Tiny fragments of who we are scatter on the internet. In every corner we bump into our identity. Every picture we post on Instgram, every tweet, every status update seems so perfect... Until we know it is our last

Things like this often go unnoticed. They often pass by Favorited, Liked or Retweeted. We shape a smile when we read them knowing that there will be more to come. In the least expected moment, the status stop updating and the account closes. 

What happened in Colorado will forever be itched in my mind. I live in an entirely different part of the world, nonetheless, when tragedy strikes... The world seems such a small place. We may never understand why a senseless, inhuman act occurred in the first place, but the scars it left won't be healed.  This act truly left us like a wrinkled paper. As I scrolled down the tweets and read the articles, I immediately felt a sense of sadness, loss, and a possible emptiness. Normally, I do get affected by such news, but the feeling passes over pretty fast. However, what made me relate to this incidence was, literally, the tweets that were left behind.  The last tweets by the victims Jessica Redfield and Alex Sullivan RIP, somehow made me ponder about how often we take things for granted. How ignorant we may be sometimes thinking that there's tomorrow where, in fact, living the next minute is uncertain.  This whole story made me reflect on how uncertain and unknown road we walk in. 

There are many who are destroyed by not knowing what the future holds. In a different vein, I think this uncertainty is rather beautiful as it makes every minute valuable, it makes every minute counts. For most of us, the beauty of uncertainty is what motivates us to seek certainty. The ambiguity encourages us to seek, to create, and to search for answers.  Deep down, it's instinct. It is instinct that compel us to replace the confusion with clarity. It is instinct that forces everything to make sense, but sometimes, the yet to come is vague, unknown, uncertain. In a world that is best described as a mass of confusion, uncertainty might be our biggest bless.  I love the human's naivety. It is one of few pieces that make up the puzzle of uncertainty. Life without uncertainty ends all of our imagination. And that's why we travel, we travel to experience new challenges that will untimely be defined by our "performance" in life. 

Embrace uncertainty. Take a risk even if the outcome is uncertain to prove to yourself that life is full of endless possibilities.  So come on, drop the "ifs" questions and look in the mirror "If today is your last day" What do you want to do? 

No one will get out of life alive, what's there to lose? 

And as these two tweets left me thinking of uncertainty, I've also come to believe that what we post on social media websites partially defines the legacy we leave behind. So Tweet, but make sure you put your best effort into it, who knows... It could be your last.  

When you stare death in the face, what would be the last message you would like to share with the world? 

How can life be so cruel to people who are so great? 

RIP Dark Night Shooting's Victims. What’s most important for all of us is that those memories you left will never expire. The thoughts and pictures are comfortable reminders of the great times  you spent on earth.  


“The great art of life is sensation, to feel that we exist, even in pain.”  - Lord Byron. 
With my deep condolence, I say "Remember the victims, embrace tragedy" 
And smile in the face of tragedy eventually life will get bored of upsetting you.  
 
 
A teacher is someone who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework   
– Lily Tomlin


Let us redefine the word “Teacher”.

Teaching is not a job; it is an art. An art hidden behind a load of responsibilities. It lays the foundation of discovering mysteries, solving problems, and training our minds to question, explore, and investigate. To a world where knowledge is a treasure, teaching is a mirror that reflects future generations. 

You can see that teaching is not an easy task. It is, in fact, a multi-task where a teacher has to combine creativity, intelligence, and passion when teaching productively, because after all, everything is a product of teaching. Teachers are the agents of the future fueling students with lifelong passion for learning.
But it is a matter of how we define the word “Teacher” in today’s society. Some think of a 50 year-old teaching materials than no one can digest, a 14 year-old teaching students her age, or a guy changing the world one video at a time. Others imagine the wisdom of Confucius, Socrates, and Anne Sullivan. 

