5 Things I Love About My Husband

We all have that nosy person in our lives. A neighbor, a coworker, a family friend, a facebook friend, or even a close friend that simply asks too many personal questions. They linger at the mailbox, stay a bit too long at your last party, and you imagine they are the sort of person who’s not ashamed to peek through windows for the latest gossip.

Since my husband and I started courting 4 years ago, I’ve noticed the topics of these questions shifted from grades and work to my love life.

Relationships are more than just bragging about to your friends or worse venting about arguments. I’ve had friends ask about our big fights and our sex life, nothing is private or off limits anymore. This is totally inappropriate not just in a religious sense but because revealing such information brakes the trust the couple has built.

I love all things about my husband, even the things I dislike I like, because I married him as he is not for how I could change or mold him into the person I wish he was. Here are five things I love about my husband. These 5 things are ok topics for anyone to discuss about their relationships, so feel free to use this list to help you out of the next awkward conversation with that nosy person you politely want to steer away from the uber personal subjects without offending.

  1. He takes care of me and my household responsibilities when I am sick.

The first time I had my Muhammad visit my house I  was up late talk to him and I vomited! I was so shocked and embarrassed but he just cleaned it up, helped me into the restroom, made up a bed for me,  got me medicine, then stayed with me until I felt better. The next day I discovered the laundry and dishes I was supposed to take care of were all done by him.  He said “We are going to be of one person, so we should care for each other better than we care for ourselves”.

He still does just that. During Ramadan I had food poisoning and severe dehydration, and he cared for me so much while working and maintaining our apartment he nearly got sick himself. It was so sweet and helped me to better myself quickly so I could care for him.

  1. He is protective.

As a self-proclaimed feminist, you might be shocked that his protective nature is something I love, but as a traditional woman and a Muslim I greatly appreciate it. Protective may be waiting for me outside the masjid so we can commute together or can be much more overt. On Jummah Downtown Cairo, especially Talat Harb, is very very crowded. Muhammad is always was walking in front of me while having me hold his hand, like a little elephant caravan.  He says, “I am clearing a away for my queen so they know not to bother you.” In a city that has become infamous for sexual harassment, I have had few incidents and all were extremely mild (whistle, stares, hooting to say I’m pretty). I think I owe this safe feeling to his nature, for he did the same thing in the streets of Raleigh, NC when we would walk from the University to the masjid.

  1. He has such great discussions with me.

My husband can get very serious with work or very silly with his nieces and nephews, so I am always charmed when he takes time to chat with me about current events or serious philosophical matters. I fell in love with him by spending hours talking with him about Nietzsche, Rumi, Browning, Austen, and Shakespeare. As an avid reader and former politico, I find it great fun to wax the poetic or debate for hours and it is awesome to have someone with a similar knowledge background to share this with.

  1. He empowers and encourages me.

In December 2014 my Muhammad told me that I need to start publishing my writing, by February I was under contract to 2 magazines and published with a cover story in a 3rd.  I was so surprised by this, but Muhammad was not. He knew my writing was quality because I’ve written him hundreds of letters, stories, and poems. He also has seen my stack of journals I’ve kept since I was 7 years old. My family is wonderful, but never really encouraged me in this because they worried about  my future financial stability and rightfully so but Muhammad’s encourage also went beyond pride. He was focusing on what he thought would make me happy and to him my political and nonprofit work simply was not the answer.

He empowers me to educate myself in Islam, languages, computers, business, and anything I want to study. He even leaves me notes on usb sticks about which ebooks he recommends I read next. Currently, He helps me attend classes at Al Azhar. He also helps me pursue more writing opportunities and other creative and work pursuits. I hope I make him feel equally as encouraged and empowered.

