Sunday, December 31, 2017

2018 is here!!

This year I am working on the quality of Leadership.  Leadership as mastery over my own self, leadership as a parent, leadership in the community, leadership within my profession.

Leadership requires

pure hearted commitment to doing the right thing to promote the welfare of all
risk taking
tireless energy and  hard work
going beyond the call of duty
pulling people together
independence of all save God

Friday, January 01, 2016


This is my New Years Eve ritual--posting a New Year's blog.  As I read over my previous New Year aspirations I realize I am still working on all these core themes.

Two of the main foci for this year, however, are


Health is all about diet and exercise.

Wealth is about fearless aspirations and "Action 10X."

At the heart of both is self-mastery and RESTRAINT


I want to really and truly find a way to NOURISH my family with healing happy foods and mealtime ritual.  With flavor, beauty and joy.  With creativity and risk taking and persistence.  With seeking out accompaniment to improve my capacity to NOURISH.  By creating a PLAN.


I just came back from two weeks in China and so often I found myself saying "I wish we could eat like this at home."

Warm liquidy things: freshly made soymilk, millet-pumpkin-peanut-mung bean porridge, soups (the defeating thought that enters my mind is that my family will never eat this)--perhaps I can create my own warm liquidy recipes they would eat??

Chinese cold dishes:  cucumber, potato, soybean sprouts, carrots, cilantro/muer/onion/pepper + seasoning--sesame oil, vinegar, olive oil, ginger, garlic

simply delicious stir fried vegetable dishes

home made pea flour noodles

I want Chinese inspiration fused with Western flavors and healthy grain baking.

How will I make a plan for our family eating???  Use my reflections book and write plans and lists and idea brainstorming daily.
How will I plan for our financial management??? Use my reflections book and write plans and lists and idea brainstorming daily.

As I reflect: find ways to include the family in authentic consultation around these issues.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's aspirations 2015

High expectations: of self, children, husband, students, Baha'i community, friends and neighbors

Bring myself to account each day: cooking, eating, spending, working, parenting, being a partner, spiritual growth

Vision: lofty goals, enthusiasm

Joy: laughter, creativity, playfulness, good humor, gratitude

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

new years wishes 2014

world embracing vision


calm core strength

generosity with time
good humor

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Wishing you Power, Vision, Order and Joy in 2013

My spiritual wish list for the New Year

POWER-strength, unshakeability, faith
VISION--expansiveness, clarity
ORDER--organization, cleanliness, simplicity
JOY--delight, radiance, illumination

Power power power
Like a rocket ship, like a jet engine, like a MONSTER TRUCK just barreling over bumps and boulders with a rock solid super strong chassis

Forging ahead, forging ahead

Vision, vision, vision
With razor sharp clarity like an eagle soaring over the land with the capacity to take in the splendor of the spectacular expanses and at the same time able to have razor sharp command over the fine grained detail down below.  

I yearn for organization. I want to throw things out, give things away, put things in storage just so that we can have only what we need. I must invest time in it--initially and then continuously. This will be a primary focus for 2013.

Number one challenge: LACK OF TIME!!! Meet this head on, do battle with it, surrender to it, embrace it, become more efficient, multitask, LOVE, ("When there is love nothing is too much trouble and there is always time" :-) smile, laugh and leave behind pettiness and complaint, have full trust in the GRACE of God.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

New Year's Resolutions 2012

No time for blogging in my new life as a mother and yet so many things to write about and celebrate. My little Johnny is taking me on a magical tour of all the wonders of the world as I share in his awe and delight of light and beauty and trains and car washes and monkeys and goats that eat corn from your hand and jumping and running and spinning around.

Now we have another baby, David Ezra--born just a couple weeks ago. Two boys. Oh my!

I feel the need to ponder again the qualities I most want to develop for the upcoming year and so I return here to my blog to try to revive my New Year's tradition.

I cannot quite come up with the name of the quality I feel I need the most...

It is something like "can-do-ness"

Perhaps I am trying to verbalize a complex cluster of qualities that are at the heart of what is means to be a mother...

What I feel I need is much more than just determination or perseverance...

It is something lighter and more open than these... a radiance and joyfulness powerful enough to penetrate through the haze of sleep deprivation...

