Category Archives: About Me

Response to “Praise, Smarts, and the Myth of Self-Esteem”

iraq-81479_640Dear Readers,

Last week, Vera, a long-time follower of mine and a wonderful blogger, recommended that I read a blog post from A Holistic Journey titled Praise, Smarts, and the Myth of Self-Esteem. As the title suggests, the article discusses the theory and the author’s belief that it is more effective to praise a student’s efforts as opposed to their smarts.

My Story:

Before I tell you my opinion about this theory, I will share a bit of my background in education. Before I even started school, my mother made sure I was well prepared…very well prepared. Before I even started kindergarten, I knew how to read, write, and spell at a level well above kids my age. When I was not in school, I studied and read, and I read and studied.

In middle school, my mother did set a standard for grades: I was to get As and some Bs. Did this stress me out? No. Because ingrained in me was something very important: if you work hard, your efforts will be rewarded. So each time my mother read my straight A report card, she would say “keep it up,” or “if you keep it up, maybe you’ll get a scholarship.” It was not “keep being smart” or “if you stay as smart as you are now, you’ll get a scholarship.” Because the concept of hard work was ingrained in me, I believed I was smart because I worked hard, and because of that, I believed everyone had it in them to get the grades I did if they worked as hard as I did. And yes, I received multiple scholarships.

 Do I Agree?: Yes and No

Diana’s post states that “when we praise children for their intelligence, we tell them that this is the name of the game: Look smart, don’t risk making mistakes.” This is something I respectively don’t agree with fully. I think parents tell their children they’re smart because 1) they truly believe it and/or 2) they want their children to believe the same.  There also needs to be a distinction between praising and complimenting. Why shouldn’t we honestly compliment our children and students for being smart? Everyone likes to feel good and should always feel that way.

Setting up for failure:

When it comes to praise, feedback, and the like, there is a BIG difference between the realistic and the ridiculous. For example:

1) I believe that girls should not be told they’re princesses. I’m not talking about affectionately calling a child a princess (every girl is a princess), but instilling in their heads that they are indeed royalty above everyone else. There has actually been a study done about the negative personality effects of this. I’m sure you can imagine; however, see the “Not every child is the same” section.

2) Students are told at a young age that college will get them anywhere, that a college grad is superior to one who is not, and so on. Yet, when we look at the percentage of unemployed and heavily indebted college grads, what should we think? Yes, college grads should of course be praised, but they must be prepared with a realistic view of the world.

3) Parents need to teach their children that they are not the greatest in the world, that there will be someone out there who is better at something, that they will be competing against many, many other people, and that the only way to be truly successful is honest, hard work. I will never forget the story about a teacher’s graduation speech that discussed these very same topics and the backlash he received from parents who were blind to the reality of the world.

Not every child is the same:

Diana’s post states that praising a child’s smarts can cause stress and pressure. This may be true, but I believe that the way praise and feedback affects a child depends on their personality.  Yes, some may feel pressure, while others may just let it roll off their shoulder, and others may take it humbly or to the head. Isn’t the lesson of humility, maturity, and comfort with one’s self all part of growing up and getting older?

I cannot stress the significance of individuality. And what I mean is, not everyone who works hard will receive the same results. This was something I learned the hard way. Before I was an English major, I was in pre-med and no matter hard I studied, cried, and prayed, I got Ds, Cs, and Fs. Up until that point, I always got As because of my hard work. And it took some time to understand that no matter how hard one may try at something, if they’re not good at it, they’re just not good at it. Another way to put it is like this: I have a horrible singing voice. No matter how hard I may try, no matter how many lessons I may take, I will never be able to sing beautifully.

Bottom Line:

As Diana’s post states, “I absolutely believe in the inherent worth of every individual, and that no child should feel unloved or unworthy – because there is no higher glory than that we bear the very image of God.”

Yes, I do believe that it’s more effective to praise a child’s efforts. I also think that it’s okay to compliment a child on their smarts, being realistic about it and their future. We are all not the same. Not everyone who goes to college is smart, and not everyone who doesn’t go to college is stupid. We are all capable of doing great things…in our own way, in our own time.

Peace and Love,

Ariffa

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Humility: The Most Important Thing I Have Learned as an Author

Photo Courtesy of LiveLifeHappy.com

Dear Readers,

It has almost been a year since I first started blogging and since then I’ve met many amazing bloggers, published my first book, and learned many, many things. There is one thing in particular that I am reminded of over and over: humility. And it is these experiences, one very special one in particular, that I would like to share with you today.

