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Aida Murad

Is Love in a Marriage the Ultimate Kind of Love?: Day 32 of 365 Days of Love

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Is Love in a Marriage the Ultimate Kind of Love?: Day 32 of 365 Days of Love

Contributed by: Anonymous woman

Story from: Canada

When I was a kid, I fell in love with the idea of marriage and of having a husband. I truly thought marriage equals love and love is marriage. And that's all the love I'll ever need to feel whole.


As I grew into a teenager and an adult I daydreamed of myself waiting for my future husband in our future home wearing a sexy dress with perfect hair, skin and makeup while also having a meal prepared on our future dining table. I fell in love with that idea.

I was preparing myself to be a perfect wife.

I learned how to cook, I searched for the best ways to please my future husband in bed and I searched for sexy outfits to wear. I also made sure I always dressed modestly and looked like a perfect innocent girl while I was out in the world. I didn't talk to too many guys because my future husband wouldn't be happy with it. I saved my intimate self, my virginity and made sure I was pure for him. That's all I focused on as a teenager and in my early 20's. I was ready and determined that getting married and having kids were my ultimate goals in life.

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It's not until I actually got married that I realized how stupid and naive it was for me to build myself to be the perfect wife instead of me building myself to be the best version of myself. I didn't love myself. I was full of insecurities. I was defined by how people, specifically men, perceived me.

When I got married, I was on full service duty. I did everything and enjoyed it. I acted dumb. I acted cute. I acted sexy. I just did everything I thought men would like. I was obedient. I listened and did not argue. I followed directions without thinking. I stayed small and didn't cause any trouble. Even with me basically being a servant, my husband didn't seem happy and was becoming more disconnected and distant everyday . I felt like something was missing.

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WHAT WAS MISSING?


I eventually found out that my husband was having extra marital affairs and my life CRUMBLED! How could this be? How? I prepared for this man almost all my life. I prepared myself to be the best goddamn wife a man can ever ask for. How can he do this? My heart broke and shattered to pieces. My whole reality was shook. Why was I told all my life since I was a kid that I needed to be a perfect girl so that I’m marriage material.



Why was the whole focus of my growth to be the best wife?

Why wasn't I told to pursue my dreams?

To love myself?

To enjoy life?

Why was I told that I had to save myself for this one man?



I wasn't allowed to travel or do a lot of things until I got married. What kind of life is that? Why do some parents teach their daughters that their only goal in life is to get married, have kids and take care of their homes? To strive to serve and please? What happens to us girls/women? We eventually lose ourselves. We wake up years later questioning where our time has gone? And what have we done with all that time and with ourselves?

*          *          * 

Now that I am years away from the traumatic experience of infidelity, I can say that God put me in that position to teach me a lesson. And that lesson is:


I am not on this earth to serve people. Losing yourself in someone else isn't love. The only love that will never hurt is the love of God and love of thyself.


I learned the hard way that I needed to love myself and needed to take care of myself. That I needed to have my own ambitions, own goals, and own opinions. It's okay for me to fight for what I want. It's okay for me to speak up. It's okay for me to advocate for myself.

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It took hard work to get to where I am today. I will no longer disrespect myself. I will no longer hate myself. I will no longer act dumb. I will no longer SHUT UP. I will no longer be taken advantage of. I am a woman with a voice. I am a powerful woman. I am a women with passion, ambition and goals. I believe in myself more than I ever have. This heartbreak made me put myself on a pedestal above anyone else in my life because without taking care of me and making myself whole, I don't have much to offer this world.

With all that said, learning self love and compassion has healed me, lots of work from both sides and personal development. I am still married to the man that hurt me and we have never been happier.


Don't ever lose yourself.

Don't ever live your life for someone else.

Don't ever prepare yourself for someone that you'll meet in the future.

Work on yourself to become the person that you would be proud of in the future.

Love yourself because to be honest, you can't love anyone more than you love yourself. If you want to deeply love the people around you, then you must first deeply fall in love with yourself.



With Love,

Anonymous  


Hi Everyone!

This is Aida, Founder of 365 Days of Love <3

First, a big thank you to the inspiring woman for sharing her story. This story hit my heart so deeply I teared multiple times because for many years I thought my purpose and my self needs to be molded into making my future man happy and I forgot myself along the way. As this beautiful woman says you . are . enough. Love yourself first. then all else will follow.

