Monday, July 26, 2010


Ever notice that when something good happens, the whole world seems to brighten up? But if, God forbid, the tables turn on your luck, doesn’t everything world seem to descend into the underworld of unhappiness? Floating on emotions between the heights of happiness and the depths of despair stressed me out to no end. Fortunately, my Alice “Free-From-Wonderland” taught me how to keep my feet planted firmly on the ground.

“Thanks for having us, we had a really good time!” we said to our host. My good friend, Alice Free-From-Wonderland, and I were leaving one of our friend’s birthday party, and we wanted to let her know that we had enjoyed ourselves (and not just because of the unbelievable amazing desserts she served J).

“I’m glad you came!” she responded. “Hopefully we’ll have another chance to hang out (and in our case, pig out J) together.” She waved to us as she returned to the exciting party in her home.

Once we left her house, AFFW and I began to drive all around town, just to hang out and explore. Of course, I had to have some shades if we were cruising the scene, so I glammed our exploration up with my blue denim sunglasses. While we drove around, we talked about everything: school, family, and anything in between. It was like a Dr. Phil catharsis session minus the drama and runny mascara.

After a while (because unfortunately fun only fuels teenagers, not cars), we stopped to get some gas. While AFFW paid and began to pump gas, my mind wandered back to the party, and all the people that had been there.

I’d seen her, and he was there, and….oh, she was there too, I thought. So many people showed up to this party! It might as well have been a class reunion.

When AFFW returned from the gas-pumping adventure, I commented about all the different people who had been at the party. “Any standouts you recognized?” I asked.

Pulling out of the gas station, AFFW said, “Not anyone specifically. My one friend was there…oh, and that other friend I used to play soccer with…and I saw an old ex of mine…”

Hearing the words “old ex” instantly awakened my curiosity. “Oh really? Who was it?”

AFFW began describing the mysterious ex, and I slowly realized this person was a fairly popular, well-liked person. It seems like AFFW would have had a good relationship with that person. I thought. I wonder what went wrong?

With all these thoughts swimming around my head, I decided to ask, “Well, why didn’t it work out? It couldn’t have been unfaithfulness, right? I couldn’t imagine that person doing that to anyone.”

AFFW responded, “No, it wasn’t cheating.”

Searching for reasons, I suggested, “Was it because of friend drama?”

Smiling as if friend drama was not a real issue (although we all know it can be), AFFW explained, “Of course not. Honestly, Abi, our relationship ended because I didn’t want it to become too serious. We’re just in high school, and we may think everything right now, with our friends and relationships, is so important, but realistically, we have our whole future to worry about that stuff.”

And with that morsel of wisdom, AFFW had given me a thought to savor for many days to follow. Those words brought all my worries and concerns down to earth, and helped me distinguish between which issues were just blowing in the breeze and which were firmly rooted in reality.

Lesson Learned: Be realistic about your circumstances. It may seem like this relationship or that exam is the most important thing in life, but remember, it really isn’t. For us high-schoolers, we have an entire future of experiences waiting to shape us. So enjoy yourself, and keep your wildest worries and wants in check with a dose of reality J.

“And you do it by understanding the difference between being a good person and being a perfect person. The first is possible; the second is unrealistic.” Harold Kushner

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


“Keep On Smiling.”; an easy piece of advice to follow when life is easy to handle. But is it possible to keep a grin plastered when school is chaotic, when family is going bonkers, and when nothing seems to be going right? I believed positivity was impossible for any realistic person, until I met a Sensible Smiler that flipped my frown upside down.


“The Bell is about to go, so everyone pass your tests forward.” For most of my school, this bell marked the end of one class and the start of another. But for me, and thirty other unlucky souls sharing my fate, that ringing was a death knell. We had just been defeated by one of our exams, and we left that classroom dispirited and defeated.

“I have never felt so horribly about a test before” I said to some of my friends. I was surrounded by phrases like, “Yeah, that was ridiculously hard,” and “I hope this test isn’t TOO important to my overall grade,” in agreement with my hopelessness. It was safe to say that we, who had entered our classroom with a healthily-inflated sense of confidence left class thoroughly deflated.

Throughout the rest of my day, I tried to make that exam seem less monstrous than it was. It was not too bad. And I’m sure I got enough right to get a decent grade on the exam. But my confidence was anchored by a gnawing feeling of gloom all day long. I slid on my red aviator sunglasses in an effort to hide my worry, and tried to survive to the end of my day.

