Friday, February 17, 2017

What's your subscription?

What is your lifestyle?
Life is full of colors, themes, struggles, options, paths and outcomes. As a human being, we have so many needs and we have options for each. We need to eat, dress, have a shelter or residence, interact, learn and explore, have purpose, define our direction, exist in harmony, have individual identity etc. We have many roles to fill, many expectations to meet, many choices to make on a daily basis. It is not all hard since we are designed to accomplish all this at some point in our lives. But, most of us struggle; we struggle mentally, ethically, physically to meet the challenge because there is conflict. There is conflict between choices and decision, desires and potentials, and our greed to maximize our benefit with every decision we make and our potentials. Everyone wants to outsmart life, to maximize their profits and minimize their efforts and sufferings. Era of social media has been having contradicting influence on the outcome of our decisions. As much as social media has contributed to flattening of the world and transparency of human behavior across the world, it has also brought superficial values and mental chaos in our personal lives. During Vietnam war, college students on the front line of demonstrations and resistance. Their current counterparts are more concerned with their social media status and creating impressions of success online than their real life contributions.
Coming back to chaos in personal life, we want to make the most delicious lamb chop and be a vegetarian (because it is healthy and ethical), we want to support a social cause and dress up in high end fashion and hang out with friends frequently. We want to work less, earn more, spend extravagantly now and save lavishly for retirement. And you have many non credible sources telling you that "you can have it all".
Unrealistic and conflicting desires are the root of the chaos in our lives. Many people suffer from self imposed and contradictory expectations and don't even realize it. They practice stress release activities and wonder why does stress continue to disrupt their lives. They wonder why they haven't accomplished peace of mind despite "having it all".
Then there are people who have already given up on life because they think in terms of "all or none".
I have been in both categories at one or another time in my life and I was tired of it. My habits of self reflections and thriving to improve my life helped me reach a solution. I realized my life philosophies were whether incomplete or contradictory. I wanted to have a peaceful space but also extensively stylish and decorated. I wanted to enact every bucket list I came across on Pinterest, own all the gadgets on amazon.com, be a fashion instagramer, an avid reader, a successful writer, a social activist and my daughter's role model. I wanted to be five different people at the same time and I didn't know why I was so stressed. I was expecting myself to figure out life by the time I was in my 30s. It wasn't supposed to be so hard, right?
At some point in my life, I give up running the invisible race. I don't know how it happened, since I didn't encounter a life changing experience. Gradually, I let go of my expectation to be perfect, to be the best at everything I do etc. I gave up my expectation to go to the gym ( I have a gym membership for 6 months now and I have only been there 6 times), to keep my closet filled with colorful and stylish clothes, to keep a spotless clean house ( I continually failed at it anyways), to decorate my space modernly and keep up with social media.
I went to basics. Forget weight loss, as long as I am pain free. No need for fancy food recipes (sorry Rachel Ray). Goodbye social media challenges and hello Minimalism. I wrote my own list of self care activities and put "reading" at the top of the list. I cut off any complicated societal, religious and cultural ties and re-defined my life purpose. I am focused on kindness and forgiveness regardless of return behavior of people. I dress for comfort with pride, exercise to energize and avoid pain, eat to enjoy food, and listen to my favorite music even though it is not Adele and BeyoncĂ©.
Therefore, I have subscribed to a minimalistic and simplistic lifestyle and I am getting better at it everyday. Keeping my needs to basics, expectations simple and desires to minimum, I am getting back my peace of mind and ethical confidence. It is a conscious effort that I apply to all areas of my life. And did I mention I am happier now than ever before?



Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Returning home

I am scared to to return home. The home I have with my husband. I am afraid I will expect him to pick up after himself, I will expect him to share in the responsibilities of raising our daughter, and I am afraid that I will be disappointed. I will be mad in return, and then sad, angry, resentful and unhappy. I wonder if he sees me as a lazy wife. One that needs help despite not working. I wonder if he has expectations from me to be like his friends wives, or at least the Facebook version of them: adventurous, active, fit, great party hosts... i wonder if he is dreading my return to home.

