Monday, December 29, 2014

You, Me and Gibran—All Together

Another year has gone by. I would like to say it was a wonderful year, full of nothing but blue skies and sunshine, joy and laughter. In fact, 2014 was loaded with both good and bad events. But the fact that I am now sitting at the keyboard writing this post is evidence that I have survived my problems—at least most of them! 

You may already know how passionate I am about paintings and quotations. As I have some free time today, I intend to float with you through a few of my favorites. I have chosen Khalil Gibran's quotes because, as is the case with many of you, I feel that I have plenty in common with him! Like him, I have moved away from my country of birth and lived abroad, and I have known the feeling of being not from either the East or the West; rather I am a placeless human. If this prevents me from having a sense of being rooted in one spot, I savor the perspective it has given me. I speak to you as true friends. If Gibran can be said to have a darker side, he was mostly attracted to the light—and this is true for us. We seek beauty and knowledge. We are grateful to be alive, and to love and be loved in return.

“Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky, We fell them down and turn them into paper, That we may record our emptiness.” ― Khalil Gibran

“We are all like the bright moon, we still have our darker side.”― Khalil Gibran

“Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.” ― Khalil Gibran

"Oh heart, if one should say to you that the soul perishes like the body, answer that the flower withers, but the seed remains." ― Khalil Gibran

Until I see you 365 blessed days from now, Happy New Year!!! 

Landscape with big trees- Camille Pissaro
Dovedale by Moonlight -  Joseph Wright of Derby
Autumn Landscape- Claude Monet
Cut Sunflowers- Vincent Van Gogh

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Echoes from Deep Within

As the end of the year approaches, some might expect me to write about my New Years resolutions—jettison some bad habits, adopt good ones, take that long-awaited trip to Rio or whatever. I might surprise you, but I never had any New Years resolutions because I don’t really believe in them! I always believed in decisions that are made spontaneously. All this may have been driven by my upbringing in hazardous surroundings and not knowing whether we would survive. But that is a subject for another day. Now, I prefer to reveal the things that I believe in.

I believe in serendipity. I have always kept my heart open and my mind ready to new events and new connections. My last year was full of great connections that I have unexpectedly made on social media. Some of these connections turned into great friendships and others did not last until the end of this year. No hard feelings, as lessons are always learned from every encounter we make.

I believe in hard work. And although I enjoy helping others to complete their works, I always count on myself to finish mine. I am a big dreamer, and like many, I dream of success. But I have been around long enough to know that dreams are achieved by sustained effort, not in the blink of an eye. So of course, I work hard to make those dreams come true.

I believe in positive energy, that we are all connected in this world and what goes around comes around—if you will forgive the cliché. I believe that when we smile a sparkle spreads from one heart to another in a long chain of love.

Love, yes, I believe in it. I believe in love and friendship. I have always been in love with someone or something. As a child I fell in love with music, dancing, painting and movies. Now blogging and social media have come to the fore. I believe in friendship and the need to reach out to people and touch them in an authentic way. And as long as my heart is beating, there will be no shortage of love to give.

I believe in communication and that the gifts and knowledge we have are there for us to share with others.

I believe in guardian angels and that in tough times we are never left alone.

I believe in myself. I came to this world for some good reasons and I am not leaving it without achieving some of them.

I believe in happy endings and new beginnings! Happy New Year!
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering 'it will be happier'...” ― Alfred Tennyson

* I would like to thank my friend Richard Pennington for his most valuable comments!
* Corel Drawing by Hoda Maalouf 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Depth in the Desert- Part 1

Have you ever had a “déjà vu” feeling or the strange impression while seeing a place for the first time that you have been there before?

It happened to me a couple of times, but the strongest such feeling I ever had happened many years back when I was watching a documentary about the life of Saint Catherine of Alexandria. I don’t know why, but seeing this old, 8th century monastery in the Sinai desert was like revisiting places of my past; it triggered a “déjà vu” impression that kept me puzzled for days because I have never been to Egypt, nor visited Mount Sinai.

