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aida murad

Smile Because It Happened: Day 31 of 365 Days of Love

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Smile Because It Happened: Day 31 of 365 Days of Love

Contributed by: Anonymous woman (We will name her Leila for this article)

Story from: Canada

This began as a story about love. About the amazing experience that was my first time falling in love. But we ended before I had the chance to say I love you, and I agonized over the question: how can the story just end?

Eventually, I remembered the lesson that I have forgotten time and time again:

everything happens for a reason.


God has a plan, and something else is out there. Not someone, per se; rather there are life experiences and opportunities waiting for me to open the door and breathe in deeply. I will realize, in those moments, “this is what I was waiting for!” although I didn’t know I was waiting for anything.

At this point, I can’t imagine something else, but that’s why we have faith. To give us comfort in knowing that

“what was meant for me will never miss me, and what misses me was never meant for me.” To reassure us that things will always work out for the best.



Maybe, this is as much a story of faith as love.

 

*          *          *

 

I decided years ago that I would rather never marry than marry someone I didn’t love. My friend disagreed: “I would marry someone I didn’t love, if he was a good person and we were compatible. You can learn to care for someone.”

Partly, I was naïvely hopeful. I had set the bar high, and I would wait for my Prince Charming.

Partly, I was driven and independent. I had so many career interests that I knew I would be both happy and fulfilled pursuing my passions.

Partly, I was cynical about dating, relationships, love, etc. I told my parents: “I’m never getting married. Don’t ask me about boys.”

That changed one semester, when I learned to believe in love.

 

*          *          *

 

I first met him in the library at 3 AM. When he asked if I write for the school newspaper, I smiled, always pleased to be recognized from my byline. “Yes! You read the newspaper?”

My sleep-deprived brain later made the connection. The previous summer, I had written the front-page story on Mohammed Ali’s life, legacy, and passing, which was accompanied by a full-sized picture. My classmate reached out to me with this message: “My roommate has your article on his wall. He said to give you a shout-out for writing about Mohammed Ali.”

This was the roommate! My article was hanging on his wall. If that doesn’t say soul mates, I don’t know what does.

The following semester, we began seeing each other around campus. Something clicked – I can’t explain it, but we just had this amazing connection. He knew all the right things to say. He read my articles and quoted them to me. He talked about International Women’s Day.

I wanted to know him.

I am a strong independent woman, I tried to convince myself, and this is the 21stcentury. I know what I want, and I should do something about it. So I summoned all my courage and asked him out.

We went for coffee, our first date, on my birthday weekend. I was so nervous. But he made me feel comfortable. He was romantic, insisting on buying cake to celebrate my birthday. We talked like we had been waiting forever to know each other.

We entered a long-distance relationship almost immediately, as his internship took him to California when I returned to school the following month. Even so, the semester that followed was the happiest of my life. My stress levels decreased drastically. I was confident. My average improved. And I landed my dream internship.

To quote Cher from Clueless, I was “sublimely happy”. There was no space left for stress or anxiety. My heart was full.

I know that happiness comes from within, and that another person can’t give it to you. But he made me happier than I had ever imagined was possible. He made problems disappear. I felt like the world was draped in a new colour, and I basked in the glow of my emotions. It was magical, falling in love.

Still, distance took its toll.

I broke up with him. The short version of the story: I felt he could not make time for me; if this was a problem already, it would only be exacerbated with time. When we met for the first time after months, I was already upset, thinking about the possible outcome of this conversation.

We talked for a long time, and he was so good about it. He told me, “do what makes you happy.” Maybe I should have taken that as a sign – he would do anything to make me happy, including letting me go.

He let me go.

For days, I cried and watched Mamma Mia! on a loop. I didn’t eat or sleep. I remember thinking, I’ll never be able to listen to ABBA again.

By the time I stopped crying, I knew I had made the wrong decision. I knew it was my fault. I tried to talk to him, but he told me that I was right. That he can’t prioritize me. That he isn’t at a point in his life to be able to maintain a relationship.

Although I was the one to initiate the breakup, I couldn’t come to terms with it.

 

*          *          * 

It’s been two and a half months.

I considered praying istikhara, asking God to give me guidance. But istikhara should be prayed with an open mind, willing to accept any guidance. And I wasn’t ready to hear that we have no future.

Until a couple weeks ago, when I had an epiphany.



I think God gave him to me at a time in my life when I needed someone.



Last semester, I spent a lot of time by myself. I lived alone, I studied alone, and I spent Ramadan breaking my fast alone. I remember my mom saying tearfully when she dropped me off at the airport, “Call me often. I know that your friends won’t be on campus with you this term.” It was true – most of my friends were interning that summer.

But I was okay, because I had him. He was a blessing, and I was so grateful.

People come in and out of your life for a reason. I don’t need to understand why he’s gone now, because I know why he came. Although we had a short amount of time together, those months made a world of difference to me. For my school, career, mental health, self-esteem, and general happiness.

I am reminded of a Dr. Seuss quote that I have always loved:

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Now that I have gotten past the hurt, I am smiling.

With Lots of Love,

Leila*


Hi Everyone!

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

First, a big thank you to the inspiring woman Leila for sharing her story. My favorite message was how powerfully intertwined are faith and love. Thank you Leila, you are a beautiful soul and you deserve so much love in this world and I have full faith that you will get it starting with yourself.

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 334 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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While I Was Waiting For You, I Took the Time to Love Myself: Day 22 of 365 Days of Love

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While I Was Waiting For You, I Took the Time to Love Myself: Day 22 of 365 Days of Love

Contributed by: Salma Elbarmawi

Get to know Salma who is a: writer, activist and aspiring social entrepreneur. She has a special love for culture, meaningful conversations, politics and dance.

Story From: Egyptian based in London


While I Was Waiting For You, I Took the Time to Love Myself



I used to ask myself all kinds of questions about you. I wondered what you’d look like, if you’d have dark hair and gorgeous dark features. I wondered if you’d be tall, although you wouldn’t even have to hit 6 feet to tower above me.

I often asked myself if you’d be funny. If you’d make me laugh in a kind of burn in my belly sort of way, or if I’d laugh along just because I’d like you so much.

I’ve thought about conversations we’d have… and secretly I’ve had the entire back and forth dialogue between us in my own head, as I’m standing in the shower simultaneously contemplating my life choices.

I’ve thought about television shows we’d watch together, and books you’d tell me to read. I thought about the way you’d say I love you, before we go to sleep at night, or how you’ll get along with my parents and I’ll adore yours.


Photo by  Ryan Holloway  on  Unsplash

I’ve probably had thoughts about every conceivable aspect of what you’ll be like, and somehow I found it impossible to wrap my head around ever meeting you.

Recently I’ve overcome the fear. The fear of accidentally meeting you while I’m away from home, far off in a land I only planned to stay for a short while. Fear of falling in love with you while I’m still on my way to figuring out who I am.

There was a point in time when I feared I’d have to tell you I’m still unsure of what I want out of life. That I’m capable of giving love and receiving it, but incapable of committing to a single continent or career path.

Lately, the thoughts of you have shown up less in my mind, if at all. And I’ve often wondered if that’s my subconscious way of letting the idea of you go, or if that’s the universe’s subtle signal that you’re on your way to finding me.

Either way, I’m glad you haven’t shown up just yet. I needed this time.

I’ve learned to love myself in ways I didn’t think I needed to. I’ve learned to call myself beautiful with no makeup on, and wear my hair naturally curly when I’m out on the town. I’ve learned to be forgiving of my body and patient with my wants.

I’ve mastered the art of walking in heels and discovered the comforts of hiking in Nikes’. I’ve tested various shades of red on my lips, to which I can proudly proclaim I’ve mastered the science.

“black metal grill with be love ed text” by  Elijah Macleod  on  Unsplash

“black metal grill with be love ed text” by Elijah Macleod on Unsplash

I’ve discovered how much I value alone time, as much as I live and breathe a social life. I’ve even taken the time to try new foods — just to be certain that I am actually a happily self-classified picky eater.

I’ve added creative to the labels I give myself. Along with determined, relentless, loving and curious. I’ve crossed experiences off my list just to make room for new ones.

And I’ve been brave.

Not just brave in the way of independence, but brave in the form of vulnerability. I’ve started walking towards the things I thought would never be for me. The opportunities I thought I couldn’t land. The places I thought I’d have to wait a lifetime to see. I started working on my dreams rather than being mesmerized by them.

And I’m not finished.

In fact, I have to tell you — I’m just getting started.

