Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Discovering our Shared Heritage... & please get out and VOTE!

Positive energy and positive efforts and positive attitudes are very important to me... I think creativity is inspiring and empowering.

Fayeq Oweis Arabic Calligraphy : Love & Peace

I often go to Museum websites in search of relaxation and inspiration. I've also bookmarked some of my favorite artists such as Ismail and Tamam two Palestinian artists....

Both of them were born in Palestine...http://www.shammout.com/

While some people think the word stereotype automatically means negative stereotype, I believe it is a more neutral word and concept - a reality- a natural human inclination to more easily organize our world with shorthand images symbolizing any of many multidimensional groups to help make sense of what is what. Thus, in my opinion, the best way to fight a negative stereotype is by making sure positive stereotypes are available. Focus on the positive.

There are many efforts to do this, efforts that should be appreciated and enjoyed, for I think such efforts are the only way to stop the hate that negative stereotypes inspire.

Channel Icon
From: QueenRania

Our lives today bring us in touch with many different cultures -- both East and West. Ever wonder where some of the things we use every day come from?

طبيعة حياتنا اليوم تجعلنا نتواصل مع العديد من الثقافات المختلفة ... من الشرق والغرب. هل تساءلت يوما من اين تأتي الاشياء التي نستخدمها يوميا

Not everyone in America is lucky enough to really know, love and cherish an Arab- or an Arab American.... Arab Americans are a wonderfully dynamic mix of East meets West, and some are actually clever enough to know more than one language- and more than one country. Many have fascinating family stories of the old world and old ways, and some have fascinating new family stories of a very modern Middle East.

The Internet enables us to reach out and get to know the Arab world- and Palestine- in positive ways: In addition to Museums and more formal organizations and projects that help fight negative stereotypes there is Facebook.... My own current 'face' there is:

A Visual Poem
copyright 2008 Anne Selden Annab

One thing that is fun about Facebook is being about to get away from all the words... and all the many many negative stereotypes about Arabs and Muslims in general- and Palestinians in particular- to simply enjoy images.... inspiring images... one of my favorites:

The Land and Love

historical sites in palestineCreated 19 hours ago

from my online friend

Tamer Halaseh

"If you don't read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed...."

4 photos

It is more than merely a pleasure to look through such photographs... it is also very empowering on a primal level.

The miracle of the Internet amazes me, as does the ingenuity of nameless computer geniuses who keep things running- constantly enhancing humankind's ability to connect, creating a union one by one with a depth and reach that is far beyond even my own wild imagination.

Yes, one can choose to dwell in the negative and the nasty and believe the worst- but I'd rather not.

I'd rather look for the good- and promote that.

We can wallow in misery- or we can reach out and find a better way forward.

We can't really chose our lot in life, but we can choose to always try to live by The Golden Rule as in Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You... in order to help create a more civilized and decent world where every parent might have the time, energy and resources to do well by their children- and all our children might have a chance to grow up discovering their own innate gifts. Discovering how they might be able to use their own various gifts and talents- and connections and compassion and empathy to help make a better world... one day- one child at a time.

When I was a little girl I did not realize how much the memory of my own grandmother would be a guiding light as I grew up. I think of her every day.

Granny & me in her garden, 3100 Cathedral Ave. Washington DC

My grandmother had long silver white hair, which she wore up in a bun. At night, right before bed, I loved watching and listening as my Granny carefully took out her hair pins, revealing and unraveling her hair. Her long silver white hair would cascade down her back and she'd brush it out- 100 strokes.

And she'd talk to me- telling me stories. Little stories about her own life and beliefs... and habits... and all about my grandfather. Granny was widowed the year before I was born.

It was my grandmother's love and constant kindness to me and all her many family stories that made me think that silver white hair was the most beautiful hair color on earth... I still do.

The house where my grandmother lived was once owned by Peter & Catherine Marshall.

Catherine Marshall, born Catherine Wood, (September 27, 1914March 18, 1983) was an author of nonfiction, inspirational, and fiction works. She was the wife of well-known minister Peter Marshall. The Reverend Dr. Peter Marshall (27 May 1902January 26, 1949) was a Scottish-American preacher, and twice served as Chaplain of the United States Senate. He is remembered most popularly from the biography A Man Called Peter, and the film made from it.

