I have always felt that I am an old soul, ever since 5-year-old me couldn’t relate to my peers and was more concerned with life philosophies than toys (although I did and still love my toys!). As such, in these 30 years of life I have learned many things through introspection, observation, education, and most of all, experience. On my 30th birthday today, I share with you 30 things that I have learned and I will elaborate on each one throughout my birthday month. Join me in a conversation on the learnings listed here and the philosophies behind them!
30 at 30
“Where there is love there is life” – Mahatma Gandhi
I am my greatest love story.
Life can change DRASTICALLY in seconds.
Blood may be thicker than water, but even your blood can betray and leave you.
Hustle hard and early in life because it pays off BIG later in more ways than you think.
Never stop learning because that’s when you stop growing.
Never give up!
Follow your heart, it knows the way.
Love freely and openly – it’s too beautiful not to express!
Be YOU because you were made this way for a beautiful reason.
Know your flaws. Accept your flaws. Love your flaws. They make you beautiful.
Your greatest obstacle is your mindset.
Breed positivity and you’ll have an abundance of good people at your side.
Time does not determine value in a relationship, respect does.
Life is a result of our choices.
Other people’s opinions are great for reflection, but remember to walk away from the mirror and decide for yourself.
Perception is reality in the minds of others, but reality always makes itself known when it matters.
Be approachable, not accessible.
Never be afraid to be as fabulous as you are – the world needs more of it.
Smile and smile often – for you, for your people, and for the people who just need to see the world smile some more.
Fight for what’s right even when the world is against you – it’s not about them, it’s not about karma, it’s about doing what’s right because it’s the right thing to do.
Believing in yourself is the best investment you can make.
Love your people and love on them often.
Life really is short, so do what you can today because tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone.
Prepare yourself for the life you want because you never know when it will become real.
There are habits you can change and there are habits that are actually characteristics. Know the difference and train yourself accordingly.
The foundations of ANY relationship (friend, family, intimate) are Trust and Respect.
You’ll never regret trying.
Fear is the world’s way of testing you. You have to decide when you’re ready to pass and level up.
This is YOUR life. Live it your way.
Aaj ho mere saath Toh yaad zaroor rakhna ye baat Izzat doge toh mein hoon saath Varna chune ke liye bhi na hoga yeh haath
Yeh zamana mera hai Abhi main kabool karti hoon Saara jahan dekha ga Main kis duniya ki bani hoon
Translation (adjusted for meaning): Today if you’re with me Please remember what I say Respect me and I’m with you Otherwise even my hand will be too far away
This season is mine I accept it and manifest it The whole world will see From which realm I may be
People often continue through life in the expectations of society and the community they are surrounded by, and spend all their time living up to those expectations. In fact, we are conditioned to believe that there is a set path we need to follow in order for life to be “successful” or “complete”. What is forgotten in this conditioning is that everyone is unique and has their own path to follow. Each individual gets to decide how they shape their life and success is defined by them and no one else. If there is anything to glean from this year, it is that life is unpredictable, so rather than waiting for society’s expected life moments to be happy or do the things we want to do, we should do those things now. We should make time for and design our life around what our hearts say our life needs. Most people wait to do that when they ‘retire’, but you don’t know what life will look like after 40 years, let alone tomorrow, so why wait to live it until then?
Holding back your passions or waiting to do the things you want to do in life is just preventing you from living your life to the fullest. In an effort to encourage y’all to live your best life, let’s recognize and celebrate what you gave time to in 2020. I want you to recognize what’s important to you and aim to give more time to those things in 2021.
For the last day of 2020, and Day 1 of Fast 5 of the Last 5, let us celebrate the time we gave to what was important to us.
Without pause, quickly list 5 things or people that you made time for in 2020.
1. The People I Love
2. My Passions
4. My Personal Growth
5. Life Goals
Share your 5 things in the comments and on social media, and be sure to use the hashtags #Fast5oftheLast5 #F5L5 #2020F5L5 and tag me (@__akiti__) so we can celebrate the value of what you gave time to.
This had to be the fastest yet slowest year we have experienced. It felt like life was slipping away and we were not able to make use of it as we originally intended and yet it was moving so torturously slow that it felt like the shenanigans of the year would never end. For those familiar with the game Jumanji, it definitely felt like someone started the game in the first quarter and each stage of the game was a new kind of crazy that we couldn’t wait to get past. Well it’s finally the last day of 2020, and I join everyone in the hopes that today runs smoothly and we just make it to tomorrow without anything falling apart. When the 31st of December comes each year, we tend to reminisce about all the things we’ve done this year – the good and the bad – as well as all the possibilities of the year to come. Since we tend to make time for the things we truly enjoy, and we spend time frivolously on everything else, I want to spend this last day thinking about the hours and days I spent on the things that I truly valued.
One of my greatest accomplishments this year was that I did make time for the life I love and the one I have wanted to live. Even before the pandemic hit, I had envisioned this year as one that I would spend building the foundation for the life I deserve. I initiated a lot of that work in the first few months, and when the pandemic hit, I actively chose to allocate time focusing on the tasks and lifestyle choices that aligned to that life. It was a struggle, as much of this year was, but I am proud that I was able to make some amazing strides and succeeded in making time for what mattered most to me.
To continue the theme of making time for the things that matter, I am not going to go into deeper reflections on my 5 things in hopes that you all spend today making time for what matters to you. Let’s spend the last day of 2020 celebrating not just the end of this year and the beginning of the next, but celebrating life itself and the fact that we get to live it!
In this life of mine The unknown is time To live life accordingly Is the main goal of mine
The pandemic took a lot this year from the world, from families, and from our plans. What the pandemic or anyone else in this world cannot take away is knowledge. What you learn remains with you and becomes a part of who you are. My mother always taught me that there is a lesson to be learned from everyone and everything we encounter. Each conversation teaches you something about yourself, about that person, or about the topic being discussed. Each story you come across by reading, watching, or listening has a moral to take away. Most of all, each moment in your life is an experience that you grow from if you pay attention to what it is teaching you. It is this perspective that helps those who believe in “everything happens for a reason” stay committed to that belief because in a single moment you’ll either learn something immediately or, if you can’t figure it out just yet, you’ll know the lesson is coming. So whether you experienced something that left it’s mark, realized something about yourself, or picked up a new skill, this year was abound with opportunities to gain some knowledge and I want to hear all about it.
On Day 2 of Fast 5 of the Last 5 of 2020, let us celebrate all that we learned and will take into this next phase.
Without pause, quickly list 5 things you learned in 2020. I’m very excited to share mine!
2. Value of Nature
3. Hoarding is Handy
4. Dogs are the Best
Share your 5 things in the comments and on social media, and be sure to use the hashtags #Fast5oftheLast5 #F5L5 #2020F5L5 and tag me (@__akiti__) because I want to know what you’ve learned!
Every year I try to focus on one thing I need to work on in my life. Since I already know I learn from people and experiences daily, I pick a bigger topic to address for the year overall that will take time to accomplish. This year, even without knowing that Covid-19 was going to overhaul the year’s plans, I had intended on pursuing my passions to make them more integral parts of my life. Prior to 2020, I dabbled in my passions from time to time when I felt like it or needed an outlet, but this year I wanted to make time for them every day because I recognized the value they added to my mood, my happiness, and my overall wellbeing. By the end of 2020, I ended up nurturing some passions while I also having learned some valuable life lessons.
In my humble opinion, I believe TikTok and short-form video was a significant and positive outcome of the pandemic and ensuing lockdown. The platform gave people confined to their homes a new form of entertainment that was quick, easily consumable, and actively engaging. The active engagement of course was and is optional, but became vital as people realized that they were beginning to become one with their furniture and needed some form of movement in their day. Although I did not jump on the TikTok or short-form video trend immediately, I thoroughly enjoyed consuming it and learning the value of this new channel of entertainment consumption and production. In the latter half of the year I began creating some content for TikTok as well as the Instagram contending functionality, Reels. I continue to learn about this platform as I explore it and intend to continue producing content for it. If you want to join the fun, check out my TikTok here and my Instagram here.
