Take care!

Some well-being tips that have worked for me.

Socializing with loved ones is an integral part of well-being. 

Everyone wants a long life. The best prayer you get from a loved one is for a healthy long life. Well, my 92-year-old father, passed away last month having lived a wonderful life. He lived a life according to his own decisions. With the love of his life: his wife for last sixty two years. So, lets say that Masha Allah, good health runs in the family.

The pattern is set with regular healthy meals, presented in proper way, cooked as fresh as possible. Simple wholesome meals, with fruit at the end – unlike the latest theory.  They had a wholesome amount of fruits. They thanked Allah profusely, at every step. My parents went for long walks when they didn’t have a car, and I was a baby. I’ve never seen them going for long walks, yet they have been very active. Even from a wheelchair, my father kept getting up to take a walk around the house.

As far as I’m concerned, I love a good exercise any time. Not being a morning person, I prefer a later evening walk. Spending the mornings being  active always, doing house chores, or walking as much as possible  at the work place.

Regular walks every evening have been a main feature of my life. I love to connect with nature in all weathers and seasons. In Seattle, I’d walk in the snow, or in the rain which I’ve loved. In Pakistan, in the hot weather around Asr or Maghrib times, (between 4.00 pm to 7 pm in the evenings.)

My Health strategies:

 There are a few strategies I’ve had for dealing with common ailments like cough, cold, fever, headaches, low BP and high BP and upset stomach which have worked.  

 Let me share them with you:

Cold, cough and fever:

Go on ‘high alert’ with the first symptom, which is usually a scratchy throat:

  1. Take a Kestine tablet, before sleeping, (it is an anti-allergy pill with hardly any side-effects. So, you can take any anti-allergy pill you like.) Relax! Have a good sleep that night.

 Ta da! You will wake up fresh. 

  • Just for a few days, avoid cold drinks, sip more warm drinks, especially hot water.

If you are still unwell, then take another tablet in the morning (- and every morning for five days, if necessary.)  

Headaches:

I learnt this one the hard way. When I was expecting my number two kid, Nadiya, I used to have splitting headaches during pregnancy. I didn’t take any tablets, knowing it could harm the baby. But it felt as if a pulse in my head will snap. It was a very difficult pregnancy.

Later on – you will be surprised – I realized that I was to blame for it, not the pregnancy.

All I had to do was:

  1. At the first sign of a headache – stop whatever I was doing, (if I was cooking, just put off the stove.) Then go and lie down. Relax. Stop thinking of any problem. Meditate. Get up after ten minutes, as the headache would be gone by then. If one is at workplace, change the scene, by moving to another room. (Remove the irritant.) Give yourself a cup of tea, nice music, and happy thoughts if you can. It is all in your control.
  2. So, with my next pregnancy, (yes, Waliya!) I executed the above plan, and I was fine.
  3. You do not have to be pregnant to try it. You can do it normally too. We have a habit of ignoring the headache or any problem, and pushing ourselves on with whatever we are doing. All we have to do is to take a short break at the right time.

Weight control:

Throughout my life, my weight has been  normal. This was because the moment I gained a kilo or two, I’d lose it immediately. It is easier to lose a kilo than ten kilos.

Now, I’ve found using the step tracker app in my phone or a Fit Bit really helps. Best number of steps per day are 10,000. But you can slowly increase the number,according to your health condition.

Upset stomach:

I’ve been the queen of this.  When I was a baby, my mom was super careful with me, sterilizing everything. With the result, my resistance is too low. So, food poisoning is something that has happened most of my life. Finally, I’ve almost conquered it:

Take isafghol: 1 teaspoon, honey: 1 teaspoon, yogurt: 4 tablespoons.

Mix them quickly, and have it immediately, before it coagulates. (This is what it will do in your stomach also.) You will be fine within a couple of hours. If your tummy is very bad, then repeat this twice or thrice.  Take plenty of nimkol and have khichri and yogurt for food. You can have normal food too, but preferably,light stuff.

Say ‘no’ to alcohol, cigarettes & drugs:

Enjoy the best in life; here I am with Nigar Nazar going on a Metro ride. She was taking me for breakfast in a hotel in Rawalpindi. Life itself can be the best drug. 😉

Last month,  I took my dad to the  leading homeopathic Pulmonologist (lung specialist) Rehan Uppal . My father was finding it very hard to swallow food.There was too much liquid in his lower lungs which kept rising as he would eat food.

 Dr. Rehan Uppal  asked, ‘Does he smoke?’

I said ‘no’.

‘Has he ever smoked?’

‘Yes, forty five years ago.’

‘Before that, he had smoked sporadically for thirty years.’

‘That’s why!’ he said.

So, even though I’ve loved the idea of smoking but have avoided it. Now, definitely not. Why ruin your body? The same applies to all other forms of addictions.

Indulging in one’s hobbies, and being outdoors is lovely. 

My preventive health tactics:

  1. Have lemonade at least once a day.
  2. Lots of fruit, and salad with every meal.
  3. Green tea,preferably with herbs like rosemary, and a touch of cinnamon.
  4. Hot milk with half a teaspoon of turmeric powder is good. Otherwise, take a bowl of yogurt, sprinkled with 1/2 or ¼ teaspoon turmeric. This takes care of calcium intake.
  5. Flax seeds (1/2 teaspoon) is also good in a glass of water.
  6. Kalongi, the all-time favorite is great first thing in the morning.
  7. Take 3, 5 or 7 almonds daily. (Best would be mixed nuts, including walnuts.)
  8. Have glasses of water between meals, never during a meal. 
Here I am with my two mentors and icons: Mansoor Rahi and Hajra Mansoor. Both are leading full lives in their seventies, and stepping into eighties. 

Life style ‘musts’:

  1. Exercise, in the house, be overly active inside. Be vigilant with five days weekly walks.
  2. Sleep eight hours every night, (making sure you get six hours straight). Thirty minute Siesta in afternoon is good too.  
  3. Spiritual strengthening through regular prayers.  Reading Quran or holy book at least 15 to 20 minutes daily. Meditation.  
  4. Take showers: once or twice a day.
  5. Sunshine: enjoy it, anddo sit in sunshine for at least ten minutes daily.
  6. Happiness: Find an attitude of gratitude to keep you happy. Take care of your feelings as you do about your body.  
  7. Nature: Be close to nature, keeping windows open, bringing in fresh air, walking in parks, keeping plants inside your home, buy flowers, if you can’t grow them.
  8. Natural foods: Choose food items like fruits, fresh juices, vegetables, eggs and lean meats and of course have plenty of water.
  9. Pets, plants and flowers: Pet your pets and talk to them. Have real plants and flowers everywhere in your house.  
  10. Love: Your family members, pets, and people you associate with. Express  your feelings .
  11. Beautiful environment: live in a home surrounded with beauty of décor, thoughts  and lifestyles. It should be comfortable, bright and happy.
  12. Social interaction: Include your friends and family members in your life with love, sharing and caring.
Mansoor Rahi in his eighties, celebrates his birthday with a bang every year. He leads a disciplined life with a regular routine. He is very particular about having more fish and vegetables on a daily basis. He will never indulge in the food we have at parties. 

Do follow Luke Coutinho:  on Instagram and watch his YouTube videos, I’ve referred to his video on cancer, which I found the best one on this subject. He is very much into lifestyle. Totally agree with him.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=luke+coutinho

How I’ve avoided my knee replacement operation:

Many people over fifty tend to have this issue. Here is how I’ve managed to avoid my knee replacement operation for last four years.

Dr. Wyne Dyer also managed to do so. It is more in your mind, and general health care.

 You can do it!

Learn how to relax from cats!

Stay blessed my Reader, 

Self-talk II

Somehow any place of worship always makes you think deeply. 

Recently, you’ve heard me talk a lot about self-talk. Previously, it was to help in healing, here. We both know, it isn’t only about healing. It is definitely much more.

Young artist  Raha with her sketch. 

Whether we think about it or not; We are definitely thinking. We know that ultimately, what we think is what we end up doing! It is going to affect how we react, to our situations and what we do with our lives.

So, isn’t it wiser to be aware of what we are thinking, to know where we are going?

A lot of our time,  we are thinking about things people say to us. In our country, everyone is telling us what we ‘should’ think. If we aren’t careful, we get bullied and pushed around. Then we end up feeling cornered. Much later, we realize, that had we thought the right thoughts at the right time; Perhaps we wouldn’t have taken certain steps which led us to so many gross problems.

