I’m a huge advocate of shopping small when possible, every day, but especially during Small Business Saturday. If you’re not familiar with it, Small Business Saturday is an initiative by American Express, which has taken on a life of its own.
Every year, I try to highlight a few of my favorite Etsy shops and the women behind them. One of my favorite parts about Small Business Saturday is reminding everyone that shopping small can mean online, supporting Etsy shop owners who work hard at creating high quality, handcrafted goods with love. (If you’re a frugal shopper like me, I’d like to point out that Ebates now provides cashback for Etsy purchases as well. Right now, you can get 6% cashback on your Etsy purchases)
Over the past few years, I’ve been getting the same questions about Ramadan.
You can’t drink water?
Wait, how long do you have to fast?
Why is it during the summer?
I don’t talk about my faith often, but those around me know that this is my favorite time of the year. It’s been a long time since I’ve addressed questions about my personal observance of my religion. As you can imagine, these days, I’m mostly in defense mode when talking about anything related to Islam.
I’m not the perfect person, nor am I the perfect Muslim. Most days, I don’t feel enough. I hold my faith close to my heart because I truly believe it’s a personal connection that I shouldn’t have to justify to anyone.
But you guys, Ramadan is beautiful. Its observance is something that’s been a cornerstone of my life since I was ten years old.
Full disclosure: I’m not a religious scholar. I don’t have all of the answers. I can only talk about my personal experience and observance.
December is such a weird month for me. It’s always been full of new beginnings and sometimes, terrifying endings. I know that the holidays bring out a lot of emotions for everyone, no matter what’s going on in your life.
I’ve come a long way since I ran away to a new life when I packed my car and drove to Seattle four years ago. 21 years ago, my family and I made a similar journey when we moved from Turkey to the U.S.
At 31 years old, I’m finally feeling like I’ve got a good handle on life. I’ve got a solid career path, a group of friends I can finally trust to be there but also know when I need to be alone. I’m in a healthy relationship (we just passed the 9-month mark, what!). Most importantly, my baby brother and his girlfriend are now living in Seattle.
Life is good.
Life is emotional.
It’s the constant struggle, isn’t it – to feel sad even though you’ve got a lot of things right in your life? “Things could be worse,” we tell ourselves. I tell myself that all the time.
I also allow myself to feel the sadness and anxiety that comes up because they are part of who I am. I need to process feelings to understand where they come from, and maybe, help me become a better person.
That’s the beauty of being human. We can feel conflicting feelings all at once, defining who we are at a given moment by choosing to embrace the positive ones as the negative ones run their course.
I know I’m not alone in this.
We feel guilty at this time of year if we personally cannot live up to the standard to be ever-cheerful and happy and joyful. — Dr. Arthur Hayward, Kaiser Permanente
Whether you’re spending your holidays surrounded by family and friends, or not – remember that self-care doesn’t take a holiday. In fact, it’s more important than ever. What you’re going through matters, whether it’s good or sad. I want you to remember that too.
Here are a few tips for practicing self-care this holiday season.
Give yourself permission. To take a walk. To take a break. To be a bit selfish. To feel happy. To feel anxious. To feel – period.
Take your time. If you’re going home for the holidays, everything can feel rushed. You have to see everyone. You have to rush from house to house, event to event. Where and when you can, take a breather. Maybe spend a little extra time getting ready. Take the longer route from one house to the other. And yes, cancel on events if you’re feeling overwhelmed. You don’t have to be everywhere, all the time. (I know this applies more to social activities versus family obligations.)
Hydrate. No, seriously. Water. Don’t forget about it – especially between those glasses of wine at family functions.
Laugh. Even if it’s through tears sometimes.
Take a walk. Put on your coat (or light jacket), put away your phone, and take a walk around the neighborhood. Don’t forget to take deep breaths.
Indulge. Listen to your favorite songs. Put on your favorite holiday movie. Make your favorite treats.
Give up expectations. Nothing will be perfect. Something will always go wrong. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself (and others) and try to enjoy the moments.
Breathe. This is the most important one. No matter what, remember to breathe.
What are some ways you get through the holiday blues?
(I originally wrote this in December, 2011. These remain true for me today)
Around this time of year, the blogosphere is filled with reflections, resolutions, and everything in between. Over the last couple of years, I’ve come to learn a lot about myself but that’s because I didn’t leave my reflection to the end of the year.
I get the sentiment – a new year is peeking at us and we’re overwhelmed with this sense of renewal. For some of us, the new year can’t come soon enough. I’ve had those years myself, when everything associated with that year seemed like a bad dream.
Maybe it’s because I’m an “over-analytical bag of compassion” (as I’ve been called) but I tend to do my reflecting on a daily basis, so when December rolls around, it’s nothing new. Sure, I look back at my year and reflect a little but for the most part, I’m just ready for another day.
Because that’s how my life is – day by day. At times, it’s hour by hour, because I can’t predict anything anymore. The only thing I can do is reflect, try to figure out patterns and then find out what works for me.
Over the last few years, especially over the last two, I’ve nailed down a few truths about my life.
Blood does not family make. Blood makes you related to someone else. It’s the mutual love and respect you have for another human being that makes you family.
People in my past who treated me like shit and broke me gave me a chance to rebuild from the pieces. I may have jagged edges but the pieces are still me – just stronger, a little crooked but a whole lot wiser.
I will have bad days where I slip, whether it’s emotionally or literally as I hide out on my couch. The world outside will keep moving but I’m in control of the direction of my world.
My gut never steers me wrong. I just need to listen to it.
