Tuesday, July 28

The Sling Diaries Volume VI Better Together ::community::

 I have come to know that finding a community is a lot like finding love, because in actuality, you are not the one that finds it, it finds you.


As a first generation Arab American, feeling a sense of belonging has always been especially difficult for me.  For the first 8 or so years of my life, we lived in Algeria where most of my extended family lived within a very small radius of one another.  We saw each other practically every day and I was raised around my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and all of my cousins, and neighbors whom we considered cousins.  The butcher and the farmer and the baker and the ice cream vendor and the barber all knew my family by name, and we were probably all related somehow.  When we moved to America, we all dealt with an extreme case of culture shock.  Things were far away and cities were so spread out that walking to the fresh local produce market was not a possibility, you had to drive.  In fact, I am not even sure that a fresh local produce market existed where we lived.  It took a while for us to get used to this way of life, where people stayed behind their closed doors and you had to call ahead before visiting someone.  My mother always had a hot kettle of mint tea prepared in the afternoon and homemade Algerian cookies ready just in case we had a surprise visitor, didn't everybody?

These were things that I loved and cherished about my culture and the parts that I never wanted to let go.  I was so different in this strange land, and since I never really fit in anywhere, I kept to myself.  I became self taught in playing multiple instruments, I sang, I read, I wrote, but it was all behind closed doors where no one else could see.  I did not share this side of myself with anyone really, mainly because I was afraid.  Little did I know that I was becoming exactly what I used to find so foreign.

The man of my dreams found me floating alone in a lake on a warm summer day, away from the crowd of the boat party.  We locked eyes and I never looked away again.  We fell in love in that instant.  He says that he knew he was going to marry me a few days later when I played and sang him a song on guitar, "I'll follow you into the dark" by Death Cab for Cutie.  He was the first person that didn't make me feel afraid to be myself.  He brought out the best in me and continues to do so this very day.  He helped me find God and through Him, gave me a sense of belonging and courage to break free of the fear that held me captive for so long.  When we were united in holy matrimony, he became the founding father of my community.

Community is really more of finding a sense of who you are in someone else and being humble enough to say that I need you to learn, to thrive, and to be well.  It is opening your heart and finding the courage to play that song that you wrote that you have never let anyone else hear.  It is encouraging each other to be the best version of ourselves that we can be, as wives, as mothers, as fathers, and as children of God.  It is being a family even though you are not related by blood.  Through growing our family by two beautiful daughters, I have needed God, and my darling husband, and the beautiful women whose spirits found me and humbly needed me, as I needed them.  I may not be surrounded by cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents, but I am surrounded with the love that I have for this little family that I helped make, for God, for the mothers that I know in person and the ones whom I have never met who inspire me, and for anyone who wants to pay us a surprise visit.  I have warm tea and cookies.

*the sling that I am photographed wearing Gwendolyn in is Raisin from the Chambray line of double linen slings provided to me by Sakura Bloom.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with a company that I absolutely love*
All photographs are © City of Hearts Photography - a special thank you to Dole Pineapple farms for giving us permission to take photographs at this breathtaking location!

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