Let me tell you about my friend Nazneen,  (of course this isn’t her real name!) So,when she got engaged, her fiancé suggested that they get a flat of their own. She said,

‘No, we mustn’t do it, your family will think that I’ve asked you to do this and separated you from your family, even before I’ve arrived!’ Anyhow, when she mentioned this to me, I said,

‘Let him go ahead with it, you know that it was his idea.’ But no, she felt it wouldn’t be right. She didn’t let him go ahead with it. I knew what a joint family looked like. So, she didn’t know what she was talking about. She got married, and went into joint-family. Let me tell you they were a good family – nothing wrong with them –  but the girl has to sacrifice her own life for them.

Fast forward twenty five years.

She tells  me, ‘Shireen, I wish I had listened to you then.  So this is how I spent my life:  

Apnee zindagi guzar dee,

…… kissi aur nay!

Prologue to her story: The couple did separate from rest of family, ultimately. Her fiancé had been right, she should have agreed with him. So much of their life’s sufferings could have been avoided.

So,  anyhow. Let me go on. I’ve done some research on Self-talk and this is what I’ve come up with:

Four types of thoughts:

  1. Catastrophizing:  This is the typical situation where you end up thinking of the worst thing that can happen. ‘What if I fail?’ ‘What if I face humiliation?’ ‘What if people find out?’  With such thoughts you only immobilize yourself before even beginning a project. Amplifying anxiety and depression in the process.

What to do: A good comeback is ‘so what?’ Also, know that ninety percent of things one is afraid of, don’t happen. If they do, what can you do anyway? Also, be confident,you will be able to manage things whatever happens.

  • Blaming: This is very common. Either one blames one’s self for things that were actually out of one’s control. Or, one blames others for what happened to you.  It is vital to control your thoughts, otherwise, you will hold yourself responsible for most of the problems in your life, even the ones for which you aren’t responsible. On the other hand, when you keep blaming others for what happens in your own life, then you are putting the responsibility on others too. So, you cannot do anything about it. So, then how can you make a change?

What to do: I would say, ‘just stop it!’ Blaming others means that you can’t do anything about it, nor will you. Blaming one’s self all the time, means that you are going to take responsibility for things you didn’t do either. So, just be balanced. Do what you can, and move on. Give one problem a time constraint, and then get on with your life!

  • Rehashing: This is when you keep replaying something awful that happened in the past. Everything that happens in the present somehow triggers an unpleasant memory in the past. So you’ve got to be mindful of it. This scenario is more so in cases of death in the family. You keep replaying the scene again and again. Whereas you need to replay the life of the person in your mind, and celebrate it.

What to do:    In other words, you are carrying a lot of ‘baggage’ with you. I’d say, ‘drop it, at once.’ Oooops! I better say this to myself also. A psychologist told me, that one good way to do it is to write it all down once and for all. Then tear it into pieces, and throw it into a river or sea. Other way is (what I do sometimes, if I think it would be of use to you, I publish it in my blog post!) In the case of a death, instead of talking about how the death happened, talk about the person’s life. 

  • Rehearsing: This is when you are planning something in the future, and keep thinking about it.Visualizing it again and again.

What to do:  So, till it happens, there is really no point in dwelling on it. During a painting exhibition of mine, Saeed Akhtar said to me, ‘An idea is nothing till you have executed it. So, do not talk about ideas.’ The same thing Zaheer Salam the country’s largest publications’ owner once said to me, ‘do not talk about an idea, till it is executed!’ So, I’ll just say, ‘stop it!

Other forms of self-talk:

Though the above four points might seem enough, but personally I feel that prayers have a lot to do with self-talk too. Sometimes, you talk to your God, like you talk to yourself. He is all the time a witness to that conversation going on inside, and you often talk to Him too. Since He is apparently silent, you often talk to Him directly too, and let yourself hear this conversation.

Prayers:

So, I think prayers are a beautiful form of self-talk. One can do it often. I’m sure you must have seen how He makes those things ‘happen’ and you have that eureka moment and look up, knowing who was behind it. Since He was the only One who knew about what you had wished for. Subhan Allah!

Planning:

Your step by step planning of any activity or event, or life situation is itself a methodical and logical way of dealing with issues or situations on your mind. This is very important and can be done in journals or your home management diary or personal file in your laptop – whatever you call it. This too is a type of self-talk.

Doing self-talk while looking into the far distance brings greater depth in one’s thinking process. So many things become clear, which weren’t so, earlier. 

Situations’ talk:

Just now I spoke to Hajra Mansoor. She has had an elbow fracture a while back. She was on her way home from hospital. When I heard this, I said, ‘I’ll talk later.’ She was fine, and in good mood. Ready to deal about any issue or situation at hand. I was just doing some work on her behalf. So, you see she is unperturbed, and not bothered by ‘small’ roadblocks that life puts on the way.

When Hajra Mansoor and Mansoor Rahi were to be chief guest at my book launch and painting exhibition; That day, there was a lot of disturbances on the city roads. Many roads were blocked, and some mullahs had threatened violence and what not. Neither I nor they were perturbed. We went ahead with our function. They calmly found a route to reach the AQS Gallery and came as chief guests.

This is the result of self-talk. When you say to yourself, ‘no matter what happens, I’m going to go ahead with my work.’ And you simply go ahead. You don’t mind that only half the people were able to attend the event. Fine!

Similarly, when my father passed away. I’ve made up my mind, not to grieve for too long. Instead of thinking of the death of my father, I’ve decided to think of his life! How he lived, and what I’ve learnt from it. To celebrate his living, and to give sadqa regularly. This is what I did when my husband passed away too.

Go ahead, do the effective and practical self-talk for yourself, and get yourself out of your situation.

Last important point in self-talk:

When there is a time of deep disturbance in your life, but you have decided to stay within it. Then self-talk will help you get through this also. Just make up your mind to not get damaged by it . Protect yourself from inside. Whatever someone says to you, tell yourself:

‘It is coming from them, I am not going to let it affect me. I will not react, as it is not worth the bother!’ Stay blessed and protect your self through self-talk.

Recently, there has been this killing of 49 Muslims in a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. What kind of self-talk was that killer doing? So, you can see how powerful self-talk can be. It can save you and help you save other’s lives. Paradoxically, it can kill others, and will finally get himself killed too. 

This is the power of self-talk. So, it has to be curtailed, controlled and used positively. Most illnesses are the result of stress, which can be caused through negative self-talk. 

As Wasif Ali Wasif said: ‘problems are not caused by situations, but by what you think about those situations!’ (Mushkilat halaat ki wajah say nahi, bulkeh khayalat ki wajah say hoti hein!)

Epilogue: 

Had I not done self-talk, today, I’d be in my parents’ home. Now, I’m in my own home. I refused to listen to everyone else, when my husband died. I lived in our own house, even if it meant living here alone, with my young daughter. I faced court cases, lived in a freezing home without gas. I paid every price necessary or unnecessary, finally succeeding in being where I wanted to be. I was clear about following my heart, and doing what I believed in. Self-talk my dear!

Stay blessed and protected by positive use of self-talk. 🙂 

Dealing with Overwhelming work.

Many times in life, we are overwhelmed with our ‘to do’ list. Mostly, at such times, the first ones we ‘sacrifice’ are, our loved ones.

When I went to my roof, I found the rainwater had collected on the rooftop. I love reflections, they help me reflect on my situation and my life. I love the sight of mountains and reflections. It brings perspective in life, which is essential. 

Then what happens? 

When that project is completed, you say, ‘while I was doing that project, my normal work got neglected, so I have to complete that now!’ So, then the family gets neglected again!

Weekend after weekend is ‘sacrificed’ for the ‘work’ which keeps coming with every ‘success’. 

Till one fine day, your loved ones get fed up of waiting for you. When you look back, there is no one waiting for you any more. 

So, today, if your mother, or spouse or loved one keeps calling you and finding out if you are fine. Value their presence in your life. 

Once they know, that there will always be ‘more important’ things for you to do during your time with them. Most relationships face rocky grounds due to this. If you don’t want that, then read on. If you are fine with that. Then you have more ‘important’ things to do than reading this stupid blog post,

This blog post is all about ‘how to meet your deadlines, and keep your loved ones happy with you also!’

You see the problem is, that every project faces unexpected road blocks, and many unprecedented issues. Your intent wasn’t bad. But it was unrealistic. 

So, the thing is that we have to put every ‘project’ and ‘work’ in its place in our lives. So, we can have what matters in our own lives in spite of it. 

I’ll share these beautiful words with you by Rabindranath Tagore: ***

This is all we need: Courage, patience, lots of strength …. and who helps us in having this courage, patience and strength? Yes, it is those loved ones in our lives. 

