Tag Archive | religion

My Unplanned Sabbatical Year

2016 turned out to be, what I now call, my unplanned sabbatical year. A year that was by far one of my best years yet.

After relocating to Cape Town from Johannesburg at the end of 2015, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with my life. The two things that I did know was, 1) I do not want to get back into the corporate world and 2) I want to be a housewife (very ambitious, I know). The housewifery wasn’t my long-term plan, but I figured what better way to start the new year in a new city.

So how did I spend my year?

Doing the things that I love.

The Kitchen
The one room in my home that makes me completely happy. I’ve spent day in and day out cooking up a storm and experimenting with new tastes and flavours. I must admit that it didn’t always work out, but at least I’ve tried it by putting it through the test. Over the years, I’ve developed a love for cooking and it to be the most therapeutic “chore”.

Spiritual Enhancement
2017-02-17_12-45-52For many people spirituality does not coexist with religion. I consider myself to be quite fortunate as I was able to explore my spirituality through religion. Last year, I’ve experienced the best Ramadaan ever. Even though we were nowhere close to family, the whole experience was moving. I looked forward mostly to Taraweeh (special evening prayers are conducted in Ramadaan, during which long portions of the Qur’aan are recited) and I longed for it most when Ramadaan bade farewell. The highlight for me however, was a ladies programme I attended, where I was in an audience of 4000 women! Let’s just say that once I’ve left the veils from my eyes were lifted!

Me, Myself and I
When you’ve been married for as long as I have been, you never really have reason to do things alone. Besides, I was never really comfortable with it anyway. With Mr. M at work, I didn’t have a choice but to do things alone. There was no one around to grab a coffee with or take up yoga classes. I’ve learnt to enjoy my own company. When I had weekends to myself, I would meander through markets by myself, as if it was the most normal thing for me to do.

Stop, Drop and Yoga
I’ve always had a keen interest in yoga practice. I’ve just never had the time to take it seriously. I’ve started under a yogi while in Johannesburg, but the enthusiasm soon fizzled out.

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With all the time I had on my hands, I decided to take up classes, which I’m pleased to say is still part of my life. In the beginning, yoga was just about the poses and trying to fold myself into pretzels. Until I realised that the goal is to create space where you were once stuck. To unveil the layers of protection you’ve built around your heart. To appreciate your body and become aware of the mind and the noise it creates. To make peace with who you are. But mostly, it was about going to my mat and feeling, not accomplishing.

A Book or Three
My deep love for books stems from when I was a child. The first book I’ve ever owned was “The Gingerbread Man”, which was gifted to me at my pre-school graduation. My favourite book would have to be the children’s classic “Heidi” by Johanna Spyri. I still sometimes dream about living in the Swiss Alps.
I’ve spent so much time reading last year, that at one point, I felt like the characters in my books were my friends. I’ve made a little reading nook in my bedroom, and winter afternoons became my most treasured moments when I was lost in a book.

Take me to Nature
There is a wealth of natural wonders to see and experience in this city. From hiking up mountains, chasing waterfalls, swimming in dams, long walks on the beach, Cape Town is definitely a city worth showing off its natural beauty. I’ve always been in touch with nature, but my first year in Cape Town really connected me to nature.2017-02-17_12-49-00

I’ve had to deal with many frustrations. Not knowing what I really wanted to do with my life. Doubting whether or not we made the right decision to move. In hindsight, I should have savored every minute of that time, as I now believe that I was exactly where I needed to be. My unplanned sabbatical year prepped me for my new journey, even though I had no idea at the time what that was…..

31 Life Lessons I’ve Learned in 31 Years

imagesCA5E29WHIt’s almost that time of the year, where I bid farewell to me being just 30 and saying hello to “30-something”. I remember my pre thirty meltdown I had last summer. (Looking back, I think I was just a tad bit too over dramatic). With that being said, this year, I’m embracing this change of age thing. I am not anywhere close to where I thought I would be at this age, or wanted to be. However, I do believe, that I’m right where I should be.

A week ago, I’ve decided to write down what are life lessons to me, that I’ve learned over my 31 years of life. This was way easier than I thought it would be, given that most of these lessons were really learned in the past year.

1. We must love….with all your heart. If you’re afraid to love because you might get hurt, then you might as well not live because you are going to die. Love is beautiful and free.

2. Love is not enough. It’s important to not just love, but also show love. The people we love needs to see it as much as they need to feel it.

