Friday, September 13, 2019

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 2

Day 2 : Write something that someone told you about yourself that you never forgot.

I will be quite honest and say that I've been struggling with how I want to go about answering this. I find it hard because I do want to play it safe and mention something positive but the truth is, someone once said something to me several years ago that wasn't very nice and it's just not easy to forget. It's quite absurd how easily our brains choose to store the few unfortunate encounters we have with people over the countless more favorable ones. I guess it's just a constant reminder that words really do hold such great power.

I don't think I've ever shared this here but one of my biggest insecurities growing up was my teeth. It's something I struggled with several years and it stems to this very instance. I remember being in grade school and as any other 11-year-old, valuing the opinions of my peers more than anything else. There was a girl in my class who one day thought it would be funny to give me the nickname "bunny teeth". I remember her flat out asking me in front of my classmates, "Why do you look like that? Do you know you look like a bunny?" and bursts into boisterous laughter while pointing at me and slowly had the whole class join her all the while simultaneously calling me "bunny teeth". It was awful. Naturally, it was all I could see every time I looked into a mirror after that and would always assume everyone else saw me the same way too. Slowly through the years, I found ways to hide behind my hands - covering my mouth every time I laughed, speaking as little as I needed to and learning to smile without having to show my teeth. 

Two words. It only took two thoughtless words coming out of a reckless child's mouth to make a significant impact on me that would stay with me for years to come. It was an unfortunate experience and would never wish it on anyone else. In retrospect, however, I am still grateful for everything because I now most definitely understand the need to use words wisely. 

You all know I cannot close this off without using the ever-famous, over-used (but-still-holds-much-truth) quote - "If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all."

P.S. If you were wondering, I eventually did end up getting orthodontic treatment several years later and I am finally able to genuinely smile - with teeth.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 1

I've neglected this blog for longer than I'd like to admit. This little space has allowed me to be myself with no fear of any judgement and I've truly missed it. I want to be able to be more active here so I thought what better way to challenge myself to writing more than an actual writing challenge. I found this idea of a "30 Day Writing Challenge" on Pinterest and thought it'd be perfect! Crossing my fingers I actually stick to it! 

Day 1: List 10 things that make you really happy

1) Hearing the sound of babies laughing
2) Waking up then realizing I still have more time to sleep in
3) Being outside when it's warm and sunny but slightly breezy (my prefect weather)
4) A good cup of tea prepared for me by someone else :P
5) When something I really want finally goes on sale
6) Being inside a bookstore
7) Sincere words of affirmation
8) Travelling 
9) Seeing someone I've been missing
10) Making someone else smile

Monday, March 12, 2018

Salvation Mountain In Pictures

Late last year, craving adventure and beautiful views, we made the VERY long drive down to explore the infamous Salvation Mountain and wow, was I blown away! I can honestly say that I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it. Describing things was never something I was very good at, but thankfully, I took a crazy amount of pictures while I was there and I'm so excited to be sharing some here today!
Salvation Mountain is located in the lower desert of Southern California in Imperial County just east of the Salton Sea and about a hour and a half from Palm Springs. Salvation Mountain is Leonard Knight's tribute to God and his gift to the world with its simple yet powerful message: "God Is Love." 
"Salvation Mountain is a literal man-made mountain 28 years in the making, covered in half a million gallons of latex paint. What started as a small monument made of dirt and painted cement became, over time, a sprawling adobe and hay-bale mountain complex, with peripheral structures made of telephone poles, tires, and car windows, as well as art cars and sculptures, all painted in a patchwork of stripes and color blocks of whatever paint was donated that week." - Aaron Huey, National Geographic

Everything is so colorful and vibrant! From what I've noticed, there is a caretaker who resides on site who I'm assuming helps with the upkeep of the place. I've also heard that visitors donate paint to help.

It was fairly empty when we visited (we arrived just before sunset) but WOW was it hot! It was over a 100 degrees this day, which is unsurprising since it is in the desert lol. Just keep that in mind when you plan your visit though! :)

Views from the top!

Watching the sun set on Salvation Mountain was insanely beautiful!! These pictures honestly don't do it justice.

Overall, I would say that the 3-hour drive to Salvation Mountain was definitely worth it! It's such a gem that needs to be experienced in person. For more information on site rules and parking, click HERE. To learn more about the history behind Salvation Mountain, click HERE.

603 Beal Rd
Niland, CA 92257

(760) 624-8754

Monday, February 19, 2018

Songs To Put You In Your Feelings

Do you ever catch yourself listening to a song that brings about so many kinds of emotions? I find myself in this situation more frequently than I like to admit. 

Last week, I went to this thing called Emo Nite which is...exactly what it sounds like lol. I'm horrible at describing things but Emo Nite is essentially an event where a bunch of people with a love for emo/punk/rock music can come together and listen to just that. I remember the first time I went to Emo Nite because it's a feeling I won't forget. I found myself standing between so many strangers, with all these songs that defined my teenage years blasting over our heads and I never felt like I belonged in a moment more than I did at that time. Suddenly, those strangers weren't strangers anymore; they were people who shared the same feelings I did, and for those few hours we were all connected through music. I honestly don't know to make that sound less corny than it does, but it's the truth! 

