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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Aggression

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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Waiting

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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Naw-Rúz

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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Old patterns of thought

Ninteen Months: Loftiness“O ye respected souls! From the continual imitation of ancient and worn-out ways, the world had grown dark as darksome night. The fundamentals of the divine Teachings had passed from memory; their pith and heart had been totally forgotten, and the people were holding on to husks. The nations had, like tattered garments long outworn, fallen into a pitiful condition.

Out of this pitch blackness there dawned the morning splendour of the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. He hath dressed the world with a garment new and fair, and that new garment is the principles which have come down from God.

Now the new age is here and creation is reborn. Humanity hath taken on new life. The autumn hath gone by, and the reviving spring is here. All things are now made new. Arts and industries have been reborn, there are new discoveries in science, and there are new inventions; even the details of human affairs, such as dress and personal effects—even weapons—all these have likewise been renewed. The laws and procedures of every government have been revised. Renewal is the order of the day.

And all this newness hath its source in the fresh outpourings of wondrous grace and favour from the Lord of the Kingdom, which have renewed the world. The people, therefore, must be set completely free from their old patterns of thought, that all their attention may be focused upon these new principles, for these are the light of this time and the very spirit of this age.

Unless these Teachings are effectively spread among the people, until the old ways, the old concepts, are gone and forgotten, this world of being will find no peace, nor will it reflect the perfections of the Heavenly Kingdom. Strive ye with all your hearts to make the heedless conscious, to waken those who sleep, to bring knowledge to the ignorant, to make the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and restore the dead to life.

It behoveth you to show forth such power, such endurance, as to astonish all beholders. The confirmations of the Kingdom are with you. Upon you be the glory of the All-Glorious.”

-‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p 252

Thanks to S.M. for sending this to me.
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Snowstorm

You may be aware that there is a snowstorm in Chicago right now. There was an Ayyam-i-Ha party at the Baha’i National Center this morning, and after lunch everyone was sent home because of the impending storm (which had already started). So a few girlfriends and I had an impromptu hangout at my place, which included conversations, food, nail polish, and television. It was exactly perfect on a night like this. Now they are gone and I fully intend to continue enjoying the evening. The silence of a snowy night is such a peaceful thing.

Thanks ladies. 🙂

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The story of everything

Beautiful things end up on my desk at work sometimes.

I wanted to write a story about everything
the pieces of days taking over
the peaceful nights where your voice keeps me going
how quickly time passes
and how very little time has passed.
We are building up moments to hide away for later
for sleepless nights or long days.
I want to write the story
about the things we cannot guess…

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Be

Flowers from an office party cheer things up a bit“Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression.”
-(Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh)

Trying to remember the above as I fight some battles, try to rest (managed to fight off a cold last week!), and keep moving along with everything. I am so lucky, and sometimes the reminders come all at once. This past week has been full of reinforcements from various people around me, some of whom have absolutely no idea what has been happening in my life…they just seemed to be inspired to encourage and show love to me. That, in turn, makes me want to do the same.

Sometimes we expect people to be fair, just, loving, kind, etc, and when our expectations are not met, we are sad/disappointed/angry. The feelings we have are valid, but what we do with those feelings is what matters. How do we encourage justice while showing detachment? How do we support the individuals and analyze/improve the process?

I’ve been thinking a lot about building capacity these days. About how to encourage people to develop their natural talents and strive beyond what they thought they could do. What kind of person do I want to be?

“The work advancing in every corner of the globe today represents the latest stage of the ongoing Bahá’í endeavour to create the nucleus of the glorious civilization enshrined in His teachings, the building of which is an enterprise of infinite complexity and scale, one that will demand centuries of exertion by humanity to bring to fruition. There are no shortcuts, no formulas. Only as effort is made to draw on insights from His Revelation, to tap into the accumulating knowledge of the human race, to apply His teachings intelligently to the life of humanity, and to consult on the questions that arise will the necessary learning occur and capacity be developed.” -Universal House of Justice, Riḍván 2010

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Football?

I hear there was this big football game last night or something. I watched a few minutes of halftime, which just made me sad that those beautiful ladies couldn’t find something classier to wear. I then got bored and turned everything off to read a book and drink tea. I ended up finishing the book (at least 300 pages) by the time I was tired enough to go to bed, and felt that it was a perfect way to spend my Sunday evening.

I have to say though, the commentary on Twitter made me laugh. Good job, everyone. You managed to keep me updated on the talking points and dissuade me from watching nearly all of the commercials (heard they were awful!).

