jobs and then return home to a household with myriad demands," proclaimed President Obama. "Balancing work and family is no easy task, but mothers across our Nation meet this challenge each day, often without recognition for their hard work and dedication. The strength and conviction of all mothers--including those who work inside and outside the home--are inspiring. They deserve our deepest respect, admiration, and appreciation."

Indeed hard working women inside and outside the house do deserve a hearty appreciation. It is no easy job that is for sure. But in the age of reality TV shows, where so much of everyone's lives is right out there for everyone to see, I wonder if the Desperate Housewives of OC, NY etc fall into the category of mother's to be admired. Or what about the ones you see on wife swap?

Yes it's Mother's Day but there are plenty of women that do not honour that title of mother. When I think of the word mother I think of someone that nurtures and cares. Someone that puts the needs of her family above her own needs. Someone that wants the best for you in life. Someone you can count on and depend on to carry you when you are too weak. When I think of mother, that what comes to my mind. There is a reason it is declared the hardest job in the world. Because so many times it is a thankless job. Because so many times, your dreams and aspirations are put on hold to nurture and feed the dreams of others. It's selfless. And it's hard. It is for this reason that so many women struggle with working and being Mom's. Feel guilty about not being there enough, not spending enough time.

Mu own mother lost her Mom when she was only 17. In fact she suffered great family tragedy. My eldest uncle died in a car crash. 25 days later my grandfather died of a broken heart they say and six months after that, my grandmother woke up in the morning, made the tea, said her morning prayer and then went back to bed only to die in her sleep.

So from age of 17 my Mom did not have someone to call and wish to a Happy Mother's Day. She was left to fend for herself and figure out life on her own. There was no one to guide her or to advice her. No one to tell her what she was in for when she had her own children and the struggles she would face.

My mom by all definitions is someone that belongs outside of the house. Not because she is not a good Mom. She is a freaking over achiever so she does everything to perfection including the Mom thing. But she is best and in her element when she is working. The woman was born to teach. Education is like a drug to her. She can't get enough of it. She loves to study and loves to teach. Yet this woman, put her dreams on hold for her family. She married my father when she was 19. She had gotten accepted to university, but this self proclaimed nerd, ended up giving up her seat, because of having to re-locate with my Dad. The next year she applied to a local school. This was a very private , very prestigious school with very scrict age requirements. She got accepted into an engineer program at a time when not many woman did or could. Unfortunately she also found herself pregnant. So once again, school was put on hold. She lost the baby in the end, but by then it was too late to get back in and she no longer qualified to write the exam again because she was now too old.

Flash forward to six years later, she now hasw two kids, when they relocated again. And again she tried out for university and again she got accepted. One year later, my father's job took us as a family to Japan. Again she put her studies on hold. The story goes on and on, I don't want to bore you, but basically my Mom finally got her bachelor degree, years later, taking night classes and studying into the wee hours of the night and running on only 2-3 hours of sleep. She had to be 43 when this happened. A couple of years after that, my family moved again, this time to jolly old England. I had moved to Canada the year before to persue my gradute studies. My Mom suddenly found herself in a new country, with new culture and lots of idle time. She started to suffer from depression. This was not a woman that just sat around. She had to keep busy. So I suggested that she apply for a Master's program. It took her some time to even consider that this was something she could do and the day she got her acceptance letter was probably one of the happiest days of her life. She worked her ass off. Because being who she was, she didn't just apply to some cushy MSc program, no, she applied to Computer Science. I remember the long distance phone calls, my Mom calling her engineer daughter in Canada, asking her about programing help. My mom sending me her presentations and having me proof read them for grammar mistakes. After all English was her second language. Ya she worked her ass off, tooth and nail for that degree and when it was done, she asked me so what now? I told her, now you do what you have always wanted to do. Now you go get that job and you get out there, where you belong. She had no hopes of anyone wanting to hire a nearly 50 year old woman with no work experience. But bless her, she wrote up that resume and started the job hunt. I told her Mom, make sure they know that you have been busy, always learning something. That shows you are adaptable. That you can do anything.