So, it got me thinking how there are so many songs that just cut right through you and put you in your feelings. Here are a few of those songs on my playlist...

What are some of the songs that just hit you right in your feelings? Please leave them in the comments below, I'd love to go through them! :)

Thursday, January 4, 2018

5 Years

I was having a conversation with an old friend the other day, and we started talking about our school days, days when we were pretty much young and reckless and that's all the responsibility we held. The thing is, when you're young, you look at the world differently. You have nothing that attaches you to where you are, so you look at the world as a vast universe, with the possibility that you can do anything and be whoever you want. I think that's an incredible way (albeit maaaybe a little selfish but still) to look at life. I'm not sure at what point in time you eventually lose this outlook.

5 years ago, I started this blog. It initially started out as a place where I could share my thoughts and ideas. I had no idea where I wanted it go (quite honestly still don't lol), but it was there when I needed it to be. From then until now, a LOT as changed and I have previously mentioned here that a thing I've learned over the years is that the only thing that's constant IS change. It's always there, it's always happening.

It's no secret that as we grow, our priorities change. We're still given those same 24 hours in a day that we were given when we were younger, but why does it feel like so much less? When I look at my blog posts 5 years ago, I remember a person who was so driven, and made time for things she truly enjoyed. And then I got a job, and then I had bills to pay and things to look after. My priorities shifted. I started putting in time to things I thought would help me move forward. I pushed the things that once truly made my life enjoyable off to a corner, telling myself they would always be there when I had "extra time". You know what though? No one is ever guaranteed of any extra time. This IS the time, and it's all we're given. This past year has been such a turning point in my life. I got to experience what it's like to feel at rock bottom. It's never a fun feeling, but it's in these moments where you get a chance to get off your high horse and re-evaluate your life, your choices, and your priorities.

Change may be constant, but at the end of the day, I've also learned how important it is not to lose sight of who you are along the way. I'm grateful to have this space to come back to be reminded of that. Whether you've been a reader of this blog from the beginning or are just stumbling upon it today, thank you. If there's anything I want you to take from all of this, it is to just DO what you makes you the happiest, and please, do it today.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

So long, 2017!

Closing off a year always leaves me with mixed feelings. For one, it makes me feel so grateful when I look back on all the wonderful things I was able to experience and accomplish in a span of 12 months however it’s also accompanied by feelings of disappointment attributable to some of the poor choices I made this year.

Is it possible to find yourself but then lose yourself again? I started off 2017 knowing exactly what I wanted (or so I thought) and I sit here today wondering where that person who was so sure of everything is. It’s scary to think that you can be so sure about something one moment, and then you’re not. I want to believe I can trust myself in knowing what is good for me, but it’s proven to be quite the challenge. Growing up, I’ve always been thought to focus on the positive and it’s honestly the only thing keeping me going at this point; the belief that there is always, ALWAYS, something to be thankful for.

In a lot of ways, 2017 helped me grow as a person, teaching me things in the most un-gentle ways. Franklin Roosevelt once said, “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” I’m hanging on to a thread of hope that all the storms of 2017 have run their course, and will hopefully allow me to embrace 2018, buoyantly. Happy New Year, my dear readers!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Visiting New York for the First Time! (My Experience + Tips)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK! This city has been one of my dream destinations since I was little, and one I never imagined I'd be seeing anytime soon! I can think of a hundred things, just off the top of my head, that make New York so charming, captivating and so easy to fall in love with, but the pictures included in this post will hopefully speak for themselves!

One of my favorite things about travelling and exploring new places is that it allows you to experience things you never imagined you'd be doing, meeting people you didn't think existed, getting to taste different kinds of food and most especially, learning more about yourself along the way. After spending 5 days in the hustle and bustle of this city, I came home with over 300 pictures (half of which were taken with over excitement and cannot be used lol) and a crap ton of memories I know I'll hold close to my heart for a long time.
Since this was my first time visiting New York, I wanted to share my experience here on the blog, and maybe also share some tips that can help you when you do visit

