Surviving and/or living in the moment/through moment(s)

Living in the moment is a privilege. 

We are each an accumulation of events and experiences. To the best of my ability, I would love to anchor my existence in a single moment. 

If I am bound, or feel bound by my past however,  it takes an incredible amount of effort to unshackle myself. 

Living in the moment is a privilege: I think very few of us  are able to attain this high.

Living in the moment has been commodified too. Living in the moment is trending. It’s made to look like silky hair blowing in beach air; it’s a boyfriend behind the camera; it’s an acai bowel after an $80 workout; a perfect family outing; it’s a filter. It’s also largely whitewashed.

I suspect that many of the people claiming to be living in the moment are willfully delusional and/or have opted for selective amnesia. I see this as a basic survival skill; our mind and our bodies archiving experiences with biological prowess. And so while I acknowledge this, I am not casting judgment on what anyone does to protect themselves—to ensure that they can be, and will be, nourished by other experiences. 

But for those of us that can’t forget and have opted to forge through the darkness in the hopes of our spotting and uncovering, sources of light—bravo and forge on.

I know that it can be difficult to hear that we should ‘live in the moment’,  that we should ‘let go of the past’, that we are opting for sadness when happiness is apparently right in front of us–

Protect yourself. Silence the noise and silence those that have chosen a journey different from yours. 

Ignore them, ignore them.

Ignore them in the same way they ignore our internal odyssey.



A letter to my imaginary daughter : Love what you wear

*I wrote this one month ago.

Dear Zara,

You are not in my womb yet. In fact, I am yet to find the person who will co-create you.

But this is the name he and I picked for you. He being the person I hoped would help me, create you. We picked your name because I may or may not have had an obsession with the Spanish retailer Zara. In addition to loving their clothing, I thought it was a pretty name. We had a Pinterest board dedicated to the idea of you–given the story behind your name, it’s only right that we planned and prepared your cutest outfits very far in advance.

Like your mother, you will probably waste large amounts of time picking an outfit. Your style will change drastically through time. You might even obsess over certain colors like I have (navy blue, Zara, navy blue). Zara you will change your mind and at some point, you will get tired of what originally seemed like fun. You might wish that you could dedicate yourself to one style. But if you are anything like me Zara, that will be impossible, and you will come to learn that this will actually go against who you are.

I want you to become frustrated with your outfits. I want you to have a closet full of clothes that you never wear. I want there to be a special place in your closet for these items. I want you to try different styles and play with patterns and color. I want you to have closet favorites and staple items. I  want you to be comfortable in your clothing, no matter what you choose. And I hope that your clothing makes you happy.

Zara, become frustrated with your outfits. If they aren’t working for you, if they don’t make you feel your best, baby, go change.


Let yourself have choice. Be overwhelmed by the choices Zara, but never feel like you are above them. Acknowledge the choices, respect them for what they are, but if you don’t love it, don’t wear it. I don’t want you to ever feel like you have to wear something. Make choices, Zara. Learn how to be happy saying yes, and be confident when you say no. With time, you will learn what makes you look and feel great.

Remember that the best deals are not always on the sale rack. Be cautious of fast fashion.


Understand that as you grow and change, some of your clothes might not fit you the way they used to. Your favorites will change. That’s okay, baby girl. It can be in your closet but it doesn’t have to go on your body. Eventually, when the time is right you clean your closet. You might have to do this more than once but don’t be afraid; you will love results. I promise.

I pray that you know who you are, I pray that you are confident. But be open to the new things, because I bet, you’ll find something you didn’t know you could love. When you find items Zara, you might also find your best self. Experiment and learn.

Don’t wear anything that doesn’t make you feel like the best version of yourself. Change as you need to. Change the moment you feel uncomfortable but if possible make sure that when you leave the house Zara, you like what you are wearing. Sometimes it will be difficult to come home and change. Difficult but never impossible.

I don’t know at what age you’ll read this, but you’ll come to see that what I am telling you Zara, is to date. Avoid premature commitment, Zara. Try not to commit to anybody that does not commit to you. If your goal is marriage, don’t feel that it is running towards you. As you grow, you will approach the goal. Don’t be haste. Be cautious of the honeymoon phase, Zara – avoid fast fashion.

Watch your clothes for holes, be sure to check for fabric content, inspect your clothes after you wear them, after you wash them…how do they hold?

