Blog Archives

You’re the Greatest Ever

number_one_smooth-150x150“You’re the best wife ever.”

“You’re the greatest husband in the world.”

“She’s the best mom ever.”

“He’s simply the greatest.”

“You’re the best grandpa in the world!”

These are words that make me smile and sometimes laugh when I say them, hear them, read them, or when they are said to me. It’s because the true meaning of these words make them that much more powerful and sweet.

When something like those words are said, they may not be taken that seriously because one may unknowingly think in the back of their mind that they cannot possibly be the greatest at something in the history of ever and the world.  And even so, these words are still gladly accepted because the general meaning is understood.

But the way I feel about it is that to everyone that loves us, we are thus a part of their world, their lives.  So within this large world are “mini worlds” that belong to each of us personally.  So, to be told that I’m the greatest wife ever means so much because in his world, in his life, I am the greatest, and out of everyone in the entire world, he has chosen me.

Everyone has the potential and power in them to be something great and to do something great.  I hope that you are and will be someone’s greatest.

Peace and Love,

Ariffa

Advertisements

What Matsui Can Teach about Education & Community

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons, provided by Chris Ptacek.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons, provided by Chris Ptacek.

In 2009 the Yankees won the world series against the Philadelphia Phillies…mostly because of Hideki Matsui.  Now, this is just personal opinion, but I am not the only one that feels this way.  That night, Matsui became the first Japanese-born player and full-time designated hitter in the history of MLB to win the world series MVP award.  Matsui was my favorite athlete even before this happened, so I was of course extremely upset when the Yankees did not sign him the next season.  And although Matsui played for other teams, he remained my favorite player, never forgotten by Yankees fans and non-Yankees fans.  And it was yesterday afternoon that Matsui signed a minor league contract with the Yankees, officially retiring as one.

I sat teary-eyed through the entire ceremony not because Matsui is my favorite athlete but because of what he stands for.  The best way to describe Matsui is quiet, humble strength.  You see, Matsui is the only Yankee to hit a grand slam at his first, I mean first, at bat.  He went 4-4 and 3-4 on his first two days back after returning from wrist surgery that had him out for several months.  And through it all, Matsui remained humble and a true definition of a team player.  He actually apologized for getting injured, and shies away from talking about himself.  He has stated that he felt like he didn’t deserve the MVP award, and although most players would name this as their shining moment in their career, Matsui named a victory against the Boston Red Sox as his favorite moment because the Yankees won the game in a total team effort.

The way I feel about it is that one can be a great baseball player and have awesome numbers, but if your attitude sucks and you’re all about yourself then, to me, those numbers mean absolutely nothing.  Besides his quiet strength and humility, what I like most about Matsui is that the man has a sense of humor.  He is known for playing jokes on his teammates and every once in a while you could catch him making faces at the camera.  Oh, how I miss watching him play!

So, how does this relate to education?  Well, say there was this great teacher, and you asked him or her what their best/favorite moment was in their profession.  What would you think if the teacher said, “Winning educator of the year” as opposed to “Watching my students evolve” or “Seeing my students light up when they understand something” or “One of my students telling me that I’m their role model”? Matsui represents greatness by being great through others.  One is a great player and a great teacher through the action, influence, and aid of those outside themselves.  With education being more and more about testing and numbers and treating students like they’re all the same, I know that it can be quite difficult to truly teach and help a student.

Photo Credit: Keith Allison, Flickr

Photo Credit: Keith Allison, Flickr

Matsui represents how a community should be.  A community should be, well…a community.  This simply means placing others above yourself and being there for them and actually caring.  Matsui reminds me of who I am, who I want to be, and who I have to be in order to consider myself truly successful.  I am only as great as the impact that my words and life has on others.

Thank you, Hideki Matsui.  I hope and pray that one day I can share these words with you in person.

Peace and Love,

Ariffa

In Honor Of…

candles-141892_640Dear Readers,

I’ve been feeling a bit down lately, so to cheer myself up, and perhaps some of you as well, I have decided to write today’s post about compassion.  It’s actually a repost from when I first started blogging, but its meaning is the same, nonetheless:

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 to 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 wondered if they would actually use that money for good, and you know what I thought 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.  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 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).  And 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,

Ariffa

Life for a Life for Life

imagesDear Readers,

Many, if not, practically all of us, have thought about what our goals are and should be in life.  There are even some of you who are still struggling with your sense of purpose and goals in this world.  When I was much younger, I thought about this briefly until I realized the simple answer: I wanted to live my life for other people.  I wanted to impact others and the world in a positive way and make a change for the better.  If one were to actually think about it, many of the most valued and difficult careers involve outreach, assistance, and aid to others (teachers, missionaries, doctors, nurses, firefighters, police officers, etc).

This lifestyle of living and working for others is very significant when it comes to leadership.  Our leaders should be there for their people and do everything in benefit for them.  However, I believe that I am not the only that feels this is sometimes not the case.  Should a leader be for themselves or for their people?  What does it truly mean to be a leader?  These are questions that I indirectly presented to my readers when I wrote Kingdom of the Sun because they pertain so much to our own lives.  And so, I wanted my book to be a reflection, and perhaps even a guide, as to what is going on in our world.

