Saturday, January 27, 2007

Spiritual Partnerships

I was skimming through the pages of “The Seat of the Soul” by Gary Sukav and had a few thoughts I wanted to share. Reading through the pages and understanding the concepts, I felt like someone had worded the essence of what I believe in when it comes to relationships. Let me share.

Two concepts marked me. Firstly, the idea of a SPIRTUAL PARTNERSHIP as a partnership between equals for the purpose of spiritual growth. This could be a husband, friends, colleagues and so on. The idea here is that you create these connections with others for the purpose of growing emotionally to become a healthy and wholesome being. Spiritual growth requires healing and overcoming those parts in our personalities that are based in fear (anger, jealousy, feelings of superiority/inferiority and unworthiness for instance). Fear of course, it the root of all evil.

The concept of spiritual partnership coincides to exactly what I am looking for in my friendships and inshaAllah in my future partner. I am not interested in the traditional model of marriage, which involves my husband providing for the family and me giving birth and raising our children. A model based on survival. I want something deeper. I want a relationship where we work together to reach deeper more purposeful goals – coming closer to Allah and to being the best person we each can be – independently yet together.

The second idea that he eloquently presented is the idea that every unexpected sorrow and pain is the OPPORTUNITY to grow spirituality. Pain as an opportunity. How interesting. When you think of it, as we are exposed to painful situations such as death, divorce, failure in business or school etc or even those difficult situations of others, we can react in one of two ways: become the victim or the creator. If we decide to be the latter, we can use these moments to learn about ourselves and grow in the most positive of ways, to learn how we are creating now and how we can CHOOSE to CREATE DIFFERENTLY.

Growth both spiritually and emotionally is very important to me. I find myself often reflecting and trying to understand why I react in certain ways and how I can perceive things in ways that are more constructive and better for my soul. Having said that, I am still a very strong realist and very well grounded (not a hippy I promise!) but I am constantly striving for betterment, for a stronger connection and closeness to my creator… In many ways the relationships I seek are with people looking for this same growth with an eye on the big picture of this life and a conscious knowledge of our mortality. And my partner… I hope he will support me in working towards spiritual growth with an attitude that will make us both enjoy the journey.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Welcome Y2k7!

Within a blink of an eye came 2007 - a whole new year packed with excitement and endless possibilities! I celebrated in Chicago this year, staying with my brother and his wife. I spent the evening babysitting my beautiful niece and nephew. I wonder how many other 24 year olds spent New Year's Eve lying on the floor with two children watching Dora's Halloween Adventures!

In Retrospect
It's funny to think that it was only one year ago that I officially moved to Canada from Switzerland for what I knew would be quite the adventure. On December 31st 2005, I had arrived in Montreal that night, and had a quick sushi bite with friends, a nice tea. I was in bed sleeping away in peace while the clock ticked into the new year and I embarked on a fresh beginning in my new home.

Moving to Canada, I set out looking for the community I have always lacked and that is what 2006 was all about and I am happy to say that the attempts were quite successful and set the groundwork for more to come... I met plenty of fabulous people this year from all walks of life and discovered many different personalities. Most importantly, I became more involved in the Islamic community and continued to explore my spirituality and my faith, which I treasure. 2006 was also a year of career discovery as I continue to search for my professional purpose! Moving through three different job positions, I feel much closer to knowing what I want to do. Consequently, I have finally made the confident decision not to go to law school and pursue a masters in business.

Looking Forward to 2007
If I had to choose a theme for 2007, it would be "stability". I want to find answers to all the questions that have been hanging up in the air for years... Going back for my MBA will help me really figure out what I want to do with my career and make myself more of an asset to the business world. There is so much to achieve and accomplish - I want to continue to race forward and challenge my capabilities. I want to strengthen my Islam... I want to overcome the emptiness I feel inside when it comes to Libya and stop feeling so torn and deformed... I want to get rid of this ache - that famous repetitive ache - that haunts me once every few months and begs me to return to my country and make it my own... and of course, I would love to meet a partner, someone compatible with my vision for the future and who shares similar desires so that we may merge our paths and move forward as one.