In the way I once dreamed of you, I’m dreaming of the future I’ll create for myself. So when we finally do meet, just know, I won’t ask you what took you so long.


Hi Everyone!

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

First, a big thank you to the inspiring woman Salma for sharing her story. It was such a beautiful reminder of the need and power found in loving ourselves and building our lives not waiting for things to happen to us.

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 343 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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Summers Red Light: Day 14 of 365 Days of Love

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Summers Red Light: Day 14 of 365 Days of Love

Contributed by: Angely Khan

Get to know Angely on Instagram, Wordpress

Story from: United Kingdom (UK), originally from Pakistan


A drug, so powerful that despite your hardest effort to stay away it will pull you in.

He asked, what this drug is?

She replied, it is embedded in all of us from a young age.

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Do you have to experience love to understand love?

I don’t think you do; I may not know a lot about love. Or maybe I do, perhaps we all try to reach a level of love that only exists behind the little red camera light.

A concept lost by the mass, a concept that has lost its definition through the limbs of social media. We love only to compete. We love only to get likes. We love only to fulfill a social expectation.  

As if we can’t gain romantic success without social acceptance, as if love is bound by opinions what happened to the real kind of love, the love that consumes you–is it all fictional?

Let’s not crush teenage puppy love but seriously how many times have you sat and scrolled on your phone and seen a beautiful picture of a couple at a restaurant? But once the snap is taken the smile fades, two people supposedly in love not talking to each other. Eat. Snap. Post. Then comes the indirect status update #Hate it when people are rudeCry. Snap. Post. Craving attention from the one they love but refuse to talk, refuse to communicate the real issue, starving love–no, in fact, depriving love making it loves inaugural affair with the 21st century. 



I asked my mother to define love. She asked me,


“Define the ocean without water?” I said I couldn’t. “Exactly, people are like the ocean, deep and mysterious filled with monsters but the water, the clear sky-blue water is what makes it beautiful. The water is love.”



 Old but consistent like ancient wisdom, like the men in top-hats. 

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But what happened to the men in top-hats?  (Let’s go back in time.)

The year of jazz, rich sounds of saxophones sprinkling the air and romantic gestures roaming the streets. You’re reading the morning news, sipping coffee in a café and he walks in and asks what you’re reading, how your morning is? The conversation is like a familiar rhythm he makes you smile; he’s there to win you not to borrow you already stamping an expiration date on you. He asks you out. You say yes. 

To experience the first date– the awkward beauty in it.

Experience the first butterfly.

The first kiss.

To experience love.

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I once believed I was in love; my heart and my mind were in a compelling argument against each other. My mind convinced me that I was in love–based solely on the virtue of a checklist, ticking off: 

1.    Money

2.    House

3.    Car

4.    Looks

One by one– a checklist created by society, each of us adding to it:
                                                               5.    Height

6.    Abs

7.    Funny

8.    Smart

My heart at first whispered in opposition except I was subjugated by the list when I should have been enthralled by him. My heart eventually screamed with the opposition.  *Exhale* I finally let go.

With that said let us not allow social media the glory of imprisoning love.  Love is more than just monogamy, love is a birth-right, ‘encoded and tucked away in our DNA’.  My mother says, ‘everyone experiences love, but not everyone falls in love, love of that nature is rare.’  

A drug, so powerful that despite your hardest effort to stay away it will pull you in.

He asked, what this drug is?

She replied, it is embedded in all of us from a young age.

He asked, will you take the drug with me?

She replied, once it wears off will you still love me?

He replied, I would be a fool if I didn’t.

My parents, a love story that inspires me every day and keeps my DNA filled with love.

My parents, a love story that inspires me every day and keeps my DNA filled with love.

With Love,

Angely


Hi Everyone!

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

First, a big thank you to Angely for sharing her story. I related to her on so many levels and am inspired by depth, introspection and faith in love. I reread Angely’s mothers response on defining love probably 5 times - quite powerful.

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 351 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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Being Honest With Yourself: Day 12 of 365 Days of Love

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Being Honest With Yourself: Day 12 of 365 Days of Love

How many times did you lie to people about your desire to get married?

Let me rephrase.

How many times did you life to yourself about your desire to get married?


Yesterday I went to the movies with a few friends and the first advertisement was for engagement and wedding rings. Here you had two immediate and opposite responses:

Me: Smiling and feeling so excited to get mine because I am ready for marriage. But I do that because I am now ready to meet the man who is serious and feel full while he finds his way to me (it took time and training to be able to do that).

Friend: Ugh, this is so cheesy. I don’t even want an engagement ring.

Picture from Tiffany &amp; Co

Picture from Tiffany & Co

I quickly turned to look at her surprised because I knew that we were both ready for a serious relationship. I inquired about her response and after a few sentences exchanged, she said she actually wanted an engagement ring (she even showed me the ring she wants and it is beautiful, unique and special just like her). So what did I take away from this?

It is that many of us lie to our friends and more importantly lie to ourselves about what we really desire. There is nothing wrong in wanting to get married. There is nothing wrong in enjoying the cheesy stuff. Being single does not make you any less worth having these things.

I have also seen many close friends who are in relationships deny that they want to get married because they are scared to scare away the man (or woman) they are with.

If you are in such a position, take a step back and understand why are you afraid of speaking the truth of your desires.

Why are you denying them?

By not sharing you desires does this take you closer or further away from what you want? How much time are you willing to wait and are you waiting because of your fear of rejection (to hear that your love never wants to get married) or because the timing simply does not make sense now (your love is in job changes and it’s just not suitable timing)

In keeping up with the theme of the two stories receives for Day 10 and 11, you have the power within you. Start believing and living it.


Lots of Love,

Aida


Hi Everyone!

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

A big thank 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 353 more articles to share and we hope to hear from you!

SUBSCRIBE TO THE STORIES or SHARE YOUR STORY HERE.

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Putting Yourself Out There: Day 11 of 365 Days of Love

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Putting Yourself Out There: Day 11 of 365 Days of Love

Contributed by: Anonymous (named Lara for this article)

Story from: Amman, Jordan





Putting Yourself Out There





After reading Sumayya’s story from Day 10 of 365 Days of Love, I remembered the first and only time I told a man how I felt. Being raised in an Arab country I was taught that women need to be more passive and have men take the lead in many aspects of our lives, especially when it comes to love.

There is great wisdom in this but I sometimes feel we have lost the right balance and are at a point where we need to take a step back and seriously take a deep look at how our society works. But this story is not about society’s functioning but about love.

On May 2018 I met the man who I thought I was going to marry. It was like out of the movies, where everything stopped, people around me disappeared and time itself seemed to have paused. This feeling alone was a miracle because I am one of those girls that takes a mountain to really move her (maybe a good thing or a bad thing today, not quite sure).

I knew he felt the same because some feelings just can’t be one way. We walked towards each other and even though the Prime Minister was standing to our left, an ex-President of a specific country was to the right (no joke), I could only see him. We talked for the rest of the evening and walked outside on the terrace overlooking Amman’s beautiful hills. I have never felt so safe and at home in my life.

Picture from Lonely Planet

Picture from Lonely Planet

A part of me was like, Lara*, you are stupid, you should go network and talk to the Prime Minister and the X number of Ministers in the room! Why are you wasting your time with a stranger that you could talk to later?

I know that networking, business and growth all matter but at the end of the day we all want to love and be loved so I risked not meeting those high officials for a chance at love. After all, Love is what really fuels us.

Fast forward 6 months we have talked and talked but things were not moving forward and I was facing big life changes. I got offered an incredible job outside of Jordan and there was no reason to decline it other than the potential of him.

I hinted to him to get him to be clear on his intentions with me. I slept frustrated on many nights just waiting for him to give me some clarity on where we are and if there was even a we.

Then one day I prayed deeply for God to guide me and give me the strength to take the right decision. I slept and woke up all of a sudden from a dream of me telling him how I felt. I took that as the sign to go do something i’ve never done before - tell a man how I feel about him.

My heart was beating so quickly and I thought to myself but isn’t that wrong for a woman to put herself out there? Aren’t I supposed to be the receptive person? Shouldn’t I especially as an Arab woman let the man take the lead?

An image that inspired me by @I4artiste in Morocco

An image that inspired me by @I4artiste in Morocco

But then I pictured myself 5 years from now without him and I couldn’t imagine it. So I said to myself similar to what Sumayya said yesterday, what is the worst that can happen if I just told him how I felt?

So I got the courage and did.