I have come realize that each “dead-end” job that I had had reaffirmed my passion because I know that my fire would not be as strong and that Kingdom of the Sun would not have been written if God didn’t put those difficulties and experiences in my life.  I may not fully be there yet, but each post I write and each word and theme that I embedded in my book was to inspire you, and touch you, and perhaps even fuel a fire in you as well.  You see, I write for you.

“Life for a Life”: Living for someone, a purpose.  “For Life”: A way of being and existing, because when I am bettering someone else’s life, it is then that I am alive and truly living.

Peace and Love,

Ariffa

Language and the Ability to See and Feel

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons)

Dear Readers,

Yesterday, I watched a Bollywood movie titled English Vinglish.  It’s about an Indian women (Shashi) with very limited English who goes to New York City for her sister’s wedding.  The movie depicts her struggles and embarrassment with learning the language that occurs not only with her new environment, but with her family as well.  Overall, I thought it was an intriguing and touching film that I would recommend.

What I enjoyed most about English Vinglish was the interaction between the main character and a French man (Laurent) from her ESL class.  This is because during moments where there was intense emotion, whether it was anger or frustration, they spoke to each other in their native tongue.  Even though Laurent could not understand Hindi, and Shashi could not understand French, they spoke to each other in these moments without hesitation or fear that the other could not understand.  And although these two characters could not verbally understand what the other was saying, there was still a form of understanding through seeing and feeling.  They were able to really see each other and feel what the other was feeling.  I thought this was a brilliant aspect to the film, especially since I recently wrote a post about being able to see people for who they are.

It is this seeing and feeling that allows us to be more connected and compassionate with other people.  And it is this seeing and feeling that I tried to capture and invoke in my book Kingdom of Sun.  One of my goals was to make every reader feel connected to a character/s and to feel like they know, or perhaps are, just like a character/s in the book.

What I did not like about the film was how many of its characters were portrayed with stereotypical personalities and occupations.  That really bothered me for a film that is supposed to display a positive and seemingly image-changing perception of different cultures.

One of the movie’s messages seemed to dictate that learning the English language is a big way that one can receive respect and prestige, not just in America but anywhere else.  This message angered me not only because it is something that I do not believe in, but because it is something that many other people and countries believe in and practice as well.  I discuss this much more in my post titled “The Power of Language.”  Feel free to read it below if you like.

Peace and Love,

Ariffa

The Power of Language

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?

Kingdom of the Sun Theme: Seeing

leaf-117554_640Dear Readers:

What does it mean to see someone?  The line of “I see you,” was used very often in the movie Avatar, and it means just that: I see you, I acknowledge you, I feel you, I hear you, I see you.

Seeing and one’s inability and unwillingness to see is such a significant theme in Kingdom of the Sun (coming soon).  Being unseen is something that I have dealt with for all my life, and many of you deal with the same in several ways.  The way that I would like to talk about pertains to age.

When we think of age, and the stereotypes that come with it, we often think of senior citizens.  However, how often do we associate these stereotypes with the younger generation?  Growing up, I never “acted my age,” and because of that, my face, words, and body language reflected such.  To those who did not know me, I was always mistaken for being at least 5-10 years older than I actually was.  And as you can imagine, I was placed in many awkward and embarrassing situations.  And although it was annoying at times, it felt good to be acknowledged as someone I felt on the inside as opposed to a number.  However, there were many times when those who did not know me assumed that I partied, drank, was addicted to social media, and had no plans for my future.

To many of those who did “know” me, I was looked down upon and still judged.  I cannot tell you the amount of times that I was called a “kid” and a “child,” or the number of times when I was told “kids your age should be…” or that I was boring for refusing to go out to clubs or stay out until 3 in the morning.  The most painful was having to literally sit in front of “superiors” and older colleagues and be ignored, not spoken to, and not even looked at because my words meant nothing.  And when a rare opportunity was given for those words to be spoken, my listeners’ eyes would gloss over or I would be asked a question that I only just answered when I had spoken.

There is something called the Role Theory in which people behave the way society expects them to behave.  Think about for a moment…

I firmly believe that 70% to 80% of the youth that does ridiculous, outrageous, and stupid things are because society and media portrays and expects them to.  They therefore believe the behavior to be okay in thinking that it’s the norm.  This Role Theory can of course be applied to many other  types of groups…What would happen if society were to be more supportive and encouraging of these groups?  What if the movies and news stations were to remove these groups from their stereotypical roles and place them into something different?  What if people no longer allowed themselves to be fed garbage and propaganda and instead think for themselves to see, truly see.  Focusing more on age, for the honor and respect of not only the other person but yourself, see people for who they are.

As I say in my book’s dedication, Kingdom of the Sun is “For anyone who has been subject to the constraints, stereotypes, blindness, and contradictions of society.”

And as the character Helena states “I believe that to judge another by age is to lack the wisdom and respect that seemingly comes with it and the gain of foolishness in its stead.”

 

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

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

%d bloggers like this: