#TBT: Despite Everything, You Are A Rose
YOU WOULDN'T ASK WHY THE ROSE THAT GREW FROM THE CONCRETE HAD DAMAGED PETALS.
ON THE CONTRARY, WE WOULD ALL CELEBRATE ITS TENACITY.
WE WOULD ALL LOVE ITS WILL TO REACH THE SUN.
WELL, WE ARE THE ROSES, THIS IS THE CONCRETE, AND THESE ARE MY DAMAGED PETALS.
- TUPAC SHAKUR
WHEN I WAS A CLASSROOM TEACHER, ONE OF THE MOST IMPACTFUL LESSONS MY STUDENTS AND I ENGAGED IN WAS OUR "The ROSE THAT GREW FROM CONCRETE" activity, inspired by Tupac's song. I believe we all embody resilience; we all can defy the odds; we all have the power to emerge from even the most infertile grounds as something beautiful.
In this lesson, one of my students drew the imagery of a rose emerging from concrete. Then, my students and I went through each symbol in the metaphor, labeling it with the part of our lives to which it applied. The assignment was followed by a short essay, and a full-day discussion on how this metaphor applied to our lives. it was so powerful.
Fast forward a year after this lesson, my father passes away suddenly. I would have never predicted that the same tool I provided for my students would be the framework I used to help me rationalize and reconcile my grief. My students' vulnerability prepared me to be equally true to myself. in this post, I will share this lesson and the poem I wrote based on This metaphor, because both have been such a source of empowerment and gratitude for me.
I hope they can speak to whatever you may be dealing with today.
the rose that grew from concrete
you may be familiar with the metaphor, but have you ever thought about what each symbol represents in your life?
below, I will walk you through the symbolism and share with you each symbol's representation in my current struggle. I encourage you to reflect on your journey as you read on.
any circumstance(s), environment(s), mindset(s), people, etc. that may be hindering you from your truth or purpose. just as concrete is infertile ground for a rose's growth, your concrete is the part of your life that is trying to hold you back from breaking through.
Ri's CONCRETE: GRIEVING BABA's Death; learning to find a new balance without him
you! You are the rose.
This is the easiest one to decide on, but oftentimes the hardest one to accept.
you are a beautiful, powerful rose - accept that now.
Ri's Rose: Ri! ME! i am a rose
CRACKS (IN THE CONCRETE)
cracks are opportunities for breakthroughs or emergence. the cracks invite you to chase your sun, but they will not do the work for you. cracks are merely those things in your life that give you hope and let you see a glimpse of the purpose you are meant to pursue. what gives you hope? what motivates you? what reassures you that you can breakthrough?
RI's cracks: learning about islam; baba and his legacy; family; my blog/any platform to inspire others
just as a plant needs sunlight to grow, your sun is your truth, your overall purpose and source of nourishment. your "why." what do you look forward to? what are you reaching for? what keeps you going? what is your #roadto_, if you will?
ri's sun: allah and my purpose on this earth; the legacy i have been chosen to leave; doing the right thing
what keeps you standing tall? what are you most proud of?
what helps you reach higher towards the sun? what does your beauty and resiliency as a rose rest upon?
your stem is the middle ground between your roots and the sun - between your deepest being and your life's purpose - what facilitates that journey for you?
ri's stem: self-reliance; self-reflection; independent thinking
who or what keeps you grounded? think of your roots as the part(s) of your being that want/s to be nourished because your true identity and purpose rely most heavily on it. as roses in concrete, our roots are not perfect (they are grounded in infertile ground) but you cannot deny them, because without acknowledging your roots, you will never be a rose.
ri's roots: the values and morals with which mama and baba have raised me. my community in dearborn, michigan and indirectly, jnoub, libnan.
our thorns will do their best, but they will not protect us from the rough environment from which we are emerging.
damaged petals are the bruises and scars that we will endure through this journey. with time and work, we can grow new petals to replace these damaged ones, but damaged petals are a beautiful reminder of our resiliency.
