Confessions of a shortie and why I hated netball

So here’s the thing. I’m five foot tall and I have been petite all my life. In other words, I’m short and small-sized – “fun sized” as I like to call it.

My mum and dad are of similar height with each other – medium Asian height, if there’s a term for this – although my dad’s side of the family leans on the shorter side while my mother’s side consists of taller counterparts. No prizes for guessing whose genes I followed. Luckily for me, this has never been an issue in my family. I grew up a happy childhood filled with happy memories children are supposed to have. In primary school, from primary 1 all the way to primary 6, I was always the shortest in my class (I should get an award for this). My 8 – year old self never had any problems with this though, primary school me was always a happy cute bunny where ever I go.

It was only in primary 6, when I was 11 years old that I started to understand the reality of being short and fun-sized. We had an inter-class tournament and my teacher would ask for volunteers to form a netball team among the girls. The best team for every class competes with the other teams. Now the good thing about being small is being lightweight thus possessing the ability to be more agile than others. Which made me generally like physical ed. classes and all sorts of sports as I can run and get away from people pretty fast. So happy cute bunny me put my name in without thinking twice (possibly forgetting the very simple fact that netball players require a certain height to qualify).

And apparently, I was told to be “too short for netball”.

Ouch.

I did the most logically emotional thing every 11-year old does after being told she was too short for netball (okay, maybe just me). Proceed to the nearest washroom and cry my eyes off. And of course, striked off netball from my list of favourite sports. I remember comparing myself to other classmates and wishing to be taller and then asking God to please add some tall genes to my petite being when I grow up. I remember that incident as my first memory of being “rejected” and the first time I expected myself to fit into the “normal-sized people” quorum.

Fast forward to now – some things don’t change. I’m still as cute as a bunny (please don’t puke yet, lol) staying petite as an adult. As a self-proclaimed shortie, there are some things I encounter. Shopping – long skirts and pants always require some altering. You’re always mistaken as a student if you dress casually and have no make-up on. People always call you “cute” which sometimes can be pretty annoying. Sometimes you want to wear black formal looking flats when you have an important work event to attend but you can’t because other people are always towering over you.

But what’s changed is that I don’t expect to fit in into any “normal-sized people” sizes anymore (what’s that anyway?). When I think of that memory, I feel a little silly and now I can laugh at my petite self in all good manners. Obviously netball is not the only sport in town but to my primary school self, it was one of the few sports I knew.

In polytechnic, I discovered my agility to serve me well in another sport which I have come to love – rock climbing. There are some moments in your life where you just know when something is for you. The first time I climbed a rock wall, I knew. That I was meant to be a rock climber. Okay okay dramatic aha-moment announcement aside, here’s why I love climbing rock walls. Because I was lightweight, I was able to carry myself up along the wall easily. Because of my agility, I was able to manoeuver the wall tiles from the bottom to the top with ease. Sure, if you’re a tall rock climber you may reach certain tiles easily when you’re on the wall, but I could always compensate that by being flexible enough to step up a couple of tiles without much difficulty. Rock climbing allowed me to see and use my strengths to my advantage, as well as trained my mind and body to work around my weaknesses.

The point of this story is that I eventually worked around my weaknesses and focused on my strengths. I learned how to sew, so I can alter clothes easily. I learned to dress up well, so I can look more presentable. I learned to accept myself and my flaws – and found myself easily accepting of other people along the way. I learned to love myself and be grateful for all my blessings. Most importantly, I learned that it’s okay to have expectations on something or someone or yourself for that matter but there’s something that goes hand in hand with your expectations –  when an expectation doesn’t meet your standard, expect yourself to let it go.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Great Expectations

Because the Night Has a Magic Peace

Ahh the golden question of all time. Early bird or Night owl?

As much as I would love and have tried to be an early bird, I would like to admit that I am more productive at night.

Because the night has a certain kind of magical peace that I love. This magical peace enables me to endeavour my magical pieces with a clearer piece of mind.

