You need to know that you are more

You are more than what you think you are.

You are more than what you do or don’t do. You are more than what you have or don’t have.

Your diploma, credentials, status or lack thereof, the hue of your skin, or the clarity of your complexion don’t give you your true worth.

You are more than the brands you wear or don’t, the amount of hair you have on your head, it’s color, or how hairless you are.

You are more than what your parents say or even what you say you are.

You are more than what you feel or don’t feel. You are more than even what you are reading right now.

You are precious, glorious, and beautiful, no matter what the world’s standards are.

You are more than you know.

I want you to have true peace

Rest isn’t just the sleep we get; it’s a state of inner being that we need.

It’s beyond memory foam pillows, Egyptian Cotton sheets, and goose feather duvets. We seek an inner stillness, a quietude in our soul.

So stop and relax your shoulders; quiet the voices clamoring in your mind. Focus on your breath. Breathe.

Remember happy moments, those sweet memories with loved ones, warm embraces, rooms filled with laughter, echoing love.

Imagine a future flowing with hope—like a river feeding a lush valley full of blossoms, foliage, and tranquility—living.

See the goodness in your life and relish the riches surrounding you: the people, privileges, freedoms, talents, possibilities that swirl around you.

Enjoy your life, this day, what you have, your loved ones, like a child playing in a calm sea of blue water on a hot summer day. You are alive. So revel in this moment.

And I pray that that moment stretches into eternity where the Spirit dances around and dwells within you.

And I hope you find, even if it’s just for a breath, this.

Peace.

Feel hated? You need to know this

Sometimes you feel cursed, diseased, abandoned, betrayed when you try to live courageously, greatly. But you are not alone.

Some people hate me, despise me, think me despicable, talk behind my back, consider me bad. And some of them even smile at me, tell me they love me, hug me, and wish me well.

But I know. It’s not real. They’re not real, like a Gucci bag hawked on Chinatown streets—fake.

People may hate you openly or in the shadows. But don’t fret. You’re not alone; you’re in good company. Even the best in the world were hated: Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jesus. People hated them so much that they killed them.

Recently, a friend, who is a leader and a good man trying to do good things, told me he was getting brutalized by certain people in the organizations he led. So he went to an eighty-year-old man who lived a courageous life for some advice. And he told my friend this: “Don’t let the asses get you down.”

So, never mind the haters. Continue doing the right thing. Move forward. Live your life.

And remember, don’t let the asses get you down.

This is one of the best ways to reach your goals

The key to accomplishing big goals is making tiny ones.

Big goals are overwhelming, distant, intimidating, scary. They freeze us in panic. Like deer caught on the road by headlights, we get paralyzed. But it doesn’t need to be that way.

You may want to lose fifty pounds, run a marathon, pivot your career, start a business, become a blogger, become a better person. Those are all great aims. But they are also big.

So start with incredibly small goals. Ones that barely even feel like a goal. Seriously.

You want to get fit, great. Start with doing one push up and one crunch per day. That’s it. But do that every day.

Want to run a marathon? Fantastic. But you’ve never really run before, not to worry. Start by running for one minute. And do that regularly, like three times a week.

Changing your career isn’t impossible. Dabble, try new things, read books about what interests you. Talk to friends in various fields. Don’t leap; don’t even take a step. Do that for three months while you work at your current job, and then you can determine what’s next.

Starting a business can look very similar to making a career shift. Explore various ideas without taking a large amount of risk. In fact, you can begin by risking very little, virtually nothing. Start by learning, reading, asking questions.

Interested in blogging? Great. Start by writing ten to twenty words per day. That’s it. But do it.

You get the picture. And after a while, your first tiny goal will seem too easy, so you will naturally take on the next slightly less tiny goal. A crunch and pushup will grow to become two or four or ten. One minute of running will increase similarly. Your career exploration or start-up quest will solidify into an idea, maybe even a decision. Writing twenty words will turn into fifty or hundred.

Tiny goals seem insignificant, but they’re not. They are powerful. They let you start without feeling like starting. You will barely feel anything happening, but something is, something magical.

You are changing. New habits are forming. Your mindset is improving. You’ve overcome one of the most significant obstacles of reaching a big goal–starting.

So don’t let the huge goals scare you away from following your dreams. You can accomplish them one tiny goal at a time.

And over time, you will see your body transform, your work improve, your dreams materialize.

You will be better.

When being imperfect can be your greatest asset

Even if you are incredibly flawed, you can still succeed and even reach great heights. You just need to be one thing: Dogged. Look at Vincent Van Gogh.

