religion

Joy Gives Us Wings

O SON OF MAN! Should prosperity befall thee, rejoice not, and should abasement come upon thee, grieve not, for both shall pass away and be no more. (The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh)

My dear mamma often uses the analogy, “life is like a ferris wheel,”. (Though sometimes she mistakes and says, “circle.”) Her reasoning basically, is that there will always be ups and downs. You can’t always be happy (at the top) nor will you always remain unhappy (on bottom). Of course, like all advice we don’t want to hear, I’d often let this ‘circle business’ slide in through one ear and out the other. Today however, i firmly believe it. Because when I look back on my life, it is exactly this. A crazy wild ferris wheels of joy and sorrow and joy and sorrow and joy again. Currently (though I realise, temporarily) I am enjoying the most joyous and serene view of Autumnal Nashville.Processed with VSCO with c3 preset
Factory at Franklin: an old factory turned shopping complex. Processed with VSCO with c3 preset
Acai bowl lunch from Franklin Juice Co.Processed with VSCO with c3 presetProcessed with VSCO with c3 preset
Okay, so THIS is Halloween! NZ has much catching up to do!
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These pumpkin markets seem to be around every corner!
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Remember my giant watermelon pic? Same same!Processed with VSCO with c3 presetIn this world we are influenced by two sentiments, Joy and Pain.

Joy gives us wings! In times of joy our strength is more vital, our intellect keener, and our understanding less clouded. We seem better able to cope with the world and to find our sphere of usefulness. But when sadness visits us we become weak, our strength leaves us, our comprehension is dim and our intelligence veiled. The actualities of life seem to elude our grasp, the eyes of our spirits fail to discover the sacred mysteries, and we become even as dead beings.

There is no human being untouched by these two influences; but all the sorrow and the grief that exist come from the world of matter—the spiritual world bestows only the joy!
If we suffer it is the outcome of material things, and all the trials and troubles come from this world of illusion.

For instance, a merchant may lose his trade and depression ensues. A workman is dismissed and starvation stares him in the face. A farmer has a bad harvest, anxiety fills his mind. A man builds a house which is burnt to the ground and he is straightway homeless, ruined, and in despair.

All these examples are to show you that the trials which beset our every step, all our sorrow, pain, shame and grief, are born in the world of matter; whereas the spiritual Kingdom never causes sadness. A man living with his thoughts in this Kingdom knows perpetual joy. The ills all flesh is heir to do not pass him by, but they only touch the surface of his life, the depths are calm and serene. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá)

What’s My Real Job?

What’s my real job? I am in the soul-growing business. As we all should be. -Elizabeth Gilbert.

Hey guys! How are you all? I’m in Nashville, Tennessee. Yes, I can’t believe it either. I wish I could write more but I’m tired and jet-lagged and I want to spend as much time as I can with my beautiful hosts. So, here are some photos:
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Radnor Lake.
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Calories count. Check then choose.Processed with VSCO with c3 preset
Left-overs from Frothy Monkey plus some fruit, and a quick guacamole from meProcessed with VSCO with c3 presetProcessed with VSCO with c3 preset
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My very first squirrel! Processed with VSCO with c3 preset

20 Days In Hell

After 20 excruciating days of receiving zero information from the Iranian officials of my cousin’s whereabouts, his family were finally allowed to “visit” him in Adel Abad prison (Shiraz) in a booth separated by glass. As it turns out, he is being kept in solitary confinement. In “the hotbox”, “the hole”, “lockdown.” And for what? For practising a religion of oneness. Of love, compassion, and justice.

My heart aches for him. For his parents. Sisters. Wife and two young children. But it’s not just him. Countless other completely innocent souls have been, and still are today, victims of the Iranian government’s cruel cruel wrath.

If I could see or speak to Vargha, I would tell him that I am ardently praying for him. And that so are my parents. And my sister, and my friends and my followers. I would beg him to remain hopeful and resilient. Just as I beg you to count your blessings every day. To make the most of your freedom. To work for oneness. To love and to serve. And to stand up for injustice. To stand up, and to speak out for those who cannot speak out for themselves.

Lastly, to please share news of Vargha and the other Bahá’ís terrible state of affairs with your family, friends, and contacts. For perhaps, if the Iranian government is placed under greater pressure for their wicked injustice, they may hopefully reevaluate such inhuman operations.

As Ye Have Faith So Shall Your Powers And Blessings Be.

