Day 3: Guest Speakers
- Raya Hosseini
- Narges Maududi
Mom's Pizza and Pasta (Italian Restaurant), Owner
"I was born in Afghanistan, the only girl among five siblings, making me the quintessential middle child—a triple whammy, as I like to call it. From the outset, I found myself grappling with the entrenched misogyny of Afghan culture, sparking what I now consider my early foray into feminism. I fought tooth and nail for my voice, my choices in attire, and every single one of my rights. Growing up, I quickly realized that earning my father's approval was no easy feat, if it came at all. The pursuit of his validation and love profoundly shaped every facet of my identity—as a daughter, sister, mother, wife, friend, employee, boss, and most importantly, as a woman. It defined my life's struggle, both with and within life itself.
As a mother, I instilled in my daughter the values of nonconformity, unapologetic freedom, and the relentless pursuit of her own voice—an endeavor that often proved to be a delightful challenge. I commenced my career in the high-tech industry, a male-dominated realm, back in 1990, where sexism ran rampant and was often encouraged by peers. My earlier battles with misogyny as an Afghan girl prepared me for this phase of my life; I fought hard, starting from the humble position of a temporary data entry clerk and ascending to the role of VP of Sales, where I had the honor of ringing the NASDAQ bell—an achievement I accomplished without the aid of a college degree.
After 27 years in the industry, feeling utterly burnt out, I decided it was time for a change. I made a leap into the hospitality and food industry alongside my husband, Rob. Today, we are the proud owners of a small Italian restaurant in San Diego.
From a young age, I harbored a morbid curiosity about death, a curiosity that evolved into a harrowing journey as life took its toll. The thought of my own demise became a constant presence in my mind—a relentless whisper, urging me towards oblivion. At times, I found myself yearning for the peace of eternal sleep, scouring the internet for painless methods of ending my own existence. I even began to comprehend the rationale behind murder-suicide—an unsettling realization that prompted me to seek help.
I explored various treatment options, from antidepressants to Ketamine therapy and TMS. While these treatments helped alleviate the darkness to some extent, it was a fractured spine in July that truly brought my life to a halt. Suddenly confined to a brace at home, I found myself alone with my thoughts—gratitude for avoiding paralysis soon giving way to a resurgence of depression and dark thoughts.
For the first time in my 56 years of life, I've stopped chasing validation, approval, or love from others. Instead, I've learned to validate and love myself—a journey that remains a work in progress. I still have good days and bad days, but the crucial difference now is that I want to live. I take care of myself, and my relationship with life has fundamentally shifted. No longer do I view my struggles as punishments for past mistakes; instead, I see them as an integral part of life itself—a life that is rife with challenges from the moment we enter this world until the very end. The key to healing lies in the lens through which we perceive these struggles—a lens that may fog at times, but one that I am committed to keeping clear through daily meditation and self-care practices."
Solstice Pacific | Solstice Southwest, LCSW, Therapist and Case Manager
"It was not until recently that I discovered the essence of the survival spirit, encapsulated in five transformative components: Hope, Mindset, Lifestyle, Strength, and Support – the pillars of Resilience. Fondly dubbed a "hopeless optimist" by my mother, it was through this lens of hope that I unearthed my resilience. This journey wasn't an overnight transformation; it demanded an embrace of my humanity and a dialing up of my humility.
Faith, a guiding force, pulled me from the depths of life's darkest valleys—from transgenerational trauma to early childhood abuse, navigating multiple transitions across countries, and experiencing later episodes of abuse, poverty, and bullying. Each challenge became a lesson, unveiling the profound significance of Support. In the tapestry of my experiences, I continue to unravel the threads of Hope and Lifestyle.
As a Christ follower, I know I am not alone, as a woman I know that I am healing and as a widow, I am a better friend today. The bigger the challenge, the greater the hole resilience can fill. I am no longer empty and looking for others to make me happy or full. Today, I trust myself with life’s joys and pains. I stand resilient, a testament to the fact that, indeed, the greater the challenge, the more profound the impact of resilience."