A Very Drunk Wedding

A few years ago, my friend invited me as her date to a friend’s wedding. It’s exciting to be invited to wedding. Especially if there’s an open bar and lots of people you don’t know.

We made our way to our table and met with a very drunk audience. It was barely an hour into the reception and one of the girls was already plastered against the wall, struggling to stay awake.  Her long black hair and pale white skin made her look like a vengeful spirit out of a horror movie. Had she not leaned over when I sat down, anyone could’ve mistook her for dead: a thin, bony, pale body wearing a short, metallic blue dress.

“Oh man I’m tooo drunk.” she mumbled.

“Hey, shut the fuck up!” Her friend didn’t seem sympathetic at all. She herself had an empty bottle of Hennessy sitting in front of her and two full shot glasses of liquor. She asked me if I wanted to take a shot.

“No thanks.”

“Ok, your loss!!” She cheered herself and took both shots. She passed the empty bottle over to a guy sitting next to me. This guy was already suffering from a red glow and hiccups. He busted out an entirely new bottle of Hennessy.

“Why was everyone getting so drunk?” I thought.

I found out later that we sat with the older siblings of the bride:  one divorced and two unmarried. I could only begin to imagine what they were feeling. Perhaps a mixture of happiness, loneliness, sadness, and pressure (from the family)? I could only speculate. But if I had to pick between sorting through my emotions while surrounded by family, or taking shots… shots would seem less painful.

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One of The Best Compliments Ever

“Are you a Christian, Jay teacher?”

“What?” She caught me off guard, “What makes you say that?”

“Well my mom said that Christians are good people who care about others and help people, so you have to be Christian.”

I didn’t know how to respond. This was clearly meant to be a sweet compliment. But right now, I couldn’t have an in-depth conversation about how people of different religious backgrounds can also help and care about others. At least not here.

I got this tutoring job by a friend’s recommendation, so I had to make a good impression; becoming the Camp’s controversial math tutor wouldn’t be the way to do it. That summer, my friend’s Christian Leadership Camp was short on math teachers. I needed the money and I was great at what I did: teaching math to middle-schoolers. I couldn’t imagine many scenarios where Jesus would come up when teaching algebraic foil methods. All things considered, I accepted the job.

But here we were. Did this student see me as a Christian for staying late to help with homework? Did she see me as Christian for empathizing when she told me her friends thought she was “dumb” and stopped being friends?  Did encouraging her to continue art classes (after seeing her amazing sketches on the margins of their math homework) make me a Christian?

I’m not sure about many of those things. But I do know that this was one of the best compliments I’ve ever received in my life. Being a decent human has no religious boundaries.

The Ascent

I decided to start documenting my journey of becoming a respected author, while things are still new, and I’m figuring out things. I want to be able to remember the beginning of the process, before the “likes” and popularity, so that I can remember the most important part of the journey, and share this with others.

It’s been roughly three months since I began writing every single day, with the purpose of becoming a better writer on my Instagram. I also started to read and write more so that I can have a better understanding of both the topic I wish to speak about (increasing the belief in oneself to do great things by recognizing negative patterns through self-awareness) and writing structure in general. I’m also still trying to figure out my demographic, but I think I’ll be able to narrow it down with more writing. I’ll have to give up podcasting daily so that I’ll have more time to write, and ramp up my audiobook intake.

It was also my first day at my new job today. It felt nice, and I met lots of good people. But at the end of the day, this job is just a tool for my writing and podcast. It’s important to always remember why we do what we do.

Float like a Butterfly

Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest athletes of our time, but his opponents extended far beyond the boxing ring. We too can be the champions of the battles we fight each day if we are adaptable and courageous.

Being a black Muslim in the 1970’s produced its own challenges in the forms of racism and Islamophobia. One of the characteristics that made Ali so remarkable was his ability to stand firm in his beliefs, regardless of who was opposing him. If you look up any video today, you’ll see ferocious confidence in his self-expression.

Being unique today requires tremendous courage to challenge the status quo. Heroes are scarce in our generation because most of us have been taught to limit our critical thinking for a paycheck; by fitting into society like a standardized cog in a machine. Ali found courage within himself and became an individual. You can also cultivate this courage for self-expression.

In nature, a butterfly is able to float because it is light, agile and curious. On the other hand, a bumble bee has similar capabilities but different mindset: workers that’ll defend the queen and hive with their sting. Humans however are not restricted to any particular pattern, because self awareness allow us to change our perspective when presented with new information.

When Muhammad Ali’s saying, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” was also a comment on how humans can adapt their nature. We can be light on our feet and observe like a butterfly, but change and strike with purpose like a bee. We are not restricted to nature’s patterns, but to recognize and change them requires self-awareness and that courage deep inside you. Adapt, and you will overcome anything.

The right team for the right job

If your goal is to build a bridge, then following the advice of a demolitions expert and buying dynamite make no sense. But most of us do this in our lives every day: we take actions opposite of our goals and end up frustrated.

Demolition experts are the negative people in your life. They’ve relentlessly practiced how to locate and identify even the smallest faults and weaknesses to destroy the greatest structures. The reason negative people seldom live positive lives is because they focus on failures their entire life — so they rationalize any risks to avoid taking them. They can easily demolish the foundation of your courage with their years of practice.

On the other hand, an expert bridge builder focuses on strengths, and what materials go well together for a strong structure. His mission is to connect people, and this goal far outweighs any short-term fear of failure. His team and tools are also much different than a demolition expert: one carries dynamite and a wrecking ball machine, and the other employs construction workers and engineers.

Depending on what we are trying to accomplish, we need the right team. Whether you’re trying to build bridges or destroy them, you’ll be able to achieve your goal more efficiently with a team on the same mission as you.

