Category Archives: Blog

Random Acts of Kindness by Rahul Yaratha

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When I was growing up, I had once asked my parents for the newest video game console that had just come out.   My mom asked why I wanted this new console when I already had so many other video games; I told her that I had to have it to experience the best that was out there or I wouldn’t be happy.   My mom then proposed that instead of spending money to get a new video game console, I should consider donating the money to some charities in India.   When I asked why I would want to do that, my mom replied that “it takes a lot to make yourself happy, but it only takes a little to make others happy.”   Embracing this principle that my mom espoused, I took it to heart and elected to make the donation to the charities instead of getting the new console system.   As I have gone through life, I have attempted to abide by this principle but living in a society that places a high value of materialism, I would get caught up in the materialistic cycle with cars, clothes, electronics, and various other items in order to sate me, my family’s, and my friends’ happiness.   But every once awhile an event would transpire in my life to help put things back into perspective and make me realize the wisdom and truth of my mom’s principle.

When I was at a friend’s wedding recently, I went through the events of the evening, enjoying the wedding and the reception.    The following evening when I was at home relaxing on the couch, my roommate, who had also attended the wedding, returned to the house and asked me about what I had done the night before.   Befuddled by his comment, he explained  that during the tail end of the reception, I had apparently gone through the reception hall, grabbed all the flowers off the tables, made them into a bouquet, and then proceeded to walk to the middle of the dance floor and gave them to a girl.   I was completely floored about what I had done; my roommate replied that it was the most random yet memorable thing he had seen in a long time.

The following week, while we were in another town for several days of work, we were driving back to our hotel when my roommate and I started talking about my antics at the wedding.   Giving me a hard time about my stunt, I started thinking about this “random bouquet” that I had given to a girl on the reception dance floor.    At the hotel we were staying at, I had noticed that the front desk lady hadn’t been in a great mood.   We were patient and cordial with her and kept to ourselves, but I got to thinking about how I could perhaps brighten her day.   My roommate had asked to stop at Walmart to get some supplies so we stopped and entered.   Upon walking in, right at the main entrance, was a large display of bouquet of flowers.    Inspiration hit me and I instantly grabbed a bouquet of flowers; giving the bouquet to the front desk lady would be my “random act of kindness.”

When we returned back to the hotel, I delivered the bouquet of flowers to her; she was absolutely delighted and proceeded to tell the person she was on the phone with that a young man had randomly given her flowers and it had made her day.   With this act, my mom’s words of “it takes a lot to make yourself happy, but it only takes a little to make others happy” came full force.   After the bouquet delivery, I decided to complete a Bouquet of Flowers campaign, delivering flowers to strangers, friends, and family over the course of the next several months.   Never could I have imagined the happiness, surprise, love, laughter, and strengthened bonds that resulted from the bouquet campaign.   For as something simple as flowers, the profound effects that were brought by the flower deliveries impacted people and myself like never before.   By making others happy, I found that I became even happier than I would have through self-fulfillment through buying myself items and what not.   Nowadays, when I feel like I need to brighten up the day or enjoy a happy moment, I’ll find myself making a surprise bouquet of flowers delivery.   When the going gets tough, you’ll find a random act of kindness goes a long, long way.

#RandomActsOfKindness #MansPerspective #Chivalry

Can’t We Just Be Kind To One Another?

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This has been weighing heavily on my heart, and I waited to post because I’ve been processing what had happened because I did not want to react, or my thoughts to sound like a rant. I wanted to organize my emotions and rethink my experience of what just happened. However, I strongly believe it is my responsibility to share this with you all. Because, first of all, we as a community need to come together against bigotry, racism, hate and small-mindedness. Secondly, by staying quiet, we give more power to the perpetrators.

I’ve been an American most of my life and this is my country, and you’re my people. I never judge anyone by their skin color, faith, or background. I think being accusatory, ignorant, unwelcoming is very “UNAMERICAN.” On Easter Sunday, one of the most auspicious days, as I was pumping gas at a small station, I heard this call towards me, “Hey sand nigger, go back to your country!”

