Tag Archives: Life

You’re Still The One

I know I bring up things you’ve done wrong, but the truth is, it’s only to disturb you and eat your brain. You’re still one of the best things that ever happened to me. Even after all the tears, all the pain. You don’t need to ask questions you already know, I still feel the same. Just not in the same way. Like, now I never believe what you say. I just assume that you’re lying and don’t expect the truth. I’m grateful to the Universe for the experience of you. I am a different person because of you. I met you at a broken time and you became my growth. There can be no joy without pain, no sun without rain, no stars without darkness. I know this. If we look at how things happened,  we will understand it was all for our benefit; our betterment. I can look at our years with a smile and wave them a friendly goodbye, knowing that they don’t just die, but new years will come by. A new you, a new me. A new us, a new we. So we can stop stressing ourselves finally over how things went wrong, and continue on our way, steadfast and strong. Our story will live on.

Afghanistan, In Praise of Your Propriety: A Story In Picturesque Verse and Photography

Kabul, Afghanistan
Kabul, Afghanistan

My account of wanderings in Afghanistan and my many colourful conversations with my Afghan friends, detailing their lives and surroundings. Photos courtesy of my dear friends in the bold and beautiful land of AFGHANISTAN and from one of my visits to Pakistan.

Oh, Land of Majesty!
I call you Mother Brother Friend
You called me to your end
Lifted me in flight
Granted my eyes a grand sight

Oh, Bamiyan!
Wondrous reaches of spectacular peaks
The sky spread in praise doth speaks
There the remains of the silent Buddha’s great seat

Oh, Kabul!
How your parakeets do chatter
As the tanks and passersby do scatter
You keep aloof of the whole matter

Oh, Blue Mosque of Mazar!
How many doves there are Cooing and flocking
The whole world left stalking

Oh, Badakhshan!
The whole Universe cannot possibly contain
The beauty that you possess and maintain
Even the stars compete in vain

Oh, Nation of Lions!
The eyes of jealousy surround you I do see
Bombarding with wars of frivolity upon thee

Oh, Afghanistan!
How unjustly you so bleed!
War racketeers my ears do heed
What doth keep you strong

Oh, Marvelous Steed!

© 2015 Rebecca Martin

My decision to finally take a leap of faith and travel to Afghanistan, was after many years of trepidation and warning from friends and family. Due to the country’s turmoil for the past decade, many were concerned for my safety, and understandably so. Security is a never-ending and very real issue for Afghans and non Afghans alike. This in mind, I’ve always had precise intuition that lead me to the conclusion that it was ‘meant to be’.

Images © 2015 Niazmina

I was unable to witness all of Afghanistan due to the security issue, what I did see was rough and rugged beauty, without a doubt. The mountains were beckoning and bold. Rivers and lakes surround to refresh your soul, while it seems the rest of you is greeted with heat and parched ground. The discrepancies in weather are most clever, leaving the sub-arctic northeastern reaches at odds with the drought-ridden southwestern regions.

Village Children Images © 2015 Niazmina

I had never before encountered a village or it’s inhabitants but had an idea of what it might be like. I can’t say that I was too far off in my assumption that it would be a lot like camping, boiling your water for the luxury of a hot shower, toilets virtually non-existent, defecating outdoors (a given) interesting cooking methods and hospitality. The hospitality of Afghans is their pride and honor. It outweighs any downside to village living and is so endearing one finds themselves adapting to the lifestyle rather quickly.

The family I was staying with while in Afghanistan had just shifted homes from Pakistan. Their home wasn't complete, this was the kitchen at the time. Images © 2013 Rebecca Martin
Quroot (or Qoroot) is a reconstituted dairy product. It was traditionally a by-product of butter made from sheep or goat milk. The residual buttermilk remaining after churning of the butter is soured further by keeping it at room temperature for a few days, treated with salt, and then boiled. The precipitated casein is filtered through cheesecloth, pressed to remove liquid, and shaped into balls. The product is thus a very sour cottage cheese. Quroot is hard and can be eaten raw. It is typically served with cooked Afghan dishes such as Ashak, Mantu, and Qeshla Qoroot, among others. Info Source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afghan_cuisine#Quroot Images © 2015 Niazmina
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The family home wasn’t complete, this was the kitchen at the time. Images © 2015 Niazmina
Afghan Boys Images © 2015 Niazmina