His response wasn’t similar to Sumayya’s husbands response. Basically it was a no. He told me how much he cared for me but was not in a position to get more serious (I wasn’t asking for marriage but I certainty didn’t want to waste my time and emotions).

It stung.

It hurt for many months knowing that it wasn’t moving forward, knowing that I put myself out there and was essentially rejected.

But what would have hurt more was never knowing and having a what if in my mind. The potential what if question would have haunted me for years. Putting myself out there stings but not close to what not having done so would have.

Today, I am writing to you from England where I have accepted my new job and am single, happy, empowered, full and hopeful. Today, I live knowing that I have the power within me. I hope you know that you do too.

With Love,

Lara*


Hi Everyone!

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

First, a big thank you to Lara* for sharing her story. I related to her on so many levels and am inspired by her resilience, strength and acceptance. Thank you for reminding us to reduce the number of what if’s in our lives and to sometimes take that risk of putting ourselves out there.

Second a big thank 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 354 more articles to share and we hope to hear from you!

SUBSCRIBE TO THE STORIES HERE.

With Lots of Love,

Aida

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Finding the Power You've Always Had: Day 10 of 365 Days of Love

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Finding the Power You've Always Had: Day 10 of 365 Days of Love

Contributed by: Sumayya Tobah, Freelance journalist

Get to know her on Twitter/instagram

Story from: Washington DC, USA





Finding the Power You’ve Always Had




When I was six years old, I saw the fabulous 1939 masterpiece, The Wizard of Oz and heard something that would completely change my life.

Judy Garland’s unforgettable Dorothy had just learned that the titular Wizard had lied to her and she had no way of returning to her family in Kansas. The good witch Glinda (if you’re not familiar with these names, its okay, I’m getting to the point soon!) says to her, “You’ve had the power all along.”

“I have?” Dorothy exclaims. “Well, why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because you wouldn’t have believed it,” the Witch replied. “You needed to find out for yourself.”

At six years old, I wasn’t able to really able to apply this beyond the plot of the feature film. But as I grew up and was repeatedly faced with situations where I felt out of control or powerless, I learnt what I was capable of and how much power I really had.

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Every time I wanted something and felt like it was just out of reach, I reminded myself. I have the power. I’ve had it all along. My love life was no different.

I don’t know when we, as women, got conditioned to believe that we can’t make the first move. We are told to be shy but flirty, available but hard to get, tempting but chaste. Don’t be too much of any one thing. Not too colourful or too bland. Not too smart or too dumb. Be interesting but be one of the girls.  It took me a long time to understand that this mold of what an “attractive” woman looks like was designed to keep us in our place; this sketch of an “ideal” woman is so ridiculous, it’s meant to keep us down.

It took me a long time to release myself from this mold, not just forgive myself for the things I would never be but appreciate myself for the things I am.

It definitely didn’t happen overnight, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t have my own insecurities from time to time, but cultivating that self awareness and self confidence truly was the key to so many things in my life, including finding love.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a conversation with a friend who is wrapped up in playing games with a guy. She thinks he likes her, she scavenges his texts for hidden messages and she stresses out when she doesn’t hear from him for a couple days. She feels powerless.

I’m always that friend with the advice no one wants to hear. Tell him how you feel. What’s the worst that can happen?

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The idea of “the first move” is so antiquated, but is still seen as such a power play. I’ve seen women who are strong and independent crumble under the frustration of waiting for the man they’re interested to come through.

Women are afraid to come off as too forward, but what’s unattractive about a woman who knows what she wants?

The first move was created to take the power away from us. I know its nerve wracking. Nobody enjoys the freefall of putting themselves out there. But when you face that fear, or any fear you have really, and you still push forward despite it - that is powerful.

Acknowledge your fear, give it a moment, then push it aside; because the pros outweigh the cons and that one decision can change your life in ways you only dreamed of. I was terrified when I told the man who would become my husband how I felt. But if you had told me then that a single truthful conversation would lead to a life of happiness with my best friend, I wouldn’t have believed you. My life now is so blessed, I can’t remember life before we were us.

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I took this lesson and applied it to the rest of my life. I stopped being a “wait and you shall see” kind of girl, and became an “ask for what you want and work hard for it” kind of woman.

I got my first real journalism internship by emailing a senior producer, asking for an interview. And when she didn’t respond the next day, I emailed her every day for a week. I got the position a few days later. When I’m passionate about a story, I pitch it. When I’m having a problem with a person, I discuss it with them. And when I feel a situation is out of my control, I ask myself, “what needs to be done?”

After all, I have the power. I’ve had it all along.


Hi Everyone!

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

First, a big thank you to Emily for sharing her story. I related to her on so many levels and am inspired by her resilience, strength and acceptance. I can’t wait till I celebrate the man you choose but until then I am honored to celebrate YOU today and every day.

Second a big thank 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 355 more articles to share and we hope to hear from you!

SUBSCRIBE TO THE STORIES HERE.

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To Love Without Condition: Day 9 of 365 Days of Love

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To Love Without Condition: Day 9 of 365 Days of Love

Contributed by: Emily Langtiw, Seashorties Blogger and Social Entrepreneur

Get to know her on InstagramFacebookBlog

Story from: Chicago, USA





To Love Without Condition



 

The definition of unconditional love is intimacy with no constraints. It is the love that is shown when someone cares about you so deeply that, through their words and actions, regardless of the circumstances. The relationship that a mother has with her children is where this is most commonly depicted, but you can find this in all authentic connections, whether that be friendships or marriage. Conditional love, on the other hand, is situational. It may disappear over time due to geographical distance, change, or conflict.

Let’s face it, we all want to be unconditionally loved and romanced. You see it in all the rom-coms that women watch, and the princess books, and the happily ever after stories. Love transcends boundaries and limitations, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch. It’s also the foundation of marriage, and no woman (or man) deserves less than this in their lives. However, not all women have experienced it, let alone believe they deserve it.

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I’m here to remind you (and myself) that we all deserve every ounce of authentic love, despite getting involved with the wrong man (or woman), or in spite of your lack of experience in the dating scene. 

Today is a chance to begin again and do romance the right way. 

After exploring my faith more deeply, I learned that love is firmly rooted in faith. If you understand that God is the sole source of love and life, you will have an infinite amount of love to give to others. It’s a gift He’s given you, and He wants you to love without limits. This has transformed my view on how love works.

For years prior, I used to think that if I was not okay, I could not love or be loved the way I desired to be. However, when God came into my story, I realized that unconditional love means that an individual will love me, no matter what kind of day I was having. Instead of keeping myself at the unrealistic standard of always being the best version of myself in order to wholeheartedly love another, I could finally rest in knowing that I am actually not the source of love, yet I can tap into it the endless river.

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I did not experience unconditional love prior to last year when I met my very best friend, Sarah. She was present for my most difficult times in college, sheltered me from every storm both literally and emotionally, listened to my thoughts when life was brutal, and if the situation called for it, spoke truth into my life. Day after day, with love and persistence, she molded my character into someone I did not think I could ever become, and I refuse to imagine what life would be like without her genuinely caring for me as a human being. I picture the scene from Hidden Figures when, in the beginning, the student was handed the chalk. The professor believed in the student’s potential when no one else did not, and even if the professor did not see how this would directly benefit herself.

Think about where or if you see this play out in your own life.

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After experiencing unconditional love I have learnt of the core characteristics to look for if I want to create more of it in my own life (and I hope they help you too):

-       It is rooted in high morals and values.  This is why it’s super significant to know what values you stand firm in because you will know what you deserve and be less likely to compromise for someone who does not share the same outlook on life as yourself. Your values dictate the big decisions you make, and you must be able to share them with your significant other, who you will spend the rest of your life with. 

-       It happens when you unconditionally love yourself. When you are full of love, it’s easier to give and receive it. You especially know this is true about you if it doesn’t bother you to be single. Think of it this way: singleness is a gift. It’s the time to explore what intimacy looks like with God, friends, family, and yourself especially. There is a reason for this season of life, so while you are waiting for the right one to come around, embrace yourself and your gifts. By doing this, you will lessen the likelihood that you’ll deal with a codependent or abusive man.

-       It grows over timeJust like an old friend, the more experiences and storms you face with your significant other, the more the authentic the love between the both of you becomes. Think of dating as a process, not a status you sit in. You are constantly testing the waters and getting to know the other person. Like a garden, authentic connections are fostered over time. 

