What Story Are You Telling Yourself?

Today I realized something that I believe has the potential to create big, scary, awesome ripples in my life.

I realized that a part of getting where I am today, a part of the happiness I feel as compared to the desperation I felt almost 2 years ago, comes from changing the story I had been telling myself about my life.

2 years ago, this was the story I told myself:

I was a “victim” of circumstance.
I wasn’t smart enough, innovative enough, or talented enough to go beyond the confines of a “safe life”.
I wasn’t as financially privileged as others who were able to “make it”, and I was “stuck” in a place I didn’t want to be, where I had no friends.
I wasn’t “good at communicating” in my personal relationships.

Today, I look back and can see that the story I was telling myself became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Until I decided to turn it all around.

Until I decided to grow up and take responsibility for driving my life, instead of letting myself be driven by self-limiting beliefs.

Nowadays, the story I tell myself is light years away from the one I had crafted 2 years ago.

Nowadays, I am

grateful for the gift of family

loving the possibilities of continuous learning

amazed at the beauty of people

inspired by many to go out there and make a difference

humbled by how little I know, but hungry to learn more

Am I there yet? Have I reached the goals I am setting on a daily basis for myself (including becoming a change agent and success creator?)

Nope.

But I know I’m taking the steps needed to get there, and I am so excited about waking up every single day and taking one step closer.

The shift in mindset has made me a different person, and I’m still growing, every day a little more. I wonder what kind of positivity I can attract to my life by expanding the story I tell myself even more.

And now I want to ask for your help.
I am working on content that is relevant to YOU, that serves YOU, and that helps you achieve your goals. I want to provide value to YOU.

If this resonates at all with you, I invite you to take a moment and think about these questions:

  1. What story have you been telling yourself about your life?
  2. Does that story serve you, and serve the person you want to be?
  3. What aspects of your story could you change, and what parts of your life can you learn to appreciate and see in a different light?
    (For example, instead of saying “I’m not good at communicating”, can you say “I want to learn how to communicate better because I know I can improve and create more clarity in my life”? Or, instead of saying “I’m just not good with money”, can you say “I want to focus on learning how to manage my finances better, so I can feel more in control and be smart about my financial decisions”?)

With love,

Hala

Health Matters

Today, I urge you to step  back and take a moment to reflect on your health.

Are you taking care of yourself?
By taking care of yourself, I am not only asking whether you eat and drink well and generally avoid stepping in front of moving traffic.
My question is, are you really taking care of yourself?
Are you doing the things that will ultimately contribute to your body and mind being healthy and supporting you, allowing you to thrive and have a long and fruitful life?
Are you nurturing your body and soul with good food, exercise, meditation, human connection, and engaging in activities you are passionate about?

If not, please consider re-evaluating your priorities.

If you find yourself frequently stressed, overworked, tired, and dissatisfied, please know that it is in your hands to live the kind of life you love.
It might mean taking baby steps and getting there over a period of time, but any improvement is still improvement.  

Today, decide to take a 20 minute walk. Decide to eat a salad along with your meal. Decide to ditch the soda and drink some water instead. Decide to let go and realize that you cannot control every other driver out there on the road, so just enjoy the ride, enjoy the scenery, enjoy being alive.

Decide to live differently, and by doing so, know that you are making not only your own life better, but you are also giving more of yourself to your loved ones. You will be with them more fully, with more clarity, and hopefully, for a longer period of time.

If you’ve made it this far through this post, I urge you to let me know in the comments section below what small change you can make in your life in order to take care of yourself better.
Do you think you can take a yoga class every now and then? Maybe wake up half an hour earlier to get in some physical activity before the craziness of your day begins? Maybe you can take 20 minutes just to be by yourself, close your eyes, and focus on filling your body with breath? Or maybe you can swap out one of your weekly meat-based meals for a vegetable-based meal instead?

(Note: This is really relevant to me in my life right now, and would make me feel so much better to know I was able to make even one person consider doing something for their health.)

To your health!

The Road Home

I sit at the gate in JFK, waiting to board the flight, grateful that I will be seeing my family soon.

Grateful for so much.

Grateful to have a family whom I love with all my heart.

