Directing A Direction For My Blog

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Lately I’ve been thinking about the direction of my blog. My previous blogs used to be just a random story-of-my-life kinda thing, but I want to make this blog less random and more intentional. I find myself thinking of these questions.

Do I want it to be a documentation of my day to day life happenings? Do I want it to be just a space to practice my writing? Or a travel journal? Of my wedding-related happenings? Or a tool to share knowledge and information? I do know that I want to write about all of them; with blessings and gratitude as the central theme among it all but without sounding all over the place. Having worked in the content department in the publishing industry where everything follows a specific schedule, I have decided to similarly categorize these happenings into weekly blog entries:

Makeful Monday: Starting off the week with making full use of usually dreary Mondays with any “make or create” related entries. Includes pretty crafty stuff.

Travel Tuesday: Adventure and travel posts, including inspiring future travels.

Wedding Wednesday: Wedding plans related blog entries. 5 months to the big day!

Thankful Thursday: My Gratitude Journal will fall under here. Weekly collection of thanks.

Friday I’m in Love!: Favourite day of the week! Anything and everything will fall under this.

Smoothie Saturday: Several months ago I started making and drinking green smoothies and I saw an improvement in my skin (I used to have bad acne in my teen years, although now it has subsided I still get the occasional acne and after drinking green smoothies it seems my acne has stabilized, so yey!). Following Simple Green Smoothies helps a lot! Also will include any running or exercise-related entries to motivate me to work out.

Spiritual Sunday: A wrap-up of the weekly classes I go to as well as any reflective entries about Islam and life in general.

These categories are just a guide for me to have daily blog entries, but will not be restrictive. I’m still experimenting here and someday would love to have a full-fledged online publication covering an array of topics be it broad or niche. I will still use the awesome Daily Prompts and Weekly Challenges as they stretch my mind to think of new ways to write and explore.

Here’s to a new beginning (and praying for consistency)!

Recognize your Blessing & Choose to Be Happy.

The recognition of blessing uplifts us. It pulls us away from our pain and puts us in perspective. Think bigger, choose happiness.

I had just blogged about gratitude yesterday and in today’s “Don’t Be Sad” class, my teacher shared with us this quote about blessings. Sometimes we are so lost in our pain that we don’t see the good things that will come out of the adversity. And we also miss out on seeing the blessings that God has presented us in and around the tests itself. Of course, it is easier said than done and for me, it is always after the test is over that I begin to fully see what was the meaning behind all the tears and heartbreak. This quote reminds me to choose to see the blessings inside of the adversity, to be bigger than the pain, because I am bigger than my problems!

*Don’t Be Sad (or La Tahzan) is a class based on the book of a similar title by Dr. ‘Aidh bin Abdullah Al-Qarni. It is conducted in English Language by Ustaz Saifurrahman at Wisma Indah every Tuesday night for 3 months.

Today, I am thankful for…

blessings

I’ve been feeling a mix of high-lows lately, and I wanted to bring myself back to the ground, the present. I don’t know how many times I do a compare-contrast to other people whose lives have been created differently from me and seeing them all successful does not make me un-successful. But yes, I do that on a regular basis, (no) thank you very much. And sometimes in doing that, I forget about my blessings.

I am choosing to declare and list down 5 of my blessings in a newly found gratitude journal at a section of this blog. Because Allah says so, to speak and share of our blessings! 🙂

So for today, I am thankful for:

  1. The hot water showering me after a long day at work
  2. Receiving a card from my colleagues
  3. A sumptuous peri-peri lunch at Nando’s!
  4. Watching “Good Doctor” on KBS World (and admiring Joo Won haha)
  5. Feeling thankful my 3rd teenage cat came back after a day of MIA

Yey for today’s blessings! May my eyes see more of my life’s blessings rather than the things I don’t have.

count blessings not heartaches

One Last Salam

The night my dad passed away, I was using the computer in my brother’s room.