-       It transcends physical, emotional, and circumstantial limits. You know that you are unconditionally loved if it does not matter the season you are in, the person loves you just the same. Think of the marriage vows “until death do us part”. Loving is a choice that the both of you must make every single day, even if you do not feel that love all 365 days of the year. 

-       It is surrounded by authentic community. Involving your closest friends and mentors in your relationship will give you clear set of eyes as to whether he is right for you. Because they know you well and want the best for you, they will be present to give you advice when you face conflict, and even judge the person’s character. We all have that friend, or been that friend, who was blindsided by infatuation to the point where they ignored the red flags, so do not be afraid to surround yourself with community when evaluating if someone is a good fit.


There are also places where I found that I should not search for intimacy, (and I know many of us agree but are guilty of it).

Clearing up this confusion is just as important to navigate the dating scene. First and foremost, making virtual connections in the technological age has its harmful consequences. Let’s take, for example, dating apps such as Bumble and Tinder. Charm and beauty are their basis: you merely judge an individual based off the wittiness of their bio and the attractiveness of their profile picture. These are, unfortunately, not stable foundations for authentic intimacy because nothing substantial can develop from them. “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting” (Proverbs 31:10). While I know healthy couples who met on Tinder, and it is definitely possible to meet people online, I have found it personally better to meet someone in the communities that I involve myself in in-person.

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Finally i’ll say try to not forget that your own limitations will affect how you relate to others. If you think that all the good guys are taken, you will only attract taken guys. If you say out loud to the universe that no man is mature enough for you, you will only attract emotionally immature men. That is, until you think otherwise. For a long time, I only attracted unavailable men because I truly believed there was no one available for me. Instead, I replaced these thoughts with realistic ones, and I am no longer slave to my previous hurtful experiences, nor am I slave to the lies that kept me from intimacy with the best men and I hope you no longer are too.

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Xoxo,

Seashorties 


Hi Everyone!

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

First, a big thank you to Emily for sharing her story. I related to her on so many levels and am inspired by her resilience, strength and acceptance. I can’t wait till I celebrate the man you choose but until then I am honored to celebrate YOU today and every day.

Second a big thank 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 356 more articles to share and we hope to hear from you!

SUBSCRIBE TO THE STORIES HERE.

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Post-College Heartbreak: Day 8 of 365 Days of Love

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Post-College Heartbreak: Day 8 of 365 Days of Love

Contributed by: Brenda Lozano, Program Analyst and Beauty Influencer

Get to know her on instagram: @BellaBeauty808

Story from: Hawaii


Post-College Heartbreak




I still remember the first time I saw him on my university campus. It was 2006, my freshman year. Shaun* (name has been changed) captured my attention with his stature and big muscles. He had a presence about him that you couldn’t miss him if you tried. As soon as I saw him in COM 101 I knew I had to introduce myself. 

After class ended, I speed walked to talk to him and within a week we were inseparable. My family had moved off of the island and he was a transfer from California. After a few short months, Shaun became my family. I shared my deepest secrets with him, we had inside jokes, sang to each other, complained about different classes, and just about everything else. Every guy on campus envied him and my friends wished they had a relationship like ours. 

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Of course, as mature as I like to think we were, we weren't. I craved attention and neglected friendships. And Shaun? He wasn’t perfect either. He had a temper at times and girls flirted with him left and right. But we were two young college kids in love. It was us against the world.

My birthday always fell during spring break in Hawai’i. During my birthday week, days shy of my 21st birthday I was upset with him. He had kept something from me and we got into an argument. I went to his place a day after our argument and had a bad attitude with him as I will still upset. In a split second, Shaun lunged at me and raised his hand, as if to hit me.

I will never forget the terror and adrenaline that ran through my veins.

My 5’4 160 lbs self versus his 6’6 225 lbs stature was quite the difference. He could have severely injured me. As soon as I could get out of his apartment, I did. I ran for about 2 blocks with tears streaming down my face and my hands balled up into fists. I had never felt so afraid. 

Eventually I made it back to my dorm room and he apologized shortly after. We stayed together for several more years after that. We met each others families, discussed marriage, broke up and got back together. I knew it was over long before it was over. There were so many times when it should have ended. 

During the last few weeks of my junior year, I had a mental breakdown and he abandoned me afterwards (a clear sign he was not the right man for me, as if the abuse was not enough of a sign). But for some young naive reason I stayed in a relationship with him and after graduation when I got a job in northern California it made sense for us to move together but he said it wasn’t the right time for us to do so.

So we had a long distance relationship and he never came to visit me (another clear sign I should have picked up on). I cried myself to sleep for many nights during that time thinking love shouldn’t hurt this way. But I held on to our relationship like a lifeline. Why?

I held on because it was routine.

It was comfortable despite all of the heartbreak.



It was February 2013 and I had just gotten back from visiting Shaun. A week or so after my visit he sent me a text message in the middle of my workday breaking up with me. I was devastated. My stomach churned and my heart shattered. I immediately texted him back and received no response. After work, I called and called to no avail. He shut me out. Threw me away like a piece of trash. 

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The year after the break-up was HARD. There were many nights where I called him and of course, he would not pick up.  I'd then leave tearful voicemail messages hoping he’d hear them and call me back. I lost myself in pain and wallowed in it. I became bitter and distrustful of men. I couldn’t express true happiness for my friends in happy healthy relationships. I did not recognize the person I had become. 

Eventually, I got to a point where I had to find healing and closure.

This journey to healing wasn’t easy and I still find myself on it. After Shaun completely shut me out, I wished so many bad things upon him. I knew I was on my way to true healing when I wished pure happiness for him.

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As for me, I am happy most days. Some days I think of him, if only briefly. Other days, my brain betrays me and I dream of him. When I am feeling a strong sense of pity for myself, I think that I had my chance at love and blew it. Most days though, I think about the future and envision a love so great that I couldn’t dream it if I tried.

So for now, I am trying to become the best version of myself. I fail myself often, but every day I work at it. I know I have to keep practicing true love towards myself.

I know that only when I can truly love myself is when I will attract the love I hope to find and deserve.

I also am practicing patience. Patience with myself and patience that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to. It would be easy for me to regret all of those years with Shaun. To be completely honest I sometimes feel I wasted the best years of my youth with him but I know, without Shaun I wouldn’t have been able to dig myself out of that dark and painful place. So today, I thank him because I learned so much about myself and so much about I will not tolerate in a relationship. I learned that our relationship was far from healthy and there is a very big difference between love and lust. 

Taking a step back and reflecting I find myself asking the question: What is the definition of love? Does anyone know? After Shaun and after everything I went through, I think love is resilient, steadfast, truthful, respectful, comforting, tender, loyal…and that’s just the shorthand version. One day I hope and pray love finds me; And when that day comes, I hope I am ready to receive it whole-heartedly and I hope you do too.

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*Name has been changed


Hi Everyone!

This is Aida, Founder of 365 Days of Love.

First, a big thank you to Brenda for sharing her story. I related to her on so many levels and am inspired by her resilience, strength and acceptance. I can’t wait till I celebrate the man you choose but until then I am honored to celebrate YOU today and every day.

Second a big thank 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 357 more articles to share and we hope to hear from you!

SUBSCRIBE TO THE STORIES HERE.

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Friends to Partners: Day 7 of 365 Days of Love

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Friends to Partners: Day 7 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 7 OF 365 DAYS. LETS KICK THIS OFF!

-Aida


Earlier this year in Lebanon I attended an inspiring event that brought youth together to inspire them to create social impact. There had to be over 300 people each buzzing with excitement from a combination of their natural youth, the fancy pink lights and the $250k ticket prize about to be awarded.

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Being a person who is sensitive to energy I quickly gravitated to two individuals who were glowing (for this article I will call them Hiba and Khalid as they asked to be anonymous). In this event filled with brilliant people I spent a significant amount of time with them and found myself not wanting to leave their company. I could not tell at the time whether it was their energetic young energy, their love for social impact or love for each other but I knew there was something special about them two. Today I finally know why.

This week during my call for stories for 365 Days of Love, I heard from Hiba*. She shared her story with me about how that night when we met in the hills of beautiful Lebanon, Khalid* confessed his love for her.

They have been friends for years and on that buzzing night he took the plunge and leaped to risk their friendship to tell her how he felt.

He has loved her secretly for two years and she had no idea. She did too.

It’s all in his eyes. Where I find the hue of the most magical things in life and all my reasons why. They are kind you could lost in …and I guess I did.
— Anonymous woman (Hiba*)

In looking back I could see the mutual respect and love they had for each other. The details in how attentive he was to her, not being afraid to have her lead a conversation, making sure she had something to drink and just seeming in awe when she spoke. She very much mirrored that exact love, respect and attentiveness.

