“Get Up And Walk”

I’ve been absent from my page for some time now. Perhaps the longest time since I started my blog five years ago. That drives me crazy. This is the place that helped me get up and stand on my feet when I was at my lowest.

For almost a year now I am facing yet another challenge. Next month in June it will be exactly one year that I am trying to find my balance and I am hoping and praying that things will settle down somehow.

We human beings are so resilient. We fall, we get up, we rise, we fall again. We expect the worse, and yet when we face it, when it happens, we are shaken. But nothing prepares us for the moment of death, for that moment in time when we lose a loved one. No matter how prepared we are, the reality shakes us to the core. That feeling of loss is like nothing we have experienced before.  

When I lost my husband, I felt this emptiness inside. It is still there. I carry this mountain of sadness in my chest that I try to put aside. I will never get over his loss and the emptiness and sadness will always be there. It will not go away. Nor will it change its intensity. But I choose to put it aside whenever I can help it. 

This page, my page helps me do that. It helps me heal. It is the place where I can be myself. I don’t have to pretend. It helps me travel down the memory lane. I remember all the people I have loved and who have loved me. I remember those I’ve lost over the years. But I also remember the people who have hurt me and the ones I have hurt and I feel sorry for doing it. 

Absenting myself from my page makes me bitter, angry and resentful. And yet I hate to admit it but I have developed a certain attachment to my own comfortable misery. As if I am expecting or waiting for some kind of instant gratification to be moved and motivated to continue.

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Didn’t Jesus say to the sick and the fallen, “Get up and walk,” instead of saying, “Let me help carry you,” or something. Didn’t he mean it in the way that you alone can help cure yourself? Take the first step, stand up and try. Have faith and you will rise and walk. It’s that first step that is the hardest to take.

When I first started my blog I didn’t know where I was going with it, where it would lead me, or if I would be able to continue. When I expressed my concerns to my late husband at the time, he said, “You just start, don’t think about anything else. You just take that first step and start, then all will follow.“ 

Now that he is gone, my page has helped me heal my past somehow and ease the pain. It has helped me come home to myself when I was lost and didn’t know where I was going. Thanks to my fellow writers and bloggers and readers it has given meaning to my life again when I was certain I had lost my purpose. 

John W. Gardner wrote:
“Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure is of less account.” 

ChK

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1.5 Million Reasons Why

Today is the 24th of April. It’s the day when all Armenians all over the world gather and march in memory of 1.5 million who died in the hands of the Turks one hundred and one years ago. 

Robert Fisk calls the mass murders committed against us, the Armenians, the first genocide of the century. He goes on to say that later on, the Germans not only learned from the Turks but mastered their methods to kill the Jews. Yet the Armenian genocide, until today, is not recognized by many countries around the world. 

President Obama didn’t use the term genocide in his speech.

George Clooney said that it’s been a long struggle to have things called by their names. He said it’s hard because we live in a complex world, but added, “One cannot deny what has happened. When someone is trying to annihilate a whole human race, culture, people, that’s genocide, there can be no other version of it.” 

While Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, said in his speech: 

“On this day, we mark the 101st commemoration of the tragic loss of life of the Armenian population during the waning days of the Ottoman Empire in 1915. Both the Senate of Canada and the House of Commons have adopted resolutions referring to these events as genocide. We preserve the memory of those who lost their lives, and those who suffered during this genocide and pay our deepest respects to their descendants, including those who now call Canada home.” 