As I come to define the word “teacher”, I often look up how it’s perceived by societies, countries, and dictionaries. For centuries, we have thought of teachers as pots of knowledge pouring information in the brains of students. To Merriam Webster dictionary: A teacher is one that teachesespecially: one whose occupation is to instruct. Interestingly, in the Chinese language, a teacher is called 劳师, or old master. But to a fallow mind, a teacher is a planter of seeds, a precious thought that flourishes our path. To a wanderer with lost hope, a teacher is guide. To a creative mind, a teacher is a Muse, an inspiration, an idea. Put simply by the words of Gerlad Grow: “To a mind of flint, the teacher must be iron that strike sparks.”

All around the world, nations are trying to improve the performance of their education system and schools, but with creating more standardized tests, the future doesn’t look bright. To boost the performance of our schools, we need to invest in teachers. According to an article written in 2009, Invest in teachers to raise achievement, “Children in classes taught by the best teachers learn four times faster than those in classes taught by the poorest ones.”  Professor Dylan William of the Institute of Education, London says “Children in the most effective classrooms will learn in six months what students in an average classroom learn in a year, and students in the least effective classrooms will take two years to learn it." A bad teacher can leave a student like a wrinkled paper. 

As we investigate the secrets behind high-achieving countries that were measured on international level using PISA (Program for International Student), we constantly find that they all focused on developing teachers before they enter the profession to ensure academic success to all students.   Let’s examine teacher’s development in two high-achieving countries.        
 1)      Finland
For the past decades, Finland made the headlines as a result of performing at the top of international test, PISA. Without any surprise, the Finnish dedicate their success to teachers whose profession is considered as a “highly noble profession” and compared to “doctors, lawyers and engineers”.
Selection:
Finland has set very high-standards that one should meet to become a teacher. According to The selection of teachers in Finland is as strict as that for doctors leaving schools in a very healthy state, written in 2011. “Last year, from 1,258 applications to enter school teacher training at the University of Helsinki, around 362 were selected for final exams and interviews, with only 123 accepted – an extremely picky applicant success rate of 9.8%.” “Teachers in every primary or secondary school face five years before they are released into their classrooms to teach – three years for their degree, and then a compulsory two-year Masters. Then there’s an optional two-year doctorate on top of that. Kindergarten teachers face a three-year bachelor degree before they are qualified.” The fact that reforms in the 1980s transferred teacher training to universities says it all.

Freedom: Regardless of what school you go to in Finland, you’ll be offered the same equal academic opportunities. This consistency is a result of strong curriculum and good teachers that believe education is a human right and should be given equally to all students.

A popular motto in Finland is “We trust our teachers”. While teachers have specific curricula to follow and compulsory subjects to teach, they are also given freedom to design their own lesson plans and interpret subjects as they see fit making sure they maintain learn-through play childhood philosophy. The country’s liberal approach to curriculum proves that teachers are experts in their fields. The curriculum makes sure freedom and flexibility is given to every teacher and student in every classroom as it ensures that the knowledge gained is applied, not only remembered. On exams, students are expected not just to give the correct answer but also to explain why. Little homework, and hardly any standardized tests, leaves Finland on top. 

2)      China
In Hong Kong, teachers are encouraged to “Teach less, learn more”. A simple motto will shift the focus from “quantity” to “quality” in education. The idea is to transform learning from reading heavy textbooks to learning by doing. Fewer lectures and more ideas coming to life flicker excitement in students.   This method aims to engage the mind of students and change the perspective on why we teach and how we teach. It intends to keep natural learning in the DNA of our students. We all learn without necessarily being taught. It is only when we nurture students’ talents and interests in a welcoming environment and flexible teaching methods that we prepare them for lifelong learning. Providing questions, doesn’t mean giving answers. Teach less, learn more allows students to explore potential answers and builds the skills of lifelong learning, wonderment, curiosity and problem solving.   
 
Teacher’s development: The undersecretary for education in Hong Kong, Kenneth Chen says “The culture of learning must start with the teaching force”. A highly developed practice called “lesson study,” was originated in Japan but it’s now a widespread professional development practice. In lesson study, a group of teachers observe each other's teaching methods inside the classroom and collaborate together to refine teaching practices and develop lesson plans. Teachers plan an actual lesson and observe how it works. Afterwards, teachers demonstrate strategies based on the results they received after discussions. They point out lesson’s strengths and weaknesses and propose suggestions for improvements.   You can see there are countless teachers’ development practices, but it is when we invest in teachers, when we give them freedom, we can see results in generations to come.  

