Calling All Bloggers: The Million-Dollar Question

Let me tell you the story of the Daily Post emails. Ah, the good ol’ Daily Post emails. Everyday, there it is waiting for me in my inbox giving me a prompt to consider writing about and acting as a constant reminder to tend to my blog. Oh so helpful and inspiring, but unfortunately oh so easily overlooked.

Despite that, sometimes an email pings its way into my inbox and, guilt ridden at my complete negligence towards the Daily Post, I decide to allow them to indulge me. This time, it definitely worked.

Today’s prompt was simple enough: “Why do you blog?”

Just five minutes before that email, I was already toying with the idea of putting together some kind of come back blog to make up for my lack of writing. Do I have any excuses? Many. Can I justify my sudden disappearance? Easily. Do I even feel bad at the hole I have left in my little blog safe haven? Not as much as I should. But I also know that when life gets crazy, it’s easy to take a step back, refocus and change priorities.

These days, I have been overcome by to-do lists, never-ending planning and tasks that make me feel like I’m constantly falling behind (what else is new?). But that prompt came at the perfect time – to remind me that this blog and my writing is not just another thing on my priority waitlist. It never was and it never should be.

Why do I blog?

From before I can remember, I’ve always been passionate about writing and I knew one way to do more of it was to start up a blog as some sort of outlet for the millions of thoughts inside my head. Like every other opinionated, thought provoked, life-experiencing person, I knew I had something to say and I wanted to be heard.

Still, it wasn’t just about raving and ranting. It was about inspiring. I wanted to be able to inspire people, as so many others had done for me. But I also wanted to be able to inspire myself. Starting up a blog was my perfect excuse to face my experiences, speed bumps, hardships, triumphs, opportunities and success head on. And as much as it would do me some good to confront my own self-reflections, I knew how easily others would be able to relate too.

But let’s be frank, I didn’t have some extraordinary story on how I overcame a life challenging hardship. I didn’t create something no one in the world thought to do before. I’m STILL not a good enough cook to run a food blog (although I am obsessed with them! Props to all the foodies out there!). And I definitely am not an exceptional photographer to showcase my captivating snapshots of moments frozen in time.

Simply enough, I know life. I know that it has ups and it has downs. I know that it has speed bumps that sometimes feel like mountains too steep and too rough to climb. I know that it has lights at the end of tunnels. I know that leaps of faith sometimes don’t work, and sometimes they actually do. And I know that the scariest part through it all is feeling like we’re going at it alone.

So my blog was created!

Lead by my optimist and hopeless romantic, I wanted to be the hand to hold; the light bulb moment; the voice in your head; the quote you use to define what you feel; or simply enough, the comforting moment you realize we’re all in the same boat.

That’s why I blog. Because I love it. Because I love to write. Because I love to inspire – myself and everyone else willing to listen. It’s worked for me thus far, and I just needed to remember that.

Thank you, Daily Post. I owe this one to you.

: : : It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us… : : :

–A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens–

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Filed under Food For Thought, Out of the Box, Raves and Rants

Inspiration Board: The Three Symptoms of Killing Our Dreams

I have a confession to make. I am in a rut. It’s the fork in the road, Searching Place, can’t seem to stop myself from spinning in circles kind of rut. And I’ve come to the conclusion that this may very well be the feeling a volcano gets before it is about to explode. But as my optimistic self chooses to believe, the explosion from a rut-captivated person can only lead to greatness. With that said, I, my friends, am about to explode.

In moments like these, I can always count on my very favorite writer and mentor, Mr. Paulo Coelho himself, to grant me with the reminders I constantly need to hear. His ideals wrapped in romanticism, blind faith and true belief that we all hold within us the capability to make our marks on the world tugs at my heart and mind every single time. But what gets me most is when he talks about dreams. Dream your dreams, he says … live them, nurture them, protect them, he says. But don’t you dare kill them.

With that said, I introduce you to the excerpt that is ringing loudly like sirens in my ears:

The Three Symptoms of Killing Our Dreams
By Paulo Coelho

Paulo-Coelho-Wallpaper-paulo-coelho-6913962-1024-768

The first symptom of the process of our killing our dreams is the lack of time. The busiest people I have known in my life always have time enough to do everything. Those who do nothing are always tired and pay no attention to the little amount of work they are required to do. They complain constantly that the day is too short. The truth is, they are afraid to fight the Good Fight.

