Welcome to my website!
As a keen writer, journalist and author I am adding my Voice to the sound track of humanity as we are trying to make sense of our world. Coherency, authenticity and harmony are foremost in my vocabulary right now as I am progressing on my journey towards The One Source.
My name is Marie Norlén-Smith, born in Gävle, Sweden on 21st June 1949. I have travelled the world, lived and worked in London for many years but now settled in Sweden and Greece.
On this website I will vent my many thoughts, musings and diary notes that emerge from my heart and mind. They may not appear in any particular chronological order but serve merely as an introduction to what I do.
Thank you for dropping in to my world.
THE SILENT MAJORITY MAKES A STAND
Saturday 28th May, 2011
In a crisis we are faced with choices. The status quo cannot remain, something has to change.
Greece has been labeled “a problem” for some time now as the stability of the euro currency is floundering. Has its people been blamed unfairly for an unsustainable world-wide financial situation? Anyhow, I was pleased to read a news article in the latest issue of Athens News which I will copy in full. A photograph shows a banner with the wording: We have woken up!
Please also check my latest Blog as Amma Magi called “Revolution”: http://www.ammamagi.sunlightnetwork.se/#home
It is time to listen to our conscience and make a choice.
THE SILENT MAJORITY MAKES A STAND
From within the heaving multitude amassed in and around Syntagma Square on May 25 it was impossible to see or say how many had turned up to the “Indignant at Syntagma” protest, announced only a day before through Facebook.
Those with a bird’s eye view would later provide wide estimates of the numbers depending on who you listen to, between 10,000 and 50,000 people were present. At the rally’s highpoint, the actual number was probably somewhere in between. However, the total number of people who turned out at the protest, which began in the early afternoon, was undoubtedly much greater. But size was of little concern to the protesters who all faced parliament. What was important for those who made the effort was that they were bearing witness to Greece’s first mass non-party political and non-trade union rally, organized at the drop of a hat, with no help from the conventional print and television media – not that those attending would have even wanted that.
There were no posters, no wooden speeches from self-appointed leaders blaring from amplifiers and no flyers. Rather, it consisted of small groups of friends, families and colleagues standing around talking – not shouting – about their frustration at the course their country is being forced to take.
Tellingly, an attempt by a group of trade unionists to piggyback the rally by protesting the government’s privatization measures was booed. And it wasn’t just about youth, but about young and old, men and women, shirts and t-shirts, cyclists and pedestrians, the conventional and the unconventional. Retired private airline employee Nikos (62) and his wife Maria (53) said volumes about the outward ordinariness of it all. Describing themselves as anything but serial protesters, the couple had read about the rally the night before on a blog, adding that they consciously refuse to consume mainstream media. “We just wanted to be here to protest at the way things are going in our country,” Maria said. “To make a stand.” Most importantly – and despite the cynical predictions of many – it was an entirely peaceful gathering, proof that Greeks can take to the streets without smashing them up but also, sadly, that the world’s media pays little attention to protests in this country unless the petrol bombs are flying.
The weapons in this case were the tweets and Facebook updates, even though, ironically, this social media-inspired protest was partially disarmed by the breakdown of mobile and internet connections around Syntagma. The phone companies would later claim the network exceeded capacity.
Damian Mac Con Uladh © Athens News 27 May 2011 – an independent weekly newspaper
NO MORE LIES
18th April, 2011
“People are crazy, times are strange”. (Bob Dylan from “Things have changed”). What triggers me is lies.
Read an interview in Athens News with Giuliana Sgrena, the Italian journalist kidnapped and held hostage by a rebel group in Iraq in 2005. “In a war, truth is always the first victim”. A personal story about returning to Iraq to face her fears. “I had to go to the place where I had lived the most traumatic experience of my life… overall, the dominant feeling was that of sadness.” She reveals the blatant lies reported by embedded journalists, trained by the army and open to censorship. Independent journalists were not welcome. The current wave of rebellion in the Middle East and North Africa she sees as “a new dawn for the entire Arab world”.
