September 14, 2014

Strength in your Tears


This post may have been more difficult to write than the documentation of my sickness. However, I share this because I hope the ultimate message is helpful to anyone struggling with a tragedy or life changing event. [Please don't mistake this as a plea of sympathy as it is far from that.]


Last week, I experienced my first emotional breakdown since "everything". I felt vulnerable, weak, and angry. My life drastically changed before my eyes without any warning, rhyme or reason. I have new limitations and thresholds for what I can physically handle. At that given moment, things couldn't seem more unfair.

At my most emotional state, I confided in my sister, admitting that I felt so ridiculous for crying about what's been happening while so many worse things are going on in the world and to others. I repeatedly told her that
"I'm supposed to be stronger than this".

After literally shedding every tear that was inside of me, I felt pretty damn good to be honest with you. It was almost like I needed to have that meltdown considering everything that's transpired. Then, I wondered ... Why did I let myself believe that crying equated to weakness? Especially if I felt so relieved afterwards?





I think we've been conditioned as a society, especially men, to believe that tears mean you're weak. Crying is cathartic. Expressing your feelings is a release. And sometimes, I hate to say it, self-pity is a necessary evil. Your emotions are your emotions. No one can tell you that they're right or wrong - not even yourself.

I constantly have to remind myself that everyone's problems whether they seem serious to you or not, are their problems and they're entitled to feel how they feel - including my own. That night, I learned that yes - corruption, poverty, cancer, deaths are happening but that doesn't mean that I have to discount my own situation just so I seem strong. That's not fair to me.


Despite everything, I'd estimate that 90% of the time, I'm smiling, trying to stay positive and strong; the other ten, not so much and that's okay. I'm allowed that ten percent. We can't be perfect and happy all the time - it's impossible. If you don't allow yourself moments when you naturally feel like crap, then how can you possibly appreciate the good ones?

With each passing day, I'm learning new things whether it's about my body, feelings, or life in general. I'm realizing that strength doesn't mean harboring feelings, hiding tears, and trivializing my problems. Strength is going through the natural motions of things, fighting to overcome, and of course smiling when you can.

If you're having a "moment of weakness", just have it. When it's passed, shake it off and do something that makes you happy (retail therapy perhaps?). I end this post hoping that someone out there benefits from reading this. xx Sumaira

September 03, 2014

Fall 2014 Fashion Must Haves & Trends

While everyone is moping on social media about summer ending, I couldn't be more excited for the Fall. Let's think positively here for a moment... we are about to enter THE fashion season of the year! The joyous period of chunky sweaters, leggings, boots and scarves is about to arrive. So turn those frowns upside down and rejoice!

I'm no Vogue contributor or fashion expert, but I definitely know what I like. Especially thanks to my recent discovery of Pinterest (I know, I'm so 2000andlate). If your style mantra is anything like mine - simple, neat, and chic (or grandma-like according to my sister) then this list is for you! Incorporate some or all of these and you'll be on the fast track towards becoming a diva on the loose... OW!


1. Plush in Plum
Plum, mulberry, berry - you 3 have captured my heart, What beautiful, rich colors that look good on anyone. Garnish yourselves with pops of these colors. 



2. Mid-Shin Length Pencil Skirts
Something about this length is ultra flattering and classy. Every time I see Kim Kardashian sporting this ensemble, I imagine that a less ostentatious personality would work this look with panache. 



3. Oversized Wrap Coats
Comfy, fashionable, and warm? Sounds like my kind of coat - one of each color please!




4. D'Orsay Heels
Not gonna lie, I find toe cleavage sexy. Is that weird? Maybe. Nude and black pairs are essential! Every other color after that is icing on the cake. 


















5. Animal Print
I'm so relieved the whole tribal print movement is now far behind us. Good riddance. Let your wilderness conquer this Fall!




6. Dark Lips & Nails
Purchase "Rebel" from MAC and watch your horizons expand. This gothic color is sheer perfection for this time of year. 


7. Emerald Green
A regal color that makes a statement wherever you go. Not to mention, fun to pair with other bold colors!

 

Well, there you have it. This pretty much encompasses everything I'll be wearing for the next few months. 

