The Desire to Know Myself

We’re pleased to share a guest post from Sherif El Herraoui, who describes himself as a bipolar Orthopedic surgeon/Osteopath in training, and a Writer/Storyteller in a love/hate relationship with Cairo and everything else. In his post, Sherif shares with us his unwavering desire to discover himself and unearth those buried layers of the soul.

In early 2014, I was going through what I called an existential crisis, although some said it was merely a grounding problem. Regardless of terminologies, I felt completely lost and even got diagnosed with clinical depression. Instead of being medicated, I decided to start writing – after a four year hiatus – and joined a creative writing workshop. I thought being amongst other fellow writers who think alike would help me feel balanced and welcomed. And they truly have helped me beyond my imagination.

In one of our meetings, the discussion shifted to the realm of dreams: keeping a dream diary, receiving messages from the subconscious, and a whole lot of other dream-related issues that had never crossed my mind. I had never remembered my dreams or even realized it was possible for me. I knew some people who could, but thought it was just a gift I didn’t have. Nonetheless, I accepted the challenge of my fellow writers to write down and send over my first written dream by our next meeting.

I got a tiny notebook and a pencil to start a dream diary and laid them on my bedside table. With the help of Google, I found some articles about techniques to remember my dreams. I even got a white noise app and a before bed meditation app on my phone to help me set the mood and everything else I stumbled upon in my search. And by the end of the week, I remembered my first dream after waking up and wrote it down.

The whole process was a thrill to me during that difficult time of my life, so I just kept recording my dreams and substituted the little notebook with another app that shows me dream patterns after a while; patterns of dominant colors, recurring themes and emotions and people appearing in my dreams. Comparing my dream diary to my journal has led me to the discovery of a whole different dimension of myself I had not met before: my subconscious.

I enjoy getting to know my likes and dislikes, destroying the limiting beliefs one after the other, experiencing new aspects of life and accepting the challenges it offers. And it all started by the knowledge that there is more to me than I had already thought and an ongoing desire to observe and raise questions about myself and the world and learn more about it all even if I don’t reach definite answers. Nothing is finite.

This introduction to my subconscious ignited the desire inside of me to learn more about myself and embark on a self-discovery journey which has not yet reached its final destination and may never end, but  my journey has definitely  take me to some very interesting spots and I am enjoying the ride.

Lessons Learned from Starting Over

Today we a proud to feature a post from our writing intern, Nermine Mohamed.

I was never afraid of change or starting over. I love beginnings; the fresh, blank page ready to be filled, the glowing eyes, the perky heart, anticipation of what the new road holds for me, the chance to do it again and to do it differently, the hope and faith in a better tomorrow. I live with the “start over” button always ready to be pressed at a whim, on a hunch or simply out of boredom. I don’t settle or compromise in how I want to live my life, so I’ve hopped between different jobs, changed careers, learned new things, with different people coming in and out of my life, and I, personally, have changed quite a few times in the process. But with each new experience, I felt I’m getting a tiny bit closer to finding who I am, what I want to do, and the person I want to become.

Almost four months ago, I’ve decided I need a drastic start over, so I packed my bags and moved to a different continent and started school. Away from the life I’m used to and the people I love, I began to look at starting over differently. I’ve learned a lot about myself; my flaws, my strengths.

I’ve also learned that starting over can be hard and exhausting. Some days I go to bed weary and beaten up by everything that’s not working, by everything I thought would happen but did not. I ache from the bumps in the road, the disappointments, the losses, and I yearn for any sign to assure me that this is the right track. That’s why starting over means doing it every single day. With every morning, I must start over and I should never give up.

Starting over has also taught me to appreciate not only what lies ahead, but also what I’ve left behind; the little things I’ve always taken for granted, the family and friends who always have my back, the people with whom I’ll probably never cross paths again. Everything matters and every person I left behind was a part of shaping who I am now. Starting over means appreciating the “here” and the “now”, and the moments that led me here. I means telling people how much they mean to me, as I might not have another chance.

I’ve realized how blessed I am, and how I should be thankful every moment of every day, for all the second chances God has given me, for the new experiences and the new people coming into my life. It is important to be thankful for the hard times when the world was tight and doors were closed, and for how suddenly everything change and how generous and unexpected God’s blessings are. But mostly I have learned to be thankful for the little hints that appear every once and awhile that assure me that it’s going to be alright, that it’s all worth it, that starting over was the right decision.

Beginning My Life as a Christian Writer

Today’s post comes from Emily Hornburg, a Chicago native who moved down to small town Missouri to work as a youth minister. Her post talks about how she began writing about her spiritualty, and how she began to see writing, even creating, in a new way. You can read more of her writing on her website, Love Woke Me Up This Morning, or  follow her on Twitter @LoveWokeMeUp 

When I was in high school, I gathered up the guts to show a friend of mine my writing. (Who in fact, is one of the founders of this site.) I hate showing people my writing because I never know how it’s going to go over. Receiving criticism from a stranger is much better than from a friend whom you see every single day.

She handed it back to me and said she liked it. However… whenever I talked about faith it was stiff.

It was fake.


It just wasn’t good.

I knew this about my story long before I showed it to her. It was a truth I didn’t want to face. But wasn’t that what I was supposed to do? I was a good Christian girl and I was given the gift for writing. Therefore, I had to talk about God and Jesus in my stories!

