From the ashes I rise


I missed blogging, I missed spending time reflecting and putting my floating thoughts down on virtual paper. I can’t believe it’s been that long. I missed a lot of things I used to do in my free time back home. Watching TV, going shopping with friends, having coffee everyday with my mom, going for long walks with my neighbors…

For the past year I’ve been doing my post-graduate studies in the U.S. It’s been a transformational experience as I’ve never been to the U.S. before, and never been abroad for such a long time. The longest I’ve been away from Saudi Arabia was for a two-month visit to London.

Being away from home, from all the familiar faces and places, is quite the character-building experience. Your perspective on things that you’ve taken for granted on daily bases completely changes once you’re by yourself. You’re forced to be independent. Paying bills, rent, wifi fees, taking the trash out, doing laundry, cooking.. the list goes on, it’s all part of your daily ‘survival’ responsibilities.

Being a Saudi Arabian woman, you live your whole life in a family house, either with your parents and siblings if you’re single, or with a husband. You don’t think about things like paying monthly rent, furnishing a place, getting wifi. I’ve always lived in a furnished, family-owned house, with speedy wifi, cable TV… and every other life luxury I’ve never had to think twice about.

At first, it was a chore to simply write a check every month on strictly scheduled days and mail it out to my landlord who doesn’t trust online banking. Not that I’ve been the spoiled girl before I came here, but now I see the world realistically and I appreciate things differently. It’s an eye-opener adventure. Studying abroad and having to assimilate with a new culture brings a fresh sense of responsibility to your lifestyle. It was scary at first, it’s still scary to be honest, but at least now I know if I don’t get it done nobody will. It’s scary, it’s intimidating, and it’s lonely, but it’s definitely worth it.

Like a phoenix, I rise and so should you.

 

My Mom’s Article (Arabic) من روائع حكمة العرب


الولدة حفظها الله كثيرا ما تردد علينا أبيات و أقوال عربية لها دلالات عميقة ذات معاني أخلاقية راقية. اليوم صباحا، كنت أتصفح إحدى المجلات الثقافية الموجودة على طاولة الطعام فوجدت مقالا أدبيا يشرح  أبيات شعرية طالما تكررت على مسمعي وكان لها أثرا قويا على نفسي وردة فعلي عند اتخاذ أي قرار. لكن المفاجأة الفعلية ان كاتبة المقال هي أمي! شعرت بالفخر اللامتناهي من محتوى المقال وسلاسة الطرح واسم الوالدة مضيئا صفحات المجلة. كان من أجمل ما قرأت لفترة طويلة ماضية. المقال في صفحتين يتحدث بأسلوب عذب واضح عن الأبيات التالية:

لا تَــــقــــــــُولــــــــن إذا مــــا لــم تُــــــرِدْ

أن تُـــــتِــــــمَّ الــــــــوعـد في شيءٍ نعم

حَــــســَنٌ قَـــوْلُ نَعَــــــمْ مِـــــــنْ بَعْــــدِ لا

وقـــــــَبِـــيحٌ قـــــــــــــولُ لا بــــــعد نعم

إن لا بَعْـــدَ نَعَــــــــــمْ فــــــــــــاحِـــشــــَةٌ

فبــــلا فـــابْـــــــدأ إذا خِــفـــتَ الندم

فــــإذا قـــــــلـــــت نـــعـــم فاصـــبر لها

بنـــــجــاح القـــــول ، إن الخُــــلْــــــفَ ذَمّْ

واعــــلـــم أن الذَّمَّ نَــــــقْــــصٌ للفـــــــتى

ومــــــن لا يـــتـــقِ الـــذم يُـــــــــــــــــــذَمّْ

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نشر في مجلة (المسبار) الثقافية، العدد الأول، ربيع الثاني 1433هـ

23 Lessons I’ve Learned in 23 Years


Today (27th May)  is my 23rd birthday and no matter how many birthdays I have,  every single one seems to be quite different. But there is one commonality between all birthdays, reflection. I always look at birthdays as an opportunity to reflect on what happened in the past year and a chance to assess where I’m taking my life in coming year. In this reflection process, arrays of depressing thoughts creeps into my mind including but not limited to, regrets, lost opportunities, hours and hours of wasted time, white hairs, and the fact that I still can’t fit into my favorite pair of jeans! Aging is not such a pleasurable thing, and for me, no matter how much I accomplish, when my birthday rolls around, I feel the exact same way; I could have done more, I didn’t do enough.  It’s a scientific truth universally acknowledge, we all get older. Knowing this, I realize I’m part of this natural process and I have to deal with it one way or the other. In pondering my age, I realized how I changed and how my thoughts matured. So I popped the inevitable question: what did life teach me? I decided to write my thoughts down as a reminder for myself on the many important lessons I’ve learned throughout the years until today. Mind you that I learned these lessons from painful firsthand experiences, wishing you can learn the outcome without having to go through the hardship.  I tried my best to make this post as short as possible. So here I present to you in bite-size 23 valuable life lessons I learned in the past years and plan to apply in my coming days.