Value of Nature
I have been fortunate enough to travel quite a bit in my life having visited 14 countries and 48 states of the United States, and experiencing the beauty this Earth has to offer across all of them. As such, I always enjoyed nature and respected it accordingly, but this year I saw how powerful it is that it could fight back so vastly that it crippled the human race. Nature pushed back on us so fiercely with Covid-19 that we were forced to be confined to our homes and could no longer continue the destruction we were inflicting on our habitat. During this confinement, I took the time to understand survival methods using what nature has to offer, the delicate balance of provider and destructor that it is, and how much of the modern products we use leverage what it has to offer but muddy it with synthetics. I enjoyed learning all that I did because it opened my eyes to so many cool aspects of nature I had not known previously, but also because I have a new sense of respect for what it is capable of.
Hoarding is Handy
Everyone witnessed the embarrassing manner in which folks attacked stores for the supplies they thought they needed in preparation for the global lockdown, but that is not the hoarding that I am referring to. Natural hoarders, like myself, have always bought supplies in bulk and maintain a constant stock to ensure that one is never without necessary items (and often unnecessary items, but ones that we cannot seem to bear parting with). When the pandemic was declared, my survival training kicked in and I immediately took inventory of what I had, how much I had, how long it would last, and what was missing. It was of no surprise to me or my friends that I had most of what I needed, and that stock would have lasted me about 3 months. In learning more about the virus and seeing the political reaction to it, I knew that I needed to have at least enough for 6 months if I wanted to ensure that I didn’t have to leave my premises because my asthma puts me at a higher risk. Of course when I did enter stores, they were practically empty! The community had already panic bought and cleaned out supplies. I could not have been more grateful for my hoarding than in that moment because I got through the initial weeks of the pandemic on my original stock alone before gaining access to the additional supplies and stock I intended to maintain.
Dogs are the Best
My boys – the S Pirates – are my babies and I learned to cherish them even more than I already did! I am grateful that I got to spend so much extra time with my boys and they are ecstatic that I have been home 24/7 this year. What I learned in that time is that no matter what happens in life – with work, with relationships, with the world overall – the moment you look at or snuggle your fur baby, it all dissipates. In that moment, you feel such engulfing love, that you cannot help but be convinced that you have a companion to get through it all, no matter what. There were many days where the lockdown tested my trauma healing and the first thing I did whenever I felt low was take one fur baby into a snuggle and close my eyes. The peace I feel in doing that is inexpressible and I am so glad to have so many fur babies to experience that with. Knowing that they love me and are with me no matter what life throws our way, makes them one of the best parts of my life and I’ll never doubt that.
I learned to play a new instrument! When I visited Hawaii, I purchased a Hawaiian-made ukulele (correctly pronounced oo-koo-ley-ley) and I vowed at that moment to reengage in my musical passions. I’ve previously studied and trained in piano, harmonium, tabla, and Indian classical singing, but stopped everything years ago due to many reasons. I have always been musically inclined because I love the feeling of the music through me. Many may not understand what that means, but the vibrations one feels from different instruments in the way they strum, beat, or emit the sounds triggers something in each person differently. There is quite a bit of scientific literature on this, so I may explore that with you all at some point, but for now it is just important to note that it is a passion of mine that I had let go of many years ago and I was elated to bring it back into my life. I had always intended to learn this instrument virtually because my time was already so aggressively allocated that I felt virtual lessons were a good start. I was fortunate enough to find a teacher, Paul Elwood, via Lessons.com (a great place to find virtual teachers!) that had been hosting virtual classes for quite some time now, so when the lockdown was announced, my lessons were not impacted. I am proud to say that I have successfully learned one instrument and reignited this passion, so I hope to share more of it with y’all soon!
Life is full of lessons If you could only see Each experience is the key To all the possibilities
When people talk about love, it is usually in the romantic sense of the term. I want to remind y’all that love is a term of endearment and it has many forms. Of those forms, the most beautiful love is the one you grow to have for yourself. This year will be known for many things – the year of the pandemic, the year of the global lockdown, the virtual year, and so much more – but what all of the horrible things this year did was give us time at home and time with ourselves. I hope that the time you had to reflect on your life and yourself was fruitful and I want to celebrate what you learned to love about you.
Without pause, quickly list 5 things you learned to love about you in 2020. Here’s what I love about me!
1. My Heart
2. My Humanity
3. My Mind
4. My Body
5. My Strength
Share your 5 things in the comments and on social media, and be sure to use the hashtags #Fast5oftheLast5 #F5L5 #2020F5L5 and tag me (@__akiti__) so we can celebrate you for you!
Growing up I was bullied and isolated for being Indian, being different, or being the big nerd that I am, so I didn’t really see myself as beautiful or worthy in any regard. It became more of an issue as I grew older because I was forever friend-zoned by guys because I get along so well with the opposite sex, but was never approached by anyone romantically. It made me think maybe I just wasn’t attractive in any way to anyone. My family and friends all found it shocking because they told me I’m beautiful and am such a catch for any guy with my looks and personality. Many acquaintances attributed it to my being intimidating, but I never liked that concept because I don’t want to have to limit myself or bring myself down just to be attractive to someone. I thought I was cute and smart and someone would eventually like that, so I just continued on with my life never really loving my looks, just accepting them.
It was only after my ex-husband courted me that I started feeling and seeing myself as pretty, which isn’t really a great reason because it was external validation. That meant that it could be taken away, and that’s exactly what happened. During my marriage he and his family made a ton of comments about my looks, judging me and putting me down constantly by telling me how I should try and look and dress like other girls they’d talk about. When they chased me out of our house (essentially ending our marriage), they said the didn’t want a girl like me and they would find a more suitable girl for him. This shattered me. It was hurtful not only because they had been looking for girls for him (that’s a whole other issue), but because he didn’t want me anymore and my mind immediately went to thinking maybe it was because I wasn’t good enough. It was wrong of me to think this, and anyone who has survived abuse knows how unfortunate it is that our minds take us to that place immediately. The reality is that it didn’t matter how I looked or acted, they didn’t want me to begin with and that’s why it was easy for them to throw me away. That’s the problem with finding external validation for ourselves. When it doesn’t come from within, anyone can take it away, and that leaves us without a basis to love ourselves for who we are, as we are.
While working through my trauma, there came a day when I looked in the mirror and finally saw how beautiful I was and it was one of the most amazing moments of my life. I had been working on accepting who I was at the core of my being and it was in that process that I realized my own beauty – mind and body. I will be sure to explain that process one day for you all, but the result of me seeing my true beauty was phenomenal, and since then I take every opportunity to remind myself how amazing I am. It’s not to say that I am conceded or am bragging about myself, in fact I despise that society expects one to belittle themselves in the name of humility. Everyone should love themselves and celebrate themselves, and there is nothing wrong with recognizing how amazing you are and celebrating it. In 2020, my love for myself grew immensely and I want to share it with you all in hopes that it inspires you to love yourselves as well.
Since I have seen a lot of trauma in my life, at home and otherwise, and I never wanted anyone else to feel that way. In an effort to save others from that pain, I vowed at a very young age to always be a smiling face for others and spread the immense love I felt everyone deserved. At the time I just thought it was the right thing to do – to be kind and loving to all – but in 2020 I realized just how much the world needs more of that. The world needs more people to be kind, to be loving, and to want to spread love because the warmth from it is healing. I love that I have a big enough heart to genuinely care and love so hard on my people and the people I come across that it brings such beautiful smiles to their faces. It’s one of my favorite things about me.