Know that all projects take time:

So, during that time, we’ve got to manage ourselves very well.

You know what life is like these days? It’s a flood of work, followed by a tornado of work.

So, its time to get smart.

Appreciating everyone coming over to give us their time and attention. Having simple meals together is like a tonic for all.  Give time to loved ones during meal times with your attention.

Working without getting overwhelmed:

  1. Prioritize: By being super smart: Prioritize according to importance, rather than urgency.(Remember, Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? ) Use it.
  2. Pray hard: Give five minutes of prayers. Real intense praying is needed. It’s the most important relationship …the one with our Maker. It is the most vital one. Everything else depends on this single relationship.
  3. Relationships:Of course it is complicated, depending on the relationship. Mostly, each one wants to be heard. When you give them time, give your full attention too.Sometimes even ten minutes can be enough if you make it powerful enough. Remember, in the end, nothing and no success is worth the price of a relationship.
  4. Starting with the most important: Once you’ve picked the most important part of the project or chore to be done. Maintain a balance.  Take along a few other things too. But try just sticking to five at a time.
  5. How to have your love one’s understanding: Plan activities with your loved ones, as you launch the projects close to your heart. Keep your loved ones also close to yourself, as you do your project. Share the experiences. (Not just, ‘oh I’m so busy! There is so much to do…’ Give details of your work. Show your loved ones where you are busy and why. You want their understanding, show them why and how. Not by keeping them out of it all, but by including them inside it. (Even if it is metaphorically speaking.) I remember, my Dad, having his dinner at 12.00 am. Mum and I would be sitting next to him while he had his food, he told us about his day. (He had left home at 7.30 am that morning.) Like this many months would go by, but my father always kept us in the picture. In his engaging manner, he would tell us about some interesting characters he met, or about the out of the ordinary that happened that day. We felt part of his life. When he went on trips abroad, he returned with his bags full of gifts for us. 

Fix goals/projects within a time table:

  • Make a time table including all chores. Remember, that if it doesn’t get completed within that time, then get on to the next chore. Do not extend the time period at that time. Otherwise, it will play havoc with the rest of your goals; Or you will start a ripple effect of more issues. For example, in school or university when a ‘period’ or ‘class’ ends then the next class begins. The previous ‘work’ can be completed at another time slot. Or next week.
  • Realistic time perception of a project or task: It is when we get into it that we realize all the hang ups it has inside it. So, the extra hours must not be at the expense of your family or your own self.
  • Do not believe the ‘experts’:  You go to a lawyer, till he is paid up, he paints a rosy picture of everything. Especially about how long it will take. After you have paid up, and done all the fetching and carrying for his royal highness, then his face changes. I remember, how the lawyer would say, while taking the money for anything, ‘Oh this won’t take long! Just a few weeks.’ Once paid up. Even after three months if I asked why its taking so long? He would get upset and start getting rude and obnoxious. Saying, ‘how can you expect it to be done immediately? (Of course it was my fault now!), Then he would add, ‘if you don’t trust me, get another lawyer!’(After all, he had taken all the cash anyway!)
  • Everything takes more time than estimated: when my husband passed away, the pension process, I thought would get done very quickly. As it was the only aspect without many hang ups. Still it took around five months to actually happen. it was the same with my friend Shehla whose husband Air Cdre (Rtd) Rehmat, when he got shot, when he went for a walk in the nearby park.  Both our pensions took five months to come, till then we had to manage somehow.
    • Similarly, the succession certificate which was to be ready within ten days or two weeks took a hell of a lot more time to get done!
  • Breaks and Recess period: Just as every ‘time table’ has ‘breaks and recess period’ in it, similarly, make sure you have breaks for sheer relaxation and enjoyment within your timetable. This includes time slots with your loved ones. During these times, do not take ‘business calls’ or any such stuff.  Be absolutely mentally and physically free. This is vital for ‘sharpening the Saw’, or to recharge your batteries. Muslims have prayers to unwind, and then you have to reconnect with your other half and dear ones too.

Today, I received a phone call from my tenant Muhammad Ali, who has recently left, and we had to work out the security and bills’ payments. He said he was at the Qul of my father’s as well as at the time of  ‘janaza’. He saw me meeting those who had come that day. He was shocked at how composed I was, and how well I managed everything. He admired how much in control I was.’ His father-in-law used to stay with him. He had gone through the death of his father-in-law just a couple of months ago,  so he knew what it entails. That’s why he appreciated my composure. Of course, it all was accomplished with the help of my Allah’s help. His, and so many well wishers, friends and dear ones. Specially due to the army which rose to the occasion. However, I had also made all arrangements otherwise, too. 

It all comes with training, and being organized. If you aren’t, you can get swept aside. At such times all you need is to have is to do ‘self talk’ with yourself. In my case I told myself: 

  1. I will not cry.
  2. As my father’s only child, I would  manage everything with command and control. So, I took a few minutes of planning and organizing of the situation and managed with the help of my cousin Hasan. I made the necessary phone calls and had the concerned persons on board.
  3. From previous experiences I had already learnt, that being weak only invites the wrong elements into your life. 
  4. It took me over six years to get over my husband’s death; I’m not going to take that long this time. Instead, I’ll be grateful to my Allah for all the time I had with my father. 

That’s all.

The rest will all be handled with Allah’s blessings and His angels who have helped me always. There are my mentors, guides, well-wishers and loved ones who are always there for me.

All this happens, if you have paid them attention during the ‘good’ times also. It happens when you include them in your time table no matter how ‘busy’ you are in your life.

Stay blessed, my sensitive readers. 🙂

Women’s day 2019

 Hi Everyone! Life is passing so fast, suddenly you find most of it is over. (Naturally, no one knows their expiry date – it might be round the corner.)  So, we’ve got lots to do. Today on Women’s Day, (actually we know whole year is ours too, but just for the sake of talking, lets assume that today is ours) I want to include the men out there too. 

Men are very close to us women; Specially, because these men cherish women in the role of mother, sister, wife, friend or colleague. Without their support we can’t go far. Rest assured, we can have more rights, only with their help. We need to convince them about certain things that have been unfair for us. Once they realize it, they will happily support us.

Together we can go far.

 On Women’s Day today, let me share this with you:

  1. Maintain a Balance– in whatever you do. Stay in middle ground – don’t under play or over do things. (Being rather emotional, we tend to overdo things some times.)  
  2. Life is so funny: Enjoy the humor in every situation. 
  3. Don’t believe what you hear –check it out first.
  4. Dedicate yourself to acquiring knowledge and then sharing it:  Be responsible for the information you have. Constantly dedicate yourself to learning, and then to teaching all you’ve learnt. 
  5. Look out for injustice. Stand up against it. Fight for it. But realize when you have to accept defeat, (occasionally). There is still a long way to go. We only have one life.  And we are human too. All in good time. Watch how Islamic law is used against women instead of in favor of women as it was intended: Keep in mind the fact that in Pakistan no other Islamic intervention is followed by all, except those laws which bifurcate women’s properties. This is followed without taking responsibility for their life-time food, clothing and shelter – for which they get the share! Specially note Nikah namah rights.
  6. Watch your finances vigilantly: That is the key to your independence.
  7. Watch what people do:  rather than what they say – you learn more about them like this.  
  8. Do not waste time sorting out people – Allah is there to take care of that.
  9. Keep alive hotline with God, Allah and Maker – after all, in the end we all shall be meeting Him.
  10. Do charity work as much as possible – remember it starts with kindness, do help the men too.
  11. Sometimes it pays to be silent: When there is a choice to speak or not to speak, try to choose not speaking some times. (You won’t regret it!)
  12. Have faith in yourself, and Allah who made you.

We have come a long way.:)

Every successful woman has a successful man who supports her.

 It is only because we stuck out for each other. Let us not fight the men in our lives, without them we are nothing, just as without our support they are nothing.

It isn’t about them.

It is about us. Being together is the key.

Recently, when my father passed away, so many men and women came together to help us to stay on our feet. Their help means the world to us. We can only survive together.

As I heard Bano Qudsia say in an interview once, ‘our fight is against cruelty and injustice – not against men. Whether this is dealt out to men or women, we fight against it together.’

Happy Women’s Day!

Self-talk to heal

Sigh! I’ve begun to love my readers. Writing is a labor of  love anyway, but to be writing for you, is a privilege because I know you are amazing.  Let me say, that your responses have made me feel so close to you all. In the past two weeks or so, (after my father passed away)  I’ve been totally overwhelmed. Your messages on Instagram and Facebook have truly helped me in coping.

