Sunday, December 23, 2012

Mojo Monday ~ Promise of Tomorrow

Courage doesn't always roar
sometimes courage is the quiet voice 
at the end of the day saying,
"I will try again tomorrow."
~ Mary Anne Radmacher

This has been one of my favorite quotes for many years.  Artist and writer Mary Anne Radmacher has inspired me for many years with her writing and her art.  Many of her books are included in my library of favorites.  Yet it is only recently that I picked up a copy of her book called Courage Doesn't Always Roar.   I was incredibly moved and thrilled to read an expanded version of this very quote in this book.  I felt a bit stunned after taking it all in.

I also definitely appreciated this particular part in the introduction, 

"Courage is a paradox.  
Courage is the willingness to aspire, reach, 
and again believe in the promise of tomorrow."

Hmmm...let those words linger promise of tomorrow.

Now let us journey together further into the exploration of courage with Mary Anne Radmacher....

Courage doesn't always roar
sometimes courage is the quiet voice 
at the end of the day saying,
"I will try again tomorrow."

It takes courage
to change your style,
your opinion,
the path you walk...
your hat!

It takes courage to let go
of the weighty parts of your past.

It takes courage
to find your own voice.

It takes courage
to reinvent joys,
to reinvent opportunities,
to reinvent dreams,
to reinvent connections...

to reinvent hopes
that you have set aside.

It takes courage
to recognize that rigid habit inhibits.

It takes courage to accept
that the way you "have always been"
does not determine the way you are.

It takes courage
to stand in a place
you didn't know existed...
and learn from a view
you previously couldn't imagine.

It takes courage to let go
of your assumptions
and fly your dreams as a 
soaring invitation to become
the best version of yourself.

It takes courage to stand for your convictions.
It takes courage to give up control.
And it takes courage to recognize you are perfect
just the way you are.

Change of any sort, requires courage...
Courage to write a new story of your life
with the pen of each day
...of every moment.

Tell yourself this little story when you need it - 

"I have the courage to stand
in whatever the weather brings...
and understand that everything is washable.
Everything is fixable,
and everything is replaceable
but my time and breath."

The opportunity for greater courage
comes in the most ordinary moments.

Courage sings the praises
of the sturdy souls and says to them,
"Today I will borrow a little of your courage
and see what garden I can water 
with the healing of my tears;
and what growing things I can nurture
with the strength of my laughter."

Courage is defined more by its contrasts 
than it sameness,
more by its risks
than its security.

Courage is content to make no excuses.

Courage, dressed in intentional change,
is the most ferocious response to fear.

Courage acts without regret.
Courage laughs right out loud.

Have the courage 
to walk out the door
and let possibilities discover you.

Have the courage 
to wander and parades will find you.


As you weigh the many possibilities of your day
measure your action with this question,
"How would I most like to remember this?"

Your chosen answer becomes
your natural action and
your unique opportunity 
for courage.

Perspective in the large.

Grace in the small.

An open hand.

A practiced pause.


Courage doesn't always roar.

Mary Anne Radmacher has touched the hearts of tens and thousands with her popular cards, books, posters, journals, and gift books.  She conducts workshops and writing seminars on living a full, creative, and balanced life. 

She is the author of the following books:
Lean Forward into Your Life
Us: Celebrating the Power of Friendship
May You Walls Know Joy
Courage Doesn’t Always Roar
Live with Intention
Live Boldly

Please visit her website:

A new year is approaching.  

2013 will be here within a week.  

Surrender your fear.

Embrace change.

Center yourself.

Stay true to your voice.

What is it that you want in 2013?

Now is also a great time to write yourself a series of Permission Slips!  Be courageous.  Set yourself free to be you ~ and to do those things that make you happy...and then let the rest be.

 You can just let it be.