Shooting vs. Shooting: Dying for the Truth is an international documentary featuring Giuliana Sgrena and made by Greek journalist Nikos Megrelis. It was selected for official screening at a documentary film festival is Qatar this month.
The strength of women is a force to recon with. No more lies!
Thursday 9th December 2010
As the Festive Season of Christmas and New Year is approaching, I find myself sitting in my little house by the sea in southern Greece. This is my office and headquarters while the world is reeling with stress, turmoil and uncertainty. All I see from my window, as I write this, is sunshine, blue sky, the Mediterranean sea and green olive trees. I feel tranquility and peace. Yet, I am also aware of the buzz of activity around me as busy hands pick olives and trim the beautiful trees, creating genuine pieces of art in the midst of living nature. This is health for mind, body and spirit!
In this nurturing environment I am spending time writing my next book. Before I leave Greece for Sweden next spring I will be holding a “Creative writing and Storytelling course” at the Spirit of Life Centre here in Mani from 10-17th April 2011. If you want to join me on this exciting adventure, please check up details on www.thespiritoflife.co.uk and make your reservation as there is limited space.
With all good wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
THE END OF GREECE AS WE KNOW IT?
Friday 7th May 2010
The financial crisis in Greece has reached its peak. Since the Eurocurrency was introduced less than ten years ago Greece is the first EMU country on the verge of collapse with a string of others about to follow suit. This week the largest bail-out plan in history has been approved to “save” Greece and thereby a possible global financial crash. A loan of 80 billion euro from the fifteen partners in the eurozone and a further 30 billion euro from the IMF spread over three years will leave the Greeks debt-ridden for a long, long time. Austere measures such as pay cuts and tax increases will bring them to their knees. It is feared that the treatment, not the disease, will kill the patient. The Greeks are in uproar. Quite rightly so.
Socrates is blessed. He is no longer alive to see for himself what he has long feared. “Forces are out to wipe Greece off the map, and its language too”, he used tell me. A first step was to get rid of the oldest currency on earth, the drachma. He was a staunch opponent of EMU. Sitting in his kitchen in his little house in Maroussi he often overwhelmed me with his conspiracy theories. Was he just dreaming them up to justify any inferiority complex threatening his pride? In his efforts to defend the idea of a new Hellas emerging from the ashes of the past he was ready to proclaim himself its protector. His deep knowledge of Greek history revealed his passion. Yes, they were my daily lessons, together with black coffee, bread, Feta and olives for breakfast, psitó and krasí for dinner. We fed our heads and bodies with the best of all things Greek.
Just over two years have passed since Socrates’ demise and the world is already in turmoil. I miss him. His early morning phone calls, already dressed and ready to set off for his daily excursions with a bag packed with books, maps, camera, food and wine. Unless he had appointments, of course. Embassies calling for exclusive guide tours or rich American tourists waiting at the Hilton. By personal recommendation only. No crowds. Only one or two clients, three at the most.
Socrates was my watch-dog. He always informed me of important world events while I lived in my small village by the sea. It wasn’t easy for me to follow news in Greek but I could always rely on him to call me, especially at times of earthquakes around Greece. I try to imagine what he would say to me now. One thing is for sure, he would not leave his beloved Athens. Even if there was a war. He would call me and report on events. He had his headquarters and was very particular that I should also have mine. “Your headquarters is important”, he reminded me. I was lucky to have two, one in Sweden and one in Greece. I prefer to call them my office.
We learnt to live a rich life on simple means. Money was not spent on comfort but on essentials such as food and wine. His gregarious nature opened doors to hospitality during our travels and the richness lied in meetings with interesting people. We would have survived in today’s Greece, I am sure, even if we had to move into a cave.
But what is happening to Greece? Who will defend it now when Socrates is dead? Is he roaming around with an axe or a sword somewhere above me, clearing the debris to make way for a new growth? A new value system where people matter more than money. I am keeping an eye on the situation, praying that Socrates will protect me. We cannot afford to lose Greece.
