If You Love Me, Let Me Go.

I’ve got mountains to climb,
Countries to seize,
Rivers to cross,
Dreams to achieve
If you love me,
Let me go.

I have villains to kill
Pathways to tread
Flags to raise up
Words to be said
If you love me,
Let me go.

I have lands to discover
Titles to claim
Stories to weave
A fire to tame
If you love me,
Let me go.

If you don’t let me go
And call me to stay
I will still love you
But I will betray
All the countries and rivers and dreams to achieve
Pathways and flags and words to be said
Lands and titles and stories to weave
Most of all the fire; It will burn me instead

You must let me go,
If you love me…

my_signatue

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You do not complete me. I complete myself.

I could not, at any age, be content to take my place by the fireside and simply look on. Life was meant to be lived. – Eleanor Roosevelt

I come from a society that has a deep-rooted belief that a woman’s number one priority in life is to get married and wholeheartedly serve her husband and children.  She is defined as a woman by her ability to get married, and stay in a marriage where the husband is happy. It is assumed that if he is happy, that has to mean that she is happy as well.  In school, my fellow female classmates either discussed their current plans for marriage, or dreams about meeting an amazing guy to whom she would be a dedicated and loyal wife.  There were very few girls who said that they wanted to get a college degree first, so they wouldn’t have to rely on their husband for financial support, and cases of girls saying they didn’t want to get married at all were unheard of.

Weddings are just about always an extravagant affair, with music, fireworks, and romantic slideshows.  But most girls never wonder what follows afterwards…Usually, they assume, it is eternal bliss.  However if you ask women like my mother, who has decades more life experience then my past classmates and I have, she would tell you that in most cases (not all), what follows is a mundane life with everyday problems, where your obligations include running a household, and being the perfect wife for your arrogant and controlling husband.  The belief that these girls are forced or coerced to get married and serve the husband is absolutely not true.  They are often more than willing and happy to be dutifully wives and mothers.  It takes many years before they realize that their husbands never gave them the happiness they were searching for.

Before you assume that this story only relates to the girls I went to high school with in Russia, I urge you to stop and reconsider.  When I started college in 2013 in America, I quickly realized that the same idea is replicated in the minds of American girls as well.  It seems that in the world in general, young girls seem to think that in order to be a happy and complete individual, they must, absolutely must, meet a guy, fall in love, and have a relationship.  That is their priority in life.  I listened in on my conversations of friends and acquaintances alike, in which their sole problem was their significant other, or lack of thereof, and their inability to cope with being single. I can write thousands of words recounting the cringing tales of how young girls I personally knew allowed themselves to be treated inferior by guys, and who were unable to walk away knowing that they deserve better.  What angered me more than watching young girls, who had their whole lives ahead of them and who carried the ability within to accomplish amazing things, was that they were absolutely fine with settling for an average (or below-average) life, as long as an average (or below-average) man was in it.

I wish I could shout from rooftops for all women in this world to hear DO NOT SPEND YOUR ENERGY ON FINDING A PARTNER, SPEND YOUR ENERGY ON FINDING YOURSELF.

Oprah Winfrey, on a 2005 segment of her show, recounted the popular 90’s film Jerry McGuire, in which the line, “You complete me” melted the hearts of girls all around the world.  To this, Oprah said, “You have to complete yourself.”

Dr. Robin Smith added, “Part of it is being able to develop you into a human being who is rich enough and broad enough that no one is necessary for your existence.  They add to your life, but they aren’t your life.”

When I was 17 years old, I thought the only road to happiness was to fall in love and get married.  Many young girls believe this as well, because it is what we are taught to believe.  Music, movies, books, and quotes all revolve around one thing…love.  While I would never denounce the greatness of love, rather it is because of my utmost respect for it that I urge you should find yourself and love yourself before you seek love from someone else.  You should come go into a relationship with enough confidence, self-respect, and a base to fall back on (education, money, etc.) so that the only thing you need is a pure and honest kind of love, and if it is not given to you or you cannot reciprocate it, you have the power in you to simply walk away.  And you walk away knowing that you deserve better, and that that something better is out there for you.  Most importantly, it is far better to be alone, than to be with someone who doesn’t add value to your life.