I have always been caring to others, so much so that many of my friends referred to me as “Mama Keets” in high school for taking care of everyone – friends and strangers – in such a motherly fashion (also, because I drove a mini van, aka a momma van, that everyone loved!). I am this way because I always saw my parents display such care for everyone in their lives and strangers as well because they believed that respecting people as people first was important, not just based on their relation to you, their societal status, or their culture. It is why I wanted to be a lawyer growing up and studied different languages, diplomacy, international relations, and philosophy. I wanted to understand people and protect them.
I didn’t continue to pursue law, but I never stopped standing up for humanity and playing my part as an activist where possible. When the Black Lives Matter Movement and Farmer’s Protests erupted in 2020, I didn’t shy away from vocalizing my thoughts on the subjects and continue to support the causes where and when possible. I love that I feel so strongly for people and have this sense of urgency to support them even if I have no direct relation or reason why. I do it because it feels right and I appreciate that about myself very much so.
I am a super nerd. I accept that wholeheartedly, whether it has negative connotations or not, it is who I am and I love it! I love learning about everything, having intellectual conversations, philosophizing about the world and the unknowns, and dreaming about the possibilities. I experience so much joy from the amount of knowledge there is in this universe to absorb and how much beauty there is to explore that I have no shame in sharing it and expressing it to others. I was bullied for being a teacher’s pet in school, for always raising my hand to engage in the classroom or for doing random extra credit assignments (like balancing equations for fun). I did those things because I love learning and challenging my mind, not because I wanted the teacher’s attention (I loved my teachers, but I have zero interest in the concept of playing favorites). Beyond that, I am genuinely amazed at what my mind can do. It is such a beautiful thing and mine is such an anomaly to me. I retain almost all the information I come across so long as I fully comprehend it and I am really good at recalling it for productive use in my work and my daily life. I never realized how amazing this was until one of my really good friends in the corporate world pointed it out this year. I’ve learned to really appreciate the endless possibilities of my mind and love that I’ve created this platform to share my thoughts with you all as well!
As aforementioned, I struggled a lot with loving my body. It has truly been a process, but I am finally in a place that I love it and this year took that love to another level entirely. With the pandemic forcing us to spend so much time at home and being expected to interact with everyone virtually, we were really pressed to think about our health and physical appearances with all the pressure you find in the virtual space. I actually went on a journey with natural products because I have many adverse reactions to chemicals and medicines that I wanted to give the natural, Ayurvedic route a try. I moved to essential oils for my skin, hair, and household products. I became consistent with yoga and finally found a workout plan that works for me.
These were all immensely successful for my body and overall health this year, which led me to fall even more deeply in love with the body I have been given and how beautiful it is to me. After all the work I put in to caring for my body in 2020, I am ending the year with healthy glowing skin, beautiful hair I am enjoying a ton, my asthma and other health issues under control, and not having had a severe illness all year. For that I am extremely grateful, and love my body the way it is.
This year I began sharing my life story a bit more and many have told me that they never would have known that I had been through so much had I not told them. The reason they say this is because they always see my smiling, enjoying life, or being super productive in my work space. I don’t express my pain openly because I believe it adds no value to let it affect my daily activities and, more so, I don’t want others to feel what I feel. I don’t like the idea of releasing those painful vibes to anyone because that’s not what I want for others. That’s why I choose to deal with my traumas on my own time and in my own way, and that works really well for me. I never thought of that as strength, but this year I’ve learned just how amazing that is. There are many people who I met virtually that really struggle with their traumas and expressed to me just how admirable and inspiring it is that I am able to look past all of the pain and live a loving life. And I love that! I love that my strength has inspired others in so many ways and I intend on continuing to display that strength and sharing my story to help others however I can.
You are the epitome Of so much of the beyond Your beauty is to be cherished One no being can abscond A tragedy it would be If your value is ignored Not by others, they are busy Love yourself, you are yours
Change is inevitable, yet it is one of the hardest things for us to accept. We often fear change because it falls within the realm of the unknown. Whether you are spiritual or not, it takes some level of trust or faith in the universe to be open to the unknown that life can and will bring. I like to think of changes as opportunities to grasp and grow from and today’s activity encourages you to do just that.
Welcome to Day 4 of Fast 5 of the Last 5 of 2020 as we count down the days to the new year with 5 activities each day to celebrate your life!
Without pause, quickly list 5 things, people, or moments that changed for the better in 2020. Below are mine.
1. Worked From Home
2. Reallocated My Time
3. Clarified My Priorities
4. Removed Toxic People
5. Respected Myself
Share your 5 things in the comments and on social media, and be sure to use the hashtags #Fast5oftheLast5 #F5L5 #2020F5L5 and tag me (@__akiti__) so we can celebrate change together!
I was quite surprised by my list actually and what came to mind when I considered the things that changed for the better for me in 2020. It’s not that I don’t align with my list, because I’m actually perfectly aligned with it, but I spent some time afterwards thinking if I’m missing bigger changes. This goes back to our expectation that bigger is better when it comes to what is important in life. Once I wrote down my changes, I realized that they each play such a vital role in who I am at the end of 2020 and that’s what matters. This activity reminded me that I am a product of each choice in my life, no matter the value others place on those choices – big or small. I’m very happy with how 2020 has shaped me and the changes I’ve accomplished that make me elated to be alive.
Worked From Home
The moment companies prioritized or were forced to prioritize their employees’ health over productivity and place everyone on work from home status was a huge win for people and for the corporate world. Not only did it force people and companies to realize the value of the internet in making virtual interactions seamlessly successful, but it also displayed the value of a proper work-life balance. In reflecting on this further, I actually spun into a full blown rant on the subject, so I’ve decided this topic really deserves further elaboration as it’s own post at a later date (subscribe to see it in 2021!). For the purpose of this activity, what I will say is that this change reminded me why balance and boundaries between one’s work life and personal life is crucial. This balance allows one to feel fulfilled in both aspects of life and cherish both more because you are not forced to choose one over the other. This was a major paradigm shift that the world went through and I think it is just the beginning of the virtual world we are about to enter (cue The Matrix theme music).
Reallocated My Time
Time management is something almost everyone struggles with and it became extremely necessary for me to change my approach to it this year. I was genuinely struggling with the excitement of additional time to work on my passions and my future goals and the workload I already had, which resulted in this constant feeling of getting pulled in too many directions. There eventually came a point when I shut down entirely and had to step away from it all, only to realize that each item is important to me in my life and I need to find a way to make it reasonably work. I recognized that if I want to work on each item, I need to find the right time allocation to give each the focus it needs without derailing other items. It’s taken almost all of 2020 to figure out the balance for me, and I finally employed a tactic I tried post-trauma which just last week finally clicked, making it clear to me how I want it all to work. I’m practicing the implementation of my strategy and things are finally looking promising! It’s a year-end change, so we’ll see the fruits of this change in 2021.
Clarified My Priorities
In the time I shut away from all interactions to figure things out, I realized that I was teetering on the verge of burning out once again and, along with time management, I needed to realign my priorities to give focus to the right things. I found that I was spending quite a bit of time on certain activities that were not in line with my future goals, and were just nice-to-have activities that I enjoyed. It’s not that one shouldn’t enjoy those activities, but they need to be de-prioritized in the face of actions related to ones’ goals, and they should be placed aside entirely when higher life priorities arise. It may seem small to some, but this was a special moment when I realized this and made the decision to take action on it. I found a methodology that works for me to prioritize my decisions in such a way that I achieve a little bit towards every goal without feeling like I’m missing out on other things.
Removed Toxic People
I lost one too many dear individuals this year – not to Covid-19, but to their toxic nature – and many have expressed how sad that is but have also experienced this. What I’ve realized is that it is not a loss, but a win that those individuals are no longer part of my life or have shifted from close friends to distant acquaintances. These individuals were my friends for many, MANY years and those closest to me know they were at one point my chosen family (some were biological family!). For me to call you my family means a lot and I don’t use it lightly. These individuals had done some pretty toxic things in the past, but being the overly-understanding and accepting person that I have been told I am, I looked past those things and loved them dearly anyway.