For a moment, I could not believe it was being said to me. But, I cannot help the fact that this person looked right at me when he yelled it. I just want to point out if we don’t pull together as a community and as a nation, pretty soon, our pride, “the American values” will be a thing of the past. This will no longer be a land of the free, and home of the brave. We cannot allow dirty politics, ignorance, cowardly acts of terrorism to redefine our beliefs and our actions. This has been said before, if we change the way we think and live, they (bigots, haters, terrorists, and racists) win. We CANNOT allow this to happen. I for one, will not stay quiet. I will share my story in the hopes that if something like this has happened or may happen to any of you, understand that you are not alone. One more thing, if there is anyone out there who has feelings of hatred brewing inside their hearts and minds, I ask you, PLEASE THINK AGAIN. No religion, no family values, and hope no parents in the world teach their children to spew such hatred at an innocent stranger.

I will admit it hurts to hear something like this from our fellow countrymen, and it makes you rethink your life and question humanity. I was so astonished at that moment, all I could think of was, “what do you mean? I am an American.” I AM AN AMERICAN. And it is against my American values to take this lying down. But instead of fighting hatred with hatred, we fight it with awareness and solidarity.

Friends, Brothers and Sisters, please stand against hate, bigotry, and racism. Share your stories and give voice to the defenseless. Let’s make our voices so strong and high that they drown out the words of hate and ignorance.

P. S. For the record, I detest and loathe the use of the N-word. I have never used it and I do not associate with people who say it. Only, in this context I was forced to type it and I hate the fact that to bring out this injustice I was forced to abandon one of my scared rules.

‪#‎NoMoreHate‬ ‪#‎PracticeKindness‬

#MyTwoCents

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Think About it …

That “so called” plain looking person, whose picture you commented on and reposted multiple times, just so others could also see how plain she or he was.

What if they could see how ugly your thoughts are? Like really look into the depth of your soul. This is Facebook but think about it, what if there was such a thing called a SoulBook? Every time, a thought or a minutest notion came to your mind, it will become your new SoulBook status; in big, bold, colorful letters; and broadcasted for the world to see.

The more intense your thoughts and emotions behind them, the bigger the letters get. And its all posted on your SoulBook. Would that picture of your soul, your internal monologue, be pretty, filled with flowers and fun emotiCons? Can you be confident that your SoulBook will be mostly if not completely negative, derogatory, insulting, pathetic and loathing? What if everything we think could be seen, that our thoughts could be printed on our face, like a permanent tattoo?

Who would be beautiful then?

Would we not think twice before judging anyone or spreading our negative opinions? Let’s continue thinking about this. When we relish or indulge in pointing out others weaknesses or flaws, we do this without any care of whether or not we might end up hurting someone. I’m just saying… we have all done it, whether it’s on Facebook or off. I cannot confidently say that I have never done it. However, to be consistently discouraging and going out of our way to seek out imperfections so we have that momentary satisfaction of pointing it out, in the guise of “hey, I’m just telling the truth.”

Being truthful does not give you the permission of being hurtful. We as human beings are blessed with this thing… you know… a “conscious.” Can we not manage to be honest without sounding like “bullies” in disguise?

Recently, I have come to ponder on this. What does it say about a person who spends much of their day looking for flaws? Have you checked your SoulBook lately?

Before I continue, I want to apologize if any of you think that this is sounding like a rant. You are very welcome to stop reading right here. Because guess what? It is a rant… and someone has to do it. #MyTwoCents

 

“I Don’t Know” by a Guest Blogger

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This is a phrase I hear often from married women or women in committed relationships(live-in situation) that have children. “I don’t know what I’d do without John. He was on a business trip for three days, and I just about lost my mind! I had to do everything by myself. I gotta give you props, because now I understand what you single moms go through daily”.

STOP. RIGHT. THERE. Let’s clear a few things up, for all you well-meaning(side-eye) other moms out there. You may not see it this way, and maybe you truly do mean well, but this is what I hear. “Poor you. I don’t know what you do without a man. I’m so glad I have one!” You know what? You’re right! You don’t know how I do it! And you’re wrong. You do not understand anything. John’s weekend business trip is no comparison to the daily struggle of balancing career, family, community involvement, and “me time” single-handedly.

