Throwback Thursday: Villanelle Poetry is my new favorite

Hello and welcome to my blog! Welcome to Throwback Thursday where I bring back a post from a year ago and give my thoughts about it.

This is what I wrote a year ago today: Villanelle poetry is my new favorite kind of poetry

I usually write freestyle poetry. I don’t follow any rules. I just write what my head comes up with. A while ago I took a 3-day course in creative writing and ever since, they’ve been sending me suggestions and tips for writing. I usually don’t have the time or energy to do them, but a few days ago I opened one of their emails on how to write villanelle poetry, and I’m so glad I did.

This is my 2nd attempt at villanelle poetry. Don’t be alarmed. I’m not going through depression or anything, although I’ve been extra moody these past 3 days, I know why.

I need to get back to reading. It usually fixes my mood. Until then, enjoy my 2nd villanelle.

I don’t really feel like a ray of sunshine
I don’t feel like I’m walking on clouds
I feel like I’m “fine” but I’m not fine

My thoughts are like a maze in my mind
Don’t feel like crying or screaming out loud
I don’t really feel like a ray of sunshine

I want to watch movies to numb my mind
Otherwise, I think I’ll start freaking out
I feel like I’m “fine” but I’m not fine

I know the world’s falling apart, I’m not blind
But I really miss having fun and going out
I don’t really feel like a ray of sunshine

I’m crashing like the economy on the inside
Trying to climb my way out
I feel like I’m “fine” but I’m not fine

I try to be positive, productive but I can’t hide
My feelings are finding their way out
I don’t really feel like a ray of sunshine
I feel like I’m “fine” but I’m not fine

This is exactly how I feel right now! Except now I think I am depressed, because I’m not enjoying the things I used to enjoy as much, like reading and watching movies. Speaking of movies, I watched The Wife yesterday and it was a masterpiece! I loved it. I have a lot of thoughts about it. Maybe one day I’ll write a movie review.

As for villanelle, I wish I had done more villanelle in the past year but I think I only did one more. It takes a great deal of energy and concentration to write this type of poetry. My usual poetry is more free-flowing, almost effortless.

The situation is Lebanon is terrible but many people are coping. The problem is that it’s not only the government that is corrupt, but the people got so used to corruption it’s ingrained in their system. For example, when waiting in line to fill their cars, it’s expected that those who know the guy who owns the station personally get serviced 1st and they will make a fuss if they don’t get special treatment. People operate on the “serve family and friends 1st and with a discount” and will insult you if you break the code.

It’s one of the reasons why I never opened a pharmacy, besides the 5000$ I didn’t have which you need to get permission to open a pharmacy, and the fact that I didn’t really enjoy working in a pharmacy. Friends and family members would tell me while I was still studying for my degree:

When you open a pharmacy, you’re going to give us medicine for free or for a huge discount, right?

As if a pharmacy is a charity, not a business.

Anyway, I’m getting off-topic. Everything I wrote in the poem a year ago still rings true, especially the part of wanting to go out and have fun. Except everything is expensive and I don’t have many friends.

Have you ever written villanelle?

Random thoughts on a not so happy Monday

I have a lot on my mind, but I don’t know what to say.

Happy Monday?

I don’t know. I’m trying so hard to be happy, but today I watched a scene on The Good Doctor that touched me. I have been learning a lot about human relations from this show. Sean’s girlfriend told him that she was sad and that when she sees him happy, it makes her feel worse. They both went through the same ordeal (I won’t give spoilers) but he coped by focusing on work and distracting himself with other things, but she kept getting stuck in waves of sadness and nothing seemed to help.

This reminded me that my husband has been restless and moody ever since the revolution in October 2019. That was almost 2 years ago. He acts normally sometimes, but 90% of the time, he is in his man cave; on his phone, or watching tv shows I don’t like. Me on the other hand, keep pushing through. I can’t mope with a 6-year-old around, nor am I comfortable sinking in depression. When I feel myself starting to sink, I panic and go into anxiety mode, which is to be better than depression mode because yelling occasionally is better than crying.