The second symptom of the death of our dreams lies in our certainties. Because we don’t want to see life as a grand adventure, we begin to think of ourselves as wise and fair and correct in asking so little of life. We look beyond the walls of our day-to-day existence, and we hear the sound of lances breaking, we smell the dust and the sweat, and we see the great defeats and the fire in the eyes of the warriors. But we never see the delight, the immense delight in the hearts of those who are engaged in the battle. For them, neither victory nor defeat is important; what’s important is only that they are fighting the Good Fight.

And, finally, the third symptom of the passing of our dreams is peace. Life becomes a Sunday afternoon; we ask for nothing grand, and we cease to demand anything more than we are willing to give. In that state, we think of ourselves as being mature; we put aside the fantasies of our youth, and we seek personal and professional achievement. We are surprised when people our age say that they still want this or that out of life. But really, deep in our hearts, we know that what has happened is that we have renounced the battle for our dreams – we have refused to fight the Good Fight.

When we renounce our dreams and find peace, we go through a short period of tranquility. But the dead dreams begin to rot within us and to infect our entire being.

We become cruel to those around us, and then we begin to direct this cruelty against ourselves. That’s when illnesses and psychoses arise. What we sought to avoid in combat – disappointment and defeat – come upon us because of our cowardice.

And one day, the dead, spoiled dreams make it difficult to breathe. And there’s nothing left to free us from our certainties, from our work, and from that terrible peace of our Sunday afternoons.

: : : It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting : : :

–The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

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“2012 Taught Me…” – A Lessons Learned Survival Guide for 2013

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s true what they say, “The days are long but the years are short.” In a blink of an eye, another year has passed and here we are at the dawn of 2013, with the promises of new beginnings, the fresh desire to keep resolutions, and a hope for a year filled with better long days than the last. But it’s no secret that before we stood at this very point, the past few weeks may have been filled with moments of reflection on 2012.

Let’s face facts … every year is more or less the same. We come across drastic ups and downs. We test ourselves and our capabilities to their very limits. We fail and we fall down only to stand back up again and achieve. We make plans for days that eventually don’t allow us to follow through with those plans. But most importantly, we learn and learn and learn and learn constantly, with each passing day, lessons we knew we’d one day grasp only by first hand experience.

While thinking about lessons learned in the last days of 2012, I remembered an experiment I did once on Karma a while back, which actually turned out to be incredibly stimulating. With that said, I decided that it was time for another experiment, and what better way to start 2013 than with a bit of collective inspiration? Thus it began … I sent out a message asking people, from close friends to strangers, to complete the following sentence:

2012 taught me…

New year 2013

The response was incredible! Whereas I initially expected I might receive one-word answers, I quickly realized that my respondents were more than willing to provide detailed stories of their deepest challenges or greatest successes. Inspiring stories filled my inbox one after the other after the other. Because of that, I apologize from now for not being able to do those stories justice at all in this one measly post. But it also made me realize what a brilliant idea it is to share lessons learned from 2012 with all who are willing to listen.

From reading the responses, I was able to break them all into five clear categories … five categories I believe we are all constantly shaping and learning from as the years go by.  Listen closely, dear readers, these lessons are gold.

For the lessons we learn on the self, 2012 taught me…

To believe in myself and never doubt myself or what I’m capable of.

How to see myself from the outside, to know my flaws, and to sincerely apologize when I have hurt someone.

That I’m stronger than I thought I was.

To put myself first and realize that it’s ok.

To stop holding myself back from the me I never get to express.

To create space for myself to grow into the real and true “me.”

That it’s ok to be confident enough to believe in yourself.

To manage my adulthood responsibilities without losing my ability to be a child at heart.

That we are defined by how we speak about ourselves not by what others think of us.

That real success only comes when you know YOU can excel. It comes when you realize that you CAN outshine everyone else.

For the lessons we learn on the people around us, 2012 taught me…

No people are closer to you than your own blood; never forsake them for they will never let you down.

To never let anyone decide for you what you’ll do with your life, although they may suffocate you with advice, it’s you who gets to live with the consequences.

That I can love someone else more than I love myself.

How to be strong for my family, especially for my mom.

That there are people out there with similar situations as mine and that I’m not alone in this world

To appreciate and cherish those who are close to me

The true value of having a family. They’re standing by me as I follow my dreams, as I absorb new experiences, and as I become someone they know they’ll have to rediscover.

