Our Mother, Amman

By The amphitheater, downtown, Amman, Jordan.

A grass design that says ‘Our Mother, Amman’ with the Jordanian flag on the back left corner, and a street swiper, swiping the dust at the front right corner.

This photograph speaks to me a thousand words.

Without him, what will this image look like? Does he know the worth of his contribution? Or does he see this side of his image in my photograph? How much contribution do we need to do for his self-realization?

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How Changing One Thing In Our Routine, Can Lighten Us Up.

Yesterday I posted on my instagram asking people what they do first thing in the morning.

The answers I got were mostly the usual things of opening our eyes, looking at our phones, heading for a shower. One different answer was, doing 3 yoga poses in bed which I thought must be a really good thing to try and do (if you are interested in yoga).

I sometimes feel it is always good to give our routine a change, an upbeat, something a little more ordinary to add on something new to our day, to our minds, and our attitude to life.

Some ideas I can throw in here are; watering your plants, doing a little prayer, kissing your loved awake or still asleep, meditating, or writing your morning pages.

Writing Morning Pages was my answer on my instagram in response to my question. It has been introduced to me a few years ago first, through a leadership camping training in Switzerland and second, in my writing group club in Amman. The former was used as a method to reflect and write at any time of the day on an empty page without thinking, just writing, letting all our feelings go into writing. And the later was taken from the book ‘The Artist Way’ and is done first thing in the morning, every day, religiously. It is a method to clear our minds and set our attitude positively to our day by using positive affirmations, positive thoughts, and goals.

Nothing is necessary for writing our Morning Pages, nothing is right or wrong, and no one needs to read them. They can be private or can be torn apart if it makes you feel more comfortable, but the idea is to write everything down every morning, first thing in the morning. Let it all out on empty pages. It is a great new start of the day.

They helped me make new self-realization, reflection, understand feelings, hidden thoughts, aspirations, dreams, neglect, it is just a very great way to understand oneself better, put what is unimportant aside on the pages, and put what we wish to attain from self-motivation on paper to remind us of our basic goals and dreams. Be gentle to my self, today, be gentle to everyone I encounter, smile, be graceful, walk with grace, speak with grace, listen with grace, give, with no expectations, no judgments, live, freely, loudly, happily, share, your dreams, and your love, be generous to yourself and to others… and this is how it goes.

I hope this blog post helps us live more positive. If you do have your own tip to share for a morning ritual, please comment and share.

Book Review: Struggle & Survival in Palestine/Israel

‘Struggle and Survival in Palestine/Israel’ book is an incredible read by all means, I actually can not wait to start reading it all over again and copy out the quotes that I found to be informatively mind changing.

For those of you who wish to lean about the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, and for those who know enough but wish to learn more ethnographic stories collected from pre Ottoman to the recent situation, this book is highly recommended. It is a collection of stories/essays about individuals who set an example of many who follow, be it Palestinian or Jewish, the authors are mostly scholars, anthropologists and specialized in the Israeli Palestinian conflict as well as Middle Eastern studies and they bring together a wide perspective juxtaposed to form a some kind of 360 historic view upon the situation. Israelis who were immigrants and how their immigration reflects upon them and how it slowly translates into their recent development into different ideologies and perception, sided with vis versa stories of Palestinians and their evacuation making them refugees or revolutionists or with shattered identities. This book is massive explosion of information, and what I love mostly about it is the diversity in its selection to collect stories that include the refugee, holocaust survivor, the zionist understanding in different perspectives from murder fanatics to just lovers of the land, the person behind Rabin’s assassination and the Leftist who bought a Palestinian home to the humanitarian who joins Palestinian protests and revolutionists, while stories of the Palestinians include, the modernists, the educated, the farmer, the refugee, the suicide bomber, and the activist. The book ends with the tragedy of the present day, the ongoing injustice and blind folded Zionists who continue to make this reality and long living tragedy.

On May 15 the world all together will remember the Nakba; marking 70 years this year for the 700,000 Palestinian made refugees who have become today around 7,000,000 stateless, homeless, with minimal to no human rights and we still continue to live recognizing the state of Israel who happen to be the reason behind this catastrophe.

This book, helps us understand a better picture of the conflict, a sided view of understandings, and a to understand the stories in this book is a step closer to a more free humanity.

