Sunday, November 18, 2012

My World



I was listening to a song by Adele, "Hometown Glory", and it blew me way to a world long ago that I used to live in. It was just coincidental that I had just finished a meal with my small lovely family in Bangkok and then saw my beautiful supportive parents on Skype from Jordan. It might have also been coincidental that I had seen such terrible red and black pictures and news of my own version of "Hometown"plastered on all different corners of the media; each taking sides facing one another, forgetting the whole global, maybe even universal, picture which affects both you and I. That song blew me away...

...to a place that I no longer know or barely remember were it not for the weekly pictures of my past that my dearest uncle Said posts on his Facebook.  I am thankful to him for the positive energy. 

Adele's voice transported me on the winds of change back to one of my earliest memories. I was standing in the streets of Amman (3rd circle to be exact) covered in snow, spending a beautiful gray (grey for English speaking readers.. or is it the other way around?) afternoon with relatives and having a marvelous time. It was on a piece of land that was empty (a rare sight in Amman at the moment). I miss those days where everyone laughed a little more, smiled wider and had a good time. ....(Or was that just my seven year old mind playing tricks on me? Were the adults stressed out about the situation more than they showed?)

I miss those feelings of utter peace and the picture of a white snowy day where everything was so soft and untainted. I miss those days when people used to have innocent playful snow fights as it never hurt anyone.

....and her song made me wonder... Will we ever touch that again? Will our children fathom what we tell them of our past as our elders used to do?

When my father painted fairy tale images of the world he grew up in, in Baghdad, I used to look at him with dreamy eyes wondering why I never got the chance to take ballroom dancing in that same boat club. He tells me stories of his days at the American Jesuit School where he spent most of his teenage academic life amongst students of all religions and political view points. When he speaks to me about how difficult it was to go back to his hometown, I have to stare in disbelief at those eyes who have seen hurt.

When my Tata (maternal grandmother) speaks to me of her joyful childhood in Wadi Hunain,  her betrothal which ended her marrying the love of her life, her childbirth  in a cold hospital when family members were not allowed in after visiting hours back then, and her dreadful experience of a forced diaspora, I have to shake my head in disbelief that she had gone through two extreme opposite experiences in her life; one of utter joy and the other of ultimate suffering. I had never fully fathomed the latter experience of her life and I do not think that whatever I go through in life would ever come close to it....I wish that my children would never have to go through that ever. 

...and yet, this is what I see currently happening to the children, men, women and elderly people in my version of "Hometown Glory"... This cycle of fear, anger and suffering is continuing from one generation to the other visiting every nook of that area not forgetting a single cranny. When will we , as humans, as comrades of this Earth, stand up and say enough is enough. Our children deserve a better future... one which is void of extremities of all kinds, shapes and sizes, one that is empty of ego and military power, of crimes and of greed.

Even though the targets, peace and tranquility, which many of us put on a pedestal seem high to reach and too far to touch, we have to start somewhere; opening the windows of our eyes, fighting for our rights, standing up for justice and humanity and welcoming everyone into the rooms of our hearts.

Tonight, I will be thinking of the world and its civilians!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Iraqi Orphans

Picture: http://film.britishcouncil.org/112 


A few months ago, I watched a program, In My Mother’s Arms, about orphaned children in Iraq. The numbers of these children has increased dramatically due to the destabilization and erosion of the government caused by previous as well as current events.

The documentary struck a chord so deep that I just could not move on as if this happens a million times over around the world and pretend that I, one individual, cannot do anything to help. Watching those children battle with their own fears and loss, wondering what will happen to them next and still manage to be content with the little that they have, helped me to reflect on the abundance I am currently living in and yet I sigh because something or another is not working according to plan.It made me think of how greedy and so in- my- bubble I am sometimes and how those children and many others, would wish for a sliver of what I have.

I decided to write to Al Jazeera to find out how to send a few children a ray of hope and spread the word to friends and family who are just as eager to help lives as that man, Husham, who is responsible for those lucky boys in the documentary. I say lucky because there are thousands of other children who do not have such a chance of living safely in an orphanage.