1)   Because I was an English major in college, I assumed that Kingdom of the Sun would not need much editing. I had first treated it as a term paper in that I had assumed a read-through two or three times was enough. Four months and 150+ reads later, I was still making edits.

2)   In an attempt to save money, I wanted to create Kingdom of the Sun’s book cover on my own. I read how-to manuals and watched instructional videos to no avail. There actually came a point where I was concentrating so hard on my computer screen as I was trying to make a perfect cut around the sun that my eyes started to water. That’s when I knew I needed help.

3)   Back to number 1: Even though I had spent all those months self-editing my book, I had tried on numerous occasions to find a professional editor. However, I kept finding ones that were much too far out of my price range. So in an attempt to submit copies before the close of school for the summer, I read through the book again, made more edits, and sent out several copies. Two weeks later, I found out that there were still typos in the book. I sat down for the sixth time that year and tried with all my might to find a decently priced editor. I finally did.

4)   Now for the special experience I mentioned. In the past month, I have been doing a lot of outreach for book reviews. There was one reviewer in particular who came off as very snotty and condescending, so I somewhat knew what was coming. After I received his response to my book, I was not shocked that he did not like it, but it was more of a shock that he was the first person that didn’t as well as the fact that this man sent me his response on Christmas Day. There was so much that was going through my mind and so much that I wanted to say, but my exact response was: “Thank you for taking the time! If you celebrate Christmas, I hope it was absolutely wonderful.”

Overall, these are the lessons that I have learned in humility:

1)   I cannot do everything on my own.

2)   I am not perfect.

3)   No matter how many people will like my book, there will always be many that hate it.

4)   No matter how rude, condescending, or disrespectful someone may and will be, always treat them with the kindness, compassion, and respect you wish they had.

So, why am I telling you these things? You see, I was never a fan of critiquing poetry. When I wrote poetry, I wrote from my soul because that was where the words freely, easily, and purely came from. I’m sure other poets and authors experience the same. So when it came to critiquing an author’s work, I could not help but feel like it was their soul that was being judged.

Throughout the years, I have met many people who were afraid to write or show off their work due to what others will say or think. There are people out there harboring fear of following their dreams due to failure or rejection. I am here to tell you that there is no need to be afraid because:

1)   If you believe in yourself and all that you do, everything will most likely turn out okay.

2)   There will always, without a doubt, be someone who will not like your work. Move on.

3)   There will always, without a doubt, be someone who was touched or influenced by your work. Remember them.

4)   If you are humble, patient, and kind, success will follow in the eyes of God, yourself, and others.

Do not be afraid. Write what’s in your soul.

Peace and Love,

Ariffa

The Sunshine Award

sunshine-award

Image from http://heatherbcosta.
wordpress.com.

Dear Readers,

Quite some time ago, I was nominated for the Sunshine Award by heatherbcosta.wordpress.com. I thank God for this blessing and Heather as well for nominating me! Thank you so much, Heather!

So, one of the rules of this award is to tell you ten things about myself. So, here I go!

1) Xena: Warrior Princess was my favorite show growing up. I’m still huge fan.

2) Sticking with the same theme, Lucy Lawless was my “idol” along with Mel B and Mel C from the Spice Girls and Serena from Sailor Moon.

3) I fell in love with my husband when I was sixteen years old. He’s still my one and only.

4) My favorite color is red.

5) I bawled my eyes out at the ending of 2012’s Les Miserables. Religious themes touch a special place in my heart.

6) My favorite food is an authentic Caribbean beef patty with coca bread.

7) This year I added Cloud Atlas to my list of favorite movies that only includes one other: The Lover, ’91.

8) I learned how to back a car and a commercial truck in a parking space just this year.

9) I tried eggplant, pomegranate, kale, collard greens, and brussel sprouts for the first time this past couple of months.

10) I am currently following the TV series Almost Human. Michael Ealy, if you’re reading this, I think you’re awesome!

Alright, here are ten bloggers that I am nominating for this award:

1) Faith Life and Compassion

2) Prince’s Daily Journal

3) Miss Ananda

4) Charis: Subject to Change

5) The Life-Charged Life

6) Inspirational Reflections

7) Unforced Rhythms of Grace 

8) Teaching in New York City

9) Poutine and Kimchi

10) Faith & Virgin Cosmopolitans

Thank you so very much for sticking with me on this journey, and congrats to all the nominees!

Peace and Love,

Ariffa

Why Must You Write?

Dear Readers,

As authors, most of us have been asked the questions of “Why did you decided to write a book?” and “Why do you like writing?” Some of us have even asked these questions to ourselves. When I was younger, I have indeed thought much about the answers to these questions, even before they were presented to me.  However, there was one moment, one experience in my life that has helped me to realize my purpose for writing that became even clearer when I wrote and completed my first book, Kingdom of the Sun.