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Hiba* in her story to me says in poetic speech:

It’s the way he carries his heart in his eyes and I swear I saw my name there more than once. Like a deep ocean they immerse my soul entirely and I am not afraid of drowning.

In his eyes, I knew I might burn but I just had to inch a little closer. I took the plunge.

In his eyes, my worlds have been stolen away making me happily lost inside his, my new world. My me home.

In his eyes, all time stops, mirrored by the clocks that stop ticking the moment I stared into them.

In his eyes, my soul pointed at him and whispered to my heart “him”.

My heart showed me in light form that “everything will be ok” in a sky with a million people that went unnoticed. 

With my eyes locked to his, I knew he is all I want.

With my eyes locked to his, time had a different and new profound meaning.

Today I ask for time to be kind to us, for me to fulfill my wish of graduating with him, growing with him, succeeding with him, and never loosing him.

With our eyes locked to each other, I ask God to keep him for me today and every day.


This beautiful and sweet story is just a reminder that love could be standing right next to you and you would never have guessed it. It reminds me how your longest friends can actually become the best partners, the partners you dreamt of who were standing right beside you all those years.

It also taught me that details matter. The way he introduces you, the way he looks at you, the small attentive things (or lack of) matter. So as you embark on your journey of love take a moment to be aware of those precious and very telling details.

Thank you to the beautiful couple (names anonymous) for sharing that special night with me and more importantly for sharing a glimpse of your love story to inspire more people to invest in love. I deeply look forward to celebrating love at your future wedding and every single day.

Thankful for knowing you both, may God bless every moment in your life.

With Lots of Love,

Aida


A big thank 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 above). We have 358 more articles to share and we hope to hear from you!

SUBSCRIBE TO THE STORIES HERE.

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Trust: Day 6 of 365 Days of Love

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Trust: Day 6 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 6 OF 365 DAYS. LETS KICK THIS OFF!

-Aida


Indecision

.

Self-Doubt

.

Poor Judgement

.

What do these three words have in common?

.

Iyanla Vanzant says it is trust. Or rather lack of it.

The problem with todays culture and lack of trust, is due to the fact that we do not know who we are. In continuation to Sumayya’s story yesterday (Day 5 of 365 Days of Love), I and many of us realized that we walk around the day carrying ourselves without really deeply knowing who we are.

The problem with not knowing who we are is that we do not trust ourselves,

we do not know where our internal compass is,

how to listen to our intuition and

how to differentiate between the right or poor choices for us.

What follows from lack of knowing and trusting ourselves is we lack the capacity to trust in others and unfortunately taking a series of bad decisions such as bad relationships that always lead to some degree of heart break.

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But when thinking of heart break and working on trust I ask, how do we not let our past experiences and heart breaks scar us? How do we let go of the resentment to the people who broke our hearts and the fear of being hurt again? Iyanala’s advice goes back to trust but working on trusting yourself first. She says how the issue is not in trusting people but in trusting yourself to find the right type of people, to hear that inner voice that is guiding us and trust yourself that when people leave you you will be ok.

We all know how to suffer. But when it comes to being open, vulnerable, following our intuition and facing the unknown, can we do that?
— Iyanla

She shares how after being heart broken from every possible person in her life from experiencing rape, being abused, burying her daughter, getting a divorce and sadly more, she concludes that the only way to heal and find contentment in this life is through love. The path to love is trust in the following order:

  1. Trust in yourself

  2. Trust in God

  3. Trust in others

  4. Trust in Life

Iyanla reminds us that an experience you had does not define who you are today and who you will be tomorrow. If you trusted yourself more, you would not have those feelings of indecision, self-doubt and poor judgement because you would know the common truth in our hearts, that all will be ok.

When you live with trust, everything else becomes irrelevant.

That means you should be willing to

stand alone sometimes,

to piss some people off,

to look different,

sound different,

be different.

and those are risks many of us are not willing to do.

Are you?


A big thank you for reading this and taking the time to care for yourself, your heart and your life. If you enjoyed Iyanlas thoughts then listen to her full podcast interview with Oprah here.

If you have a story or thoughts on love that you would like to share please get in touch. We have 359 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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Never Give Up: Day 4 of 365 Days of Love

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Never Give Up: Day 4 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 intro 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 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 4 OF 365 DAYS. LETS KICK THIS OFF!


In the past 4 days of launching 365 Days of Love I have received so many messages from both women and men telling me that they are about to give up on finding love. This was alarming to me on numerous levels as when you give up on something so major in life it becomes the start to giving up on many other things including yourself and what you my dear deserve. So the short answer to everyone who is thinking about giving up on love, don’t. Don’t do it.

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As in everything in life we will always be experiencing the ebbs and flows of life. As a practicing muslim I was taught that it is natural for our heart to contract and expand, where we experience days where our heart is so open and you feel so close to God. Then there are days where your heart is contracted and you wonder where did those feelings go. But the truth that i’ve been taught is that God is always with us, during our expansions and contractions and that no matter where we are in life, He is our constant.

This concept got me also thinking of Love. Where some times we are filled with it, feeling it from all angels from our family to friends to strangers, then on the other extreme we experience days where we feel no love and wonder if we are alone and if we will stay that way for a while or even forever.

My message to you is simple: Trust in life to give you what you deserve, trust in yourself that you are worth it and let it go knowing that something bigger than you will take care of you. It’s okay to have days where you are contracted and this is in fact if you see it with a different perspective a beautiful opportunity to take your attention inward. Take the days of contraction to identify what is it that is contracting your heart, to work on training yourself to be more centered, to work on loving yourself more and to push harder to see that love is truly all around us if only we see clearer.


My advice is when you feel your heart contracted, try the following (they have really helped me):

  1. Go into a room alone and take 10 deep breaths.

  2. Take another 10 more deep breaths where in every inhale you visualize breathing in love and fullness and when you exhale visualize breathing out any negative thoughts you have.

  3. Then imagine yourself as a child version of you. Remember how a child is filled naturally with love, how the natural self is meant to be curious, to fall a million times and get up typically without having scarred the inner self. Really feel that inner child and bring it back to life in your present day because children are truly a reminder of how we were meant to live life, without scars or negativity but rather with hope, light and love.

  4. Then with that child mindset go out and do something you’ve never done before. However small such as baking a new recipe or walking down a new road but go do something new. As you do it work hard on being present and try to train yourself not to think of other things (as adults do) but to be fully present in this one new thing (as a child does).

Wherever you are know that you are special, you are loved and that you are not alone. Never give up most importantly on yourself, love, and all the beautiful things that life has in store for you.



With Lots of Love,

Aida

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Letting Go: Day 3 of 365 Days of Love

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Letting Go: Day 3 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 intro 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 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 3 OF 365 DAYS. LETS KICK THIS OFF!


Every one of has felt some degree of romantic love to someone (whether you called it a crush or deep love). This love has either led you to be single or in a relationship right now. If you are in the relationship club that’s awesome but this article is tailored to more for the singles (please do share your love story here for the next article).

For the ones who are single right now that obviously means that the romantic love with that person you are thinking of right now didn’t work out. The normal person would take some time to get over it and move on to be open to other potential loves, but unfortunately there are many, many and I mean many women (including myself) and men who get so hung up on their past that they can’t seem to live their present nor see their future.

I have done this to myself, where I made every excuse possible to why the man has disappeared (as if I was his lawyer or some sort). “He is going through stressful times at work, he needs some space”, “He just went through surgery, he is feeling vulnerable and needs to be alone”, “He has commitment issues so i’m sure he will take a break then realize I am the right person for him”.. and the list of excuses goes on and on and on.

But the reality is quite simple. If a man wants you, YOU will know. He’s just not that into you
(I know it sucks to hear that but it really is that simple). Men aren’t very complex people, in fact I sometimes find them simpler than women (even though these days I question their ethics sometimes, an article on ghosting is coming soon).

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Have you ever watched the movie he is just not that into you? If not then i’ve found your plans for the night. Get some popcorn, a cozy blanket and watch it. Then come back here and share your thoughts!


So why am I talking about the past? Because if you are hung up on the past then you are blinded from the present. Imagine that for today you have decided to go sit at a cafe to sip on your delicious latte right before you head off to work. We are creatures of habit so we go back to our habit of thinking of him, remembering that time he made us laugh, thinking if he is ok, then without meaning to you look at your phone hoping he will text you all of a sudden (maybe he felt you thinking of him?).