And rightfully so, the employers where impressed with her credentials, because not only had she managed against all odd to excel in such a hard subject, but she had shown that through out the years she had always tried to keep herself educated the best way she knew how. When we lived in Japan my Mom enrolled in Ikebana and then dressmaking college. It was a 3 year course and her graduation project was a hand sewn two piece that my sister still now wears these days. When we returned from Japan and when money was tight, she opened a little seamstress shop in our basement. She designed wedding outfits for family. Take that Vera Wang. And I got to wear the latest European fashions courtesy of mommy dearest, so that I wouldn't feel out of place among my richer friends. She had completed a MSc in Computer science having never used a computer before that. Her BSc was in finance and banking. Ya so what your point? This was no ordinary woman. She can do anything...

Anyways, she had nothing to worry about. She WAS going to get a job. I had no doubts about that. And so it was that she landed a temporary contract position with a college in London to teach IT classes. Over the years she parlayed that into a full time position, then teaching at two separate colleges. Since then any time there is a new program, anytime there is something challenging to sort through, she is the first person they come too. She works so, so hard. She's now almost 65, works 5 days a week, hardly ever sleeps because she is preparing lesson plans and such and still finds time to remember every birthday, visit friends, throw dinner parties, be a doting grand-ma to my brother's girls and loving mother to her children, She is always there to lend an ear to anyone that needs a shoulder to cry on. This is one strong lady I tell you. And with a willpower like no one I've seen. Life has tried so many times to break her and failed again and again. She is unstoppable. And she's done it all by herself. And to this I say, Mom, have a very happy Mother's day because you deserve it. You deserve like no one I know...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Gimme a slice of that humble pie

This past week has been chock full of lessons in humility. Wow has it been a shock to the system. The first came with seeing the Susan Boyle clip, and shamefully like everyone else I was expecting the clip to be like the blooper reel on American Idol. Which by the way I will never understand why they show it. That's just cruel. I digress. It was nearly midnight last Saturday and I came by the clip via Ashton Kutcher on Twitter. What caught my eye was Demi's response that it made her teary, so I thought what the heck lemme see what this it's all about. Folks I sobbed. I sobbed when I saw the clip, because it was against all odds that she would come out and just floor everyone like that. I sobbed because it was such a wake up call to see myself and everyone else judging this book by it's cover. I sobbed because of her amazing spirit, at 47 to still be dreaming the dream (and by the way totally appropriate choice in song). Still have hopes and still have the guts to go for it. I cheered for Susan for reminding is us all that dreams can come true and that you should never ever give up.

The second lesson was one of gut wrenching heartbreak. Being new to the twitter-verse, I had started to connect with some Mommy bloggers. It was kind of awkward for me. I was looking to connect with people that I had something in common and "Mommy" is not a title I shared with most of the gals I met online. A few stood out, mainly because they had funny outlooks on life and being Mom was just a part of who they were and not the whole picture...

But sadly two of these lovely gals suffered great losses. They both lost babies last week. MamaSpohr lost her sweet little Maddie and Gorillabuns her little man Thalon. I read the entries on their blogs and wept with these women I did not know in person. I didn't have to be a Mommy to feel their pain. It utterly shattered me to see just how fragile life was, right there in black and white. To see entries just a few days before the tragedy and read how everything was happy and sunny and then to see the next entry and how one day can change your life forever and turn it on it's head. Life is short. Don't ever take anything for granted. Cherish every moment. Shit happens and we just have to find a way to deal with it and hope that we find a course to ease our suffering in this thing called life. So never miss an opportunity to laugh, because you never know when the tears will come.

Lesson three came on Tuesday. It was the day of Maddie's funeral. A friend had asked me if I wanted to volunteer at a soup kitchen a few months back and I had agreed. I'd never done anything like that so I thought it would be an interesting experience. That it coincided with Maddie's funeral was apropos to me. I needed to do something good, to make up for the goodness the world was saying goodbye to that day. Something to help me feel like balance was being restored in the tiniest of way. So I headed off to what turned out to be a Lutheran church that was hosting the event, with Maddie and Thalon in my heart and thoughts.

There were quite a few volunteers, many were regulars at this monthly event. Being a newbie I got assigned the task of helping out with the drinks. Making lemonade and then working the coffee station. I was a regular barista I tell you. The setup and cooking started at 4pm. By 5pm we went through the drill of where everyone was supposed to be, then we held hands in a circle, the pastor said a few words of pray and the doors were opened. Food service (breakfast for dinner was the theme) would start in another 30 mins, so the patrons were free to munch on nachos and get drinks or coffee while they waited. I watched as people started pouring in and making their way towards me. There were a few drunks and a couple guys that clearly were suffering from some mental malaise, but for the most part, these were average folk. People I would be sitting with and having a coffee, talking to if they were sitting next to me on a park bench. You get my drift. They were just like you and me, but obviously had fallen on hard times. With this economy it's no surprise. But the look in their eyes told another story. I could see the embarrassment, of being there. I could see the gratitude of being handed a cup of coffee. And I could see the apologetic smiles they gave me, like they were saying so sorry to bother you like this.

