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. 

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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!

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day. A day in which most people spend shopping, with family, at barbecues and celebrating the beginning of summer, but often forgetting that today is a holiday commemorating the lives of Americans who died at war.

Many people are out visiting graveyards and memorials to remember those who died for a cause, who fought for their country, and who died as heroes. As a proud American, I extend my condolences to those who have lost loved ones in war, and I am proud of my fellow Americans who died for something they believed in and fought with bravery at their own will.

Just as these brave Americans chose to fight for their country, many people around Africa and the Middle East are bravely standing in the streets to peacefully demand freedom, democracy, and justice in their homelands.  These brave civilians are also fighting for their country, so the next generations can experience a life of opportunity and a life worth living.

At the same time, we’ve seen the devastating natural forces all around the world – from the tornadoes ripping through the southern US states, the earthquakes in South America, the tsunamis and earthquakes in Asia, the flooding all around the world – killing thousands of people.  This year has been a pretty intense year in terms of natural catastrophes and political upheavals.

On this Memorial Day, while my heart, respect and gratitude are with my fellow Americans, I also extend my thoughts and prayers to those who have died either for a cause or by a natural cause. May their souls rest in peace and may their lives always be remembered.

Listen to Bob

The one common thread I share with my 3 siblings is our love for Bob Marley (well, that and the common understanding of the growing pains we’ve been scarred by).  The four of us are very different in regards to social interests, music interests, even our views on spirituality…but we can all agree on Bob. If the 4 of us can appreciate him, I think most people can.  And my assumption is confirmed by the fact that today, 30 years after his death, he lives on – on people’s walls and t-shirts, radio stations, and remixed versions of his original songs. I think today, being the 30th anniversary of his death, is a good day to share some of Bob Marley’s philosophy.  He was a peace lover and a social activist, who spoke to the world as one race.  You can see his ideals in his lyrics, which can apply to so many lessons in life. I think everyone can appreciate at least one of his songs, and apply these lyrics to an aspect in your life:

Personal Growth – “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds, have no fear for atomic energy.”  (Redemption Song)

Human Rights – “…I know you don’t know what life is really worth, it’s not all that glitters is gold, half the story has never been told, so now you see the light, stand up for your rights, get up stand up, don’t give up the fight.” (Get Up, Stand Up)

Change – (whether political, social or individual) – “It takes a revolution to make a solution.” (Revolution)

One Mankind – “Have pity on those whose chances grow thinner, there ain’t no hiding place from the Father of Creation…One love, One heart, let’s get together and feel alright. I’m pleading to mankind…” (One Love)

Attitude towards life – “Rise up this morning, smiled with the risin’ sun, three little birds pitch by my doorstep, singing sweet songs of melodies pure and true, sayin..this is my message to you… ‘don’t worry bout a thing, cause every little thing gonna be all right.” (Three Little Birds)

I hope everyone is singing by now, because the lyrics are one thing, but they are even more powerful with the music. 

With so many articles written about Bob Marley, today, I learned that the national motto of Jamaica is “Out of many comes one.” Bob Marley truly lived by this motto, which may be one of the many reasons he is considered by Jamaicans to be a national hero.  But he is not only remembered by Jamaicans, he is also an international legend and a world-recognized musician.  Let’s relieve our stress by remembering Bob and listening to him, today. Whether you feel the need to be inspired by his words or relaxed by the beat, there is no doubt that Bob Marley’s music can be a stress reliever.

Do Some Research

I’m sorry for the slow start to this week…I think I wrote about 15 drafts on Monday, but I couldn’t seem to get my thoughts straight. I felt the need to comment on the death of Bin Laden and the deaths of Ghaddafi’s son and grandchildren, but I was at a loss for words. I realized that talking about death, no matter how celebratory for most it may be, is not something I enjoy discussing. I’ve also realized just how much I dislike discussing politics.  Since the “Arab Spring” began, I feel that most of my conversations revolve around politics. This weekend, I was at a British wedding (not the Royal one :)) and all people wanted to discuss with me, as a Syrian-American, was politics. Although I studied politics for 6 years, the truth is, I simply have no interest in touching upon nor debating sensitive subjects.  I was going to title this blog “Stay out of Politics,” but I realized that I may stay out of it socially, but I love to read about it while I am by myself.

So, what I will say, today, is “do some research.” Too many of us have differing opinions and beliefs, and I think that everyone, as long as they are aware of a situation, has the right to believe what they want, as wrong as others may find that to be.  Someone recently asked me how we are supposed to know “the truth” or what is really going on.  I said that we can’t.  I have family in Syria, and I still can’t get an accurate account of what is happening there. All I know is that people are dying, and it’s barely a priority on most news agendas.  There is no way we can find out the truth from only watching or reading the news, but at the same time, direct sources aren’t always an option either. All news stations have their own platforms, so it is up to us to do our own research and formulate our own opinions of what is going on in the world. Because we find so many conflicting news stories, I believe it’s best if we expand our sources and read from around the world – Haaretz, NYTimes, BBC, AlJazeera, Fox, etc.  I personally enjoy reading the Op-Ed section of newspapers.  Whether I completely agree or disagree with what the person is saying, at least I know it’s an opinion – nothing claiming to be fact.  Find a journalist you respect and read their opinion, maybe you’ll find that it answers many of the questions you have. 

Regardless of what your opinion on political matters may be, I do encourage everyone to “read all about it.”  I believe it is important to educate ourselves so that we know what is going on in our nation and abroad.  Plus, if you happen to end up at a foreign wedding, it will be nice to answer questions that may arise in a political discussion between you and the other guests. 😉

Embrace Other Cultures

This past Saturday I went to a party to celebrate the upcoming marriage of two great friends. The bride has a French mother and a Lebanese father and the groom has an Iranian-Turkish mother and an American father. I cannot tell you how diverse this party was, with all the relatives and friends of both of these families – not to mention the groom’s cousin (Chinese-Iranian-Turkish) and his wife (Iraqi-American) and their families! I was already thinking about how beautiful it is to see so many people from so many different places all gathered at a French-themed cocktail party (in Texas), when one of the waiters asked me if I was Italian. I told him I am not, and we started talking about where we were from, so another waiter chimed in and said “Who cares. We are all one anyway – one human culture, one world.” It was the perfect way to define what I was thinking that night. 

 All of us grew up with our own culture, and I’m pretty sure all of us come from an ethnocentric one – at least I know I do! But, the truth is, as much as I love my culture and love the people I can share that with, my greatest friendships are not those I share a culture with but those I share a greater bond with. I find the least judgment, the least criticism and the most affection from these people. My best friends come from all over the world, and their spouses come from even further parts of the world…when you put all of us in a room you could think it was a UN meeting. So, it’s important to embrace other cultures and find a truer connection with someone. Instead of focusing on the things your families have in common, share your family’s background with someone, and establish a relationship based on what you can bring from your culture to someone else’s. I was talking about it with my friend, and she said it so well “Love transcends cultures.” It’s so true.

Say a Little Prayer

I’m sorry I’m late to post, today, but it’s been a crazy morning. On top of that, my CNN iPhone alert just kept giving me bad news, so it also put a little damper on the morning. So, today, my blog will be short and sweet. I just want people to stop for a moment, if you have a minute, and pray (whatever your form of prayer may be) for yourself and for those around the world that are suffering. We have nature’s forces wiping out populations and governments authorizing the mass murders of civilians. Whatever the disaster may be, people are struggling and fighting for their lives, and I hope that we will soon experience a settling storm. I know it’s usually in the holiday season that we send out messages for “Peace on Earth and Goodwill for Mankind”…but that’s my prayer for today. I also hope that each of us can learn to pray for our own inner peace, as that is truly where it all starts.