Category Archives: Life

The Peace Sign

DSCN0517Dear Readers,

Whatever happened to giving the peace sign in pictures?  These days, whenever I come across photos of people from Japan and Thailand, about 80% of the time someone or everyone is giving the peace sign.  So, what happened in America?  If I flip through my family album, I will see that just about every picture has someone doing the peace sign…If I were looking at the photos from the nineties, that is.  Has the peace sign become a faded out trend that is now considered “uncool”?  But isn’t “trend” the key word here?  Was the peace sign popular because everyone was doing it or because we all really believed and wanted peace?  Looking back, I guess I never really thought about it when someone said, “Okay, say peace!”

When I sign these posts and my emails with “Peace and Love,” I mean it from my heart in saying that I wish you peace and love, and that peace and love is what I give you.  So today, for the first time in a long time, a picture was taken of me giving the peace sign.  And I’m planning on many more in the future.

Peace and Love,

Ariffa

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Kingdom of the Sun Theme: Change…Will You Make it, Take it, or Question It?

“Kingdom of the Sun reflects the desire that most of us have to make a change, whether it be in the world or in our own lives, and how we may lack the strength or the courage to do it.”- Ariffa Bevin

ImageDear Readers,

The theme of change is ever-present in my upcoming novella Kingdom of the Sun.  With the desire, thought, and action of change comes many questions such as: “Have the promised changes occurred?,” “How long will it be until change happens?,” “How long will the change last?,” “What are the effects of change?,” and “Is this change really change,?”

Things change, and most of the time, it is inevitable.  I accept that.  But what I do not approve of is when change is accepted easily, without question of how or why or who said “change” really benefits.

“There are so many people that want change, but they do nothing about it. Then there are also those that want change but do not believe it will happen.”- Helena, Kingdom of the Sun  

Are you one of those people?

Like the character of Helena, there may be many things that are holding us back from making a change.  We must remember that when it comes to change, there two types of people: 1) Those who submit to the changes around them and are subject to whatever happens and 2) Those who will not only fight for change, but question and challenge it when it comes their way, never allowing themselves to be drones or puppets.

So many factors fall into making change and taking change, but two questions will always stand true:

1) How bad do you want it?

2) Will it/does it make a difference for the better?

Peace and Love,

Ariffa

“It’s Not That Easy”

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons)

Dear Readers,

Do you remember the show called Meet the Natives?  It aired in 2009 on the Travel channel, and it was about a group of men from the island of Tanna in the South Pacific.  The cameras followed them as they made trips to various areas of the world and experienced things that they never would have if they stayed in Tanna.  Examples being riding a roller coaster, going to a national park, etc, etc.

One moment that stood out to me the most was when the men took a trip to New York city’s Central Park.  While exploring the park, the men came across a homeless man sleeping on a bench.  They could not comprehend why this man was sleeping in the cold when there were so many buildings and homes surrounding them.  They also could not comprehend why other people were ignoring this man and not doing anything to help him.  Now, I haven’t seen all of the Meet the Natives episodes, but this was the first and only time that I had seen them visually upset and angry.  One of them said “I can see that there are many buildings in New York, how is it possible for a man to sleep in the street?”  Another Tribesman tried to provide an explanation for this sad situation in saying, “It is clear that nobody loves him. That’s why he is sleeping out in the cold.”

And so, I ask, should there be an excuse for homelessness?  Whatever the reason be for the man’s situation, should we accept it because he lost his job or was on drugs?  Is that what someone or anyone should deserve?  It’s interesting because we tend to think and accept things as the norm until an outsider comes along and opens our eyes.  The Tanna men’s concept was so simple: brotherly love and camaraderie.  But sadly, so sadly, it is not so simple in this world.