And let me tell you something. I have given to charities, I had supported causes monetarily, but that day, I was humbled down to my very bones. I was honoured to be serving those people. I wanted to thank them for giving me this privilege of being able to do something. Because we are all connected. We are all the same. And we have to take care of each other. Because that is what community is all about. It not streets and alley that makeup a community. But people that come together and care for one another. We are family, as the song goes.

So I sit here today and ponder the lessons of the week and share them here with you.

Peace and love to you my global family....

In loving Memory of Thalon Myers

Please Give give generously to the March of Dimes

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Love is all you need...

Love Love Love. It really does make the world go round. Everything we do in life is for the love of something. Love of power, love of money, love of success, love of fame, love of family, love of friends. But the greatest love, is true love. Something that we will desperately try to fill with all other forms of love when we lack it in our lives and one that when we have it, well, the only way to describe it is through the language of mystics. Because it's that divine.

True love. Some will tell you it's a myth, something only fools believe in or something that doesn't last. Or they will tell you how that the magic is an illusion only to wear off once real life happens. Some will have tales of heartache and heartbreak, of how they were "duped" by love. How love blinded their good judgment. How to love means only to get hurt. How they will never chase that fools gold again...

I am here to tell you true love exists. I know this not from my own personal experience, but because I have seen it in, not one, but two couples in my lifetime. Two couples out of all the folks I have met in my lifetime does not seem like great odds for true love. But let me tell you why I still believe in it.

Love is not something you can take for granted. It's not something you simply fall into and then remain captivated by blissfully. The reason is our rational side is constantly in battle with our emotional side. Tells us we need to get real, act responsibly. Love does not put food on the table, or clothes on our back. Reason and rationality tell us to put love to the side so we can focus on more important things. In fact almost everything we go through life works against love. Why? Because love is passion. Love is being stupid, and I mean that in a good way. Love does not listen to rhyme and reason. Love does not care what anyone thinks, love only knows loves and wants nothing but love. Love tells us to take risks, take chances. Love tells us to be bold, to go for it and give it our everything.

These are all characteristics of a something slightly insane, something slightly off balance, probably why we use the terms, mad or crazy when referring to love. No one became a hero for listening to their mind, but rather for listening to their heart. They may be brave and courageous but mark my words they had a heart full of love that drove them to ignore warnings of danger from the mind. These are not characteristics we embrace as a rational, sensible practical person. That rational practical sensibility takes away from our lives the only truly important thing. What feeds our souls and spirit. Tells us to let someone else be the hero, you just keep your head down. And so everyday, little by little, it chips away at our hearts.

What we all need is to go a little crazy everyday. Do the unexpected. Inject our lives with a little passion. Plan a surprise. Those grand gestures, the ones they make movies, write songs about, they are not grand because they are elaborate, expensive or extravagant. They are grand because they come from a place of total abandonment of thought. Because the mind has been tossed to the side and the it's the heart in teh driver's seat that is racing down the road. Because at that moment you ARE the hero to someone. That's why they blow your mind, because it's unexpected. Because your mind could never imagine it but your heart recognizes it the minute it sees it and just soars.

Love is a language that we need to practice everyday, otherwise we forget how to speak it. Love doesn't need flowers or chocolate, it doesn't need gifts. All it needs is a willing heart , one that remembers, each and everyday how lucky it is to be so filled with such joy.

Love is watching your children or beloved sleep. It's holding hands. It's taking a moment to look at each other and share a smile or a kiss. It's a hug just because. And endless other little things. None of which take much time or money. All it takes is a moment to let your heart feel openly. How many of us do that?

I wish I could say my parents were a great example of such love but they were not. What I see in them is what the lack of that love can do to a person and suck the happiness right out of them. I vowed never to let that be my fate. But I have been fortunate to witness this true love in two of the dearest people in my life, one who is sadly no longer with us. To be around them was to live love, to see love, to breath love. And for me, they set the bar, and some may say too high. But I'd rather have the bar too high than settle for anything less than what they had. Because their life was so full, so rich, so colourful because of that love. And anyone who had the privilege of knowing them will tell you they felt blessed to be in the presence of such awe inspiring love. That's the love I want. The love I believe in.