Unless I have an urgent task to complete, usually after my dawn prayers I am always stoning out in the morning. A cuppa smoothie, coffee or green tea to accompany me wake up my sleepy eyes and mind.

Ironically, I become an early bird when I am overseas. My body clock suddenly changes and I wake up at dawn never to go back to sleep again. Suddenly, everything appears more beautiful, more exciting, more spectacular when I am not in my hometown. This always happens every time, even if I have been to the place more than once.

Such is the irony of life. But what is life without irony? 🙂

Inspired by Daily Prompt: Because the Night

Hang in there, kiddo.

Dear 16 -year old self,

Currently, it’s been slightly more than ten years since you’ve turned 16.

So I figured I’ll let you in on some little secrets of what’s to come… 😉

And maybe advice you a little on things. Coz this version of you is wiser and has done a bit of growing up…

You’ve always been a late bloomer compared to your friends, and you’re kind of awkward in your teenage years, but that’s okay.

At the stage where most of your friends started having boyfriends, you wonder if you’re going to ever have one. Don’t worry too much about it. In a few years, he will come looking for you. And soon, you’re going to get married to him. God reserved him for you all this while. So chill…

You have a group of friends from secondary school that you treasure a lot, and I’m sorry to tell you that you’re going to be separated from them because you went to a different tertiary institution from them. But that’s okay.

You soon made more friends in polytechnic and found close friends you now treasure. And the old friends from secondary school? You’re still close with them, so don’t worry about losing them.

So you found out that you were the only one out of your close friends, who went to a different polytechnic. Don’t be too upset kid. Coz hey, that’s where you met him; at a band competition nevertheless. He’s kinda shy, and he’s very passionate about music. You don’t have similar interests, but you’ll work it out.

And while you hated being in Red Cross in secondary school, because it wasn’t your first choice CCA and you joined because of your friend, you became very active in polytechnic. You joined the Malay Cultural Group and even took part in a play as part of their Hari Raya Performance. Way to go! You also joined the Adventure & Rock Climbing Club and even went up your first mountain! You climbed Mount Ophir (or Gunung Ledang in Malay) in Malaysia with them. Way to go! See? You’re cool like that. 😀

Along the way, you found a special group of friends who were striving to become better Muslims when you joined Nanyang Polytechnic Muslim Students Network. Through that, you met some of the most inspiring people and you joined Saff-Perdaus, where you developed yourself as a facilitator for youth camps. You loved making a difference in their lives, just as they did for yours.

You’re not supposed to know this yet, but in a couple of years you’re going to lose someone very very dear in your life. If I could tell you one advice now, it would be to spend as much time with ayah, your daddy-o. Coz you’re going to miss him too much when he’s gone. But you’re a tough cookie and you can handle this. Hang in there, kiddo. Always remember that Allah will always be with you.

For now, enjoy your single hood. Travel. Get involved in awesome projects. Love your parents and treat them kindly. Create something. Start a revolution. Just be yourself, because it would be such a waste to be someone else. 🙂

Inspired by Daily Prompt: Sweet Sixteen 

2013 In Retrospect

13304-Don-t-Waste-Time-On-What-Could-Have-Been

Hello 2014!

2013 was a tough year for me, lots of tough love and brutal lessons and honestly I am glad to leave it… and step into a more exciting 2014 InsyaAllah.

Exciting moments await for me this year, InsyaAllah!

 

I would like to highlight a few things in 2013 that summarized my year:

  • Embarked on the chaos that is wedding planning. This experience has opened my eyes and taught me lots of valuable lessons of wedding planning and marriage, MashaAllah. It also made me realize that marriage is a lot of hard work. One of my favorite teachers and speaker, Ustaz Pahrol said, “Don’t find happiness in a marriage, instead bring happiness into the marriage. Happiness in a marriage needs to be built.” That is so deep and true. Very useful advice for a BTB like me.
  • Deciding to leave a place that was not doing any good for me in terms of growth and development. It was tough, but a decision that had to be done.
  • Being forced to face a situation whereby I was turned down by something I had been good at all this while. Or at least, I thought I was. It was a total bummer and shattered my ego. But everything in 2013 made me truly believe that everything happened for a reason – and for some reason that opportunity was just not for me at this very moment. I choose to see that God has other things planned for me instead of continuing telling myself I was not good enough for it.
  • Started blogging again by starting this blog! I started this blog because I missed writing. When I first started this blog, I had an editorial calendar to help me discipline myself to blog regularly especially because I had not been blogging for a while before that. I also participated in the Daily Post as well as Weekly Writing Challenges, and it has been fun exploring the world in words again. I didn’t expect to gain any followers, but it seems I did and I thank each and everyone of you for it! 🙂 It’s really nice to have a community of writers and bloggers whose intention is to write and blog better, be a better writer, blogger, photographer. But as you can see I have not been writing as regularly as my editorial calendar. Partly because I started a new blog specifically on my wedding planning, seeing that this blog is not a wedding planning blog but a space to practice my craft. Another thing is I have been spending more time off-line, off-writing online because I choose to concentrate on more reading (physical books), finally traveling out of SG this year (after almost a year of not traveling, I finally I went to Melaka and Kuala Lumpur recently, Alhamdulillah). I have also been just enjoying the moments and getting not too caught up with social media, except for posting some photos on Instagram. Just doing some much needed reflection on my quarter-life… I will still be blogging regularly, but will be scrapping my editorial calendar as I have somewhat got into the swing of things, or the momentum of blogging.
  • Wrapped up 2013 with getting to meet Prof Dr Muhaya at Seminar Celik Famili in KL! I am so inspired by this ophthalmologist and motivational speaker. She is just amazing. I went to the seminar with my mum and sis, and we were hoping to meet her personally after the seminar but she didn’t come out of the hall. Then, lo and behold, just when we were about to leave our hotel, she came into the hotel with her husband. MashaAllah it was our rezki! It was also a challenge to make the trip happen, but Alhamdulillah Allah made it possible. Truly, Allah is with those who seek knowledge. InsyaAllah, Ameen.

Since my birthday is in December, I used to make a list of things I did for the year in conjunction of the age number. So for example, “22 Things I Did When I was 22”. It was inspired by a fellow blogger, and I did that for several years and had a lot of fun doing it. However, as I thought about doing that this year I didn’t want my life to be measured solely by “things I did” or “places I traveled” or “things I experienced” which was kind of what I was doing sometimes.

Life is not just about “getting” or “having”, but it is about “being” and “becoming”.

I’ve thought a lot about how and what I want in 2014, and I’ve decided that it will be a year of taking chances, being bold, being loving to myself and the people around me, and being happy for no reason! This year, I want my happiness to be “Inside-Out” instead of “Outside-In”. InsyaAllah.

I hope you have an awesome year ahead! 😀

An Unexpected Companion

Last Friday saw me unexpectedly losing my 1-year old cat. My favorite cat, Kak Long. This one.

I came home after a long day to the news that Kak Long was found at my block’s ground floor, and that she was already dead. My neighbor informed me that the guys from SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) had done the needful and taken her away.

But this post is not about how she died.

It’s about how she became, unexpectedly, my companion. One of my very best ones.

Despite having had a long day, I couldn’t sleep. I kept expecting her to appear in my bedroom, on my bed, where she always slept. She’d chosen my room to be “her spot”.

2 years ago my brother had brought home a pair of kittens, a male and female. Somewhere along the way, they grew up and gave birth to three kittens. Kak Long was the first one out and we playfully called her Kak Long which stands for the eldest sister. Somehow, the name just stuck with her.

She was very active and the most adventurous out of the whole bunch. Always running here and there, stealing food and bringing it into my room. Disturbing me when I was eating just to get a bite of whatever was on my plate. Sneaking into the cupboard when I opened it. Climbing on the windows and so on.