I looked back at a list of Permission Slips that I had written for myself as part of a Cosmic Cowgirl Sparking session.  I have the date down as December 22nd.  I was inspired again by what I had listed.  Here is that list:

I give myself permission to be different than I was 10 years ago.
I give myself permission to like and love who Michelle is today.
I give myself permission to not be perfect.
I give myself permission to love my imperfect and over-sized body.
I give myself permission to be content.
I give myself permission to be an imperfect parent and partner.
I give myself permission to lighten up.
I give myself permission to not get it all done.
I give myself permission to write without editing.
I give myself permission to relax and have fun.
I give myself permission to make mistakes AND NOT beat myself up about them.

What would you include on your Permission Slip list?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Mojo Monday ~ When I Grow Up

When I grow up...I want to be a sheep racer, probably said no one, ever. Yet in the photo above, just look at the joy on those little girl's faces as they race away.  Of course, my animal loving nature does have me hoping that the sheep were having just as much fun.

Can you recall as a child what you wanted to "be" when you grew up?

Quite often when you ask a child this question the response has to do with the type of job they imagine having when they are an adult, and in their limited exposure to vocations, it is often things like astronaut, fireman, teacher, actor, singer and so on.  

As we grow up, discover more about ourselves, our likes and dislikes, our preferences, our strengths and weaknesses, we are usually still being directed by our parents, our teachers, and other mentors, to figure out what we want to do for a living.  As we grow up we learn about other job possibilities and most often the statement "When I grow up" still ends in some kind of declaration regarding a career or how we think we might make a living.  

Have any of you said, or heard a child say "When I grow up I want to be happy."?

Or how about "When I grow up I want to be whole-hearted." or "When I grow up I want to be philanthropic." or "When I grow up I want to be compassionate and full of grace."?

I love the quote by John Lennon featured above, "When I was 5 years old, my mom always told me that happiness was the key to life.  When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I wrote down 'Happy.'  They told me I didn't understand the assignment, and I told them they didn't understand life."

What I've realized in my advancing years is that while there isn't anything wrong with figuring out what we want to do, however it doesn't capture the whole picture or touch upon some of the more important aspects of our life journey, such as the lives we touch, the care we show for others, and the love we infuse into the lives of others.

Some people eventually figure out what makes their spirit soar and it may end of coinciding with what they do for a living.  If not, hopefully they will still find how they earn their check to be somewhat fulfilling, and in their off time they will pursue their deeper soul stirrings.  

For those still trying to figure things out, be it how to be really happy or what kind of career to pursue, recapturing the playful spirit of a child can be helpful in exploring the possibilities. In this day and age is it rare for people to stick with one career.  In fact if they are to really seek out those things that bring them joy, contentment and inner peace, they may change direction several times in their lifetime.  

Consider role playing, trying on different hats so to speak, just for fun.  

Ask yourself the question "If I could do anything I would..."

Consider this fun list in the photo to the left for inspiration.

What about becoming a rock star, cowgirl, tap dancer, gypsy, star gazer, fairy godmother, cupcake spinkler, or even wonder woman?

Now while none of these may be a way to make a living, simply pretending or trying on a new persona, could make living a lot more creative and fun.  

Consider the possibilities of what you could be when you are grown up....because whether you are 24, 34, 44, 54, 64 or 104, you still have room to grow.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mojo Monday ~ The Story of Time

Purely Pacific Northwest from John Eklund

"The Milky Way drifts across the sky. Aurora tumble and roll. 
Clouds flow like rivers or undulate like smoke."

This video is photographer Oregon-based John Eklund’s time-lapse depiction of the Pacific Northwest.  John has this to say about his work, "I choose to shoot locations that appeal to the way I would like to interpret the story of time."  "Here is the Pacific Northwest, there are endless opportunities to depict the magnificence of the world around us.  I have discovered that when time is the storyteller, a special kind of truth emerges."  
The video Purely Pacific Northwest is composed of 260,000 shots John took of Mt. Shuksan, Crater Lake, Mt. Bachelor, Mount St. Helens, Oregon's Badlands, Painted Hills, Cape Kiwanda, Mt. Hood, Lost Lake and Cannon Beach between July 2011 and August 2012.

