The Mask


Would you like to take my mask class?” My dear friend, the most loving & compassionate clinician I know asked me.

“What is a mask class?” I asked.

“This class is called the Mask of Addiction. I am doing an all day class for my chemically dependent clients.

” I know nothing about making masks.”

“No problem, it is fun. Students will be in pairs, making a mask of your own face.”

“Really? that sounds interesting. it sure would be a first experience for me. How does it work?” I was excited.

” Look, this is going to be a fun day. I will explain as we go along.”

I knew my friend was a Jungian psychologist, specializing in working with trauma. The expression of the trauma through creative means is the most healing.

It was the mask of addiction. The masks we wear; how we like others to see us. How we might hide behind the mask. How to discover the authentic person inside, taking the masks off and how to express one’s inner landscape onto the mask.

While chemical dependency was not a personal issue for me, I was not stranger to addiction process. I was simply amazed by the incredible supplies of material she had brought to decorate the masks. It was a rare opportunity for me to be creative, use my imagination and let my feeling and emotion guide me and put my tendency to analyze everything on hold for the day.

We first made a mask of our face with openings for the eyes and the mouth. It was a fascinating process. We let the mask dry and become hard. Then we were to decorate the mask without thinking about it. I was to pick whatever attracted me. I was totally lost, not knowing what to do or where to start. I became instantly aware of the need for expression of my soul in a creative manner. I guess I was looking for instruction, where this experience provided no instruction. Do what you wish and enjoy the process. This was an unfamiliar experience for me.

I started by painting the face with pink just to get started. I drew black lines around the eyes like Cleopatra and Egyptian queens. There was a glue gun that one could use to attach things to the mask. I put feathers on top of the mask like Indian Chiefs. I decorated the top part with red cotton balls. This is fun, I thought to myself like a child not expecting to actually enjoy a class.

For some unknown reason to me, I put two small ceramic masks inside my mask and put a butterfly behind the opening of the mouth. Instantly, it reminded me of the movie “Silence of the Lambs” where the serial killer put the cocoon of a butterfly in the throat of his victims after he killed them. I was shaken inside. The thought was disturbing. What was going on in my psyche? What had triggered in me? What did it mean? I was puzzled and lost.

Suddenly, I felt intensly nauseated. It seemed that my body was responding to a trigger I was not aware of. I rushed to the bathroom and threw up, a very rare experience in my life. Everything happened so fast. I could not even think or process what was happening to me. Like a wise, nurturing mom, my dear friend came after me. I was so grateful for her love and care. She was like an angel in that moment.

” Hey, how are you doing?” She asked.

” I have no idea what happened to me.” I responded as my voice was shaking.

I came out of the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror. I looked ill, pale. I  stared at myself in shock. I knew intuitively this was a great opportunity for healing.

“what was triggered?”  She asked.

“I don’t know, nothing specific coming to my mind. Perhaps, something from my unconscious.” I was totally lost.

It was time for awareness, processing and healing. She instructed me to go home immediately and rest.

“if you feel like it,  put the mask in front of you and start writing and see what comes up.” She stressed “be gentle with yourself”!!

She was an expert in working with childhood traumas. She was herself, a great role model as a survivor. She had been like a soul sister to me helping me with tools of recovery.

I went home feeling as if I had been beaten. Endless questions were going through my mind as I laid down to rest. I looked at the mask asking myself how come a butterfly covering the mouth. An insight emerged, growing up, I did not feel having a voice, holding all of my feeling inside as if my mouth was covered, no voice.

A butterfly, a symbol of transformation. Yes, I have left the dark cocoon, merging into a beautiful colorful butterfly inside.

The mask after many years is in our bedroom reminding me of the magic of healing. Miracles do happen.

Thank you Cathy.


Mira Mar

IMG_0459Have you ever met a person who built a boat all by himself? I was deeply touched, moved, and inspired by the passion of this man who took 32 years to complete his boat. On October 27, 2012, I had the pleasure of riding on his masterpiece.