I wrote to a few people and nearly lost hope when the lady who assisted in the making of the documentary, Isabelle Stead, wrote back on Monday and provided me with the email of Husham, as well as the site where one is be able to donate some money if they so wished. 

I have since written to Husham and he came across as a wonderful man who only wants to feel supported and help many other orphaned children around Iraq as a whole. 

I thought of sharing the site, as well as Husham's email, in case anyone was interested in helping out.

I would very much appreciate it if you would spread such a worthy cause to your friends and family as any bit of help will go a long way with these needy children whose only wish is to have a normal full life.

In addition, it would mean so much to Husham, I am sure, if he received a supportive warm email to thank him for the effort and time he has put in to save the Iraqi orphans. You can use Google to translate what you have written before sending it to Husham, or send me a copy for me to proofread and correct before you do... as sometimes Google translates stuff literally and it does not make sense.

Alternatively please feel free to email Husham directly: althahpea@yahoo.com


Monday, October 15, 2012

Yet Again!

I have been away from blogging for sometimes and that's because of so many reasons. My son's birthday for one and another being a life changing decision that came up so unexpectedly. 

Jad's birthday went well and the guests seemed to have enjoyed themselves  We had a few activities planned for them from cocoon toilet paper races to sleeping bag caterpillar races. The last activity was the spider pinata. After watching my daughter refuse to hit the spider with a hockey stick it made me think what a terrible thing it was to beat a living things in real life. I wondered what she probably thought watching 7 year olds do so. It is a replica but still to her it meant something. 


I have now come to to the conclusion that even though making dinosaurs and spider pinatas is fun, the act of beating them to get candy is, in reality, violent. From now on, if the kids wanted me to make a pinata, then I will make a colorful geometric shape for them.... not even a flower or a tree would do. 

I enjoyed having Jad design the cake he wanted and bringing his vision to life as well as watching the kids have a marvelous time playing with each other. I needed to hear the laughter of children the weekend after we had made a life changing decision which entails us leaving Thailand after 4 years of working. 



I loved watching Jad laughing and having such a blast at his birthday party as it took my thoughts away from worrying about how this move might throw Jad into a whirlwind of emotional turmoil. I do not like change but I know I can manage. The emotions that Jad goes through when something like this happens is 100 time more intense and I cannot see him struggle to make sense of it all... struggle to make new friends again and struggle to control the tears. 

He has just made good friends at school and he is a much happier boy than he was last year. The thought of having to uproot him yet again is burning a hole through my soul and it pains me. However, I keep saying that if he has a loving supportive family, then he will be all right. He is in a much better place than so many children out there. So we are blessed to be together and have supportive friends and extended family. We will pull through Inshallah!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Let's NOT Do That!!!

From El malestar en la cultura.     
My cousin posted this on his Facebook and it made me think of me as a teacher of the younger  generations. It made me think as a mother to a new family generation. And boy do I have a responsibility on my hands!

I need to always be thinking of every seed that I plant in the childrens' heads. I need to be cautious of how I pick my words and string my sentences, what opinions I share with them, what feelings and what beliefs for children are very impressionable and would, to a certain age, believe anything I tell them. The size of the responsibility that lies between our weathered adult hands is highly underestimated.

As Freshmen and Sophomores, Arts student at the American University of Beirut, we were required to take four courses (12 credit hour worth) of Civilization Studies. They consisted of a study of every philosopher that I could imagine under the Beirut sun; from Descartes to Hume, Lock to Plato, Aristotle to Al Ghazali. We discussed the existence of God, life and death, how to rule states, ancient epics and many more which was why, after I finished all four, I took another philosophy course. I loved them all however, one philosopher stuck in my mind more than others , John Locke. It was because of a simple idea that we were born with empty sheets of paper for minds and that our experiences were what started that black ink writing on those pages of life.

