Ride The Wave…High

Love of all things human is a curious paradox. We ignore people that are right in front of our eyes. Those that we want and value and run after the most. All of a sudden, we are consumed with that one we don't have that we were not supposed to have since they are gone. But what about those thousands and millions of people that we DO have?
We lose loves, people, and objects we care about because we are so consumed with something we lost that was not ours to begin with.

Photographer: Jurvetson

So let's keep ignoring and taking for granted the ones that are here; day in day out in the pits burning in hell for us while we don't even give a second look to them. So let's just keep wondering what could have, would have been while we have all these wonderful things that are happening right in front of our eyes that we are letting pass by.
Let's keep doing all that, let's see how many we find standing by our sides because everyone has someone else who can give them something we cannot.
I know, I for one am tired of being second in line. It may be human nature to want what has been lost. It's also human nature to know that you've got something special and sometimes you've just gotta hold on tight because nothing lasts forever.
No one knows that better than me.
Holding is not my best quality. I intend to take this lesson to heart.
Time to ride the wave…High.

Let’s Talk About You And Me

Let's talk about who is right and who is wrong. Let's talk about what we need to do in order to succeed in this world. What is the right thing to do? What is the proper way of living? Surely someone must know. Surely someone must have cracked the code.
Then I enter a room full of people piercing me with their eyes, telling me what is wrong with me. People who think they have figured out the secret of life. People who know how to live the perfect life and now they are ready to impart their wisdom on me.
This is the secret to life; everything that you are not, and they are. If only we understood it, this crazy world would make so much more sense; it would be so much more peaceful.
Don't you think?
I think so.
I stop. Look around. Do you see what this is? Do you understand it the way others understand it? Everyone understands it differently. Is it not true that my reality and my truth is different then yours. Then how can it be that my life's purpose is the same as yours? So, if my life's purpose is different than yours then how can I judge you on any action according to my purpose? How can I judge you according to the truths that I hold ultimate?
It's not fair to you and it's not fair to me either. Let's me fair to everyone, how does that sound? I like it when people are fair to me, and not so judgy. Don't you?

The Human Condition

My son's fascination and fear of animals says so much about human nature it's amazes me. Our fear of everything we don't understand. He's afraid of them yet they intrigue him. They interest him. He is in awe of them. He would learn of them and learn so much from them if only he didn't have such unfounded fear. Thank God for books, Am I right?
I make up stories and scenarios to help him along. I'm hoping that as he grows older his interest in these creatures will bring him out of the fear but his cautious personality and just in general being fearful of everything has taught him to think hard and long before getting close to or explore anything he doesn't understand.

It's not just him. It doesn't seem to be just my son. That is how us humans function.
Some would argue that if we didn't have the cautious nature, and that we didn't have the natural ability of wanting to stay away from everything that we find threatening and dangerous we wouldn't have made it as far as we have as a species.
A completely valid argument, none the less we have this fear not just for animals and for species that we are Unfamiliar with, but we feel this way about our own kind.
I'll stick with my son's example. He's a very cautious little boy. He will not eat anything he has not seen, touched, smelled and tested before. He will not talk to anyone he has not seen, met, and is extremely comfortable with. If you ask him for a hug, oh gosh…that is just the most difficult task, even for us, let alone for a half stranger.
When it's time to make friends he applies the same kind of logic. Be cautious. Judge, ask questions, look carefully, what is that on his/her clothes? Why do they dress that way? Look that way? I don't want this here? I don't like it. He is super picky. We all are whether we like to admit it or not. We want our friends to be like us. So we gravitate towards people like us. It's animals in a herd. All side by side in their own groups scared of the other, hunting the other without knowing why.
Oh did I comparing us humans to animals? How dare I?
Oh but I dare. Go to any "international" gathering and herds of international people being national. Very few minglers. You'll find them. Very few.
Awkward minglers I'd like to ad. I know, I'm one of them. You try to go around and talk to different people and you get *looks*.
Sometimes you want to throw in the towel and just sit in with your own herd but then I think of my kid and his fascination with animals and how scared he is of them. And how I tell him stories about not everything that looks different is scary. And that we won't know until we try.
I want my children to be explorers. I want them to have a variety of experiences and that's not going happen by me sitting on the sidelines.
Ah…did I just compare us humans to animals again? How dare I.

