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I am running. Both literally and metaphorically. It’s two minutes to time and it is raining heavily. I don’t want to be late, I hate being late so I jog faster letting my sweat mix freely with the rain drops. It doesn’t bother me; the rain that is. I let it flow on me like it would wash away all the grief within, perhaps then many more people wouldn’t mind the rain. Or me. I have been running away from my life too; wanting so desperately to detach myself from it. So that’s why I am here, knocking restlessly at my therapist’s door…This right here is not a love story. It is a story of love.

My therapist opens the door for me before settling on her king-size chair. She checks her watch and smiles. ‘Never late,’ she says. I smile back. ‘I’m proud,’ I chuckle.
‘How have you been since our last session?’ she asks, gesturing me to sit down at another king-sized chair opposite her.
‘Umm,not sure yet.’
‘Understandably, this is just the second session. Don’t worry we will work it through together.’
I nod lamely.
‘So I want us to pick up from where we left last time. You told me you’ve been running. You told me you’ve been struggling. Is that correct?’
‘So tell me, how would you describe your life in three words?’

The question catches me off guard. My life? In three words? That would be like measuring the ocean by one droplet. I stare into nothingness for a while, scratching my head.
‘I’d say…overwhelming…confusing…’
‘Aha and?’
I remain silent. How would I describe this third feeling. The one that bites you irregardless of whether it is 2 a.m. or 2 p.m. This feeling that makes one feel like they are drowning.
‘Yes sad. I think Sad is probably my real first name.’

She looks into my eyes. Are therapists psychic too? Or why else would she stare at me like she’s reading something from the veins behind my eye sockets?

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‘Alright let’s go back to the running. What are you running from?’
‘People, situations, connections…people mostly’
‘Why would you run away from people?’
I feel a burn and some wetness falling on my cheeks.
‘Because people leave. All the time. They come into your life and give you hope and make you a big part of their lives. They make you happy…so you invest on them. But I invest too much on them. Too much such that whenever one of them leaves, a part of me is gone forever…’

I stop to cry. She sits there silently, watching me in scrutiny. She hands me a tissue.
‘I’m listening,’ she reassures.
‘I think I’ve loved people more than they ever deserved and now…and now, I have nothing left within me. It is empty in here. And every time I make a new friendship, a new connection, a new acquaintance, I am already preparing my safe exit plan before they plan theirs. I’m being too cautious I can’t breathe freely. I am building high walls I can’t see the sunshine. I am running…from everyone and everything…”

I take another tissue and blow my nose. She is still quiet. I hope she is not pitying me. Then she interrupts my thoughts.
‘Do you think that is the way to live?’
‘I know its not…’
‘Have you perhaps thought of how many beautiful people, moments, events you are probably missing on by caging yourself in this darkness?’

The darkness is familiar. Sometimes it is the safe place you can always return to; that cage, that high wall.

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I am running. Both literally and metaphorically. This time it is on my way back home. It has stopped raining. I see my home ahead but I decide to take a corner. I let the sweat wet my shirt as I listen to my own heavy breathing. This is not a love story. It is a story of love given and never returned. Shared but never to last.

‘How were you ever going to be happy if you gave all the love within you and left nothing for yourself?’ she had asked me. And I remained silent because self-love was unrelatable. ‘You need to find yourself first. Love yourself first before anything or anyone else. It should be YOU first. Always.’

I let the words sink in. It gives me a good feeling. Makes me anticipate the next session. I stop on my tracks, bend down to hold my knees as I breathe. Running, the literal one, is not bad after all.

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You are the biggest project of your life, the most important project of your life and you, YOU are the best person to tackle this project. Wear that neat suit, put on your shades, clear the dust on your shoes, have your sketch plan ready. Spread it on your desk, have a cup of delicious coffee beside you and start working on it. Don’t turn around, don’t hesitate, don’t doubt; start and the rest will flow. Work on your goals, go for your dreams, explore your inner self and make this project the best project in your life. Because you; there is never going to be another amazing human YOU anywhere in the world.

Be the mechanic of your life. Tighten the bolts in your brain. Wipe away the grease in your heart. Mend what needs to be mended and add the spare parts that are needed.

