Roshanak

“You are in your early 30s and have lived an amazing life as a journalist. You’ve traveled to challenging countries at difficult times, to report on essential issues related to humanity at large. I wonder what have been the significant turning points in your life?” I asked.
“Well, in college, I was planning to study Business and Economics and thought I’d end up in Investment Banking. But in the summer of my sophomore year, while I was doing an internship, I began to realize I may have a different calling …
One morning on the drive to my internship, my dad turned on NPR and the reporter was discussing the news that the Prince of Nepal had massacred his family. It was the summer of 2001. Up until then, I’d read about international events sporadically – when a newspaper would catch my eye in the university’s cafeteria, for instance. But beyond my studies and daily life at school, I didn’t pay too much attention. And yet: here was this massive event all over the news, and I’d had no idea such a crime had even happened. When I arrived at my internship that morning, I looked it up online and my search revealed a slew of articles. I read about it throughout the day whenever I had a break. Each article would lead to another, and every story touched on something new. The more I read, the more passion I felt to learn about the world.”
“I know that feeling of being lost in doing something you love to do. You were nineteen years old, and that discovery was a major shift for you. What was the next step?”
“The following semester, I went to Paris to study abroad. I studied French Literature and Art History, but I also took history classes and wanted to learn more about politics. My dad suggested I do research that following summer, instead of another internship at a business firm. I became determined to do that. When I came back from Paris, I sent forty professors at GWU and Georgetown my resume, offering my services as a research assistant for the summer. Three Professors – one at GWU and two at Georgetown – got back to me. The professor at GWU – an economist – ultimately hired me. He and I co-authored an academic research article that summer. It was an amazing and very fulfilling experience. I researched for him again in the years that followed and we co-authored two more papers. I really enjoyed doing research.”
“Having co-authored academic articles is a high achievement for a young student. I have read some of your articles. They are informative, well written and powerful.”
“Thank you.”
“How did that influence you ?”
“While working as a research assistant the summer after my junior year, I developed a fascination with the city of Cairo. I became obsessed with the idea of going to Egypt, and finally found a way how: I applied for an internship program at American University in Cairo. Each year, they took eight American students, provided housing and a stipend. They also gave us the opportunity to study Arabic and travel. It seemed perfect.”
“How come Cairo?”
“I’m still not totally sure. I felt an intuitive yearning to go there. I think it was the city’s rich history and the sense of romance attached to Cairo. My instinct was right: I felt right at home there.
They had a paper in English called Al Ahram weekly. I started writing for the paper after meeting an Iranian-American correspondent who wrote for  BBC. She’d previously worked with Al Ahram Weekly. I was looking for an internship, but she encouraged me to write instead and asked me to send her a pitch (for an article idea) to show to the editor of the International Desk. She introduced me, and I also followed up by email with him. But as editors often do when they’re super busy, my emails were ignored. So I made a decision to see the editor myself. I took a cab to the newspaper’s building in downtown Cairo, and told the security guards I needed to go to Al Ahram Weekly. They allowed me up and called his desk to tell him I’d be coming. He came out and met with me, and said he’d give me a shot.”
“Wow, you were only 21, what a courageous act to go and meet the editor. You are a true Capricorn!”
“What do you mean by true Capricorn?”
“Well I imagine a young woman in another country, male dominant, going to meet the International Editor, as if asking: did you read my email? Tell me on what grounds you rejected  my idea? Most people would accept no response to mean ‘my work was not good enough,’ and feel disappointed and lose esteem, and maybe choose another path based on that reflection. But you didn’t.”
There was a moment of pause.