When I get depressed, it makes my husband very uncomfortable, and my son clings to me even more. I’m not depressed right now. I enjoy watching tv shows alone and going for walks and eating ice cream. However, I noticed I become restless around my husband and son. My son asks me to sit with him while he eats because my husband rarely eats at home nowadays (he eats at his mom’s. Don’t ask). But when I sit with my son, I bring a book or my phone. I’m unable to sit with him undistracted. He strikes up a conversation with me and usually I get annoyed and ask him to eat, or I leave the table completely. I hate that I do this.

I’ve lost a lot of weight recently because I have little appetite and I hate my body. Instead of worrying about me, my husband is pleased and wants me to lose more weight. I’m going on a tangent here. Back to the table conversations. Today, when my son talked, I listened. He was opening up to me about his karate class (which the coach told me about today that he is rocking it). My son is secretive like his dad and I’m so happy that he began to share with me. I thanked him for sharing with me and I told him it meant he trusts me. I explained to him that he can’t trust everyone though (I don’t want him to go from secretive to wide open).

I honestly don’t know where I was going with this post because my son just asked for fruits and I forgot my train of thought.

Anyway, Lebanon is going through a big crisis and it’s estimated that we won’t get out of it until after 10 years. At 1st, I wanted to spend my money like there was no tomorrow because the Lebanese lira was losing its value. I honestly don’t know at what value it is now but the average is 1$ to 20,000 when it used to be 1,500. The problem is the bank gives people their money at 3,900 and people who collect rent have to collect at 1,500. I don’t want to give a news recap about everything going on up until now, but it’s not safe here anymore. There is no war, yet, but there are many robberies and killings, and break-ins happening in my city. I keep jumping between sadness, mindfulness, and anxiety. My biggest concern, after doing everything I can to be grateful and mindful and escape reality when necessary, is how this will impact my son.

I went to the supermarket today and was shocked at the prices. What cost 11,000 almost 2 years ago costs 120,000 today. You do the math. My stomach hurt just seeing the prices.

I’m going to stop writing now because, at this point, I lost my main point. I don’t even know what I’m going to name this post, so I guess I’ll name it random thoughts.

I’m praying for forgiveness, patience, wisdom, protection, peace, and much more. May we come out of this stronger and in one piece.

P.s. the people I interact with are some of the two kinds: either happy-go-lucky people who always see the bright side or overdramatic people who keep acting like we are going broke and are going to starve and start begging on the streets.

Storytime: Parental Concerns

Being in touch with my feelings is a good thing. It’s something I’m proud of. Learning how to regulate my emotions and not let anyone control my emotions, on the other hand, is a battle I fight every day. Overthinking and automatic negative thoughts also get me into trouble very often.

Why am I telling you this? Because I noticed that my son is not in touch with his feelings. He is 6 years old and I’ve been teaching him how to identify, vocalize, and control his emotions since he was three. He is at the point where at any given point, if I ask him how he feels, he will say happy. He also feels and identifies excitement when he is anticipating getting a treat. He also feels and expresses his anger pretty well. I’m just teaching him how to not cross the line to disrespect and hurting someone else with his words or hands or feet when he is angry.

This all sounds like he is in touch with his feelings, right? Well, maybe I’m a perfectionist or maybe because I see so much of my husband in him it scares me. I fear he inherits my anxiety because I see signs of it in him. I can tell he inherits his dads anger. There is no question about that. My ultimate goal in parenting is that he turns out better than me and his dad. I don’t want him to carry our flaws. Also, I don’t want him to need therapy when he grows up, so I’m trying not to traumatize him, while trying to heal myself from my childhood trauma without therapy.

Now to the point of my concern. When I ask my son if he enjoyed a certain activity, he will always say “normal” afterwards. During the activity, he is fully engaged and will say he is having fun when asked, but when we come home or the activity is over, he will say “I didn’t have fun at all” or will say “normal” meaning “meh”.

Meh means mediocre or unenthusiastic.

Also, I’m doing a feelings booklet with him and there are so many things he can’t answer. He is incapable of self reflection. Should I be concerned?

For example, when I asked him what he was grateful for, and I explained that means what are you happy that you have that some other people don’t have. The only answer he had was money. When I gave him ideas like this house, toys, food, clothes, clean running water, and electricity, he agreed and told me to write them down in his booklet.

