Thursday, August 23, 2007

Visit to Edirne, Turkey

32 of us piled into the bus. We had met not but a little over 24 hours prior, yet it was as though our hearts and souls had been connnected for all time. The bond was inexplicable. I just merely gazed upon the sweet face of my Ameh and tears were all I could shed to express the feelings of my heart. She held me in her arms and we wept - not a sad, mournful weeping, but 'ashghayeh eshgh' as my grandfather put it, tears of love.

Our bus ride to this place of pilgrimage was the most inspiring my life had experienced. Brushed up against each other on a hot, sticky day, we payed no mind that the whole of our group could not fit in that 27 passenger bus. We were determined to make it work. Had we not all travelled for hours on end, using all monetary belongings we had to make this journey? A moments seperation was out of the question.

For 4 hours we sat - conversations taking place from seat to seat - the murmer of stories and the sharing of experiences over the last 20 some years filled the car with gentle excitement, only to be broken by one voice raising up in song until others slowly ceased conversation to join in the melodies.

Songs, prayers - joyous and mournful - filled the interior of that car, leaving the driver wondering what bond could be this strong to unite all these people together.

Stories of the history of the place of our destination occupied time and emotion. Tears, laughter, and pure, genuine, and sweet love filled the air.

To be anything but moved denies the existence of God in that moment.

It was this journey that solidified our group.
Connected my family.
Engraved a place for them all in my heart.

The Reunion

If I were to explain to you in mere words the account of this journey
- I would. I would fill pages with letters and sounds to try and
adequately express the thoughts and experiences of this precious time.
But feelings - emotions felt by the heart and resonated in the soul,
are never appropriately expressed by words alone. An attempt follows:

We spent five days surrounded by our family. My grandparents reunited
with all seven of their children after 34 years of separation.
Cousins meeting and embracing for the first time. Like two cultures
colliding and instantly spinning into a whirlwind of love. Initial
reactions were minimal, too overcome with pure joy to analyze the
personalities and put any deep thought to the pure love and sheer
happiness. A few days passed before I started to realize I had her
eyes, his sense of humor, and her knack for management. Soon, all
characters fused into one. Soon, love was deepened by understanding,
communication, and simple listening.

Hours we would spend sharing stories of the past, recollecting
experiences and explaining circumstances. Realizing commonalities and
awed by differences.

I live a life of absolute freedom. I choose the way I wish to live,
who I want to love, consort with, and connect with. I not only have the
luxury of choosing my own field of study, but I am blessed to have had
the opportunity to learn at the most prestigious of Universities - to
acquire knowledge by those trained and experienced for many years to
bestow understanding.

I live a life of comfort and ease. A life I easily take for granted
and appreciate the value of on occasion. I could venture to say that I have
grown up in a state of ignorant bliss. I understand that people
suffer - have travelled near, far, by car and by plane to experience a
myriad of cultures and ways of existence. Each interaction has
brought with it growing opportunities, a chance to re-evaluate myself
and begin to understand the purpose of my existence. But all of these
experiences, however powerful and influential in character, never
shook me to the core until I was face to face with one of my own.
Brushed up against my own reality.

To know their struggle is to know a life that could have so easily
been mine. Had circumstances not let my parents to the 'land of
opportunity', their oppression would be my story. To be covered from
head to toe, bullied and scrutinized for your beliefs, denied access
to higher education, not allowed to work, and refused a bank account.
How are you expected to survive?

"They call me 'kaseef'", my 15 year old cousin explains to me, when I
asked him what school is like for him as a Baha'i, "and sometimes they
separate themselves from me, but it's ok." Had he said this with the
slightest hint of anger in his voice I would have reacted differently
- but to hear the sincerity and see genuine love in his eyes, I could
respond in no other way but to weep.

For three months my 70 year old grandmother was placed in prison
because she believes that 'the earth is but one country and mankind
its citizens'. Treated like an animal, situated amongst prostitutes
and drug dealers, she lived, without her husbands knowledge of the
state of her existence, and without contact with her family. She
lived and suffered because of the Faith she professes.

