Monday, January 24, 2011
The articles in this book(blog) can be copied for educational purposes only. For any other purpose, the written permission of the publisher must be obtained.
Copyright by Karine Armen
I want to celebrate my mother’s legacy. I want to keep her memories alive and to spread her words. She loved helping people, especially children, women and elderly.
My mother died from cancer in her spinal cord on August 19, 1990 at the age of 56.
She lived in Iran but had been in the Los Angeles area for a year and a half. While in the United States, she wrote self-help articles in Farsi which were published in a weekly newspaper, Fogholadeh. Her pen name was Hasmik in honor of her sister who died at the age of 36.
I have been thinking about publishing my mother’s articles for a few years. It was an emotionally difficult task. Every time I tried to read them I started crying. So I put that project behind me.
Finally, two years ago, I copied the articles and had them typeset. That was a big step for me. Later I decided to translate the articles into English to be able to share them with a wider audience. In this book you can read 37 of her articles. I have put them in chronological order.
As I mature I realize her influence on me with my decisions. I chose Social Work as my major in college. Later I became a teacher, in an ongoing effort to help others. One day she told me, “You don’t need to worry about being a mother. You are an active woman and can help and influence several children.” At that time I was in my twenties and was surprised with her ideas. I admire her even more when I think about her.
I love you mom. Thank you for teaching me these important life lessons.
About The Author
Berjik Kurkjian-Giragossian (1933-90) has written several self-help articles in Farsi. Her work was published in a Los Angeles magazine called Fogholadeh in 1987-88.
Berjik was born in Iran in an Armenian family. Both her parents were survivors of the Armenian genocide. The genocide had its effects on Berjik’s family. She was the second child among the five children. She was the oldest sister and grew up taking care of her younger siblings.
She learned to take care of everybody’s needs putting aside her own needs and wants. She was not able to complete her education yet she loved to read. She had a passion for helping people.
Hagop Kurkjian married Berjik in 1953. Hagop was one of the founding members of the Ararat Armenian Sport Club in Tehran which was established in 1944. They had four children, Varand, Karine, Vahic, and Vazrik.
Both Berjik and Hagop had passion for life which was transferred to their oldest son, Varand, who is a famous Armenian poet.
Berjik’s writing is simple and touches the readers’ souls. She gives suggestions how to live one’s life by using positive words, positive thoughts. She was well aware how negative thoughts can drain one’s energy. She had a hard life and never gave up hope to persevere and continued to inspire others. She was a great role model.
Human beings have the privilege of talking and expressing their thoughts and emotions. Animals do not have this gift. They have feelings yet they can not talk. The ability to talk and listen is a great blessing that many people take for granted.
We are born with many talents that stay untapped and not stimulated. Kids listen for a while before they can speak. They use the vocabulary that they hear at home and in their environment. Therefore, we need be good role models and use positive thinking. How we talk will be transferred to our kids and the next generation. We need to learn how to be good listeners, to be patient and speak in a timely manner.
We need to let the kids talk and express their thoughts. In many cultures people don’t allow children to express their opinions about different issues. “You are still too young to talk.” they are told when they ask questions out of curiosity. Kids get confused about when and how to ask questions. They learn to suppress their curiosity and not talk at all. Later, as adults, they feel anxious about speaking in public and expressing their opinions.
For our inner peace it is essential to learn to talk positively and be a good listener.
September 19, 1987
12. Choice of Words
The choice of words and use of vocabulary in our daily limes can affect poor mental health.
Certain words can change us from feeling happy to a sad state of mind. Negative sentences and negative words can create negative thoughts, and, in turn, sad emotions.
One of the mood destroying words is “difficult.” We say, “My job is difficult” or, “life is so difficult.” We use these words not with awareness but out of habit. Knowing how the choice of words can affect us can help us be in control and change our attitude towards work and life.
Children learn negative attitudes and repeat our sentences as well as the manner in which we talk. They grow up with pessimism and avoiding difficulty.
We look at daily chores differently and enjoy the benefits of living in a clean home with clean clothes. Instead of nagging about problems of parenthood, we can enjoy our kids and their childhood. When we change our attitude towards life’s difficulties and problems we can be good role models for kids. They will grow up with optimism.
September 26, 1987
13. “I don’t feel like it”
“I don’t feel like it,” is a typical expression used in our lives. Sometimes we give negative energy to people we deal with by saying, “Oh you have energy for that,” or, “I don’t have energy for that kind of stuff.” We kill their excitement and enthusiasm.
Using these kinds of expressions is habitual and many of us are not aware of its effect on our mental and physical well being. Suddenly we realize we have less energy.
We need enthusiasm for our daily tasks and chores to continue life happily.
Let’s look at the reason we use these negative expressions. In the past people were very superstitious and believed in bad eye karma. If they were always successful others would find bad karma. Many of us are still victims of these superstitions and always look sad and angry.
Somebody has to change this. We need to be positive role models by sharing our happy moments and accomplishments. If we all focus on sharing our happiness we will have a better and healthier society.