I did that because I followed my heart in believing that they were good people and convinced myself that they cared for me, too, because that’s what they said. If nothing else, life has taught me severely that when words do not match actions, you are playing with toxicity. So when these individuals took actions that disrespected me or they could not handle my dissenting opinion on matters, I finally chose to remove them entirely from my life or distanced myself enough that they no longer take respectable space in my heart or mind. It’s quite freeing actually to have taken this action, and that’s honestly how I knew it was one of the best changes in my life and one that has made me immensely happier.
This defined my 2020. I have always been a cordial individual and maintained relationships even when people have hurt me (as I mentioned earlier) because I always felt my heart and mind were strong enough to withstand the hurt and not take it out on others the way others would do to me. What I’ve learned is…THIS IS WRONG. Everyone deserves to be treated well and respected, and if someone is treating you poorly, overlooking it or making excuses for their behavior because you’re “understanding” is just teaching them how to treat you. In case you missed it, they are disrespecting you and you are showing them that it’s okay because you won’t react to it. If you are unable to express your dissent towards something or are reprimanded for setting your boundaries, then please know that you are not the problem.
Any individual that you cannot have a dissent-driven discussion with or is not willing to accept or respect your boundaries is toxic and you should respect yourself enough to disengage from them entirely. I have had to learn this many times over the years, but in the past most of those people have cut me off. This year I worked on sticking by my beliefs & standards and setting my boundaries – a big change for me as it is contrary to my understanding nature – and I had to let go of many people I thought were my people because they showed me that they didn’t respect me. That’s when it really sunk in that you are truly better off respecting yourself and losing such individuals because the one’s that are meant to stay will do so and will respect you choosing and being you. And so this year’s biggest change, and biggest win for me, truly is respecting myself and protecting my boundaries.
Change is coming whether we want it or not So have faith in what is meant to be Your peace & happiness is worth a shot
We are often asked what we are grateful for and there are some usual suspects that folks answer with, as is customary, because we are expected to be grateful for certain things like family. Gratitude, by definition, is the willingness to be thankful for or show appreciation or kindness towards something or someone. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we are not equally blessed with people or experiences that we can be thankful for, and so we should be gracious to those who are grateful for other things in life because of what those things mean to them and their life. For example, not everyone has family or even should be expected to be grateful for them if that “family” has been abusive or disruptive to their life or peace of mind. Therefore, those individuals may be grateful for a great many things or other people in their life and that is absolutely, unquestioningly acceptable and I am grateful if you prioritize yourself and your peace of mind enough to recognize what is okay for you.
And so, with an open mind and an open heart, I welcome you to Day 5 of the Fast 5 of the Last 5 of 2020 as we count down to the new year! If you’re joining for the first time, please visit the introduction to this new year-end tradition, and then return here for the first activity below.
Without pause, quickly list 5 things, people, or experiences you are grateful for in 2020. Here are mine:
2. My Crew: Mommy & the Boys
3. The Family I Choose
4. My Health
5. My Freedom
Share your 5 things in the comments and on social media, and be sure to use the hashtags #Fast5oftheLast5 #F5L5 #2020F5L5 and tag me (@__akiti__) so we can be grateful together!
My list actually rolled off the tongue quite expeditiously because I realized what truly mattered to me after a traumatic period in my life. I often refer to that period as a previous life because it genuinely feels as though I died and was reborn with a second chance at the life I want and deserve to live. That’s not to say my list is not specific to 2020, but it just so happens that the pandemic reaffirmed for me the importance of these 5 things and why I am grateful for them.
Often people offhandedly mention they are grateful for life as a general act of respect for all that life encompasses. My appreciation for life is a bit different though because I have been close enough to death, had multiple near-death experiences, and experienced the loss of literally everything in my life to truly recognize that every ounce of life I get to live is a blessing. Every person, every object, every sense I get to experience is beautiful to me and I actually wake up thankful for this opportunity daily. This year in particular reminded me how quickly these things can be taken away and reignited my desire to live my best life, so I’m grateful for that realization and the opportunity to exist here.
My Crew: Mommy & the Boys
As a result of the 2020 pandemic, we were confined to our homes to be left only with those living with us. For many this was difficult, dangerous even, and an unexpected sentence the world delivered them – and I feel for you all deeply. Fortunately for me, I could not have been more ecstatic to get to spend all of my time with just my Mom and my boys (my fur babies – Scooby, Shaggy, Scrappy, Sparky, Sonic, and Shadow – learn more about them here!). Outside of the pandemic, the world had become so focused on the activities and people we needed to engage with to feel like life was being lived, but I have known and was beyond grateful to get to engage with the ones I love most in this world because they deserve my time the most. They are the core of my being, the why for my existence, and the ones I would venture to the ends of the universe for. There is nothing that makes me happier or brings me more peace in this world than being with my crew and seeing them happy, so I’m grateful for the time I had and continue to have with them because each moment is a blessing.
The Family I Choose
Everyone is born into a family (biologically), whether you know them or not, are close to them or not, or in whatever form that may be. Society tends to promote the expectation that everyone should strive for and hold onto the “nuclear family” because that is the “right” way to live. In 2020, I believe we’ve progressed enough to realize that the modern family is what you make of it. Your family is the culmination of the people who choose you and with whom you reciprocate that choice because there is mutual respect, trust, and love in those relationships. If those three elements do not exist, then quite frankly, you have every right to not want to maintain the relationship and should not have to.
I learned this the hard way in life, but have come out with a strong family I choose that is a combination of biological relations and beautiful souls that made their way into my life, both of whom choose every day to be active and supportive parts of my life, and I in theirs. I got to spend beautiful moments with most of these people (all within the context of the safety protocols of this year), and we made memories for life that I truly cherish. The pandemic also showed me the true colors of many individuals I thought to be a part of that family and had to let go of in honor of my self-respect, and so I am even more grateful for realizing who is meant to be here and chooses to be.
Over the past 6 years, there was an onset of many random and life-induced medical conditions that I struggle with even today. In 2020, whilst the world was battling a health condition that has taken the lives of so many and continues to bring strife, I learned to appreciate my state of wellbeing more than ever. I am an asthmatic and Covid-19 has been a particularly high risk for me, so coming to the end of the year without having Covid-19 and remaining in generally good health for the greater part of the year outside of a few natural hiccups, is astounding for me and something I am truly grateful for. I’ve realized the importance of healthy practices and intend to continue the activities I engaged in this year to build my immunity and strength to remain well in the coming year.
In America especially, we speak of freedom as our right but take it for granted more often than not, especially if you are privileged enough to not experience freedom-hindering actions against you. I have lived a generally privileged life as it pertains to my freedom because my parents maintained a liberal mindset by which I was allowed and encouraged to explore the world and myself with their full support. Even coming from an Indian background where the culture does not always support such liberal lives, my family has always been this way and are loud and proud of it. It is probably due to us being of Punjabi descent (from the northern state of Punjab, India), in which such liberal nature is quite common compared to other parts of India. That being so, I ended up in a very traumatic marriage where that freedom was stripped away entirely and I was a modern-day slave in a life I never could have imagined for myself. After being freed of that entrapment, I realized the value of freedom and recognized that one cannot fully appreciate it until that freedom is taken away.
In 2020, as we were forced to remain in the confines of our homes and the Black Lives Matter Movement exploded with the attempted eradication of an entire peoples’ freedom, much of the trauma from that torturous time resurfaced in the form of thoughts of what life would have been like if I was not thrust out of that life. In revisiting those experiences and working through that trauma, I realized that freedom is not just political with regard to what you can and cannot do in society. Freedom is the inherent right you have to live life the way in which is true to you without any impediment by others or in any way that harms another’s freedom or life. That being said, in 2020 I am eternally grateful for the freedom I have to wake up every day when I want, how I want, and to live the life I want.
