A few of my favorite things

http://singingkidding.live singingkidding I share links here and there of things I like (mostly on Twitter), but I rarely put them in one place. I’ve collected a few favorite places on the internet recently, so I thought I would share them with you.

http://prettysell.live prettysell Things Could Be Worse – I love the sheer ridiculousness of this series of tragedies, mostly because they make me smile every time I see a new one. Also, it reminds me not to be boring or feel sorry for myself. Things could always be worse.

seriousjohn

http://dirtyaddress.live dirtyaddress Colossal – This is an art and design blog that I enjoy because there is always stuff there that I haven’t seen elsewhere online. I’m trying to hone my artistic sensibilities, so I follow several different blogs that talk about these subjects.

http://adamevery.live adamevery F*** Yeah The Universe – Ok so the title is a bit off-putting for some, but the reason I love this blog is because seeing photos of the amazing universe that we live in (at least, our tiny corner of it) makes me really happy. It makes the existence of God more real, somehow.

afraidmoment

kiddingdoubt view Dear Photograph – This site can sometimes be a bit depressing, but it is also a good reminder to enjoy the moments that I live in.

mommylooking there The Monkeys You Ordered – Literal New Yorker captions. That is all you need to know.

jailmakes Finally, I gave in to peer pressure and joined Pinterest. You can find me there, collecting the things that intrigue me.

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the hill

harryreport view As we climbed the hill, golden leaves floated down and our footsteps scratched against the forest floor. Out of breath, we rested on a bench amongst the trees, and, looking up, saw two bald eagles circling around each other. There is no mistaking that silhouette, those forms. We stared out at the colors as the river flowed. The sun touched us with warm hands, made everything more perfect. This is what life feels like.

doesnenough hilltop trees

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Pumpkin “Soufflé”

After making a pumpkin cake for work, I had about half a can of pumpkin puree left over. I wanted to make something with the ingredients in my kitchen, so I threw a bunch of things in a bowl to see what would happen. It turned out pretty well! I’m calling it a souffle, although I suppose technically I didn’t make it quite like a souffle should be made.

8 oz pumpkin puree
8 oz softened cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Blend all of the ingredients in a large bowl. The mixture will be quite thin. Pour into small pyrex dishes or ramekins, then bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Check on it to make sure it has fully cooked, it may need a little while longer to finish. It made about 4 servings, so if you want more, double the recipe.

Pumpkin "Souffle"Top with fresh whipped cream if you like!

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autumn

This might be the last really warm weekend before autumn truly takes over. I have been reveling in these days of sunshine, crunching leaves as the colors change, walking under trees half-changed into their fall wardrobe…

Fall 3

I want to take pictures, fill my camera with a million moments with you, and write stories to go with it. I am afraid of losing the stories. The click of my keyboard replaced the scratching of the pen on paper, glow of my screen instead of candlelight.

I am turning my phone off this weekend. Need to escape from everything, take some real time to make my thoughts stop jumping around so much. Sometimes I forget how much poetry I found in the moments between, in the silence before the bombardment. I have forgotten how to write, how to be ok in stillness.

Find the bee!

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The month of Halloween

As much as I don’t like the weather getting colder, I must admit that I love October. Mainly because it contains all things Halloween. I love having an excuse to dress up. Some years I put my costume together at the last minute, but this year I decided to be ahead of the game. My living room is currently covered in scraps of muslin and batting:

Of course I won’t say what I’m making, the costume is a surprise, but it is going to be fun. I have just enough sewing skills to put together a pillow, hem pants, or alter an already existing dress. I was worried that I didn’t have a pattern, but then I realized I could project it up onto my tv screen and trace it onto the muslin. It was cheaper to buy 10 yards of batting (that giant roll in the photo), so now I have about 7 yards of the stuff. I’m going to have to take up quilting or something (riiight).