“It’s not so simple,” “It’s not that easy.” I unfortunately hear these words a lot.  I tend to ask a lot of questions that have seemingly easy answers and solutions such as: why is that several countries have free healthcare and we don’t?  Why is that Japan recycles all of their waste, yet we have disgusting mounds of garbage on the Earth?  Why is that commercials and schools preach that going to college will guarantee one a great career, yet those “great careers” never come for most, and those “careers” end up being extremely low-paying jobs for many.  I can go on and on.  And I can keep asking “why?”  But though the solutions may be simple, it will more often than not, tie back to whether or not it will be an inconvenience for someone or if it will mean less money in someone’s pocket.  And it is because of these things that life is not as simple as it used to be.  It is because of these things that life is not as simple as it should be.  So let me ask you: Do you accept it?

“Everyone is the same, and no one is homeless”- A Tanna Tribesman

Peace and Love

Talk of Weather

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons)

Dear Readers,

Ah, the topic of weather.  Do you realize how much the discussion of this topic is part of our daily lives?  I don’t mean in terms of making plans or wearing clothes in accordance with the weather.  I’m talking about it in terms of how it is used as a means of connection and communication.  Whether (no pun intended) it be at the bank, grocery store, or park, the talk of weather is almost always the first, if not only, topic that is discussed.  This happens so often, so on point, and so expected that I sometimes have to stifle a chuckle when I overhear it being talked about or when someone discusses it with me.

So, now I ask “why?”  Why isn’t the talk of weather replaced with sports, politics, etc.?  Of course these other topics are discussed, but I seriously believe the weather to be the number one subject discussed among strangers.  I think it is because weather is something that everyone can agree on, relate to, connect with, and understand.  Think about it: We all live under the same sky.  We are all affected by this Godly, almost magical phenomenon called weather.  Isn’t it interesting how something that influences our lives in so many ways is something that can bring us all together, even for one moment?  As far as I know, people aren’t killing each other over disagreements on why the sky is blue and if there is really a pot of gold at the end of rainbows.  Because of this, the subject of weather also signifies safety.  I will say that it can get redundant at times.  I love to talk about sports, but I cannot stand talking about politics, and I still remember giving my 12th grade history teacher the death stare whenever he discussed it.  But if it means interacting with someone and connecting with them in some small way for a brief moment, the topic of weather is fine with me.

Peace and Love

All That I Needed To Know…

Oh, Readers, Readers, Readers:

Do you ever think to yourself “what is wrong with people these days?” or “whatever happened to manners?” or better yet: “what ever happened to common sense?”  I ask myself these questions almost everyday.  I’m sure you have noticed grown adults that do not cover their mouths when they sneeze or cough, or when they do, it’s in their palm, and they proceed to touch the grocery cart and other items.  Do you find yourself slowly turning into a germaphobe because of other people’s lack of common sense?  How about when you hold the door open for someone, and they don’t say “thank you.”  Really?  I don’t care if you don’t mean it, but for goodness sake, will common courtesy kill you?  Because I worked in retail, I had seen my share of customers that did not respond to me when I greeted them or wished them well.  I am always courteous and polite to strangers because of these experiences and simply because of my personality.  However, unfortunately for me, I expect the same in return.  You see, in this world, one is not always treated the way they treat others.  Oh well.  Perhaps it is because of this belief that manners and politeness in society are in a downward spiral: people feel like they may not receive kindness back, so they don’t give it- just a theory.  I truly find it hard to believe that some people do not do the most simplistic of things like saying “thank you” or offer a polite smile in greeting.  Don’t you think the world would be a much happier place if this was done more often?  Sometimes I seriously feel alone in believing this and that perhaps I’m the crazy one and everyone around me is sane.  Don’t you?  This topic is touched upon a bit more in my post “In Honor Of” and “To Be ‘Educated’ in Society.”

