Name

I got to talking about names the other day. I’m very particular about my name, spellings and all. I have my father’s last name. People are surprised to hear that. I had a chance to change it, but I didn’t. I know my husband thinks it’s some feminist agenda to prove something to the world. It really isn’t. The issue is much simpler and much more complicated than that.

Photo Credit: Jayson Hinrichsen

For the first 14 years of my life, I didn’t have a last name. Literally, none. Whenever I was asked to put down my last name, I would simply say I don’t have one. Questions like, “what’s your dad’s name?” or “what’s your mom’s name?” Would follow and I don’t know what they ended up writing most times because I really didn’t want to concern myself with it.

Why I didn’t have a last name? My mom didn’t want me to have my dad’s name. She didn’t give me hers either. I was just kind of left nameless in their struggle to gain control and power over each other.

Finally, at the age of 18, I added my paternal last name. Nobody understood why I would do that either. At that point, I had not seen my father in years, and it seemed like that’s how it was going to be for a long time to come. I couldn’t explain to people that having a name you probably are not completely comfortable with is better than not having one at all. It’s better than no one recognizing you or knowing where you come from. There are a lot of people on my father’s side I deeply care for and love. However, this was the most important reason. Everyone wants to belong, right? Where did I belong if not with my parents? My mom had a chance to share her name with me and she didn’t so obviously I only had one option. Maybe it’s not that deep, or just maybe for a child growing up without being able to proudly say I belong to one family or the other, it is that deep.

Back to today; my kids ask why they are all Mustafas but I’m not. You are our family too why isn’t your last name the same? I give them the simple answer, which is also true.

I tell them, even though they don’t share my last name there is no stronger bond.

The complicated answer? My Parents may not have been the one to give me the name, or maybe they were. I don’t know what my birth certificate says honestly. I understand though that this is where my identity and my legacy is found, and my kids will know that they have a family in my family.

So yeah, we are a family. We are the Mustafas, we’re also the Akhtars.

Photo Credit: Jake Thacker

My boys need to know that. They need to create relationships and loyalties to that family and that name too. It will not happen if one of their parents doesn’t say it all the time. So maybe, that’s why I kept the name? Or maybe I’m just lazy?

A New Day

Hey guys, so I was going to just hit record and say all of this but I didn’t feel like washing my face this morning because its a Sunday, besides typing things without showing my face seems much easier for me. My face has so much that gets hidden behind the words that the camera just bares all to see. That precisely why I’m here typing/ talking right now to all of you. I’ve had a lot of asks to start writing about ”how to” kind of blog. People tell me to write about how to lose weight. Write about overcoming depression, and anxiety and living the life I do now.

They tell me to write about not being able to have kids for so long in a society where a woman primary function is to reproduce. I hear, ”give other people hope”. I really want to give people hope. In the process I also want to keep it real. I struggle with this every day of my life. The problem has always been that I don’t think hope is that simple, just like the struggle; it doesn’t just end one day. The fight doesn’t just stop. You don’t magically come out of your problems, and become this new person. If I say I tried this new wonderful exercise and lost weight and look how great I am now I give hope to many but it’s a false hope. I know the struggles, and fears I still have related to weight. It is far from over. Probably never will be. Worrying about weight, worrying about how people saw me, still see me, how their perception changes with each pound that goes up and down.

My Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a roller coaster. I have not conquered it. I don’t hide from it. I don’t run from it. Talking about it makes me vulnerable, and it sucks to be this exposed. I am fighting every day. I have not ”overcome” anything. When I’m asked to write about what I’ve ”accomplished” it feels like the false hope that’s going around social media with those smiling faces, smoke screens, if you will. We have enough of those. I don’t want to add to that. Let’s not even get started on the mental health issues.

Let’s be clear. There are some people who have been a very positive message of health an positive change, without them maybe I would not be able to get out of bed in the morning. However, those are very few. As a mom we need real. We need a call, a hug, we need a person we trust telling us we are doing great today and its okay to not have a perfect day.

Despite all that you can be honestly, truly happy. Sometimes not being that, just taking it moment by moment, day by day, week by week is completely normal.

Sometimes my messages may come out a bit too cynical but this is the intention. I’m just trying to tell people its okay to be normal. We don’t have to be overachiever every day.

Some days achieving is overachieving. We don’t all have to move mountains. Little pebbles is just as great. My pebble is my mountain. Appreciate.