I heard the usual turn of keys at the door lock, and my dad entering the house. It was 11pm and he’d just came back from work. Usually I would go out and salam his hand (kind of like a handshake, but an informal one, something you do out of respect and something I’ve always done with my parents) but that night, for some reason I did not. I continued using the computer. I can’t even remember if I acknowledged him or not.

A couple of minutes (or maybe more) later, in a panicked voice, my mum called me and both of my siblings.

I went into my parents’ room to find my father in his last few moments of life.

He’d had a sudden heart attack and the impact was immediate. He was 47 and does not have a history of heart illness. But he was, a smoker. And several years ago, my granddad too had passed on due to the same cause of sudden heart attack at 63 years old. When something is meant to happen, nothing can stop it from happening.

It has been seven years since his passing. I miss him everyday.

If time were to have stood still, I would rewind it to the moments before God took him back. I would get my butt out of my computer chair, out of my brother’s room and salam his hand. Or maybe give him a hug. Who knew it would have been the last one I would ever have?

For now.

I’ve grieved enough Alhamdulillah and I can honestly say I don’t regret or feel guilty about it. Regret and guilt is something no one should ever have to live with. I don’t wish for things to be different, but I do think about it sometimes. Those everyday moments we tend to take for granted.

Till then, I look forward to the day I meet him in Paradise where I’ll run up to my father excitedly, salam his hand and embrace him with a big, long hug. I am thankful for this life is not permanent and a better life awaits us. Perhaps in Paradise, insyaAllah. If God wills. Janji Allah itu pasti.

“Is not He Who created the heavens and the earth able to  create the like thereof?” – Yea, indeed! for He is the Creator Supreme, of skill and knowledge (infinite)! Verily, when He intends a thing, His Command is, “be”, and it is! So glory to Him in Whose hands is the dominion of all things:  and to Him will ye be all brought back.” Surah Yaseen, 81 – 83

Inspired by today’s Daily Prompt: Standstill

Hati

Sudah menjadi fitrah manusia untuk mencari tuhan.

Seperti sudah menjadi fitrah anak kecil mencari ibu bapanya.

Hati ini diciptakan untuk mencintai Tuhannya. Sebab itu hati ini akan sedih, runsing dan tidak tenang jika ia mencintai yang lain selain Allah.

Kasihan hati ini, ia cenderung melakukan yang baik tetapi tidak kau pedulikan harapannya.

Kasihan hati ini, selalu dikalahkan oleh hawa nafsu, ego dan perasaan negatif.

Sungguh terpelihara hati ini. Syaitan hanya boleh membisik pada ruang hati ini, tetapi tidak boleh memasukinya andai tidak diberi izin.

Sungguh suci hati ini. Tetapi jika kau membenarkan hawa nafsu, ego dan perasaan negatif memasukinya ia akan menjadi kotor, berdebu, dan hitam.

Jagalah hati ini. Kerana kebersihan hati tiada bandingannya. Kelakuan seseorang mencerminkan kesucian hatinya.

Jika bersih hatinya maka baiklah amalan-amalannya. Tetapi jika hati ini tidak suci, maka tidak baiklah amalan-amalannya.

Peliharalah kesucian hati ini, cintailah Tuhan hati ini, Tuhan Yang Mencipta.

Tuhanku, Tuhanmu, Tuhan semesta alam.

*

Notes:

Hati: “Heart” in Malay.

Inspired by Hadith 6 in 40 Hadith Nawawi

A Tribute to Criticism

Daily Prompt: Thank You

The internet is full of rants. Help tip the balance: today, simply be thankful for something (or someone).

Criticism. I have always had a love-hate relationship with criticism (leaning more towards the hate).

When it comes to compliments, you can see me smiling the whole day thinking of it. Likewise when it comes to being criticized, my whole day goes by with that criticism in mind.

Lately however, it seems that the All-Knowing has been trying to tell me to suck it up, accept it, be OK with it and rise above the criticism.

