Thursday, February 27, 2014

Our Days Are Numbered

Special Guest Post by Shadya Karawi Name

“Our days are numbered”. That was what Tima told me as we were discussing this blog post. The phrase sent immediate shivers throughout my entire body and it got me thinking. If our days are in fact numbered, then I want to make every single one of them count. I am going to make all that I can so that they add in happiness and not subtract. I am going to make the firm decision of doing something special with all of them so that, when we have to make our numbers and come clean on how well we used this life, I have a big number of days well lived. 

I decided to come up with a list to remember always this promise I’m making with myself. Short and sweet:

  1. Do what you love: You are the master of your own destiny. You have a great gift to share with the world. Usually, those gifts are the things we enjoy the most on our spare time. It can be painting, writing, gardening, playing with numbers. Absolutely anything and the possibilities are countless. When you discover what it is that makes your heart jump, do it. Dedicate time every single day to your passion. Your heart and your life will be very grateful.
  2. Surround yourself with happy people: Establish healthy relationships. Be with people who share a positive outlook on life. Laughter is contagious and being with people who are optimistic will inspire you to live a happier life as well. Let go of those who drain you, who are constantly complaining, who play the role of the victim. Acknowledge that everyone is facing their own experiences. Appreciate the things they have taught you and be courageous enough to move past relationships that no longer serve a purpose of love in your life.
  3. Give back: When you give back, you receive again, and so a magical circle of joy is formed. You can contribute, in whatever way you can, with those situations and people that are dear to your heart. What you do does matter and it can make a difference bigger than you might perceive. Try to do a random act of kindness every day. I guarantee that you’ll feel better than ever.
  4. Go within: Meditate, pray, walk or do whatever it is that centers you. Take time to get to know yourself more. Understand what it is that moves you, get acquainted with your feelings, face your own fears. Only when we are in true connection with ourselves, can we be connected with others.
  5. Be grateful: Gratitude is, without a doubt, the key that opens all doors. When you begin saying thank you for everything that you already have (from a bed to sleep in and eyes to read this) you will receive more of what you desire. You will feel so blessed for all the things you’ve been gifted with that your spirit will be lifted automatically.
  6. Eat healthy: I’m sure you’ve all heard many times that we are what we eat. Choose life affirming foods and beverages. Listen to your body and learn to identify what it is it needs to function properly. We are all different so we all need something different. Know what it is that makes your body smile.
  7. Be flexible: Know that change is the only constant thing in life. Be prepared to have a shift of direction. Be aware that plans can fall down. Have options, move forward and take breaks. Don’t beat yourself up if something doesn’t work out as you had hoped it would. Those situations always have a blessing involved-look for it.
  8. Believe: In times of doubt, uncertainty and despair. In times of joy and celebration. Always believe. Know that there is greatness within you and that you have a beautiful purpose to fulfill. Trust that there is a loving power that is always with us. Believe in life and all the beauty that lies within it.

I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t matter in what order you do the things suggested above. What is important is having the conviction of wanting your life to change for the best. To be ready to face the world with a positive outlook. To know that you are powerful and that it depends on you, and solely on you, to make every single one of your numbered days mean something. 

Shadya Karawi Name is a Colombian-Lebanese Psychologist. Author of Believe, The Fine Art of Setting Yourself Free, her passion around writing has been around her ability to express the feelings of her soul. Her experience across the globe and integration in different cultures has expanded her mind and soul in spreading the love and message around living a happy life. Check out her story

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Spot The Spontaneous

Sometimes it takes tough situations for strong bonds to form. But the bond becomes so strong that nothing except higher powers can break them. 

Normally, my posts consist of reflections taken from my work environment. Although today's reflection is one from the oldest village in the world, Jericho, it still holds merit in my personal development blog. 

Two weeks ago, we received a phone call from my brother in the Middle East.

"Uncle Hassan had a stroke. He's fine. Really, he's fine. But in the hospital for tests." Being 10,000 miles away, it was hard to believe his words. Within 24 hours, two plane tickets were cut, with a vow to get my mom to see her brother in good health.

