January 14, 2020

On Giving your Mind some Space


A few weeks ago, as i folded laundry, i had a very clear thought: i need to give my brain a little breathing room. I'd been busy sorting socks & thinking how oddly comforting it can be to do something so mindless, as if my brain sighs & sits back for a moment while i build a pile of clothes. I knew i needed more of that. 

I'd already been working on it, that whole breathing-room thing. A couple months back i decided to ease up on some of the inevitable pre-sleep scrolling, trading social media for a bedtime book routine. It felt nostalgic somehow to get lost in a chapter, telling myself "2 more pages! Fine, 5 more pages!" How refreshing to let my mind focus on one story & not 46 different photos & memes & ideas, u know.

I wanted to be more mindful throughout the day, too, but what does that even look like? I'm not a person who meditates. I don't do yoga regularly. My free minutes are few, so i came to terms with it: i just didn't have room for breathing room.

And then, of course, the joke was on me, bcoz fast forward a couple days when Qayla's sleeping in bedroom & the wifi stopped working while my mobile data was also dead. I can't turn on netflix, spotify, can't open any socmeds, &...silence. Nothing. I started to feel a little desperate. I tried to sleep but can't. More silence. I'm almost embarrassed to admit how temporarily panicked i felt. 

Well i'm not alone, so i've come to deeply appreciate that stretch of time that's just mine to spend however i choose. It's a simple joy to start my day with radio channel i love. What a thrill when i can sing along to something other than nursery rhymes. 

Silence? Well, the silence just felt stressful. Jarring, even. But sometimes i realize that the silence doesn't feel suffocating, it felt freeing. Like one big exhale. I hadn't realized how much of my day involved the company of something. Not necessarily another person, but always something: a song, a conversation, a tv show, an ebook, a scroll through socmed. I hadn't been leaving much space for, well, space.  

No, this definitely isn't a story about me becoming the queen of mindfulness. No way. I did rediscover & retrace the best way back to myself, though, & i learned that silence carries a joy of its own. I was right: my brain needed a little breathing room, & it probably will again soon. What's nice is to know that it doesn't have to be all or nothing. I don't have to choose between sound or silence, chaos or focus. I just have to let myself be.

January 1, 2020

2020


Over the past few weeks, there's been what feels like an endless stream of memes & threads about turning the corner into 2020. We've been asked to look back & remember, to compare, to dream forward. We've been asked to ask ourselves questions. So. Many. Questions!

Where were u at the start of the decade? Where are u now? What have u done? What do u wish u'd done? What's changed? How have u changed? What will u do differently in the next year? The next 10 years? What are your hopes, wishes, dreams?
Like i said: Everyone's asking themselves the important questions.

If im being totally honest, i've become pretty exhausted by the whole thing. Don't get me wrong: i love fresh starts & empty planners as much as anyone, but it's all been..a lot.

In Decembers past, i used to go all-in & write pages of lists on new year's eve. I set so many goals, both realistic & not. Im nixing the lists this time. Instead, im rooting myself in another belief: that today's hopes might not be the same as tomorrow's. Everything is shifting all the time & u're allowed to do the same.

If the last decade have taught me anything, it's that your best bet is to keep it simple: Come up with clear intentions for yourself & then do everything u can do to live by them. Sometimes that's easy, & most of the time it's not, but it helps to feel as if u've set out a path for yourself, even if u're knocked sideways & have to find your way back. It helps to know u have something to return to.

I have a handful of thoughts im holding on to lately, & one of them is to embrace more stillness. Here's to the 2020. Here's to living by our best intentions & giving ourselves the space & grace to let them grow & change as often as they need to.

November 3, 2019

Gift of the Past


Some experiences felt like failures & rejections, which i'm categorizing them as heartbreaks. There was a very low period for me, & if i were to draw a graph of my life those would be the troughs. But they’ve all taught me so much & i'm able to look back. I'm not at the top of the hill like others, but i think i'm part way up the hill, looking down at the past of my life. I can see these areas of scorched earth in my past & i can see what they mean, how i carry them with me, but also how i’ve escaped them & conquered them in a way.

Hubby & i talked about our past, the decisions we made, the paths we chose & possibilities of different ones. But we've come to conclusion that everything's meant to happen for reasons bcoz Allah is the best of planners after all. The things that we went through led us to where we are today & for that we don't regret, but feel grateful. We wouldn't have it any other way. All those heartbreaks & mistakes are part of your life, so embrace & learn from them, bcoz somehow someday, instead of feeling remorse, u're gonna thank God for them.