When I left work last night, the air smelled like leaves and rain. It was raining on one side of the building, but not on the other! And then there was a hailstorm as soon as I passed into Wilmette from Evanston, but luckily the hailstones were small. Oh, Chicago. You’re so strange. But the sunset was amazing! (Taken with a cameraphone, so this doesn’t adequately represent how beautiful it was.)

  

I bought a pumpkin last year for Halloween. Didn’t carve it, just put it in the corner of my dining room. I threw it out 6 months later, it looked as perfect as the day I bought it. I think it was possessed or something. Creepy pumpkin.

The other thing I can’t wait to do is take photos of the fall leaves. We’re still pretty green here, but southern Wisconsin has started changing and I hope to go there soon with my camera. Last year was lovely at Starved Rock, but it was raining so it was hard to get some of the shots I wanted. We’ll see how it goes this year!

Please excuse the randomness of my thought process in this post. I seem to have had too much coffee this morning and not balanced it with enough food. I shall remedy that problem now.

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My response to Ahmadinejad

Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times interviewed the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and one of the questions he asked was about the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran (which I haven’t seen much from other recent interviews, so thank you, Nicholas). Ahmadinejad’s answer, as with most of his interviews, was to slide around the question by asking more questions and being very vague.

Ahmadinejad implied that Baha’is are possibly a political or intelligence security group, that they break the law, and then brought the American hikers into it at the end. The entire answer was ridiculous, and shows how little logic enters the equation when it comes to human rights in Iran.

Ahmadinejad: Do you even know the group that you name? Do you know their makeup? Are they a religious group? A truly faithful group? Or a political group? Or an intelligence security group? Let’s make sure they are all named? Let’s make sure they all come forward. Let’s see their true makeup.

Sir, the Baha’is of the world have never tried to hide. We have always been exactly what we claim to be: followers of a peaceful religion that abide by the laws of the countries in which we live, who are endeavoring to foster community life and bring about peace. In every part of the world, you will find Baha’is doing all of these things openly, with love for their fellow human beings.

Since the very beginning of our Faith, the Baha’is have been persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, killed, banned from education, removed from their homes, and had property confiscated and destroyed. Our holy places in Iran have been razed to the ground, and our graves desecrated.

My great-uncle and his son were put to death because of their faith. I have never been to the country of my mother’s birth, it is my lost home. I love Iran, and I have never been there. Think of how great Iran could be if you let all of these innocents live freely, if you let children be educated whose only aim in life is to serve humankind.

There are Baha’is in prison at this moment whose only transgression is to try to help their fellow human beings, for believing in the same God that you believe in. There are many minorities in Iran who suffer, for no purpose except fanatical hatred and fear on the part of the government and clerics.

This is the true crime.

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Current favorite smoothie

I feel like I got cheated out of my summer. I don’t know where it went. Today was an especially crazy Monday, and I needed something to unwind after a long day, but I really don’t need to eat more cupcakes (I’ve eaten at least 1 per day for the last week). So I’ve been making these smoothies that take about 1 minute to make, and all of the ingredients are things that I keep in my kitchen.

1/4 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup apple juice (or orange juice)
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 banana

Blend. Be happy.

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1 year ago

On September 14, 2010, I received a phone call in the middle of the night from a friend with a voice full of tears. She told me that our friend Gavin Welch had passed away in a car accident in Houston, Texas that afternoon. Gavin was the first friend in my life that died young. He was 32 years old. We were in college at the same time, and so many of my best memories of my Chicago years include him. His joy for life, honesty, and pure heart were powerful, and we all miss him very much.

Gavin: 1978-2010Tonight his friends and some family will gather at the Baha’i Home in Wilmette to remember him, laugh together, and pray for the progress of his soul in the next world. Bahhaj recorded his version of a song in Gavin’s memory. Below is a video that his friends put together for the first memorial last year.

Gavin Badi Welch Memorial Video from Jennifer Brandel on Vimeo.

