A Change In Mentality

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Life happens to all of us. None of us are freed from the happenings of life- good or bad. We all are dealing with various circumstances and issues. One of the things that can make life a little easier is the attitude that we have about it. Many of us tend to fold up and suffer mentally because of our situations. However, our mentality is the one thing that can change a whole situation from unbearable to bearable.

In my experience with homelessness, I felt like I didn’t belong. I felt worthless. I felt disowned as a participant of society. I felt lost. However, it was when I was homeless that I handed my life to God. I needed hope. I needed someone to love me and to tell me that everything was going to be okay despite my circumstances. I remembered writing to God in the bathroom about my mental state. I felt marginalized. I felt scared. I never told my parents how I felt because I knew they were trying to deal with homelessness in their own way. So, I knew that at 15 years old that I had to be a big girl. I had to change my outlook on our situation. I was in despair. I remembered my parents getting us a room for a night at this motel that was known for prostitution. I don’t know if they knew it, but I remembered hearing about it on television. I hated being there. It was only for one night, but I cringed at the thought of being in a place known for prostitution. I didn’t say anything because my parents were trying with the little that they had. We were barely surviving. We had nothing, but each other.

The biggest part of changing our outlook on things is having a support system in some form. I felt close to my parents and my brother during this time, but there was tension. You could feel the thickness of the air. It was always this feeling of  not knowing what was next. We were living out our lives day-by-day. However, we tried to keep close to each other. I didn’t have friends to talk to because we were constantly moving to find shelter. So, I relied on God and my family. It was a situation that I don’t wish for anyone. As time went by, I would frequent the local library during the day-time until my parents picked me up, along with my younger brother. I met some girls my age that I would see and meet often. They would play with me and invite me to their mosque. In trying to find an outlet and God, I would learn things from these girls and their mom. It was comforting because I could hold onto some form of happiness, despite my innermost feeling of despair.  So, I took these girls as a support system. They never knew my situation, but they helped me in too many ways to count. They were a blessing. They provided me with love and happiness when I felt unloved and scared of the world.

So, the quote that is presented at the very beginning is very true. It’s not the load, but the way we carry it. Homelessness is a huge issue and its prevalent in many cities, but through a change of mentality about it you can get through it. It’s hard. It’s scary, but perils will always be present in our lives. We just have to know how to deal with them as they come. I found happiness and love during my homelessness. If you just have one person that cares and loves you then you’re on a roll. Sometimes you just have to have hope. You have to have faith. You have to know that your situation is temporary.

Dance-Floor Sex: A Feminist Pursuit

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Last night, I went out dancing with two of my female-friends. We made sure to keep close at all times and to have a good time. It was a girl’s night out. Who wouldn’t have a good time, especially with some awesome music and dancing? You can’t lose. However, I must admit that my practice of feminism always get me analyzing most things in life. So, what was the issue now with me? It was dance-floor dancing.

So, I will have to specify that the lounge was upbeat with most of its people in their 20’s and 30’s. The atmosphere was dim with strobe lights in a small and conjested space. You were practically dancing on top of other people. Maybe that was over-exaggerated. However, the place was small and packed. The music was loud and up to the max. In making our way in the crowd on the dance-floor, we started to dance with one another. It was definitely going down. We were too fly. We were in our zone. We were definitely craving some music and dancing.

Unfortunately, a guy came from behind me as I was dancing and started to grind against me. I didn’t know this guy and never met him in my life, but he proceeded to dance all up on me. In a feeling of uncertainty of proceeding in this act, I danced with him anyway. I assumed my position against him and started grinding. He gripped my hips with his hands and started to press firmly against me. We danced through a song and he started to dance with some other folks. I looked around me and grinding was everywhere. Men were posted on walls with women bent over grinding against them while there were many on the dance-floor with women bent over doing the same thing. This is an interesting phenomena because this style of dancing is very much new for me in the last decade or so.