“Oh, I didn’t look at it that way. I just did it.”
“Yes, what seemed natural to you is an expression of a super achiever: a goal oriented person who rides the tiger in life as if it is the only way to live life. So, you started writing for the Weekly paper – and then?”
“I went to Iran to visit my mom and grandma in December 2003. A day after my arrival, the big earthquake in Bam brought so many casualties and destruction. Al Ahram knew I was there, contacted me and asked me to write an article. The important issue at the time was that the U.S. offered humanitarian help and Iran accepted after so many years of little to no contact.”
“Your reports must have been critical because a natural phenomenon – an earthquake – brought humanity together. What path did you choose in graduate school?”
“I went to Columbia University in 2005 to study International Relations and Public Affairs. I was planning to work in economic development afterwards, but my progression towards journalism was very organic. I was interested in research and writing, and enjoyed conducting interviews. I studied economics, and decided to combine my passion for economics and research towards journalism.”
“What have been some of the life altering events in your life?”
“Going to Cairo completely changed my life, and I wanted to go back. In my last semester of grad school, I won a Fulbright grant to go to Egypt for research and to study Arabic. I thought everything was set, and was so excited. But then, everything shifted: I lost the grant after Egypt’s education ministry didn’t approve my research topic. They didn’t provide a reason. While the final topic approval is usually a final formality, I learned that Egypt typically rejects one person a year. But that year, they rejected five of us! Because my research topic was unique to Egypt, I couldn’t keep the grant and do the project in another country. I was devastated about not being able to go. But, ultimately, I ended up on a new path that helped me achieve my long-term goal of reporting on Iran’s economy – a goal I’d set in grad school – more quickly. I ended up reporting for Dow Jones in Tehran and Dubai – an amazing experience. But I do wonder sometimes how my life would have been different if I’d been able to keep the grant.”
“Some suggest there are no coincidences. I see you as a reporter with dignity and integrity wishing to write as you witness. I wonder if that was a blessing. How was your experience in Iran?”
“It was worthwhile, and challenging. I was to focus on economic issues. It was challenging to network. But I grew a lot as a reporter.”
“You have also been to India for Children’s health. How did you choose to go to India?”
“I received a fellowship from the International Reporting Project at Johns Hopkins University to report on child health in India. We were a diverse and international group of nine reporters, including one professor. We started our trip in Mumbai, where we visited slums to see how medical care is provided there. Then we went to Nagpur and visited the Gadchiroli District. Child mortality in India is generally quite high. Yet, there are amazing change makers. In Gadchiroli, two doctors – a husband and wife – have created a sort of a medical center which provides care and trains local women with lower levels of education to provide services for prospective and new mothers. They have helped reduced child mortality significantly. We ended the trip in New Delhi. It was a rich and rewarding experience, but also very intense. I was very tired when I came back.”
“My heart smiles to see a young woman living in Washington D.C. go to the slums of India to create a change for children’s’ health, like an angel on earth and bring the message to the humanity. What did you write about?”
“Our group reported about all kinds of issues. I focused on Polio. India became officially Polio-free fairly recently. The campaign and policies to make that happen, in addition to massive initiatives on the ground, were impressive. So I wanted to explore that.”
“How were you changed as a human being?”
“It was great to witness and understand first-hand how critical health is – especially community health – to our humanity.”
“Where do you see your path in the present or near future?”
“I have been writing and reporting for a long time, and would like to delve deeper into more long-term research projects. Aside from that, I went to Morocco last December for the Marrakesh Film Festival, where I had the chance to interview Francis Ford Coppola (http://newsweekme.com/moroccos-celluloid-dreams/)as well as some young, up and coming directors. Films are wrought with symbolism, and can be profoundly political. I loved it. So film reviews are something I’ll definitely keep doing.”
“How was your childhood growing up in D.C. area?”
“Well, I would say I had a good, average childhood. I was a bookworm and was always reading as many books I could, and I loved fiction. My favorite books were historical fiction, and I always had an active imagination. I’d imagine going on big, worldly adventures. I also loved to write.”
“Well an active imagination is a priceless gift. Everything we have in life was someone’s imagination at some point. Perhaps, there had been an adventurer within you from childhood. You were recently in Egypt again, walking the streets of Cairo in a challenging time of unrest. Not many people are willing to do that.”
“Yes, I visited Cairo last year. Another truly amazing time to be there and report …
I love the power of print. When an article is finished, there is a sense of deep satisfaction, and I feel I grow with every article.”