Here is what I want to do: I want to be that person who creates the safe space. I want to be that person who shows people that their ”before” and ”after” picture will vary every day.

I’ve lost 120 pounds and I look like so many health guru’s before pic. It is heartbreaking at times but then most days I LOVE that I got myself here.

You will be beautiful one day and ugly the next. That doesn’t diminish you. It’s okay to want to sleep all day and want to change the world at the same time. Be human. Be you. Forgive yourself every day.

Updates coming soon.

#skindeep #asfarasclichesgo #iseeyou #beseen #justme #justus #allofus #afterall #lifeinanutshell #loveyourself #loveforall #unconditional #momproblems #momsofinstagram #parentsofinstagram #instagrammom #letsworktogether #beauty #smokescreen #professionalscribbler

Keep Smiling

Every occasion is special for a reason. We celebrate because there is something to celebrate. And then there are those who celebrate because there is nothing else to do. What of those? They are stuck between everyone else. Trying to find a reason to smile looking for a reason to smile because they are constantly being told they don’t have a reason to frown. This has been said, and this has been discussed so many times but has this been seen by those who need to see it? Observe it? Are you noticing when I tell you I don’t want you to tell me that, “everything is okay” because that’s how you feel? My loss is not the same as yours. My pain is not the same as yours. I can laugh with you, hell, I can even be happy for you when you celebrate, what I can’t do is KNOW that it will be okay. At least not today. I want you to understand that. Yes, you. I want you to know that. You claim to know me and love me, yet you chastise me for my pain. You chastise me for the lack of that smile on my face. You claim to understand what it’s like to have that darkness that eats away at your insides until it’s just a black hole but when I can’t muster up that song and dance in the moment, I need to work on my attitude?

I am selfish. I want to be selfish. Not because I don’t care, because I can’t care. Because that hole has eaten at that too. Trying to care is like spilling guts and blood I don’t have anymore.

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Photo Credit: Hipster Mum

Whew! That was fun.

Next time you ask someone to be happy and just take a minute away from their problems to live a little think about this.

There is so much more to say about this,  but this is no time for darkness. After all it is Eid, why be so Grimm, right?

 

After thought: There is so much that’s happening to us every moment. Our lives are being turned upside down. These things don’t disappear because it’s Eid or some other holiday we hold dear. In fact, these things are tenfold staring us in the face, and brighter because of these days. Please remember so many of us are going through this alone. So many of us are ”celebrating” without those that we have never been without. So many of us are trying to find our way in a new world with new beginnings taking on completely unchartered paths. It will take us a while to smile like we used to. We will all get there; we all need you to be patient and  remember.Remember and know. Be mindful.

Keep Smiling
Photo Credit: Vitaliy Lyubezhanin

Realize that months, years, celebrations, holidays all come and go but there are some things that cannot be altered, some things cannot be controlled. Human life, human emotions and  the fragility of human condition; be it emotional or physical is beyond us. Please give everyone, including yourself time to process and let it be. From those of us who face all of these every day, we are not trying to ruin your celebrations or holidays. We are trying our best to navigate our everyday life  that we feel is  slipping away.  Realize and remember.The emotions attached to traumas, life changing events, and mental conditions do not take a break for any day.

Happy Eid y’all!

The Social Brain Drain

Our big beautiful brains are empty; rather we don’t know how to use them anymore. I wouldn’t recommend using at least MY brain all the time because it doesn’t come up with the most intelligent stuff. It has its shining moments though. I’ll some of the greats someday. That will make for a real fun read. I just mean in general, as a people we are never just with our thoughts much these days. We are not exploring the depths of the creativity and emotions that is buried there. We have started to refer that to as being “bored” or “idle”. Our bodies and specially hands need constant movement. If that is not happening our brain feels something is not right with our body and we feel emotionally unsettled. I am no Neurologist or Scientist of any kind, but I do understand what I see and how I feel. We do it without even realizing it, buy products that will allow us to stay connected with everything all the time. We call it safety but it’s actually the fear of the unknown. We want to predict the future rather than to be surprised by it. Where is the fun in that?

The bigger picture that is probably more troubling, if we let ourselves think about it, is that we avidly believe because everything seems to be more calculated, and on our fingertips therefore everything around us is safer, is it really? Is it really any of those things?

