Marsha ‘Yasmine’ Marie has been a writer, human rights activist, English department head, English instructor, American accent trainer, communication lab designer, voice-over talent, blogger, administrative assistant and mom. Born in Ohio, raised in Arizona, and then lived and taught in Asia. She has now returned to Arizona and lives with her children. BANGLES is her self-publishing debut. We have conducted an interview with her.
Why did you decide to write 'Bangles' as a story of honesty and self-discovery?
There are several reasons for writing my memoir, Bangles. First of all, I wanted to share my experience of escaping a marriage filled with intimidation and violence. I fled to escape my abuser; my children and I went to Pakistan to start a new life---ultimately becoming the subject of an international hunt. While there, I was able to learn a new language and a new culture. But twenty years later, my daughter was diagnosed with a disability; it was then that I made the choice to return with her to the States and surrender myself to authorities.
The book explores the decisions I made throughout my life, and how they affected the ones that I love. The most important and damaging of those decisions was when I chose to protect my abuser. For five years, I kept my dark secret hidden from friends and family (a secret that I now deeply regret). I want to help other women who might be doing the same and to teach our daughters to never keep violence a secret. Overall, I survived my 22 years outside the country, and had an amazing experience discovering this world and all it has to offer, but most of all, discovering myself and my inner strengths. This is what I want women to get from Bangles. We can survive and we can overcome. And it’s never too late to go home.
When did you discover your love for writing?
It seems that I started writing at an early age. I wrote my first song when I was only in the fourth grade. Then during my time abroad, I became an avid letter writer and poet to express my inner thoughts and struggles. But it wasn’t until I began teaching English that I truly fell in love with the English language. The desire to plan and execute ideas in print started taking over.
I noticed that teaching writing became my favorite part of my classes, but I wanted to do more. So, I approached a local magazine with a proposal to write a series of articles for students and their families about learning English. The articles were an amazing success. That is when I knew that I would eventually pen down my story of escape and share it with the whole world.
How did it feel like to be teaching in the royal palaces while training sheikhs and princesses?
Frankly, it was such a great honor to be trusted and invited into some of the most beautiful palaces in the United Arab Emirates. The interior decorating was stunning and seemed to be right out of a magazine. I vividly remember one room with pictures of the royal family hanging throughout it. It was like taking a stroll through history. Folks in this area are traditionally hospitable people, so each visit for class, I was given the royal treatment with a table chock full of all kinds of goodies to eat. As for my students, they were simply delightful to work with. They were as eager to learn about my customs as I was to learn theirs. It was truly an exchange of ideas and cultures. At times, I nearly forgot the difference between teacher and student.
Why is Cleopatra your favourite historical figure?
I have always been obsessed with Egyptian history and Cleopatra. To me, Cleopatra was a perfect blend of determination and sensuality. Truth be told, she is my alter-ego--the type of woman that I had always wished I could be.
What advice would you give to people facing adversity in life?
Life is full of adversity; there is no way around it, but without it, how would we learn? My first piece of advice would be to have a reliable team of friends and family who you can turn to and ask for help and advice. This was a lesson I wish I had learnt much earlier on, particularly in my first marriage. Then I would say, seek out incredible and successful people and use them as a template for your own life. Learn from their mistakes and their triumphs. Then set your own goals and go for them! Make your life your own, and never let anyone tell you that anything is impossible. And lastly, the most important thing that I have learned it that it is never too late for change, so have faith in yourself. Whatever you may be facing, you will make it thru. Don’t ever give up!
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