My parents and grandparents come from Musa Dagh, where they put up a resistance and fought against the Turks. “The Forty Days of Musa Dagh” by Franz Werfell is their story, our story. He wrote:

“It had dawned, the fortieth day on Musa Dagh, the eighth of September, the third of famine. Today the women had not troubled to go in search of unnutritious herbs from which to concoct a bitter tea. Spring water was just as filling. All still able to stand clustered round the various well-springs – old men, mothers, girls, children. It was a queer sight. Again and again, one after another, these exhausted faces bent down to the water-jets to drink without thirst, out of hollow hands, as though to drink were an urgent duty. Many lay down flat, breathing heavily, feeling that their bodies were like some porous clay that stiffened slowly in the air. Others dreamed happily. They felt certain that now they were growing wings, that as soon as ever they liked they could spread them for a short blissful flight. Over them all lay a veil of gentle slowness. The small children were all fast asleep; the bigger ones had ceased to be noisy. That morning three old people died, and two sucklings. The mothers kept their wretched creatures pressed against empty breasts until they stiffened and became cold.”

My grandparents and great grandparents were on the mountain on that day. On this day and every day we owe our lives to all those who lost theirs.

In an interview with Elie Wiesel discussing his book “Night” based on his memories of the time he spent in a Nazi concentration camp, when all his family was killed, the interviewer asked how he was able to laugh again, to go on with his life, after seeing what he saw. Wiesel replied:

“Let me turn it around. After seeing what I saw and living in the shadow of death each day, I have six million reasons to laugh, and be happy and go forward.”

Rose

We have 1.5 million reasons to live, laugh and go forward and demand justice from the world.

ChK 

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All This Madness!

My heart is sad today. So many innocent people dead this week in Brussels. What is happening to us, to the world? And why? All those killings, all those innocent lives lost, all those crimes committed against humanity by humans. It’s so bad, it’s like “feeling sick in the stomach” bad.

Why all this madness? Why now? I often ask myself these questions, although I don’t know the answers. I don’t think anyone knows.
 
We human beings are defined by our past. Our identity as humans and as nations lies in our past. I ask myself, is it because over the centuries the mass murders and the genocides that were committed against people and against nations went unpunished? Is that why we are in this mess today? Is it because the oppressors got away with their crimes that these atrocities are still continuing against innocent civilians?

Eckhart Tolle writes:

“How is it possible that humans killed in excess of one hundred million fellow humans in the twentieth century alone? Humans inflicting pain of such magnitude on one another is beyond anything you can imagine. And that’s not taking into account the mental, emotional and physical violence, the torture, the pain, and cruelty they continue to inflict on each other as well as on other sentient beings on a daily basis.

Do they act in this way because they are in touch with their natural state, the joy of life within? Of course not. Only people who are in a deeply negative state, who feel very bad indeed, would create such a reality as a reflection of how they feel. Now they are engaged in destroying nature and the planet that sustains them. Unbelievable but true. Humans are a dangerously insane and very sick species. That’s not a judgment. It’s a fact.” 

I remember decades ago when cars often exploded in busy and crowded residential areas of Beirut. I used to walk in the middle of the street, avoiding the parked cars on the sides. They represented a big threat to me, as I thought that any of them could be loaded with bombs that would detonate at any minute. I used to be so scared sometimes.

When I think back I realize how foolish I was to think that I could be safer walking in the middle of the road, avoiding the pavements. How could I think I could be safer from such explosions? But man is hopeful. We always live and dream of a future that will make us happier or richer or safer. When truths are twisted to suit the needs and demands of certain people or nations, annihilations take on a different meaning and the world becomes an uglier place. 

Elie Wiesel writes:

“What did he want to learn here? That human beings are frail? That their truths change? That there is one truth for the judges, another for the judged? That doubt is as necessary to faith as air is to fire? That there is only a fine line between innocence and guilt? Madness frightens me, but not as much as those who push them into madness.” 

What’s going on in different parts of the world right now is pure madness. I pray for all those innocent lives lost in Brussels and elsewhere in the world. I join my voice to Elie Wiesel’s and say, we fear madness but not as much as those who push them into it.

Rose

ChK

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When Did You Last Hear?

When did you last hear someone say to you, “I believe in you”?