I am in awe of this video.  There is something about nature, our planet, the stars, the cosmos above, that leave me with a sense of wonder and wow, but also a greater sense of peace.  It reminds me that we are all a part of something so much bigger and greater than ourselves.  It also gives me a comforting reminder of the way we are all connected on this planet.  

Connecting with the beauty of nature has always been a grounding touchstone for me.   Is the same true for you?     

Consider getting out, taking your camera and going for a walk in your neighborhood or a nearby park or if you have more time on your hands, take a little drive and go exploring to find some fall color.  Perhaps your adventure might even call for a hike in the mountains.  

Come back and share photos after your outing.  

Do they tell a story?  

How did you feel during the outing?  

Here is a photo slideshow from the world of nature my family and I have been enjoying the last few days in beautiful Northern California.  

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mojo Monday ~ Sustaining Wonder

"In truth, our aliveness depends on our ability to sustain wonder:
to lengthen the moments we are truly uncovered, to be still and quiet
till all the elements of the earth and all the secrets of the oceans
stir the aspects of life waiting within us."
~ Mark Nepo

In The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have by Mark Nepo, the topic for November 11th is called Sustaining Wonder.  He begins the days reflection with a quote by Kahlil Gibran.

"In one atom are found all the elements 

of the earth; in one motion of the mind are found 
all the motions of existence; in one drop of water 
are found all the secrets f the endless oceans; 
in one aspect of you are found all the aspects of life."

How do you sustain wonder in your life?

Do you think there is a connection between sustaining wonder and guarding your time so that you have time to ponder, reflect, and marvel? 

What things can make you think "WOW!"?

The author's reflection on November 1st entitled The Next Moment of Love also offered up thoughts on overextending ourselves.  It begins with a quote by Thomas Merton:

"To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude 
of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, 
to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help 
everyone in everything is to succumb to violence.  
The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his or her work for peace."

Mark Nepo then continues, "Merton wisely challenges us not just to slow down, but, at the heart of it, to accept our limitations.  We are at best filled with the divine, but we have only two hands and one heart.  In a deep and subtle way, the want to do it all is a want to be it all, and though it comes from a desire to do good, it often becomes frenzied because our egos seize our goodness as a way to be revered.  I have done this many times: not wanting to say no, not wanting to miss an opportunity, not wanting to be seen as less than totally compassionate.  But wherever I cannot bring my entire being, I am not there."

Consider these thoughts and questions that he poses at the end of this section.
  • Center yourself and think of the many kindnesses that you feel called to do. 
  • As you breathe, let your heart glow around one.
  • Without thinking, pray for the others, but devote yourself today to the one.

Wonder is also mentioned in the November 9th reflection called Diving Half-Blind.  This quote by Thomas Brown introduces the topic:

"We carry within us
the wonders we seek
without us."

Mark Nepo later in this passage writes, "....the deeper we go, the slower the world; the slower the world, the soften our way.  So we must keep calling each other into the depths of what we know.  For below the surface we all shine.  Diving in, we all turn silver.   Given to air alone, the cuts of this world burn.  But when we dare to enter what is deep, the bruises we carry soften and glow.  In truth, the more we accept our limitations and surrender to the depths below our woundedness, the more the vastness holds us up.  There is no way to know this but to dive."

He closes with the following suggestions:
  • Center yourself and hold a pain or ached that you carry; hold it gently before you.
  • As you breathe slowly, surround your pain or ache with a loving kindness meditation that keeps broadening your prayer for all living things.
  • Allow this silent prayer to subside.
  • Now, if you can, feel your pain or ache slightly softened by your love for the world.

There is wonder in the simplest of things.  This thing called life is a wonder.  Our "aliveness" is a wonder.  Author Mark Nepo shares these profound thoughts about life in his reflections of November 24th entitled The Need to Continue.