But while you were in your own world thinking of someone who is obviously not thinking of you (remember if a man is into you, you will be the first to know), there was a cute guy sitting across from you. He has been trying to find a way to catch your attention but you were so into your thoughts of the nonexistent man and the man who frankly doesn’t deserve your thoughts.

He may even say hi, but you couldn’t hear or notice him because you were so deep into your thoughts that you somehow drowned out all external noise. Stop to think about it, how many moments have you wasted thinking about a man (or woman) who hasn’t deserved it? how many imaginary situations have you created of hearing from him (or her)? then think about the many potentials of men (or women) that you have blocked from entering your life because your mind and heart was so obviously taken (to someone’s mind and heart was clearly single)?

For today lets take a moment to let go and make room for the future potentials who will clearly show us that they are into us and who will never leave us sitting at a cafe sipping latte wondering if they are into us. Here are a few things I would recommend you do (and I did myself):

  1. Give yourself one night to feel the emotions you need to feel. Remember every detail about him, your time together, all the dreams and hopes you had for both of you, reread messages etc. Do whatever you need to do get it out of your system and look at all this knowing this is your LAST time.

  2. Write a letter to him, write down everything you would have wanted to say then throw or burn it. You don’t want it around you since you are moving on but it feels amazing writing it all out.

  3. The day you do this, before you sleep thank God and thank the guy for having been in your life, the lessons you learnt and say you let him go.

  4. Imagine now that you have let him go there is a vacant space within you, imagine this space is now filled with new and better love. Love first for yourself (the most important love) then space for a new love.

  5. In this new healthy space of love, concentrate on the emotions you want to feel. Is it respect, silliness, happiness, fullness, warmth etc? Focus on it, feel it then become it.

  6. Then let it all go again. Give it to the universe to sent you what is meant to be knowing that you are doing your part of (1) Making space for new things by letting go of the past (2) Loving yourself (3) Knowing what you want to feel (4) Having faith the right kind of love with come.

And with that I thank you for taking the time to first take care of yourself in the love department because at the end of the day it is the most important one. Thank you for reading this and for your time.

If you have a story or thoughts to share please get in touch. Also if you know someone who would like to sponsor these posts let me know here! We all would love to hear from you. Until then have a beautiful day filled with love!

Lots of Love,

Aida

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The Dream: Day 2 of 365 Days of Love

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The Dream: Day 2 of 365 Days of Love

Day 2 of the launch of 365 Days of Love initiative and I’ve received many inspiring, deep and raw stories. But the one that I felt I must share today is a true story of an incredible man (and dear friend) who had what was supposed to be a fun dream of him being a girl turned into a nightmare because of the threat of Kavanaugh coming into his dream.

As you read you will see, the act that has happened with Kavanaugh is scarring to many us on numerous levels including a man’s dreams. Below is an excerpt of his thoughts (read the full article below):

If you speak up, telling what happened to you, you will be condemned, society will support him, particularly if he comes from the same privileged set you come from. (Oh yes, you might have thought you had privileges, you may have felt entitled because you live in a nice neighborhood, your family drives a luxury car, and your sister goes to an elite college. But you’re only a girl. Wait until some Kavanaugh boy stumbles into your life – then you will learn what privilege means. The ultimate privilege, the get-out-of-jail-free card, is solely reserved for boys and men.)

If you don’t speak up, then you avoid the public horrors, but you subject yourself to the private ones, the dentist drills of guilt and shame, boring into your legs, your head, your heart, the center of your being, sapping your self-confidence at unpredictable times, lying in ambush to make you collapse when you least expect it. 

How does this relate to love you may ask? In my opinion it has everything to do with it because if all men valued women (and saw them not as a sexual object rather a woman of love and the potential holder of life) we would never hear a story like this.

I hope as you read this you take a moment to think:

  1. How you as a woman can better protect yourself from being in such a position. Sadly many men are still out there.

  2. How you as a woman can heal (especially if you have first-hand experience in such unfortunate events) and how you can love again without the fear ruling your life

  3. How you as a woman can speak up more to share your stories (I know it’s hard to share traumatic stories, i’ve been there too).

  4. How you as a man can become more conscious of your thoughts, words and actions to show more respect to women

  5. How you as a man can speak up more to be the true supporter of women you are meant to be.

Lets make sure our children’s children never have to have a dream like this let alone a reality like this. Let’s put an end to the Kavanaughs of our world today.

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Article contributed by Alec Hansen

Tunis, Tunisia


I had a most unusual dream last night. I dreamed I was a girl. I can’t remember the last time that happened. Maybe a few times in my life.

The dream started out wonderful. I was young, I was in high school but hadn’t been there long. I felt quite special, because my older sister was taking me to a friend’s fancy beach house. It was sunny, the beach resort was famous, and I had some freshly grown breasts and long legs that I planned to show off in a new bikini that I would never wear around my parents. I was far from home and I was clearly going to have a great time. 

We were pulling up to the beach house in a convertible, and my sister was talking to me. Even in the dream it felt like a dream, a dream come true. There were sand dunes near the house, I caught a glimpse of the sea beyond, and we were not far from a boardwalk where I would meet new people, my sister’s college friends, and of course lots of strangers. I was in for an adventure, and I was ready for it. 

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My sister is talking, and I’m only half listening because I’m just feeling all of these feelings, drinking it all in, and tingling with anticipation. But something she says pierces through my daydream, “this just might be your Kavanaugh Weekend.” At first I’m not really sure what she’s talking about. But as she continues talking, I start making the connections, and it’s like a dark cloud has appeared in my sunny sky, a feeling of uncertainty that grows into dread. 

That’s it. I woke up, and puzzled over what it meant, and why I was so disturbed. What a rare experience to dream that I’m a girl on a beautiful beach, and it should have been cool but somehow it got ruined by one remark. I had gone to sleep the previous evening after watching clips of the Kavanaugh hearings, filled with stories of high school and college girls who were out having fun and suddenly, out of the blue, were subjected to traumatic, life-changing experiences. 

My big sister in the dream was trying to protect me, to prepare me to always have my guard up. But the way it was put, it wasn’t even like ‘do the following things to prevent it, let’s make sure that this never happens to you.’ Instead, the way she put it was more fateful, like ‘it could happen this weekend, it could happen another time, it happens to all of us some time. You never know when or where, but it’s always lurking out there. And when it does happen, it may happen so fast that you won’t be able to do anything about it. But it will change your life.’ Behind it was a menace that yes there will be boys, fun boys, funny boys, smiling boys, charming boys, most of them nice, and all the pleasures of friendship, swimming, talking, kissing and more available; but one or two of them is a potential Kavanaugh. Oh, and by the way, it’s not just the boys, there are also the young men, to whom you are merely a ripe piece of fruit that they are planning to pick. And let’s not forget the middle-aged men, who could be teachers or priests or coaches or doctors. Not to mention the old men... 

This idea that there are predators out there who are attracted to the sunny beaches with the pretty girls, was so chilling. The innocence and vulnerability of the girl I inhabited in that dream was so delicious, she was so open to the experiences she was about to have. There are other menaces that she would need to be vaguely aware of going to the beach – robbers who might steal her mobile phone, undertow that could drag her out to sea – but those are known menaces, and if a robber were caught, he would be condemned by all of society. The insidious danger of the Kavanaugh Weekend was that if something happened of that type, you would suddenly find yourself in a looking-glass world, where up is down and down is up. Fairness goes out the door, justice is elusive at best. 

If you speak up, telling what happened to you, you will be condemned, society will support him, particularly if he comes from the same privileged set you come from. (Oh yes, you might have thought you had privileges, you may have felt entitled because you live in a nice neighborhood, your family drives a luxury car, and your sister goes to an elite college. But you’re only a girl. Wait until some Kavanaugh boy stumbles into your life – then you will learn what privilege means. The ultimate privilege, the get-out-of-jail-free card, is solely reserved for boys and men.)

If you don’t speak up, then you avoid the public horrors, but you subject yourself to the private ones, the dentist drills of guilt and shame, boring into your legs, your head, your heart, the center of your being, sapping your self-confidence at unpredictable times, lying in ambush to make you collapse when you least expect it. 


