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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

White Swans - literally! :)

Just the other day, as I was driving on Glades in Boca Raton to go pick up my son and the carpool kids, I was on my cell phone and had stopped at the red light when I noticed these beautiful, white swans out of the corner of my eye.  They were just sitting on the grass off to the side of the road, pruning themselves while the afternoon traffic rolled on by. They were oblivious to it all.

I was so excited to see them that I chose to turn around at the next light after quickly glancing at the car clock and calculating that I was about ten minutes early, which gave me plenty of time to stop and take some pictures. As always, I had my camera in my purse on the seat right next to me.
I got off the phone...the swans were calling...:), parked and slowly made my way toward them.

They just ignored me and carried on!

Just observe how flexible their long necks are.

Check out their feet. I have another closer picture of their webbed feet.
White gorgeous rubbery, scaly not so pretty feet.
They were quite tolerant of me as I inched closer and closer, snapping away the entire time.
These swans were entirely too comfortable with. These are city swans. :)
Just look at her beautiful beady eyes...gorgeous orange/pink beak!
The two strips on her beak...her nostrils perhaps?
When I got too close, they would stop plucking their feathers, or eating the grass and just stare at me.
It's hard to tell if they're looking at me since their eye is part of the gorgeous black leading toward their pink beaks.
And once again, after realizing that I was harmless, it was back to business.
Again, notice how their long neck moves in all directions....
Their long neck even allows them to prune their back and tail feathers.
How cool is that!

Check out the feathers on the grass around them!
Ohhh Be Still My Beating Heart!!!! !!!!

Sigh!!!!!! Grace!!!! Beauty!!!!!
Check out the webbed feet.

Amazing aren't they! Black, leathery, webbed, scaly feet!
Totally functional.

Ain't she a beauty!

I'm reminded once again, of being blessed with His beauty all around me. 
I just have to be present in the moment and the gifts keep coming! 
I do realize that there are days when we just are too tired, 
Too rushed, 
Too late,
 Too stressed, 
Too worried,
Too _____________ (fill in the blank) get the picture...

 Sadly, we all know what that feels like...
When we are in our heads and hearts and not present in the moment. 
I am aware that I am not sharing any new information here. 
I'm sure you've heard this before. 
We're humans...
We tend to forget...
And we all need reminders every now and then, 
To forgive ourselves, 
To stop over-thinking the situation, 
To accept whatever life/ God throws our way with grace, humility and gratitude,
To surrender to His will for our lives,
To trust that He knows us best and has the better plan for our lives,

So make plans, 
Do the best we can do,
But then, let it go...Surrender!
Please remember that we all only have so many breaths allocated to each of us...
Once we're out of breaths, our time is up.
So be in the moment with every breath you take.
Enjoy the journey, the process, your life!!!

Sending you LOVE AND LIGHT!!!!
From one sufi to another,

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Eminem (Rihanna) - Love the way you lie

This is one of my favorite rap songs.
I enjoy many genres of music from hip-hop, rap, classical, ghazals, bhajans, Bollywood music and Sufi / mystical/devotional music.
This song has a very powerful message about domestic violence.
I get chills and am literally moved to tears by the end of the song.
I would suggest you watch the video and listen to the lyrics a few times to really grasp it all. 
In case you're not accustomed to rap, here are the lyrics.
Also, please be forewarned that there is foul language used in this song.
Please view at your discretion.

Here are the lyrics:
Love the Way You Lie Lyrics

[Chorus - Rihanna]
just gonna stand there and watch me burn
that’s alright because i like the way it hurts
just gonna stand there and hear me cry
that’s alright because i love the way you lie
i love the way you lie

