Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Love like No Other



Growing up in an Arab family, I was always taught to love the land we resided on as there is no other love as the love of land. I remember my mother becoming frustrated with the government’s municipality if they uprooted trees only to throw them away as if they were useless pieces of wood. Her love of trees and life was contagious and it has become a part of me and at the very core of my being.

Since my mother and her family were forced to leave their land that they lived on for generations, a tree, an olive tree to be more specific, became a symbol of solidarity, perseverance and life. People who have grown on pieces of land that were carpeted with trees would comprehend this. Those who plant those trees and harvest them grow up to realize that without them, they would lose their livelihood. This realization, this appreciation of trees, would be handed down from one generation to another.

Many trees have lived for hundreds of years and have watched generations upon generations play amongst their fields and branches. They have guarded little children who later grew into men and women and who later ploughed the fields, watered their roots and harvested their fruit.  These same trees have witnessed many crucial moments in our country’s history and have survived weather changes and human construction…even destruction.

If trees are a symbol of life and weapons are a symbol of death, then why are those majestic ancestral trees being forced to uproot their lives for a military academy?

Watching the below video brought shivers down my spine. It brought flashbacks of an image that I had seen on TV many times over of hundreds of olive trees being uprooted and their caretakers crying heartbreaking tears of desperation and agony. They were not only crying because their livelihood had been robbed but also because the trees have become a part of themselves, their history, and their family tree. A farmer (be it female or male) would sit under the shade of these trees, after having harvested their fruit; have some food, rest and maybe even share the water with his or her wooden companion.

And so I wonder if we are going down the same path of uprooting trees and people’s livelihoods. Shouldn’t we safeguard what we were blessed with rather than destroy them?

Shouldn’t we be the protectors of such lands knowing that they provide us with countless precious gifts; produce, shade, scenery and wood (to name a few) and keep the soil from being eroded and sustain the people living off of it?

How can they ask those who work for hours, days and years on end to leave, only to destroy the land they came to love and be at one with? Have they no empathy?

Fatemeh Zaytoun (whose last name translates to olives) is one woman who deserves to be mentioned and applauded. You will see her in this video making Saj bread (one of the most delicious thin breads you could eat) to give away for free, in order to bless the people and build awareness of her and many families’ plight. I pray that her efforts and prayers be answered.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Will to Adapt



The people of the Ladakh community of the Himalaya are some of the most inspirational people in this world. They work hard to be able to survive and overcome the changes in their environment. Global warming is causing the glaciers which they rely on to irrigate their crops, to retreat in India. Without these life giving glaciers, their crops would not yield and die and which would in turn cause the slow withering of those self- sustaining communities.
The genius behind a plan to make man-made glaciers is one who should be honored for his efforts to save his community and the hundreds of lives that rely on farming. Mr. Norphel, Glacier Man,  came up with an idea that would adapt to these climatic changes and one which would help the farmer continue living in their current settlements without having to be forced to leave. His artificial glaciers are one of the first human efforts at human adaptation.
Norphel’s idea: The villagers build a stone reservoir up high in the mountains that would collect precious water which would be used to help grow an abundant yield. The plan is to divert the surplus of autumn and winter run-offs into these large rock lined reservoirs and hold the water until it freezes, as glaciers, during the winter months only to melt during spring and quench the lands’ thirst.
Before this project was implemented, farmers stopped having snow cover their fields and their planting season kept receding until they could no longer moisten the soil and harvest their crops.
Now, however, with the help of these artificial glaciers, the ice melts early enough to rescue and save these farmers from having a dry season with no crops to harvest.
Mr. Norphel has already helped build 10 artificial glaciers and has rescued hundreds of farmlands and communities. Despite having one of them destroyed in 2006 due to unexpected heavy rainfall and floods, they are in the making of a better built one.
These reservoirs are built by the villagers’ own hands, sweat and tears and they are ones to be admired. To strive to help oneself and one's community is an act that should be mentioned and praised. I respect and appreciate these people’s efforts to help themselvesthey are not sitting down, doing nothing, complaining about their situation wanting others to come to their aid and rescue…. They are doing something about the difficult situation they found themselves in and are learning to roll with the punches!

Monday, June 27, 2011

I'm Sorry My Blog Friends

I am sorry if I am going to be forced to inconvenience you when commenting... I had to take some steps to protect my Blog...
There are many spam messages getting through the ease of my settings leaving silly unthoughtful comments on my blog. 
It has forced a wall between you and me and I am sorry for that! 
Please continue writing and reading as your comments fill my days and keep me company.
I faltered a little when I read the spam comment... it shook me!
I do not know why I write... I just do... there is not one specific reason why I write other than I like writing... I like sharing my thoughts with people I love or whomever would love to sit and chat over a cup of coffee or tea with only a glowing computer screen between us. 
I love reading about other people's everyday lives... I love meeting new people from around the world.... it builds a sense of community, compassion, courage, caring and comradery.
I love feeling that there are so many people around the world who are like me... I have brothers, sisters and friends of different nationalities, religions, ethnicities or what have you. Helps me continue to believe that there is still hope for this world. 
So there... despite your spam and hurtful words... 
I will continue to write! 