It made me visualize a dark black pen writing on every page of my life's book. How there were,-and still are- so many people who held that pen and were in full control of it at many points in my life. And now, because I am a mother and a teacher, I could be that hand holding the pencil filled with black ink waiting to make a mark on one of a child's crisp white pages.

This cartoon made me think of how I do not want to be like that teacher, chipping away at children's dreams, beliefs, imagination, goals, opinions and above all else...life. I do not want to be the one shaping their thought bubbles into the square I have. I do not want to be the one who molds them to think exactly the way I do. I want them to grow up to think for themselves since that is what helps build character and uniqueness.  However, I would very much like to be the one behind them supporting them in every step that they make, coaching them- but not too protectively- on which road will teach them good lessons and be there for them when that path hurts a little. 

I want to be the one carrying a brightly colored crayon when it is my turn to make a mark.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Outraged

I am outraged at the slander and the over-reaction to it. I cannot imagine how people can be so hateful and write or direct something so disgusting. I am outraged by the reactions and killings that it triggered. 

When are people going to wake up and see that we are ALL HUMAN... that if we slander, spread lies, disrespect others, kill and go absolutely nuts, that the world will never move forward.... that there will be a rift (not that there isn't one right now!) between the East and the West which will continue to grow until something massive will come out of it that will annihilate everyone.

It's madness, I tell ya... madness... just live and let live people.... allow people to believe what they want and respect everyone and every religion. Stop pointing fingers claiming that you are right while the others are ALL wrong. Stop going on a killing spree and murdering innocent people. Stop name calling... stop stop STOP! 

I honestly think that there is no way out of this craziness if we do not control ourselves by ourselves AND stop people and media from brainwashing us into doing crazy things. It will only stop if we just stand in front of someone, look them in the eyes, smile, without asking him/her where they came from or what they believed in ... simply have a friendly chat about the weather, our dreams, our work, the love for our children and family, our hobbies and the like.

It is exhausting watching the news!

OK... I have almost got it out of my system... 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Living with an Exceptional Learner

My Jad kissing his cousin. His love and care for babies is like no other.

 Last week, I attended a support group for parents of exceptional learners and what a relief I tell ya! For a few years now, I have been suspecting that my son fell under the gifted learners' umbrella but since I taught children who fall on the other end of the continuum I had little knowledge of all the characteristics of such children. 

Jad, came across as a very sensitive, emotional and intense boy (example: Mammoth Story) whose questions and reasoning were way beyond his years.We, many times, were not certain how to react to his fluctuating behavior; in a span of minutes he could go from high to low with no apparent reason why. Here was a boy who could argue his way out of a paper bag (Example: Reasoning)  and then cry incessantly if he lost his treat for not following a rule. His questioning and continuous probing seemed, to an outsider's untrained ears, as being rude. He always thought and felt at a totally different level than his peer group (Example: X-rated Knowledge) which provided him with endless social struggles. A brush on the arm by a peer walking by, seemed to him like a punch thus bringing on a reaction from him that would get him into trouble. To sum things up, EVERYTHING is exaggerated in my kid's life. 

My heart literally ached every time I heard that he was having trouble connecting with other children as I knew what a kind hearted caring boy he was. I longed for his teachers, classmates and parents to see him through my eyes (Example: One understanding parents compared to the others). I could not go around telling people that they should be more understanding towards him as they are with the physically or mentally challenged students.

Attending the support group gave me an insider's look at what other parents experience and go through in their daily lives with their exceptional learner children. A sigh of relief escaped my troubled body every time one of them shared something that was remotely close to Jad's descriptions. My feelings were verified, validated and shared. He is a normal, happy go lucky, caring, smart and gorgeous boy whose needs will thankfully be understood and met at school. As parents, our need for support and strategies will also be met and I am relieved. These sessions brought me some insight on what goes on in my boy's head and would provide me with tools that I need to be able to handle difficult situations. My husband and I have been trying our best but there is always room for improvement. Please wish us luck!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hunting Mammoths


My kids and I had an awesome time playing imaginative games this weekend. We used to have puppet shows and play with toy cars or tea sets coming up with short scenes but we never created a whole story with weird twists, climax and resolutions. I thought they would get bored of it and hence never tried it. However, since I challenged myself a week or so back, I decided to give it a shot. Boy was I wrong and boy did they spark up when we decided to play Hunting Mammoths. 