[Eminem - Verse 1]
i can’t tell you what it really is
i can only tell you what it feels like
and right now it’s a steel knife in my windpipe
i can’t breathe but i still fight while i can fight
as long as the wrong feels right it’s like i’m in flight
high off of love drunk from my hate
it’s like i’m huffin’ paint and i love it the more i suffer, i suffocate
and right before i’m about to drown, she resuscitates me, she f....... hates me
and i love it, wait, where you goin’?
i’m leavin’ you, no you ain’t come back
we’re runnin’ right back, here we go again
so insane, cause when it’s goin’ good its goin’ great
i’m superman with the wind in his back, she’s Lois Lane
but when its bad its awful, i feel so ashamed i snap
whose that dude? i don’t even know his name
i laid hands on her
i never stoop so low again
i guess i don’t know my own strength


[Eminem - Verse 2]
you ever love somebody so much you can barely breathe
when you with em you meet and neither one of you even know what hit em
got that warm fuzzy feeling
yeah them chills used to get em
now you’re getting f........ sick of lookin’ at em
you swore you’d never hit em, never do nothin’ to hurt em
now you’re in each other’s face spewin’ venom in your words when you spit em
you push pull each other’s hair
scratch claw hit em throw em down pin em
so lost in the moments when you’re in em
it’s the face that’s the culprit, controls ya both,
so they say it’s best to go your seperate ways
guess that they don’t know ya
cause today that was yesterday
yesterday is over, it’s a different day
sound like broken records playin’ over
but you promised her next time you’ll show restraint
you don’t get another chance
life is no nintendo game, but you lied again,
now you get to watch her leave out the window
guess that’s why they call it window pane


[Eminem - Verse 3]
now i know we said things, did things, that we didn’t mean
and we fall back into the same patterns, same routine
but your temper’s just as bad as mine is, you’re the same as me
when it comes to love you’re just as blinded
baby please come back, it wasn’t you, baby it was me
maybe our relationship isn’t as crazy as it seems
maybe that’s what happens when a tornado meets a volcano
all i know is i love you too much to walk away though
come inside, pick up the bags off the sidewalk
don’t you hear sincerity in my voice when i talk?
told you this is my fault, look me in the eyeball
next time i’m pissed ill aim my fist at the drywall
next time there won’t be no next time
i apologize even though i know its lies
i’m tired of the games i just want her back
i know i’m a liar if she ever tries to f...... leave again
i’ma tie her to the bed and set this house on fire

Love and Light,
From one sufi to another, 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Kajra re - Bunty aur Babli

This is another fun song! 
This was before she married Abishek and Amitabh became her father - in - law.

Love and Light,
From one sufi to another,

Conference of the Birds!

I've noticed that birds tend to gather at dawn and dusk at specific intersections.
It's almost like hundreds of them answer the call to attend the conference with their peers.
They tweet and chirp and fly around. 
It's really a sight to see! 
And hear!

They sit on the electrical lines running across the street. 
Aren't they amazing?

The amazing thing is that the birds gather together every morning at dawn and every evening as the sun sets.
It's great when we do get to be a witness to their conference!

Love and Light,
From one sufi to another,

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Jab se tere naina - Sawariya

This song is from Sanjay Leela Bansali's "Sawariya". 
The movie was disappointing but the songs are good.
This one is particularly entertaining. 
Women have always been exploited by Raj Kapoor in his movies from Zeenat Aman in Satyam Shivam Sundaram to Mandakani in Ram Teri Ganga Meli Ho Gayee. 
I wonder what Kapoor ji would say if he saw his grandson strutting his stuff. Enjoy!

Love and Light,
From one sufi to another

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fanaa - Tere Hath Mein

This song is one of my favorite love songs. 
It's also beautifully filmed with my favorite stars, Aamir Khan and Kajol.

Love and Light,
From one sufi to another,

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

This year, I was blessed to be part of two family Thanksgiving meals: lunch and dinner.
Delicious food, prepared with love, shared with family and friends.

Thanksgiving Lunch!

Delicious turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing prepared two ways, gravy, green bean casserole, sweet potato souffle with marshmallows, Corn salad, cranberry sauce, black beans and rice casserole, broccoli, vegetables and cheese casserole.

Green bean casserole topped with French's fried onions.

Mashed potatoes, gravy, chutneys, broccoli, vegetables and cheese casserole.

One word, "Yummy!"

Sweet Potatoes topped with marshmallows.