Don't forget to inspire and follow me on Instagram & Pinterest [sumairaflower]

Besos. xx


August 19, 2014

Life As I Now Know It...


I debated for a while about whether or not I wanted to publicly discuss my recent illness. I ultimately decided to in efforts to help patients like myself and build awareness on this terrifying disease that is rarely ever heard of. Brace yourself, this is the abridged version...

June 27, 2014, I woke up noticing a small, oval-shaped figurine in my right eye. I didn't think much of it - summer had just started and maybe I was seeing sunspots from the brightness outside. I traveled that weekend; the spot didn't seem to go away. "Strange," I thought to myself, "I'll deal with it Monday when I get back to the office." [For those of you who don't know, I work in Ophthalmology]

June 30, 2014. The spot increased. I casually told one of the ophthalmologists at work who had me do a "visual field test". This test detects dysfunction in one's central and peripheral vision. This test is also a nightmare if you have A.D.D. The results showed that I suffered some mild field loss nasally in my right eye. Weird, but nothing severe. We would re-evaluate in a couple of days. 

July 3, 2014. It was 4pm. The office was winding down for the long weekend. I remember feeling uneasy that day. I felt fatigued and my arms were tingling. Something felt off balance and I was having trouble seeing my phone and computer. Our cornea fellow had me do another visual field test. Test results for my left eye were perfect, right eye had significantly worsened. Vision was 20/20 in both eyes. We dilated my pupils, checked my retinas, optic nerves, corneas, eye pressure - everything was structurally perfect. Now we have a problem. One of the other MDs immediately got involved as she frantically made calls to her colleagues at the local hospitals asking for opinions. I needed an MRI. I remember her telling me not to Google anything when I went home... to this day, I still haven't Googled anything.


July 4, 2014.  I arrived at the Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary [MEEI] with hopes of being in and out for the MRI. I brought my weekend bag as I was going to a 4th of July barbecue following the "appointment." I ended up spending 8 hours at MEEI, having seen 3 specialists (Cornea, Retina, Neuro-Ophthalmology) before I was transferred next door to Massachusetts General Hospital [MGH] for an MRI. I remember coming out of the MRI, all loopy from Ativan, having now been at the hospital for 14 hours when I was told I was being admitted into Neurology for inflammation on the right side of my brain. 

July 5 - July 7, 2014. Hospitalization #1. Diagnosis: Optic Neuritis OD. Treatment: 3 doses of 1,000mg of steroids IV. Expectations upon discharge: 2-3 weeks before vision returns back to where it started. I had fallen pretty sick from all of medications that were pumped into me but was happy to be on my way to a full recovery. We continued to do visual field tests in my office twice a week to keep an eye on things. Things were getting better.

August 4, 2014. I went to MEEI for a follow-up appointment with Neuro-Ophthalmology. To my surprise, I learned that the vision in my right eye had regressed to 20/60. The doctor explained that the recovery isn't always perfectly sketched out for some Optic Neuritis patients. While the regression was shocking, he told me not to worry. We would follow up with each other in 2 months when things should almost certainly be back to normal.  

August 5, 2014. I woke up extremely dizzy and nauseous. We repeated the visual field test with the right eye looking significantly affected again. We checked my vision. I will never forget this day - I was officially legally blind being 20/200 in my right eye.

August 6, 2014. I wore an eye patch to work because I couldn't function with the difference in depth perception. I remember walking into a wall, dropping things, tripped over a box. I knew something wasn't right, fear was making me nauseous. My vision had regressed even further to 20/400 in my right eye. My visual field tests depicted defect in both eyes. I called my neurologist who ordered me to come back to the hospital asap. 

August 7 - August 12, 2014. Hospitalization #2. Diagnosis: Sero-Negative Neuromyelatis Optica [NMO] OU. Vision: 20/600 right eye, 20/120 left eye. Symptoms: Vision loss, difficulty walking, sensory loss and numbness in limbs. Procedures: Lumbar puncture, 3 MRIs. Treatments: 5 doses of 1,000mg of steroids IV and Rituximab  infusions [an aggressive treatment used to treat patients with cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune disease, etc.] 






