The upholstery project

Hello Everyone! You gave me such a wonderful response to my previous blog post on how I revamped my parents’ room here.  I was flooded with questions about it afterwards. Yes, I get most on my Facebook and Instagram accounts where I share the blog posts also, as well as on WhatsApp with various groups.

So,  as you might have guessed, I’ve regularly changed the upholstery of my furniture after every few years. It is more economical than getting new furniture, and it brings in a fresh new look to the home.

My friend Ayesha said that it also removes any unpleasant or difficult  vibes and memories that each furniture item might have gathered during its’ use. Also, it is clean and plain hygienic too. Just removing that old cloth to replace it with new one along with the foam etc, does help to refresh it all. It is literally as good as new now.

Actually, my philosophy is to buy a reasonable cloth so I can keep changing it often. Mostly people buy such expensive and exclusive materials that they last so long and you have to live with it for years and years! I love to refresh and make changes within every few years, depending on my economic status. In this process, I get to give benefits to the workers too. – Usually giving them food while they are at my place, and obviously they get an opportunity to make money too.

You can see what a back breaking job it is. Please do be kind to them.

This is how it looked previously! It was around twenty five years ago, I also needed a change.

Your questions:

  1. Where is the shop?

Well, I go to Gul Khan fabrics. (This is why I love blogging so much, I can take names of places and brands! Previously I’ve been to Curtain Museum and to Khan fabrics also.)

You can go to any shop in your city or town. Go to one which is reasonable and has a large enough variety too. Once I was lucky to go to one which was closing down, so I got excellent bargains there. Also, watch out for sales there. So, if you do such things often, you can pick up materials as you go. Remember to save up left-over cloth and materials like foam, after each session. These will come handy later on. If nothing else these make good cushions. I’ve done this work in Karachi, Sargodha, Islamabad and Peshawar. This is his Facebook page. Do not get upset by the designs shown there, you can make your own stuff more graceful and decent.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Business-Service/Gul-Fabrics-640718076064900/

  1. Where did you get the upholstery men?

Originally, he was recommended by the shop where I went for the fabric. When they came to my house, and I spoke to them, I found out that one of them had worked with someone I knew very well. She had a furniture shop and I knew this man had worked there. So, there was this old connection. Ever since, I’ve only called him up and he sends the guys. His name is Murtaza and his phone number is: 03005105729

  1. How much did it cost?

The cost depends on the cloth, the making charges which is the ‘labor’ and the materials needed.

  1. How much do they charge per seat?

It is Rs.1200 to Rs.1500, depending on the design.

 

How to go about this upholstery project:

(This is how it looked previously!)

  1. Keep gathering as many items as possible: With experience,  I’ve found out that they don’t like to do small projects. So, I won’t call them if there is just one sofa set to be done up. They won’t come. When it is a big enough project, then they will come happily. So, I just keep making a list of all different items around the house that could do with the change. It makes sense, as it will save your time and money too.  So, in my case this time, it was:
    1. My mother’s Victorian sofa set of 3 +2 + 1.
    2. Then I got the hospital bed done up for her, (which I had got for my father, earlier. We found it is very handy to raise an elderly person to a sitting position in bed to give them water or food. So, I got the  bed head and foot board fully upholstered with cloth left over from the sofa set.
    3. Bed head of master bedroom.
    4. Window seat of living room.
    5. Single-seater of another sofa set. (The other 2+ 1 seaters were fine, so I didn’t do those.)
    6. Turned a center long table into an ottoman.
    7. Then did up the red 6 – seater which my mother brought with me, into a yellow one!

So, this was a sizable amount of work for them to come to the house for. It was feasible for them and for me.

  1. Meeting with upholstery man first: So, before starting the project, you have a meeting with the man in-charge, in my case he is Murtaza. During the meeting I showed him what I want. The shared vision will enable you to make an accurate estimate of costs. So when I show him the pieces that need to be upholstered, he will tell me how much cloth I need to get for each furniture item. Remember to ask him according to 1 ½ yard width cloth and also for double width ones (specially for curtains if you are wanting. – ooops! That is the next project. Shhhh! You see when you go to the fabric shop, it pays to get curtain material too, to save you an extra trip, even if you aren’t getting it stitched yet!)