My arrival at this particular village was welcomed with smiles and laughter from the village children and adults. I was sheltered, feasted, cherished, warmly received and treated as an honored guest. I became family, a distant relative. Daughter. Sister. I was enveloped with love and had much fun watching and learning their culture and traditions. The girls  from various homes would come each morning and stay until dusk or later, offering to do my hair and make up, smiling and attempting to communicate through various means. At times causing bursts of uncontrollable laughter at our many failed attempts to understand one another. Speech wasn’t necessary amidst smiles and laughter. One of the sisters loved doing my make up for me. Each morning I would awake, wash my face and draw my eyebrows in or apply under eye concealer so that I wouldn’t look like a downtrodden traveler. This routine I was wishing to do in secret, as I was the only one doing so and felt somewhat vain. I must have sparked some hidden creative talent within one of the girls, as she insisted she apply full make up for me whenever she caught me mid-coverage. I was pleasantly surprised to see the finished product in the mirror. Absolutely artistic display of perfection!

Village Life Images © 2015 Niazmina

I will never forget the warm, genuine hearts of the Afghans I met. Their care was genuine. Their smiles were broad. Their laughter touched the soul. Their stories were inviting. Their innovativeness motivating. Everybody in the village was generous and lovely. All spent time visiting me and caring for my every need. I suffered from giardiasis (an intestinal infection caused by a microscopic parasite that’s found worldwide, especially in areas with poor sanitation and unsafe water. Marked by abdominal cramps, bloating, nausea and bouts of watery diarrhea) so everybody’s patience was surely tested with my subsequent complaints and discomfort.

I was excited to try on an Afghan Burqa. A burqa (Urdu: بُرقع‎), (Arabic pronunciation: [ˈbʊrqʊʕ, ˈbʊrqɑʕ]a (also transliterated]burkha, bourkha, burka or burqu' from Arabic: برقع‎ burquʻ or burqaʻ), also known as chadri or paranja in Central Asia) is an enveloping outer garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions to cover their bodies when in public. Info Source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burqa Images © 2013 Rebecca Martin
I was excited to try on an Afghan Burqa. A burqa (Urdu: بُرقع‎), (Arabic pronunciation: [ˈbʊrqʊʕ, ˈbʊrqɑʕ]a (also transliterated]burkha, bourkha, burka or burqu’ from Arabic: برقع‎ burquʻ or burqaʻ), also known as chadri or paranja in Central Asia) is an enveloping outer garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions to cover their bodies when in public. Info Source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burqa Images © 2015 Niazmina
I was far from perfecting my fluency in either Pashto or Dari, the two officially recognized languages of Afghanistan. This placed a huge wedge in the area of communication without a translator, but Kaka was not deterred. He would without hesitation start conversation with vivid illustration and depiction using his whole body as language. Flailing arms and boisterous words left us all rolling in laughter as Kaka expressed his life, adventures and stories to me. He was attentive and kind. A great man, not only in my mind.

My Little Buddies Images © 2015 Niazmina
Brothers In Arms Images © 2015 Niazmina
Images © 2013 Rebecca Martin
Images © 2015 Niazmina
Qargha Lake, Kabul Images © 2013 Rebecca Martin
Qargha Lake, Kabul
Images © 2015 Niazmina
Qargha Lake, Kabul Images © 2013 Rebecca Martin
Qargha Lake, Kabul Images © 2015 Niazmina
(Kabul Ride) Although alcohol consumption is banned and taboo in Afghanistan, foreigners can purchase it in certain shops upon showing their passport. Images © 2013 Rebecca Martin
(Kabul Ride) Although alcohol consumption is banned and taboo in Afghanistan, foreigners can purchase it in certain shops upon showing their passport. Images © 2015 Niazmina
Kabuli bacha (boy) in Kabul traffic Images © 2013 Rebecca Martin
Kabuli bacha (boy) in Kabul traffic Images © 2015 Niazmina
Kabul  hillside across from center of town. Home built here are significantly less expensive than the homes built on flatter ground. Images © 2013 Rebecca Martin
Kabul hillside across from center of town. Home built here are significantly less expensive than the homes built on flatter ground. Images © 2015 Niazmina
Jalalabad Images © 2015 Niazmina
Entering Jalalabad Images © 2015 Niazmina
Images © 2013 Rebecca Martin
Images © 2015 Niazmina
Images © 2013 Rebecca Martin
Images © 2015 Niazmina
Salang, Afghanistan Images © 2013 Rebecca Martin
Salang, Afghanistan Images © 2015 Niazmina
Salang, Afghanistan Images © 2013 Rebecca Martin
Salang, Afghanistan Images © 2015 Niazmina
Salang, Afghanistan Images © 2015 Niazmina
Salang, Afghanistan Images © 2015 Niazmina