By freeing ourselves from superstition and negativity we will get more energy. Remember, we cannot buy energy, we need to create it.
Instead of saying, “I don’t feel like it,” we can say, “I am not ready now,” or, “I don’t have time now.” Then we can plan our times and be more organized instead of relying on our mood to finish projects and work.
Let’s be aware of our choice of words. Let’s create a positive language for us and future generations.
October 3, 1987
Having a sense of gratitude and appreciation of our blessings is one of our healthy feelings.
Despite having health, beauty and good families, many of us feel dissatisfied with our lives. We think that our friends or neighbors have happier lives. We are not able to appreciate all the blessings we already have. It is a habit to not feel satisfied. It’s a learned behavior that can be changed. Our emotions are connected to each other like a chain.
Here is a technique (suggestion) to use for feeling thankful for our blessings. As soon as you sense dissatisfaction or frustration, jot down the positive factors of your life in a journal or on paper. Write down both good and bad parts and compare them.
This way you will see all the amazing good things in your life that you might have been taking for granted or had forgotten. This exercise will bring them to your attention.
You will then be energized and can handle difficulties with a sense of control and enthusiasm.
You might say, “Who has time for all these activities?”, but remember by spending a few minutes to bring the positive up you can save lots of time that was wasted on negative thoughts and feelings of being drained.
October 10, 1987
15. Hope, the Inner Light
Hope is also known as inner light. Hope’s source is our inner Positive and Negative Channels.
The two Positive and Negative Channels always function, and are directly related to our thoughts. Knowing this we can improve our positive thinking process, and feel happy and energized.
Let’s see how we can improve our positive and be hopeful.
We lose hope every time we are faced with little disappointments and let downs. First of all, we need to distinguish between reality and an ideal. We have to be realistic and set realistic goals. When our expectations are not realistic we get angry and start blaming bad luck, or fall into negative, hopeless thoughts.
We need to stop and say, “It was meant to be. There must be a reason for this.” There is a success in each defeat. We may not see it at that moment, but later we realize the reason our wish did not come true.
We can practice this thought process daily to fuel our hopes, and not get disappointed over unimportant stuff.
October 24, 1987
Guilt and regret are related. Negative thinking is due to lack of self-awareness. We need to recognize the roots of feeling guilty.
Many of our negative thoughts are the same put downs that we heard in our childhood. If parents’ negativity compared us to our siblings or other kids we felt powerless to become as good as others. This leads to fear of failure. We don’t want to do anything because we are not “as good as” others. Fear of failure changes to a feeling of incompetence, and in return, guilt.
Guilt makes us restless and angry. We project our negativity to our kids. We become over protective and do not allow them to experience life.
We have inherited guilt from previous generations. It is a learned behavior. We can refocus our attention by recognizing its roots.
Instead of comparing ourselves and our kids to others we can affirm them, and find the good in each person.
Criticism is the base for regret and guilt. The only remedy to be free from guilt is by self-awareness and self-help.
October 31, 1987
We grow up listening to contradictions and hypocrisy. As kids we are told to be kind and polite to people who do not practice it themselves.
Every day we see people preaching what they do not practice. This creates a moral dilemma. We know it’s better to be honest and kind, and then we see people get financially ahead by not being honest.
We want to be like the dishonest person but we are not able. We feel guilty and shameful.
These contradictions and dilemmas are exaggerated when we seal them with our cultural issues and identity. We feel neither American nor Iranian. We want to keep the old culture yet we see certain challenges. These contradictions drain our energy.
The way to deal with it is self awareness and self help. We need to recognize the positive and the negative, the function of each. We can not live only with day light. We
need night too.
It is best to live with a clear conscience and to preach to your own kids. Then they will not have to deal with hypocrisy.
We can live with the good memories of the past and an optimistic image of the future. However, we need to live in present.
November 7, 1987
18. Looking for the Faults or Goodness
Sometimes we see all the problems and shortcomings instead of the beauty. The pessimist view versus the optimistic.
We learn pessimism and blaming from childhood. As children we listen to many expressions such as, “Don’t touch it,” “Shame on you,” or, “Don’t interfere, you are too young to understand.” This negativity is given to us while we are forming our personality. We grow up with a habit of blaming everyone, especially ourselves. This creates lack of self-confidence and self-esteem.
Because this is a learned habit, it is harder to get rid of it. It makes it very difficult to see the good in things and in ourselves.
We need an inner revolution. We can improve the positive thinking and strengthen the optimism in ourselves. People need reconstruction of their inner world. Many spend more time on reconstructing their outer beauty with makeup and clothing. We need and can rebuild our emotional and spiritual well being.
We can start by counting our blessings, starting with our health: “I have legs, hands, eyes, ears,” then make note of the inner resources that we never use. Tap into all that potential by increasing our belief in ourselves.
Of course, we need to be careful not to be narcissistic while we are appreciating our inner resources and potentials to live fulfilling lives.