If I could write pages and pages of books, I would write of the lives
of these souls - so rich in experience, latent with struggle and
saturated in love have their full lives been. But until the heart
connects with theirs, and eyes lock, do you grasp the severity of this

They are stripped of all human rights while I live here a life of
freedom. They are oppressed, beaten, and scorned for their beliefs
while I am able to openly express my love for my Creator and explain
the way I worship and the ideas I possess.

Yet could I explain the love in their eyes with the scratchings of my
pen and offer it to you as a gift, I would. It is a love so intense
it burns at the edges of the soul. A purity so untouched that you
fear that speaking any word from your mouth would defile it.

It is the most uplifted I have ever been. The most moved, the most touched.

Indeed God has a great plan for us all...the reason for this
serendipitous meeting, this crossing of paths across the ocean, will
become evident in time.

All I can do is remember...and hope that their effect remains engraved
on my heart forever. That my actions may align with the spirit of
that encounter and my life be moved accordingly.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


There are moments in your life, I can recall one most recently, where you feel utterly and completely confirmed. Your connection with Him is so intense and your prayers so precise, that when you recieve the direct response to them, you are completely humbled. And awed. It's something you can't even really explain or put a finger on. And when you try you sound like a complete lunatic. But you know that when it happens, when you feel it, when you are witness to your own confirmation, a feeling of reassurance washes over you and things are clear once again.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Chronicles of an Aspiring Writer: Day 2

Wake before the sun. 7am Bikram Yoga class. Feeling good about new life.
Find a wonderful little restaurant and walk in to be seated. Unfamiliar
surroundings and new people always invoke a certain sense of freedom. A
shedding of any fear or inhibitions. Read, write, enjoy an early

Drive around for a while. A luxury not easily bestowed upon the average New Yorker. Wind blowing, music blaring, heart free.

Find my way to the beach once again. A quiet spot to read and to write.
Writing begins. Pen easily flows, thoughts instinctively run. Phone call with my Publicist, all things going according to plan.

Get inspired to cut hair. Big time. Nathan, while consulting on who should have won Project Runway and what we really think ofTyra in America's Next Top Model, snips away. And snips, and snips.

Red from the sun, hair no longer there, still writing...

Chronicles of an Aspiring Writer: Day 1

Relaxing. Breakfast on the patio.
Beach time and becoming aqcuiated with the city that is to inspire me.
Already inspiration abounds. It takes form in the quiant houses on Coral Drive, the french restaurants on the beach with fresh flowers on every table, and the happy families playing in the sun.

Take it easy, have lunch, drive around, learn highway and street coordinantes.
Sun is about to set, get inspired to go for a jog. Drive to the beach, and jog along the boardwalk. Sit for a long time, looking out at the ocean, thinking. A long time. So long that the tears begin to stream down. The sound of the ocean and the waves reaching up to right beneath my toes. There is somethig so incredibly majestic about that immense body of water. Something that humbles you and forces certain realizations to surface. It is the begining of a long, long journey. One way or another.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Wandering Mind

Airports are a funny thing. Make you stop and think - in fact force you to have to wait, by yourself, with uninterrupted time to contemplate. Not something commonly bestowed upon the average New Yorker. Bombarded by stimuli on a daily basis, you don't realize how much you actually crave the time to think. Constant going, constant
work, people, places, voices, demands - creates a circular motion of activity that you don't even realize you are in, until you have time to separate. Time to do nothing but wait. Watching people go by, good-byes and hellos, families, couples, people - all with their own story, their own aspirations and let-downs. And slowly as they whirl by you, you fade into a state of relaxation and reassurance.

If we want to survive we have to make time for the mind to wander. To allow for the
fantasy world to become something very real that we can escape to. To feel alive.

And with that rejuvenation of the mind and spirit, we face the next obstacle, the next cycle, with vigor and hope.