  1. –  Life works in mysterious ways you will never completely comprehend, enjoy it while it lasts and rest assured everything is going to be alright.
  2. – Happiness is a journey not a destination. Enjoy the present, feel happy in this particular moment while reading this post.
  3. – People are not always going to agree with you. They will hate you and for no apparent, logical reason. Be true to yourself, be friendly and smile; still some people are not going to love you. It’s the way it is, accept this fact and deal with it but never give it more of your precious time.
  4. – Keep smiling even if you don’t feel like it, stretch those lips to the ear and make a curve out of your mouth. In other words, fake it till you make it.
  5. – Perfection is impossible. Your energy should be channeled towards quality and excellence.
  6. – Family comes first, anything else is a second priority. Despite the importance of friends, they still come and go, but family are there for you no matter what.
  7. – Don’t apologize too much. It makes you sound guilty when in fact you might be not.
  8. – As a teacher, the more you have respect for your students, the more they will respect you back.
  9. – Be the teacher you always dreamt of having as a student.
  10. – Don’t sweat the petty things. Never over think silly matters. Focus on the big picture.
  11. – Regret is good. Regret cut scars,  leaving you broken but with a precious lesson. Learn the lesson, ditch regret, and move on with a positive, powerful, energized spirit.
  12. – Cling to the people who truly love you, appreciate them while they’re there and try to never let them go. (see previous post)
  13. – Don’t settle for less than you deserve. Know your worth and don’t sell yourself short. You deserve the best!
  14. – Spend time, money and effort on the people you love (esp. family). It’s the most rewarding  investment you will ever make.
  15. – Make mistakes, try new things, and make mistakes again. Just try to utilize them properly. Mistakes are not failure. They are experiences and experience is knowledge.
  16. – Try your best to be organized, at home, in the office, your purse, your computer storage and that drawer that is filled with papers you  think are going to save your life one day yet haven’t been  touched for years. In three words, declutter, simplify and minimize.
  17. – Select your friends and the people you choose to be around. Better stay alone than be surrounded by the wrong crowd.
  18. – Read, read and read. Read everything and anything. Ignorance is a horrible state of darkness. So widen your mind, be curious, read about unusual topics, don’t limit yourself to your academic major of studying or your usual routine interests. Pursue your passion to the unknown. Read!
  19. -“Talking with quiet confidence will always beat screaming with obvious insecurity.”
  20. – Don’t drive people away from you by not returning their calls, or responding to their text messages or emails. It’s rude.
  21. – Listen to your mother. She knows better, in fact she probably knows you better than you know yourself.
  22. – Trust your intuition and instinct, but don’t form snappy judgments accordingly.
  23. – There are some words better left unsaid. Learn when to stop talking.

So now you know them, the 23 valuable lessons life has taught me the hard way. Mind you those pointers were initially intended to be as a reminder for me, sharing them was a last-minute decision for the general good.  I know life has a lot to offer, a handful of lessons I yet need to discover but always ready for and taking great pleasure from.

“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
Abraham Lincoln


They say that we are all in quest for something, looking and running towards something or running away from something (or most probably both!). Sometimes we are too engrossed in life we lose track of what is it exactly we’re looking for. I was talking to a friend the other day, telling her about some of my life disappointments, she shared this short narrative that somehow enabled me to put things in prospective. It’s a deep story with multiple meanings and numerous morals to be learnt from. I googled her story and thankfully I found it in endless websites. It goes like this…

One afternoon, Nasrudin and his friend were sitting in a cafe, drinking tea and talking about life and love. His friend asked: “How come you never married?”

“Well,” said Nasruddin, “to tell you the truth, I spent my youth looking for the perfect woman. In Cairo I met a beautiful and intelligent woman, but she was unkind. Then in Baghdad, I met a woman who was a wonderful and generous soul, but we had no common interests. One woman after another would seem just right, but there would always be something missing. Then, one day, I met her. Beautiful, intelligent, generous and kind. We had very much in common. In fact, she was perfect!”

“What happened?” asked Nasrudin’s friend, “Why didn’t you marry her?”

