May 2005 Archives

Empty Place


You may not know the specifics, but I know you can relate to the feelings.

There's a part of me that just hurts. In fact, I am apparently going to have to write this blind, as I can't help tear up at the memory....

One of my office mates left Israel this morning. And, as she and her husband have been here since the inception, literally, of the Universal House of Justice, it was a particularly special occasion as they left the Seat of the Universal House of Justice just shortly before their departure. The entire building assembled to wish them good-bye. One of our friends led us in song, and they paused, acknowledging us, and quietly turned and left the building. So typical of their quiet, unassuming ways.

I guess I just want you to know how honored I am to have known these people. Both husband and wife have bestowed upon me so much noble loving guidance. So much humble encouragement - as if they weren't some of the most accomplished, selfless human beings on the planet. For a brief moment in time, my life touched history in the making - and I was worthy of it.

And I miss them. And it makes me sad. And I know it was time for them to retire. And I know that life still goes on here at the Baha'i World Centre, and now there are new people on the Universal House of Justice. But for a minute I will let myself be sad.

For a lifetime, I will cherish the memories that they created for me in a special - open - space in my heart.


Idealism {a.k.a. Irony}

This is our virtue of the week. For those of you who have been following this blog for a while, you may remember that Mark and I use the Virtues Guide as family prep. We select a virtue a week, study it together, and then try to focus on opportunities to practice it. One of the concepts of the book is that you can study a virtue a week with your children in order to help teach them these virtues. One of our friends had been doing this with her partner since they were dating - now married they still do a virtue a week. Since there are so many virtues and you only spend a week on each one, doing them over and over, year after year, takes a while to get repetitive. We liked the idea and started doing it ourselves, so that we'd know a thing or two about these virtues before we sat down to work on them with future children. [I must admit, I don't think this is the person I envisioned myself becoming when I was younger.]

So, this week is idealism. Which is so ironic it's not even funny. What makes idealism funny to a girl who spends years working to get her master's degree just to jump ship, move to Israel and work 44 hours a week to earn, literally, nothing for 30 months? Well, umm, see ... it's been our 'virtue of the week' now for, oh, well, I think about 3 weeks now (it's actually longer than that but I'm choosing not to include our week in Spain).

Yes, folks, here we are, preparing ourselves to raise our as yet unconceived children but can't seem to get around to reading about idealism!

Well, idealism will be our virtue of the week for at least another week, I geuss. (Mara then weakly smiles and blushes as she can hear her brother Nathan laughing raucously all the way from Edinburgh. I'm here for you, Nae. Any time you need a laugh, well, you know where to find me!)

Extreme Sport: Gardening


I did it. I went all out with the garden this weekend. And I won - sort of. Actually, maybe Mark is more of a winner than I am. Friday morning Mark and I worked in the garden for 3 or 4 hours. I tore out the wall of nastertiums (sp?), trimmed lavender, lemon verbena, and did a bit of pruning - all in the back terraced garden. Then, on Saturday, Mark had to go into work, so I had some friends come over. God bless Selvi, Amelia, Dean & Jeanne (last two being the former residents of our flat). They all came at some point during the day and helped me out. Dean cleared out all this nasty brush we had in the back and Jeanne cleared out a bunch of nasty debris that the neighbor had been busy denying was his (he swore Jeanne & Dean had left it there - ha! I highly doubt it). Selvi & Amelia cleared out the beds near the steps leading to our flat and got me started on tearing all the tall grasses that everyone is so afraid would allow snakes to lurk. I tore out so much high grass (and yes I used gloves) that my fingernails hurt. Yes, you read that correctly. My fingernails hurt.

But it's done. Thank heavens. And although I am in quite a bit of pain (I went to bed at 10 last night and didn't wake up until 11 this morning!), I feel so much freer now that it is d-o-n-e. Our garden looks good, we can picnic there, and our neighbors don't have anything about which to give us disparaging looks. Phew, what a weight off my mind.

In any case, I'd like to close with one of my favorite prayers. As some of you may see, it's full of stuff in there that I can spend some time working on myself, but it is such an uplifting prayer - suggesting to me that a lot of the problems I have are only problems because I let them be and that God's counsel is to let go of them, that I am too hard on myself. I also learned how to say this prayer in sign language when I was about 15 and have 'performed' it for various events & prayer gatherings in a number of countries over the years. Even those who don't speak English find the sign language version very accessible. In any case, here is the prayer:

"O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers. I lay all my affairs in Thy hand. Thou art my Guide and my Refuge. I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being. O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life. O God, Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord."

I suppose this could also explain many of my decisions throughout my life to some of the people in my life. This is where I find my strength, and therefore it is where my allegiance lies - if that makes sense.



I get this way every once and a while. Or maybe, rather, I realize every once and a while that this is how I am living my life.

I am a planner. Those who really know me are laughing right now at how much of an understatement that is.

I seem to live each phase of my life, preparing for the next. I'm not much of a spontaneous, in the moment person - even when I am spontaneous. I guess I can appear spontaneous on a more detailed level, but when you zoom out and look at my bigger picture, well, I'm just a hotbed of planning.

For example, towards the end of my undergraduate schooling I started getting panic attacks. These general things - I didn't even know why I was panicking, which made me all the more panicky (what have I forgotten that I'm panicking about?!?!). Yeah, well, I had no plans whatsoever as to what I was going to do after college. And once I figured out, it was, generally speaking, all good.