  1. He is so kind and generous to all of his families.

He always is asking about my family and enjoys spending time with them. He spent his first Christmas with my Roman Catholic family in NC. The next visit he came after his college graduation and helped my mom and I with a Girl Scout celebration for the adult volunteers. It goes beyond that, now that we live far away, he is always asking me to message them, he skypes with them, and even added my daddy on his whatsapp. He is also curious about my big brother, his work and travels, and is always looking for cool things we can send he from Egypt.

He’s great with his family too. He’s the oldest of 5 and has 4 nieces and nephews so you can imagine how much he misses the laugh and noise of children. During Eid he took me to met them. I had already brought gifts from America, but he was so excited to see them he bought more (rattles, balls, toy cars, and tops).  He was so silly with them but was happy to take care of the babies and discipline the toddlers when necessary.  The sweetest thing was when he helped get supplies for all the women to cook, he left before we were up and put the ingredients in the refrigerator for us without saying a word.

I was so happy with all of this but yet I still forget that as husband and wife, we too are a little family. Yesterday he reminded me of this. He said, “I spend so much time working, commuting, and studying. I hate taking this time away from our family.” I asked if he meant Egyptian or American, and he said “No, pretty, I mean you and me!”

I cherish my little family of two, and I keep the sweetest and most frustrating parts of our relationship to myself. It’s precious and if I want my family to be more than just the two of us I need to nurture it.

I know in America we are very open and love to share, but sometimes we need to share more like we are on a wholesome family tv and less like we are on HBO, Showtime, and Netflix. You know more Little House on the Prairie less Sex and the City. More When Calls the Heart than House of Cards. Actually maybe a little like House of Cards, because if you plan world domination and murders as a couple then that show is probably a great role models for high level secrecy.

Seriously, let’s stop venting and bragging on facebook and tweet, stop wearing t-shirts that having written across them “I love my husband”, and stop asking other people such personal questions that are none of our business. Every relationship is in a different place with a different history, and a different destination, let’s all start to respect that more.

What are 5 things you love about your significant other? Comment below!

PS Don’t forget to watch today’s video and subscribe to my youtube channel

One Day in Egypt

We all have ho-hum, ordinary days and very productive days and then we have those few amazing and wonderfully busy days. Since my arrival in Egypt I’ve had more days like the latter than ever before. It’s amazingly wonderful how much can happen in one day in the capital city. Here’s an example of one such day:

Fajr prayers, sleep some more, have breakfast and it’s off to the Mogamma to pick up my renewed visa.

Bustling through the crowded building it’s well after lunch before we are done. We stopped for to pray dhrur at a nearby Masjid in El Tahrir. Then ducked into Hardee’s for a quick bite and went and made copies (not exactly action packed but the day improved quickly). On the way back home I decided to explore a little shop in the area and purchase a new leather journal. Feeling in slightly better disposition, we grabbed a cab to Khan-El-Lil in search of a beautiful table table lamp to use on the nightstand and eventually be a souvenir.

We get out of the cab and enter the maze of shops and souks. We wade through cheap plastic items from China, herbs, and carts of rocks and loufas. We find a beautiful lamp literally saying ‘alhamdulilah’. We see the souk’s owner touch up the tin punching, shining the metal, and wiring the lamp right. We give our ‘salams’ and navigate our way out of the labyrinth.

Finding ourselves at a tea shop outside Masjid El Hussain, we stop to refresh. Pray Asr at Al Hassain Masjid

We take the tunnel to Al Azhar Masjid.

It’s our first ever visit to Al Azhar. We walk around the court and find a Qur’an. I try to muddle through several chapters of recitations, my husband helps me through the chapters until the adhan is called for maghreb. We go outside to the wudu stations that are under construction the go to the separate prayer areas. We meet at the exit planning to really go home when a man stops us to tell us about a Tanour (Whirling Dervish) show tonight in Old Cairo. The man was very nice and we’ve both always want to do that but we have to wait another hour.

We were hussling back to the people tunnel, back to the courtyard outside Masjid El Hassain for a quick bite and then returning to Al Azhar to meet the man to for directions to the show. Through Islamic shops, produce market, and wooden cages of animals in piles we go down uneven stairs through a basement-esque hallway, into a small three level performance hall at least 200 years old.