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Photo Credit: Jesse Orrico

The way we use our brain is changing. The way we think we should use it and the way we were meant to use it have become different. There is a lot of irony in this statement because the brain becomes whatever you think and that then becomes the right definition of its function. However, if we forego uses of it at certain periods of time, what do we call that? I mean I know technically its not possible but practically it happens all the time.

I was in the dentist’s office. The procedure was not going to be anything fun, and it was lengthy, so I had put all my belongings away. Including my phone. During the process the dentist decided that we should take a breather.

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Photo Credit: Hal Gatewood

I was sitting on that chair, with 3 other people in the room and absolutely nothing to do. The first thing my hands did was search in my lap for the phone. I knew it wasn’t there, but I went through the motions anyway. There wasn’t enough time to actually go and get it, so I decided to just relax and go to my “happy place”. I didn’t know what that meant anymore. It’s not a world of dreaming and wondering anymore. It’s not a world where I create what gives me comfort as it used to. Now those free spaces in our minds are nothing more than boredom  until we can have our thumbs moving and,disconnect from ourselves and the people around us to connect to the world. I am absolutely not against technology, that’s my livelihood. Im against losing myself in it. Im against not knowing where my brain stops and where a machine starts.

Im against being around 3 human beings and still looking for a device to occupy my time.

 

The Endgame Thor is the mightiest Thor

SPOILERS ALERT

What happens when you’re grieving? You take a minute. You stop. Stress eat. Stress drink. Don’t really feel like going to the gym. Reality changes. Look back at everything he’s lost? He is real. He’s messy. He is absolutely fantastic.

After a long time the strength narrative was separated from the fit, and beautiful narrative. Actually not after a long time, but in after ever, really. Don’t get me wrong, I like my superheroes tall, muscle-y and iron-man, however, sometimes it does get tiresome for us, not-so-powerful beings to watch all that unfold. Most of their power is not coming out of their muscles. So, why do they need them to be so rock solid? Why does the Black-Widow’s teeny tiny waist always seem to be giving my buttered popcorn a look of disapproval?

Then there’s always the satisfaction of knowing that they are not people they are superheroes. Yet you know they are actors playing superheroes who are impossibly perfect looking in real life too.

Yep! I love myself. I love my body. I am a strong person.

Sigh.

I didn’t realize this was so much of the dilemma going on with me, and everyone else when we put these people up on that great pedestal. When Thor showed up on that screen with all his chub it suddenly made sense.

The separation of power and beauty; such a simple concept. Such a real concept. This is almost lost in our world. We don’t like to let people have any kind of power unless they pass our individual tests. Those tests are purely aesthetically motivated. Without any regard for human emotions and needs. This has nothing to do with actually having the ability to perform their jobs or having the right skills.

His entire time in the MCU Thor has been undermined by his muscles and abs. Wait, don’t come at me. Let me finish. He appeared. He was big and beautiful, therefore capable. Everything that he could actually do mattered much much later in any scene or movie entirely. His excellence was established upon arrival.

But this fat dude with a long beard, and messy hair without a care in the world. That guy who has been the hero, and is over it. He’s had everything, and lost everything. He’s all the buzz. He understands where power comes from. He knows its not coming from the places imagined because he has looked. I mean come on, he even got a haircut. He still ended up alone.

The Russo brothers did everyone a huge favor, on a global level, by showing us that one of the world’s mightiest hero’s powers has nothing to do with his body size. It has to do with his state of mind. The second he believes he is; he becomes.

Somewhere in the past my chubby self is very grateful.

Thank you.

The Funny and The Wise: All about Jeremy McLellan

He has figured out a way into the hearts of Muslims everywhere. Even more miraculous, he has made his place into the hearts of Pakistanis. That is not easy to do. He knows the difference between PMLN and TI (Pakistani Political Parties). That is something to be proud of. I joke, but we are a cautious people.

There has been a lot of buzz about him in the community. People couldn’t say enough good things about him. Every member of my family follows him. I mean EVER. MEMBER. OF. MY. FAMILY. I was the last to do so. Everyone was sharing his jokes, talking about how funny he was. Claiming that he is changing the face of comedy and taking it in a new direction. I’m always here for a good joke. I’m definitely here for someone who’s changing the discussion around us, and bringing folks together, but I remain wary. It’s easy to” discuss” however it’s really hard to actually “change”. What is different about him? Everyone talks about love all the good, hate all the bad. I hesitated, I limited myself to “liking” the few posts or comments that I read through others.