It is more than magnanimity because it is powered by such an outpouring of love that there is nothing to forgive

It is transcendence and a powerful state of calm when the baby is crying while the toddler is kicking and squalling...

It is sparkling and alive with creativity and resourcefulness and generative of good humor capable of carrying us over the contrariness and the "no, no, no"s and the wrangling power struggles

It is faith and contentment and gratitude for the multiplying blessings and for the toughness of the challenge

It is discipline, vision, energy, foresight and organizational skills that enable the pursuit of other vocations alongside the rigors of mothering

It is uncomplaining

It is motherhood Level II... may I please be granted capacity to cope with grace!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

new year wishes




Sunday, December 27, 2009

little johnny hashemi

On December 9, 2009 little John Sargent Hashemi was born. He is named after my father. My father's love of the number 9 was one of his trademarks along with bolo ties and rainbow suspenders. So I am most delighted that his little namesake was born on the 9th day of the month in the year '09. Wouldn't be surprised if he had something to do with it from the realms above. I can just hear him chuckling about it now.
Little Johnny was born in Beijing in the "Middle Kingdom". In his coming into being he unites the clashing civilizations of our times. He comes from a fine Christian heritage on the Sargent side of his family and, far more dramatic, on the Hashemi side of his family he is a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad making him a Siyyid. Little Siyyid John Sargent. I can't help but think that this would tickle my dad too.

We gave him the Chinese name 兰凯 Lan Kai. Mainly because Kai was a name I liked given its Scandinavian roots and connection to my mother's side of the family. But, the Chinese character that we chose for Kai means victorious or triumphant. May he be victorious and triumphant as a force for uniting our deeply divided world. May he be a citizen of the world in all the newest meanings of the phrase that are as yet to be understood. (Lan is the first character of Ram's Chinese name so we gave it to Johnny too like a surname.)

"These children are neither oriental nor occidental, neither Asiatic nor American, neither European nor African; but they are children of the Kingdom; their home is Heaven and their resort is the Kingdom of Abha."
(Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. 3, p. 647.)

The weight of the responsibility of motherhood hangs about me as I fumble through the first few weeks of little Johnny's life with us.

"For mothers are the first educators, the first mentors; and truly it is the mothers who determine the happiness, the future greatness, the courteous ways and learning and judgement, the understanding and the faith of their little ones."

(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 125)

So so much I feel I should be doing, preparing, thinking and I feel hindered by my need to sleep and the necessary limitations imposed by the breastfeeding imperative which keeps both my hands tied. When Johnny falls asleep in my arms I can hardly bear to put him down so sweet is the warmth of his body on my lap and so I am his willing prisoner all day and all night.

"O my Lord! O my Lord! I am a child of tender years; nourish me from the breast of Thy Mercy, train me in the bosom of Thy Love. Educate me in the school of Thy Guidance and develop me under the shadow of Thy Bounty. Deliver me from darkness; make me a brilliant light. Free me from unhappiness; make me a flower of Thy Rose-Garden. Suffer me to become the servant of Thy Threshold and confer upon me the disposition and nature of the righteous ones. Make me a cause of bounty to the human world and crown my head with the diadem of Eternal Life! Verily Thou are the Powerful, the Mighty, the Seer, the Hearer!"

(Howard Colby Ives, Portals to Freedom, p. 112)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

diamonds in Zimbabwe?

My beloved father was an exploration geologist in Zimbabwe. He worked to locate and excavate mineral resources in Zimbabwe over his lifetime working for both foreign companies and the Zimbabwean government. I am quite sure I remember, as I was growing up, him saying that no diamonds had been discovered in Zimbabwe but that he believed they were there and one day he was going to find his diamond pipe and make it big. Well I was surprised to see the article in the NYTimes today about corruption, massacres and human rights abuses in diamond mines in Zimbabwe.

Diamonds in Zimbabwe? Diamonds were only discovered in 2006 in the mine mentioned in the NYTimes article, Marange diamond fields. A search on Wikipedia turned up a couple of entries on diamonds in Zimbabwe. It seems diamonds were first discovered in Zimbabwe in 1997. Father dear passed away in 1998. I wonder if he had heard of this discovery. Judging from the NYTimes article and the references at the end of one of the Wikipedia entries it is a good thing he never did get involved in diamond mining. Literally a cutthoat field to be in. Which reminds me, I still haven't seen the movie Blood Diamond and it is something I have been planning on watching.