The sound of drums is deafing. We wade through the crowd and find seats in the third row. It’s captivating; the dancing, the whirling skirts of colorful quilts, and the music. Soon the entire audience is cheering and clapping along with the rhythm.

Afterwards we go to a souvenir shop when the same man from earlier, through more mazes of shops and carts, up four fours on uneven stairs to a papyrus shop then rush back down to Al Azhar for isha prayers.

On the way home we stop of a snack of koshary, decide to walk past the Egyptian Museum to the Opera House. My Muhammad buys me a crown of jasmine and a rose. We watch the fireworks and walk home, all the way this time.

Egypt continues to impress me, this was one of those days I will always cherish.

10 More Things I’ve Seen in Egypt (so far)

A follow-up to “10 Things I’ve Seen in Egypt”

1. Tea Shops that have been open since the early 1900th century, but they still serve a coke and a smile #coke #cocacola

2.  Khan el khalil is a fun market to explore but don’t expect any deals. We only found one booth with items worth haggling for, and we found most of the other items we needed at fancy shops in downtown for equal or less than the prices at Khan el khalil.

3. There are people tunnels to travel across some busy streets here! Oh, and here was yesterday’s #ootd

4. Just because the alley is long, dark and winding, doesn’t mean there isn’t light and a beautiful building at the other end.

5.  Al Azhar Mosque is beautiful at any time of day and from any angle.

6. It makes you want to rush to wudu and pray salah. Which is why I am making that face when we were practicing Qur’anic recitations and he kept interupting me to correct!

7. The Hossam bin A’ali Mosque is a must see but has been oddly modified with weird neon lights.

8. Not all sales men on the street want to scam you or beg for tips. Some want to tell you about cool local events and expect nothing in return. Like the man who told us about a Tanura Show.

9. Darwish shows in Egypt include Turkish, Bedouin, and Upper Egyptian music and dance. The shows are called Tanura (Whirling Dervish (Darwish) Dance). It included Mozmar Dance, Darwish (3 main performers in the colorful skirts and at one point 10 in white dresses, galabayas), drums (including the traditional drum, Tabla), Rababa (a string instrument), recitations and dua’as, and singing and lots and lots of spinning and clapping.

10.  Thursday is special, it’s the end of the school and work week. School ends at 11am and work by 12 or 1pm.  This means I get to explore Cairo eating great food and going to listen to traditional music and a hiphop show with my hubby.

PS: Videos are coming soon! Subscribe to my youtube so you won’t miss a thing.

10 Things I’ve Seen in Cairo, Egypt

Welcome to Egypt!

I moved to Egypt to visit my fiance and have our Islamic marriage earlier this month. It’s been quite a whirlwind! Both of us moved to Cairo, he started a new job, we signed the married documents, had our honeymoon, and moved into our first home together.

Cairo is very different from any place either of us have lived,  but this transition is less challenging for him because he is Egyptian, just from Suez.

Here’s some of the strange/oddly wonderful things I’ve been experiencing in Cairo, Egypt:

  1. Men ask for directions, even cabbies!
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  3. You should store your onions and garlic on the porch or balcony and  your the sugar in the refrigerator
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  5. Tissues come is scents!
  6. Naps for Everyone and Bedtimes for no one
  7. There never needs to be a reason for fireworks
  8. the call to pray can echo in unision, an not over lap in the yucky way on tv (a la Homeland, Tyrant, Dig, 24, Madame Secretary, and the like), but in a beautiful…enchanting way
  9. Wind and sandstorms are really loud
  10. Tips are expected by nearly everyone
  11. Modest is viewed in extremes and usually about fashion
  12. Poverty is not a secret, beggars line the streets, food has to be subsidized so people can afford to live. The average Egyptian adult lives on the equivalent of 2 USD a day. Although we live in a great neighboorhood, we face a tenament housing building, a beautiful historic Mosque, the lovely remodelled downtown, and a slum full of children, trash, and wild animals. It is hard for our hearts not to break when we see the starving children, elderly, and handicapped selling tissues for pinseras.
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Ways to Honor Their Memories & Remarks on a Tragedy: Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohamed Abu-Salha & Razan Abu-Salha