Car batteries can die, but your soul just needs a recharge.

[Today’s podcast episode is about how to create a positive future. You can check it out here.]

Today’s post is inspired by a wonderful soul named Drew.

My car battery died today, and I lost my wallet a few days ago. There was no way to call roadside assistance, nor pay for a new battery. In addition, most of my friends and family were busy (since it was a weekday), and to top it off, I didn’t have any jumper cables. As you can imagine, this could’ve been a very negative day.

However, I’m a student of self-awareness; self-awareness is the only aspect of our lives that we have 100% control over. I started to break my old thought patterns, and focused on the positive. My car broke down, but at home. I don’t have a wallet, but I have checks. And who knows, maybe I’ll meet a person who will inspire, and be inspired.

And sure enough, that’s EXACTLY what happened.

Now, you probably want to know what happened, but it’d be very difficult for me to explain the series of events in the following hour; mostly because I really don’t have a logical explanation. The universe was just moving.

But what I can do is something that is probably more important:  to take some energy from that moment, and share it with you my friend. This energy includes hope, gratitude and positivity; that no matter what you’re enduring in life now, if you choose to keep believing in yourself and keep working, the future is bright my friend. Your victories are for you, and you alone. Bring the sunglasses, and let today be a snapshot to remember when you look back tomorrow.

Generosity Comes From Abundance

[Today’s podcast was about generosity. You can check it out here]

In college, one of my colleagues was notorious for forgetting his pencil. It was very clear in the way he dressed, his mismatching socks, and disheveled hair that his goal was to do the bare minimum in class to get participation. And usually he would ask me for pencils, since he knew I kept an ungodly amount of pens and pencils in my backpack.

I think it’s interesting to note our respective attitudes in this scenario regarding pencils. If I really just wanted to be prepared, I would keep only a few extra pencils. Not twenty. But in past experiences, I’d personally been in embarrassing situations where no one was willing to give me a pencil. So, out of this fear, I kept many pens and pencils.

So he would ask, and I would give. But I started to notice that when my pencil stash would run low, I was more hesitant to give him a pencil. In fact, sometimes I would lie that I didn’t have an extra, so that my own anxiety could be quelled. Needless to say, neither of us were happy in this situation.

I had developed a relationship with my irrational fear of pencils, and my colleague developed an unspoken trust with me of providing. The more pencils I had, the more comfortable I was with giving him a pencil. But as that stash dwindled, so did our weird relationship. Basically, the less I had, the less willing I was to give him a pencil.

Eventually, he moved to another part of the class where he continued his cycle of “pen-handling.” I thought I was being generous, but in reality I felt bad for him. We aren’t able to freely give if we think we don’t have enough.

You know at least one person in your own life who has shied away from donating because they say they don’t have enough. They usually say things like, “Once I become rich, then I’ll have extra money to donate!” But riches come from an abundant mindset. Let me ask you this: how will you ever become rich, if you operate from a poor and lacking mindset?

 

 

We are all trying to survive.

Here’s something interesting that I’ve learned today: we are all trying to survive.

This statement is not new to very many of us, but if we look closer at the deeper meaning, perhaps we can better understand our own patterns.

Consider the reptilian brain – the part in our brain responsible for “fight or flight” response. This area of the brain identifies patterns, and is the most evolutionary mature part of our brain (compared to the cerebellum and neo cortex). It likes habits and despises change, because it was how our ancestors survived; by eating the familiar berries, walking the familiar path home and not getting eaten by sabretooth tigers. Pretty important for back then, not so much for society today.

So next time you try something new, and you doubt yourself, induce anxiety or irrational fear, just remind yourself that it’s just your reptilian brain trying to prevent getting eaten by sabretooth tiger many years ago. It served its purpose then, but is holding you back now. Acknowledge it and continue on with your goals.

Back online and kickin’ !

Hello my wonderful friend. It has been quite a long hiatus, but I am back in full force now. What does this mean?

Many things, but most importantly that I will be executing many of my longtime goals. I truly appreciate your support, and even during my long hiatus, you’ve encouraged me to write and bring many projects into fruition.

The new stuff:

  1. Podcast! TheBrainWaves is live and into its 6th episode this week. Tell me what your favorite episode is, and how I can improve the format to make sure it is as enjoyable for you to listen as it is for me to create them.
  2. Instagram! itsjayram has been the most amazing project since its inception a little over two months ago. Already, it has 550+ followers! I share cool inspiration poems and original works to help you get inspired to overcome self-doubt and fear. My deepest gratitude to you if you’ve connected to them in any way.
  3. Blog! Yes, this. I want to make sure I post as least once a day. Ambitious? Maybe. Possible? Definitely.

Until next time, friend. Thank you for subscribing (in the upper right corner)!

Robin Williams and an Angry Kid

The first stand-up special I ever saw was a day I came home early from school. It was also the beginning of my school suspension from the Assistant Principal for retaliating against a bully. I felt so much anger, resentment and unfairness that day, especially because the person who caused me so much hurt for making racist comments went undisciplined. I flopped onto the couch, flipped on the TV, and started watching a guy on stage with multiple water bottles behind him, sweating like a maniac, making an entire theater roar with laughter. The more I watched, the more I laughed and the less I felt anger and rage. “This is fucking crazy!” I thought. How is a person able to give laughter and kindness to millions of people he didn’t even know, in that theater and on TV combined?  There is something magical and powerful about that.

Robin Williams is one of my life’s greatest inspirations and reasons why I enjoy doing comedy so much. He is one of the few people who inspired me to believe in myself and be courageous. Thank you for giving me the courage to pursue my dream, my friend.young-robin-williams