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new path

Starting this, I am walking down a new path
we once dreamed of this freedom
this chance to begin again.
To step outside ourselves
look down to where our feet touch the ground
keep them moving and remember the stories.
We whispered in our blanket forts and beneath the trees,
ice cream Sundays (and Mondays and Tuesdays)
and childhood dreams
If the photographs captured perfectly
the sight would be of every day,
when you look at me in this perfect way.

I stopped writing because it is so difficult to describe happiness with words. It just is. I will wander through an entire forest and the memory I am left with is just a snapshot of when we ran from mosquitos. I will climb a sand dune and am remembering standing on top of the world with you as I gasp from a lack of exercise and oxygen. I will walk through a city and I see brick walls with numbers on them. I will hold onto every quiet moment because that is where the foundation lives. I can’t remember not knowing you.

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Civic duty and chicken nuggets

I had jury duty today. I’ve never been called for jury duty before. Instead of being called to the circuit court down the road from my house, I had to take the train to downtown Chicago. It actually all worked out well, as it was a civil case and only lasted 3 1/2 hours. The judge asked if we wanted to skip lunch, which everyone was happy about since it meant we finished earlier.

When I left, I ran into the Daley Plaza Farmers Market…fresh fruit and veggies abounded, though I had to restrain myself as I had to take the train north to get home.

Tonight I decided to make my favorite new dish: battered chicken. I cut chicken breast into long strips, dipped it in 1 beaten egg, then in a separate bowl that had half corn meal, half rice flour mixed together, then threw it in a pan with some olive oil. Fried up fresh zucchini with paprika, butter, salt, and pepper…yum.

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Eggplant is painful

Tonight I am making Persian food for the weekend, as I’ll be in a cabin & won’t have access to all of my nifty cooking supplies. A trick that my mom told me about was to cook a whole eggplant in the oven, then take off the skin and use the eggplant in bademjaan (eggplant, chicken, tomatoes, split yellow peas over rice). That way you don’t have to fry the eggplant!

I used a fork to see if it was done, but I had forgotten to cut a hole in the skin before I cooked it, so it exploded on me. I now have 3 burns on my hand and one on my leg. I’ve put medicine on them but it is really just classic “Sholeh”. *sigh*

My first thought was “I should blog about this.” Yeah…

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Venues and their lack of photos

As an event planner, I am constantly scouring websites, looking for information, photos, and contact details for venues all over the country. Whether it is a hotel, a theater, a banquet hall, or a loft space, they nearly all have one thing in common:

It is almost impossible to find a decent photo of what their space actually looks like. If they DO include a photo, it is 200 pixels square and was taken with a point-and-shoot from 1995.

Really? You charge $4,000 for 4 hours of room rental, but you can’t hire someone to build a decent website and take a few nice photos? You are trying to sell your space but you don’t want anyone to actually SEE it?

ugh.

And don’t even try to find room capacity information on the website. They want you to fill out a little form, wait a week for someone to contact you..by which point the date you wanted has been taken.

Sometimes they try to get fancy and have a video or some muzak start playing when you open their page, which makes you jump because you forgot to turn down the sound after watching Mad Men last night. If I want a soundtrack, I’ll turn on my own music.

So this is for all of the venues out there who can’t seem to get their act together: if you want me to use your space, build a decent website. 🙂

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The Interrupters

On Friday night I went to the Gene Siskel Film Center to see a documentary film that a friend (Aaron Wickenden) edited called The Interrupters. The cast and crew answered questions after the showing, which was a powerful experience after having just watched them on the screen.

From the website:

The Interrupters tells the moving and surprising stories of three Violence Interrupters who try to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they once employed.

The Interrupters captures a period in Chicago when it became a national symbol for the violence in our cities.

…The Interrupters — who have credibility on the streets because of their own personal histories — intervene in conflicts before they explode into violence.

This film is incredible. See it. Talk about it. It will make you laugh, cry, and think. If you want to bring this film to your community, contact the filmmakers.

