First Bulls game

Good view! Bulls game.As a kid, I watched Bulls games with my family, mostly because Michael Jordan was playing and the Bulls were the hottest team out there. We are not a sports-watching family (thank God) so that was the extent of it. I was offered tickets to attend Bulls vs Bucks (Milwaukee) through work and they had an executive suite with food and drinks, and of course the Bulls won (we left before the game ended to avoid being in a crowd of 21,000 people leaving a game at once). It was a good time, though I’ll be honest and say I probably didn’t watch the game as much as other people…the food was pretty distracting!

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Happy Naw-Ruz!

Happy Naw-Ruz!This is our first Naw-Ruz (Baha’i New Year) together as a married couple. Around this time last year we were talking to our families about getting married, so it is doubly wonderful to celebrate it with friends, family, and the Baha’i community. We are blessed to be surrounded by so many amazing people, to live in a community where we can serve the Faith, and to work in jobs where we are valued and treated well.

I often wish that my blog could be a better record of what our life is like, and as I was writing the above, Shea started singing “Do your ears hang low?” from the kitchen as he made us tea, in a very 1950s-Christmas-carol voice. This is the kind of thing that he does on a daily basis that makes me laugh, and I hope that I do the same for him.

(I asked his permission to share the above, obviously. God bless him for knowing what he was getting into by marrying a blogger!)

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The Word of God hath set the heart of the world afire…

New Orleans“The Most Great Name beareth Me witness! How sad if any man were, in this Day, to rest his heart on the transitory things of this world! Arise, and cling firmly to the Cause of God. Be most loving one to another. Burn away, wholly for the sake of the Well-Beloved, the veil of self with the flame of the undying Fire, and with faces joyous and beaming with light, associate with your neighbor…

The Word of God hath set the heart of the world afire; how regrettable if ye fail to be enkindled with its flame! Please God, ye will regard this blessed night as the night of unity, will knit your souls together, and resolve to adorn yourselves with the ornament of a goodly and praiseworthy character. Let your principal concern be to rescue the fallen from the slough of impending extinction, and to help him embrace the ancient Faith of God. Your behavior towards your neighbor should be such as to manifest clearly the signs of the one true God, for ye are the first among men to be re-created by His Spirit, the first to adore and bow the knee before Him, the first to circle round His throne of glory. I swear by Him Who hath caused Me to reveal whatever hath pleased Him! Ye are better known to the inmates of the Kingdom on high than ye are known to your own selves. Think ye these words to be vain and empty? Would that ye had the power to perceive the things your Lord, the All-Merciful, doth see—things that attest the excellence of your rank, that bear witness to the greatness of your worth, that proclaim the sublimity of your station! God grant that your desires and unmortified passions may not hinder you from that which hath been ordained for you.”

-Baha’u’llah, Selections from the Writings of Baha’u’llah

Shea pointed out this quotation to me a few weeks ago, and I had never seen it before. It is so encouraging!

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Lemon butter vegetable pasta

On Friday night we had one of those moments where we had no interest in going to the grocery store after work, so we considered the options in the fridge and decided to make do with what we had. I threw this together in about 20 minutes and it was delicious. Please excuse the terrible cell phone picture, I was too hungry to bother with fancy photography.

Kale, sweet potato, zucchini, onions, penne rice pasta, and Parmesan in a lemon butter garlic sauce.

You will need at least 2 pots, a pan, and a small saucepan. Be prepared to use all four burners at the same time!

1. Peel & cube a sweet potato, boil until soft.
2. Boil penne pasta (ours was Schar’s gluten free pasta) and drain, set aside in large bowl.
3. Simultaneously, chop up an onion and a zucchini and fry it with the kale, add a little water, put the lid on, and steam.
4. In a small saucepan, fry chopped garlic for a few minutes, then add 6 tablespoons of butter and the juice of one lemon. Sprinkle some salt and pepper in as well. Cook long enough for the flavors to mix but don’t let it burn.
5. As each ingredient is done, put it in the large bowl with the pasta.
6. Toss everything together, pour the butter lemon sauce on top, and sprinkle Parmesan on top. Sriracha sauce optional.

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do not dwell


do not dwell on this darkness
this depth of winter in the heart
there is such wonder on the other side of it
do not hold on with shaking hands and screaming heart
there is no redemption there.
the chilling grief that held you in place
the betrayal of your work was only one thing
yet you can be now.

trust in the certainty that this was right.

