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Love, Loss, Kindness, and Peace

hands-63743_640Dear Readers,

Today I would like to share with you a story from my past that I hope speaks to many of you. It’s about loss, love, and kindness. They are memories that will stay with me forever.

For seven years of my life I lived in Bronx, NY until I left at the age of 10. In my last year of being in the City, I was in the 5th grade at an elementary school that was literally one block from my home. That was where I met Philippe Gaton. Philippe was a Puerto Rican boy with the kindest heart of anyone that I had known. Never had I met someone so pure and so mature. I was a bit of a troublemaker in that I loved wrestling on the playground and playing jokes on my classmates. And when someone took a joke too seriously or if I got myself into trouble with my classmates, Philippe would stand up for me and at times would actually stand between me and the aggressor. There was a time when I had bumped into this grown man, causing him to become verbally hostile. Being a terrified 10 year-old, all I could do was apologize over and over, but it was to no avail. Philippe came out of nowhere and stood between me and this adult man and proceeded to deescalate the situation by talking to the man as if he were an adult himself. He then gently took my arm and steered me out of danger.

Naturally, of course, I developed strong feelings for Philippe. And naturally, I picked on him the most and made fun of him more than anyone. I often chuckle when I think back to our dreams at that point in our lives. I wanted to be a scientist and Philippe wanted to be a professional wrestler (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was big at the time). Being the person that I am and was, I never gathered the courage to tell Philippe how I really felt, but there was an unspoken understanding that we both felt the same way about each other. The word that I can best use to describe him was “good.” His soul, his character, his looks, and his heart were all good.

I passed the 5th grade with the expectation and assurance that Philippe and I would be together the next school year. As classmates and perhaps, even as a couple. That summer my brother and I went away for camp for a two week period. On the day of our return, my mother left her job to pick us up and drop us off to our father who was home as he always was. The cab was late and in a rush, my mother dropped us off at the door and hurriedly got in the cab and back off to work. To this day, I do not understand the rage and fury that my father had when I told him that my mother was not with us because she had to hurry back to work. He destroyed the apartment and nearly broke everything in sight. He was so anxious for my mother to get home that he waited on the corner block before hauling her off. That night they had the worst fight I ever remember them having. I think it was then that my heart severed ties with the man that was my father. And when he exhausted himself and left to the streets, I went up to mother and declared “I don’t want to live here anymore.”

A week later, my mother sent my brother and I to stay with my aunt in South Carolina for the summer. In that time, my mother took what she could and left the Bronx. My brother and I returned to New York but it was to Binghamton where I would be for seven years. And my father knew nothing of it. Moving to Binghamton was a relief because of what I was leaving behind and because of the promise of the better life I was looking forward to. Though we looked over our shoulders often, I didn’t care about what my father thought and how he felt. I only cared that we were free and safe. At the same time, I was sad because I was not able to say goodbye to Philippe. I knew that he would understand what I was going through, and it broke my heart that I disappeared without warning.

Two whole years passed before I saw him again. Although we had left the Bronx, we would visit on a regular basis to see my other Aunt and go school shopping. On this one particular summer day in the City, my mother was craving beef patties. We decided to go to a Caribbean bakery that I had visited all too often when we lived there. For some reason, I decided to wait for my mother in the car. And as I sat listening to my Aunt and cousin talk, I saw Philippe. With a small plastic bag in his hand, he looked like he had just stopped at the corner store and was heading home. Like a dream, I saw him walking slowly towards the car, asking myself if it really was him. And when he came close enough, I threw the car door open and shouted his name.

Philippe stopped abruptly and looked at me. He then said something that astounds me to this day. He had simply said my name. After all those years of wanting to see him, after all the praying and wishing that he would not forget me, that I still meant something to him, he said my name.

Philippe approached the car slowly, respectfully acknowledging my cousin and aunt and turning his attention back to me. The look of shock on his face reflected my own. I don’t remember who reached out first, but I remember grasping his hand. Despite everything I felt and was feeling, all I could say was “I moved.” He asked me where. I told him. He asked me when. I told him. He confirmed that I just finished the 7th grade. And then we didn’t know what to say because all that was needed and wanted to be said couldn’t have possibly been done in the short amount of time we had. So we said goodbye. I slowly closed the car door, and out of the back window I watched Philippe sulk slowly through the crowd and up the hill that I had walked up and down so many times. Just like a dream once again, the world seemed to have been fast-forwarded as he alone moved in slow motion. I watched him walk away from me until I could see him no longer, and still I looked.

“Who was that?” my cousin asked.

All I could choke out was “someone I knew” before I turned around cried with all the strength that was in me. It had seemed that all the pain I had been through, the love, the loss, the unspoken words, and the unrecognizable feelings I had since knowing Philippe came out at that very moment. I had never cried that hard before then.

One night after that I had a dream. Philippe and I were in the 5th grade again and we were on the swings at our school playground just talking while the stars above us shone brightly. We laughed about the old times we had on the playground and in the classroom, and I told him why I moved away. I told him I was sorry that he never knew. I told him that I liked him a whole lot. And then I told him goodbye.

These days, I dream about Philippe once in a blue moon, but we have not reconnected. Like the young 7th grader, I don’t believe he will remember me. But perhaps, as it was before, I may be surprised at hearing him say my name once more. Philippe is not a professional wrestler, but from I gather, he is an aspiring actor. He goes by Philip Gaston now. He has and will always have a special place in my heart.

Peace and Love,

Ariffa

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Lifetime Resolutions

Hello My Dear Readers,

I’m not really one for New Years Resolutions, but recently, God has been reminding me of my goals and dreams in this life. When I seem to be down or discouraged, something happens or someone says something that reminds me that His plans for me are still unfolding…perfectly. With that being said, I have created a list of goals and hopes that I want to aspire to not this year, but for the rest of my life. These are my prayers and dreams that I want to never stop striving for, no matter where I am in life.

Dear Lord,

For this year and for ever more:

  • Keep me humble
  • Help me to continue laughing at myself
  • Please don’t let me lose my dorkiness and nerdiness, and may I continue to never be ashamed of it
  • Don’t ever let me lose my compassion and empathy for others
  • Help me to grow in patience and forgiveness
  • Strengthen my love and respect of others
  • Help to me to be better a wife and best friend to my one and only
  • Don’t ever let me stop dreaming
  • Strengthen my hope and trust in myself and most of all, in You
  • Until You say it’s time for me to have children, help me to devote myself and my life entirely to my husband and those around me for You
  • Help me, Lord, to always see You in those who are suffering and in pain, especially those who show otherwise
  • And please, may Your Light continue to shine through me

Peace and Love,

Ariffa

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

 

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

A Picture and a Thousand Words

Photo found on http://www.viralnova.com/touching-photos/. I do not own.

Dear Readers,

When I first saw this photo of volunteers Rajesh Kumar Sharma and Laxmi Chandra giving free education to homeless, orphaned, and impoverished children in India, I didn’t have any words. Acutally, I couldn’t even find the words to express the emotion I felt. Two weeks later, I found them. And although they may not be a thousand words, and although this photo is worth so much more, these are the words I have. I invite you to add more.

Goodness

Godliness

Compassion

Passion

Strength

Will

Drive

Love

Hope

Hope

Hope

I shall follow up with another post on this photo.

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

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

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

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