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Unfortunate excursion

I took a camp chair, some books, and a sandwich and carbonated doogh (yogurt drink) to the beach a few nights ago. The doogh fizzed a bit when I opened it, and I had nothing to clean up my hands, so I had to wipe my hands on my tank top, leaving yogurty white streaks.

I settled down to read, wincing every time the yuppie mom yelled at her daughter Ella to come back toward shore, and tried to enjoy the sunset and water.

sunset flight

At some point, a gaggle of teenagers were playing with a soccer ball in front of me and spraying me with sand until I gave them a bit of a glare, and they realized that there might be violence and quickly moved away.

THEN flies were biting my feet non-stop and the sun went away and I was cold, so I gave up on the sandy area and moved over to a grassy area in the park nearby.

My doogh didn’t have a cap anymore because I had dropped it in the sand. I set down my camp chair and placed the doogh in the cupholder. When I sat down and leaned into it, I nearly toppled backwards because I didn’t realize I was on a slight incline, and doogh sprayed ALL OVER ME.

Face, hands, legs, clothes, chair, sunglasses…covered in a salty yogurt drink.

so yeah.
I packed it in after that and called it a night.

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Surprise sunset

I was making spaghetti tonight and didn’t notice anything special outside through my kitchen windows. I left the kitchen for a bit to do some things in the living room, and when I went back to stir the sauce, I gasped out loud. This was the view from my window:

Sunset 1

I took a few quick shots, then went back to cooking. About 5 minutes later, I looked up again, and saw that the sky had turned more pink/purple.

Sunset 2

The view from my place at night is just stellar.

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warmth

beachtime

Unlike the vast majority of the people I know, I actually love hot weather. I would spend all day outside if I could, wearing a large floppy hat, giant sunglasses, and a killer swimsuit, reading a book by the Lake.

There is something drowsy and wonderful in the sunsets of summer, the golden light and iced coffee, toes in the sand…I am never more alive than right now.

The trunk of my car is always full in the summer. There are picnic blankets, a frisbee, a large hat, swimsuit, towel, and sandals. The necessary accoutrements for impromptu afternoons that bring a smile to my face and a cool breeze off the lake.

The simple things.

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Make of this mortal world…

nighttime tulips

“All humankind are as children in a school, and the Dawning-Points of Light, the Sources of divine revelation, are the teachers, wondrous and without peer. In the school of realities they educate these sons and daughters, according to teachings from God, and foster them in the bosom of grace, so that they may develop along every line, show forth the excellent gifts and blessings of the Lord, and combine human perfections; that they may advance in all aspects of human endeavour, whether outward or inward, hidden or visible, material or spiritual, until they make of this mortal world a wide-spread mirror, to reflect that other world which dieth not.

…Wherefore, O loved ones of God! Make ye a mighty effort till you yourselves betoken this advancement and all these confirmations, and become focal centres of God’s blessings, daysprings of the light of His unity, promoters of the gifts and graces of civilized life. Be ye in that land vanguards of the perfections of humankind; carry forward the various branches of knowledge, be active and progressive in the field of inventions and the arts.”

-‘Abdu’l-Bahá

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Lightroom

I finally bought a photo-editing program, Adobe Lightroom 3 (it was on sale). I’ve been using free programs for years now, but this is a lot more powerful, and also allows me to sort my photos and upload them easily.

This is kind of a big deal for me.

I’m the type of person that carries her DSLR camera in her purse on a regular basis. I’m more than happy to take a ton of photos and post them…I love it! But the strain of trying to find the few good shots out of hundreds, process them, and upload them was making photography no fun anymore. Since I try to shoot in RAW, I have process most of my photos.

Just in the last few days since I started using Lightroom, my workflow has changed, I am working quickly and efficiently, and I have more of the joy that I had when I first got my camera. Totally worth it.

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just.be.here.

there are a dozen things on the list that I carry in my head. technology tries to help me but in the end, I am left with this.
write it down, go from here to there to here, with these people and this event and and…
there is no sitting still.