I know these criticisms only serve to make you better, but why does it have to be so painful?

Because the best lessons come from the most painful experiences.

And sometimes only through painful experiences do we get closer to Him.

Allah has mentioned this in surah An-Nahl, verse 53: “And whatever you have of favor – it is from Allah. But only when adversity touches you, to Him you cry for help.”

However, something interesting happened through these criticisms. Something magical started to unveil. It made me think of my strengths, and that I should go ahead with the fitrah that Allah has guided me through. At least, when you are criticized for following your fitrah, you are standing for something.

“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” – Winston Churchill.

Like my ustadh in my Tuesdays “Don’t Be Sad” class (based on the book of a similar title) says, “We can view criticisms positively as a way to improve ourselves. In our distractions, Allah sends others as reminders.”

And last but not least, Aristotle said, “Criticism is something you can avoid easily – by saying nothing, doing nothing and being nothing.”

So to Criticism, I don’t necessarily like you, but I thank you.

Solace at Holland Village Mosque

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I’m going to miss this mosque.

At the end of this year, the mosque is going to be demolished as it is not renewing its yearly lease. The mosque has been on a lease renewal basis for the past ten years. (For more details on this mosque and its recent developments, read Fadhuli Taufek’s post on his trip to the mosque).

What this mosque means to me

I’ve heard of the mosque (masjid in Malay) before, but never really knew where it was and never really bothered to find out, until I started working in Buona Vista area two years ago. I was also expecting a prominent building when I was looking for the masjid but was surprised to see a tiny little mosque tucked near the carpark area. I was like, whoa. There is actually a mosque. Here. In this place surrounded by restaurants and bars.

Solace in the business of life
Located among the unlikely.. Solace among the business of life.

My office has a room for prayer though not a musolla per se so I usually do my Zuhur and Asar prayers there. But sometimes, nothing beats going to the mosque during lunch hour for Zuhur and taking a break from the workplace. Over time, the mosque has become my cozy safe place, with its kampung style layout, where I can go have my conversation with God without feeling self-conscious and thinking about work (as compared to praying at my office musolla).

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The entrance to the masjid. Feels just like your house door…

I remembered once or twice when I was so stressed up with work and decided to go to the mosque and just cry it out to Allah. You know, those times when you just want to be alone. MashaAllah. It was here that my broken heart was healed many a times in this safe cozy place.

It was also here that I have fond memories of collecting bubur masjid during lunch time in the month of Ramadhan. Sometimes instead of doing my own thing at work during Ramadhan lunchtime I would go to the mosque for some alone time. And since the mosque starts distributing bubur masjid at lunch time to cater to the working crowd, I would always look out for it.

The bubur masjid corner.
The bubur masjid corner.

I will miss this mosque dearly. The day of our departure is coming. This mosque will always have a special place in my heart.

My best friend’s wedding

So last weekend my best friend of 13 years got married.

While I feel so happy for her to finally tie the knot, Alhamdulillah, there’s a part of me that feels sad.

Melancholic, to be exact.

This is normal right?

I shared this with my colleague and she told me it’s normal (phew) because some (many) things change after marriage.

In Islam, the responsibility now lies on the husband instead of her parents and/or herself. Now if I want to ask her out, she will have to go through her hubs before confirming with me. I know, I’m getting married in 6 months time so I’m not too sad lah. Just feeling melancholic at times when I think of our 13-year friendship (I’m aware that if engaged me is feeling this way, what more my single friends, so I’m going to try and be sensitive around them). So since I’m feeling nostalgic now, I will write a bit about how Aisyah and I met and became friends.

*

It was December 1999, after I got to know I that was posted to Pasir Ris Secondary School.

We had to attend an orientation and I went up to my classroom 1/3.

I think I must have came late because the only two seats left were the ones in the most front, and at the centre. I was too nervous to look around and end up sitting at one of the seats.

