Monday, April 22, 2013

acting vs. taking chances

two definitions for today's post:
1. empathy: understanding what others are feeling because you have experienced it yourself or can put yourself in their shoes
2. sympathy: acknowledging another person's emotional hardships and providing comfort and assurance

this morning i had a brief conversation with a friend, halfway through the exchange of messages via facebook inbox i realized that i was fishing for one of the above words, i don't know if i was expecting my friend to know how i felt because she might be experiencing it herself, or i was waiting for and in need of a more mature action which is for her to acknowledge my pain even though she had never tasted it before... there was no "happy ending" for our conversation, and this got me thinking about what i've done in the past months...

maybe it's my fault, i've been such a good actress able to hide my pain behind fake smiles and kid's activities and happy facebook posts and encouraging comments written to others... all along i thought i was doing the right thing or at least a good thing, but today i've discovered that this wasn't good for me... it wasn't helping me heal and receive the support i needed...

acting was, for me, a safe thing to do, simply because i didn't have enough courage to be vulnerable, to let my weaknesses show, to admit my exhaustion, to share my frustrations... people who do this put themselves at risk, and the stakes are high... what if people rejected you after you took down all your guards? what if people weren't as understanding (as empathetic or sympathetic) as you needed them to be? what if, and this is a horror movie for me, people made fun of you or discussed you and talked about you in your back? the list of "what if's" goes on and on, so, why take such a risk? let's play it safe and keep the stage curtain up, keep the show on, and keep the smile as shiny as ever...

what troubled me most this morning is how God works when we're aching, living alone for 5 years when i studied abroad was very difficult yet it was at the same time the best time in my life when God met me at my point of need, when i saw him and felt him as i hit rock bottom, am i now hitting rock bottom again but in a different area at a different phase of life?

two conclusions for today's post:
1.people who hide their pain and act as if everything is find, lack the courage of showing their vulnerability to people around them for the risk of getting rejected and ending up with more pain
2.God meets us at our point of need, even if we're too stubborn to accept help from fellow humans, he is willing to reach out to us providing help from the source that will never ever let anyone down

Friday, April 19, 2013

rainbows in my life

this is a photo of a rainbow my almost four-year-old son colored the other day, he likes colors and he knows it: "i like colors" and his favorite color is red, the bottom one is a drawing of a heart-shaped hot air balloon, i have no idea where he got the idea from but i doubt that it came purely from his imagination, and he colored the balloon with rainbow color.  my little artist also likes to color with a pencil !!! so who am i to judge his artistic choices...

for me what is most beautiful about rainbows is the biblical story of Noah, regardless of the terror in the part where everybody else drowns to death, there's the happy ending (for Noah and his family at least) when God makes a promise that human kind will never be abolished ever again. God does keep his promises but humans never made such a promise and they filled history with massacres and attempts of wiping out entire nations, the latest of which is what's happening in Syria, so i personally hold on to the rainbow promise today more than ever... there WILL be sunshine after these dark clouds, and out will come BEAUTIFUL colors... this faith is what keeps me from breaking down every time i read something on facebook or listen to the news on Syria...

a few weeks ago on a rainy day in this city at the cost of the Mediterranean, i was driving my son back from the nursery and as we drove along the corniche my son spotted a beautiful rainbow jumping down from a dark gray cloud dipped into the deep blue sea: "mama fi (there's a) rainbow". i love it when one of my children draws my attention to a little piece of beauty that was right there in front of my eyes but i didn't have enough "purity" to see it. my 20-month-old daughter does the same when she sees a crescent or a full moon, she goes like: "aman" for "amar" which means moon in Arabic

my children's love for the moon in all shapes and stages throughout the month might have come from me, my husband once told me that i do notice the moon a lot and i used to draw his attention to it when we were engaged. i know that kids pick up bits and pieces, sometimes huge chunks too of what we do, say, and choose, so my children's fascination with the rainbow might have also come from their mama

the possible reason for my love of rainbows is that i love rain, my name means "light continuous rain" but i was born in Damascus where it rarely rained, i grew up waiting for and anticipating rainbows after the rain, the thing that usually people who hate rain do, but i loved rain including its aftermath, yet i've never seen a rainbow in the Damascene sky longer than a "free sample" piece of what should be a long curved arch

but i guess you'd all agree with me that the photo above is BEAUTIFUL even if you've seen as many rainbows as the number of your hair... i saw this one from the window of our living room, at the new apartment. our huge glass window is a blessing i'll forever be thankful for, because in our old apartment we spent 5 years of guessing whether the sun was up or not yet, because we couldn't receive enough daylight through the narrow few windows we had there. so now you don't only see me running around the new apartment with our camera in my hand taking photos of my kids but also taking photos of the changing scene from our living room large window

the true rainbows in my life are these two precious little ones...

