Video music nirvana plus Happy Nature Day and all days by da-AL


Our Nature Day picnic turned out nicer than we expected. Our impromptu Nature Day picnic turned out nicer than we expected.

Did you know that April Fool’s Day is celebrated in Iran too? Thirteen days after Persian New Year (our 1st day of Spring, which you saw us celebrating here and here and here), Persians stay out all day and play games. It’s Sizdah Be-dar (literally 13 Outdoor), also called Nature Day. One must dispel any potential bad luck from the number thirteen. Some people like to play innocent pranks on that day too!

Often that 13th day falls around Easter, filling local parks to double their capacity. So many people gather that folks will run into childhood friends, ones from other countries.

Sheltering, quarantine, house arrest, what’s in a name? Yes, it’s grim, but it also bespeaks of a hopeful world, one where everyone is pulling together (not counting the every-present handful of conspiracy theorists). (Here and here and here and here and here and here are a few more posts to cheer you through the crisis.)

Nature Day was an at-home workday for us. Half-heartedly, my husband and I set a modest picnic under the dwarf kumquat tree in our little front yard. Our sweet doggie joined us for a quick round of cards over tea and Persian cookies. One thing led to another, and before we knew it, we were having fun. Then we ran back indoors to return to our at-home work. Dinner involved more Persian deliciousness – see in this post that reveals how Persian food has something for everyone!

Get in close to smell Khashayar's bubbling tomato-bean-potato stew. Get in close to smell Khashayar’s bubbling tomato-bean-potato stew.

No, I don’t have a right to complain — not when people have suffered far worse and continue to do so. We’re all well here. This far, California seems to have evaded the tsunami of illness that’s still predicted to swell, probably thanks largely to our horrid mass transit that scares folks off from piling together into busses and subways.

Family in Iran, thank the heavens, is fine if we don’t count how the country has been walloped by the epidemic, amid a grossly hobbled infrastructure.

I’m rambling. Forgive me. This is what one does when one is cooped up for weeks, relegated to video chats and to regarding anything to do with life outdoors as if its all of it is radioactive waste, from people to food to petting — hands off! — each other’s dogs, and why aren’t you wearing a mask? Well, I thought outdoors…

Thank goodness for the arts. I’ve got this video-post about my enchantment with those who pursue arts and hobbies for no other compensation than inner glee.

A gift to you from Iran! Here’s some of my extended family there sharing fine musicianship — enjoy their classical Persian music performance of “Tak Derakt: Single Tree”…

With that loveliness in mind, here are a few photos from my dear husband’s visit to Tehran several years ago. (Here and here are more about that same trip.)…

The whole of Tehran turns green in Spring. The whole of Tehran turns green in Spring.
Even at night this Tehran bridge is colorful. Even at night this Tehran bridge is colorful.
Flowers in Spring in Tehran. Flowers in Spring in Tehran.
Tehran's spring-time snowy mountains. Tehran’s spring-time snowy mountains.

If you want a better idea of how a real Sizdah Bedar is meant to be, look here and feel here.

How are you fairing indoors, dear reader? Healthy and happy, I hope…

Cultivating Hope Amid Corona Virus (COVID19) Chaos w Video by da-AL


2020 is taking a bit of a nosedive, no? So let’s celebrate the new year again! My husband was born in Iran, where it’s Nowrooz, a non-religious holiday. Here we are with our Persian New Year’s setting…

Here we are with our Persian New Year’s setting.

Spring and new years are laden with blossoms of promise. Regardless of what occurs outside ourselves, they’re opportunities to release our pasts and do what we can to foster good times ahead.

In addition to Iran, other countries participate in Persian New Year (aka Nowrooz, which is spelled many ways due to varying phonetic translations). The list includes Iraq, Afghanistan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, and Albania. Even Japan celebrates a version of Nowruz!

Here’s a speech about Persian New Year I performed as a member of Toastmasters…

My wish for you, dear reader, that the future brings only the best to you and your loved ones.

 

More on the current crisis here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here.

How do you cultivate hope and celebration during uncertain times?