It’s a cold morning in Montreal. Sitting at my desk, I look at the snow outside. Soon I should start writing, but I don’t. Instead I keep thinking and wondering. I am at a very low point in my career now, my self esteem is at an all time low. And I keep questioning, how did I get to this point? Why didn’t I get back to teaching while it wasn’t too late? Why did I let myself into this? 

I look back and I see his picture in its white frame on my desk. I look at his face. I long to hear his voice. I long to hear him say, “You can do this, I believe you will do this, I believe in you.”

“I believe in you.” 

It’s been a long time since I last heard those words from him. Three years, three months and thirteen days, to be exact, since the day he left us and this world. 

Rebecca Maddox writes:

“To succeed beyond our widest imagination, I am convinced that each one of us must find someone who will be our “I believe in you” person. This is a must. I don’t care if you’re a business owner, an executive, an employee, a mom, a student, or a person in transition from one role to another: if you do nothing else in preparing for whatever change lies ahead, find this person, no matter what it takes or how long it takes. It’s that important.”

I realize now how important it was for me to hear him say “I believe in you.” He was always there to listen to me blabber about my dreams, about everything and everyone, to help me out in dealing with my problems. I trusted him unreservedly and completely. When he spoke it was always from his heart and his head. He was my number one critic and my number one fan when it came to my writing.

He was my “I believe in you” person, or as Julia Cameron later referred to it, my “Believing Mirror.” To use her words: 

“A believing mirror is a carefully chosen individual who helps a project’s growth by believing in it in embryonic stages. Another way to think of a believing mirror is the old expression “secret sharer.” Most of us need to talk to someone, sometime, about our creative aspirations. The right person to talk to is a believing mirror.” 

I not only trusted him with my dreams but also with my life. I miss my talks with him. I miss hearing his voice. I miss him terribly. Without him in my life I am lost sometimes. And at those times I feel utterly lonely. 

When did you last hear someone say to you, “I believe in you”?

BELIEVE

ChK

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Ten Steps To Becoming A Writer

I’ve noticed lately that most of the articles or blogs being published online or in print are in the form of lists. Like ‘Five Things to Do to Lose Weight’ or ‘Eight Steps to Success’ and so on.

I remember for me it was the late Stephen Covey who first started this trend, with his ‘7 Habits of Highly Successful People’.

Here’s my first list edited from my July 2012 post.

Step 1: Start with an Idea.

Step 2: Draw out a Plan- theme, characters, plot.

Step 3: Read and Research (if necessary).

Step 4: Start Writing (actual writing process).

Step 5: Keep on Writing until you Finish the first draft.

Step 6: Put it Aside for a While and do Something Else.

Step 7: Get Back to your Draft and Start Cutting and Editing.

Step 8: Query Agents and Publishers.

Step 9: Don’t wait, Start a New Project.

Step 10: Read! Read! Read!

books&books

And remember to have fun!

ChK

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Dream A Little! Imagine!

“As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.” Toni Morrison

Spiritual gurus and coaches of positive thinking say that before you do anything important in your life, you have to remember to dream. You have to see yourself doing what you want to do. You have to see yourself as the person you want to become. You have to imagine and see yourself realizing your dream. To achieve success you have to dream. You have to imagine.

Dream a little! Imagine! 

Early in the 1990s I read the book ‘Writing’ by Kenneth Atchity. It was part of the writing program I had enrolled in at the time. In it the author introduced the ‘Thought Control Process.’ He explained that thinking about negative things or about depressing things was a waste of time. He suggested an effective way to get rid of those thoughts. Every time you found yourself driving along and thinking dark thoughts, you train yourself to switch to positive thoughts, like thinking about something you love to do most. 

To switch away from my dreadful and gloomy thoughts and depressing feelings, I will think about a writing project. And l will try and write entire scenes or even stories in my head. I will be happy doing so. Whether I will remember some or all of it when I am awake the next morning is a different story. But one thing I know for sure is that my negative thoughts will not bother me because I will be happy imagining.

