I just finished a book that I really enjoyed and I have been reflecting upon a few quotes. The name of the book is” Brain on Fire” by Susannah Cahlan who wrote her real story after she recovered from a rare autoimmune disease that had suddenly caused her to have major seizures and hearing voices. A syrian neurologist ordered her biopsy and found out that the informations in her brain sent to the visual cortex is not processed accurately and she has numbness in the left side of her body.
Susannah described how she made it through this ordeal: “I think that this shame emerged out of the balancing act between fear of loss and acceptance of loss.” “I could once again read and write and make to do lists, but I had once lost confidence and a sense of self.” she then explained: “That is the uncertainty about who I am.” She summarized her unique sickness by saying that her body was fighting her own brain. At the beginning of her journey, she was in denial , but later she accepted the fact that she is very sick and started to fight the disease. After she made it through her difficulty, she wrote:”When you think all is lost, the things you need the most return unexpectedly.”
I believe that our loss might be followed by more losses if we lose our confidence and hope. Our merciful God usually replaces what we have missed with something bigger and better if we can trust him and believe in our destiny.
A lot of patients with this exceptional disease left undiagnosed because it is not “documented in the medical literature”. They usually go from doctor to doctor who will diagnose them as maniac, mentally ill or depressed. Some doctors might blame it on their stress and anxiety or even on their drinking. They will prescribe them anti-anxiety medication and miss the point. Doctors should not operate if they are not confident and 100 percent sure of the disease itself because brain surgery can be very dangerous. Susannah was a very lucky patient because she trusted this intelligent doctor’s knowledge and judgement. He was highly appreciated by her, her family, and the medical society after he saved her life.
I am from an Arabic descent and I lived in the United States for a long time.
Living between two different cultures made me have so many questions about my self and the world around me. One of them is:“What would I be like if I was born and raised in the US?”, or “What would be like if I stayed in the middle east and did not migrate to the US?.”To answer the two previous questions; I have to narrate some stories to You!
I was watching my daughter doing her Language Arts homework one day. She was asked to draw some pictures combined with writing some sentences under them. I noticed that she was very talented and an excellent writer. She was really creative and I thought she might be an artist in the future. So I developed this fantasy of me being” an artist”. Since I was 5 or 6 years old, my favorite hobby was drawing. I used to love to draw and color. Unfortunately, I didn’t turn to be an artist, not even close. This hobby left undeveloped by my own culture. When I started my middle school years, my family moved from my hometown Damascus to Saudia Arabia where girls were not allowed to sign up for physical education classes while Housekeeping classes like sewing and cooking were mandatory. When I lived in Damascus, I won a couple of races in running at my elementary school and I enjoyed it so much. Singing was another hobby that was taken from me. Since I was nominated the best singer in the school, my wish was to become a famous singer who had her own albums one day.
On the other hand, growing up in the middle-east was not all negative for me. Reading and understanding Arabic natively helped me acquire great values from the islamic culture and the Holy Quran. Another value I have learned is respecting the elderly and having strong sense of family and domestic life. Domestic values that I learned at a younger age were beneficial to me and my family. It has helped me to be a better mom and a good housewife. Reading and Understanding Arabic widens my linguistic abilities and gives me more knowledge of my self and people around me.
Overall, living the two cultures enriched my personality and made me understand the world better. It opened my eyes to wonderful experiences in life that I would not encounter if I lived in only one culture. Art, singing and running will be kept in my heart but i will keep working on them in my real life.
Until now, it is not proven how the dreams work! there are a lot of unsolved mysteries about them. I was always fascinated by dreams!! I believe they can give us some hints about our direction in life and they show us our wishes that did not become true. They can also tell us about our worries and fear in life.
I only used one book to interpret my dreams to be able to understand them. “The Interpretation of dreams” is written by a muslim knowledgable scholar called”Ibn Seereen”. By reading his book, I have learned some clues about dreams. But some of our dreams, I believe, are just speculations of our thoughts during the day. Sometimes they are just moments or subjects passed by us or individuals we encounter everyday.
In this blog, I will present some clues of good versus bad dreams in different categories. Some of the dreams are explained in details by “Ibn seereen” and some are only my interpretations. I am just presenting the clues without details of the meanings of the dream in life. The clues are only hints and not the real interpretation. They are just some examples of actions, subjects or abstract descriptions interpreted by the scholar or by me derived from my experience of some of my dreams that are documented in my journal in details:
Descriptions of subjects
Calm river or sea versus bursting river or sea (“Ibn seereen.”)
Green spaces like gardens and parks versus dry desert. (Mine)
dark versus clear sky. (Mine)
Fresh food like bread versus rotten food.(“Ibn seereen.”)
Farm versus Fierce animals. (“Ibn seereen.”)
Actions in dreams:
- Smiling versus crying hysterically. (Mine)
- Walking versus standing or sitting. (Mine)
- Jumping or hopping. (“Ibn seereen.”)
- Praying and fasting.(Mine)
- Animals bitings versus animals being affectionate.(“Ibn seereen.”)
- Walking normally versus walking in a bizzare way. (Mine)
- teeth are falling but you picked them in your hand versus teeth falling down on the floor and loosing them.(“Ibn seereen.”)
- Eyes light tears versus crying hysterically and wailing. (Mine)
Sunrise versus sunset. (Mine)
feelings: happy- sad; angry: content; (Mine).