what are the remnants of your resiliency? what scars do you wear today? look at these as a part of your journey, and not a source of shame.
ri's DAMAGED PETALS: feeling like i'm a source of pity; feeling less safe or protected; living in constant fear of losing my loved ones; trauma and triggers that remind me of march 13th
thorns are tricky: we are tempted to view them in a negative light because they may harm others, but just as thorns protect roses, thorns are necessary for self-preservation. any rose growing in concrete is susceptible to the harsh effects of its hostile environment. having thorns suggests vulnerability; we must accept this before we can name our thorns. first, figure out what makes you feel unsafe, scared, helpless or even weak, then ask: what am i using as a (maybe temporary) defense mechanism from the harsh effects of my concrete?
ri's thorns: fending off pity or any negative energy by being alone often; feeling like i need to compensate for losing the only strong male presence i've ever trusted by putting on a strong front, especially around others who make me feel like my safety is at stake; trying desperately to find pieces of baba in others
REMEMBER, THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG WAY TO REFLECT ON YOUR JOURNEY AS A ROSE EMERGING FROM CONCRETE.
as you can see, many of my symbols repeat themselves or represent multiple things, some tangible, some not. the story is yours to tell. I encourage you to take this reflective activity a step further by telling your story as a rose in concrete.
if you feel inclined to share with me, i would absolutely love to hear what you have to say. you can be completely anonymous, you can name yourself but wish to only share with me, or you can ask me to share your story publicly - up to you!
HIt the button below and tell your story.
DESPITE EVERYTHING, I AM A ROSE
the final portion of this post includes a poem that I wrote weeks after baba's transition. I recited this spoken word piece to an amazing audience of young ladies at a "self love as a superpower" retreat, and encouraged them to label the metaphor and fill in this sentence with the struggle(s) they were dealing with:
I AM A BEAUTIFUL, POWERFUL, RESILIENT ROSE.
I encourage you to fill this sentence in with whatever you may be dealing with today. something about naming your struggle(s) and then immediately declaring your beauty, power and resiliency is so empowering and cathartic. I am so excited to share this piece with you because it truly helped me process my grief in such an uplifting way. enjoy.
I AM A ROSE.
By Rima Fadlallah
on march 13th, 2017
my father collapsed and could not breathe.
as the story goes, our king claimed his throne but never arose.
my father: a beautiful rose whose body never arose.
roses are red,
violets are blue,
you left us so suddenly,
now what's life without you?
today, your roots are buried deep
in that concrete
of your Southern lebanese village, your favorite soil:
beside your father, beside your father's father.
and over your grave
i promised you
that i wouldn't let myself cave,
so instead, that very next morning,
as a rose.
a beautiful powerful rose.
roses are red,
not always, but true.
a rose in the concrete
now heres what i'll do
my tears will nourish my roots. i will grow strong enough to break through.
i will break through that stubborn concrete and through those cracks, i'll see the light:
that whenever i feel down, i can look up and find you.
i sleep in your bed,
mama really misses you.
we still feel you here,
can you feel us too?
because one thing still has me torn:
if i still feel you here with me,
how can i possibly mourn?
to preserve the greatness within me
are these temporary thorns.
and to allow these feelings to settle
will surely result in some damaged petals.
and with every single stage of this grief
i'll have to move on, leaf by leaf.
and not a day will pass where this rose won't need her light,
but when i look up, i see
that i'll never leave your sight.
roses are red,
these feelings are true,
you are my moon and my sun
there's nothing i can't do.
despite the screams that play over and over in my head
despite the fact that i now sleep on your side of the bed
despite the emptiness i feel deep within my soul
despite the fact that our family will never again be whole
i am a rose.
despite it all, you nurtured a rose.
because of you, that very next morning, i arose.
your seed indeed:
a beautiful, powerful rose.
roses are red,
i'll always love you
i'm proud of myself
i know that you are too