The dessert spread included homemade chocolate cake, pumpkin cheesecake pie topped with pecans, chocolate cheesecake mouse, handmade desi sweets from Canada, fruit salad with marshmallows etc and chai! I could've skipped the meal and just gone straight to dessert!

The dessert spread!

The BEST dessert ever!!!! Not sure what it's called but I call it, chocolate cheesecake mouse with chocolate dipped wafers, topped with fresh berries. YUMMY!!!!!

Nothing like desi chai!

The Second Thanksgiving Dinner!

Salad, Turkey, potatoes, asparagus, green beans, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, corn, delicious bread with butter, fresh key lime pie, chocolate cake! 

Simple but delicious linguine tossed in olive oil, garlic salt and topped with cheese.

Then this gorgeous wooden tea box from Mexico was brought out for us to pick our own flavor of tea. 
I chose the mint with chocolate tea! 

An amazing evening spent with old and new friends; talking, laughing, sharing!
Love and Light,
From one sufi to another,

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Let's give thanks for all that we are so blessed to have, be and experience!
Love and Light,

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pretty Duck!

This duck is one of many in our neighborhood. 
Ducks are usually a nuisance as they decide to cross the road in the middle of traffic or better yet, when they decide to simply stop in the middle of the road bringing traffic to a halt.
They are not the cleanest bird. They poop all over the driveways and back yard porches and even get into the trash on trash pick up day. 
But they are entertaining as they wobble when walking on land.
Ducks are also great moms! 
They are disciplined as they sit on their eggs until they hatch, taking minimal breaks to get water and food. 
There is nothing cuter than a new batch of ducklings following their mother duck everywhere she goes.
They teach their young ducklings to swim and find worms to eat.
Sadly, they also lose most of their baby ducklings to vultures, snakes and other predators,

They usually hang out in pairs or small groups but this lonely duck was in the lake at the back of our home.
She, I'm assuming it's a girl, was curious to see me standing on the bank of the lake with my camera. 
She came close, almost as if to say hello. 
Just look at her beautiful eyes, her webbed, yellow feet, the red on her face and beak, and her gorgeous black and white feathers.

 Check out the black smudge on the tip of her beak.
Her white breast and head looks as if God just painted on a few strokes of black.  
She just kept swimming around in front of me and staring at me. 
I know ducks don't smile but I think this one was!

Check out her reflection in the water!

Thank You God for these beautiful animals all around us.
Love and Light,
From one sufi to another,

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mistakes or Mis - Takes!

No matter how old we get;
no how many degrees we have; 
no matter how big or little our bank balance is; 
no matter where we we live;
no matter how many mistakes we've already made,
we STILL all make mistakes.

Picture taken by Aly.

And when we do make a mistake, we either blame the situation or another person OR we blame ourselves.
Our reaction tends to vary depending on how big of a mistake it is.
If it's a simple, inconsequential mistake, we tend to get over it almost immediately.
But if it's a mistake that we perceive as significant, the intensity of our reaction tends to match our perception.

I've made plenty of mistakes, all kinds of mistakes.
But it seems like I keep making the same mistakes again and again.
When I realize that I've made the same mistake yet again, but perhaps in a different form, I get mad at myself.
I start feeling foolish...or rather, I start feeling stupid.
My mental tapes start re-playing once again.
"How could you do this again?"
"What were you thinking?"
"What is wrong with you?"
"Why can't you learn from your mistakes?"
"Why do you do this again and again?"
"When are you going to learn?"
"When are you going to start exercising some self-control?"

Another picture taken by Aly.

Some of us beat ourselves up for weeks, months or even years. 
But if we're lucky, we can feel bad, process it, learn from it and move on sooner than later.
 I was an expert at self-degradation (putting oneself down).
But over the years, I've gotten better.
These days, the longest I've been angry at myself or felt sorry for myself, has been a few days.
 I turn to God, my angels, a few of my wise friends and a few of my closest family members to help me figure things out. 
I ask the standard questions.
 "Why am I doing this to myself?" or "What was I thinking doing /saying ...?" 
But I have to remind myself to instead ask myself,
"What am I suppose to be learning from this experience?" 