Happy Spring and Happy Persian New Year plus Video by da-AL


Photo of Nowrooz spread by Katzenfee50 from Pixabay
Image by Katzenfee50 from Pixabay

Spring and the start of any new year are laden with happy promise — those of releasing past griefs and embracing potential good times ahead.

I wish you, dear reader, all the best for this new season that for many countries also marks the start of a new calendar year.

Here’s a speech I did for Toastmasters…

Persian New Year (aka Nowrooz, which is spelled a variety of ways due to varying alphabets) is not (n-o-t) a religious holiday. Moreover, other countries also (a-l-s-o) celebrate it, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, and Albania.

Did you know that Japan celebrates a version of Nowruz?

Have you got plans for Spring?…

“Dieting Tough Love,” a Toastmasters Speech by da-AL


Ever wonder why losing or gaining weight is so %#$ rough? Allow my dogs to illuminate us on how set points work…

Weigh in with your thoughts…

Lucy Cat and Mooshie Cat: a video by da-AL


This Toastmasters speech required me to tell a story with a moral at the end. Hear ye now the tale of two cats: Lucy and Mooshie…

How do you think personality affects one’s life?

An Unplanned Honeymoon: a video by da-AL


How to not plan your honeymoon and have the best one ever! The Toastmasters assignment required me to ‘get personal,’ so here’s my speech…

 

Do prefer unplanned or planned?

 

The Enchanted Mule: a video by da-AL


When Toastmasters challenged me to tell a fable, I chose, “The Enchanted Mule,” an old tale set in Spain…

Do you have any favorite fables?

Chocolate! by da-AL


Another of my Toastmasters speeches captured for your viewing pleasure…

Indeed, some people don’t enjoy chocolate — click here to find out more.

 

 

The Power of Stories: a Video by da-AL


photo of da AL

 

Here, in another of my Toastmasters speeches, I talk about the importance of fiction. “The Power of Stories” is a subject that’s dear to me, in this time when people only read how-to. Fiction makes us more empathetic, smarter, and creative. It makes us better people …

 

Albert Einstein was asked how to make children intelligent. He replied, “Read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

 

By intelligent, he meant beyond good grades and paychecks. He spoke of our becoming human beings, not merely human doings.

Imagine that in this video, my white sweater hood is red, that covering my head with it transforms me…

That an ordinary plastic bag is a wicker basket filled with fresh baked cinnamon rolls, and that when I hold my fingers to my lips, I’m licking the stickiness of honey. Under my feet, a forest of spicy pine needles and earthy wetness crunches to mingle with the sweet scents.

Imagine that beyond trees ahead, sound the yips of what might be new puppies that she’s adopted. The nearer we get, however, the more our skin tingles with panic.

Okay — a different scenario — when I rip paper into strips and place them before us on a pretend version of an oak table in an imaginary one-room log cabin, the scraps represent three sizes of bowls of porridge. When I toss paperclips about, they double as tufts of greasy brown fluff. The chairs we sit on are three varying sizes of them chairs, one broken to bits.

When we shut our eyes, warm steam rises from the bowls. We inhale the delicious scents of melted butter and hot maple syrup. Cold air rushes about our ears from an open door to the outside. We look around and discover that the prior inhabitants left in a rush.

Okay — now scratch both stories, and we’re back to reality.

Was either tale familiar to you? When you were quite young, did you hear, read, or tell the stories of “Little Red Riding Hood,” and of “The Three Bears”?

Imagining is a muscle — as essential to flex, deepen, and expand as it is to eat well, exercise, and think positively. Fiction helps us become better in every way.

If there exist cultures that don’t value the power of stories, I’m not aware of them. Most people I know barely read, and when they do, its non-fiction — spiritual, how-to, self-help, work facts, or textbooks. They say they don’t have time for novels or shorter stories.

If people understood the value of fiction, they would make time for it. As a former journalist, I know facts are important. As a reader and a novelist, I also know the unparalleled power of fiction. Facts help us become productive. Fiction helps us make sense of life. Fine literary fiction transports us into imaginary shoes, times, and places. We become more human. We take the time to value fun.

The best stories, it has been said, are those that make us cry as well as laugh.

Do you allow yourself time to read fiction?