Another example from the booklet:

It said to complete the following phrases:

  • I dream about…
  • I am good at…
  • I am proud of…
  • I am afraid of…
  • I cry about…
  • I get angry when…
  • I wish for…
  • I love…

He was only able to answer “I am good at arts and crafts because I love it and I practice a lot” and “I love our birds because they are cute”.

I told him my answers to give him ideas but it didn’t help so I just let it go. He kept saying “I don’t know”.

My answers were:

  • I dream about travelling the world.
  • I am good at reading and writing.
  • I am proud of publishing 10 books and growing my blog.
  • I am afraid of a lot of things, mostly of growing old with no one to take care of me, and without making my dream of travelling the world come true.
  • I cry about everything that bothers me. Everytime someone disrespects me or hurts my feelings.
  • I get angry when you don’t do as you’re told and when you disrespect me (I was addressing my son).
  • I wish for peace on earth (no more wars), no more poverty, and for people to take care of our environment (I then explained to him the importance of trees and how fires and deforestation are affecting the planet).
  • I love a lot of things. Ice cream, chocolate, cake, music, movies, tv shows, books, you and your dad (addressing my son), my family, my friends, God, and so much more.

I have other parental concerns too. I’m worried about how he will do at school next year, especially since there may be no school due to the fuel crisis and economic crisis and persistence of covid and kids not being provided with vaccines yet. I’m worried about how my son will cope without friends. So far he has his cousins who he sees once a week and makes 1 friend everytime I enroll him in a camp, only to break up with that friend the last day of camp. It’s as if he doesn’t want to go through the hassle of missing someone. Today he told me he still misses his friends from 1st year kindergarten, the only year he attended the whole year.

I’m worried about how he is going to be as a teenager, but I’ll file away that worry at least until he turns 12.

A lot of people tell me that my son is very in tune with his emotions, but I feel he isn’t as emotionally intelligent as I want him to be. Maybe because I lack emotional intelligence in some areas and my husband lacks it in other areas and I worry my son will take what we lack instead of taking what we have. Am I making any sense?

What are your parental concerns?

Throwback Thursday: Adjusting vs. Adapting

Hello and welcome to my blog! Welcome to Throwback Thursday, in which I bring a post from a year ago back and give my thoughts about it. Today’s post, ironically, is about adjusting versus adapting.

We are at the end of the summer season and the situation in Lebanon just keeps getting worse. There are so many negative events happening in the world that I’ve taken to watching The Good Doctor and playing Candy Crush all day. Well, that and my million responsibilities that come with being a mom and housewife. I’m trying to be a supportive wife as well, but it’s easier said than done.

Anyway, a year ago today, I wrote:

What’s the difference between adjusting and adapting?

I ask because 2020 has been something else, for everyone, and at the beginning of March, I was optimistic that this would only be for a month. As we near the middle of August, it seems as if things will never go back to the way they were. So much has happened this year. Memes have been made about 2020 being a very difficult year. What with the pandemic, the collapsing economy, and everything else that happened, it feels like we’re standing in the middle of rubble and we have no idea how to rebuild or where to start.

This brings me to the question of the day: Should we adapt or adjust? Human beings are known for their ability to adapt and evolve, some more than others, but what does it mean to adapt? Adaptation involves modifying something for a new purpose, while the adjustment is simply making small changes, like turning the volume on the radio up or down.

If we adapt to this new world, what does that mean exactly? It means finding out what the world needs most from us and focusing on that. We have a new purpose, to rebuild, to ensure that our children aren’t traumatized by everything that happened this year, to serve our communities the best that we can.

In normal circumstances, we would adjust our routine, wake up earlier, exercise more, eat healthier, do small things every day that would bring us closer to our goals. We still need to do all of that, but in addition, we must adapt and renew ourselves. The world does not revolve around us, and we must do our best to ensure the future of our children in this unpredictable world.

Try to be thoughtful, polite, and compassionate is rewarding. A compliment and a ‘thank you’ can go a long way.

Are you adapting well to the new norm?