Slice out the unnecessary traits in you like the way the best chef would slice out his meat. Decorate yourself with humility, with kindness, with patience like the way Master chef would decorate his plate, then add salt pinches of compassion to that like saltbae does.

Invest in yourself. My dear, invest in yourself because no one will ever invest in you like you would do to yourself. Invest in your time, in money, in love; especially love. Invest it all on yourself like you are the princess that was born today. Treat yourself, do what makes you happy and let that smile never disappear from your face.

Fix your body. Fix your health. Fix your lifestyle. Go for a walk or a run. Go to the gym. Go to the beach and let the breeze hit your face. Eat healthy. Workout. Do yoga. Find peace. Discover yourself. Find God.

Paint yourself like you are the best artwork that ever existed. Paint it like you are flawless. Let the brush strike swiftly, with so much love and passion for yourself. Let it standout in a room of art, in an exhibition; be the best piece of art ever.

You are the best project remember? If cake is what you understand the most, then mix those recipes of ambition, of faith, of hope, of dedication, of change…let then become the best mixture of you. Let you become the best cake ever. Add glitter to it. Glitter of prayer, of love, of realness.

Take a deep breath. Take a deep breath again. Feel the air get to your lungs. Feel yourself. Then let it go. Let it all go. The worry, the past, the negative thoughts, the sadness, the anger, the frustration, the helplessness. Yes it is not easy. Yes it will need consistency. Everything needs consistency. So start it now. Start by forgiving yourself for the past, for your helplessness, for your imperfections. Now start working on yourself. Scrutinize your actions, your thoughts, your words… Talk to God. Talk to God again and again and again. Never get tired. Dedicate yourself to yourself. Make YOU be the best YOU that could ever exist. And when you start, never stop. Never ever stop working on yourself!!

P.S here’s a new project for us all. I’m trying to collect short stories of kindness and/or of humanity. Tell me your story. Tell me how you once did something that made someone so happy and in turn made you happy. Tell me about the small thing you did, the help, the hand you gave, the difference you made however small it may have felt. Tell me of kind messages that restores someone’s hope or a surprise gift that made someone jump in joy. It’s the small actions of kindness I am looking for. On the other hand, you may have been on the receiving hand. The one who was helped when in dire need, the one who was granted a smile by a stranger, the one whose day got better after a small action of kindness. That story too; I need it. The aim of this project is to inspire people on small acts of kindness, the importance of it in our lives and how it impacts the people. So don’t hesitate to send me a piece. Plus, I will keep all stories as anonymous. Just short paragraphs 1 -3 at most, nothing too long. Just drop it at my inbox (My FB page: https://www.facebook.com/Strokes-of-my-pen-409229692610588/) anytime. In shaa Allah by next week if i’d have received enough i’ll post here in my blog.Let’s make a difference. Let’s be the difference


Photo Courtesy: Mc’Lopez

In a world where everyone believes they are a star, a legend and a hero, be rational enough to yourself. Accept yourself as you are; without exaggerating your own existence. Yes, you ARE special. Always remember that…but never forget that you are not any more special than anyone else. Don’t raise your nose and walk with arrogance, believing you are thee best; like no one is better than you.

Taking a hundred selfies, getting 200 or 1000 likes, having the most followers on snapchat and instagram does not define your self worth. Neither do these photos portray self love.

You only become a legend by creating a difference, by leaving footsteps in other people’s lives; by being yourself. Do not be a slave of society love and fame because if that’s what matters to you, do know your time of fame is quickly running out and someone else will soon be ‘thee new star’. For all that I’ve ever known, no star ever labeled themselves that name. They were recognized for their impact and their achievements and not by their show off. So don’t get ahead of yourself. If you believe you are a genius, then do know you are not the first one to exist nor will you be the last. The same thing with anything else that you are good at; be it sports, talent, academics…you name it!

Many people confuse egocentrism and narcissism as self love. And as much as the current world encourages people to love themselves, the whole idea of it shouldn’t get to your head. There lived so many legends who were not appreciated until their death while there lived people with immoral ideas yet they have been made our idols.