Chidren in categories: infants, toddlers and teens. Boys versus girls (Mine)
Knowledge: writing-reading- paper- ink . (Mine)
We like the food that we grew up with and the ones that our mothers cooked for us. We also like the food that we ate in a restaurant while spending fabulous time with friends and family or during a vacation to a foreign country.
Food can be socially beneficial for us. We enjoy eating when we host our friends or family and invite them to share our meals with us.
Every food belongs to different seasons. Many foods can be eaten only in the winter or fall ,while some foods can can be only enjoyable in the summer such as watermelon. We eat orange food that gives us warm feeling during the autumn, but we eat watermelon and peaches in the summer. Fruitcakes and Tarts can also be holiday gifts to your dear ones.
We have different tastes of the same food that we eat in different times and different places. I never liked pumpkin nor apple pie, but now ,and after living in the US for twenty five years, they are my favorite deserts especially with a lot of spices.
Not all foods can blend together and not all foods go well with the same kind of spices. We usually add cinnamon and nutmug to the food that is cooked with pumpkin and sweet potatoes, but we cannot use them in most kinds of meat and rice. Anise and funnel seeds are great combination to spice up all the deserts that are made of dates. Always orange and cranberry can be mixed together in many cakes and muffins while apples can not be mixed with grapefruit.
We don’t eat food just to give us energy but to enjoy our life and bond with people who we love. We eat the food that brings us comfort and joy to our lives.
Have it occurred to you while conversing with someone that you were right about something, but you chose not to speak up,or you didn’t have the courage to share your thoughts with others? Do you feel sometimes that you are worthless and your ideas don’t count! or maybe you are hesitant to make a decision because you refuse to listen to your intuition about something, or you deny yourselves the knowledge that you own!
From a younger age, you are probably asked to be quiet and if you are curious and started to ask questions, then you are asked to shut up because children are not allowed to converse with the adults.
If you answered my questions with “yes”, then the following advice is for you:
Believe in your thoughts because they are true!
Be consistent and firm and stick to your thoughts and your mind!
If you failed your thinking, you will regret big time!
Don’t hesitate because hesitation brings failure!
Share your brilliant ideas with the world!
Why do some Arab-American parents expect their girls who are born and raised in the US to do as the other girls overseas do??Why do they expect them to act more than themselves? when they have their unique selves and their productive mind-sets. I mentioned the word “expect” twice because “expectation” is the key factor in communication between cultures.
In this blog, I am comparing expectations from the American and Arabic cultures to the author’s idea of a book I have lately read which is how people love one another. The name of the book was “The Art of Hearing” by Jan-Phiipp Sendkert. At the end of his book, there was a conversation with him by one of the reporters who asked him about the word “love” which is the main theme he used in the book. He said: “people see what they already know. We project our own capacities – for good as well as evil_ onto the other person.” He was implying that when we love people we project our own feelings onto them. We expect them to have the same feelings we do. We expect people who grow up in a different culture than us to know and understand our actions and behaviors even if they are not exposed to that culture.
Some of the middle-eastern parents want their girls who are raised in the US to get married as young as 15 or 16 years. Sometimes, they force them to marry an older man to receive a large amount of money which is illegal in the United States. It is a fact that if families decide to stay in a foreign country, they need to follow its rules and regulations. It was said before: “When you are at Rome, do as the Romans do”.
In America, girls have a choice to whom they want to get married. They also want to thrive and be independent and educated and have great careers. Some Muslim parents do not allow their girls to finish their education because they think that mixing with the other gender is not allowed in Islam even for educational and business-like meetings, which I think it is an Arabic tradition and not from Islam. I usually think that some of the Arab communities have double standards that confuse me and confuse other people too. So many people ask me why does the middle-east society usually put more restrictions on girls than boys??? In the statistics, until now, most of the boys in the third world countries have more advantages than girls. They have more options outside home, more prestigious and higher paid jobs than girls have.
I am not implying that we should not expose our girls raised in the US to new culture experiences and domestic training. There are some positive values that a lot of Arab moms can implement on their girls and can be helpful for their parental skills alongside their great careers. They can to train them to be great housewives and amazing moms in the future. They need to teach them how to cook some middle-eastern as well as international dishes and how to prepare Turkish coffee and Arabic tea. All these skills and domestic values can be beneficial to their family in the future.
We should raise our grown-up Arab-American girls to be mature strong women and encourage them to follow their dreams and held them responsible for their decisions and choices. We shouldn’t stand in front of their aspirations and dreams and limit them to act in a certain way ,if they choose a different route from the norm back home. We should not stop them if they got accepted in prestigious schools or getting great job offers and decide to move away to another state or even another country ,so they can follow their American dream.
Olive oil is a clear, rich liquid that has greenish color. It is derived from an olive tree that is huge and blunt and it grows in vast sunny lands in most of the Mediterranean countries. The more the tree is exposed to the sun, the better quality of olive oil we can have. Olives can be harvested and collected off their branches and then grounded and squeezed into thick paste. Its oil will be extracted by a special machine that filters the paste to become in rich liquid texture.
According to the Quran, olive oil is holy and sacred. Its brightness is exemplified to God’s light which attracts or guides whoever it likes. It is natural, absolute and pure.
Olive oil can be used as a source of food and can be used as an ointment for eyes and the skin. In some cultures, people use it in their religious ceremonies.
In my future blog I will present some Mediterranean recipes that has olive oil as the main ingredient.