In spite of my beloved father's dream of finding his diamond pipe, all this violence surrounding diamonds makes me feel very pleased with the simple gold wedding band I have on my finger.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

tiny being in my belly

tiny tiny being in my belly.  s/he looks very comfortable with feet up and crossed.  just hanging out.

really one of the most moving experiences of my life to witness the movements of this tiny 7cm long little person.

"O my Lord!  I dedicate that which is in my womb unto Thee.  Then cause it to be a praiseworthy child in Thy kingdom and a fortunate one by Thy favor and generosity, to develop and to grow up under the charge of Thine education.  Verily, Thou art the gracious!  Verily, Thou art the Lord of great favor!"  

Monday, April 27, 2009

sunshine and sweet honey

the days pass with sweetness and struggle... i suppose that is how life goes.  

winter has come and gone.

Baha'is celebrate their new year on the first day of spring.  Naw Ruz is also an ancient Persian festival and we set up a traditional table with the seven s's on it (haft seen) More pictures of traditional Naw Ruz tables are available on flickr.  I found some introductions online to the symbolism of the various components of the table.  We included on our table a plate of sabzeh that maman-jan sprouted for us from lentils representing fertility and the rebirth of nature; apples (seeb) representing natural beauty; garlic (seer) representing health, vinegar (serkeh) representing age, a mirror representing the images and reflections of Creation, coins (sekkeh), and goldfish representing life.  Maman-jan suggested we add the Kitab-i-Aqdas for good measure to remember that we were celebrating Baha'i New Year and not just the traditional Persian holiday.

This past weekend spring arrived in full force with blue skies and sunshine.  We went out to enjoy ourselves at Rutgers day and lay down on the lush green grass 
listening to bluegrass music.

That evening dear dear friend k.  who is one of those amazing souls who makes it her mission to bring sweetness and sunshine into the lives of others treated me to a concert at Princeton.  It was a concert of Sweet Honey in the Rock.  Just the kind of thing that fills my soul with delight.  So spiritual, so educational, so concerned with social justice, so authentic, so good, so down to earth, so revolutionary, such brilliance and power these fabulous women evinced.  If they are ever in your neck of the woods really DO try to go and see them.  They put on a moving and inspiring live performance.  CDs and youtube clips do not do it justice.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

zhu zhu

at not quite five weeks old zhu zhu (little pearl) is the size of a tiny lentil but "she" already has a backbone, a beating heart... and a soul... May her backbone grow ever more firm and steadfast, her heart ever more expansive and her soul maintain its purity and brilliance.

so astonished by the speed with which human life takes shape!!  So many things to learn by reading and reveling in the astounding pictures in the wondrous book A Child is Born.  

"...that from the union of these two seas of love a wave of tenderness may surge and cast the pearls of pure and goodly issue on the shore of life..."


Sunday, March 29, 2009

remembering Dan Seals

one of the great Baha'i musicians in the world just passed away.

"we all are one, the flowers of one garden...
ponder in your hearts, how we were all created from the same dust"

<a href="">Dan Seals - We Are One (Video)</a>

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

the sweet days of fasting

This year the month of fasting seems to have flown by. How sweet it has been to share it with my Ram. We have been having amazing breakfasts and dinners...colorful and joyous just how I LOVE them.
Breakfast this morning --lemon water, oatmeal with pine nuts and raisins and lots of fresh fruit.

Then some sweet prayer time together. We have been doing our 95 'Allah'u'Abha's together with the help of the coral and jade prayer beads that Ram made for me a few days ago. This morning we read from a lovely compilation on The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting...

"Well is it with you, as you have followed the Law of God and arisen to observe the Fast during these blessed days, for this physical fast is a symbol of the spiritual fast. This fast leadeth to the cleansing of the soul from all selfish desires, the acquisition of spiritual attributes, attraction to the breezes of the All-Merciful, and enkindlement with the fire of divine love." 'Abdu'l-Baha

We were very honored by the presence of Hayden Knight Weiler of Ellis and Knight fame at our little weekly devotional gathering last week. He played the song he and Vahid composed especially for our wedding--sweet sweet sweet!
[You must go to their reverbnation site and listen to some of their songs]

Saturday, March 07, 2009

"make Thou this marriage to be as threading lights of Thine abounding grace..."

the first week of our new marriage has been very sweet. we decided to begin our marriage during the Baha'i month of fasting (March 2-21) so that we could try to establish habits of prayer and meditation as integral to our family life from the very beginning.

my favorite pictures from the wedding are around the lovely wedding cake (carrot cake with cream cheese icing--delicious!!).