Life is what you make it If you are able to do so Let us all be gracious For we reap what we sow
Every year we start strong with our resolutions in hand, hope for the future, and the feelings of a fresh start. Just before that we spend the holidays focused on celebrations, gifts, family, and the dread for the remaining days of the year whilst reminiscing on how quickly the year has past. This year in particular has been hard for many because of Covid-19 and the lockdown that ensued as it derailed many of those resolutions and productive plans for this year. Everyone acknowledged and gave grace to themselves and others that this year it was acceptable to not have completed your goals or have accomplished all that you wanted because it was a truly taxing year mentally, physically, and emotionally as the world went through the pandemic together.
In thinking about that grace as I, too, had to be gracious with myself for not doing all that I had wanted to, I realized that this year more than others we should still strive to celebrate what we have accomplished. We as a supposedly progressive society tend to attribute success and accomplishment only to profitable or extravagant accomplishments, such as starting a business, gaining celebrity status or fame, or achieving socially expected life moments like graduation, marriage, child birth, or pregnancy. This year altered the way in which we celebrate those big moments and for some those moments had to be avoided altogether. In light of that and if we sincerely believe ourselves to be progressive thinkers, then we should recognize that in life there are so many aspects that can and should be celebrated as achievements – no matter how small the general society believes those aspects to be.
Life is not just about the pre-defined “life moments” assigned by Facebook or the balance sheet of a business. This year more than others has shown the world that life is more than the big moments or timelines we set, it’s what’s happening every second and each moment we get to live is to be celebrated. Fortunately or unfortunately, my past has shown me just how quickly one moment can alter the course of your life, and that is something the pandemic of 2020 has shown the world as well. So I choose and ask you all to choose to recognize the value of each moment and celebrate the small successes in those moments just as much as the big ones because all of it makes up the life you have and your life is worth celebrating.
To help us all recognize the value in varying aspects of life, I am starting a new tradition of spending the last five days of the year exploring the five aspects of life that we should accept and perceive as valuable: gratitude, change, love, knowledge, and time. There are so many moments in life that fall into these categories and I want each of us to spend time recognizing those moments as we close out the year and look forward to the next. To do this, join me for the last five days of 2020 in this activity.
Fast 5 of the Last 5 Activity
Each day of the last five days of the year, we’ll take one of the five life aspects – gratitude, change, love, knowledge, and time – and without pause, quickly identify five moments or things this year that apply.
For example: Day 5 (starts tomorrow, Dec 27th, since we’ll count down to the new year) will be Gratitude. I’ll share the ask for gratitude in my blog & on social along with my 5 things.
The purpose of thinking quickly for this exercise is that it forces you to recognize the things/moments that you truly feel fall within the respective category. When we don’t give our mind time to come up with the “right” or “appropriate” answer, our heart gives the answer and that’s the one we really align with. This activity also helps you listen to what you actually believe is valuable (check out my post on following your heart’s path for more on why this is important). I want us to strive to listen to our true desires and celebrate all moments because it is humbling to remember that life is more than the big wins and losses, it is important to live a life we love while we still can, and this is how we should close out one year and kickoff the next.
I’ll be sharing my fast 5 each day here in a post as well as on social media starting December 27th. If you join me in this year-end activity be sure to use the hashtags #Fast5oftheLast5 #F5L5 #2020F5L5 and tag me (@__akiti__) so we can celebrate these moments together!
Life moves quickly So live it while you can Each moment is precious Love with open hands It’s important to note Each minute success Because each moment is special Oh to be alive, you are blessed Let’s celebrate each win Whether big or small Each one is worth it Let’s celebrate them all
Unread messages. Overflowing inbox. Work piling up. Wanting to respond, follow-through, and catch-up, but needing to close the door and make all the noise stop. The fear of taking action overpowering the love for family, friends, and the life you’ve worked towards or desire. Anxiety isn’t just heart thumping panic attacks, it’s every minute thought that crosses your mind before taking any action or making any choice, and fighting to keep those thoughts away. There are ways to combat those feelings and I’m going to walk you through the ones I find to be the most effective to continue through this game we call life.
It’s common to assume that because someone is doing well, looks well, and isn’t having public episodes they couldn’t possibly be struggling with mental health issues. I’m here to inform you that such an assumption is both incorrect and harmful. I am a successful entrepreneur who continues to push others to excel, the first & last person on the dance floor, and someone who makes it a point to be a smiling, loving face for all. And that’s all you would see and know unless you found me hiding in a bathroom or if I didn’t outrightly tell you that I struggle with the aforementioned inner thought battle on a daily basis. After abuse and gaslighting from my marriage, I was left questioning every thought, every choice, and every action 100 times over. There are days when I am productive or outgoing beyond belief, and then those days are almost always followed by days where I don’t want to move at all, or see or speak to anyone, even if it’s digitally. The very thought of interacting with anyone or even posting on social media from a digital distance is abhorrent and has me wondering if anyone even cares what I have to say or think, or worse – that they’ll belittle me for what I share.
Lucky for me (albeit debatably so), I’m considered to be someone with high-functioning anxiety because although there are days where the anxiety takes over and I can’t bring myself to move past it, more often than not I persevere beyond what I’m experiencing because I convince myself that what I need to do or say is more important. Many do not acknowledge the concept of high-functioning anxiety on the basis that they believe the anxiety is not as bad as it is for those who are completely numbed by it.
What they do not comprehend is the extent of that crippling, numbing feeling of the anxiety I, or others like me, have and the amount of courage and strength it takes to move past those feelings every moment of every day. It’s not that the anxiety isn’t bad, it’s that high-functioning anxious individuals like myself either have no choice but to keep moving on with life or they have found the courage to do it anyway. That does not mean we’re not dealing with the same or possibly worse anxiety symptoms. It just means we are not willing to let it cripple our lives permanently and have chosen to do something about it.
I choose every moment of every day to build a life I love and one with purpose, and I want others struggling with anxiety to be able to do the same. Here are 5 tactics that help me find & maintain the courage and willpower to push past my anxiety when I need to, and I hope they help you do the same.
1. Acknowledging Your Anxiety
They say the first step to recovery is accepting that you have a problem, and that most definitely applies to anxiety as well. The difference is that you must not only accept that you have anxiety, but also the ways in which it impacts you and the extent of the impact. One thing many assume about mental health issues is that, like physical illnesses, they probably impact people the same exact way – if you have a paper cut, it means your skin broke, there is probably blood, and the solution is a bandaid irrespective of how the paper cut you. That assumption is very much incorrect for mental health issues because although the anxiety symptoms may be similar, the extent to which they impact you are entirely dependent upon who you are as a person and the experiences you’ve had.
For example, Person A and Person B both have anxiety. Person A has experienced a traumatic event that triggered anxiety symptoms. Person B has always had anxious thoughts and reacts to the world accordingly. Both Person A and Person B have recurring thoughts questioning their value in life, prefer not to interact with other people if they don’t have to, and have insomnia. Person B has these thoughts because they are trying to find value and purpose in themselves and replaying events helps them do that, but any mistakes torture them and keep them awake at night. Person A, having gone through a traumatic experience, has recurring thoughts because the trauma replays in their mind and tries to convince them that they are of no value, and these thoughts numb them completely if they let them in; making sleep next to impossible because they cannot sit still with their thoughts and need to keep doing something. They have similar anxiety symptoms, but the effect of the anxiety is very different and requires unique care to manage it.
Acknowledging your anxiety and how it impacts you allows you to find a way to accept it, understand how it influences you to act or react in certain ways, and find techniques that uniquely suit your impacts or triggers. It’s about managing the symptoms by trying to understand the root cause or triggers of those symptoms, and that may eventually help you heal past certain symptoms entirely like it has for me.
