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Last week I talked about having had the honor of having joined a group of Persian Ladies during their marathon vegetable and eggplant pickle making session.  I say marathon because they make bottle after bottle in preparation for the Iranian Bazaar which takes place on March 14th and 15th this year.  I joined them again for the first night that they started making kumquat jam. At some point during the evening we started  affectionately calling the evening “torture jam.” This is because we first picked through boxes after boxes of these tangy orange fruit discarding the bad ones and dividing the good ones into two piles, big ones and small ones.

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Then we washed them. Little did I know that the hardest part was about to being. We had to cut each kumquat and then squeeze them a bit in order for the seeds to fall off.  We worked as a team during this process where some did the cutting while others did the squeezing.

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Batch after batch the kumquats were boiled a few times in order to remove their bitterness before adding sugar and letting it all boil down into a jam.

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Now you would say “what the hell does all of this have to do with Wellness Wednesday?” Here is where these two subjects collide in my mind. In my little world it is important to take just as good care of your mental health as your physical health. Self esteem and how you generally feel about yourself is part of your mental health. How does one feel good about one self? It certainly doesn’t happen with looking at yourself in the mirror and saying ” You are a cool cat!!!!” Truth of the matter is that everyone has their own way. For me doing volunteer work has always been something important. Frankly, I have always believed that you should give back to your community anyway you can. I have always tried doing volunteer work. For me there is a huge sense of satisfaction that comes with knowing that I dedicated a few hours of my own time to do something that makes a difference in someone else’s life. These emotions make me feel all peachy and fuzzy inside. In order words I feel better about myself as a human being.

As I had written in the previous post about the Iranian Bazaar all the proceeds of the sales of the pickles and jams go to charity.  For the few weeks leading up to the Bazaar the ladies of IAS of PV who belong to the Torshi/Moraba Committee are hard at work volunteering THEIR time every evening to get together and work as a team to make these delicious treats.  What is truly amazing about this group is that everything is donated, from the fruit and vegetables to the bottles.  So day after day they go the the house which has been designated as the Torshi and Moraba central and they work hard for a good few hours while chatting away with each other.  At the end of the Bazaar weekend all the proceeds of the sales are donated to charity.

I was told that the funds collected go to women’s shelter and eduction for Iranians in need. Upon attending an IAS meeting I was shell-shocked from the stories that I heard directly from Iranian social workers who work in the field in Los Angeles and Orange County and come across Iranian women who are abused.  When I heard the stories and what these women have been through it became very clear to me that I was in the right place and doing the right thing. These few hours are the epitome of the more fortunate helping the less fortunate. I don’t live in PV nor am I in a position where I can make substantial donations to those in need. While highly educated, I am currently unemployed due to our lovely economy. However, what I CAN do is give my own personal time for a good cause.

So what I am trying to say here is a couple of things. One is good to feel good about yourself. For me giving back to my community and belonging to a group who makes a pledge to make a difference by helping the less fortunate is a good way to feel good about myself. There is a huge sense of belonging and purpose that comes with being aware of what goes on around you and being aware that as a society we need to lean on each other, and work with each other, to make this world a little better for those who don’t have it as good as we do.

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