Know that many of your clothes will be tossed in the washing machine on Sundays. Be careful of the piles of clothes on the floor my dear, if you must dig through them, be discerning. Take note of what you dry clean, pay attention to the clothes you hang carefully–these are your key pieces.

I love navy blue baby, but everything in my closet has been navy blue. This color holds stains well.  Allow yourself some color Zara, if for no other reason than to see the stains as they are.

To summarize

I am employed folks! On Monday, I’ll be heading towards the NY Department of Education to work as an Analyst.

A few of my posts covered my struggles with unemployment, as well as my serious misstep of associating a temporary situation with my identity.

I spent Christmas and New Year’s in Ghana with my family. My decision to go to Ghana was somewhat abrupt. Truth be told, I went because I missed my boyfriend and I was concerned about what continued distance would do to our relationship.  When my dad asked me to clarify why I would spend my money on an expensive ticket when I had just recently started working part time, he answered his own question, Addison*. I am lucky to enjoy a close bond with my father so I was happy he knew the answer. I was even more relived that he did not question my decision or belittle my feelings, “Ok, so you’ll be here for Christmas then. That will be nice”, my father said. I went with the hopes of getting clarity on my relationship. I did and didn’t get clarity, but I also got something else –and maybe I’ll discuss it in a future post.
I am back in New York, I’ve secured a lovely apartment in the heart of Brooklyn or maybe an artery leading to the heart of Brooklyn. Either way, I am happy to finally have my own safe space again. My new space has come with soft reminders of loneliness but I confident that as I make the space feel more like home, it will feel like exactly that.

I am looking forward to writing more posts. I am curious to see how my new situation and environment will affect my writing.

Joel Osteen says God won’t give you a blessing you aren’t ready for — I am ready !

*Actually, my boyfriend’s name is not Addison but I think it’s a nice name for a boy. 

A place to be tried & tested

*I wrote this post before my trip to Ghana  on December 21. For one reason or another, I have been writing without posting. This is an effort to break the silence.

In less than a week, I will return to Ghana. For many reasons, this visit will assess and test the growth I have made since my first blog.

My first post explored the Ghanaian word obolo– meaning fat. My next blog post explored the word oboroni-white. I have no doubts that I will be referred as either many times during my short, 3-week stay.  I have been accustomed to hearing these words. But I am hoping my reactions, if any, will be different. I haven’t suddenly acquired a new race(still not white !) and I am still waiting for my body to respond to a drastic change in eating habits and a gym membership.

I’ve written about a few dark experiences, I’ve explored the various ways in which these events have affected and shaped me, I’ve stated that my prior inability (not unwillingness) to trust had eroded a couple of my most important relationships.

For a couple of months, perhaps exactly since October 31st, the voices in my mind that energize and spark my anxiety, have been very quiet. When the anxious chorus crescendos, with the full agency I now have over my thoughts and feelings, I am immediately able to reverse the dial. In Ghana, I will be temporarily united with my boyfriend    of almost three years. Have I fully released the habits that were influenced by an acute distrust of his feelings and actions? Can I listen to what he says and not fill in conversational gaps with worst possible scenarios ? Will I be able to ask clarifying questions calmly and rationally ? Has the effort I have put into being the best version of myself  for myself and inevitably our relationship, been matched ?

I’m looking forward to being in Ghana during Christmas. This will be my second visit to Ghana during this time. My first Christmas in Ghana was due to my family leaving Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War. I really only recall the ‘fleeing a war’ part so I’m looking forward to creating new memories.

Customer Service: Where I press 1 to speak to God

When my phone is acting up, I call for help. I even have customer service phone numbers memorized. I rely on customer service to help fix and maintain my devices, appliances,etc. When something is wrong, I know a call can fix it.

When I am experiencing personal challenges, trauma or pain–who do I call? A friend, boyfriend, parents. As important as I am to them, I don’t have access to them 24/7. They also aren’t standing by waiting for my call. As much as they want me to be happy, their raison d’être is not to ensure my happiness, success or safety. They can sometimes guide and advice me but they don’t know what my future holds. My parents have set me up for success but they are not the creators of my path.

When it comes to personal challenges, when it comes to sharing your successes, I’m finding that God provides the best and most efficient customer service.

My family is Catholic. Since we all grew up in Saudi Arabia, where there are no churches, we relied on our parents to teach us about their religion. The religious guidance I received from my parents vastly differed. My father, a mathematician, presented religious matters with precision, logic and Latin phrases. My mother, a proud homemaker and teacher, presented a more compassionate view, and from a young age, encouraged me to think about Jesus as a boyfriend (…Mom?). Because of my environment, I think I initially learned and took more interest in Islam and other religions, and this was the means  through which I would come to understand the values of Christianity, the tradition of Catholicism, and also, the person I wanted to be.