I have to take it one day at a time, one hour at a time. The universe is telling me to be positive, to be in charge of my own happiness. I must remind myself of that. I must lower my expectations, way more! I must remind myself that nothing stays the same. That maybe this is the hard years. I must act the exact same way I want him to act. I must...I will love him despite his flaws, and his short comings. I will love him, period. After all isn't it what I expect from him?
I will remind myself of the times I couldn't wait to be with him and take that feeling and energy and will go sit next to him. I will forgive him for not helping me, for not seeing my exhaustion, my sacrifice, my heartache. I will be positive. I will be grateful. I will keep my anger in check. I will be the one to give and not ask for anything back, at least for now. I will be ok with an imperfect marriage and imperfect life partner. I will remind myself that I am stronger and wiser than to ruin the day by expressing my anger and dissatisfaction. I will watch my tone. I will be non-judgemental. I will be relaxed. I will take a minute to myself. I will do something personal for myself. I will Ignore the dust, the dirt, the flaws and find one thing positive to be grateful about. I will be a different person. I will keep anxiety at bay. I will keep negativity away. I will rejoice in the health of myself and my daughter. I will be patient. I will persevere! 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Perfection vs Connection

I am lucky that I am not a perfectionist, but I was attempting to be one inconsistently.
As a mother, I used to stress about being the perfect mother by focusing on minor daily mishaps. My on and off and often failed attempts at "fixing" every little aspect of my and my daughter's life was keeping me in a constant state of anxiety. In my career, I used to drain all my energy by giving 150% on the job and emotionally getting involved in my patients' issues. Then I came across this idea " connection vs perfection". It feels as if I found the missing link in my search for a more practical and peaceful life.
This idea shifted my perspective and relieved me from unnecessary stress and anxiety. Now I give 100% on the job. I am still compassionate and caring while acknowledging my limitations. My patients love me and I love helping them as much as possible. I have realized that connecting with my patients and establishing trusting relationship with them is more effective than trying to take over their care. I put them in charge of their care and assume the role of a well informed guide. Beyond my patients, I no longer bend over backwards for corporate America. This is a topic for a whole new discussion.
My parenting style is more relaxed and effective now. First of all, I realized my role is to assist, guide, nurture, strengthen, and equip my daughter. I am here to raise her for her own future and not my intended life for her. When focusing on connecting with her vs perfecting her, I allow her to become her own person. I no longer squeeze her into my perceived idea of who she should be. I am learning to see her point of view, allow her to express herself and explore the world with her. Instead of making the bed, I learn about her favorite book. Cooking can be a joint effort, regardless of how long it will take or how imperfect the dish will turn out. The only non academic activity for her is her Tea Kown Do. I give her the chance to interact in social gatherings at her own pace, regardless of being judged by others about not being strict with her. I have finally realized that her growing up is about her, not about me and certainly not about other people's expectations. I no longer strive for perfection in my life. It is about connection, connecting with yourself, your family, your friends. And to connect, you must let go of predetermined notions, idealistic expectations and perfection. As human beings, we are designed to be biased, unethical, imperfect, flawed and sometimes stubborn. Yet we will need love, connection and acceptance. How can you connect if you don't accept other's flaws and imperfections?

Friday, January 15, 2016

Reflections

Do I reflect enough? Do I reflect more than I should? Is it beneficial to reflect? How are the contents of my reflections improving over time? Am I progressing or regressing? Can I do something better with my time than reflection? But I love reflecting on my thoughts, emotions and actions. I make steady progress if only I took my self discoveries seriously. I come up with certain revelations about myself and then I forget about them. Even though I forget them, they leave me changed a little bit. Therefore, I make slow progress.
My initial questions still stand unanswered. There are many many articles and books on reflection and its benefits. It is a skill like many others, yoga, guitar playing, running etc. It requires proper technique and consistency of practice to master it, to apply it appropriately. Otherwise, it can turn into a session of worry and regrets. Some times, I take a detour down those lanes. But more often, I enjoy my reflections. Now I need a way to log my reflections and outcomes. I have major issue with consistency. What to do?