1) Choosing a place to stay: To be honest, we struggled a little bit when picking out a place to stay. We took into consideration prices, travel time, and the overall safety of the neighborhood. Since most of the places we wanted to see were in Manhattan, it made more sense to stay within the area, so we picked a hotel on Times Square! Subway stations were a 2-3min walk away, Broadway theaters were super close by, Halal Guys was just a few blocks down and there were always people around even in the late hours. I know there are a ton of other options available so I would just suggest to research the places you want to see, and find accommodations close by that will fit your budget. 
2) Getting around: I found that the fastest and most efficient way to get around the city was through the subway! I was a total subway newb and was super intimidated by the whole system in the beginning, not gonna lie! However, Google Maps was the hero wearing the brightest cape throughout this trip! Please use it to navigate, it will make your life so much easier! Thinking about it now, how did people even get around before Google Maps?! I will never understand. Depending on how many days you're staying, I would suggest getting a 7-day Metrocard that gives you unlimited rides (costs about $30). Learn from my mistake and make sure you're in the right station before swiping your card because once you exit, you'll need to wait about 15 mins before you can swipe again! New Yorkers have a reputation for being some of the most fast-paced people which can result to them becoming easily annoyed or rude when interrupted (note: smiling back at them when this happens DOES NOT help, if anything just aggravates them more omg), however, I've found that a lot of them can be kind enough to give you directions, so don't be afraid to ask, if all else fails.
3) Carry cash: Although a lot of places will gladly take credit/debit, some places only accept cash! You will also encounter a lot of street performers all around New York so it's always nice to have spare change to give if they catch your attention.
4) Be prepared for A LOT of walking: Wear your most comfortable pair of shoes!!! I cannot stress this enough! I underestimated the amount of walking I would do here and found myself reaching for my sneakers almost everyday! I actually bought a pair of heeled boots with me on this trip and I kid you not, I probably took 20 steps in them when I realized what a horrible mistake it was! However, if you do decided to wear heels, pack a pair of comfy shoes to take with you, TRUST ME ON THIS.
5) Check the weather in advance: but be prepared for changes. We went during the 2nd week of October and packed only "fall" clothes and regretted that decision almost immediately after landing. It was so humid and hot! However, the forecast did say to expect rain so I was happy I packed an umbrella lol. Also, plan your activities around the weather! If it's a sunny day, make the most out of it by doing something outdoors like visiting Central Park, or seeing Lady Liberty. If it's gloomy out and rain is expected, visit the New York Public Library or Grand Central Station.
6) Get tickets to attractions online: Not only does it save you from the hassle of lining up, but it also saves you money and you get the peace of knowing you have a guaranteed spot! I'll link the websites we used to get tickets for some of the places I recommend:

7) See a show on Broadway: Seeing a Broadway show has been on my bucket list for the longest time and you can imagine how excited I was to be ticking it off! Now there are so many places the Internet recommends for getting tickets, so buy at your own risk! While we were there, we were able to watch two shows: Anastasia (HIGHLY recommend) and The Lion King (personally would not recommend). I got The Lion King tickets a week in advance from HERE and they were a lot cheaper than the actual selling price and the seats were great, so I would definitely recommend checking that site out, just choosing a different show to watch. Anastasia was a spontaneous decision and we got our tickets from the TKTS booth just hours before the show so it was 50% off. The most popular TKTS booth is located on Times Square, just below the red steps. I would recommend going when they open (which is about 3pm) for the best seats. For more info on locations and hours, click HERE.

8) FOOD: The amount of restaurants and food choices around New York can become a little overwhelming but Foursquare, Google Maps and Pinterest helped us narrow down our choices! There were also times where we would just be walking around and randomly find hole-in-the-wall places that carried amazing food! Don't waste your money on the food carts on Times Square! Most of the time, the food is way overpriced and doesn't even taste that good. However, I will advocate spending your money on The Halal Guys food truck! I have tried the one in Chicago which I thought was pretty good but man, oh man, it is nothing compared to the real thing. You can find The Halal Guys in different spots around the city but most people claim that the one on West 53rd is the real OG.

Other food spots I recommend checking out:

This little ramen spot has the BEST chicken ramen I've ever tried!! To this day, I still find myself comparing all ramen to this and nothing has come close!

Jack's Wife Freda
Being from the Middle East, I'm always drawn to Mediterranean food since they remind me of home! We stumbled upon this cafe on SoHo that carries simple Mediterranean food and is wonderful if you're looking for a quick bite to eat.

Cha Cha Matcha
This place is an Instagram lover's dream! Their interiors are so cute and very Instagram worthy. They even have matcha ice cream!!

Sweet Time Dessert Cafe
This beautiful cafe is conveniently located just next door to the ramen place I mentioned earlier! They have a GIANT stuffed teddy bear here that you need to go and see for yourself!!

9) Go early to avoid crowds: Popular tourist spots like the Brooklyn Bridge, DUMBO, 9/11 Memorial, Times Square etc. can get VERY crowded so it's close to impossible to get a picture without having someone in the background. I would recommend getting there really early in the morning for the best photo op! Times Square between 2-3AM is way less crowded and provides a good photo op as well.

10) Use your common sense: Looking out for yourself has to be your top priority! Avoid areas that appear to be sketchy. For your own good sake, PLEASE don't use your phone when crossing the street!! Always listen to your gut when you feel you're being put in a position that you don't feel safe in. Travelling should be a fun experience for everyone!
5 days was not even enough to cover half of New York and this city is definitely a place I see myself coming back to again and again! Have you ever been to New York? Please share your experiences and recommendations in the comments below! I'd love to read them!