This Is Your Life & Six Ways to Look at It

I came across this article yesterday and I loved it, so I had to share it. Mindfulness is something I became familiar with after my diagnosis over a year and a half ago. It is a practice that I continuously work at incorporating into my life. It’s one of those things that I always feel better when I do, but it’s easy to put off. Sort of like exercising.

The writer of this article interviewed the founders of Holstee, a company that designs unique products with a focus on mindful living. The company is most known for its’ Holstee Manifesto, which you may have heard of, and which I believe are words to live by. Here are the six tips the founders suggested for practicing mindfulness to reframe your perspective on life.

1. Presence

When in conversation, give someone your fullest attention. Put the computer away, turn your phone on silent, and get lost in the moment with that person. Be fully interested, rather than interesting.

2. Architect Your Life

Be considerate and intentional with your life decisions. Rather than let life happen to you, author the story of your life. Author and philosopher Howard Thurman says it best with, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

3. Taking time for yourself creates clarity and renewed energy. At Holstee, they strongly suggest all teammates take their birthday day off each month.

4. Ask “Why?”

Why am I doing this? Why are we creating this product? Why is this a design principle? Asking “why” encourages you to go deeper and become more aware of what’s driving you, and whether or not you want it to be driving you.

5. Know Your Food and Appreciate Meals

What are you eating and where did it come from? As a society, over the last 50 years, we’ve created a knowledge and geographic gap as we’ve distanced ourselves from our food. To stay aware, the team at Holstee cooks in the office almost every day, and meal times are savored without work.

6. Understand the impact of what you buy

Transparency is slowly being built into the operations of many forward-thinking companies. This movement is a direct result of the increasing number of people asking questions about the clothes they buy, where their electronics come from, and brands they choose to support. Before buying, understand the impact.

You can read the full article on Fast Company by writer Amber Rae, here.

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Today is National Book Lovers Day!

I love this quote! I saw this picture today on Love, InshAllah, a blog that I follow, and I had to repost it. I’ve always loved reading books, but I have especially relied on it as a source of inspiration the past six months. It has been a major part of my healing process. Some of my best learning moments come through reading.

Isn’t it such a great feeling to lay down in bed underneath the covers, and  open up a new book? Few things bring me greater pleasure then the excitement that comes from the beginning of a great story. I know all the lovely ladies in my life will feel me on this one 🙂

Happy National Book Lovers Day!

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Dancing In The Rain

You’ve most likely heard the saying, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” I came across this picture last week. I remember hearing this when I was much younger, and thinking..”Who wouldn’t want to dance in the rain? That sounds like fun!”

Little did I know.

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Now, as an adult having faced some of life’s most enduring challenges..illness, death, and loss, I understand what this saying really means. When things aren’t going as we planned, expected or hoped, it’s about embracing those experiences and living in the moment, anyway.

This is no easy practice to apply.

Last weekend, my sister Ivan and two of my cousins, Huda and Linda were visiting . (I’m currently visiting my sister Nina in Philadelphia) We planned to go out and see some of the sites in the city and spend the day outside. When we made it to our first stop, the famous Rocky statue, it started raining. We tried waiting it out, but it didn’t let up. So we decided to leave and find a coffee shop where we could sit inside and wait for the weather to clear up. As soon as we arrived to the central part of the city, it started pouring down rain. There went our plans for the day.

The five of us huddled under an awning and waited impatiently as we watched the rain come down. Immediately, I started to think how annoying it was that the rain had ruined our plans. But then I caught myself. Instead of thinking that our day was ruined, I thought, why not make the most of it? You can’t change the weather. How often do the five of us get to spend time together (we each live in different cities) and just slow down? In fact, that moment is what made me recall the saying, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

That’s what I’ve been learning, especially over the past year. We all make big plans for life, and we expect life to act accordingly. But often times, our plans, big or small, don’t work out the way we want them to.  And when that happens, it’s easy for us to feel discouraged or frustrated. I’ve found myself in situations saying, “This is not how it’s supposed to be.” Or “This is not what I was expecting.”  But instead of backing away, and waiting for things to change or get better,  we can appreciate our experiences for what they are.

Our day in the rain was just a small thing. But I thought, if I could adapt this way of thinking to ordinary things, then maybe I could learn to see the bigger plans that don’t work out the way I hoped, as opportunities to embrace too. I think the true test of our character comes when things don’t turn out quite the way we want, but we go forward with grace anyway.

Have you recently had an experience that made you think of this saying? Maybe it was an important event in your life, or a vacation you planned? Or even a social activity you were looking forward to? Please share if you have.

Lovin’ London Town: Art, Culture & Music

I first visited London in the summer of 2009, and although I enjoyed seeing the royal sites, I wasn’t too keen on the city itself. This time though, I had a chance to get to know it a little better. We arrived in London at about 11p.m. after missing our flight from Nice. Long story. But a lovely lady at British airways booked us on the next flight that evening without charging us a penalty fee. Thank you British Airways!

After a very long day of travel, we made it to our hotel after midnight. The next day, I was exhausted. My body was talking to me, and I listened. I rested in bed at the hotel for most of the next day, except for a walk in the evening. Although I was not happy to forfeit a day of sightseeing, the rest was much needed. Traveling can be exhausting, and proper rest is essential to keeping your immune system strong, and staying healthy while traveling. The next day I was rested and ready to explore the city.

I visited the Tate modern museum which has a fabulous collection. I really liked one exhibition by artist Chen Zhen. The museum featured his late works which reflect the experience of chronic illness through fragile combinations of everyday objects. Zhen had a strong interest in healing, and intended for his work to have a therapeutic and meditative aspect. He suffered from a serious blood disease for more than twenty years, that sadly took his life.

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I was moved when I read about Zhen and saw his work. I have developed a compassion for stories of people who face health struggles, since my own experience. I was inspired by Zhen’s resolve to create art that expressed his own struggle with illness.

I also visited St. Paul’s cathedral later that evening. It is a beautiful site, sitting on the highest point in the city of London. I always enjoy visiting religious places of worship when I travel. I find it warming to watch people from different faiths and backgrounds appreciate these sites, regardless of their own religious beliefs.

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The next day, I visited the Portobello market, at the suggestion of a close friend of mind who studied in London. It is a delightful stretch of outdoor and indoor markets filled with antiques, specialty shops, modern goods and cafes and restaurants. It is by far, my favorite market that I’ve visited in all of the cities I’ve traveled to! You really need a whole day just to look and be dazzled by all the sights there. I want to go back just to go to there again!

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On my last day in London, I joined my friend Sophie at a music festival at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. I am not a dedicated music follower myself; she is a true music lover. But I am happy that she invited me to the festival. Being surrounded by thousands of people who love and appreciate music was energizing and uplifting. It gave me an opportunity to witness the universal power of music. I think it is one of those rare things that transcends race, religion, and profession, among other things. Being in the middle of it all gave me a greater appreciation for music, and its ability to move people. I also got to see Jay Z and Justin Timberlake perform, who were fantastic!

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By the end of my time in London, I had fallen in love with the city. It was kind of like when you meet someone for the first time, and you don’t think much about it. But when you get to know them better, you realize you like them a lot, after all. Overall, I had a wonderful time there and I would love to visit again. I was secretly hoping that princess Kate would give birth while I was there. I surely would have been in line to witness the spectacle. (Yes, I love Kate Middleton!) Oh well. Cheers to London and a healthy royal baby!

My next and final destination was Germany, which I will follow up with in my next post.

Have you visited Europe? If so, what was your favorite place? What did you love about it?