My Three Tongues


Last night was one of these days where one pops into some friends’ place with the kids for a short chat and it transpires into an amazing moment that brings joy to a heart whenever it is remembered.
My two children were having a blast of a time with our dear friends’ boy and the parents were just sitting down around the table munching on yummy cold pizzas talking about nothing in particular. At one point, I realized that I was talking too much and remembered a funny incident that I had experienced during my university years in Beirut, Lebanon.
My parents had sent me abroad to study and join a university which, for generations, my family attended and graduated from. I had a few relatives with me at university and made loads of friends from different parts of the region.
One day a relative of mine, whom I had never met but heard much about, called me. She was one of the families whose parents were forced to leave Palestine and were dispersed around the region. Some went to Egypt, others to Lebanon or Iraq, many others to Jordan and a few to Canada and the US of A. I heard of my Al-Farouki family but I never once met them. My mother told me that they had some relatives there but that, due to the Civil War in Lebanon, they had lost touch and were unsure of how to get back in contact with them.
Anyway to cut a long story short, one of these relatives visited the extended family in Amman and met my mother who then told her that I was studying at the university in Beirut. She immediately made contact with me when she went back home and I was invited, along with two of my cousins, to her home for an Iftar during the month of Ramadan.
As I am sure many of you know, during Ramadan, one fasts (no food or water) from sunrise to sunset to feel with the poor and to work on controlling and improving oneself.
And I am also sure you can imagine how university students long to have a home cooked meal from time to time and especially when they are starving. I was one of those starving students who were homesick and longing to have a taste of their mother’s cooking.  I was SO looking forward to it.
I must also mention that my mother and grandmother are fantastic cooks but never once cooked anything with an animal’s extra insides such as brains, intestines, stomach and the like… Never having been introduced to such ‘delicacies’ meant that I was not expecting someone else in the family to delve into cooking such dishes.
After warm appreciations for inviting us for iftar, we sat down at the beautifully set table ready to say the short prayers of gratitude to ourselves before breaking our fast. I looked at the table and spotted a dish which by the looks of it was one of my favorite Palestinian dishes ever. It is called fateh and my mother and tata made it with eggplants, minced meat cooked in pomegranate molasses, toasted bread on the bottom, garlic yogurt with fried pine nuts and a sprinkle of chopped parsley on top. I was so excited to see that dish in front of me… I wanted so much to taste dishes from home especially when my usual fast-breaking-meal was a packet of instant soup, salad and a chicken shawerma (Good food to break my fast with but it was nothing compared to a home cooked meal of course).
As our hospitable host was placing the fateh on my plate, I said, “Eggplant Fateh Yum, thank you so much!” and she responded, “No, it is Tongue Fateh!”
Alas!.... It was already on my plate and there was nothing I could say or do. I had never eaten tongues before! What was I to do? I stared at the plate and pretended to be excited about eating it.
When my mother’s voice filtered through the many voices that were trying to figure a way out of this... “Eat what is being placed in front of you and be thankful that you have food on your plate!”
So I succumbed to my fortune and mother’s voice and ate the dish… I had two tongues to cut and eat and I must admit that it was not as bad as I thought it would be.
BUT… it certainly had a strange effect on me. I went back to my dorms and I kept blabbering and talking non stop… The words continued to roll off my tongue for hours ...until I went to bed… After all I had an extra two tongues that day!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I Am Honored


I have never been awarded anything for something I have written and therefore receiving this award from my dear friend Paula of Everyday Radiance means the world to me. Paula has proceeded to touch my heart on so many different levels and has taught me that there are no boundaries to acceptance, love and forgiveness of myself and others. Writing about her experiences and challenges in life inspire me, and anyone who reads them, to work on myself and be thankful for what I have. She is so open with her readers, so honest and transparent. She shares a piece of herself with everyone thereby teaching them how to be strong and face their obstacles. Thank you Paula for this award. I am truly honored!
.

The Rules are:
Pass it along to some of your favorite blogs with less than 100 followers
And even though there are so many blogs that I love to read and enjoy, I have decided to pick a few. Here are my picks for this award in no particular order. 

Barbara, or Birdie, from 40 and Loving it!, is a strong, warm and transparent woman who faces every challenge she has in life with an open heart , an understanding of life's cycle and humor. Despite her pain and  her honesty regarding the dilemma she is currently dealing with, she has a unique way of showing the positive side of things making her post entries so inviting and entertaining. Her style of writing makes me think that I am sitting with her chatting with a cup of coffee between my hands. She definitely opened my heart to her pain and provided me with steps to prepare myself for such difficult times. She is a supportive and encouraging blogger who is dedicated to all her Blogger friends and makes sure to keep up with all their updated posts. 

Sazan from Mandalawi is a Kurdish writer who is full of zest for life and has just published a book on her experiences in Kurdistan. She is truly an inspirational young woman who has been through terrible ordeals but has come back to build awareness about the plight of women in that region. She empowers young girls and women with her workshops and efforts to make a positive change in their lives. She touches people's hearts in ways she is not aware of and introduces them to her wonderful country, its traditions, values and rituals.  

 Jan from Staying Awake  is an empathetic woman who shows her readers what everyone goes through in life. Her writings bring forward issues that we ourselves struggle with from time to time and help us believe that we are not alone in those feelings. She includes some of the thought provoking Art Journals  which she uses to resolve deep feelings that many of us can relate to. One in particular spoke to my soul and I am confident that many out there would find it relevant to their lives as well; This Time Last Year I couldn't Have Painted YOU.

