My 2009 Twitter Wisdom, Part. 2

If you’d like to know what this is about, please read part 1.
“When you are born, your work is placed in your heart” Khalil Gibran. No wonder we will remain ‘sick’ as long as we ignore our heart/work!
Jul 23rd, 2009
The biggest and most serious “jihad” in our life journey is to put meaning into all of what we do!
Jul 24th, 2009
Just had breakfast: Greek salad and coffee. The salad was delicious & refreshing, why in the world don’t we give a good chance to vegetables!
Jul 25th, 2009
The quality of the people close to us determines to the greatest degree the quality of our living.
Jul 29th, 2009
If you think you love a person without loving what’s in their heart, you’re only lying to yourself. The body vanishes and we are our hearts!
Jul 29th, 2009
I wish that when we talk about someone in their absence, we imagine that they’re listening, and decide how we would say what we need to say.
Jul 29th, 2009
Muslims of today are the only problem with Islam.
Aug 7th, 2009
When left to ourselves, we can get ourselves into the deepest of troubles; it’s God’s way of telling us how much and how often we need Him!
Aug 9th, 2009
Another workweek to start and finish, then another to start and finish; Life is just cycles! We need to choose which cycle to get caught in!
Aug 10th, 2009
God is the only unseen that is more visible than everything we see and touch.
Aug 15th, 2009
Nothing kills a man’s heart and sense of living like taking away his freedom!
Aug 18th, 2009
A life without a project is a train without a track, a car without a steering wheel. How and where would they end up?!
Aug 27th, 2009
Reading is like food, when I don’t have enough, good quality coming in, I feel unhealthy, mind and body! For real.
Aug 28th, 2009
Prophet Muhammad was clearly told in the Quran that he had no authority over people, and now some Muslims act as if they had this right!
Sep 1st, 2009
The oppressor and the victim who accepts oppression are equal in sin!
Sep 1st, 2009
If God doesn’t exist, then nothing else does!
Sep 6th, 2009
As long as people eat too much meat; meat will eat them and eat their earth!
Sep 15th, 2009
Part. 3 coming soon!

My 2008-2009 Twitter Wisdom! Part.1

I started tweeting in the summer of 2008. I always loved short phrases, the ones that express long experiences and deep meanings in few words.
I remember, when I was learning foreign languages in Egypt in high school and college, that whenever we were required to come up with sentences using new words or illustrating grammer rules, I always had to write a sentence that actually said something meaningful. It was like an extra rule that I created for myself, for my own fun and self-respect! For example, if we need to use the word “eat” in a sentence, I would feel so simplistic if I wrote: “Mark eats eggs for breakfast”; instead, I had to come up with something like: “Both Muslims and Jews don’t eat pork”, or “The Earth has enough food for all people to eat”. I just thought it was too easy, somewhat insulting to our intelligence to just come up with any sentences that have no meaning whatsoever!
Then Twitter came and gave me an opportunity to remember my self-imposed rule! I still can’t tweet everyday and use it as a brief journal of what I am doing. I am not saying this is how it should be. I think I can’t get myself out of the mentioned student state of mind just yet! So, I decided to pick my tweets that are saying something, that have some universal meaning beyond the expression of a moment, and publish them here. I will start by the 2008-2009 tweets, the ones that say some kind of wisdom or mark significant events for me, then I might do the same later with my more recent Twitter activity.
I made a plan for today. A plan is different than a to do list, which starts on paper and ends on paper!
May 21st, 2008
Lists don’t produce action. Meaning does! 
May 21st, 2008
I just woke up and it’s noon. Work controls your life style. I can’t wake up early because I work at night.
May 24th, 2008
I wish I had a year off so I can read all my books! 
May 26th, 2008
My car broke, I don’t have enough money to fix it and I rely on it for my job/income! Why am I not worried?! Because God does what He wills!
June 2nd, 2008
A new chapter of our life story starts with every new job – among other things. A new chapter started for me! 
Jan 13th, 2009
Death brings balance to life. And faith brings peace to death!
Jan 13th, 2009
A trip to a new coffee shop for a cup of mocha made me two new friends: two American Muslims/converts around my age!
Feb 22nd, 2009
Today was my second day reading in the bus on my way to and from work in Downtown Chicago. Same bus, new world!
Apr 15th, 2009
Man cannot truly live without a project!
Jul 17th, 2009
Even if I tried and fell a 1000 times, I’ll get up and make it 1001, because it might be the one time I really get up and be the real ME!
Jul 18th, 2009
Don’t look down at a person, because God is looking at your heart!
Jul 18th, 2009
Why do we forget to make use of what makes sense?!
Jul 18th, 2009
Look ahead to get ahead, look at your feet to fall in place!
Jul 21st, 2009
Asking the right question is the very first step to getting the right answer/solution.
Jul 21st, 2009
Our work should make us feel alive, not just make us a living!
Jul 22nd, 2009
Part two coming soon!

Meeting myself once a week

In November of last year, I started a new habit, in my effort to change my life. It had to be an easy habit that I can commit to, but that could make some significant difference. If you’re familiar with procrastination, then you know how easy it is to make plans but fail to take consist action. My habit was just to sit with myself at the end of every week, usually Sundays, and make a plan for the week ahead.