Second a big thank you to YOU for reading this and taking the time to care for yourself, your heart and your life. If you enjoyed this and have a story or thoughts on love that you would like to share please get in touch (button below). We have 333 more articles to share and we hope to hear from you!

SUBSCRIBE/SHARE HERE.

LETS INVEST IN LOVE ONE STORY AT A TIME TOGETHER.

With Lots of Love,

Aida








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Home Is and Love Is Too: Day 29 of 365 Days of Love

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Home Is and Love Is Too: Day 29 of 365 Days of Love

Contributed by: Razan Abu Sharia

Get to know her on Instagram

Story from: Washington DC, USA/ Amman, Jordan

Traveling from Jordan to DC for my very first time, I have met a lot of new people from diverse backgrounds that own unique mindsets. Two months passed and I don’t know how this happened, but I love has seemed to be the center of many conversations i’ve had. We all seem to have been confronting the thought of love together, ultimately searching for the meaning of it. 

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And I thought of it, once, twice, and more, trying to understand and question my ideology of Love. 


One thing I always knew is that love has no rules, nor time. 

 

Love for me has always meant waiting. Waiting and not settling for anything less. I’ve known that I will never be able to control love, but that it will always come on its own without having me put in the effort. It just will be.

 

Over time the questions i’ve asked was is love a matter of effort? A matter of fate? Or a matter of self-love before anything else?


These conversations have passed with the days, until I oddly remembered them again in a museum that had nothing to do with love. Visiting the National Museum of American Indians, and reading the word “home” over and over again, I have been questioning how fascinating the idea of our longing for home is. It made me see how “home” is interconnected with “love”, and how we grow up searching for both equally. 

 

The struggle to find that home seemed very similar to the struggle to find the love we long for. 

 

Love is the house, home, or place we are always in search for. It is that picture in our head of a perfect rigid juxtaposition of two souls. Home comes in different sizes when love does too. Home is there to accommodate more than one soul when love does too. Home is the escape when nothing is okay when love is too. Home is what keeps our secrets when love does too. Home is the stability that reflects its shine during the day when love does too. Home is where our personal language and state of mind is made when love is too. 

A glimpse of lands from my home, Jordan

A glimpse of lands from my home, Jordan

Love is what you look for when you are away from home, when home is also what you look for when you are away from home. Love is the meaning you give to any home, when home is also the meaning you give to love. Love is what you escape when you do not feel like home, and when your heart is flipping from left to right, when home is also what you escape when you do not feel like love. Love is what creates us, when home is what brings us to life before love. Love is not concrete, but abstract, when home is not concrete but abstract too. Love is a feeling when home is too. Home is not a place, it is a feeling.  

Me during a hike in my home country

Me during a hike in my home country

 An inspiring saying by Yasmin Mogahed is how the word “qalb” in Arabic meaning “heart” in English literally means something of that which turns or flips. It is very similar to how the concept of “home” is. Humans are always in search for that “home”, even when they’re in a home, they are in search of another home. We are never stable, and so is love. 

 

To understand such dilemma, we have to accept the power of “change” and how it is not always linked to a negative transformation in our lives.

Temporariness is the reality of things.

Hence, this is how our heart works. It flips and turns around every now and then, and this is why we as humans are always struggling in finding that “balance” in life. Love comes from here. It is the school of patience, compromise, and acceptance. But, before starting to search for these three in the other person, we’ll have to find it in ourselves. 

 

What we invest in ourselves brings home back to its place, just like it brings back love too.


Hi Everyone!

This is Aida, Founder of 365 Days of Love <3

First, a big thank you to the inspiring woman Razan for sharing her story.

Second a big thank you to YOU for reading this and taking the time to care for yourself, your heart and your life. If you enjoyed this and have a story or thoughts on love that you would like to share please get in touch (button below). We have 336more articles to share and we hope to hear from you!

SUBSCRIBE/SHARE HERE.

LETS INVEST IN LOVE ONE STORY AT A TIME TOGETHER.

With Lots of Love,

Aida

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Poem On Connecting Parallel Universes: Day 27 of 365 Days of Love

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Poem On Connecting Parallel Universes: Day 27 of 365 Days of Love

Contributed by: Alec Hansen

Story from: Tunisia

Poem On Connecting Parallel Universes

 

Their hearts beat more slowly

he folds his limbs into hers, collapsing. 

His warm belly fits snugly into 

the small of her back.