Now, it has come to a point, where I’m going to be consoling you all. Everyone who came, naturally shared their own sad experiences too. I realized I’m not alone in my sorrow. Many of you have had far more heart wrenching experiences.

So, let us heal together.

I’ll start with a joke; There is this funny case, where there was one person chasing the other. When they were stopped to find out why; one said, ‘I’ve sat and listened to all his poetry. Now, when it was my turn, he is running away! So, I’m chasing him, to make him sit and listen to my poetry also!’

Got it? I’m here for you. So, let us heal together. 

Luckily, we belong to a religion that doesn’t allow more than three days of grieving. (Only the wife can be in iddat for around four months. That too, she need not be too restricted.) So, all others are to get back to real life.

How to get back to normal life:

  1. By looking round at people who have gone through more than yourself, and sharing their sorrows. Try healing together.
  2. I’ve realized that sorrow has a tendency to make one a bit selfish as we start only thinking of our own grief, so this is why we need to give charity, to realize the pain and sorrows of others.  
  3. We need to consciously, make commitments and honor the commitments made earlier. Instead of refusing such occasions, try to attend them. Make an effort to get back to normal life as soon as possible. For instance, much earlier, I had accepted being a chief guest at the prize distribution ceremony in Sarah’s Wisdom Garden school where I’ve worked earlier. When Munazza Azhar asked me, I agreed to go. So, when the time came, I went. This was exactly a week after my father passed away.  When asked again, I purposely made the effort. Once I went, it felt good to get back in touch with  real life.
  4. Similarly, I made an effort to resume my art classes which I had recently begun at my studio. I know it is hard. It will be hard anyway. 
  5. Be kind to your staff who has worked so hard. So, I gave leave to my father’s helper, so he could be with his family too. (In the earlier days, he himself didn’t take leave.)
  6. Thanking Allah at every step is so important.
  7. Watching finances carefully is vital. Due to departure of one family member the financial dynamics change. So, be down to earth about it. In our culture we have a tendency of over spend. We are at fault. I’ve seen very big business people being very simple at such times.

More self-talk points:

In fact, self-talk is awareness of one’s inner voice. We do it with our journals. When I became a widow, I faced appalling financial issues. I was also clear not to ask for any money. So, I had to be very careful and focused. (Perhaps one day I’ll share with you how I managed.) But this time, it is sufficient to say, always keep money aside for a ‘rainy day’. This is the rainy day. But then, do not spend all of it either. Here too, you’ve got to keep aside for another rainy day.

So, what I do is to have a ‘meeting with myself’. It sounds funny, but it is true. One has to give time to such an activity.

  • A time free of all distractions. To sit alone with a notepad or journal.
  • Decide the topics that need to be thought out. And do it.
  • So, you can silently communicate with yourself, taking your own name or using the third person as ‘she’ or ‘he’. I looked it up and there was interesting information on the net. I liked this one best. Specially the ‘door’ methods, where you invite the uncomfortable emotions in, and deal with them with compassion to heal yourself.
  • In my recent case, I had to tell myself to be grateful to have had my father in our home for last six years. To have so many happy memories with him.  
https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/embracing-dark-emotions#5
  • In short, through self-talk you will be your own best friend.

Financial:

Make a reality check. In short, accept help offered voluntarily. Later, you can reciprocate at an appropriate time. Also, be in the middle ground for all expenses. Be careful with valuables around the house, and keep an open eye all round. Sometimes miscreants arrive at such times.  So be vigilant.

Social:

In the beginning your relatives and friends will come at all hours. It is fine, and you need it. Later, on as you get back to normal routine, have a special ‘visitor’s hour’ so that you can start work too. Usually, a time slot between 5.30 pm and 7.30 pm is a good one. Be particular that this socializing doesn’t put a burden on the sleeping times of the young and old in your family.

Cultural:

Our culture is pretty lethal. So, be very clear about not letting such cultural traditions into your routine which have no place in one’s religion. The fact is that there is no room for lavishing food out on ‘chaleeswan’ and ‘barsi’.  Even a Qul isn’t necessary. But it is better for the family to call everyone at the same time. So, this is fine. Usually, in our culture we are lavishing food on those who have enough, it would be better to feed the poor instead.

During your self-talk…

  1. Clarify your situation to yourself.  Then specify your requirements and prioritize them.
  2. Be clear as to what needs to be done first, then next and so on. So, later on you don’t regret for not doing certain things in time.
  3. Do, take help from your near and dear ones. Decide whom you will confide in.
  4. Do make notes.
  5. Once you have clarified your stance. You will feel better and more able to cope with whatever situation is at hand.
  6. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. If you are doing ten things, there would be failure in two or more. Do not dwell on your mistakes. Just learn from them and move on.
  7. Take yourself on a drive, or pamper yourself. Take along someone who gives you peace, not brings in her own potpourri of miseries too. It is a time to say a simple ‘Alhamdolillah’ that is all.
  8. Listen to your heart, because your gut, your God and You live there.
  9. Through your self talk, you will find ways to implement what is in your heart.

Keep up your good work:

My mentor Mahjabeen mentioned the other day, if you have started doing something for Allah’s sake, like giving food to fishes, or birds or animals, do continue doing it, as they will be looking out for you now. If you have started some social work, do not let it get stopped because you got busy, you must make a point of doing all those things, as those people too will be waiting for you.

Once, I used to volunteer at Rahat Kada in Karachi, (a place for the terminally ill patients.) When I went,  a lady told me, she had put on lipstick and was ready since the morning waiting for us! She was so happy we had gone to sit and chat with her and other patients.

Sometimes, if we cannot do anything, just to give some time and attention can make all that difference in someone else’s life.

So, in this ‘self-talk’ we need to remind ourselves to carry on the little things we have taken up lately. To make sure we are doing our bit in this life given to us.

Stay blessed my dear one. I really love you, and wish all the best for you. 

Allah kay hawalay ….

My father, a man of his word.

God be with you.

Losing one’s father is tough. I have now realized what my children went through seven years ago.

 Last Thursday morning, 21st February, I rushed my father to PAF Hospital. His helper Sabir had carried him to the car in panic. On arrival in emergency of PAF hospital, my father was admitted in ICU.  The doctors told Waliya and myself that he was critical.

This time, the doctors were right.

The next day, Friday, 22nd, around 3.00 pm, my father peacefully met His Maker. Inna lillahe wa inna ilaihe rajiun. To Him we belong, and to Him we return. 

Thank God I remembered to say Alhamdolillah. Just so grateful for having my amazing Dad in my life till now. He spent the last six years in our home.  There are no regrets.  Waliya and I did our best. Nadiya, Nataliya and Anya came every year, spending a lot of time with them.  He overlooked whatever got missed out. He was always sporting and gallant, only giving us advice when asked, and it was always great advice.

I’ve shared a lot with my followers in Instagram and Facebook. Also, two years ago, when I was in Seattle, my father got unwell, in 2016. This is what I wrote in my post then.  

Sharing a few details from last week:

  1. Only a day earlier, my father came to my room, and spoke so lovingly to me. It was on Wednesday 20th February. I couldn’t get out of bed, as I was unwell, suffering from dizzy spells and a back sprain. So, my Dad walked all the way from the lounge to my room to sit there and pray for my well-being. He said, ‘I’m praying that you get well soon, my Bittu. Meri dua hai, keh aap theek ho jao! Ap ki tabiyat theek rahay.’  (I pray that you may get well soon, and you may remain well.) These have turned out to be the last words he spoke to me.
  2. As an only child, I had to take care of everything. Thank God, Hasan Jafar came within minutes to the hospital. He helped me make decisions of burial etc. 
  3. The officers of the army and friends, and relatives all rose to the occasion and did so much for us, that no words can ever be enough. My mother, my daughters and I are so overwhelmed. They took over all requirements of burial, Qul and guests. Specially, General Qamar (of 8FF) and 111 Brigade took over the burial formalities out of my hands. Col. Zahid my cousin’s husband, took care of details. Alhamdolillah, it was great having their help and consoling words.
  4. It is important to note that MPCHS, (Muliti Proffessional Cooperative Housing Scheme) had also made all arrangements for me, they had prepared for burial in B17 graveyard, also all formalities, including namaz-e-janaza at local mosque near our home. They also arranged for the gents during Qul to read siparas there and sharing of memories.
  5. Receiving messages of condolences and phone calls from all over the world and locally, made me realize I wasn’t alone. Instagram, Facebook was full of so many assurances and support. Our home was full of loving and hugging friends and relatives.
  6. One thing amazes me most. I realize why Allah didn’t give me any siblings, as He surrounded me with better persons than siblings even. The fraternity of friends, relatives, families, and literally strangers, all made sure I received more care. My uncles, aunts, cousins,friends were all there to take over. May Allah bless them all. A special thanks to my cousin Hasan and Chachi Shahnaz, Amina, and their girls. Ayesha my friend, and Zoha along with so many others. Many traveled from far, to be with us.
  7. The men who came from far and wide, even from DIK to attend my father’s funeral rites. Gen. Qamar, Gen. Saeed-uz-Zafar, sons of my father’s friends, Brig. Ajab and many others.  I thank all those who came to attend my father’s funeral.
  8. My special thanks to Col. Zahid who is husband of my cousin, who went into tears when I offered to pay for the grave. He said,‘your father called me his son, let me be that son now!’
  9. Everyone had a tale to share. Everyone felt the pain. Even persons from our locality who watched him go for his daily ‘walk’ on his wheelchair, (he would return with flowers in his lap, handed to him by children playing there.)
  10. I had to tell myself that I did as much as I could. Things were getting difficult in spite of the amazing care by Dr. Fayaz Bangash managing his UTI, and Dr. Mehmood. I was on the verge of having to making some difficult decisions putting a PEG directly into his stomach or putting a food pipe, as his food intake was suffering.
  11. Loving the fact that my college friends, Fairy, Riffat and Ayesha came all the way from Lahore, just for the Dua, (special prayers)  and returned afterwards. (So, they traveled ten hours by road to be two hours with me!) in fact Fairy was the one who said the special prayers. She mentioned such pertinent points in her sermon, everyone was quite struck by it all.
  12. We humbly accepted the food arrangements by my chachi Shahnaz, phupi Aziz and Chacha Mumtaz. Even my neighbors sent me food. 
  13. Suddenly, it has dawned on me, my father has been taken away by my Allah to a better place.  Allah kay hawalay.

In Retrospect:

  1. Alhamdolillah, my precious father has been taken by my Allah to a place free of all these physical hardships.
  2.  Going on a Friday, would make him free of hardships of the grave, Insha Allah.
  3.  As a Ghazi from two wars, he would InshaAllah be making a smooth journey to Heaven.
  4. Thanks to each one of you, my father is now standing so much of a better chance of reaching his heavenly abode, due to all your prayers and good wishes.
  5. He truly lived by the four elements that bring success in this life and the next. I’ve written a piece on it in this blog post. It is based on a sermon by Tariq Jameel. 
My father was interested in details being explained at the museum during a visit a year ago. 

Remember this:

I realized, that since I was emotionally very charged and upset, I needed to step back and remember these things first. To be very careful I don’t say anything that may hurt anyone. Many who came or messaged me, shared the fact that they too had recently lost a loved one, a grandmother, father, or brother. So, I suppose we all need to remember this:

  1. Forgive ourselves for any inadequacies. Death is final and inevitable, no matter what. It is natural to feel that I didn’t do enough. 
  2. Remembering strengthening words: my friend Tahira shared with me these words the day my husband passed away:

You must not say, ‘I wish!’ you will accept everything that happened, as the will of Allah; The time, the place, the way… everything happened by the will of God.’ So, you need to accept it as such.’ Remembering these words made me feel strong again.

  • Treasure good memories, and focus on the positives.
  • Appreciate all help given by near and dear ones, and by total strangers.
  • Do not overdo anything, stay within your means. As Fairy said, ‘my mentor told me, ‘apni istataat mein rehna chahiye.’ Do only what Allah expects from you.  – Not overdoing anything. (On the day of judgment you won’t be asked about many things for which we keep running around in this world.  So, why get into them?) Keep things simple, as everyone understands.
  • Saying Alhamdolillah, at every step. Starting from the moment Allah chose to take away my loved one. To not saying anything that I may regret later on. So, it is best to say the least.
  • Take it easy, this is a tough stage in life, so be kind to yourself. Sleep and rest whenever you can. Even if sleep evades, you just relax. Take a warm or hot shower and take mini-breaks and relax.
  • Be patient:  Step back and avoid getting angry. Remember you are under severe stress. So, cool down, and be very patient.  You need not speak much, most of those who come, want to share their own similar experiences. It is good. You know you aren’t alone. Listen to their problems with full attention and patiently. Many lost their dear ones recently. They, too want you to share their story, and give them sympathy.
  • Do not miss any prayer: Be vigilant in saying prayers and any reading of duas.
  • Give sadqa at every opportunity.  
When I had taken my parent for a visit to the Museum in Islamabad. 

Thank you, my beloved Readers and followers in Instagram and Facebook as well . Thank you for being by my side. Stay blessed. ( I certainly am blessed by your strengthening words.)

Realization & writing journals.

‘It’s a quality of prophets to realize….’ said Dr. Muwaddat Rana, a leading Psychiatrist of Pakistan. 

Realization:

Realization is to look within ourselves, to ‘see’ our own shortcomings, and then to find ways to improve ourselves.

Simple!

Until we don’t realize where we went wrong, we can never remake ourselves, nor improve our future relationships.  You can say or do what you like, but it won’t work.

See how two Prophet’s felt it:

Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) case:

I’m sure you’ve heard of the woman who brought her child to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), saying, ‘she has too many sweets, please tell her to stop.’ He asked her to return next day. When she came, he told the child not to have sweets. Surprised, she asked ‘why he didn’t say the same yesterday?’ He said,

‘Till yesterday, I was having too many sweet eatables myself.’

How can one tell others to do something, which one doesn’t follow oneself?

This is realization.

It was Hazrat Younus, who prayed:

one of the most powerful prayers you can say. 

Realizations in relationships:

It is the most important thing in maintaining our relationship with anyone. To make sure nothing happens, and when it happens, to realize, and redeem. It is vital to restore the situation and relationship by making changes in one’s own behavior; you need to take steps to show what you are feeling. Your realization needs to be evident not only in words but by actions too.

Sometimes, a simple ‘sorry, I love you.’ Doesn’t work. More has to be done to redeem a relationship.

I know, among Christians, redemption takes on a strong connotation, but you know what I mean. I could use the word ‘restore’ also. But redemption is a little more than that. It is to make up for the wrong you did by doing that little extra bit too. That is what I feel and believe. Even Allah says if you are sorry for having done something wrong, as the person for forgiveness. (He won’t forgive till that person has forgiven either.) You can feed the poor, or fast for two months, too.

 You need to do something tangible to show you are really sorry, and to prove your realization.

Journaling or keeping a diary helps:

Journaling is an excellent tool to look at your own self and ‘see’ the connotations. It makes a difference.

Write about both happy and sad things while journaling:

I’ve kept a diary since I was thirteen years old. Believe me, it helps. So, all my life, I’ve done a lot of journaling. The only thing I now realize, I did wrong was, that I wrote ferociously when I was upset, unhappy or wronged. But hardly ever wrote, when I was ecstatic or happy. So, later on, if I read my diary, one felt as if there have been more unhappy times that happy ones    – which I know isn’t the case – so, while journaling, one’s got to keep balance.

Blaming others doesn’t help:

Blaming others and pointing out their mistakes and shortcomings, will never help you. Realize, where you went wrong. How your reactions could have made a difference. Being proactive earlier, can change consequences. I mean, next time, if you have realized,  you can preempt situations and save them before they get bad. Changing and improving your own behavior definitely will make a difference. That only comes after realization.

Otherwise,  you can go on making the same mistakes, and facing the same consequences all your life. If you don’t realize, it won’t happen.

Then you ask,

 ‘Why do such things happen to me?’

Bullet journaling;

Life is fast, time is short. You can do bullet journaling. I like it too. You can even try both – depending on your mood and time at hand – just write five points daily.  Great personalities including several US presidents, wrote a diary at night, going over the day. Seeing where they went wrong, and how they can improve matters next day.

Best thing about journaling;

Also, by writing, you can look at an issue from many angles. This is Edward De Bono’s concept of wearing the six hats. That is you look at an issue from six different points of view.

I’ve found just writing the pros and cons of something, or problem and solutions works pretty well too.

Some things, can’t be felt when someone else tells you. But you can realize it. When you look at your actions, ‘seeing’ how it happened. Then prepare a  step-by-step redemption plan.  You can say ‘I was wrong, and go up to the person say you are sorry. Not only that; Your behavior afterwards can show it, on a daily basis.

