I’ve begun something new in my life,

I’ve decided to add more value to it.

All aspects.

I want more, more laughs, more love, best friends, &  I couldn’t think of any better way to make that happen then to become closer to culture, religion.

The Islamic Society of Corona-Norco presented Mufti Asim Rasheed’s discussion on Handling Stress & Depression (According to the Quran) & I was lucky enough to be a member of that evening.

The discussion went into detail about how our belief system helps guide you in times of disbelief or doubt and here are just some things that I took from that evening;

The Quran has many remedies within it, in this sense it’s a cure for the weakness of ones Iman (one’s faith).

  • Our emotions are prone to interpretation – we as people create a judgement based off of our emotional being and act upon them.
  • To be in control of your mind & actions – know that we’re in control of our emotional states.
  • Make the decision to disempower the negative emotions – emotions are signals, understand what they are & use them to create a positive outcome.

I’ve always know that depression isn’t the same as sadness, but I learned that the defining elemental differences between them is that sorrow has a cause.

  • Depression is difficult to pinpoint, an overwhelming blanket that may be encompassing .

Imam Rasheed shared questions to ask yourself to distinguish whether you might be depressed or simply feeling sadness. Those were :

  1. Can you enjoy life? – With depression life can feel impossible. Doing everyday things you once enjoyed may not be enough to resurface you.
  2. Is there a specific reason you’re upset? Is the intensity at the appropriate degree? – For example, if your friend doesn’t answer a phone call & it throws you down an emotional whirlwind. There’s something not right there.  If there is not a pinpointed reason it may be depression.
  3. Are you sleeping, eating well? – Sleep is incredibly important. 6-7 hours, it surprisingly affects women mentally & physically more than men. Our bodies need to have certain vitamins &  minerals – because lacking essential nutrients can allow our bodies to deteriorate.
  4. Are you constantly criticizing yourself?Within depression, you stop believing in yourself & your abilities. Small mistakes are blown out of proportion.
  5. Lastly, have you ever considered harming yourself, or ending your life? – This is a huge sign for you to seek professional help. Ending your life is not the answer, there’s always help out there. Trust in that.

I think that the most important and interesting thing that I learned is that, the opposite of depression is not happiness.

Depression cannot be cured by giving things that make you happy because you are not quite ready to be happy.

The opposite of depression is VITALITY – the ability to live life to the fullest.

So then we asked what can we do to BOOST our mood?

  • Meditation within Salaat – By putting your mind on something healthy (such as God & his mightiness) & taking it off the worries  & detaching from material things we can achieve some inner peace.
  • Quran – When we contemplate the meanings, when we read words of the Holy book we are in the highest forms of reward, To my surprise hundreds of verses in the Quran are about consoling the Prophet in his times of need. So when we need help within ours, where else would we go?
  • Repetition here but sleep and eating habits are extremely important to monitor.
    • “When you realize that you’re being comforted by God, when you realize that the book is also created for you, that is a beautiful comfort.”
    • Imam Rasheed insisted that when you enforce a schedule within your lifestyle for your faith it’ll never be forgotten.

Sharing your worries with God, he becomes your friend. in this new relationship you’ll hope to find ease & contentment. Pulling yourself out of sadness & out of depression.

After the session on depression closed we had some time to think about what it all meant. Honestly in that moment it made so much sense to me, how simply it had been put. I have NEVER felt such clarity. So, I thank Imam Rasheed.

I felt refreshed.

& then we began the debate on Stress, which if you continue this journey with me was just as eye opening.

Stress is the worry of the problem,  aside from the problems at hand.

Daily stresses add up to what creates the worry we naturally run from; simple solutions may help with the preparation and intent of your day to day.

What this means is that – Routine alleviates avoidable stress! It allows you to create better habits for yourself. Multitasking should not be glorified, no one has ever done two things to the best of their ability at the same time. There will always be chaos and spontaneity in the world from time to time but when most can be planned you WILL have the time to deal with the chaos that ensues.

We quickly touched on sleep & the best way for your body to be stress free during it; the best night of sleep you can get should include:

  • at least 6 – 7 hours of it!
  • no lights, whatsoever
  • no sounds
  • & lastly, no electromagnetic waves

Our bodies have a frequency that it regulates on and electromagnetic waves disrupt the renewal or rejuvenation of said frequency that’s supposed to be happening during sleep! Anything electronic gives off these waves, so in return while you’re sleeping you shouldn’t have any of these devices on within 10 feet or you.

I  know, it sounds impossible. But there are always subtle adjustments to be made in order to better our lives.