 

The space opens to them.

They run, skitter, and throw themselves in to each rounded curve, exploring every sunny nook, seeking the warmest, coziest places for their games.

 

Stroking, caressing, his palm comes to rest 

on the curve of her calf. A forearm 

becomes a corset

enveloping her breasts. 

 

Elven children or fairies – who can say?  In twos, threes and more they mingle and jostle one another, elated in the pure bright energy around them. 

 

Fingertips brush her damp lips, feather-light; gently 

smushing them askew as movement 

gives way to languor.

                                                                                             

Look!  There’s a perfect spot!  their gay mirth spills through the rounded contours of the new space. 

 

His warmth suffuses her. She feels 

safe, met and honored.

Her wanton thrusts of moments before

now rewarded by sweet, tender embrace from behind. 

 

Finding warm glow in a cranny, or draped along smooth ledges, they flow into pools of innocent touch. 

 

Impossible to resist sleep, her every limb and cell

finds deep repose. Trussed in a cocoon of warm love, 

only the blush of her skin reveals the fresh life

in the still form.

 

Seeking touch, and touch and touch. Shaping love’s tangled embrace in free form. Coming to rest in the sweaty eddies of pure love, innocent mirth and solemn soulful purpose are entwined like characters in the Creator’s flowing script.

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 A few months ago, I had a dream in that sweet swoon state after making love. In the dream, these elven characters, living in a parallel universe created by our lovemaking, sought out the warm spaces where my knee was tucked behind her knee, where my arm lay on her ribs, etc…each place where we were touching, with its special character in our world, had special qualities that these innocent young ones were looking for in their world. Our coming together was more purely sexual, whereas they operated on a different plane, with a pure, beautiful, light, fun sensuality – the higher vibration of our mortal, middle-earth ecstasies. This juxtaposition fascinated me and haunted me until I took the opportunity to write it down.

– Alec Hansen, 


Hi Everyone!

This is Aida, Founder of 365 Days of Love <3

First, a big thank you to the Alec for sharing his poem. It was beautiful to see the power of creating such safe spaces in deep intimate relationships with our special partner.

Second a big thank you to YOU for reading this and taking the time to care for yourself, your heart and your life. If you enjoyed this and have a story or thoughts on love that you would like to share please get in touch (button below). We have 338 more articles to share and we hope to hear from you!

SUBSCRIBE/SHARE HERE.

LETS INVEST IN LOVE ONE STORY AT A TIME TOGETHER.

With Lots of Love,

Aida

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Who Does the Cooking: Day 25 of 365 Days of Love

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Who Does the Cooking: Day 25 of 365 Days of Love

Contributed by: Sumayya Tobah, Freelance journalist

Get to know her on Twitter/instagram

Story from: Washington DC, USA





Who does the cooking?




I really couldn’t tell you why, but the past couple of weeks I’ve only been able to watch documentaries.

I recently watched one called “RBG” on Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second female supreme court justice and the litigator who truly broke through sex discrimination in the United States.

Her work cannot be diminished in this day and age.

Being a journalist in Washington DC and an avid scholar of the women’s rights movement in the United States, I was very familiar with her work in the courtroom.

Photo from  Kevin Drum

Photo from Kevin Drum

What came as a total surprise to me was the more personal aspect of Justice Ginsberg’s life. Her relationship with her home, her husband and her children.

Ruth Bader met Marty Ginsburg when she was seventeen. She said of her then eighteen year old husband, “he was the first boy I had ever met who cared I had a brain.”  Ruth would marry Marty while they were both pursuing undergraduate degrees at Cornell University and when she started studying law at Harvard, she had a fourteen month old baby and Marty was diagnosed with cancer.

She found a way to:

study law and

be at the top of her class while also

raising her daughter and

caring for her husband.

And when Marty thankfully recovered and was hired at a New York firm, she completed her degree at Columbia University.

In the documentary, Ruth speaks at length about how her home life offered a kind of sanctuary from her hectic life in law school and how it was a natural decision to follow her husband to New York. Later, when she would be offered a job as a judge in the US court of appeals for the District of Columbia. Marty made it clear that Ruth had carried the brunt of the house work while he was sick, and now it was his turn to be supportive of his wife’s career.

And even though this happened in 1993, it struck me how progressive this was, and how naturally Marty Ginsburg came to that conclusion.