That I am allowed to pick and choose who is worth my time and who isn’t.

To call my parents more often even though they never ask for it.

Surround yourself with those who share your goals, motivate you to reach them, and support you throughout.

That you can’t change people; you either have to accept them as they are or don’t

That some of the people we meet only exists to make us stronger and teach us lessons and make us believe that we always deserve a better life with better people

That you can’t force someone to show you respect, but you can refuse to be disrespected.

For the lessons we learn on time and making plans, 2012 taught me…

Life’s too short to be angry all the time.

That no matter how hard I try to plan out my life, God already has a plan for me. Plans don’t always work out and that’s okay.

That time is fleeting. Similarly to the metaphor of holding water in the palms of your hands, no matter how tightly you try to hold on, it slips away from you.

That life is just too short to waste on worry and regret. It showed me that we must keep moving forward.

That a new beginning is still ahead of me.

To live now and now.

To live everyday like it’s your last. Life is too precious and short to take any moment for granted.

The past is already where it belongs … in the past.

All could be lost, but it usually means that God is making way for new things in your life.

For the lessons we learn on overcoming the storm, 2012 taught me…

To have no expectations at all.

That nothing will break me anymore and I’ll always be strong enough to beat all those who try.

Not to give up no matter what, for the best is yet to come.

That although there are many things in this world that bring us down, we must pick ourselves back up and move on in order to succeed in life.

Life goes on.

That when the storm is over, the sun rises.

That with a little patience and persistence, you will rise above it all.

That no matter how bad things may seem at one point or another, it isn’t the end of the world. It always gets better, we always adapt, figure it out, or get over it.

Endurance. Life will constantly throw things at you from every angle. It’s up to you to find the strength to keep moving past it all.

Never wait for appreciation first hand. Rest assured the reward will eventually come.

For the lessons we learn on shaping our mentalities, 2012 taught me…

Never give up my dignity for anything or anyone.

How to love the simplicity of pure joy.

We have the capability to make a difference in the world we live in.

To let loose with silly dances like Gangnam style!

Its not about getting what you want, its about knowing how to keep what you’ve always wanted once you get it.

To pour my whole heart into all that I do and hope for the best.

To be thankful for all that I have and in turn, be the best I can be towards all those around me.

That second chances are possible.

To give more, love more, be as kind as my mom has shown me.

To appreciate learning something new everyday.

That each year is simply a number. If you haven’t achieved a least one significant thing in it then it will be a year forgotten, held against you.

To never lose hope because anything is possible when you try and thing positively.

Do what your heart yearns to do, be who you would like, love who you choose and thank God every second for what He has given you.

To have strength, perseverance and to always be humble.

With so many lessons brought about by the last year, I am happy to report that the majority of my respondents were ready, despite the lurking hardships and potential surprises, to face 2013 and all it had in store for them. So be ready my loves, 2013 is here, with a lesson embedded in each passing day. But if 2012 has taught us anything, it’s that we have survived so much thus far…plus a Mayan Apocalypse! Nothing can stop us from keep on keeping on now.

Happy New Year!

: : : Yes I was burned but I called it a lesson learned. Mistake overturned, so I call it a lesson learned. My soul has returned to I call it a lesson learned. Another lesson learned : : :

– Lesson Learned, Alicia Keys ft. John Mayer –

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Filed under Food For Thought, Growing Up, Mind, Body, Soul, Out of the Box

Quote of the Moment: The Strength of a Woman

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The strength of a woman is not measured by the impact that all her hardships in life have had on her; but the strength of a woman is measured by the extent of her refusal to allow those hardships to dictate her and who she becomes.

- C. JoyBell C.

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To Drink or Not to Drink from the Fountain of Youth?

In an attempt to try and maintain some consistency with my writing, I subscribed to the Daily Post earlier this year. But despite their daily prompts and weekly writing challenges sent right to my email, I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t exactly participated in this perfect channel of inspiration as much as I would have liked.

With that said, this post is a little late in the Daily Post game. A few days ago, I received a prompt asking:

If there were a real fountain of youth, would you drink the water?

After reading it, pondering my answer for a second, I clicked out of the email and  didn’t even give it another thought. That is until I was on the bus heading home the next day. A little old lady who I’ve seen before, got on the bus at her usual stop. She was always at the little seaside village near our neighborhood, shopping at the posh boutiques, reading on the benches by the beach, or having brunch at one of the classy restaurants I’ve been meaning to try out.

On the bus, she bumped into a friend and they launched into conversation on all of the wonderful things they had done that weekend. Of her elaborate plans, she mentioned that that weekend it was her birthday and she had turned 99 years old. Good thing they were sitting behind me because I couldn’t contain how baffled I was. My jaw dropped! Ninety-nine years old and the lady had a fuller weekend than I did! Just thinking about the kind of life she led from the little bits and pieces I got to see every once in a while brought me right back to the prompt. This lady didn’t seem to need a fountain of youth at all to live her life to the fullest.

Would I want to be young forever?

As a 20-something, I feel like we’re launched into a phase in our lives where we walk a fine line between young and carefree, grown up and responsible. It’s no wonder we hurdle ourselves into quarter life crises. The struggle through it all makes us think of the “good old days.” But I don’t think a fountain of youth could ever be the antidote.

Running into this lady reminded me that as much as I loved high school and the days that truly tested and shaped my personality; as much as I’m proud of all of my achievements during university; and as much as I often day dream about my engagement period and the build up to the wedding; there is still so much I want to experience, despite the struggles I might face along the way.

I want to see the day I finally make my parents grand parents. I want to feel what it means to be a mother. I want to watch my kids grow and experience the heartache that comes once they let go of your hand to run into kindergarten; and the frustration that comes with re-learning their science material just to help them with homework; and the pride that comes with watching them graduate.

I want to see the day my brother’s childrens’ books make him the next Dr. Seuss. I want to be the one to zip up my little sister’s dress on her wedding day. I even want to grow old and wrinkly with my husband knowing that 20 years from now, he’ll still be the most handsome man in my world.

As much as we may think that there is only so much we can do before we get older, there is  also so much we can’t experience if we stayed young forever. As for the struggles along the way, I think at some point, when we finally cross over to being adults not just by name but by action, we’ll be able to find that balance between being both carefree AND responsible. Maybe then we’ll be able to truly see the beauty of our lives, young or old, like my dear 99 year old friend.

So to drink from a fountain of youth? No thanks, it’s not for me. I intend to take each day as it comes … one day at a time.

: : : Now I’m just chasing time with a thousand dreams I’m holding heavy … Don’t tell me our youth is running out. We’ve only just begun : : :

– Youth, Foxes –

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Speaking of Give and Take: Thank You for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award!

Part of the reason why I started writing is because I knew that there was only one thing better than being inspiring. It’s inspiring other people yourself, and that’s exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to set up a place where my readers could visit and realize that they’re not alone; that really, we’re all in the same boat and struggling the same personal struggles; that one reminder at a time, we can get through it all.

So it comes as no surprised how ecstatic I was to be nominated for the “Very Inspiring Blogger Award” from the very lovely, inspiring writer and photographer Noor from http://touchofinsanity.wordpress.com/. Even with my inconsistency and ramble-filled posts, it was the perfect reminder that maybe … just maybe … I’m doing something right.

veryinspiringblogaward

Here are the “rules” of accepting the award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them in your post.
  • Share 7 interesting things about yourself.
  • Nominate 7 bloggers you admire.
  • Leave a comment on each of the blog’s letting them know they have been nominated.

Now to share 7 things about myself (that is if I’ve left anything you don’t already know!)

  1. I’m a global nomad. I haven’t stayed in a single place for longer than four years and because of that I don’t make friends. I make family. 
  2. As much as I love my tablet, smart phone and brag about the amazing syncing abilities of Cloud, I will first and foremost always turn to old school manual organizers. 
  3. In another life I would have been a doctor, like my dad. Needless to say, he’s still proud of me even though I chose writing instead. 
  4. I secretly believe that my family is the most incredible family in the whole wide world. No really, they’re so awesome it’s ridiculous. 
  5. I used to have a deep-set phobia of failure. And then I failed economics. That’s when I learned failure wasn’t about falling; it was about staying down when you fall. By some miracle, I came out of that class with an A. 
  6. I think my life would make an amazing musical. 
  7. I grew up on Disney movies, Happily Ever After’s, and a strong-willed mother who taught me to believe that the glass is always half full; that good always trumps evil; and that reaching for the stars will always lead to your dreams. I will never be convinced of anything otherwise.

As an aspiring inspirer, the best source of inspiration is turning to those who are able to give me just that. Lucky for me, I am surrounded by wonderful people with wonderful minds that I only wish I could introduce to the world. And now here’s my chance! Of the many people I believe truly deserve this award, here are 7 bloggers I admire and hereby nominate for the Very Inspirational Blogger Award:

  1. Maryam’s White Hot Truth at http://whitehottruth.wordpress.com/. An insight that sears into your heart and hits close to home on so many topics. 
  2. Pia’s Purpose at http://piaspurpose.wordpress.com/. It’s always a pleasure and joy to see the world the way Pia sees it. 
  3. Sarah’s Make-Up and Mirtazapine at http://makeupandmirtazapine.com/. Through her writing, Sarah reminds herself that even though she is diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, she is not her illness. She turns to the things that define her instead. 
  4. Amna’s 999 Fitness at http://999fitness.ae/. She’s one of those who I shamelessly brag about having gone to university with! She’s on her way to representing the U.A.E in the 2016 Olympics as a covered Emirati weight lifter. 
  5.  Shay’s Opinion at http://shaynz.wordpress.com/. A newbie but already a goodie! Definitely one to watch out for with these upcoming posts. 
  6. Dazzling Mage’s Dazzling Word Café at http://dazzlingwordcafe.blogspot.co.nz/. Whimsical and dreamy, no one can take you away with her words like she can. I’m waiting for a book from this on. 
  7. Kinza’s Pocket Full of Sunshine at http://kinzakhan.blogspot.co.nz/. Just like the meaning of her name in Arabic, her blog is a hidden treasure looking into the mind of an open minded yet reserved American Muslim Pakistani woman.

: : : I used to say to myself, “What the devil have you got to be proud of?” And I’d answer, “Everything. Everything.” : : :

— Marilyn Monroe –

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Things My Mother Says: Love Yourself

If there’s anything I love most about my mother, it’s that she’s a giver. With her ability to so seamlessly give her love and kindness without ever wanting anything back makes her a true gift to the world around her. I grew up watching her do it … give pieces of her heart out over and over again, believing that with each little piece, she could make a difference in all who’s lives she touched. So it comes as no surprise to me when I see how much she is loved and respected in return.

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be JUST like that. And now, more than ever, as a married woman with my life literally in my own hands to mold as I pleased, I wanted to shape it as a life of giving … just as she had.

Growing up, she had told me that I really was a giver; and I felt proud that I was finally following in her footsteps. It became my own personal mantra to believe that everyone deserved a bit of affection and kindness, and I wanted to be the one to grant it to them. But any giver would know as well as I do, how quickly the selfless joy of giving, once exhausted, becomes a fight to protect what little you have left.

The problem isn’t about appreciation or wanting anything in return. The problem is that suddenly you’re expected to give all the time. And expectations leave you feeling like you are constantly falling short … constantly disappointing.

So amidst my struggle to keep up with expectations, I ran to my mother—which, even when you’re married you never grow out of—for some kind of guidance. She had been doing it all of these years after all.

She said,

If you really want to be a giver, you must first give to yourself. You must first love yourself. When you love yourself, you strive for success and happiness in all that you do. But that doesn’t only include you. It includes the success and happiness in your every relationship, in your every behavior with others, and in your every course of life. You love yourself first so that you have the ability to love others too.
Love Yourself

Via The Ballerina Project

I always thought that “love yourself” was just another way to say that it was ok be selfish. But when my mother pointed out that, at the end of the day, it doesn’t only affect me, it all began to make better sense.

The only person I was falling short with was myself. I was so concerned in giving others what I felt they needed that I forgot about me. I put aside what I wanted; I constantly questioned if I was doing enough; and worst of all, I allowed the growing expectations to take priority over what was really important to me. Where did that get me? Bitterly hiding behind a defensive wall of “leave me alone.”

My dear givers, listen closely. I realized that not everybody gives the way we may give. So I began to give back to myself. I began to love myself. And in return, I finally filled the empty hole I dug from giving too much. Now, I’m slowly going back to being Karma’s good elf again, happily spreading the bit of love and kindness I still believe everyone deserves. But first and foremost, I’m giving that bit of love and kindness to me, and turns out, that’s what I’ve need all along.

: : : Friendship with oneself is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world : : :

– Eleanor Roosevelt –

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Filed under Food For Thought, Growing Up, Mind, Body, Soul, Things My Mother Says