“We have met only once in person, a few years ago. At the time, you shared about starting to write a novel. Creative writing to me is an expression of the soul, different from an assignment on a topic. What is going on with the creative writing?”
“I took a great writing workshop in Vermont three years ago. I had the opportunity to meet some wonderful writers and poets, and talented artists. It was a very unique community of creatives. I was writing a short story and had the opportunity to get one on one feedback from a renowned poet – Edward Hirsch – who critiqued my work. I almost finished my story … But then I didn’t.”
“I read a quote saying something like, a masterpiece is never completed, only abandoned.”
She was laughing, “I don’t know about masterpiece. I don’t know how come I didn’t complete the story.”
“I wonder if the desire for perfection may have had a role in it.”
There was a meaningful pause.
“Yes, perhaps that is true. I am a perfectionist in a few things, especially writing. When I have an assignment, I do the work and keep revising until my deadline. But then I have to hand it in. So while I’d like my article to be perfect, I can’t edit it anymore and have to finally submit it. At that point, I know I’ve done the best I can.”
“Last question: if you could do anything you wished, with no limitation of any kind: What would you like to do?”
She didn’t have to think even for a moment.
“I love to travel to East Africa and East Asia, take a safari and go from one country to another.”
“I have a dear friend who is exactly doing what you wish to do. How about if I connect you with him? I think he is in Malaysia now.”
“That would be awesome. Thank you, Ellie.”

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A Healer

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“How would you like to write about your childhood and bring them to our session and read them out loud?” My therapist was gently inviting me.

“Absolutely not! I am having a tough time even talking about my childhood. I don’t want to write anything, let alone read them out loud.” I think I was expressing a shame attack as I look back.

“You know you can write it in Farsi if you like. It is not for me to hear, it is for you to express what you have not been able to express as a child.” Her loving eyes were comforting.

Ah, a moment of clarity, a deep, profound insight manifested. The writings are for me not for her! She was guiding me to the path of empowerment, a priceless gift of healing. It was time for me to release the shame that was taking the joy of life away from me and my family.

It was 1988, I was working in the field of chemical dependency with clients who were survivors of severe childhood traumas, major health and mental issues, no or minimal support, and frequently transient. I had a heavy case load, unhealthy for even a seasoned clinician.

I was the mother of three active children with many after school activities. My husband’s job frequently took him away from home. I was overwhelmed, my energy was low and my coping mechanism was no longer effective. I needed help and it was the first time I could afford counseling.

I remember it clearly when I went for my first appointment. The internal process was a reflection of a chaos. The ego was vicious creating fear. My cultural upbringing made it a taboo to air family’s dirty laundry with a “stranger”. The stigma of seeing a  “shrink” carried three thousand years of cultural and religious inhibition event hough I was trained as a psychologist.

The Lower mind was questioning: How could an American understand the deep bondage and experience of a woman growing up in Iran? Would she understand how children are to be obedient and compliant at all times to prevent harsh abuse?

I was mindful of my high anxiety, could hear the pounding of my heart when she opened the door. Her gentle smile, kind eyes, silver hair, and her healing energy had opened the door for me to feel safe.

I was thinking where do I begin and how do I introduce the dynamics of my family of origin and the impact on me. As I shared with every member of my family, her reflection with only a few words indicated that she understood the core issues.

The hour went by quickly and I wished I could take her home with me. For the first time in my life, I received the kind of affirmation and understanding that I longed for all my life. When I left her office, I felt like a battery that had been charged.

