Monday, February 24, 2014

Travel Journal...

lamps lamps everywhere
I just came back from a 6 day trip to Istanbul, Turkey with my husband and son. A city that has been on my bucket list of places to see.  It is a city that is filled with history, culture, art,food, music and beauty.  It is a city that has heart. The people are friendly, and that made the visit even more enjoyable.   I felt at home even if i didn't speak the language. I loved waking up to the sound of the prayer calls.  I even loved hearing it five times a day...a continuous reminder that  no matter where you Are or what you are doing, we must remember God.  For someone who is always driving, as much as my feet ached at the end of the day, walking never felt so good as it did because I was discovering something new every moment.  My mouth dropped in amazement to see the architecture that still stood strong and was more than 500 yeas old.  For someone who loves food, this was a food lovers paradise...the display of sweets, spices, breads, teas, coffees, juices, in every corner you walked was dvine.  We were in a city that was surrounded by hills and water, the famous bosphorous river....and if you crossed the river, you were in Asia..a city that was between two continents.  The best part of this was i was able to share this with my two favorite men- my husband and my son.   I wanted to capture every moment through pictures and so the idea of creating a photo book is next in line. A vacation is best often captured with pictures. .  A souvenir for myself that I know I will treasure Lifetime. I leave you with some pictures that give you a glimpse into the beauty of this glorious city....
inside The Blue Mosque

view of The Bosphorous River

Blue Mosque Ceiling

spice market

View of the Old City

Sweet Shop

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

An article I wrote that got published

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Tomorrow is Valentine's Day.  A day where we celebrate LOVE.  Love between partners, friends, family, even school friends.   A day where we share with each other gifts in different forms.   Unfortunately it has been taken to the extreme in this day and age with consumerism at its speak, so for so many out there, there is a lost sense of meaning of this holiday.  What is love?
Love is Letting Our Violence End - in my definition.  No more violence on many levels between people - between states, between religions and between nations.  Violence is not only physcial  it is verbal, it is emotional, it is sexual - and instead of focusing on showing our love by purchasing items,  let us try to focus on changing our attitudes, actions and thoughts towards one another.

  They say that you cannot truly love another person unless you have truly begun to love yourself.  And if we are able to begin the process of loving ourselves and showing ourselves the same compassion, kindness, thoughtfulness, fearlessness, boldness, passion, truthfulness, selfnessness that we exhibit towards our loved ones, then we are on the way to the right path.  We give so much of ourselves in a relationship - any relationship - as a parent think of how selfless our actions are on a constant basis - thinking of only our kids and when they grow up and don't need us as much any more we begin to feel empty.  Then we don't know what to do with ourselves anymore.

As intimate partners, instead of it being a two way process of giving and taking, sometimes there is always one person in the relationship that gives so much of his/herself that they really don't take the time for them.  When we are constantly giving, giving, giving -how are we going to fill that well? How do we nourish ourself?   At some point we are going to be exhausted, irritable, frustrated, bored, depressed, and those are signs that our relationship is not healthy.   But if we dont' look at what it is that we need to begin loving ourselves, the pattern will continue.  

A child that has grown up witnessing violence, a child that has grown up being deprived of love from his parents, a child that has grown up being separated from his parents at a young age, a child that has no sense of security grows ups as an adult with very little love for himself.  There are habits, addictions, behaviors, and a rejection of himself that is internalized and as a result makes it very difficult to really love fully.  He may choose to love with the best of intentions, but if he has a negative image of himself on a subconscious level, there will be certain areas in his life that will continue to suffer.  Therefore, as an adult, it is important to become aware of these issues so that the internal transformation can begin and so that you can begin to have healthy relationships.  And for us as parents, it is so important to be aware of how we can have a major impact on how our children view themselves.  
And it starts with us.  It starts with us loving ourselves.  Self Love is the basis of being able to truly love.  We need to teach ourselves and our kids from a very young age about the idea of self-love.  And by learning to love ourselves, we are able to treat others how we would like to be treated.   So on this Valentines Day, love yourself a little extra - you and no body else deserves it more than you, because you are unique like no one else.   I always tell my son - there is no one like you - like there is no one like me - God made us all unique and we each came with our own beautiful strengths.  They are there within us, we just need to be open to receiving them. 

A journaling Exercise for you:  Write a Love letter to your self: And take it one step further.  Let yourself write back to you. 

Another Exercise:  Take your favorite love quotes and paste them on heart cut outs and put them in your home-on the window, hanging from the ceiling, on the fridge - and even at work.  Love really does. 

Happy Valentines' Day & Happy Journaling!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Notes to Myself....

