I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me

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Ever feel like you were being watched? Yeah me too sometimes. Courtesy of Middle Child, Twin 1 and Twin 2.

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Art Exhibit

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So I got this in the first week of January. A really nice way to start the year! You can see my piece here : All Women Art Exhibition

In between the art nights that I am doing I hope to put in some more time for exhibitions. Had an art night yesterday, and the paintings all turned out awesome ( so proud of my participants! You all did an incredible job!) Check out the paintings…

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CN Tower and a summer sunset.

Sketchbook

I have been trying to keep up with my sketch book along with the paint nights, mornings and afternoons. Yes I did a paint breakfast as well as the paint lunches and dinners!

My participants have given me motivating feedback, and I am happy that painting has proven to be such a fun and  at the same time stress relieving activity for them as well as for me. I am having one last event on the 30th of December. I hadn’t planned on doing any more before January 2016, but there were so many requests for one last “hurrah” before next year 🙂

With all the planning, painting and other stuff  that goes into organizing these paint events I have less time to practice in my sketchbook. But I choose simple little drawings that I can manage while watching Dr.Who with my girls. So here’s a peek at my sketchbook…

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and this last one I started yesterday ….

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I hope to finish this one tonight. I also have some paintings I am working on for a silent auction for charity…busy !!!

SL-Week 15: Communication

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Solitude, best time for communication with As-Samad, the Eternally Besought.

 

I am all wrapped up in artsy events these days and can’t find the time to write on my blog. So I thought this photo challenge might be fun! Do check out this website, Silvain Landry,  for awesome photos!

Weekly Photo Challange: Happy Place

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This says it all. Happy Place.

Eat, Drink and Paint!

After the art exhibit at MuslimFest this summer, I had all sorts of artsy ideas bouncing around my head. Then I met another artsy lady and we did an artsy paint night. It turned out…..artsy.

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Sunsets.

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Food!

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Artsy ladies.

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I painted one in the morning and then one in the evening as I instructed.

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Le finished masterpieces!

It turned out well for the first time, we had lots of fun. I would love your suggestions and tips to make it better though!

Autumn is Sneaking In

School opening again sort of means summer is over, even though it’s not and the weather is still awesome and there may be some more beach days. However the trees are being sneakily “Autumnized” with brilliantly painted leaves. School opening definitely means more time to write though and more time to “art”. I was up to some artsy stuff when I got the chance, kids joined in and we made some masterpieces together. I am trying out the photo real stuff, need lots of practice, but I love it.

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Did this scenery for someone.

Practised plenty in the sketchbook too…

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Would you like a jelly bean?

Waking up the Kids: Buy Me That!

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When I was a kid we didn’t have all day long TV programs for kids. We waited patiently for Saturday so we could watch cartoons. Kids can watch all day, everyday now. They get way too much television. With that they get way too many commercials. Commercials that convince them that their lives will be incomplete without a certain sugar laden breakfast cereal or incredibly awesome action figure with high tech capabilities that require an endless supply of batteries or ugly doll with big head, disproportionately small body and questionable attire.

When we were kids we were simply told “no”. No meant no and that was that. Or there were the few much envied kids in the class whose parents never said no and their lives were complete bliss. We could never reach that unattainable nirvana that they had. Parents that never said no.  But when you have your own kids you realize that it was the parents who had it harder than us. I do feel they could have made it easier for themselves though if they had sat us down and taught us how big companies count on the gullibility of the (dumb) consumer. If our parents had challenged us to be smarter than the advertising professionals I think we would have been more open to accepting “no I am not buying that for you”.  At least that is what I think now that I have to deal with my own kids.

I am a big fan of Neflix.  No commercials and there are shows that I have okayed for my kids to watch that I don’t have to worry about being age inappropriate. Like the incredibly dumbed down or incredibly crass, even bordering on lewd shows I see on regular channels. Of course sometimes they do watch YTV, so they do have exposure to the wonderful world of advertising and all the material wonders that can cause parents to go bankrupt.