As Ignacio Estrada once said, “If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” Teaching methods should engage the minds of students and show them that wonderment is a gene, rather than giving them repetitive tests, formulas and model answers. Teaching is a profession that should never be restricted by rules. The methods and the professional development will never be constant, change is the new constant. We must drive to invest in teachers, the world makers of the future.  It is a noble profession that requires profound dedication. It shouldn’t be stuffing facts, but rather sparkling ideas. Teachers are not candles consuming themselves to light the way for others; they are flames of passion leading the way to discovery. Perhaps the silent solution of our broken, sinking like-titanic education system is simply to invest in teachers.   After all, “The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.” – Mark Van   What’s your definition of “Teacher”?  
 
 
Hi everyone

I'll still be updating this blog, however I've created a Tumblr Writing Blog only for poems, short stories and creative writing. 

Link: http://linedalile.tumblr.com/ 
Check it out! 


 
 
May 12th: EdCamp Dubai 

I had the opportunity to speak at EdCamp Dubai last Saturday May 12th. I was very delighted to talk to a number of educators, teachers and parents about education from a student’s point of view.

For many reasons attending EdCamp was like stepping into the unknown. EdCamp Dubai was set up in an “unconference” style. Instead of sitting passively listening to lectures, the attendees presented ideas, proposed solutions and covered a variety of topics. This method allowed attendees to move to sessions most useful to each individual.

Unconference 
The “unconference” style brings forward-thinking educators together to share ideas, brain-storm solutions, have discussions and receive information that can immediately be applied in the classroom.

I was overwhelmed by the amazing atmosphere that was filled with passion and enthusiasm driven by dedicated teachers and educators willing to change and develop the system.  This was definitely a new experience for me which I had the pleasure to participate in.

I was also shocked by the lack of students’ attendance, My sister and I were the only students there. I was expecting to see many students discussing ideas about transforming education because their voice represents the majority and they are the “customers”.

In the sessions we discussed how the use of technology can affect learning in the 21st century classroom. I also emphasized that we should engage students by allowing them to explore what they can do with technology and how it can break many barriers that stand in front of them.

I really enjoyed the discussion about creativity in education and how schools can develop its methods and help students follow their passion rather than filling out empty bubbles to celebrate a certificate. We discussed many problems surrounding education and proposed many solutions like learning by doing, or project based learning.

I have had the chance to meet great teachers, expert educators and talk to them about my homeschooling experience. They were very supportive to the idea and I’ve received many feedbacks from them.

I’m very proud to add this supportive letter from Ms. Wajida Wajih , who is an expert in the field of education. 

She wrote to me:

“Dear Line,

It was great opportunity to have met with you, your Mom and Dad, and your sister Bushra.

Your experience of home schooling is really stunning, especially in the middle east. I want to express my admiration of your strong personality, determination, rich knowledge and information and your great awareness of the importance of learning not the certificate. Your unique experience deserves to be disseminated all over the region. It is a rich experience that reflects time management, self management, autonomous learning , and life-long learning skills. Definitely you have all these skills and more and thus you represent a distinguished model of 21st century learner.

I wish you all the best in you personal and schooling life. I am sure one day in the very near future, the whole world will hear about a great scientist or philosopher or educationalist or whatever you want to be.

My regards to you and your great family.”

  Majida wajih
  Al Manhal international private school/ Abu Dhabi


I believe we should have more events like EdCamp Dubai especially in today’s education; we can’t wait till tomorrow. Let us empower students, educators, teachers and parents and show them that in education, there is nothing more contagious than driven passionate learning.

 
 
“The one thing Socrates knew beyond a shadow of a doubt was that he didn’t know anything beyond a shadow of a doubt.” 

Some of the best lessons we ever learn in our lives are the ones we experience in those little twists and turns in our pathways. We tend to not know what lies ahead of us, but somehow we keep trying believing there is something precious hiding somewhere waiting to be discovered.