Then I got married, moved to France, and although I worked very hard to enjoy that time apart from Mark, when I was interacting with Mark it was all about planning our future life together.

We sort of settled in, then moved to Israel. Now we're in Israel, and pretty much definitely leaving in a year. I am planned out. If you can relate to that.

In fact, I bet you're planned out.

The thing is, I'm not sure how to turn this O-F-F. We've got another year, which I am sure we'll enjoy. But I still have this nagging desire to plan. Plan exactly when we'll have a child, where we'll live, how we'll support ourselves, etc. (gah! such a control freak!) When will it stop? Where will it end?

I remember that when my younger brother was little he was always saying things like, "If a three-legged monster jumps through my window and attacks our family, I'll kill it with the secret broom handle I keep hidden under my blankey." It drove me nuts - sometimes because it was a little too close to home for my own fears (burglars, etc.), but by and large, I was just like "as if, Mendon!" My mother told me I wasn't to discourage him, as it helped him order his world and feel safe. Apparently, I still suffer from the same syndrome: must - order - world. My apologies to Mendon.

I used to tease my parents that they were unable to be spontaneous, and even if they were, it was "planned spontaneity". Wow - where did I get off saying anything like that, eh? I hereby apologize to my parents (and my future children).

Any suggestions? Is there a Planners Anonymous?

Happy Mother's Day


To all the mothers - both new and experienced - happy mother's day [for where I come from anyway]!

Congratulations on agreeing to sacrifice so much of your former selves to create and nurture new life, both your own and your children's.

Congratulations to my mother, to my grandmother, to my mother-in-law, to my aunts, my friends, my sisters.

Congratulations to the future mothers, who are simply biding their time until their day comes [not that this is personal or anything].

Yay, mothers!

Anyone have cool, fun, sappy, heartwarming stories about a mother they know that they'd like to share?

Costa del Sol


So, Spain. Again.

Southern Spain is gorgeous. I know, it's a shocker. You can find a few pictures here - especially of our nephew at the moment, though there are more pictures to come.

We first met up with Mark's sister, Melissa and her son, Griffin in Torremolinos. Very touristy, but frankly, who cares? We had fun just bumming with Melissa and Griffin. It gave us a great opportunity to bond with the little 2 year old, seeing as how he was born only shortly before we left for Israel. Apparently, Griffy is a bit of a masochist. The story:

The weather was nice in the Costa del Sol, but it was balmy. And with a little wind, it was chilly. So, at its warmest - after lunch I believe - we decided to go swimming. We went to the pool, figuring it would be warmer, and easier to control Griffin. Problem? The water was freezing. No one wanted to get in the water. Except Griffin. So, I bravely volunteered. Having grown up in Cleveland Ohio, I know full well that "if you just keep moving, the water will warm up after a few minutes". At first, Griffin was in a little boat-type floaty, so he wasn't wet, though he was very amused by me going under water repeatedly. So, eventually, I got him in the water - bobbing him up and down. I thought he was cold, since he was shivering, so I put him out on the edge of the pool. This turned into the very obvious game of "I jump in and you catch me". Repeatedly, of course. The thing is, the air was nippy, so this poor little boy was shaking and shivering. We couldn't stop laughing at the sight of our nephew, shaking and shivering, with arms outstretched, ready to jump back in. Eventually, my guilt got the best of me, and I had to stop the insanity and dry him off. So, I had a big towel wrapped around him, drying him off as quickly as I could as he was still shivering and he was begging to go back in. Finally, he stands up tall, looks as officious as he can, takes a deep breath and pleads, "PWEASE!!!" Well, who could resist that? So, we went back in. Eventually, he did have enough of that. So, he got out to play in the poolside shower - guess what? Even COLDER!! So, he again asked to go in repeatedly, and each time the water went off, he ran out and said, "HOT!" ?!?! Who knew he got sarcasm? Heheheheh, well, he kept us in stitches for the duration of the visit, for sure - not to mention everyone else at the pool!

So, from Torremolinos we headed out to Marbella to join up with the Fojas parents (they arrived 2 days after us, hence Torremolinos first). Quite the swanky place, but I was actually pretty surpised at the economic diversity of the people there. Anyway, what to say? It's swanky, right on the Mediterranean, we walked on the beach quite a bit. We also went up into the mountains and visited Ronda, one of the white villages - you'll recognize the pictures of Ronda by the gorges. It was beautiful.

Oh, and there was a pool where we were staying in Marbella, too. There, Griffin would stand at the edge of the kiddy pool (thankfully a few degrees warmer than the other pool), with his back to me, count "one, two, twee!" and just lean back for me to catch him as he fell into the pool! This boy will apparently have no trust issues when he gets older! There were also a few jet streams at the side of the pool, which he loved. He would position himself to jump into one of them, and then, instead of putting him right back on the edge of the pool, I'd let him hang there a bit - he loved sitting right on top of it and letting it go up his diaper, heeheehee. He'd also try to drink it like a water fountain - ewwww!!!

And, of course, Mark had the requisite conversation with his parents, mainly his father, about coming home, going to med school, etc.

And it's a go. Mark is really excited, actually, for those of you who may have had your doubts. The decision is a result of prayer, and he feels this is what he is meant to do at this time. Additionally, his father, bless him, made a point of telling Mark that he hoped he was doing this for himself, not them [his parents]. That was really important for me to hear - probably more so than for Mark.

So, expect us home by next summer so that Mark can start school in the fall.

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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