Worth the effort:

Believe me, if I find out that I’ve not spoken nicely to my cook or domestic help, I’ll go to him and ask him to forgive me for having hurt him. It isn’t easy cooking in such extreme temperatures. To come all the way, and then to get comments that hurt. So what, if there was too much salt in the food, one could have said the same thing in a nicer way too. Also, not in front of others. There are opportunities  for putting things right. So, asking for forgiveness needs to be done as quickly as possible.

Journaling is good for one’s EQ:

In today’s language you could say that a diary or journal is good for one’s EQ – your emotional quotient. There is so much talk about IQ. – When in fact one needs to have a high emotional quotient too. If you read the book Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman, it stresses the importance of having an outlet for your emotions. A way to understand one’s self and to know why and how one feels the way one does.

In the book Working with Emotional Intelligence, the writer specially stresses how much people are affected by what they feel, rather than what they know. Most actions are fueled by anger, hatred, and feelings of revenge. – Whereas, it can be conquered by feelings of love and forgiveness.

The Amygdala:

Location of Amygdala. 

The amygdala in the brain is an important almond shaped part which controls our feelings. How important it is to nurture this, and how it affects our actions in our lives.  The feelings can be controlled by our own journaling and realizations.

How to do Journaling:

My diary. 
  1. Privacy: Your diary is yours. It is no fun if you can’t write what you feel, because you are afraid someone will read it. So, privacy is a matter of concern living in such an over populated country full of nosy people.  It shouldn’t be read by anyone. I can understand why one is afraid that one’s siblings will read it and then make fun of you. So, it is a mutual thing. You all respect each other’s right to privacy and guard each other’s right for it. Of course, you can use code words when you write delicate matters and no one will understand. Or you use diaries which can be locked. Yes, you can get them.  Or have a hidden file in your laptop. It is important to have your diary where you can express yourself. Mainly to write things frankly, and only then can you use it to realize where you have gone wrong in life. Then find out how to make it better. 
  2. Regularity: it doesn’t have to be a daily thing. But not an annual one either! So, usually one writes every few days.
  3. Make it a scrapbook:  If you take the trouble to put in your memorable things like pressed flowers, the ticket of a favorite show, or other personal things into it, along with photos and what not. It becomes even more interesting.
  4. Keep it easily accessible: It has to be near at hand, so you can write in it whenever you feel the need to. Best place is a lockable drawer in your bedside table. Orin your cupboard, or even in your bookshelf. Whatever, place you feel is good enough, and where it won’t be touched.
  5. You can have rituals with  special time & place: Sometimes having a scented candle burning while you write, or soft music feels great. Having a time, like first thing in the morning or last thing at night when it is your ‘me time’, then you are free to write. It can take five minutes or thirty minutes – as you like.
  6.  Agenda: Usually it is something that you can’t discuss with anyone else, you discuss with yourself here.
  7. Facing shortcomings:Do write what you want to improve about yourself and how you plan to go about it.
  8. Love yourself: As you do whatever you do, be kind to yourself, and loving too. Praise and acknowledge your journey.  

OMG you are still reading! Love you so much for reading all this way.

Stay blessed, lovely and handsome ones.  

Social Media & My Playlist

A better entertainment alternative to television …

You need oxygen from flowers too!

There was a student named Esha in Roots School, in 2009. I came to know her  when I worked as the Regional Coordinator in the Head Office of Roots School System. She was studying in O’levels.  I found her very mature and sensible. An only child, she chose to wear a hijab. Once I asked her which television programs she watched. I  was surprised to hear that she didn’t watch MTV, as a conscious decision. When asked why, (as all others her age would love to watch it,) she replied,

‘ I don’t like anyone to impose their ideas onto mine. By watching programs which I do not agree with, I’m leaving myself open to influence.’

 I knew she would be going a long way.

She did; Next, I heard she was studying in Harvard!

So, here is a lesson that we need to learn at any age, something this young teenager had realized already.  We must be selective about the ‘entertainment’ we watch, or the social media we use.  It is vital for us to make a conscious intrusion. Otherwise strangers controlling social media are already controlling us.

They are controlling our decisions, our actions, our relationships. Everything! As we know, most of it is through advertising. In fact the advent of advertising is what has led to this lethal materialism and crime rate in every society.

First, we have to be conscious of it; be aware of its impact. Only then can we protect ourselves.  

Very few people learn to control it.

So, what is media, and social media? Basically it is interactive, and can be used constructively too. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,and many other forms of media are all part of it.

How to find ways to succeed with it.

Ask yourself:

  1. Is it a source of peace or frustration?
  2. How can I benefits from it?
  3. Are my relationships with my family suffering due to it? If so, what can I do to make sure it doesn’t happen again?
  4. How can I restrict its usage? (There are apps on phones to help you restrict its use.)

Honest answers to these questions will help you.

The biggest victim is the lack of sleep faced due to no ‘closing time’ in this world of social media. 

Positive impact of social media:

Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay for a while at least. So, my theory is, ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!’

As you know, everyone finally joined Facebook, after saying all sorts of horrid things about it. Now, the kids have left it and gone to Instagram.  – Now, we have started going there too!

Anyhow, I believe in middle ground and staying in tune with technology. To do whatever it takes to have a wonderful life. To stay blessed, and help others stay blessed too. If social media can help, why not?

Personal experience of yesterday:

How I found our cat through social media.

It is through social media, that I found Muffin, our Persian cat, yesterday.  

Last night, around 9.00 pm, I realized he was lost. Immediately, I informed Waliya, my daughter. Soon, a fan of hers had shared a screen print of an announcement on an animal rescue page. She felt it might be ours.

I had been frantically searching for him on our streets surrounding our home. ( Since he is deaf, there is no point in calling him.) I fell asleep. I woke up after 12.00 am, to realize that he was found! So, literally within three hours he was found. The driver of Mrs. Haroon, wife of the dentist Haroon ur Rashid, nearby, brought him home to her. She already has four cats. She kept him, and shared his picture with her daughter. Then the daughter, put up its picture on the page of animal rescuers in Rawalpindi. A fan of my daughter, saw it there, and sent its’ screen picture  to my daughter in Karachi. Then she informed me. I then contacted the rescuer Alina Omair.  She gave me Mrs. Haroon’s
number . That’s how the very next morning, I got my cat back. God bless them!

It is through social media that I found out about CSS School, and the old people’s home in Islamabad, where I’ve been able to help along with Sana from Australia, and now Nathalene in Islamabad. So, it is an excellent tool to improve lives of those around us.

In the end, it is up to us how we choose to use the latest technology.

It is YouTube which is the current favorite. Here, one can enjoy seeing episodes of plays in a row. I love listening to music too while working. This one is my current favorite:

One of my favorite tunes while working on these blogs. 

Success stories of saving lives:

I know of a kidnapped girl who was found through social media, and recently, a person has also been convinced not to commit suicide, too.

So, it has saved lives.

 The situation of Palestine has finally come in front of the entire world, as was the case of Myanmar, Myanmar: Are crimes against humanity taking place? *Warning: Distressing images * – BBC Newsnight.

Where genocide of Muslims had crossed all limits.

 I am very hopeful, that Kashmir can finally be saved – through social media. The written word is nothing compared to the real life videos that have taken the world by storm. India can no longer obstruct and block the media, from the world.

Policemen have been caught and so have the crooks.

Yes, Social Media is powerful and can save lives.

Negative impact of Social Media:

With so much dopamine and serotonin going round due to social media, how can it cause depression?

It definitely does! This is why its use has to be consciously kept restricted and controlled, or we are bound to suffer.

Watching motivational videos:

Ever since my husband passed away, I have my breakfast alone. I am accompanied with my daily ‘to do’ list, and DW channel  on television.  That’s how I’ve spent most of six years.

Since last year,  I’ve started watching motivational videos with breakfast. So, by now, I’m going to share quite a few of my favorite videos. You just have to write the name and you’ll get there. I’m sure you know far more.

Entertainment is a serious business.

It is best to allow a time and space for it. Then get on with our lives.

My daughter Nataliya has tried having ‘no screen day’. It is a good effort in the right direction. It is the best way to detox ourselves from it. I would suggest we have ‘no-screen-hours’ in the day, which is shared by the family too. This must be consciously followed, specially at meal times and family times and specially, while entertaining guests. 

Going for walks without using the social media is important. Breathe in this fresh air, and listen to the birds instead. 