2. Having a Why
Every individual strives for a purpose in life, a reason or why for existing, and it’s important to look for and know yours because it acts as a guiding force when obstacles come your way. Especially in the case of anxiety, having a why helps push past the anxious thoughts/feelings because you know you have to do what you have to do to fulfill your why.
For example, when I was thrust out of my marriage and freed from my abusers, I was left with nothing – truly hit rock bottom because I was broke and homeless and lost everything I had built until that point in life. It was then that I realized through self-reflection that my why has nothing to do with material things people strive for in life, but rather the basic principle that I deserve to be alive, to be free, and to be loved. Therefore, my why is to never let myself be in a position where I’m not living fully, freely, and in love with who I am and what I do daily. Every time an obstacle comes my way, I’m now able to remind myself of this and it grants me the ability to focus on the part the required action plays in the life I want for myself and push through because I know what I’m working towards is worth it and no anxious thought is worse than letting myself return to a life like my past.
Having a why gives you a base to return to and ground yourself with to reset your focus. I find that this is 90% effective in anxious situations – the 10% being triggered events that require a bit more assistance.
3. Using Tools to Focus
When anxiety hits and attempts to derail you, it can be extremely difficult to catch yourself in the moment and break free. Using your why is a great start because it invigorates you to push through by reminding you of what trumps your anxious thoughts, but sometimes the thoughts or triggers have a stronger impact. In those cases, there are a few tools that can help relax your mind and body to make it easier to reset and focus to break free.
Breathing exercises. There are a variety of breathing methods that stabilize the body and grant the mind more focus. I recommend starting with researching different yoga breathing practices to find the one that best suits you. My go-to method is inhaling through your nose and out through your mouth because it requires you to focus on the breathing method which grounds your mind on something other than what is triggering your anxiety. I usually take 10 of these deep breaths or until I feel like I’m back in control. It immediately reduces my heart rate, releases the clenching symptoms, and relaxes any breathing spasms (for those who are also asthmatic like me). Practice any of the breathing exercises outside of anxious moments so that you are prepared with how to use the tool rather than adding more tension during an anxious moment or attack to try and figure the exercise out.
Movement.Physically changing your position resets the mind and brings back a sense of reality. If you’re sitting, then stand up, walk around, or stretch. Initially, this breaks the train of thought you are in, which is especially helpful if you’re able to recognize that the thought track you’re starting has numbed you in the past. It takes practice to catch this, but once you are able to recognize it and move as soon as you acknowledge it’s starting, you can change the course of that moment. I usually go straight into surya namaskar (a yoga stretch) because it is a combination of breathing and stretching that feels like a fresh start since I do this every morning as well to kickstart my day. By making it a part of my morning routine, I’ve trained my mind and body to consider it as a starting point. I’ll go through the movements 5 times or until I feel centered again. Find the movement that best resets you and practice using it every time a triggering thought crosses your mind or build it into your daily routine. Eventually, it becomes second nature to do this and begins to create a healthy comfort zone to retreat to and reset from.
Thought Diversion.This is a mind exercise that breaks the anxious thought as soon as it comes through and trains your mind to stop the train of thought entirely. Essentially, when an anxious thought crosses your mind, and you recognize it, immediately shift your focus to a completely random thought flow. For example, I tend to experience anxiety during still moments in my day when I’m alone like in the shower. As soon as I recognize an anxiety-inducing thought come through, I pickup a shampoo bottle and start reading the packaging label. This immediately breaks the anxious thought flow and grounds my thoughts on something physically real in my hands and mentally engaging to divert my mind. It is important to note that I do not dismiss the thought, but rather acknowledge that it is going to send me down an anxiously numbing path and I am choosing to break that moment and address the thought later in a more controlled environment. This method works best if you’ve already acknowledged your anxiety trigger, made peace with the thoughts that are creeping in, and have recognized that allow them to flow freely is not going to add any value. It is best at that point to revisit the thoughts and work through them properly in the manner that suits you.
Medicinal/Herbal Elements. There are a variety of medications and herbal/natural remedies to assist in resetting the chemical imbalance that occurs when anxiety hits. If you’re currently seeing a medical professional about your anxiety, it is best to speak to them about what is appropriate and available to you for the best treatment plan. I personally prefer herbal or natural remedies, and rely on the following:
1. Herbal Tea: Each culture has different concoctions under the umbrella of herbal tea, but I specifically recommend Indian Chai with the addition of specific herbs. I use Brooke Bond’s Red Label Natural Care loose tea and add a pinch of turmeric, a pinch of ginger, 1 drop of Young Living’s Thieves Vitality essential oil, and occasionally a spoon of honey. This blend reduces inflammation in the body and relaxes the mind with the herbal ingredients that enhance brain functionality, while also building immunity.
2. Essential Oils. These are plant extracts, not greasy oils like many assume, and have many benefits for the mind and body. I recommend you use 100% pure essential oils that are targeted towards physical and mental relaxation to combat both the symptoms of anxiety and to ignite focus. I use Young Living essential oils because they have a Seed to Seal guarantee of purity and their potency is immediately effective. I apply their Stress Away blend daily on my wrists to start the day off relaxed, and use Frankincense to increase mental acuity. Stress Away is also effective in the moment anxious thoughts arise – I find immediate physical relief and mental focus return within seconds of applying it. For more details, please visit my wellness page.
3. Mehndi/Henna. Many do not know this, but the properties of mehndi (referred to as henna in the western world) include cooling and relaxing the body. It is one of the reasons it is applied to brides before their wedding day to bring a sense of calm to the mind and body before such a stress-inducing life event. You can apply mehndi anywhere on the body and many use it as a hair mask for a natural reddish-brown hue along with the cooling sensation directly on the cranium. Mehndi is one of my favorite things in this world, so I take any chance I can get to get my hands covered with it. For those looking to be more subtle, find a good mehndi artist to make small tattoo-like designs wherever you want or buy a cone and play with it on your own!
4. Having an Outlet
One of my favorite philosophies is that you should have 3 hobbies in life: one to keep you in shape, one to make you money, and one to keep you creative. I love this philosophy because it’s about finding useful applications for your passions. Every anxious individual knows there is a lot of pent up energy in anxious moments, and directing that into a hobby or passion as an outlet is a healthy release. Many choose workouts as a combination outlet for physical release and mental redirection to the physical task. This is an extremely effective outlet if you are consistent with it and enjoy it. Journaling is another tried and tested outlet that acts as a safe space to release or work through your thoughts, and the act of writing requires physical engagement as well. Personally, I use dancing and writing as my outlets. I dance as my workout method because it has all the benefits of physical movement with the added benefit of bringing me immense joy! I then also write in a few formats: blogging for intellectual release, journaling to work through my thoughts and inspire myself, and poetry for emotional release. Identify your passions and see how they can work for you.
5. Rationalizing Your Thoughts
This is one of the most effective yet most difficult tactics. It leverages some of the aforementioned methods, but requires the courage and willpower to convince yourself that you do not need to be hindered by the anxious thoughts and reason your way out of the derailment. It starts with breaking down your anxious thoughts one-by-one, understanding where the fear/worry is stemming from, and then analyzing the outcome or worst case scenario of taking or not taking the expected action.
For example, when I’m feeling anxious about opening a message or responding to it, I walk through these thoughts.
Anxious source: Overall my fear is failure because if someone is messaging me, they likely need something and I don’t want to let them down.
Analysis:I then rationalize that 1) not everyone who messages me needs or wants something – they may want to just say hello, and 2) even if someone does need something then all I can do is provide what I do know or a direction for what they need because 3) I can’t possibly have the solution for everyone.