And now Monday is here and, as always, I wish the weekend was longer.

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Silenced

Wisconsin sunset
we are an entire generation
silent
we are here to serve, to work, to strive
we are silenced
we raise our hands to voice concern
we raise our voices to fight injustice
we are silenced
our brothers and sisters are imprisoned
we are here, in a prison which should not exist
in a place that should be joyful
and we are silenced.

I will still fight this battle.

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these days

I still look at people like this when they don't make sense. #littlemeI have to say that this year started off with a lot of things…none of which I’ll talk about here for now, except in a very general way. I will say that a lot was thrown at me at once, in a way that was validating, scary, joyful, destructive, and just plain overwhelming, all in different ways.

But then, somehow, everything resolves itself. Just within a few weeks, I found some paths to clarity, and it is amazing. I am not there yet, but it is a good feeling to start.

I am looking forward to this year.

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Good things

I have been thinking about some of the difficult things going on in my life right now, and while I should not dismiss them as small or insignificant, I can choose to focus on better things, on the good things, at least in this space. I have been spending a lot of time in my condo this last week, sick with a nasty cold, and someone told me today to think about the things that make me happy.

The world is white.We had our first snow in Chicago this week. While normally this would make me sad, as I am not a fan of winter, I have actually been loving the beauty of this particular snowfall, and the drifting flurries throughout the week. I went out to snap some photos the other day, mostly for Nineteen Months, and it reminded me of how much I love traipsing around with my camera, hopefully with a few friends in tow. I miss that.

 

sushi nightWe made sushi last weekend, experimenting with different ideas to create so many rolls that we ate it over the course of two evenings. We laughed and worked together. It was lovely. I am loving the conversations, the diving into the joy of everything. It is good to remember these moments.

 

Starting to make a dent in the Wilmette Bahai Archives cleanup.I have been working on cleaning up the Wilmette Baha’i Archives for months now, but recently have had more incentive because we’re losing our storage space and have to move everything. As Archivist for our local community, I thought it would be helpful to go through over 70 years worth of papers before moving it. For every box that I go through, I trash about 1/3 of it. Mostly duplicate copies of things, or stuff we never should have kept in the first place. While it is a stressful thing sometimes, I also find really cool stuff sometimes.

 
love this little mooshI know entirely too many cute babies and kids. I’ve had the benefit of hanging out with a lot of them recently. Sometimes when things are rough, I just need a hug from a baby. Seriously, it fixes everything. I have also started hosting monthly dinner parties, which is the perfect thing in a Chicago winter, and I love having people over to my place. Sometimes it is a bit exhausting to be the one to initiate social contact with people on a regular basis, but this helps me feel a bit more connected.

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falling

The fallen leaves in front of my condo look like rose petals.she is watching the ground rushing toward her, a free-fall of joyful absolution.
she is wrapped in trust.
she is watching with her eyes closed.

once there was a story in her head about the possibilities
and then time took over, life sped ahead and the story became empty

these are days when each moment is held apart, shining, and she wants to remember everything. her memory can’t hold every look, every time her breath caught from joy. nothing is perfect, and everything makes her happy.

she never knew but always hoped.

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Distinction

Today.“For you I desire spiritual distinction—that is, you must become eminent and distinguished in morals. In the love of God you must become distinguished from all else. You must become distinguished for loving humanity, for unity and accord, for love and justice. In brief, you must become distinguished in all the virtues of the human world—for faithfulness and sincerity, for justice and fidelity, for firmness and steadfastness, for philanthropic deeds and service to the human world, for love toward every human being, for unity and accord with all people, for removing prejudices and promoting international peace. Finally, you must become distinguished for heavenly illumination and for acquiring the bestowals of God. I desire this distinction for you. This must be the point of distinction among you.”

-‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace

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What are you doing these days?

My friends have been busy. I’m sure I have forgotten someone, but y’all gotta let me know when you’re starting things. 😉

My supremely talented friend Andrew Johnson has come out with some gorgeous, limited edition prints of a few airport layouts. Buy one. Or two. You won’t regret it.

Dan Jones, over at Doberman Pizza, has relaunched his blog. He has been blogging for nearly two decades and has always been a great resource and friend in the Baha’i blogging world. After over a decade of internet interaction, I finally met him and his lovely wife Quynh in Montreal this summer.

Speaking of great blogs, a fantastic sisterly duo consisting of Bre Vader and Jaleh Darling recently launched a blog called The Superettes. It is fun, creative, and accessible, and I enjoy it thoroughly.