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What a week

There have been happenings. It has been a little chaotic, a little overwhelming, and a little hilarious.

A week ago we were parked outside on the street in Chicago and a U-Haul cargo van backed into the front right side of my car and drove away. I saw it happen but didn’t get a plate number. This meant filing a police report (nothing to do about it unfortunately) and taking my car in for an estimate this past weekend. Now my car will be in the shop for 2 days, at least we have Shea’s.

The big event, however, was on Friday night. Shea and I met up at his train stop and went together from work, a little after 5 pm. For those of you who don’t know, our commute is at least 1 hr 15 minutes, on a good day, door to door. Some days it takes longer. We were cheerfully headed home when, just past the Howard stop, the train shook, shrieked, and ground to a halt.

As bad as riding the CTA is sometimes, it usually doesn’t do that. Pretty immediately we figured out that one of the cars on the train had derailed. They ushered us onto the first 2 cars of the train while they tried to figure out what to do…which meant that we were all packed like sardines…for 1 hour and 45 minutes. One young lady was telling someone that her date was waiting at the train platform behind us…and the whole car started asking her questions about how they met and where they were going for dinner. It was pretty great.

We got our information about what was happening from Twitter, friends/family outside the train, & news sites, but we had no real idea of when we’d be able to leave. At around 8:00 pm they finally informed us that they had pulled another train alongside ours and had set up planks to allow us to walk across. The firefighters assisted and everyone transferred cars. By the time we pulled back into Howard Station it was around 8:20 and we decided to take Uber home. I didn’t walk in the front door until 8:45.

All told, it took us nearly 4 hours to get home on Friday night. Whew!

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there is a perfect moment of silent bliss
when my head falls to your shoulder
and the train shudders on the track
and the world stands still for us


when you surprise me with the tiniest thing
tell me to close my eyes
and I know you remember.


we made it this far
(I have no idea where the time went)
half a trip around the sun.

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My view from work

When I started my new job last fall, I was assigned to a (very nice, shiny new) cubicle on the southeast corner of my building, right next to the Chicago river and facing Lake Michigan. I know, really lucky. Somehow I haven’t managed to bring my DSLR to work to take photos with a real camera, but you never know when the light will be perfect. Sometimes when I need to think, I turn my head and look out over the water. It does wonders for my thought process (and sanity).

Came into the office at 7:30 am and the lake was giving off fog. Beautiful.

The clouds looked like mountains hovering over the lake today.

This was the view a few minutes ago. It has cleared up a bit but we definitely have snow.

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Recent Books that you may want to read

Since I started riding the train 2 hours a day, I have had a lot more time to read. Sometimes I read fiction but I also love history (I even considered studying history for my degree at one point but then realized I wanted to have a steady income). If you really want to see books of substance that I read or am interested in reading, check out my Goodreads page.

One of my biggest problems has been finding the books that I want to read in the eLibrary has been difficult. Sometimes I get lucky, but many of the books that I want to read are simply unavailable through my Kindle. I rarely buy books because I read so quickly (exceptions are Baha’i books, references guides, and cookbooks). I’ll have to get hard copies through the local library, I guess!

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President – This book broke my heart a little. By all accounts, James A. Garfield was an incredible man and President, and I wish he had lived longer. The historical richness of the book, especially the descriptions of how early Presidents dealt with the daily work of the White House, kept me engaged.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption – by the author of Seabiscuit, this book kept me up until 1:30 am on a work night, and I was astounded by the amount of research and detail that went into it. Some of the book is hard to read because of the descriptions of the mistreatment of POWs during WWII, so if you’re sensitive, keep that in mind.

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin – One of my favorite books is “The Devil in the White City”, and Erik Larson does it again with this meticulous, scary book about the years leading up to WWII. I’ve read a lot of books about the war, but very few about what pre-war Germany was like, and it was terrifying to see parallels in current events with the lack of empathy that people had for their fellow human beings.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – Clearly written, especially helpful if you’re an extrovert like myself who wants to better understand the introverts in their lives. Lots of data combined with storytelling.

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This was a chaotic year. A very good one, but I feel like I haven’t really stopped moving.

