“Take It Back!”

I had an mini epiphany when I was at my friend’s family watching them opening up Christmas presents.  One of the gifts was a pair of boots that appeared to be a little too small.

“I can always take them back to the store to see if they come in the larger size,” she said.

Gift, Packaging, Loop, Christmas

That’s when it hit me- I wish it were that easy with our words.  Or can it be?

How many times do you hear one kid yell to another, “You take that back,” as if someone’s insults were a pair of boots that didn’t fit.  But unlike ill-fitting footwear, our words’ impact cannot be undone by sending them back to the originator.  It’s not that simple… or can it be?  Maybe kids are more enlightened than they get credit for.

We can make the 153Promise by selecting our words carefully so only loving supportive phrases come from our mouths.  That alone is a great start.  But we are human, and there are times where we will fall short and we’ll say things that just don’t fit.Figure, Sad, Crying, Sadness, Upset

You can still keep true to your 153Promise when you slip and say something hurtful.  You can allow yourself to “Take Them Back” when you realize that you spoke out of anger or insensitivity.

If your kidding around went too far, you can say, “I take it back… I was only joking.  I was trying to be funny, but I can see that it wasn’t kind.  I’m sorry.”

Or if you had a bad day and your nerves are fried and you lash out at your son or daughter, you can say, “I take it back… I didn’t really mean to hurt your feelings with what I said.  It’s just that I am really in a bad mood from something else.  You don’t deserve that treatment from me.  I’m sorry.”

Crying, Children, Cry, Autumn

As long as most of your behavior is certain way, I’d say the 10% rule works.  If 9/10 comments you make are positive, then the 10% you make that are falling short, a heartfelt “I take it back” can work.  But if you have to take back half of what you say, then the apology loses their effectiveness… as do the positive comments you actually mean.

So make your 153Promise by making sure your words fit for the occasion.  And on the rare occasion they don’t, make the 153Promise to Take It Back.

Kisses.  XxXx


More On Happiness This Holiday Season

I was a bit long-winded yesterday, so I’ll try to make my Christmas post a bit more concise…

I got onto Facebook this morning and was greeted by tons of beaming smiles and pictures of presents.  And that’s awesome.  But what happens once the euphoria wears off and normalcy sets in?  Will the extreme happiness still be there?  Or will there be a little anti-climactic letdown as we get on with daily life?

My husband and I got into a deep philosophical chat about my issue with the “Happiness is your birthright” comment in the Angel From Hell trailer I posted.  He didn’t understand my objection.  He thought it’s a nice idea to think that everybody deserves to be happy; I argued that we do NOT deserve to be happy; just have our needs met.  And that’s where we began to pontificate.

From my perspective, the only thing we deserve is to not suffer.

If I do not go hungry, I have heat when I’m cold and my other basic needs met, then that’s good enough for me.  Truly.

I do not think I’m entitled to anything more than to break even in my day.  Anything else is extra and while it may roll over into tomorrow and can ease any insecurities, it’s not happiness.

Similarly, money and possessions cannot bring happiness; rather, I think it just raises the bar higher to make increasing demands to keep a certain status quo.  I prefer not to chase this elusive emotion.  I’d rather just achieve contentment with what I already possess.

But if happiness means the ability to experience joy, then yes, we all should possesses this skill.

The key is to be able to experience intense pleasure from every day events: a feel of piece of chocolate as it melts in your mouth; the smell of the earth on a warm day; the song of a bird at dusk; a cozy sweatshirt…

All these little sensations bring me happiness because I realize how lucky I am to be able to be in the present moment and be thankful for these little gifts.

But I do not think that the mere fact that I am on this Earth entitles me to any excess beyond sustaining life.

So my 153Promise for the day is to remind my children to be thankful for all the extras they have in life.

It may be a cliché, but happiness really is a state of mind that comes from within.  If being content with what we already have can be our new happiness, then that’s the key to true inner peace.

Fostering this ability is the best gift we can give our children.



A Real Christmas Miracle

It’s Christmas Eve Day.  Kids are out of school; there are last minute shopping for stocking stuffers; cookies are laid out, and presents go under the tree for tomorrow morning.

Little ones will wake up super early, eager to rip open their gifts.

Some even go to church.

Before I get too deep into my post, I submit to you one of my favorite clips of the holidays:

I try not to speak too much about faith on this blog because that subject can get very touchy due to all the perversions of the beliefs in all the different world religions.  However, I think it’s appropriate today, given all the expectations of tonight and tomorrow.  But first, I think it’s only fair that I tell you a little bit about who I am so you have a little perspective on the woman who’s writing this Christmas Miracle post…

I am Muslim.  I converted (some prefer the term ‘reverted’) when I got married to my husband several years ago.  I thought it was important to have a united front as a family.  His whole family is wonderful and they all live the true Islamic way.  They love God (Allah) and have shown me more love since meeting me a few years ago than I’ve experienced my whole life by my family of origin.

Before that, I was studying Buddhism.  (I still do.)  Before that, I was not much of anything.  Before that, I was a hard core Catholic.  Like, leading the Sunday mass as a cantor in high school Catholic.  My journey has had many twists and turns, but my path right now has me wearing a scarf.  (I suppose when I decide to commit to something, I really embrace it.)