I think about death, way too often. Sometimes, it’s in irrational fear. Other times, it’s to reflect and remind myself that no matter how bad my day feels, I was alive today. Tomorrow isn’t promised.
I’m a hot mess. That’s never going to change.
When my best friend tells me that a situation is sucking the life out of me, I should probably take note. For her to tell me that means that it’s been gradually pulling me down for a while.
When I get super drunk, I cry. A lot. This is a fact of my life. Sometimes, I throw up. I’m working on the throwing up part. The crying will probably never go away.
I’m an emotional wreck of a human being. You don’t want to know the things that make me cry on a daily basis.
Those who I call my best friends, the ones who are family by my definition, won’t leave me hanging – no matter how I insecure I get. I can’t let my past pain color the good in my life today.
Life is hard. Words are hard.
I can’t ever stop writing.
My life is where I want it to be. I can stop sabotaging it now.
I will never fully fit in to my surroundings, but I didn’t come this far in my life by fitting in. I came by owning the fact that I’m an outsider and making shit happen for myself.
I could never be any kind of inspirational writer/coach/speaker/fill-in-the-blank. I don’t know how to actively inspire others. I just know how to live and share. Anything else, to me, feels fabricated. [This is not a commentary on anyone else. This is something that I came to learn about myself after joining a couple of group sessions, trying to writing ‘inspiration blogs’ etc.]
No matter how old I get, I will never be too old for the silly things that make me giggle.
These are my truths based on my life and experiences at 2 years old. In a year, I might add a couple of things, or nothing significant could happen to change it.
All I know is that I’ll be doing my reflecting quietly, without any kind of life lists, because that’s what works for me.
How about you? Are you the reflect and make resolutions type?
Do you have a life list?
Was 2013 a “Shit, I am so over it. Bring on 2014” kind of year?
“Would you have thought this moment would happen 2 years ago?”
As we stood in my room at my parents’ new place Saturday night, my insightful fiance asked me that question.
The answer is “No.”
Because we were staying the night at my parents’ for Father’s Day weekend. If you’ve known me for even 6 months, you know what a big deal this is. Hell, if you’ve had an overnight trip with your significant other for the first time with your/his/her parents, you know what a big deal this is.
So this was a big deal. (In case you missed it).
We drove up after Andrew got off work Saturday night & were up there around 11 pm. The surprise of the weekend wasn’t how awkward it was but how much Andrew fit in with my family. We sat around the table, teaching Andrew how to play Rummikub (Which is kind of a big deal in Turkey) and it was a peaceful sight.
Andrew fit in with my family*. In his own goofy way.
When I went to bed that night (In my own room while Andrew slept in my brother’s room because whoa, one step at a time people), I was at peace.
The next day, the dog ran away.
The little bugger figured out how to get out of her collar and ran away when she was supposed to be peeing. WHOOPS. If you’ve never seen a young Siberian Husky run, they run FAST. My bro & Dad looked for her on foot, and after a couple of minutes, Andrew & I decided to look for her with the car. It was my dad that found her but whoo, that was quite an adventure.
Never a dull moment with my family!
Then I found my old Spongebob visor from middle/high school, which I had to wear in the pictures we took at the end of the day before Andrew & I headed back. Those were the only pictures we took all weekend, which a shame because the Godfather card Andrew gave my dad for Father’s Day was epic.
Just like this first weekend with my family.
Maybe next time Andrew & I can sleep in the same room when we visit my parents.
Not the same bed of course, until after we get married.
How was your Father’s Day weekend?
*I did have a moment and thought about whether or not any of the men in my past would’ve fit in with my family like Andrew does. The answer is “No.”
I wanted to kick off my summer right but it wouldn’t be by the pool or BBQs. Oh no. I got my butt on the bus Saturday morning and headed to one of my favorite cities in the world: NYC. It would be a weekend full of relaxation, & bonding away from everything else (Including A, who worked all weekend. Poor baby.)
I was a little afraid though. When I went to NY last October, I fell in love. I was afraid the magic would be gone. That the comfort I felt back then was only because life was treating me awful and I wanted to get lost in the chaos of the city.
The second we crossed the Lincoln Tunnel, I knew that I was worried for no reason.
The same kind of relief I feel when the plane touches ground in Turkey washed over me.
I wanted to just relax on Saturday and was feeling a little blah after the bus ride (Which was full of a pee stink for 4 hours). Monica was headed to the beach and asked me “Are you sure you don’t want to come?”
No. I was not sure. To the beach we went!
It was my first time on the subway, and as we were waiting on the platform, I informed Monica of this.
“Get ready to run.” “OK. Wait. It’ll be that full?”
“Well, it won’t stop. The doors will open but it just slows down & you have to jump in.”
For a good 30 seconds I believed her because her face was so straight.
“Oh. You suck.”
We headed out to Coney Island & even though it was windy, laid on the beach for a couple of hours before walking around. Nathan’s hotdogs & cheese fries? Ice cream? Sailors in their cute uniforms?
The rest of the weekend was full of relaxation & laughter. On Sunday, I left Monica resting in the apartment while I went to meet up with 3 people I’ve known for over 6 years & haven’t yet met.
These women (and that one guy) have known me since I was 19. They’ve seen me hit rock bottom & grow and have been there through it all. (And yes, I met them blogging. Go figure.) I only got to see them for a half hour but it was so worth it.
All in all, it was an amazing weekend. Best part was that there was no partying. I was content just being in New York, walking around and taking in the city.
It was the best way to start my summer. The summer that’ll make up for the depression of last summer.
Next up: Chicago in July!
How was your Memorial Day weekend? What have you got planned for this summer?