The Do’s And Dont’s: Preparation In The Face of Separation and Divorce

The subject of divorce is a contentious one, and there are no real instruction manuals or classes to prepare us for the seemingly downward spiral of our lives, and emotions. Granted, none of us (well, there may be some..) walk down the aisle, say ‘I do’, sign the papers all in anticipation of a subsequent divorce. Yet, statistics show that nearly 1 in 2 first time marriages end in divorce before reaching their 10th year, also known as the ‘seven year itch’. Although there has been found to be a divorce decline, it has much to do with the fact that many couples are opting not to marry at all. People change, their needs, wants and desires change. People grow apart. People fall out of love and become unhappy. This is life, it happens. Not all the time, but it happens. With these findings, shouldn’t we at least discuss ways to make the possible transition between happily married to happily divorced, as pleasant and as smooth as possible?

Have a prenuptial agreement or strive for a separation agreement after the fact.

When I was younger I was of another opinion than I am now regarding prenuptials. If any of you are like I was, you might be thinking, how callous. Why on earth would a couple anticipating a lifetime together, forge such an agreement, isn’t that a bad omen or curse upon a marriage? The answer is simple. No. Isn’t it for the rich or greedy? Once again, the answer is no. The very fact that I am writing this and you’re reading is because separation and divorce are a fact of life. Why not be prepared when everyone’s on their best behavior for the chance they may sink into their worst behavior? In other cultures a female is given a dowry for such an occasion. Once divorce is on the horizon, it may be less than easy to garner any sort of agreement from your soon to be ex. Better to be safe than sorry, I say.  Being proactive never hurts while the opposite can. If you have an amicable separation or divorce and your partner and you are able to have a sit down whilst writing up an agreement, the more power to you each, literally. You are already a step ahead of the notoriously ugly game.

When on the receiving end, respect the other’s resolve. 

Now, we’ve all heard the saying ‘ When a woman’s fed up, there ain’t nothing you can do about it’ or another famous quote ‘ Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’.  This is not to say that woman are the only ones embracing divorce, au contraire mon frere. Regardless of who’s come to the decision ( perhaps it’s a mutual decision), the same adage applies. This may be a huge and hard pill to swallow, but it’s an important one for the general atmosphere and health of all involved, especially if that includes children. The decision to end a marriage is a hard one to make and there are many factors involved. Try to put aside your emotions enough so things can be discussed and plans set in motion, including a separation agreement, especially vital when children are involved, as their best interests will become the focus of divorce proceedings, rather than you and your spouse. Sometimes separation is just what a couple needs. A sort of ‘time out’ where individuals can take a breather, examine themselves, their lives and their direction. Decide if things are worth fighting for ( maybe the battle has already been fought and lost) or if things are too far gone to ever be in a healthy flourishing state.

Refrain from blame, anger and spite. Do not let detrimental emotions take the reigns.