Lessons were learned and although it was probably the craziest decision I ever made, I still live with no regrets. And here's why.

If there's something you want to do, do it. 

Too often we make plans and they need to change. The vacation money is used to pay off the new car battery; a terrible flu eats into your sick time; or your mom ends up in the hospital for a week. Things happen. And then things just don't happen. 

Last May, I lost a dear friend, Sir David Romer, to a short, vicious battle to cancer. While conversing with his partner after the fact, he spoke about plans they had made to go and see the world. And how unfortunately it never happened. 
Every so often, I try and have lunch with his partner to catch up. Coincidentally enough, we had made plans that Thursday that my Uncle had his stroke. 

"What's on your mind?" He asks with the biggest smile on his face.

"Trying to get my mom back home to see her brother and wondering if I should go."

"Just go. You want to do it. Just do it." He made it sound so easy. But why couldn't it be? I already had the time off and there were no real negative consequences of jumping on a plane and going for a week. 

And now that I look back, I probably would've spent the week roaming aimlessly around Arizona or going into work on my days off and never took a trip to the Middle East. 

If there's something you want to say, say it. 

Going along the same lines, you never really know what moments could present themselves and what words should be said in those moments. 

Prior to leaving on my spontaneous trip, I tried my very best to tie down loose ends at work. Going overseas, I was taking only my iPad and not my laptop. Closing out documents, having one on ones with my peers, and collecting data for a qualification; my last 24 hours in the states were busy. 

But before I left, I made it a point to give a special goodbye to a dear friend of mine. He held me in hopes that I went and returned safely with my uncle in good health. And we both shared some words that needed to be said but neither of us had the courage to say previously.

With February almost gone, I look back at that moment and realize that they were just words but meaningful ones that I probably would never had said without the circumstances. We come across people every day in our lives with the thought that “there’s always tomorrow.” But what if tomorrow doesn't come, what would you want to say?

Appreciate the simple moments. 

In closing, my sixty hour work weeks are waiting for me back in Tempe. The rush of being a servant leader is the spark that keeps me going. But the last week in Jericho with my family was incredible and probably the real fuel in my life. 

Having being in the Holy Land, there are so many hotspots (literally) to see. The Dead Sea between Jordan and Palestine, the nativity church in Bethlehem or the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. But the hottest spot for me was simply on the steps of my Uncle's house. 

Riding on an emotional roller coaster, the days consisted of high and low aspects where tears of laughter turned all too quickly to tears of anguish. 

We cried. Over our past; our current situation and fear of what the future will bring. 

We laughed over how naive we were in the past; how broken my Arabic still is; and how crazy we'll be when we finally build a villa in our grandmothers land. 

Time passes us by as we grow older in the midst of an 8 to 5 routine.  Surprisingly, so much can happen in such a short period of time but what makes it seem like a lot is when you stop and realize it was the simplest of things that occurred. And even brought the greatest joy.

The short walk to the main part of town. 
The trot with the horse in the empty land at sunset.
The watermelon-mint flavored hookah on the porch.
The Nescafe coffee for breakfast.
The Turkish coffee for lunch, dinner and all hours in between. 
The late dinner spread of Falafel, olives, cheese, thyme and oil all with pita.
The chamomile tea at 11:30PM just as the 'kitchen' was closing. 

Next month will be different than today and even more different than last year. We are constantly changing as human beings and we can't stop the clock as much as we'd like to. But what we can do is recognize what has to be done or said and act on it. We must be grateful for having a crazy family even when they don't let you sleep because one day you'll wake up to a quiet house. 

I'm fortunate for who I am and where I come from. I'm fortunate for my uncles, aunts who treat me as their own. I'm fortunate for my cousins for being my friends first and relatives second. I'm fortunate for my brothers for pushing me to do the extreme. I'm fortunate for my mother for telling me to stand tall. 

Be grateful for what you have and take in the moments, no matter how simplistic they can be. One day you won't be able to jump on a plane to see your cousins or tell someone you love them. When the spontaneous moments present itself, don’t overthink it- you’ll appreciate yourself later.