Memorial Day for the Syrians

Last year at this time, I wrote a post about commemorating the lives of those who died for a cause, fought for their country or died from natural catastrophes. Last year was a pretty intense year. This year, I will say more of my focus has been on the uprising in Syria and the cruelty that has been used against the Syrians pleading for freedom and democracy. While we were celebrating Memorial Day and remembering the lives of our fellow Americans who died at war, the town of Homs and my fellow Syrians found a reason to have their own Memorial Day, as Syrians were massacred and brutalized. Over 100 people were killed, more than half of them women and children, in an 18-hour bombardment, murdering people in the privacy of their own homes.

I pray that the people who have the power to make a change will open their eyes and publicly condemn those responsible for killing the innocent Syrian people.  I hope that the people trying to raise awareness will be heard and helped, and I hope that the UN Human Rights Council will finally take action against the violence in Syria, as they have failed to do in the past. It is time for these crimes against humanity to be tried and punished, and it is time for the Syrian people to be granted their freedom.  Most importantly, it’s time for peace and security for Syria. I pray and hope for a better future.

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Accept Yourself, Ignore Others

I spent a lot of yesterday watching the Tyler Clementi/Dharun Ravi case. My heart goes out to Tyler’s family and friends who had to suffer his loss and think about the pain and torment Tyler felt before he committed suicide. Tyler must have felt extremely ridiculed and distressed in order to commit suicide after his roommate invaded his privacy.  What really makes me sad, though, is that he let such a small group of people affect his fate. While he felt embarrassed and mocked by his peers, he must not have thought about the fact that his peers are such a miniscule percentage of this world’s population. If only he thought about the thousands of people outside of his small world that would have accepted him for who he was and known that the majority of people condemn Ravi, instead, for being a cruel, ignorant and closed-minded bully. I am sure Tyler was too ashamed to seek help from his parents or request to be moved to a new university, but he could have. He could have gone to a new place that accepts him and knows about the video and looks down on Ravi instead of him.

It’s a good reminder to all of us that the tiny group of people we know is only a small group of the billions of other people in this world. Why do we let ourselves get influenced by these people? Don’t compare yourself with the ones around you and don’t let them shape the image you have of yourself. Accept yourself for who you are, be proud of the person you are and strive to be your best, everyone else should accept you as you are. There is so much more out there, and there is so much diversity in this world, so much culture, so much understanding. If you have found yourself in an unaccepting environment, move on, move forward and be proud of the person you are. 

Take care of You

A while ago, I wrote a post about pampering yourself, as it is a key to stress relief.  Well, I just recently pampered myself for the first time since having a baby, and wow did I feel good!! It felt like a whole new experience to get my nails done and go to the mall just to stroll! No changing diapers, no feeding, no rocking a baby to sleep, I was all by myself, enjoyed a long mani-pedi with a small back massage and it really did change my entire mindset! I went from feeling so stressed and tired to being super relieved and really happy :). Pampering myself has become a new priority, because I learned that going almost 3 months without any self-care really caused my sanity to spiral out of control! Whatever it is that is keeping you from taking care of yourself, drop it now and put yourself first.  Find a friend, spouse, parent, or a babysitter to take care of your kid(s), or set a goal to treat yourself to something after a big assignment, or leave work early if you are guilty of over-working yourself! Just take an hour (or five) to spend on yourself, and do whatever it is that you really miss.

I know a lot of people who have let stress take over their lives. Some people are affected physically by it, and you can tell by their deteriorating health that they are not taking care of themselves, and others are affected mentally by it, which is scary since it is not as obvious to the people around you.  Whether you let stress affect you physically or mentally (or both), you need to learn to stop and take a time out. I learned a lot just from taking a personal break, and I hope you can find time to do the same.

Don’t Eat to Procrastinate

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I know I am not the only one who eats to procrastinate, right? I am working from home right now, taking care of my baby, trying to set up the small things in my new house and writing thank you cards – I kind of have so much to do, I could forget that I’m hungry, but that doesn’t happen to me.  On days like today, I don’t give myself the chance to feel hungry! It’s like the more things I need to get done, the more often I find myself in my pantry instead of in front of my laptop or at my desk or anywhere else I should be. Maybe I should add “eat” to my list of things to do so that I won’t do it! 🙂

Any of you out there guilty of the same thing, take it from me before you open your fridge or pantry, or do whatever it is that you do to procrastinate. You just feel worse after it! I now have to work later and the day feels as if it’s almost done and I have accomplished nothing except for eating a nice variety of foods! Just go ahead and get your work done, you will be a lot happier by night time when you don’t have a longer list running through your mind. Start with the small things and then work towards the bigger ones. Once you get into work mode, you will feel much more productive, and you will get a lot more accomplished. I’ll try to start now, but looks like I need a better start to tomorrow!