Serving divorce papers and requesting cooperation with a separation agreement can be daunting for one as being served the divorce papers is for the other spouse. It’s of utmost importance that detrimental emotions are held at bay during these times. To become irate, abusive, accusative, and uncooperative, is to be your own enemy in such a case. It doesn’t help you one iota, and leaves all even further emotionally, mentally and eventually physically depleted. Remember, you once loved the person you’re now at odds with. You once shared a common ground. Try to establish mutual acceptance in order to keep proceedings from becoming antagonistic as possible, and as long as there are lawyers, children and money involved, it is almost certain to become somewhat he said she said in nature. Mutual acceptance and respect is a must in these situations. There are far too many cases of spouses being arrested on various charges, whether on false pretenses or not, all could be avoided had one or the other refrained from acting or speaking while in a negative state of mind. Unrestrained detrimental emotions, subsequently lead to adverse actions and reactions. Cause and effect. Keep level headed.

When children are involved, be physically and emotionally present as much as possible, even when your mind seems absent.

Unless there’s a restraining order keeping you from your children, it’s important to continue to be physically present in their lives, even though your mind and emotions may likely feel absent or numb. Most people are aware that children are like sponges, soaking up the good and bad alike. They feel deeply, see and understand far more than we may like to acknowledge, and their spirits can be crushed very easily. Separation and divorce, at times, seems to leave adults feeling as though they are the only ones involved and therefore the only ones affected, the only victims. On the contrary, children and other family members are left taking blows along with their loved ones. It’s traumatic for everyone as we are all connected, and children are more directly affected, being in the same household typically of one or both parents. Be reassuring towards your children in words AND actions. Continue with usual routines, outings, movie nights, game nights etc. Now isn’t the time to forsake activities that will draw your family unit together, especially when it may seem so many forces are now at play dividing it. If you have restricted access with your children, do whatever is in your power legally, to be a positive influence in their life, regardless of the barriers. Always keep in mind, when war is being waged, it brings about many casualties. Collateral Damage can be lessened, if not avoided completely depending upon your actions.

Do not speak ill of the other spouse in the presence of your children.

Be mature and rational. Try not to allow your vision as a human being and parent become blurred into an angry abyss. You still have responsibilities, considerations and a reputation to maintain (if it’s not already too tarnished at this point). Slander and defamation of character should never be on your ‘ To Do’ list. This seems like a given to most of us, but during times of emotional duress, many are surprised at what they are capable of. Keep your wits about you. Remember, when speaking ill or behaving in an ill manner towards the other spouse, your children will suffer while seeing their parents suffer. Children represent 50% of each parents chromosomes. They feel the blows, deeply and personally. Don’t be foolish. Don’t make them suffer more by using them as tools against the other spouse.

Do not stalk, harass, or threaten your spouse (ex partner).

I hear the loud ‘duhs’ in the back of your heads and I understand, BUT, if these behaviors weren’t so prevalent I wouldn’t need to mention them. However, given the fact that many soon to be divorcees end up in the sitting cell at some point, I shall continue with my advice. It may seem tempting to check up on your ex partner to resolve any lingering suspicions that may be overruling your mind, but this could prove to be a mistake if that partner happens to press charges or your seemingly innocent spying gets out of hand and turns into something malicious. Let bygones be bygones or leave it to the professional private ‘eyes’ investigators if you have real concerns for yourself or your children, or feel there’s information to be extracted that would be beneficial in your court proceedings.

Set aside time for yourself.

You are very likely feeling as if on an emotional rollercoaster, and for some it has been a never ending ride for some time now. Setting aside time for yourself to unwind, focus, meditate, relax, renew your energy is of vital importance. Prolonged stress can adversely affect the body, stressing and wearing out the adrenal glands causing what’s known as Adrenal Fatigue. This, among a myriad other health issues directly related to stress and trauma, are reasons to release negative emotions in a positive and constructive manner. Meditation, prayer, yoga,  and exercise in general are great methods of refocusing your body’s energies into positive alignment, amidst the chaos and disorder separation and divorce can threaten to overtake you with.

Socialize. Become a butterfly.

For some people, getting out for whatever reason during any sort of break up, is the last thing on their mind. While for others, there’s no stopping them, they crave the excitement, the high, the new found freedom and adventure. Whatever the case may be, for many of us, getting out and socializing is not only healthy, it’s sine qua non for our overall well being. We as humans need social interactions to some degree, or we become somewhat hermitic in nature. Get out of the house, have guests over, host a party, attend another’s party, get a babysitter if required, call a family member to take care of the children, go on a short excursion, let your hair down, feel alive and breathe…you will be OK and you’re not alone in your experience.