Grateful to have experienced this week of learning and connecting with others.

Grateful for inspiration and the gift of being inquisitive and open to new ideas.

Grateful to be on my way to a weekend filled with giggles, soft brown curls, hugs, and yes, even diapers

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Big Brother

You know the role of big brother has totally kicked in when you catch something like this – totally spontaneous and unplanned (I did my best to be sneaky, but you can see at the very end where N realizes I’m there and asks “What are you doing mama?!?!?”)
(Volume on the video is really low so turn it up if you want to hear)


 

Since the sound quality’s not so great, let me give you the rundown:

My guess is that N was going to get a toy from his room, and knowing that I had been trying (unsuccessfully) to get Baby Z down for a nap, decides to help.

He starts singing Rock a Bye Baby, then realizes a few seconds in that he doesn’t really know the words, at which point there is some huffing and puffing/sighing action.

Giving up on the lullabye, he says “Here, Baby Z, you want me to come in … with you?” and he climbs right into the crib!
I had to stop myself from laughing out loud so the boys wouldn’t see me trying to hide and record them at the same time. So fun.

Note to self: Pay more attention to moments like these, and work harder on capturing them.
Before you know it, this will be replaced by the two of them duking it out over which one of them gets the last slice of pizza, or who gets to take the car, or *shudder* who saw that cheerleader first.

From strength and love an angel is born

I have a friend. (Surprising, I know. Hear me out, though.)
This post is a letter to that friend, who is someone I wish all of you could meet, if only for a day – you would sit down and have some lemonade, a nice long chat, and come out of it a better person, just by talking to her.

Dear Friend,

You and your family recently welcomed a tiny little being into your lives, experiencing the magic of adding one more person to the world whom you will love with every fiber of your being. Congratulations, dear friend, to you and to us, for with her birth you impart upon us all a lesson of love, strength, and super-human perseverance. You are an inspiration.

You are one of those people who springs to someone’s side the moment they need you there, sometimes before even THEY know that you need her there. Your presence is nourishing and loving, and you impart a strength, confidence, empathy, and morality that rub off on people and make them want to be better versions of themselves.

When you are around someone you are fully present: you are engaged, committed, and completely real. You bring a love of life with you to every interaction, and possess an unwavering sense of who you are and what you believe. You are unfazed by chaos (complete opposite of me, obviously), and handle the craziness that life and other people may throw your way with ultimate grace, compassion, and patience. You are accepting of everyone, and can make a person feel welcomed, appreciated, and valued all in one quick exchange of words.

I wish I could say half of those things about myself.

In 2004, you were diagnosed with breast cancer. A devastating diagnosis for anyone, let alone a barely-30 year-old woman who is vibrant, active, and one of the healthiest people I know. At the time, I had only known you for a few months, I was going through my own major surgery (on my jaw – obviously a blip compared to the gravity of my your situation), and generally was not equipped to know how to handle something so large, so life-changing, so scary.

So, I said what little I knew how to say, and did my best to be a good friend in your time of need.

I fell short.

Over the coming months and years of our friendship, I came to realize how little I truly contributed to your well-being at that time. If I could turn back time and throw myself into being the type of friend you would have been had the tables been reversed, I would do it in a heartbeat.

With strength that left me in complete awe, you overcame the diagnosis that threatened your life. You took it all – the chemo, the treatments, the medication, the surgery, the poking and prodding and testing and uncertainty, and you turned it all on its head, showing that cancer who was boss.

You won, and you won by a landslide.

Over the past 8 years, I’ve watched you grow even stronger than you were before your diagnosis, and I am humbled by you. I watched you, determined to grow your family, get pregnant with and give birth to two amazing boys. I watched you mother them with admirable patience and wisdom, wondering all the while whether I would have been able to handle being in your shoes without losing my mind. You never did. You only got better.

Last year, during a particularly challenging phase of my pregnancy and life, you came to visit me for a weekend. Youleft your family – husband and two baby boys (twins!) – and hopped on a plane for ME.
Honestly and truly, that was one of the nicest, kindest, and most considerate things anyone has ever done for me in my entire life. We reconnected and it was wonderful. Your presence helped me recover my sanity, and helped me regain perspective on what is truly important. You reminded me that I need to remain true to my self, and committed to the path I paved for my life.