Jeremy has worked with non-profit organizations around the world to help people in need physically on the ground and raising money through his comedy.

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When we sat down to talk recently, McLellan said he worked as a caregiver, and a trainer for caregivers for people with disabilities before starting out as a comedian. Helping people is apparently a family trait. According Jeremy his brothers were in the same line of work. He started comedy as a hobby. When his comedic career started taking off, he started pursuing comedy full time. Only, he didn’t. He has his hands, and heart full of everything that matters, everything that is needed right now. Comedy is a very essential part of it.

“When I worked with people with disabilities, I had clients who were all different races and religions, including Muslim and Pakistani. I had lots of stories about my interactions with people with disabilities who were different than me. And when I started doing comedy about five years ago, I started talking about the stuff that I cared about which, for me, was religion and the differences between religion and sort of making fun of that but also trying to address it in a helpful way.  I think four years ago. It was right around the time that Trump started getting popular and the refugee crisis in Europe. The question of Islam and the West, I know that’s a false dichotomy, but that sort of thing kept coming up, and people were interested in hearing about it. So, when I was doing stand up and I was talking about this stuff, it all started going viral within the Muslim community. People started sharing all my stuff and then I got invited to some events for Muslims. In America, in the Muslim community word travels fast, so if you do an event and you do well, I guess they’re all in the same WhatsApp group or something – ”

We are, we really are.

Now, apparently it runs in the family, because according to Jeremy his brothers worked with people with disability as well. All I gotta say to that is; mom, and dad need to start teaching classes on HOW IS THIS EVEN DONE? Im serious, we need workshops, proper classes in schools, colleges, my house, on how to not divide the planet. Do we need to write a formal application? Let’s!

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BTW Jeremy has opinions about grand-parenting as well. His parents and parents-in-laws live just down the road from where he lives with his wife and daughter.  He thinks that grandparents make the best babysitters. “So, you can have a bunch of kids if you have grandparents [to watch them]. Instead we pay people to watch our kids and then we pay people to watch our parents. Why would you do that? Just have your parents watch your kids. Everybody is happier that way. We are very blessed to have a lot of support with our Jewell.”

What is this guy’s deal?

He’s an American-Christian stand-up comedian from Charleston, SC (thanks Wikipedia). He wants to, “Find a way for religious communities to live together in peace while disagreeing, and living out their faith in public,” as oppose to “everyone keeping their religion private.”

He also just started a podcast called ‘Holy Wars’.

The people that have been on his show so far are a Journalist for the New Zealand Mosque shooting, he is from Karachi and he writes for the intercept. They talked about the New Zealand shooter’s manifesto. He talks with his friend Sultan about his trip to Pakistan. In the third episode he interviews his friend Jibran who is a conservative Muslim Journalist, and writes for a conservative newspaper in The US They discuss Islam, liberalism and Christianity. In Jeremy’s opinion the podcast is talking to “anyone I’ve met who I find really interesting, and who I would love to hear more from”.

In his opinion, you can’t be a comedian, and not have empathy. That is a valid point. Their job is to get into people’s heads or their “world” to figure out what they would find entertaining.

He believes working with different kinds of people who see the world differently helped him. That gave him the ability to be able to connect with others on a different level. A lot of the people with special needs can’t tell you what they need so you have to figure it out through their body language or expressions. That’s a special kind of connection.“There are these moments sometimes when these clients that are non-verbal and they have these behaviors that clearly show that they’re upset. And you have to really use your imagination to figure out what in the world is going on. Eventually you figure it out…They suddenly get better, right? That moment is so great. You feel like Sherlock Holmes. Those moments of empathy and trying to get inside someone else’s world, those were always so meaning full to me and I loved it.”

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He should matter to us because we matter to him. People like him are very rare. When we find someone, who is trying to bring people together you stand right next to them and hopefully grab on, and do not let go.

There is a fine line between entertaining, and offensive though. We all have to know it; as a Christian comedian making jokes about religion, culture, and customs to a Pakistani and Muslim audience, McLellan really needs to have full control over where he lands. I can say with full confidence that so far; he’s doing a fine job of it.

