Category Archives: Out of the Box

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

“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

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

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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The Searching Place: A Twist on Dr. Seuss’ “Waiting Place”

Via Flickr: just.K

I have always been an avid lover of Dr. Seuss and his way with words and rhymes. Then again, who isn’t a fond follower of his work these days? Although it may be cliché, there’s no doubt that one of my favorite books of all time (no, not just as a child, but even until today) is his very own “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.” The way he was able to capture some of life’s biggest lessons and embed them into relatable rhymes and well-needed advice gets me every time. If anything, I truly believe that that particular book hits the spot for us, as adults, more than it might for children. The way he allows us to reflect on our journeys through thick and thin, failures and successes, and insists that we can still make it through at the end of the day is probably the reminder we all need to hear to keep going.

There is one particular part in the book that I found myself constantly relating to: “The Waiting Place,” that scary, useless place made for people just waiting for something…ANYTHING to happen. In grown up talk, we might as well call it the dreaded “stand still.” It’s that horrible part of our lives where we have absolutely no idea where to go from there; the part where one phase ends and another has yet to begin, and we find ourselves stuck in the middle; it’s the part where we’re hoping and praying and painfully yearning for that damn opportunity to knock on the door already. Yes, we definitely have all been there.

But, since I moved across the world to New Zealand, amidst building a new life for myself, I realized that there was no part in my beloved “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” that defined this part of my life. This part was all about searching for my next step; searching for what to do next; searching for a way to build my routine; searching for answers; searching for new friends; constantly, constantly searching. It seems that beyond “The Waiting Place,” there comes a time where you just refuse to wait anymore and you have to take matters into your own hands. Thus begins the searching quest.

I realized that, in Dr. Seuss terms, we find ourselves in a whole different place, the Searching Place. At that point, it only seemed right that to truly introduce this phase of our lives, I would have to attempt to recreate and twist his Waiting Place into this place of searching, maintaining a similar rhyme and rhythm that could fit into my favorite story, like a missing puzzle piece.

With that said, I introduce to you my very own attempt at some Dr. Seuss magic:

The Searching Place,
…for people just searching.

Searching for a job to do
Or the words to write
Or a path that leads to a greater height
Or a friend you felt like you always knew
Or a dream you once lost but can now pursue
Or searching for a journey to delve into
Or searching for a way to bid adieu.
Everyone is just searching.

Searching for a frog to kiss
Or searching for a home filled with bliss
Or searching to fulfill your bucket list.

Or searching perhaps for a shooting star
Or a miracle, or the keys to your car
Or some faith, trust, or pixie dust
Or the yellow brick road, or a chance to adjust.
Everyone is just searching.

At first, I thought it would be more difficult to come up with rhymes to put my point across. I know myself as a writer. I’m wordy and blunt and talk in clichés, and I haven’t written a poem since learning about Haikus in the fourth grade. But here I was counting syllables and scraping my mind for words that rhyme with “do,” and eventually, somehow it all fell into place! Perhaps it was my love for Dr. Seuss and slight envy for his ability to string words together in such harmonious flow; or maybe that deep-set desire to find the missing link I felt suddenly lacked from that wonderful book; but most of all, I just wanted to paint an image, like he has done for us so many times, that would simply define this phase of our lives that we all pass through…our very own Searching Place.

Relate to it, I hope you do, for this quest of searching is almost through. And we’ll find our ways to move mountains too. Persist and I promise these words to be true.

: : : I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me! : : :

— I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew, Dr. Seuss —

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

Inspiration Board: 33 Ways to Stay Creative


: : : If my hands could hold them you’d see, I’d take all these secrets in me and I’d move and mold them to be something I’d set free : : :

— Let the Rain, Sara Bareilles —

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