Saying “I don’t know” can sometimes be the wisest thing we have ever said. When we say “I don’t know” we open ourselves to the unknown, and we allow our inner curiosity to flourish.


In reality we really don’t know everything. We don’t know if parallel universes theory is correct, we still have to learn a lot about dark energy, and we still don’t know if there is an alien life that exists out there. There is no shame in saying “I don’t know” because there are certain things that still lie beyond our current levels of understanding.

There is no difference between rational and irrational decisions, because either way we don’t know what will happen next.

However, every great invention begins in these undiscovered, dark places where we fear to step in. We hold protest signs not knowing where we’ll end up. With every great invention, we step into the unknown. “We jump off cliffs and develop our wings on the way down.”

Yes, we don’t know what’s going to happen next, but somehow we have a blind trust that it will turn out great. This blind trust isn’t passive... it is the strong belief we hold and plant in our great ideas.

If it’s through the lenses of a camera you begin to discover the reality you live in, make sure you appreciated the wisdom of not knowing.

 
 
  • I speak about education from an unflattering point of view, maybe because it is destroying our fascinating, curious minds.

    I don’t claim to be an expert in education, I am still a student and I speak for myself. I believe that students should have a voice in the education system today, because mainly they are the ones who are being educated. The control of education should be in the hands of students. They should be centered first and foremost.

    Many people have wrote about ways to change education, but what good has it done if we are leaving out the voice of the students?

    Years continue to pass, some students graduate, some fail out, some drop out and nothing really changes. The education system reminds me of a dictator that is unwilling to step down.

    Now I’m aware no education system is perfect. In fact, I believe all education systems in the world are the same. We memorize, teach/study for the test, and forget, only to know ten years later what an atrocious world we have been creating.

    As a student I have the rights to share my thoughts and ideas about education. I feel strongly that our methods in schools are destroying creativity. Students have lost their capacity of creation, simply because our teaching methods didn’t stimulate innovation and creativity. With every minute that passes, we should be aware that we are creating robots.

    I remember being a kid, wanting to play around. No one told me “how” to use my imagination or taught me how to be creative. I played with LEGOS. I pretended to be an astronaut, and imagined jumping on the moon while traveling from galaxy to another. I was naturally creative.
    I asked questions like “Why is the grass green?” “Why do fish swim in the water?” “Are we alone?” questions that a wise man cannot answer.

    Then came school, famously known as the child’s worst nightmare. I learned to live in a rotten environment, and my classmates made fun of me because I was different and worst of all, I had this teacher that told me to stop dreaming and live in the real world. So what did I learn at school? I learned to stop questioning the world, to go with the flow, and there is only one right answer to each question, circle the correct bubble and I’ll will get an A.

    The “whys” I have always wanted to ask are never on the test, and they are omitted from the curriculum.

    Creativity isn’t a test to take, it is not a skill to learn, and it is not a program to develop. Creativity is seeing things in new ways, breaking barriers that stood in front of you for some time. Creativity is the art of hearing a song that has never been written, or seeing a work of art on empty canvas. Its essence is in its freshness and the ability to make dreams come to life.

    Imagine this: A normal classroom with cheerful faces. Students’ excitement to start school ignites the classroom. The teacher stands up and asks the students to draw a tree. Some students were highly talented, others were okay, and some students couldn’t give a visual figure of a tree. Then the teacher comes up and rates every student’s work. Some students get A+, some get D and others get a big fat F.

    Those students who got A’s now believe in their highly talented, artistic skills, but those who got F… well, they start to think they are losers, failures, and their works is just rubbish.

    From this “Draw a Tree” assignment, creativity starts to linger in the air and then, by time, fade. This is why many adults say “I can’t draw!” Yes, the answer comes from the schools.

    In school, children are “taught” to draw careful shapes like a “perfect” triangle, circle and a square. Everything is “properly” drawn. Whenever a child attempts to color something, the teacher screams in panic “Do NOT color outside the lines!”