When John is away, you can still call him at the end of the day to talk about work, kids and how everyone’s day went. You have a partner in John that you can share your ups and downs with. You do not have to share this burden alone. Everything you do in the household in John’s absence (take out the trash, change the oil, clean the vehicles, carpooling on days when it’s normally his turn, etc.), is all done with the expectation that John is coming back home. You know how long he’s gonna be gone and when to expect him back. That changes your whole outlook on everything you do. You know your situation is temporary. As a single mother, we do these things day in and day out knowing that there is no help coming. If we don’t do it, it doesn’t get done. When Kennedi or J.J. gets sick at school and you have to stay home, the hours you’re getting docked from your paycheck isn’t as much of a concern, because John’s still at work. Or vice versa. Of course we have friends we can call and dump on, who will be understanding, encouraging, and maybe in the same position. It’s not the same as a having a partner who shares the ups and downs, in and out of everyday life with you. Someone you can lay your head on and complain to about how your boss piled on extra work today. Someone who can pick little J.J. up from practice while you get dinner started. Someone you can toss ideas at about the new project you’re working on.

Am I complaining or hating? Goodness no! I think it’s wonderful to have someone to share a life and family with. It’s awesome to have the support of your spouse/significant other in any form, whether it be family, personal, work-related, etc. I hope to someday have the same. All I am saying is be mindful of comparing yourself to others. Be thankful for John and the kids and all their awesomeness. But don’t presume to know what it is like to be single and parenting. And certainly do not tell a single mother that you do. It doesn’t help to remind her that she is a single parent and brag that you’re not. As a matter of fact, try offering encouraging words that do not make it about you at all.

 

 

 

 

Settling Is Unsettling By A Guest Blogger

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We all know life is complicated and making decisions as a responsible adult is not always so easy; especially when there are so many things to consider when making a decision. Dating and choosing your life partner definitely falls under this category.

There is a buffet of dating scenarios and relationships out there; including the relationships where you know something doesn’t fit. I speculate almost all of us know at least one person who has settled in their intimate relationship(s). It may even be us. It is easy to settle for several reasons, but hard to live with. The end result is usually the same… a nagging undercurrent of a feeling that something is missing. Our hearts can feel unfulfilled and dissatisfied even if on the outside it looks happy and full.

So, why do we settle in love and life? In terms of love, while we are trying to find our future partner, we are faced with so many expectations and obligations: what do my parents want, what do potential suitor’s parents want, what does the suitor want, what does the religious community want, what does the ethnic cultural community want, what does God want, what does my extended family want, how will this match affect my younger siblings, will it bring stability and security to my family, etc. And last but not least, the most important question gets asked: what do I want? Our heart’s desires, goals, and intuition are many times the last to be noticed when we are constantly pulled in several directions.

It’s no wonder that with all the pressures of making everyone else happy, many times our individual happiness falls to the bottom of the list. Many of us know that it is not easy to negotiate and find balance amongst all of these pulls. One of them is especially strong: what our parents want. As Southeast Asians, we have the gift of being taught to respect and honor authority figures. But what if our authority figures tell us to do something that feels unsettling?

The adults in our lives generally mean well and have good intentions. They want us to have health, happiness, and abundance. We can’t fault them for that.  It’s how they show their care and love, and they base it on what they believe is right. The challenge occurs when we have a different opinion of what will bring us health, happiness, and abundance. This can feel particularly true when you are a female that is outside the prescribed norm for Southeast Asian females and wants different things.

For Southeast Asian females who have immigrated or been born in the US, life can be very different than their parents. We can’t deny the influence of American culture in our lives. These influences can spark a desire to be different than the cultural norm and live a life that is fulfilling in diverse ways. Even though many Southeast Asian parents will say that these American influences are bad, they don’t have to be.

I am all about honoring and respecting parents, and I also believe in honoring and respecting ourselves. I believe both values can coexist. Finding harmony within is always a work in progress but I strongly believe it is well worth it.

Generally, Southeast Asian cultures are other-centered (family, community, Higher Power) and American culture is me-centered. When Asians growing up in America incorporate a sense of self and start thinking about what they want as an individual, a lot of external and internal conflicts can arise. Let’s start with good ‘ol fashioned GUILT.

Let me take a moment to give a shout out to all the other cultures and faiths that also have to contend with this issue. I know it feels like our Southeast Asian parents have monopolized this commodity, but apparently there a diversity of others who also receive a wealth of guilt from their parents.