Judy from Judy Croome has published an eBook "Dances in The Shadows of Love" and I cannot wait to read it as it has great reviews. Her choice of words are intriguing and poetic to the extent that they grab a hold of you and make such a unique imprint on your heart. Her love and pride of her country is contagious which makes her readers want to know more about it and its strong, inspiring wonderful people. 

Isa from The M Chart is a creative mother and teacher who inspires me to revamp many of my old furniture and knickknacks. She inspires me to becomes creative with my kids and spend time with them doing Arts and Crafts using materials that would otherwise be thrown away. Her blog is full of wonderful things she has done with tin cans, mirrors and old furniture. She is a woman who is grateful for life's precious gifts and has a warm and embracing spirit.

I have been honored with this award by Paula and I am honored to share it with my Blogger friends whom I wish I will meet face to face someday!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Orangutans' Plight


Last night, I watched a documentary on orangutans in Indonesia and the inspirational doctor who is striving to protect them, Dr. Mary Galdikas (Biography). She has been studying them for nearly four decades now and building awareness about their rapidly diminishing natural habitat around the world. She is an inspirational woman because she has abandoned the luxuries of life to dedicate her life to saving those wonderful creatures which she has grown to love and adore as her family. She takes them in and saves them from poachers, brings them to the center, provides them with shelter, food and foster parents and then slowly integrates them back into their natural habitats. My heart went out to these beautiful orange creatures.
The population of orangutans in Indonesia has fallen by around 43% in the last ten years or so and this decline has been caused by either forest destruction or poaching. People are cutting down trees to sustain themselves but they are oblivious to the plight of these beautiful creatures whose natures and social ways are so much like our own.
The country is replacing the tropical rainforests with Palm trees that cover millions of hectares across three countries; Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. They are cultivating Palm for its oil as it has an unparalleled productivity where its seed produces oil as no other in the world. And therefore, even though the land might still be green by growing these palms, they are destroying the habitat of many species that need those forests to sustain them. This “business” is also unsustainable because palm trees soak up so many nutrients from the soil which means they need fertilizers and thus within a few years, the soil becomes useless.
We have been given this magnificent Earth to live on and protect and it pains me every time I watch such programs. Watching programs about the poaching of animals and the destruction of forests hurt me. There are so many issues around the world that I would like to delve into and help that I feel my mind is being pulled in so many directions. I think the only way to really help is to start small… so maybe I should begin with me and what we do at home. I can also help bring up my children to become more aware of their surroundings and what is happening in our world.
Things that I usually do:
1.       I bought many cloth bags to use when going shopping … I just need to remember to take them with me…. I also re-use the plastic bags we have.
2.       I turn off the electricity whenever I am not in the room.
3.       I do not keep the water running when brushing my teeth.
4.       I do not buy any products that have been tested on animals.
5.       I use the back of used paper… so I reuse them…. the kids do too… they color and paint.
6.       I buy local foods… but maybe I should cut down on buying imported products.
Things that I must do:
1.       Walk to places or take the bike if it is not too far away.
2.       Cut down on buying imported products to reduce the amount of food miles.
3.       Look at the products I buy and check whether it has Palm oil or not.
4.       Check whether the wooden products that I buy are from rainforests such as mahogany.
5.       Visit Indonesia and Dr. Galdikas’s center as tourists fund the program.
6.       Donate money to an anti-deforestation NGO program.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Grateful To Have Parents


Having watched the film in my previous post yesterday (My Heart Aches For Them), it made me think of how lucky I am to have had such wonderful parents during my childhood years and to this very day. Despite not seeing “eye to eye” on some matters growing up, I had parents who supported, educated, raised, nourished, clothed and guided me. I have been very lucky to have been born to such parents as there are so many innocent children out there who do not have this fortune.

I am fortunate that my dearest loving parents are still alive (Ilhamdulillah and Mashallah) to this day and they continue to support and be there for me. I am grateful to have been blessed with such fantastic, involved and caring parents who are always there for me, still guide me and offer their shoulders and listening ears. I am grateful to them for providing my family and I with anything we needed, never once refusing or asking for anything in return. They are generous, kind, supportive, thoughtful and loving. I am blessed to have them in my life and will forever be grateful to them.

It is stories like this that make me think that I should never ever take my fortune for granted. I am blessed!

I am fortunate…I am grateful. Alhamdullillah!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Heart Aches For Them