But she happened to be my favourite. Maybe because we had some similarities, being the eldest and the most adventurous. And although she was the first one, she also seemed to grow slower than the other kittens who were developing faster than her. So even though she was the eldest, she was smaller than her younger siblings, which again I could relate…

And she’d chosen my bedroom, my bed to be her usual spot. Most of the times she’d relax and sleep in there, while the other cats slept in other rooms. Every time I try and pet her head, she usually never refuses, unlike some of the other cats. Maybe I was her favourite too.

Sometimes it seems like she knew when I was sad, snuggling up to me, comforting me in her own unspoken way. Other times she’d just sit beside me while I read a book. She had become my companion, greeting me when I come back home, accompanying me cook in the kitchen being a busybody and waking me up when she got hungry.

When she died, I felt a huge loss. I don’t feel like doing anything. I didn’t expect cats to live forever, but I didn’t expect her to be gone so soon. After all, her parents are still alive. But God took her away first. I guess I expected her to grow older, and then die of old age somewhere in the future instead of a sudden death during her adolescence.. That wouldn’t be as painful to deal with…

Non-pet lovers might say, but you have other cats… However, it’s not the same when you have a bond with one. Just like human beings, you can’t say “but you have other friends” when your best friend dies right?

Kak Long, you were more than just a cat but a companion to me. I thank God for lending you to me all this while. I will miss you dearly.

In time for Daily Prompt: Unexpected

Ignore the Notifications – Go Immerse Yourself In a Book

I get attached to characters.

I’ve been reading the Harry Potter series again and as I came to the end of the Order of Phoenix with Sirius’ death, I can’t help but feel very upset, even if I’ve read that years ago and knew what was going to happen.

I’ve been on a novel-reading frenzy these days; it’s become increasingly difficult for me to sit and read a whole chunk of paragraph from a book without getting distracted by alerts from my smartphone. Without needing to take a picture of something “interesting” as I am in the middle of reading a thrilling scene. Without needing to check “something” I suddenly thought of, or a word I don’t really understand. I used to be able to do this very well – before smartphones came ugh – so I forced myself to be immersed in a book I once enjoyed.

Ahh.. How wonderful it has been to be immersed into a whole different world, the wizarding world through J. K. Rowling’s eyes.

I still and will always love Harry Potter seeing that I just finished book no. 5, which I started re-reading from, and now I’m supposed to be off to the Half-Blood Prince but I can’t find it in my house, so I’m going downwards to the Goblet of Fire.

The experience of reading a book you enjoy is something that can never be captured in photos. Okay, so you can capture someone reading a book and enjoying it and it may turn out to be an awesome photo (bless all amazing photographers out there).

But the feelings that come with it, like Harry’s excitement of being in the stadium watching the Quidditch World Cup, anticipating his on-off relationship with Cho, annoyed as you the reader enjoy a giggle or two as Ron and Hermione banter yet again over random nothings, laughing as Fred and George played yet another of their silly pranks and getting Mrs Weasley all worked up, enjoying the camaraderie of being surrounded by friends (and enemies) in Hogwarts, and getting heartbroken sharing Harry’s pain as his godfather was killed by Bellatrix Lestrange…

These feelings (oh so many of them!), while reading a book – can’t be Instagrammed even if you want to.

I started reading Harry Potter when I was in secondary school, which was 13 years ago. Being with the characters, with their stories and happenings, their lowdowns and happy moments, helped me a great deal then. Many times, it made me feel less alone.

To a certain extent, the characters live through you. Sometimes, I think of the happy and funny moments and smile to myself.

When I think of my favorite books, there’s always a character or two that I will always remember. Non-fiction characters are not real, but they are inspired by real people one way or another.

When you read about them, you read about their feelings and experiences. You feel what they feel.

And that’s something you just can’t snap.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Snapshots

My Battle with Acne (I Won).

I guess if I were to pinpoint a fear from this experience, it would have to be an irrational fear of breaking out in cystic acne again. Because even though my skin has cleared up, when I breakout now I tend to get very paranoid. Then I take all measures to make sure it goes away quickly. (Daily Prompt: Fear Factor)

Like Tracy from The Love Vitamin and Jill who recently guest posted from Heal Your Face with Food, I am also a former acne sufferer.