"The longer I wake on this Earth, the louder the quiet things speak to me.  The more I experience and survive, the more I find truth in the commonalities we all share.  The more pain softens me, the deeper my joy and the greater the lessons of those things that live in great stillness.
      Before I had cancer, I used to complain so much, annoyed that every chore would need to be done again, that the grass would grow back as soon as I'd cut it.  Now I am in aw how it will grow no matter what you do to it.  How I need that knowledge.
     Now, twelve years from that bed, I am standing in a gentle rain, each drop a whisper of simple things I will never understand.  Now, there is only air in the sky of heart waiting to rain. Now, I am thinner, grayer, brighter, less able to say, and my heart has learned more on this side than it will ever let me know.  Now, I want to learn how to kiss an orange, unpeeled, and taste the juice.
       Twelve years ago the unasked-for growth disappeared, and ---praise this life -- I have been shedding ever since.  Now, all that remains is my armless heart wanting to live."
  • Sit quietly and consider your thoughts as leaves and your hears as the tree.
  • Breathe slowly, and try to listen to the soil you share with everything.
  • Breathe deeply, and meditate on what is oldest in you.

Here is a poem to inspire you in all your wonder and wow-ness!

Remember Your Wow-ness by Patricia Lynn Reilly
(Poem appears in Patricia's book called Words Made Flesh.)

Verse 1
Do you ever look up at the night sky and say WOW?
Well you're made of the same WOW-ness as the night sky.

Verse 2
Do you ever get lost in it's bigness and say WOW?
Well you're made of the same WOW-ness as the big sky.

Verse 3
Do you ever feel held by its darkness and say WOW?
Well you're made of the same WOW-ness as the dark sky.

Verse 4
Do you feel the tug of the full moon and say WOW?
Well you're made of the same WOW-ness as the full moon.

Verse 5
Do you ever try to count the stars and say WOW?
Well you're made of the same WOW-ness as the night star.

Voice Choir
You are composed of the same stuff as the Milky Way.
You are an exquisite dimension of the Galaxy's development.
You are a space the Universe fashioned to feel its own grandeur.
You are an individualized expression of WOW. WOW! 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mojo Monday ~ The Many Forms of Creativity

From top left clockwise ~ Dia de Los Muertos Madonna painting, a glowing Owl Pumpkin,
Cosmic Skull Girl, and tasty Spiced Pumpkin Muffin Owls.
Creativity can express itself in many ways.  Yesterday my creativity had a chance to express itself via the culinary arts.  I baked a vegan pumpkin pie, then darling vegan spiced pumpkin muffin owls and followed that up with vegan pumpkin cupcakes with cinnamon icing.  Today we had a family pumpkin carving party in the front yard and my parents even came from out of town to join in on the fun.  My husband's abnormally large pumpkin turned into a child eating monster and my own overgrown pumpkin found its inner owl.  Yes there is a bit of a theme of pumpkins and owls carrying on in our neck of the woods.

What forms of creativity have you been expressing lately?

Next up this week is one of our family's favorite holidays - Halloween!  We will be dressing up in costumes and I will be figuring out how to transform my face into that of a zebra.  Wish me luck!  Last year I was a parrot, the year before that our whole family was decked out as Sugar Skulls for a special Dia de Los Muertos gathering and art show.  Other forms I have taken in the past have been as a Killer Bee, Fire (with my husband as Ice), a Pink Flamingo, the Ocean, Half Devil - Half Angel, Dolly Parton, a male biker and the list goes on.  Halloween has a long tradition in my family and my mom who celebrates her birthday on October 31st, always dresses up as a witch, because she says it is her true alter ego.

Do you ever dress up for Halloween?
If yes, do share about your costumes, past and present.
Photos sharing is highly encouraged too!

I love the creativity that Halloween inspires in people.  Costumes can be such a fun way to express oneself, to get wild, and try out playing a character or new role.  Costume parties are often the funnest kind, as people who might normally be shy or reserved, find themselves being more extroverted and free, because for a night that can try out being someone or something different.