3. Forgive not just the people who has hurt us, but forgive yourself. For past mistakes, past regrets. We would not be who we are had we not made those mistakes. If God can forgive us, why can’t we forgive ourselves.

4. Happiness is Internal “Happiness is a journey, not a destination; happiness is to be found along the way not at the end of the road, for then the journey is over and it’s too late. The time for happiness is today not tomorrow.” ~ Quoted by Paul H Dunn [read more]

5. Value family I might have not had the opportunity to choose them, but we are perfectly placed together. We have disagreements, we are all unique in our ways, but this bunch of people are the only ones who are going to be there for you when no one else will be. Cherish them.

6. Treasure friendships/relationships these people are my family, with no blood relations. They’re the people I don’t have to see every weekend to keep our friendship alive, and when we do see each other, nothing has changed, the friendship has not struggled because of time not spent together.

7. Quality over quantity I’ve learned that when it comes to friends, I’ve learned that less is more. A few close friends offer more support than a crowd of acquaintances. There are only a handful of friends I keep close to my heart and who truly understand and support me without a trace of judgment. Anyone else usually just joins me for happy hour. I don’t really need no new friends….

8. Give generously My dad always said to us, “Give with your right hand, in such a way that the left hand doesn’t even know”. Give with your heart, no one needs to know how much you do or for whom.

9. Energy is palpable be the positive! Have you ever met someone who is so negative, that you can feel your energy being drained when they speak, or a person who such a great aura to to them, that you can feel life being blown into you with every word that they utter? Be that person. Think only positive thoughts, and speak only positive words.

10. Define Success on your own terms ignore the standard one-size-fits all approach and live from a place of truth and knowing. Success might mean money or power to some. That doesn’t necessarily have to define your success. To me, true success means finding and living out my unique life’s purpose.

11. Take care of your health now, or prepare for illness later. Truth is, all the money in the world cannot buy more or new health. It’s our one principal capital asset, invest in it wisely.

12. Not everyone will like you, and if they do, they’re not necessarily your friend.

13. I am not the center of the universe, it’s incredibly difficult to think about the world from a perspective other than our own. We are always worried about what’s going on in our lives. What does my schedule look like today? What if I lose my job? Why am I overweight? Why am I not happy with my life? What did I do to deserve this? If you can consciously remove yourself – remove your perspective – from a situation, then you can see the world through a different set of eyes. Thus, the world can take on a different meaning.

14. Do not carry the past with you. It has everything to do with forgiveness. Carrying this burden with you, does nothing but weigh you down. It makes you a bitter person. You have the choice to let it go, or letting it haunt you for the rest of your days.

15. It’s Ok to not be Ok No, really, it is Ok. I know bad days don’t last forever, so it’s Ok to have an off one.

16. Embracing Silence is a way of developing a deeper connection with yourself and with others. Shut off the phone more, turn down the radio volume, or simply spend more time listening instead of talking.

17. Be thankful….. for everything. Count your blessings, and by blessings I don’t mean material possessions.

18. Live in the moment, the here and now, that is all that is guaranteed right? We have no assurance of waking tomorrow.

19. How you speak of others is how you feel about yourself. In fact, your perception of the entire world echoes how you feel about your own life. If you have nothing good to say about others, then best keep quiet.

20. Never go to bed angry with your partner. A piece of advise that came from my mum. And I fully agree with it. No argument or difference should be carried overnight. Clean out each day as it comes along, so when you shut your eyes at night, everything has been cleaned up. Life is precious….and uncertain.

21. Slow down! What’s the rush anyway. Life moves at such a fast pace that it seems to pass us by before we can really enjoy it. Slowing down is a conscious choice, and not always easy, but it leads to a great appreciation for life and a greater level of happiness.

22. Let go of past hurts, the past, clutter, grudges, toxic people, negativity, anger, guilt, worrying about the future, stress. Again, these things just pull us down, it poisons our souls. Let It Go!

23. Don’t do things you don’t like just to please someone else or because everyone else is doing it. I hate watching movies at a cinema. It’s cold, uncomfortable and dark. I don’t go because I don’t like it. However, if there’s a movie I really, really want to watch, I make the sacrifice.

24. Have a bucket list and as you scratch items off, add new ones

25. The power of prayer. Never underestimate the power of prayer. Regardless of your religion, or manner in which we pray, every day should be started in prayer.