so i've decided it was time i changed my blog photo and i came across this beautiful painting by "London Art Girl" when i googled images of "rainbow woman", i don't know if i'm allowed to use it or not, but i couldn't find anything about copy rights on the page so i decided to use it and mention the source as well so more women around the world can identify with this woman of many colors who seems not to be ashamed of herself but holds her head up looking out into the world with hope, anticipation, self confidence, and love, she seems to have a lot to offer including of course those rich colors...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

math in murder

it's ironic that the words massacre and mass also start with an "m" like murder... my mom was a math teacher so she helped my siblings and i when we needed simplified one-on-one explanation for our school homework, so i was good in math when i was at school, but these days i struggle with numbers and logic... take a look of this picture i've just put together...

here comes the math:
  • more than 24 hours ago cute innocent 8-year-old Martin was killed in the US
  • more than 24 months ago till this day over 5000 innocent children were killed in Syria

  • the American boy was in my mind and prayer for more than one day
  • the Syrian boys and girls to earn one day each (to keep in my thoughts and prayers) need more than 13 years

  • there's an American family whose mother is recovering from brain surgery and daughter from leg amputation as they grieve the loss of their son
  • there are (??? no math can help) Syrian families who are recovering from unimaginable untreated injuries, they are either living under inhuman conditions somewhere inside Syria or in a refugee camp,  an end was put to the suffering of entire families because they were all killed so simply and brutally 
i'm not making any comparisons in terms of value of the human soul, each and every single human being is precious in God's eyes, Martin is not more or less important than Fadi or Lina or Mohamad or Elias or Sarah or Heba or any Syrian child

heaven gained one more angel, but i can't hear the sound any celebrations coming from up there, because they're busy preparing to welcome more and more children as we speak.... WHY do people kill one another? WHEN can we put an end to bloodshed? HOW will justice and peace prevail? maybe some other kind of science other than math in another galaxy has answers...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

why the Russian doll and multi-grains?

this is the image i first selected for my blog, and i've been contemplating a change, so i thought of expressing my love for Russian dolls first in case, on any given day, without prior notice, i decided to change this picture:

it's just a cute picture of Russian dolls among many other photos i had selected from google images. but WHY the Russian doll? i guess it's one of the unconscious passions one has for something the reason might be rooted in one's childhood and later in life we try to find reasons for it...

my dad studied in the Russian Soviet Union for six years (1958-1964) then he came back to our country, married my mom and they had 4 children, I'm the youngest. After the year of my birth 1979 he visited Russia several times, but on business trips at work and he brought with him Russian souvenirs and toys. i remember one time he got my sister and i two dolls with blond hair wearing traditional Russian outfits and when he took them out of his suitcase out came a group of blond ants!!! we were used to black little ants but BLOND ANTS? is everyone and everything blond in Russia? the hard part was that we had to kill these blond ants and felt guilty about it...

the main Russian souvenir my dad brought with him had to be a wooden Russian doll, there's something about Russian dolls that attracts and speaks to children so i felt in love with this "forbidden toy", yes we weren't allowed to play with it, my mom spread all 9 of them (and all 7 of the other one) on the piano and the book shelves in our living room.

a decade and a half later i read a novel in Arabic by Ahlam Mostaghanmi, and a paragraph stopped me, the man was saying to his love:

"أي امرأة فيك هي التي أوقعتني؟ كنت معك في دهشة دائمة.فقد كنتِ شبيهة بتلك الدمية الروسية الخشبية التي تخفي داخلها دمية أخرى. وهذه تخفي دمية أصغر، وهكذا تكون سبع دمى داخل واحدة! كنت كل مرة أفاجأ بامرأة أخرى داخلك. وإذا بك تأخذين في بضعة أيام ملامح كل النساء. وإذا بي محاط بأكثر من امرأة، يتناوبن علي في حضورك وفي غيابك، فأقع في حبهن جميعاً. أكان يمكن لي إذن أن أحبك بطريقة واحدة؟ لم تكوني امرأة..كنت مدينة"
أحلام مستغانمي - ذاكرة الجسد