From the book:

Page 93: ‘From then on, Yizhar seemed to have lost his naive faith in the wisdom and sound judgment of political leaders… Page 95: There seems to be no doubt as to his innocence, and the storyteller hopes his commander will let the man go, yet ‘security’ has the upper hand, and at the end of the day the shepherd is taken away. There is no big drama in the stories; they are but a glimpse into the reflections of a single soldier who sees things differently.

Page 117: ‘Canaan’s biographers underline his nationalism and the connection between his ethnography and his political involvement during the mandate, linking his interest in popular culture with a desire to defend Palestine against the political, demographic, and cultural challenge of Zionism.’

Page 145: ‘Abul Rahim became aware at a still young age of the danger the Zionist project in Palestine and the British Mandate’s commitment to support it. Jewish colonies were built on the coastal plains not far from his lands. He saw peasants evicted from sold lands becoming homeless and unskilled laborers in towns.’

Page 166: ‘In American Hillel discovered that nations were in fact political and civiv entities rather than organic cultural communities, as they were understood to be in Eastern Europe and Palestine; one could, for example, be both American and Jewish without the one identity threatening the other. For Hillel, distinguishing between Jewish as a religious adulation and Hebrew as national affiliation both reflected reality and provided solution to the problem of dual loyalty. The Jews in America were Jewish by religion and American by nationality. In Palestine, they were Jewish by religion and Hebrew by Nationality. The tragedy of European Jewry was that they were denied the liberty of choosing their nationality and were frequently not accepted into the body politics. The entire raison d’etre of Zionism became cleat to Hillel: to grant this freedom of choice to Jews.’

Page 193: ‘Walid told us what had happened to him. We knew that he had fled his village as a boy in 1948 amid the chaps and dear and found himself alone in Lebanon. He thought his family had preceded him there, but instead they had hidden in the mountains and returned to their village after the fighting stopped, becoming citizens of the Israeli state… Page 194: ‘In keeping with his greater life philosophy, his struggle for him as a Palestinian was about positive change, redemption, and humanity.’

Page 234: ‘My mother came running from the kitchen to find an Israeli army unit handcuffing her children and dragging them into the street. The event was customary. Soldiers often stormed into homes people’s homes and broke the arms and legs of men and boys so as to send a stern message to the rest of the neighborhood that they would receive the same fate if they continued with their intifada.’

Page 302: ‘Israeli advertisements for homes in Abu Tur and other formerly Palestinian neighborhoods of West Jerusalem henceforth employed this tern as a means to identifying the value of the property in question: “authentic Arab-style house in Baka… with original tiled floors and high ceilings”; “superb Arab house completely refinished in the heart of New Tzedek”; “Arab house for sale in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem… with lots of arches.”…Page 393 ‘I just want to make a Zionist statement before I go on, in terms of living in an Arabic house. This did not bother me in the slightest. I mean, if it had bothered me, I wouldn’t have made aliya. And because we had contact with the Kurdish family who lived here before us, I actually associate the house more with their period than with the previous Arab owners, none of whom I had any contact with. This isn’t to say that I am not interested in the history of this house, the question of why there was a cistern underneath the property, and so on. As an archeologist and ancient historian, I’n very interested. But politically speaking, it’s not a problem for me.’

*Aliya in the above context mean immigration to the State of Israel

Our Beauty

The perfect place for coffee time… or journal writing, book reading, self reflecting, listening to a podcast or favorite music, this place is the perfect place for good time, for inner time, for culture time. Take a dear person, show them around what really is ours, our culture, our history, our art, our ambiance. This is the meaning of true beauty, not trying to hard to be someone other than the self, but trying enough to be the best self.

Spring in Webdeh

What about closing out the outside world,

What about staying inside your own being exploring your own ventures,

What about not giving a f and listening to your inner sound,

What about being sure your not missing out and instead you explore the movements within you,

What about you ignore it all and just give yourself the chance to explore your being,

Create some art, your kinda art, the art that is just different from anything else, and guess what, it is only art when it does not necessarily make the same sense to everyone else…

What is inside you let it outside,

Make it your outside world,

Make it what you have been missing out on instead,

Make your own art your life.