I can write this post because though I have never considered myself to be ‘religious’, I believed in God. And it is through the acknowledgement of his existence that I can write this post with a certain amount of confidence.

Because I believe in God, I can choose to have relationship with Him, and I can learn to depend on him. I can depend on Him in a way I can’t others. Not only do I not have to filter my thoughts,  be diplomatic, or worry about a reaction, I have immediate access to Him.

I have immediate access to God regardless of what I am going through, rain or shine. How many of us call customer service when things are going well? Do I call T-mobile when my service is working smoothly? Nope. Do I call my bank when they process my check ? No, I certainly don’t but they will hear from me if I get an overdraft fee of $35 for buying a Twix for .75 cents (ah college).

Since I have been lifted out of the dark, not only do I have to be careful that I don’t find my way back, I have to keep a relationship with what got me out.  Imagine if I treated my friends the way I do God?

So that is where I am at now, like I said in my previous post, I’ve transitioned from repairs to maintenance. And I am working to maintain a relationship with God.

I have to thank my special needs student for inspiring this post. Today he said that I should only talk to him when he needs help. ❤

On guarding my heart

Lately, I’ve been talking to myself–but I’m not responding so I am holding on to most of my marbles. What have I been saying? I’ve been saying “God is fighting my battles”. Why?

I say it several times a day actually. In the middle of my sleep if I wake up feeling anxious, when I wake up in the morning, and during the day if I don’t feel like I am being positive. When I say that God is fighting my battles. It does a few things for me; first, it calms me down. It pauses a running mind and gives me a chance to change the conversation I am having with myself. It transfers ownership and responsibility of my challenges to a power far more equipped than I. Finally, it reminds me that there is bigger plan for me; plans that are majestic next to my problems.

Joel Osteen says that when we are in peace, we are in a position of power. If power means having total control over my thoughts and feelings, rather than reacting to what’s going on around me, then I am power hungry. I think that power is akin to a type of control we hope to assert over our lives. Instead of absorbing the impact of each emotional asteroid, power gives us the ability to deflect impact. This isn’t ignorance of what’s going on around us, or an inability to process our emotions. It is emotional intelligence, it is a guarding of our hearts.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” ( Proverbs 4:23). If I were to absorb each negative thought, allow myself to be affected by negativity, it would affect me. I have thought that I had more control over myself that I really did. But I can tell you that negativity will seep into your actions and your thoughts. After years of letting negativity flow through me, even when I was determined to shut it off, I couldn’t. Too many times I had attempted without success. This lead to leaking. Without my knowledge or consent, drops of negativity disrupted my thoughts and influenced my actions.

God is fighting my battles is how I maintain my tap, how I try to guard my heart.

Don’t make the mistakes I made and think that you can separate your thoughts from your actions, from your words. Your thoughts are an invisible hand. And even if you don’t notice it, someone else will pick up on it. Trust me. And it will affect them, their response will affect you, and you’ll wonder when they changed.

Joel Osteen, in an analogy that I found to be so powerful and accessible, says that ships don’t sink because of the water around them. Ships sink because of the water that gets in them. Guard your heart.





On your way or almost there: Acceptance during change

Scenario: Pearl has been on a clean eating campaign for two weeks, successfully. After a long day, Pearl comes home and suddenly that spinach and artichoke salad seems like punishment. Pizza it is. After Pearl has enjoyed an un-disclosable amount of slices, she is overwhelmed with guilt, regret and a lingering taste of pepperoni. The next day, as Pearl wakes up, she remembers she committed to jogging Saturday mornings. She also remembers her pizza festivities the night before. “What’s the point? After eating all that junk food, I can’t do this. What’s the point of running if I’m just going to come home and stuff my face?” Pearl resigns to her bed; after all, she read a study that sleep promotes weight loss. 

I may or may not be Pearl. Either way, I can relate to this scenario. I commit to developing a new habit, I mess up along the way, and my new leaf cartwheels into a pile of failed attempts. Change is hard, no doubt. Consistency is even harder. The good news is that I’m pretty sure Serena Williams was recently reported to be at a Chinese restaurant when someone tried to steal her phone. During training, Micheal Phelps eats 6-8 slices of pizza for dinner with pasta. This is just to say that eating pizza and lo mein doesn’t mark the death of a warrior. Imagine Serena quitting tennis because she ate 7 too many wontons the night before.

