Thursday, March 31, 2011

the little ones.

Today I felt really proud of our school community.

Every month we have something we call an All School Meeting. It is when everyone in the entire school comes together and, led by our Music teacher, lifts their voices in song.

So imagine a room filled with Kindergartners - all the way up to 5th grade (who seem just enormous to me now). A sea of different colors, different backgrounds, different personalities and learning styles. All sitting together - not able to see where one grade ends and the other begins. All a mesh of love and purity, all wanting to belong, and all knowing, somehow, that they belong here.

They sang. Loud and proud they sang. With their teachers and family members standing around them like a wall of love protecting them from the outside world. They ended the Meeting with, "Don't Worry, Be Happy". 300 little voices sang the simple, repetitive words over and over again. Words that I wish we could all, as grown-ups, internalize. Tears just easily rolled down my cheeks watching them. Tiny arms linked around the tiny necks of the person on either side. Swaying and singing.

And our STEP team also performed today for the first time ever. A group of 4th and 5th graders who have been working diligently during their recess time to learn how to sync together in unison. I was so nervous for them. Wanted to them to be proud of everything they had done, of how hard they had worked. And they rocked it.

And then there is the little group of 4th graders I have been working with. Who have created the group - LSA (Learning through Service and Action), a service learning group who, after talking about what it actually means to be of service in a community and what qualities are necessary when setting out to help, have decided to pursue two avenues of service - health awareness and assistance to the local homeless shelters.

Our health awareness group has created a blog. They are incredible - check them out and be a fan: It is completely student written, student run, and student organized.

The group concerned with the rising number of homeless children in the neighborhood contacted our local shelters and has taken it upon themselves to have a drive to collect items the shelter needs. They went around to every classroom and talked about what they needed and why. So inspiring were this group of 4th graders, that a 2nd grader who heard their presentation, told her mother on their walk home from school that she wanted to, "go buy some baby food and bring it to school to give to the shelters".

At a time when things around us seem to be falling apart, these kids give me the strength and courage I need to know that we are alright. Just fine actually. We are in good hands.


Sadaf Persian tea, whitened with half and half, organic.
A tad bit of sugar.
A sprinkle of salt.

One square of one bar of organic dark 63% chocolate.

Toasty room. Clean and crisp sheets.

Sipping, enjoying, relaxing.



Maria comes once every month and a half for a deep, deep cleaning. She is probably one of the sweetest, kindest, most gentle women you'll meet. She is a hard worker and most importantly, a miracle worker.

She works for the "Si Se Peude!" women's cooperative. A group of immigrant women who have come together to create a women-run, women-owned, eco-friendly housecleaning business. The best part is that 100% of the fee goes to the member who does the work.

I wanted to just dedicate one post to her because of the incredible work that they do. It's so nice to see self-initiated and self-run projects and I think we should encourage and support them. This is one of the reasons I just really love NYC.

Mumford & Sons.

My wonderful friend burned me a CD today. Mumford & Sons. And I listened to every single song. It blasted throughout my office as I ran around like a chicken with her head cut off. Ran in and out of my work place, catching part of one song and a line from another. Here and there. There and here. One song stuck out. One lyric of that one song stuck out:

The way you invest your love, you invest your life.
In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die.

I've been, at the same time, reading and reflecting on a book about love and happiness. How to show more love and how to allow love to come to you. I sound like the Barnes and Noble self help section, I'm well aware, but it does strike a chord. If I believe, and I do, that human beings are born with love to give and require love in return, then it becomes helpful, I assume, to reflect on how I am investing my love. For then isn't that my life? Doesn't who I love and what I love and how I love shape my existence and create who I am, what my life actually is? We live and die in these bodies, yes. So I guess it makes me think - how do I want to live?

I love when new music comes into my life. I also love when I read back on an entry and even I don't understand it second time around. Enlightened? Or just garbage?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

when it rains...

it full on pours.
so much happened in this one day. news of sicknesses, protests, anger spewed, misinformation spread. watching kids respond to hatred. watching grown ups act like kids. seeing how important it is to be a community, to listen to each other, to be united. to understand and talk to other people. it's the only way that misinterpretation dissipates. knowing where other people come from and being open to hearing all sides.
just one of those days where all things happen at once. and you put all the little things into perspective. and you see how lucky you are for so many things.
it poured today.

Friday, March 25, 2011

being present.

It all happened on a plane ride back from Toronto. Small, commuter plane, lends itself to good self reflection.

