Canadian author Elen Ghulam was born to a Czech mother and an Iraqi father. She spent her youth going back and forth between the two cultures and languages. Mother to three grown children, she is a writer, flamenco dancer, an artist, and a hostess-chef extraordinaire.
I’m a firm believer that everyone is unique, that everyone has their superpower and their own personality, but when I look up the word “unique” in my dictionary, I find Elen’s name, photo and website (“Novels to elevate your mind, move your heart, delight your senses and free your soul”)!!
During my first year at university, away from home for the first time, I was drawn to Elen by the way she laughed with abandon. Her whole body would shake from her hearty roar of delight, and you could sense that her whole spirit laughed with you too (but never at you). That made her incredibly special to me. She was the older sister I never had. She was my first Muslim friend and thanks to her, I had my first experience with Ramadan. Watching her fast all day for her faith and then breaking fast at sunset was so amazing to me.
Join us in as we reunite virtually after decades apart.
We talked about how:
- Due to her Czech/Iraqi background, from a young age Elen had a lot of experience with different perspectives in the world. Who knows who is right? You have to think for yourself! She grew up in an environment where she could question anything. Thinking critically was actively encouraged.
- Prior to having kids, she had the fantasy of being the best mother in the world—you know, Mother Theresa + Mary Poppins + Mr. Rogers all mushed together! Lovable and strict. The kids would be the most awesome kids in the world, excelling in everything. But then she became a mother and realized that it was much harder than she thought.
- She learned to be forgiving toward her parents because no matter what, you will mess up. You have to find ways to forgive yourself.
- She brought up her children with no TV in the house because she wanted them to grow up in a ‘wholesome’ environment. The kids loved Sundays, when they would visit their grandparents… and watch TV! Now in their 20s, their noses are stuck behind smartphones, just like everyone else. On the other hand, they never ate fast food and to this day, they remain foodies who like to eat well (i.e., not at MacDonald’s.)
- After 18 years as a computer programmer, Elen ended up taking a leave for a year and a half to take care of her son when he fell ill. She then discovered that she did not want to return to work. The situation made her realize that life was short and she wanted to do what she really wanted to do: write. She picked something she was passionate about over what society deemed “appropriate”.
- She believes that creativity is an extension of the Creator. A way to connect with your spiritual side and your truth. It’s a hopeful and joyful exercise.
As an experienced mother of three grown children, her message is this: 1) Forgive yourself. You are going to mess up. You are human! Who knows what the right way to parent is anyway! 2) Let it go. You have no control. Parenting is a constant source of eating humble pie.
Elen currently lives in Vancouver with her husband after raising their three grown children. I highly recommend visiting her at her websitewww.ihath.com to read her incredibly joyous writing.