Seriously though guilt is a heavy burden! How do we live with it, release it, not internalize? There is no easy answer. Finding the balance between self and others without holding onto guilt can be a lifelong journey. But I believe it must start with accepting that we are valuable and worthwhile for who we are, and not only for what we do for others. I do not believe we have to self-sacrifice to the point of having no or limited individual identity.

Having a sense of self is crucial in America so you do not get lost and taken advantage of in a country where being a strong, assertive, confident individual is essential and rewarded. It is also foundational in the more liberal intimate relationships we see in America, where there is shared responsibility between partners for the success of the relationship. Wherever the partner roles are defined on the continuum of traditional to modern, the point is that there is mutual understanding and agreement about the roles. This way, there is joint ownership and equal respect for the other.

We all want and deserve authentic love and connection in our relationships. I think that we settle for what looks like love and connection when we defer to others to define it for us, and when we modify ourselves to please and be accepted by others. If we don’t know ourselves and do what’s right for us then fears, inadequacies, insecurities, and rejection can drive us to settle.

I know these are liberal views in the eyes of traditional Southeast Asian beliefs and norms, but we are in a time and place where we do have the power and control to define our own beliefs and norms. We have to be authentic with ourselves so we can be authentic with others. If we express ourselves from a place of authenticity, then real connections are forged based on who you truly are as a person, and not based on a contrived persona. Then an authentic connection and love can be realized between potential life partners.

It can take courage and strength to be yourself while dating but it’s necessary if you want your life partner to truly love, desire, respect, honor, and cherish you for being you. Dating is a dynamic process during which you learn a lot about yourself and evolve as a person. You can learn to filter out the kind of people who do and do not fit you, and refine attracting what you want in a life partner. As a bonus, you can get a lot of good stories and laughs out of it! Hopefully, the process will lead to an enlightened lifelong match.

My advice: only settle for the best life partner for you because you are the one and only you in this world, and you deserve the best.

Think About It

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Think About it …

That “so called” plain looking person, whose picture you commented on and reposted multiple times, just so others could also see how plain she or he was.

What if they could see how ugly your thoughts are? Like really look into the depth of your soul. This is Facebook but think about it, what if there was such a thing called a SoulBook? Every time, a thought or a minutest notion came to your mind, it will become your new SoulBook status; in big, bold, colorful letters; and broadcasted for the world to see.

The more intense your thoughts and emotions behind them, the bigger the letters get. And its all posted on your SoulBook. Would that picture of your soul, your internal monologue, be pretty, filled with flowers and fun emotiCons? Can you be confident that your SoulBook will be mostly if not completely negative, derogatory, insulting, pathetic and loathing? What if everything we think could be seen, that our thoughts could be printed on our face, like a permanent tattoo?

Who would be beautiful then?

Would we not think twice before judging anyone or spreading our negative opinions? Let’s continue thinking about this. When we relish or indulge in pointing out others weaknesses or flaws, we do this without any care of whether or not we might end up hurting someone. I’m just saying… we have all done it, whether it’s on Facebook or off. I cannot confidently say that I have never done it. However, to be consistently discouraging and going out of our way to seek out imperfections so we have that momentary satisfaction of pointing it out, in the guise of “hey, I’m just telling the truth.”

Being truthful does not give you the permission of being hurtful. We as human beings are blessed with a conscious. Can we not manage to be honest without sounding like “bullies” in disguise?

Recently, I have come to ponder on this. What does it say about a person who spends much of their day looking for flaws? Have you checked your SoulBook lately?

Before I continue, I want to apologize if any of you think that this is sounding like a rant. You are very welcome to stop reading right here. Because guess what? It is a rant… and someone has to do it.

I get it, life is tough. We all have first world problems and crappy days. At the end of the day, we have a tendency to take it out on someone and doing it on social media seems to be easier than doing it in person. If you don’t believe me, go open a you tube video and scroll down to the comment section because there is a very good possibility you will see a mention of how Hitler did it or how Republicans are all racist or how all Democrats are socialists; how Obama ruined America or how all Muslims are terrorists, or how “somebody” should go back to where they came from or if you didn’t find that, you’ll find how all feminists are taking over the world… I’m telling you, the bickering never stops and honestly, it stopped being funny a long time ago and I’m sick of seeing how ugly our minds can be.

