Sunday, April 10, 2011

Book stores that carry Inner Heaven

Ketab Books
1419 Westwood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90024

Abril Books
415 E Broadway # 102
Glendale, CA 91205-1029
(818) 243-4112

Berj Bookstore
422 South Central Ave
Glendale, CA 91204

Sardarabad Bookstore
1111 S. Glendale Avenue
Glendale, CA 91205

Levantine Cultural Center
5998 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035-2657
310.657.5522 FAX

Old Town Gift Co.
2754 Calhoun Street
Old Sand Diego, CA 92110
619-795-7664 FAX

Ark Family Center
135 S. Jackson Street, Suite 102
Glendale, CA 91205
(818) 662-7045 Extension 2

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My Grandmother, Victoria, a Genocide Survivor

all the texts at this blog are copyrighted.
You may use it for educational purposes only.


Victoria, a young beautiful Armenian woman, woke up screaming and crying. Her nightmares were not surprising to her husband and five kids. They lived in a modest home in Tehran.
Victoria and Alex got married very young. They were both survivors of a vicious genocide. Their marriage was for survival purposes. She was only 14 when she got married.
The young couple were from an Armenian town in Turkey called Garin. In the spring of 1915 the Turkish soldiers started calling the Armenian men to join the army during the First World War. The Armenian men were leaving their homes believing they were going to serve in the Turkish army. Little did they know that was their march to be massacred.
My grandmother, Victoria, was only 7 years old. She was home playing with her fabric doll that her mother had made. Her 6 month old sister, Berjik, was quietly sleeping in the bedroom. Her 12 year old brother, Hambo, was playing with some pebbles.
A sudden silence fell over Garin. It seemed that the birds had stopped singing. For a few minutes there was no wind, no air, and no sounds. Then, a loud knock on the door shook the world. Hambo opened the door and two Turkish soldiers entered screaming, “Ermeni, yavour” dirty Armenian.
Victoria’s mother rushed to the door and saw the soldiers with their daggers on Hambo’s throat. She screamed and begged the men to leave the house. But the Turkish men started laughing and yelling, “You want to save your son? You have to dance for us.” Victoria was hiding under the bed. She was shaking. She was very young but wise enough to control herself not to make noise. Listening to her mother’s and brother’s cries her heart was pounding fast. Hambo got very angry seeing how these men were insulting his mother. He tried to protect her and pushed the men away, running towards his mother. The soldier got angry and slashed cut Hambo’s throat. “Oh, no, God, please save my son.” “Your son?” yelled the other soldier “I’ll give you another son.” He pushed the woman on the ground and raped her. She was devastated and shaking. Before she could realize what was happening to her, the other soldier raped her too. But that was not enough. They did not want to listen to her crying and killed her. The men, exhausted and satisfied, left the house without entering the bedroom.
Victoria came out of the bedroom and saw her loved ones’ bodies soaked in blood. She wanted to scream but she could not. Perhaps she was afraid the soldiers might return.
She grabbed her baby sister and left the house. There was commotion all over the town. Women and children were running, screaming and crying. She walked and walked and got very tired, hungry and thirsty. She could not continue carrying the baby who was also hungry. Victoria left the baby under a tree. She put some rocks around her to protect her from animals and went to look for food. After a few more hours of wandering and walking, she fell asleep out of exhaustion. The next day she could not find her way back to her baby sister. Where was she, under which tree, in which direction?
Victoria met some other women and started walking with them. They went through the deserts of Iraq. After weeks of walking they arrived to Iran.
She connected with other genocide survivors from her town. That’s where she got married at a young age. Her first son was named Hambo and her daughter was named Berjik to honor her lost sister. Berjik was my mother. My grandmother had her own family but she could not stop thinking about her baby sister. She always wondered what happened to her. Did someone rescue her? Was she eaten by animals or killed? The guilt and nightmares continued to the next generation. Her mental and emotional condition affected her kids and grandchildren.

Karine Armen
June 13, 2009

Inner Heaven

No. 6 Worry

If we cannot our control our worrisome thoughts they can destroy our inner peace. Worry can change to anxiety and become self-destructive.
We have two kinds of worries. The thoughts that come from Positive Channels are there to prevent problems. The worrying thoughts that come from our Negative Channel can be problematic.
We get energy from food and our thoughts. Half of the energy is physical, and the other half is mental and spiritual. If we let the Negative Channel control us, we lose our spiritual energy and feel tired and drained.
Many people eat healthy food and take their vitamins and minerals, and still feel drained. There can be a false sense of tiredness due to unnecessary worrying emotional and mental activity. Being aware of the negative can help to protect worrying.
Some scientists claim life events and problems are contributing factors. We are in control of 60% of our life events, 30% of our lives are affected by others, and 10% by nature. If we believe this then we can begin to feel a sense of control.
We can accept the disasters caused by nature, know that we did not cause them, and be at peace with that. Then we can focus on the 60% of the events that we can control. We havethe ability to be grateful for blessings. We are able to learn and strengthen this sense of gratitude. We can minimize our worries and maximize the positive thoughts.
By using these strategies we will be able to deal with the 30% of social and family pressures. Using positive thinking techniques will give us an inner peace and sense of happiness.

August 8, 1987

No. 14 Gratitude

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

Fast for Darfur

Father Vazken Movsesian of St. Peter Armenian Church in Glendale had organized an picnic in Griffith Park on Sunday, March 6, 2011. It was to stop genocide in the world. It was called Stop Genocide, Fast for Darfur.
I participated and Father Vazken invited me to the stage to present my book, Inner Heaven. I mentioned that I am a genocide survivor. I talked about my grandmother, Victoria, who suffered from depression and post traumatic syndrome because of the Armenian Genocide.
That day Dr. Dekmejian of USC invited me to be a guest speaker at his political science class.

Karine at USC

I was invited as a guest speaker to Dr. Dekmejian's class at USC on Monday, April 4, 2011. I read my grandmother's story of surviving the Armenian Genocide. This article is in the book, Inner Heaven. Later I presented the book and how I published it.
We should not have genocide in 21st century. We can stop genocide by non-violence and being active in grassroots organizations.
I met young PhD student, Marat Oganyesyan who is from Ukraine and lives in Berlin. Also, I met psychologist, Dr. Viviane Seyranian.
I am thankful to Dr. Dekmejian and Father Vazken Movsesian for giving me the opportunities to introduce my book and read my grandmother's story.

Inner Heaven Celebrations

The blessing of my mother's self-help book Inner Heaven.
The first event was on Saturday, February 12, 2011 at Pasadena Public Library.
I am grateful to Don Fisher-Campbell for organizing the event.

The second event was at Ark Family Center in Glendale on Saturday, March 26 which was also my mother's birthday.
I am thankful to Dr. Khudaverdian and Melina Sardar and the volunteers of the Ark Family Center.

My friends took me to breakfast to celebrate the publication of my book.

Monday, January 24, 2011

INNER HEAVEN Self-help book

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.

Karine Armen

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.

11. Communication

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

14. Gratitude

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

16. Guilt

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

17. Contradiction

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.