 Peace and Love

The Power of Language

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons)

Dear Readers,

Language has always been a powerful weapon throughout time.  It was and still is used as a means of control and deception.  Think of European attempts of “civilization” and how the media tends to use certain phrases as opposed to others, for example.  The language that I want to focus on is of course English, American English to be exact.  There are not many people who truly understand the significance of speaking English, let alone the difficulty in learning it.  The fact that many who have been out of school for years have trouble differentiating “there,” “their” and “they’re” is proof enough of the English language’s complexity and difficulty.  And because of that, I honestly feel honored and blessed to posses the skill of writing, speaking and reading it.  It is also because of such that I find it shameful when those who do not posses such a skill are made fun of, or when people get irritated or even angry when English is not spoken or if someone knows very little.  I find this interesting because in other countries when a foreigner attempts to speak the native tongue, you will most likely find that the person is flattered and honored.  This is because language is a form of connection, and so an attempt by a foreigner to speak another language signifies their effort to build a bond and connect.  Why is it that some people here don’t feel that way?  Well, I believe that this is because for us, language represents change.  And many detest change.  Back in college, there was a class discussion on how students in a school recited the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish.  This was of course to signify the ever growing impact of the Spanish language in America.  The professor discussed how many parents were upset and offended by this, and therefore asked the class how they felt.  Like me, the professor was slightly offended herself that people would even be uncomfortable with the representation of diversity in the country that preaches it so often, but nevertheless, she wanted to know what the class thought.  The majority of them actually believed that it was wrong, yet what stood out the most was that they couldn’t provide a valid explanation as to why they felt that way.  Some said it was because the Pledge of Allegiance is a representation of the country and so it was strange and uncomfortable to have it recited in another language…I’m sorry, what?  This once again brings me back to the statement that many say and act like this country is so accepting and open, and yet they unconsciously reveal the complete opposite.  I say “unconsciously” because I believe that they really didn’t know the significance of their words.  And this means even more considering that they were speaking from emotions that they felt deep down.  What is there to be offended about?  Shouldn’t parents be happy that their children are being educated on another language?  Shouldn’t we be jumping for joy that something that is so important to us is said in another language?  Is there a deeper fear of something that many are afraid to say out loud?  I think so.

I have lost count of the number of foreigners that I have met that know multiple tongues.  I will even go so far as to say that almost all of them knew at least two other languages.  I’m not talking about a couple words here and there, I’m talking about actually knowing another language.  And I am envious of them.  Why?  Let’s see, counting middle school, high school, and college I took french for six years, latin for three, and Italian for one.  Today I can only speak, read and write English. What about you? Is there not something wrong here?  I remember complimenting my English professor because she fluently knew French.  You know what she said?  “Oh, you students aren’t being educated properly.”  My jaw dropped, and I sulked back to my desk as I pondered the validity and significance of her statement.

There are so many people in other nations that are longing to learn the English language because of what it represents to them and the world.  Some of them believe that the language signifies power and prestige.  I cannot begin to count the numbers of ways that this is ironic, but I’ll let you do that.  Did you know that there is a multitude of Japanese and Korean singers and groups whose names and/or song titles are in English?  Did you also know that a chunk of their songs are in English or have English lyrics?  I have several Japanese and Korean songs on my ipod and 100% of them have English lyrics, a song title in English and/or a band name in English.  Language is used as a means to build the three Cs: Communication, Community and Connection.  Shouldn’t it be the same for us?

Peace and Love

How Are You?

UnknownDear Readers,

“How are you?”  “How are ya?”  “How you doin’?” This is a question that I asked almost every customer when I worked in retail.  It is a question that I and most people ask strangers in greeting.  But here are the real questions: Do we mean that?  Do we really care how others are doing?  Think about it.  “How are you?” has become the same as “hello” or “hi.”  It is something that is said in passing, and is something that is not meant to truly be answered.  And when we do answer it, most of us simply and without thinking say “fine, thank you,” or “great,” etc.  Sometimes we really are “fine,” but how do you feel when someone truthfully answers the question of how they’re doing?  Taken aback?  Shocked?  Annoyed?  To be honest, I also tend to use this question as a simple greeting, but I am always pleasantly shocked and intrigued when someone gives me a true answer.  I was of course a little annoyed when they did so with a line of customers behind them, or if I was really busy and running a bunch of errands.  Even so, I made an attempt to look the person in the eye and tried to have small talk with them.  But it is because of these situations that I truly think about what I say, and mean what I say.  The same goes for the response of “and you?”  We once again tend to get surprised when a person actually gives us a truthful answer.  Instead of saying it to be polite, why not say it because you mean it?

