Welcome to Beyond the Blue Domes, my personal blog. In earlier posts, I shared memories about growing up in Iran during the Shah's rule, fleeing the country at age thirty, raising a family in the United States, and facing the newness and challenges of American life. Lately I'm posting my thoughts on stories or news that have touched me. My theme is exploring social realities and the intersections within cultures, and preserving history. Thanks for stopping by.
Aurel Bacs, the International Director of the watch Department at Christie's auction house explains the mechanism of a VERY INTERESTING and RARE (a pair of SINGING BIRD - pistols) with an estimated value of $5 million. (SOLD for $5.8 Million)
On Sunday, June 26, the Armenian Women's Network had a forgiveness retreat at Clairmont Lavender Farm in Los Olivos, California. Ms Ana Cowe the founder of the group, lead the group into a full day of relaxation and meditation exercises. We went deep into our souls and searched any speck of bitterness as a result of a perceived offense. We wrote down on a piece of paper any hurtful feelings that was stored inside us and then burned it in a little pit. (picture below) The aroma of the two acre lavender plantation was intoxicating. It was a great experience. The following poem which was read by Ana Cowe will stay with me.
War Poem I shot a man yesterdayAnd much to my surprise,
The strangest thing happened to me
I began to cry. He was so young, so very young
And Fear was in his eyes,
He had left his home in Germany
And came to Holland to die. And what about his Family
were they not praying for him? Thank God they couldn't see their son
And the man that had murdered him. I knelt beside him
And held his hand--
I begged his forgiveness
Did he understand? It was the War
And he was the enemy
If I hadn't shot him
He would have shot me. I saw he was dying
And I called him "Brother"
But he gasped out one word
And that word was "Mother." I shot a man yesterday
And much to my surprise
A part of me died with Him
When Death came to close
Sgt. Lenihan was wounded in action and later received a Purple Heart. He never spoke with his family about the emotions he experienced during war, and they were very surprised to find this poem. Towards the end of Lenihan’s life, he actively sought out his old war buddies and described his time serving as one of the “worst and greatest experiences” of his life.
Welcome! in case you have stumbled into my blog, you are reading BEYOND THE BLUE DOMES. I am a "Baby-Boomer" born and raised in Iran and my topics range from my memories growing up in Iran to homeless community in Santa Monica and beyond. My theme is social realities and preserving the history. I'd like to connect with people around the world that share the same passion. I appreciate your comments; you may contact me by email: email@example.com or just leave a comment on my blog. (it's easy if you have a gmail account)
This fable reminded me of the relationship of my husband and me... ]-; Have you ever seen a baby porcupine?!
It was the coldest winter ever. Many animals died because of the cold. The porcupines, realizing the situation, decided to group together to keep warm. This way they covered and protected themselves; but the quills of each one wounded their closest companions. After awhile, they decided to distance themselves one from the other and they began to die, alone and frozen. So they had to make a choice: either accept the quills of their companions or disappear from the Earth. Wisely, they decided to go back to being together. They learned to live with the little wounds caused by the close relationship with their companions in order to receive the warmth that came from the others. This way they were able to survive. Moral of the story: The best relationship is not the one that brings together perfect people, but when each individual learns to live with the imperfections of others and can admire the other person's good qualities. The real moral of the story.. LEARN TO LIVE WITH THE PRICKLEYS IN YOUR LIFE.
Why is John Boehner crying?? I found this picture very amusing... but I'm not sure why is he crying... You may have a better idea. [-;
Barbara Walters Says: This guy (John Boehner) has an emotional problem that every time he talks about anything that's not 'raise taxes,' he cries. "If you had seen Nancy Pelosi all of these past years crying," adds Walters, "what would you say? 'The woman has a problem.'