So much to discover and learn... and I truly look forward to what life will bring. InshaAllah kheir!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

My birthday yesterday.

Another September 27th past and I have lived through it now for the 24th year in a row - thank God. I am noticing I feel discomfort on my birthday and prefer it that few people even know about it at all. Strangely enough, I am usually a lot more emotional than on other days. I must have received approximately 20 phone calls but I answered maybe four of them. At home before bed, I listened to all the voicemails. I had a moment. It pains my heart that the people I love are all over - listening to the messages made me ache a little and I was very touched they remembered and took the time to call. It really doesn't take much to make me happy and bring such pleasure into my life. Another reason why I don't like my birthday: expectations. To me it seems egotistical to celebrate a day you are born but there are all these expectations that I should have plans and do something meaningful. Yet I hardly every do and usually brush it off when friends make suggestions to do so.. and funnily enough, when I do nothing, I feel frustrated!! Either way, I like discretion and am touched by the show of love by those I care about - in whatever form it comes. That is enough. I just wish people weren't so scattered and somehow I did not feel so torn.

My parents are complete jewels. My mother got me a birthday cake and when I arrived home from my sushi dinner with my close friend, she came out of the kitchen with a birthday cake with two candles (a 2 and a 4) with my dad singing away. Surprise. I tried not to cry but was so touched and felt a little guilty that I did not eat dinner with them. How blessed I am. It is a feeling of quiet joy and appreciation. Thank God for all I have and I hope others are able to experience a similar warmth and emotion derived from the love of others. Alhamdullah ya rab.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Why can't we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together? I guess that wouldn't work. Someone would leave. Someone always leaves. Then we would have to say goodbye. I hate goodbyes. I know what I need. I need more hellos.

Apparently, abandonment the first fear that each of us experience as an infant. As such, it is the primal fear. I am reading into it...

"The abandonment wound deepens with each new experience - a loss, a disconnection or a disappointment."

Geneva, the city of diplomacy. Friends would come and go every four years. Summers in Libya. Family would rotate, new cousins discovered, old ones lost, family fights, people disappearing in and out. No consistency, except for the house. The youngest of five, they all left the house.. one by one.. until I was 17 and I was alone at home.

"Abandonment is similar to other types of bereavement, but its grief is complicated by rejection and betrayal."

I have become overly self-sufficient. I tend to keep people at a distance and only let a select few get close. Even those few are either in different continents, far away, or we only see each other a few times a week at most. Distance is always there. I suppose it is comfortable. No one overly close. Not a strong possibility of disappointment or pain. It scares me sometimes.

Have you ever been in a crowd of 20 people you adore.. or received 30 phone calls in one day.. and still feel lonely? Worst still, have you ever come close to being loved, and pushed it away? Does it make sense that you would push something away that you quietly yearn for? And yet, you seem to have no control over it.. as though the self-defense mechanisms are operating on their own.. and you have absolutely no say in the matter.

Have I become the abandoner?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

I quit my job.

After nine months of working at my IT company, I handed in my resignation on Thursday. My last day is on August 31st. I can not describe the feeling, it feels like I just got out of a suffocating, highly stressful and hopeless relationship and now feel like I have the world and many fish in the sea for me to explore!!!

From the second month, I knew. I just knew. But I did not give importance to all the warning signs. Wanting to commit and grow within a job, I gave it a try - exhausted all my communications skills not to mention my self-control (not to shoot anyone, that is). My job was toxic - I do not think I have ever felt so overworked and undervalued. Although my position was good and the work was interesting, when you have it coming in all directions while you are already struggling to keep up and then your boss keeps demanding more work with better results - you just know either its time to quit or rip your hair out and explode. So I decided to quit. :)

What's next? I have a few plans... Among them are intensive business French courses (I realize that my European French is often incomprehensible here - strange Quebecors!), studying for University entrance examinations, a few freelance projects, community projects (Hana I will get on that article!), my Islamic centre and hopefully some travelling before Ramadan (finally I get to see NY!!!). I am excited and although I really am not enjoying this destabilizing stage of life with so many question marks in the air - I feel like I am getting closer to knowing what I want through a great process of elimination. My job, I definitely did NOT want!