My good friend, who will remain unnamed but who most can probably figure out by process of elimination, turned to me and said - I'm gonna work on planning things more, so I can get more things done that I want to get done. I looked at her and said - I need to work on the exact opposite.

Thus started a spiral of events that led to me think about something I usually come to think about twice a year - the pace of my life.

So we made a deal this friend and I. I gave her a task, and she gave me one. Mine was to have 2 days a month where absolutely nothing is planned. Where I wake up and just do "what the spirit moves me to do", as the Navajo would say.
So far I have had two days such as these. It has been - brilliant. Have done things I would have never done had I planned it. And, best of all, I was living in the present. I thought about what I wanted to do and just did it, instead of thinking about how much time I had to get something done before I had to get to my next thing.

Living in the moment. Being present - as the yogi's put it. My friend on a plane - she is on to something. And we have come to see that it's the balance of us both that makes life livable.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Clinton Street Baking Company, Lower East Side

Blueberry pancakes with caramel syrup.
Fried green tomatoes, sour cream optional.
Eggs, over easy.
Candied bacon.
Cheese Grits.
Iced coffee, mostly cream.

Every bite delicious.
It's been a while since I've been this impressed with a place. This impressed with every single bite.

Worth it, trust me.


In the quietest moments you find clarity. When your mind is still, your heart open, your breathing rhythmic. Somehow your understanding becomes sharper in the quietness and you begin to see things in a new light. Life springs forward and from somewhere within you a happiness begins to grow. Things that once occupied you dissipate. You stop looking at every instance as a wrong, but rather as an opportunity. You are kinder to yourself. You remember your higher nature and it makes you smile. It may come late in the night, or at the break of day. But it only does come when all around you is silent and still. When everything sits, waiting for you to approach it. Welcoming new life. Welcoming a new dawn.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring has arrived!

Naw Ruz literally translates to - New Day. It's the first day of Spring. It's the last day of the Baha'i Fast. I prepared 19 days for this new day to arrive. I thought long and hard, I abstained from food and drink from sun up to sun down, I prayed, I reflected, I made new choices that give action to my reflections. A new day.

When I was little, this day was filled with gifts. Literally. Days before Naw Ruz, my mom, sister, and I would set the "haft seen" (the decorative symbolic table setting that dates back to ancient Persian tradition). We'd paint eggs and decorate the table with them. We'd buy goldfish, we'd fill the house with flowers. And the dining room table would slowly begin to overflow with gifts from everyone and to everyone. The whole family would gather together and we'd eat the traditional sabzi polo and mahi, and after lunch all the kids would rush towards the gifts and the whole house turned into a wrapping paper wonderland. Close to thirty two family members would gather around as they oohed and aahed at the gifts everyone opened. Then it was time for the money. As is customary, the oldest member of the family (my Grandmother) would pass out crisp bills- $20 for the older grandchildren, $10 for the younger. One by one she'd call us up and we'd rush to get the cash and give the obligatory kisses, one on each cheek.

This was my favorite day. And although now I live strewn far from my family, each celebrating in their own part of the globe, I know that in our own ways we celebrated this day thinking of one another. It truly is a a renewal of spirit. A new day.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Who are we kidding?

I have this friend who, when we share what is new in/with our lives, she always seems to be going through a similar experience. She knows exactly what I'm feeling with little to zero effort on my part to have to explain it, and can often find even better words to place on the experience. One such circumstance was today. I was talking about how I miss life on the West coast. I miss driving my car to the grocery store, in my shorts, tank top, and flip flops, and leisurely walking into the enormous supermarket to get what I need. And then walking slowly and calmly back to my car to drive home. Done - Friday night.

I miss being able to do that. In NYC we are always on someone else's schedule - namely, Mr. and Mrs. MTA. They dictate when we get somewhere, if we are late, how long we'll have to sweat (or freeze, pick your season) before the train comes. So therefore, we rush. If I get there at 2:42 then maybe I'll make the right train, at the right time. Time. Time. Time. Schedule. Schedule. Schedule. We are forcing ourselves to live in this mentality that promotes futurizing and not living in the moment.

So this morning my friend and I shared our love for that slower pace and then she said something that really hit me. "But the crappy thing about this is, that once we have experienced it, it's hard to be content with that other lifestyle."

Is that true? Will I never be able to quite live in another place?

In the movie "Keeping the Faith", which is one of my all time favorites - I mean who doesn't love Edward Norton as a priest - they say that once you have lived in NYC you think that people living anywhere else are kidding themselves.

Really? Or do we have it the other way around? Are we the ones kidding ourselves?

Still trying to figure it out.