Monday, July 6, 2015

Real vs Fictional

I have been pressing my younger sister to blog about her life experiences since she has been living such a diverse and interesting life. I have the same intentions though my life is less diverse than hers. The recent thought about writing n sharing our life stories is how it will be perceived.
I was talking to few of my co-workers last night and started telling about some experiences of mine as a teenager in Pakistan. They looked amused. They kept asking questions which reassured me they are actively listening and want to know more.
I often try to listen to myself as I speak, my attempt in improving myself. The images of my memories kept playing in my head as I listened to myself talking about them while trying to stay present at the ICU nurse station and also listen to the monitor alarms of patients. Then I started to switch place with my friends/audience and listen to my stories. That's when I questioned the reality of my experiences. I started wondering if my experiences sound as real to them as they are to me. Whenever I share my memories, I make the utmost attempt to maintain their integrity and originality. But do my listeners feel the same way? Do they trust me to be real and honest in telling the accounts of my life? Do they believe that I actually lived those moments or do they dismiss my stories as an extension of my imagination?
After having lived in the U.S. myself, my own experiences of poverty, escaping persecution, struggling to make the most out of life, accepting the terms and conditions of the life that were handed down to us and more are starting to sound like fiction. At times, I can't believe I actually lived my own experiences and how far I made, how far our family made it. As proud as I am about how far we have come, I don't want to lose my roots and my past. That's the strongest reason behind wanting to write and share my experiences and stories. I want my daughter to know my past. My past is part of me and I am proud of it. But I ma still not sure how I feel about other's perception of me. Will they believe me? Will they accept my accounts as real?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Lost Identity?

United States of America, the land of hyphenated citizens, is like a safe house for many people around the world. It is certainly true for me. I wasn't born here but I have had many of my best experiences and opportunities here. I earned college degrees, chose my career (even changed it with no social limitation), worked as I wanted, made my own life choices (some didn't work well), broke old traditions without retribution etc. I can  go out of my house without fear of being raped and killed, can leave my house without a man accompanying me and dress as I preferr. I am safe from many life threatening phenomena that women face around the world. I have lived the best moments of my life here, in this land. But I can never venture too far from my afghan roots. I spent the crucial learning years of my life in Afghanistan. Most of my values and personal preferences are based on my upbringing in Afghan culture. Those values and standards were refined by the education I earned and the opportunities I encountered in the US. For the most part, it has been a conscious effort for personal growth and improvement. Overall, I am satisfied how far I have come in my life given my circumstances. There is always that feeling that I could have done better but I am learning to accept my limitations and appreciate my efforts. 
However, I often have the feeling of "lost identity". I am not a hardcore afghan neither I am considered a "true American". I don't think I fit in either of these cultures. I am too liberal for Afghan Muslims, too conservative for Americans. I sometimes catch myself doubting my preferences and explaining myself to others. I feel misunderstood and rejected from both of my cultures. I belong to two cultures not just one. The norm is to have one cultural affiliation, one pre-existing identity, one set of socially determined standards. It's like a pre packaged deal which I can't take. No I am not going through midlife crisis and I am far away from menopause. I haven't exhausted my opportunities and potentials and I am Not considering myself better than others. It's a modern case of identity crisis. We all need a sense of belonging, a group or cultural identity. I am trying to find mine. #lostidentity #culturalawareness #identitycrisis 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Muslim Apology