Ever have one of those days where there is so much on your mind that you just don't know where to begin? Well it has been one of those weeks.  Ideas twirling round and round in my head,  relationships changing, seasons just seem to be dragging and we can't get rid of this cold, and the most important thing is that my son is turning 7!  If any of you have ever read, NOTES TO MYSELF by Hugh Prather, this post today is similar to that.  It is notes to myself about the week as we come to an end of another week. 

Writing it down for me helps me put things in perspective and just be able to move forward.   If you are having one of those weeks, i ask you to take time to do this for yourself.   A technical piece i have found over the years - that writing by hand takes on a whole different meaning versus when I write on my laptop.  The quality of writing is different, the energy of the writing feels different, and so I ask you too- see if you notice the difference when you write by hand vs. typing.  

Note # 1:  So yes, my son is turning 7.   Ever since he turned 6, he couldn't wait to turn 7.  And he will always remember how when he turned 6, his dad asked him -"so will you miss being five?" and he cried.  So he makes a point to remind us - please don't ask me if i am going to miss being six.   He wants to be seven.  And he is finally turning seven.  A big boy, and oh what a big boy he has become.  It is amazing to see what a sponge these children are at these ages.  Taking in so much information and becoming their own little people.  That's what he is  - a little man!  It takes a while to sink in that this little thing that was once so tiny, crawling, barely speaking has become such a chatterbox, such a thinker, and such a little man.  And I say to myself - oh, how i wish i could hold time for a moment and let it just stay put so see him in this stage.  But then I guess that's the journey of parenthood - to watch our children grow - to see them become beautiful beings and learn to live in this world.   And to my son, I say  "you did it."   So there are emotions swirling around because of this day - no matter what, it is still a day where you look at this beautiful creation of God and say "THANK YOU."   Thank you for creating such a wonderful being.  

Relationships:  We are continuously changing as individuals.   Our experiences dictate the internal and external changes we go through, and so as we change our relationships change.   The basis of our relationship may not change i.e. the nature of it, but our definition of the relationship and how we relate to each other change.   And this happens as parents, as friends, as intimate partners, as siblings, professionally, and so on and so forth.  When a relationship changes one has to allow ourselves to acknowledge it, release it, and accept it.  There has to be a sense of accepting our emotions which could be many.  For some it could be relief, for others it could be a sense of mourning and grief because they know they can never go back to what it "used" to be like, and yet for others it could be redefining the relationship to make it something better.  Relationships sometimes define who we are - we get our sense of self based on how we relate with others, how others relate to us.  So when a relationship changes, there is a sense of sadness and it is important to acknowledge that sadness-if you can't verbalize it with the other person, at least do it with yourself.  By doing that, it allows you to move a step further into helping you define another sense of self for you - you are venturing into another phase of your journey with or without the individual.   And you can still look at the individual in the face and accept them with compassion.  

Anger:  It is not good for you - if you hold it in, you will fuse like a fire cracker - so it is so important to talk, talk, talk - if you don't talk - and it is all up in your head - you can't think clearly.  Therefore, find someone you trust and give yourself permission to talk. It doesn't matter if you have lived a life of independence and are used to depending only on yourself for things - you still need someone you can bounce of ideas- someone you can vent to - even if it is just yourself - talk.   And i mean that literally- self-talk is as helpful (as long as you don't talk back to yourself) as writing/talking to another person. 

Yoga:  I will apply this specifically for women, but i do believe that this can applicable to both sexes.   We hold so much of our emotions in our body.  And if we don't find a way to release it on a daily basis - it will take a toll on us emotionally, physically, and mentally.   For me, Yoga is my salvation.   Last saturday I had a wonderful class led by a wonderful teacher and she geared the practice towards moms - and how much of our energy is for others and not taking the time for ourselves - and need to find a way to release.  She walked us through a series of "asanas" or postures but most of her work and practice was on finding our center and finding our "BREATH."  And by learning to continuously breathe, we begin to learn to live in the world knowing that our role is to nourish but also to receive.   Again another gentle reminder to me not to abandon this practice of mine - because it is my center - it is my core of who I am and it allows me to do all the things that I need to do and still make time for me.   An observation - when I am aware and I mean fully aware while practicing a posture through my breath, it takes me to a level that is beyond description -i am able to feel my emotion and I release the emotion with my breath, but i also accept my emotion because it is a part of me.  To quote my teacher last week, " it feels so good, you want to cry."  Another observation - the emotions are still with you even after class- they don't leave - and so making it a regular practice to release it as a morning ritual and if you can at night before you go to bed is so important.   

I liked this exercise - and if you feel like it, i encourage you to take it on.   Notes to yourself about the week in review...what struck you most? what are your thoughts? what was the highlight? It allows you to put the week that you lived through at rest and move forward to enjoying your weekend!

Happy Journaling!