mecca & madinah, saudi arabia

11 February 2016
My first activity of 2016! Performing my umrah for the 3rd time & spending a week in Mecca & Madinah.

Our flight from Milan to Doha was on the 30th of December and we finally got to Mecca on the 31st morning. After checking in, resting and having dinner, we performed our umrah which took about 4 hours & welcomed the new year whilst doing our last lap of the sa'y. It was my 3rd time frequenting the holy land but it was my first time performing it while welcoming the new year. It was a memorable experience and we continued to stay in Mecca for 3 days to perform prayers before we head to over to Madinah to visit Prophet Muhammad's tomb.

MECCA


milan, italy

02 February 2016
Milan was so incredibly beautiful. With the limited time we had (3 days), we could only sightsee from the car coz my family and I wanted to maximise our trip shopping. So aside from the scenic drive from Mount Titlis to Milan, for the duration of our stay, we only frequented the semi-outdoor Galleria Vittorio Emanuele ll, Monte Napoleone street nearby and Milan Cathedral (duomo). They're all within near vicinities of each other so it was really accessible to walk from point A to point B. 

lucerne, switzerland

21 January 2016
Lucerne's an hour and a half away from Mount Titlis. So we came in the morning and left before evening. The cold was tamer than in the mountains and the weather was just clear cut. 
Its more vibrant and electric, invoked a certain kind of felicity which I loved! 

My dad just wanted to look for watches so we all tagged along to enjoy the scenery.

Here's Lucerne in pictures. 

mount titlis, switzerland

20 January 2016
A few days before Christmas, my family & I flew to Zurich for a holiday. We were meant to stay in Zurich for 3 days but a change of plan manifested and we opted for the scenic pastures of Mount Titlis instead. We were here for 2 days and then on our 3rd day, we visited Lucerne (the shopping for watches capital!) for a day trip! This is the first post of my last week of 2015.

We didn't get to do much in Switzerland because we were still getting used to the time difference. For the first 3 days, we were in bed by 5pm and up by 3am in the morning. Hahaha gg.

what I've learnt in 21 years

09 January 2016

1. Always have good intentions.

In 21 years, I've learnt if I have nothing nice to say to not say anything at all. My friends have told me in the past, how they often feel like they can tell me anything, no matter how minuscule or controversial, and they won't get judged from it.  I perceive this to be the greatest honour, so from the bottom of my heart, thank you. I've also learnt how judgement can be a powerful deterrent in solidifying friendships. So I try to avoid it at all costs.

In 21 years, I've learnt to be a listener. I've learnt that some people don't want advice or commentary, they just want someone who's willing enough to sit down and listen.

I've learnt to do things for others out of the goodness of my heart, not for expectations of it to be reciprocated. I've learnt that lifting others towards their greatest potential is a far more gratifying feeling than bringing them down.

2. The negative energy that is gossip.

Don't get me wrong - I've definitely had my fair share in the past.. It is an oddly satisfying feeling, forging bonds with others on the basis that you two hate the same person, the satisfaction of hearing someone point out the flaws about the very person you dislike. But I realised how dark it made me as a person. It felt poisonous. It felt.. Venomous. Yeah, it's instant gratification - but at what cost? It didn't make me any more intelligent, any more brave or any more beautiful. I've learnt that gossiping only made me ugly on the inside.

With that said, I invoke one of my favourite quotes of all time by my childhood author, Roald Dahl.
"If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it. A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely."

Gossiping resulted in a unhappier me. It trained me to find flaws in others, so by extension, it trained me to find flaws in myself.

So I changed. I resolved to cut gossiping down to a minimal. I do not think of myself or my values higher than anyone else's, I do not shove the principles I believe onto my family or friends. When we congregate & naturally start to talk, I'll usually keep silent & lend a hearing ear. When I'm listening, I'd always have this inner monologue in my head - trying to find positive traits of the person & I'd tell myself the same thing over & over:
everyone is inherently good.

In 21 years, I've learnt that friends who like to gossip to you, are highly likely, to gossip about you. This is the harsh truth I've learnt but I accept it all the same. I don't mind it anymore - people will always love to talk. It is in our nature. All that matters to me is my sense of betterment & my happiness. I know what is wrong and what is right and that's all that matters. What they choose to do with their mouths is theirs to bear. 

If you remember, I blogged 2 months ago about loving myself more & not 'paralysing' myself with detrimental comments. Gossiping less is a direct consequence of this. It made me a kinder and more understanding individual. It trained my mind to find the good in others. But of course, I'll have moments of weaknesses where I find myself, during an inner monologue, criticising another person. Then I'd remember how much of a disservice it'd be, to my self-progress, to succumb to my old ways. And so I'd refute the thought, tell myself everyone has their strong points - how I'm sure they are a good person one way or another. I have my own flaws and faults - I am in no position to point out anyone else's. 