Why is it that this phrase that allows us to be open and emphatic towards each other has become as simple as “hi?”  Does it signify society’s fear of compassion?  I once heard the story of a store clerk in a mall who asked a guy how he was doing.  The guy turned to him and said “do you really care?” and walked away.  The store clerk first thought about what a jerk the guy was and then thought to himself “wait, I really don’t care.”  I think about this story often when someone asks me how I am doing, and sometimes I feel compelled to ask if they really care.  But I don’t do so because I guess deep down I feel that they really don’t, and it kind of stings to think that.  Everyone wants to be cared for, don’t they?  So let’s care more and truly mean what we say when we ask “how are you?”  Don’t you think society needs more compassion?  I sure do.

Peace and Love

Passion

Dear Readers,

imagesI apologize for the delay in posting.  The majority of that has been due to something that cannot be ignored: Passion.  If you have read my first post, you may remember me mentioning that I am currently working on two books, and I have been doing such all last week.  A writer should not force themselves to write.  Rather, they should write when they hear the voices in their head and feel the spirit of the words and story inside them.  That is passion.

When I was in school I loved to write, but I hated it at the same time.  My words and my thoughts are sacred to me, so why must I force them onto to a sheet of paper for a grade?  I particularly hated doing this for poetry class.  Poetry is made up of words from our hearts and soul, and should be written down when we feel the passion to write them.  At least that’s what I think.  And it is because of this that I hated it when as a student I had to critique another student’s poetry.  How can I judge one’s soul?  How can you place a grade on something that was spoken from one’s heart?  Now, if they were “force writing” that’s a different story, but if it was something written from within, then placing a grade or judgement to it is ridiculous.

My passion for writing is also why I had immense trouble with science and math.  These subjects are based on “facts” and cannot be analyzed.  They cannot be argued (unless you’re talking religiously), they cannot inspire, and they cannot touch hearts.  They are based off of words and thoughts of several other people.  There have been many novels that have made me cry, made me think and made me question.  There have been novels that I have written a 20 page analyzed dissertation on because of the inspiration and arguments it sparked in me.  These are novels whose words I have read and in return I produced words of my own.   In literature, our thoughts and our opinions are always accepted.  Can we say the same for math and science?

There have been times when I had not written a chapter in months.  It did not bother me simply because I wasn’t “feeling it” at that time.  I knew when it came time to write again very easily.  It’s an unmistakable feeling.  And when we follow the not-so-gentle nudging of our passion, there is no doubt that great results will be yielded.

Peace and Love

This Weekend’s Challenge

Hi Everyone,

One thing that I have noticed about myself through other people is that I smile a lot.  I do like to smile, and I don’t mean that in the sense that I like to laugh (which I do of course).  But I like to use my smile as a way of communicating to strangers non-verbally.  Now you may say “well, duh.  Smiles can’t talk.”  Oh, but they do.  Like most people, I use my smile as a simple greeting in saying “hey, how are you?,” “good morning” or “good afternoon.” But I also use it as a means of acknowledging the person passing me by and wishing them well: “I see you,” “I don’t know you, but I hope you have a wonderful day.”

We never know what a person may be dealing with in their personal life and sometimes a smile is all it takes to make them feel good and just a little bit happier.  When I smile at a strangers it feels so good to see them smile back, and sometimes they may even give me a verbal greeting.  We all live in this world together.  Why must we act as if we don’t see another person?  Unfortunately, this is so for many people.  I cannot tell you the number of weird looks that I get sometimes.  I mean, it’s not like I grinning mischievously or psychotically at them.  But sometimes if I give a stranger a small polite smile they either 1) completely ignore me 2) look taken aback and try to force a smile back or 3) they think that I mistakenly know them from somewhere.  Am I the only that had this happen to?  I mean really, do I have die and go to heaven so that smiling at strangers is completely normal and welcomed?

So for today and this weekend, I welcome you to give a smile to someone that you don’t know.  I’m not really one for studies, but I have read that smiling at someone has a substantial affect on their overall well-being.  So why not make someone’s day a bit brighter?  Feel free the share any of your experiences!