From top left clockwise ~ Fire, Killer Bee, Sugar Skulls, Biker, Cat Woman,
Fire and Ice, Pink Flamingo, Parrot and Kitties

Fashion and the clothing we choose to wear are also another way we can get creative and express ourselves.  Clothing can change the way we move.  Clothing can change the way we see ourselves.  Clothing and outfits can even make us feel differently, if we let it.  

Some people may find dressing creatively to be intimidating and may not want to draw so much attention to themselves.  In our Cosmic Cowgirl Tribe we have encouraged members to at least try on various outfits or costumes to release their inner Legendary self.  Our amazing Chief Laughing Cloud has even written about how one day she realized that she was being overtaken by the "gray" and set her intention to pull out her more sassy and wild clothing in order to spark creativity and a bit of rebellion.  

Do you ever put on an outfit that makes you feel different?   

Sometimes I get into a clothing rut.  My creativity lags and I just go through the motions of picking out clothes to wear to work or on the weekends.  However, I have noticed that if I my creativity is Sparking, or if I remember to let my clothing express my inner creativity, or even my inner wild woman, well those are the days I am reaching for long feathered earrings, jeans with glitter, tears and writing on them, or high black boots and a dress with a slit up the side.  

I know that we women can get very self critical about our appearances and our bodies and that we can let this restrict our clothing, fashion and costume choices.  As a woman who has been a variety of sizes, from very thin when I worked out 7 days a week for three hours every day, to very overweight, and lots of places in between, I must tell you that size does not matter.  It really doesn't.  Even in my larger times when I dress fun and fashionably I have still received compliments.  The way we carry ourselves, the way we see ourselves, the way we strut and hold our heads high, is so much more influential than some realize.  If you can see the beauty, and the sexy in yourself, that is going to shine out into the world.

No matter our size all of us women also face growing older, if we are so lucky in this life.  We will see our bodies change.  Perhaps gravity will take its toll and certain parts will begin to sag, wrinkle, and change.  We may adjust to such changes gracefully, or we may choose to wage a battle against it with some tucks and tightening here and there to firm things up a bit.  

Whichever route we take though we will still have choices on how we choose to present ourselves in the world.  Some women as they grow older state they begin to feel invisible.  They look around and see a media world obsessed with youth and beauty.  It is refreshing when you see someone take notice of style and beauty that is of a more mature nature.  Photographer Ari Seth Cohen roams the streets of New York looking for the most stylish and creative older folks.  He share this: "Respect your elders and let these ladies and gents teach you a thing of two about living life to the fullest.  Advanced Style offers proof from the wise and silver-haired set that personal style advances with age."

You can visit Ari's Advanced Style web site by clicking here.  

Here is a taste of some of the photographs he has taken.

There is also an Advance Style documentary about the women he has been photographing in New York and this is the very fun and short film trailer to inspire you to get more creative in your own closet!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mojo Monday ~ Designing A Vision of Peace

We talk about wanting peace.  What is peace? How do we achieve it?  Is it possible to obtain world peace?  Can we design a vision of peace? 

Israeli designer Ronny Edri is attempting to do just that.  It began with uploading to Facebook a simple poster of him and his daughter, with the words "Iranians we will never bomb your country.  We love you."  Here is a video of Ronny Edri sharing about how it all began..

If you have yet to discover and "like" the Israel-Loves-Iran facebook page, please visit. I have been following along with this amazing project since it began.  This is a grassroots peace movement that shows how social media is changing how we can connect and see one another as people, not nationalities that are supposed to be at odds with one another.

This building of relationships and connections is incredibly powerful. When the faceless people of a nation suddenly have names and are sharing that neither wants war or mean each other harm, there is a shift that takes place.  A powerful shift.  Is it strong enough to hold back the tides of a war that political leaders may be manipulating into reality?