We need to express and talk about our inner talents and say that these are exercises to become more self-confident. In time this will become habitual, and we will see the good in everything instead of looking to blame and make excuses.
This good habit can create an inner heaven. We will transfer this to our kids who are the future adults.
November 14, 1987
19. Smile and Laughter
Laughter is a healthy activity. It is the symbol of happiness and inner peace. We all crave to have more laughter and smiling faces.
In many cultures people look at laughter differently. Some say, “I am laughing but my heart is sad,” or, “I am too distressed to laugh.”
One of the best expressions about laughter is, “Smile and the world will smile back.”
There are different kinds of laughter. Sometimes we laugh at something really funny. Other times we laugh to be polite or sarcastic.
When we laugh from the bottom of our heart we feel content. We express our happiness by laughter. However, if we are with someone who is sad, our laughter can have a bad effect.
If we are laughing and smiling because of social pressure, it is not sincere and we do not enjoy it.
Sometimes when we are hurt by someone’s actions, we show our anger with a sarcastic smile.
Another problematic laughter is when we make fun of someone.
As I have mentioned before, we have both Positive and Negative Channels. We are constantly informed by these two factors. We cannot always be happy. We need to know the elements and factors that affect our emotions.
By self-awareness we can use laughter to feel happy, and not for putting down others or sarcasm.
I am ending this article with the quotation, “If your inner and outer self is the same, you are closer to God.”
I hope we can reach that point and we see a peaceful world.
November 21, 1987
20. Having Expectation
Having expectations of others is a learned habit. In our culture, emotional dependency causes us to have expectations of each other.
I am starting this article with the quotation, “Less expectation means better life.”
Expectations between friends and family members can create a sense of responsibility which is good. However, we need to consider our time and abilities so we do not feel resentment.
We will feel resentment if we do not know the reason we do favors. As soon as you do a favor for someone, do not expect a favor back. Just think it was the right thing to do.
One destructive expectation is expecting our kids to fulfill our needs. We want them to take care of our emotional needs. We tell them that we have sacrificed our lives for them and create guilt in them.
When we do this, the value of our kindness diminishes. We become restless and sad. We grow older with resentment for spending our lives for our kids.
We need to realize that it was our choice to have kids.
We need to do our job with satisfaction and not expecting our children to fulfill our needs.
November 28, 1987
Completing and publishing this book would not have been possible without the insight and caring attitude of a number of wonderful people whom I would like to mention below. These people walked into my life at the right time. I am grateful to serendipity.
Dr. Ehsan Gharadjedaghi – Thank you for writing a wonderful and sincere foreword about my mother and her writings.
Ishkhan Jinbashian – Thanks for making the time to give me valuable feedback.
Dorothy Randall Gray – I am thankful to you for your meticulous editing and honest feedback. You were always positive and had an interesting vision of the entire book-preparation process.
Elana Golden – I am thankful to you for encouraging me to write my grandmother’s story and convey some of the chronicles of the Armenian Genocide survivors.
Dr. Edward Kudaverdian – I truly benefited from participating in the Creative Freedom and Awareness Seminar at Ark Family Center. It helped me establish concrete goals to complete this book as planned.
Melina Sardar – I will always treasure the kind comments about my mother’s articles. Also, I enjoyed your leadership and coaching skills during the Creative Freedom and Awareness Seminar at Ark Family Center.
Rafi Bagramian – Thank you for working on the typesetting and designing the pages. Rafi is aunt Hasmik’s son.
Dr. Zaven Khatchaturian – During the 25 years of our friendship you have always encouraged me to pursue my photography and writing passion. Thanks for volunteering to take my photos.
Evelyn Badihian – You have been a wonderful friend to me for the past 20 years.
Frank O’Donnell – I am grateful to you for your sincere friendship and having a memorial for my mother in 1990.
Keghanoush Bairamian – I run to you whenever I need to consult with somebody in my professional and personal life. Thanks for being available and giving valuable advice.
Sipan Ghazarian – Thanks for typing some of the English articles.
Alan Hartoonian – Thanks for translating my writings from English into Farsi.
Emma Dolkhanian – Special thanks for typing the Farsi text and being available, as I needed more text to be typed.
Don Kingfisher Campbell – Thank you for giving me wings to fly and write poetry.
Mary Torregrossa – You have inspired me to continue my writing. Thank you for your gentle and thorough critique of my poems.
Ida Williams – During my weekly Italian classes you checked to see if I have completed this book. Thanks for your caring and gentle pushes. You are more than a teacher for me. Grazie!
Patty Yoho – Thanks for being a sympathetic listener, showing interest in my family’s story and encouraging me to share my writings.
Matthew Karanian – It was very kind of you to answer all my questions regarding book publishing. Thanks for your time.
Renu Singh, her son Nullin Hasan, and Susan DePiro – I truly appreciate your time for proofreading and your friendship.
I am grateful to all my friends who gave feedback about the cover and design of the book. I am thankful to my dear brothers, Varand, Vahic, and Vazrik for their moral support.