Blog Archives

The Light and Happiness Inside

glass-384951_640Dear Readers,

My husband and I are kids at heart, and last weekend we went to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. My favorite scene (no spoilers) is during the climax of the film where the brothers are on their way to take down the enemy. They decided to take a detour via an elevator, and as you can imagine there’s heightened tension and stress as they wait to arrive at their destination. But during this ride, Michelangelo decides to beat box, inspiring the other brothers to jump in for a good 10 seconds until the elevator comes to a stop and the seriousness then resumes. I love this scene because not only was it hilarious considering its timing but mostly because it was a reminder of how God would want us to act in times of trials and difficulties.

I’d like to think that we all have something that makes us smile or laugh. I know I do. In fact, I often get asked “what are you smiling at?” because when I’m feeling stressed or sad, I retreat inside myself and dig out these memories.

Many of us are going through tough situations, and there is so much negativity in the world that sometimes it’s so hard to escape it. I don’t watch the news for the simple fact that it focuses so much on negativity— whether it’s potential war, finding a scapegoat, the environment, or whatever or whomever they choose to talk about or demonize. Though I try to avoid negativity, there are many who choose to carry it with them, allowing it to deeply affect themselves and those around them. Joyce Meyer describes these people as “dead,” and although we sometimes wonder if they’re trying to bring us down with them, we must never let negativity affect us (and this most certainly does not mean that we shouldn’t be compassionate and caring). Instead of letting negativity in, we must unleash the light and happiness within us because ultimately, that is what this world needs and what people who are hurting need.

Picture all those wonderful and happy memories that you have as being placed in a bottle inside you. Open it in troubling times. Open it to share its contents with someone else. Let the contents build up so much that the bottle bursts and that light and happiness shines through your eyes and radiates in your smile and on your face, showering on all whom you meet.

Peace and Love,

Ariffa

 TMNT Elevator Scene

The Small Things

Dear Readers,

We all have a lot going on in our lives that tend to occupy our minds and worry us more than we should allow. There are times when I am so focused on a project that I find it very hard to sit still or focus on something else without feeling guilt or anxiety. The little or big things that go on in our worlds tend to make us oblivious to the larger world that we live in. Your neighbor, a store clerk, a customer, a teacher, a co-worker, or whomever may not know what you’re going through, but even so, they are still in this world with you and may be going through the same problems that are probably even greater than yours. I believe that everyone could use a blessing, a good cheer, or something to make their day and perhaps, lives, a little brighter.

When I was senior in high school, my dance teacher took some of my classmates and me to a very expensive restaurant to celebrate our graduation. Little did we know that the gentleman who was dining alone across from us overheard our conversations and generously decided to pay for all six or seven of our meals. This was of course a wonderful surprise, but I’m talking about making a difference in someone’s day by doing the seemingly small and insignificant things that really matter:

  • Looking someone in the eye and giving them a genuine greeting and genuinely wishing them a good day.
  • Putting back unwanted store merchandise in the correct location.
  • Stopping your car to allow a waiting driver to pull in front of you.
  • Greeting people who you normally don’t notice or speak to.

I know these may seem meaningless or senseless to some, but from being on both sides of each scenario, I can tell you they make a difference. From the sudden gleam in a janitor’s eyes to the feeling of relief that someone cares, I can tell you that it’s worth it. So please, stop and see someone today and try to do so everyday.