My history with acne started from my late teens until in my early to mid-twenties. The acne was not just a couple of zits but it was the severe kind. If you have experienced this before, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, I hope you never do because it does things to your confidence and self-esteem. That was my battlefield during those days.

Currently, by a change of lifestyle and food and a couple of other factors as well, I’m happy to say my skin has greatly improved. It is not perfect and not completely “clear”, but I am happy with my skin now 🙂 I do have scars, but no more cystic acne and any kind of inflammation which I used to have previously. Alhamdulillah.

When I was in secondary school I didn’t have acne. I only had a few zits at my forehead when I was stressed. It all started when I was 16, after my O levels. Secondary school had ended and I was waiting for my O level results.

I started working in a factory producing spare parts for machinery. So I was part of a factory line and I had to wear a jumpsuit and shower cap, the works. I worked for 10 hours a day and we had to meet a certain target by the end of each day. It was during this time that my acne started to flare up. My skin started to get inflamed, I started breaking out like crazy and getting cystic acne (I didn’t know that was what it was called then) on my forehead, cheeks and chin. I reckon the heat and stress levels were the main factors that affected my skin.

I tried everything to make it go away. I relied on over the counter products like Oxy and Clearasil but it didn’t work for my skin. Benzoyl peroxide helped me dry out the acne, but it ended up making other parts of my face dry. At that time, I didn’t really know about moisturizers and what I know about skincare today, so I just did what I thought was right (but not realizing how wrong they were…).

Then I got to polytechnic and well, since my acne did not clear by then, I wanted to cover it up. I went to the nearest pharmacy and bought a face powder from Clean & Clear which claimed to improve my skin as well. Biggest mistake of my life. Okay, it’s not the biggest but it was not the right decision. Instead of improving it, it made things worse. I came back a couple of weeks after and unfortunately, the saleslady who suggested the powder to me in the first place, was not much help at all. Like, thanks? And for the record I never use any C & C products anymore. None of the products has ever helped me with my skin and never shall I touch any C & C products anymore.

At this point my skin was becoming from bad to worse. Especially at my cheeks, sadly. My mum didn’t know how best to help me and brought me to this beauty place called BML. I was diagnosed with oily skin and then that was when I had my first facial. “Painful” does not even describe it, it was excruciating. They recommended me some in-house products which I eventually bought and also made a second facial appointment. Needless to say I did not go to that second appointment.

Among the products, which were not cheap by the way, may God bless my mum, was this lotion that I had to put on daily. This lotion aimed to peel off my dead skin and had a peeling effect. The thing is, it’s not the non-painful peel-off mask kind, but this was really powerful, in a not so good way. It truly did peel off my dead skin, but I was still in school and walking around with peeling skin is not something fun to do. When I got home, I had to continue with the series of products. The face soap, which contained sulfuric acid made it more painful that I had to soothe my face in front of the fan to cool it off the first time I used it. That’s how bad it was. The products aimed to clear up my skin by stripping off all moisture from it including the essential oils it’s supposed to have. My skin was red all over and I was not feeling that great either. So I stopped using them also.

In the meantime I continued experimenting with other less painful cleansers such as those with salicylic acid. My acne started to improve in my final year when my father suggested me to try this cleanser by Herbalife. It had a gel-like consistency and contained lemon and chamomile which calmed my skin so much. My skin became less inflamed by then. And to me it was like a God-sent product because it was so good and it worked! My breakouts started to slowly disappear and even my cousins saw the difference. At this point also I had begun making some adjustments to my diet by drinking more plain water and inculcated it more daily in my diet.

But my diet was still not very healthy then, because at that point I didn’t know that food had a huge impact on my skin! I had been told it was hereditary and even hated my family a teeny wee bit for this. But now, I hate it when I hear that acne is caused by your genes and there’s nothing you can do about it. Because it is NOT! And you obviously and jolly well CAN do something about it. No grudges whatsoever towards my family now.