I know that the idea of hunting sounds violent as I honestly do not like the act (sport) myself, but the kids learned from it. You see, my son said something about hunting more than one mammoth when I intervened and mentioned to him that a long time ago they only hunted as much as they needed and that they used everything from the bones, to the meat to the hide.  I also explained that the Natives hunted Buffaloes and not mammoths but since the mammoth was already made we might as well use it in some way other than to look pretty in our living room.

Where did we get the mammoth?

You see, last week, my son asked if we could add another activity to the program I put together. He wanted us to cut out miniature mammoths from paper but I had a better idea. We had a few boxes lying around that I did not want to throw away and so we built a mammoth the size of a dog the day before.


I wanted to create the whole scene, so we made Native head bands with feathers which the kids colored so beautifully and downloaded a Native American drumming song from iTunes just to create an atmosphere and put the kids in the mood. Little did I know that our story will go from hunting mammoths to sci-fi action.

Having finished the hunt, my son soon came up with other ideas like cloning and scientific inventions, we even had time machines and wormholes. Jad, who wanted to be from a different tribe, thought that the idea of having his mother (an Iroquois) and her loyal dog, his sister, as prisoners would be fun. He wanted to sacrifice us in front of his tribe and I was not sure why. I honestly went along with the whole thing and only asked a few questions to clarify the whole story in my head as it was a little confusing at first. I thought Mina would be confused as well but she seemed to have a better picture of what was going on than I did.

She even had her fair share of coming up with ideas herself. At one point in the story, she decided that her leg met an unfortunate accident and was chewed off by something or someone (I wasn't sure what exactly!). As she was pretending to be a sad pathetic dog spread out on the ground, she was unable to communicate in words what she had wanted done. She managed to get her message across after a few attempts of yelping and signing which was  to have her brother, the cloning inventor Scientist, make her another one. 

We had a blast! -----}-----@


Kids in general never cease to amaze me. They come up with the weirdest craziest ideas which are all fun once the adults get their heads around them. I have learned to never say NO to their creative ideas as they give me a better picture of what goes on in their heads and also reveal how smart and imaginative they could be. I will not say NO as I do not want to be the one who dampens these energetic beings, their moods or their self-confidence. There are no limits to where their minds can go and how interesting they can be. I had a great time just going along with what they suggested and had my belief, of how magnificent they are, reaffirmed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How Does Someone Gain Your Trust?




I have asked this question of myself so many times in life but I have not managed to scratch the surface of how they would gain my trust. I cannot begin to understand myself and my unique feelings or dealings with people to begin to address such a question. I know the usual answers to such a question; Friends... never lie, don't hide the truth or mask it, do what they said they would do, admit their mistakes, are competent, show consistency and the like. But I do not always go by those specific determining factors. 

You see....

I come across as someone who easily trusts strangers with her feelings and past stories and on the flip side does not trust 'friendship bonds' so much. To me, anything can happen that would rock the foundation of a friendship despite our efforts to keep it standing. Situations might arise that thin out that bond which could either be patched up, or not, depending on how eager both ends want it back to the way it was. There are, however, friendships that whatever hole it fell into can survive by digging itself to the surface.

I love my friends and value their friendship so please do not get me wrong when I mention that there is an initial feeling that I get in my core from our first contact, be it a good one or not, which would help me make a decision about whether it is a friendship that I could trust in or not. It is kind of like first impressions really but with feelings. My senses are all involved, especially that of my heart, and those feelings linger on for a long time before they either fizzle out or are proven correct. 

Like I mentioned above, I cannot begin to understand myself. Having said that it is more often than not that these initial feelings are proven correct. I am never sure what that 'friend' says or does that sends my heart and brain small signals that either send me a green light to go ahead and trust or warn me against fully trusting them.