The Journey Within

It seems my weight journey is complete. Is that even possible? I’ve lost almost a 100 lbs. Today I got on the scale and I was at the weight where I had said that if I ever got to this weight I would stop trying to lose weight and just maintain it. 

Not much difference to be quiet honest.
I’m not one of those people who believe in following a “regime”. I don’t do a product type diet either. Eat or drink this regularly and you’ll lose this many pounds in this many days or weeks. No. I didn’t give myself any time limits. I just wanted to be healthy for life. That can’t have a deadline. I basically have a “till death do us part” type philosophy.
I follow many of these people who live their lives on those fads and diets. Or who are selling these healthy stuff; shakes, and other stuff. I mainly follow them for inspiration.
I’m the kinda person who believes in just eating/ making healthyish food at home and working out. Which means any kind of workout that suits you not the newest trend that’s sweeping the world today. Because not everything is for everyone.

A Treat for a Traveler

I love junk food so I give in. I buy onion rings and sometimes eat a little bit and hide the packet so it’s not in my view or easily accessible. Sometimes I buy so much junk food at once that it’s unbelievable that I’m only shopping for one. I have been known to eat as much as I can in one sitting and then trash the rest because I don’t want to be tempted.
I guess you can say I’m doing it the hard way. No fancy shakes or smoothies. No pills to curb the cravings. But if it’s not hard it’s not fun.
That’s not true. Hard sucks but hard is the only way it really works and it’s the only way it doesn’t come back because it’s a lifestyle change. You are not dependent on things that will break your bank or you for that matter. You will cook at home like you always do. And you will just learn to control the urges. Urges don’t go away. They come. You feed them. You just feed them 5 chips instead of 20.
Back to my original point; was there one? Oh yea. What happens now? I thought the world would change. Butterflies would be more colorful. Flowers would smell better. PEOPLE would smell better. I thought when I stepped outside the sky would sing the theme song of my life, which would be an uplifting and beautiful melody. I imagined me, always showered and in beautiful clothes. I saw myself different from this.
What I am right now is, me. Just plain old me. Thinner, plain old me. Someone asked me, how does it feel when people say, “oh my God you’ve lost sooo much weight we didn’t even recognize you”? It feels good. It’s a very nice feeling to know that I’ve done the unthinkable. What people thought I would never be able to do. I like a challenge. I’ve always kept people on their toes. However, it doesn’t feel exceptional. Like that’s my entire self worth. After a while I want people to stop telling me how different I look. After a while I want people to notice other things about me.
Because I feel great but I still feel like me. To you I may look like a completely different person but to me I’m still me. Sooo, when you tell me, “I didn’t even recognize you” I feel like I’ve almost lost who I am. Sometimes people who I have known my entire life don’t come up and talk to me because they don’t recognize me and I don’t bother “reintroduce” myself. Now, it’s just too much trouble. The fun of it is wearing off.
So the answer to, “how it feels when people tell me that I look good or that I’ve lost so much weight”. It gets real old real fast.
I’m glad I did it for my health and for my children. I’m glad I did it for those days when I wear size small and it fits. I’m glad I did it for that haircut that I could never get away with, with my round face and double chin. I’m glad for so many more reasons.
Always remember though, when you look in the mirror you will always see YOU. Nobody else will look back at you at any weight. So if you are looking to be happy. If you are looking for skies to sing for you then find that in something else and not in your ideal weight because here I am, and I want to keep going because those skies are still far from singing. 

Save Me A Good Spot!

Something’s happened. I’m trying very hard to understand what it is. It comes and goes in my head. And then it hits. It hits like a huge ice berg. Like both the titanic, and the iceberg have just simultaneously crashed into me at the same time.Zaydi is gone. I’ve repeated this so many times since the 3rd of July. Told people how it happened. He drowned. Yes, he didn’t like water. Didn’t like to swim. Respected water is a better word. Wasn’t afraid but just made sure to wear a life jacket or be prepared. For him to not do any of that, that day was strange and surprising. But I digress. 

I talk about it all the time. Zayd Mustafa is gone. 

Those are not just words I say without consequence, though. 

I remember my sister standing in the kitchen. Her water broke. We rushed her to the hospital. He was born. I remember being one of the first people to hold that tiny little creature. 

I remember him at the age of 3 insisting that he can “swim” when he couldn’t and slipping through my hands in the swimming pool and me holding him back saying “Zaydi you don’t know how to swim stay with me on the edge”. The irony is great in that right now. We always made fun of him for that. 

