In the early hours of Saturday morning, on 20 July 1974, I awoke to the distant drone of aircraft. Stunned, I sat up in bed and listened. Planes. Getting louder. The realization sent shivers down my spine. I placed my hands over my heart. “Oh, my God!” I gasped. “It’s the Turks!” I looked at the clock—5:20. The crack of dawn. I jumped from bed and screamed, “The Turks are attacking.”
Moments later, a series of explosions awakened the entire sleepy, seaside village of Kyrenia, Cyprus.
It happened 40 years ago today but I still remember the details vividly; the sights, the smells, the sounds, the taste of dirt and rubble collapsing around me as I ran under the stairs for shelter.
My peaceful life in Cyprus was blown apart first by the Greek Officer’s coup on 15 July 1974, followed five days later by the Turkish invasion on 20 July 1974. Thousands of lives were shattered forever by the atrocities, including foreigners who like me who lived there. To this day I marvel, bewildered at how at how a tranquil place, seemingly paradise, could be rendered a living hell in the space of a few days. The fighting between Greeks and Turks almost started a world war because two NATO allies fought against each other. The island of Cyprus remains divided by a line cutting across the capital of Nicosia–the world’s last divided capital.
And there are conflicts and atrocities happening all over the globe; In Syria, Tunisia, the Gaza strip, Ukraine, the Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Egypt, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan.
The vast majority of casualties in any war are civilians, who neither want war nor gain anything from it. Quite the opposite. War defeats the human spirit. What will it take to bend history, and honor the will of the people over that of their “leaders?”
High school students from Greece, Turkey, and the divided island of Cyprus meet each year for a week-long summer camp hoping to pave the way to a permanent peace between the countries. For centuries they coexisted and lived peacefully, side-by-side, until the early 20th century when political manipulation created nationalist movements to turn them against each other.
I lived in Kyrenia, Cyprus in the early 70s and witnessed the Greek coup on 15 July 1974 and the Turkish invasion on 20 July 1974. Thousands of lives were drastically changed forever by the atrocities of war. Of which I was one.
I urge you to support this initiative to win peace in the region.
I first arrived in Israel in 1968, following the ’67 Six-Day War, to learn Hebrew and study Jewish History at an ulpan on the border of the Negev and Judean Deserts, in the small settlement village of Arad (located a few kilometers west of the Dead Sea and 45 km east of Beersheba). I appreciated all the new things I was learning and the interesting foods I was being introduced to, but was shocked to learn that bagels didn’t exist in Israel. What? No bagels? How can I live and study here? How can Jews live without bagels? Being from LA, I often brunched at Canter’s Deli, the famous Jewish-style delicatessen in Fairfax. When it came to authentic bagels, I was spoiled.
The closest thing to a bagel, in Israel in those days, was a warm pretzel-looking object being sold by a street vendor … and sold only in the afternoon. I wanted a real NY bagel for breakfast with cream cheese, lox, sliced onion, and a slice of juicy tomato. So began my search for the perfect bagel recipe. I needed a chewy, dense mouth feel experience, and the local bread didn’t cut it.
A friend agreed to send a recipe by mail; one she’d found in the NYT’s food section. A recipe for “Authentic, classic, New-York style” bagels—which required kneading, rising, resting, forming, rolling, resting again, boiling, turning, and then baking. Since my small apartment didn’t come with an oven, I had to do the complex routine of making bagels on the top of a two-burner stove. It took several shopping trips to Beersheba to find all the ingredients, but I eventually did. Then I spent one entire day making and baking bagels. They were delicious—a gourmet edible masterpiece.
OMG, I thought later, no wonder Israelis don’t DO bagels. They’re too busy rebuilding their country. I decided to just get used to those warm pretzel-looking things. Instead of making bagels every week I helped plant trees in and around Arad.
When I visited Arad, many years later, the trees were standing tall and the warm pretzel-looking object tasted yummy. More bagel like than I remembered.
I can still hear my 6th grade teacher clear her throat, then ask, “Susan, where are you? The rest of us are on page 26.”
My mind snapped into place as Mrs. Easley asked me to continue reading where the previous student had left off. I paused, giggled at the thought of students and teacher physically sitting on page 26, did a quick mental rewind of the last words I heard, then focused on the inked page, and started reading.
After class, my friend Shelley congratulated me on my quick come-back. “Day-dreaming again?” she asked, tapping me on my shoulder.
“Floating, but I was here.”
“How do you do that?” Shelley asked.
Today I’m reminded of how “being present while floating” has guided me through the maze of my amazing life. Paying close attention to details of each breathing, living moment, my gut instincts, clairvoyant thoughts, and telling dreams, I focus on the present and allow my senses to go with the flow and collect important information.