 

 

 

What you say is inspiration I say is YOU

You know how you’re trying to sound deep and intelligent? How you wait for inspiration to hit you to write something great and meaningful? Some valuable piece of literature that, at some point in history, thousands or even millions will benefit from? You really can do it. That shit is real. It may not be real the way the world imagines it. It may not even be real the way you imagine it. That’s because you imagine it like it happens to other people. For example, not everyone wants to be recognized in the world of art, and literature. That’s just me. Your dream might be to better yourself on a more spiritual level. Same, BTDUBS.

You might crave to be a scientist who is good with chemicals and numbers. So not Same.

There isn’t just one life goal, right? My other life goal is to also be more aware of my surroundings. I’ve been at my computer for 15 minutes trying to type and was having quite a difficult time. Everything was blurry. I was thinking, “wow age is really banging hard at my door”. Then I realized I wasn’t wearing my glasses. Maybe I should also aspire for a better memory? Remember to be aware of your surroundings. Seems accurate.

Here’s what happens when you’re trying to *find* yourself and are trying to wait for inspiration to come and punch you in the face. Usually you pretty much get ignored.

I know. I know! Seriously though, I have been trying to write something. I have a bunch of unfinished articles. They are so good. But they are not awesome. I keep putting them aside thinking something will hit me that will make them even better. What is missing? What am I doing wrong? Is it writer’s block? No, I’ve been writing, I just don’t like what I’m writing. Maybe I need to try harder, work harder…or…maybe I just need to let it come to me. Let what come to me?  How will I know, that it’s here?

I think that’s what we call inspiration, in other words laziness. Although just recently I read an article that claimed that there is no such thing as ‘laziness’. That made me feel so much better about my life and life choices. That means what we call inspiration is actually running out of options and then bull shitting our way out of it.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I could get poetic about what is really going on. I’m pretty sure y’all know I’m not going to. Inspiration is just us. It’s you and me being too tired. It’s me decluttering my brain to get a decent thought formulated. Inspiration is you realizing that you are already a ‘scientist’ because you always knew your stuff. It was just a matter of getting out there and showing others. That push that we give ourselves is inspiration, muse or whatever other name we want to give it.

Yes, I am saying this to you. I am saying it’s a part of you and when you decide to let it out, it comes out and gives you exactly what you want from it. Until then it kind of chills somewhere deep inside. Since I now believe there is no such thing as laziness, we are just shoving this thing down because we are afraid, tired or plain old not sure of ourselves. I have said this before; I’ll say it again. It’s easier to say…I can’t think and I’m too lazy to do anything right now then to say, “I am afraid” or “I am tired” or “I am not sure if I can succeed and I’m not sure if I can handle more failure”.

When we finally realize that sooner or later, we are going to have to get out from under our own selves because there is nothing else left to get underneath, we kind of hesitantly get up. We start calling it inspiration. Not saying at all that it’s a bad thing. I am just saying it’s all us. It’s not something that someone gives us, does to us. We just figure it out. We do it because we can.

Sounds better than saying, “I had no choice man. Being a loser just isn’t working out anymore. I have too much debt.”

I have made a lot of major changes in my life over time. I know that most of those changes happen because I was desperate. I knew that I was out of options. People ask me, “so, what made you do this?” mostly looking for some profound response. All I usually have is; because I had to.

I’m told that my blog should be about how I lost all this weight, and how I’m keeping it off. The problem is, there’s no story here. I could make one up. Truth though, is that I got super sick and I didn’t have many other options. I could make a story out of it. It would probably even sell pretty well. It wouldn’t be the reality.

Full disclosure: Now I’m careful about my health because I like being pretty, and the fact that I can wear any outfit from any store. Also, the health thing.

Here’s my conclusion; we are always our own “inspiration”. That guilt we feel when we think we are not doing enough is useless and instilled in us by our damaged brain. So, inspire yourself and get somewhere, and if you don’t feel like it today it’s all right because there’s always tomorrow.

You know why? Because we are not machines. We are people. Brain needs rest. Our brain gets happy, it gets sad. It does not function the exact same way every day. Stop feeling guilty for having a unique day, each day. Don’t apologize for your humanness, take advantage of it.

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I fully plan to. I’m going to finish this piece. Then I am going to write some other stuff that I probably have already written about. My family, that is what I’m going to do. I am going to bitch about my family in my next post.

My humanness is my inspiration.