A month ago, I was planning to post about gender equality and the rise of young girls empowering themselves, but now that seems vastly inappropriate and unnecessary. Late on Tuesday, February 11th, I learned that three friends and classmates had been shoot and murdered. In a few days I learned they were killed in their home execution style by a neighbor who had previously made threats and hateful comments about Muslims. This hit me like a ton of bricks.

I have had a fairly difficult year. I left my full-time job,  I had serious health issues, my fiance’s immigration case being mishandled and is continuing for a second year when it was supposed a 5-9 month process– but it is the deaths of friends that I remember most.  Over the summer several friends died in car crashes in Egypt. While working at an Islamic Conference in May, I learned Tayyibah Taylor (the first publisher to ever believe in me) was struggling to fight her cancer, by September I was contributing to her tribute.  Then a fellow writer (who first encouraged me to contribute to Sisters’ Magazine) Maria Zain died while giving birth to her 6th child. Then I got the news about Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammed Abu-Salha, and Razan Mohammed Abu-Salha. All the emotions I had held in since May came flooding in. Suddenly all the hardships I had gone through over the year seemed like nothing. Three very wonderful people being senselessly gunned down, no matter the reason is so shocking and upsetting. I was overwhelmed with emotions.

I quickly contacted my friends and their family members in NC. I was able to put together a tribute for them.

Which is was tagged by The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Atlantic. It was always republished by Huffington Post.

I was blessed to have known these amazing people and I was share how I knew them and why this terrible event matters to Florida based news stations/papers such as the follow:

I was also honored to speak at the Orlando Vigil for Our Three Winners

As I said in the video how I felt and what I did is not unique, everyone who knew them was deeply effect by their tragic and sudden deaths. It is not our grieving that is necessarily so important, though it is, what we need to focus on right now is sharing their stores; we must never forget them and all they stood for.

Here are some ways we can do that:

  1. Collect and donate dental supplies
  2. Money to the Syria Dental Relief
  3. Funds the #OurThreeWinners Trust
  4. Tax-deductible donation to the Deah, Yusor, Razan Scholarship Endowment Fund: Islamic Scholarship Fund
  5. Alternatively donate to the North Carolina State University Our Three Winners Scholarship Fund 
  6. Support the donation to the memorial bricks to be laid at Athens Drive High School (outside the Wake County Public Library Entrance), Yusor and Razan Mohammed Abu-Salha’s high school.
  7. Collect and donate canned goods/pantry items to #FeedTheirLegacy  and like this Facebook Page 
  8. Volunteer and support United Muslim Relief 
  9. Follow the Our Three Winners Facebook Page
  10. Purchase and wear a t-shirt or wrist band, all funds support Deah’s Syria Dental Relief Project
  11. Send a Salaam card by ArtofFelicity a portion of the funds supports the Triangle Chapter of United Muslim Relief
  12. Buy a version of Al-Wadud The One Who Loves, by SHOPNadiaJ (aka Nadia Janjau) all funds support the Deah’s Syria Dental Releif Project

The Inner Meaning of Hijab

Happy World Hijab Day, but let’s talk about the meaning of hijab.

I love my hijabi sisters. I adore wearing hijab and trying new styles.

I love the ultra-modesty hijabers to the hijabinistas, but sometimes the other types of hijab are forgotten. Hijab is more than the literal translation of the of the Quran:

Most scholars say these passages mean that women must wear a long dress (abaya) and a headscarf (hijab); which I agree with but hijab is much more than that. Hijab is a call to modesty in word, thought, and deed. Which means whether a Muslim Woman chooses to wear a hijab or not, she may be practicing hijab.