Weighing the Outcome: It’s the third point of analysis that really checks me out of my anxious moment because I’ve convinced myself that if I can’t have the solution for everyone, then the worst thing that will happen is that I won’t have a solution for this individual and they will have to find help elsewhere. On the positive side, if it’s something I can help with, then I would have been able to help, which is something that makes me very happy! Either way, it’s not the end of the world. In scenarios where the message is from a known individual for a mutual need, I also use my why to recognize that I need to engage in order to move forward with my why. This takes courage because I risk my fear for the sake of my why because I’ve convinced myself that the action is in the direction of my life goals, and that’s more important than any potential negative outcome.
Rationalization diffuses the thought and helps heal the anxiety pertaining to certain actions entirely once you get comfortable with that rationalization and fully accept it so it doesn’t trigger you anymore.
Anxiety is hard, but it doesn’t have to control your life. Life is a combination of the cards you’re handed and how you choose to play them. You may have been handed the anxiety card, but how you play that card is entirely up to you. You can let it run its course (and your life), or you can use these tools and/or professional help to manage it so you can live your life on your terms. The choice is yours alone, but know that you’re not playing by yourself. We’re all in this game together, and I’m betting you can play the game just fine.
Doing the needful Is extremely fearful A message, a call Anything at all That creeping thought Internally fought Tensions awry Just wanting to cry A hug or embrace A loving space Is the only need To be truly freed This game of life Is full of strife But I am there In this game to share Every smile & every tear You’re not alone, never fear
We hear you. We see you. We stand with you. No amount of empathic notions could amount to understanding the depth of the pain you feel. Centuries in the making, days in the breaking – it is a pain so deep and one we know you should no longer endure because your patience has been tried more than it ever should have been. The deaths of the past few months have been brutal, uncalled for, and yet are only the ones we got to see because we are in a world of technology where this brutality can now be captured for the world to truly know what you’ve been experiencing for far too long.
This past week’s tragedy and the loss of George Floyd is only one of the many that contribute to your fear of living truly free and fulfilled lives. You are deserving of liberation from this modern captivity – the seemingly “free”, yet manipulatively limiting existence this country has created for you post the Civil Rights Movement. You are deserving of the inalienable rights your very existence in this world grants you – rights that no other individual, let alone the nation in which you reside, should be allowed to infringe upon.
Our nation helped found an entire governing body for the acknowledgement and protection of those very rights, and yet that very nation has not abided by those declarations for your sake. I call upon those declarations now to empower you with the assurance that we stand with you – in full action, not words alone – and to remind all the naysayers that they do not get to choose when and how these declarations apply.
Your rights exist with your existence.
Let us begin unpacking this with that which all undersigning nations agreed to in the Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. It’s important to note that this proclamation was 72 years ago – before the Civil Rights Movement, and well before the murder of George Floyd. For whatever reason, we still need to educate our signing nation and its people on what these rights entail.
I start with this, not because it is in the Preamble, but because it is the first point I’d like to address. It has now been a week since the inhumane and blatant murder of George Floyd, and you have set ablaze the grounds of your oppressors. Good – we stand with you. As much as we agree with those who say “two wrongs do not make a right,” we also know that it has not been an equivalent comparison of “wrongs” to allow that statement to apply. The corrupt officials and individuals that have shuddered in your presence without cause, accused you of crimes without reason, unjustly incarcerated you for years without precedence, and murdered you blatantly under the guise of “defense” without evidence of your supposed brutality have wronged you in such ways for YEARS.
In those years, you have responded with peaceful protests, as is within your human, and constitutional, right. These wrongs upon you by these people have stolen from you that universally declared “freedom from fear” because you cannot walk this nation without the fear of what these people may decide they are allowed to do to you next without reason. You have spoken, you have silently kneeled, you have politically presented, and you have peacefully continued on. And it has been years. If this is not a last resort to protect yourselves from oppression, than I would like some of those people to please explain what is the definition of “last resort” since obviously the other, more peaceful, forms of protest were not enough to relieve you of their knees upon your necks.
So now let’s break down the last part of this Preamble excerpt a bit more. It essentially states that in order to prevent man from being “compelled” to act in the way you have now, which is considered a “rebellion”, against oppression, that it is essential “that human rights should be protected” by the laws of this nation. If that was not clear enough, let me clarify again. If this nation and the people that are upset with your acts of rebellion did not want you to resort to these acts, then those very people should have protected your rights in the first place.
Now let’s talk about those rights.
I love this first Article because it speaks volumes. Not only does it proclaim that all of us are “born free & equal in dignity and rights” – literally stating that our existence is proof enough of that – but it also declares that we have “reason and conscience” enough to treat each other “in a spirit of brotherhood.” It is unfortunate that this declaration assumes everyone is endowed with such characteristics because, clearly, that is not the case, but when the people who support the oppressors quote religion(s), the same religion(s) that encourage such brotherhood as well, I am appalled that they do not apply these beliefs accordingly in their actions. I do believe the readings of Sunday sermons are supposed to applied in life and not left at the altar.
For my oppressed Brothers and Sisters, you are entitled to your rights and your freedom IRRESPECTIVE of the color of your skin (you know this, and we know this). For everyone who does not know this or understand this, let me take you through a mini science lesson. The skin on a human body is an organ, the largest organ in fact. Everyone’s skin is unique to them, as defined by their DNA and impacted by environmental factors over time. If you didn’t notice, you have this organ as well (Congratulations! You are human and have rights). You didn’t have a choice in the color of your organ because, frankly, no one does. The same way you don’t have a choice in the color of your heart, your lungs, or your brain. Now I’d like to know if any of you confused folks have checked the color of these latter organs before deciding your level of fear of another human. No? You haven’t?! How absurd. Yet, you appear to be afraid, sorry I mean TERRIFIED, of someone simply because their largest organ that is visible to you is of a darker shade than yours. It is beyond my comprehension as to why the mere color of this organ compels you to disregard the aforementioned and shortly mentioned rights that are granted simply by a human’s existence, and you continue to allow the murder, abuse, unjust incarceration, and modern slavery of people accordingly. The color of your organ does not grant you the audacity to presume you have any such right to gaslight people on your whim or fantasized superiority.
As with the other Articles, let me break this down further. This states that as humans, we are granted the innate right to remain alive, to be free from oppression, and to be protected. I ask now of anyone that sits in silence during this horrific time – why do you not feel compelled to actively stand by our Brothers and Sisters of color at a time when those who have sworn to protect all of us and those rights, are the very same to have brought such brutality against them? Not all officers are bad, in fact some are amazing and carry their badge with the honor it deserves in the service and protection of the common people. BUT there are officers who irrationally believe they have the authority to eradicate the rights set forth in this Article for our Brothers and Sisters of color on a whim and in whatever capacity they see fit. It is because we have allowed them to continue to act in such a manner, without just repercussions, that we are in the state of rebellion we see today. Know that it is silence and inaction against such people that has led to this.
As most of us recall, slavery supposedly ended in 1865 with the end of the Civil War, but that was just one “form” of slavery, which most people do not acknowledge because the word has not been defined as such. So let’s get literal here. Slavery is formally defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “a) the practice of slaveholding; b) submission to a dominating influence.” Intriguing, I know. Although the practice of holding people of color in such a manner was stopped in 1865, I submit that the latter definition still applies. The “dominating influence” is clear by instances we have now seen and by the accounts of our Brothers and Sisters, which indicate that when they are in the presence of any governing authority such as police officers, they have no choice but to submit because even the slightest hint (or even lack) of resistance results in abuse, incarceration, or murder. By definition, “dominance” is the “exercise of control,” which the case of George Floyd, as with the others before him and even today, showed these dishonorable officers exercise UNDUE control over their passive captives, without just repercussions for the same. So I ask, is this not a “form” of slavery, all of which are supposedly prohibited by the aforementioned Declaration? By definition, a “slave” is “a person owned or entrapped by another” – are our Brothers and Sisters not trapped by the manipulation of the system, and thereby limited in their ability to live freely, let alone remain alive, as Article 2 supposes?