 

I am not going to even go into all of the engagements, pregnancies, graduations, and life changes of everyone…but congratulations if you have something going on that merits celebration!

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Thanksgiving: Part 2

Well, it took me more than a week after Thanksgiving to write this post, but my excuse is that I was recovering from the awesome food that I ate. 😉

I spent the evening before Thanksgiving cooking at my condo. By cooking, I mean “going crazy and using every stove burner, the oven, and all available counter space” to make everything at once. Ok, so I’m ambitious. I concentrated on side dishes and dessert, since mom was taking care of the meat. The result:

Prep night for Thanksgiving

 

There were: mashed potatoes, carrots, acorn squash, cranberry-apple sauce, gluten free stuffing & gravy, gluten free pumpkin pie, regular pumpkin and blueberry pies. The blueberry pie was very pretty, and since it was the first time I had made pie crusts from scratch (in recent memory, anyway), it was quite the endeavor to pull it all off.

Blueberry pie made from scratch

I then drove an hour out to my parents house on Thanksgiving morning and did the final prep work to get everything on the table by 1:00 pm. (Mom’s turkey was awesome, btw.) The final result of food was incredible, and the family had a lovely time eating for the rest of the weekend.

Thanksgiving at my parents house

I really loved helping take on so much more of the cooking. It helped me feel more ownership and enjoy the process a little more (as well as appreciate how exhausting it is). If you celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you had a lovely holiday.

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Thanksgiving: Part 1

I am feeling ambitious this year. I offered to help my mother cook some things in advance to alleviate the burden of cooking the giant meal. Our family, despite having a Persian element to some of our cooking, does the “traditional” American Thanksgiving meal. As it should be. 🙂

I will be documenting my adventures this evening, culminating in photos of the table tomorrow at my parents house. I am trying a few things I have never done before…so it may get messy!

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there is no winning this one

Winter. :(this is the result of years of battle, the scars run deep. the tears flow free.

if writing down a record of how you feel at this exact moment helps you remember…i am not sure that i want to.

there is a certain responsibility in holding onto things. i am tired of fighting this war, of the wounds reopening every few months. “if you don’t fight, who will?” (i am told) but fighting a one woman battle against the forces of inertia is an exercise in ulcers and frustration.

where do you draw the line, though? i need you (all) to fight with me, but there shouldn’t even be conflict here. i am hungry for something new to challenge me, for the excitement to come back. i love this place, but not enough to sacrifice my joy.

it is time to move on, and it is terrifying sometimes. But I am ready.

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Ducks

“When the Master was in the city Mrs. Goodall would drive Him and some of the friends (often including my father) to Lloyd Lake, a small lake surrounded by trees and flowering shrubs, in Golden Gate Park.  On the edge of the lake was placed a marble arch, which is all that remains of the Towne family mansion after the fire of 1906.  This arch is called ‘Portals of the Past’ and is on the shore across the lake from where the Master would stand on the path and watch the ducks.  The little ducks swam toward Him as if drawn by His presence.  Once He said, The ducks and flowers are more conscious of My presence than are the people of the city.  He spoke of many things and said that He hoped the Faith would progress in the West.”

[Source: Ramona Brown, Memories of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, pp.47- 48.]

Thanks to Christina M. for sending this to me. 
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Oh, American elections.

The Baha'i House of Worship this morningI’ve made my opinion on partisan politics known. I spent the evening last night doing errands (best night to do them, no one was out!), and tried to stay away from the pundits & coverage (though I DID vote). Many of my friends have commented on the madness that has overcome this country in the election…$2 billion dollars spent, not to mention all of the other baggage than comes with the way politics works in the US. I was sick of it before this year, and it is obviously a broken system. So we’ll leave it at that.

Yet all I can think about this this:

If love and agreement are manifest in a single family, that family will advance, become illumined and spiritual; but if enmity and hatred exist within it destruction and dispersion are inevitable. This is likewise true of a city. If those who dwell within it manifest a spirit of accord and fellowship it will progress steadily and human conditions become brighter whereas through enmity and strife it will be degraded and its inhabitants scattered. In the same way the people of a nation develop and advance toward civilization and enlightenment through love and accord, and are disintegrated by war and strife. Finally, this is true of humanity itself in the aggregate. When love is realized and the ideal spiritual bonds unite the hearts of men, the whole human race will be uplifted, the world will continually grow more spiritual and radiant and the happiness and tranquillity of mankind be immeasurably increased. Warfare and strife will be uprooted, disagreement and dissension pass away and Universal Peace unite the nations and peoples of the world. All mankind will dwell together as one family, blend as the waves of one sea, shine as stars of one firmament and appear as fruits of the same tree. This is the happiness and felicity of humankind. This is the illumination of man, the glory eternal and life everlasting; this is the divine bestowal. I desire this station for you and I pray God that the people of America may achieve this great end in order that the virtue of this democracy may be insured and their names be glorified eternally. May the confirmations of God uphold them in all things and their memories become revered throughout the east and the west. May they become the servants of the Most High God, near and dear to Him in the oneness of the heavenly Kingdom.

(Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith)

 

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Recent Things

1. Discovered the Skokie Lagoons a few weeks ago. The animals there are a bit odd…a heron that dove underwater and never seemed to come up, a squirrel that seemed rather fearless and acted a bit too human…but it is beautiful! Of course, now it is getting cold and isn’t nearly as much fun.

The famous entertainment center that I fit in my car.2. Found an entertainment center in an alley the other day. Managed to get it into my Honda Fit…after many contortions, laughter, and sore muscles. Emily had the back end and I had the top, and I am proud of us for wedging it into my car. I had been looking for something for our local Baha’i community’s  sound equipment, since the old setup had wires and all sorts of stuff sticking out and it looked messy. Re-wiring everything took some time (I have never claimed to understand this system), but now it looks a lot cleaner, and it was free. Double points!

3. My FB newsfeed is an odd mixture of lonely political posts (which I ignore, or that give me a reason to finally hide a person from my feed), photos of some friend’s amazing vacation to some island (which I also try to ignore because it makes me hate the coming winter even more), and links to articles that I sometimes read because a lot of the people I’m friends with have good taste in cool stuff.

Every other photo is of babies. Babies everywhere. Excuse me while I go find a baby to squeeze. There are plenty around, I just have to go pick one.

4. Saw a documentary a few weeks ago at the Wilmette Theatre (which is now a non-profit), and the director was on hand to answer questions. It was a beautiful, thoughtful look at Burma, a country which the director obviously loves. They Call It Myanmar…see it if you can.

Scary, at the Oriental Theatre5. Explored Open House Chicago on Saturday, which is “a free public event that offers behind-the-scenes access to over 150 buildings across Chicago.” It was awesome. The trick is to start out early in the day, because as it got later the lines got longer to get into some places. Even though it was rainy and dreary outside, I had a fantastic time. Chicago is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited and has fascinating architecture. It was fun to interact with the tour guides at various locations and learn about the history of some of these locations. I’ve decided that Art Deco is one of my favorite design styles.

6. I recently joined a Ruhi Book 8 Baha’i study circle (The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh), even though I’ve done part of this book before, it feels good to get back into organized study. I read Baha’i books all the time, but this kind of thing is different. It is a good group of people and it is in Wilmette…local is so good.

7. Can you tell that I like lists? I’ve never been a storyteller, I am more of an…information-sharer. Because I want to share my life with my audience (within certain parameters, or course), I have to find the easiest way for me. This is what works right now. I’ll share other stories in a more subtle way.

Coat shopping with @elimyp on Sunday. "It's perfect for you. You look like an astronaut." That is all the encouragement I needed. #latergram #winteriscoming8. Winter is coming. And I am not pleased about it. But I am prepared. Bring it on, cold miserableness. I’m ready for you.

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The Power of We

Blog Action Day brings together bloggers from different countries, interests and languages to blog about one important global topic on the same day.” 

The idea of “service” has been on my mind a lot recently- how do we serve others? Do we try to find out what people truly need from us? Are treating people with so much love and respect that they feel comfortable talking to us without fear of judgement? Are we being kind? Why do we sometimes see service as one-off actions or events, rather than as a way of life?

Ceiling detail, Oriental TheatreI truly believe that if we make conscious decisions about how we treat people, a certain power comes out of those interactions that has the ability to change our world. It isn’t about changing minds, but reaching hearts.

Sometimes we get overwhelmed at all of the things going on in the world. I often hear people make the excuse that “I am only one person, nothing I do will make a difference.” But when we are mindful of our actions, when we take part in the process of building our community on an everyday basis, we have a far greater impact than we can imagine.

Do something today: try to inspire yourself or someone else by showing compassion, standing up for someone, or even just taking a container of food to your neighbor who just had surgery. Take the small steps, and the larger ones will come naturally. When each person interacts with others in a way that acknowledges the necessity of caring for our fellow humans, we can be part of a force for greater good.

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