This is one of my favorite pictures of the sunset and yes,  taken by Aly.

When I reach out to those around me, I've learned NOT to turn to just anybody for advice. 
People almost always give you advice based on their own life experiences and life circumstances and not necessarily on what you need to learn from it.
It's the rare individual who is able to be unbiased and objective.
It's indeed the rare individual who is able to give you honest and helpful feedback in a non-judgmental, respectful and loving manner.
I've had people, whom I've loved and respected, literally project their beliefs and biases on me.
 I believed, embraced and fully took ownership of whatever projections were being cast my way without realizing the burden of it to my psyche and my soul.
But lately, Thank God, I am clear about who I am and what I am about.
 Knowing myself  has helped me to recognize when someone is projecting their beliefs onto me.

Saw these birds in the tree in the Costco parking lot a few days ago.
It was a cloudy, dull day but they were beautiful.

But instead of shutting people out, arguing with them, or defending my point of view, I realize that I am in this situation and having this conversation with this particular person, because I am suppose to be hearing what is being said.
I realize that I am suppose to learn something from this conversation.
So instead of arguing with the person, feeling the need to defend my point of view or totally shutting them out, I've been working on letting them speak and actually listening to them.
I resist the urge to tell them that they are wrong.
 I resist the need to stand up for myself.
Instead, I realize that the words that are coming out of their mouth, are the exact ones that I am suppose to be hearing right now.  
I realize that it is as important for them to say what they're saying to me, as it is for me to be listening to what is being said. 
I have learned to simply keep my mouth shut, and really pay attention to what is being communicated to me.
I listen to what is being said verbally, through their words, and what is being communicated non-verbally, through their body language.
I listen but I DONOT take on their projections as my own.
Gorgeous sunset. Aly took this picture.

This is what I've learned this time around....
Yes, I made a mistake, again.
No, this does not make me stupid.
No, I am not a bad person.
I did the best that I could. 
I need to forgive myself.
I am forgiving myself.
I am going to figure this out and hopefully, learn from it.

I also realize that mistakes are NOT THE END OF THE WORLD!
Mistakes are MIS - TAKES! 
Mistakes are an opportunity try it again.
Mistakes are a second chance, given to us, in a not so pretty package.

Just look how this bird so gracefully balances itself on this skinny branch.
So I forgive myself and I remind myself that I am a child of God and thus created perfectly in His image.
 I am not stupid, broken, damaged or less than in any way.
God loves me unconditionally, no matter how little or big my mistake.
God does not judge.
He loves me too much to do that.
That is not what life is about.
God is sitting back and letting me figure this thing out on my own.
He gives me unlimited chances until I "get it".
When I learn the lesson, then, and only then, do I get to move on to the next lesson in life.
Learning lessons and evolving as a soul, is what life is about.
So I choose to surrender myself, flawed and all, to my perfect, loving, caring, merciful God and ask him to help guide me on this difficult journey. 
I ask HIM to help me learn from my MIS-TAKES!

An oil spill in the Walmart parking lot. Just thought it was beautiful!
I pray that you are kind to yourselves all the time and especially when you make a mistake.
I pray that you recognize your mistake as simply a MIS-TAKE!
I pray that you experience HIS love for you !
I pray that you learn to love yourself unconditionally as HE loves you unconditionally.
I pray that you find peace, joy, happiness and truth in your every breath, with HIM as your guide, cheerleader and co-pilot.

Love and Light,
From one sufi to another,

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's nice to be reminded to...

 These simple wooden blocks with classic white font messages are currently available at our local Barnes and Nobles.
They range from $5 - $20
 I just thought they were beautiful and loved the messages

There are different versions of this above quote.
I love the one that says, 
"Dance like no one is watching, Sing like no one is listening, Love like you've never been hurt."