InSpanish Moss at the Baha'i Center January 2013, Shea and I took our first trip together, driving to Minnesota to visit family and friends in sub-zero temperatures. In February I celebrated 3 years of condo ownership, and starting facilitating a Ruhi group of junior youth/youth at my home every week, which I am still doing. The letter announcing the Baha’i youth conferences came out February 8 and I started working on their coordination in the United States. In March we celebrated Naw-Ruz (Baha’i New Year) and in April I took a much-needed week-long vacation in Florida with dear friends.

In May, Shea and I received consent to marry, and in June we announced our engagement. The planning for the conferences kicked into high gear and I spent 30 days traveling from June to August: Phoenix, San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles. While planning a wedding with my fiancé. Let’s just say that a great many spreadsheets and emails were involved.

Shea and I got married on August 3 and had our honeymoon in San Diego. We also attended Green Lake Baha’i Conference in Wisconsin in August.

Wedding dayWe celebrated my 30th birthday in September and went apple picking with family. I received a job offer from my new employer in September and started work on September 30. It is my dream job and I love what I do. It is fulfilling and being an event coordinator is fun, though it is an incredible amount of work.

In October we threw a Halloween party, in November I traveled to Las Vegas for the first time (for work) and wasn’t too impressed by anything except the food. We celebrated our first Thanksgiving together with family. In December I traveled to Colorado for the first time (for work) and then Shea and I made a quick trip to Minnesota to see family (sub-zero temperatures again!).

Hiking near DenverThere were births, weddings, and passings, too many to go into here. Many friends visited Chicago, there were countless dinner parties and evenings with friends and family. Friday marks 5 months of marriage and we are enjoying married life (but still haven’t figured out a good answer to the question “How’s married life?”). I miss writing here and am trying to get back to it more, now that I am figuring out my schedule and crazy commute. Riding the train for 2 hours a day is a bit draining but I am reading a lot of books.

Here we go, another year…

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Snowfall Saturday

Woke up to snow falling softly and it has continued all day. We have all the blinds open, watching the silence deepen and people slide by, bundled to their eyes. We made crepes and bacon and coffee and juice, we are together and it is winter.

This is one of those days when it would be wonderful not to have to leave the house, when I wish I had a fireplace, but these are little wishes and I am content with this kind of coziness.

Happy Saturday!

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First Thanksgiving together

I love Thanksgiving. Everything about it. This year we got to have 2 Thanksgivings, on different days, and it was great. I can’t even look at ham or turkey anymore, though. I had my sister-in-law’s help with the first round, and we split the making of the side dishes so it wasn’t quite as much work. We were still cooking most of the day, though.

Thanksgiving 2013 #1: sister-in-law & brother-in-law’s home

The spread, minus the turkey. Mmm.

Sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, GF stuffing, regular stuffing, gravy, honey almond carrots, brussels sprouts with pecans,  wild rice stuffing, and cornbread.

The turkey, prepared, cooked, and carved by my husband (20 lbs!):
The turkey

Turkey carving. #firstthanksgiving

I made a lot of gluten free pie from scratch last week. GF Pie crust is super time-consuming but it was worth it. (I used this recipe, if you want to know, but with real butter.) I made pumpkin and blueberry.
Pie!! I have been cooking all day but everything is in containers for tomorrow.



Thanksgiving 2013 #2 – at our “Munion Palace” as I’ve named it on Instagram. 😉

2nd Thanksgiving meal

Ham, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, GF stuffing, gravy, and honey almond carrots. And pie, of course.

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Music nostalgia

Had some serious high school music nostalgia hit me when a Bush song came on the radio tonight.

I didn’t have access to a lot of stuff other than what was on the radio (and no truly cool friends to get me into new music) so I was left with what was usually on the radio (anyone from Chicago remember Q101?). Most of my friends were either as nerdy as myself, or they were part of the crowd that wore all black and had interesting makeup (these were the girls that taught me how to use an eyeliner pencil in our sewing class). I stuck out like a sore thumb in that group, for sure.

So I listened to a lot of Bush, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, The Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, Tool, Orgy, Radiohead, 311, Collective Soul, Garbage, Incubus, Live, Our Lady Peace, Rage Against the Machine, Stabbing Westward, Silverchair, Audioslave, Metallica, Deftones, System of a Down, and Fuel. (I don’t think I even have most of the above on my iTunes anymore.)

I’ve switched to lighter and more current fare in the last decade, but I still get kicked back to my teens when any of the above come on.

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Halloween 2013

I was a “breadwinner” and Shea was “Shea butter” and together…we are bread and butter.

