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The Most Complicated Relationship You’ll Ever Be In: Day 36 of 365 Days of Love

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The Most Complicated Relationship You’ll Ever Be In: Day 36 of 365 Days of Love

Contributed by: Hager Eldaas, Multimedia Journalist

Get to know her on Instagram

Story from: Queens New York, USA



I can’t place my finger on the exact day that I started hating my body, but I remember vividly all the moments that may have led up to it.

The first time I experienced a deep awareness of its existence, my body’s existence, was when I got my period. My mom had done her motherly duty of telling me that it was coming and what to expect when it did. But I was a late bloomer compared to my friends and I got mine at 13. I wasn’t excited or scared, nor was I confused about the changes ahead of me. I was not ashamed like I had heard many girls were when they spotted that first red stain. I was annoyed. I didn’t tell my mother and just kept changing my clothes and hoping that it would permanently go away. I wanted to wish it into disappearance. And it worked. I didn’t get my period the following month or the four after that. But after five months, it came back and had apparently grown more resilient. It’s been a regular visitor ever since.

I now know that there are other women who can claim the same feelings, but at 13, my epiphanies only lasted as long as my longest teenage crush, and so, aside from when I received my bi-weekly migraines, I went back to forgetting that I had a body.

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At 15, I was interrupted. I had fractured the same toe twice in one month. Afterwards, I was taken to a podiatrist who revealed to me that I was walking all wrong, but I knew for a fact that this was no fault of my own. I had my father’s walk—barely lifting our feet off the ground, exerting minimal effort to drag our bodies along and hoping they’d learn to cooperate. But it was understood that I’d have to develop a new walk because my toes could no longer afford to go on tripping over and bumping into chairs and doorways and whatever else came in their way.

I could imagine that somewhere in between the time that I was practicing my new walk and the time I did away with the idea that I’d ever perfect the new walk is when I started noticing that I didn’t like my body very much. I was probably around 17. I don’t remember the specific instance when I acknowledged that feeling, but I do recall staring at the mirror often during this time. Puberty had hit me hard and I was putting on the weight. It might’ve been one of those days when I was feeling particularly metaphysical and had caught my reflection in the mirror and thought to myself, “That’s me. I am that. That girl, the one that I’m looking at right now, is the same girl who’s thinking these exact thoughts.” I probably didn’t like what I saw.

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At 20, I started to feel sharp pains at the top of my stomach and down to the right side of my abdomen. Anything I ate made me sick, especially if it was spicy or oily, which was all I consumed when I was in college. At 21, they told me I had to get my gallbladder removed. It made sense. I hadn’t been very kind to it.

I spent the next few years trying to fixate some of the fascination I had for my mind onto my body. “No, I don’t have a body. I am a body, just as much as I am a mind and I am thoughts.” But at 27, I was in a hospital room as my father’s soul was exiting his body and the idea that the two were one was no longer sitting well with me.

Shortly after my father’s death, my ears started ringing (that’s what they call it, but it’s more of a whooshing— tinnitus is it’s official name). My neck pain was unbearable. My hands randomly numbed and tingled. My doctor ran tests and then recommended a psychologist and maybe some yoga. My symptoms were likely caused by trauma.

At 28, I tried yoga for the first time. It was nothing too serious, just me following along to a Youtube video. The instructor often repeated the same sentence, urging us to focus on our breathing, which proved to be an impossible task for me. My breaths just aren’t the most cooperative. But the exercises did make my neck feel better, so I kept up with them.

And now, at 29, I wish that I could end this by saying that through yoga and meditation, I have finally found a way to love my body or even that I’ve been tapped in to it’s flow, but no. Most days I forget that I have a body, that I am a body— I haven’t decided which one it is yet. But I can tell you this: I take it out for a daily stroll and I think it’s grown accustomed to it’s strange little walk because it rarely trips over it’s own feet anymore.

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Hi Everyone!