So, during the meeting I made a note of:

  1. Number of items to be upholstered.
  2. Making Materials needed for all the items such as foam and Samadbond etc. He said nails will be on-the-house.
  3. Cost of labor for each item.
  4. Time: How much time this project would take. Remember it can be slightly more or less, but it will give you a fair idea.
  5. His availability: The person will inform you of his or his worker’s availability.
  6. Make the approximate estimate: A graph or table, with specifics for each situation. So, you get a clear over-all picture of your situation. Now, you make a rough estimate of how much the project will cost. The more detailed your planning the better will be your estimate.
  7. Decide and Clarify with him now: So, be clear now, if you still want to go about it. If you are not sure about certain things, tell him. Be very candid with him. (Don’t you want him to be the same with you?)
  8. Check out designs on Pinsterest: Do, your research and get as clear as you can about what you want. You can even check out my Pintrest account, and find the number of sofa sets I looked at. It helps to clarify your mind. I just wanted a fresh look, and my purpose was to brighten up the room. Remember not to get carried away.
  1. Trip to fabric shop and getting the fabric: So, actually, it was Murtaza who referred me to this shop. When I went I found it really good. My mother had gone with me, so we got the stuff. I saved her quite some money by changing the design a bit, the more expensive material went on the cushions and rest of sofa set had the self-colored material. We came back happy, and then I called Murtaza to send his men.
  2. Have shared vision with your workers: So, he came with the workers and took the advance for the materials. He had already checked to see how many sofas would need new foam and how many could use the old ones. I had showed him the cloth I had from previous sessions. So, they knew how and when to use my previous stuff first.
  3. Save wherever you can: Yet, I give them food daily. Once they said, my domestic help didn’t give them tea, I asked them to get it from nearby shop, as my helper had too much to do. (I was busy with other projects as usual.) So, they understood. Make sure your own domestic help also isn’t too over burdened. A little consideration for one’s staff is important.

Important note:

Yesterday, I had a very sensitive talk with Murtaza while we were making final calculations for the payment. Afterwards he told me that he really likes to work with me, and his workers can work peacefully with me. He used the word ‘sakoon’.

He said, ‘you never haggle with me on prices, and I myself give you concessions wherever I can. He said, the inflation has grown so much, naturally, it is hard for everyone to manage. He said, when people try to haggle and say, ‘my friends got this work done for lessor! And try to pay less during final payments.’ It is very upsetting. He said, it is tough work, and look at the prices everywhere, so if our prices are raised why do people haggle so much? He said, the other thing is that you never come to criticize the work of the workers. You support us and then trust us. That makes us give you our best. We like to help you too. He told me how one of the workers had save me around Rs.3000/- of materials by tediously joining up old foam pieces here and there, to help me save money. So, this he said one only does when one is personally interested in doing for the client.

 

So, here is how I help them to give their best:

  1. Trust the persons involved.
  2. Watch, but do not interfere. (I’m sure you have had nosy and interfering bosses at your own workplace, you know exactly how it feels! Why do it to your workers here? )
  3. Do not haggle on prices unnecessarily. It is better to get more reasonable materials, and pay the workers well.
  4. While giving them food, give them whatever you are having. If it is something special, why not share with them? Do it for God’s sake, for God’s sake!

The fact is that buying some gorgeous suits for yourself, means you do it for yourself. Also, you wear it once or so many times. The rest of the time it is hanging in the cupboard. When you upholster your furnishings you get the pleasure of looking at it on a daily basis. It gives a beautiful back ground for your whole family. Let them feel happy being in a home that is well cared for and well maintained.

Be happy and make your family members happy too. Stay blessed! 😉

 

Reboot yourself by re-upholstering.