Since my discharge, I've been laying low, attempting to recover in the most positive fashion possible. But I'd be lying if I told you things have been easy. Every day brings along new physical challenges. I now take 10 pills a day having formerly been one of those holistic weirdos who never even took Tylenol. Despite everything though, I feel really lucky. As I reflect, I ask myself questions like, "what if I didn't work in Ophthalmology?" and "what if I didn't live in Boston?." I legitimately have a dream team of doctors from the 2nd best institution in the country working with me on a daily basis to ensure that I am on the right track. Most importantly, this entire situation further proved how much love and support I have around me. My family and friends are my rock. They have kept me afloat during the scary times I felt I was sinking. I have received gifts and encouraging words from literally all over the world! I've never felt more loved, special, and cared for in my life. With an unknown road to recovery ahead of me, I'm eagerly looking forward to spreading NMO awareness, raising money for research and development, and to stay in remission once I am fully healed. Life and the quality of it truly are very fickle. Please remember to make every day count and laugh until your stomach hurts. Love you all and thank you for continuing to support me. xx ciao!





Special Thank Yous:
Samir Melki, MD PhD
Maheen Haque, MD
Macie Finkelstein, MD
Kameran Lashkari, MD PhD
John Lee, MD MPH        
Dean Cestari, MD - Neuro-Ophthalmology MEEI
Neuro-Opthalmology Staff at MEEI
Tracey Cho, MD - Neurology MGH
Jennifer Canesi, NP
Ying Fan, NP
Adonis, Laurie and Jen at Lunder 8 MGH
Nicolas Busaba, MD - MEEI
Craig @ Radiology - MGH
My brave mother, sisters who I would be absolutely lost without, extended family, my amazing friends who spent countless hours at the hospital with me, my coworkers, and of course all of my well wishers. 


If you or anyone you know suffers from NMO and would like someone to talk to, please do not hesitate to send me an email me@sumairaflower.com

July 29, 2014

Carrie, You Were Onto Something...

              


"Maybe our girlfriends are our soul mates and guys are just people to have fun with."
Carrie Bradshaw

As I gracefully age, I'm realizing that Carrie may have been right. Maybe our girlfriends are our soul mates, and guys are supplementary characters. I dedicate this post to my best girlfriends (you know who you are) for sticking by my side through the greatest and worst, loving me unconditionally, and for never judging me. 


2014 has seen some pretty awful situations and intense romantic drama in my friend circle, including my own. While we already know that the ultimate healer of a painful breakup is time [and retail therapy!], having your girlfriends for support is completely priceless. The mere presence of them can be a huge catalyst to recovery. With all the guys that have come and gone, at the end of the day, we've stuck together. Through thick and thin, we're there for each other no matter what. Certain responsibilities need not be vocalized; they are simply understood.  

Back in the day, it used to be about the quantity of friends; now it's only about the quality. Having a core group of girlfriends is essential for survival... even if there are only 2 of you. I believe that every friend in your core serves a different purpose. Each friend is a unique dish in the potluck of friendship. Everyone plays a "role". While some may overlap, each friend has a dominant quality/habit that defines their role. I've come up with roles that I think most groups comprise of.  I'm sure there are variations amongst different people, but this seems like a solid umbrella that encompasses roles within friend circles.




1. The Willow Tree / Mother Goose
This is the friend who's had maternal instincts since she was 5. She's the wise one who everyone goes to for advice. Somehow, she is omniscient. 








2. The Party Animal / Wild Child
This is the friend who you can rely on to always have a great time - she is down to party at any given moment! She's the carefree one who brings out the party girl in you while everyone else lives vicariously through her. 










3. The Skeptic / Realist
Every circle has one of these. This is the friend you dread admitting your mistakes to for fear they'll tell you what you don't want to hear but what you need to hear. This friend can sometimes be mistaken for a pessimist or a straight up "hater" but at the end of the day, she's just trying to be your voice of reason. 









4. The Eternal Optimist / Cheerleader
This is the friend who is always rooting for you no matter what. Her drug is positivity! She is so excited for everything you do and thrives on your happiness and success.







5. The Empathizer / Sensitive One
I hope every girl has one of these in their lives. This is the friend who understands your pain and sympathizes with you. Simply put, she cries with and for you.