As I was walking to the day’s final class, I saw one of my friends who had also endured that painful exam, the Sensible Smiler, doing what was she did best. That smile, one I had scarcely seen on any other of my classmates’ faces, surprised me. I curiously thought, Why on earth is there such a big smile on this kid’s face?

My curiosity got the best of me. “Hey, SS, how’s your day been?”

“It’s been really good!” SS responded.” I’m so glad the day is almost over. Did you want to go get ice cream with me and some friends after school?”

Ice cream? I thought with disbelief. Did SS even come to the depressing exam in class today? “I would, but I’m really bummed about today’s test, and I think I should go home.”

A shadow of worry covered SS’s face (FINALLY!). “Oh yeah, that exam was really tough. I think I might have failed it.”

“Aren’t you worried?” I asked her expectantly.

“Yes, I am. But I think my grade in that class will be OK. Besides, later this semester I have some chances to boost my grade. So, do you want to get some ice cream?”

I was shocked at how SS had flipped such a negative situation into such a positive light. By blending realism with optimism, SS had avoided having my gloomy day. Sensibly smiling, my friend had managed to turn a painful testing experience into a trip to get ice cream.

Lesson Learned: Positivity is not just for people who are already happy, so don’t write it off as such. Try to look for the bright side of difficult experiences (I’m sure there will always be one.) Remember that if life gives you hard exams, make ice cream trips of them J.

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Winston Churchill

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Imagine having to constantly watch your back in fear of being attacked from behind. You cannot trust your surroundings, and you cannot rely on anyone but yourself. What kind of dangerous, uncertain jungle am I describing? My friends, I am describing high school. For the longest time, it seemed to me that politics were more important than friendships among my peers. But luckily for me, a lovely Eye-Opener came along to reveal the beauty of a loyal friend.

I’ve had it, I thought. She is driving me crazy. We don’t talk anymore, she acts way differently from a few months ago, and it is to the point where I just don’t like being around her anymore.

I was suffering from the inevitable friendship issues that spring up throughout high school. One of my closest friends, my amazing Eye-Opener, and I were slowly drifting away from each other. I, who had once enjoyed being attached to her by the hip, was to the point of disjointing my own leg just to get away from her.

I know what I have to do. At lunchtime today, I’ve just got to tell her how I feel. Maybe then she will give me peace, or better yet, leave me alone.

First, second, third, and fourth periods flew by in a blur. As the bell rang for lunch, I realized my mental state was just as blurry as my day. In an effort to clear the mental cloudiness, I took a deep breath, slid on my cool blue sunglasses, and headed out to lunchtime.

As I approached the lunch line, I saw EO eating a bag of chips with some friends. Oh dear, this is going to get ugly, I thought.

“Hey, EO, can I talk with you for a second?” I asked her. Luckily, my shades concealed the obvious dread that seemed to be glistening in my eyes.

Sensing that something was the matter, she nervously responded, “Sure, no problem.”

We began to walk around campus, and I decided to just let my feelings flow. “We both have new friends, our interests are changing, and we just don’t act like we used to. As harsh as this may sound, I don’t think we can be friends like we used to be.”

I sensed my Eye-Opener absorbing what I had said. I saw her sadness, I heard her heart break, I could feel her disappointment. After she had digested what I had said, she responded with possibly the sweetest thing I have ever heard: “I understand. If this is how you feel, then I cannot change it. I just want you to know that even if you no longer regard me as your friend, I will always think of you as mine.”

At the moment, I did not think too much of what she had said. But as the weeks went on, I realized in allowing me to remove myself from the tightly bound friendship I was in, she gave me room to grow into myself. She also promised to be there for me if I ever wanted to return to our friendship. (I am happy to say she is now very much in my life, and my inspiration in many ways J)

Lesson Learned: Loyalty is not just a myth in books. It really exists today, in relationships of all kinds. Value your friends that will remain loyal to you despite what you may do to them. And, most importantly, be loyal to those you love.

“I believe that I don’t have to change friends if I understand that friends change.” Unknown

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Gratitude is the Best Lens Cleaner J

“Thank you”. Two simple words. Two simple words that express possibly the most common sentiment in any human language. I thought I understood the depth of emotion these two words could convey, but I soon discovered that these two words can mean the world to someone.