Salaams to all. This one is more about getting yourself back to normal after a difficult spell in life. It maybe a personal tragedy, or just a terribly busy spell in life. When you come back to your own life, you find that almost everything has changed.

Nothing is as it used to be.

So, how to find your own self?

Well,  I use the terminology of ‘rebooting yourself.’

You know what ‘reboot’ or ‘restart’ means?

Definition – What does Reboot mean?

Reboot is the process of closing and starting a computer or its operating system from the initial boot loading sequence. This process reloads the operating system files and is used to fix many common computer problems, such as slow processing or freezing.

So, back to my topic, to reboot myself, I have a theory that really works for me…. Let me show you. I love to do an activity which will keep me physically and mentally involved. Best one is painting, or writing for me, but another is driving, or just plain upholstering my furniture items around the house. 

Anecdote:

Yesterday, I had someone over, saying he loved his mother so much;  when she left the world last year, he felt so lost. He wants to gather himself and his life, but is finding it too hard. The loneliness is too much. He misses her a lot, as wherever he looks he finds her memories.  So, you know what I suggested? That he should offer his sisters any of the furniture items they want.  After all, they have sentimental connection with these, and would be happy to have most of these.  He, too could keep some for himself. This would create space for him to start a fresh life for himself. Keeping the home the same way, only makes him feel worse, as the main person isn’t there, and everything reminds him of her.

‘Re-upholstering your furniture can change all that!’ I told him.

A big smile dawned on his face. He was pleasantly surprised.

I told him,

‘it changes the dynamics of your home.’

He loved my idea.  Then it struck him, ‘it will cost some money!’

I said ‘yes, much better than paying your psychiatrist and for the medications!’

He laughed out loud.

Re-upholstery as a means of rebooting yourself:

Actually this is what I’ve done. I’ve done up my mother’s room, and given it a completely new look. She willingly contributed to the change, and I went and did the needful, it was a lovely drive to the shop with her, to get the materials. A mind-boggling time in the shop planning and calculating… and finally returning with the materials, feeling happy. (The trick is in not investing in too expensive a cloth, or you will be stuck with it forever.) In case you like a very expensive material, then use it sparingly. In my mother’s case of  her Victorian sofa set’s case, I used it for the cushions only, the rest was in a lovely shade of pink to brighten her room up a bit.  I know the color scheme is ‘colorful’, but it was needed to keep her cheered up. (Blue and gray was too close to the original feeling and colors!) I had looked up some interesting versions of modern ways to upholster these old-fashioned styles in sofas.

Of course, I have my own upholstery man who willingly comes over. So, he came and the work has begun.

Now, this is how it looks, it has changed the look of the room completely. I even did up my dad’s hospital bed, with upholstered bed head and foot board, to give it a lovely look. Now, my mother can use it  and she can be easily raised to help her up to a sitting position. So, this would be ideal for her breakfast in bed.

Other rebooting systems:

I’m telling you painting is even better. It is the best. But very few people understand.

‘My friend is paying around Rs.2,00, 000/- per month, going to a rehabilitation center, for some therapeutic treatment which includes coloring, and ranting one’s heart out.’ Said my student Izma. Then  she added, ‘I wish she had just come to your art classes!’

Yes, she could feel it too. Painting is one of the most therapeutic things. Well, so is knitting, embroidery and stitching. Well, it is anything that involves your mind and body in so much action that there is no time to feel morbid.