Remember, our mind is a flow of thoughts. Does it take more effort, more energy, and more time to lift someone up vs. bringing them down? As it is, we are living in very challenging times – from bigotry, violence, racism, sexism, war, and hate. Every action performed in this world springs from that “little thought” in her our mind. When we cannot help sharing it, we label it as, “it’s just my two cents.” When in truth, your two cents is very safely sitting in your wallet. If only our words – every word – we speak was costing us two cents each, I bet there would be a lot less conversation going on in this world. The talk that would be occurring would be very measured, thoughtful, and considerate. The thing is, it is costing us and the price is our humanity– little by little. I’m just saying…

 

What Does It Mean To Be An Upstander, By A Guest Blogger

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An UPSTANDER is defined as someone who recognizes when something is wrong and acts to make it right. When we stand up for what is right, and do our best to help support and protect someone who is being hurt, we are being socially responsible.

The first thing that comes to mind is bullying since it’s been getting a great deal of media attention, and with good reason, but there is much more to this term than taking a stand against bullying. Here are my thoughts on what being an upstander is about (maybe a slightly less conventional spin on it)…

I went on a field trip with my daughter to the Dallas Holocaust Museum recently. It was heart-wrenching but at the same time inspiring to learn about all the people who took a stand to help others, and those who survived. It also makes me so grateful for those, like my dad, who risked their lives for the freedom of others. The message during the tour was ‘are you being a bystander or an upstander?’. Makes you think. How are we being upstanders in our world today and fighting for those who can not, or simply choosing to make a difference even in the smallest of ways?

I was born and raised in South Africa, grew up in the apartheid era and was blessed to see it come to an end because of upstanders; people who overcame their fears for the freedom of others. My dad was one of those people. He taught me what it means to have determination and courage to stand up for others and to take a stand for what I believe in, but being an upstander is not just taking a stand on a grand scale but it’s also in the small decisions we make every day.

A great example of this are stories I’ve heard about people who were on the brink of suicide when a stranger reached out to them with just a smile or started a conversation; things we do on a daily basis and sometimes take for granted but can literally make the difference between life and death for someone else. In that case, we may not know that something is wrong but in choosing to do little things out of love and kindness, we make more of a difference than we realize.

So often we feel like we are such a small fish in a giant pond; that our actions don’t really matter compared to other people who have a greater stage and are much more visible, but the truth is all change starts with one small action. It’s the ripple effect, or the butterfly effect that comes into play. What I mean by this is we don’t know who may be watching or who we may be inspiring daily to take action in their own lives. Those people, in turn, can inspire others, and so on.

I can list so many people who have inspired me in so many ways and some of them simply by always having a positive attitude and sharing a smile. I will never forget them. One of these people is someone I have never even met. I just know her as the young lady I would sometimes see in the hallways or in the elevator who never failed to give everyone a beautiful smile. That alone would make my day. She may not be an upstander in a vocal way, but her actions spoke volumes. It said to me that no matter what I’m facing today I’m going to have a positive attitude and brighten someone else’s day and help lift them up. I’m sure she helped more people than she realized. She may not have had that intention, but she certainly did that for me! Her actions also gave me pause to think about how I’m impacting the lives of others.

There are many other ways to take a stand, such as donating to a cause we believe in, attending a rally, speaking up for someone who was wronged, writing a letter, signing a petition, etc. It’s also important not to just take a stand for others, but also for ourselves. When we stand up for ourselves and what we believe in from a place of respect and not anger or resentment, we inspire others and build our self confidence.

We can all be superheroes daily. The magic is in the every day moments. How will you choose to be an upstander? What part do you play in making this world a better place? YOU matter. Your actions matter. Don’t underestimate your power.

If you haven’t found your passion yet and are not sure what you need to do to make a difference in your life and in the lives of others so you live each day with purpose, joy and fulfillment, I would love to speak with you to see if I can be of assistance.

Note: The Author of this beautiful article is a Leadership Coach. You can use the link below to sign up for a free strategy session:

http://www.bookedin.net/life-and-leadership-coaching-for-women

 

What’s In A Name? By A Guest Blogger

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What’s in a name?

