Meditations on joy

“In my own worst seasons I’ve come back from the colorless world of despair by forcing myself to look hard, for a long time, at a single glorious thing: a flame of red geranium outside my bedroom window. And then another: my daughter in a yellow dress. And another: the perfect outline of a full, dark sphere behind the crescent moon. Until I learned to be in love with my life again. Like a stroke victim retraining new parts of the brain to grasp lost skills, I have taught myself joy, over and over again.”
—Barbara Kingsolver, High Tide in Tuscon

*I took this picture during one of my daily walks recently. I give gratitude to  nature for reminding me time and time again of the privilege of being alive.* 

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Don’t be distracted by the dream

“Since “The Dream” was not the topic of the speech, it is incumbent upon us to stop, each January, being distracted by “The Dream” and return to the real topic of the speech that more accurately reflects the life and legacy of Dr. King. Dr. King was not a dreamer. He was a confronter. He did not live his life dreaming of a utopian world free from oppression. He lived his life – and lost it – confronting a cruel world inherently oppressive. And if we are to take up his mantle and move forward we must stop dreaming about the cessation of social injustice and start confronting and conquering the root causes of it.”

insightsfromglennsilver

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God willing, tomorrow, January 15, 2018, we will celebrate the date of birth, life, and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Many of those celebrations will focus on or mention his August 28, 1963, famous “I Have A Dream” speech in which he stated:

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression will be transformed into an oasis of freedom…

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3 things I loved this week

1. A podcast interview with Daniel Kahneman, Nobel winner and writer of the best-selling book ‘Think fast and slow’. I found out that I have an optimism bias.

2. This quote featured on my favorite blog, Cup of Jo: “When choosing a long-term partner… you will inevitably be choosing a particular set of unsolvable problems that you’ll be grappling with for the next ten, twenty or fifty years.” Dan Wile

3. This greenhouse: My sister’s workplace set up a greenhouse where employees can enjoy some greenery, do yoga, and meditate. It’s even got a cute little turtle!

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What things did you enjoy this week?

 

 

Habits: It’s all or nothing

I’ve been reading Gretchen Rubin’s book ‘Happier at Home’ in little snippets whenever I can find pockets of time enough to accommodate a paragraph or two. The book is generally a very easy read and I glossed over some parts but something that caught my eye was this:

““I’m not tempted by things I’ve decided are off-limits, but once I’ve started something, I have trouble stopping. If I never do something, it requires no self-control for me; if I do something sometimes, it requires enormous self-control.”

She either does something consistently, or doesn’t do it at all. She offers an example of junk food: she just chooses not to eat it. Deciding cut-off points and limits is just too burdensome a decision for her. Another example that she gives is exercise: carving out a schedule of working out a few days a week is a sure recipe for inconsistency, and therefore, failure. What is almost foolproof is simply committing to exercising every single day, preferably setting a routine to do an activity (such as walking) daily, preferably at the same time and in the same way.

I get it.

How many times have I whipped out my calendar and set up timetables for exercising, meditating, drinking water, writing, etc etc, all for them to fail within a week of two? I always feel terrible about not sticking to my timetables.  On the other hand, I have been walking my kids to school (and back) everyday for the past few months without penciling in ‘exercise’ into my calendar. This is just something that I do routinely everyday.  I don’t have to think about it as exercise (even though it is) and I don’t have this cloud of guilt hanging over my head for a task not accomplished. Walking is not a chore anymore, it’s a habit. I feel better now than I have felt in a long time, all from a simple act of consistency.

What about you…..What do you want to do consistently to develop it into a habit?

 

Happy birthday, Hamza

It’s my son’s 11th birthday today.

I am happy.

and sad…..

Happy to have given birth to a kind, loving, and beautiful young man but sad that I cannot hold him in my arms on this special day.

I know that one day we will be together again but until that day arrives, I can only shield him with my prayers and hug him from so far away.

Hamza, my Pumpkin, you (and your brother) are the love of my life, the reason for my smile, the source of my hope. I love you more than life itself and I will always carry you in my heart every second, of every minute, of every hour of every day, till my last day on earth.

Happy birthday, Hamza. I wish you a wonderful new year filled with bright new adventures.  May Allah guide you always with His infinite light.

 

Book review: The White Elephant

by Aishah Adams

white elephant

by Aishah Adams, published House of Ganiyah LLC (18 Sept. 2016)

Available on Amazon.

