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Tuesday, April 28, 2009 by Marianne Elliott

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Frida in Bournemouth
Looking thoughtful, photographed by Susannah Conway

Ever wondered whether you can do anything to make the world a better place? Maybe you are not even sure what a better world would look like? For more than three decades I've been trying to figure this out as well. In the process I:

  • lived in Papua New Guinea with my missionary parents;
  • grew up on a dairy farm in New Zealand;
  • worked as a "fairy" telling stories and weaving magic for children;
  • was a barrister and solicitor for a big corporate law firm;
  • worked as a human rights advocate in the Gaza Strip;
  • headed up a UN office in the mountains of Afghanistan;
  • developed New Zealand's strategic plan for human rights;
  • gave human rights advice to the Prime Minister of Timor-Leste;
  • studied yoga and became a yoga teacher;
  • learned to sit in meditation making peace with my own mind;
  • ran more than a dozen half-marathons;
  • travelled to more than forty countries;
  • tried to learn to surf;
  • grew a vegetable garden;
  • read more than 5000 books; and
  • wrote to the other side of every challenge and joy.

The answers are a work in progress but for now, this I believe:

I believe that I can live a life that is fulfilling, sustainable and just. I believe that everyone on the planet deserves this life as much as I do. I believe that gratitude, mindful appreciation and thoughtful action are the appropriate responses to the goodness in my life and the injustice in the world. I believe that joyful appreciation and quiet contemplation are as important as serious, hard work. 

Here on my blog I share my writing (including extracts of my work in progress, a memoir called "Zen Under Fire: Learning to Sit Still in Afghanistan"), reflections on the mindful life, links and resources about yoga, eco-activism, Buddhism and human rights. Welcome, thanks for stopping by, please let me know what you think.




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20 Responses to "Welcome"

  1. megg says:

    As usual when I come here, I am speechless. You amaze me completely. I wish I had an ounce of your… I don’t even know how to put THAT into words! Consider me inspired!

  2. i think that you are an extraordinary woman who continues to educate and inspire me in the most amazing ways. i’m forever grateful our paths have crossed.xo

  3. John Mullis says:

    Dear Frida – I can’t do better than to concur with Kristen and Megg. Most of us are content to simply wonder about the great questions life poses – you not only meditate on them, you actually work at finding answers, and have the God given gift to draw us along with you on your journey. Take care of the ‘gift’, like the earth it’s held in trust for others and needs it’s own special care. Your blogs feed us, but when your book(s?) are published they will nourish many. Pax Domini – John

  4. gem says:

    i heart this space.
    thank you for being, Marianne.
    in joy,

  5. susanna says:

    You have accomplished so much in your life already, Marianne. You truly are living your life to its fullest. I think you are an inspiration. And I was just thinking today of your book. I’m looking forward to reading it one day. 🙂

  6. gypsy Alex says:

    You are sooo incredibly inspiring! I love this re-introduction. There is a book in each line you wrote, actually! So I hope you’re typing away, cuz this is just the beginning…

  7. Lubna says:

    I am sure your book will spread far greater understanding. God speed and happy writing.
    Best regards,

  8. KL says:

    enough said.

  9. aj bush says:

    What an amazing young woman who appears to be an old soul.

  10. Swirly says:

    YOU = my hero.

  11. Captain Cat says:

    M, I have read through this a couple of times. Without a shadow of a doubt, you are a dedicated, compassionate and incredible woman. You have done so much, and so much more than most. That you choose this life is indeed a testimony to your love and compassion for humankind. I love that you have the strength and determination to make the world a better place, and I admire that you live by this. But M, you would be just as beautiful as you are had you not done these things. And I know that even if you had the smallest, most simple of professions, you would still radiate beauty and love to those around you, because that’s who you are, it’s what you do. I think making the world a better place starts with simply showing love to anyone and everyone you come across, and you do this better than most. x

  12. leonie says:

    sometimes i get so hung up on trying to figure out why the hell i’m on this planet (and whether or not i’m wasting it all doing pointless things) that i actually forget to be at all present and consider that what i am doing right now might be the most perfect thing for the moment. thanks for this.

  13. oh sweet soul… this is just magical. you are magical. it is utterly divine to connect with you…
    thank you for being you, hon!

  14. So many amazing accomplishments…. you’re a true inspiration.

  15. pixie says:

    You are really an inspiration in so many ways, because of who you are, even more than what you do. Which is no small change either, sister.
    xoxo pixie

  16. Hi Marianne. XpatAdventures here, a.k.a. Rebecca in Switzerland. Have been thinking about Law School and would love to speak with you. I already have a Ph.D. in Media Studies and taught Media Law… not sure if I need to go back to school, frankly. Am interested in working in area of FOE as Human Right. Looking for a way in at Int’l level, where to start? Would love to know what you think…

  17. Shirley says:

    Just found you on Alixis Grant’s website. We have a lot in common. Dairy Farm. Executive experience. Yoga (I’m just an occasional dabbler). Spiritual practice. Church. Love to learn more and would love to have you visit me also.

  18. J. says:

    Love your profile portrait in black & white infra-red.
    and thanks for stopping by my blog!

  19. a.q.s. says:

    you have done all that and you are only 25! wow. 🙂 my father was right all along… you work on your spirit and you will never look old, as you continue to grow. 🙂
    so inspired.

  20. Ragnheidur Kolsoe says:

    you saved my day or rather my past 2 months. just sent you a long message on facebook, but now that the master frenzy is over, i decided that it was about time to read your twitter :-). you know i am a bit slow when it comes to technology and the virtual world – after all, it took you about 6 months to convince me to start using facebook when we were in ghor.
    i loved what you wrote about avatar and i agree with you – haven’t seen it yet, just heard about it; but since i am sitting in southern sudan (not even working on conflict issues directly), my desire to watch violent movies is non-existing.
    what you have written about yourself and your journey, beliefs and philosophy of life – liked every word of it.
    you are my role model – remember that.
    hugs, heida

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