Heartbroken

The sky is charcoal black today. My dear cousin, a loving husband and father of two little ones was taken prisoner (again), alongside 11 other innocent souls in Iran. His crime? Following a faith thats sole purpose is the unification of all people. Practicing equality, love and justice. Giving eternal love and service.

When asked on one occasion: “What is a Bahá’í?” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied: “To be a Bahá’í simply means to love all the world; to love humanity and try to serve it; to work for universal peace and universal brotherhood.”

My heart is broken. As is his immediate family’s and friends’. The persecution of the Iranian Bahá’í community is a serious problem. In this recent article, it was likened unto the apartheid system. The world is a cruel cruel place. Today I feel deeply ashamed. Ashamed at myself for continuously having trivial “problems.” I recently cried to my mother for not having a travel companion. But it’s not fun by myself, I said. Then I moaned about my weight. I’m not as skinny as I used to be. Then my clothes: I want to shop in NZ. European clothes don’t fit and they’re too expensive. Of course she rationalised how ridiculous my concerns were. As mothers so perfectly do. But even so, at the time it didn’t register. I still felt upset. Now it has registered.

My “problems” are nothing, nil, non-existent. I am so immensely lucky. How dare I ever complain. I am so ashamed. I pray for my cousin and all who are bearing a heavier load than they can take. Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í faith says: “Let your vision be world embracing…” To me this means detachment, of ourselves and of our problems or in my case, “problems” for there is always someone worse off than we on earth. When we forget to look at the bigger picture, our perceptions are clouded.
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“When you think things are bad,
when you feel sour and blue,
when you start to get mad…
you should do what I do!
Just tell yourself, Duckie,
you’re really quite lucky!
Some people are much more…
oh, ever so much more…
oh, muchly much-much more
unlucky than you!”
―Dr. Seuss, Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?

Lakeside Strolls and Gothic Grandeur

How great is Europe? How cool is this? To travel from one country to another in less than an hour, from France to Switzerland, Lausanne desu. PS “desu” is a Japanese word often used at the end of factual sentences and for me, the most memberable part of the public transport announcements. Osaka desu. Tokyo desu. Lausanne desu.
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As for Switzerland, it is clean, luxurious and crazy expensive.
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First on our Lonely Planet list was to visit the Olympic Mueseum. Unfortunately, the entry fee turned out to be a lottle expensive. 18 Swiss Franc, that’s about 25 New Zealand dollars for only three floors – and I’m not even interested in Olympics! So, I took a few pics of the building itself but because the sun had not come out yet, I don’t think they’re that great.Sorry. Next up, the local Wednesday (and Saturday) market:
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Teeny tiny little widdle pumpkins. image-126image-130
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My best street photography picture ever.
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Both Sonia and I agreed these were THE best vegetarian burgers we have ever had ever. From Holy Cow
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Ferry back to France. 50 mere minutes on beautiful Lake Geneva.
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Back in France, cherry sorbet.image-114
For my Bahai followers (and those interested). This is the hotel (now residential apartment) Abdu’l-Bahá stayed at during his travels of Switzerland and the very port her travelled from.
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My Heart Wants Roots. My Mind Wants Wings. I Cannot bear Their Bickerings.

Everyday I thirst to see more, to do more and to experience more. And everyday, I miss my family, I miss familiarity and I miss home.
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Italy, shmitaly.
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Sometimes when uploading or sending via messenger, Facebook flips photos. Turns out it ain’t a bad look!
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This is Château De Coudrée a 12th-century castle now a 4 star hotel.
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These last pictures are from Yvoire; officially one of ‘The Most Beautiful Villages of France’, a former fishing village, fortified in the early 14th century, it’s a riot of turrets, towers and old stone houses.
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I feel really silly writing this with all of the terrible terrible adversary happening in the world and how incredibly lucky I am compared to it all but one of the “troubles” of travelling is being unable to buy the big beautiful things to take home.
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Can someone romance me already?!
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An all-wooden toy-store. “Very German,” according to Auntie.
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Relationship Update

Don’t call me the boy/girl who cried wolf but I just wanted to tell you that my boyfriend is going to nursery school!

On another note, just as I posted my Miss Independent post, The Cut published a wonderful piece called 25 Famous Women on Being Alone. You can check out the full article HERE or just read my favourites below:

(Illustrations by Mitsuie Yusaku)

People sometimes seem surprised when I say this, because I’m a pretty friendly person. This is one of the greatest misconceptions about introversion. We are not anti-social; we’re differently social. I can’t live without my family and close friends, but I also crave solitude. I feel incredibly lucky that my work as a writer affords me hours a day alone with my laptop. I also have a lot of other introvert characteristics, like thinking before I speak, disliking conflict, and concentrating easily … introversion is my greatest strength. I have such a strong inner life that I’m never bored and only occasionally lonely. No matter what mayhem is happening around me, I know I can always turn inward. In our culture, snails are not considered valiant animals — we are constantly exhorting people to ‘come out of their shells’ — but there’s a lot to be said for taking your home with you wherever you go. (Susan Cain)
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I think alone time is good to know how to be alone with your own thoughts. I think it just helps you kind of be a better, more grounded person … and also I feel like it builds a sense of self confidence and a sureness that you know that you can venture out into experiences without the crutch of other people. Like, you’re not doing it because you feel lonely or isolated, but because it generates a new kind of experience. (Carrie Brownstein)
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Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren’t a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was. (Cheryl Strayed)
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I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel. (Audrey Hepburn)
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The precious part of my day is when I’m alone. When everybody goes home and (son) Sean’s asleep and I’m just watching the night lights out of my window or something. I like silence, you see. I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that it’s all right to be alone. (Yoko Ono)

Miss Independent

Proof that compliments are so important: when it comes to past compliments, I have IMMACULATE memory. Do you remember Bebo? The social-media site before Facebook and Myspace came to town? Well, I can still clearly remember my first boyfriend posting the lyrics to Ne-yo’s She Got Her Own on his Bebo profile for me. Looking back, I think he only liked that I had a job because it meant he didn’t have to pay for his bubble tea, but regardless of his intentions that gesture stuck with me.