Then my friend told me something, which has stuck with me ever since… and it’s nearly ten years later. I don’ t have to mention God in my writing for people to see where my heart is. Who I am and what I stand for and believe will shine through without having to mention the name or word “God.” That was a new beginning for me.

From then on, I’ve noticed this in all that I create. Whether it’s writing a story or a blog post, singing a song, or performing a role on stage. Because here’s the thing:  creating in itself is an innately holy act.

The very first words of the Bible are that “God created.” The beginnings of our world came to be because God was creative. He made something. He made it beautiful and honest and true.

Which is really what creating is about. It’s about being true and sharing the story.  Even if it’s just our side. It’s about reflecting who we are, and by reflecting who we are we are also showing who God is. Because he is the one who created us and gave us these minds with those ideas and these hands with those skills and that voice with that heart.

Creating, by simply being itself, is the beginning of something holy.

14 Ways to Begin a New Journey in 2014

Here at Searching Sophia’s Pockets we are all about journeys, especially global spiritual journeys that lead us towards wisdom and love. Here are 14 ways we have come up with to start new journeys in 2014. Enjoy and then tell us all about it!

  1. Try making new art projects… you can use paint like Yvonne, pencils, watercolors, clay or whatever inspires you.
  2. Write spiritual poetry like Brittany’s poem about the end of DOMA, or Seanna’s poem about loss and nature.
  3. Meditate on one theme all year see where it takes you
  4. Save 10$ a month toward a trip or pilgrimage
  5. Photograph things that are holy to you (Then submit them!)
  6. Start a mini-habit, like one push-up, or one page of reading a day
  7. Work your way through a spiritual text in a different language
  8. Take walks in neighborhoods that other than your own and pray for them
  9. Reuse all paper products at least once
  10. Take a different form of transportation one day a week
  11. Try out new prayers at your usual prayer time, like our prayers for last breaths, success and travel.
  12. Ask to join a friend in their type of worship and go with an open mind
  13. Ask a friend to join you in your type of worship and enjoy the wisdom they bring
  14. Tutor someone for free and see what you learn from them

These are just 14 ideas from us here at Searching Sophia’s Pockets…Leave your ideas for new journeys in 2014 below!

La Cocinera

By: Jenni Taylor

“Wow, your rice is really good,” he says, scooping up the last bits from the rice cooker before tossing it in the sink. We had just finished one of the three meals I was capable of making. I took the basic compliment.

“I just add some salt and garlic, like Deysi taught me,” I say. I turn on the hot water and begin to wash the pot from the rice cooker. It’s thick. “The trick is to always use a thick pot, the thickest you have,” Deysi had said. She didn’t have a rice cooker. Rice to her was an art, including thick pots, salt and garlic, low heat, plastic bags, and the right spoon.

Deysi was a Peruvian woman who had taken me into her home when it became widely known that la americana couldn’t cook worth a lick. At first I was embarrassed to go. I didn’t mind living off tuna and street hamburgers. But there was Deysi, waiting for me with my covered plate, determined to put extra meat on my bones.

I tried to make excuses during the week, so I would only have to go when I really had nothing. I felt ridiculous taking charity from a woman who had a whole family to feed, this woman I had met a church who always sat in the front on the right and spun to the music in her flowered skirts. But each meal was better than the last, and next thing I knew I was there, every day, 2:00pm Peruvian time.

Our friendship started slowly, cautiously. I would talk about my English students, she would gossip about her neighbors. I would try to wash the dishes and she would firmly push me down in my seat, refusing to let me help. She wouldn’t take money, either, though once or twice I was able to sneak it into her bible when she wasn’t looking. It took me a while to realize the most precious gift I could give her was time.

I stopped showing up for meals and began to show up while she was cooking. She wouldn’t let me touch the food, but would stand there stirring and tell me everything. When she was angry, she chopped. She would chop so hard and fast that I couldn’t listen to her words anymore, just watch her fingers and pray they wouldn’t come off. When she was happy, she would always throw in extra spices, and tell me their strange names in Spanish as long as I promised not to repeat them.

Some days, her family was there. Other days, they would come in and grab their meals to go before heading back to work, and Deysi and I would be left alone at the table. It was our special time together.

La Cocinera gave me family when I had none, and I was her daughter for a brief moment in time. She fed my body and soul, always whispering a kind word as she hugged me before I left, giving me bible verses on slips of paper with cartoon characters, and adamantly taking my side when I had been wronged. We cried together a lot, and laughed together even more. She was energy, she was life, she was strength and health and a bleeding heart still beating out love. She was my friend.

I still can’t cook very well, but I try to use the few secrets she gave me. A thick pot for rice cooking, and a smile even when life hurts. Salt and garlic, and some prayers of thanks. Turn the heat low, and life is going to be okay.

She’s the best cocinera I’ve ever met.

Sophia Sighting: London, Ontario


By: Autumn Elizabeth

Location: London, Ontario, Canada

Sometimes touch can be bad sometimes it can be good. A lot of times touch is filled with Sophia. This is a photo of my brother and I when he was about one and a half years old. I was talking to him about all the things we saw outside. I was teaching him, but he was also teaching me. In my arms he taught me about the trusting love of a child and showed me the wisdom of curiosity. Sometimes children see so much more of the divine than adults do.