I haven’t updated this blog in a very long while unfortunately. College and life got in the way and I wasn’t really able to give the blog adequate attention. Hopefully I will bring about more regular posts, either here, or on a new blog. Thanks for sticking with me!


Maryam Ahmed

All the Time in the World: Slow Living

Growing up, I lived the slow life- in a rural Ohio town where people kept horses in their backyards and our neighbors were always dropping in for a chat and a cup of coffee. Then, I never appreciated what I had. This was, perhaps because I was a child still, and a restless spirit that loved noise and speed. A few years later my family moved to Dallas, and thereafter I have lived a very, very fast life. I’m happy to say that I appreciated it. I appreciate it still.

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a small preppy private college and turned it down to attend UT, an enormous school smack in the middle of a city known for parties and politics. And I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it. Rushing from one thing to another, learning to be alone in a crowd and by myself, and more importantly, to navigate the real world, has been an integral part of my transition out of childhood. I’ve tripped, scraped my knee, hell- fallen on my face-several times. And I’m nowhere near as suave as I should be to be able to survive in the zoo of city life. But I’ve learned that what is important is learning to get up again, to keep hope when all the world gives you is reason to fear.

Living the fast-paced, jam-packed life has been, in short, a blessing in disguise. Still, I’ve been feeling a wave of nostalgia for my family’s days of boating at the lake and neighborhood Thanksgiving dinners, of endless sled rides with my dad and setting the table with my mom. Those are experiences that have disappeared now- replaced with separate schedules and separate cities. And even as I find success in my academic life, and my sister finds success in hers and my parents continue to be successful in their respective fields, I am longing for something that I feel I have let get away.

And so, I’m adding a new resolution to my list of 2016 resolutions (because I believe it’s never too late to start a good habit and it shouldn’t be limited to a single time of year). Live slowly. Yep, that’s it- just 2 words.  Take it from someone who has had the opportunity to live both the fast and slow lives- if we stopped spending so much time obsessing over the next thing and started appreciating this very moment, we would transform our lives into much happier, more productive, and more fulfilling ones. You may feel tempted to deny that you aren’t already doing this. For years, I’ve  lived by making myself believe that if I just got that A, if I just became president of that club, if I just got into that college, if I just got that score on that test, if I just made more money I would finally be happy. And yet, the strange thing was, every time I achieved one of those goals, I didn’t find that boundless happiness. Instead I was plagued by stress about the “next thing”. Even at this very moment, I have a line of things that my brain has listed as “if-then” paths to happiness. If I get a good LSAT score, then I’ll be happy. If I get married, then I’ll be happy. If I live on my own, then I’ll be happy.

Examine your life and I’m 100% sure that you will have similar “if-then” paths subconsciously or consciously in place as part of your epic road to happiness (unless you are already a master of slow living, in which case please share your secrets to success in the comments). But I’m here to tall myself and you that this has to stop. We are not mere robots on a never ending treadmill. The problem is that we choose to be. We choose to see the world as a two way street where we need to do certain things to get certain things. And we do it with good intent- we want to be happy. But we are placing the responsibility of our happiness in the wrong hands. I have found my happiest life moments to be those I spend living slowly. These moments are the ones where I am walking down the beach without any devices in my hands and appreciating the smell of salt and the feel of sand. These moments are the ones when I spend two hours organizing with my mom without constantly preoccupying myself with worrying about my next assignment and instead listening to her and bonding with her.

How do we find happiness in our lives? By learning the art of slow living. But how does one transition themselves from their ingrained mentality to this fresh new perspective? I believe that slow living is about prioritizing relationships. Your relationship with God. With yourself. With your parents, siblings, relatives, neighbors, coworkers, the lady at the checkout counter. Your relationship with the world around you. It sounds kind of cheesy, huh? That’s because our lifestyle has coerced us into becoming machines, burying our natural tendencies to prioritize relationships and instead putting us on a path that promised happiness but didn’t deliver. If we reverse that cycle, we find ourselves more content, and probably no less successful.

Slow living doesn’t mean sitting around like a sloth all day. It means prioritizing and appreciating everything. For many of us, living slowly 24/7 just isn’t feasible. So instead of encouraging you to change up your whole life, I’m sharing some suggestions for how to incorporate slow living into your every day.

1. Wake up earlier

If it’s just 15 minutes or 1 hour it doesn’t matter, but make it a habit to get up a bit earlier than you currently do. Use that time to pray, write, reflect, and plan your day.

2. Prioritize

Really, really do this. Write down all the things you have to do and then order them by priority. Then, draw a smiley face by the ones you really look forward to doing, a star by the ones you have to do. Focus on those. And learn to cut things out and stop stressing over getting the little things done. For example, getting out of the house on time to get to class before 8 is very stressful, and every time I try, I end up feeling like crying because of the stress. So instead, I’ve prioritized. Sure, I’ll miss a few minutes of class. Sure, I’ll walk into the auditorium late. But at least I won’t be as stressed. I can borrow notes from a friend. Now, I try to get to class by 8:30. I don’t freak out and panic in the mornings anymore. If my schedule gets pushed off or I need to sleep in a few minutes, I let myself have the luxury because I’ve realized that starting my day relaxed and happy is worth much more in the long run than catching the first few minutes of class. See where you can prioritize like that in your life.

3. Sit and do nothing.

Wow, this one is tough. Trust me. I can’t sit still for 2 seconds without thinking and doing stuff. But I’ve been trying to put everything away and clear my mind and sit. It helps SO much. I get to observe others and the world around me. I get to build relationships and make new friends when my face isn’t buried in my phone.