Yes, I made the costumes. Only took a few hours.

I am a "breadwinner", Shea is "shea butter"
And you expected something different from us? 😉 Happy Halloween!

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Don’t look too closely

Don’t look too closely at the mirror
Shy away from the picking and the choosing
The farewell sighs of youth
We cry and wail at the slightest things
We look so closely and then we fall
Don’t look so closely at the mirror
A focus on self, a focus on wealth and dreams
We look so closely and then we seem
So small.
Write instead about the powerful, the lonesome days
Stalk the inner self that hides and bring it into light
Bring it kicking and screaming if you have to.

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The whirlwind hasn’t stopped. My brain is trying to rapidly absorb all of the information I need to learn at my new job. Coming in at a higher level means learning all the things very fast. When you add in a longer commute (I went from 10 minutes to over an hour each way) and a continuous to-do list…well, it means that I am still playing catch-up. But I love being an event coordinator and this is what I am meant to be doing.


We finally settled on Halloween costumes (of course I won’t tell you until AFTER Halloween) and some friends and I are throwing a little shindig on Halloween. I was looking for parties for adults that don’t involve alcohol, and it turns out that they are either really hard to find, or they don’t exist. So we’re doing our own last-minute party.

I am trying to take advantage of the fall food and festivities…did some pumpkin-carving and pumpkin pie baking with family last night, and am spending most of my Sundays preparing food for the week so we don’t have to cook lunches and dinners.

Happy October!

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Not merely talking about the weather

As I continue working with young women within our Ruhi Book 2 study circle, I am reminded of this quotation that encourages women to elevate their level of conversation. How do we do this among ourselves?

Sunset last night. Goodbye Los Angeles! #youthconference
“Confirmations from the kingdom of God will assuredly be received, enabling some radiant leaves to appear resplendent in the assemblage of this world with clear proofs and convincing reasons, which will adorn the cause of womanhood. They will prove that in this cycle women are equal to men, nay, in certain respects they will excel. Ponder ye: in this wonderful Cause numerous were the men who scaled the heights of knowledge; they had a brilliant utterance, a convincing proof, an eloquent tongue and magnificent speech, but the blessed leaf, Jináb-i-Táhirih, because she was a woman, emerged with immense splendour and dumbfounded all the people. If she were a man, this would not have been so at all. Therefore, ye should know that the greatness of the Cause hath penetrated the nerves and veins of the world in such wise that if one of the leaves is attracted and gains mastery in demonstrating reasons and proofs and in uttering convincing evidences, she will shine resplendently. O radiant leaves, I swear by the Beauty of the Desired One and the Mystery of Existence that if ye work actively in this realm, the outpourings of the Blessed Beauty will reflect as the sun in the mirrors of the hearts. Your progress will astonish all.

The attracted leaves should not, when associating with each other, talk merely about the temperature of the weather, the coldness of the water, the beauty of the flowers and gardens, the freshness of the grass and the flowing water. They should rather restrict their discussions to glorification and praise and the uttering of proofs and reasons, to quoting verses and traditions and putting forth clear testimonies, so that all the homes of the loved ones will be converted into gathering places for lessons on teaching the Cause.

If ye do so, in a short while the outpourings of the Kingdom will be so manifested that each one of the handmaidens of the Merciful will become a perspicuous book revealing the mysteries of the Lord of Mercy.

Upon you be the glory of glories.”

‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ, A Compilation on Women

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Dear Blog,

I haven’t written since July, which is very unlike me. Then again, this summer was pretty unprecedented with travel for the 114 Baha’i Youth Conferences and getting married in the middle of it all.  A few weeks ago I was offered a new job and yesterday was my last day at the Baha’i National Center, after 4 1/2 years of work there. I start on Monday and it will be a very different adventure. I can’t wait!

It is a lot of change, a lot of new things…so much travel, a new marriage, a new job, a new last name…but then I am reminded how good it is, how lucky I am, and it helps me manage the minor moments of chaos.
Lake Michigan, morning walk after camping.

Sometimes it is hard to write because I feel this immense pressure to write a comprehensive, cohesive post. Then I have to remind myself that this is only a blog, and I just need to keep writing. I can always add, always write another post.

