Interview with Marsha Yasmine Marie
Marsha ‘Yasmine’ Marie is an author, human rights activist, and English instructor. She has a CELTA teaching certificate from University of Cambridge, and has worked as an American accent trainer, communication lab designer, voice-over talent, and blogger. This mother of three was born in Ohio, but raised in Phoenix, Arizona. She lived and taught in Asia for over twenty years and is now back in Arizona sharing her spine-tingling tale of escape, adventure and forgiveness. Bangles: My True Story of Escape, Adventure and Forgiveness is her self-publishing debut.
What is the behind story that became the inspiration or reason for writing ‘Bangles’?
There are several reasons for writing my memoir, Bangle: My True Story of Escape, Adventure and Forgiveness. 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 my loved ones. The most important and damaging decision was choosing 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: My True Story of Escape, Adventure and Forgiveness. We can survive and we can overcome. And it’s never too late to go home.
You were born in United States of America, spent many years in Pakistan and in UAE and are presently back in the States. What learning did you receive as a human being from all these different cultures as a whole?
There were so many lessons that I have learned from the being outside the States for 22 years. Some of it is shocking and almost too embarrassing to divulge. I learned where food really comes from and how difficult it is to farm and raise cattle. I learnt how to stand harsh weather climates and how to live without electricity and even how to haul my own water for bathing and drinking. I even learnt how to cut and sew my own clothing. Many of the things that I took for granted in Phoenix became a distant memory.
The most astonishing thing was realizing that all cultures are so extremely different and I learned to accept and love these differences, and to never judge anyone just because they weren’t like me. It was then that I experienced the true meaning of peace and compassion, and truly realized that family is the most important thing in this world.
You say “My life has been quite a marvelous roller-coaster of a journey”. How so? Please elaborate for our readers.
Just as a roller-coaster has highs and lows, so has my life abroad and at home. I have eaten dinners in royal palaces, but I have also eaten dinner while sitting on the floor of a lonely widow’s home in a remote village. Not only have I experienced elation, I have also felt the pangs of loneliness and heartbreak. And just as the roller-coaster keeps moving, so have I. No matter what, I have continued moving along the path and enjoying the ride all the way.
Have your tough experiences made you stronger? If so, what advice would you prefer to give to those who may be going through tough times in their 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 group 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 model 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 is 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!
You’ve also taught English to Sheikhs and Princesses of Royal Palaces in UAE. How was that experience for you?
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 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.
What now? How are you planning to shape your life as well as writing career?
I still have a lot more writing inside of me. My current project is called Bangles for Mom. It contains the collection of letters that I sent to my mother during my first two years in Pakistan. They explain my new life and experiences in an amazingly raw and detailed manner. They are a perfect accompaniment to the first book Bangles: My True Story of Escape, Adventure and Forgiveness.
I have also been working on a coloring book series that is intended for victims living in domestic violence shelters across America. The first book in the Sandi’s Sweets, Coloring Book Series has already been given to a shelter and is being tested by the art teacher to see how it is accepted with the children there. This is a direct result of a promise that I had made to my mother before she passed away; thus naming the project after her, Sandi Sweet.
I also have a few children’s books in the making, and I am helping my daughter organize and publish her own work. We are currently preparing for an upcoming book festival here in Arizona. She has autism, and this project is a perfect opportunity to help her develop social and working skills.
In the future, I see myself working closely with the domestic violence awareness movement. I want Sandi’s Sweets to be used by shelters across the nation, free of charge, to bring children and adults some peace and tranquility. I have already joined the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, as well as, volunteered to join Voices, NCADV’s National Speakers Bureau. I hope to reach as many women with my story as possible.