A book of faith…

I was so happy to see the Quran displayed for people to look through at The Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding, not because it is the Quran per say but because of the fact that I believe religions in general have been misunderstood. We make of them what we want, we look at them from different perspectives, and rigidity in such is what brings much complications. But how the Quran were displayed was a welcoming way to retell us what it really is; a book of faith, that its goal is not to divide but to unite, is not to differentiate and separate but to guide us to love and accept. Just because I am Muslim and I choose to read the Quran, it does not make me any less of a Christian or a Buddhist. They all call for one God and for one Love. If I choose to go with one it should not mean I have abandoned the other, I instead chose to respect them all and accept them all. I am not deviant if I choose to read the Bible or visit the Synagogue. I believe they are all books of faiths and homes to connect with the higher power. All temples that are respected and that we feel we can spiritually connect with should not be or seen otherwise. Or thats just me. But thats how I feel when I see books that call for faith. I see love. And when we try to facilitate them to encourage us to love, then they suddenly shine upon the world.

The Blue Sweater for March – Book Review

So I went ahead with the Blue Sweater book for the month of March. It has been dragged along with me everywhere for the past year waiting for the moment I decide to go for it. It is an intriguing book telling the story of the founder of Acumen Fund, an organization established focusing on finding solutions to poverty. They attract investors who are philanthropists to invest into entrepreneurs who are bringing sustainable solutions to big problems of poverty.

The book tells you the story of how Acumen was born by the founder herself. It starts with a compelling story of finding her own blue sweater that she has given away for charity worn by a kid in Africa. And using this as the beginning of her story intrigued me. Few pages down the book I was getting a little bored and started flipping until I reached half way and read:

“I’m supposed to be an anthropologist, so what am I doing studying vector analysis and the Black-Scholes theory?

He reminded me that I’d come to learn the skills I needed to change the world- at least that was my mantra. The developing world needed management skills. It needed people who knew how to start and build companies, not just people with good intentions. It was growing clear to me that those who sought power and money made the rules; yet power alone could corrupt and corrode. “Power without love,” Martin Luther King Jr. said in one of his last speeches, “is reckless and abusive,” and, he continued, “love without power is sentimental and anemic.”

This passage is what made me want to finish the book reading and not skimming. For to be an anthropologist one needs to be concerned with the other as an equal human being, and to have a goal or a mantra to change the world, that I resonate with as cliche as it may sound. So how did Jacqueline Novogratz the author of the book The Blue Sweater (bridging the gap between rich and poor in an interconnected world) make it happen starts only after half the book has been read.

The first half is also of importance as to how she has reached the second half. But personally I felt it was too long. I only was excited about the second half. It discussed her experience with the aftermath of the genocide that took part in Rwanda. How she forged an understanding to how silence can feel criminal. It is an interesting book that explores how the need to help others overcome their difficulties, enable them to find the way to secure their basic needs turned from an empathetic approach to a business oriented approach generating millions in number to serve the world to become a better place.

She also tries to bring to the readers attention the power of listening and how that can strengthen relationships and foster abundant joy. Which I find to be also important to share, for listening I have myself come to learn is a work in progress. And in many situations where we ignore the power of listening, listening can actually be the source of making a difference in the present moment.

“Just start. Don’t wait for perfection. Just start and let the work teach you.” Is how Jacqueline was able to succeed, and it is how I was able to make it work once. But it is easier said than done. For to start something new requires goal setting, more like goal specification. And it does not necessarily require a full goal drawn, but a clear step visualized before approaching, a step that can latter take you to many steps, and the most important factor here is to imagine yourself not five years down the line, but twenty and forty and even after your death, where will what you plan to do be, take the world, the people, where will it leave them, influence them, inspire them? Those questions might make a difference before starting, but starting should not be disabled just by being afraid of imperfection. As I agree with the quote in the book that imperfection is only perfected through practice.

After all, the book is a great read for all those who plan or are in the process of starting something humanitarian or not, for having a humanitarian approach in everything we do, can be life changing for many. And to start somewhere even if that is nowhere close to where you see yourself is still considered a good start. Jacqueline started in the finance world when she knew she wanted to be in the humanitarian world, and through banking she learnt how to bring it to benefit the poor through micro-finance, philanthropy and investment. And as she started small, she made many mistakes that are only human mistakes and one can only learn to grow and to form bigger ideas only through living the full journey. Allow yourself to try and fall as many times as you need to, and in the end something bigger than all those that have fallen will take place. And if you have failed enough, than that bigger thing might over live you. And to the world the benefits can be infinite.

I recommend this book.