True friendships are built with unconditional love, support, and mutual respect. Cherish your girlfriends. Embrace the purpose each of them serve. Amidst major life events, make an effort to maintain your friendships. Hire a babysitter for girl time. And lastly, make sure your best girlfriends are life enhancers, people who improve the quality of your life and bring out the upgraded version of yourself. xx


July 21, 2014

25th: Reflection, Enlightenment & Sage Wisdom

Since I was a little tater tot, I sincerely believed that the entire month of July belonged to me. It’s never just been a birthday; I have a birth month. Though the mentality has remained the same, this year's a little different for a couple of reasons.

The first: I’m about to turn 25. I feel different; it's very difficult to describe and it’s definitely not what I thought it was going to be like…

25 always seemed like the most majestic age. I just couldn't wait to be 25 - it equated to sheer bliss and perfection in the eyes of 5, 10, even 18 year-old Sumaira. For reasons only children understand, I envisioned myself to be supermodel tall, rich & famous, newly betrothed, and naturally fabulous. Something about the way 25 sounded seemed so far away and too good to be true.

The second difference: At the start of my birth month this year, I met with my first (and hopefully last) health scare. I was diagnosed, sick, hospitalized, and then sick again for 2 straight weeks. I had never felt so sick and weak before. 


Thankfully, it’s not life threatening, but a burden and an eye opening experience. At my most vulnerable state, I looked at my surroundings and thought, "how did this happen to me?" My invincible spell was broken.

Young people tend to lead their lives as if they're wearing a bulletproof vest. That's the beauty of youth though, isn't it? You think you're forever unscathed and shielded from all bad until it happens to you. In a matter of seconds, your entire outlook on life can change. Priorities shift. Perspectives change. Relationships gain different meanings. And one finally grows up.

Life throws you curves but you learn to swerve [Rascal Flatts] Yeah, I'm not the tallest, I'm certainly not rich, and am very much single. That being said, 25 has arrived and given all the circumstances, I'm more than okay with who I've become. I'm happy, blessed, and enriched daily with so much love. Oh... and I'd like to think I'm naturally fabulous or at least en route! ;)

25 is going to be my year to thrive. I can feel it. 

Life is fickle as is the quality of it so...

Break the rules. Forgive quickly. Kiss slowly. Love deeply. Laugh uncontrollably. 
Never regret anything that made you smile. (Ethan Mascarenhas)


Happy 25th birthday to me. xoxo



July 20, 2014

ICONS BOUTIQUE


With great pride, I am honored to introduce you all to my sister's latest venture - Icons Boutique - an online boutique dedicated to producing high quality, trendy fashion while giving back to the underprivileged. 5% of all sales are donated to a foundation supporting underprivileged women and children around the world. 

Icons Boutique was materialized in 2014 after 2 years of designing, conscientious strategizing, and implementation. Sabrina Diana, my sister/designer & founder, has singlehandedly designed every article of of clothing and handcrafted all jewelry. 

Icons Boutique was officially launched on Sunday, June 29th at the ART Factory in Paterson, NJ. 


Browse and shop the first collection at www.iconsboutique.com and enjoy 10% off with promo code FLOWER. Check out some of the pieces below... xoxo






July 02, 2014

How Films Have Warped Our Perception of Men & Romance



As I become more acquainted with modern-day dating, I'm slowly realizing that most of what I grew up believing about men and romance are completely mythical.   

Let me preface this post by declaring that I am not jaded; I am simply observing and learning. This post also is not reflective of one particular situation but is an analysis of my adulthood dating experience thus far.



I'm starting to believe that women of my generation are at a slight disadvantage when it comes to dating mainly because of 2 reasons: 



1. We grew up watching Disney movies, the most amazing romcoms [romantic comedies] there ever were, and in my case, unrealistic Bollywood films. We've been brainwashed from the get go that there is one prince charming for every princess [which we all are] and that he'll sweep us off of our feet while effortlessly riding his horse.

Don't even get me started on Bollywood movies...they have falsified men into being super humans. My apologies but they’re just given way too much credit. They’re defying families to be with the ones they love, beating the crap out of the “enemies” in elaborate action scenes, traveling from Italy to India via foot in one week (Oh yes! that is a scene in a very popular Bollywood movie). As ridiculous as you can imagine, it’s been shown in these movies and alongside many, I've believed it all!  