The One Thing You Need to do to NEVER Miss a Due Date or Reading Assignment in College

the one thing


I’m promising a lot here but I assure you it isn’t an empty promise. This is a tried and true model and honestly saved me SO many times this semester, in addition to just making my life a lot less stressful and confused. I originally got this idea from Dani over at Dani Dearest. You can read her article here. She got the idea from Kirsten’s blog Organized Charm. Many thanks to these lovely ladies for this important tool. I tweaked it just a bit to suit my own organizing and planning style. It’s worked for us and it WILL work for you.


I like to divide this into 3 stages

  1. Preplan

  2. Create

  3. Edit

  4. Execute


  1. Preplan

First pull together all your syllabi. You can do this during the first week of the term when professors typically hand out and go over them.The first step is to create a spreadsheet or table ( I created a table in Apple Numbers). Calculate how many readings and assignments you have and make sure your table has that many rows. For the columns, you need to have 3. In Numbers when creating a table you have the option of creating it as a checklist. I assume something similar exists in Powerpoint.

The 3 columns I create are: Due Date, Course, and Assignment. Because I was concerned about differentiating between readings and actual assignments, I came up with a color code system. I marked readings in blue and assignments in pink. I didn’t print mine- I prefer to streamline my planning and keep in on the laptop. You could print it but Dani’s instructions might work better for you. I also decided that as assignments were completed I would mark them in red in addition to checking off the box. This process helped me keep my list from becoming muddled. Another bit of housekeeping I employed for my list: Every week I would look at all my assignments and mark the checkbox of the last one on the list for the week in red. That way I only focused on that bit. I would look ahead occasionally to ensure I knew when big projects and exams were coming up but otherwise I dedicated my attention to that specific week. Again, this is just a suggestion for effectively using the assignment list.

2. Create

Now comes the good part. While typing up every assignment and reading might seem extremely tedious (and it is) by the end of the semester you will definitely find it worthwhile. Take each subject’s syllabus separately and add it all in. This step has the shortest instructions but will probably take the longest time. Pro Tip: some coffee and upbeat tunes can help the time fly by faster. :)

3. Edit

Finally, we edit the list to make it clean and concise! The most important part of this is to order the list by date. The way to do this in Numbers is by selecting the cells in the Due Date column and in the sidebar under Cell choosing “Date and Time”. You will be given an option to format the date to your liking- if you want to be extra on top of your game you can add time too.


To highlight each box for color coding (optional but recommended by me) just select the cell(s) that you want to edit and under Cell in the sidebar choose “Fill” and set your color.

And then you are edited and good to go!

The final step is execution! This is the most important- there is no success to be found in a list you don’t put to use. I looked at my list multiple times a day sometimes. It was my go-to document and I actually uploaded a non-editable copy into OneNote so I could quickly access all my due dates on my mobile devices when I was on the go. So how can you use this handy Master Assignment List to never miss a due date? Use it religiously. Mark off and check the assignments you have completed. Develop a color coding system that works for you to ensure that you are working on time. Add new assignments as they are assigned (if you have any). If you feel more comfortable with it printed, then print it out and stick a copy in your planner or on your wall and mark it up manually as you go. Or if you are like me and need things in one small space, leave it on your laptop but in a place that is always easily accessible (mine was open practically the whole semester). It might take a while to get used to this system but I found it much easier than frantically looking through syllabi or sifting through planner pages trying to figure out what’s due when. I was always prepared with my reading and assignments because I had this list to refer to. It also helped me prioritize and avoid procrastination.

Here’s a copy of my list once I was done creating it. (warning: it’s a mighty long list)


And here’s a copy of it with some markups through the semester.


See! Nice and simple. :)

Good luck this semester. Try out the list and let me know how it goes. And what methods do you use to make those As? Comment below and share.

It’s a New Year!!!!! x 10 Resolutions Every College Gal Needs to Make

2016 Celebrations

Happy New Year to all you lovely people!!!! It’s unbelievable how fast time has flown and how much this past year has affected our lives. While every one of us takes away something different from 2015, I don’t doubt that we will remember it long into the future. The holiday season is always brimming with excitement and cheer. While I’m in Saudi Arabia where there is no indication whatsoever of it being the holiday or winter (it did rain though!), that hasn’t stopped me from following all the lovely holiday posts and sales 😉 back home. I also wanted to share some resolutions that every college girl should consider adding to their list. 2016 is going to be a great year so let’s do this!

1. Wake up every morning with energetic purpose


2. Treat your body right. Don’t just be a “New Years gym member”; eat healthy, be active, and choose products that are good for you.


3. Put an end to judging others and accept people as their unique individual selves.


4. Do the things that terrify you. It’s a New Year. Take new risks!


5. Give time to worthy causes. Volunteer, help a neighbor, or help your sibling with their math homework. Go into 2016 with the mindset of a giver not a taker.


6. Smile more…even if it makes your cheeks hurt.


7. Get out of your comfort zone. Literally. Pack up and go someplace you’ve never been before. You will never truly know yourself until you’ve done this.


8. Take every day in stride. The hard hitters and the lazy, aimless days. Face them like the fantastic woman you are.


9. Put education somewhere on your list of priorities. I mean, you are in college right?


10. Love a little more. Don’t forget to show your love to the people who are always right beside you- so close we sometimes forget their presence.



Enjoy the holidays, we’ll be back in classes before we know it! Here’s to a magnificent 2016!!!!