breaking the silence

“Why Aren’t You Smiling?

You’ve gotta keep going.” – Jhene Aiko – W. A. Y. S.

 

Hills

My previous post is dated 27th May 2017, which is more than a month ago.

Much has happened, and yet things are pretty much the same still.

I’m growing. Still dreaming big and audaciously.

I took the month off to focus on fasting and prayer during the Holy month of Ramadhan, and it was really good for my soul. I even deactivated my Instagram account for a week, hah. There was a sense of calm that just filled my soul that even in times of distress I felt really close to my Creator. Like He could hear me when I’d ask Him to show me a way, and I really miss that.

I always question my purpose on this earth, and as each day goes by that yearning builds up. Almost like how you try to recall someone’s name – it’s on the tip of your tongue and swishing about in your brain – but you just can’t grasp it yet.

I meant it when I said I was elated for the BAKE Awards nomination. I wasn’t very honest when I said I was okay with not winning. You see the thing is, I felt like I was so close. That maybe this was my big break. Or just a victory I really wanted, you know? And when it didn’t happen, well, I guess I sort of had to reconfigure my strategy, which I’ve come to realize always seems to keep changing.

I find myself wondering and searching for a special solution that will make all my dreams come true, ignoring the fact that this ‘searching’ takes away the joy from the present. Always chasing, searching, yearning, forgetting to be present. To be grateful for what is, for the now. And to stop comparing, or setting time limits for my achievements because everyone’s journey and life purpose is different. The important thing is that I’m trying. I’m getting started. And even in moments when I’m weak, scared or feel like I’ve failed, I get up and march on.

Still marching.

Lots of love,

Fatma.

chasing dreams

“Artists have so much more control of their futures – they don’t need to rely so much on major labels or big companies to help them. You have artists like Skrillex that can dominate so much that he gets 5 Grammy nominees, and he’s clearly an underground artist.”

– Steve Aoki.

concert1concert2concert3concert4

Sometimes an incident, big or small, can occur that will make you second guess yourself. Your abilities, your dreams, especially when your purpose is unclear (it doesn’t need to be clear because everyone has a different rate of growth). I was in the dumps for a few days, second guessing whether I should proceed with my ‘pilgrim adventures’, asking if it’s worth it, do the easy thing, give it up, and conform or if I should do the difficult thing – keep going one step at a time and see where it goes. Then one evening I got a wave of an emotion I can’t describe as anger, but similar to it. Whatever it was, even after a long day at work, it kept me at my bedside table editing these pictures for the next two and a half hours until past midnight. It reminded me of something I read once that Maya Angelou said about the difference between anger and bitterness; ‘Bitterness is like cancer, it eats upon the host. But anger is like fire, it burns all clean’.

You see the thing is, I know I’m not perfect. I know I have a long way to go, a lot to learn and I don’t shy away from that fact. I embrace it. I came across a quote on Instagram that goes something like, ‘let the space between who you are and where you want to be inspire you.’ That is exactly what I live by. I will try something new today, may turn out well, or not. And I will get up and try again. The important thing is to keep creating, sharing, growing. I can describe more of who I want to be than of who I am now, so if I could describe myself in one word, it would be ambitious. This felt like an appropriate pretext to this post. Read on, I’m getting to my point.

On the second day of the Grand Prix, the entertainment section was just as incredible and exciting as the races. The organizers had planned activities for different age groups, and a post-race concert that began at around 7 pm just a few minutes from the viewing stands. Underneath the huge tents, were ladies dressed as mushrooms and fairies from Peter Pan, clowns on stilts and in inflated costumes, candy canes plonked into the ground at random places, the sweet and sticky smell of spilled soda, ice cream, candy, pop corn, pizza and Red Bull. An array of colour and activity, with furniture to seat at and observe the life around you if you’re as in awe as I am in new places! Additionally, there were several themed stands like the bubble making stand, sadly for children aged 5-10 so I just stood on the perimeter of the stand taking pictures, haha.

My family and I then dashed to watch the races and at 7 pm headed back to the stage early enough to get a spot at the front. My reaction to seeing Enrique on that stage was, drum rolls please, tears. I was tearing up remembering how at age 10 or 11, my dad bought his first CD and I’d sing along my terrible version lyrics to Hero and Escape. ‘Here’s how it goes, you and me, up and down but baby.. mumbles.. mumbles.. mumbles.. If you feeeeel like leaviiiiing’, you get the point 😀 I’d carry that CD with me in my schoolbag to show my friends (we’d call ourselves the Blooming Ladybirds lol) where we’d then appropriately scream and giggle like little girls.