I’m already embarrassed to have to explain this one, but I will because it is obviously needed seeing the state that we are in. The manner in which the officer who murdered George Floyd acted was undeniably inhumane and cruel and was very clearly undue punishment for the un-convicted crime at hand. We have witnessed a cruel murder at the hands of the very badge that swore to protect this community. To protect the George Floyd’s of the world, even in the face of a crime. To ensure they receive due justice before the law, and NOT to take the law into one’s own hands and deliver such cruel punishment.
It is not just in this Universal Declaration, but even in our Constitution that we have granted such rights to all people of this nation. Even in the face of a criminal act, you are to be treated as a human, to be respected as such, and to be brought before the law to be justly tried accordingly. In no instance is it or has it been written that officers of the law are granted the right to murder a man for the color of his visible organ, and take the law into their own hands to decide what is the punishment for the accused – not even convicted – before the law is even applied. It’s basic. But apparently it is necessary that we explain it over and over again because a man of color will be treated like a pest to be battered or killed when accused of a crime with no visible causation, while others are dutifully detained and supplied hydration by the arresting officer’s hand when blatantly caught in the act of murder. Where is the justice in that?
This rebellion is not just for the acts against George Floyd, but also for the many who made it alive to the point of being presented before the law. They somehow made it to that point, but then have been, and continue to be, discriminated against because of the color of their visible organ to receive the utmost, and unnecessary, terms of punishment and years of incarceration. As aforementioned, slavery in its literal sense has not ended. Formally announcing the end of the sale, trade, and ownership of people does not end ALL forms of slavery. This Declaration was clear in indicating in Article 4 that “slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms” and it does not seem that all forms have been accounted for. Isn’t unjust incarceration of a person for most, if not all, of their lifespan slaveholding in a form of itself? Especially when such instances seem to only apply to persons of color since there are many cases, identically comparable, in which a person not of a colored organ is given significantly less, if not minimal, punishment.
We stand with you.
I call upon this Declaration because I want my Brothers and Sisters of color to know that we stand with you because you are human. You have rights for being human. You are to be respected in the face of any governing law for being human. And your rights come with your existence alone, irrespective of the land or nation you call your home.
To anyone who thinks otherwise, I offer you this: If you believe these rights are in fact granted to our Brothers and Sisters of color, then ask your officers and the law to treat you the same as they are treated. As Jane Elliot once said to a room of people just like you, if you want to be treated the same as they are, then stand up. And if you find that you cannot do this, then you have proven to yourself that you are consciously aware of what is happening, how they are treated, and how bad it is – so much so that you do not choose to ask for that same treatment for yourself. You should be ashamed. You should be uncomfortable. And now that you have acknowledged those feelings, you should ACT to change what is happening.
We need to act today in order to stop this treatment against the people of today, but more importantly, to stop the treatment altogether to prevent future generations from having to live in this fear and without the freedom and rights they deserve and are entitled to by their very existence. I implore you all to recognize that this is the hidden form of slavery in our world today, and if we chose to abolish one form, it is our duty as fellow humans to abolish all forms and truly grant freedom to all.
Stand with our Brothers and Sisters.
Stand for their rights.
Stand because today it is them and tomorrow it could be you.
Stand because, at the end of the day, it’s the right thing to do.
Hum mein jitna gham hain Pyaar usse bhi zyaada hai Humko maar kar jeet kahan Sirf unki haar hai
Shuruwaad hai yeh ek aise jang ka Jisko sadiyon se intezaar tha Ab aaya hai waqt muqadme ka Khauf se darne ka waqt chalagaya
Translation (adjusted for meaning): As much as there is sadness within us There is that much more love There is no winning in killing us Loss for them is what this path is made of
This is the beginning of a type of battle That for ages has been on the brink Now it’s time the outcome is decided Gone is the time for fear, don’t shrink
– Akiti –
For the full Universal Declaration of Human Rights, please visit the United Nations main page for the same. Only the first 7 Articles have been quoted here.
What does it mean to actually follow your heart? What does it mean to allow others to do that? What does the world look like in which people follow a path lead from the heart and built by the mind? Well, let’s break it down.
From my perspective, following the heart is the act of making choices based on that “gut” feeling – that inner voice we refer to as our heart strings tugging us in a particular direction or for a particular option. I have been fortunate in my life to have been able to explore those choices because my parents were supportive of that and my mom always encouraged it. The result of those decisions, whether delightful or painful, have always brought me all the things I’ve ever wanted in life, even if they weren’t always in the ways that I had expected they would be. I suppose that’s what people fear – following the heart, that tug, and risking the experience of pain, of loss, of the unknown.
My experiences have shown me that even if you experience those things, they are always followed by joy, growth, and abundance. It’s hard to see that when you can’t see the future – completely understandable – but should that stop us from following the paths that feel right in our hearts? Would you stop studying in school because of the risk of the job market being down when you graduate? No. The difference is that in the latter scenario, society has told us that studying in school is valuable irrespective of the job availability upon graduating because of the knowledge we gain along the way, which will become applicable to life eventually.
Does the same not apply to following your heart? The risk exists with every choice, and every choice comes with its own set of lessons that will be of value in life. The difference is simply in how we perceive the choice.
In order to feel comfortable with making choices by following our hearts, it often needs to be the case that we have others that support us and our choices. Now there are those who are able to make those choices without any support, and I must say those are the some of the strongest people out there. The reality, unfortunately, is that most people do not want to make choices that go outside of the support of those within their circle – be it family, friends, partners, etc. – because making those choices would or could possibly mean losing those people. But if we know that following our hearts is meant to take us on a path unique to us and meant for us, then why wouldn’t our circle support that? Well, as of right now, society in the broad sense appears to function on the assumption that certain life choices are “right” and certain ones are “wrong”, so the support one receives is entirely dependent upon one’s circle’s perspective of what exists in that duality. The moment we propose the idea of making a choice that is deemed “wrong”, even if it is the choice that we feel a ‘tug’ for, the circle of support wavers. Therefore, there is a shift that must occur in how we perceive what is a “right” or “wrong” life choice before we expect more people to feel comfortable enough to make those choices.
Another point of consideration is why we as a society, again in the broad sense of the term, feel that we even have a supposed right to “allow” people to make their own choices. The assumption that we even have such a right is preposterous because we also believe we live in a free society. How can one be free if one does not have the freedom of choice in its truest form? We can say all we want that everyone has that freedom, but if we are judging and outrightly labelling folks based on those decisions, which inherently means we are not supporting them, then how can someone make such decisions openly? Physically they can, but the pressure we place upon them mentally and emotionally by forcing them to battle the perspective of their loved ones, limits their freedom of choice and ability to listen to that inner tug, that inner voice.
People often talk about that tug as a voice, and as with any form of communication, it cannot be heard if there is noise disrupting its path. Picture a child running towards a group of toys and clearly aiming for a toy car and then hearing from their parents, “oh no, don’t you like the bear more? Isn’t that the one you want? It’s so much better!” Suddenly, the child questions whether they truly wanted the car in the first place because the choice that was initially clear upon seeing all of their options has been displaced by the insertion of these perspectives that the bear is a supposedly better option.
A better option for who though? For the child’s parents? Why do we feel that what we feel is “better” in our opinion, “right” in our opinion, would or should apply for our loved ones or even anyone for that matter? The truth is that those determinations are unique and subjective to an individual and should be left for that individual to determine. True freedom comes from leaving each to their own determinations, to their own choices, and to their own path. In supporting that freedom, we will see a change in society, and a change in how people begin to make choices.
Follow your heart Let others do the same Every heart beats differently Playing its own game
Each path is its own It bears no weight on another’s Listen to that voice To choose one from the other