October 23, 2019

Evolving Friendship


As we move through different life chapters, there's a question: how do we hold on to friendships when life keeps shifting?
It's hard to watch friendships change. Things were a little less complicated back in school. Before u're in your 20s, most friendships tend to be fairly straightforward. Your friends are usually in the same place, moving along the same path.

And then the "real world" hits. Suddenly there are forks in the road, friends stopping off at different intersections as u keep going. People move to new cities, find new jobs, meet new people. There are weddings & babies & more new cities & jobs. Everyone's busy trying on identities & circumstances are changing all the time. Friendships no longer move along the same orbit as entire universes turn upside down.

It's jarring. It rattled me when i realized that the magic of your world expanding as u grow up means that it becomes too big for certain things to stay the same. That's obvious, maybe, but it can be hard to accept when u actually face it. Another lesson? It's impossible to hold on to every person just as closely as u always did.

I don't really know what i expected. When u're younger, it's easy to imagine all the possibilities - to dream up all the versions of u waiting at the end of the path & hope the pieces of your life will carry through no matter what choices u make. It's not quite as easy to be in the middle of the journey, waving to friends as they choose different paths, everyone walking further down forks in the road. It's harder still to wonder if u'll lose your way or if u'll end up losing some of them along the way.

I once read about the joy of seeing friends do their thing, whatever that may be, & how it is to communicate. It's on both parties to figure out ways to help a friendship evolve. In the past years i've been on both sides of the equation. I've watched as everyone took giant turns in their lives, & i've been the friend with a new place, a marriage, a daughter. I also worried about what i might lose. Some of it is up to chance, but some of it isn't.

U have a hand in the places & people u choose to hold on to, & the thrill of everyone moving in different directions is that u all become better. I wish I could go back and tell my 16-year-old self that, your friendships will change in the coming years & some may fade a bit, but u'll be happier when the chips fall.

Sometimes u'll marvel at how much richer life feels when everyone has room to become themselves. The space between u & a person can go in & out like a tide & be just as steady as the waves. Just as certain. Pick your people & watch how exciting it can be when your shared world is shaken up, the pieces all scattered about, & u're all laughing at the wonderful inevitability of where u've landed. U may be facing different directions, but of course, u're still standing side by side.

September 9, 2019

Mommy Blues


Qayla had a meltdown once in a while. Sometimes i tried to distract her with food or toys or take her outside, sometimes i just ignored & watched her freak out before she's quiet & like, ok, i'm done crying & ready to play now. I'd been so frustrated while she screamed, but then i was like, u know what? I get it, kid. Sometimes u just gotta take a personal time-out to go nuts before u can be your best self, & okay, fine.

Sometimes i feel like i haven't totally figure out life as a parent of one, but each day i get a little more settled into that identity, u know? It may be hard to believe, but i have awful mommy moments too. There are days when my patience is nonexistent. Days when i'm exhausted. Days when there's too much to do & not enough time. I get frustrated. Sometimes i yell. Sometimes i cry. 

If u're a mom, u'll get it. Some days are rough. Other days are even rougher. Throw a toddler into the mix, & grey hairs start popping up. Sometimes i look at her the wrong way & say the wrong thing. There's an entire day to survive, and that day offers multiple opportunities for tantrums. But it's nice to know i'm not alone on this parenting voyage, especially when my voyage closely resembles the sinking of the Titanic. (thanks for always being there, hubby)

U may say it must be nice to stay at home with my kid, to have so much “free” time, to have a husband that carries all financial burden.. Honestly i can get a little bit defensive when u say that. I find the need to explain myself. Maybe if i just tell u how hard today’s been, about that thing i did, the sacrifices made... But then God smacks me in the face with a little thing called gratefulness.

It must be nice.. And yes it is. It's so nice. Things have been good & things have been bad; things have been extremely easy & things have been unbearably hard in the big moments of my little life. But right now, right here, things are just wonderful.

When my baby sleeps & i stare at her in silence, i don't feel emptiness. When she smiles at me & laughs when we play together, i don't feel tired. When i lose all track of time stacking blocks & picking up toys, i don’t feel useless.

It's all worth it. 

 

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