Depending on the time you have, and the money at your disposal, I can suggest these therapeutic activities which can help you reboot:

  1. A trip to the nursery, and fill your home with huge indoor plants. (Time: one to two hours.)
  2. Buy yourself a huge bouquet of flowers. (Time: 5, 10 to 15 minutes.)
  3. Yes, get clothes if you want, but they don’t give me that big a thrill. In the case of newly upholstered furniture, you can enjoy for several years. (Time: takes around a week to ten days.)
  4. Well, you can reset the furniture settings in your home. That also gives a fresh look. (Time: one to two hours, and months of pleasure. No cost at all!)
  5. Cook a nice dish,  serve it with a nice candle lit dinner or lunch. Use your best cutlery and crockery. (Who could be more valuable than yourself?)  This process can take  a couple of hours.)
  6. Go out for a long drive till you find a stream, seaside, river or pond. Put your feet in the water, and laugh out loud. Okay, you can look out glumly at the horizon from there – if that makes you happier. (Time: 4 -6 hours. Return with lovely pictures and videos to fill you with lovely memories. You can share on Instagram too.)
  7. What about those funny cat films on YouTube? (Yes, 20 minutes to one hour.)

I believe in doing something that needs you to be to be fully active physically and mentally too.

Nadiya Najib’s blog post on Time Management:

Well, I love the article Nadiya Najib wrote on time management. You know it is a pet subject of mine. My girls have witnessed these things in their home, and tried their own ways of doing it. You will find it here.

I’m telling you, when you manage your time properly in which you manage not only your own time but also take care of your loved ones, then you will be a far happier person.

It is a good way to reboot and get back to your ‘normal’ self!

So, when life deals you a jolt, you have to have things lined up so you can get back to normal. Here, your schedules are all ready and waiting for you.

Note: Take as many breaks as you can. You are still in ‘repair’ mode.

Look at how nature ‘reboots’ and reupholsters itself every spring! Stay blessed. 🙂

Mindset – a book I’m reading now.

Buying books and visiting libraries in Seattle:

My love for travel and family is almost equal. Love to merge the two by visiting my family in the States as often as I can. Naturally, being with my family is my biggest motive, but after that is the thrill of books. Just love it. Can’t get over the fact that in an American library, you can borrow ninety nine books at a time!

So, it is like bringing a treasure of knowledge with me on my return.  So, I buy the books I can, and read as many as possible. (Yes, I read about how to take care of elderly parents there!) Yes, I’ve had kindle, but the thrill of a book in my hands cannot be beaten yet. That is why I’m into publishing now.

I got all these books and magazines last time. It was a random selection. How was I to know, I had brought a blockbuster book Mindset quite by accident?

Choosing to read from Mindset at last Writer’s Meet-up:

Last week, during our Writers’ Meet up at Behbud by my friend Shabnam Riaz of Arts and Literary Guild, I read from two of my favorite author’s books. One was Carol S. Dweck’s Mindset, and  Allama Iqbal’s  Message from the East, which is my next upcoming publication. We usually, read from our own work, but I felt that it was important to read out from some established authors too.

From the book Mindset, I had selected a portion which was Chapter 6: Relationships: Mindsets in love (or not). As I read, I could feel the intense interest of the group. Why not? After all it was a topic on an experience which I’m sure everyone has been through; being let down by one’s loved one, and one’s reaction to this situation. The author had conducted research on one hundred persons who had undergone tragic rejections and had been  let down by their loved ones. They found out that the response to this situation was different depending on whether they belonged to the ‘fixed mindset’ or the ‘growth mindset’.

Fixed mindset:

The fixed mindset personalities were focused on the ‘revenge is sweet’ theory, who would rather get on for the rest of their lives focused on revenge and making the person who rejected, ‘pay for it’ by making him or her as unhappy and miserable as possible.

Growth mindset:

On the other hand, the ones with the ‘growth mindset’ wanted to just get on with their own lives, wishing the person who rejected, every blessing, as they wished for themselves. It was the ‘live, and let live’ theory.

Needless to add, the growth mindset is the winner mindset.

If you are interested to read more,  Carol S. Dweck’s book Mindset is available on YouTube here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8fJfB8PbP0

As I searched YouTube, I found Carol Dweck telling us about her book:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-71zdXCMU6A

So, basically it is a study of people belonging to two types of Mindsets: fixed mindset and growth mindset. In Pakistan, do we know all about these types of mindsets. Most of our culture is literally built around fixed mindsets!