In the 2011 film “Anonymous,” Edward de Vere is a playwright and the Earl of Oxford who finds his calling in writing poetry and plays. Due to the dishonor and shame attached with writing, he prevents his name from being associated with his works. The Earl’s plays become so loved and so popular that the audience one day demands to know the name of the author, and that is when a man named William Shakespeare falsely claims them.

There is a scene in the movie when Edward is confronted by his angry wife who asks him “Why must you write? Why must you continue to humiliate my family?” With great passion, Edward tried to explain to his disgruntled wife how moved the audience was by his works and how the voices in his head will not leave him and give him peace until they are written down. She then responded, “Are you possessed?”

This part of the movie ranks as one of my favorites because the smile on my face and the chills that ran through me signified something I understood and knew as truth on many levels. The first was how I understood Edward and felt angry with his wife for scolding him for his passion. This was not only because of the love and passion that I myself have for writing but also because I had been asked similar questions before: “You want to write?” “How can you make money on writing?” How fascinating it is for us to compare the stigma of being a writer in the Elizabethan period to now. And although much has changed, it is still striking to see the similarities.

At the time that I watched this film on DVD, I had just begun writing Kingdom of the Sun. I was at a point where the voices of my characters were not as clear as they used to be, and I had a bit of writer’s block. Watching Anonymous allowed me to realize that I was not alone in my passion and “insanity.” You see, watching this movie let me know that a good writer allows themselves to be “possessed” by their characters and that it was okay to not force myself to hear the voices again. And sure enough, it was not long after watching Anonymous that the voices came back to me, and I was once again happily and passionately “possessed.” Edward’s response to the question of “Why must you write?” seemingly was about the submission to the voices in his head but, oh, it was so much deeper. I believe the true answer is about fulfillment. Although, Edward received no recognition for his work, he was extremely moved and fulfilled by the reaction of the audience to his plays. And so, the answer to the question is not so much about simply submitting to the voices of our characters, but about fulfillment and purpose. Edward wrote to inspire, and he wrote to ignite lights of political change that became flames which fueled his passion and purpose even more when he saw their effect.

Why must you write? What fulfills you in your writing? What is the purpose and goal of your works? If your book touched only one person, would you be fulfilled even if you received no recognition or financial gain? When I wrote Kingdom of the Sun my goal and purpose was and still is to give my readers hope, honor, and happiness through the book’s characters and themes. I want them to feel hopeful in situations that are hopeless. I want them to see the honor in themselves and others. I want them to discover, and perhaps rediscover, the joy and happiness in life and what true enlightenment and knowledge can give. And at the same time that my readers would gain this from my work, the same would happen for me. When I am able to see the hope, honor, and happiness that my book has given, I receive it myself. I feel hopeful that my words have indeed changed and inspired someone and honored that someone has actually taken the time to read them. Most of all, I gain the happiness of sharing my words and ideas with another person and influencing them in a positive way.

 When discussing Kingdom of the Sun’s future, people often base its success on the royalties I receive. I was once asked about what I wanted to accomplish with my work. I said I wanted to sell a million copies and beyond. That is not because of the money but because of the millions of lives that I have a chance of reaching and inspiring with my words. I think many authors would agree that this is true success and fulfillment.

I cannot see any other purpose in my writing than for the readers to take what I am trying to give them and use it to make a change in themselves and the world. I want to be able to describe the effects of my work with passion and excitement as Edward did when he described the same emotions that his plays aroused. I want to feel the accomplishment and fulfillment he experienced when knowing that the purpose of his works had been achieved. I want the same for myself because I believe that I am only as great as the impact that my words and life have on others. And so, I ask you: “Why must you write?” I do not mean, “Why do you write?” but “Why must you write? What is it that propels you, possesses you, and calls you to the written word?”

Source: Anonmyous. Dir. Ronald Emmerich. Perf. Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, Sebastian Armesto, Rafe Spall, David Thewlis, and Edward Hogg. Anonymous Pictures, 2011. Film.

Peace and Love,

Ariffa

The Liebster Award

joyfulyue.wordpress.com_LiebsterAward

Image copied and pasted from joyfulyue.wordpress.com.

Hi Everyone,

It is an honor to once again receive the Liebster Award. This time, it was given to me by joyfulyue.wordpress.com. It is a wonderful blog that follows the life and experiences of a teacher. I highly recommend that you check it out.