I was on the train from Zurich to Geneva when I had the epiphany. To pass time, I had decided to look at my phone’s pictures from end to beginning. A mere 10 images in and dun dun dun epiphany:

“As ye have faith so shall your powers and blessings be. This is the balance – this is the balance – this is the balance.” -ʿAbdul-Baha

Could the answer be any clearer for me? To find this balance I’d been wanting, I needed to have faith. For with faith in the game, I no longer need to know everything. And even if I thought I did (know everything), I probably wouldn’t really. For who am I kidding? No one actually knows exactly. So I will have faith. Faith in life unfolding just as it’s meant to be. Faith in the universe’s plans for me. And faith in my immense strength and ever-expansive abilities. And with that faith, I will have my balance.
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Be Calm, Be Strong, Be Grateful

Be calm, be strong, be grateful, and become a lamp full of light, that the darkness of sorrows be annihilated, and that the sun of everlasting joy arise from the dawning-place of heart and soul, shining brightly. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá)

It has been quiet here. My mind is in a creative rut and my heart is not in it. I cannot stop thinking of my dear cousin and his immediate family. And of course, the other 13 innocent victims. Yesterday, my mother sent me a picture of a letter my cousin’s 7 year old daughter had written to the Iranian High Court begging for her father’s release. You can read more here and here. It tore me to pieces. How are these violations of human rights still continuing to happen in 2016?

As for me personally, I am spending most days by myself, reading, exercising and watching movies. I am looking forward to new adventures when I visit Laura in Belgium, Monique in Zurich and Anita’s mom (Pattzi) in Nice. See you then xx
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Heartbroken

The sky is charcoal black today. My dear cousin, a loving husband and father of two little ones was taken prisoner (again), alongside 12 other innocent souls in Iran. His crime? Following a faith thats sole purpose is the unification of all people. Practicing equality, love and justice. Giving eternal love and service.

When asked on one occasion: “What is a Bahá’í?” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied: “To be a Bahá’í simply means to love all the world; to love humanity and try to serve it; to work for universal peace and universal brotherhood.”

My heart is broken. As is his immediate family’s and friends’. The persecution of the Iranian Bahá’í community is a serious problem. In this recent article, it was likened unto the apartheid system. The world is a cruel cruel place. Today I feel deeply ashamed. Ashamed at myself for continuously having trivial “problems.” I recently cried to my mother for not having a travel companion. But it’s not fun by myself, I said. Then I moaned about my weight. I’m not as skinny as I used to be. Then my clothes: I want to shop in NZ. European clothes don’t fit and they’re too expensive. Of course she rationalised how ridiculous my concerns were. As mothers so perfectly do. But even so, at the time it didn’t register. I still felt upset. Now it has registered.

My “problems” are nothing, nil, non-existent. I am so immensely lucky. How dare I ever complain. I am so ashamed. I pray for my cousin and all who are bearing a heavier load than they can take. Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í faith says: “Let your vision be world embracing…” To me this means detachment, of ourselves and of our problems or in my case, “problems” for there is always someone worse off than we, on earth. When we forget to look at the bigger picture, our perceptions are clouded.
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“When you think things are bad,
when you feel sour and blue,
when you start to get mad…
you should do what I do!
Just tell yourself, Duckie,
you’re really quite lucky!
Some people are much more…
oh, ever so much more…
oh, muchly much-much more
unlucky than you!”
―Dr. Seuss, Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?

A Gratitude List

…look around you. All of this is for you. Take it and have gratitude. Give it and feel love. -Zooey Deschanel

I dedicate this list to you. I’m sorry for the whinging and the grumbles. I really am happy and grateful…it’s just so easy to be open with you.

1.Working limbs to walk, run, cycle and explore.
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2.Unexpected friends. Like Laura from Belgium who I met through blogging. who came and stayed with me in Japan and who just happens to be blogging about it NOW.

3.My auntie Pouneh – of course for having me here but also for her many entertaining stories, cycling advice and organic salads!
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4.Coffee. I mean come on. Ican’teven without it.
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5.Art. Art and creative people. Literature, music, Sundance! Thank you for making me feel all sorts of feels.

6.My mama, who keeps messaging me to be careful not to get a cold? And that I’m her little girl and very pretty. Oh my heart. My world. Thank you.
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7.Getting paid to travel. Okay so it’s not much (hint hint Savvy Tokyo) but it’s seriously a dream come true. I did it. I blogged for 730 days in a row, annoyed the hell out of you all and eventually landed myself a teeny tiny writing role. Have you read my latest work? You can HERE, HERE and HERE. Cheers and kampai to (fingers-crossed/touch-wood) many more.

A New Admirer

Can you guess the story from the pictures? Well, I’ll tell you anyway. I woke up at 5am because I go to sleep early (read about it here). I had a beautifully presented breakfast (read about it here). I went for a walk and bumped into my new friend (read about him here). He was waiting for me. He took me to his garden. He gave me eggplants, okra, tomatoes and cucumber. He said “good morning” and “you are a girl” and “you are a boy” and “Christchurch”. He was very pleased with his English. I was too. Then he drove me home. He wouldn’t take no for an answer. So if I put on weight from not completing my daily exercises we all know who to blame. I love him.
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