Whereas, every religion and individual who is successful have the growth mindset, which is displayed by their outlook in life.

So, let me say that the present culture of Pakistan is based on fixed mindset mostly. Whereas we’ve got to turn it into the growth mindset, or else!  – We can spend another century with this same ‘culture’. Or, we can choose to live with the growth mindset and turn the tables in our favor.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jNErdBueQc

Here is a video which summarizes the Growth Mindset:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyIF5VUOJc0

I’m sure now you know why I love reading so much. Those of you who cannot have the time to do so, please do watch these videos.

Stay blessed with the best authors’ work at your fingertips!

We all read from our work on the mobile phone, or we like to record the other person’s reading, that is why we all are holding phones. 🙂

 

Happy memories, at Nataliya’s home.

Hi Everyone! I’m so thrilled to find that Shehzeen – the Desi Wonder Woman has chosen to do a home tour of Nataliya and Bilal’s home. It is beautifully depicted. It is especially wonderful, coming from Shehzeen, whose taste and style I really love.

So, naturally, I’ve shared her post,  those  who are interested, please check it out here . Meanwhile, that post really brought back so many beautiful memories of my stay at Nataliya’s home last time. So, I thought, why not share it with you all! After all her birthday is also round the corner.

Masha Allah, both she and Bilal are wonderful hosts, (as are Bilal’s brother Haroon and his wife Uzma, here in Islamabad!) So, let me take you through a few lovely flashbacks of my last stay there in Seattle:

Loved the spontaneous trips to lakes and parks which are in and around Seattle.

Here is the Singaporean rice she made for me. Of course, Bilal is always there to make yummy dishes to satiate my taste for red meat with his lamb roast:

The wonderful trip to Mount Rainier which I’ve written on here. They know I love travel so they make sure I’m fully satisfied. Frankly, Seattle itself is enough. No, their company is enough for me. Knowing so much peace being with one’s children is great. All my life, I enjoyed that love and peace at my parents’ home. (I know, but you see quality of love and peace is the same, just matchless!)  Now, I do that in my children’s homes. May Allah bless them.

So, let me show you my shopping:

Gosh, each one of these is an amazing book or magazine! Still reading them, by the way.

Even her friends are such darlings. They invite me over when I go, then again when I’m returning.  So here is a morning Nataliya arranged for me, so I could meet most of them before getting back last time. This was November 2016.

Here is when I was invited over by Nabila to her Microsoft offices’ restaurant, which served delicious lunch.  Such darlings.

Yes, Sana, next time, your place will be first!

Simply cannot get over this view with the rear view mirror from their garage, as one reverses out of it.

Nataliya, your birthday is round the corner. Thank you for blessing me with the greatest joys and happiness on earth simply by being who you are in my life. Love and hugs and prayers for a great life, full of spiritual, family and worldly blessings. Ameen.

Can’t resist sharing this pic you took of me, looking out at the river, on which this beautiful library is built. Luckily, it is pretty close to your home.  Yes, next time, we will look at the books too! 😉

Just felt like sharing these beautiful moments from my life with you, my Reader. It is important for us to remember all the treasures that He has already blessed us with. We need to cherish and revisit these memories, to give us a boost some times.

Would you like to re-visit some of your own beautiful memories too?

Stay blessed! 🙂

Spring 2019

Spring Festival in Rose and Jasmine Garden: 

I thought I had missed the spring this year. With all that was going on in my life, I suppose it was natural. So, when I heard of the Spring Festival in Shakarparian, I took my mother and daughter along with our domestic help.

It was important for us to go for an outing.

I’m so glad we went. Nature has such a healing quality to it. It brings joy to a person’s heart and life. It makes one realize that after winter, you have spring. Out of the stark branches of trees and shrubs you have these beautiful blooming flowers. So, if these flowers can bloom from all that desolation of winter, Insha Allah, our lives too will bloom! This is why I love to do landscape paintings. We need to be close to nature most of the time. 