I too just give the “no means no”, occasionally treats are allowed on birthdays and special occasions. But I didn’t want my kids to feel the way I did when my parents said no and I saw dozens of other kids with parents that said yes.  I felt like I was a poor immigrant, because something being too expensive and a waste of money was the (if any) excuse given. Yes I want my kids to be tough to face the world tomorrow but if there is an explanation I want to give it to them so they can understand the world around them.

I started telling them how big companies hire smart people to fool kids into buying things they don’t need. They fool kids into pestering parents to a point of madness and the parents finally give in. So these companies win the game all the time because they outsmart the kids. The kids aren’t smart enough to realize they are being duped. This reasoning was incredibly more effective than what we got as kids. My kids understood why they did not need everything they saw on commercials or everything their friends had.

Today I took this to an even higher level. I searched for videos on YouTube that explained advertising tricks. I was once watching a documentary on the music industry and my girls sat down with me. I thought they would run away bored after a few minutes, they didn’t. They absorbed it with interest and now discuss what songs are not worth listening to and which are, they recognize the absurdity that some singers indulge in and understand how this is demeaning and something that should not be respected or idolized.

Anyways I was not expecting to find videos that were actually made for kids about the trap of commercials. But I found a series of them. They were really good, the girls were so engaged they couldn’t stop discussing and asking questions. It kind of did all the work for me, they started talking about commercials they saw and how they no longer wanted that product now that they realized how they were being fooled into wanting to buy things they didn’t need.

Society is becoming one big “I want this-I need this-I have to have this-look at this latest thing that I bought and have thus achieved a level of superiority” self-absorbed mess. It is our duty to make sure we are able to reverse this by teaching our kids to read between the lines, question things and make their own informed decisions rather than have the mainstream media do it for them.  We need to make sure our kids are wide awake on all levels. The thing is it is easier to keep them awake by teaching them at a young age than it is to wake them up when they are older.

Place Masterpiece Here

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Most writers write because they love writing. It is not a big money maker for the majority of us, most of the time our payback is simply having people read and share the article or post. A comment that shows the reader actually read the piece is always greatly appreciated.

Not many people want your writing, you pretty much have to get down on your hands and knees begging for your piece to get published on websites and magazines. But writers keep writing anyway. Even if the only place their writing gets published is on their own little blog in their own little world of fellow unknown writers that appreciate the efforts. We try to keep each other motivated.

Writing just makes writers happy. We can’t stop. And sometimes some of us get lucky, then we all celebrate, like it was our own little victory. We get so happy we share the achievement wherever we can. I have had a bit of luck, a few posts I had written got featured. I was also approached by a couple of people to write some pieces for them. If you get asked to write something out of the blue when you least expect it, it is like Eid/Christmas/Hanukkah/ Diwali/fill in appropriate festival here.

Seeing your work somewhere is an amazing feeling. I wanted to help other newbies have that feeling, it is so motivating.  I didn’t have a whole lot of resources, the only thing I could think of was to put up a website and offer writers, artists and bloggers a place to share their work.  When the website was finally up I sent the link to my friends and asked them to share it with their friends and family with the message that anyone interested could send me their work to be put up. I started getting submissions and excited ‘thank yous’. That is a great feeling, being able to help someone. I also got some people ask me how much I was going to pay them for their submissions. They hadn’t even sent in a sample of their writing or artwork. It was kind of funny, but I am assuming they haven’t actually tried creating anything and getting it ‘out there’ yet. They are in for a rude awakening! I am keeping my fingers crossed though that eventually the site will pay for itself and I will be able to pay contributors. Right now it is using up all my pocket money!

If you are interested in sharing your work I would love to help get it ‘out there’.  I am going through submissions and hope to have them all up in July. I have put up a ‘floor model’ so you can see the website, the email to send in a submission is under the ‘Contribute’ heading.  This is the first time I am doing something like this, so your suggestions will be appreciated!

Attention all writers, bloggers, foodies, parents, artists, photographers, travellers, event planners and readers: come visit Café Mosaic.ca!

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We Need Less Barbie, Less Fake Cover Girls and More Warriors.

