Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Easy-Peasy, Life Was Breezy

Once upon a time, life was easy. Or at least this is what I think now because at the moment, life is hard.

I moved to New York City at 23 with a dollar and a dream. OK, I had more than $1 but not by much. What I did have was drive and ambition. I had hunger. And I had optimism. The early years of relentlessly harassing people (in a nice way) so I could get my foot in the fashion industry door, the late nights at the office proving myself and climbing up the ladder, the years of having 2 and 3 jobs. They all seem so distant now, so easy because I don't think about them and I forgot how hard it was at the beginning.

What I remember is how much simpler it was from the middle on. At some point you make enough money at your real job to not have to work another one. Projects come easier than they used to, you get jobs via referrals and word of mouth. Most of the time you don't even need to interview anymore. At least I didn't. I guess I should have enjoyed it more while I had it so good.

A while back on a regular day, while doing a regular mundane thing, I realized I had been in San Diego for 5 months and hadn't accomplished most of the things I had thought I would. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Did it put a fire under my ass to get things moving? Yes. Did it also cause 1 mini-meltdown per week since then? That would be yes. I have been trying to conquer the voice in my head that all too often says: "I didn't do enough, I didn't research grad schools enough, I haven't gotten anywhere. I don't have a job, I need a job. What if this whole thing doesn't work out??"

Multiply that intensity x10 to get a feel for how frantic I really get.

Moving across the country this time around is so different. I had lofty thoughts and noble ideas about a new career and how to get there. I see myself there. I imagine my life 5 years from now and professionally I am where I want to be. But actually getting there is proving to be more difficult than I expected. At the moment, my efforts are not yielding any tangible results and getting there seems so far away.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Perfect Moment Monday: Peaceful Mornings

Perfect Moment Monday is sponsored by Write Mind/Open Heart and is described as "...noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between." I think it's a great way to make us all more mindful of the good things that happen to us. There's always at least one perfect moment...!

This week's Moment is as simple as they come, and I didn't have to put forth any effort in order to have my 2nd one this week. It is simply the beauty and peacefulness of a house in the early morning - or on a weekend, the early afternoon - before anyone else has woken up. The sun is streaming in through the window, the only source of light, filtered into softness by the curtain. The rest of the apartment is settled in darkness. There is no TV on, no music blasting from a laptop. Even the sounds of the neighbors, living upstairs, doesn't bother me.

These are rare moments in my home. As I lay in the living room, in the center of it all, I take it in, thoroughly enjoying everything about this uninterrupted quiet time. I think about how peaceful and perfect it is, and I love it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Perfect Moment Monday: Moments

Perfect Moment Monday is sponsored by Write Mind/Open Heart and is described as "...noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between." I think it's a great way to make us all more mindful of the good things that happen to us. There's always at least one perfect moment...!

Moment #1: By the time I got home last night, I was in a less than wonderful mood. And by less than wonderful, I mean upset, sad, lonely and disillusioned. I sat on the floor to play with Ciela and within a couple of minutes, gave in to my true desire, which was to just slump over to the left, hug the floor and cry. I wondered if she would run to my lap, lick my face and comfort me. Isn't that what dogs do when their human is sad? Instead, she continued about her business, jumped over my legs, back into her play pen, jumped back out, ran around, played around, acted as silly as she wanted to be. I couldn't help but laugh through my tears, once, twice, again as she continued to make the expressions and movements that define Ciela, absorbed in her own little world. In that moment I realized one of the gifts of having a dog. She hadn't given me what I thought she would, but she made me feel better in her own way, in what turned out to be a better way. Laughing instead of more self-pity, which is what the result would have been had she just babied me. It pays to realize you can get what you need in ways you weren't expecting to get it. A Perfect lesson for someone who tries to be as in-control as me.

Moment #2: I made a mad dash for the crosstown bus, stupidly making a run for it in front of oncoming traffic. It was 31° and I wasn't dressed warmly enough, and there was no way I was missing this bus just to have to wait endlessly in the cold for another one. When I got to the other side of the street, I leapt up on the sidewalk and kept running for the front of the bus - this weather was no joke. I jumped up and down to keep warm as passengers boarded, more people got off, and a man rummaged in his huge gym bag for his metro card. I got to the front of the line. A little boy, couldn't be more than 11 or 12 years old, motioned to the door of the warm insides of that huge machine and said "Go ahead". Young chivalry in its simplest, finest form. "Aww, thanks sweetie," I said, more than a little surprised, and gave him a genuine smile before I climbed the stairs ahead of him. Sometimes it really is the small things in life.