To make sure this one habit will be a real, consistent one, I had to commit to it, regardless of whether or not I will actually do my tasks for the week. All I need to do with the undone actions of last week is just review them and take note of what wasn’t done, then move the undone to the following week, along with any new tasks. Some weeks were totally unproductive, sometimes two consecutive weeks were as unprodutive as it can get! Ok, no problem, I take a note that the previous week I did nothing, and move the tasks to the following one. Just this idea of focusing on the practice regardless of the actual accomplishments was a little breakthrough for me that helped me stick with it without any problems.
I also decided to do the planning outside, usually during breakfast or lunch. I go to a place that I like, get my coffee and write down the plan in a notebook. This increased the ease and fun of the habit, the only things that can trick us into breaking out of strong habits into new ones, gently but surely. 

The mere reviewing of the week at its end, and seeing that nothing was done was helpful. The repetition of this reviewing eventually leads to action, even if small, since it boosts one’s awareness of the passing of time. I find that my main problem with planning was forgetfulness and lack of focus. Time goes by too easily, and we can spend months without making any change or progress in our life without even realizing it.

Again, this didn’t result in any quick, phenomenal changes. But over the past 3 months, I finished many tasks that have been put off, some of them for long months. Little by little, this practice allows me to “hold” my time. We can’t shape or use anyhing elusive, we have to have some control over the material we’re working with. Time can be very hard to hold and take control of, and therefore manage. Logging and reviewing how we spend it can be very effective in helping us regain this control.

So, to summarize the process, here is what I did:

1- Break down time into units: I choose weeks. One day is too short, one month is too long.
2- Schedule a weekly session to review last week’s plan and decide which actions to be done during the following week. Commit to this session even if the previous week was a total waste of time.
3- Simply move undone actions to the new week ahead.
4- Make it into a fun date with yourself! Don’t do the planning at home, go somewhere nice, get your food or your drink, think and write down your plan.
5- Use a convenient medium that’s always easy to access. I don’t recommend our computers, the time to open it, wait for the OS to download no longer seems like a good idea to me.

Growing in peace!

“Rush will bring about remorse; patience will bring about safety”
Arabic proverb
Change doesn’t happen as quickly as we usually wish. I don’t think we have a chance of introducing any remarkable improvements before we make peace with this fact. In nature, our best teacher, change happens gradually and surely. Every particular plant grows at its prescribed pace. The only immediate forces that introduce massive, major and quick changes are phenomenons like hurricanes and tornados; destructive forces! Growth happens softly, gradually, slowly, and takes its time. Destruction can transform, in one hour, what needed decades to be built!
We feel this peace when we are surrounded by plants and nature. These beings are in no rush for anything! But humans were not even happy with the pace of plants and animals in growing, they invented growth hormones! The cost of this rush and impatience is becoming increasingly obvious, and even scary at times!
In our individual as well as collective endeavors for improvement, we have no chance of survival without fully accepting that change takes time, and growth happens slowly. Otherwise we will either not make any positive and real changes, or end up with monstres coming back against us!

How losing track of time kills our success

“God loves most those actions that are consistent, even if little”

 Prophet Muhammad

Last time I posted something in this blog was a little less than 2 months ago. That’s not, in any way, the longest time I didn’t blog! My blogs witnessed periods of much longer silence. However in my last post I talked about how I was going to change my life. I wanted to use blogging as a helping tool to keep me focused and making improvements.
The desired change is not to happen quickly, what matters is consistency. The major problem of people not improving is lack of consistent effort. All of us want to make positive changes. But most of us work toward our goals for a day or two, then we stop. We forget. We get distracted by little, insignificant things. Then one day we accidentally find an old piece of paper listing some good and easy actions, we look at the date that our own hands had marked in there, only to be shocked that it has been a year, and we still didn’t do or change any of it!
When I wrote my last post about my intention to change my life, I “thought” that I was going to blog once a week. Today I looked at the date of this last post and “discovered” that it has been almost 7 weeks! See, “thinking” that I was going to do something was of little benefit, if any!
That’s not the only example that I can remember from my personal experience of how losing track of time hurts my goals and improvement. I wasted money because of it. I lost good opportunities because of it. My life unnecessarily stayed the same longer than it should, all because of it!
One way of fixing this habit of losing track of time, and therefore staying focused, is to actually keep track of what we do. In order to do that, I created logs for the tasks that I am working on, no matter how little they were. I made it a point to do it on paper in order for them to be accessible all the time. From experience, creating a Word file can’t work as a log, the time of turning on the computer will just burry them in digits as long as the machine is dormant!
I brought a few pieces of paper, the size of a notebook, and dedicated everyone for a type of task that I usually had trouble being consistent with. One for cleaning and organizing my room. One for friends’ requests that need to be done. A log for some little healthier changes that I need to do daily. Etc. So far, those logs didn’t make me a new person, and I didn’t suddenly become un overachiever! However, my productivity, since I started those paper logs, became slightly better. I finished things I wouldn’t have finished. Other things remain postponed. One way logging helps is brining the passing of time under light. Now I can look at the “Room Organizing Log” and, to my surprise, find out that it has been 2 or 3 weeks since I did any maintenance in my room. No wonder it looks messy then!
I believe that awareness increases our productivity. The lack of consistency is largely due to forgetting. Our to do lists that never wake up and come to life were just forgotten once we wrote them. And time passes away so easy when we are in this state of semi sleep. We literally spend much of our life sleepwalking! Those are the times we don’t move forward, the months and years that pass by and our life is still exactly the same.
I am logging my life to save myself from more time sleepwalking. Sleepwalkers usually wake up to the shock of hitting a wall or the horror of falling into an abyss. Walking awake is the only guarantee to reach a destination!
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