Monday, February 5, 2007


It is in the silent moments that you realize you come to terms with your weakest self. The moments when there is no noise, no constant outside interference that allows you to be distracted from what is most important. An examination of you.

She had to climb one day. She climbed 2 miles, up a mountain, in absolute silence. Although she was instructed not to talk, although she wished desperately to allow the voice to leave her lips, and although she resisted the whole exercise altogether, she submitted. And walked, in the heat, uphill, tired and internally complaining until the voices began to subside. A tranquility soon began to pour over her and with it came deep thoughts of intensity. Soon the eye was turned inward. And the reflection was clear. The thoughts were less about circumstance and more about the path that had lead to this walk. And when the top of the mountain was reached, heavy sighs of understanding followed by tears, were released. And the weaknesses become clear.

In that clarity there is a certain sense of calm that overcomes. A freedom. And once again you realize that you are here for great things. That your weaknesses are just that, weaknesses to help you understand your strength. And you are once again empowered to fulfill that role you know you were destined for. The role that will make your mark in this world.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Pilgrimage, the Story of my Soul

It is often times impossible to depict the story of the heart. One beat can tell a hundred stories - you can travel to a distant land and never know that where you are is where home shall always be. A million memories, a multitude of lives have passed you by and yet your love has not changed. It is not an attachment to the place, the smell, the touch, the feel - it is rather an intense attachment to your Lord, your Creator. As faith and steadfastness grow within you, as does that deep and penetrating love that only an Unknowable Essence can bestow upon you.

Your feet walk that stone path, your heart pulsates, itself directing you to your Point of Adoration. The lush green, the bright red and the overpowering majesty of your surroundings only serve as a reminder that you are to be face to face with the One you love. Who can tell the story of belief? Who is there that understands that this is not a foolish love, a false love based on the things of this world, but that this is rather the love that stems from the belief that God has provided the earth with a new Source of Light - a renewed guidance, a fulfillment of all the Prophets of the past. How can one be that close to the light yet deny its existence? How can one feel Gods all encompassing love yet allow uncertainty and denial enter the heart? How clear does God's Holy Word need to be? One should rather ask: From where did this bounty arise and how do I thank God for it?

And as He is asked, a feeling of absolute humility and honor descends upon the soul, body and mind for one is reminded that these gifts and bestowals, this Faith that we have been given, is not something that should be taken lightly...the mere fact that we have been so loved by God to have been able to recognize a Manifestation of Himself in this world should be propellant enough to move us into action. Praying daily for steadfastness, for firmness and strength in His Covenant, for these are not matters that are to be taken for granted. Our love for God culminates in our desire to serve Him and teach His Cause - this is how we repay the debt so generously acquired throughout our lives.

May we strive to be servants, may I live all the days of my life reminded that God, in His Greatness, has honored me with carrying His Name. May I live in such a way that my soul is in a constant state of preparation for its descent into the next world. And as I arise to serve Him I know that I will be aided and protected, for this is God's promise to me.

He has said that He will guide and protect me and in this I am confidant. So with a heart full of love, full of gratitude and praise, I set out from this home, and I move according to His Grace. Aware of His Presence in my life, aware that my life is wonderful and thanking God each day for the absolute blessings and support that aids me on a daily basis...

My cup brimmeth over and I leave at peace, contented and ever so grateful.

Sunday Night

It always becomes 10:30 too soon. All of a sudden I realize the million of things I need to do and all of a sudden two hours pass by without me knowing it.


At 12:00 I finally realize that my drooping eyelids are actually a sign that I am exhausted. The sharp pain in my back aches for the comfort of a bed, and the incoherent sentences should be proof that my mind needs to break, if even for a few hours.

It's Sunday night though, and unless you live in Israel, you know what that means - the begining of another week. Perhaps if I stay awake a little longer, perhaps if I make the mind and body work extra hard, I can milk a few more hours of my precious weekend. A few more hours that result in a tired, sleepy Monday.

