My second Personal Essay for We Need Diverse Books
One of the biggest honors of my writing career was working on the We Need Diverse Books blog team. My second essay for WNDB was about the first Eid under the Covid-19 pandemic. It was a comfort to express my thoughts and experiences with the WNDB team and readers. Now that the second Eid ul Fitr under the pandemic is coming up, I wanted to post my essay to relive the tough yet triumphant holiday.
Please visit the WNDB link to read the full essay, which features enjoyable Eid reads for children like OUR FAVORITE DAY OF THE YEAR and ONCE UPON AN EID.
I had a great time reading my award-winning children’s fiction short story “Rabbi the Rabbit” at the Islamic Center of Claremont’s Community School! The kids were attentive and asked intelligent questions, like ‘who is the illustrator?’ I was nervous that the kids wouldn’t sit through the story, which is about a heavy topic, refugee children. But thankfully they listened. I bribed them with stickers for answering questions about the book, so that helped.)
Also thank you to those who bought a copy! I only had a couple to sell.
If you’d like to read “Rabbi the Rabbit,” please buy a copy of the anthology OUT OF MANY, ONE: CELEBRATING DIVERSITY on Amazon.
I’m excited and grateful that I blogged for NaNoWriMo! I love their site and have benefited from their advice, so I’m happy they responded to my ideas. I feel validated as a writer.
My blog post has my tips on traditionally publishing a book, based on my experience writing and publishing my refugee story “Rabbi the Rabbit.” It’s great that NaNoWriMo is providing resources after the 50k words have been written.
I’ve always been physically active; I played sports and fidgeted in my seat in class. I’m happier when I’m active. For the past few years though, in a household of TV watchers, I became couch potato chip-eater, and therefore depressed. I ignored my instinct to go outside and walk because everyone else sat inside. (Observation not blame.) Recently an emotional eating webinar helped me process my emotional attachment to overeating snacks. As my repressed regrets drifted away, I got up and started exercising. I felt happier, but it was more than actually exercising: it was the simultaneous act of letting go.
Science tells us that we’re happy after exercise because it releases endorphins, but I think it’s deeper than that. Exercise helps us release our negative thoughts and feelings, and we feel physically and mentally healthier after they’re gone. Whereas eating holds in those negative emotions, stuffing them deeper inside as we stuff our faces, allowing us to continue ignoring them.
Further, I realized that eating is a control issue. When I stopped eating gluten foods and dairy for health reasons six years ago, people-family, friends, cooks- were offended, not sympathetic. Why would people be bothered I couldn’t share the nachos they bought, or the lunch they made you. Because they thought I wouldn’t. But even if I wouldn’t, why did that matter? Why is it so important that I eat what someone want me to, what they choose for me? Because they want to control us. They want to influence our thoughts and decisions to be similar, connected. Food is personal. It goes beyond movie or sports interests. It’s a part of you. If you reject food people offer you, you are rejecting the control they have over you. You are rejecting them. (I realized that food builds your cells and therefore literally becomes a part of you. So if you eat different foods than someone else you are physically different than them.)
Sometimes I literally eat things that bother me later to avoid arguments or offending people. Relationship harmony is sometimes worth my digestive discord. But it’s much less often than it was before, when I kept eating bread to avoid parents’ anxiety or friends’ tantrums. Mostly I say no when I need to, and eat what is best for me.
People don’t need to be so invested in what you are eating. It is not a commentary about their choices or lifestyle at all, and it doesn’t affect their personal choices. We can still share experiences without sharing everything on our plate. 🙂
It’s a pleasure being a member of SCBWI, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. The members are gracious and helpful. With their feedback and encouragement, I published my short story in an anthology. That is why I am especially grateful and excited that they featured my book in their November issue of Kite Tales, as Great News of the month! Thank you! 😀