High School had gotten to me. My junior year, chock full of stressful standardized exams and complicated relationships, had effectively freaked me out. Panicking to the point of ridiculousness, I realized I needed to vent to someone who was kind, understanding, and straightforward. That someone was my personal Sweet Treat. ST always was patient with me and offered, if nothing else, a set of ears that were always open to my voice.

One day, ST and I were driving along the freeway, spending quality time together. Donning my classic Browns, I relaxed in the calming presence of ST, and for a while, had been able to suppress my need to talk about my worries. But as our trip progressed, my concerns clouded the crystal-clear lenses of my sunglasses and burst from me in a wave of conversation.

“I’m so concerned! I don’t think I’ll do well in school this year, and I’ve got so many commitments, and I have to finish this, do that….I just have so much to do!!!” To say I was overwhelmed at this point would be the understatement of the century; I simply did not know how to approach all I had going on in my life.

ST, as wise as ever, tempered my panicking with a personal experience. ST had met a young woman who, at my age, was expecting a child. This young woman was facing poverty, a lack of support from her family to continue her education, and the social sting of being a pregnant teen.

ST told me, “My dear, you think you are lost, but you know where you are going. This little girl, she’s the one who is really lost.”

Pondering on what I had just heard, I realized what a blessing it was to be worried about my education, to even have the opportunity to achieve an education. I realized the supportive family members, teachers, even friends like ST from whom I benefited were not necessarily available to everyone. I realized how grateful I should be for my life.

Lesson Learned: Be Grateful. Be thankful for your abilities to read what is on this screen, to understand what it says, and to act upon it in any way you choose. Be appreciative of those in your life who guide and support you. And remember, a sincere “Thank You” to one of your loved ones can truly express your gratitude to them J.

When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appearsAnthony Robbins

Monday, July 5, 2010

Guide to my "Shades of Gray" Blogs :-)

I want to start off by saying thank you to all who have taken the time to look through my blog. I hope what you have seen is enough to keep your eyes on my blog for many weeks to come J.

That being said, I am sure many people in the wonderful land of the Internet are asking themselves, “Who is this girl and why on earth does she think she can tell me about life lessons? How many genuine life experiences has she had?”

My name is Abi Mariam, I am seventeen years old, and no, I have not had many intense life experiences. I do not claim to have a wealth of knowledge or wisdom beyond my years. But what I have learned about life comes from the wise, mature teachers with which I have been blessed. Everyone from my friends to my parents to even my youngest family members has taught me a thing or two about life.

As much as I love to be right in the center of all the action, I have always considered myself an observer of life. Being an observer, one must be prepared with the proper equipment, don’t you think? My tools of choice are my sunglasses, including all from my classic browns to my crazy paint-splattered frames. Each pair of sunglasses in my collection allows me to see life in a slightly different light; each reveals to me a different Shade of Gray. Equipped with these sunglasses, I can enter into any everyday situation and emerge from it with a new perspective on life J.

You may notice that I do not use recognizable names in my blogs (unless you really are named something like “Sweet Treat”, in which case, you are automatically my hero J). These nicknames are used not only to protect the privacy of whomever I am describing but also to make these stories relatable to everyone. Anytime you see one of my ridiculous names, fill it in with someone important to you, and you will be surprised how easily one of my experiences could be one of yours.

I encourage all who read my blogs to make comments. Please do not feel like I am above criticism; one of the lessons I have learned in life is to accept criticism and use it to grow (which you will be reading about soon enough J). All I ask is that comments are respectful and are relevant to the blogs themselves. If my blog gives you any ideas of how you can individually express yourself to the world, follow them! Start your own blog, write a book, make a movie, do whatever you would like to show your community that you have a voice and you are ready to use it. If you are a high school student like me, I hope you remember one important fact: your age does not determine the impact you can make on your community; effort is a much better measure of what you can do J.

So now, we begin the guided tour of my mind (I understand how unbelievably scared you must be right now, but don’t worry, I’ll be here to protect you J). You don’t have to read every one of my entries, you don’t have to agree with what I say, you don’t even have to like me. There is only one thing I ask of all my blog-readers: Remember that the world is not only seen in black and white; we can see it through all Shades of Gray (and blue, pink, polka dot, cheetah print…)