My heart ached after watching the video below. My eyes filled with tears and I felt helpless to do anything being so far away from the country I was brought up in. My heart and soul went out to these beautiful beings whose lives were destroyed by the people who were entrusted to take care of them. They were abused on so many different levels. I fail to comprehend how they could do such a crime… a crime against humanity. They pride themselves with prayer and yet they know nothing of their religion. If they had only read the Quran or the Bible, they would understand that it is our duty to take care of the poor and the orphaned children. I fail to fathom how people could hurt others who are already in pain for not having a mother, a father, a sibling… a family.
I am so saddened at the moment that I just want to write my feelings down without looking back at what I wrote. I do not care what I wrote… I feel helpless… hopeless… why hopeless? you might ask… because I believed that people had goodness in them no matter whether they committed a crime or an atrocity… I felt that even the murderers behind bars have a sliver of white goodness in them… Goodness that would blossom and grow if they were given a chance. But I can see now, that I might have been wrong… How could they look into the eyes of innocent children and abuse them sexually, physically mentally and emotionally. HOW? Didn’t they know that they are shaping these kids for the future?
How can they leave them to fend for themselves and find their way when they were not given the skills to do so? How can they find a job or a place to stay if they were not provided with the necessary support?
When I was 18, I worked at an orphanage to help the little ones with their homework but especially with their English. It was part of the CAS (Creativity, Arts and Service) program for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma. I had such a connection with those kids… They were adorable and so polite… They just wanted a helping hand, a hug and a smiling face. It never once occurred to me that they could be abused in such a way that would cripple them and lead them to contemplate committing suicide.
I think the reason why I was oblivious was because I remember watching my parents clean and iron a suit, shirt and tie once and placing it in a plastic cover before hanging it on a door knob. I asked them who was the suit for and they explained to me that this young man was graduating from university…. “Really? Who is he?” I asked…He turned out to be an orphan they were supporting and paying for his university education. That was a long time ago … in the 80s. So what is happening now? Why isn’t this continuing? Are people not supporting orphans after 18 years of age? Why? Why are things changing? Why are people becoming only involved in their lives and turning a blind eye to the situation out there?
Despite my sorrow, I am so glad that there are people there who are actually taking a risk to spread the word… people who are trying to help out and bring awareness to the public and the government about what goes on in their own society. I so hope something good will come out of this fight. There are many projects to protect women and children now and I believe that another issue should be set on the table and that is the right of these wonderful orphaned beings.
The film:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hiccups


This is not a metaphor for obstacles and I will not go on a rant about how we can face our obstacles and life hiccups… I really do want to talk about hiccups… literally…

I came across this piece of factoid on the Internet “A man named Charles Osborne had the hiccups for 6 years” and my mind immediately went back to the time my dear maternal grandmother, Tata, told me a story about her father, Abdel Rahman El Taji.

My great grandfather had an apprentice who helped him with his business of exporting Jaffa Oranges to Europe, a long time ago. This apprentice developed a bad case of the hiccups which lasted for 6 months and he was unable to get rid of them. The poor man sought doctors and tried everything but his efforts were in vain. My great grandfather felt very bad for him but did not know what to do.

One day he accused his loyal apprentice of stealing. The apprentice pleaded with my grandfather to check his books and was begging him so much to the extent that he forgot about his nuisance; the hiccups. He was so distraught and I am sure my great grandfather felt so bad for pointing a finger at his loyal worker and friend but he really had good intentions.

While the man was pleading, my great grandfather put his arm around his apprentice and said, “So have your hiccups stopped yet?” When the poor man finally realized what my Great Sido was trying to do, he laughed out loud and stopped for a minute to check whether or not the trick had worked….. Surprisingly, it did.

And this was why many times, my grandmother or mother used to sneak up on us when we get a hiccup attack and scare us… Good for the heart… gets the blood pumping… it worked more often than not… I also remember doing it to my baby sister and my kids… I also play tricks like this on my husband… hide behind doors and jump him. Loads of fun!

Once I played a trick on a friend of mine at university… We were sitting down at the dinner table at a Persian restaurant when she started to hiccup… and badly. It was obviously frustrating her so I thought I would try my Great Sido’s trick and so I slowly opened my mouth, widened my eyes and pretended to be mortified at seeing a spider on her left shoulder. She jumped and screamed and I felt so bad for having done that to her…. But when I calmed her down, I told her that I was only doing it in an attempt to stop her hiccups…

It did the trick, but half an hour later, her hiccups began again and I honestly did not want to put her through the whole ordeal so I advised her to drink some water or eat a piece of bread.

Now, my husband has a better trick for what you can do to help a friend with this… Ask your friend to drink a glass of water while his/her head is bent forward and plug both his/her ears… it does the trick…. Try it… hope it works for you!


Monday, June 20, 2011

Connecting The Dots



I find archaeology, paleontology and any form of –ology that study our past intriguing. People who take on the role of finding artifacts, structures and bones are really trying to connect the dots. I know it is so much hard work but I bet it is so much fun and rewarding at the same time. I used to always want to be an archaeologist because I loved ancient civilizations and found them ever so interesting such as Babylonian, Assyrian, Pharonic, Roman, Mayan, Aztec to name a few. But after my Angel story, my path suddenly changed. This, however, did not deter my fascination with ancient history and walks of life. 

Yesterday, I watched a documentary on the Discovery Channel about a man who connected dots by scuba diving the sea in search of sunken ships and excavating their treasures from the deep blue. Besides finding amazing artifacts that were studied, dated and placed in museums, he said that his team’s finding have reaped many thanks and gratitude from other discoverers who were trying to connect dots, write history and figure out a certain connection or fill a missing gap or link on a time line.

It is amazing how one finding can help so many around the world discover more about Man’s past… our past….since I believe we are all connected in one way or another. I find our past so captivating. Something about it just pulls me in. I do not like the killing and the wars, but I certainly enjoy knowing how our ancestors constructed, developed, built and lived… their costumes, religious beliefs, arts and crafts, mode of transportation, rituals and ceremonies.

If we are so interested in our past and discovering what lies hundreds of feet under the land we stand on… do you think that the people who are born hundreds of years from now will be equally intrigued by us, the way we lived, our inventions and buildings?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

No Blaming... No Guilt






ClipArt: http://www.graphicshunt.com/clipart/search/1/parents.htm


Not long after my eldest went to sleep, my husband and I were sitting together chatting and watching TV. The idea of being together for 10 years came up and how we made it through. We  talked about how we need to focus on the big picture and not only the specific things in life.