2. We grew up in an age when technology was on an upwards slope but are now experiencing adulthood in an era when technology has overpowered social interaction thereby making dating that much more cumbersome.  

 If you know me personally, you know that I am a HUGE movie buff. I analyze movies to the T. But even I've been suckered into believing some ridiculous scenarios displayed on celluloid. Let's take a look at some of our favorite, widely appreciated romcoms and open our eyes a little bit. 

I'll call this bit - What We Saw & What We Should Have Seen


1. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
Note: One of my all time favorites. I'll be the first to admit that I'm guilty of having watched it 35 times. 
What We Saw: After Andi and Ben both realized they were using each other to advance their respective careers, they walk their separate ways, both seemingly distressed. In the last scene of the movie, Andi is in a cab on her way to the airport to move to Washington DC when all of a sudden Ben flags her down with his curly locks flowing while riding his motorcycle. He admits he's in love with her and convinces her to stay in NYC to begin a life together and live happily ever after. So cute right? WRONG!

What We Should Have Seen: Andi busted her ass in Columbia where she earned a degree in journalism. Throughout the movie, she makes it very clear that writing the "How To" columns were trivializing her degree and what she really wanted to do was be a journalist who wrote more substantial content like politics or world affairs. As Andi was on her way to Washington DC to snatch a golden opportunity, selfish Ben whisks her away from her lifelong dreams by promising to love her forever after having known her for merely 10 days and also having shamelessly used her as a spring board to get an account in his advertising firm. Come on Andi, you're smarter than that.. What an ironic movie title for an ending that showed a girl lose her career dream for a manipulative d bag. 



2. The Wedding Planner
Note: Conveniently, another Matthew McConaughey movie. Perhaps he's been type casted as the resident douche bag of Hollywood. Regardless, I love any movie that J.Lo is in... ;)
What We Saw: The lonely yet successful wedding planner, Mary, finally finds true love in the dashingly handsome doctor, Steve Edison, who also happens to be the fiance of her high profile client. Their love conquers all and they live happily ever after while enjoying M&Ms (all but the brown ones of course) in front of drive-in movie theatre. How romantic... NOT!



What We Should Have Seen: The beautiful and highly successful wedding planner, Mary, succumbs to the temptation of cheating, slimy Steve Edison whose fiance is head over heels in love with him, causing herself to get an ulcer because of wedding planning stress. Steve leaves his annoying but innocent fiance at the altar causing her to feel utterly humiliated because he was hanky pankying with their wedding planner. Meanwhile, he decides to go break another relationship by attempting to stop the wedding of Mary and her childhood friend Massimo. Can anyone say serial cheater/home wrecker?






3. Two Weeks Notice
Note: No denying that the chemistry between Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant is **ELECTRIFYING**.
What We Saw: The endearing development of a friendship/relationship between ivy-league attorney, Lucy, and real estate tycoon George Wade. Lucy and George are complete opposites and witnessing them banter is just oh so adorable. Lucy realizes her work is not satisfying and decides to leave George's company. George's multiple attempts at getting her to stay are supposed to be perceived as cute and heartwarming. Making calls to surrounding law firms and convincing them to not hire her is so adorable? Who does that?

What We Should Have Seen: George became so heavily dependent on Lucy because she was the only pillar of strength and stability in his life. Therefore, when she decided that she was overqualified and wanted to do something that brought more satisfaction to her life, George made all attempts to make sure she didn't leave him i.e. calling everyone in the area and letting them know she was not worth hiring. Additionally, if he had loved her, why would he be shamelessly hooking up with the new annoying, Southern employee right in front of her? Am I the only one who thought George was an immature, spoiled, selfish prick and Lucy was way too good for him?



While I don't think "prince charming" as we've known him exists, I do still believe that true love is out there and in various forms. Is it our fault that we continue to search for this non-existent, unrealistic person who was presented to us while we were impressionable toddlers up until our 20's? Absolutely not. However, I think it's time to make a conscious effort in troubleshooting our expectations and mentality when it comes to romance. Wouldn't it feel better to expect less but be pleasantly surprised when they do exceed our expectations? I think so! ;) xx. Yours truly.