While living in Israel in 1968, I visited the zoo in Haifa. Noticing a sign outside the elephant house, I stopped and studied it. It looked like the head of an elephant with a big ear, an eye, and a trunk. Great image, I thought, drawing the pictograph in my travel journal. A student of Hebrew, I knew that the sign was in fact three Hebrew letters forming the word for elephant in Hebrew—-Peel. Marveling at the elephant house sign, I said to myself, “If I ever write a book about an elephant, I’m going to name him Peel.”
Living in Frankfurt, Germany in the late 70s, at a low point in my life, a singing elephant appeared at the foot of my bed singing a song of encouragement in a dream.
I sat up in bed, rubbed my sleepy eyes and listened.
An elephant won’t forget you when you’re happy.
An elephant won’t forget you when you’re sad.
‘Cause an elephant knows the secret is remembering it all—
Learning from the good times, and the bad.
Suffering from pneumonia and feeling drained emotionally, I was indeed sad. The next day, I couldn’t get the song out of my head. I sang it aloud often. And every time I sang it, I felt better and stronger. So I wrote it down, music and words,
A few weeks later, the singing elephant appeared again and we started conversing, always in rhyme, about learning from life adventures. I made notes in my dream journal and soon realized I had something important to share.
Years after the elephant appeared in my dreams, and after some wonderful synchronicities, “Peel, the Extraordinary Elephant,” my first children’s book, was published in 1985. It’s still in print today.
Being present is being in touch with ourselves, focusing on each moment (happy or sad), and going with the magical flow of life.
DERYNEIA, Cyprus — Time virtually stopped in 1974 for the Mediterranean tourist playground of Varosha. When Turkey invaded Cyprus in the wake of a coup by supporters of union with Greece, thousands of residents fled, and chain-link fences enclosed a glamorous resort that it’s said once played host to Hollywood royalty like Elizabeth Taylor.
The town’s crumbling, war-scarred beachfront hotels have become an emblem of the country’s division between Turks and Greeks. In 40 years, few have set foot inside the town, which remains heavily guarded by the Turkish army and twists of barbed wire.
In 1968, at age 23, I left Los Angeles with my husband. Although I had attended college part-time for a few semesters while working full-time, I had many more semesters to go. And I didn’t really know what I wanted to be when I “grew up.” I decided to quit my job, take a year off, see the world, and then decide on a career. Felt sort of like dancing to the theme song from The Wizard of Oz. “Off to see the wizard,” I sang as I prepared for my adventure. Off to see the unknown. Why? Because, because. Why not? Best decision I ever made.
We sold our possessions, purchased tickets and several sheaths of American Express Travelers Cheques, packed clothes, books, and cameras. I stashed my passport and travel journal in my purse, and said tearful goodbyes to family and friends. Continue reading “Citizen of the World by Susan Joyce”
“Help us reach our aim of achieving peace on our divided island, Cyprus! #peace http://thndr.it/1bqeqQl”
I lived in Cyprus in 1974 and personally witnessed the war that split this beautiful island. Help these determined young people make the world aware of their goal to achieve peace on their divided island.
Thank you M.J. Faraldo for your great review!
Susan’s “Lullaby Illusion” is an incredible tale, full of life, risks, friendships, history, loss, suspicion and trust. It takes you on a roller-coaster of emotions that compelled you to keep on reading from beginning to end.
Her life will amaze you. The situations she shares will keep you on the edge of your seat because Susan’s writing will transport you to those places, making you “live” those circumstances with her.
The Lullaby Illusion
by Susan Joyce
New book details the harrowing personal journey of a young
American woman facing seemingly insurmountable situations while living in the Middle East and Europe. After many miscarriages and the loss of a child in childbirth on the island of Cyprus, Susan seeks solace by creating art and recording her vivid dreams. Through difficult life changes—Cyprus’s bloody coup and war in 1974, a rescue from a sinking ship in the Indian Ocean, learning
of her husband’s secret life, and surviving his deadly assault in Belgium, she discovers her “ticking clock” is not the child she fails to produce, but rather her creative potential.
Following her vivid dreams and intuition, she successfully reinvents herself as an artist and writer. From beginning to end, Susan Joyce reminds us of the stream of awareness that flows through all of us.
Early reader reviews show it resonates universally with men and women:
A hell of a tale…
— Mark Mercer, Writer
Amid the gripping account of her final days living in Cyprus as war broke out and bullets flew past, what moved me most was Susan’s spirit through the difficulties life throws at her. This true story gives honest insight into the complex emotional turmoil we all experience for various reasons, and shows how it is always possible to see the positive and build our life afresh exactly as we choose to live; not to long for what might have been. An uplifting, inspiring and triumphant story.
— Jennifer Barclay, Author, Falling in Honey
…like riding the roller coaster of life, exciting and engrossing, funny and sad. A real page turner. I was sorry to read “The End.”
— Isabel Saltonstall, Editor