It’s YOUR Choice

My sister sent me the above image after she consoled me through a breakdown. This breakdown came after I bitterly returned to work following a measly 6-week maternity leave. Yes, I said maternity leave, I just had a baby J (so, I hope I can get some forgiveness for disappearing the way I did)! The crazy thing is, I work for family, so I never thought I would be going back to work with a grudge. But the truth is, it’s hard to leave such an adorable, dependent baby that you happen to be in love with to go sit at a desk in an office that you are definitely not in love with. I realized that I took the job with my family for the convenience of it (ironic, huh?) but not for the fulfillment. Before I had a baby, I didn’t mind this, I thought working for family was the way to go – at least you work with your heart knowing it’s for the best of your family business, not some corporation you don’t care about, right?  Well, I fooled myself.

I realize that I have not sat down to think about what I really want to do with my life (besides being a wife and a new mommy) since I moved back to Houston (4 years ago). Like the quote above, I have been limiting myself to the reasonable and the possible, letting the easy route guide me. But, for now, I know that I have loved writing this blog, and being away from it for almost 10 months now has reinforced that it’s something I do enjoy and that does fulfill me. So this time, I really am back. Just don’t tell my family that I’m writing this while I sit at that desk 😉

What about you? What choices are you compromising? Are you allowing yourself to do what you truly want?  We all have factors that influence our decisions, maybe a salary, or benefits or family, so we can’t always “follow our hearts.”  But, we can take small steps to find our way towards fulfillment and make the choices that we want, not make the choices that are easy.

Natural Energy Boosters

Well, so much for my “fitness week” blog posts! I successfully gave you only one fitness tip the entire week (I hope you all got to try out a spinning class)! Unfortunately (or maybe I should say fortunately?), the only excuse I have for you is laziness – pure laziness. I just have not had the energy lately to write when I’m at home, and I’m too busy at work to try on my lunch break.

So, today’s stress relief advice is to introduce natural sources of energy to your diet. We all get low on energy, and many of us make the mistake of loading up on sugars or “bad for you” snacks to get a short-term boost. I happened to come across an article on WebMD about how food is linked to one’s energy and mood. If you want to read the details of how food can affect your energy, click here to read the full article. I will let you know which foods to make sure you add to your diet 😉

1)      “Smart Carbs” – carbs are not our enemy as many may think, whole grains like whole wheat bread and pasta and brown rice are good for you! They are also sources of fiber, which stabilizes your energy flow (other sources of fiber include beans, fruits and veggies)

2)      Cashews, Almonds and Hazelnuts – magnesium-rich foods, and Brazil nuts – a source of selenium to boost your mood

3)      Lean Meats – good sources of protein keep you alert and focused

4)      Omega 3 and Folate – both can be found in leafy greens, and Omega 3 can also be found in fatty fish like salmon, both can counter depression

5)      Water – water should be your best friend throughout the day, keeping yourself hydrated throughout the day will fight fatigue. Also, you may be thinking you are hungry when, in reality, you are dehydrated and thirsty.

6)      Caffeine – the article also makes mention of caffeine, which I will not elaborate on (even though I am a big fan of coffee, I do not depend on it for energy), but caffeine includes tea, coffee and chocolate, which all have their great benefits

7)      Breakast – you can visit “Start your morning off Right” for more on this  

Load up on your healthy grains, fruits, veggies and healthy proteins – keep your diet balanced and you’re sure to have an energy boost. I will try my best to keep my diet in check so I can throw my lethargy out the window and continue blogging! 🙂

Don’t dwell on It

Yesterday, I heard some news that really got me angry. Imagine waiting 6 months for something (that really should have happened 6 months ago) and one day after you are finally told “hey, you get to have it!” they take it away and tell you TWO more months! Well, I don’t know what happened to me yesterday, but I must be really taking my own advice, because I remained so calm!  I simply swallowed the bad news, realizing there is absolutely nothing I can do to control it, and I moved on. Of course I complained, of course I expressed anger, but I did not dwell on it. I have never found myself handling a situation like this so well, and I must say I’m really proud of myself.

So, the best part is that today I found out they made a mistake!! It’ back, and no more waiting necessary.  I do not know how that happened, but I don’t doubt my positive attitude had something to do with it.  Moral of the story? Be patient, be calm, and don’t dwell on the bad stuff.  Things will happen the way they are supposed to, and when we know there is nothing we can do about it, there is no point in obsessing over it. Enjoy your weekend!

Celebrate Independence

This would have been better if posted yesterday, on Independence Day, but I had to share my “I’m back” message :).   Also, I was so excited about coming back, that I forgot to wish you all a Happy 4th, I hope you all enjoyed it! I was inspired by the 4th of July to think about independence and freedom, and how important they are to the self.  Turns out, they are extremely important, as I’m sure you already know.