In 21 years, I've also learnt that if you constantly try to find the goodness in others - you're bound to do the same for yourself. We have enough people criticising the things we do & who we are; its about time, you realise the potential and kindness that resides in you.

3. Good & genuine friends are hard to come by

     ... But they are worth the effort.

I've had many friends in the past; I've had friends who bossed me around & guiltily vice versa, friends who I was afraid of, friends who make me sad, friends who tell lies, friends who love to compete with one another and friends who love to bring each other down..

In 21 years, I've learnt these people weren't my friends at all. 

Friends shouldn't make you feel fearful or agitated; they should  make you laugh and the only acceptable way for them to make you cry is from laughing too much. Friends shouldn't make you feel threatened or insecure. Friends aren't supposed to be judgemental of you & your actions. 

Friends lift each other up. Friends listen. Friends treat one another as equals. Friends are there for you when you need them most. Friends are your ultimate support system. Friends are your pillars of strength.

In 21 years, I've learnt that quality is more important than quantity. Happiness doesn't lie in the number of people you are friends with. It lies in the depth of your friendship; the quality of each and every one of your relationships.

In 21 years, I've learnt that friends are not friends if all you do when you're together is gossip and bring other people down. I deem this sort of friendship poisonous and I try to avoid it at all cost. When I'm friends with someone, I want to talk to them about them, what movies and shows they watch, their favourite books, their travels, their woes and happy moments, their favourite food, their fears and passion.

I want to talk about the things that matter.
I want to talk about things that have substance.
I want to talk about the things that make me feel alive. 

4. All the behaviours, characters and experiences in my life serve a purpose.

I've met individuals in the past who have brought more negative feelings in my life than others. People who have made me irrationally angry or sad. I've made friends with poisonous people. People who thrive on the demise on others.

In 21 years, I've learnt that I do not have a shred of hate or disdain for any of them. Not even profound dislike or distaste. I find myself in a position of gratitude for all of these people. If you are reading this, I'd like to thank you. You've made me a stronger person, you've taught me that I am more than I give myself credit for. You have taught me who my real friends are. You have taught me a lot about life's ups and downs. You have ultimately made me a better person.

Holding on to anger and resentment will only stagnate my growth and development.

I've also met people who have filled my days with so much light, life and laughter. People who make me laugh so hard food starts to come out of my nose. People who have made yummy meals for me. People who make me the happiest I could ever be. People who make me feel like all the low moments were worth it, because somehow, one way or another, it eventually led me to them. And for that, I am more grateful more than I say. 

I've made life-long friends who I can go days, months and years without talking and when we do, it feels as if time hasn't passed. I'm grateful for all of these colourful, kind and vibrant individuals and I'm grateful for our crossed paths. 

In 21 years, I've learnt people and experiences, good or bad, bring a little piece of their magic to complete my life's tapestry. They've come into my life to teach me something. To make me a more fulfilled and colourful person. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing. I am grateful for all the good company and the bad.

In 21 years, I've learnt not to waste time regretting events and people. I've learnt to channel my time into finding the silver lining. I always tell myself, if you look hard enough - there's always a silver lining. 

I'd like to think of myself as a highly perceptive person. I think I can read people well and see their intentions. I've learnt to just avoid negative people altogether, I'd rather spend what little precious time I have with people who make me laugh and people who make me unforgivingly happy.

I've learnt good things come to those who wait. 
But in 21 years, I've also learnt that better things come to those who work for it.


From a very grateful, and rather enlightened, 
Sara

last bits of melbourne 2015

08 January 2016
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!
I hope everyone's been having a good first week of 2016. With a new year comes new unwritten chapters! HOORAH! A sleek, clean slate for you, you, you and you.

I'm also back from my Euro + Saudi trip. Not only did I manage to bring back many fond memories home with me, I've also brought back the dreaded and horrible.... Jetlag. My sleeping pattern's messed up, I went to sleep at 4 am yesterday and woke up at 2 pm this afternoon. This is especially difficult, since I'm very much a morning person..

I spent the wee hours of the morning editing a small portion of photos from my cameras to kill time and I found photos from my last week in Melbourne for 2015. A majority of it was spent with Faiz's parents who came down for his sister's, Ika (or dotingly remembered as Ika-chan by me), graduation. I am lucky more than I can say, how Faiz's family share the same love for walking and exploring spots as I. For one of the days, we actually walked over 22000+ steps! Many morning were also devoted to Ika's visits to my apartment, with countless cherished moments in tow.

Here are my last week in photos. I really do hope you love it as much as I do :)

C H E R R YPICKING
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