That is, not to say I don’t support World Hijab Day, because I do. I have contributed to the non-profit’s site: My First Day in Hijab and I even shared how much I support the Beyond the Veil Programs at schools and University’s on Coming of Faith’s Site: I Still Support World Hijab day. I want the Muslim community and the non-Muslim supporters of Islam to start to see hijab is much more than a piece of cloth.

Let’s stop judging whether a Muslim woman, wears or doesn’t wear this piece of cloth. Let’s stop thinking everyone who wears hijab for a day, does or does not understand a Muslim women. Let’s stop judging the understanding of a Muslim woman by a woman’s ability or willingness to dawn a little piece of cloth!

Maybe that non-Muslim lived in Saudi Arabia for 20 years, studied the Middle East, or is married to a Muslim. Maybe that non-hijab is praying every prayer, never speaks a hateful word, and her family doesn’t support her wearing hijab. Maybe that hijabi wears hijab is also extremely kind to others with a deep understanding of Quran. Maybe, maybe, maybe….there are millions of different types of Muslim women, and a variety of levels of understand of them by non-Muslims. Let’s stop being so judgmental of each other:

I have received hate mail by dozens of Muslims, other writers, and anti-Islamic groups. The above is just an tame example of someone who misunderstood my work, but I receive much worse on a daily basis. If people to as much time to think and try to understand another person’s perspective, as they do to judge and spew hate, we would have a much more productive world and a much more united Islamic Community.

Today, let’s think about how we can move forward to not judge each other and try to practice that inner meaning of hijab.

1. Pause before posting/speaking. No, not just to edit, but think… do I really have to say that? Would I accept it if someone else said that?
2. Practice prayer and or breathing techniques when upset. When you disagree with someone you have a visceral response. Sometimes we just need a minute to calm ourselves before sharing those emotions.
3. Imagine…if every time you did some that you knew was hurtful you had a to A. Do two kind acts, B. Would start at a lower level in heaven when you die, C. Someone else would think less of you, D. All of the above.
4. Purify thoughts to create purer words and actions. Feeling negative? Pray, read, watch tv, find a creative outlet. Basically find something you enjoy that makes you happy, overtime your thoughts will be purer which will reflect in your words and actions.
5. Interact with people who encourage your goodness and not your nufs (ego). The stronger these relationship get the lighter your soul feel, and the stronger your inner hijab gets.

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Why I Support MuslimARC and 10 Ways You Can Too

The Muslim Anti-Racism Collaboration is highly regarded for their work building and collecting tools “needed to creatively address and effectively challenge racism in Muslim communities”.

I first learned about MuslimARC last August when a co-worker Laila Alawa and a friend Arthur Richards were in a panel on a Google Hangout and a subsequent Twitter Hashtag conversation about “Muslim Youth Rising”  #MYRising. I loved being a part of  the twitter conversation, and seeing the ummah, ages 18-25, share what they see of racism and how they are rising up to change how races is view in and out of the Muslim community.

After attending the conversation I joined MuslimARC and attended a few Media Team meetings. What motivated me to change from being a passive viewer to participating?

1. I saw like-minded Muslim youth wanting to educate people about race.

2. The campaigns they had scheduled were necessary and important. I felt like joining and showing my support would help to spread the organization’s goals.

3. I looked up the website and read about what MuslimARC is all about:

MuslimARC sees that race and racism are everyone’s problem and everyone deserves to have a moment to share what matters to them regarding their race. One of the wonderful ways they help various races and ethnicities share are their campaigns. For example, I recently had the pleasure to moderate a panel for the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaboration; #BeingAWhiteMuslim.