People see the scarf and make all kinds of assumptions.  People think I’m oppressed, crazy, brainwashed, a terrorist…  all those great media-perpetuated stereotypes.  People somehow think Islam is the Anti-Christian religion.  As a result, I feel like I need to go out of my way to really get into the holiday spirit, just to show that Muslims are not some Godless group.  I’m sure most of the general public would be shocked to learn that we “believe” in Jesus- he’s in the Qur’an.  He was born of the Virgin Mary.  He traveled and preached the Word of God.  He was prosecuted for his teachings, and he will come back at the end of days as the Messiah.  The main departure is that Muslims do not concede that Jesus is God, and that he did not die on the cross for our sins.  But many surveys have been conducted asking self-proclaimed Christians if they believe that Jesus is the only way to everlasting life, and the numbers are in the teens.

I could go on and on about the topic of the faiths and how they are observed, but in short, I am NOT anti-Christmas.  When people ask me if I “celebrate” Christmas, I have to really gage how they ask it.  Are they worried about offending me?  Are they asking about Islam?  Is it just a passive aggressive poke?  So to answer, while I do not acknowledge Christmas as a day to give praise to the birth of God incarnate, yes, I do observe that this is the time to recognize the birth of Jesus.

It’s also the time of the winter solstice and the new calendar year.

So do I decorate for the season?  Yes.  In fact, we’re the only house on the block with religious decorations!  (We have an light up angel hanging off our porch banister.)

Do I give gifts of affection when we visit relatives over winter break?  Yes.  We have pictures of our son sitting on Santa’s lap (taken for free at the YMCA).  In Turkey, Santa is called “Noel Baba” and in fact, the original St. Nicholas is from Turkey!  You see him and decorated trees in Turkish malls this time of year.

In short, do I participate in the wide-spread secularism of Christmas?  Like most of the general public, yes.  But our household keeps it low key for two reasons:

  • we truly embrace what Christmas is all about and treat the true meaning with respect
  • we are trying to teach our children moderation and not buy into the sense of greed and entitlement of the season.

I held this position even before I met my now husband.  I’ve always thought that Jesus has been lost along the way and capitalism has taken over.  Sad on all accounts.  In that sense, Charlie Brown and I are of the same mind.

So my point is that I’d love to see some Christmas Miracles tonight and tomorrow… if you celebrate Christmas, please take your children to church.  Pray to God for peace on Earth.  Think of Jesus and what he preached during his 33 years.  Listen to the sermon of your spiritual leaders.  Hopefully, he or she will remind the congregation that we are all brothers and sisters in the eyes of God.

And when your children begin with the Gimmie-gimmies, pause for a moment to give them a reality check about where their hearts are Christmas morning.  In that sense, a little Buddhist mindfulness would be a great addition amongst the boxes and bows.

What prompted me to make this post?

I was on the elliptical at the Y yesterday, and this came on the machine:

Perfect timing, ironically.  Just as the story of the angel of the Lord sends word to Mary that she will be giving birth to Jesus, an Angel from Hell comes to a woman and tells her that, “You don’t just deserve to be happy; it’s your birthright.”


That sense of entitlement is exactly what is wrong with our society.

Yes, I am Muslim.  And I am going to truly observe the meaning of Christmas by humbly praying to God that parents everywhere — no matter what faith — make the 153Promise to their families by teaching their children to be thankful for everything that they have.  Gifts are not just the items under the tree.  Gifts are everywhere: your home, your working body parts, your bosses or teachers, your relatives…

It’s my prayer that Christmas Miracles of appreciation are in the air… no just tonight and tomorrow, but all year around.

That’s how this Muslim observes Christmas.

Kisses.  XxXx.





The Gift That Keeps on Giving

It’s only twelve days until Christmas, and people everywhere are rushing around to buy gifts for each other.

I’ve been to one party where the “rule” was for everyone to buy each other a $20.00 gift card.

I know some families who start groups on FB just to list what they want for gifts.

One of my colleagues said her mother texted a due date for gift requests before her shopping day and she got a another text warning her that if she missed the deadline, she’d only get socks and underwear.

I have to say, I never quite got the concept of buying gifts when they seem to be a mandatory exchange.  If I have to buy for you and you have to buy for me, why don’t we just agree to skip the whole business and just stay at home with a good movie instead of getting mauled at the mall?

After all, why do we give gifts, anyway?  Isn’t it as a token of affection?  Isn’t it as a symbolic gesture during Christmas to replicate the giving of the gifts from the Magi?

Don’t get me wrong- I love the season with the yummy foods, beautiful lights, and cozy smells.  But I am suggesting that we re-examine the spirit in which gifts are supposed to be given and if you still feel the pressure to get something for those near and dear to you (if you haven’t already), consider a gift that goes far beyond some pretty wrap, bow, or bag.

Or even if you have purchased the requisite present, imagine if came along with the  153Promise of giving them daily affection with the goal of supporting a functional, loving relationship.

Some possible ways to do this are:

-Buy some books on parenting, relationships or self-help books about issues you are currently working on and sharing that purchase with your loved one

-Take your family shopping together for games (that you play at a table- NOT a computer) you can play as a family

-Have a family meeting to decide on a few day trips like the zoo, a museum, or some other experiential activity

There are many other possibilities… one great way is to ask them what they’d like to do, rather than what they want.

So as you watch everybody else run around for last minute shopping for things that most likely will end up in the back of the closet in a few weeks, why not make the decision to put a stop to that materialistic pressure and put your energy into truly making the spirit bright… by showing your affection through deeds and time and making an effort on a daily basis to show them just how much you love them.

That’s a gift everyone will be able to enjoy all year long.