Catherine Marshall ... authored over 20 books which have sold over 16 million copies. Her books include edited collections of sermons and prayers of her late husband, as well as her own nonfiction inspirational writings. Her most successful books were A Man Called Peter [1] (1951), the inspirational biography of her late husband, Peter Marshall; and her novel, Christy (1967), which was inspired by the story of her own mother's journey to the mountains to teach the impoverished children of Appalachia. A Man Called Peter was made into a film in 1955, and Christy was made into a CBS television series, starring Kellie Martin, in 1994. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catherine_Marshall

As I got older my grandmother (as well as my mother) encouraged me to read Catherine Marshall's books. My grandmother also gave me all her own old books from her own childhood, books that both entertain and help shape character in positive ways. Hopelessly old fashioned, I still treasure them... and I am glad I had such positive role models.

My grandmother's world was a very different world from the world today. Her father was a doctor and she used to accompany him sometimes as he visited patients. He had a horse and buggy, and often his patients paid him with chickens or apples or whatever else they had to trade for his services.

When my grandmother was born women did not have the right to vote in America.

One way that the world has not changed is that having a voice and a vote helps shape a more real democracy with full and equal rights for all.

It isn't only the vote itself, or even who gets elected but rather the entire process and the conversation all around the election that help shape polices to come.

This morning I got an email asking everyone to "Do us all a favor and help get out the Arab American vote this year"

James Zogby wrote:
SUBJECT: Please do me a favor between now and November 4th

This is the most important election of my lifetime - and of yours, too. Arab Americans can make a significant difference in this year's elections, but only if we vote. Do us all a favor and help get out the Arab American vote this year.

We've set up the Yalla Vote Virtual Phone Bank to reach registered Arab American voters in battleground states. Sign up to help. Make some calls. Remind your community to vote.

Do me the favor of signing up today at www.aaiusa.org/volunteer . Give an hour of your time, each day between now and November 4th, and you can reach hundreds of Arab Americans with this important message. And if you know people who would like to help, forward this message to them.

Also, feel free to e-mail me directly at jim@aaiusa.org and let me know what you are doing to encourage others in our community to get out and vote this year. I'd like to hear from you.

Please click here to volunteer now.

Thank you,

Jim Zogby

President, Arab American Institute

Arab American Institute
1600 K Street, NW Suite 601
Washington, DC 20006
www.aaiusa.org www.yallavote.org

When I was born Black men and women could vote but they certainly did not have full and equal rights and freedoms in here America because of racist segregation.... and today, as Barack Obama runs for President of our nation, these United States of America, we have stepped into a New Better World, where charater really does count more than skin color... and all men, women and children are free to simply be and to prosper no matter what their religion might be.

We live in a modern time and place that is the antithesis of segregation as images and pictures and stories and voices from around the globe reach right into our family rooms in less time than a blink.

Sometimes when our telephone rings its one of those awful robo-calls, or a telemarketer... but sometimes it is a warm voice- a treasured friend- or family that lives halfway across the world.

Arabic coffee, called sada, is not a mere drink for bedouins. In badia traditions, also followed in urban centres in the Kingdom, the head of delegation of notables who have a request from the host, like conciliation effort or asking for a woman’s hand for marriage, will not drink the first cup of coffee he is offered until his request is granted http://www.jordantimes.com/?news=11522

You don't even have to be stuck inside anymore if you want to be connected. Many people world wide have cell phones - and cell phones can take photos.... photos that can be sent arround the world in a blink.

My son's college campus has a wireless internet and he can work on his laptop most anywhere! I like to imagine him sitting outside the library under the autumn trees- learning....

Every day human ingenuity makes this world of ours both larger and smaller all in one tightly interconnected leap ... or stroll... or whatever.

In growing a Garden for Palestine today, I hope everyone gets out to do two things.

1. Counter Negative Stereotypes with Positive Stereotypes



WHEREAS recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world....Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

For Palestine Inspires...

Monday, October 20, 2008

It's October- a good time to start thinking about hats

I am fascinated by the fact the morning glories have continued to bloom profusely. Not for much longer though as it really is getting nippy here.

Earlier this week the autumn wind really picked up for the first time this fall. I was standing at our kitchen window overlooking our back garden while washing dishes.

All of a sudden the tree tips up on the hill up behind us tossed around vigorously... and then everywhere bright gold (infused with late afternoon sun light) leaves let go.... and drifted down.