Marry, and you will regret it; don’t marry, you will also regret it; marry or don’t marry, you will regret it either way.
— In Either/Or, Søren Kierkegaard writes

Speak up, or don’t speak up, either way, you will regret it. And it’s not just a one-time decision. At the tender age of 15, guileless Christine Blasey chose not to speak up; 36 years later, still guileless but deeply concerned for the sanctity of the highest court in the land, now Professor Christine Blasey Ford, she has finally spoken up, and the regret, the terror she feels, is palpable.

How can I interpret my dream? Only through the filter of my own experience and feelings, and as a man, those are necessarily limiting. Nevertheless, as a person, I’m also gifted with the capacity for compassion and even empathy, which can develop over time with experience. In my life I can truly say that my relationships with women have not been conquests, they have been with loving teachers. From the same tender age as Christine was, I have been blessed with relationships that helped me to slowly, slowly peel away the insensitivity and crassness that seems to be my default inheritance. But it’s a work in progress.

I sometimes tease my wife that if I could have her body for a week, I would have much more fun with it than she has, but at the end of the week when she got it back, she would have a somewhat lower reputation. From my point of view, as a man, I realize it’s a crass joke, but I always regarded it as fairly harmless, one we can share in privacy and laugh about. And (in case that hadn’t occurred to you) it’s meant as a compliment: you’re a beautiful person, and that means you could get more out of life, if only you didn’t have these pesky inhibitions. Only now, after waking from this dream, can I appreciate how cruel this joke has been, why her response is so seldom lighthearted laughter, why her reaction is more often tinged with a darker heaviness. And even when she does laugh, she never lets the moment pass without an emphatic “that’s exactly why I would never, ever lend you my body for a week!” Her vehemence never fails to impress me. My wife is a courageous woman, and she cares much less for her reputation than her inner peace. I think her vigilance comes from an appreciation that what seems to me to be a harmless fantasy of a hedonistic adventure carries much darker undertones of unhealable inner wounds, which in my version of the fantasy are mere quibbles. 

Without irony, since the day we met, I have called her a goddess, but she seems to appreciate the double-edged nature of being born beautiful. I only recently became aware of the haunting poignancy of the gift of beauty, when I read Madeline Miller’s novel Circe. One of the two goddesses who seduced Ulysses in the Odyssey (or did he seduce them?), Circe is a specific type of goddess called a nymph, whose only two superhuman powers are beauty and immortality. Miller’s Circe explains, “Brides, nymphs were called, but that is not really how the world saw us. We were an endless feast laid out upon a table, beautiful and renewing. And so very bad at getting away.” Sailors, pirates, adventurers and even the messenger god Mercury would descend on her island at any time, and have their way with her, and most of these goddesses were completely defenseless to resist. Under such circumstances, immortality becomes a torture, because the higher gods didn’t see fit to give them any powers of resistance. Of course, like my ‘week with a woman’s body’, the predicament of the nymphs is a male fantasy, created by Homer and countless other ancient bards, and it took Miller’s tender retelling to help me to see the other side of the coin, with eerily modern echoes.

Believe a girl, you will regret it; if you do not believe her, you will also regret it; if you believe a girl or you do not believe her, you will regret both; whether you believe a girl or you do not believe her, you will regret both.
— Later in the same paragraph in Either/Or, Kierkegaard writes 

 I suppose some U.S. Senators today are writhing in that Kierkegaardian existential angst, existential in the sense that they fear that doing the right thing may lead to them no longer existing as senators. Voting against the nomination would put them in danger of being voted out of office by the rabid hordes who felt gratified by Kavanaugh’s performance on Thursday, whose purple-faced incoherent defiant sneering self-pitying fury made him their righteous hero. 

 

For me the (sometimes painful) lessons learned from my sweet teacher/lovers, the rising drumbeat of #MeToo, my friends who have experienced sexual harassment and abuse, and now this most recent chapter with the Supreme Court hearings have culminated in a dream, in which two words – Kavanaugh Weekend– could pierce the tantalizing dream fabric and rip it to shreds. My dream of being a girl started out enticing and ended up deeply disturbing. For too many women, it is a living nightmare. 

I hope I can stay conscious of this feeling the next time I’m confronted with the towering edifice of male privilege and entitlement, and serve as a material support to my sisters in this world, rather than standing by gawking, or unconsciously reinforcing to the edifice. Otherwise this is going to take way too long.

 

 

Alec Hansen

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365 Days of Love &amp; YOU

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365 Days of Love & YOU

It’s been 5 hours since my launch of requesting contributors to join in the 365 Days of Love initiative and the number of people interested in sharing their stories and insights in love has been incredible!!!

SO happy to hear in this great interest to help people (and ourselves) celebrate, learn and grow in love. To help ease the process of becoming a contributor i’m sharing the steps below:

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There are three categories to write an article under 365 Days of L o v e:

  1. Fictional stories (day to day possibilities of meeting the person you love)

  2. Factual stories of love you have experienced or have heard of

  3. Your personal insights and thoughts about love 


Please send the below information to my email aidamurad@gmail.com or through the contact page here:

  1. Your full name (as you would like it to appear on the guest blog post)

  2. Your title (job title or whatever it is you want (such as thinker, creative etc)!)

  3. The category you selected (categories listed above - either 1, 2 or 3)

  4. Your blog post title

  5. Your article 

  6. Your social media links if you want people to follow you or reach out directly to you :) 

  7. If you have a preference for a date to release your article


Can’t wait to read your beautiful stories and insights. Excited to have you be part of this. 



Lots of love,

Aida 

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A Neighbor: Day 1 of 365 Days of Love

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A Neighbor: Day 1 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 intro to what we are doing here, but essentially I (and hopefully you by sharing your stories) are sharing 1 story a day for the next year to show incredible ways we could meet the love of our life. Why? Because we want to be the people who invest in possibilities rather than impossibilities.

Lets see where we could meet our partner today - Day 1 of 365 days. Lets kick this off!

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It’s Monday morning, the start of an incredible week. Before I dive into work, emails, messages (any external facing things) I take a moment and close my eyes seeing, feeling and believing what a beautiful week this will be.

I select a word or two that I hope symbolizes what the day would look like. Today I have selected flow, openness and productivity. I sit on the floor to meditate on these three words and feel the feelings I would have if my day just flowed, my heart was open and my work so incredibly productive. I automatically start smiling and feel what I want to happen.

And that’s when the magic happens, when you start feeling what you want that eventually you become it.

Now lets move on to the love part. Every day you will notice we will take some time to focus on something about our day (because love is only one part of our day) then we will focus on love.


To start off, we have one exercise to do. Love is a word full of so many meanings and associations. This is exactly why we will have a daily exercise to get a bit more clarity on where we stand with it:

  • Put pause and become aware of what word(s) do you associate Love with? Are they negative or positive associations?

  • When you get the clarity on what association you have with it start understanding the Why behind it.

  • If its negative then work on mentally and emotionally releasing it and replacing it with a new positive awesome association. People like to either visualize releasing it or actually releasing something physical. Up to you just as long as you release it and replace it with something positive.

  • Meditate on this positive association with the word Love and feel it. Believe that You (yes YOU) embody it and are it.

  • Push your meditation further after feeling it completely and envision attracting the same level of frequency (association and feeling) of people and events around you.

  • Let go and give it all to God. Put your faith in life and surrender. Breathe in and breathe out with complete freedom knowing that there is something greater than you that will take care of you.


Ok now lets put out a possibility out to the universe on how we could meet our Mr. (or Miss) Love. I’ll start with the basics. We all live somewhere, whether its in an apartment, a dorm room or a farm. We all have people around us whether they are wall to wall or farm to farm. We all pass by people whether its every hour or every few days. So lets open up ourselves to the possibility of meeting Mr. (or Miss) Love without going anywhere, by simply being home.

Today I have decided to take a small walk around my neighborhood area. I feel incredible after doing this meditation on Love and I feel full. I’m walking just smiling by myself. I haven’t changed anything in my routine and go out walking with my huge beats headphones (which I often wonder if it scares people off but I really do enjoy the beats that come out of it so i’ve stuck with it).

I start walking then I see the most beautiful husky infront of me. I don’t pay attention to the man walking the husky and just go straight to the husky. The husky seems happy to see me too (even though we just met) he licks my face and knocks off my beats headphones from my head.

This is perfect. It makes me realize I haven’t said hi to the person holding the husky (aka husky owner) and it made me realize the guy has been trying to say hi but I wasn’t hearing him.

With a bit of shyness, I stand up and introduce myself and complement his beautiful dog. He introduces himself and says he is new to the neighborhood and moved in yesterday. I’m the first person he has met and he says he is glad to have met someone from the neighborhood (aka me).