Our healing journey started and soon the hour of our appointment became the highlight of my week. I usually went 30 minutes earlier to quiet my mind, remind myself I have chosen to be here to heal, and taking my “gloves” off, feeling safe and trust my healing process.
I was always blessed with loving and trusting friends and daily life issues I could share with them. Yet, I was mindful that all my unresolved issues from my childhood was coming up and impacting our children. I had made a promise to myself to be a different parent than my own parents. Once I realized, under stress, I was repeating what was familiar for me, I had to learn parenting skills and release the impact of my family dysfunction.

I thought even if I write a book about my mother, my therapist would not understand the depth of her trauma. She did.

I was trying to respectfully describe the choices my father made in life. She guided me to speak my truth and express my feelings with the language of a wounded child. She got me! She was mindful of the wall I had built to protect myself, making myself a prisoner of my own thoughts.

I went through hundred boxes of tissues. She sat with me lovingly, affirming the survival skills, feelings, emotions, and bringing the sunlight back to my life. One time, this seasoned clinician who perhaps had heard all about human pain had tears in her eyes and asked

“How did you make it?”

“I don’t know, survival instinct I guess.”

When I started writing about my life experiences, I felt as if my journal became my best friend. I was writing every opportunity I had and I could not write fast enough. The dark energy was leaving and replaced by a calming light.

I invited our teenage son to join me. The wise therapist after a few visits took him for lunch for a juicy hamburger. He was a different person when he came back.

I asked myself how come I wasn’t mindful of that. I was taking a teenager in a rush to counseling, giving him a snack on the way. She seemed to have a natural wisdom, gentle, authentic, and firm.

Soon, the whole family joined me for a family session. She seemed as if she had a magic wand with a little of magic dust connecting with every family member. She understood the human psyche.

It was difficult to say good-bye to her. She had given our family the wind we needed under our wings to fly like an eagle.

Years went by and I stayed in touch with her. When our oldest son broke his leg in 9th grade, she came to visit him. I remember the card she gave him. An egg sitting on the wall. When opened the card, the egg had fallen and it said “Accident happen even to a good egg.” When our son graduated from high school, she surprised him with a $100 bill that made him smile in a way as if he was going to remember it for a long time.

Our son chose to become an actor and when one of his movies was showing in a local community center, I invited her without sharing with our son. The place was full of family and friends greeting him. Yet, when he saw her and her husband walking in, the smile on his face was priceless.
Today, after 28 years, frequently the spirit of this divine healer is with me as I share the gifts I have received from her with my clients. She reflected the inner strength I had lost under the stress. She became a mirror I needed. The seeds she planted in my psyche now has fruits not only with my family, with every client who comes into my life.

Thank you Lois.

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Life after life

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“Dad, is that you?” she was feeling a strong sensation of her father’s spirit around her head. She parked the car.

“Yes honey, it’s done and I’m so proud of you.” A clear inner voice was heard in her mind.

She sat in her car. She felt his love strongly for several seconds, deeply touched by the experience. It was real. It wasn’t her imagination or wishful thinking. It was 1985.

I am on the phone with my friend in a rainy day in southern California. A perfect day for reflection and soul exploration. She has been a member of our healing circle under the tree. I have known her for quite some time now. She has witnessed episodes of my deep healing, always supportive with a warm smile. This is the first time she is sharing her life experiences upon my request.

“How did you start your foundation life after life?”

“Since 1983, I started a non-profit organization called International Foundation for Survival Research. The intention was to share the research of people’s experiences with the message that we are all part of a greater love. Also to offer the public education about the many types of experiences pointing to life after death.”

“Did you grow up in a family, community supportive of the concept of life after life?”

“I grew up in Dallas, Texas and these issues were not talked about. My dad educated me. He was my hero. He always said “I’m proud of you” with such a joy that filled my heart. He was a professor of law. I recall seeing him discuss arbitration cases with his best friend Walter. He always said to me, ” when I leave, I will come to you, even if I have to break a chandelier!”

“Wow, you seem you had a soul connection with him.”