As we walked along, I couldn’t help remembering much larger flower shows herein Shakarparian, as well as in Jinnah gardens , Lahore, several in PAF colony Sargodha.  There used to be such unique flowers there, as well as amazing stalls displayed with great glory. These would be so many in number, that one would get exhausted seeing them all.

Thrilled to see this from PAF hospital. 

Though the flowers here at the Jasmine garden were beautiful as ever – but too few in number.  I was shocked to find stalls of artificial plants and clothes too! There were some garden paraphernalia stalls with essentials of gardening like fertilizers, manure,seeds, flower pots etc. I loved a sculpture of a cocker spaniel with her pup,it was just about seven inches in length, and priced at Rs.7000/- so we took a‘U-turn’ and came back!

Afterwards, we visited Abdul Rahim’s home, as we needed to give them his pay and my mother also took along some things she wished his family to have.  I suggested taking along bakery stuff like eggs, bread, rusks and cake.  My dad’s cadet and dear friend Gen. Saeed -uz-Zafar had brought us so many bakery stuff, after my father passed away. I found these very useful, as there were many guests at home. So, for Rahim, we  got  groceries and fruits too. It was sad. After all, it was just a week since passing away of their father.  (- It was just over a month after losing my father.) I remembered meeting them in happier times. 

Abdul Rahim and his family, during happier times. 

Art classes at Shireen’s Studio:

Somehow, I forced myself to continue with the art classes in my studio, in order to ‘get back to normal life’. In spite of unexpected rains and freezing weather my students came. The enthusiasm of Shabnam Riaz and Shagufta Zafar was so heartening. So, naturally, I continued with the painting that I had begun earlier.

Shabnam took this picture of me working on my painting.

We would listen to music and work. During the tea break, we would chat our heads off!

Shabnam’s painting gets sold:

We continued painting regularly, and I kept posting our sessions on Instagram. Suddenly I found people getting interested in Shabnam’s second painting. I had asked her not to sell any of her early work, as it is important to keep a record of one’s work. But then, an offer was so good, that I felt she needs to seriously consider it. This was the painting, she herself had not believed she could make. So, when it was completed she was totally in love with it. The offer to buy it almost broke her heart. Finally, I convinced her, and here you see her handing over the painting:

This scene held many flashbacks for me. How, in college one of my paintings got sold, and I cried so much that my friends, convinced the buyer not to buy it! It was supposed to be our ‘Low income sale’, so then my friends made a tasty eatable and sold that for gaining cash! (Yes, I told you, I’ve always been blessed by great friends, Alhamdolillah.) But, here I convinced Shabnam to accept the offer and let it go, so that she can work harder at her upcoming paintings and come out with more work. Of course, my daughter, took a good picture of it, so she could have the memory of it.

Meanwhile, my painting got completed: 

Here is my completed painting, of Skardu area. 

As my cousin Shahbaz Khan says, ‘You should never have your best work with you!’ he continued, ‘then you will continue to prove yourself!’

The sale took place at this time to bring  a sparkle into our lives. The recipient was so excited; he shared this photograph with me!

Yes, he was truly thrilled. (I’m so glad Shabnam was there to see his excitement, when he came for the painting!) I’m sure that made her feel really thrilled, and she knew it was the right decision. to visit the Farm house.

Our visit to Shahnaz Jafar’s Farm House: 

So this morning, I took my mother to the farm of my angel Mrs. Shahnaz Jafar. We had coffee and delicious snacks as I enjoyed these beautiful views.

Ever seen this color in the Iris flowers? 
Charming setting built here and there, the sound of water spilling, was so soothing. 

The flowers were in full bloom, reminiscent of so many happy occasions we had spent right there, with my father and my uncle, and rest of family members. Though they were no longer there, but in a way they were. We planned on having a gathering in memory of our loved ones. Here. Next Sunday,  Insha Allah.

Even the Iris growing there is unusual. Yes, I really love these flowers. 

 I know we all are fighting different battles in our lives. So, as long as spring is here, let us make the best of it. Let us work on the inbuilt message within spring.