We talked about how hard we are on ourselves because we wanted to be good parents. We feel guilty sometimes for not being able to do more than we do, or if we snapped or were firm with them at any time. 

BUT....

This night we decided that we should look at the big picture... our children are wonderful and that is because we are good parents after all. And the small mistakes we do, we need to work to improve for sure but they are not as bad as we exaggerate them to be, because we have two wonderful children, who are respectful, smart, happy and healthy (Mashallah & Ilhamdulillah). 

And, just for once, we should think of ourselves as doing the best we can because we spend so much time with them one on one, one on two and two on two, we think of healthy food to feed them (with some treats on the side for a good day), we educate them in the Arts of Manners and the Music of Life, read to them, praise them,  love and hug them.

But we must also remember that... Even though we should always pat ourselves on our backs from time to time, we should never allow our egos to grow so much that we permit them to control our drive to get better at what we do.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I Survived!

Picture: http://tvlistings.zap2it.com/tv/i-survived/EP01031268

Woohoo! I survived... I made it through one day without checking my Twitter or Blog and I have to admit that I was struggling... Several times I wanted to go into my blog and check what comments I got, if any, or what other Bloggies posted on their own blogs... but I did not want to lose the challenge. 

I especially wanted to vent about what had happened to me that day and I really needed a listening ear  but it was a challenge after all and I just could not break it no matter how much I needed to write. In a nut shell, I was blamed for something that was entirely not my fault and I felt that I was let down. I wanted to talk about it but now, after I have passed through a day and a half of not writing anything  I feel stronger and am able to face the hurt I felt. 

That short time, gave me a chance to conquer the feelings that were swelling up inside of me. I felt that I wanted to really give the person who stabbed me in the back a piece of my mind through my writing since that person did not understand my point of view no matter how many people explained it and stood by me. 

And now even though Thursday passed and I did not get a chance to write a piece on something I am grateful for... here it is... I am grateful for having that 'Break' day because it helped me control my emotions and hurt without having to rely on my blog to vent them. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My Challenge!


I have decided to follow Nice's and my husband’s advise and lay low for a while… stop blogging and checking the Internet every few hours… and even though I love blogging, interacting with friends and researching, I decided that I needed some time off to stop my obsession with it all. I feel that sometimes the Internet is a strong force that sucks me in and finds it hard to release me…
Hmmm… what I wrote above makes no sense at all does it? I mean how can an object, the Internet, be to blame for my actions? Ok… time to acknowledge the fact that I am the soul person who is driving my ship… it is I… I am the one who is holding on to the Internet as a way of escaping my every day life… as a venue to release…
But it is becoming an obsession… I LOVE IT… and the only thing that keeps me away is when I am on vacation on a far away island where it is hard to leave the kids just to walk around to find an Internet cafĂ©.
I need to force myself to stop being so obsessed with it… obsessed with numbers, friends, emails, comments, information…
And therefore
I have decided to give my readers a break… give myself a break…
I will take it one step at a time…baby steps… I promise to catch up on your posts as soon as I come back… What am I worried about! It will only be for one day… LOL…. Maybe one day a week… and then maybe I would allocate a certain hour of the day to check everything, add my input… that is it!
I will let you know whether or not I struggled with this challenge… you might laugh… and it is quite funny… but it is a challenge to me considering my obsession.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Khwarizmi’s Wisdom


My dear mother forwarded to me a wonderful equation on Human Beings written by Al-Khwarizmi, the famous mathematician, astronomer and geographer, and I found that it acts as a relevant follow up to my previous post.
He was asked about Human Beings in general and he answered using an equation which went like this:
If a person had ethics and manners then s/he is = 1
If this person was beautiful then add a zero to the one = 10
If s/he had money, then add another zero = 100
If s/he had a good family and relatives, then add another zero = 1000
If you lose number 1 which is ethics and manners, the value of that person is lost and what remains are the zeros which have no value at all.
Simple, wonderful and wise, isn’t it?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Right or Wrong?



I wonder sometimes at people's sense of right and wrong... I am baffled... dumbfounded!

Please read the article on the link below and share your comments with me as I fail to understand it... I fail to fathom how people can stoop so low... so low... to destroy the image of a different culture, religion or country... even if they had their best interest at heart…

How can people delude others into thinking they are someone they are not... how can they lie to thousands or millions of people out there... making them react and delve into doing something humane only to find out that their efforts are all in vane and that it has taken their attention off of something that deserved it.

How can people take what is happening in The Middle East so lightly like this? Thousands upon thousands of people have died for their cause… died to have a better life and to be released from dictators they have been suffering under for years upon years…

Please help me understand this man’s actions as I fail to see his point? Is this the only way to bring attention to the situation at hand? I KNOW there are other ways… lying is definitely not one of them… it is enough that there are so many lies circling the world that have caused many wars and bloodshed already.


Whose Right Is It?