Few moments later, a girl sat beside me. We smiled nervously at each other. The time came when we had to write something and this girl asked me, “boleh pinjam pen?” (Can I borrow your pen?).

So I lent her my pen and that was our first conversation.

Funnily it was only after that that we asked each others’ names.

Her name was Aisyah and many a conversation followed afterwards.

*

I could write an essay on our friendship but we basically have seen each other in best and worst moments. I hated her for a while too (some childish secondary school stuff).

We even worked together and sold pillows for Mothers’ Day. That was one of our best “business” projects (the only one, to be exact) and we had loads of fun doing it. It’s not easy to work with your best friend unless you met through work or projects, but with Aisyah it was possible because we managed to contribute our different set of skills and communicate our differences.

She is also one of the best persons to talk to because she listens without judging, she’s funny and have a peculiar sense of humour (haha) and I love our chemistry.

Sigh can you tell I am missing her already?

May your marriage be blessed with lots of happiness, love, peace and tranquillity. May Allah always put mawaddah (love between husband and wife) and rahmah (mercy) in your marriage insyaAllah.

I love you always, and can’t wait for your babies!

This Ramadhan…

This Ramadhan, I was blessed Allah prepared me for it by reminding me through Productive Muslim, Ramadhan preparation lectures and videos, before and during the whole month of Ramadhan (like via Quran Weekly.).

This Ramadhan, I was blessed Allah gave me the chance to attend a Green Iftar at Masjid Darul Aman. I love the feeling of togetherness when you break fast at a mosque and eat with fellow sisters, dulang-style.

This Ramadhan, I was blessed Allah gave me the time and energy to perform my Taraweeh prayers at Masjid Alkaff Kampung Melayu and Masjid Darul Aman. Seeing familiar faces in the mosques, greeting them with salam and building your ukhwwah feels amazing, Alhamdulillah.

This Ramadhan, I was blessed Allah gave me the opportunity to attend an Islamic Funeral Rites Course, with my best friend of 13 years. It was eye-opening and made me realize how beautiful Islam is, so much so that even when you are no longer alive, your body have to be treated with full service and respect. It also made me realize how important we as Muslims have to equip ourselves with this knowledge because we have a moral responsibility towards one another.

This Ramadhan, I was blessed Allah gave me another opportunity to learn and attend a Muslim Traveller’s Workshop with my auntie who recently donned the hijab. Exploring the world can be an ibadah too!

This Ramadhan, I was blessed Allah gave me the time and energy to stay and do my night prayers or qiyamullail at Muhajirin mosque with my saff sisters. Seeing the struggle and strength of my friends who are mothers of young children bring their toddlers to the mosque, gave me tremendous strength. It also reminded me that time is very, very precious.

This Ramadhan, I was blessed Allah gave me a chance to lead a jemaah prayer with my secondary school friends – for the first time in ten years. I was nervous but Alhamdulillah, He guided me and it was a beautiful moment shared among the four of us. It also made me realize that the jemaah are more honorable than the Imam – because without the jemaah there will be no “Imam”. I remember an Ustaz ever shared that the students are more honorable than the Ustaz because without the students wanting to learn, there will be no teacher. MashaAllah, how Allah makes us stay humble.

This Ramadhan, I was blessed Allah gave me a chance to visit my late father’s grave and make du’a for him. It was the “closure” I needed for missing my dad as I am planning for my wedding next year.

And this Syawal, despite living next door to Masjid Alkaff all my life, I went to the mosque on the morning of 1st Syawal to perform the Solat Hari Raya ‘Aidilftri (‘Eid prayer) – for the first time ever. For the first time, I truly felt the meaning of “raikan kemenangan setelah Ramadhan”. Allahu Akbar!

This Ramadan, counting my blessings and reminding myself to be thankful.

 “And He gave you all of that you asked for. And if you were to count His blessings, you would not be able to count them all…” (Ibrahim, 14:34)

Alhamdulillah.