Moment #3: For way too long now, I've been talking about making moves, but it's been mostly talk and very little action. Today I made the decision to stop wasting time and finally set things in motion. I'm hesitatingly excited, pretty anxious, a little scared and a lot antsy! But I'm happy to have finally made a decision that's been sitting stagnant too long while I tried to do what I considered enough research, figure out everything I possibly could, envision every scenario and plan every detail. Sometimes you just have to take the plunge; what's the worst that could happen? I'm getting ready to leave NY y'all! (Just typing that scared the shit outta me, by the way). For so long I've been making every excuse to dillydally, trying to make perfect plans before I could make a final decision. But sometimes you just gotta hold your breath and jump, and the wonderful feeling of finally doing that is more perfect than any extensive planning I could have done.

Friday, January 21, 2011

I Could Have...

I could have been born anywhere, as anyone. I didn't have to be me.

I could be living in an African village, playing in trash-strewn dirt streets, knowing little of the world outside of my immediate surroundings. I could have been born in Syria and never stepped foot in America, and I wouldn't have been part of a family known as mughtareebeen* every time I was introduced to someone new. I could have been non-independent, following what others told me to do blindly because that's just the way things are supposed to be. I would have saved myself the pain & anger of all those fights with my parents to let me have my own life, let me do things my way. I could have been meek and quiet and obedient, and for a while I was.

I could have been someone who didn't stand up for her ideals, who didn't believe people shouldn't be judged by their skin color, their religion, how much they weigh or who they love. I could have been prejudiced, racist, a bigot, a bitch. Instead I continued to dance "like Blacks" in our kitchen as he questioned me disapprovingly, marching to the beat of my own drum at 9; had best friends of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, I can't even count how many ethnicities, by the time I was in junior high, not giving a damn what the neighbors thought; explored true love at 16 because I didn't believe God cared that we didn't worship in the same place; found my second sister in my 20's because I know those connections transcend race. I have traveled and learned and seen and been and lived. I have been blessed and I know it.

I could have been an underachiever, spending my days sitting on the couch doing nothing, not earning an income, not aiming for anything, not having a career, not achieving a thing. I could have never moved to the greatest city in the world and never accomplished the things that I have. I could have been still living at home, mooching off those around me, living one boring day to the next, wondering if life was ever going to get exciting. Instead I created my own excitement and have loved every adventure I've been on, and appreciated even the gut-wrenching ones I hated, albeit later.

I could have been narrow-minded, non-nurturing, never-forgiving and not loving of myself. I could have never bothered to take the time and the pains to work on myself, analyze myself, make myself a better person. I could have not been introspective and not given a shit that I wasn't. I could have been certifiably crazy, mentally ill, a drug addict, an alcoholic, a verbally abusive asshole or just a plain old miserable prick. I could have been granted no gifts or skills at all, and wandered around feeling like I could never be anything. I could have been a waitress, a truck driver, a lawyer; a housewife, a Queen; living in a shack by the beach, or walking the halls of my mansion everyday just for fun, to remind myself how big of a house I had the pleasure to live in. I could have been scrooge or I could have had enough to feed every starving child in the world.

I could have been a man. I could have been someone else's sister, someone else's daughter, someone else's son. I could have been loving, caring and kind or I could have been selfish, miserable and mean. I could have won the lottery or lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere, been the youngest of 12 in a crowded but loving family, or the illegitimate offspring of a lovers' tryst. I could have been born HIV+ or succumbed to an illness at a young age or live to be 90 on my deathbed, surrounded by everyone I love. I could have been born on the streets, never to know a home or the warmth of a homecooked meal made by someone who loved me. I could have lived a tragedy or a triumph, or anything in between.

My life could have been completely different than what it has been. Just think about it; you, too, could have been born into a different family, another destiny. You could be someone else entirely with different views, different experiences, different ideals. I am thankful for the journey I have had; even the bad parts have made me who I am, and I love who that person is.

*People who emigrate to the West in Arabic