Stress & depression can effect the body in numerous ways – but we have our faith as a line of defense, something to hold us together in times of need. it’s beautiful to feel it piece together & to feel clarity within a difficult time.

I hope this helps you guys out there, the same way it’s helped me.

My battles,

So here I am, about to get real personal with you.

As deep as it gets, well just about.

Vitiligo is a skin thing. A disease is what the doctors call it. Causing the loss of skin pigmentation. You lose your skin color. Covering your body at an unpredictable extent and rate, the cells that produce your skin pigmentation either die or stop doing what they should.

Well, I have it.

In my opinion to be a woman with Vitiligo is to lose [quite a bit of] confidence, to question your beauty continuously, your worth in societal views, but also to learn to appreciate the control and permanence that life allots you.  

It gives a whole new meaning to being comfortable in one’s own skin.

I believe Mary Pipher explains it best here, “Something dramatic happens to girls in early adolescence. Just as planes and ships disappear mysteriously into the Bermuda Triangle, so do the selves of girls go down in groves.”

The relationship with our body is the most intimate we’ll ever have. It’s the headquarters for our fears and anxieties, because of this it’s where most of our issues stem from.

 Throughout our life we yearn to connect, to belong. We learn how to obtain this feeling and when we do, we feel somewhat accomplished, it feels right.  The security of ourselves and those around us, becomes a safe haven.

Comfort is explained as the easing or alleviation of a person’s feelings of grief or distress. The questioning of any of those “safety nets” can cause a person to lose trust or comfort in even the most basic faculties of life.

And to anyone that has ever felt the loss of comfort or the loss of their foundation, I commend you on working your way back up. As an individual that is continuously working on her confidence and to stand on her own, I know how difficult that may be.

Vitiligo is my battle.

My continual battle with my body, mind and to be quite honest my trust within the world. I hope that all of you out there fighting your own battles feel the need to push forward every day, as I do my best to do.

Just know, I’m here for you as I hope all of you are for me.

The View From Up Top

Day Four: Seven individuals in one frozen cabin room wasn’t exactly what I was expecting when I pictured the “cabin life”. It turns out the heater was placed behind our luggage that we piled up and until we woke the next morning we had no idea it existed. I have never felt so cold- cuddled up under a hoodie and two blankets I still could not feel my face. But it was definitely something I’ll never forget.

Pushing past the frozen tundra that was our cabin, us girls readied for our long day ahead. The morning light was unlike something I had ever seen – I found myself basking in the view that was just beyond our cabins four walls. Pictures will never capture what I truly saw that morning.

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The world had become brighter. Walking through the Bright Angel trail was awe inspiring. I was lost in the new world that I had found. Have you ever seen something so spectacular that you could never imagine something more beautiful?

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After our hike, the day was eventually filled with another extensive car ride to the other rim of the Grand Canyon, with a map and fifteen ladies that could not read it. We were headed there to meet and pick up the men of our group that ventured out before dawn to hike Rim to Rim.

This trip was filled with moments that I know will last a lifetime. I bonded with some of my family members in ways that I did not know was possible. I laughed uncontrollably. I too in beautiful absolutely breathtaking landscapes. I feel blessed to have been able to experience something so incredible.

The best part was that it wasn’t over. There was a whole evening to attend to, a whole other day to experience.

All I have to say is, travel. Go far. However you have to get there, do it. It will change you, it will humble you.
Where in the world would you venture towards? Who are the individuals you’d want with you most?

The Longest Haul.

Day Two: Have you ever been more tired when you woke than when you slept? This is how I felt waking up in our hotel room at seven-thirty in the morning. My parents already fiddling around in their bags to get their day started. When you have four people that are used to having their own space and put them into one room, it gets quite interesting! Go give it a try, I dare ya! Then tell me all about it 🙂

Our Vegas stop was specifically to pick up a friend of ours and his in-laws from the airport. As I was finishing up my morning routine, last to finish I might add. We heard a familiar knock, and who was it? Our friend of course! Surprising us bright and early. Landing early he decided to take a cab and meet us at the hotel himself. I have never been in such a rush to get ready as I burst through the door to engage in the group hugs and giggles that awaited.

Finally having everyone together we piled the cars even higher with luggage, rearranged our passengers and were on our way! It being Friday, we wanted to pray Jummah prayers together. If we were to make it to the Mosque we needed to bolt there, and that we did! Did I mention it was in Arizona, with a time change and two hours away? This part of our day was incredibly important to us- we didn’t want our travel plans to interfere with our schedule of prayers. I consider myself to be religious. I am in no way perfect, but I think as long as I do my best that is what matters most 🙂

Prayers finished and stomachs were -a- rumbling. Unpacking half of two cars to reach the food beneath we stuffed our bellies until we were content. With less than four hours till our final destination everyone was anxious to catch even a glimpse of the vastness that awaited us at the Grand Canyon.