So if you are one of those lucky people that found love in your life, hear me when I say, you are fortunate, because what you have is such a precious commodity to be handled with utmost care. So don't let it slip away. Practice it's language, nurture it, feed it, each and every day.

And to those still searching for love, never give up. Remember that love is about living life without abandon. About celebrating every minute. About keeping the door to your heart open and about taking chances. Love life, live happy and know that true love is out there somewhere waiting for you. All it needs is a willing heart. Don't be afraid of getting hurt. The road may be bumpy but I promise you the reward for taking that road will take your breath away. So keep on loving...

dedicated to my beloved Shishi and Yoosi

Peace and love

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Celebrate Love

I am dedicating today to love, on the suggestion of the lovely blog "Obsessed with Conformity".
I'll update thru out the day with all things love related. For now enjoy this video:

Playing for Change: One Love

Peace and love to all

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Look Who's Famous

I've been pondering the state of celebrity-hood for a few weeks. Okay so I developed a wee obsession ( so shoot me, he is quite dishy) on a certain blond Bond, after seeing his performance in Casino Royale. Yah, I don't get out much and I realize I have arrived to the scene of Danny boy's success a little late, but really I had no clue he was that great of an actor.

I was vaguely aware of who he was, and when they announced him as the new Bond, I thought... What?!! Why? In any event I had already lost all interest in the Bond franchise so I couldn't give rats ass who they picked... whatever...

Then on route back to LA from London, due to the pathetic offering of movie choices on BA, I decided to watch a "classic". And I was promptly blown away by how well he fit the part and what a great job he did. why had I not heard of this guy before? He's a really fine actor. This is where is got me thinking... and I had the sudden urge to know more about the man behind the character. Was he just a good actor or was he an interesting human being as well? So I did a bit on online sleuthing...

Turns out he was always a great actor, just that his movies reached a smaller audience and rarely this side of the pond. With Bond he just exploded on the international scene and suddenly he's this huge celebrity. The smaller number viewer in the past was what prevented his reaching the levels of fame he is experiencing now...

Now he's at award shows, cover of magazines, best dressed, sexiest man alive, you name it... There are paparazzi pictures of his most mundane activities, like grocery shopping, eating out etc. That's right, his grocery shopping is NEWS!!! I shop 3 times a week and there is no bloody person to photograph that, then again I never uttered the words, "the name is Bond, James Bond" on the big screen either. He likes to be challenged in his work. He like vodka martinis, blah blah blah, amazing how much stuff is written about him that has nothing to do with his talent and what he is clearly very good at...

So what's my point? Yes I do have a point and I am getting to it....

There are people around the world doing a fine job, maybe sitting in a cubicle some place but doing a good job, and possibly changing the world as we speak. Yet we will never hear from them. Because they don't have an audience. There will be no award ceremony broadcast on national TV, no lifetime achievement awards none of that... The fact is Danny is no more interesting a human being than the next guy, except for the fact of his acting skills. But somehow everything he say or does, is read and viewed with such interest now. Maybe he should not have stripped down to his speedos... But I guess the question is does anything Dan want to say, or anything he thinks ultimately really important, or worth the attention it gets? DOES HE HAVE ANYTHING WORTHWHILE TO SAY? I couldn't tell you because I didn't see any. No idea how he feels about world poverty/hunger, the war in Iraq, the recession, the million of jobless people around the world, global warming, equal rights etc. Though I did read he had a very nice christmas holiday in the Carribean. I am being too hard on Daniel. I am sure his friends will say he is a very nice guy, just very private person. Sounds like an oxymoron, famous private person...So what makes Danny so famous? He is famous simply for doing a fine bit of acting on a Hollywood blockbuster, on showing on millions of screens around the world. That suddenly makes him an interesting person, some one worth honouring, awarding... That's what put him on the map. An audience...

I think this is where sites like Facebook, Twitter, blogs etc are leveling the playing field. Not that we all want to be famous, but they allow everyone, EVERYONE, to have an audience. And depending on your presence you can reach as far as you want. On these sites you are judged by what you have to say. If it strikes a cord with enough people then Voila, you have now become an online celeb. No movie required... Of course, you'll still not be earning the salary Danny gets for be soooo famous, but who knows, that may come too. Advertisers don't discriminate. They only care if you can sell their product...I digress. But the point I am trying to making is if the pre-requisite to fame is having an audience, we've all got that now. So I guess now more than ever in history, what you say, what you think, how you carry yourself through life is what will make you truly famous. In other words we will be known and remembered for who we were as a person and not for what we did for a living.

Biography channel's slogan is, "Every life is a Biography", which is quite crap considering that the majority of people they feature are showbiz folks...people famous for their profession...

Truth is this, every life IS interesting, there are people all around us worthy of getting to know better, worthy of being honoured, and acknowledged now and not in an obituary when they are dead and gone. I guess it's a bit sick, this obsession with celebs. They are people just like you and me. They just happen to have a job and makes them highly visible. And for some reason they require endless award shows to let everyone know they did a good job. You would think these people are insecure or something. Again I digress...Anyways, I am more interested in what they have to say, or how they effect the society around them. If you have nothing worthwhile to communicate, if you don't care about the society you live in, then in my book you're not famous. I know, I know, they are all crying their eyes out because Marjan doesn't care. But here's the thing folks, we really should be spending our time on people that are trying to make a difference and bring about change for the better. Learn from them, be inspired by them and be motivated to do something worthwhile with our lives.

So next time you see a advert for an award show, try this for a change. Host your own award ceremony and honour the people in your life that matter. Maybe we should do this en mass. Declare a day "insert favorite friend/family member" Day. And then broadcast to the world who they are and why they are your hero, why the world does not know what it is missing, and why they should want to know THIS biography... Do it

love and peace

Oh and Daniel, give me a call, we need to talk... ;0)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

When to let go...

There comes a point in everyone’s life that they start asking questions, about what their purpose in life is, are they happy, are they living life to it’s fullest. I believe we ask these questions because there is a void that we feel inside and finally gets a voice loud enough to be heard and so we start to pay attention to it.

Everyone is different in how they approach this, but the important thing is their desire to learn, to improve oneself and to make better the quality of ones life, no matter what the path.

On this path of, lets call it enlightenment, you start to question your choices, you start to question your relationships, with lovers, friends, family, coworkers…

You observe the effect these people have on you. A true enlightened person is immune to the effect of others. I don’t mean that they don’t care, but that they have found their place of peace and harmony that is unconnected to what and how other people see them or treat them. But for the novices on this journey of self discovery you see that perhaps some relationships do not benefit you in your quest to be a better person.

How we react to someone, or how we feel because of someones actions has nothing to do with the other person or what they do or say. It has everything to do with the thoughts we allow into are heads and how those thoughts effect us. Control is always with us. But to gain that level of control you need all the help you can get. And help comes in the form of those that are like minded and that bring positivity and light to your life. And it also comes in the form of breaking those bonds that bring darkness to your life.

This is not a pleasant or easy thing, breaking up. There are bonds that may have existed for a long time, and coming from someone that holds on obsessively to all her relationships, let me tell you, it is a very hard choice to let go of those relationships that therapist call toxic. I hate that word, by the way. That implies almost a deliberate attempt by someone to try and poison you.

I believe there is good in everyone, maybe buried deep deep deep inside, but it’s there. But you can’t help someone find their inner peace when you are still looking for your own. And so, with sadness, but perhaps with some relief you let go on those bonds. Not to say goodbye forever, but more like I’ll see you later.

Later when I am enlightened enough to take you in my arms and only see your good and nothing more.

The analogy I would use is a baby, and because I think they are cute. We don’t release a baby willy nilly into the walking world, we start out by protecting them. Baby proofing your home and as they grow you remove more and more of the layers of protection because they can handle it now. We, those searching souls, are babies learning to walk, and the protections are the positive, warm, all embracing relationships that feed our heart and soul and keep us safe from the not so warm relationships Once we are upright and walking, we develop our own protective skills, and so we can walk freely among all people. And like how each baby is different on how it learns to walk, we each find out own path to inner peace.

My niece Ava for example learned only to crawl backward, never forward, and from that point straight to walking at 10 months, she couldn’t wait to get going. My niece Leah, crawled for ages. She knew how to walk but was afraid, always holding on to something. For her is was food ( she is my niece afterall LOL!!) that finally made her let go of what was holding her back and take those few first steps unaided

So no matter what your path, if letting go is something you find yourself contemplating, do it without guilt, do it with the knowledge that someday you can reconnect. Only then, it will be you that will be determining the quality of that relationship.

Peace and love