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When we have something important to take care of, don’t we make it our priority? We concentrate on our task ahead and try to stay focused and take control of our thoughts and situation. Most of the time we spend nights tossing and turning and wondering about how the task can end, especially if it’s something hard, like an interview or a presentation or a talk. I personally rehearse scenes or think over multiple scenarios in my head if I have something scheduled the next day, even if it is as simple as having coffee with a friend.

If this is the process that all these professional speakers and coaches talk about then I am all for it and happy to do it. But sometimes I can’t help but feel that ‘I am in the woods’ as the saying goes. Especially when I am trying to make a decision. Because here is the thing.

One thing I think I am good at is collecting information, reading and taking notes, and preparing the ground for what I want to do, or the project I want to work on. But dreaming about it and actually doing it are two different things. 

When I have done my research and I think I am ready to start work on my project I feel dubious. My feelings are like a seesaw and one day I am happy and the next I am wishing for something else. Is this fear then? Is my fear blocking my chance of success?

Eleanor Roosevelt said:

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

I like to take risks but at the same time I am afraid to lose the sense of security that I have. Am I afraid that if I pull it off then my life will change? 

I have learned from experience that if I allow myself to try things I think I cannot do, or rather I cannot do perfectly well, and do them, even if I have to sweat for it, the experience helps me hone my skills and grow in spirit. At the end of the day I am a happier person even if I complain and nag and fuss about it.

Paul Auster wrote:

“The world is so unpredictable. Things happen suddenly, unexpectedly. We want to feel we are in control for our existence. In some ways we are, in some ways we’re not. We are ruled by the forces of chance and coincidence.”

ChK

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Wouldn’t It Be Nice?

On Sunday night, I watched the movie “Limitless” starring Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro,based on the novel The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn. 

The film is about a writer, Eddie Morra (played by Bradley Cooper), who is blocked and cannot write and is facing a deadline. His apartment is a mess and so is his life. His girlfriend breaks up with him and he is stressed. Then he runs into his ex-brother-in-law who gives him a drug, called NZT-48.

Thinking that no harm can come from taking only one pill, Eddie takes it and within seconds his life changes. He cleans his apartment and sits and writes his book, which he finishes in four days. All of a sudden he is filled with this energy and power to learn things, new things, like how to play the piano, or how to speak in different languages, and he does all that in a significantly short time. He even remembers incidents from his past that he didn’t before. He sees people and images in brighter colors. Soon he becomes successful and gets back with his girlfriend. Then of course he finds himself in dangerous situations and he always manages to get out. 

Later in the film when his girlfriend is in trouble and being chased by a killer with a knife in hand, Eddie tells her just to take a pill and she will know what to do and how to get out of that situation. 

It was one of those films that left me with a good feeling. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was some kind of medication we could take to make us smarter? To make us write those good books we always dream of writing, to help us learn new languages, to help us know better and do the right thing, or have the right answers. Or to know what to do when caught in a life threatening situation and facing danger…

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Sometimes when I am so overwhelmed by life, so swamped by responsibilities and the expectations of others, I become so distraught and panic-stricken, so overwrought and exhausted. And I start wishing for some external power or some magic to help me face my fears and get me out of the dire situation I find myself in. I go to bed after having yet another bad day, hoping and wishing that tomorrow might be different. Hoping for a miracle, for the break that may never come. 

At times like that, when I feel anguished and sort of lost and sleep won’t come, I make a wish list in my mind. I make a list of all the things I want to do and all the things I want to be. It helps me get connected with myself. It helps me to remember who I am and where I want to be. It helps me to stay focused. It helps me to calm down and to not panic. 

“It’s so easy to rush ahead into fear and panic. It is easy to miss the beauty that awaits us in the here and now. So much of life is like taking a photograph. We must pause to catch the moment and savor our delight.” Julia Cameron 

ChK

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