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Books for kids and other things I’ve done lately

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 by Marianne Elliott

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It's been an awfully long time since I've posted here. I've been very busy working out how to live back in New Zealand. I've been back five months now and in that time I have kept myself surprisingly busy with full-time study, part-time work and various charitable projects.

In the past few months I've:

– walked 100km to raise money for Oxfam (harder than we expected and much more successful as well, we aimed to raise $2500 and instead raised more than $7250)
– been on a two day silent meditation retreat with a Shambala teacher (mid-way through the first morning I was miserable and wanted to leave, but I decided to stay until lunch and in the end stayed the whole time and experienced something really worthwhile – the perspective that comes with sitting still for longer than is comfortable)
– worked on the mid-term review of a five year plan for human rights in New Zealand (the plan that I was responsible for developing before I went to Afghanistan – it has been very satisfying to see how much progress has been made while I've been away)
– organised an exhibition of my photographs from Ghor, which will go up in a few weeks in my favorite cafe Deluxe.
– worked for two weeks on the set of James Cameron's new film Avatar (and decided that film set work was NOT for me)
– written essays on "feminist post-structuralist approaches to psychological research" and on "what a community psychology approach would mean for responses to youth suicide in New Zealand" for my Psychology of Women and Community Psychology papers
– learned how to calculate statistics (big achievement for me, since i couldn't even figure out how to turn the scientific calculator on when i first bought it) for my "Introduction to Psychology Research" paper
– spent a week touring the East Cape of New Zealand on behalf of an organisation that promotes reading and gives books to children in the schools with the lowest socio-economic ratings in the country (see the photo above – it was a deeply satisfying and fun week)
– interviewed 14 members of Parliament as part of a wee research project I'm doing to earn some money while I study
– become a regular member of the local yoga studio and of the library
– become a regular at my local cafe (this is something I dreamed about when I was in Afghanistan, walking out the door and down the road to get a coffee, mmmm)
– been able to attend birthday parties and dinner parties to celebrate key moments in the lives of friends and family

and…

I've tried to find a balance between all these wonderful projects and activities and still find time to be still and quiet and remember the key question for me this year which is:

"How can we each find ways each day to practice peace in the midst of a conflict-ridden world?"

Some of the simple truths I've been reminded of are:

– That I have to chose every day to practice the peace I want to see in the world; whether with my boyfriend, my workmates, my housemate or people I come across in the street.

– That I have to make the space for peace in my heart by taking time to be quiet every day, and that sometimes being quiet can stir up lots of scary noise. In those times I have keep sitting still until the noise also passes.

– That I have to be gentle with myself if I want to be gentle with the rest of the world.

More soon – assuming this post signals a return to inspiration!

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13 Responses to "Books for kids and other things I’ve done lately"

  1. “- That I have to chose every day to practice the peace I want to see in the world; whether with my boyfriend, my workmates, my housemate or people I come across in the street.”
    I love that. Thank you for the reminder.

  2. leonie says:

    hey, great to hear from you and read that you are settling yourself back in at home in lots of amazing ways.

  3. tiny noises says:

    you are not one to sit still, are you?!? (unless it is for a mediation retreat, of course) I am very proud of all the ways you create and maintain community and I can’t wait to see you this summer!

  4. Mandi says:

    It’s wonderful to hear what you’ve been up to, and reassuring to know that you continue to have an impact on the world, no matter where you are. 🙂

  5. Juliana says:

    thank you for sharing your insights into peace, both personal and the communal (which of course are the same), with us. your words and experiences are a great reminder.

  6. Christianne says:

    hi frida,
    i’m a new reader who started reading your blog shortly after you left afghanistan. found you through boho girl.
    i’ve never commented before, but i had to come out of hiding to say that this post met me exactly where i am and that i found such inspiration here in all you’re doing. my hub and i just finished a conversation (that’s really been going on for the past few days in a row) about how to work and make ends meet in areas that fulfill our hearts while being in graduate school. you have been so busy in so many interesting directions yourself, and it was great to get a practical peek into what other people who care about living from their hearts do in their own set of circumstances.
    i can also really relate to wanting to fidget and get out of the quiet. so hard to sit still in that place! i’m glad you found some great lessons for yourself in there, after deciding to stick through with it.
    ps: that whole “tried something (a film set, in your case) and decided it was definitely NOT for me!” reaction sounds very much like me in many ways, too. bravo for you for trying it, and extra bravo for being able to admit it just isn’t you.

  7. susanna says:

    Yay – you’re back! I’ve missed you and a letter will be on its way to you soon.
    Holy moley, woman, you’ve been BUSY! Look at ALL you’ve accomplished in the FIVE MONTHS you’ve been back in New Zealand! You must have a superhero cape hanging up in your closet! Really, you’re an inspiration. 🙂

  8. Rachel says:

    What a beautiful photo, that face is just divine. Nice to hear what you’ve been up to, what a full life.

  9. Swirly says:

    Oh so happy to see you back here…and of course even more thrilled I’ll get to see you right here in my living room very, very soon. You never cease to amaze me, my friend…you inspire me to be a better person and continue centering my day to day choices around the highest level of integrity. I love you.

  10. two posts in one week…
    and i’m reminded of how much i’ve missed you.xo

  11. homeinkabul says:

    It’s 1:37 a.m. and I’m sleepy but just wanted to say that I’m glad you’re back!

  12. SaraB says:

    I think I was about 4-5 months home when you popped back into my life in the most wonderfully warm and enriching way. I absolutely cannot wait to see you!!

  13. Megan Potter says:

    I just wanted to tell you that I found this post immensely imspiring. Thank you for sharing it.
    Now I’m off to think about what my Key Question for the next year might be…

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