The Magical Drugs Of Music And Dance Give Me Courage To Live Passionately

The Magical Drugs Of Music And Dance Give Me Courage To Live Passionately

Dance is my soul, my hobby and my life.

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My life changed after I attended a family friend's wedding, and not because I had a sudden realization about the importance of love and unity and whatnot. In fact, it had nothing to do with that. I was a hyper 7-year-old who was looking for something interesting other than the exchange of vows. So when the music started playing and the dance floor opened up, I was surprised at how strongly my body reacted. It was as if I was possessed. All I wanted to do was rush onto the floor and get carried up in the high that came with the loud, festive music.

I looked around to see if the music had the same effect on others, but they all had the same nonchalant, indifferent expressions. I was confused. Why wasn't anyone else as excited as I was? That's when I realized the unique effect that music had on me and how powerful it was.

Music was like a drug. I wanted to experience the euphoric feelings that had coursed through my veins again, so I did what any 7-year-old addict would do: I forced my mom to sign me up for Indian classical dance lessons.

From then on, I would get ready 30 minutes early before my Thursday dance lessons. I went to class, befriended the other enthusiastic kids, learned the moves and came back home to practice before my next lesson. My teacher, impressed with my dedication and hard work, would place me front and center during recitals while my proud mother would videotape the performance from the front row. I eventually became a student teacher and taught Indian classical dance to a lower age group.

Much like how an addict's tolerance gradually increases, I soon became bored of Indian classical dance. Its strict hand gestures, graceful foot movements and intricate storytelling was no longer a challenge for me. I was a somewhat reticent child back then, always struggling to express my feelings publicly. In order to conquer that difficulty, I chose a new form of dance that would challenge me personally: Bollywood.

Unlike Indian Classical dance, Bollywood dance was not as disciplined. The instructor encouraged us to improvise and "add some energy" into our movements, something my stiff and structured nature could not comprehend. But as weeks went by, I started moving my hips more and really feeling the beat of the music so I could express myself the way I wanted to. Soon, I started storytelling again — my story — when dancing to the upbeat tunes. I found a sense of confidence, happiness and companionship within that dance studio.

If you fast forward to high school, you'll notice that I barely go to the studio anymore.

The time I used to spend happily communicating through melody was now used to complete homework. My sense of self dwindled. In a sea of sleep deprived adolescents, I was just another continuously functioning, mindless machine with nothing to look forward to. Or at least, that's what I had assumed.

One of the biggest events of our high scmhool is International Night, an evening where various cultures put together dance performances and food tastings. I attended for the first time during my sophomore year. As I learned Chinese folk dance and enjoyed Spanish guitar performances, I looked around at the faces of the crowd, watching them light up in awe and fascination. Then I observed the dancers on stage. They were panting heavily, but glowed with self satisfaction and assertiveness.

I realized that even though our life situations might drag us down from time to time, our inner sense of happiness comes from self expression through music. It has the ability to wake us up from a conformed society, administer purpose to our otherwise bland lifestyle and erase our insecurities. Music is the universal language that ties us all together under every skin color, ethnicity and belief. Without it, we would be missing a zest for life, a passion to live courageously — this I believe.

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7 Things I Wish I Knew BEFORE Moving Into My First Apartment

I've learned quite a few valuable lessons in my first year on my own.

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Last Thanksgiving, I moved out of my childhood home and into my very first apartment. In the just over a year of "adulting," I've learned that I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Here are a few things I wish someone had told me beforehand...

1. Bill collectors don't mess around!

If you're as much as a few hours late on paying a bill, expect a letter dropped in the mail and/or an e-mail in your inbox notifying you about it. Stay ahead by keeping a calendar, and write in each bill's due date. Then, place the calendar where you will see it every day — either hang it on your fridge or leave it on your kitchen counter if it's a notebook calendar like the one I have.

If you are looking at the calendar several times a day — even if you are not sitting there and studying it — it becomes less likely that you will miss due dates.