I have always prided myself on being so independent and, while I think I am in some aspects (I’m happy to spend time alone, or show up anywhere solo, or even tell myself that I don’t care what people think), the truth is, I have found myself to be an extremely dependent person. I have realized that I want people to be on the same page as me, I want people to agree with me, and I don’t want to be alone in my beliefs and opinions.

Then, I had a conversation with my impressively wise and younger brother, and it occurred to me that my personal happiness has been so rooted in what people think of me and whether or not they can understand my feelings.  Even though I think I can physically handle being alone, I cannot stand being alone emotionally! As I listened to my brother passionately explain to me his philosophy and outlook on life, I realized that he must find himself in a minority among many of his peers.  Does he realize that? Yes. Does he care? No.  I was in awe listening to him and at the same time thinking, how can my younger brother be so much more evolved than I? He truly doesn’t care what people think, he only cares about what he thinks and how he feels. Now that’s freedom.

I wasn’t thinking about the emotional dependence that can exist because I was focusing on the physical and financial aspects of dependency. I wanted to write about how, while we will always be in need of friendship, love and people that we know we can depend on, we should know that we can also depend on ourselves, more than anyone else.  Now I see one more element to independence, and that is freedom from caring what people think and what they believe, and the dependency on yourself to be happy. I’m really thankful for that conversation, because it really opened my eyes.  As we celebrate the USA’s independence, let’s also celebrate and embrace our own!

I’m Baaaaack!!

I am finally back from quite a hiatus, taken without any warning! I would like to thank all of the dedicated readers who kept coming back to check up on my posts. I don’t know who are, but I did see that there were a good number of you, so it really means a lot to me! I apologize for disappearing. I went on vacation and really thought that my travels would inspire me to post pictures of the beautiful sights I was so blessed to see and enlighten me on the different ways people around the world cope with daily stress. While I was inspired and enlightened, I was also exhausted and ended up taking a full-fledged vacation – even from the blogging that I love to do! So, my plan is to take my experiences and pictures and use them in my future posts.

Today’s picture is one of peace and serenity, which sums up one week of my recent adventures. I have decided to use this picture as a new stress relief.  When I need a break, I will take a deep breath and use this picture to remember my “happy place.”  A place I can let my mind run to when I need a break to think about quietness and happiness. I hope your summer has been a peaceful one, and if not, you can borrow my “happy place,” until you are able to take your own break and release some stress.

This  picture was taken of the Kaptan Şevket in the Mediterranean Sea from Knidos off the coast of Turkey…such a beautiful part of the world!

Making Decisions

Have you noticed that the more options we are given, the pickier we get? If you are hungry and go to a restaurant with a large menu, you spend too long being indecisive, but if the menu only had chicken or beef, you’d probably make your decision in a second. Or going to the store when you need a pair of jeans, but not being able to choose because, all of a sudden, you need a new boot cut and a new straight leg and a new skinny jean and a new boy cut. So many options make it hard for us to make a firm decision. But what’s even worse is the more we get the less appreciative we seem to be. Why is that people with less seem to be much more grateful than those with more?

I hadn’t put much thought into this until I was talking to a friend who is trying to make a difficult decision. She just came out and said “I wish I had nothing and I didn’t have a choice to make, then I would be forced to be happy with what I’m given.” I had never thought about it that way before, but it’s true. We usually find a way to be happy with what we are given, but when we get to choose what will make us happier, we can’t seem to choose which way to go. 

I had originally written this post as a stress-relief tip on being content with what we’ve been given by having the attitude of a “poor man.”  I was ready to post it, yesterday, but, ironically, I was put to the test, first. I ended up having to make my own choice, and believe me, it was a petty one. But, because I am me, this little decision turned into the biggest ordeal. I didn’t end up posting to my blog, yesterday, because I wanted to see what I would learn from my own experience. So what did I learn? Well, first I learned that things are much easier said than done! But I think we all know that one! But, I learned to go with the decision that made me happier.  The “right” option is not always going to make you happy, but if the one that makes you happy can be “right” then go for it. Where the line seems to get obscure for me is where it is right for me and where it is right for others.  One of my biggest lessons in my blogging journey is learning to worry for myself as I worry for others and take care of myself as I would take care of others.

I feel very fortunate and blessed to live the life I do and for what I have been given, but that doesn’t change the fact that the smallest choices seem to play such a significant role in my approach towards happiness. I do not think I’m the only one in this position, which is why I feel brave enough to post this to the public.  Hopefully, we can embrace an “attitude of gratitude,” when looking at what we’ve been given, and when it comes to making choices for ourselves, hopefully we can embrace an “attitude of self-gratitude” and think about our own happiness.

At the end of the day, remember that the choice you do make was made for a reason, and there will be good in that plan. “Be content with what God has given you, and you will be the richest of people.”

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