This is a way for me to get started again, to jump over the barrier that comes up now and again. Now, I have a moment to breathe and I will continue on.

with love,

Sholeh Samadani Munion (Loehle)

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10 years and my love

I had a plan to write all sorts of blog posts recently. And then…well, I had to dive into the 4 youth conferences I’m working on and then something else really big happened in my life and suddenly it was the end of July and I hadn’t written anything in nearly 2 months.

On June 28, 2003, I wrote my first post on the current incarnation of this blog. It was about me putting food in my purse. Somehow that is fitting. This June was 10 continuous years of writing here. A decade of thoughts. It is hard to believe. I’ve been blogging since 2001 but I have been consistently writing here for such a long time, I can’t imagine ever shutting this down. I have to thank my friend Paul (and his family) for hosting this blog for so many years. I couldn’t have done it myself.

But now for the really big news.

In a few short days, I will be getting married to Shea. 

me and Shea

me and Shea

I keep trying to find words to explain all of this and having a hard time doing so. We met last year and discovered this love between us through lots of conversations, prayer, walks in parks, and cooking together. Now I am getting married to a kind, patient, loving, funny man and am overjoyed to be doing so. I don’t like getting too personal on my blog most of the time, and as much as I want to write everything here, I am keeping some things off the internet. But this is just too much not to share. It is a little surreal sometimes!

Here we go, on our grand adventure!

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A fragmented note

I normally don’t go so long without posting on my blog (over a month?!). I can’t even begin to summarize the last few weeks and months. Here are a few things that have been keeping me busy. In no particular order:

Work. This is taking up a lot of my brainspace/time these days. Yes, I am part of the team that is assisting the National Spiritual Assembly with the planning of the conferences.

Baha'i Youth Conferences


View from the pool. Ahhh.

I traveled to Florida for a week of vacation, staying with dear friends and trying to relax after a very hectic year. I took a lot of photos of animals, went to several lovely Baha’i events, and just generally relaxed. I also took some long bike rides with my friends, which reminded me how much I love biking and also how much Chicago winter saps all of my energy. sigh. I even saw a manatee and a crocodile in the wild (as well as a ton of awesome birds).


I went to a farm for a North Shore networking event. The animals were stinky and cute and I loved them.

This little guy was pretty shy. #sheepish #latergram

Spent some time with my friends in the sun on a rare spring day that felt like summer in Chicago.

The view yesterday. I love Chicago in the summer. #latergram

Went to the park with my Ruhi youth group, and it made me appreciate them even more. They are such great people!

And this past weekend I worked at Baha’i National Convention, where the delegates gather to elect the National Spiritual Assembly. I also stopped by the Choral Festival and saw lots of people that I love.

Nothing is slowing down right now. Everything is top speed and it probably won’t stop until after the summer is over. This is not a complaint, merely a fact. And so, here I go!

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The last few weeks in photos

Squishy!Work is not all about serious things. My coworkers and I get up to various (mostly harmless) antics sometimes. Laughter helps with so many things, since it can be very demanding around here. We merely took advantage of an opportunity (in this case, a stuffed Aflac promotional duck that was hanging out in the lobby for a day).

Sailboats and the House of Worship One day last week was mostly bearable, so we walked down to the Wilmette Harbor and watched the sailboats whisk around the harbor. There were young people being trained to sail, and you could hear the shouts as they nearly knocked into each other several times.

After a day with very few victories, this shines brightly. I found this chair out by the dumpster and now it is in my home. I love it. During a week when nothing seemed to be going right, I found this chair in the alley next to where I park my car. I deliberated on taking it for 24 hours, but when I saw it was still there on the second day, I dragged it upstairs, hoping I wouldn’t discover a hidden flaw. It is in very good condition and matches the decor in my home perfectly.

Outside of the grocery store near my place. Just a pig roasting in the parking lot. Smelled good though.Outside of the grocery store near my place. Just a pig roasting in the parking lot. It was an amusing surprise for my quiet little village.

Flowers near work

We are anticipating spring, but it has been slow to come to Chicago. Finally the flowers are blooming and I am starting to look at the summer festival schedule.

Nineteen Months - GloryFinally, Nineteen Months (the photoblog that I am an editor for) relaunched at Naw-Ruz and has a gorgeous new design. Check it out!

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Flooded – a mix of good and bad

This morning I woke up to the sounds of a thunderstorm raging against my windows. I woke up before my alarm, so I lay in bed, trying to wake up by checking emails. Unfortunately my coordination is not the best in the morning, so I dropped the phone on my face and the corner of it left a welt under my eye. Ouch.