You are an individual.  When you meet someone your intuition tells you is the one, remember that they are not there to complete you, but rather to add to your greatness.

I hope you have a happy, happy day.

Much love,

my_signatue

Lessons from a Sunday morning.

Three weeks ago, I was sleeping over at Katie’s house after a concert.  I’ve been blessed enough to belong to two families — my own and Katie’s.  I love waking up on Sundays to a family morning.  Sundays are simple — no one has to work, and most weekend plans are completed on Saturday.  So on Sunday you wake up, and you can be slow in eating breakfast and watching television.  Sundays, seemingly the most uninteresting days of the week, are the ones we will remember as dear to our hearts forty years down the road.  Because we won’t recall the concerts or the parties with as much fondness as we will recall spending a simple day with the ones we love most.  You should treasure your Sundays!  Wake up every Sunday, and look into the face of the people you love, and have deep conversations with them, and drink coffee, and sit on the coach, and watch random shows, but most importantly just spend some simple, quiet, quality time with your families.

This Sunday, I was having a family morning with Katie and Brenda.  I woke up to find Brenda watching a Sunday morning news show, one of which had Benjamin Scheuer as a guest.  She was drinking coffee (or maybe it was tea?) on her side of the couch, and the sun was fresh and bright — the kind that comes out early in the spring and lasts until late summer.  I had oatmeal for breakfast with green tea, and later on Brenda and I made guacamole with only one avocado (we made up for that lack of avocados with tomatoes) for Katie and two of her other friends to have with their scrambled eggs.  It’s very important to remember the small details!  Years later when you look back to these days, the details will matter to you.  Anyway, Brenda was watching Benjamin Scheuer on a show which had an older man as the host.  Fascinated by his story, from getting over the death of his father to surviving cancer, she made us listen to his upbeat folk songs.  That Sunday morning, we listened to two that really struck a chord with us.  I wanted to share them with you.

Weather The Storm, by Benjamin Scheuer

The Lion, by Benjamin Scheuer

“I always show my teeth when I am smiling, I only say I love you when I’m sure!

Inside my gentle claws, I’ve got some devastating claws…!”

No matter what you are going through in life, I hope these songs will put a smile on your face.  I know that they do just that for me, if only because they make me think of Brenda, guacamole, and that Sunday morning in early Spring.  Thank you, Benjamin Scheuer, for sharing your strength with us.

Much Love,

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What it means to be accepting. 

“Acceptance and tolerance and forgiveness, those are life-altering lessons.”

— Jessica Lange **

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I haven’t been celebrating Christmas my entire life.  In fact, I’ve celebrated the holiday exactly two times; both with my best friend Katie.  In all honesty, Christmas is now more about the movies, the food, and the presents than about the celebration of Jesus’ birthday.  This is a fact many Christians are saddened to admit.  Katie, though, still treasures the true meaning of Christmas, so when we chose to spend Christmas together by drinking hot cocoa, having a delicious dinner, and watching Donald Duck’s Christmas Favorites, Katie also asked me to go to church with her.

I’m Muslim.

At first, I was mortified by the thought.  My goodness, I’d be betraying my faith and God!  After giving it some thought, I said yes.  I figured that Christianity is a monotheistic religion just like Islam, and I’ve spent enough time with Katie to know that our beliefs are, really, almost identical.  Most of all, I wanted to go and learn something new.  So many people choose to stay ignorant about different faiths, and I wanted to look at how other people worship.  I believe it is important to know this stuff, if only because it makes you think twice before judging someone by their faith.  This is especially important to me because my faith continues to be unfairly judged, and I wouldn’t want to make anyone else feel like I have often felt after reading the comments section of an article discussing Muslims.  Let’s just say that people are especially cruel when hiding behind the name Anonymous.