Friday, January 12, 2007

I Remember

I live a typical life of a single woman in New York City. Brooklyn, to be exact – a specification mandatory by those occupying this borough and the island it attaches to. I work from early morning to late afternoon, my body tired, my mind buzzing and my emotions numb as I go back and forth day to day to barely make enough to pay the rent and utilities. My weekends are surrounded by friends and loved ones, trendy restaurants, strolls in the park, and a general freedom and leisure that I have not only become accustomed to, but have grown to accept as norm. In a state of ignorant bliss I might let life pass me by, allured by the temptations of an existence full of liberty and freedom. But to do so without a tug on my soul would be to say that I live in ignorance of a significant part of my life.

In 1994 I met them for the first time.

They arrived in Phoenix, Arizona after a 20 hour flight from the country of my origin. Five children and eight grandchildren awaited their arrival. It had been over 25 years since my father had seen his parents, for that much time had passed since my mother and father had set foot in the United States to pursue their education. They had never returned. The Revolution broke out in Iran and because their religion differed from that which ruled the Iranian government, they could not return.

And so my life had been started and cultivated in a land so different from what my parents knew. They arrived with no knowledge of the language, no cultural understanding, and no inhibitions. They raised two children, trying as they could, to bring us up with enough cultural ties for us to identify with the Persian people, while still striving to help us assimilate to the culture they themselves were struggling to adapt to. The stories my grandparents told that year can took me to a time and place I had thus far only been able to dream about. From my own surroundings you would have never been able to trace the roots which have created the person I am. Stories of heartache, of religious persecution, of faith. Looking at them now you would never know the depth of suffering they both underwent.

The story itself has been told thousands of times; authors, filmmakers and photo journalists have conveyed the message and the world has watched and listened, sometimes letting it effect us in the deep and meaningful way that it should, and other times trying to stay as far removed as possible, convincing ourselves that it happens ‘out there’ and to people we will never know.

But when it is the story of your ancestors, when you sit in front of the people it has effected and you watch the love in their eyes as they tell you how they had to flee from one city to another, leave their belongings behind to be distributed – to be given away as one discards of trash, this is when it becomes a harsh reality.

So I try to remember. I try and listen to their words as I live the day to day. I close my eyes and can see their faces, can hear their voices; and I remember. Remember to be grateful for what I have been given. Grateful for the ability to live life in a place where diversity is accepted and strives to be celebrated. Every day, the seemingly mundane appreciated, as it should be. For this will bring me true freedom.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

The Hacker

Flight 426 on Continental was my mode of transportation from one home to another. Quite proud that I had only packed one small backpack for this weekend sojourn - allowing the luxury of arriving at the airport a mere 45 minutes prior to my flight - I made myself comfortable on the aisle seat next to the Prada sisters. I sit back, relaxed, and prepared to begin reading the volumes of work I had with me.

Take off.
Movie begins.
Prada sisters begin stroking each others hair....
I read.
"OH SH************TTTT!"

Startled out of my state of quiet reminiscing, I whip my head back to see a woman of small frame, perfectly manicured nails, and large hair, with her headphones on - screaming at the sports movie on the screen.
*phew* relieved that no one was actually hurt, I turn back around and begin to fade back into a state of relaxation.
The stroking proceeds.


A sound like none I had ever heard. A mix between a cough, a sneeze, and a hairball itching its way out of your throat. And then...the sniffing began. Not any type of normal, quiet sniffing that one may find slightly irritating on a bad day...but the kind of sniffing that makes your skin crawl as the noise makes its way down your spine. Something like a garggle-sniff.
Shocked again, I turn around and see the shouter.
I turn up my i-Pod hoping to drown out the sound, but to no avail.
Stroking continues.
Garggle-sniff-hack continues.
Every ten minutes I turn back, just to make sure it is still her. Marvelled at the fact that one little body could make that much noise. Even more blown away that NO ONE else is phased by this public display of conjestatory fireworks.