I'm excited to see what is next... Rolling up my sleeves... BRING IT ON!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Writing My Own Script

A few months ago I was approached by a lovely Libyan lady who knew me in the past.. right in the middle of all the confusion. She asked me to write about myself, to share my conflict and the trouble I had growing up in conflicting worlds... and to describe the synthesis I have become.

At first, I was nervous not only to share something so personal but to actually delve into it and put words on the emotions. And for a moment, I wondered if I would be misunderstood... but that is beyond my control, so the least I could do was just try. Writing the article was quite a liberating experience and touching as well. From when I first started writing in this blog and now to the article on Tibra by extension - I have been contacted by Libyans (mostly ladies with a similar struggle) who have been reaching out to share their own stories... in hopes of finding a kindred spirit. And, I am here.

I feel blessed. How ironic to have these experiences now, when I feel I need them less than I did when I was a confused adolescent exploring on my own. The more people I meet the more I realize that many people have had the same experiences - Libyan or otherwise - and that globalization has truly affected each and every one of us in such a deep way, especially as we were growing up and trying to make sense of the world.

What a pleasure to have met you all.. and H. thank you very much for bringing out my words and allowing me to express them in such an unashamed way.

I invite you to read my story.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Feeling suffocated...

Montreal is amazing in the summer. Yesterday was Canada Day, plus there is the Jazz Festival going on right now and on top of that we have the World Cup games! Being new in Canada, I was all set to explore Canada Day yesterday with all the fireworks, parade and concerts. I mentioned to my parents that they should come but they declined - too crowded and too noisy, they said. So I made plans of my own. I went to a friend's house for dinner and after that gathered some friends and headed to the old port. The concert was beginning at 9:30pm and the fireworks at 10:30. Hmmm.. this is usually far beyond when I was usually home so I called and let my mother know. She was not happy. I told her grandparents were out, mothers, children, huge families, everyone was out there anticipating the beautiful sky displays and enjoying the music. And I was adamant to enjoy it - my first Canada Day!

Needless to say, this morning I got the cold treatment. How dare I come home so late? It is a continuous struggle with the parents who live a completely isolated life, enjoying their daily tasks mainly within the confines of our home. Whereas I am so full of life, I want to experience everything and anything and never ever have I compromised my Muslim values and overstepped my boundaries. And yet, I still get the comments that I am excessive and out too much "like a boy" because I like to integrate into this world and see what it has to offer, and my parents sit afraid and isolated at home. I wish I had sisters or brothers who were here with me and can enjoy with me while my parents' hearts are at rest, but I don't. So what am I to do? I refuse to just lock myself in my room and let life pass me by... But at the same time, I never enjoy myself when I go out beyond a certain time because my watch begins to haunt me... Looking back now, I wonder - where the fireworks really worth it? The only difference between going and staying in my room was that I had the momentary pleasure of being there amongst hundreds of thousands of Montrealers celebrating a great evening - but this morning, the feeling is pretty much the same as if I wouldn't have gone out at all.

Sitting here right now, I feel like I do not deserve this. I feel punished for being from colliding worlds and having strings pulling me in different directions. My parents' fear suffocates me. And in reality, I really am a daughter they should be proud of - never been wild, never done anything "wrong", always the responsible one in the group - but nonetheless, they complain because I want to be out experiencing the world whereas for them, good girls stay home past dark. So I guess I am not a good girl.

***I do love my parents very much and I am certainly a good girl, this was just written in a moment of frustration. :)