Being Muslim is getting harder even in a liberal country like US. I blame it to the generalized ignorance that is gripping the land of the free. It was 5-6 years ago that I noticed ignorance was becoming the new trend. People were not smart, just smart mouthed. We started to over simplify theories, to summarize philosophies and lower standards and excuse continuous failure while accepting mediocre performances. At time, I didn't think much of the trend. I assumed it will die away with time. Obviously I was wrong. Ignorance became widespread between many layers of society and now it is the accepted norm. Just listen to some talk show hosts and news reporters and you will see what I mean. The content of their questions, the direction of their proposals and the background of their arguments are shockingly primitive and presumptive. You want to answer the question or argue the idea presented, but for immature debater like me, it gets confusing. Confusing because the question posed or the idea brought up for debate is inaccurate in the first place.
There are a lot of generalization and assumptions about Muslims and Islam. I believe there are two main reasons why Islam and Muslims are being perceived as terrorists overall. Islam has been politicized extensively for almost any purpose other than faith. The second one is non-Muslims fail to separate religion from cultural practices of different Islamic countries. It is a courtesy they fail to extend to Muslims all around the world. Current rise of Islamic extremists is a wave of terrorism that threatens not only non-Muslims,but Muslims, Islam and the humanity at its core. By no means, I want to minimize the devastating impact of jihadists, Islamic extremists, religious terrorists and enemies of mankind. The actions of these Islamic terrorists are unforgivable in any context. No faith, no injustice done by others, no suffering imposed on them by the developing world can justify their terrorism. To be honest, I don't believe these Muslim terrorists are actually Muslims. I don't want to rule out the theory that they are non-Muslims posing as Muslim extremists, just to defame Islam and promote hatred of Muslims and Islam. Another theory, with the higher probability, is that these people born to Muslim families, grew up as "Muslims" without any true knowledge of their religion. These people lived socially, financially and politically oppressed lives and thus became very revengeful in nature. Such vulnerable population is the most fertile ground for manipulation and misinformation. It doesn't take much effort on the part of the recruiter to gather an army of stubborn soldiers who wants to dedicate their death to some cause. In such case, what better cause than their Faith, especially when they are promised some form of security for themselves and their families. When they belong to a group, dedicated to a cause, they have an identity, their lives will have a purpose. They know they will die soon whether from hunger and disease or from a bullet. But somehow death from a bullet and for a cause is a dignified death. These people don't care about life and living. They want glorified death. You don't need to take my words for it, just use your critical thinking and find out when and where any terrorist group rose to power. Poor, uneducated communities have been home of many such terrorists groups. Look at Usama Bin Laden. He was an Arab but took refuse in Afghanistan where he was elected the leader of an army and "fought for Islam". Arab Emirates is a Muslim country, rich and well connected with the rich and powerful of the world. Why didn't he erect an army there?
To stay on track, I want to talk about the mix of religion and culture. Religions often come after a society has an established culture which isn't serving humanity. Religions are consulted to help improve cultural and societal practices to serve humanity better. Therefore, many different countries can be connected by the same religion but separate by their culture. Societies tend to modify their religion to accommodate for their cultural practices in order to stay within the known norms and practices. It is a way of them conserving their cultural identity. This is the beauty of religion, it is liquid to some extent that fits different practices yet maintain its promise to ethical and humane practices. Islam, and truly any religion, isn't a body of right and wrong practices but a philosophy, a series of decision making strategies to help man make the best possible choice in his circumstances. Religion, the true and reasonable format of it, helps man stay ethical and fair when making difficult and complicated decisions. So when criticizing actions, we need to target the person committing these actions and not the religion. The reason I am staying neutral by using the word "religion" instead of "Islam". Because any religion has extremists and crazies. It is not the religion that is extreme and crazy but people practicing it. Therefore, to minimize Islam to its extremists and lunatics is unfair to the faith and those practicing the faith in peaceful way that it was intended. To hold all Muslims responsible for the actions of the terrorist groups using the label of Islam is illogical. To stereotype all Muslims based on media propaganda and discriminate against them based on uneducated presumptions is another form of crazy and extremism. I, a Muslim, came to the US for all the securities that my religion wanted me to have but my country failed to honor. Now I am a US citizen, dedicated to this country. But my faith puts me on the other side of the fence from the rest of my fellow citizens. Now I am being perceived and treated differently. Now I have to explain myself and my ideology even when I haven't hurt anyone. People are upset that I am here, among them. I see my religion being tarnished openly, condemned publicly for promoting violence.
I want to say, I am not sorry I am a Muslim. I am not sorry I am here contributing to the welfare of this country. I am not sorry my faith is different than others. I don't want to apologize for Islamic Terrorists. I don't want to apologize on behalf of murderers wearing label of Islam. Instead, I am standing here, among all the rest of the US people, condemning violence and terrorism. I am questioning the real motive behind such extremist actions. I am hurt in a different way than many. I am hurt my faith is being blamed as if it is an acting body. I am sorry that I am being labeled or compared to some terrorists. My existence, my life experiences, my ideology, my achievements have been minimized to public perception of my Faith. Now, people hear my accent, ask my country of origin and change their attitude. I haven't experienced an open and harsh discrimination here yet. But I am afraid it might happen. We ran away from discrimination and persecution from our "Muslim country" only to face it here in the land of opportunity?
#muslimapology #islam #Iamsorry #racisim #life