Flash forward to August 2021 and the pandemic is still here. There is a new delta wave coming. The fuel crisis in Lebanon is just getting worse. Prices are sky-high. We have no electricity, no wifi half the time. It’s predicted that soon we will have no running water. I’m trying so hard not to panic, but it’s hard not to. My body is in flight mode, ready to book a ticket to the US, but I can’t leave my son and husband behind, and I don’t want to venture into the unknown. I mean, we are heading into an unknown in Lebanon as well, but at least we have food and shelter. I believe it’s time I start adapting. I’ve been adjusting here and there for 2 years, spending less money, buying cheaper brands, and over time we will have to make more and more sacrifices to our standard of living, all because a corrupt government does not know how to run a country. Honestly, we shouldn’t have to adapt. We should make a change, but how? I’m not sure yet. Comment below if you have any suggestions.

Here’s to a new adventure, into the unknown. May we adapt and persevere until we don’t have to adapt anymore. May we make positive changes in the hearts of the people we know and in the world. May we make a difference. May we pave the path for our children so they won’t have to struggle. I hope a year from now when I’m doing a throwback Thursday post, I’ll have good news.

Poetry Friday: Like the Titanic

Hello and welcome to my blog! Welcome to Poetry Friday. I was going to bring back a poem I posted a few years ago. I even deleted the original post to avoid duplicate posts, but reading it, I cringed (my style has evolved since then, thankfully) and I also found the words irrelevant to how I feel today. So I decided to write a new poem on the spot.

I’m happy today. I had a nice Eid. I spent time with my family and in-laws. I ate a lot of ice cream. I went to the sea (I didn’t swim). Check out my Instagram for some awesome pictures and videos. However, this does not mean my life is problem-free. I bickered with my husband a lot but we also reconciled and I decided to forgive him for everything in the past (I have been holding onto a lot of resentment and I needed to forgive him for my inner peace). My grandmother’s health also isn’t very well and my health has been awful all Eid. Last but not least, the situation in Lebanon is terrible and although I pretend not to think about it, it’s in the back of my head and it’s all that everybody talks about.

I decided to write a villanelle poem (I wrote in this style twice before) because it’s been a while and I’ve had a long day and I have a migraine so some structure should get my creative juices flowing.

Villanelle : Like the Titanic

I’m trying not to panic
Lebanon has started to sink
Like the Titanic

I busy myself with being dynamic
Just so I don’t have to think
I’m trying not to panic

The economic state is volcanic
An iceberg ahead on the brink*
Like the Titanic

The poverty rate is tragic
The government is out of sync
I’m trying not to panic

The people are fanatic**
Their spirits began to sink
Like the Titanic

This is all so traumatic
I need to talk about it with a shrink
I’m trying not to panic
Like the Titanic

*If you are on the brink of something, usually something important, terrible, or exciting, you are just about to do it or experience it. Example: Their economy is teetering on the brink of collapse. 

**Fanatic or frenzied means in a state of hurry, panic or wild activity.

Here  are  some  ideas  for  writing  your  own  villanelles.   
Write  about: – – – – – –
a  memory  you  can’t  get  rid  of.
a  bad  habit.
a  recurring  dream.
a  superstition.
an  irrational  fear.
an  obsessive  desire  for  someone  or  something.

Throwback Thursday: Worrying about the future

Hello and welcome to my blog! We’re almost halfway through 2021 and the pandemic isn’t over yet, but we have bigger problems here in Lebanon.

Lebanon today is reeling from a crushing economic crisis that pushed more than half its population into poverty. On top of having to cope with a local currency that has lost more than 85 percent of its value in just over a year, people also struggle to afford basic food items that have become 400 percent more expensive.

That’s why it was suitable

to find that a year ago, I wrote a post about worrying about the future. Oddly enough, I’m not worried about the prices and being able to buy necessities. That’s for my husband to worry about.

I’m worried about the effect the situation has on my husband’s mood, which in turn affects my marriage.

I’m worried about how I’m going to keep my anxiety and depression in check when I’m not getting much me-time or going out.

I’m worried about my mental health and how it’s affecting my physical health.

I’m worried about the effect of my son staying long hours at home with no playmates.

I’m worried about not being able to visit my family every Saturday because of the fuel shortages.

I’m worried about not being able to work on my blog and my books if the motor in our building shuts down. Nevertheless, I’m reading and trying to find ways to deal with the worry, and the best way I found is to practice mindfulness and gratitude.