The pictures of your newest little angel have melted my heart, making me yearn to be by your side at this time. I wish I could be for you what you have been for me, friend.

I can still taste the salt in the air when I close my eyes and think about our long walks along the ocean. I will forever dream of the day when we will walk together once more, this time reminiscing about days past, and looking forward to the many exciting milestones in the lives of our little ones, as they grow and take center stage.

Congratulations, my dear. You and your family are in my thoughts and heart.

Thank you for letting me be part of your life.

Four.

You are four today, and I am celebrating with memories. Lately, I’ve been swimming in a sea of them, remembering the last few days before you were born, and many of the days that came after. The simple truth remains the same: I am more in love with you today than I ever thought I could or would be.

Memories of our special rituals – like Friday morning bagels before preschool/work, Saturday walks to the ice cream store near our house, after-work trips to the park where all the dogs used to come to play and knock you down, giggling so hard your curls looked as if they were going to fall off your head, dropping in on the hardware store after a trip to the supermarket so we can see the Choo-Choo that runs overhead, trips to the beach where all you really wanted to do was wait for the train to pass by, your suggestions to go to “da coffee place” on our way to school so I can get coffee and you can get a muffin,  weekend lunches at Jimbo’s, after-school/work visits to the water fountain where you would get hit by the squirters and laugh as I watched your bottom get soaked with water, and so many more will forever be mine and mine only. I carry them with me in a  place in my heart that is emblazoned with your name on it, a place that grows larger every day, with every smile, and every hug.

You are growing fast, and becoming your own person. You’ve always had a fiercely independent mind, never easily influenced, never easily manipulated. Even as a baby you would look up at my goo-goo ga-ga silliness as I tried to make you laugh, with a wiser-than-your-years look in your eyes that spoke the words your mouth couldn’t:
“Woman, stop acting like a fool. That is NOT funny and we both know it. Let’s talk politics – do I REALLY need to wait 2 more hours to get some more of that milk-lovin’?”

You amaze me every day now with your growing vocabulary, your ability to reason and argue with us, sometimes backing us into a logical corner. When you do that, I usually allow you to get your way, since really, who am I to refuse you the victory of a won argument?
Talking to you is more fun than anything else these days, since I get a glimpse of the person you are going to become, and that person is already pretty cool.

My darling baby, my “batteekha”, my silly willy, my sweetheart, my Noah. Mama loves you more than you will ever know, and I can only hope you can feel it.

Perfect timing. You just woke up and ran into my arms for your birthday morning hug, claiming “I’m FOUR NOW MAMA!!!”

Today is going to be fun, I can feel it. :)

Happy birthday, my love.

Before I Was Born

Before I was born, they looked into each others’ eyes and were overcome with pure adoration.

Before I was born, Love Story was their theme song, and it played in the background of every scene of their picture-perfect, fairy-tale love affair.
Before I was born, logic was secondary. Love made the world go round.

A proposition was made, but was immediately met with rejection. A hunger strike, torturous, painful love, and insomnia-riddled nights ensued, bringing them to the point of no return.

Then finally – families succumbed to love and there was acceptance, or at the very least, agreement. Hands were joined in a joyful, hard-earned union, and a new life began.

Now, years later, washed-out, yellowing picture prints stare back at me from the tattered pages of a bright yellow floral picture album. Pictures that give me a glimpse into who they were, and what they had.

A smile so broad it lights up the whole world, completely overshadowing the existence of anything or anyone else in the background. A hand holding a chin so lovingly it is as though that chin were made of the most fragile of porcelain, and could break with the slightest miscalculation. An embrace so filled with passion it is as though nobody in the history of the world had ever embraced before, or would ever embrace again.

In those pictures, those treasures from a past life, I see who they were – before I was born. Perhaps somewhere, some times, in spaces and moments my eyes are not witness to, they become those people again. Perhaps life has not taken it away, but has merely weathered it, making it a more durable love. A practical love. Perhaps one day I will understand and know.

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