I smile with blushed cheeks and say i’m glad too (mostly because of his adorable husky). We exchange stories about huskies (I had two in Jordan) and we decide to walk around the neighborhood together with invisible tails that are both wagging (an inspired scene from Dalmatians, I think yes). Its not even 9 am and I have met someone new on my morning walk right next to my home.

The End.

So what’s happened here is that I just made space for the possibility of meeting someone who lives in my neighborhood. It could be a new neighbor, an old neighbor (not in age but time of living there), a friend visiting your neighbor, a stranger who just got lost there by mistake etc etc etc. Think about it have you been open to the possibility of meeting someone who lives around you?

Take a moment today to imagine the possibilities of how you could meet someone without having to leave your area. Just make space for that possibility. Don’t obsess or think every person who walks you by could be that but just make room for the amazing possibility and if its meant to be it will show itself.

End of Day 1 from 365 days of Love.

(If you have a story to share please do share here!!)

With Lots of Love,

Aida

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365 Days of Love Introduction

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365 Days of Love Introduction

Life is full of many options but if you really look at it, life is quite simple. Every decision you take is either taking you closer to what you want or do not want. The question is what leads us to make the decisions to manifest what we want?

My belief is that every decision you take is composed with your 3 biggest and most powerful (often misused) tools:

  1. Your thoughts (both conscious and subconscious)

  2. Your words

  3. Your actions.


Today, wherever you may be and however old you are, you and I are craving something. We all have a desire for this one or more thing that we have been trying to get but haven’t quite achieved it. But have you every thought to ask why have some people been able to achieve their desires so easily while others have faced obstacle after obstacle?

Have you ever heard of those stories of crazy “coincidences” of the person who wanted to open their dream restaurant but couldn’t afford it then all of a sudden meets a person while waiting in the restroom line who happens to be a hotel owner and who just happens to be looking to open a new restaurant.

Or

the person who has been dreaming of meeting the love of their life and just happens to start up a conversation with a stranger in the water section at Whole Foods discussing how awesome JUST Water is. They go on a date then many dates then boom its their wedding day!

There are many more stories like this where somehow the universe seems to be supporting these peoples dreams and things just flow. The question is how is that happening and what are they doing differently?

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I believe the answer is quite simple. Lets start with the basic assumptions (aka my beliefs):

  1. The universe responds to your frequency. If you haven’t heard about the law of attraction I suggest you put pause, read about it then come back to this article. Essentially it says if your frequency (energy and quality of your thoughts, words and actions) are positive then you will see positivity back, same thing with negativity.

  2. Nothing is neutral. Every thought, word and action is either investing in the can do or cant do mindset. What are you thinking, saying and doing? Monitoring them is key and consciously adapting those 3 to match your desire.

  3. Our subconscious thoughts are key to understanding the why to our current situation and is often the most under looked and tackled source of blockage and opening. For example if you are consciously thinking that you want love but subconsciously think you do not deserve it then you are sending clashing messages and end up staying single.


These assumptions apply to every desire. After thinking of what is my deepest desire and talking to many of my friends I realized that the most common desire we had was - romantic love. I’ve talked to many single women and men who think they are alone and believe it is extremely difficult and rare to meet someone they could be serious with.

They have turned to inorganic ways to meet men or women such as online dating. This is not to say that online dating is wrong but many of these people including myself didn’t feel right meeting the love of our life over an app. Technology is great but I don’t really want to use it to meet my partner by swiping left or right, just call me old fashioned when it comes to love. Many of these people have turned reluctantly to the apps because they believe it’s almost impossible to meet men or women these days but I strongly disagree and say it all goes back to your 3 assets and how you are using them.

So I have decided for the next 365 articles (an article a day for the next year) i’ll be focusing on Love where every day I'll be giving an example of how I or you could have coincidently met the love of our life. Cheesy right? I think necessary (plus a little bit of cheesiness never hurt! ).

My  art  piece about Love titled Transformative Love.

My art piece about Love titled Transformative Love.

Follow me by subscribing to my blog posts for the next 365 days as we foster the mindset of possibilities in finding love rather than lack of them. I hope this will inspire you to slowly foster the mind set needed to get whatever it is your heart desires. Lets get to exploring!

P.S. If you have a story about love you want to share please do get in touch here. Would love to hear from you and share your stories

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With Lots of Love,

Aida





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Women, Lets Build Our Self-Confidence

Today is Wednesday, September 26th 2018. Stop to take a moment to think when was the last time you looked at the mirror and said right now I look and feel so beautiful. Was it this morning as you were getting ready for your day? Was it yesterday? a week ago? or was it such a rare sentence you uttered to yourself that you don’t even remember?

I ask you because today I felt unbeautiful (ugly feels like too strong of a word to use). I hated that I cut my hair short, I looked at my body and found a million and one flaws in it. I even went to the bathroom’s mirror and looked at my face thinking: ugh why is my skin like this, why is my nose this big and the list goes on. I am sure countless women have done the same.

Imagine after a self-hate session (which is often mistaken as a self-improvement session) sitting down and looking at old photos of yourself when you were supposedly skinnier and younger. I found myself looking at pictures of only a year ago when I did a photoshoot for an online interview (read full interview here). I remembered that day feeling so self-conscious in those dresses and I remember telling my good friend and photographer, Megan to tell me if I looked fat and if my face looked ok. Point is I did not feel beautiful, but today when I look at the pictures (shown below) I say what an idiot I was for not feeling and seeing it, because damn it I am beautiful (and so are you beautiful reader).

Photo by Megan Won

Photo by Megan Won

All of a sudden it hit me, I have lost so many days not appreciating myself. I had no idea I was beautiful then, I didn’t see it or feel it. And today, with my short hair, my one year older self I still don’t know or feel beautiful. But that is not right and is definitely not sustainable.

Photo by Megan Won

Photo by Megan Won

Why do we put ourselves down so much? Wouldn’t life be much more beautiful if we enjoyed it while being comfortable in our own skin and feeling beautiful inside and out (without being egotistical about it)? I have seen too many incredible women, including myself standing up for other people and trying to show them that they are super women but most of us forget about the most important woman - our individual selves. Enough is enough.

We will always need to improve ourselves, always. But we need to start to learn how to better love ourselves in this beautiful, messy and rollercoaster of life. There is nothing wrong in seeing yourself as beautiful. God after all has created you. As the Prophet Muhammad in Islam says:

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To end this blog post I leave you with some practical things you may do if you have the same problem as me. For any problem I face I analyze and solve it with the same 3 ingredients: Looking into my thoughts, words and actions. Nothing is neutral in life and every thought, word and action you have is either taking you closer to something positive or away from it. So in our topic of today of seeing yourself as beautiful and building your self-confidence, below are some things I will be personally working on and I truly hope it helps you too:

  • Early-morning: As soon as I wake up I am going to take a few minutes to express and feel gratitude for being alive, for having the basics I need, for having a body, being able to speak and get out of bed.

  • Morning: Take 5 minutes to stretch but this will be no ordinary stretching. This will be stretching with awareness, gratitude and love. As I stretch my legs I want to really feel them, feel their ability to move and look at them with love. I want to be aware of the tiny devilish thoughts of: Aida your thighs are so big, you need to run more. I want to turn the thought into: Aida your legs are beautiful and we will work on making the more beautiful through running and honoring this body.

  • Mid-day: Go to the bathroom and just say I love you, you are beautiful. then repeat and said I love you, I am beautiful. I started with you because it feels awkward to say I am beautiful to myself immediately so I will work its way in slowly.

  • Night: As I clean my face from the day’s dust, I will clean it with the emotion of pride. Pride in the sense of being proud of my accomplishments of the day, proud of being brave enough to have gone out and put myself out there, and proud of working on loving myself more and more every single day. I aim to ending the day with committing to trying harder tomorrow which means loving myself a bit more and hopefully unconsciously giving women more permission to love themselves more every day.

With Love,

Aida

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Looking for the Coolest Interns!

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Looking for the Coolest Interns!

Dear Coolest Interns:

If you enjoy working and developing yours passions, can work remotely and are looking to learn something new in the arts, business, storytelling and/or product development then get in touch.

Send your CV to aidamurad@gmail.com and lets talk.  

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Support Afikra!

Arab culture is deeply rich and afikra has developed the platform for communal exploration of Arab history and culture. I've had the honor of being a speaker exploring my favorite author and Arab poet - Kahlil Gibran (video below)

Consider supporting them to grow locally and globally through their annual fundraiser 

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