the day has eyes but the night has ears.

People change. This is inevitable. And people enter our lives just as easily as they disappear from it.

But what makes a friendship truly special is when two people continue to change and progress but their bond always remains strong. These are the friendships that matter.

Friendships that don’t skip a beat.

Friendships that always feel familiar.

Friendships you can always count on.

Friendships that understand that 5 years from now will be different than today.

Friendships that don’t rely on convenience or similarities.

Friendships that thrive on genuineness.

Friendships that always bring you back home regardless of where life has taken you.

Thank you so much for the feedback on some of my paintings and photography. It’s really humbling seeing people invest their hard earned money but more importantly having an emotional connection with something I made. It’s an honor. It’s surreal. It’s almost like a stranger welcoming you into their home. I’ll be sending out all the orders this upcoming week since I’ve been our of town. Hope all of you find joy in whatever piece you selected. Let me know how you like them and I’d love to see how they look in your home.

Once again thank you! Made my night looking through all the feedback.

Sometimes nostalgia can be a cage. Your mind state drifts backwards, far away from the present, and is governed by a time we romanticize ideally. But even the past was not ideal. We just tend to remember it in a light that is more pleasant. A light that diminishes anything the present and future could ever offer. You find yourself trapped always looking back; cherry picking the good moments and shading out the one’s that were not as perfect. A lot of times, nostalgia is dishonest.

I hope we realize that the life we all share (and don’t share) on the internet and social media is a conscious decision.

I think sometimes people look at an instagram or blog or facebook as if its a 100% representation of who that person is.

I look at my photographs that I share and wonder if people think my life is just one big carnival cruise. Haha. It’s definitely not. And alhamdulillah. I wouldn’t want to have a life that I didn’t earn and work for. I wouldn’t want a life that was just filled with a high point. Because then I wouldn’t feel all that high, would I? And I wouldn’t understand and appreciate the sensation that is triumph.

This is what I love about photographs. What it will mean to you is one thing. What I really felt at that point of my life is another thing. Sometimes I felt completely lost. Other times I felt so secure in who I was.

The story a photograph tells is in the eye of the beholder.

There are many parallels to be drawn between the Palestinian cause and the African American cause in the USA.

Some will try to delegitimize both causes.

They will say things like:

"The foolish Palestinian people chose terrorism and Hamas over building a stronger Gaza infrastructure."

"African Americans have their freedom now but just don’t work hard. They are thugs who don’t value education."

"Palestinians hate Israelis."

"African Americans still blame white people for their struggles today."

They will try and turn it all the way around and put the emphasis on the oppressed to explain their actions. Don’t fall for it. They are not in any moral position to condemn your communities and put them down.

You never have to feel the need to legitimize yourself or your people in order for you to have the same justice and freedom of others.

Instead ask them why are you killing innocent young black males in the street?

Why are you killing innocent Palestinian families in airstrikes?

Why is Chicago a war zone?

Why is Gaza an open air prison?

Working in the professional world has taught me one thing:

There are people who will always view your ethnicity as different or strange regardless of how nice, open, and welcoming you are to them. It doesn’t matter how elegantly you explain it to them or how patient you are with them. They will look at you as foreign and ask you the same over generalized questions no matter how many times you’ve answered them.

And I have some advice for anyone out there who ever feels uncomfortable at work because of the color of their skin, the way they talk, the make up of their religion, or the homeland of their parents:

Be unapologetic and never doubt how important it is to be who you are. Wear it as a merit of authenticity that they will never comprehend and never conform down to what their expectations of normalcy may be.

Being in Palestine just three weeks ago and seeing what has happened since I’ve left there has really woken me up to what it exactly means to be Palestinian.

During my visit to Palestine, I was originally denied access into the country even though I am a born US citizen. My Palestinian ethnicity was enough for Israel to deny me entrance essentially telling me that I was born wrong. They stamped the denial right on my passport. I had to call the embassy and my family and waste a day on the border just to be given two weeks to stay and no allowance to travel outside of the Ramallah area.

This is nothing.

I’m lucky. I was fortunate enough to be born in America. Isn’t that a sad thing to say? To feel fortunate because you were displaced from your motherland?

It really kills me to see what my people who live in Palestine, especially Gaza region, are going through. In the year 2014.

I’m tired of half condemnations and double standards. The world cares enough to acknowledge it but it appears that humanity doesn’t care enough to stop it.

It makes me cry. I was just there. And now I think about how easily life could’ve been so different for me. There’s a certain guilt that exists inside me because of this. Life has proven to be unfair.

Seeing what’s happening out there, as a Palestinian, it really makes you feel that your life is not as valued as another life.

Palestinian lives are apparently expendable.

I realize now how important it is to be Palestinian. I need to make the most out of who I am and shine as brightly as I can. I need the world to see and hear me.

To listen to us.

Palestine

"An Israeli operation in Gaza has killed 28 people, including two women and five children, medics said Wednesday, and wounded more than 150.”

Whenever reading about the causalities in Palestine due to an Israeli airstrike, it’s interesting to me how they point out the exact number of women killed, the exact number of children killed, but never point out the exact number of men killed. It’s almost as if the Palestinian male is not as innocent just by his identity as a man and a Palestinian. Or that if he was targeted, it must have been for just cause.

And that is the crux of the problem.

And it’s devastating that this is happening in 2014.

It highlights the same kind of paranoia and racism that leads to a young black male with a hoodie being shot in Florida.

Only imagine it’s not a lone vigilante who is the culprit, it is a whole government operation and policy.

This is Israel.

People mistake kindness as a weakness too often. As something to exploit or as a trait that lacks conviction or power. I think everyone on this earth would be kind if the world knew how to appreciate it. If you say yes to someone’s request does it mean you’re afraid to say no, or do you just feel better saying yes?

I’ve been blessed to travel to many different places during the course of my life.

Some are places that we all romanticize about growing up while others are places that don’t enter our minds growing up.

There’s no better way to gain perspective than through traveling. And traveling alone. I cannot stress how beautiful the loneliness of a traveler is. It creates a bond between themselves and their surroundings. I’ve truly had the pleasure to absorb settings and the people that build them. Some were beautiful in their simplicity while others were beautiful in their extravagance. But what has always struck me is the consistency of this beauty. How beauty manifests itself in vastly different ways.

I always find myself returning to so many moments. So many places. So many faces. And I think to myself alhamdulillah that I am part of this world and am surrounded by so much inspiration.

As someone who’s always put on a cool front to people, I’ve grown to know that life is much more satisfying when you’re able to take off your cool around someone you love or find great comfort in.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that trimming the fat in my life is probably the best thing I can do for myself.

Some interests, people, and environments that used to fit into my life just don’t anymore. As much as we grow up, we grow out of certain things and grow into others.

So my advice is don’t hang on to the things that used to be meaningful. Tuck them away and be thankful that they gave you feelings and memories that contributed to your life. Evaluate who you are and how you think as of right now and where you want it to take you. Start designing your life around who you are today and what you envision to come.

Love is more of an encompassing emotion than something to pinpoint and tie down. What do you feel for those that love?

Love is a range of emotions that can define a lifetime. When we care so strongly about what we invest our love in, frustration and exhaustion come without a doubt. But it’s worth it, because we love. Love is like a glue that connects all of our struggles we go through to all of our triumphs we live for.

People will spend their whole lives trying to prove themselves rather than be themselves.