Peace and Love

In Honor Of

Dear Readers,

I sometimes get the feeling that we as a society are afraid feel and let others see our emotion and compassion.  And sometimes we can just be flat out cold.  I’m sure some of you have seen the show “What Would You Do?,” well this is a story from a first hand experience.  I used to live in New York City (NYC), and as most know, NYC has thousands of homeless on the streets and in the subway trains.  Sometimes that person is not homeless, but a severely disabled or scarred member of society that needs some change for surgery or what not.  More often than not, these people are asking for money and food.  As a child, you learn to adapt to your surroundings and you observe and blend into what is “normal.”  Therefore as a child, I thought it was completely normal to ignore a person in need and pretend that they are not literally standing in front of you asking for help.

I moved away from the city when I was ten, and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I rode the subways and walked the streets of NYC again (I was visiting family).  I cannot describe the immense pain and heartache I felt.  The majority of that emotion was not only because the person was disabled or homeless.  It was because 1) That person was being ignored by a train full of people or by hundreds of passerby and 2) I could not imagine how that person themselves felt to hear complete silence or no movement of help towards them when they ask for it (not say that there weren’t some noble souls).  Whenever I could, I gave to those on the subway some money and offered a prayer of blessing to those on the street and to those I did not have cash for.  Like most, I sometimes wonder if they would actually use that money for good, and you know what I think to myself?  I say “it’s on them.”  It’s on their soul if they decide to take advantage of person when he/she is doing something that they see right.  I say to myself “don’t worry what others think, or what that person may do with the money.  You’re doing what you think and feel is right.”  I sometimes feel like we use the “they’ll use it for alcohol” excuse because we are afraid to show compassion for fear of being looked at as weak or foolish.  If something is the right thing to do and it feels good, why not do it?

What is ironic about this topic is that emotion is treated completely differently when it comes to the media.  Although it is their job to tell the news (and stretch the truth), the media tends to focus much too much on drama, and it is at times ridiculous and even offense.  I will never forget when Steve Irwin died and the media asked his beautiful daughter, Bindi what she thought Steve would be saying to her at that time.  Are you kidding?  Can you get any more invasive that?  And with a child?  Bindi smartly responded (and I’m sure her mother wisely prepared her for this intrusion) that the answer to that question was private.  When the media was interviewing survivors after the 2011 tsunami in Japan some of the first words that they used to describe a man was “he looked like he’s been crying for days.”  Then there was the infamous question of “I know it’s hard on you, but can you describe how you’re feeling right now?”  In tragedies of the past and tragedies of today this stupid question has never failed to be asked.  We as viewers see the damage, destruction and the same horrific and saddened faces of people who have suffered because the media shows them over and over.  We do not need to know how they feel because we can see it.

Good deeds of course happen everyday, and sometimes the media does capture it.  I’m sure that most have heard the story about a cop buying and giving boots to a homeless man.  Although it is great to hear good news often, I sometimes wonder why this has to be news in general.  Then I remember my past experiences and realize that it is quite rare to see something like this happen.  This is a good thing, and yet it is a reminder of something sad.  With that being said, good deeds should be done in the shadows (when it can be helped of course).  And whether we feel brave enough to do it in the open or do it when no one is looking, we can sometimes feel helpless, which can make us not help at all.  We can feel helpless because we may feel like we are not able to effectively reach those in need whether they are near or far away (so we can therefore feel like our help has no impact), or because we simply don’t carry cash to give to those in need (I rarely carry cash).  To that I say “in honor of.”  What I mean is, if you feel like you cannot help someone for whatever reason, do something in honor of them.  For example, you can donate clothes in honor of those in natural disasters who lost everything.  You can donate blood in honor of those who lost their lives.  “In honor of” can also simply be giving someone a thought or prayer of hope and well-being.  Even if you have the money in your pocket to give to those in need, just giving them a simple blessing from the heart is doing something.  Do Something.  I promise it will make you feel good and perhaps make you a little happier.

I hope today’s post has reached you.  Let it light a flame inside of you.

Peace and Love

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