For much of his life he felt like a failure, and you might be feeling like you can’t do anything right, let alone anything good. But you can. You just haven’t found what you’re good at–that thing you should do. Your parents tell you to do this or that career. So you do it. You see your friends succeeding in that or this thing. So you do it. But none of them work for you. You fail or feel unsatisfied. And you feel defeated, unworthy, washed up. But you’re not. Don’t give up. Keep looking, like Van Gogh. You can find that thing you should do. Keep digging like a starving dog digs for a bone in a yard.  

For, persistence pays–sometimes, literally. Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings are some of the most valued pieces ever. They go for astronomical prices. He was a genius, and his work is breathtaking. But for most of his life, even after he started painting, he was filled with pain, isolation, and scorn. He was flawed, deeply.

Van Gogh failed at almost every career path he attempted. Art dealer, teacher, clerk, pastor, and missionary. All but one ended in utter failure. One of the main reasons he failed was that he had deep-seated issues. He was mentally ill, he was painfully introverted, and he had some hygiene issues, like he wouldn’t bathe for long stretches, sometimes for weeks upon weeks. And he was argumentative and combative. It was like he couldn’t help but disagree with others. It’s not hard to see why most of the friends he had left him. Saying that he was imperfect would be an understatement. 

Before I go any further, I must say that I’m not celebrating mental illness, nor am I belittling it. Van Gogh was seriously ill and needed professional help. That’s goes without argument. He was broken, but beautiful. And the purpose in this piece is to look at his journey and see what what we can learn from it. And what I see is a man who fought.

He was persistent. Yes, he fell into deep spells of depression and felt suicidal at times, especially after failing. And he would lash out at others and dive into a pool of self-pity and wallow in it. Yet, all the while, he was working to find that thing he was supposed to do. Then he found drawing. And that went to painting. And that led to painting with oils, which is the medium through which we know his masterpieces that we see hanging on the wide white walls of lofty museums. Oil painting to him was an aha moment, an epiphany. For him, the universe went from dissonance to harmony. But, when he was using them, creating his famous work, those closest to him didn’t see genius, they thought it foolish and were appalled at how different and strange it was. Nonetheless, he continued to paint. 

I am indeed a person who struggles with many things, but to focus on one that I share with the great Mr. Van Gogh is this– combativeness. I am combative. I’ve always been that way. I seem to have some kind of disease that’s incurable. I can’t help but fight. Whenever I think someone is wrong, I’m compelled to speak and tell them how wrong I think they are. I do have friends, but many of them will attest that it’s not easy being my friend. “He’s an acquired taste,” they may say. I say that I’m flawed. 

Maybe you are, too. You may not be the nicest person; you may even be incredibly broken. You may have terrible hygiene, awful smelling breath, dress poorly, be uncouth, uncool, mentally ill, terribly unpopular, incapable of fitting in, holding a conversation, or starting one. But that doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish something great, incredible, world-changing, even. 

Every time I go to the Modern Museum of Art in New York City, I’m always compelled to visit Starry Night, arguable Van Gogh’s most famous piece. Sure, all of the tourists crowd around it, like piranhas around meat, taking pictures and leaning in, contorting their heads and bodies to get that perfect selfie, but I still go. I can’t stop myself. It’s too beautiful to miss when you’re in such proximity. It’s magnetic. It pulls you in by the luscious spirals of night, the spritely stars, golden crescent moon, sleepy little town, and the silent church that seems to anchor the whole piece. It’s magnificent.

But it was borne from deep pain–guttural and soul-wrenching. If it weren’t for that, Van Gogh may not have been able to transport such feeling into his work. And his isolation and introversion allowed him to focus and concentrate in ways that others could not. His “weaknesses” were the very things that helped him create such otherworldly art. 

Deeply flawed people are often those who are profoundly wounded. If you are one of those people, you know the anguish. Every day you live in it, suffering. If so, you need to know that it’s often you who create incredible work–the art, writings, poetry, songs, paintings. Out of the womb of pain gives birth to glorious creations. 

And, not only that, the pangs that you’ve lived with have helped you become persistent. You’ve had to learn how to deal with that ache every time you take a step, breath, or just lie there. Or you constantly feel like you don’t fit and have had to learn how to deal with your flaws or the way others treat you, fighting daily. That fight–that doggedness–helps you continue, and it can fuel your work, your life. Your pain can teach you persistence and transform your deficit into an asset.

Even that incurable disease I have for confrontation is the very thing that seems to help me confront my fears, when I feel like a failure. That combativeness helps me combat the daily struggles that I have and the temptations I face when I want to doubt myself or shrink from doing the hard things in life and work to succeed. My flaw becomes a strength.

You may be flawed, too, but those deficits also make you unique and can transform into assets, and they can even propel you onto a path toward greatness. In your despair, don’t feel defeated. Persist. Continue inching forward. And I believe you can find your oil paint, your aha moment, your epiphany. And you, too, can hear the beautiful music of the universe harmonize. 

But no matter what, fight on.


Get Van Gogh’s full story here (affiliate link). It’s an incredibly well-written biography of one of the world’s greatest artists; it inspired this post.

You can overcome your doubt

Doubt is a weed that grows in the gardens of our minds. It can choke our dreams and kill our hopes. And the words “I can’t” start to infiltrate our thoughts. But doubt is a weed, not the flower, nor fruit. That’s the truth, and we the gardener.

So tend your mind, care for it, be aware of what is sprouting and rooting, diligently. Otherwise, untrue ideas, dark voices, and hopelessness can overrun your precious plot. Vigilance is key. Uproot the intruders, cast them off.

And plant the seeds of truth, goodness, faith. Water them, feed them, watch them. They will feed you, nourish you, sustain you. The aroma of their buds and the sweetness from their flesh will give you life, fill you with hope, fuel your aspirations.

And you will flourish.

One of the best things you can do to create

Sometimes to make creative work, the thing we need most is this. Rest.

You’re at your desk, sweating (metaphorically) and pounding away (literally) trying to get a good idea, but the only thing you produce is nothing. “Maybe I just need to work harder,” you might say to yourself. And still, nothing happens. So you do the only thing left to do—despair.

Maybe you’ve been there. I have.

Creating is hard work. And cracking the whip harder on ourselves isn’t effective. Or worse, it’s counterproductive.

That’s just when you need to say no to your inner medieval monk and throw away the whip. Then, roll your chair back, step away from your desk, and go for a walk, get a donut and coffee, or, better yet, go skydiving or horseback riding. If you’ve never meditated, try it. Why not? It’s scientifically known to help your brain operate better, heal even. If that’s not your cup of tea, have a cup of tea. Or visit your local museum. Get moved by others’ creativity. Whatever you do, get away from your work. The farther you go, the better.

And in those moments of being away, your mind will be recovering and working without you even trying. Often it’s when we are resting and having fun that the best ideas hit us. Inspiration strikes when we least expect it—like love. It can’t be forced. It can only be fostered, wooed. So take yourself on a nice date. Play. Laugh. Enjoy.

And when you return to your desk, you won’t be sweating and pounding.

You will be creating.

For, rest works.

Today is the most important day you have

Today is the most important moment in your life. 

It is. The past can’t be changed; the future is unknowable. But the present is different. 

You can do something here. You can act upon it, begin to change your life, draft the first paragraph of that book you always wanted to write, start a new habit, quit a terrible job, open a business, learn a new skill, ask your love to marry you. 

Reality and possibility kiss in the present. All that is missing is you, acting. 

Act as if your life depends on it because it does. Not that you are in harm’s way. But you are in danger of missing the possibilities of what you can do, the goodness you can contribute, the person you can become. 

No matter where you’ve been, what you’ve done, who you are, we all can be redeemed; we all can be transformed. And your future isn’t fixed; your life can improve. You can evolve, no matter what others say, no matter what you say. You are far from hopeless. This is the time to start your new future. Right this instant. 

Today is one of the greatest gifts we have. Don’t waste it on regretting this or that thing that happened, or worrying about such and such that you want to happen or hope doesn’t. 

Do what is before you today. Make the most of it. This is where life happens.

So, make here. Do here. Think here. Live here. 

Today is when life is best lived.

Her naked voice will make you feel

She opened her mouth and sang,
her naked voice pure and
beautiful made the air
ache.

It was a Kurdish song with
Kurdish words that I didn’t
understand but I could feel its
meaning, echoing, as it resonated
through my body and pierced my
soul.

It was haunting—

hauntingly beautiful.

It wasn’t a scream; it wasn’t a
yell. It was pain intertwined
with hope like the morning mist
fragile, yet floating, everywhere
then disappears in the first
morning light.

Mysterious yet meaningful, moving
you in ways you never knew you
could, within you a chorus of emotions
dancing to the tune of life and death.

Lost.

Lost in the moment, searching for truth,

yearning for hope.

Sonorous reverberations lingered
longingly as I listened, mesmerized,
lost in the melody, as I found my soul
hovering, absorbed in each note, in each
word.

You who know pain can understand how
the air can ache

bringing you to tears,
shaking your heart,
tearing down the world
you love

but you stand

Defiant.

Resolute.

Yet, as you breathe,

you ache.


This was inspired by Emel Mathlouthi and her performance.

One of the most surprising things about love

Love cannot be forced. It can only be found, discovered, like a jewel unearthed.

You may feel unlovable. You may feel unloved. But, love is there, waiting–waiting for you–longing to embrace you as much as you long to be embraced.

Wait for it.

Often, it finds us when we least expect it. When we stop looking and start getting on with our lives, it surprises us. It’s just one of the paradoxes of life. We find what we most want when we give up the search.

Surrender. Love desires to find for you.

For, you are a jewel.