Leaves were fluttering down everywhere the eye could see. A month's worth of leaves all in one moment.

And it was one of those moments like many when you can choose to either simply enjoy it all as much as possible in a totally be here now kind of way... or you can jerk away to dash over to grab a camera and leap outside hoping you can capture the magic.

I chose to go with the be here now - relax, breath in deeply and smile gazing out, marveling at the magnificence of it all.

Some years the rains pull off the autumn leaves before you get to see their full glory. I was worried this might be one of those years, but heavens our weather has been perfect this autumn.
I am a big believer in trying to see things in the best possible light.

Perhaps it is playing with my digital camera that is training me to be more aware of how things are framed, and training me to focus tightly, training me to try several approaches and to go back and try again when the light might be different- and then again the next day.

Free to take as many photos as I want, I am able to really play with composition... and often exhausted by walls and walls of words the idea of a visual poem becomes more and more important to me.

I like to be playful.

Balanced on roof shadow

And I confess that as I go gray I am quickly heading toward totally eccentric. I have silly monkey slippers that I like to wear sometimes. They cheer me up, they really are silly. The other day I was trying to take a picture of my silly slippers in the autumn leaves. The colors and shapes seemed so perfect together. I was right under the dogwood tree in our back yard, posing my feet and taking pictures and as often happens a bird was up in the dogwood tree singing something to me.

Silly silly me did not look up. I should have because I did not notice until he started to fly way that it was a bright red cardinal closeup, two feet away from my head- would have been a perfect picture with all the autumn leaves behind him... instead that magic moment was captured by monkey slippers :-)

In growing a garden for Palestine I think it is important to have fun- to be able to laugh and relax and recharge... to find and nurture positive energy in order to move forward in positive ways.

Jaffar picked the last tomato of the year this past week. I thought he was going to take it inside so I could add it into our dinner salad but he ate there on the spot instead. Shared it with me. Was a rather nice snack. Heavens what a joy and a pleasure our garden has been! And already we are planning next year's garden. My mother-in-law sent us some petunia seeds from a mail order catalog, plus we have some Queen Anne's Lace seeds I harvested in hopes of having some grow up on our upper hillside.

A garden really is an ongoing project... and so is a museum....

I was delighted to see this past week that the Arab-American Museum is showing an important film later this month.

"Chronicles of a Refugee is a 6-part documentary film series looking at the global Palestinian refugee experience over the last 60 years. Starting with 'al-Nakba' (catastrophe) in 1948 (part I) and continuing through repeated community and individual expulsions (part II) and enduring discrimination by virtue of being Palestinian (part III), the first three episodes are more historical and informative, presenting an almost comprehensive review of 60 years of dispossession."

I like going to the Arab American National Museum museum web site .... its very inspiring... empowering actually! I want my children to be proud of their history and their heritage on every side, and I want them to have good role models.

Portable typewriter. Carried by Helen Thomas early in her career, a tag marked "PRESS" and "TRIP OF THE PRESIDENT" is still tied to the typewriter's handle. On this tag, is written, "Helen Thomas UPI". She was cited by the World Almanac as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in America. Gift of Helen Thomas.

It is fascinating to see the contributions that Arab-Americans have made to America.

Thankfully America in return has given many people the freedom and security and inspiration to be able to speak out about things that really matter to them.

Making sense of things is something human begins have been doing since time began... And so is loving our children- and grandchildren: This week I have been thrilled to see utterly absolutely ADORABLE baby pictures from good friends- good people- Arab Americans who have been, each in their own personal way, helping to create a positive and compelling paper trail proving that Palestine was and always will be...

I hope that in time more and more Palestinian Americans feel free to speak out about their roots before those stories are lost to the sands of time.

And from that growing reservoir of personal and family memories, I hope more and more stories emerge all over America to help explain Palestine to America in ways that America might understand and appreciate... so that America might seriously help Palestine return in full- with dignity and peace and justice for ALL.

For Palestine Inspires...
WHEREAS recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world....Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Autumn leaves

Our leafy green trees have been quickly turning into autumn trees with all the glorious autumn colors.

It is once again that intriguing time of year where some trees are still green, others are a blaze of brilliant autumn reds, oranges and golds, and a few have already lost all their leaves... and the air is cooling but not too cold yet.

Windows are opened and fresh air and bird song are everywhere inside and out... but the days are growing short.