Even though my acne was still there but seeing some improvement, I had also started building a healthy social life and made friends through joining various clubs and societies. My acne was bad, but fortunately God surrounded me with awesome people. I also picked up rockclimbing and running. I read and educated myself on skincare and beauty knowledge and treat my skin and body better too. Alhamdulillah, my skin is happier now too I believe. Currently my forehead is clear, and so are my chin. I do have some scars on my cheeks but I no longer have huge breakouts. When I do breakout now, I know the cause as well as how to treat it.

Fast forward to today, I’ve learnt that having clear skin for me is a combination of factors. They are:

1. Eating the right food. More plants; fruits and veggies especially leafy dark greens. Less red meat, more white meat and fish. Smoothies work best for me.

2. Water, water, water. If your body does not receive enough water, it will strip off the moisture from your skin and that’s when you get dry skin which results in acne.

3. Sleeping properly. By 1 to 3 AM I must be asleep to ensure my liver is detoxed completely. If not completely detoxed, the un-detoxed properties will go to your skin, hence the acne.

4. Exercise. I rarely rock climb now but mostly run, jog and take long walks.

5. Healthy mind and healthy social life, being in happy, healthy relationships.

6. Last but not least, good skincare does help but most importantly be gentle with your skin. For daytime, I now use The Body Shop’s tea tree cleanser (also has a gel-like consistency which works best for oily skin), a toner with witch hazel, and a moisturizer with SPF. At night, after cleansing and toning I use tea tree oil to combat any breakouts (I still get the occasional breakouts sometimes but they are nowhere near my previous acne times) and Raspberry Roots Sleeping Mask (it’s a gel-like overnight mask) from The Face Shop. I scrub and put on a face mask once a week.

Wow, what a long post! If you’ve managed to read this far, I thank you! I didn’t expect to write this long but reading Jill’s article motivated me to share my battle with acne over the years. I’ve probably also cried as much as her too. I understand the physical and psychological effects that acne brings and I hope this has been helpful in any way.

This post is also inspired by Daily Prompt: Fear Factor.

How to Cope (and Heal) with the Grief of Losing a Parent

Grief.

What a short five letter word, but which carries a huge burden of emotions.

On 23 December 2006, I lost my father due to an unexpected heart attack. I was 19, and it was my final year studying in Nanyang Polytechnic. As he left very suddenly, my family did not have any time to prepare mentally for his passing as compared to if he had been suffering from any major illnesses. Death is like that. When your time on Earth is up, your time is up. As Muslims, Allah teaches us that death is inevitable for every human being and it has been written in the Book of Records (Lauh Mahfuz) the age that we will die and leave this Earth to move on to the Hereafter.

“Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere,”Al-Baqarah, 155

Accepting his death was manageable, but it was dealing with his loss that was difficult. To accept and redha with Allah’s qada’ and qadar is the key to dealing with the grief of a loved one’s passing. It is only then can you be at peace with the loss. But how does one actually accept and redha, and overcome this huge grief, all the while filled with the pain of knowing that you will never see this person again, ever..?

I’m sure everyone who has gone through a similar experience has their own ways of dealing and managing grief, but these were some of my ways of coping, grieving and healing as well as the lessons I’ve learned along the way:

1. Realize that death is NOT the end. It is only the beginning to Hereafter, and that you WILL meet them in Jannah, InsyaAllah.

We have been put on Earth to worship God and collect pahala, or rewards, and then return back to Jannah, our permanent dwelling place. So death is just the opening to that world, the place where we truly belong. The place where we came from. Heaven. Eventually, we will all meet in Jannah one day, so don’t worry about not being able to meet them anymore because you will, insyaAllah. This thought has comforted me a great deal especially at times when I miss my father so much. My father was a gift to me, but now Allah had taken back this beautiful gift because truly it had belonged to Him in the first place. Who am I to complain?

“So glory to Him in Whose hands is the dominion of all things: and to Him will ye be all brought back.”Yasin, 83

2. Don’t shut off from the world completely. Keep your support system close; even if you do not feel like talking to anyone.