The 100% volunteer based team that organized the event researched about the White Muslim population: popular questions, struggles, converts vs. born Muslims. They then developed a thoughtful script, a hashtag, and contacted a variety of White Muslims to be on the panel. It was mashaAllah very healing, informative, comforting for me to listen to the panelists who shared similar experiences and gave meaningful suggests of how we can move past certain issues. As the conversations went on, I found myself longing to ask more and more questions. InshaAllah the next #BeingAWhiteMuslim panel will be just as wonderful.

MuslimARC, not only holds these amazing events, but developed toolkits to teach anti-racism and diversity to children, adults, and community leaders. Not only teaching people to be respectful of diversity but to give insight and help people understand each other’s perspectives more thoroughly. They not only imagine a brighter future where race is positively discussed, but they are making this happen through their programs.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I love his non-violent marches towards equality. I am constantly inspired by his work and enjoy learning more about him as I age; reading more and seeing more of his work. I know that he did not do it alone–he too had collaborators, he had people marching beside him. Unlike this picture, race is not just black, white, and a few shades in between. Race has baggage, piles of suitcases, of our history as a people. Some bad and some amazing moments of triumphs. Let’s continue to hope for the future and support understanding each better, and support MuslimARC.

Here’s 10 ways you can support MuslimARC:

1. Join

2. Introduce yourself and attend New Member Orientation (optional)

3. Attend a Hangout or Hashtag conversation

4. Join a Team

5. Share about events and MuslimARC on Social Media

6. Use the toolkits to help your local community

7. Attend an event in-person

8. Consider training with the team to become an instructor of diversity awareness training/anti-racism training

9. Host an event

10. Donate to MuslimARC

Race, religion, and ethnicity are part of all of us. Stop pointing fingers and work together.

(longer clip available here)

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Action2015: Our Better World

Curious about the trending twitter and instagram topic “#action2015.” Here is the who, what, when, where, why, and how of Action2015.

Who?

You! Well really everyone, especially youth. because by the goals’ timeline are completed in 2030 the 15 year olds of today will be 30 year olds leading our world.

What is it?

A call to action. The voices of 1/1000 people in the world participated in the MyWorld2015 survey (your’s truly included) that is over 7 million voices being heard. Continuing to engage people improves the work of the UN, it’s partners, and insures no individual or country is left behind. Action2015 uses our contributions to help set new goals for the UN and the world, then we can help them met those goals an we and those around us benefit.

When?

Now, today, January 15, 2015, is the official launch of #Action2015. From today until 2030 there will be numerous was to engage and support Action2015.

Where?

You can get involved

1. Online: share info., your opinions, volunteer, attend a rally, attend a Google Hangout, participate in surveys, watch videos, read stories, and share your story

2. In-person: your country’s rally, at a UNA chapter meeting/event, volunteer

Organizations & Governments

3. Attending summits, engaging with citizen, passing laws to meet the new goals, and providing the opportunities for change in your region.

Why?

Prior to these summits, making the voices of everyday people, like you and me be heard by our representatives is essential to making sure our needs are meet.

After attending the UNA-USA call explaining the agenda of Action 2015. Robert Skinner told the listeners, the main purpose of involving everyday citizens helps not only continue to improve the achievements of the 17 MDG but continues to add to the potential Sustainable Development Goals. This is 3 fold:

1. Create a minimum standard of living for all humanity. The areas it may look to improve could include: healthcare, hunger, poverty, electricity, roads, transportation, education, internet access; doing all this while considering the environment.

2. Reconsider how we build society; infrastructures, city building, updating rural areas. This might include building roads, building clinics and schools, setting-up public toilets, making water clean and accessible, setting-up/improving electricity and internet access. Again, all of this needs to be done while considering Climate Action and the environments of each region.

3. Change how we hold groups accountable. The UN, governments, businesses, and public/private sector organizations all need to be held accountable to get the work done, protect the environment safely, and be held responsible when things go awry.

Learn more about the why of Action 2015 on their website: http://www.action2015.org/why-we-are-doing-this/

How?

Here’s some tips Action2015.org suggests that we can do to get involved:

“Here are three things you can do to help spread the word about action/2015 and the year 2015!