I’ve been dreaming lately. I’ve always dreamed, sometimes I dream the future and it comes true, sometimes I dream the present and my fears. there have been dreams about every noun. I dream through the lens of my camera. I live in a place that is no longer new to me, I miss the warm sun and thousand year old streets and year-round flowers.

writing will begin again, with honesty, with the kind of raw power that I used to carry in every word. I forgot to hold onto that part of me when I started speaking more than I was writing. I want to write my book, the book of the things I learned. It is so difficult to be honest now when everything is analyzed to death. just be.

Here is the truth. Each day is wonderful, even in silence sitting side by side. The past has never been more distant.

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An Ode To Finals

I found this old post from December 10, 2003, and it made me smile, remembering the college days and how very horrible I was at test-taking (and apparently at writing odes). I don’t know why I put it in the drafts, because obviously it was published at some point, so I’m putting it back out there.

Accounting was atrocious
as it had the right to be
a horrible subject
it enjoyed torturing me
History was turned in
with absolutely no fuss
I quite enjoyed the class
I felt like such a genius
Management was tedious
but open-note tests do help
someone wanted me to sit with them
so they let out a yelp
All that is left is now Mathematics
statistics just kill me
probability gives me headaches
in this class there is no mercy
So wish me luck
my dear friends
as I study insanely
and pray for the end.

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The things I do

This is what has been happening…a glimpse into my (mostly) suburban life since we last spoke. I’m always busy, that is nothing new. And I’m pretty sure I’m forgetting a lot of things…

1. I took a flight around the city in a 4 seat Cessna. I have not had a chance to edit most of the 120 photos I took that day, but it was quite the experience. I hope to write a blog entry about it soon.

2. I hosted a bridal shower for a friend, during which we made fascinators and were really quite fancy. I will be attending her wedding this weekend, which I really am looking forward to.

the table

3. My little sister graduated from high school with honors. I am incredibly proud of her, she worked very hard. The graduation nearly got evacuated because of severe thunderstorms, but we made it through.

4. I attended the funeral of Gayle Woolson, a Knight of Baha’u’llah and wonderful person who lived in many countries in Latin and South America, on June 1st. She was nearly 98 years old when she passed away. I took public speaking classes with her when I was a child. The funeral was beautiful and such a testament to her nobility and sweet nature.

5. I threw a surprise party this past weekend which nearly got torpedoed at least 3 times, but in the end everything worked out.

6. An adventure in Chicago with some friends, which really does merit its own post.

7. Lots of new material over at Nineteen Months! A number of articles, and a bunch of photos.

Mixed in with all of this is my junior youth group, a Ruhi study group, and responsibilities with the Wilmette Local Spiritual Assembly. Plus all of the amazing visitors and dear friends who come through Chicago on a regular basis. Life is great here.

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The flight home

In my last post I told the story of my adventures in mud on the way to my grandfather’s funeral in March. Well, my grandmother gave my sister and I some of Granddaddy’s tennis racquets. The one I was given had a wood frame around it to keep it from twisting from the force of the strings, and it is probably around 40 or 50 years old.

Granddaddy's tennis racquetI arrived at the airport about an hour before my flight, but when I went to the counter to get my boarding pass I was informed that my flight is delayed. Also, since I only had a carry on, I couldn’t fit the racquet into the suitcase, so the racquet had to be my carry-on and I had to pay $25 to check my suitcase. The gate agent felt sorry for me and upgraded me to economy plus.

As I had several hours to kill, I wandered around the Atlanta airport with my gigantic purse slung over my shoulder and an odd-looking tennis racquet in my hand. Now, I find it a bit strange that I can’t take water or a miniature Swiss army knife on a plane, but a tennis racquet with a solid wood frame bolted onto it doesn’t get a second glance from security…

Anyway, I had so many random conversations with people because of that racquet. Most of them were older folks who remembered playing tennis with a racquet like that when they were kids. I know I must have looked rather strange with that thing, riding the transit system and placing it carefully on the seat next to me where ever I was.