Laughter is indeed the best medicine and it's free.
I am blessed to be surrounded by positive, light hearted people. 
Sharing good times, soul stories, life experiences, the deeper meaning of life and most importantly, laughter is what binds us.
We desire nothing from each other except each other's company. 
Between cups of Morrocan green tea, hot chocolate, cafe mocha, desi chai, biscottis and plenty of laughs, we lose track of time as we sit and discuss anything and everything.

This last one on Success is deep. 
Desire + Determination+ Commitment = Success

Please enjoy the company of your loved ones during the upcoming Thanksgiving Weekend!
And most importantly, please remember to give THANKS!!!
Love and Light,
From one sufi to another,

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Jason Mraz - I'm Yours (original video)

So here is the original video. The earlier video was a live performance. I love them both!

Love and Light,
From one sufi to another,

Jason Mraz - I'm Yours

My son,  Aly introduced me to this song.
I just love the way Aly sings this song.


Love and Light,
From one sufi to another,

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ted Talks - Salman Khan of the Khan Academy.

This is not the 6 pack bearing, shirt ripping Bollywood's superstar, Salman Khan. 
This guy is the brainiac behind "The Khan Academy." 
He is amazing. 
Hope you enjoy.

Love and Light,
From one sufi to another,

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hum Dono - Abhi Na Jao

This song takes me back to the early nineties when I was attending Loyola University in Chicago. 
My girlfriend, Suruchi Aulakh, spent plenty of evenings listening to this song with me.
This song brought me much comfort and peace.

It's a classic!

Love and Light,
From one sufi to another,

Living in Paradise - aka Florida.

Living in Florida, we are blessed to experience warm, sunny, tropical weather, lush, colorful, foliage and beautiful birds, reptiles and animals year round. 
Iguanas, sea turtles, turkey vultures, egrets, blue herons, ibis, ducks, crows, eagles, and other birds are in our backyards on any given day. 
Mangoes, lychee, oranges, blackberries, papaya, custard apples, guavas, chikoos and coconuts grow in our backyards.
A variety of palm trees grace the front of our homes and the side of the roads.

Alligators and snakes are unwelcome guests that sometimes make their way into swimming pools and back yards. 
I've personally found a 4 feet long, black snake on our back porch. Last summer, I found a 15 inches long snake curled up in our home. I wrongly assumed it was dead as I took a broom to brush it out of our home. 
Imagine my surprise when the snake slithered to another position to inform me that it was very much alive.

A friendly neighbor with a long stick and a brave heart is good to have.
My neighbor carefully picked up the snake and relocated the snake back in the lake where it belonged. He informed me that it was a harmless, water snake.
Harmless or not, I like my snakes far away from me. 

Meet the graceful but vicious Anhinga. 
This is a native Floridian bird that is graceful with it's long neck and gorgeous black feathers.
Some even have zebra-striped feathers. 
 Two of these gorgeous bird have been gracing us with their presence every day for the past few weeks.
I noticed one sitting on the fence edging the lake, while the other one sits on the bank across the lake.

These birds fish for their meals by diving in the lake for fish and water snakes. 
Then they rests on the banks or in this case, the fence.
As the afternoon sun makes it way across the sky, these birds literally fan out their feathers to dry them. 

Check out the webbed feet and the gorgeous markings on the feathers.
This one has been sitting on this fence for the entire day.
We suspect that this bird is getting old and thus, just resting and living out it's last days with us.
We're just so grateful that it's chosen our back yard to retire, allowing us to witness and enjoy it's beauty.

Check out the gorgeous, fan-like tail. 
These next pictures are of the bird fanning it's feathers to dry them.
They usually start to fan and dry their feathers in the late afternoon/early evening.
Sometimes, they fan their feathers for an hour or two to dry them.

This bird in the picture below, sits on the bank, across the small lake behind our home. 
Here it is, fanning and drying out it's gorgeous feathers.

Thank you God for blessing us with these beautiful creatures.
Thank you God for allowing us to witness YOUR creations.
Thank you God for allowing us to slow down and notice the beauty around us.
Thank you God for allowing us to live in paradise, aka Florida.

Love and Light,
From one sufi to another,