When I was eight years old, my great grandmother gave me a pin with my name on it.  It said Angela…”bringer of truth.”  This was actually quite upsetting.  I was a very literal child, and assumed this meant now I must tell the truth all the time.  Adults like truth, except when you say things like “This food taste like throw up”, or “I’d rather die than eat liver. “  This was highly confusing to me.  Tell the truth, but not really.  (There is much to say about truth, but this blog post is about names.)  So I immediately decided I should change my name.  Renee is my middle name, and it means born again.  I could live with that.  That sounded French and all, perhaps because it is.  But names are hard things to change when it is others that use them, so I stuck with Angie.

Three years ago, I began the process of divorce, and it was an incredibly difficult process of losing my name.  We all have relative names that are contingent on relationships.  I am a daughter because I have parents.  I am a sister because I have siblings.  I am a mother because I have three children.  Here I was losing a relative name, wife, because he no longer wanted the relative name husband.  Also, there was what felt like an identity crisis.  I didn’t want to keep my married name.  It didn’t feel like it belonged to me, and I didn’t want to be identified by it any more.  At the same time, going back to my maiden name was weird after 16 years as one name.  It was then that I realized women get names on loan.  We borrow our father’s names until we are old enough to marry, and then we borrow our husband’s names in theory for the rest of our lives, but too often in reality, temporarily also.  It was also this recognition that I no longer belonged as a part of any group.  I became Just Angie.  For me, while I legally returned to my maiden name, I chose a new last name that would never be taken or given away.

During this time of struggling with who am I if I am not a wife, or a Mrs. Something, I saw that what was really hurting me was all the names I had taken over the years.  Words others had labeled me with or names I had taken because I believed them.  Shakespeare attests that a “Rose by any other name would smell just as sweet”, but honestly, would a rose be willing to open up to share it’s beauty if it believed it was stupid, ugly and worthless?  I also saw around me how many people grabbed and clung to names as their identities.  I saw women in similar circumstances now using the word victim to identify themselves.  It was as if instead of saying I was a victim of something, it was becoming a state of being for them.  This actually frightened me.  How do I get a good name?

One of the first steps I took was going to Collin College.  I cannot say enough wonderful things about this place.  I thought that I could prove myself, and just get new names.  Good grades made me affirm, I am smart.  Excelling made me feel like I am strong.  As part of my own personal journey, and for emotional health, I took drama classes.  At first I took them to learn how to escape my own life, but what they actually taught me was to look into my own heart, the ugly bits, the pretty bits, the confusing bits- it all.  It was there I learned from one of the most life changing people I have met, Shannon Kearns, that I didn’t need new names.  I needed to accept the true names.  She showed me that it wasn’t about becoming someone else to gain value, but about owning my place in life- who I was created to be.  She saw beauty and value in me and not only spoke it into my life, but called it out of me.  My life has never been the same.  My identity is no longer found in the names others give me, the good or the bad ones.  My identity is no longer tied to success or failure.  My identity and my value is all based on that I am Infinitely Loved, that I have everything I need to be who I am called to be, and being who I am created to be is the most joyful and beautiful experience of my life- and even better than that- me being exactly who I am created to be calls out to others to be who they were created to be also.

Hi, my name is Angie, Infinitely Loved, who loves well, bringer of truth reborn, who feels colors, who loves walking barefoot in puddles, and loves to feel the texture of trees, excited to be exactly me.

So, what’s your name?

A New Ode To Brown

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It took me years to accept the color of my skin. I vividly remember how emotional it was for me when a “boy” I once dated called it off due to my skin color being darker than his and may not be accepted in his family because of it. I was haunted by his words for quite a while. The fact is; it was not the first time that I was made to feel that some things might not be within my reach just because I did not look a certain way. There were subtle signs/gibes from childhood that made me realize that due to a genetic “accident”, I should probably stand a few paces behind other girls who happen to have a fairer complexion. At that time, all my achievements, years of education, musical training, and other talents seem negligible. I was reduced to a color palette on a wall and that one statement he made shook me. At that point, I saw myself as some others have been seeing me – it was truly a revelation. Am I really that dark and if so, was it going to hold me back?