Thich Nhat Hanh shares this in his book Being Peace:

“During the war in Vietnam we young Buddhists organized ourselves to help victims of the war rebuild villages that had been destroyed by the bombs.

Many of us died during service, not only because of the bombs and the bullets, but because of the people who suspected us of being on the other side. We were able to understand the suffering of both sides, the communists and the anti-communists. We tried to be open to both, to understand this side and to understand that side, to be one with them. That is why we did not take a side, even though the whole world took sides. We tried to tell people our perception of the situation: that we wanted to stop the fighting, but the bombs were so loud. Sometimes we had to burn ourselves alive to get the message across, but even then the world could not hear us. They thought we were supporting a kind of political act. They didn't know that it was a purely human action to be heard, to be understood. We wanted reconciliation, we did not want a victory. Working to help people in a circumstance like that is very dangerous, and many of us got killed. The communists killed us because they suspected that we were working with the Americans, and the anti-communists killed us because they thought that we were with the communists. But we did not want to give up and take one side.

The situation of the world is still like this. People completely identify with one side, one ideology. To understand the suffering and the fear of…[another citizen] we have to become one with him or her. To do so is dangerous-we will be suspected by both sides. But if we don't do it, if we align ourselves with one side or the other, we will lose our chance to work for peace. Reconciliation is to understand both sides, to go to one side and describe the suffering being endured by the other side, and then to go to the other side and describe the suffering being endured by the first side. Doing only that will be a great help for peace.”

So how do we create understanding between people?  How do find common ground?  I think it is helpful as Thich Nhat Hahn recommends, is identifying with not just one side, but with both sides.  I think there can be much enlightenment when we look back and explore the history of a situation, the back story, so to speak.  What is the history between Iran and the United States of America?  Does the past between our two nations have any affect on the current situation?  If you want to learn more keep reading below.

The Iran Agenda:

I still cringe to this day when I recall George W. Bush's State of the Union Address from January 29, 2002.  This is the speech in which Bush referred to  Iraq, Iran and North Korea as the "Axis of Evil."  I still want to slap my forehead, shake my head and ask aloud to anyone listening, "How in the world did the President of the United States think it was okay to label three nations as evil, and even worse, do it in public at an event where the world was listening?"  

My own take on those events is that the administration was beating the drums of war and building their case to convince the American people that more wars would likely be necessary to protect their homeland.  The war in Afghanistan had begun on October 7, 2001, less than a month after the events of September 11th.   Then on March 19th, 2003, after many accusations that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction, the United States, accompanied by the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland attacked Iraq.

Even after Bush's axis of evil pronouncement  in 2002 a number of nations were alarmed at this statement. Mohammed Khatami, who was President of Iran at the time, had made a concerted effort to tone down hostile rhetoric toward the U.S. as part of a more pragmatic foreign policy, but he condemned Bush's demonizing of Iran as "meddling, warmongering, insulting and a repetition of old propaganda."

Many Iranians expressed sorrow and support for the United States after 9/11. There were even candlelight vigils held by Iranians.  What was also very fascinating to read in a book by Reese Erlich called The Iran Agenda: The Real Story of U.S. Policy and the Middle East Crisis is how "the Iranian government cooperated with the United States in its efforts to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan.  This may come as a surprise to those who want to neatly place all Islamic fundamentalists into one group, but Iran solidly opposed Taliban rule.  The Taliban murdered nine Iranian diplomats in 1998, almost leading the two countries to war.  Iran had supported the Northern Alliance fighting the Taliban."  Iran was going to assist in the alliance to invade Afghanistan. The US initially praised Iran's "constructive role" in the meetings.  "In January 2002, Iran pledged $560 million for Afghan reconstruction aid, the largest amount offered from a third world country."  According to the author Erlich, Iranian officials told him "that they expected the United States to extend the contacts over Afghanistan into a wider dialogue about U.S.-Iranian relations."  Instead President Bush proceeded to denounce Iran later that same month as part of the "axis of evil" and this effectively shut down relations.