Last night I watched one of my favorite movies again; Avatar and it reminded me of our human history. Even though our species has built, constructed and invented a plethora of structures and gadgets, they have turned around and used many of them to destroy and annihilate cultures, villages and all kinds of species.
The movie brought tears to my eyes as it reminded me of the many wars that I have lived to watch or my family lived through. It reminded me of how people of a different culture, religion, principals and values would think of themselves as above everyone else and believe they have the right to terminate those lives, eradicate their homes and just ethnically cleanse those whom they think are below them, never once turning around to think that they might share the same genealogy, or anatomy or maybe even philosophy of life.
The Colonel, Quaritch, never once thought that the Na’vi people deserved the land they were living on because at the end of the day, he wanted the resource underneath their Hometree. Doesn’t that remind us of so many wars during the 20th and beginning of the 21st centuries? The Colonel commanded his troops to ‘exterminate’ the people below making them believe that their lives are unworthy because they were just Blue Monkeys…  The soldiers were programmed not to feel, not to think for themselves... they were brainwashed… Doesn’t that remind us of many wars and how soldiers act nowadays? It actually reminds me of an image I saw many times on TV and in pictures in newspapers of soldiers having written ‘Born to Kill’ on their helmets or flak jackets when facing young men, women and children…. Really? Are we really born to kill or are we programmed by insane people to do so?
The movie brought home so many memories of the stories I was told by my mother and her family and also my father and his family. They have been through so much and were forced to live in another country due to the ugliness of mankind… due to people thinking that they are above everyone else… due to people thinking that they have a right to the land they lived on or the resources that lay beneath the land they lived on.
What is the world coming to? Who gave those ‘people’ the right to think that they are better than everybody else on this Earth? Is it religion, their culture or the people who study religion and are fanatics to the extent that they are brainwashed to think that others deserve to die because it is their ‘God’ given right to live  and RULE the world?
Poor God…I really feel sorry for Him/Her… Everyone believes that they are speaking in His/Her name.  
Wake up people and smell the burning… the burning of innocence... the burning of humanity!!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Most Important Thing

 
I was playing around with some plastic beads that I used for an activity I did with the kids  the day before...  I was thinking about making one for each of them. I thought and thought about what I can make for them... Thought about making one with their initials... but then I thought... even though they are the most important little people in my LIFE, I figured that their LIVES are the most important thing to me.... and being alive is what sustains them as well... Since there is no one else, other than their father, who can provide them with everything that they need... I know their grandparents and extended family will provide them with love but parents have the biggest effect on them especially when they are still little.
 
My thoughts started to wander and I thought how each LIFE on this earth had an effect on another LIFE whether positive or negative. 
 
AND...

So I decided to make one with LIFE written on it... corny? well yeah maybe... but without LIFE what is there? 
Enjoy your life everyone!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Grateful to Have Fun with my Kids


After such a drilling 4 days at school with so much work to do and events to organize, I needed something to get my mind off of work and letting go of the load that has been piling on my shoulders. I decided to decorate plastic jars with my kids and just have a blast doing it.

The kids had so much fun cutting, pasting, gluing and choosing their decorations. My two year old impressed me when she used her plastic scissors to cut golden sticky strips to place on her jars. My son impressed me by how much thought he put into decorating the jars. He told me of every step he was going to take and why he decided to do whatever he wanted to do.


I was grateful for such an opportunity just to release... to let go of the stress and have a little bit of fun. I did not need to struggle with the kids... did not need to direct them too much on how to do something ....did not need to intervene... I just simply had fun with them....

I always have fun making things and baking cookies or cakes with them... but sometimes due to work, I tend to forget that such a moment is a treat for them as well as for me. 

Note to self: I really need to do this more often.... not just for the kids... but for myself!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sometimes I Wonder



Sometimes I wonder at parents.... sometimes I am in aw of them and at other times I want to shake them by the shoulders and ask them to wake up...

Being a teacher, I have come across many parents who have been such amazing inspirations to their children... who have supported their kids to no end and as a result their children grow up to be responsible, confident and brilliant young men and women.

But I have come across many others whom have no idea how to parent their children... be supportive, encouraging or just be there... some send them off to a boarding school even when they have good schools around them... or send them to a different city because they do not want that every day contact with their child... they talk down to them and spew venom from their mouths... which hurt the child deep down and cause irreparable damage sometimes.... they are abusive; emotionally, physically and mentally... on all levels...

Just today I had a 13 year old child come to school in tears because his father told him he is breaking the family apart… really? A 13 year old can break a family apart? What about the father? He sent his 13 year old to live in a huge house… in a different city… a plane ride away… with two younger sisters… and is being taken care of by a nanny… and he said that after I spent around half an hour discussing his son’s feelings of rejection and abandonment? He said that after I, and two other teachers, specifically asked him not to punish his son and be understanding towards his feelings? He said that after I gave him some strategies to use like checklists and reward systems?  He turns around and says exactly what he was advised not to say…

It boggles my mind… My heart went out to that teenager who was crying his eyes out… My heart went out to all the children who have experienced this… all the grown ups who have had such parents… My heart wept for those children whose parents had never shown them an ounce of love… never hugged them… never talked to them about their feelings… never encouraged them or told them that they are proud of them and their achievements no matter how small they were…. It pains me to know that there are so many children who have run away from home… My heart bleeds for all the children and those who are now grown ups, who have been verbally, emotionally and physically abused…

I wonder...

I wonder what goes through a couple’s mind when they decided to have a child… Didn’t they know that nurturing and developing a little person takes patience, love, care and understanding…. It takes time and effort… Did they think that a child can grow on his or her own? They just plant the seed and give the child some food and water and that is it?

I think that parents should be given courses before they actually bring a child into this world… They need a parent license…They need to be observed in action… They need to be visited on a regular basis until they are trusted with this child’s life… There should be a test to see whether they have a heart, compassion, a sense of responsibility, love and an ounce of respect for the life they had just brought into this world.