You committed to something, and you did it for 2, 3, 4, 5 days straight. Celebrate that! That’s something you weren’t doing before: you’re in the process of changing. Acknowledge and accept that positive shift you’ve made.

You’ve lost 8 pounds, but your goal was lose 10 pounds. Celebrate the 8 pounds and have a plan of attack for the next 2 pounds. Don’t get defeated because you haven’t met your goal. Goals, successes,–we approach them, we don’t land them.

I hope you’re ready for the next part: Joel Osteen says…while you’re waiting for better, don’t be discontent.  He  says we should learn to accept ourselves while we’re in the process of changing.

I think that if you can accept yourself while you are changing, the process of change will actually be easier and healthier. And sometimes, the real lessons don’t happen because you are now a size 8 from a size 12. Sometimes the lesson, the aha! moment comes when find yourself at a size 10. Instead of hating your position until that promotion comes…maybe find ways to enjoy it–that might make actually expedite the promotion! Did you do something that you said you weren’t going to do? Take a moment to remember why you decided change, acknowledge how poorly that habit makes you feel and continue. But don’t give up on the way.

With three interviews next week, and eventual employment creeping up on me, I’m actually lamenting over all the time I spent mopping while I was unemployed. Another thing JO says, is to learn to enjoy the season you’re in. I wish I would have done that. The people in my life…I know they wish I had!

Full disclosure : These positive, hopefully uplifting posts, are incredibly uncomfortable to write. It was a lot easier to write about negative stuff. But Joel Osteen says….

That time Joel Osteen dropped several truth bombs on me

Do you talk to yourself the way you talk to other people?

I remember my parents directly and indirectly teaching me how to communicate; what to say, what to not say. It’s something we learn how to do all through life really. Less time, unfortunately, is dedicated to learning how to speak to ourselves. Our intangible thoughts are powerful because they facilitate our relationship with ourselves and with other people. I know I have had less than positive thoughts about a person but it’s all unicorns and rainbows when I speak with them. It’s a little harder to make that switch when you talk to yourself.

When I look back and think about all the things I have said to myself, I am bully. I have picked apart and spat on myself. I think because it’s internal and automatic, it can be hard to control, hard to notice. But the effects are devastating.

Let’s take body image; the less satisfied I have been with my body, the more weight I have gained. If I had noticed this a few years ago, I would have stopped and started yelling compliments at my reflection. My words and my thoughts were negative and they did not reflect what I truly wanted. I wasn’t telling myself that I was healthy, capable of change, beautiful or confident. Instead, I was telling myself that I couldn’t ever lose weight, that I would forever be a slob, and much more. Words matter. As I talked down to myself, I didn’t encourage any positive behavior. In fact, when I spoke negatively, the bad habits and lifestyle that got me to that position were empowered and worse, justified. It was perfectly fine for me to just sit around and eat because, well, I wasn’t ever going to lose weight, that’s what I was telling myself–so there was no need for me to replace my three-topping pizza with a large bowl of kale and dates (or whatever Kate Hudson eats).

Had I changed the conversation I was having with myself sooner, I am confident that I would have experienced different results. As you know, I have been listening to Joel Osteen for several days now and he is having a remarkable effect on me. In The Power of I Am, Osteen says that our words prophesy our future–I think he’s right. It doesn’t mean that if I say, “I will win the lottery tomorrow” I can quit my job today though. Osteen says, “God will release for you what negative words have delayed”.

I can either talk my way to success by believing that the best is coming my way, or I can feed my demise and speak negatively about my future and myself. If I choose the latter, inevitably, my negative words will impact my actions and my attitude. When I started telling myself I was capable of making better food choices, instead of submitting to my thunder thighs (now said lovingly), I was less entised by a slice of pizza (truly!). When I started telling myself, and saying out loud that I was talented, I had a great skill set, my perfect job would find me…I felt less useless, my unemployment wasn’t a burden, it was an opportunity to be creative.

If you’re rolling your eyes saying here’s another bible bumper. My first response would be that I haven’t opened a bible in a long while. I just started listening to a different voice because my own voice had been hurting me for too long. If it helps to replace “God” with “The Universe” or whatever it is you believe in, be my guest. I spent most of my life believing that prayer was activity of the idle, so I will not judge you.