26. Learn to say No! True freedom is experienced when we’re able to say no without feeling guilty. Stop being the people pleaser by committing to more than you’re aware of.

27. Live simply. Simple? no, not that simple. Living simply is paring away – stuff, obligations, expectations, people. It’s removing all the glut and rubble from your life, making space in your house, your heart, your brain and your life for exactly and only what you need. It’s getting down to the core of things and returning to a way of living that most of us can only vaguely remember; pleasures that don’t cost tons of money, rewards you don’t have to buy in stores, amusements that don’t require a screen.

28. Turn off the TV and read a book. In the Last Lecture Dr. Randy Pausch makes mention of how TV is mankind’s greatest time-waster. Cut your Tv time in half and start making time to do the things you love. Read a book instead. Not only do you stimulate your brain, but you learn more about things that interest you. No better place to find inspiration than in the pages of a book.

29. Judging people is harmful….to me. We do or have done this from time to time. I have now just become better at noticing when I’m doing it. What I’ve found is that when I waste my time on judging people, I am robbing myself from enjoying my here and now. Judging becomes harmful to me because in judging others; I’m ignorant of what the person is going through, I have unrealistic expectations of people, I think I’m superior to other’s. When I’m overcome with these feelings, it stops me from judging, sort of keeps me grounded.

30. Enjoy your own company and you will never be lonely. I enjoy my own company now more than I have ever before. I recall seeing people having lunch by themselves and always felt sorry for them….for being alone. I now realise what a privilege it is to be at that point of comfort with yourself, where sitting down to a cup of tea, in a crowded cafe is absolutely normal.

31. I’m still trying to figure it all out…And while I do that, I will live life beautifully

 

The World is not Black and White

untitledGod grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Everyone is different.

There are some differences that are simple. Some are more complex.
There are differences that are tied to self-identity. Sexual orientation, race, age, sex, background and interests. When someone has a problem with differences in these areas, it is often something that runs deep in their upbringing and is very hard to change.
Accepting differences can be difficult at times – yet – respecting others for their differences in necessary.

Why do we want everything to be our way? Because we’re human and selfish. But to progress and survive in a society, we need to be tolerant of each other, whatever the other person believes in, as far as religion or any other matter is concerned, is individual choice. The world is not black and white, and the sooner we realise that, the sooner will we see progression in our societies, and who knows, perhaps even world peace.

People are so busy disliking each other’s ways of life, that all they do is point fingers at how wrong others are, and all the positive and creative energy that the Universe has endowed us with goes to waste.People get distanced from each other due to intolerance; and when they don’t unite to work towards their betterment and that of others, the society plunges into darkness and despair. No one want to help or like anyone who does not conform to his or her own specific standards of piety or correctness.

This self-righteous attitude has never brought people together as it hurts the feelings of those who do not believe what others want them to believe. It is indeed a sad state of affairs when everyone feels they are right and others are wrong and deserves to be disrespected. If animals can live together in a jungle and respect each others rights and territories and only kill for survival, why can’t we humans, who are the most supreme species learn to live with each other in peace and harmony?

Maybe I’m writing this post after reading and watching of the horrific civilian attack in Nairobi over the weekend, I was appalled! As human beings , we are born with a free will, and have the right to choose what religion or persons we want to be associated with. If one thinks one is following the right and true path, the way to make others agree is to be an exemplary human being or try to be, so that others will automatically want to be like you. They will reform or change their opinions without one having to insult, criticize or kill for that matter.

In today’s fast changing and globally shrinking world in which different races, religions and cultures have to interact on a day-to-day basis, the only way to exist in peace is to accept and tolerate differences.

Am I Who I Am?

QuestionI like listening to music and watching certain tv programs. I love being around my immediate family. I enjoy great company, and the outdoors. I hate being wrong. I value honesty, loyalty and kindness. These are hard and true facts, but there is a lot I do not know about myself.

I don’t know how I feel about abortions, I have mixed feelings about religion, and I don’t know what I think about the current political situation of our country. I have no stock answer to offer about a life-changing experience or a moment of enlightenment, and it is hard for me to give a comprehensive proclamation of who I am, for my identity unfolds more every day as my experiences grow. At almost 30, I believe there’s still a lot to be unfolded.

I dislike the saying “I am trying to find myself” because my identity is not lost, it just needs more uncovering. Luckily for me, what I love to do helps me uncover more about myself. I really do enjoy writing, even if I am the only one interested in my work. Writing is my self-reflection.