I wonder…

I wonder how many lives out there have been negatively affected by their parents. I understand that parents are not perfect… I am definitely not… but at least I know it and I try to do something about it… I read articles online and books to know how better to work with my kids… if I did not know about something, I read or ask someone for advice and assistance…. But one thing for sure… I always show my kids love… always tell them I am proud of them and that I love them… and that I will never abandon them.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Life and Faith



One of the best experiences I have had during my early 30s, was white water rafting on the Zambezi River in Africa. My husband, friend and I were on a road trip to discover Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana in December 2003. It was an amazing road trip and we had so much fun going on Safaris in our own car, camping and rafting on a crocodile, fresh water shark infested waters with a 14 year old Zimbabwean young boy who had done it 3 times before.

Imagine: walking down a steep rocky hill; jumping into a raft; thrown 5 times into the water; chipping your front tooth on your husband's elbow; nearly drowning underneath the raft at one of the dangerous rapids; swimming in a river with a crocodile on the bank closest to you and then at the end of it all, climbing a steep mountain on wooden planks. Imagine at the end of it all, while you are sitting in the back of a truck that would take you home, replaying everything that you did that day in your mind.. thinking to yourself that you would do it all over again.

Something about that river does not like me... LOL... Remember my post,  Life is Short, Embrace it . Even after I saw my life slip away from me from underneath that orange raft, I thought it was thrilling,  an adrenaline rush... an adventure and I would do it over and over again if given the chance.

Life is amazing that way... no matter what is thrown at us or in our faces, we tend to push through and bounce right back up again. There is a will to live deep down inside each one of us even when we might think that there was no way for us to ever want to continue. Something continues to push us to get up and out of bed even when we struggle to open our eyes.

Maybe, it is the kids... maybe it is our jobs, our parents... maybe it is just something intrinsic... I don't know...but what I do know is that even though we might think we are not going to make it, we do in the end... Even though we might be facing a difficult situation, something inside of us helps us to continue living. Even though we might think that we would not do something adventurous again because we might die or struggle with pain or anguish, there is something inside of us that keeps  pushing us forward... keeps wanting more of that same drug... adventure... life!

It is like going through labor the first time, not wanting to go through it again and then the mother forgets the pain as soon as her precious baby is born and she is ready to go through the whole episode again for another miracle... another adventure...

Life is precious... life is amazing... every life or moment we come across... every memorable experience, every living soul we brush up against or pass by on our life's journey touches us in some way and that is why we find it difficult to let go of these moments... these lives... these adventures... and it is difficult not to want them to happen to us over and over again.... difficult not to want to hold on to these precious lives or adventures that we cherish and have made an impact on our lives...

I believe that all we have to do is have faith that everything will happen in good time... have faith that the universe is looking after us and will send us anything when it is the right time for us.... have faith that whatever difficult situation we are facing will take time to be resolved and for us to heal but that it will become less painful by the day... We need to have faith that we are survivors.... have faith that our mind, body and soul are stronger than we might be led to believe either by ourselves or by others.

We are survivors! 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Living with a Twin

Picture: http://healthylifecarenews.com/search/deepak-conjoined-twins-india/

Last night, my husband and I could not sleep without watching the ending of the Discovery Channel documentary on the life and life changing operation of a dear gorgeous Indian 7 year old. It was past midnight and we were glued to the TV screen.

The gorgeous boy had his undeveloped twin grow from his belly.  They were conjoined twins. The twin had four limbs, genitals and a small abdomen. His feet were dangling from Deepak's abdomen which prevented him from being as active as he wanted to be. He knew that he could not do what other seven year olds were doing and it frustrated him. He was made fun of by his peers, treated as a god by some adults and a freak by others. Some others, felt sorry for him and gave him money but his parents who were living in pain and anguish for their son did not want him to live his life this way. They wanted what was best for him and they kept praying to their Hindu Gods to save him.

Some doctors in Bangalore were made aware of this amazing young boy and were sent his x-rays. They decided to perform an operation on Deepak to release him from his restrictive binding twin so that he could live a normal life. They needed to make sure that the twin did not have any shared organs and discovered that he did not have a head, brain or heart and therefore was not alive but was considered a parasite and growing. In my head I kept saying... a Parasite? A parasite? It is a twin.... do not treat it as a parasite.... it definitely is NOT a parasite to Deepak!

During the show, I was more concerned for the kids' emotional state. I was afraid that the doctors were taking this as a chance to further their caeers and reputation... I did not want them to think that this was another great achievement. My dad is a doctor you see and the first issue he deals with other than the patient's physical situation is his or her emotional state. He is not a psychologist or psychiatrist but he needs to make a patient feel comfortable with any medication or operation that s/he would undergo... Doctors should be extra careful with a kid's emotional state... it is easier to mold and shape when a kid is young... and therefore, it is very important to deal with that.

The doctors who were going to perform the four hour surgery knew that this twin has been with Deepak for seven years and therefore would definitely feel some kind of attachment to him. Shouldn't they have addressed that? The poor duckling was anxious whenever they touched him or tried to examine him... once they had to sedate him to be able to examine him.... doesn't that picture seem weird... strange... abnormal? Deepak knew that they wanted to do something to his twin... take him away... and so he was protective of him... it is his twin for goodness sake... and yet they kept calling the twin a parasite.... when IT IS NOT!