Keep these sanity points while using social media:

Just for your peace of mind:

  1. Have a Life! – Besides the one you share on media.
  2. Do not stalk people: or follow people unnecessarily.  Do not be envious of them. (Be clear that what they are sharing can also be untrue! Also, even if it is true, it is just a few minutes of their 24 hours. The rest maybe hell 😉 …. )
  3. Do not get impressed by the food: they are eating now, (they didn’t share that sookha toast with malai this morning!)
  4. Do not believe all that you see:  Yes, the filters and make-up are doing a damn good job too! (That’s why they look more beautiful.) Appreciate all the beauty your Allah has blessed you with.
  5. People say ‘cheese’ to camera even when they don’t feel like it: Remember, even when they show news bulletins of flood-hit people, they cannot help but smile at the camera. (We know they have just lost their homes…) It’s so funny.
  6. Don’t worry, they are as miserable as you, too: – So get happy for that! ( I mean, my gas bill last month had me very upset. I perked up when I found out that I wasn’t alone. Everyone had got a tough gas bill. This is why, I do like to share some real sad things and goof-ups in my life with you all, to show you I’m just another human being
  7. Restrict your time spent: You can do this by committing yourself to situations where you interact with real people. Especially your own family. Read books, and blogs which are positive and helpful. Do physical exercise, and have healthy food.(Upcoming blog post! 😉 )

Having said all that, let us get back to social media….

My favorite playlist of music and other videos:

The other day, someone asked me for my ‘playlist’. Well, here is a glimpse into my musical playlist, and some of my favorite videos:  

Classic Plays by Haseena Moeen:

  •   Shahzori,
    •  Ankahi,
    • Tanhaiyan,
    • Dhoop kinaray.

Sameena Peerzada interviews:

  • Ushna.
  • Mohsin and many others.

Self help and motivational videos:

  • Bano Qudsia
    • Ashfaque Ahmed.
    • Qasim Ali Shah: All his videos are amazing, specially the one’s on teaching, and relationships.
  • BK Shivani: Relationships 1,2,3,4,
    • Robin Sharma: Morning routine, 5 mentalities mastery, and the rest!
    • Stephen R Covey: 7 habits of Highly Effective People.
    • Opera Winfrey: 10
    • Dr. Wyne Dyer:
    • Iyanla Vanzant.

Music:

  • Mehmut Orhan: Game of Thrones, mix, Boral Kibil& Mehmut Orhan – uprising (Original Mix)
    • Mix- Boral Kibil & Mahmut Orhan, Mix – BoralKibil & Mahmut Orhan, HakanAkkus – I Can’t Be (Original Mix.) –( all oftheir work!)
    • Mehdi Hasan: Shola tha jal bujha hoon, sadaeinmujhay na do (Ahmed Faraz), koo ba koo Pail gai baat shanasai ki (PerveenShakir.)
    • Jagjit Singh – yeh tum jo itna muskura rahay ho,teray khushboo mein basay khat,  koi yehkaisay bataye ke wo tanha kiyon hai. His renderings of Mirza Ghalib’s ghazals.
    • Chitra – yeh na thi hamari qismet,
    • Geaoge Michael : Careless Whisper, Jesus to a Child,
    • Lionel Richie: Hello,
    • Berlin – Take My Breathe away theme from TopGun.
    • Toni Braxton – Unbreak my heart, 
    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-xbEO57lHg
    • Sade – smooth operator.
    • Arabic Spanish music:

Humor: (Remember, you have to laugh at least 23 times a day.)

Love this song!

I could go on and on. I think music is a very personal thing. We have to have a good collection, and keep it nearby for solace and peace. 

 Love you for coming all the way, to this point in my blog.  
Stay blessed, my dear Reader 🙂

Watch Out Girls!

It is so important to take care of your safety at all times. In today’s world, you are moving a lot. Coming in contact with people at home and outside. You have got to keep yourself safe in this world of today. In this blog post I just want to share some points which are vital for your safety. 

My father’s warnings:

‘It is good to be brave,’ my Dad once said to me, ‘but you must know the difference between being brave and being stupid!’

So, when you take a risk.  – Make it a calculated risk.

You know what that means? – That you take every precaution to keep yourself safe at all times.

Sultan Golden broke many world records and has been a pride for the country. He was a motorbike and car jumper, which is very rare in Pakistan. 
You see Sultan Golden here, and my father is standing next to Sheikh Zaid. This was a historic event in Lahore. It was my father Brig.M. M. Sarfaraz Khan who promoted Sultan Golden. It was only after finding out about the safety precautions which Golden took while performing these very dangerous feats. 

Sultan Golden would ride his motor bike through a flaming halo, and I’ve seen him perform this jump over twenty two cars, breaking the world record at that time. He did that with a car also. It appeared reckless. But actually, it wasn’t. He took all precautions; He wore a fireproof dress as he did so. He also practiced and calculated distance. He minutely calculated equipment, and the implementation of that motorbike jump to the minutest detail.  He did the same for his car jumps also.

That is what you should do.

Know that there is no law in Pakistan today which will protect you. (A law which is only in books is useless to a girl who has been harassed or mistreated.) In fact the ‘law’ won’t even protect you afterwards. You have the case of Mukhtara Mai in front of you. 

Know that.

And understand it well.

Things appear more spooky at night. The shadows can have someone there. So, have your place well lighted. 

I’ve done plenty of daring things in my life. (Nothing compared to what Sultan Golden did.) But it was risky. Yet it was all calculated risk. I made sure there wasn’t any ‘risk’ when I took it. You can reduce the risk factors one by one, by addressing your fears, and doing something about each one of them. You have to measure it all, I had taken every necessary precaution to protect myself and my daughters.

You don’t take daring steps without preparation.

When I lived alone with my daughter in a house, which was still under construction,  there were laborers living on first floor, and I had enemies. I knew there were burglars and thieves, and murderers around too. Only a month back, there had been attempts in several nearby houses, and homes in the vicinity. Yet, I moved into my house.  Apparently, it was a foolish thing to do, but in reality I had done my homework. (In spite of the fact that I had lost my husband just three weeks earlier, and had faced the most horrific situations.)

But when I moved into my home, I was prepared.

While moving in, I took all measures for safety. At first I had a guard. Then, got a security system installed.  I had my Paprica, a black cocker spanial who was ferocious. I kept knives, golf clubs all over the house, even under sofas. Everywhere. I had a pistol too. (Yes, I know how to use firearms!)_ I took a round of the house at every odd hour. I watched every car that parked outside.  My neighbors were on alert as were the laborers in my house too.

Of course, Allah helped me. But He too only helps those who help themselves.

 You don’t become suddenly brave. It has a lifetime of being fearless, and living courageously. You need to read books and watch videos on self defense. YouTube is full of these, and so are the book shelves. 

You can take help of police. Do register  domestic staff and do the needful. You can even write down names of persons you are apprehensive about at the local police station. Things are improving in many cases also. But. Rely on yourself only. 
Read these carefully.

Safety tips for you:

  • Dress:Dress with care. Never displaying flesh, or being seductively dressed. This dress has to be combined with a ‘no-nonsense’ attitude. You’ve got to make it clear by your mannerism exactly where the other person stands. Watch your tone of voice.
  • Time: Avoid being outside in night hours, unless you have full control of everything. Once I heard a program in which the person was asked why he behaved inappropriately with girls at a night club. He said, if a girl enters a nightclub alone after 12.a.m. it is an open invitation.
  • Never be alone with a man. Move in a group, and stay that way. If you find yourself alone, make your behavior and attitude such that a person won’t think of crossing the line. Do not accept a drink or meal from someone. Specially, when it isn’t sealed. (You know, something can be put in it to make you sedated.)
  •  Do not get blackmailed by anyone for anything. No matter how much a person says, be clear, that nothing is worth putting yourself in a risky situation.
  • Listen to your gut feeling: Sometimes, apparently everything is fine. But somehow you feel uneasy. This is your gut feeling. Respect it.
  • Do not tell anyone your next step: Plan things in such away, that you know for sure what you will do in which case. Keep this to yourself. The surprise element is your greatest weapon. If you tell another person what you are going to do, he will become prepared. So, look right and run left!
  • Have your plans A, B, C and D in place:  When your plan A doesn’t work. Then your ‘plan B’ will already be in line. (Be ready with your plan C also.) Here are a few tips:
    • If you have to be in an inappropriate situation, ask a friend to call you after fifteen minutes. Tell her to come, if you don’t answer the phone. You can have a code word to say to the person to indicate whether things are okay, or not. (Have another code, to tell the person to call again in a while, too).  Pick the phone and say it.
    • Do’ live sharing’on Google map  with your  friend so you can be traced and saved in time.
    • In any case, always keep a spray in your purse, and a packet of nice red-chili powder or chat masala to throw into an assailant’s eyes.
    • If nothing else, loudly read Auzo billa he minashata nirrajeem. It can be very powerful for these devils. 
  • As a parent:
    •  Listen to your child, and read the signals: If a child comes to you telling you about inappropriate behavior of anyone. Deal with the situation so she never has to face that person again. Remember, if you  aren’t going to respond to her or his plea seriously, who will?
    • Never leave your child: Even for a few days with a relative, going for an Umra or Haj is not ‘farz‘ if you have responsibilities. Take your child with you. All these events are child friendly. Otherwise, don’t go. I cannot help feeling that the Zainab case wouldn’t have happened, if the mother hadn’t gone for Umra. For God’s sake, it isn’t a ‘farz’ if you have responsibilities. Never confuse anything or situation with your own responsibilities.
    • Remember,‘accidents can be prevented’: Learn from mistakes. Learn and use modern  gadgets and technology to be close to your child.
    • Take your child to work with you: If you have to work, choose a place where they offer a day-care within the premises. Then you can visit your child, during work hours.
    • Choose work which allows children:These days I’m reading Barefoot Executive in which the author Carrie Wilkerson shows you how to start your own business from home, so you do not have to leave your children. All my life, I did my freelance work taking my children with me for interviews and research. You see the village women and even beggar women having their children with them. It is good. There are men who keep their children with them during work. The child benefits from this environment also. 
  • Do not trust anyone: Whether you know the person since childhood or have just met the person. It is actually all the same. Believe me, I know.
  • Follow the rules of Islam: If you just follow the rules of Islam then you will be safe in 99% of cases. A person is a ‘na-mehram’and that is it. People coming to you and saying ‘I’m your brother, or uncle, or father, is all nonsense.’ Only the real relationships can be trusted, and those too within their own constraints. That’s it.
  • Suicide tendencies: Note anyone talking about killing herself, or wanting to leave this world. Take it very seriously. Recently, I heard of someone who actually saved the life of a star, who had casually mentioned such a thing. You can save lives. Do it.
  • Read between the lines: Watch what people say, and what they do. Note the difference. Watch it even more carefully. Keep your opinion to yourself.  Whatever the case, if you have to meet someone, do it in a public place.

Do read ‘Ya Hafeezo’ and give sadqa or charity, (even if it’s a small one) every time you go out of the house, or first thing in the morning. If you don’t have cash give something of yours, or share your meal. (When you go to the restaurant, always take the left overs, even if it is to give to a beggar outside.

Stay safe and stay protected, and most of all, stay blessed.

Extraordinary relationships.

Sharing some amazing stories here… 

All our relationships are in our own hands; The world can say or do what it likes, but how a person chooses to behave with ones’ relations, or one’s situation is purely one’s own choice.

Moral of the story: Your response to any situation depends not on your relationship, it depends on you.

In a nutshell – it is love. Here are some amazing stories I’d love to share with you:

  1. Treatment with non-believers: The biggest example of love is when Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) would be going to pray to the mosque, and there was this non-believer, who kept the garbage of her house, in her balcony, only to throw it on his head, whenever he passed by.  She knew, his clothes had to be clean for prayers, and then he would have to go home to change also. One day, she didn’t throw any garbage on him. He became concerned. He knocked on the door, wondering if she is okay? He was told that she isn’t well. So he went in to ask about her and get medications for her. This is how you build a relationship.This is what our prophet Muhammad (PBUH) taught us. (I know, you are thinking, ‘only a Prophet could be like that!’)
  2. Age difference between husband and wife: Hazrat Khadija (aged forty) was a business woman, impressed by his dealings, (as he was her employee,) she sent a proposal to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) (aged 25,) and he accepted it. They had an amazing marriage. Yes, he defied the stereotype of age difference, in his marriage to her. Theirs was a monogamous relationship, which he always cherished.

All right, so you say, my examples are from a prophets life. Let me give some human ones now.

  • Bringing up one’s child in another faith: My mother was a Christian, but chose to bring me up as a Muslim. She would search for the best ‘molvi sahab’ or priest, and made sure I read the Holy Quran with meanings. I often wonder, would I have done the same in a similar situation? Yes, she has been a great mother. She said, ‘I don’t want my child to feel like a different person. Specially, as there is hardly any differences between Muslims and Christians. The Ten Commandments are the same.  
  • Caring for step-mother and step-sister: My friend Raheela – is the daughter of her father’s second wife. Her mother didn’t keep good health. At the age of six, her father passed away. Her mother, decided to leave the house, believing that her step sons, (who were nearer her own age,) would want her to leave. When she told them that she is leaving the house, they refused to let her go. So, she remained. My friends’ step brothers and sisters cared for her and her mother all her life. They educated her, and married her off, giving her her share from their father’s inheritance. When she moved to her new home, she took along her mother. Now, her husband took care of her mother till she died at the age of ninety five years.  I’m a witness to it. She hates me to call them ‘step’ as she says, ‘they have given me even more love than any real siblings could have done.’ Till today she loves and cherishes them. But I insist on calling them what they are, because they are so great. These days, my friend is heartbroken due to passing away of one brother, whom she remembers holding her hand and taking her to school when she was a kid. 
  • Love between two wives of a husband: Another friend Fatima* is daughter of her father’s second wife. Her father was a big industrialist, and when the couple realized they couldn’t have children, his first wife, chose a second wife for him. She chose her own cousin and friend, and they were married. When the second wife, (my friend’s mother,) had her first son, she gave him to the first wife. They lived in the same house, yet, it was a big thing. There were five children. The two wives were on excellent terms all their lives, because the father never differentiated between them. Each one received equal status and love and respect from him and rest of the family. So, much so, that after his death, the two wives chose to live together in the same house. Recently, the elder one has passed away. Now, the second wife has gone into depression, as she finds it hard to continue her life without the presence of her ‘saukan’ (the other wife) in her life. Yes, I’m a witness to this case.
  • Step mother, changing her step-son’s life: You must have heard of Napolean Hill. In his book, Grow Rich with Peace of Mind, he mentions how it was his step mother who gave him the confidence to be who he became. She changed his life, by giving him confidence at a young age.
  • Successful marriage between a Muslim and Christian: My father, a Muslim, married my mother a Christian at a time when there was a lot of prejudice. There was total harmony in my home. Their loving relationship has been an example for all in our family.
  • Brother taking responsibility of caring for his siblings: As a kid, I heard of the mother of six children, who committed suicide on the Qul of her husband, in Pindi Gheb. She went into a room and poured kerosene oil and put a match to it, killing herself. It is believed, the couple had been a very loving one. So, it was the loss of her husband, and knowing how people treated widows, and worry about her orphans. So she decided to bail out. The children were divided among the close relatives. (Naturally, a single family could afford to keep all six together.) Some years later, when the eldest son got a job in Pakistan Navy, in Karachi, he applied for accommodation on humanitarian grounds. He got all his siblings together in that house, including a blind sister. I heard about this in 1991, and connected the two stories.  Really wanted to do this piece for Dawn, but my husband got posted out, and we moved to Peshawar. 
  • Brother taking his siblings to Canada for a better life: I know a true story (from my own ancestors,) of a couple who lived in England long ago, then dying of Tuberculosis. Their one son had already run away from home, joined the British army, and gone to India. (He is my great grandfather Fred. ) The eldest brother, after the death of his parents, left England, took his siblings, and moved to Canada for a better life. (Now, out of the six siblings, I’ve got in contact with Dave Schirru who is great grandson of Ruth who was one of the siblings, probably in the early 1900s.) So, this brother, instead of running off to Canada alone, took his siblings along to take care of them also.  
  • Stepmother loves the previous children of her husband as her own: My friend Tehmina*,  found out that her elder three siblings were’nt from her own mother. She was in school and someone told her. She was shocked, she had no idea. Naturally, because her mother and father treated all the same way. Hats off to the mother who loved them as her own.

So, every Cinderella story isn’t true. In fact, you can make sure it isn’t true. It takes a very special person to make such decisions in life, and act that way too.

That special person can be you too. In today’s changing world, where there are so many divorces, and changing decisions, it is important to open one’s heart and home to new scenarios. Love can conquer all, if you are set on doing so.

All you need is a forgiving and loving heart.

I’m sure, you too would know many cases like these. The point is, do not be influenced by ‘log kiya kaheingay’, ( what people might say,) or the toughness of circumstances. Failure is not an option. Work things out, the way you want. Most important of all, have faith in God, Allah or whatever you call Him.

 Go on and do what you feel is the right thing, deep in your heart.

That’s all!

Stay blessed, my Reader. 

Note: All names with * are not real names, to protect identities. All photographs have been taken by author.