Gratitude

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I give gratitude to God, my Creator and Sustainer; He who has seen me through my worst and continues to inspire me to do and be my best. I know that this life is nothing but a swinging pendulum of trials and amusement, and that true peace comes from surrendering to a force much greater than myself.

I give gratitude for a restful night; for warm covers, for my family (some who are right next to me, some who are far way).

I give gratitude to love; for the opportunity to love and for the privilege of being loved.

I give gratitude to my beating heart, my curious mind, and my working body.

I give gratitude to YOU. Thank you for taking the time to read my little ramblings, and for encouraging me to continue writing through your comments and ‘likes’.

I realize that this moment-my fingers on the keyboard, my eyes on the screen, the ticking of the clock nearby, the honking of horns outside, MY STEADY BREATHING-this exact moment is nothing short of a miracle.

What are you grateful for today?

 

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A missing child; a lesson in gratitude

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At 7.20am today, my 5 year old daughter went missing.

I was still in bed waiting for 7.30 to make its mark on the clock: the exact time every weekday morning when I wake the kids up to get ready for school. Anwar, my husband, who had woken up earlier to get ready for work, went into their room at 7.20am to see them before he left.

“Good morning, Muhammad! Asalaam aleikum.”

Our 3 year old gave him a mumbled response of acknowledgement.

“Good morning, Sakina! Asalaam aleikum,” Anwar chirped enthusiastically to our daughter.

Silence.

“Sakina, Sakina, where are you?”

Another echo of silence.

I heard the shake of duvet covers and a rustle of slight movements across the bedroom floor. The bathroom door opened and closed. I sat up in bed, concerned.

Anwar came into our room. His face looked all of a sudden tired, a sharp contrast to his upbeat mood from just a few minutes ago. I looked into his eyes and heard the question that I had just asked myself: “Where is Sakina?”

Worried, I shot out of bed and ran into the children’s bedroom. I lifted the rumpled duvet cover off Sakina’s bed. Nothing was underneath. I did the same for Muhammad’s bed. Still nothing. Anwar and I looked at each other again, confused by the alteration of events in our otherwise normal and ordinary daily schedule. We both ran downstairs, checking the nooks and crannies of our sitting room, then our dining room, then our kitchen, then our store room. I opened the front door. It was cold and dark; not the kind of environment that my princesss-y daughter would venture out into, but I  called out her name anyway.  There was still no Sakina.

By now, my entire body was trembling and my heart was beating so hard, I had to let out a loud breath of air just to calm myself down. I looked over to Anwar as we stood at the foot of the stairs and I could tell that he was about to be sick. We ran back upstairs to check again.

A thunderbolt of instinct suddenly hit me. I walked to the shower room and peeked behind the door.

“HAHAHAHAHAHAAHA” we heard the familiar peals of laughter coming from behind the door. “I tricked you!”

At 7.30 am, we found our daughter.

Anwar and I collapsed into a relieved heap beside the laundry. We hugged and scolded Sakina simultaneously, making her cry from confusion. She was not expecting this kind of end to her game. We were not expecting this kind of morning.

As we picked ourselves up and resumed with our normal schedule, I realised what a blessing ‘ordinary’ is. In an instance, everything can change and what once once ‘boring’ will seem priceless. I was reminded of this couple who lost their son to meningitis recently. In less than 24 hours, their 5 year old son went from being a vibrant boy to a corpse.  He was taken ill one evening and by morning, he was dead. I cannot even begin to imagine the magnitude of grief that family is going through and what they would give to have ‘ordinary’ back into their life again.

We may be creatures of exploration and new discoveries, always going after the glitter of new experiences, but our ordinary, un-glamorous, every day lives are what give life meaning. Look around at the mundane and give gratitude for them; those things that you see everyday that sometimes becomes invisible are the very things that you will one day miss.

 

 

 

 

 

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.* 

The Gratitude Journal

Ever since I was a child, I’ve always loved the idea of journaling.  The process of writing down thoughts, lists, memories, reflections, and inspiration in a notebook has always been both relaxing and fascinating to me, but my journal writing has always been sporadic. I’d write for a few days, then forget to write and before I know it, months have passed since my last entry.
I recently read about a 30 day gratitude journaling challenge. This kind of journaling involves writing about only the things that you are grateful for for an entire month. Having done my fair share of research on the benefits of expressing gratitude, I eagerly took this challenge on. I’m almost 3 weeks into the challenge and I can confidently say that it has already had a positive impact in my life. I find that I now react to challenging situations with a more optimistic attitude. My mental shift from noticing blessings instead of obstacles has also made my life feel more richer than before even though my material wealth has not increased.  I feel generally more content and peaceful. I am a happier person.
Here are some tips for those of you who are interested in keeping a gratitude journal:
1. Choose a routine that works best for you: I love journaling at night right before I go to bed because it is quiet and I can reflect on the day’s events. Your best time of the day might be different. Try to figure out when you are most at peace.
2. Include details: Write about the things that have impacted you no matter how minor they may seem.
3. Acknowledge the negative: It’s not just about rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes the dark moments are opportunities to grow.
4. Shift your perspective: Dirty dishes in the sink also means that you’ve had a meal and a place to call home.
5. Don’t force feelings: You don’t have to have grandiose declarations. Some days simply being grateful for your breathe is good enough.