The father was left to explain things to his beautiful boy... when it was really a therapist or doctor's job to take over as the father and mother had dealt with so much already.... The kid needed debriefing... he needed time to mourn his brother... you see... Deepak called his twin 'his baby'.... They asked Deepak what was the name of the twin but that was it... they did nothing after that. 

Having said all this and after all my worries... it was apparent that the operation was the best thing that happened to this miracle boy.... He is happy and is leading a normal life. His parents are ecstatic because now he could love, marry, work and have the same kind of chances as his peers. I still think that this lovely boy needs his feelings to be addressed. We all need to deal with people as living things with feelings, emotions and not as subjects that could further our careers.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Catch 22



Last night, I watched a program on National Geographic where a group of Marine Biologists were studying sharks, catching, measuring and weighing them, taking blood and sperm count samples and then tagging them before releasing them back into the ocean. They followed the sharks they tagged to find out their feeding and breeding grounds in order to later protect those areas from poachers.

I am totally supportive of that… but I find myself worried about the shark and his chances of survival after being caught, probed and all. Several questions popped into my head… Will tagging the shark decrease his chances of mating? (Since there would be a weird looking abnormal device hanging from his dorsal fin). If the shark was somehow injured, how would that affect him feeding? If the shark was exhausted after the whole ordeal of being caught and poked, would that put him in danger of being attacked by other sharks? I found myself worrying about the shark…

In the episode I was watching, and after all the above questions swam in my head, I saw, and to my horror, that while the Scientists were capturing the massive male shark, it bit the big red buoy and it got stuck in its mouth. When the men dragged the shark onto a platform to have it measured and all, they needed to immediately flush water through its gills to keep it breathing and alive.

They had a tough time taking the buoy out and in the end they discovered that the balloon’s large hook was stuck on the roof of the poor thing’s mouth… They tried getting to it from the gills but they were unsuccessful. Their last resort was to cut the chain that was connected to the hook and releasing the shark back into the water after 11.5 minutes of being out. They later said that the hook would disintegrate after two or three weeks in salt water.

After they had taken blood and sperm samples they discovered that the shark was ready to mate and was probably on his way to his mating grounds.

I know that they were trying to help protect the sharks in the long run but they had not made studies to check what happened to these sharks after they were released back… I mean, this shark would not be able to eat properly for two to three weeks because of this hook… he might lose weight and this might cut his chances of mating… He was totally exhausted because of the ordeal of staying out of the water for 11.5 minutes…. Would he have the energy to defend himself or mate? Would he be shunned and refused to be mated with because of the tracking device on his fin?

I am all for saving animal species from extinction... protecting them from being poached and killed for a few body parts and then left behind to rot or be eaten by other animals. I am all for studying them in their natural habitat to discover the different ways of guarding them and saving their environment.  

BUT….

I find myself confused … what about this particular shark then? Maybe the chances of this shark surviving, due to what it went through, are slim. So in order to save others, he had to sacrifice himself? I hope that he and all the others are ok and living happily. Many of the sharks that were being tagged were healthy ones and would be able to reproduce. Let us hope that these sharks would be taken off the list of endangered species due to the efforts of these marine Scientists.

If we never had poachers and people who destroyed our Earth, we would not need to catch those beautiful creatures to study them.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Compassion

Picture: http://mrhclassblog.edublogs.org/2010/06/01/bible-memory-verse-for-this-week/


This morning, I spent 2 hours with my son in a taxi in Bangkok traffic before getting him to his new school for his entrance exam. We decided to take the klong boat back instead of a taxi. A klong is a tiny canal within the city of Bangkok and a long boat on it is a commonly used mode of transportation.

After reaching our destination, we walked over the bridge hand in hand to get to the main road before we took a taxi back to our school. On the walk down the bridge, we spotted a blind man singing with a microphone to a karaoke box. He was carrying a plastic blue bucket and kept one hand inside to feel the money that he had collected. It was nearly noon and he had not collected much. He had a good voice and I thought I would pay him for entertaining us while we walked on the bridge.

I decided to give the money to my son to place in the bucket. He was reluctant at first but I encouraged him to make the man happy inside. He agreed, walked slowly to him and placed the paper note in the blue bucket watching the man feel for it. 

On the way back, my son had an inquisitive look on his face... more like puzzled.  He asked me why we did that. I explained to him, like I did many times before, that it is important for us to feel compassion towards the less fortunate, the people who have less than us, and who have not been as blessed as we are. He continued to ask why as he usually did and I continued to say that it always feels good to put a smile on someone's face and to help them along in their lives, especially if they did not just sit there and do nothing. I explained to him that at least this man was trying to entertain people with his singing and bring a little music into their lives and therefore, in return we give him some money to help feed him or maybe pay for his medicine or rent.

Other than the fact that we needed to feel gratitude that we had money to eat, clothe and shelter ourselves, I explained to him the importance of feeling with others as empathy is what makes us human. I tried to teach him what my parents have taught me during my childhood... they taught me by example.... I saw them giving... providing their services pro bono and I wished that my son would learn to give a part of himself and his blessings to others as well. Giving does not have to be confined to money or material things... it can be in the form of time, or a listening ear, or a supportive hand.

I hope that both my children will grow up to be compassionate people as I believe it is a fulfilling attribute.... but most importantly I hope that they would act on their compassion and not just feel it.