Ten years later, I don’t always enjoy being Miss Independent but when I do, I love celebrating me.
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My alone feels so good, I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude. (Warsan Shire)
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Being single used to mean that nobody wanted you. Now it means you’re pretty sexy and you’re taking your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with. (Sex and the City)
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How wrong it is for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than to create it herself. (Anais Nin)
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Discover why you’re important, then refuse to settle for anyone who doesn’t completely agree. (Fisher Amelie)image-91
When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely, Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings. (Elizabeth Gilbert)
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(Shout-out to Haifa, my beautiful 11 year old cousin for letting me read one of her many young-adult novels)
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I am a lover without a lover. I am lovely and lonely and I belong deeply to myself.
(Warsan Shire)

A Gratitude List

…look around you. All of this is for you. Take it and have gratitude. Give it and feel love. -Zooey Deschanel

I dedicate this list to you. I’m sorry for the whinging and the grumbles. I really am happy and grateful…it’s just so easy to be open with you.

1.Working limbs to walk, run, cycle and explore.
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2.Unexpected friends. Like Laura from Belgium who I met through blogging. who came and stayed with me in Japan and who just happens to be blogging about it NOW.

3.My auntie Pouneh – of course for having me here but also for her many entertaining stories, cycling advice and organic salads!
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4.Coffee. I mean come on. Ican’teven without it.
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5.Art. Art and creative people. Literature, music, Sundance! Thank you for making me feel all sorts of feels.

6.My mama, who keeps messaging me to be careful not to get a cold? And that I’m her little girl and very pretty. Oh my heart. My world. Thank you.
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7.Getting paid to travel. Okay so it’s not much (hint hint Savvy Tokyo) but it’s seriously a dream come true. I did it. I blogged for 730 days in a row, annoyed the hell out of you all and eventually landed myself a teeny tiny writing role. Have you read my latest work? You can HERE, HERE and HERE. Cheers and kampai to (fingers-crossed/touch-wood) many more.

You Will Find Your Way It Is In The Same Place As Your Love.

I’ve been absolutely terrified of every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do. (Georgia O’keeffe)
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If you get tired, learn to rest, not quit. (Banksy)
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imageimage1imageNothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. (Marie Curie)
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image3image4Being tender and open is beautiful. As a woman, I feel continually shhh’ed. Too sensitive. Too mushy. Too wishy washy. Blah blah. Don’t let someone steal your tenderness. Don’t allow the coldness and fear of others to tarnish your perfectly vulnerable beating heart. Nothing is more powerful than allowing yourself to truly be affected by things. Whether it’s a song, a stranger, a mountain, a rain drop, a tea kettle, an article, a sentence, a footstep, feel it all – look around you. All of this is for you. Take it and have gratitude. Give it and feel love. (Zooey Deschanel)

From Hola to Bonjour

Guys, I’m so confused. One day I’m saying gracias to the supermarket clerk, the next day, arigato. Note to self: merci merci merci pardon.

Today I biked to the local market. I said “bonjour” to an elderly passerby. He said: “bonjour mademoiselle,”(just like the movies) and I died.
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The French market in Thonon reminded me very much of the Riccarton Bush market back home (NZ). Unlike the markets in Spain where the fresh produce were displayed organically in fresh piles, the food here were set out decoratively in nice cartons, on pretty table cloths and alongside authentic ornaments.
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He said: “Hey lady try this olive pesto. It’s very fresh.” Then: “but not as fresh as you!” ???
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Delicious oily beignets mmm!
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Okay, NOW I’m French.
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This picture is for Teck Loh, Andy Banks and my father <3
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Herbs for my mama <3
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And last but not least, flowers for my sister.
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Remnants of a French breakfast :O

Every Supermarket Should Look Like This

In the words of my auntie Pouneh: “every supermarket should look like this.” I’m well aware of how expensive these stores can be but I still love scanning their isles and oohing and aaahing over everything. Here’s an inside look at a European bio organic supermarket:
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Passionfruit, pomegranate and prickly pear – that children, is A L L I T E R A T I O N.
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Better be orgasmic for those prices!image5
No more bent-back-over-the-stove-top-homemade-muesli-labouring for me!  image4image3image2
Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. (Hippocrates)

This Is What It Means To Be Happy

I know I say this of every place, but Anthy-sur-Leman is truly something else.
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You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
(Mary Oliver)
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The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles. (Anne Frank)
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…and then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough (Vincent Van Gogh)
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A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbor — such is my idea of happiness. (Leo Tolstoy)
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I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.” (Sylvia Plath)
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