I couldn’t imagine my parents seeing me bent over on a guy in a position of submissiveness. They have always taught me to be vocal about my boundaries and to never give in.  However, it felt as if I had traded in my practice of feminsm for this short-term gratification for the sake of this guy. After dancing with the first guy, I went back to dancing with my friends and we were laughing. We were definitely grooving without a doubt. We weren’t looking for male partners to dance with for the evening. We were just out dancing for self-enjoyment. However, I was taken from behind again by another guy that was on a wall originally. Again, this guy had followed suit with the trend of most of the men on the dance-floor. He had firmly gripped my hips, bent me over and grinded against me. The look on my face was of paranoia. I didn’t want it, but I liked the feeling of being wanted. I liked the feeling of being able to dance in a way that was sensual, but why do I like this? Do I simply succumb to this dancing because guys like it? Am I really interested in being bent over on a dance-floor in simulated sex in front of the public? Yes, there were plenty of others doing the same thing. However, was it what I really wanted l? In walking away from this guy after comments about a possible boyfriend ‘allowing me’ to be out alone, I walked away from him and off the dance-floor. After a short break, I came back to the dance-floor to be assaulted by another man. He aggressively took me by the hips, gripped me and started to literally bang against me from behind. The pounding began to hurt and I wasn’t happy at all. His hands started to travel down south on my jeans and I had to leave the space. I don’t know why I didn’t just stop him when he first started. So, the answer is no. I really do not believe that many women like this. So many men will come onto the dance-floor and treat women like property. They grab women any kind of way, bend her over and proceed to violate her body and spirit. The bad part of all of this is the music that accompanies the dancing. It’s a vehicle for the dancing and the seduction. It re-enforces the objectification of women.

In simply trying to have a good time, there is a constant socialization happening. At the school I work at with elementary students, I have witnessed a few girls twirking on the playground and assuming the position. I am afraid for them. I am afraid for myself. Who gaze are these girls being taught to dance for? What the audience? Additionally, I am deeply afraid for our young boys and girls. They are seeing this sexualization and imitating it. This is being marketed to them too. I just wish and pray that they don’t grow up having to fend off these men. I want them to be stronger than me. I want these young girls to say no with strength and certainty. I want them to refuse any illicit and unwanted advances. I want them to know that they have control over their bodies. They don’t have to simply accept the advances and music of misogyny and sexism. I want the boys to say no and to ask permission before proceeding.

In watching the time go by, my friends became victims of this patriarchy that affects all of us. I have to constantly remind myself that patriarchy doesn’t have a gender. Our bodies became the property of men and we gave in because we’ve been told to do this. We have been told that we should enjoy this and the attention we will get from it. We have been told that our sexuality determines our worth, so many of us will bend over and have simulated sex. This is not okay. This is not right. This is wrong.

We laughed. We giggled. We ended the night by saying how much fun we had. We reminisce about the men and their ‘antics’. However, we all are dealing with the pain of knowing that our bodies weren’t ours. We were violated and hurt. We were treated as objects. We were dehumanized in the act of simply wanting to dance and enjoy ourselves for a night.

So, do I think I really had a great time? No, I don’t. I didn’t have a great time at all.

Life-Lessons at 22

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In the next week I will turn 23 years old. I will finally make my way to my mid-twenties. In making my way through life, I have made many mistakes, bad decisions and dumb choices. However, in understanding that twenty-year olds in America are constantly trying to define and redefine themselves. They are trying to learn themselves and about themselves, myself included. In learning about life, I have made some decisions that created regret within me at times. Regret is an emotion that can paralyze an individual. It definitely has paralyzed me. It paralyzed us because we are always trying  to remind ourselves that we could’ve and should’ve done something differently. We always love in the past. We live our present with the past in mind. I guess that can be good and bad. However, regrets can keep us mentally drained and stressed. I’m not going to allow that. Well, I can’t really say that with honesty. It’s just very tough to not think about the bad choices you’ve made. Nonetheless, you have to allow yourself to live and to learn. You have to give yourself that. We will not always make the best choices. We will slip up and make mistakes. We will slip up and do something just stupid without thinking about the consequences. However, how much of the choices that we make are we going to allow to rule and control our present and future?

In a few days, I will say goodbye to my days of being a 22 years old and welcome another year of life. There are many things that I hate to think about because they remind me of my personal shortcomings, but who doesn’t have shortcomings? We are all trying to fix ourselves in one way or another. We are all trying to figure life out. Yes, I do believe that there are consequences for every action or decision that we make. So, we should be mindful of what we do. However, life is life. Things will happen. Sometimes things have to happen and break us down in order to get us to a better place mentally, spiritually or physically. We can’t pretend to be perfect individuals because we aren’t. We  will fall into error. We will. It’s not something we can escape. So, in saying all of this, live life in a way that is fulfilling and brings you happiness. I do not believe in living a hedonistic lifestyle because it merely takes life as this place of pleasure. We should enjoy pleasure, but we shouldn’t allow our supreme ideal be pleasure. Americans live in a very pleasure-based and materialistic society. Yes, I’m guilty as charged. I have given into materialism and pleasures. Nonetheless., it’s empty. We can buy and pleasure ourselves all day and night but it doesn’t bring long lasting fulfillment. It’s short and temporary.