In February 2012, I took an early walk at 7am. I was admiring the crisp clean air, taking deep breaths when I noticed a group doing Tai Chi at a lake near our home. They were doing gentle movements together, elegant and graceful. It triggered a distant memory in my mind when I saw a large group of people doing Tai Chi on the street in Beijing in 1977. I thought to myself, I have been curious about Tai Chi since then, never had the time before to learn. Now, it was my opportunity to explore.

I went by the group to watch. I was mesmerized and felt this ancient practice perhaps offers a lot more than I can imagine. I didn’t know if I could join. I didn’t know if it was a pre- paid class or one has to become a member. They all seemed to know the form well. Most members were Asian. Then I noticed a man with blue eyes and a friendly smile. He waved at me and that made me comfortable to stay and watch. During the first break, he came and introduced himself and shared what the class was all about. He invited me to join in and just follow the teacher. He said they do 30 minutes of forms, 15 minutes of sword Tai Chi and 15 minutes fan Tai Chi.

“I don’t have a sword or a fan,” I said.

“No worries, I have extras,” he said. He instructed me to stay in the middle so I follow different people as we turned around. I had become part of the group. When it was time for Tai Chi fan, he gave me a beautiful, yellow fan with a dragon and Chinese writing on it and said I can keep the fan as a gift. I was impressed by this person’s generosity and his passion for Tai Chi.

Since then, I went to the class every morning I could. Throughout the months, this person came early and after class joyfully and willingly shared his knowledge with the new comers. After class, he would patiently teach us the movements, the philosophy, and the benefits. It seemed Tai Chi was his life. One day, he shared his card with me. There was a photo of a beautiful sailboat called Mira Mar, his other passion in life.

He shared about the sailboat he built himself! I was aware he was taking many of his Tai Chi family for rides. He generously invited my family for a ride too. By now, my husband was coming to the class on the weekends. After the class, our mentor explained the martial arts techniques for self-defense for the apparent soft and gentle movements.

I noticed this friendly spirit greeted the morning walkers in their own language. As soon as he learned I was from Iran, he greeted me in Farsi. He seemed to be an international ambassador to bring people from all different ethnic backgrounds together. He always brings 5-6 extra swords and many fans for the new comers. He also has his dog with him at all times. The master greets humans and the friendly dog greets all the dogs in the neighborhood.

On this October day, he took us on his boat. For me, not knowing anything about boats, I could not believe he built this trimaran boat all by himself. Now, I could imagine taking 32 years to complete the project. This was a well-designed boat and well constructed. He shared the story with us.

He was the first-born and the only son of his teenage parents. He described his father as a fun loving young man interested in girls and not ready for family responsibilities. He left the family and moved to California after the birth of the third child. He said, the children learned early in life to become self-sufficient and resourceful. He learned how to become self-reliant and left home at 17. He got a job as a dishwasher and then gladly accepted a job working on a boat, sanding and painting. He loved working outdoor, working with his hands, and loved the boats.

He was young and full of passion, without knowing much about boats, he decided he was going to build his dream boat. He had no idea what it took to build one. For a couple of years he did research and worked on boats as a crew member. He had the passion but no funds for such an investment. He had a boat designer who gave him the design and the drawings of the structure.

It is hard to imagine for a human being sustain his passion for a dream project for over 30 years! Since he did not have the funds, he had to stop the project many times. He had to relocate several times and build piece by piece whenever he had the time and money. He finally finished the boat a few years ago. He and his dog sleep on the boat at times witnessing the sunset together.

He was disappointed his parents did not take the time to come and see his lifetime project. I felt his longing for wanting his parents to see his masterpiece. He lost his father in December 2011. I wonder who taught the little boy about how to become a man in the absence of his biological father. He had three significant relationships in his life. He said at age 57, he is happy as a single man, living with his dog and doing whatever he wants.

He is the child of the universe, creating a loving family of multi ethnic members. His friends bring him gifts from all over the world when they travel. They bring him special Tai Chi shoes with the ying yang sign. Since they don’t make big enough shoes for him in China, a friend searched all over to find his size. His authentic Tai Chi uniforms are reminding us of the universal energy in each one of us. If you ever pass by the Woodbridge Lake in Irvine, stop by early in the morning and say hello to this remarkable man.