Dear Darling Daughters,

I overheard you talking to each other while you played with your dolls. I was relieved for the few minutes of conflict free cooperation amongst you. But what you, my youngest munchkin, said was far worse for me than one of your epic battles.

“I wish I had blond hair and blue eyes and was pretty like Barbie.”

I read about stuff like this all the time. It didn’t really matter of course until you said it because I thought I was doing such a good job by giving you confidence that looks don’t matter and everyone is beautiful in their own way etc etc.  But of course you do not live in a bubble and I cannot shield you from our increasingly shallow world. I suppose it was my fault for buying the damn dolls in the first place, but you know the thing is every mom wants her little girl to have nice toys. I just misjudged what nice is. Thanks a lot Mattel.

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(No. Just no! Pic from here.)

I tried to fix this problem by going out and finding some brown skinned, black haired dolls. Voila, thank you Disney for Mulan, Pocahontas and Jasmine. Although they should have done their homework because no, that is not what Arab princesses wore.  Belly dancers yes, but Jasmine was not a belly dancer. Also Pocahontas was only about ten or eleven and apparently she never saved John Smith.  Yes unfortunately women are objectified. A lot. I will explain what that means later, right now let’s just stick to My Little Pony. Okay yeah it has something to do with how they look in certain clothes. Yes, a certain lack of clothes. Thanks a lot Disney! Yes the bumpy parts that are barely covered by their skimpy clothes. No, it is not something good to walk around like that. Your body is yours, it should not be on display for everybody to ogle at!

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(What exactly is the message here?)

Anyways looking pretty means different things to different people. There is not just one way to look pretty, in some countries the idea of pretty is very different and many of us wouldn’t see it as pretty. Like the giraffe women of Burma.

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Yeah long neck.

And some countries in Africa have tribes that take great pride in lip plates….

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Ouch, but it is beautiful to them.

More importantly I also want you to know that looks are not everything. Even if, eventually, the entire world goes crazy and thinks that they are. The thing that matters most is what is inside, and what you do with it. You can’t change the way you look, but you can change the way the world looks at you.

Mulan , Jasmine and Pocahontas didn’t actually look like that by the way. No one looks like that. Jasmine wasn’t even a real person. Yes models are real people, but no they don’t really look like that. Their pictures are photo shopped to make you think they look like that. Why? So women and girls spend their money on makeup and silly products because they think they will look like that. Yes there are people who make money out of fooling people. It is not a good thing, but it is a thing.

Never mind. So according to the legend, Mulan was an awesome girl who fought in the war in place of her old father who couldn’t fight. Do you think she worried about her hair? No.

What do I mean by legend? Well legend means that it might or might not be true, but there must have been something to  the story. Okay here’s a story that I can assure you is true.

There was once an Arab female warrior that fought in many wars hundreds of years ago, during the time of the Holy Prophet. Her brother, who was a knight, had always been very proud of her and taught her to handle her sword so well she became a skilled fighter. She was also a great poet. She was smart, brave and she eventually led an army into battle!

When her brother was taken prisoner during a war, she didn’t sit back and let someone else go save him. She led an attack, won the fight and saved all the prisoners including her brother. She fought fearlessly in lots of battles and stood by what she believed in, she inspired men and women because of her bravery. One time she was captured by the enemy, you know what she did? She motivated the other prisoners and together they fought their way out with tent poles and pegs as weapons! She didn’t let anything get her down and she probably didn’t own any glittery lip gloss or whatever it was they used back then.

I can tell that you like this little bit of history.

“She was awesome! Was she brown?” You ask me.

“Yes.” I answer.

“Did she have long black hair?” you want to know.

“Yup.”

“Was her name Jasmine?”

“No. Her name was Khaula. Khaula Bint Al-Azwer.” I answer with great satisfaction as wide grins spread across your precious coffee colored faces.

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(Pic from here.)

(Disclaimer: I have nothing against girls playing with dolls, but we need to teach our girls they have the ability to be so much more than just pink frilly show pieces. There are more important things than looking good and taking endless selfies. Warrior is meant in the metaphorical sense, I am not encouraging girls to pick up arms and start a war. However if they are keen to learn fencing or archery I say go for it!)