I have to admit that many of us are looking for pleasure. We can say that we don’t want or like pleasure, but we do. I love going dancing. I will sometimes go out dancing with friends and enjoy the night. There is this rush that comes over me when I can listen to music and dance to express myself. I love it. However, it’s temporary whenever I choose to go out to dance. It only lasts for a couple of hours and then it’s over. Not only that, but you’re tired. You want to rest. You need a break. This is the reality of pleasure, most of the time. It’s short-lived. I guess you can argue that art (dancers, musicians, writers, artists) can sustain their art with their passion for the craft. However, the pleasure I am talking about is when you want to just jump up and seek out instant gratification. Sex can be one of the best ways of seeking instant gratification. Sex is truly an act or art of pleasure. You want to stimulate yourself intimately. You want to reach within the core of this carnal desire and stroke it for short-term pleasure. I do not believe sex is nasty nor dirty. This is not the point or argument. Sex can be something very short-lived and finite. However, I will never detest short-lived pleasures. Sometimes having that sweet bread is great, but like most pleasurable things- short-lived.

In coming to an abrupt end, I can’t give you a definite guide on how to live your life. We all come from different circumstances and social-realities. We have to figure out what is best for us. However, we shouldn’t feel bad when we mess up in life. We will make mistakes and make bad decisions. Just take it as it is and learn from it. We have to sometimes define and redefine ourselves in order to come to a happy point of satisfaction. Life is a journey. We will come to meet some awesome and not-so-awesome folks. We will make great choices and some not-so-great choices. However, this is the journey of life. We just have to take it step-by-step.

Wander

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Hidden behind the fog of night/

hands crept quietly/

quickening of pace/

fingers raced down spines/

across lands of skin/

arched back and titillating strutting of hips/

sweat dancing off of limbs tangoed its way to toes freed of socks and shoes

Hair limp without shape swaying with the smell of passion

eyes darkened with fiery and seduction made love to sight

magic erupted

His Promise

anaaaisShe hums his favorite melody as he takes her hand within his

The room had grew dark as the hours went along and the world has grown into a silence that left them hearing the creaking of wood and the whistling of leaves

they had somehow found themselves wrapped within each other’s arms as if they were meant to play the role of soul-mates

Carefully, he unwraps her soul layer by layer to only expose the brokenness of this woman, this being, his beloved lover

his eyes began to bleed tears

this woman, his beloved lover was deeply bruised and wounded

a shattered shell of being with pain that caused him to wrap her up close to his heart

promising her that he would never let go

he would never let go ever

the moment of truth

imageCalm was the body that nestled itself beneathe the clear, blue skies that morning

Tenderly the sun kissed her brown cheeks with a familiarity of a lover, a dear friend, a parent

Tears fell like raindrops from closed eyes too enamored with the moment, with being alive, feeling the breeze race across her bare toes

There was something happening between the the soil beneath her feet, the radiant gaze of the sun on her face and the innermost parts of her being

legs outstretched and crossed with hands behind her back and head held high facing the heavens

she was present and most alive

all that was had buried itself in the past, so she had thought

but the feeling of pain, hurt, regret, misery trickled within the lap of her present moment

the feeling of darkness had given her permission to run through endless mistakes from the past

the burning desire to forget and to simply live beyond her yesterday’s became goal

it was in that moment of darkness that she reached within and found forgiveness/ allowing herself to forgive her past because her God was Most Merciful and Loving

humans despair too often without holding on/ realizing that there is more than the pain and the hurt and the struggle

So in the midst of her sorrows, she found strength in the powers to be/ she gave herself the beginning step to heal/ to self-actuality/ to understand that hope is a believer’s bestfriend even when the world had left them to the chaos and misery of existence

she knew that day that she would forever reach inside herself and find hope and God as one and the same

that nothing was impossible to overcome

that nothing was too big to be handled by the one that  gives and takes life

An Intimate Seduction

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There was something/ something about the way she sent chills down his spine

Spineless he would become/coming back to back to feel her soft caress at the nape of his neck