The streets were flooded today, so I was lucky to make it to work without stalling my car. There were four cars stalled in a road that I usually take to work. It also took twice as long to drive to work (20 minutes instead of 10), and some people just never made it in to the office. I had to climb into my car from the passenger side from my parking spot at home.

I was going to take photos of all of the standing water to illustrate the extent of the situation, but by the time I left work a lot of the water had receded in this area. Just Google it. Parts of the Chicago area are badly flooded.

I had to cancel my haircut in Schaumburg (about 40 minutes away) because I had no interest in driving in storms/flooded streets, and found a salon in Wilmette that looked promising. After having a very nice chat with the stylist and after she gave me a fantastic haircut, we discovered that the scheduler had messed up the pricing. So I got a $60 haircut for $45.

Realizing that one of the few places that is open in Wilmette at 8 pm is the library, I headed over to get some books. Discovered that 3 of my favorite authors have come out with new books and I was able to snag them to read. It may be that a lot of my frustration recently has been because of a lack of immersion in books. It is a peaceful time for me when I can spend hours reading a book that I enjoy. So if you don’t hear from me for a while…it may be because my nose is buried in a book.

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Eternal sovereignty

“O thou maidservant of God! Every woman who becometh the maidservant of God outshineth in glory the empresses of the world, for she is related to God, and her sovereignty is everlasting, whereas a handful of dust will obliterate the name and fame of those empresses. In other words, as soon as they go down to the grave they are reduced to naught. The maidservants of God’s Kingdom, on the other hand, enjoy eternal sovereignty unaffected by the passing of ages and generations.

Consider how many empresses have come and gone since the time of Christ. Each was the ruler of a country but now all trace and name of them is lost, while Mary Magdalene, who was only a peasant and a maidservant of God, still shineth from the horizon of everlasting glory. Strive thou, therefore, to remain the maidservant of God.

Thou hast praised the Convention. This Convention shall acquire great importance in future, for it is serving the divine Kingdom and the world of mankind. It promulgateth universal peace and layeth the basis of the oneness of mankind; it freeth the souls from religious, racial and worldly prejudices and gathereth them under the shade of the one-coloured pavilion of God. Praise thou God, therefore, that thou hast attended such a Convention and hast listened to the divine Teachings.”

-Selections From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Thank you to S.M. for sending this to me the other day, exactly when I needed to read it.
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Most of the time I don’t write about unpleasant things here. But something happened just now that left me shaking so badly that I had to pull into a parking lot and write it down.

I was driving in Lincoln Park, relying on google maps to get me to my destination (which was a bit confusing from where I was). A guy driving a very expensive little vintage sports car was driving quite fast behind me, and there were a lot of cars on the road. So I was being careful and going slower than I normally do (maybe 20 mph?) He started honking at me and flicking me off. At that moment, someone tried to back out in front of me, so I hit my brakes. He was trying to go around me so he ended up stuck behind me still.

When we stopped at the light he got out of his car and came over to my open window yelling. “You f*****g c***, what the f*** is wrong with you?” And he kept repeating that and gesturing like he wanted to reach into my partially open window and strangle me. I told him that I was going to call the cops and he said that I should. I rolled up my window and he went back to his car.

The light changed and I turned onto another street. I saw that he followed me for about a block and then turned and disappeared.

I was terrified he might have a gun. I was terrified that he would do something on a crowded street, even with a dozen people watching. He was older, bigger, and more intimidating, and he was a man. I don’t intimidate easily, but I also live in a gun-crazy country, in a city that is passing a law allowing concealed carry. I can handle a lot, and could have driven away, except there are some things you can’t outrun.

Where does a person learn to explode in such hateful violence against people they don’t know? What makes a man say such things to someone? I can’t remember the last time someone called me those things, but it was so shocking I didn’t even know how to respond. If he had come up to my window and been pleasant, or asked if I needed help finding something, we could have had a pleasant interaction.

His assumption that he was allowed to speak to me in that manner was unacceptable, but I could do nothing about it. And there is nothing unique in the experience I just had. A lot worse happens every day.

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Morning sunSome days are a waiting game.

Some weeks are.

The feeling of helplessness is never good for me.

I want to take action, solve problems, help people! The roadblocks sometimes seem insurmountable.

Taking deep breaths and just…waiting. For everything.