“He passed away in 1979. It was late 1981. I was teaching at Pepperdine University, had much paperwork to do. I was deep into my work when I heard a clear, strong voice “Check your breast”.  It was a clear thought. I was shocked! No one was there. I realized I hadn’t been doing self-examination, thought I better make an appointment with my GYN doctor. Three days later I found a lump, the size of a pea in my right breast.”

“How was that experience for you?”

“It felt as if I was given heads up by a deceased loved one or a spiritual entity. I saw a specialist within a few day. I was informed the lump is highly suspicious scheduled me for an operation in three days. In 1982, he took the whole breast out. He said: “I have never seen a case of cancer caught so early. I got all of it, no need for chemo or radiation.”

“The inner voice saved your life! Was that experience the source of inspiration for life after life?”

“I had co-authored a book called the case of life after death with Raymond Bayless. The written part was completed in 1981. My dad read most of it. It was published in 1982. Each chapter is about one topic related to life after life.”

“I didn’t know you were a writer. What is your educational background?”

“I got a B.A. in Communication / Journalism, got PhD in Education. Then I heard the voice directing me: Go to Law School. I didn’t want to be an attorney, yet I knew the voice from a higher level of consciousness must have a reason. By then I had decided I will do what I’m told to do. I took the test and passed and entered Whittier College of Law.

My mother also attended law school at night. I was accepted in January 1986, having no idea why I was directed to go to law school.”

“ You had faith in the voice  guiding you. What do you see looking back?”

“Oh, most likely, it was divine guidance. I had been unhappy in my marriage for years. We had two sons. In December 1985, we separated. It was a highly stressful time in life going through a challenging settlement. I work best with structure. Having been in law school was really helpful for me to cope with the transition.”

“I wonder if you saw the divorce coming. It seems the voice guided you for the shift in your life”

“I think my dad knew my marriage will end and was preparing me to manage the stress.”

“Back to when your dad’s spirit visited you in 1985, what was your life’s circumstances?”

“My marriage had ended and I was under high stress. I was driving to see a friend when I heard his voice. I was thinking to myself – when is this going to end?”

“He clearly responded to you “It’s done!” I wonder it had brought inner peace and serenity for you.”

“I am not sure what he meant by “It’s done”. Maybe he saw the future and the breakthrough for me.”

“Any other visits from your father?”

“Yes, six months after my father passed away, I went to Dallas to visit my mother. I had seen my dad’s oldest best friend Walter a few times. He called me out of nowhere said wants to see me. I was surprised not knowing the reason. I went to his home. He said “You know I am a logical person, no subject of flights of fancy. Your father came to me three times, always when I felt kind of low and bit depressed. He gave me a pep talk like – come on Walther you can do it – and gave me energy.”

I was happy my dad had visited his friend, perhaps a life altering experience.

“Would you share about life after life and your intention?”

“There are so many researches about ESP, Near Death Experience, Spontaneous and children’s experiences that public don’t know about. I’d like to bring the information and educate those who are interested.”

“I feel world peace comes from people having inner peace and I wonder if we learn about the beauty of life after life, fear of death would disappear.”

“In February 2016 gathering, a hospice nurse shared her experiences when patients were about to leave their bodies. Many report seeing family members and loved ones. Some may think it is the patient’s wishful thinking yet there are medical staff who have seen the vision too.”

“You have been bringing the message for many years now, any high points you wish to share?”

“Yes, we got a few grants based on donations and gave a few distinguished awards to persons like George Collins and Senator Claiborne. That was the highlight for me.”

“We would like to come to the next gathering. My husband is a civil engineer, he needs solid scientific evidence.”

“There are serious research articles I like to share with him, for engineers, spontaneous cases have no impact. I like to share a book on Para psychology that may help with some of his questions,”

I am thinking to myself if we come to a realization that our soul after leaving the body will be in peace, feeling the divine love and state of bliss, how our daily lives may alter, living in love rather than fear, Imagine…………….

 

Note to OC residents: Life after life club meets the first Saturday of the month in Laguna Woods, club house 7 on Moulton park way at 9am.