Am I who I am? Or am I what I’ve been told I am and taught to be?

Growing up, I’ve always been told that I’m stuck-up, and I believed it, and yes I was, but is that who I was, or was I that because of what I’ve been told? I’ve recently made this discovery, and the truth is; I’m not stuck – up! No, I am just not comfortable around people I don’t know very well.

I’m embarking on this journey of uncovering me…….one experience at a time.

I want to be a Phenomenal Woman

This past weekend Mr M and I attended the 50th birthday party of an exceptional woman. And after leaving the party, I have started thinking really hard, about me, not just as a person,but as a woman.

Whilst listening to the great speeches, I wondered: What would people say about me, as a woman, when I celebrate 50?

AA-women1-300x218I might not know what will be said then, but I do know what I would like to hear. Every woman has the potential to become a phenomenal woman. It doesn’t happen overnight, but working on ourselves day-to-day will ensure that when we reach 50, we can say, “I am a phenomenal woman; and I have lived my best life”

Then you ask, what is a phenomenal woman? We all might have our own interpretations, I came across this that pretty much sums it up;

A phenomenal woman is purposeful and passionate. She is driven by her thoughts, and makes her thoughts a reality. She has imperfections, but it’s what she does with her imperfections that make her phenomenal. She is always true to herself. She doesn’t have to be a certain size or shape. Religion, age, sexual orientation, the family she was born into, or the colour of her skin do not matter. She is strong, yet weak, and struggles with her own identity from time to time. She is true to her voice and inner self. She is resourceful and honest. She is brutal at times, forcing her way into the worlds reality. (Taken from Phenomenal Women: The Empowerment of YOU Loretta A. Cella)

I feel the need to make this a personal journey. Afterall, I have 20 years to prepare for my 50th celebration.

image: google.com

The World can be a Better Place

“Without respect for people of different races or ethnicities or religions, how can we have a peaceful and harmonious society or world? And without a harmonious society, how can there be the necessary economic development and atmosphere conducive to spiritual happiness and self-realization?” Jagad Guru
After the recent events around the blasphemous film (which I have not seen) depicting the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), I found it necessary to share my thoughts and feelings.
(Please note that this is entirely my opinion)

So, I like a silver car, you like red, I prefer white bread, you prefer brown. I’m an evening person, you’re a morning person. These are the kind of differences that we have as people and need to accept it. And we do, most of the time anyway. So why is it so much more difficult when it comes to accepting the beliefs, religion, way of life, faith, (whatever you want to call it) of others?
Religion can be a touchy subject, a taboo. However, the fact that it is taboo needs to be addressed. Belief, whether in religion or science, is a concept that should be respected and admired in us as humans, not something used as a tool for persecution.
As a woman of Islamic faith, born into a marriage of interfaith, (where my dad’s born Muslim, and my mum reverted to Islam from Hinduism), I feel that I have gained something that not many people have, and that is exposure.
I have had the freedom of being able to practice my religion, but at the same time be exposed to other religions as a result of having family and friends with other beliefs. If I have to single out one valuable lesson that I’ve learned from my parents; it would have to be respect! Respect for others beliefs, culture, traditions and race.

We must begin to reach common ground, where we can all believe as we wish without fear of discrimination. There is no justification for trying to oppress any religion or lack of religion, for that matter. A lack of religion is another aspect of the issue that needs addressing. There is nothing wrong with a lack of religion, just as there is nothing wrong with believing in any religion. The only wrong in the equation is the intolerance between belief systems.

In a perfect world, we would all have the freedom to believe as we wished or not at all, if that was our choice. To grow closer to that ideal, we have to make the first step and stop our discrimination of other beliefs, so they can grow in their tolerance of us in turn. This wouldn’t be easy, but it’s vital. The religious must stop trying to prove that their belief is the only way, while the ones who don’t believe in much must stop trying to prove that religion is a lie.
Why is it so difficult for us to reach a common ground? Religion should be something worth respecting and valuing, not a tool for mockery.
How can we expect tolerance of our faith when we cannot be tolerant of the faith of others? Tolerance is a two-way street; we cannot expect to change or fix anything when all we do is demand respect for our views.
This unfortunately is one of those issues that are not going away anytime soon. Perhaps one day, we will all be able to live in this world in peace and harmony.

I believe that the world can be a better place.