Chai rating: 4.5 out of 5 cups


Practical, insightful, and wise, The White Elephant is an essential read for anyone who is looking into settling into marriage or is going through a divorce. The author, a Public Health Consultant and Personal Development Coach, is herself a divorcee. She addresses and examines the mistakes that she made in her own personal marriage journey and uses them to teach others how to avoid them. Using the teachings from the Quran and the Hadith as foundation for her writing, Ms. Adams provides compelling arguments on how to navigate marital relationships complicated by extended families and culture in the 21st century.

The book is broken down into 3 distinct parts. The first part addresses what too look for in a spouse and the things to consider when you are ready for marriage. The second part talks about the realities of a marriage: the day to day issues such as sex and communication , dealing with in-laws, and defining your identity within a relationship. The third part, which is is a personal big one for me because it was so painful, is divorce. It discusses complex questions such as how to know when to call it quits, how to manage societal expectations and judgements, and how to manage yourself when your marriage ends.

Finally the book addresses domestic abuse within the Islamic context, an issue that I feel is not spoken about enough within Muslim communities. The author makes a strong case for identifying, and leaving, abusive marriages.

“When you stay on in an abusive relationship – whether verbally, emotionally, or physically abusive – it’s almost as though you are teaching those around you to embrace the oppression, especially when there are children present.”

This section also includes interviews from real-life women who share their post-divorce experiences so that readers may learn them.

The Good

Many relationship books that I have read in the past have in addressed relationships in broad, universal, all-encompassing terms and theories.  This book, however, is written specifically for the Muslim woman (and man) in mind.

Islam places a huge emphasis on marriage and many young adults, in their zeal to want to be good Muslims, rush into marriage without examining a marriage prospect carefully and thoroughly for compatibility. It is not uncommon for some to agree to get married on the just the fact that both partners are practicing Muslims who pray and fast. The White Elephant argues for the contrary: that a study of personal characteristics and personal lifestyles and goals of potential spouses are actually in line with Islamic teachings:

And of His signs is that He created you from dust; then, suddenly you were human beings dispersing [throughout the earth].”(Quran)

“It is from His signs and it is important that you cohabit in love and mercy with the person you choose to spend the rest of your life with as explained by this verse. At this point, you’d probably wonder why do we then have so much rancour going on in our marriages today? Why has there been an increase in rates of divorce in our communities today? While it could be a consequence of our straying away from purpose-filled unions, I believe it goes back to a lack of adequate preparation for the journey ahead, which then results in avoidable turbulence, which sometimes leads us to call it quits instead of retracing our steps to continue the journey on a stronger footing. ” 

Why I didn’t give it 5 stars:

The book is so beneficial to anyone who is contemplating marriage or divorce but because it uses Arabic heavily when referencing to the the Quran and the Hadith, I feel like it may not feel as relevant (or useful) to non-Muslims. Perhaps a glossary of terms explaining Arabic words and phrases and Quranic principles would given it more appeal to a wider global readership.

Would I recommend it? Absolutely! I remember talking to a young Catholic couple years back when I was in university who were about to be married. I  was absolutely fascinated when they told me that their priest wouldn’t marry them until they finished taking mandatory pre-marital counseling classes.  This book is the pre-marital counseling class that I always wish my own local Muslim community had.

My favorite quote:

Do not be fooled by a ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude. Dig deep so you can uncover what
is really in the parcel and not what the cover of the parcel tells you is in it. How many times have you bought a box of an item with the colour of the item in the box being
different from the colour of the item displayed on the cover of the box?

Have you read this book? What do you think of it? Have you read a similar book that you would like to share?

“I made this call to my mom and I was like, I’m coming back….no, I don’t have a job but maybe I need to be back home for the job to find me”

160825114255-cnn-hero-umra-omar-profile-pkg-00000520-super-169Umra Omar, a native of Lamu, Kenya, works to provide access to healthcare to some of the most marginalized communities in Kenya. Her group, Safari Doctors, offers life-saving medical services to people that would have otherwise have had none.  It is also often targetted by the terrorist group, Al Shabaab.

Does she have any regrets leaving her comfortable life in the USA to do this?

“I have absolutely zero regrets for taking the leap of faith. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”

Watch more…

http://edition.cnn.com/video/api/embed.html#/video/world/2016/08/25/cnn-hero-umra-omar-profile-pkg.cnn

(photo credits: CNN)