I remember when he used to come to spend summers with me; he used to bother me to no end with the aid of his other cousins. 

I would go to Pakistan, and I wouldn’t bother telling anyone but him that I’m coming because I knew he would take care of everything. That’s just the kind of person he was. 

Then he moved to the U.S and grew up. I think then we became friends because he became an adult. 

Weeks before his death my nieces and nephews were telling me that he is no doubt my favorite. His sister always said to me that I babied him. That I gave him too many breaks and I’m not letting him grow up. 

There is something I could not say to them in his life because none of them would understand. They would roll their eyes at me and say, “right, you just think that cause he’s your favorite.” He wasn’t my favorite, he indeed was a special human being. I knew it then and I am even more sure of it now. He had some really special qualities and not many people saw them. I knew what he was capable of. If given the opportunity that young man would touch the stars. These are not just words, people who know me and my relationship with him KNOW that this is what I thought of him and I would provide him with a ladder long enough to reach those stars if I could. But guess what? He got em. He got those stars all on his own. Allah never disappoints. He sees the worth and HE gives to those who deserve. 

I would get frustrated with him for being too kind to people who have been not so kind to him and he would say, “I understand not to get too close but I don’t want to be bitter and mean like them”. I cannot go over the list of things that made him different.  This is just one example, I could give many. I know that it doesn’t matter. What matters is that he smiled through any suffering and pain. He didn’t take life seriously enough to get him down. He always knew he’d come out on the other side tall and proud. And I made sure to tell him that I had his back no matter what. But he didn’t care because he knew that Allah had his back.

The boy is a son. He is not “like” a son to me. He is a son. I did not know it was possible to feel more pain than when I lost my first child. But here I am. When people see me with my two boys they automatically say, “oh you have two boys?” I nod in agreement. But under my breathe I whisper, “actually I have three.” Everyone forgets the third one who died years a go. That’s okay, it’s not their job to remember. A mother can never forget. Zaydi, you will also always be remembered. I will not mourn you as I am one of those lucky ones who keeps sending her children straight to heaven, no stops! 
He was taken to water, to martyrdom. Maybe it sounds insane to those who don’t believe. But to me, sounds like a good deal. HE took this sweet boy who was always there for others. Who never let anyone down. Who never disappointed anyone and in return God took him to the best of places. 

 Zayd is where he is the most important person now. He is now where nothing will be difficult for him. I know he was over whelmed and had a lot of pressure to do too much too soon. Now he can relax and just enjoy. 

My 5 year old says that bhayya is riding around on friendly dinosaurs and flying with superheroes. He even has a superhero name now apparently. 

Not having him around here is going to keep hitting me like a boulder but knowing where he is, is going to be a huge relief. 

One day when we meet him in paradise. When we see him in his garden with beautiful animals (can you tell that he loved animals) and everything that he wanted for himself. When we meet again with all of his family and friends, he will be with all the martyrs and Prophets. 

I think of the son of the Prophet(s). The original Zayd(a), how he was loved and cherished. Our Zayd is no less loved and no less cherished. 

We will always miss you but we know that there is nothing holding you back now.

Be in peace, be in love, be in happiness. 

No goodbye, just a, “see you in a bit. Save me a good spot!”

The Art of Forgetful Mothering 

Moms forget? Mom brain. Yeah, they’ve done research on it. Mom brain. Well, I have some research on it too on the account that I live it and I known people very close to me who live it.Sometimes we don’t want to remember. Sometimes we want to forget. Sometimes we want to forget things around us because that’s the only way to survive the day. We need to get things done everyday. Same. Thing. Every. Day. Every. Day. So yeah forgetfulness becomes a companion that we cannot survive without. 

Sure it’s part of who we are. Sure is part of our “science”. It’s also survival. We need it. Sometimes I need to forget the previous day because I feel like I didn’t do anything. I know I raised my children and every minute with them is precious. 

Right now they are playing in the rain and that is beautiful and breathtaking. But it will rain again in a weak and they will dance again the same way. That will be just as precious. Sure I’ll enjoy it just as much. But in order to enjoy it again I’ll have to forget a bit on how much work it will be afterward.

The clean up. The mud. The water. Wet, dirty, muddy children. 

Oh and one of them is scared of thunder. He plays in the rain until he hears thunder. Then the aftermath is a bit of hell. 

My happiness depends on me being just teensy weensy bit forgetful and spaced out. 