    I’m not writing about art specifically, I’m talking about creativity generally in every field. Schools in general don’t recognize creativity, what’s worse is that they destroy it. Here’s a proof:

    - Thomas Edison’s teacher told him he was “too stupid to learn anything.”
    - Albert Einstein did not speak until he was 4 and did not read until he was 7. One of his teachers described him as being “mentally slow, unsociable, and drift forever in foolish dreams.”
    -Beethoven handled the violin awkwardly and preferred playing his own compositions instead of improving his technique. His teacher called him “hopeless as a composer.”

    In the 21st century the world demands students who can think creatively and critically. As technology develops, we will have robots to do all the basic work for us. However, it is our mission to ensure that the next generation will be full of inventors, musicians, painters, mathematicians who will, in turn, bring humanity to a whole other level.

    Sir Ken Robinson said in his TED Talk “Schools kill creativity” that in school instead of growing into creativity, we grow out of it. Students all over the world have had more years of schooling than they care to count. During this process, students are taught that making a mistake is a sin. How are students going to learn if they don’t make mistakes? We have planted in our students’ minds a picture of a perfectly, carefully drawn life.

    I go golfing every day, and for those of you who are familiar with golfing vocabularies you’ll understand what I mean. Sometimes when I’m putting I focus too much on the line and suddenly forget where I was aiming. The same thing is being applied to schools. We focus too much on standardized testing and grades that we forget what the real aim of education is.

    Today’s education system is taking the beauty out of learning.

    Diminishing creativity from our student’s mind is a serious flaw with a wide-reaching effect.

    How exactly are schools diminishing creativity?

    We learn that being “good” means sitting still and nodding yes, while being “bad” means challenging the status quo and attempting to do things differently.

    The cycle of sitting still, memorizing, testing and getting a job have existed for a long time now and few dared to challenge it. However, those who dared to drop-out of school and challenge the status quo like Albert Einstein, the Wright brothers, and Walt Disney have changed the course of history.

    I understand that memorizing is the fastest way to get good grades, get into a good college, and get a job = Good Life. We are being educated for the promise of money. As a student I know one thing for sure: I never want to be a product living my life in a factory. I want to cherish my brilliant mind. I want to imagine, to create, to be the best I can possibly be. I never want to be a robot. I want to argue, to challenge and define the impossible. I cannot possibly let you assemble my life.

    Youth have fresh original ideas, but we cannot express them because we are not given a voice. Our voices have been stolen.

    How do we expect students to be creative if we give them the outline, the title, the structure of their “free, creative writing assignment?” We give students model answers to memorize, we give a specific title to write a poem about, and we truly give them everything but freedom to express their ideas. I have lost marks when I was in school because I was simply “writing my opinion”.

    While teachers complain that students are spending an awful time on social networking, they forget to mention that this is the only way we, the students, can get our voice heard.

    Education isn’t facts being stored in our minds so we can get tested. Education is the beauty to nurture creativity, to fuel curiosity and most importantly to create a well-rounded person.

    America is battling its way out to the top and promising that no child will be left behind. Behind this competition, we forget the purpose of education. Schools become business, and factories where children come out as pale as ghosts with everything being structured “perfectly” and “properly” in their minds.

    Somewhere in our race and pursuit of meaningless papers, diplomas and money, we have lost the true meaning of being educated.

    During our insane worship to win the race, during our mad love to become number one, we forget that our schools are raising children that are racing to No-where.

 
 
I hear your voice

It feels like rain…

Rain – rain has always been a comfort for you…Trevor said hesitantly. 

Not today… it’s not Joan confessed closing her eyes.

The frosty stars twinkled outside in the immense sky as rain fell in oversized, unusual droplets.

He heard Joan’s footsteps muffled by the damp grass as she walked. It couldn’t have been anyone but her. Her footsteps were uneven and hesitant.

“I like water, rain… you know...” Trevor said getting his voice back. 

“Water is everywhere… isn’t it?” He continues to ramble-- ramble mixed words that eventually sum up to nothing.

His gaze finally settled over the lake, and slowly began to follow the splashes of raindrop against the water surface.