As a human being, it is natural to retaliate and my response to this one incident was to go out of my way to prove to everyone how beautiful I actually was. I spent years of my time and energy trying to prove that I was indeed attractive in spite of my brown skin. I did some modeling, participated in social functions, and I was the well-liked girl in college minus the “mean girl syndrome.” And after all this, it took me some time to understand there was no changing someone’s perspective of me regardless of how hard I worked to be successful. There comes a very low point in one’s life when you look around and see that the only individual that will value “you” for “being you” is in fact, “yourself.”

We as women have a strong tendency to discount our so-called imperfections by being the perfectionist in other areas of our lives. However, the fact remains that the color of our skin, no matter what shade of brown it be is an integral part of who we are. There is no discounting for your person – you are who you are.

As years went by, I learned a lot about myself. I discovered who I really am. I realized I was tired of trying to be. I just wanted to be. Now, I am a woman who finds intellectual and emotional fulfillment in my every day life. The boy who once hurt my feelings was simply a temporary wave in the ocean of my life. As a person who spent parts of her life trying to be something other than herself, I can tell you first hand that this is one mission impossible (even Tom Cruise can’t save) and it is damn exhausting.

There comes a day where you will find yourself sitting on the floor thinking, “this is it, I’m done, and no more!” The moment that follows this, is when you look at yourself in the mirror and see the “Brown Girl” that is and not the slightly lighter shade of brown that could be. What can I say, I stopped using the infamous Fair & Lovely skin lightening cream, refused to sit in the shade while everyone played in the sun, and I began to use Indian spices (hint hint, turmeric) to cook rather than lather on my face like it was cake-icing. Finally, I understand and accept that what will bring shine to my complexion are not the fancy foundations that I find nor the beauty facials I receive. But, it is the smile on my lips and the sparkle in my eye.

With that said, I, the “Brown Girl” learned to embrace the color of my skin and accept it just as it is. Brown is not my color, it is who I am, it is my pride, it is my pledge, it is my pleasure, it is the essence that flows through me…

St. Patrick’s Day, From The Heart By A Guest Blogger

holi-and-st-patricks-day

I never understood why my parents decided to move to America. I was 7, yet my world was changing forever. I left my home, friends and most importantly my grandparents. It was everything I knew. The move was not something I was prepared for. Life was good for us in India. But my parent’s explanation was that we would have a better life. It was the BEST in India, so I didn’t need anything better. Even now, looking back, I feel in my grandparents’ house there is a part of me still there.

Initially, we struggled when we arrived to America. My parents worked hard and long hours. I didn’t like the food, it didn’t have my grandmother’s love. Adjusting to the new environment took me a long time. I was the only Indian in my school. No one knew how to pronounce my name. It was always Kristy or Christina, even though there is no “t” in my name. After a while, I was just happy if I was noticed or called upon. I didn’t have any friends, since I was not allowed to have non-Indian friends. Did I mention I was the only Indian?

I vividly remember this day at school where I was being pinched by my classmates. It happened over and over, my arm turned blue. With tears running down, I finally had the courage to tell the teacher. She said I was supposed to wear green today. It was St. Patrick’s Day. I am a vegetarian, which Texans can’t even fathom. Kids were fascinated how I remained alive without meat. Eventually we acclimated and we lost our accents and the nostalgic feeling.

Balancing my eastern heritage and my western pull was always a struggle for me. Sometimes I felt split right in the middle, half of me wanted to be pious while the other half wanted to party. Today, I still struggle with this identity balance. My parents did a fantastic job preserving our culture at home. However, outside of the home, where did I fall – on the east or the west?

I moved when I was 7, when my roots were just spreading and getting a grip on the land. Unfortunately, they were uprooted quickly before they got a chance to establish. I have friends who moved to the United States as teenagers. They had time to establish those roots in India; which meant they have a very strong cultural identity and I have just faint memories. Over the years I extracted what I like from both cultures and made them part of my identity. I enjoy Bollywood and Hollywood. I love my American and Indian clothes. I cook Indian and Tex-Mex.

With growth and maturity I realized why my parents made that life-altering decision. I appreciate all their sacrifices and humiliation they experienced as immigrants. I would never have the courage to pack up and leave this home. Today I make sure my kids wear green on St. Patrick’s Day.