I had chosen to wear a purple sweater and jeans to wear to the Christmas service, but Katie quickly explained that jeans aren’t proper Church attire, so I swapped them out for a black skirt I had to borrow from Katie.  The skirt, in all honesty, looked much better with the sweater, and if I was nervous about going to church for the first time, at least I felt comfortable in my oh, so stylish! outfit.

Before we entered, Katie told me to immediately let her know if I felt uncomfortable, which was incredibly sweet and reassuring to hear.  I promised that I would.  The outside of the church was very modern, and the only thing that gave away it being a place of worship was a large sign listing the times of the services that would be held that day.  I was expecting a large cross to be perched on top of the building, but the only other thing besides the brick building on the lot was a playground and a parking lot.  No cross.  I let out a sigh of relief.

What surprised me the most was that the service was held in a gymnasium.  At my questioning look, Katie explained to me that there probably wasn’t enough room in the chapel.  The gymnasium was just like the one I had in my middle school.  There was a large projector, and plastic chairs were lined up in a semi-circle.  Still no large crosses!  I was beginning to calm down.

The reason I feared seeing a large cross was because I had the fear that by being beside a cross, I was betraying my Muslim faith.  While there are many, many similarities between Islam and Christianity, the cross symbolizes their differences. More than anything, it was a childhood fear of mine that being around a cross made you automatically become not Muslim.  While I realize that thinking this way is ridiculous, because your beliefs come from your heart, I still felt hesitant and nervous.

We met up with some of Katie’s older relatives — a few very sweet women in their 90’s.  The ladies were full of southern charm and gentility.  Everyone was very kind to new faces, although I refrained from mentioning my Muslim faith.  Our group sat down in the third row, and for the first part of the service I was observing my surroundings.  It was so interesting to me to think that I was inside of a church.  I thought about all of the times I met people who said, “Oh, I’ll be at Church on Sunday.”  I would think, I wonder what they do there!  Now, I feel like I’m in on the secret.  I know what people do at church.

We sang Christmas carols, and I really enjoyed this part, because I was familiar with most of them from movies and TV shows.  When there would be a line that obviously went against my Muslim beliefs, I wouldn’t sing it, and then would pick up again in the chorus.  When Katie noticed me doing this, she went into a fit of muffled giggles, which got us a few stern looks from those sitting around us.  Whoops.

After singing carols, there was a part where everyone had a piece of bread dipped in “wine” (I was told it was really grape juice).  When it was my turn to take a piece, I hid behind a door.  It’s not that there is anything wrong with dipping bread in juice, and I was so starving that I actually contemplated doing it,  but I didn’t want to participate without knowing the meaning behind the ritual.

My favorite part out of the whole service was the candle lighting ceremony.  Everyone stood in a circle with a candle, the lights were dimmed, and we were given a few moments in silence.  The dark room was beautifully illuminated by the candle light, and it was a very fascinating sight.

After the service, I finished cooking the lamb at home, and we had a very pleasant dinner.

I was very hesitant to go to church, and feared that I betrayed God by attending a Christian service.  However at the end of the day, I can only describe the experience as being incredibly pure.  I felt at peace.  I also realized that it doesn’t matter what house you worship at, because every religion is holy in it’s own way.  I know that there are some Muslims who would judge me for attending a Christian service.  I wish that I could share the experience with them.  I also wish I could get more Christians to visit a mosque.  If only we knew how the other worshiped, there would be less judgement and more understanding in the world.  Worshiping, no matter what faith you belong to, is all about love.  Love unites us all.

 

I hope you have a wonderful 2015, full of love and happiness, and not one drop of hate.

 

Yours truly,

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**Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/acceptance.html#AVwsrs2DlJKXA5YR.99