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our study circle

At the end of Ruhi Book 1 every Sunday night, we read a story about a Baha’i that served in extraordinary way. It started out as a way for the young ladies in the study circle (they’re aged 12-15, some non-Baha’i) to learn about the heroines of the Baha’i Faith, and it has been a great method to talk about different subjects outside of the book.

This week I felt like changing it up and we read about Martha Root in the beginning instead of the end. Somehow, we ended up spending 3/4 of our study circle time talking about her, the Holy Family, a brief overview of the Covenant, what happened when the Central Figures passed away, who were the Maxwells, why people break the Covenant, and if there are members of Baha’u’llah’s family still alive. They’re the ones that asked the questions that led to these subjects. I do the best that I can to answer their questions.

These young women just amaze me. I want to help them find a love for reading about the history of the Faith, to know the beautiful stories of service and sacrifice and love so that they can share it whenever they want. I feel lucky to have this interaction with them.

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MC at Greenlake Baha'i ConferenceI have been reflecting on the events of the last year, since March 21, 2012. It has been an absolute roller coaster. There have been challenges beyond my expectations, heartbreak, joy, travel, a beautiful summer, love, and a lot of laughter. I worked on one of the biggest events I’ve ever coordinated (the Centenary of Abdu’l-Baha’s visit to the United States), was a MC at a Baha’i conference, attended several other conferences (including a session at Louhelen with Mr. Nakhjavani), attended weddings, celebrated the birth of so many babies I’ve lost count, grieved the loss of family members, facilitated a youth group, began learning how to be a member of a Local Spiritual Assembly, worked on a never-ending Wilmette Baha’i archives project…

I wandered my city in rain, wind, sun, and love. Mostly in love.

At Green Lake

It has been proven to me beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am surrounded by some of the most amazing family and friends that this earth has to offer.

I have learned that people can be exceptionally cruel and not even understand that what they have done is wrong.

I have been validated in my feelings and told that I am loved.

I know that I need to be in warm, sunny weather to keep my spirits up to my normal state of existence.

I have taken greater risks this year than I ever have before.

I will never, ever let people tell me that my joyful exuberance needs to be reined in. And I will do my best to make sure that my actions allow others to feel no judgement, and to feel welcomed in my circle.

In Monterey, by the aquarium

To everyone in my life, thank you for this beautiful existence that we share.
I love you very much, and I wish you a very happy Naw-Rúz (Baha’i New Year).

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How to be happy

sunset from the roomIt still feels like winter here…the gray and cold have seeped into my body, I crave sunshine, heat, and friendly faces. I was reminded this weekend that I can bring joy to myself and others simply by choosing to be happy. There will always be people who are not pleasant, so how does one counter that with joy and radiance?

“Believers, he added, must show their belief in their daily lives, so that the world might see the light shining in their faces. A bright and happy face cheers people on their way. If you are sad, and pass a child who is laughing, the child, seeing your sad face, will cease to laugh, not knowing why. If the day be dark, how much a gleam of sunshine is prized; so let believers wear smiling happy faces, gleaming like sunshine in the darkness. Let the Light of Truth and Honesty shine from them, so that all who behold them may know that their word in business or pleasure will be a word to trust and depend upon.”
-‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London

“If we are not happy and joyous at this season, for what other season shall we wait and for what other time shall we look?

This is the time for growing; the season for joyous gathering! Take the cup of the Testament in thy hand; leap and dance with ecstasy in the triumphal procession of the Covenant! Lay your confidence in the everlasting bounty, turn to the presence of the generous God; ask assistance from the Kingdom of Abha; seek confirmation from the Supreme World; turn thy vision to the horizon of eternal wealth; and pray for help from the Source of Mercy!
-Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas

“Happy the soul that shall forget his own good, and like the chosen ones of God, vie with his fellows in service to the good of all; until, strengthened by the blessings and perpetual confirmations of God, he shall be empowered to raise this mighty nation up to its ancient pinnacles of glory, and restore this withered land to sweet new life, and as a spiritual springtime, array those trees which are the lives of men with the fresh leaves, the blossoms and fruits of consecrated joy.”
-‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization

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In dreams

Needed a moment of quiet by the lake. Sitting in my car.

I have never felt a greater need for silence than right now.
A great need to bury myself in a cocoon of books and tea,
I dream of warm sunlit beaches and time between us.

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