Even though I’m a millennial and I was raised by an incredibly empowered mother and empowering father, I still felt the pressure to succumb to certain gender norms when I got married. When I announced my engagement, everyone assumed I would be moving up to Canada, where my husband was working at the time. And when it became clear he would be making the move down to Washington DC, I had girls who I had never traded two words with message me for my secret: how did you get your husband to move down for you?

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And while I knew these type of comments didn’t have an impact on my then fiance, after the sixth or seventh conversation, I started to wonder, was I doing marriage wrong?

It became clear incredibly fast that gender norms had no place in the home we created together.

My husband was practically raised in a restaurant and has been around food all his life. He loves it, nothing makes him happier. On top of that, he has an iron-clad relationship with his grandmother, who’s instagram would make Gordon Ramsay froth at the mouth. Her food has a reputation for being the best without fail. So when we got married and it became clear I didn’t know my pizza from my manousheh, it became just another way we differed from a typical relationship. And it took me a long time to be comfortable with that. There are still days I watch my husband work away in the kitchen and I wonder, am I a bad wife?

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So when I was watching the documentary on Justice Ginsburg over the weekend, a particular sound bite really hit home.

Marty Ginsburg and Justice Ginsburg were sitting together at a panel event, being peppered with questions from fans and someone asked, “how much advice do you give each other?”

The couple looked at each other, holding in laughter and Marty said, “as a general rule, my wife does not give me any advice on cooking, and I do not give her any advice about the law. This seems to work quite well on both sides.” The audience bursts with laughter. And in that moment, I saw something from my relationship reflected not only in another marriage, but in one of the most celebrated relationships in American political history.


It made my heart full in a way I can’t begin to describe.

There is no one way to have a marriage.


My husband did not follow me. He’s not a puppy. I did not have to negotiate our living situation. Marriage is a give and take and at this moment, my career required that I stay in DC. My husband supported me and was open to the challenge of living in a new city. He supports me, and in the future, should he need my support, he would have it without asking.

I have heard practically from the day we got engaged how unusual and atypical my relationship is. It used to chip away at the security I once felt but now, I understand a simple truth. There is no one way to have a successful marriage. There is no one way to have a successful relationship. If your relationship is accepting, and loving and safe, why should it matter who does the cooking?

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Hi Everyone!

This is Aida, Founder of 365 Days of Love <3

First, a big thank you to the inspiring woman Sumayya for sharing her story. It was such a beautiful reminder of the need to take a step back to assess the gender norms and pressures we put on our relationships.

Second a big thank you to YOU for reading this and taking the time to care for yourself, your heart and your life. If you enjoyed this and have a story or thoughts on love that you would like to share please get in touch (button below). We have 341 more articles to share and we hope to hear from you!

SUBSCRIBE/SHARE HERE.

LETS INVEST IN LOVE ONE STORY AT A TIME TOGETHER.

With Lots of Love,

Aida

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Why is it so hard to write about Love? Day 24 of 365 Days of Love

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Why is it so hard to write about Love? Day 24 of 365 Days of Love

For the past 24 days since I launched 365 Days of Love, I received 40+ messages from people in the USA, Jordan, Indonesia, UAE, India etc and more countries saying they are unable to write about love. They sit in front of the computer with every intention to write but they get writers block and nothing comes out.

Isn’t this odd for many individuals to encounter when love is probably one of the most used words and one of the top things we search for (in whatever form that may be). After diving in deeper with the people who were unable to write it, we uncovered it was because of the deep vulnerabilities and insecurities they have buried deep, deep, deep down. Facing that blank page to fill it with something that has much meaning to a person can be difficult especially if it has not turned the way you want it today.

Sourced from  The New York Times

Sourced from The New York Times

As I began writing this article I typed in google “how to write about love” and the first article that came up was How We Write About Love by Daniel Jones published in 2015. His words reminded me of the deep differences between men and women showing both the faults and strengths in both (of course generalizing here). He also shares how people who have completely embraced themselves have found it easy to write about love.

So before I leave you with my favorite gems from his article, I conclude with saying that it is your inner state that dictates the outer state in all aspects including writing.

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Love stories are full of romantic delusion, idealizing love to an unhealthy degree. But in the accounts I see, men and women delude themselves in opposite directions.

A woman is more likely to believe her romantic ideal awaits somewhere in the future, where her long-held fantasy becomes a flesh-and-blood reality.