2. The first of each month creeps up QUICKLY

Sometimes it will feel like you JUST paid your rent when it is already due again. Be prepared by having at least a few months' worth of rent saved up.

This way, you will never be late on rent, even if the first of the month catches you off guard (again).

3. It requires constant effort to keep everything in the house stocked

It isn't easy keeping track of everything from toilet paper and toothpaste to trash bags and laundry detergent. And their prices add up quickly! The best way I've found so far to try and not run out of everything I need is by keeping a grocery list and pen on my kitchen counter, right next to my trusty calendar.

When I notice I'm running low on something, such as dishwasher pods, I simply write it on the list. Then, when the list gets long enough, I bring it with me to Wal-Mart and try and get everything I need in one trip.

4. Cleaning is no walk in the park either. 

I am hereby acknowledging my privilege and saying I totally took for granted when my mom, and then the maintenance crew in my college dorm, cleaned my bathroom for me. In order for things not to get out of hand, I keep a handwritten list of everything in my apartment that needs cleaning. And when I clean one thing, I check it off.

Once every item on the list has a checkmark, I re-write a new list for next time. This way, I don't get overwhelmed by trying to clean every single thing in my house all in one day. Instead, I do it little by little when I have the time.

Sure, I'll have a cleaning day now and again, but more often than not I perform one cleaning task a day to keep up with it without tiring myself out after work.

5. You most likely won't get your security deposit back in full

When I first paid my security deposit, I thought to myself, "for sure I will get that back in full whenever I move out." But, I learned that life happens. I've dropped heavy objects and scratched up the wall. I've accidentally burned a spot onto my kitchen table with a burning hot bowl.

I've spilled things onto the carpet that I was unable to get out, even with carpet cleaner. I've also broken things by accident, such as my refrigerator door handle, and the pulley attached to my ceiling fan. I've come to terms with the fact that I won't be getting my security deposit back in full, and that's OK.

That is what it's there for, after all.

6. Coasters are not a want, but a need

When I was growing up, I thought people who insisted you use coasters when you visited their house were annoying. But now I understand. I harass my friends when they come over to always use a coaster. It prevents rings from appearing on the tabletops, which falls under the category of that security deposit we were chatting about earlier.

I recommend buying a pretty set of coasters from a shop like Marshalls. That way, the coasters are nice-looking, and they all match.

7. Housekeeping is a big responsibility

You can't just pick up and LEAVE if you want like you could with your parents. If you want to go on vacation, you still have to pay your bills. You also need to find someone to come care for your pets, bring in your mail, etc.

You are also responsible for turning off your heating/air conditioning when you leave and locking up your doors and windows. You may also be required to have renter's insurance, in the event any damage or break-in happens to your home.

Although housekeeping is a bigger responsibility than I anticipated, I wouldn't give it up for anything in the world. I love having my own apartment, despite the expenses and stresses associated with it. It's the best decision I ever made, and not nearly as frightening as I worked myself up to be.

It is a wonderful journey I know you will do just fine on.

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Poetry: A Girl In Makkah

Trying to recognize what made her special...

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She walked aboard with tears in her eyes

To the answer of her Duaas, an honorable prize

Fastened to a chair, exhaling nervous air

Flying through the skies

Trying to recognize what made her special

Her heart fluttered high above the plane's level

Her heart shuddered and her words stuttered

Praises to the lord most high were what she uttered

Her heart froze and her tears flowed

As she approached the place she turned to every day

She walked in the footsteps of the righteous and hoped to meet them one day

Then,

She looked up.

Time seemed to hold up

Her mind started to speed up

Her hands began to shake

Her heart began to quake

and her soul began to ache

She let out a heavy yearning awe inspired sigh

Even though everything inside of her was going haywire

But she made Duaa

and it felt like peace and mercy were gushing out the seems of her heart

May Allah bring all of us to his home.

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