Today, I will list new bloggers for the Liebster Award that I have previously forgotten to add or just came across recently. For those of you who are nominated, the rules are below:

 

Rules to follow:

  1. Link back and recognize the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Answer the ten questions given to you by your nominator
  3. Nominate ten other bloggers for the award
  4. Create ten questions for your nominees to answer
  5. Notify your nominees

Here are questions from joyfulyue.wordpress.com:

  1. Who / What inspire you to start blogging? I wanted to express ideas and write words that would touch and inspire people.
  2. When you have writer’s block, what do you do? I wait for inspiration.
  3. Who is your favourite author? I don’t have one but many: Bill Richardson, Henry David Thoreau, Marguerite Duras, JK Rowling, William Slater, Jacquie Gordon.
  4. What would you do if you had nothing to fear? I have no idea. I do not know what that feeling is like.
  5. Would you rather be hated or forgotten? I would rather be forgotten.

The ten bloggers I nominate for the award:

1. A Blog on Prayer

2. So, You Think You Can Teach ESL?

3. Miss Ananda’s Blog

4. I Might Need a Nap

5. Teach From the Middle

6. The Professor

7. Gotta Say Thanks!

8. Journey of Redemption

9. Faith & Virgin Cosmopolitans

10. Insight From a Woman’s Heart

The ten questions for my nominees:

1) Why did you feel the need to start a blog?

2) Sunsets or Sunrises?

3) What is the last good movie that you have seen?

4) How would you describe compassion?

5) What is your favorite animal and why?

6) What is your favorite movie quote?

7) What is your ideal vacation?

8) What was your childhood dream?

9) If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

10) What and when was the last book you read?

Alright, that’s it for now. Congrats to the award winners, and thank you joyfulyue.wordpress.com for the award!

Peace and Love,

Ariffa

What Adults Can Learn from Cartoons

Hi Everyone,

For those of you who have read my previous posts, or the “About Me” page, you will know that I enjoy watching cartoons like Spongebob Squarepants and some Disney movies. Today, I would like to discuss in list form why I do and what everyone can gain from doing so as well.

 

1) Along with praying, spending time with my husband, playing golf, and watching sports, it’s a way of allowing my mind to relax and de-stress.

2) Some of these shows/episodes and movies are actually really funny. What I particularly like about Spongebob is that it’s somewhat relatable in that most people know at least one of the following:

A) Someone who is obsessed with money

B) Someone who likes their job waaaay too much

C) Someone who hates their job and/or has a miserable personality and loves nothing more than bringing people down with them

3) The researcher in me loves to analyze these programs and movies. For example, have you ever thought about how much more sinister Disney villains were back in the 90s compared to now (remember Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame)?

4) One can not only learn a lot from cartoons but be reminded of things that many adults tend to forget or not practice. This includes lessons on what it means to be a friend, and what it means to have compassion, kindness, and love for yourself and other people.

Like I mentioned in my post about the theme of history in Kingdom of the Sun, cartoons can be a reminder of how truth is often twisted as well as the power that the media has in general.

5) They sometimes have catchy songs. “Colors of the Wind” anyone?

6) They can be really nostalgic.

7) They remind me to never take life or myself too seriously. They remind me that it’s okay to laugh at things that others may not necessarily see as funny. They remind me that it’s okay to be myself. They remind me of how awesome being a kid at heart can be.

Peace and Love,

Ariffa

 

We’re All The Same And Yet…

atlas-62742_640Hi Everyone,

Throughout my life, I have listened to people who told me stories about someone they know or someone they used to know. And as I listened to these stories, I was reminded that though it may not seem like it, we are all similar in that many of us go through the exact same things. We face the same struggles, the same difficulties, the same happiness, and we meet and deal with people who eerily have similar personalities to someone else. Isn’t it amazing how someone may be describing a a situation or a person, and you find yourself picturing another scenario or individual that you were reminded of, leading you to nod or smile in complete understanding? This is something that I thought about a lot when I created the characters for Kingdom of the Sun. Although each one is different and unique, I enjoyed being able to craft each character so that you (the readers) can understand them. I wanted each character to be personal in that each of you would feel, picture, and relate them to yourself or someone you know or have known. The ability for an author to do this is the key to making readers emotionally and mentally attached to a book. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I remember finishing some novels and feeling a sense of loss and melancholy that my time spent with the characters was over.

And as similar as we all may be, we are so different in many ways. Now of course this is a good thing because individuality would not exist. Yet, more importantly, if we did not have our differences, then there would be no such thing as acceptance, compassion, mercy, empathy, and more. Instead of tearing us apart, our differences, like our similarities, should bring us together and bring out the best of us.