I had a healthy social life but there were many times when I just wanted to be alone. I wanted friends to stop asking me how am I? I wanted to say, of course I AM NOT OK. But I didn’t want to be looked at pitifully as I already was. I didn’t want people to think I am weak. So I would say I’m OK and flash a smile. What I had done was put on a mask instead of being honest with myself and other people. What I should have said was,

“I’m not OK, but I do need to be left alone at this moment. Thank you so much for checking with me, I truly appreciate your concern. But at this moment, even I don’t know how to exactly cope with this so do give me space to figure it all out. I know I can always contact you if I need your help.”

I’ve come to understand that people will understand it if you are honest with them. After all, they just wanted to help even if they may not know how. Let them help you, in their own ways.

3. Don’t be afraid to get help. There is nothing wrong with you if you seek help for grieving. You are NOT mental.

Two years after his passing, I was at the point where I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was the eldest of my siblings and I was feeling very stressed with the added responsibilities. I felt that I had to do something about it. I had a family friend who was a counselor, and without anyone knowing at that time, I requested to see her. She recommended me to her friend, a psychologist and counselor from overseas who would be coming to town that weekend, arranged for our meet-up and even booked a place for the consultation. The psychologist, Hani, had me do some exercises which were very useful and listened to me objectively. Hani was such a warm person to begin with. I didn’t know how much she was going to charge me for it, knowing how much these sessions usually cost, I just left it to God and prayed,

“Dear God, I want to be a better person and be redha with your plans but it is so difficult now. Please make it easy for me.”

And MashaAllah, at the end of the session, she told me that I didn’t need to pay a single cent! Wow, truly Allah is the Best of All Planners.

4. Throw away your guilt and regrets. Nothing happened because of you, and no amount of “if only I had…” will help you with anything.

When my father came back home from work the day that he passed away, I was in the room using the computer and did not go out and salam him like I usually do. I can’t remember why but I must have been busy with something. Moments later, the Angel of Death had taken him away. I felt guilty and regretted not salam-ing him afterwards. But no amount of “if only I had..” will help you with anything. Realize that these are just the whispers of syaitan who aim to make you feel guilty and regret so that you are so consumed with grief that you forget about God. Do not succumb to the devil’s whispers!

5. Listen to Yasmin Mogahed’s videos and read this amazing article; “Why Do People Have to Leave Each Other?

Do not attach yourself to dunya. It is very easy to say that but Yasmin Mogahed has a such a beautiful way of expressing and articulating this. Reading the article, listening to her videos and audios really helped me lot in my healing process, Alhamdulillah.

6. Realize that your mother is going through this for the first time and sometimes, she will not know what to do.

What happens when you lose a father? You start to discover your mother at a whole new level. Allah says in Surah Al-Baqarah, 187, that husband and wives are garments of each other. They are tag team players in their marriage institution, they are supporters of each other, they complement each others’ strengths and weaknesses, and most importantly, they cover each others’ shortcomings. So when one of them is gone, the children start to see things in the other parent that they normally do not see because the other parent, now gone, does such a good job of being an excellent partner who covers up for the other. It was through this experience that I can see how truly what Allah means in the verse, MashaAllah. It is only natural that when you lose a partner, you will feel lost doing things alone.

7. Ask Allah to make you and your family strong. Allah is the Almighty. True strength only comes from Him.

This may sound simple, but many times we forget to ask God because it is so simple. Prior to losing my father, my mother lost her mother one month before that. Imagine the “bomb” she had to go through. Imagine the devastation that she would have felt. But Alhamdulillah, Allah gave her strength to carry the tests and overcome it in a matter of years.

8. Take time to grief, do not rush the process. Do not compare your grieving period with others because it differs and that’s okay.

I eventually took three years to overcome my father’s death, but it was only after three years that I could admit that it had taken me three years to do so. Previously, I had been in denial and thought that I didn’t need to grieve. It varies from person to person on the time it takes to overcome grief after the passing of a loved one, and the grieving process should not be rushed.