Peace and Love,

Ariffa

 

Something is Enough

Tacloban_Typhoon_Haiyan_2013-11-13

“This image was originally posted to Flickr by Trocaire at http://flickr.com/photos/8485582@N07/10882117144. It was reviewed on 16 November 2013 by the FlickreviewR robot and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0.”-Wikipedia Commons

Dear Readers,

There are and have been so many disasters in the world. And for some particular reason, my heart especially aches worse for those affected by Typhoon Haiyan — in the Phillippines and around the world. Lately, I cannot seem to shake the feeling that people seem to be ignoring the suffering of the world or have forgotten about it already. Now of course the media has a significant impact. Even so…

My own theory is that many of us feel that there is nothing we can do for those suffering in the world. Some may feel like they don’t have the money or time to contribute, and therefore they shut themselves off to the pain of what’s happening around them. I can understand that, and to those people I say Something is Enough. Prayer is enough. A thought of well being for others is enough. And if you want to take it a step further, do something in honor of those in need. Donate blood. Donate clothes and food. It can even be something as simple as giving someone a smile or a genuine, heart-felt wish for a good day. I believe that God placed us on this Earth to be of help to someone, no matter how far or near they may be. The greatness of our lives is reflected in how we devote it to others. So for today, for tomorrow, and the days to come, pray for someone, smile at someone, do something in honor of someone. And please don’t ever forget. As an author, my goal is to inspire you and touch your hearts and minds, make you see something different. And I hope these words have touched you.

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

Do Not Forget

girl-62328_640Hi Everyone,

This past week, I have read some blog posts that really reached out and touched me.  That is because they reminded me of these important things:

 

No matter how much money you have or what job you do, our purpose in life is to help one another.  From something as small as a smile, to something as quiet as a prayer, to something as big as a hug, we are not alone on this Earth because we’re supposed to act like we are.  We are all together in this world to serve one another.  That is a direct reflection of spiritual, Godly beliefs and His light.  It is a direct reflection of who we are as a person.  Do not forget this.  And do not forget these quotes:

May you cultivate a servant’s heart so that if wealth comes your way…you will be generous to those in need. -Bill Tonnis, http://billtonnismusic.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/enter-the-kingdom/

Humility does not mean you think less of yourself –it means you think of yourself less. -Ken Blanchard

And finally, I will leave you all today with this amazing, beautiful story of kindness and compassion from Quotes Via Text’s blog:

One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my class walking home from school. His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books. I thought to myself, “Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd.” I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my friends tomorrow afternoon), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on.
As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him. They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him. He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes. My heart wen out to him. So, I jogged over to him and as he crawled around looking for his glasses, I saw a tear in his eye.

As I handed him his glasses, I said “Those guys are jerks. They really should get lives.” He looked at me and said, “Hey, thanks!” There was a big smile on his face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude. I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived. As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him before. He said he had gone to a private school before now. I would have never hung out with a private school kid before. We talked all the way home, and I carried his books. He turned out to be a pretty cool kid. I asked him if he wanted to play football on Saturday with me and my friends. He said yes. We hung all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him, and my friends thought the same of him.

Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again. I stopped him and said, “Boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday!” He just laughed and handed me half the books. Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. When we were seniors, we began to think about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown, and I was going to Duke. I knew that we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem. He was going to be a doctor, and I was going for business on a football scholarship.

Kyle was valedictorian of our class. I teased him all the time about being nerd. He had to prepare a speech for graduation. I was so glad it wasn’t me having to get up there and speak.

Graduation day, I saw Kyle. He looked great. He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school. He filled out and actually looked good in glasses. He had more dates than I had and all the girls loved him. Boy, sometimes I was jealous. Today was one of those days. I could see that he was nervous about his speech. So, I smacked him on the back and said, “Hey, big guy, you’ll be great!” He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled. “Thanks,” he said.
As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began. “Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach, but mostly your friends. I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. I am going to tell you a story.”

I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the story of the first day we met. He had planned to kill himself over the weekend. He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn’t have to do it later and was carrying all his stuff home. He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile. “Thankfully, I was saved. My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable.” I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment. I saw his mom and dad looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile. Not until that moment did I realize it’s depth.
Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one small gesture you can change a person’s life. For better or for worse.

http://quotesviatext.wordpress.com/2013/08/21/story/

 

Peace and Love Everyone

Ariffa

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

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

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?

“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

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