A man’s romantic ideal typically exists somewhere in the past in the form of an actual person he loved but let go of, or who got away. And he keeps going back to her in his mind, and probably also on Facebook and Instagram, thinking, “What if?”



Women and men may feel love similarly, but they write about it differently.

A lot of men’s stories seem tinged by regret and nostalgia. They wish previous relationships hadn’t ended or romantic opportunities hadn’t slipped away. They lament not having been more emotionally open with lovers, wives, parents and children.

Women are more inclined to write with restlessness. They want to figure love out. Many keep mental lists of their expectations, detailing the characteristics of their hoped-for partner with alarming specificity and then evaluating how a new romantic interest does or doesn’t match that type.



It seems the harder we work at finding love, the more prone we are to second-guessing the results. High-volume online daters worry about this, along with those who routinely attend singles events.

The fear is we may force things or compromise after pushing so hard for so long. We may admire hard work in most endeavors, but we admire laziness when it comes to finding love. (If you manage to stay together over the long haul, however, it will be because of effort, not chance.)
— Daniel Jones

If you find yourself unable to write about love then dig deeper and get to know yourself more because something inside is lurking that you haven’t recognized or dealt with. Deal with it today, not tomorrow as life is too short living uncomfortable with your skin and not being able to love is the same as being uncomfortable in your own skin.

With Lots of Love,

Aida

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Kahlil Gibran on Marriage: Day 17 of 365 Days of Love

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Kahlil Gibran on Marriage: Day 17 of 365 Days of Love

On Day 13 we shared Kahlil Gibran’s poem on Love. On Day 16 (yesterday) we received a story from India that quoted Kahlil Gibran’s poem on Marriage which only made it appropriate to share the full poem for today that discusses the difficult balance of intimacy and independence which he views as the secret to a loving and lasting relationship. Kahlil’s words are truly timeless and I hope they move you as they have moved me, Suvarchala (day 16 writer) and millions around the word.

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.


Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.


Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
— Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Kahil’s drawing on Marriage

Kahil’s drawing on Marriage

With Love,

Aida

P.S If you have a story to share please get in touch. We are looking for writers, thinkers, people who love love from around the world! Send me a note here.

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Grandmother, The Center of Love: Day 15 of 365 Days of Love

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Grandmother, The Center of Love: Day 15 of 365 Days of Love

Contributed by: Heather Lane Chauny

Get to know Heather: who is an connector, cheer leader and coach

Story from: Michigan, USA



In Africa, people continuously pay homage and respect to those that came before them. Worship of the ancestors, is more than a ceremony, it is a way of life. This spirit of Ubuntu "I am because you are" reverberates throughout daily life. Even the formal greeting in isi-zulu, "Sanibonani",which literally translates to "we see you," is meant as "my ancestors and I acknowledge you and your ancestors."

I was fortunate enough to live and grow up with three generations of ancestors. Through the first 25 years of my life, my Great-Nonna played a formative role, which is very unique to most families. This gave me and my cousins a very strong sense of who we are and from where we came.

Amidst a culture of self-centered independence and greed, we were raised with the distinct understanding that each and every opportunity in our lives is the result of the decisions and actions of our ancestors, even those we never had the chance to know in our lifetimes, thanks to the stories of my Great-Nonna who filled our lives with never dying stories of love.
Me and my family that fuels me with love every day (in the one in the light blue shirt)

Me and my family that fuels me with love every day (in the one in the light blue shirt)

It was with great courage and hope that our Great-Nonna, at the age of 19 boarded a ship in Italy for the United States of America to join her new husband in the land of opportunity. This young woman, who had never seen Rome, never touched the sea, said good-bye to her village of Supino and everything she knew to make a better life for herself and her family. I like to imagine the look on her face as the ship approached New York Harbor. Seeing the people gathered, more people than she had probably collectively seen in her life until then, overshadowed by immense sky scrapers rising from the horizon along with the clangs and whistles of the bustling city.

 

The excitement and relief as she disembarked from the ship, where she spent three weeks in third class quarters, green with sea-sickness since day one of the journey. The elation as she ran into my Great-Nonno's arms with their one-year old son, who he had not yet met, joyfully crying:

Rocco, il bambino tuo!

I loved it when she told me the story of great disappointment, when after spending a day in New York City with her cousin Rita, who took her to the many shops to buy a new dress (it had red polka-dots), she boarded a carriage for Burgettstown, PA, where my Great-Nonno was a coal miner. She said that when the carriage pulled into town on the dirt road, covered in horse manure, she yelled at my Great-Nonno,

Rocco, there’s-a shit onna the road-a! I’m-a goin-a back -a to Italy, there’s-a shit onna the road-a there TOO!

Her musical Italian accent, made the story even more humorous. I pictured the sight of this poor young lady, who had just spent three weeks vomiting over the side of a ship, leaving her family and friends in Supino for "the land of opportunity," only to end up right back where she started: a small farming town in the middle of nowhere.

But it was in that small farming town, where my family was born. It was at that moment that one of the two main lines of my existence took form. My cousins and I are very aware of the fact that every opportunity in our lives stems from those moments. My sense of adventure and desire to know the world came from that desire in my ancestors to take a chance at a life in a completely foreign land, so that they could do more with their lives

My sister and I visiting Great Nonna’s hometown

My sister and I visiting Great Nonna’s hometown

My thirst for knowledge was born in my Great-Nonna's desire to go beyond a third grade education that she completed at top of her class. She would re-tell the story with great pride of “the big-a shot-a from Fresinone" who came to Supino to pin her with a gold star for academic excellence. It was the last time she would step foot in a classroom as a student, because her mother didn't believe in educating girls and she had work to do on the farm.

Because of that, with every advancement in our schooling levels, she would send a card with a $5 check to go and buy a pizza. Now her great-great grandson (whom she knew and watched grow until he was five is graduating from high school as the valedictorian of his class. I bet if she were still alive she'd think of that gold star she received as a young girl and know that this moment for Justin had much to do with her intellectual curiosity and encouragement.

She had the fortune of watching her family flourish throughout her life. Knowing that the sacrifices she made and the risks she took led to more than her wildest dreams could have imagined for her family and the opportunities we have all enjoyed.

One of many beautiful memories

One of many beautiful memories

It was a rainy day in the autumn of 2002 when I got the call from my Nonna. The assertive and self-confident (and often self-righteous) voice that never waivered, was filled with tears and cracking as she said,

 

"Heather, Nonna isn't going to make it. My mama is dying." 

 

"I'm coming, Nonna."

 

I got into my car and drove the 60 minutes from Ann Arbor, where I was living at the time, to Mt. Clemens. I remember wishing that my windshield wipers worked on more than the windshield as I drove with tear-filled eyes through a tear-filled sky. "Please, let me say good-bye," I thought. I couldn't drive fast enough.

 

When I arrived to my Nonna and Nonno's house, the family had already begun to gather. All my cousins were seated in the kitchen...eating of course. My Aunt Mary Lou, Uncle Dennis, Auntie Dee-Dee and Uncle Bob were comforting my Nonna as she said her good-byes to her mother laying in the bed in the next room. My Great-Nonna was very much alert and aware and frightened by the fact that her breathing was becoming heavier and harder. Her lungs were giving out from 97 years of use.

 

My mom and Ray were on the way, as was my sister. The great-great grandchildren, the youngest was six-months old at the time, were unsure of what to feel or do, as they watched with frightened curiosity, the older generations' group despair. We took turns going in her room to say good-bye. I went in with my cousins Laura and Gina. We held her hands as she looked at us, we told her we loved her and thanked her for everything she had done for us...that we would never forget her. She blinked a smile and nodded, as if to say “Nonna, loves you too." Then we left the room to go back into the kitchen, finish our biscotti and coffee and wait.

 

My mom and Ray finally arrived, as did my sister. Everyone was now together hugging and comforting each other. Knowing that we were experiencing the end of an era. Not five minutes later, my Nonna cried in anguish from the next room, "Mama! Oh, Mama!" Like a whispering wind gently blowing out a candle, she took her last breath and...poof, she was gone.

 

All four remaining generations of the Zuccaro clan piled into the room to pay our final respects and say our prayers of thanks and gratitude to our matriarch.

 

My cousins and I bowed our heads holding each others' hands. Evan, the two year old great-great grandson was at the foot of her bed making the sign of the cross repeatedly while holding a rosary, mimicking the prayers of the adults, "A-men! A-men! A-men!" he repeated. We couldn't help but chuckle, as he tried to convey the sadness he saw around him, but not really understanding why. Parker the six-month old great-great grandson was laid resting peacefully on his Great-Great Nonna's chest, both their eyes closed. 

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From end to beginning, beginning to end, the family she made was there to thank her and say their good-byes. And while I had not yet travelled to South Africa to know what it was, I felt strongly the spirit of Ubuntu as I looked at my Great-Nonna lying in the bed so peacefully, her lips curled into a restful smile and I thought to myself;

 

We are, because you were...

 


Hi Everyone!

This is Aida, Founder of 365 Days of Love <3

First, a big thank you to Heather for sharing her story. It was such a beautiful reminder how love stems not only from your partners but from your family members and especially your grand mother. It was also a beautiful reminder of the sacrifice our family members have taken in order for us to just to be alive and to have the chance to love. This story inspired me to call my grandmother, something I definitely should do more often.

Second a big thank you to YOU for reading this and taking the time to care for yourself, your heart and your life. If you enjoyed this and have a story or thoughts on love that you would like to share please get in touch (button below). We have 350 more articles to share and we hope to hear from you!

SUBSCRIBE/SHARE HERE.

LETS INVEST IN LOVE ONE STORY AT A TIME TOGETHER.

With Lots of Love,

Aida

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I met the man of my dreams. Twice: Day 5 of 365 Days of Love

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I met the man of my dreams. Twice: Day 5 of 365 Days of Love

Welcome to 365 days of love! If you’ve been following the daily stories, welcome back! If this is your first time reading, amazing to have you and welcome! Here is the brief introduction to what we are doing here, but essentially I (and hopefully you by sharing your stories) are sharing one story a day for the next year(365 to be exact) to show incredible ways we could meet the love of our life as well as share insights on the thing we all crave the most as humans - Love. Why? Because we want to be the people who invest in possibilities rather than impossibilities (as well as increase the amount of love in our lives).

Every story would fall in one of the following categories (the category in bold is the one that we will discuss today):

  1. Fictional story of where we could have met someone today (fostering the mindset of possibility)

  2. Factual story of a love story (inspiring us from real life stories)

  3. Insights/thoughts about love

LETS SEE WHAT LOVE HAS IN STORE FOR US TODAY - DAY 5 OF 365 DAYS. LETS KICK THIS OFF!

-Aida


Contributed by: Sumayya Tobah, Freelance journalist

Get to know her on Twitter/instagram: @thisissumayya


I met my dream man. Twice.


The first time I met the man I would go on to marry, I was 22 years old, about to go on to a post-graduate degree and living a sham of a life. We met on a sunny October afternoon (4 years ago to be exact), and I think I knew right away that he was the man I wanted to marry, but our engagement would last only a few months before ending the following summer.  

We didn’t know it at the time, but two years later, we would be officially celebrating our engagement.

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This story is not about my engagement per se. It’s about what happened after that failed first attempt, and what I had to go through before we found our way back to each other again. Because while it may sound incredibly dramatic, during the two years we were apart, my life literally flipped upside down. The life of Sumayya Tobah was altered or reversed in every aspect, in one way or another.  

You see, when we called off our engagement the first time, I was incredibly unhappy. I knew, I knew in my heart that this was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. And yet, due to so many factors beyond my control, we fell apart. But as time ticked on -- one day later, one week later, one month later -- and I was still unhappy, I decided I needed a change.

Not a change. I needed a revolution.


First thing I did, I changed my setting. Literally.

I left the small Canadian town that had been my home for about eight years, and moved to Washington D.C. to work full time as a journalist covering the 2016 election. I left with two suitcases of sweaters, a couple of hijabs and a serious chip on my shoulder. I was fully prepared to embrace this new chapter of my life and become the person I had been dreaming of. And in doing that, I was trying to accept that my future might not include a significant other.

Journalists are notorious for having no personal lives. Going into my career I was so sure I would be in it alone. I was working 14 hour days, obsessed with the DC scene and desperately trying to break into the world here. But I was ecstatic. For the first time in my life, I had chosen my own home.

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The next thing I did was clear my life of any and all toxic relationships.

Some of this happened naturally but most was completely conscious. As soon as I moved out to DC on my own, I stopped having a lot in common with my friends back in Canada. Why would I care about small town gossip? I didn’t want to hear about so-and-so engagement or whats-her-name’s breakdown. I was worried about paying rent. I was overwhelmed with the news cycle. I did not fit into the mold that these girls were used to. And I was sick of the bullshit.

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There is absolutely nothing wrong with cutting out people in your life who are fake, who do not understand your purpose, who make you unhappy. While my friendships lasted since high school, they were empty. For years I had been feeling restless and unsatisfied by empty conversations and shallow people. But looking around at fifteen, at nineteen, at twenty-one, I remember asking myself, who do I have to turn to? what choice to I have?

Well, I had a choice now.

I truly believe a person’s friends is a representation of who they are. I was looking at the girls who were in my life at the time and I thought, is that how I want to speak? How I want to represent myself? How I want to be thought of?

Which is probably how I came to the realization that I didn’t really know myself.

So I re-centered myself.

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In a new city, without any of my former friends, I found myself facing silence. Literal silence. It was the uninvited guest waiting in my apartment every night when I returned from the bustling Newsroom. Growing up in a big family, I had never experienced silence like this. And with the exception of my family and a select few friendships, I was completely on my own. It was at this time, I began to rediscover who I was. In some ways, this was a spiritual experience; I found myself attending more faith-based events, taking more care during prayers, making sure my spiritual and mental health was taken care of.

In other ways, it was totally practical. I didn’t have anyone to go to movies with, go to dinner with, attending work functions with, so I had to learn to stand on my own. Believe me when I say this was the most terrifying and most cherished time in my life. I needed that time to travel, to work, to just breathe on my own before I was able to commit to someone else in my life.

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Looking back at that time on my own, not only did I learn who I was, I learned to diminish others’ opinions of me. Whether that was the town that never felt like home, the frienemies who were leaching off of me, or the passersby who judged as I enjoyed a meal alone. Every morning I wake up in this skin, with its scars, blemishes and imperfections. I wake up with this impossible mind and this resilient heart. I had to know it and love it inside and out before I could surrender it to another.

And so, when I met my dream man for the second time, a year later, he was exactly the same. But I was a completely changed woman.

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A big thank you to the beautiful human being, Sumayya for sharing her story and a few of the many lessons she has learnt. If you have a story or thoughts on love that you would like to share please get in touch. We have 300 more articles to share and we hope to hear from you!

Share you story here.

Follow the stories here.

With lots of love,

Aida

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The Power of Showing Up

Showing up. Take a moment to think about these two words.

Think of the number of times you showed up to things, events, meetings.. today.

Think of the number of times you showed up when you were feeling great and it was easy.

Then think of the number of times when the thought of showing up was hard, let alone doing the action of showing up itself. 


On November 1st I showed up and I proudly did so. As you may know i've struggled with severe arthritis for a number of years. I have great days and bad days. The "bad" days seem to be increasing lately and for a while I let it be a barrier to having me show up to things. But yesterday I wanted to show up to support the Jordanian American Association of DC (as I am part of the Executive Committee) to hear from an inspiring speaker, Dr. Julia Nesheiwat.  But I knew I couldn't go in flats or heels because of the arthritis in my feet. 

I was nervous about showing up to the IMF (a large prestigious organization) in my tennis shoes when I knew everyone would be in their heels. I was nervous about looking odd and was trying hard to find something professional to wear with my tennis shoes. As my nerves started building up, my frustration toward my arthritis that attacked my feet increased. I started asking God, why is it in my feet? What is it so hard to do daily simple things such as walking?  

But then I had a sudden shift in mindset. I asked myself to list the things that I can do.
  1. I know I can walk for a couple of minutes in my tennis shoes so that means I can take an Uber to the IMF.
  2. I can sit for 2 hours so that means I can attend the talk.
  3. I can speak so that means I can participate in the meeting.
  4. Finally and most importantly, I can still smile so I can do all the above while still smiling. Listing out these things made me realize how much I CAN do and it felt awesome. 

 

I said so what if I had to go with my tennis shoes. What matters is I had the courage to show up and be there. To not let a challenge over take me but to make the most of it. I happily showed up and left yesterday's meeting feeling empowered by listening to Dr. Julia's talk about her life of reinventing herself in her career that took her in unexpected journeys, and about her commitment to enriching people's lives. But what I really walked away with from her was her unapologetic attitude of her being her and of her showing up during the highs and lows of her work. Of her being comfortable in her own skin even if she was the only woman or the youngest person in the room or whatever other characteristic. She owned it and used her time and skills for something larger than herself. 

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I hope to use her example as a reminder to myself to keep on serving others, living towards something bigger than myself and to keep on showing up. 

With Love,

Aida 

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