I have a hard time trusting people if these warnings continue to buzz, ring or jingle as I seem to focus on how they would hurt me, when I should expect that hurt to arrive and on which boat. However, when my heart gives me the green light, I trust wholeheartedly without any hesitation afterwards. 

If, on the odd chance, my initial feelings were incorrect, then I fall flat on my face and hurt for a long time as it would if there was a prickly pear thorn on my finger tip; I may not see it but I can feel it. I feel hurt either way; whether I was right or wrong.  

What about you? Can you answer the above question with ease?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Weekend Fun





My kids have shown so much interest in the activities that we do at home that it is motivating me to do a few day. I tried to put a limit of one a day but they keep asking for more, especially Jad, my eldest.

This week we made flowers out of cupcake holders (Thanks to Isa from The M Chart for introducing the idea). Jad, Mina and I will make a bunch of those for Wai Kru Day at school to give to the teacher and the class assistant.
 parachutes and tested its effects on toys... so one toy was dropped without a parachute (similar to the one that was attached to one... not the spider-man that's in the picture... just to make it as equal as possible) and the other had the security of one...The experiment worked as the one with the parachute was slowed down considerably and the one without broke on impact.

bouncing raisins ... there was vinegar and bicarbonate of soda in the water which fizzed and helped the raisins to bounce up and down.


 and a Special Eid Breakfast. The month of Ramadan, where we fast (no food or drink) from sunrise to sunset, ended on Sunday and the kids had a special breakfast of Za3tar (thyme), edemameh, tomatoes and cucumbers for breakfast before opening their presents. 


I must say, that setting a schedule of activities before hand definitely took the pressure off of thinking what to do to entertain the kids. Jad and Mina can look at the list of options and select what they want crossing them out when they had finished.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Experimenting With Ideas




Okay so I have started trying out this new challenge business this weekend. I made broccoli and cheese muffins and then went on to try a different recipe for breakfast (above picture). I decided to become a little creative with the kids' breakfast and they loved it. They especially enjoyed the skewers to the extent that they wanted me to plop the chopped up barbequed steak, tomato and carrots from their salad onto them that evening.

This challenge got me thinking that if I wanted to learn new things, then why not involve the kids in a similar idea? So, I came up with a plan of providing Jad and Mina with a list of activities we could do after school or during the weekend so that we would not just watch movies. I thought it would spark me up as well as I was so used to us coming home, asking the kids to put on a CD while eating our dinner. This must not be that healthy. My husband was a little worried that this might add more stress on us as well as the kids and that they might need time to just chill-ax.

I disagreed as I thought that my list had a variety of activities including movie time in case they wanted to do just that... CHILL-AX. These slots included; arts and crafts, science experiments, some movie time, reading books, making up stories, using the puppets, imaginative play, etc. Every time we had an activity, we would cross it out on the list. When the list of 42 activities is finished then I would draw up another one.


Oh Boy was I surprised to see the excitement of the children when we had our first experiment. We placed some dirty coins in some lemon juice and then vinegar dishes to see which would shine the coins more. Lemon won in the end and the kids learned something about acids and their effect on metals. 

This experiment and the excitement that it triggered also got Jad thinking of coming up with all sorts of other experiments; some made sense and others well..... not so.... but I did not tell him that as he must do them to discover for himself. I will not dampen his excitement by saying that it won't work.

Already the kids are getting excited about the next activity which is helping to spark me up and getting me to do more.  

These are coins that were dropped in a container full of lemon juice.... it became so murky because of the dirt from the coins.




Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Trying Something New Challenge


I have been so idle for a year. Exhaustion from work and trying to keep up with home and the kids has hindered my motivation to grow. I started projects with the kids and did not keep it up for the entire year such as cooking, fabric painting or arts and crafts. I began projects on my own but many times I would just sit like a couch potato and do nothing for the three hours I had for myself. 