Times are quickly changing and most of us have been enchanted by what we see on social media; people sharing their naked photos, egoistic posts and underrating of everyone else in the name of self love. And sadly enough, we are made to believe that it is very okay to be narcissistic and to consider everyone below us. So whilst the villain also considers himself a hero in his own mind, be brave enough to balance your self esteem and self love without letting your ego take over your thoughts.

My idea of heroism has always been the same as what Ellen Goodman said: “I have never been especially impressed by the heroics of people convinced they are about to change the world. I am more awed by those who struggle to make one small difference.”

Always remember that what you do; the smallest bits of kindness and humbleness that you give to the world is what makes you rather extra-ordinary. So even when the whole world thinks you are a nobody, do know that for someone out there, you are their biggest hope and their light at the end of the tunnel.

I’ll end this by this remarkable quote that very clearly draws the picture and summarizes this whole article in a few words:
“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.” – Arthur Ashe

Keep leaving footsteps wherever you go!

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Many a times we are caught up in the storm of life and we get so much drenched by the fierce winds and the drizzling rain. We become depressed and feel lonely. Many a times we make sacrifices, we care for the wrong people, we belittle ourselves, we love other people and make them a priority more than ourselves and eventually forget our own existence; our own soul that needs to be fed with esteem, self realization and love.

 What keeps pulling us behind is the fact that we keep extending our hearts to love someone else more than ourselves. What could be more important than yourself? Isnt it time to give yourself a lifetime treat; time by yourself,  time to explore your mind and soul and your imagination. Time to discover yourself, to know what happiness really means to you, time to have a definite focus in life.

A really interesting programme  of cheerful and constructive thinking by the late Sibyl F. Partridge-as it appears in Dale Carnegie’s ‘How To Stop Worrying and Start Living’ is called ‘Just For Today’ and it goes as follows:

1. Just for today I will be happy. As Abraham Lincoln said ‘most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.’ Happiness is from within; it is not a matter of externals.

2. Just for today I will try to adjust myself to what is and not try to adjust everything to my own desires.

3. Just for today I will take care of my body. I will exercise it, care for it, nourish it, not abuse it nor neglect it so that it will be a perfect machine for my bidding.

4. Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.

5. Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways. I will do somebody a good turn and not get found out. I will do at least two things I don’t want to do-just for exercise.

6. Just for today I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress as becomingly as possible, talk low, act courteously, be liberal with praise, criticize not at all, nor find fault with anything and not try to regulate nor improve anyone.

7. Just for today I will live through this day only not to tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do things dor twelve hours that would appall me if I had to keep them up for a lifetime.

8. Just for today I will have a programme. I will write down what I expect to do every hour. I may not follow it exactly but I will have it. It will eliminate two pests; hurry and indecision.

9. Just for today I will have a quiet half hour all by myself and relax. In this half hour sometimes I will think of God so as to get a little more perspective into my life.

 10. Just for today I will be unafraid especially I will not be afraid to be happy, to enjoy what is beautiful, to love and to believe that those I love, love me.
To add one more important point is to make a healthy decision; Decide to yourself that just for today I am going to love me more than anything else in the world. Just for today I will not worry about my past or get anxious over the future. Just for today I will appreciate all the good memories and hard learnt lessons. Just for today I am going to ME.
So just for today, wear the biggest smile on your face irregardless of all your troubles and miseries. Just for today smile to your enemy, smile to your neighbour, smile to the kid playing across the street.  Just for today, have time by yourself. Put off your phone, go to a quiet place; could be the beach or holy place of worship, take a walk or rather go for a jog. Go for window shopping, treat yourself with an ice cream even if its your last coin; remember you deserve it. Try something new; something you have never done before, develop new hobbies, make the best use of your today and never worry of the morrow, drop a coin or two to the beggar you meet on the way and most importantly,  have time to thank God for all that you have. And always remember that self appreciation comes before anything or anyone else. So just for today, stand by the mirror and look at yourself and say loudly ‘Just for today I will love JUST me and I very well know that when tomorrow comes I will have a brand new ‘today’ to love none more than myself!’