Rain has always been a comfort for Joan, but today rain feels like an old, hated enemy that flashes from time to time and leaves a dark painful scar in her heart. Rain no longer gives her pleasure, but it drains her, mocks her, taunts her…

Meanwhile silence floats in the air—silence as deep, as dark, as baffling as death.

Joan swallows, she opens her eyes in an attempt to speak, but she knows the right words will suddenly crash with each other and then she will mumble—mumble wise words--maybe… maybe not.

“Everybody used to say I had long slender fingers… piano fingers…” Joan finally broke her silence.

“I think you do…” Trevor replied with a fond smile. “Piano fingers-- piano…” He grinned.

As they entered the music hall, Joan eyes gleamed when she saw the black glistening piano sitting alone on the stage. Joan’s fingers were always ready to press lightly on the keys and produce deep fine notes of musical harmony.

She drifted forever in her dreams. The dim lightning gave a sort of dreamy enchanted feeling. This instrument defined perfection for Joan. Yes… every string was tuned to perfection.

In the middle of her daydream, one staff came interrupting and asked: “May I have your concert ticket ma’am?”

“My con—concert ticket?” She stuttered. She fumbled around in her bag to find the ticket. “Maybe it is tucked behind my gift card or maybe it is in front of my ID card…”

Joan could hear the staff tapping his foot in anger. 

“Here you go.” Joan made a direct eye contact, but the staff didn’t say thanks. He was about seventeen, maybe nineteen. His tag name read “Jake” she assumed he was one of “those” teenagers that played on the school’s football team. He had a blond hair spiked up on the top of his head, you know, like those rock and roll type of teenagers who played guitar and sang… or just made noise.

She could tell he hated his job by the way he treated the attendees.

But no one, nothing, could keep Joan’s dreamy eyes from looking at this gleaming black and delightful piano.

She reached out to the piano. The gentle, polished wood reflected the room’s dim light.

The temptation to play the piano was irresistible.

“Careful not to smudge it!” Trevor pointed out warning Joan in a warm voice.

The instrument softly reacts to her fingers. As if the keys already know her next step gently pressing cords, octaves and random notes hesitantly.“Mhhh, uhhh, laaa….” Joan begins to hum. Suddenly something clicked, notes fused together like excited atoms ready to share their electrons and become octet happy ever after. Her fingers no longer played shyly; instead they began to dance over the keys. The melody began to take shape. It was a song of quiet glory and endless joy.

She doesn’t see her fingers moving, but she hears the music she is creating. Now—only now she enters the dark and playful world of her music. The power of impact became too much to bear. Her body started to move left to right, back and forth. Not to mention her hair that danced behind her shoulder’s like a snake. The soft waves of her deep hair fall like flowers from paradise. The melody seemed eternal. Every time the music died away, it burst again like a pent-up flood. More dominant and prevailing notes began to come to life.

Will she ever stops? No—Yes. Her fingers started to play quicker. No--- no she doesn’t want it to end. Re-creating her world by playing piano seemed much easier and happier than living in the real world. Her heart beats can bear no more, they begin to quicken. Racing time, her voice rise up and whisper tender words of wisdom, “Perhaps everything good comes to end…” She grinds, a mysterious grind that was, but a fond smile became clear on her face.

Feeling dazed, the last notes swiftly escape.

The music lingered in air and now silence seemed like a heavy dark cloud passing by.

With her slender fingers slamming the keys for the last time, she returns back to reality, but only to hear applauses loud as a sudden stereo in one’s ear. Hurrying crowds of men and women gather like clouds.

She doesn’t hear anything, she doesn’t see anything… she just waves.

And the last strains of Concerto #5 by Bach echoes in her head.

The first whiff of reality doesn’t end the long-lasting enchantment of the piano.  

 
 
Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them, because they change things, they push the human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs would have turned 57 today. His words still ring in my ear like a school bell.