You can call it something from above or an act that moms everywhere can control. Or maybe it’s a bit of both. 

I say it’s a blessing sometimes. Sometimes we could use less of it I’ll admit but we couldn’t do without it either.

Ramadan: The Worst Time Of Year

Fasting and Ramadan is a difficult time for everyone. Yeah I said it. People will disagree. Even those who agree will disagree. It’s tough to try and keep up with your own expectations of your Emaan. Trying to keep up with your work, school and your expectations of who you want to be this month becomes hard. As you are motivated in the start, with time that motivation dwindles because you are more tired. Demands get’s higher.

I may sound like I’m not being super positive. I may sound like I’m not being accurate either because a lot of people are able to manage the demands and handle it. They are able to bring up their faith and get better at whatever they are trying to work on in their lives.

Good for them.

Let me tell you how it goes for me. It’s the worst time of year. Yep, I said it again. I know it’s not something we as Muslims are supposed to say out loud, right? Well, I have good reason. Those reasons are super valid. Let me explain. I love Ramadan. It used to be my favorite time of the year. Still is. I love being in the middle of it. I love being able to pray and take benefit of it. Just until a few years agogo I used to be able to fast. It was tough. I found it to challenging but I felt a part of something. I felt like I was doing something bigger than myself that made me stronger and proved that I was closer to my creator.

Than this invisible illness started to hit harder and harder. I couldn’t fight it as much as I could before. My fasts were spent lying in bed not being able to move because I couldn’t take medicine. Eventually I had to make the decision to not fast on most days. I still fast but it’s very rare. Now with kids its next to impossible because who is going to take care of them if Im not able to move around? If I’m not getting treated properly or not getting pain meds than the whole house is suffering, and I can be okay with my own suffering or even my husband’s but I cant let my kid’s suffer.
With not fasting comes the judgment, with judgment comes loneliness because no matter how much you explain to people what your reasons are they WILL judge you and cast you as less than…

Automatically you feel that your own self worth is falling. You feel you are not as close to Allah as you once were. Even though you perform all of the other Ibadahs (worship) with just as much vigor, if not more, because you’re trying to make up for not fasting. What follows is anger…because you want someone to be able to see, someone to understand that this is not a matter of choice. Just because you don’t “look” sick and in pain doesn’t mean that you are not. It is not about convincing people; it’s about stopping people from constantly giving you suggestions and advice on what you should do to “make” yourself better to be able to fast. “Just power through because they have a backache too”. Or “read extra Quran because that heals everything”. Chronic Illnesses don’t just disappear.

Ramadan worst time of year
Photography by : Filipe Ferreira

I have given up on all of it. I don’t talk to people about it. We just don’t discuss it. But inside me is this loneliness. Not because I an’t talk to anyone, because there’s a hush. I feel like even people who know and claim that they understand don’t really understand because they see me walking around and going about my day, and that makes them wonder. How can someone who looks normal and “not sick” on the outside be so sick that they cant fast? I get that I guess. If I wasn’t going through it myself I would pass judgment myself maybe? I don’t know.

What makes it difficult is the constant “lets try to solve your fake problems so you can go back to being a good Muslim.

With that comes the anger. One can’t deal with the physical pain along with the emotional hurt.

Since I have been dealing with this for years upon years I have found a solution for this.

One: no one needs to know. I mean not lie to people because close family and friends are going to know but this is not information that you need to volunteer to people. Fasting is a very personal act. It’s between you and your Lord. If your God has given you certain breaks why should you feel guilty for it, and why should you allow others to make you feel bad for it.

You have to fulfill all your responsibilities, or at least you have tried and you are constantly trying. You will keep trying whatever Allah asks of all his creatures in the Month of Ramadan. Keep that in mind and ignore everything else.

Easier said that done right? Right.

You hear all these people talking about how great everything is going to be in Ramadan and you are over here dreading it. Not because it will be terrible and you don’t want to celebrate it. But because you somehow feel like you cannot be good enough. That is because you feel like you are not allowed to feel your feelings openly. You are not allowed to talk about your feelings openly. We are suppressing our own emotions deep down because we are afraid to feel okay.

Im okay. I’m a proud Muslim who loves Ramadan even though I cannot fast.

No, you cannot help me fix my problem so I can fast. When you do this it makes me feel bad. I don’t want to feel bad. I want to feel good about this month because its just as much my month as it is yours.

Rant over. Im off to have a pleasant and fulfilled Ramadan.