One picture in particular delights me because, just by chance,
it is almost a replica of my favorite picture from my parents' wedding that I have hanging on my wall.

I wore the jacket my mother wore at her wedding. I had it slightly altered.

"From the pairing of even the smallest particles in the world of being are the grace and bounty of God made manifest; and the higher the degree, the more momentous is the union. 'Glory be to Him Who hath created all the pairs, of such things as earth produceth, and out of men themselves, and of things beyond their ken.'[1]
And above all other unions is that between human beings, especially when it cometh to pass in the love of God. Thus is the primal oneness made to appear; thus is laid the foundation of love in the spirit. It is certain that such a marriage as yours will cause the bestowals of God to be revealed. Wherefore do we offer you felicitations and call down blessings upon you and beg of the Blessed Beauty, through His aid and favour, to make that wedding feast a joy to all and adorn it with the harmony of Heaven.

[1 Qur'án 36:36, and cf. 51:49]

O my Lord, O my Lord! These two bright orbs are wedded in Thy love, conjoined in servitude to Thy Holy Threshold, united in ministering to Thy Cause. Make Thou this marriage to be as threading lights of Thine abounding grace, O my Lord, the All-Merciful, and luminous rays of Thy bestowals, O Thou the Beneficent, the Ever-Giving, that there may branch out from this great tree boughs that will grow green and flourishing through the gifts that rain down from Thy clouds of grace.

Verily Thou art the Generous, verily Thou art the Almighty, verily Thou art the Compassionate, the All-Merciful."

(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 119)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

committing to peace, joy and certitude

I am getting married in exactly a week! it has been hard to write about all of this. i find myself fighting so many fears and anxieties. It is perhaps the speed of the transition.

We had a very sweet evening recently where we recited the "Remover of difficulties" 500 times together.

"Is there any remover of difficulties save God? Say: Praise be to God. He is God. All are His servants and all abide by his bidding." -The Bab

This is not any kind of a required practice and Baha'is are cautioned against all forms of ritual, but the following passage is found in God Passes By:
`Bid them recite: "Is there any Remover of difficulties save God? Say: Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants, and all abide by His bidding!" Tell them to repeat it five hundred times, nay, a thousand times, by day and by night, sleeping and waking, that haply the Countenance of Glory may be unveiled to their eyes, and tiers of light descend upon them.'
(Shoghi Effendi citing Nabíl citing Bahá'u'lláh in God Passes By, p. 119)

My friends Sham and Joa use this during periods of crisis and have inspired me to try it several times during my life. I generally find that it has a very calming and centering effect and seems to lead to some insight. Wednesday night's sweet experience of reciting it together not only drew us closer together but lead to a strong sense that what would be the most constructive of goodness and rightness would be to commit myself wholly and fully to moving ahead with

peace, joy and certitude

It was quite liberating. The challenge is to honor that commitment which makes me think of the "Dynamics of prayer" which has been attributed to Shoghi Effendi. I found this on Baha'i Perspectives.

Step 1: Pray and meditate about it. Use the prayers of the Messengers of God (Jesus, Mohammed, Krishna, Buddha, Moses, Zoaster, the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh) as they have the greatest power. Then remain in silence of contemplation for a few minutes.

Step 2: Arrive at a decision and hold this. This decision is usually born during the contemplation. It may seem almost impossible of accomplishment, but if it seems to be an answer to prayer or a way of solving the problem, then immediately take the next step.

Step 3: Have determination to carry the decision through. Many fail here. The decision, budding into determination, is blighted and instead becomes a wish or vague longing. When determination is born, immediately take the next step.

Step 4:
Have Faith and confidence that the power will flow through you and the right way will appear, the door will open, the right thought, the right message, the right principle or the right book will be given you. Have confidence, and the right thing will come to your need. Then, as you rise from prayer, take at once Step 5.