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The next four hours were filled with snores and lulled music as we slept off our full bellies. I woke to my fathers voice. We were almost there. Finally in view of road signs that directed our paths. Waking up my family around me as we parked and held in the urge to jump from the moving car. Stretching our legs and taking in the views even from the parking lot were breathtaking. It was finally time for real adventure.

Ready, Set, Go!

Day One: As preparations went on for the trip to the Grand Canyon, I readied my bags and equipped myself with all the essentials for the long haul ahead. The rest of the group did the same- Have I mentioned there were almost thirty of us? [Have you ever attempted to stick to a schedule with eighteen adults,  five adolescents, and three children?

Let me tell you it was incredibly difficult, almost impossible. What you haven’t learned about me is that I love the impossible. It’s okay, I forgive you

I felt surprisingly prepared for the drive, stocked the car with our bags along with the filled coolers of prepared food for the few days away. [Then came the snacks. Anything you could think of really; Chips, sandwiches, cookies, muffins, juice, peanuts, soda, and plenty of water.]

Managing to close the trunks was another story entirely!

Four cars at the ready, four hours to go on the road ahead – piled high with belongings, bodies filled in each available gap and we were on our way! With so many people joining in the stops were also planned- we were to stop off in Vegas for the night.

Stumbling into our hotel rooms past midnight a handful of us decided to walk the strip and see the sights- being as exhausted as we were it didn’t turn out to be the best idea. Twelve cranky an irritated individuals walked as long as we could. Stumbled back near three in the morning and I’m sure we all crashed.

Have you been to The Paris Hotel? Pretty unique hotel with beautiful chandeliers, a sky painted ceiling and incredibly comfy beds where I spent all of five hours sleeping to rest up for the next day of traveling!

What are some of your favorite places in Vegas?

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Road Trips

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Road tripping-On a wide scale it has its perks and its drawbacks.

Traveling with my family I’ve run into all sorts of obstacles. I have dealt with becoming beyond lost down the many highways of Oklahoma. Disagreeing over restaurants in the middle of Istanbul Turkey and even cranky children on a nine hour adventure toward New Jersey. I was left feeling anxious and uninterested in future endeavors. From these varied experiences I have found myself searching for ways to ease the grievances that road trips tack on so easily.

Every day, people of all sorts venture out to a new destination with their significant others or families in attempt to gain experience through culture. It’s what people do! People go on adventures, they are naturally spontaneous, all the while making new and long-lasting memories. 
Being the person that has once dreaded family road trips- I’d like to share with you some ways to construct the best environment to ease yourself onto your new adventure.

When planning your trip, safety comes first! – now before driving away it’s always a great idea to do a full systems check; tire pressure, oil, windshield wipers, antifreeze, and transmission fluid. the works. Go all out! Nothing ruins a trip more than never getting there!

Remember to keep a planned route but avoid from over planning a rigid one. Plan to drive at most eight to nine hours. This will allow for spontaneity and adventure for all the wandering your heart desires. Keep in mind, no one likes a “Negative Nancy!”

WOO

Packing! Whether you know your end destination or not pack for multiple weathers and occasions. You never know what awaits you on your trip- be prepared and grounded but realistic. If you know there’s no way it’ll snow there ‘s no need for that coat!

Wardrobe- wise, being comfortable on the drive is your best bet. Sitting for long periods of time is almost begging for comfort! Cotton and jersey blends are great options. It makes it much easier to create “no fuss” outfits when you’re prepared.

To maximize your trunk and feet space use dufflebags that can mold and wedge around your other belongings. If traveling with kids- try consolidating all the clothes into one bag so that the load is lighter. A lighter load means a lighter car means a smoother ride with less stops by the gas station!

Snacks, snacks, & more snacks- Here’s a warning sign! You will get HUNGRY! Think about what snacks you like. Sweet, salty, savory- a variety if the trip is lengthy. When it’s time to stop and finally have a real meal don’t rely on the internet. Stop and ask some locals- they always know best! And when it comes to food, I’ve certainly found it is a “variety” that makes the heart grow fonder.

Road trips are what you make of them. I’ve learned how to make the best of them by personalizing each aspect of my trip most times depending on the destination- this time the Grand Canyon awaits me! Where will your next adventure take you?
Good luck on all your future travels!