I am lucky to have a lot of paintings that my grandparents created, but I don’t have a lot of personal items from them, and it felt nice to have that racquet with me, almost a companion in my travels.

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Stuck in the mud

I forgot to write about an incident that happened on March 4, 2011. Well, maybe it isn’t so much that I forgot. It was slightly embarrassing and hard to convey without photographic proof, so I let it slip out of my mind for a while.

At 10:00 am I left my house to go to my grandfather’s funeral in Atlanta, Georgia. My flight was at noon and my friend had offered to let me park at her hotel near the airport and catch the free shuttle.

Instead of exiting at Mannheim road, I nearly missed the exit and quickly pulled over to the area that is designated “Mud Trap” on the map below, thinking I could just cut across that little triangle of dirt and continue on my merry way.

Unfortunately, days of rain had created a mud pit that immediately sunk my car 4 inches deep. I tried using pieces of cardboard under the wheels, used a snow shovel, turned my wheel in every direction…nothing worked. I called AAA for roadside assistance…30 minute wait, minimum. I was getting worried that I was going to miss my flight.

After a while, a gentleman stopped to assist. He was wearing a very nice suit. He told me to turn the wheel a certain way and hit the gas…and promptly splattered him with goopy, side-of-the-road mud. I apologized profusely. of course. Finally a couple of taxi drivers stopped, and the three guys pushed my car onto drier land.

All I had to offer as thanks was some banana bread. The gentlemen refused my offer. One of the rough looking taxi drivers said with his thick Chicago accent:  “Honey, I’m on Jenny Craig!”

I zoomed to my friend’s hotel and told the story to the employees while I waited for the shuttle, covered up to my knees in mud and with mud all over my hands. I made it through airport security (they were baffled at my appearance) and had to wash my boots off in the bathroom by my gate. I made my flight (just barely).

The inside and outside of my car were mud-infused, and I had to get my car detailed twice before all of the mud was removed from the seats. I am still trying to get my boots clean. I truly wish I had photos, but all I could think was that I could not miss my flight.

Next installment: the flight home.

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Baha’i National Convention

I’ve been attending the United States Baha’i National Convention since I was a kid. There have been a lot of changes over the years, but I have to say that this year was one of the best that I have attended.

The House of Worship171 delegates are elected by Baha’is all over the country, and they come to the House of Worship to vote for the National Spiritual Assembly and consult on topics relevant to the advancement of the Baha’i community. If you want more details about the 103rd Convention, click on the links, as the articles are much more explanatory than I have room for here. There is also a Flickr page with photos from Convention, including an amazing photo of a red-tailed hawk.

There was a cohesive force, a unity among the delegates that I haven’t seen before. There was also an elevated level of discourse and desire to change habits of thought and action that was highly encouraging. A sense of joy and excitement pervaded Foundation Hall the whole weekend.

Nineteen Months - BeautyI was at the Convention for nearly every session, working as stage manager and doing other random duties as they came up. It is such a privilege to interact with Baha’is from across the country, and Mr. Hooper Dunbar (former member of the Universal House of Justice) and his wife Mrs. Maralynn Dunbar were attending as special guests. It took me back to my days in Haifa, attending the youth classes that Mr. Dunbar had every Thursday night.

There are always things happening behind the scenes at every National Convention…staff members doing heroic things to make sure that everything goes smoothly, sweet moments of conversation between friends, a youth inspired to offer a prayer, even the panicked rush to make sure the microphones are working (my constant battle this year). But as I try to convey every time someone brings it up, it is truly a fun, intensely rewarding experience to contribute to the success of this gathering.

Although I have to admit, I would like to take a nap right now. 🙂

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Warmth

pink cherry blossoms
I can almost feel the soft summer
there is a murmur, a promise in our words
we can plan and scheme and the whole world sees
but mostly it is just between you and me.

One day we will be wrapped in blue skies,
once in a blue moon we’ll be stepping
through cherry blossom trees.