I am used to being up on the go the whole time and therefore I did not quite understand myself or why I was so lazy. I know there is no harm in taking the time off and doing absolutely nothing when exhaustion hits, or to be exact falls on you like a ton of bricks, but looking back at the rate I was going? Gees it was slow... too slow for my liking.

So for a few weeks now, and ever since I tried my hand at Fondant (picture found in my previous post), I have been thinking of learning something new every week. This sugary fondant sparked my rusty fuses and has zapped me into gear... now am I enthusiastic because it is still the first few days of school and will I feel different in a few weeks time? I do not know... I will live a week at a time...

And therefore as a result of my current state of determination, I decided to learn how to make Sushi. It was much easier than I originally thought it would be and Youtube videos sure did help. Jad loves Sushi and I decided to prepare something 'funner' for his snacks this year.  I made a vegetable sushi with cucumbers and carrots (pictured above) and felt good about it. 

Let us see how long this enthusiasm will last. 

Is there anything you would love to learn to do but either haven't had time or the motivation? Please share as maybe we can encourage one another to try it. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Summer Fun


It has been ages since I last wrote a post on my blog... and getting back in the routine of posting takes so much effort as my brain has stopped turning and maybe even rusted a little during this summer vacation. There is so much to tell and share about the summer holidays. My family and I went to Jordan for a few days as a stop off before we headed to Canada for four weeks and then back to Jordan we went before coming back home to Thailand.

I have to focus hard to remember what I have been up to all this time... but will write them in bullets along with some pictures for your entertainment and so it will not be too boring.

here they are in no particular order;

1. I have been thinking of my grandmother so much before we left to Amman and therefore I cherished the time my kids and I had with her. She taught them how to play Rummy, a game that I am looking forward to playing with my son.

We spent so much time with family and friends in Canada and Jordan and it was lovely to see all. We introduced the kids to new friends or ones they had not seen in ages and they got along so well. The kids certainly had a blast learning new things and discovering themselves in the process. Jad learned how to put from his Anna in Canada, went fishing with his grandpa, was taken to his Jido's clinic to learn about his profession and learned how to take care of flowers in his Bibi's garden.


2. We went camping in Algonquin for 5 nights and met our dear friends from Bangkok who had driven up from New York to meet us. It was great to spend some time in the wild together. We all had a blast together.







3. We bought our first canoe in Canada and paddled across the lake a few times... one time was at night and we were only guided by the light of the moon. 








 4. We all got in touch with nature and saw chipmunks :), squirrels and a deer. Our friends saw a moose and we are hoping that next year we will see one as well.


5. In Amman, I tried my had with rolled Fondant as I wanted to practice for my kids up-coming birthday parties. The result was not that bad thought I bet I did something wrong because it kept breaking and I had to revert to cutting out stars instead of covering the whole cake with it. What I tried to do was cover the cake in light blue fondant and then cover it with yellow stars.










6. For the first time, we attended a Tattoo of the Canadian army with my husbands parents. It was pretty impressive but I, unfortunately, could not stay for the whole ceremony because Mina was too tired and had to go back to the hotel to eat and sleep. We saw an old ship in the distance on the way to the fort. This was all to commemorate the war of 1812 between the Canadians and Americans.











7. One of the most exciting hours of the trip to Canada was when we exited the Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris to visit the Tour Eiffel and the Arc de Triomphe. We were in transit to Toronto and I was not going to sit around at the airport for 8 hours waiting for our plane to arrive. I just had to go see it. We arrived way too early to climb to the top of the tower in the elevator but this did not take away from the excitement of it all. It was truly spectacular and a childhood dream of mine.










8. I was thrilled that Jad and Mina got to see what their Jido did for a living. They visited his clinic and he showed then how to a stethoscope, sphygmometer, the ultra sound and the knee- reflex hammer are used. They had a blast listening to heart beats and seeing their heart and gall bladder on the machines and Jad said that it was AWESOME! For me, it is a memory that would be etched in my mind and heart.