Checking to see if he was indeed apart of a dream/ in a world other than here/ hearing the softness of her voice whispering fantasies that the gods would be jealous of

She had taken this man/ her lover/ as prisoner

The air reeked of seduction and passion/ an unfastening of hopes and wishes became instant intimacy

His eyes/ darkened with fire and desire/ teased her with kisses/ hisses crept from her core/ a guttural moan escaped her throat

His fingers danced and crept into places that she never knew existed

Her body became home for his passion/ this man had found the goddess in this woman/ the way he touched was deliberate and sweet

The moon’s gaze had them center-stage with the stars as witnesses to this intense scene of passion-making

The air thick with the scent of he and she/caused an intoxication/a seduction to unfold

Her Damnation

The hours of slumber had abandoned her last night

The deafening scream of her consciousness kept her awake

She could not find sleep nor could sleep find her

The night had granted slumber to the others,

but not her

She was wide-open in the unbearable thoughts of missed passion

The world became a smaller place

A place of shattered people with shattered lives trying to live in an unshattered way

She now understood

She understood broken/ the way pain cripples you into paralysis/ places a choke-hold upon your throat without remorse

It was war/ a war the others would neither know nor feel

At moments, she was unable to catch her breath/ find an exit/ the thick smog of hurt clamped down on her/ unable to find oxygen

She was being asphyxiated by more than air but the suffocation of pain

How dare the gods do this? How dare she do this? How dare the world to do this?

And even though she whined the sorrows of her own consciousness she found herself in the mirror looking back

She became her own nightmare

Her own hell and place of damnation

I Remember Her

The familiar sound of her voice scraped against my soul to only leave remnants of past memories shuttering back and forth in my head

It was scary that night

It felt as if a tornado had ripped through me, slicing open the wounds that she had left behind for me

She had left a bloody mess the last time I saw her/ creeping back into my present/

Her body adorned in the attire of the Gulf sent shivers up and down my spine/ for I do not know why she has chosen to come back to see me

Had she made the wrong turn in the afterlife? Had she slipped and fallen back into time? Motioning her way back into what isn’t

I remember the way she would belt Arabic across her tongue at the break of dawn

and the way she cried litanies with hands raised high to the Most Merciful, Most Gracious

Had she come back to relinquish the past? To uproot what was buried?

I remember her. The way that Ayahs and surahs would flow so eloquently from her throat to be heard by all in the heavens.

It’s Your Life: Make the Impossible Possible

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       I must be honest with myself. I’ve always had this issue with not racing after the life that I seek to live. We all have choices. We all have circumstances. However, we are not our circumstances. I can tell you every reason why I shouldn’t be where I am or what I have become. Nevertheless, I have tried my hardest to never allow my circumstances to stop me. It’s so easy to simply give into your sorrows. It’s easy, but is it what you really want? Probably not. So, it’s best to gather all the strength that you have and change your situation.
        Yes, changing your circumstances may not happen overnight but you can do it. It’s not impossible. It takes some real soul-searching. It does. It takes you to truly reflect on your life right now. We don’t have time to waste. Right now is all that we have. If something or someone doesn’t fit in the plan then make the cut. Some of us spend time with friends and partners that are toxic to our well-being. Cut it! Sometimes it can be as simple as someone that is holding you back for whatever reason. Be real with them and have that conversation. Of course, if the conversation is hard then just remember that this person probably deserves, at the minimum, to know your feelings. Nonetheless,  don’t go back on your initial decision. You have to know that your well-being comes before anyone. You must be selfish in this aspect. If you don’t know how to be selfish about yourself then you’ll be satisfying everyone except for yourself. You know this feeling. It’s the least fulfilling thing you could probably ever do. Make the decision now to turn your life around.
          Now, turning one’s life around may sound pretty treacherous. It’s not. It’s your life. You are the captain of your own ship. You’re running the ship. You’re your own boss. There isn’t anything to explain to anyone. Your life is your business. You are the Guardian over your own life. This is a personal endeavor.  You deserve the best that life can offer you. You shouldn’t feel bad for seeking out what you’re needing. I wouldn’t. We have one life to live. Make it count!  Everyday is a blessing. So, take heed to that piece of advice. You have one shot at this. Make it as fulfilling as possible. Give yourself that! If you don’t, I promise that you will regret it. Make the world shine! Go out there and make the impossible possible.