Stay blessed. 🙂

Unmentionable feelings

This one is all about losing your loved ones and facing your emotions during this process. It is about facing those feelings about which you cannot discuss with anyone.

These are feelings and questions, which actually surmount to regrets or wishes.

You see, on top of all that sadness of loss of my father, Abdul Rahim my cook, passed away exactly a month after my father. (You bet on it, there will be a blog post on him too!) But for now, I’m dealing with death and the  feelings afterwards.

So, during the last month, as visitors kept coming for condolences, and came for Abdul Rahim. People kept consoling me with all that I had done for my father, and for my cook. But at the back of my mind were other emotions too.

One thing struck me. Everyone has been hit by this experience of death of a loved one. Each guest brought in the personal story of a death in their family, of a brother, mother, father or child. Some spoke about it. Some didn’t. But it was hanging in the air, the mutual feelings of sadness.

I have a hunch, there are always some unmentionable feelings that adds to our sadness. We want to make up for some things we did or didn’t do during the lifetimes of the departed soul. I do recognize that it is part of the ‘blame’ stage of grief, but –

As you know, we accept death as Allah’s verdict. That He took back the one whom He had blessed me with. He belonged to Allah anyway.

 So, I put myself at peace with it.

Yet, there was this nagging feeling of helplessness at not being able to ‘make up’ for certain elements,  that were left unsettled in my relationship with the departed souls.

Now, it felt it was too late. Perhaps, this is why it becomes harder to be at peace with the passing of the departed soul. 

Thanks to Mahjabeen, I know now, that it is not too late. (I’ve had a hunch but coming from a wise aalima, it really felt great!) This is why I want to share it with you. Perhaps, you too have some ‘unfinished’ elements with the departed soul. 

Now, we both have a way to make peace with ourselves and them. 

My mentor Mahjabeen:

So, when I rang up my mentor Mahjabeen, (yes the same one for whom I had prayed desperately , when she got ill here) she is the one with whom I can speak about anything under the sun. She will not judge me. (Well, all my mentors are non-judgmental!)

So, she said,

 ‘First of all, do not talk about it to anyone. If you feel that you fell short in any way in their lifetime. You know you can’t bring them back now. But what you can do for him is to pick any small action which is pleasing to Allah, and do it for that person. Be careful to pick on something so small, that no matter how busy you are, you can do it daily, ask Allah/God to give the reward to him.’

 I felt such a relief. Now, I knew how to make-up for any shortcomings in my relationship with the departed soul.

Mahjabeen said, ‘you can give food to the poor or do any social work, whenever possible, perhaps once or twice a year, but what you can do daily is the best. Choose something like reading Surah Akhlas five times daily, or two naffals.’  I mentioned how I gave food to two or three persons daily for 1.5 years for my husband. She said, ‘it is good, but it can’t be done forever!’ So, take on something you can do forever.

Great! Mahjabeen always has a knack of making me feel so good! 

Spring had crept into our city…. 

I was flooded with ideas:

  1. Donating a wheelchair, bed or respirator for a hospital.(One can ask them what they need.)
  2. Paying school fees of a child’s schooling in Mashal or CSS school or any nearby institution for handicapped persons, or even an old people’s home.
  3. Giving free tuition to street children of one’s community.
  4. Putting a water cooler next to one’s home for people passing by, yes, summer is approaching, it will be badly needed. 
  5. Giving any extra food cooked at home, to a beggar.
  6. Giving food to unemployed and homeless.
  7. Planting a tree in the person’s name.
  8. Getting water boring done for a community.
  9. Getting an ambulance.
  10. Help in publishing a book for an author.

We need to understand that the more sad we feel, shows how good it was when that person was alive. It is something to celebrate, and be very grateful for.

Alhamdolillah.

Stay blessed lovely and handsome ones. 

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 thanked Allah profusely. 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 right till the last day.

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 rain. In Pakistan, in the hot or cold weather between 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. 🙂