But if you’re repeatedly telling yourself the opposite of what you want, what purpose does that serve? I found that it didn’t serve me, so I changed the conversation.

It’s working.

Things I am not: Separating status from my identity

I graduated from a prestigious school in May with a Masters degree. I also graduated with equally august ideas about what my life would look like post-graduation.

Before I continue, this is the first time, since my acceptance and graduation from the school, that I have mentioned it as a prestigious school. So in case ‘prestigious school’ is a trigger for you, please feel welcome. I am not going to rant about how life has failed me while I wait for my navy blue, gold buttoned blazer to be steam pressed. In fact, I’m sitting in a public laundry facility and there’s an EBT card in my right pocket. I do have said blazer but it’s currently subject to bidding on eBay.

Having been unemployed since May, I have consistently confused my status with my identity. This pushed me into an abyss of self-loathing, depression and unrelenting feelings of uselessness.

For several months, my unemployment meant that I did not have attractive skills, it meant that I hadn’t performed well at school, that my hard work was meaningless and had I even worked hard enough? I was confusing a temporary status with my entire existence.

Who I am is separate and unequal to my employment status. I am hard working, I did well in school; in a few notable courses I out performed my peers, I have an incredibly diverse skill set and I have been fortunate to have had experiences that will make me the perfect candidate for my perfect job when it comes my way.

How we talk to ourselves is so important. I would never talk to my worst enemy the way I often converse with myself. I had to change the conversation I was having with myself to find peace with my situation. When I stared doing that windows started opening. Not windows of opportunity mind you, but windows that let out a lot of bad air. Am I fully employed now? Nope! I don’t even have an interview lined up. But I am doing something now that I used to love and I am finally taking action on ideas that I’ve had for a while.

Given the pressures and schedule of a full time job, especially the type of job I had envisioned for myself, I doubt I would have had the time to do what I am doing now. And after the events of the last two years, I am not sure why I didn’t actually look forward to this time.

I don’t want to give you the impression that this was a smooth transition. It was not. I fought it, kicking and screaming. For months, I’d spend my day applying for jobs, reaching out to people on LinkedIn, formatting and reformatting my resume, I’d go on interviews only to be told some version of ‘It was down to you and one other candidate’. I heard this about four times. Eventually, I had to accept that perhaps, working right now wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing. If it were, someone else would be getting that call.

Learning how to accept things as they are is incredibly difficult. It is incredibly difficult for me because I was taught that if I worked hard, I would get everything I wanted and my achievements would be endless. And this is actually true; except no one ever said I would get what I wanted immediately.

There are other applications to this that have been useful to me, for example, body image. How I perceive myself to look doesn’t mean that I am not worthy of being in a relationship, it does not mean that I can’t have healthy relationships, it does not mean that I am lazy, etc.

I am going to continue reminding myself not to confuse my status with my identity.


This post is inspired by Joel Osteen’s ‘The Power of I Am’.

sans un titre (without a title)

sans titre (without title)

If I could talk about it, I would.
If I could tell you, I would.
If I knew that you would not judge me, I would tell you.
If I could press release on the burden, I would.
If I hadn’t been conditioned to carry the burden, absorb the shock; know that I would have told you.
If the consequences wouldn’t both relieve and hurt me, I would.
If I knew that by cleaning up, I would make a bigger mess for myself, you would have known. You would have known when it started. You would know that it happened again, and again.
If I wasn’t so deeply embarrassed, yet faultless, trust me, you would know. You would know everything.
If I had had the vocabulary you would have known.
If I could have been a child, if I hadn’t been wiser, far beyond my years, I wouldn’t have protected the rest  of you.

I wouldn’t have taken the fault when I was blameless.
If I hadn’t been conditioned to my silence, if after all these years, I hadn’t been forced to find comfort and resolve in my silence, if I hadn’t had to put in the work to heal, if I hadn’t been strong enough to do that, if being fed your weakness hadn’t made me this strong.

If I wouldn’t be praised for being strong. I hate that.

My strength is a seed of pain, how dare you water it.

If I had the opportunity to weep, be weak, fail, blame.
If all of you didn’t interact with me like it didn’t happen.
If I didn’t still try to have a positive,meaningful relationship with you.
If I hadn’t sought, in my adulthood, the protection you did not give me as a child.

You have all dug into the depths of my conscious.

And left your shovels.

And I have been forced to dig deeper to find my escape.