Translated in German by Rike:

Haben Sie jemals einen Menschen getroffen, der alleine ein Boot gebaut hat? Ich war tief berührt, bewegt und inspiriert von der Leidenschaft dieses Mannes, der 32 Jahre brauchte, um sein Boot zu vervollständigen. Am 27. Oktober 2012 hatte ich das Vergnügen, auf seinem Meisterwerk zu segeln. .

Im Februar 2012 machte ich um 7 Uhr morgens einen Spaziergang. Ich genoss die frische saubere Luft und atmete tief durch, als ich eine Gruppe an einem See in der Nähe von unserem Haus bemerkte, die Tai Chi machte. Sie machten gemeinsam sanfte Bewegungen, elegant und anmutig. Ich erinnerte mich daran, dass ich einst im Jahr 1977 auf der Straße in Peking eine große Gruppe von Menschen sah, die Tai Chi  durchführte. Ich dachte, dass ich seitdem neugierig  auf Tai Chi war, aber nie zuvor die Zeit hatte, es zu lernen. Nun, hatte ich die Gelegenheit, es kennen zu lernen.


Ich ging zu der Gruppe, um sie zu beobachten. Ich war fasziniert und fühlte, dass diese altertümlichen Übungen mir vielleicht viel mehr bieten würden, als ich mir vorstellen konnte. Ich wusste nicht, ob ich teilnehmen konnte, oder ob es ein fester Kurs war, oder ob man Mitglied sein musste. Sie alle schienen,  die einzelnen Übungen gut zu kennen. Die meisten Aktiven waren Asiaten. Dann bemerkte ich einen Mann mit blauen Augen und einem freundlichen Lächeln. Er winkte mir zu und das ermutigte mich zu bleiben und die Gruppe weiter zu beobachten. In der ersten Pause kam er zu mir und stellte sich vor und erklärte mir, um was für eine Gruppe es sich handelte. Er lud mich ein mitzumachen, und ich sollte einfach den Anleitungen des Lehrers zu folgen. Er sagte, sie würden 30 Minuten lang Thai Chi- Stellungen/ Bewegungen durchführen, dann 15 Minuten Tai Chi mit dem Schwert und 15 Minuten mit dem Fächer.

“Ich habe weder ein Schwert noch einen Fächer”, sagte ich.
“Keine Sorge, ich habe Extra-Fächer dabei”, sagte er. Er wies mich an, mich in die Mitte zu stellen, so folge ich verschiedenen Leuten, während wir uns drehten. Ich wurde ein Teil der Gruppe. Als es Zeit für die Tai Chi –Übungen mit dem Fächer war, gab er mir einen schönen, gelben Fächer, auf dem ein Drache und chinesische Schriftzeichen gedruckt waren. und sagte mir, ich könne den Fächer als Geschenk behalten. Ich war von der Großzügigkeit dieser Person und seiner Leidenschaft für Tai Chi beeindruckt.


Seitdem ging ich wann immer es mir möglich war, jeden Morgen zu diesem Kurs. Im Laufe der Monate, kam diese Person immer früh und nach dem Unterricht war der Mann stets gerne bereit, sein Wissen mit den Neuankömmlingen zu teilte. Nach den Übungen, lehrte er uns geduldig die einzelnen Bewegungen, die Philosophie und die Vorteile des Thai Chis. Es schien, Tai Chi war sein Leben. Eines Tages zeigte er mir ein Foto. Es war ein Foto von einem schönen Segelboot namens Mira Mar, seine andere Leidenschaft in seinem Leben.

Er berichtete über das Segelboot, dass er selbst gebaut hatte! Mir war klar, dass er viele seiner Tai Chi Familienmitglieder auf seine Segeltörns mitnahm. Er lud auch meine Familie großzügig dazu ein. Inzwischen nahm auch mein Mann an den Wochenenden an den Übungen teil. Nach dem Kurs erklärte unser Mentor die Kampfkunst-Techniken zur Selbstverteidigung aus diesen scheinbar weichen und sanften Bewegungen des Thai Chis..