I kid you not, at least 1000 views of the Bailando song on YouTube are mine 😀 And so by the time Enrique performed that song, my mascara and kohl was a mess, my voice was hoarse and I was in a dream like trance. At one point, he got off stage and came down to the barricade to mingle with the fans. I was star struck, paralyzed, and just stood there in amazement asking out loud, ‘Is this real?’ ‘Take pictures, be present,’ I’d then tell myself. At the end of Enrique’s set, Steve Aoki was next and woah, that energy! It made me think about people who I look up to professionally, leading the lives of their dreams doing what they love. Innovators. Artists. People who do different things and dare to step out of their comfort zones, prepared to take on whatever challenges are brought their way.

People like Enrique Iglesias, Steve Aoki, the formula 1 racers all take a huge risk stepping out onto the stage of life, opening themselves up to create and face criticism. They keep working hard at their dreams. I’d never been a fan of Steve’s genre of music but after watching him live, I now have a great respect for his craft. The visuals, his energy and enthusiasm. Wish I got to watch the whole performance but alas, we had to be home before the clock struck ten (and this was only because we were actually being chaperoned haha).

This post took me back to that barricade at the concert. Watching people I admire live their dreams, have people adore their craft and inspire others to do something too.

The easy thing for me to do would be give up on this blog (or any other ridiculous dreams I have) which is not only a hobby, but also what I see as a vehicle to help me live out a larger purpose. To push me towards following my dreams, and help you (whoever is reading) see that hey, if Fatma can get started then so can you. Whataver it is. Doesn’t matter who gets there first, just that you get started and keep going.

I’m writing to myself now.

If you have a dream, you will have to work at it and deal with whatever challenges that come your way. You will have to change some habits, create more time (borrow time from the future as Professor Anyamba would say) to accommodate all the responsibilities you need to balance. You will need to get things done. It’s the only way to grow.

Dream. Strategize. And work.

Watch this.

daring greatly

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

“The Man in the Arena,” an excerpt from Citizenship in a Republic, Theodore Roosevelt.

 

Daring.jpg

Day 87/ 365

I’ve been terribly busy this past week. A marathon – so many deadlines to complete in what seems like not enough time. And on some days, it feels like time has stretched itself out like fat men after a heavy lunch – just seems to drag on into a bleak existence.

I’ve had to change some of my habits in order to create more room for productivity. My days start earlier, and end much later. Without realizing what was happening, my hour (or two) of solitude in the evenings seemed to have disappeared. My alone time is essential for my sanity, so as a result, I became restless, increasingly self conscious and haven’t been sleeping well (the recent heat waves at night haven’t made it easier, sema global warming?).

The truth is, I’ve been exhausted. For the longest time, I’ve thought of exhaustion as a negative ’emotion’ but I realized today that it could be a reason to be grateful! Yes, I know. Sounds crazy.

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat”.

Exhaustion is uncomfortable, but it means growth. Struggle means that you’re actually trying, you are in the arena. I did some reflecting today, and realized that one thing is for sure; I don’t wish for comfort as a mental state I identify with, I want to keep growing, and I’m not entirely sure if I’m ready for it. Are we ever?

I can’t remember exactly how I found this interview of Dr. BrenĂ© Brown on Oprah’s YouTube channel. Everything she said made sense, so I knew I had to buy one of her books. I got ‘Daring Greatly’ two months ago, and was ‘saving it’ for something special. That special moment was last night, and one paragraph in I couldn’t put the book down.

I’m now about a third done with the book. It’s difficult to summarize twelve years of Dr. BrenĂ© Brown’s research into a single blog post, but she summarizes it best on the cover.

Daring Greatly; How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead.

Almost every page brings tears to my eyes and what Oprah calls ‘aha moments’ – discussing topics like shame, vulnerability and joy. It’s exactly what I needed to read right now. Once I’m done with the book, I’ll write a little more about the lessons I’ve learnt.

I’ll end today’s post with an excerpt from the book, where she talks about ‘Wholehearted living’.

“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, passion and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done or what is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging”.

You are brave, and worthy of love and belonging 🙂

Other useful links:

Listening to Shame
Brené on Oprah