9. Your family will surprise you. They need to heal too, and they are what they are – human beings designed to feel.

I’ve always seen my aunts as “my aunt”, my uncle as “my uncle” and my grandmother as “my grandmother”. My father was the eldest among his siblings of five. He was the leader of the pack, always the organizer of events, the jovial person in the family, the one who would lead the prayer in family events. So when he was gone, even his siblings were at a loss and needed time to heal. My two uncles, sibling number 4 and 5, now had to step up and lead the prayers. My first aunt, the second out of five now became the eldest sibling. My grandmother, who had relied on my father for many things, now had to cope with losing her first son. As she was approaching the 80s, she was also sad that her son went before her. Through this experience, I could see them as siblings going through the loss of an older brother, and a mother going through the loss of her first son.

10. Keep the Quran close to you all the time. The Quran is a Healer, take time to read, understand and reflect on it.

Last but not least, never underestimate the healing powers of the Quran. It is Allah’s love letters to you, your Creator who knows every single thing about you regardless of whether you show or hide it. Surely, His words will heal you. He presents you with tests and He also presents you with the tools to help you pass the test. It is not his wish to see you sad without a purpose, but to make you stronger in faith. I shall end this article with one of my favorite verse, a beautiful verse from Surah An-Nur. Remember that grief, a time of darkness, is only temporary. Allah will get you out of this dark times and into His Light, InsyaAllah.

“Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp, the lamp is within glass, the glass as if it were a pearly [white] star lit from [the oil of] a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire. Light upon light. Allah guides to His light whom He wills. And Allah presents examples for the people, and Allah is Knowing of all things.”An-Nur, 35

There is Something to Be Grateful for Everyday

5 Things I’m Thankful for Today:

1. These kiwi and starfruit muffins I made today! Recipe from here, but as the recipe called for two kiwis and I only had one kiwi I added up starfruit instead. Yumz.

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2. My awesome 11-months younger brother who is my wali for the wedding. He’ll be sitting beside the kadi during my solemnization and although my wedding hasn’t happened yet, I’m just so proud of him now.

3. For having money. Just yesterday I after I bought a meal with my sister, I was left with no more cash notes. My brother then came to join us and jokingly (or not jokingly) asked me to buy him a meal. I immediately said, “I have no money” when in fact I should have said, “I have no cash right now (so I can’t treat you)”. He reminded me that if you don’t have cash, don’t say you have no money because God has indeed given you money, Alhamdulillah. Saying you have no money is like saying you are not thankful for the sustenance God has given you. Alhamdulillah for the timely reminder.

4. Applied for our marriage through ROMM website yesterday. Wow this makes it really real.

5. Last but not least, getting our preferred kadi to solemnize our marriage. Alhamdulillah. 🙂

Change is Good (Some Blog Updates).

change is good

Just some blog updates mainly for me (but which I have apparently wished to declare publicly).

Following up to my post on the direction for this blog, after almost a week of blogging according to the categories accordingly I find that keeping to a schedule is really effective for me and makes me more focused in my writing. It’s also been a lot of fun writing and blogging about the topics I’ve been wanting to blog about. But, it has also made me realize how challenging it can be to come up with new and fresh content consistently. I really admire those pro bloggers who do it for a living, man it really is not as easy as it seems. Daily Prompts and the Weekly Photo and Writing Challenges has been very helpful as well!

So I will be changing up some things here; “Smoothie Saturday” and “Spiritual Sunday” will be removed. I realized I did not find myself enjoying writing about smoothies as how I thought I would so I shall just let the pros do it (funny how you discover things through writing, gotta love when that happens!). I also wasn’t very satisfied with the smoothie I made yesterday so I’ve also removed it. I think I’ll just stick with Instagram for smoothie-related things.

“Spiritual Sunday” will be replaced with “Faith Friday” which will be replacing “Friday I’m in Love”. This means that I don’t have any scheduled categories on weekends, which is perfectly fine. I still aim to blog consistently but will leave my weekends free with no specific schedules (uh-oh, the job hazards of a production editor have kicked in, ha-ha). This blog is after all, supposed to be fun 😀

That’s it for now and have a great new week filled with lots of blessings, love and peace.