"Which woman in you made me fall? With you I was in constant astonishment because you were like that Russian wooden doll which hides another doll inside, and the latter hides a smaller one, to have seven dolls in one! Every time I'd be surprised with another woman inside you, within a few days you resembled all women and I was surrounded with more than just one woman taking turns with me in your presence and absence so I fell in love with them all. Was it possible for me to love you in a single way? You weren't a woman, you were a city"

i don't know if this is a fair translation, but this was supposed to be a positive thing this woman heard from her love and i in turn fell in love with the idea of a multi-layered female whose man was in constant awe of who she is and the depths of her personality.

i've always been a disciplined female, as a school girl i finished my homework before i started to play, i acted in an acceptable and pleasant manner, i learned to play the piano and later on the flute, as a teenager i was consistent with my quite time and spiritual relationship with God, i wrote poems and rhyme stories... so part of who i am came to me by chance, which means talent, and another part was a result of discipline and hard work.

for some reason, or maybe a reason i'm aware of but will discuss later, during my teenage years i started to develope low self esteem, being a perfectionist made my low self esteem "perfect" too, so during the early years of my adulthood i started to work on fighting these negative thoughs about myself. here i have to give credit to my sister who once said to me (and in English too): "you care TOO much about what people think!!!" and a lightbulb appeared in my head, the work plan was put in action:
1.nurture positive self esteem less of what people think of me

the problem was that there's a thin line between developing a positive self image and high self esteem on one hand and cultivating arrogance on the other hand. this meant more work on being as humble as a good Christian can be and as special as ME can be, hens the Russian doll, but i didn't want to name my blog after it because i didn't want to identify myself with a "doll" or with a country i've never visited but would like to visit one day, so i started with the fact that i'm a woman (a female) which is an idea i reconciled with after hating my female identity throughout my teenage years (man, i had a lot of serious issues in my past, i'm afraid i'm still carrying some with me :( and i added to it my love for hole grain bread and multi-grain muesli to come up with the name of this blog "multi-grain woman" and the current (above) photo of the Russian doll.

speaking of self image... i saw this amazing video this morning, it's worth watching...

Sunday, April 7, 2013

three wise Egyptians

in January i had the chance to travel with my family to Sudan, we stayed for one week in Khartoum and on Friday we visited the old souq in Omdurman. i saw three hand carved wooden statues of the Three Mystic Monkeys and i loved it. when we got back our three wise monkeys found their place in our living room...
this morning as i was reading news headlines i saw a cartoon by a brilliant Lebanese cartoonist: Habib Haddad about Egypt and i wanted to share it with you. (the Arabic script is "in Egypt")

Thursday, April 4, 2013

discoveries i made

here's a list of things i've discovered over the past few days:

  1. i've discovered that when my husband is out of town i get a bit scared at night to go to bed alone so i treat the kids to a night with mama in the big bed
  2. i've discovered that investing in a re-chargeable double neon light is a great idea even when we're running very low on money but with the daily power cuts, the habbit of turning the re-chargable light on feels like heaven
  3. i've discovered that spring is here which is supposed to be my favorite season of the year (even though in MENA it's very short like fall, we have almost 4 months of winter and 8 months of summer) is no longer a pleasant word for me because of the "Arab Spring" regardless if i'm with or against the revolutions
  4. i've discovered that the more i drink water the better i feel
  5. i've discovered that the family i've always dreamed of having, and now i do, deserves much more of my love, energy, and attention than what i'm giving, hens some Spring Resolutions coming soon
  6. i've discovered that my daughter who turned 19 months lately is sometimes angry, nervous, and even violent because i'm too busy to be still when she's around
  7. i've discovered that shopping does make me feel better no matter how superficial this fact is
  8. i've discovered that sharing money and things when i myself is so much in need is the best decision taken, and such a timing is the best timing ever
  9. i've discovered that i'm a sugar addict, pasta lover, coffee consumer, backing fan, ice-cream dependent person and there's nothing i can do to change that
  10. i've discovered that i love this blog more than i ever imagined and it scares me because i wasn't planning on revealing my identity and start posting real family photos of my family and i might just change the plan one day without previous notice or warning
  11. i've discovered that photography is a latent passion that i've had for years but never realized how much i love it until digital cameras appeared, i'm good at it, in spite of my limited knowledge and resources
  12. i've discovered that there are so much in common between our relationship with God and my kids' relationship with me, so i'm gaining a deeper understanding of grace, unconditional love wisdom, and freedom!!!
  13. i've discovered that gradually i might be getting more sleep towards the "enough" target and this fills me with anticipation of becoming a "happier" person, mom, and wife once again... after 4 years of sleep deprivation
  14. i've discovered that i can't have enough of the view from our living room window/wall in the new apartment