An organization called Just Foreign Policy includes on their web site the following statement: "The Bush Administration has deployed a rhetoric of confrontation against Iran, including the threat of military force without United Nations or even Congressional authorization. Many of the Bush Administration's claims that Iran is a threat echo claims used to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq and rest on similarly dubious evidence. Policies have been approved, such as authorizing the killing of Iranian officials in Iraq, that could easily escalate into a broader military confrontation."  In addition they state "Americans are being told that Iran is on the brink of developing nuclear weapons, supports terrorism, is helping to kill American soldiers in Iraq, and is determined to destroy Israel. Therefore, the reasoning goes, we must prepare to attack Iran."

Stephen Kinzer, the award winning author and former foreign correspondent for the New York Times rejects this argument. He, along with a diverse group of other experts on Iran, Congressional leaders and military experts have been traveling across the country to present other perspectives and options for a more rational foreign policy towards Iran. You can read more about their ideas at the web site The Folly of Attacking Iran, which is also part of the Just Foreign Policy organization.

My understanding of the history of Iran was greatly illuminated by reading Stephen Kinzer's gripping book called All The Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror. In great detail the book shows how the United States has played an active role in Iran for decades, often in ways resented by Iranians. The USA organized a coup in 1953 against the popular and democratically elected Prime-Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. Mossadegh had been considered a problem by the British for many years. The British over the years had gained control of various assets of Iran, including their oil. While the British in Iran lived in beautiful homes with manicured lawns and enjoyed swimming pools and such, the Iranians who worked for the oil company lived in squalor. Repeated requests to the British to share the profits more equitably with Iran and to improve conditions and wages for the workers were always met with disdain and no change.

As Iran began to question the British involvement in their county things grew more heated. The British were unwilling to be diplomatic or negotiate. They even tried to convince President Truman to help them overthrow Mossadegh so they could replace him with someone they could control. President Truman wanted no part in their imperialistic desires. The British were almost ready to just attack and take over Iran but world opinion kept them at bay a bit longer. When Truman didn't run for office again and President Eisenhower was elected the British suspected the USA might be more amenable to involve themselves in Iran. They were correct. Certain members of Eisenhower's administration were very open to the idea of choreographing regime change. The overthrow of Iran in 1953 is considered to be the very first coup that the American CIA organized.

After the coup, the monarchy of the Shah was reinstated and supported by the United States. There are many who believe that Iran could well have continued on the path of democracy if it wasn't for the meddling of the USA and Great Britain. The irony is that America is supposed to be the great supporter of democracy and yet it overthrew a democratic prime minister in order to give a monarch full control of the nation.

Years later the people of Iran rose up to remove the Shah, who some say ruled with an iron fist. Under his rule he created a domestic security and intelligence organization called Savak. According to articles in Federation of American Scientists and TIME magazine, SAVAK "tortured and murdered thousands of the Shah's opponents. It has been described as Iran's "most hated and feared institution" prior to revolution of 1979, for its association with the foreign CIA intelligence organization, and its torture and execution of regime opponents. It's "torture methods included electric shock, whipping, beating, inserting broken glass and pouring boiling water into the rectum, tying weights to the testicles, and the extraction of teeth and nails." After the 1979 revolution, a CIA film was found which had been made for Savak security forces on how to torture women.

In the Bush years there were alarming headlines in the news in which the Bush administration accused Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons.   A decade later this topic continues to make headlines and is sometimes a topic of debate, as we saw in the sparring between Vice President Biden and Paul Ryan.  Iran has however consistently maintained that they are only seeking nuclear power to improve conditions in their country and they are adamant in insisting that other countries have no right to dictate that they cannot do so. 