The stroking stops.
The hacker sleeps.
Turbulents carry me the rest of the way home.

Disconnected Thoughts

Its fascinating how close together the tracks run. If you sit still and just stare, you can see the people in the neighboring train as it runs alongside yours. Each of those a life, each a soul, each with their own story to tell. It's interesting how you can question a life, you can question morals and question your own intentions. Each day you are asked to make certain choices, decisions - whether big or small, that will, in one way or another, influence you and create who you are.

She longs to break out of routine. It has all become too much. The lists, the responsibilities, the feeling of being tied down. When I am free, a new life stirs within me. When the mundane circumstances of the outside do not cloud my sense of purpose, I feel alive. But I have to strive to feel that alive. I have to work hard at creating this balance between what the soul's muffled voice and the loud noises that bombard outwardly. It almost too much to be surrounded by so much activity, sound, pleasure, noise, hurt, speeding moments. Its too much, and your heart recedes far back to a moment when that didn't exist and in that very recession comes a longing to escape.

Sometimes you want to 'feel' so badly you can taste it. And that taste is inspired by a song, a simple melody, a strum of the guitar. Perhaps this is all nonsense. Perhaps the reader reads and finds therein a chaotic mess, or, on the contrary, perhaps the reader reads and in it finds a point of connection.

In five months I do not know where this life will have lead me. In five months I enter unknown territory and there is a certain sense of freedom that comes with the uncertainty. It is the freedom of letting go and trusting that you will be taken care of, that it will and has already been all sorted out, without your constant worry. In that trust is a freedom that no one understands but you.

h O p E

You don't realize how much your heart is attached to a place until you are forced to leave it.

Spending one entire week in your version of paradise, separating from it feels like nothing will ever be the same again. There are major differences between waking up only to go swimming in the backyard for hours, and being smashed up against the 15 person Australian tour group on the subway. They crammed onto the train, piercing the quiet, stale air of our particular car with their pronunciation of how disgustingly hot it was outside. We are, after all, not only on a heat advisory, but a BREATHING advisory. Don't breathe in the City - the pollution will clog your lungs and the heat is thick enough to stop your heart, if even for a few moments.

The air is hot, the atmosphere is sticky, and people are everywhere. You are, inevitably drawn into every person's conversation around you, not because they are particularly interesting, but because you left your iPod at home and they are too close for you not to a rude eavesdropper.

It is not a good morning. Heart aching, body sweaty, mind tired, are ears attune to the Aussie girl go on and on about all the tourists traps she has laid eyes on throughout the last week in the great big city of New York. Suddenly the elderly gentleman next to me pipes up, feeling the need to join the conversation hovering above him..."You know,” he says out of no where, “I met my wife of 30 years on the subway. I just happened to make it on the train that day - jumped on there and there she was...You know, you never know when things are going to happen and change your life." Suddenly, our entire section of the subway was smiling. At his sweetness, at his excitement, at the sense of hope he instilled in each one of us by relating his simple story.

Walking away, things don't feel half as bad anymore. In fact, it even feels cooler outside...


There are certain blessings that we as women receive, just based upon the mere fact that we are, biologically, women. One such blessing is none other than the gracious pain ferry that visits once a month, usually unannounced and uninvited. Now I know what you are thinking – disgusting, WHY talk about this on a blog?

An honest answer? The pain is so excrutiating as my fingers hit these keys, that I have no choice but to record it for fear that when the moment passes, I will forget the misery and take normality for granted.

She sits comfortably, reading; so engrossed in the words on the page that the outside world seems of no importance whatsoever. Right there, in that absolutely content moment, is when it hits. A pain so devastatingly grotesque that it takes over the entire body, shooting from neck to thigh. She is afraid to straighten her body for fear that if she does the movement itself will disturb the new force that is occupying her, creating another angry turbulence. She can cry, but no one wants to soothe her; she can scream, but they will all look at her as a crazed lunatic; she can lie down, but there is no space adequate, no external area created to cater to those momentary needs.