John Boehner answers publicly: "I wear my emotions on my sleeve," he said when asked to respond to critics who say his tendency to shed tears makes him look "weak" or "strange." "I'm not going to apologize for being emotionally attached to the things I feel most strongly
I noticed this heart-wrenching story at the AOL news section. (7-22-2011) I thought to share it with my readers. ~ Catherine
In Colorado mixed martial arts circles, he's known simply as "Dr. Alex," a physician with a big love of the sport, and a big heart for the fighters who inhabit it. It's been a world he can't get enough of. At various times, he's been a cageside doctor, a judge, and a referee. And when that was not enough, Alex Constantinides, a man who spent five years in medical school, one year in internship, and two in residency, a man whose brain was his most important
asset, decided to fight. Why would he? Was it for fame, money or glory? Of course not. He fought so he could gain a better understanding of what the athletes were going through. He wanted to feel what they felt, experience what they experienced, so he could better care for them. He did it for a reason that some feel is slowly fading from the medical profession: empathy. No one today could imagine how he feels though, not after Dr. Alex experienced a horrific tragedy, one that shook his world and rocked the local fight community. On a rainy Tuesday in southern Wyoming, the doctor and his family were among the many cleared from a campground by authorities due to progressively dangerous conditions. Driving along Route 130, their vehicle plunged into raging waters caused by a flash flood. By the time the night was over, he would be a victim, and he would also be a hero. In the early hours of Tuesday morning, Dr. Alex was driving a van with his wife and three children. The family had been camping in the North Bush Creek campgrounds, and torrential rains had made the area dangerous. The idea was a move to higher, safer ground. But as the family drove east on Snowy Range Road, authorities say that a 25-foot section of road was washed away by a flash flood. The family's van fell nine feet into the water and was swept about 250 feet downstream. Photos from the Wyoming Highway Patrol show that the van came to rest against a set of trees, and rushing water quickly submerged it. Only Dr. Alex was able to escape. His wife Laurel and their daughters Hanna, 8, Zoey, 5, and Lucia, 2, died. "It's just such a tragedy," said Sven Bean, a promoter who since 2000 has been running the popular Ring of Fire organization in Colorado. "I don't think anyone could imagine what he went through. Whether you're involved in MMA or not, it's a story that hits you in the heart and one you never want to hear. He's a great guy and it's just heartbreaking this happened to him." Even in that crisis, even in a life-shattering moment, he was still willing to help. Shortly after surviving the floodwaters, Dr. Alex had climbed on a bush pile when a Carbon County Emergency Management Truck driven by Saratoga mayor John Zeiger fell into the same waters. Despite being unable to save his own family, Dr. Alex worked his way upstream and pulled Zeiger from his truck. As of Wednesday, Colorado news organizations reported Zeiger was still hospitalized in stable condition while Dr. Alex had been treated and released. In the aftermath of the tragedy, the Colorado MMA community has been shaken. Word of the terrible accident spread quickly, and several efforts have been launched to support him as well as the family's favored causes. With donated proceeds going toHalfTheSky.org, an organization that offers care to China's orphaned children. It is a cause close to the family, whose three daughters were adopted.
I was visiting a friend in a neighborhood right off of Royal Boulevard in Glendale. On my way back, as I was making a turn into Arboles, I noticed four stags with huge antlers. It was a startling site. I had heard that you could spot deer in that neighborhood, but seeing four of them together with their tall antlers standing together right in front of me was awe inspiring. Fortunately, I got a few good shots of them before they darted out of my sight. This is another good reason to live in Glendale: you can be so close to nature while you live in an urban setting.
I've written the following story during the summer of 2009. Now my son is 26 and no longer lives with me.
This afternoon, I took a dip in the backyard pool. I relaxed in the sun, I read a little bit and then lounging in the waterproof chaise, I dozed off.When I opened my eyes, it was 5:30 in the afternoon. I computed in my head. I had enjoyed eighty-five minutes of "Peace."
There is a children's picture book called Five Minutes' Peace. It is about a Saturday morning at the Large's home. Mrs. Large, an elephant, needs five minutes to herself, alone. First, she takes care of her family by preparing breakfast. Then, she heads to the bathroom to relax and have a bubble bath. She pours herself a cup of tea and sinks in the tub to read the daily paper. Before a minute has passed, her three kids are in the bathroom spoiling her peace. I love the book – one of my favorites.