A year ago I wrote:

Worrying about the future

“I don’t want to turn 6 years old!”

That’s what my 5-year-old son announced to me the other day, and when I asked him why he said “because I don’t want my teeth to start falling”.

He is now six and has lost 2 teeth and was very excited to lose more but for some reason never did.

It fascinates me and freaks me out that my son is thinking a lot about his future. He wants to be a policeman (I hope he changes his mind) and he tells me to keep the clothes that are small on him for his kids. He wonders what being an adult is like, and when he asks too many questions, I tell him “just think about reaching 6 years old. Eat, sleep, and pray, and don’t think about anything else”.

He currently wants to be a zookeeper but for dinosaurs. He isn’t convinced they are extinct.

The reason why I say this is because my son worries so much about the future, I feel like he is missing out on the now. Where have the times gone when our kids could just play freely without worrying what job they’re going to have and how they’re going to get enough money to feed a family?

I’ve been worrying about the future a lot lately. The future seems bleak, especially in Lebanon. But that’s my job, to worry. My son’s job is to have fun and be carefree.

Two things come to mind when I think about this situation:

The 1st is a poem I adore “I want to be six again”.

I want to be six again.
I want to go to McDonald’s and think it’s the best place in the world
to eat.
I want to sail sticks across a fresh mud puddle and make waves
with rocks.
I want to think M&Ms are better than money ’cause you can eat
I want to play kickball during recess.

From the poem “I want to be six again”

My son doesn’t want to turn six because he is afraid of his teeth falling. I think this whole not going to school is taking a toll on him. He is spending a lot of time with a parent who has anxiety and another who is constantly worried and deep in thought. It’s hard to be carefree when the overall mood is as if someone died.

The mood is still the same most of the time. I tend to hide from my family to be on my phone peacefully. The difference is I think I have a better grip on my mental health than I did last year.

I feel like I lost my smile. I used to be so perky and joyful. The book I just finished reading had a father who was too carefree, bordering on carelessness. There was a mom who was always worried about what might go wrong, so uptight and busy and tired all the time. It’s sad but I saw myself in her. Then there was the grandma, who was a ray of sunshine. I saw my late grandma in her, may she rest in peace.

I’m currently reading 100 simple secrets of happiness, but it’s taking me forever because the one I have was translated into Arabic.

I played scrabble and uno yesterday, but even while playing, I noticed I’m somewhat on edge and serious. I’ll try to loosen up more, for the sake of my son. He seems to be freaking out all the time lately, worried and scared. I wish I could distance him from me and get him in contact with a happy soul. I’m not in despair, but I feel not so optimistic, and somewhat numb.

We played monopoly yesterday. My son has been occupied with arts and crafts for hours lately, but once he gets bored, he becomes very annoying. I’m trying not to get annoyed by him, but to be mindful instead.

Another thing that comes to mind is a poem I wrote a long time ago. I think I called it “Give me the heart of a child”.

You can find this poem in my 2nd poetry book “Heart on my sleeve and other poems”.

I used to be just afraid of the dark

I’d ask my mom to keep the lights on

Afraid I’d fall off the swing in the park

I’d clench both fists and hold tight on

But now I’m afraid of bigger things

Like heartbreaks, earthquakes, poverty

Growing old with no one taking care of me

Give me the heart of a child

And I’ll live my life like a man

I’ll love my life like a child

Enjoying it while I can

From “Give me the heart of a child”

So I spend my days writing to-do lists, seeing family, doing some housework, procrastinating other housework, watching The Vampire Diaries, sometimes exercising, sometimes reading. I’m practicing The art of getting by. If you didn’t watch the movie, you should. I think there’s a book too, but I haven’t read it.

Last night, my son was really worried he’d be bit by a mosquito in his sleep. He was terrified. I told him “You need to have faith that God will protect you and that nothing can harm you unless God wills it to”. Maybe I should internalize my advice. I’m good at giving advice but terrible at following my own words.

Are you worried about the future?What are you doing to cope?

A strategy I use when I’m worried about something. The 1st part is to imagine the worst-case scenario, then make a plan on what you will do if the worst were to occur. Finally, imagine the best case scenario and hope for that.