So she endures silently. As many before her have and as many will for generations to come... Quietly she hushes her insides and forces nature itself to subside.

All without a word.

(until the Advil kicks in)


Sometimes you just miss it so much your heart hurts. You close your eyes and concentrate hard enough and you are back there. Feeling that love, encompassed by that overpowering sense of humility and wonder. You miss being inspired. Everything around you reminds you of how it once was.

Life continues, its mundane processes taking away the excitement that once was. And for the most part, you continue, unphased, on auto-pilot.

But it could happen anywhere. On the walk from the subway to your house, just as you are turning onto 121st; as you ride up the elevator, or back down; in the middle of your friends' story of her day; as you go to pick up your phone; the first moment you open your email in the morning - anywhere. It sneaks up on you...a pain so acute it threatens to suffocate you.

You let it run its course and finish what it started. Those sweet memories all swirling together to create one common sense of deep sadness.

Then the moment passes, you breathe, and continue on your way.

West 36th: Summer 05

After a while there are certain parts of the City that you love and certain parts you absolutely detest. You love walking in central park, browsing through SoHo or the East Village, strolling down the Upper East Side, and enjoying brunch on the Upper West.

The walk of death for me is getting from the 34th street’s 1 train stop to 36th and 8th. That 7.5 minute walk is a nightmare in and of itself, particularly when it is hot and humid, which, on this particular day, it is.

I climbed the 48 stairs from the bottom pit of the subway towards the small opening leading to “air". Already sweating and uncomfortable, only to be enveloped in the sauna-esque atmosphere that makes you feel like you are breathing in the sun for breakfast. But, nay, on 34th, just as you turn to walk away from the Macy’s super store, you are breathing in exhaust; pure and uncontaminated exhaust. It fills your lungs as if you have been a chained smoker your whole life.

Pass every fast-food shop, every discount store and jewelry stand, quickly, swerving left and right so as to not lose momentum by the strolling people, or those lost in conversation on their over-priced cell phones. Holding your breathe, for fear that the stench coming from the chicken shop frying food at 9 am and the urine beds at the corner of each building, will be fighting with the exhaust for a safe place in your lungs.

You pass by every type of person…all uniquely different than you, but same in the fact that they also have a film of wetness on their foreheads. Once in a while you might pass a young chap who has overloaded on cologne, in hopes that the smell will detract from the fact that his body yearns to break out in an uncontrollable sweat, but for the most part, the majority of the hundreds that crowd that smelly, stifling, and polluted stretch of land have given in to the sweat; allowing the smell to become one of the 63 distinct scents that one encounters during that short span of time.

And there you have it. 7.5 minutes there and 7.5 minutes back…bane of my existence.

Rain: June 2005

Its a funny thing about least comes when you least expect it. Washes everything away - destroys what it wants - and refreshes others. Getting caught in it...with no umbrella and no 'shelter' can be an interesting experience - and it is up to you to decide how you want to handle it. I usually shy away...I freeze up and seek shelter...letting it run its course without me involved.

Last week, I let it wash over me. In a way I had no choice...but, I was also craving it. I stepped off the subway, trecking my usual way back from the 116 stop to home...and it just came. I had nothing...nothing but an Insight song playing and the freedom in me to look upwards as it ran its course along my face. It came down hard...but it was so sweet and so pure, and the song so refreshing that I could not stop it...if even I tried.

So I joined the rain instead. I cried sweet tears of happiness and utter gratitude. Perhaps thats the lesson He needed me to learn that day.

NYC in the Summer: June 2005

I never thought I'd be in THIS place in the summer time. The first thing I wanted to do when I got here was leave..and yet, somehow, the energy of the place has intoxicated me. Instead of wanting to avoid the subway at all costs, I look forward to my daily sojourns to and from the office...iPod and good book in hand. These are my moments of tranquility....amidst the masses, pushed up against stangers of all backgrounds, makes and models; this is where I find peace.