Ich bemerkte, dass diese freundliche Seele morgens jeden Morgen die Teilnehmer in ihrer entsprechenden Sprache begrüßte. Sobald er erfuhr, dass ich aus dem Iran kam, begrüßte er mich in Farsi. Er schien ein internationaler Botschafter sein, um Menschen aus allen verschiedenen ethnischen Hintergründen zusammenzubringen. Er brachte immer 5-6 zusätzliche Schwerter und viele Fächer für die Neulinge mit. Ebenso brachte er auch immer seinen Hund mit. Der Meister begrüßte die Menschen und der freundliche Hund grüßte alle Hunde in der Nachbarschaft.

An diesem Oktobertag, nahm er uns mit auf sein Boot. Da ich keine Ahnung von Booten hatte, konnte ich nicht ermessen, dass er dieses Trimaran- Boot ganz alleine gebaut hatte. Nun konnte ich mir vorstellen, dass es 32 Jahre gebraucht hatte, um das Projekt abzuschließen. Dieses Boot war schön gestaltet und gut konstruiert. Er erzählte uns die ganze Geschichte.

Er war der Erstgeborene und der einzige Sohn seiner Teenager-Eltern. Er beschrieb seinen Vater als einen Spaß liebenden jungen Mann, der an Mädchen interessiert war und nicht bereit war, Familienpflichten zu übernehmen. Er verließ die Familie nach der Geburt des dritten Kindes. und zog nach Kalifornien Er sagte, die Kinder lernten früh im Leben, autark und einfallsreich zu werden. Er lernte selbständig zu sein und verließ sein Elternhaus mit 17 Jahren. Er bekam einen Job als Tellerwäscher und dann einen Job auf einem Boot als Schleifer und Lackierer, den er gerne annahm. Er liebte die Arbeit im Freien, die Arbeit mit den Händen, und er liebte die Boote.

Er war jung und voller Leidenschaft, ohne viel über Boote zu wissen, doch er beschloss, sein eigenes Traumboot zu bauen. Er hatte keine Ahnung, was es bedeutete, eins zu bauen. Für ein paar Jahre forschte er und arbeitete auf Booten als Besatzungsmitglied. Er besaß zwar die Leidenschaft dazu, aber es fehlten ihm die Mittel für eine solche Investition. Er hatte einen Boot-Designer, der ihm das Design und die Zeichnungen von der Konstruktion gab.


Es ist für einen Menschen schwer, sich vorzustellen, seine Leidenschaft für ein Traum-Projekt  über 30 Jahren lang aufrecht zu erhalten! Da er nicht über die Mittel verfügte, musste er das Projekt mehrmals stoppen. Er musste mehrmals umziehen und Stück für Stück weiterbauen, wann immer er die Zeit und das Geld hatte. Letztendlich konnte er das Boot vor ein paar Jahren fertigstellen. Er und sein Hund schlafen von Zeit zu Zeiten auf dem Boot und erleben zusammen den Sonnenuntergang.

Er war enttäuscht, dass seine Eltern sich nie die Zeit genommen hatten, zu ihm zu kommen um sein Lebenswerk anzusehen. Ich spürte, wie sehr er sich danach sehnte, dass seine Eltern gekommen wären. Er verlor seinen Vater im Dezember 2011. Ich frage mich, wer dem kleinen Jungen beibrachte, ohne leiblichen Vater zum Mann zu werden. Er hatte drei bedeutende Beziehungen in seinem Leben. Er sagte, im Alter von 57 Jahren sei er glücklich als Single, der mit seinem Hund zusammen lebe und tun könne, was er will.

Er ist das Kind des Universums, das aus Multi-ethnischen Mitgliedern eine liebevolle „Familie“ schafft.  Wenn seine Freunde verreisen, bringen sie ihm Geschenke aus der ganzen Welt mit. Sie bringen ihm spezielle Tai Chi – Schuhe mit dem Ying und Yang- Zeichen mit. Da sie in China nicht in seiner Größe hergestellt werden, suchte ein Freund überall danach, Schuhe in seiner Größe zu finden. Seine authentischen Tai Chi- Uniformen erinnern uns an die universelle Energie in jedem von uns. Sollten Sie jeweils  am frühen Morgen am  Woodbridge See in Irvine vorbeifahren, halten Sie an und sagen Sie „ Hallo „  zu diesem bemerkenswerten Mann.