The moral of the story is when you have young kids you cannot even have "five minutes' peace." I am not sure if my kids remember that book, but it left a lasting impression on me. I strongly identified with Mrs. Large, and today I sympathize with all Mrs. Larges who feel that 24 hours is not enough time for a day’s work.
But then I wonder if Mrs. Large ever thought that those years would go by so quickly and the day would come when she will miss all the commotion. Today I can have all the peace I want. What wonderful bliss! But deep in my heart I miss those days – The kids’ homework, the ballet classes, the late night laundry loads, the packing of the next day’s lunches, the early morning start to take the kids to their swim meets or cheerleading practices. I often wonder how I managed to survive three kids with five years gap in between them and a husband who was absent and absolutely not involved with kids' activities.
The early days after leaving Iran, because of the political unrest and the Islamic revolution, were challenging. My daughter was four, and I was pregnant with my second child. Being uprooted, coming to a new country, finding our bearings, and facing many challenges was not our choice and we were not prepared for it. We had to maneuver quickly and understand different possibilities to find a path. I guess the resilience that comes with being young helped us adjust to unfamiliar surroundings. The real difficulty for me started when I had my second child and then the third and then when the typical day-to-day struggles of American life started. One of my critical challenges was learning how to be organized and manage my time. I hate to admit but being organized it is still my biggest inadequacy.
One day when my third child was a newborn baby and I was falling behind on my household schedule, my husband’s cousin and his family visited us from Utah. His wife was a Mormon and they had four kids – 12, 10, 8, and 6. They had driven all the way from Utah to Los Angeles to be with us for the weekend. We had two busy days with seven kids around us. We are Armenians but have lived for generations in Iran and have adopted Persian cuisine, which is more sophisticated and gourmet than Armenian.
That day we didn’t make food at home and instead we went out to a Persian restaurant and then to a Mom & Pop grocery store to buy condiments and other specialties of Persian food so they could take back with them to Utah. The wife, an American, wanted to learn about Armenian culture and the preparation of food, in turn I was curious to know how she could possibly manage four kids and a demanding Armenian husband.
I cringed to ask her the question. I thought it was only “moi” who had difficulty keeping up with so many responsibilities. Another reason preventing me from asking her how she could have the “perfect” life as I imagined: I thought she may think that I am not a capable wife. I also was not sure if my command of English was good enough for such a serious conversation.
I have preserved that moment in my memory, like a Kodak picture, when finally, at the last minute, we were at our front lawn, saying our goodbyes and the wife was trying to get the kids in the car to return to Utah, when sheepishly, I asked her secret: "I write down all my chores for the next day, the night before," she answered. “Huh,” I thought to myself in disbelief. “Was it that simple?” “Would that one thing make all the difference in her life?” Of course an organized “to do” list, is always a blessing, but there is much more into managing and nourishing a family. I started writing down my chores. It helped, but only a little. I was still “lost in translation…”
Finally, on my own, I figured out the secret of being a good domestic manager – it was either to have 1) an involved husband or 2) a reliable housekeeper. Since my husband was tied up with his own survival issues fighting the daily grind, providing us a good life, the first option was out of the question, but we could afford a housekeeper. I chose to have one.
I enjoyed seven years of full-time help. Although three of those seven years were spent dealing with sawdust, because we were busy making an addition to our existing home. Having a housekeeper helped me to keep my sanity.
Now that I am writing this, I wonder: how did I survive all those challenges? I feel I have the answer. My secret was having a positive outlook, not sweating the small stuff, being involved with schools and the community, showing love to my family and above all, getting educated and benefitting from available resources in America.
I took classes through the PTA. I went to seminars to learn how to manage my time and my life in general. I picked bits and pieces here and there. In the late eighties, Tony Robbins and Stephen Covey emerged with their self-help books, Awaken the Giant Within or The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Those books were pretty helpful too.