Keep a journal. Document the negative and the positive aspects of your experience.

This can prove to be an asset if your separation and divorce lead to sticky court proceedings that may or may not involve custody issues. Keeping a journal for any reason is a fantastic method of release, and an easy way to gather your thoughts in a mentally and emotionally tumultuous time. Keep track of everything. Meetings with your spouse, meetings with your children, conversations, issues, concerns, breakthroughs, set backs, highs, lows. Writing can be therapeutic and when all is said and done it will be a testimony of your strength and endurance, because you will endure. You will be OK. Life goes on. There is life after love.

Memoirs of A Desperate Housewife: My Resolve

Why did I marry? That is the question I so often hear, not only from myself, but from others who are as perplexed as I am. What possible reason was enough for me to give up everything my future could’ve held. Of course I had a choice, but did I make the wrong choice? Was it just the pheromones embrace? I have pondered that question, among others for many years. I am no closer to an answer now as when the haunting question arose within my tattered mind. It was a decision I naturally took to heart and spent a great deal of time, energy, prayers and tears deciding. So why the eventual despairingly lonesome state?

It was from this rock bottom emotional state, that I made a decision to break free from my lonely prison, which was what I had come to view my life within the walls of my marriage as, I felt as free as a bird just learning to spread it’s wings and fly. I had made yet another heart felt decision, this time a dash in the opposite direction of my gradual emotional and mental decay. I had openly embrace the big monster divorce. It was liberating and at the same time frightening. I had lost so much of myself during my marriage that I wasn’t sure who I was, probably more frightening was that I didn’t know who I wanted to be. I felt a sense of urgency as one been cooped up for many years and finally set free, having an overwhelming feeling to take action and move onward with my life, shaking off my stagnant existence.

“It was from this rock bottom emotional state, that I made a decision to break free from my lonely prison, which was what I had come to view my life within the walls of my marriage as, I felt as free as a bird just learning to spread it’s wings and fly.”

In my case, hope was the only option. Considering I had survived an inward desolation for sometime, and hadn’t deployed into the dark abyss that results from a total loss of a saving grace. I choose to move onward and upward and thus allowed opportunity to envelope my existence. It was at the moment that I embraced my circumstances, not as a consequence, but as a catalyst and lesson, that set forth my awakening, my emancipation, my resolve. It was I who created the illusion of marital bliss, and it was I who refused to let go of the imagery of exalted weakness in our sufferings. Thus, I was perpetually surviving rather than thriving. In essence, my house of cards was bound to fall. So it did, and mighty was it’s fall, but during it’s fall, I was lifted up.

It is at our lowest points in life where our hearts seem to be open and alert to our surroundings and can either emit a sense of hope or hopelessness. Suffering, when embraced, has a way of bringing you to your absolute lowest at which point it proceeds to bring you to your absolute best. Dwelling on your supposed failures and shortcomings do nothing to propel you into a furtherance of existence and higher state of being. Taking this fact to heart, I enthusiastically thrust myself into social outings of informal and formal gatherings. Upon doing so I met people of similar circumstances, although placed there by different situations. This deliberate social distraction proved to benefit me by influencing and restructuring my sense of self and well being. Not to say that there weren’t any negative aspects to this new found freedom. On the contrary, there were many, but they all served there own purpose in the renewal of my mind and spirit.

“It is at our lowest points in life where our hearts seem to be open and alert to our surroundings and can either emit a sense of hope or hopelessness.”

One such aspect came with the resurgence of my sexuality, no holds bar….

To Be Continued….

To Look Back Or Not: The Ultimate Question

Does looking back make us stronger
Or make the pain last longer
I wish I had understood
The feelings you shared
All misunderstood

image

I didn’t believe
I didn’t see
Everything you meant to me
My heart really concealed
My eyes didn’t see
Now in my awareness of things unseen
I am trapped in what could have been
Was it illusion
Was it just a dream

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Images © 2013-2015

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