Step 5:
Act. Act as though it had all been answered. Then act with tireless, ceaseless energy. And as you act, you, yourself, will become a magnet, which will attract more power to your being, until you become an unobstructed channel for Divine Power to flow through you. Many pray but do not remain for the last half of the first step. Some who meditate arrive at a decision, but fail to hold it. Few have the determination to carry the decision through, still fewer have the confidence that the right thing will come to their need. But how many remember to act as though it had all been answered? How true are those words- "greater than the prayer is the spirit in which it is uttered and greater than the way it is uttered is the spirit in which it is carried out."

From Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 90-91.
Excerpted from the pilgrim's notes of Ruth Moffet, an early American Bah

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

forgiveness and acquiescence

"We ought to show something greater than forgiveness in meeting the cruelties and strictures in our lives. To be hurt and forgive is saintly but far beyond this is the power to comprehend and not be hurt. This power we may have...acceptance without complaint and it should be associated with our name. We ought never to be known to complain or lament. It is not that we would "make the best of things," but that we may find in everything, even in calamity, the gems of enduring wisdom. We ought never be impatient. We ought to be as incapable of impatience as one would be of revolt. This not being so much long-suffering as quiet awareness of the forces that operate in the hours of dark or years of waiting and inactivity. Always we ought to move with the larger rhythm, the wider sweep, towards our ultimate goal, in that complete acquiescence, that perfect chord which underlies the spirit of the faith itself."

-- Bahiyyih Khanum, The Greatest Holy Leaf

Sunday, February 01, 2009

dancing for universal peace

Last night our dear friend Tanya rounded several of us up to go the Dance for Universal Peace at the Soma Yoga Center. This is the first I have heard of such a thing and it seems it is a worldwide organization that promotes peace through dance, music and prayer from the various faith traditions in the world.

The evening consisted of learning simple verses from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Native American faiths and then singing and dancing. It was so sweet, calming, joyous and uplifting.

Ram had a favorite song. It is from a poem of Kabir, an Indian poet who combined Hindu and Muslim themes. The lyrics for this song go like this:

"Fill your cup. Drink it up. Ya Allah Allah.
Fill your cup. Drink it up. Ya Allah Allah.
Ram Ram Ram Ram
Ram Ram Ram Ram
Ram Ram Ram Ram
A fish in the water is not thirsty."

You can see why Ram liked the song so much! I found a session of this song and dance on YouTube. This is just the dance that we did here in little Highland Park though with a much smaller group.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

new beginnings

a child of africa gets engaged to a child of iran. together they hope their union can contribute one more tiny thread that unites the people's of the world.

"O Thou Provider! The dearest wish of this servant of Thy Threshold is to behold the friends of east and west in close embrace; to see all the members of human society gathered with love in a single great assemblage, even as individual drops of water collected in one mighty sea; to behold them all as birds in one garden of roses, as pearls of one ocean, as leaves of one tree, as rays of one sun." (Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 75)

One of the many perks of this new beginning is the possibility for greater opportunities to eat Persian food like the Shol-e-zard and Fessen joon that were served at our simple family engagment party. Yummm!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy 牛Year

Here I am in Lanzhou, Gansu, China on New Year's Day 2009. The New Year of any culture or tradition is such a wonderful symbol of turning over a new leaf, of taking pause to reflect and bring oneself to account and to set new goals and directons.
I would like to sustain my New Year's resolution blog posting tradition in which I take stock of the previous year and consider what I would like to focus on for the next. Last year I resolved to strive for the following attributes in my life:

purity of heart, mind, motive, intention
and JOY

Quite an extensive list and, reflecting on the past year, I really did consciously strive to acquire most of these attributes and states of being. Actually I printed out this list and stuck it up on my computer monitor so that I could return to it for inspiration and focus when necessary.
How interesting it is to me that after just one year my world and future look so different. While I still wish to keep working on last year's list of attributes, new capacities seem to emerge as more urgently necessary as I contemplate the adventures in store for me this year. The first that come to mind are as follows...

generosity (of spirit, material wealth and TIME... "when there is love there is always time")
magic and romance


illumination ("day by day become ye more illumined")

cleanliness and order