9. Jad had an experience of a life time. The ROM museum had a special exhibition of dinosaurs and boy oh boy did he have a blast. He later went fossil hunting with his dad and found loads of little trilobite fossils on a beach somewhere in the wild. While there we saw a true replica of the dinosaur they found in Malawi while were living there. Magnificent!






10. We also had a chance to visit a horse farm. The kids fed and pet the horses and their young and it was such a wonderful experience for them. Even though Jad had ridden horses in Jordan before, he had never met a foal. He was certainly brave. His little sister was content just to hold the bucket and bring it close to the horses.







11. The kids did some chores around the house in Amman; watering the plants, mopping the floors and picking the weeds. They did not forget to have some tummy sliding fun at the end of it of course.








12. One of the best parts of the summer was meeting my 2.5 month old nephew who filled my heart with such joy. Holding him in my arms was like heaven and I am so looking forward to seeing him again next year. I was very lucky to have had the chance to meet him as his residency card in Bahrain did not arrive until the day before they were planning to leave... if it had not arrive he would have had to stay in Bahrain with his mama while my brother brought his two gorgeous brothers for a visit.








13. And that last experience was something I would maybe write a post about... it was the fact that I had experienced some kind of a harassment while on the plane to Bangkok. The weird thing was that it was directed at me from a very old man who had back problems and was circling the cabin around and around because he was unable to sit down for long.

So you see now why I could not write any blog posts during the summer... there was so much to do and so little time to sit and write anything. I will be catching up with your blogs soon when the craziness of school settles down and I have more time to write at home.I have missed you all.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Fear of Being Taken Advantage Of


Picture: http://candlebags.co.uk/multi_colour_led_candles.htm


I loved the feeling of giving whole hardheartedly and without expectations. It made my day when I saw a smile on people's faces after having handed them a gift or flowers in their favorite colors, sent them a card or helped them with their university papers no matter how stressed out about my own studies I was. I loved surprising them or offering them my undivided attention whenever they needed someone to talk to. 

Many times, my nature was appreciated and I have made many solid friendships that are based on mutual respect. But I have also been at the receiving end of insensitive actions and hurtful comments. I have been hurt when others revealed to me their selfish self-centered behaviors. And despite my mother’s advice, those actions and words rarely dampened that giving and forgiving part of me. 

My mother warned me that such actions will hurt if they were not reciprocated. She was continuously worried that I was being used and that the only reason why many of my acquaintances were contacting me was because they needed help for some reason; that I was remembered only in time of need because I never refused them. She advised me to taper down my giving nature to protect myself from getting hurt. Being a giving person herself and having been hurt many times before, she advised me to give those who are worthy of my generosity. But I never took her advice. 

I should have…

because she was right about the hurt that came with sharing a piece of my heart with undeserving people. She was right about the confusion that I felt after having thought of unresponsive others placing them ahead of myself. Being the protective caring mother she is, she was always worried about me getting hurt by others and changing because of it.

After over 15 years, I started to realize that she was right about the hurt; it does blur one's vision and turns them sour. I was stupid not to notice things early. Immature at times to let such incidents slide passed me, not paying close attention to the details of relationships, never thinking about the true intentions and selfishness of unworthy people. I never thought about it before, never even thought that I should give them the benefit of a doubt because I NEVER doubted their intentions.  

After realizing that this was indeed happening to me, I began to develop a fear; the fear of being taken advantage of. For many years after ‘the awakening’, I began to build a fortress around the walls of my heart especially with new acquaintances. I constructed it brick by brick, stopped going all out and worried about protecting everything I had; my emotions being one small part. I mean, who would want to get used again? I kept telling myself that I would be a fool not to learn from my past mistakes. 

BUT…

This fear only screwed things up for me. I stopped being the all-out person. I ceased to generously share a part of me and my worldly possessions with others no matter who they were. I sometimes escaped that protective barricade and returned to my old giving self again but was later pulled back by invisible hooks that cautioned me about the hurtful wave which might crash into my walls soon after. It sometimes made people feel a little uncomfortable asking things of me and I would only hear that from my husband. It made them a little cautious approaching me, something that I never had to think about before as people knew the answer to every request or question was a yes. 