  1. Host a digital activity on January 15 on a social channel. It can be a Google+ Hangout, Facebook Question and Answer segment, and more. Help us spread the world about how to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Visit the action/2015 website and share our social media content!
  2. Join the conversation Use the hashtag #action2015.
  3. Holding an event in your community? Send us your digital assets, photos and more. Spread the word about what your community is doing to make a difference!”

These are 4 of the awesome Google + Hangouts I attended today, that you can watch, re-watch, like, comment, and share anytime:

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Overcoming Hardships

As 2014 came to a close I was quite dispirited due to many continuing hardships.

Hardships that challenge us all like; health issues, unemployment,  poverty, separation from those we love.

I am a generally positive and optimistic person. I have that wide-eyed optimist’s outlook, my fiance says sometimes it looks like this:

When this issues happen,  I tend to compartmentalize them and focus on other, usually happier, aspects of my life.

Sometimes the pain of a difficult situation is all encompassing. Like an illness that physically hurts and prevents you from completing simple everyday tasks. The loss of a love one is so upsetting that you physical hurt, crying until you can barely breath and your heart races.

It is during these times we try to listen to advice from the best source God.

We look to the Toran, and the Bible for lessons and parables of prophets overcoming difficulties. We are reminded to count our blessings…that someone is always struggling more.

As a Muslim I am told:

I believe in these quotes. I know I can rally and find strength through the promise of a better tomorrow, future, or at least peace in heaven one day. Until then I shall…

I will  also practice these techniques to help me throughout 2015:
1. Read your religious texts
2. Pray
3. Giving back to other will not only distract you, but remind you of how everyone has issues, and many have far more or far worse issues
4. Ask for support
5. Talk time for myself. Perhaps journaling more, exercising or strengths, watching a favorite show, reading a novel, taking a long bath, crafting, or my favorite find time for a nap.

With the strength of God and this five tips I am sure 2015 will continue to improve.

PS Like the Facebook Page to get more thoughts and updates

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Birthdays

January 7th, I turned 26. That’s right, I am officially in my late twenties. I still look forward to birthdays. I like the cake, the presents, a special dinner with my family, and the birthday wishes from my friends and co-workers.

The wonderful board at Coming of Faith sent me this Gif on my Birthday. It was so cute and thoughtful. Many years go by and birthday cards are more of a facebook post “Happy Birthday!” rather than a card or letter with deeper, more sincere meaning.

Unlike this plucky song by Garfunkel and Oats “Happy Birthday to My Loose Acquaintance” this year I received many lovely and thoughtful facebook messages and wall posts from friends and family. Yes, some were just “Happy Birthday! Stay Awesome <3 :-)” but I replied. I tagged the original comment-er and had a conversation with every person that commented on my wall, sent a message, an email, a linkedin message, or a tweet. These friends, are not just facebook friends that I log off and never talk to again. These friends are people that I work with, I grew up with, that are coming to my wedding. I want to maintain a relationship with them. Maintaining a relationship takes work. If they did the “nice person thing to do,” as the song said, then I can take seconds to reply with more than a curt “thank you”.

Instead I:

1. Tell someone how much I value them.

2. Tell someone why I appreciate there comments

3. Sharing why I love working with someone and being their friend, publicly praising them.

This makes a huge difference. Not only does my friend have a moment to feel special, but it helps strength the friendship in the long term. Lasting, quality friendships aid in overall success.

I love this card my friend Erika and her daughters got me! Hand written cards just add a little some extra to that birthday wish. That old-fashion love of putting pen to paper is a discussion for another time. ;-)

PS. Thank you everyone who voted for me for the Brass Crescent Awards. Also thank you to whom ever nominated me, please feel free to nominate me for future awards! ;-) I was totally flattered and surprised by this and I really look forward to improving as a writer in the years to come so I can be far more deserving of these types of awards. Thanks again!

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