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

First, a big thank you to the inspiring woman Hager for sharing her story. I battled for years on my body image and developing love for my body. It is indeed one of the biggest battle I have tackled and still find ways to improve it. I have finally found love for my body and where I am today. I learnt how to stop looking up and feeling inadequate when I looked at magazines with super model. I hope you have been working on your body image and body love because it is a key to self-love.

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 329 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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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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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.

There is no greater battle in life than the battle in the parts of u that want to be healed and the parts of you are comfortable and content remaining broken.-2.png

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

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

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

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

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

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

  3. Insights/thoughts about love

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

-Aida


Contributed by: Sumayya Tobah, Freelance journalist

Get to know her on Twitter/instagram: @thisissumayya


I met my dream man. Twice.


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

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

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

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

Not a change. I needed a revolution.


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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, I had a choice now.

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

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

So I re-centered myself.

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

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

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

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

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

Share you story here.

Follow the stories here.

With lots of love,

Aida

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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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The Most Important Woman of the Week - My House Cleaner

These past few months have been the busiest of my life (hence the silence on this blog, please do forgive me). I've been essentially doing 3 jobs (1) My 9-5 of building partnerships at an international development firm (2) Organizing a refugees festival in Washington DC under the One Journey Festival (3) My art, motivational speaking and other side things. 

Long story short, i've been so busy leaving very little room for any waste of time and let alone self-care. This meant I really didn't have time to clean my house or do laundry. But to be productive one needs an environment that fosters the sustainability of being so busy, helping them be productive yet relaxed at the same time so as to avoid burn out. 

On Thursday I had one of the longest days of my life starting work at 5:30 am then rush off home at 5:30 pm to make dinner for 6 people who have graciously volunteered their time to help out with the One Journey Festival Communications plan. In my Uber ride I closed my eyes to get whatever sleep I could to re-energize myself. I get out, walk up to my apartment still not fully re-fueled, open the door to my apartment and find it spotless. Everything piled up perfectly, the floor mopped clean, the dishes put away and the windows clear. 

I stop and stood for a good minute and shed a tear. A tear of gratitude, to the incredible woman named Elizabeth who comes to my home and cleans it. I teared because she has created the exact environment I needed to be re-fueled, and to be productive with my 6 guests coming in the next hour. 

Think about it. Could you do your work if you had garbage piling up in your office? Could you have a peaceful walk if dirt was laid all over the sidewalks? Could you have a good nights sleep for several nights if your home stunk of something? The answer is no. So let's take a moment to give deep gratitude to the people serving us so deeply by creating the environment we need to function. Thank you to Elizabeth who brought me peace to my home during a very long and hard-working month. I know I will rely on her more and most importantly appreciate her more. 

There are many Elizabeths' out there, I hope today you take the time to thank them individually. 

With Love,

Aida

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What are you giving more weight to?

On this beautiful Friday morning, I went to my favorite coffee shop to read, catch-up on personal stuff and drink real good coffee before I dived into work. I was feeling good and I was envisioning the good day I was about to have. 

I get on a call with my mom then the person infront of me stares at me for a good minute. I thought he may be interested in the language I was speaking, Arabic. But then he interrupts my call by asking if i'm on a conference-call. Confused by this question, he follows up by saying I just ruined his peace and I should't be talking here. I responded, with being so caught off guard, saying but this is a public coffee shop.

He continued to say how I ruined his morning and how I should be quiet. I told him that i'm going to continue my call and he has problems and should work on himself. A fire inside me started rising. I was pissed off and my happy morning wasn't going as planned. He looked at me in disgust, got up and moved tables. 

I shut the phone with my mother and just sat there feeling so shot down asking myself what did I do to this man? and the angry side in me wanted to piss him off. 

Ten minutes later, I couldn't shake it off. I felt the negative energy around me. Then this great guy who works at the coffee shop started talking to me (without knowing what just happened) and said he would love to share some of the figs he just grew.