My husband is of the same giving nature and is many times confused by my attitudes towards others. He understands my fear and the history behind its birth but he says that it is never bad to always be the giver and be good even if I get hurt. I am still fearful of being taken advantage of but I am just starting to let go. It will take time to bring down that wall brick by brick but I know that I must persevere as the feeling that lingers, after I deny my giving self a chance to show its true colors, is way worse than actually being hurt.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My Self Re-Discovery Trip

Our first camp site where the scenery was breath taking

I needed this trip to reconnect with my inner self and, well to be honest, my old self. I have been on camping trips with my son before but have not had a chance to do so ever since I was a few months pregnant with my second, touring around British Columbia in an RV. I was not allowed to hike or camp on a hard floor because my pregnancy was at risk. This was four years ago and now the chance had come for me to breath in the pure mountain air which would clear my head allowing me to connect with nature again. 

What a feeling it is to experience new adventures! I love that stimulating effect it has on my soul. It sparks me up as jump cables recharge a car into life. The train ride there was an experience in itself. We were a little late starting due to a derailed train up North and so instead of the 13 hour train ride duration, it took 17.5 hours. Honestly, with all those children providing us with entertainment, it wasn't that bad.

The first thing I did when we got to the first camp site was to stand on the top of the camp site and breath in the clean air. I closed my eyes and let nature engulf and embrace me in its arms. What a feeling to be free and fearless! Students, both female and male, were screaming every time they entered the insect infected bathrooms as they were not used to it. I took it as a chance to meet new creatures. 

The trip plan was to raft from the first camp site all the way to the second and then third camp site. Our second camp site was in some of the local villager's log cabins with their primitive bucket showers and toilets. I love the sound of rain in a forest. Because these log cabins were made of wood, the sound of the rain was so loud it forced me to listen to every drop that hit the planks. Birds chirped, toads crocked and the sound of water buffalo filled the night and broke the silence of the dark.

Students' toilets and showers

Teachers' log cabin
Unfortunately, there weren't any wild animals; the crocodiles were all hunted, the elephants were broken and the water buffalo were owned by farmers. The only wild creature that we saw, a snake, was killed by a local and was dangling on a stick. 
Water Buffalo in the background
Elephant in captivity
I was introduced to reed rafting. Well, I did not do it myself but I got to watch the rafters pass us by in our rubber rafts. There were so many International tourists who were standing on reed/bamboo rafts while locals were doing the paddling. I would love to do that even though they would not have gone through class 3 rapids on those and so would miss out on the fun. 

A bridge that was constructed in 2005 and demolished a few months later due to cheap construction and corrupt engineers.BUT you can also see the reed rafts in the forefront. You can also see an Albino water buffalo in the background (the pink one).


After our first rafting trip, part of my left sandal broke off and then on the second rafting trip, the next day, the right foot broke. Luckily, I could still wear it and discarded it before we drove to Chiang Mai to catch the train.

We also went on a 3 hour hike through a forest the last day and before we jumped on a train back to Bangkok. I love hiking because I can touch the soil, rocks, trees and vegetation and feel their energy seep into my system and revive me.
It was such an invigorating trip, one that I was much in need of.  I needed to find out for sure that I am still the kind of person who loves to be in nature and experience new adventures. I needed to know that I am still young inside. I needed reassurance that I can still appreciate nature and be in the wild. I wanted to know if I can still withstand to use primitive facilities. I wanted to discover whether or not I am stuck in the same routine every morning, noon and night or whether I am up for a jumble. I finally reconnected with my younger self.

I feel pumped about the summer.

Here are a few more pictures from my trip.

A dragon snake at an entrance to a small temple in the middle of a small village in a forest.
A temple at the beginning of our journey into the forest.
Local ploughing equipment

A local woman in her traditional everyday garb.