I almost forgot to write it all down
I almost told them all before I told you
every secret in my heart,
I almost fell asleep wrapped in black velvet dreams.

Our hearts are dipped in fine fiery lines
in steady beats amidst the echoes,
the simplest thing at the perfect time.

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The month of Glory is up at Nineteen Months!

If you haven’t already checked out the awesome photos over at Nineteen Months for the Baha’i month of Glory, I highly recommend that you do so right now.

I’ll wait for you to do that before continuing.

Nineteen Month-Glory

There are also some great articles on the subject of “Community”, and we’ll keep updating those throughout the month.

I took the above photo in D.C., and have yet to upload the other photos that I took there. I’m working on it, there are a lot of other things going on right now. Keeping Nineteen Months going, family, friends, Holy Days, Baha’i National Convention coming up at work…not to mention all of the people and side projects I have to keep up with. It is great fun, but sometimes I just want to curl up on my couch and do absolutely nothing.

Contrary to popular belief, there are times in which I actually do rest and let my mind take a break. It isn’t often, but I try to make that effort. There is just no way to be productive if I’m constantly running on empty or am stressed out.

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And wedding season begins…

I have the blessing of many dear friends and am in my 20s. This equates invitations to 3-5 weddings per year, which is actually fun for me because I love this stuff. The insane wedding industry is not appealing, but the organizational tasks, the brainstorming and list-making are so interesting. I truly love helping my friends as they plan.

Ana put all of this together herself!

Then of course, are the crazy stories surrounding the weddings…the time that the florist forgot to make the bridal bouquet, guests getting lost, DJs forgetting the music (this happened at two weddings I’ve attended). I guess it was funnier to me because I was a mere guest.

centerpieces

I attended 2 weddings last month, 2 weekends in a row (Chicago and D.C.). I am excited for both couples starting their lives together, and seeing how they continue building their lives as a couple. The weddings are fun, but the marriage is the part that matters. Congratulations, dear ones!

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Driving D.C.

I was in Washington, D.C. to attend a friend’s wedding last weekend. It was a beautiful, special time that I feel blessed to have participated in.

However. I have figured out why all of the politicians who are based in D.C. are so angry. It isn’t the divisive politics or the lobbying. It is the complete inability for anyone in that town or the surrounding area to drive.

I have never experienced anything like this before. Part of the problem, really, is that the city is laid out in such a way that there are stoplights on every block, no decent signage, and few left turn lanes. But whatever the issue, there is no excuse for the terrible decisions that I saw being made on a regular basis.

Now, Chicago can get a bit crazy sometimes. But it doesn’t hold a candle to D.C. These people seriously don’t know how to use turn signals, they cut across 3 lanes of traffic on a whim, and are just plain obnoxious. THEN add tourists and pedestrians on phones, and you’ve got a recipe for a nervous breakdown.

And by the way, it did not matter what state they were from. They’re ALL terrible and I literally shouted “I LOVE CHICAGO.” when I got behind the wheel of my car on Sunday night.

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Nineteen Months – the online magazine

The international photoblog that I’ve been working on for the past year has evolved. We have turned it into an international collaborative online magazine. It still has the photos, but we have added articles, features, and reviews.

Ronnie and I asked photographers and writers to join our team over the course of several weeks, reaching out to a diverse group of friends around the world. It has required conference calls across two time zones, many emails and gchat conversations, and a great deal of consultation. Oh, and we did most of it during the Baha’i Fast. That may have been a little crazy.

To answer a common question I’ve gotten over the last few days: no, we do not have any funding. None of us get paid to do this, it is an individual initiative. The response has been overwhelming and inspiring. We’ve had 2,100 hits in three days. People have been emailing us from around the world, commenting, and promoting it. (Please keep it up, folks! We love our readers!)

If you’re interested in participating (or know someone that you want to recommend to us) you can check out the FAQs. Our contributors are so amazing and I can’t wait to see how Nineteen Months progresses. Thanks for all of the support!

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