Where did these strong connections to Saint Catherine come from? Can they be traced to my sincere admiration for Saint Catherine due to her intelligence and rebellious character? It is said that, when she was 18 years old, she challenged the Roman emperor who sought to dispute her Christian ideas. Then the emperor tried to make her his mistress, and when she refused he had her beheaded. A popular story after her death holds that St. Catherine's body was carried by the angels to Mount Sinai and that the monastery there was built in honor of this event.

“Because if there's one thing that drives the Devil up a tree, it's hearing of a woman who's smarter than he is.” — Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

What are the roots of my déjà vu feeling? Was it the oldest monastery in the world that mattered to me or was it because it was remotely hidden in the desert?

The desert never ceases to fascinate me with its repetitive scenes of sand, taking me into a contemplative state and allowing me to let go of images and pictures of the present.

"What makes the desert beautiful, said the little prince, is that somewhere it hides a well..."  — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (The Little Prince)

Similar feelings happened to me when I first heard “A Horse with No Name,” a fascinating song about going through the desert on a horse with no purpose in mind, no worries, nobody but oneself and nature. It was strange how this song sounded so familiar to me, as though I have been singing it for years.

What made that song so special to me? Perhaps it is because of the nameless horse, reminding me of my desire to go on my own way, against the stream, refusing prejudices and letting me escape my reality. Thus I can get away from all the chaos and pressures of urban life to a peaceful and quiet place where I can experience a time of clarity, listen to my thoughts and find my true identity.

"Where are the people?” resumed the little prince at last. “It’s a little lonely in the desert…” “It is lonely when you’re among people, too,” said the snake."  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (The Little Prince)

What made that song so familiar to me? Is it because I eventually have to come back to my everyday reality and face my problems? Here I am a rebellious soul, dreaming of escaping my reality on a journey through the desert, but forced by my equally strong mind to come back and fight my demons and fears.

What made that desert song so powerful to me is that my illusionary journey through the desert is a one of self-discovery and clarity that made me realize, and from an early age, that running away from my troubles does not lead to any kind of resolution, since they will come back and become worse over time. I realize it’s better to face any difficulty and fight it as it occurs.

“Inner silence promotes clarity of mind; it makes us value the inner world; it trains us to go inside to the source of peace and inspiration when we are faced with problems and challenges.”  Deepak Chopra

*Drawing by Hoda Maalouf

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Guest Post by Greg Richardson: Depth in the Desert

Greg Richardson, aka Strategic Monk, is a friend of mine and I got to know him through different Social Media communities. Greg is a spiritual mentor, and leadership and organizational coach, in Pasadena, California. He has served as a criminal prosecutor, an executive, and a university professor.

The desert is a place of arid desolation. On a planet covered and defined by its water, the desert is nearly as far removed from life-giving water as anyone can go.

For longer than we can remember, people trying to understand the Depth have been drawn to the desert. The seeds of Western monastic life were sown in the desert, but the story reaches back far beyond that. Like the Christian Desert Mothers and Fathers, people put the comforts and distractions of cities behind them to seek Depth in the desert. The desert frees them from the need to hold onto what holds them back, cleanses them with heat and wind.

Life in the desert is about carrying just what you need, and no more.

The Depth of the desert is not the same as the depth of the ocean or of the deep woods. The desert does not draw the mind's eye to the far horizon or to the highest branches of the tall trees. The Depth of the desert draws us inward, to discover the Depth within us.

Setting aside what does not matter, the desert clears away what keeps us from recognizing our true selves, our own core values.

The desert is a place of wisdom and clarity. As the extraneous is worn away by the swirling sand, our essential selves are revealed. The desert requires an economy of words, an economy of effort. What is not essential is unnecessary, and is smoothed away.

The desert scrubs away pretense and false hope. The desert abrades our outer shells into dust, and polishes the precious gems of our deepest truths.

I sit, gazing across the deep desert within me, as the dry heat and wind reveal my inner essence.

Where do you seek your Depth in the desert?

How is the desert cleansing you?

To learn more about Greg check his website and follow him on Twitter at @StrategicMonk.

To read my post please click here

[Image by Mike Baird]