What does the new year have in store for us?

It was March 2020, a few weeks into home quarantine. Everyone was rushing out to buy toilet paper, but what I really needed was a birdhouse. A bluebird house.

Photo by Vincent van Zalinge on Unsplash

Zoom-school had started, as had the daily fights with my fifth grader. No, she couldn’t skip her classes, and hell no, I wouldn’t let her drop out to be homeschooled. On came the endless days of printing math worksheets, relearning fractions to check answers (what the hell was a reciprocal fraction anyway?), and uploading photos of completed work.

No amount of hand sanitizer would help my anxiety. …

8 Strategies for Self-Care and Emotional Well-being

My husband’s employer just announced mandatory telework for three more months, through the end of June. They’re following the science, they say, and the science tells them it won’t be safe to gather until at least then.

Three. More. Months.

I know I’m extraordinarily fortunate. I’m so grateful that my family is safe and healthy, and that my husband and I have steady employment. We’re not on the frontlines like nurses and doctors and police officers and grocery store workers, to whom I’m so very grateful. But still, I’ve only been getting through…

What I’ve learned from a long line of ‘non-compliant’ mothers about battling life’s headwinds

I don’t picture my mom as she was dying, her bottle blond hair gone short and gray, trailing around an oxygen tank like an extra appendage.

I see the face of a 40-year-old woman, wearing blue scrubs, smiling at my teenage self over dinner in the McCullough-Hyde Hospital cafeteria while on break from her shift in the ER. She always seemed happy and at home in the hospital, the domain where she exuded so much confidence. Her home away from home.

And lately I’ve been picturing my mom as a young girl. How she must have pined for her own…

The quest for a shared humanity in this violent world

My father had a pat response whenever I asked if he believed in God. “God and I have an understanding,” he said. “I leave Him alone and He leaves me alone.” It was an unsatisfying answer for a kid wrestling with big questions.

His break-up with God meant our Iranian-American family never went to church — or a mosque, for that matter — making us outliers in our small Ohio town, nestled on the border with Indiana and Kentucky. My religious education, as a result, was patchy.

There was the time my mom, raised as a Lutheran, secreted me and…

What does America stand for?

I was in junior high school in 1980 when Ronald Reagan ran his presidential campaign around the theme of America’s place as “a shining city on a hill.”

I may have a more tarnished view of American exceptionalism now that I’m middle aged, but at the time it struck a chord. My father had just fled Iran; he’d been visiting family there when revolutionary factions took more than 50 U.S. citizens hostage at the American embassy in Tehran.

It had taken months for my dad to escape. The U.S. seemed like a pretty good place in comparison.

My dad loved…

Can this Iranian-American still feel at home in the country where she grew up?

I was born in Iran but raised in a small Ohio town, tucked in the southwest corner between Indiana and Kentucky. It’s where I went to kindergarten, learned to ride a bike, got my first job at Wendy’s, graduated from high school, and made lifelong friends.

Despite my middle America bona fides, President Trump’s anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric make me question whether I belong here. And yet most times, when I hear his hateful speech it’s not my Iranian side I think of first. It’s my blond-haired, blue-eyed, American mom.

President Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric makes me question whether I belong…

Ketayoun Darvich-Kodjouri

Ketayoun — a Tehrani-Buckeye — believes black eyeliner is an essential life companion. And you should always do the most good you can.

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