Here is a brief introduction to the history of the nuclear program of Iran as taken from Wikipedia.  Iran's nuclear program was "launched in the 1950's with the help of the United States as part of the Atoms for Peace program. The participation of the United States and Western European governments in Iran's nuclear program continued until the 1979 Iranian Revolution that toppled the Shah of Iran. After the 1979 revolution, the clandestine research program was disbanded by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who had serious religious reservations about nuclear weapons, which he considered evil in terms of Muslim jurisprudence. Small scale research restarted during the Iran-Iraq war, and underwent significant expansion after the Ayatollah's death in 1989. Iran's nuclear program has included several research sites, two uranium mines, a research reactor, and uranium processing facilities that include three known uranium enrichment plants.

In a January 2012 article in Salon Magazine, Glenn Greenwald,  noted the "killing of at least five Iranian nuclear scientists during 2010 and 2011, by unknown attackers, with no apparent outcry in the Western media."  When researching about Mossad, the Israeli Intelligence agency, more details were forthcoming about how "Mossad has been accused of assassinating Masoud Alimohammadi, Ardeshir Hosseinpour, Majid Shahriari, Darioush Rezaeinejad and Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan; scientists involved in the Iranian nuclear program."  Per Wikipedia, Mossad "is also suspected of being behind the attempted assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Fereydoon Abbasi.  Meir Daganwho served as Director of the Mossad from 2002 until 2009 - while not taking credit for the assassinations, praised them in an interview with a journalist, saying 'the removal of important brains' from the Iranian nuclear project had achieved so-called 'white defections,' frightening other Iranian nuclear scientists into requesting that they be transferred to civilian projects."
"In early February 2012, Mossad director Tamir Pardo met with U.S. national security officials in Washington, D.C. to sound them out on possible American reactions in the event Israel attacked Iran over the objections of the United States."

Author Stephen Kinzer also addresses the nuclear issue in the preface to his book All the Shah's Men: "The only way Iran can reasonably be expected to curb its nuclear ambitions would be through some kind of 'grand bargain' in which its own security concerns would be addressed.  That would probably require a solution that goes beyond Iran's borders and creates a new security architecture for the Middle East.  It is not reasonable to expect Iran to abandon its nuclear program as long as its main regional enemy, Israel, and its main world enemy, the United States, are nuclear-armed and issuing a stream of barely veiled threats to Iran."

I think that the Just Foreign Policy organization summed it up well when they stated the following "The recent history of relations between the United States and Iran has been marked by misunderstanding and mistrust shaped by the unjust use of violence and threats of violence. Violent conflict has not served the interests of either country. Military threats deepen hostilities and resentment and future conflict becomes more likely. Serious diplomacy between our two countries is needed."

I would add to the need for greater diplomacy the following: 

  • The healing of old wounds. 
  • The releasing of the past.  
  • Forgiveness.  
  • Living in the present.  
  • Connecting. 
  • Finding common ground.
  • Choosing Love.
  • Choosing Peace.

I have written before about Iyanla Vanzant's prescription for working through an issue, which is to Feel,  Deal, and then Heal.  Feel.  Deal. Heal.  Do you think we could get her to do an intervention for some heads of state?  Have her give them some straight talk and get them to play nice with one another and work together to make a peaceful world our reality?  

In the meantime let us join the thousands of people sending in their photos and sentiments of wanting there to be peace, compassion, friendship, love and understanding between us all.  While some may be lost in a world of revenge, greed, fear, anger, hatred and ignorance, those of us who see there is another way will continue to design a vision of peace.

Please visit the Israel-Loves-Iran Facebook page and add your part to this campaign.  There are other pages now too, such as America-Loves-Iran that you can also visit, "like" and share with your family and friends.  It is through such positive sharing and enlightening that we tear down walls and bridge gaps of misunderstanding and fear. We can all be a spokesperson for peace.  There can never be too many.  

If you can take the time, below is an incredibly eye-opening and informative video with Rick Steves who makes traveling documentaries.  In this video he visits Iran and allows us a glimpse into the lives of current day Iranians, while also sharing some of the rich history of this fascinating country.