 It was a usual morning, I woke up and already I was immersed in what I love--Writing.  It was 11:oo A.M when my sister told me, “Steve Jobs is dead.” I couldn't believe her, she was quite the prankster. My Twitter account was open, as always. My eyes shifted to see the “Trending” topics, and one of them read “Steve Jobs.” I thought in panic: “Please be a rumor,” suddenly thousands of tweets confirmed the truth. It was October 5th 2011, Steve Jobs was dead, and I looked at my computer-screen in shock.

I knew Steve Jobs death was around the corner, I just never wanted to believe it was that near. Steve Jobs was a dreamer, great business leader and an “iConic” legend. His products were insanely great and every word he spoke was perfectly chosen.

Grasping the news, I knew I lost my hero. Steve Jobs inspired me to embrace being different, and honestly he showed me that being different was more than “Okay” it was “Genius and admirable.” He made “Nerds” and “Geeks” look cool.

I hated the fact that someday I’ll actually write a post about his death on my blog. It was a bitter thought that now became reality. However his words brought me peace… "No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life.” Steve Jobs.

Steve was different. Yes, he was a dreamer, but he was dreamer of the day. “All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.” T.E Lawrence.

He made it possible.

Steve Jobs saw technology as a way to bring people together and improve life instead of being a distraction from it.

Sometimes I wonder why his words have affected me so deeply. He was a person, whom I had never met, yet I always dreamed Steve would be able to look at what I have created and know his inventions and his valuable words touched me deeply, he would feel proud. We all know this day will never come, but the lessons he taught me will never be taken away.

In the end, I realized that Steve left the world with faith in the next generation. He offered an apple, half bitten, to the world to enjoy it. He inspired me to live everyday to its fullest and not regret anything, because at the end when I connect the dots I’ll know that every choice I made was there for a reason.  Like Steve did, I hope when I die I would leave the world knowing it is a better place.

One more thing....Happy Birthday Steve…

 
 
The best feeling in the world is to cross everything on your To-Do-List and feel “Productive” before having a good night sleep.

Productivity has different interpretations. A student would consider him/her self productive if they revised the lessons they learned at school, did their homework and prepare for their upcoming tests. A Golfer would consider him/her self productive if they practice every day and work on every aspect of their game. Whatever is your interpretation of productivity it has to include one important thing: Being effective in the use of all the resources surrounding you.

I define productivity by a simple equation: Productivity = Value / Time.

I don’t want to make productivity sound very mathematical, so here is my prefect productive day.

Waking up early (and by early I mean 7:00 A.M) that’s my own version of early. I would begin my day by checking my email/ Facebook/ Twitter and latest news; this will usually take fifteen minutes.

Then come the SAT Literature Practice Tests (Online/books) this is probably my favorite part of the day! Surprisingly I enjoy analyzing different paragraphs, and of course, poems. Though poems dating back to 1800s aren’t my favorites, I still enjoy spending a good amount of time building my English language skills to help me become a better writer.

Still I’m not done with English section for the day, because I will also be spending an hour (Sometimes I get carried away and spend an hour and a half) on strengthening my vocabularies and studying about word roots (Which is pretty interesting!) The English section would probably take three hours. To rest my mind/my eyes, I would read a book for another hour.

Organic Chemistry, calculus, AP US History, Languages (German + Chinese), Roman architecture (Yale Free Courseware Lectures) I spend a good amount of time on each subject.

The rest of the day would be writing, writing and writing (Drawing too) and sometimes when I’m watching TV I would memorize some Pi numbers (during commercials) to keep my memory active.

And as you are reading this you would probably say “Poor her…” But honestly, I enjoy every minute of the day. The feeling that I use every single minute of the day to be “Productive” means the world to me. I never do anything because “I have to” Yes, my days are similar to that. That would include weekends, unless I go golfing for 4 hours :) 

 As you can see, I spent a good amount of time in everything I do. For one thing, I like to make it nearly perfect/ or study everything as a whole.

As I head off to bed, I feel very satisfied when I cross everything off my To-Do-List, and feel very accomplished.

Hold on…

I still feel I need to do more. For example, I end up sometimes marking emails as important and then I forget to read them. (Which explains at least 20 emails waiting to be read) and I still have two books waiting to be revised (Typing Fingers & My novel). You can tell I hate revising and BTW, I’m not a big fan of re-reading books too. 