Peace and Love,

Ariffa

The Versatile Blog Award

versatilebloggerawardHi Everyone,

I was recently given a nomination for the Versatile Blogger award by sembanks.wordpress.com.

I thank God for continuing to allow my words to touch others. Thanks to my readers as well. And thank you  again, Sembanks, for the nomination!

Here are the rules for this award:

1. Display the badge on your blog.
2. Write a post and link back to the blogger who nominated you.
3. Nominate 15 bloggers and inform them of the nomination via comment in their site.
4. State 7 interesting things about yourself.

My 15 Nominations

There were several other bloggers whose websites I did not list on the last award, so here they are:

1) It’s The Question That Drives Us

2) Today’s Woman in a Proverbs 31 Sort of Way!

3) Becoming is Superior to Being

4) 365 Days…Expect a Miracle

5) Shield of Flowers

7) Heilan Word

8) Flexfame

9) Mustard Seed Budget

10) Inspiritual Reflections

11) Charis: Subject to Change

12) All Things Rabyd

13) Burning Brightly

14) The Professor

15) Samuel Company

7 Interesting Things About Me

1) I really don’t like text messaging. I think it makes people less personal, and I also believe that it negatively impacts the comfort and skill of one’s verbal communication.

2) Red is my favorite color.

3) I love animals and nature, but I hate studying science.

4) I am painfully horrible at math.

5) I usually drink 3-5 cups of tea a day.

6) If I had no self-control, I could eat an entire bag of spicy Doritos in one sitting.

7) For some reason, I am a very, very grumpy sleeper—at least that’s what my husband says.

Thanks again, everyone.

Peace and Love,

Ariffa

Guest Blog Post: Childhood Dreams

ariffa-300x298Hi Everyone,

This week, I had the pleasure of being a guest poster for the blog of author Faith Ann Colburn. I highly suggest that you check out her blog as well as her book, Threshold: A Memoir.

The title of my guest post is Childhood Dreams where I discuss my own childhood dream and how I was seemingly lost until I figured out what that dream really meant.  This post highlights the significance of following our dreams and how they should never, ever be forgotten.

Please check out the post, and let us know what you think!: Childhood Dreams

Peace and Love,

Ariffa

The Liebster Award

Hi Everyone,

This week I was nominated for the Liebster award by College Girl Dai.  First, I thank God for blessing me with the art of writing and inspirations to write these posts. Thank you to all my readers, followers, and commenters.  I write for you!

The funny thing about this experience is that I have only just realized that there are certain rules to the Liebster award:

“1. You must link back the person who nominated you. 

2. You must answer the 10 Liebster questions given to you by the person who nominated you.

3. You must pick 10 bloggers to be nominated for the award with under 200 followers.

4. You must come up with 10 questions for your nominees to answer. 

5. You must go to their blogs and notify your nominees. “

Sooo, here I go!:

College Girl Dai’s questions and my answers:

  1. What led you to creating your blog? I wanted to inspire and teach people about hope, honor, and happiness through my words.  I wanted to touch and enlighten my readers.
  2. What is your favorite tv show(s)? I love Whose Line is it Anyway, and I love watching Japanese Animation.
  3. What is your favorite store? I love any bookstore.  Although, that’s not saying much these days.
  4. What do you enjoy doing in your free time? Spending time with my husband.
  5. What is your proudest accomplishment? The completion of my first book.
  6. What is your dream job/career? Author, writer, wife, and mom all in one.
  7. If you could go anywhere in the world, all expenses paid where would you chose to go? Japan!
  8. What is your dream car? One sick sports car.
  9. Is there a city that you wish you could live  in? Probably Kyoto or some quiet city in Japan.
  10. iPhone or Android? iPhone.  Then again, I have never had an Android.

The Ten Blogs that I have Nominated for the Liebster Award

1. Barrywax

2. Dyan Diamond

3. A Small Act of Kindness 

4. All But Homeless

5. A Blog on Prayer

6. Verawrites

7. The Narrow Path

8. 2rainydaypeople

9. Scottsholar

10. Faith Ann Colburn

Ten Questions for my Nominees

1) Why did you feel the need to start a blog?

2) Sunsets or Sunrises?

3) What is the last good movie that you have seen?

4) How would you describe compassion?

5) What is your favorite animal and why?

6) What is your favorite movie quote?

7) What is your ideal vacation?

8) What was your childhood dream?

9) If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

10) Do you enjoying dancing, even if you think you don’t know how?

Whew!  That was fun!

To those I have left off the list: you’re still important, which is why I follow you. Thank you again, Everyone.

Peace and Love,

Ariffa

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