I looked at him and just wanted to hug him. I knew his fig tree wasn't that big (because how big of a fig tree can you really have in the middle of DC?) but it meant so much to see such a random act of kindness. 

Being positive is constant work, like caring for a plant. It needs to be watered daily.&nbsp;

Being positive is constant work, like caring for a plant. It needs to be watered daily. 

I started to feel the negativity peeling away and I immediately saw a very clear choice: I either give the negative situation or the positive situation weight. Which one was I going to choose? Was I going to let the rude coffee shop guy ruin my day or was I going to let the incredibly kind gesture of the fig sharing make my day?

Ofcourse, I chose the fig sharing. 

Moral of the story is, everything is a choice. You have a choice to be happy or not, to invest in the negative or the positive. It is always up to you and never think otherwise. You are in control.

With An Appreciative Mind,

Aida 

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Resilience

Every person you know is going through a challenge, including yourself. Some of those people are leaders and others are not. The difference between these two categories i've noticed is the individuals response to their own life challenges which ultimately links back to their level of resilience.

Today I am a social entrepreneur, artist, motivational speaker and food critic not because I planned to be but because I needed them as a way to stay resilient. Many of you who have read my previous posts know I was diagnosed with arthritis in 2011. This diagnosis shook my world and broke me.. for a time period. But I quickly learnt that life is not waiting for me to get up, it will move on with or without me. Knowing this in a sense empowered me to get my act together and reinvent myself in a way I thought was impossible.

Photo by Megan Won&nbsp;

Photo by Megan Won 

In every challenge life has thrown me I have reinvented myself and learnt how to fly rather than drown. Here are a few examples that I hope inspire you to fly higher when faced with your own life challenges:

Why I became a social entrepreneur?

Problem: Gender inequality is no new concept and is certainly far from over. When I first launched my full career as a 21 year old I unfortunately faced it intensely. I was fed up with this and said I need to do something.

Turning "bad" into beautiful: I co-founded a social enterprise in Jordan that provided women with an avenue to independent cash generation.

At one of the launch's of my start-up Yours &amp; Mine in Jordan

At one of the launch's of my start-up Yours & Mine in Jordan

Why I became an artist?

Problem: I lost my ability to use my hands easily and currently have permanent damage due to bone erosion from arthritis in my left hand.

Turning "bad" into beautiful: Celebrated my semi-functioning hands with finger-painting. Since I started painting 2 years I ago I have had 2 art exhibits in Washington DC (one that is currently ongoing at Artomatic, come visit me in room 8414!). I've not only sold pieces but I've most importantly sent out the message that even if you have a disability you can create beautiful pieces of art.

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Why I became a motivational speaker?

Problem: Arthritis stripped me away from daily activities in my senior year, a year that is supposed to be the prime of youth. This caused me to face depression at such a young age and face strong internal battles.

Turning "bad" into beautiful: Recovering from these battles was not easy and it needed constant mental training and finding paths of inspiration. I decided to share my story as a way of healing and helping inspire others along the way. Today I have had over 14,000 views online and delivered speeches to over 2,500 people, a blessing I pray to never take for granted.

Why I became a food critic?

Problem: Having arthritis forced me to become gluten-free and as a pizza, pasta and bread loving girl this was hard.

Turning "bad" into beautiful: I became a writing contributor for the Hungry Lobbyist to review restaurants with a gluten-free perspective. This has allowed me to celebrate my love for food and dining to a whole new awesome level. I also help bring awareness to the need of gluten-free friendly restaurants for all my gluten-free friends who became gluten-free not out of pure fun!

Overall I’ve realized that life may or may not get easier but I know that one thing will remain the same – my resilience and reinvention. I am currently working on a few exciting projects that will be launched soon that will take my reinvention a step higher. I hope you join me in this process of reinvention – God knows an individual with a strong supporting community grows and heals much quicker!

Have a story you want to share on your resilence and reinvention? Then share it with me through my contact page on my website or email me at aidamurad@gmail.com

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