© Marie Norlén-Smith 2010
MORE TRAVELS WITH SOCRATES
(Extract from my next book):
On 9th August 2007 I almost lost Socrates. The scene was a hospital in Athens. I was sitting next to Socrates' brother, sister-in-law and cousin. In the operating theatre the surgeon was skillfully removing a cancerous tumour from his brain. The wait was intense.
The evening before I had washed his feet, swept them in a soft towel and then sprinkled them lavishly with talcum powder. He purred with deep satisfaction. It was a humble act at the feet of a great man. What else would I do? I am not a doctor or a nurse.
During the weeks I spent at his bed-side I came to realise many things: how difficult it is to die; the importance of making up for lost time and saying good-bye; the strength of family ties and close friends; our helplessness as we face our worst fears. Most of all I came to realise the greatest power of all: unconditional love.
When I left Athens I had every hope that Socrates would recover within a few months. We had talked about future plans, my return to Athens in the New Year, our continued work and most important of all: that we would live together under one roof, not in his old dilapidated house in Maroussi but in a newly refurbished apartment in central Athens offered to us. We had a vision, a common goal.
I never forget the last view of Socrates as I turned my head in the doorway. Laying on his side turned towards me he had one arm stretched over his head to hold on to the iron bar of the hospital bed which had become his prison. He pretended not to look but he looked straight at me, like an abandoned dog. I had to quickly turn away not to show my bewilderment. I had to go. I had a flight to catch and unfinished business awaiting me.
Soon after my return to Sweden, Socrates disappeared into a state of unconsciousness. Whether it was caused by medication or his desire to escape I do not know. Anxious family and friends awaited his return. As I write this, on Sunday evening 16th September, I have received some news. Socrates moved his eyebrows when asked to do this. There is a sign of life.
On 6th September, only ten days ago, the world-renowned opera star Luciano Pavarotti died. My first reaction was: "Socrates, you will get good company in heaven." Each day I awaited a phone call saying Socrates has died. Each day that phone call did not come. I have held my breath, not daring to imagine a world without Socrates. Tonight I dare hope for his return. He has lifted his eyebrow!
How could I forget so soon? We had prayed for a miracle together, Socrates and I. The day was 15th August, the day of the Virgin Mary's Ascension, which is celebrated as one of the major religious holidays in Greece. It has always been a special day for us as we celebrate our joint nameday. I had been away for three days, vsiting my house in southern Peloponnesos for a brief holiday. On my return Wednesday morning on the 15th Socrates looked solemnly at me. "I almost died last night!" What happened, I enquired urgently. "I went through that dark tunnel they talk about and saw the light at the end of it. I clearly saw my father, my sister and other friends who have passed on. As I approached they suddenly stopped me and pushed me back. I felt so peaceful and really wanted to reach them. As I was sucked back down the tunnel I thought very strongly of you. You filled my thoughts and I came back to you!" I had to look long and hard into the eyes of Socrates. Never have I felt so humble and grateful. Then he said: "Today is the day of miracles. People all over Greece pray for miracles and miracles happen. Let's pray together." And we did.
Time is precious. This evening I saw a documentary on television about Luciano Pavarotti. It awakened something in me that made me think of Socrates. The genius who is too large for this world. The role of the parents and the role of the lover/mistress, the companion who faithfully waits by the side. The latter is not an easy role. For me it has been hell many times. Such hell that I have promised myself "never again". But some mysterious force has shown over the years that we are bonded, come life, come death. To call it love is an under-statement. It is more like destiny, an unstoppable universal force.
Time now tells me that I should continue writing our stories. The first book "Travels with Socrates - A modern Diary from Greece" finished early 2002 with a visit to Kalavrita. But that was not the end. The rest is coming. I have made a promise.
Astrid Marie Norlén
16th September, 2007