What is not mentioned on the list is the minutes I spend reading tons of articles on the Huffington Post, how many times I re-write a sentence to make my blog post perfectly written (Like choosing the right synonyms etc..) However, I enjoy a minimum of 12 hours (Typically 14 hours) learning new things each day.

My definition of productivity is making use of every second, and every minute to expand my knowledge. I imagine what I do every day is sort of like a car assembly line, putting all the pieces together to end up with a nice car at the end of the day.

That’s my version of being productive. What is yours? And what’s your definition of productivity?

TIP: Here is how you can track your productivity this year:

I have a tiny bucket and every day that I feel “Accomplished/Productive” I would put a dirham (Whatever your currency is!) and at the end of the year the bucket should include 365 DHS (366 this year) you can then treat yourself or donate them to charity like I will!



Stay productive, stay productive… 

 
 

This is a short story inspired by the poem "Mamie" written by  Carl Sandburg. 

There was something inherently appealing about this old-fashioned, worn out French furniture that lay scattered in the middle of the room, but the first thing she noticed was the cracked pale paint on the walls—pale like ghosts, everywhere she looked it felt the same. Her eyes scanned the room back and forth with desperate vision, as if she was trying to find one imperfect detail… but she couldn’t.  

The pictures that hung on the wall haunted her, the way they lined up one by one against the dark-shiny brick brought her back a mixture of old memories—yet those were the memories she wished she buried behind her, back in the little Indiana town.

Where she stayed wasn’t an epicurean castle of fairy tales. Judy found herself surrounded by pale walls, cracked paint, curved Cedar wood stairs, raddled French furniture, awry chandelier, grey walls of mixed memories and finally irregular tables that had waxy circles of dripping candles and rusty silver spoons—perfect.

“Perfect” she thought.

The glass flower vase that stood right in the middle of the table—maybe one inch to the right caught the sunlight and twinkled like a tiny lamp.

She knew she ought to go… but where?

She got tired of the small city gossip, the barber shop boys and the old piece the band played. She found no excitement in going for a treasure hunt or finding mistreated maps, wrinkled around the edges. Instead, she would beat her head against the bars.

Carl Sandburg, Mamie:

She beat her head against the bars of little Indiana town and

Dreamed of romance and big things off somewhere the

Way the railroad trains all ran.

She wanted her own paintings out of sight, shuffled, turned away… anything, but she didn’t want to see them—because only then, only then she would find small imperfections and those imperfections would tease her forever. She hated them, all of them. Every masterpiece she drew, she hated it—in equal measures. But only when she stumbled across her poetry, she knew—she was like “those” poets.  

She beat her head against the bars….

Judy walked through the narrow-dim hallway knowing that every picture that hung there, every painting she drew would bring her back a slice from her past. 

Suddenly she broke her silence, “Why didn’t you keep me from making a fool of myself?” She asked in a low voice looking at her poster.

Judy laughed—a ridiculous laugh it was. She laughed, but tears hang tightly in her eyelashes trying not to fall and make their way down her cheeks—impossible.

She murmured words in her usual low voice and imagined herself sitting in a boat on a labyrinthine ocean. She was lost.

Only then she acknowledged that the life she led was a maze. She wanted perfection. Her life was based on “What was supposed to be” rather than how it was. After she stumbled across her painting “thoughts” she realized what she had been doing for the past years was nothing but making a blunder after another.

“Perhaps by their blunders that one gets to know people…” Judy grind, getting her voice back.

Now—only now Judy realized she led a frightfully “Perfect life” that if she was asked to re-live in a parallel world, she would live it differently. She wouldn’t care about the cracked paint, the awry chandelier or the scattered dominos on the table, and as the passage of time approaches, she only hoped other versions of “herself” didn’t lead a “Perfect life”

 And even now she beats her head against the bars in the same old way and wonders if there is a bigger place the railroads run to from Chicago where maybe there is

Romance

And big things

And real dreams

That never go smash.

           –Carl Sandburg