Nasruddin sipped his tea reflectively. “Well,” he replied, “it’s really the sad story of my life…. It seemed she was looking for the perfect man…”

Aside from the obvious morals of this story, including how we should look at ourselves first ,that we should try to understand others and give love while taking it, this story has triggered many eye-opening thoughts. Personally, I sometimes fail to truly appreciate what I have until it’s long gone. I think there are others out there who feel the same way, who lost the goods in pursuit of the what’s less, and now are burdened with regrets. While being endorsed in this thing called life, we fail to realize the big picture, the greater good, how lucky we are and how good we have it! We stay under the illusion that there are better things out there, that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. So we always have this urge to break loose of our own yard and to leap into the other brighter grass only to be baffled finding that the grass is not actually greener, it’s just a different shade of green, but it’s only grass!

We all are the same; we’re looking for our happiness and satisfaction. In doing so, we forget to stop and think of what we already have. I don’t exactly know where am I going with this, but all I know is that I failed myself too many times scorning the good people and things I used to have but was too blind to appreciate. Now they’re no longer around and I’m no longer the same.

Lesson in Socialism


I stumbled upon this anonymous piece on Twitter and I couldn’t think of any reason for not sharing it! 

————————————————————-

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had
never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire
class. That class had insisted that Obama’s socialism worked and that
no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, “OK, we will have an experiment in this class
on Obama’s plan”.. All grades will be averaged and everyone will
receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an
A…. (substituting grades for dollars – something closer to home and
more readily understood by all).

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B.
The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied
little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who
studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard
decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a D! No one was happy.
When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame
and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study
for the benefit of anyone else.

To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that
socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great,
the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the
reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

Could not be any simpler than that.

Remember, there IS a test coming up. The 2012 elections.

These are possibly sentences applicable to this experiment:

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the
wealthy out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without working for, another person must
work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government
does not first take from somebody else.

4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!

5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work
because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the
other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody
else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the
end of any nation.

East Coast Earthquake and Homaidan Al-Turki


Image source: Centredaily.com

Al-Turki's daughters - Click image for source

A 5.9 magnitude earthquake hit Washington DC and parts of New York City. As it shakes much of the US capital and was felt striking the Pentagon, White House and Capitol, resulting in immediate evacuations, people all over the world couldn’t help but ponder: “Is this finally the divine punishment!”

It’s not news for Americans that their country is perceived worldwide as the #1 terrorist.

America’s policies, your so-called anti-terrorism act (aka anti-Islamitism!), your prejudice and pompousness redeemed you as the most hated country. But even with America’s horrible public image, we still sympathize and empathize with your predicaments.

It might sound senseless, but despite the unjust incarceration of a Saudi national behind your prisons. Despite the fact that AlTurki is an innocent man whose only crime is being a Muslim who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Despite the fact that we all know for sure that this whole thing is part of an anti-Muslim sentiment from the merciless and discriminating US government. Yet we still pray for the safety of the US citizens. After all, they are our fellow human beings and natural disasters are part of our being on the fragile mother Earth.

Yes America, this is Islam. This is who Muslims really are. We are all about letting go of grudges and bitterness in times of crisis. Islam teachings have engraved in our hearts and souls the concept of forgiveness.

We pray Allah to have mercy on the people of the USA, and to bring healing and hope to those who have been affected by the earthquake.

Amen.

Prince Naif and The Independent


Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Interior minister for more than 40 years!

In The Independent (Friday, April 15th), Robert Fisk, the newspaper’s correspondent in the Middle East, published a feature article about the Arab revolutions and demonstrations.

It was also published in the newspaper’s website under the heading “The Arab awakening began not in Tunisia this year, but in Lebanon in 2005”.

The article was widely reproduced in the Arab world, especially among Saudis, because of the claims against the Second Deuputy Premier and Minister of Interior, Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz.

You should know that at that time Shia protesters in Saudi Arabia were planning a demonstration in March.

The statement that was allegedly issued by Prince Naif was that he ordered security forces in Saudi cities to show no mercy and to use live rounds on unarmed demonstrators.

Several social networking websites have featured the statements “struck with iron fists”, and “should be shown no mercy”.

Prince Naif was filed charges against the UK paper, and apparently he won!

The court has ordered the newspaper to pay him over the damage. Furthermore, a correction and an apology has been published in the newspaper.

Prior to that, an earlier correction published on May 4 by The Independent said: “Prince Naif has responded that the order is a forgery, was not issued by him and that he would never issue such an order.”

Prince Naif says that the damages, paid by The Independent, (the amount of which is unknown) will be denoted to charity (What kind of charity exactly, that as well we’ll never know!).

The Independent’s lawyer Hellen Morris said “Both The Independent and Robert Fisk offer their sincere apologies to Prince Naif for the damage and distress caused by the article and the inevitable coverage it received,”

While writing this quick post over hearing about this outrageous accusations and allegations, Marlyin Monroe’s lavish saying kept resonating in my head “It’s all make believe, isn’t it?”…