Ask me today about “how to raise kids,” and I’ll give you a nice pitch on the subject. But then, raising kids was another challenge. I had a really hard time knowing what kind of approach to take in many areas of child rearing – how to discipline them, how to save them from unchartered waters, and how to teach them right from wrong.
Our lives in a new country were full of uncertainties. Things were foreign to us and we had a lot of hesitation about American culture. We had our fears and reservations. It was the eighties, time for Punk culture – teenagers wearing leather jackets, ripped jeans, chains hanging from their sides, and Mohawk hairstyles with gelled spikes were common sights. It was scary! How could we save our kids from the cultural meltdown? The least we could do was to send them to a private school.
We lived right across from an elementary public school on Virginia Ave in Glendale. But we signed up our daughter at an Armenian private school in La Canada, twenty minutes away. For the five years we lived in that home, the idea of sending my daughter to the school right across from us, not even once crossed my mind – talking about the fear of the unknown. But when she graduated six-grade, then to her wish, she was sent to a public middle school and everything turned out right. I learned that the public schools were safe, but the key to kids’ success was being involved with school activities.
Back in the eighties knowledge was not at our fingertips. There was no Internet to type “how to be a good parent,” or “how to raise good kids,” and voilà!: you getthousands of answers. We were on our own.
When my daughter was a baby, in Iran, I had read Dr. Benjamin Spock’s book on childcare, but the book was written for kids up to two years old. I am not sure why I didn’t look into reading other books. But let’s face it, who had the time to read.
For my enrichment I took a course in child psychology at Glendale Community College. I learned a few things, but nothing earth-shattering. My best lessons came from an unlikely source – the anthology Chicken Soup for the Soul. Although the book was published fourteen years after we arrived in the United States, when my oldest daughter was already a high school senior, I could still apply its message.
Among many inspiring stories within the book, one was by Gloria Steinem, “The Royal Knights of Harlem,” where she tells how a teacher could make a difference in the lives of his students by initiating a chess club. Another was by Eric Butterworth about how love can conquer many unforeseen troubles. These two simple stories reaffirmed to me the approach that I had already taken towards my kids. They became guideposts, giving me confidence, encouragement and the strength I needed for my journey.
The stories made me realize how important it was to elevate the self-esteem of the kids – not to criticize them. Another helpful tool were the bumper stickers that were around in the early 80s. They said : “Have you hugged your child today?” That was a powerful message. I learned from those stickers the importance of showing love to my kids.
I hope I have succeeded in conveying the message to my children. Today my daughter Tina, will not hang up the phone without saying “I love you…” But my oldest daughter, Meldia, is more critical of my ways. She asks me “Mom, what kind of mother were you that you never told us what to do?” When I hear that, I smile within. I wanted each of my kids to be their own person. I didn’t want to influence them with my likes and dislikes or burden them with daily chores.
I had figured out early that being a role model was more important than telling them what to do. I have a sign in my kitchen saying “Everything grows with Love.” And I believe in it. A refrain from a song by Beatles says it all: “Love is all you need.”
There is another refrain that from time to time plays in my head. It is from the song “I will survive” by Gloria Gaynor – the most popular song on the charts when we arrived in the United States. The year was 1979. You could hear the song everywhere. You turned on the radio and it was there. You went to the mall and it was there. Although the song is about the personal strength a woman needs after a break-up, I have used the lyrics as a mantra to be strong and conquer all the obstacles in my path.
At first I was afraid
I was petrified
Kept thinking I could never live…
“But I grew strong & learned how to get along…” Today my husband and I have transcended the middle and the turbulent place in our lives. Fortunately our endeavors have turned out right. We have overcome many hurdles and now we can enjoy the fruits of our hard work and relish the fulfillment of seeing our kids becoming self-reliant adults. We have reached our desired outcome.
Though I miss the years when my children were growing up—as every parent may because children are meant to fill our lives, I am grateful for where I am standing now. I take great satisfaction in what I have today. I see the grass greener on my side. My two daughters have flown the nest. My son - my baby - is 24, still living with me. I am dating my husband, the love of my life, and I have all the freedom to follow my dreams and to indulge into my passions. How much better can life get?