Our wall of morning glories still blooms but most of the other summer flowers have disappeared.

Seasons are significant where I live, with winter bitter cold in a dramatic way which is quite a strong contrast to how summer can be relentlessly hot and humid.

Autumn is a traditional time of harvest, a time of gathering in all that we we have nurtured all summer long, and a time of knowing that we have to prepare for winter. Autumn is a time of transition- and education...

Autumn flowers in autumn colors such as the Mums are blooming. Chrysanthemums were cultivated in China as a flowering herb as far back as the 15th century BC. All our gardens really are an encyclopedia of civilization and exchange.

Enjoying flowers I like to look for deeper meanings, for folklore and history and fascinating tidbits which help connect me to all the many other human beings who are enchanted by life and love- and gardens... for what ever reason.

When I was a little girl one of my favorite books was a small book of illustrated poems each about different flower fairy.

Cicely Mary Barker born in 1885 brought meaning and magic to even the most humble flower.

I also enjoyed reading about the Language of Flowers "a Victorian-era means of communication in which various flowers and floral arrangements were used to send coded messages, allowing individuals to express feelings which otherwise could not be spoken. This language was most commonly communicated through Tussie-Mussies, an art which has a following today." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_of_flowers

Symbols explore and explain what we human beings think and feel- and symbols are easily passed around... Through out the years many beautiful books have been published exploring myths and meaning and symbols.

"Because the chrysanthemum blooms in November, it stands for the light of HOPE in dark times" The Meaning of Flowers: Myth, Language & Lore by Gretchen Scoble and Ann Field

In looking at our Mums blooming so profusely I am reminded of a lion's mane... and Palestine: The Lion's Gate is located on the East side of the Old City and it opens up directly into the Muslim Quarter. Outside the Lion's gate one has a magnificent view of the Mount of Olives and a road to the ancient city of Jericho.

I find great hope and inspiration in all the many various efforts people make to enhance and to preserve civilization and our planet earth in large and small ways. The idea of home, whatever that might really mean to you is worth preserving- as is The Golden Rule Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You .

My husband works hard, tackling every job no matter how humble by using his wits to figure out the best solution. Sometimes all you need is a piece of string to help hold things together. His ingenuity fascinates me.

In a complex modern world it is easy to get distracted and lose touch with core truths... and the basic dignity and decency of humankind. Bad news and nasty gossip and negativity often dominate the conversation, creating divisions and distractions that push aside awareness of all the good that is happening everywhere. Don't lose sight of the bigger picture: The Internet is an amazing miracle enabling the truth (and beauty) to set us free.

The lion roars... RoR

Everywhere I look I see more and more mention of Palestine- and the Palestinian refugees' very real right to return.

For every age group and every interest there are roads leading home to Palestine. From more formal symphonies to traditional folk music to Hip Hop many different types of music (and movies and art...etc) are being made for Palestine and all these many various efforts are drawing in audiences as well as Internet visitors...

The fires of autumn are not of ruin- but of renewal and warmth for we know that spring will come again

And in growing a Garden for Palestine where ever (and who ever) you might be- please pass on the word:


and be part of the mosaic of Palestine past, present and future...

FREEDOM & RETURN: A Rights Based Solution to building a just and lasting peace in the Middle East ... Not just the return (al-awda) of the refugees, but also a return to the rule of law and respect for human rights: For more than five decades Palestinian refugees and internally displaced have struggled for a solution to their plight based on UN resolutions and international law, including the right to voluntarily return to their homes and lands of origin from which they were displaced/expelled during wars in 1948 and 1967 and due to other Israeli policies of forced eviction, deportation, etc....

For Palestine inspires....

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

...Universal Echo

Every time
you unlock any door
any where
any one
you are Al-Awda

Any time
you fit a key
into any ignition
of any vehicle

you are Al-Awda

Any time
you write a poem
(or a grocery list)
you are Al-Awda
as the ink shapes
in every language
spell out
what was
is and always will be

When you read a book
When you fall in love
When you buy a ring
When you leave home
When you return
all Al-Awda

Every time
you flick a switch
turn on a light

Every time
you close your eyes
and dream

Every pillow you fluff
every penny you drop
every street you stroll
every garden
every step
even every stumble
All Al-Awda

And now knowing Al-Awda
know that all roads now
lead home
....to Palestine

poem & photo copyright ©2008 Anne Selden Annab