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.)

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. 

Elephant in the room?

Why is nothing being done about about population planning in Pakistan? 

Everyone is ignoring the monster of over-population. Our people are producing like rabbits. So, it’s a rabbit in the garb of an elephant in the room!

Nathalene and I are seated here during a session of SDPI at Margalla hotel on 5th December,2019. 

On December 6th I was invited by Nathalene Reynolds of SDPI, to be a discussant at their panel. It was truly an honor to rub shoulders with a panel chaired by Muneeza Hashmi the daughter of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Alys Faiz. She has served for many years as the head of Hum TV, Lahore. The topic was Redefining the Roles of Civil Societies in South Asia. All the speakers shed light on various interesting and alarming aspects of these organizations.

The presentations of speakers were extremely interesting and fascinating, dealing with topics like child right protection, hardships of  ‘haris’ in Sindh, and issues faced by Civil Societies in general, the world over.

As I sat listening, I realized, that the reality is that the civil societies emerge due to negligence or inability of government organizations to fulfill the urgent needs of the society. These are organizations made by the people on a no-profit basis, to fill that gap. 

Most of these societies wouldn’t be needed if the government allocated the required amount of funds for health and education in our country. Therefore, the insufficient funds for Health and Education, have resulted in most civil societies, today.

So, the need of the hour is for the government to allocate at least three times more funds for health and education, as compared to what they are allocating now.

All that effort being put for health and education by the Civil Societies, could be put in fields of even more importance.

In Pakistan, at the time of partition, Civil societies helped with resettling of refugees. When that was completed, they started helping women and children, and in health care.

Now, these societies are working to establish orphanages, clinics, hospitals, schools for underprivileged children. Happily, I found out that many organizations are working through out the country. Edhi has worked at a large scale, followed by innumerable others. The list is long. However, this list need not be doing the work of the government. Especially now, when more tax payers are there paying taxes. 

Redefining role of civil societies:

We need to redefine the role of Civil Societies by placing more emphasis on the two factors which could get us out of a lot of trouble:

  1. Family planning.
  2. Research.

Family planning:

Today, the South Asian countries have one fourth of the world’s population. We are busy weeping and wailing about this problem and that one. All of them have the same root cause: over population!

 Let the civil societies handle the monstrous issue of over population and family planning because that is what the government isn’t doing at all. This is the most urgent need of the hour. 

The need for research:

The other element is that of research. There is no authentic source of research in our country. Nothing is reliable. Without research we cannot know the gravity of any situation. Therefore, this is essential. (Here is an opportunity for a new entrepreneur.) 

One follower of mine, shared this picture of me, 
on Instagram, 

As I spoke, I looked at the elder persons in the room and asked them, ‘isn’t it true that the country did aggressive campaigning for family planning, ‘Bachay do hi achay’ (two children are good enough.) Now, the most they can say is ‘waqfa zaroori hai.’(Space between children is important.) They dare not talk about family planning. Why can’t they say that prevention is vital. I do not propagate, nor believe in abortion, only contraception and prevention.  A strict regimen for prevention of more than three pregnancies in every woman in our society is a must. This must be given primary importance.

Here is an amazing statistic that I found online regarding having three-children-families only. Notice, Pakistan’s name is no where here. Let us work towards having our name in this list, with the fastest improvement.

Our society is amazing, they don’t think of Islam while being corrupt right left and center, stealing, murders, child abuse, honor killings, usurping women’s properties, and everything else going on.  But Islam comes in while even thinking of family planning! (I wonder if it would have come into this issue, had the men had to produce those brats, feed and clothe them while being dependent on a stingy husband to deal with too!) This issue has got to be addressed, otherwise Pakistan in particular, and south Asian countries in totality will never get out the dilemma of poverty.

Epilog:

In Peshawar in 1994, I met a doctor while doing research for an article. He told me that he had just completed his degree in Preventive Medicine from England. I was intrigued about this subject. He explained it like this: 

‘Supposing a bridge is broken. Instead of repairing the bridge or building a new one, you say, ‘don’t worry, when someone falls, I’ll pick him out of the river.’ (That is what our Civil Societies are doing right now!) They are saving humanity by getting them out of the water. Then educating them, and feeding and clothing them!’

We have to think that the bridge needs to be built up. Secured. Control the number of population to the extent that is needed. Otherwise, you will constantly be needed to get people out of the river!

So what can be done?

  1. Change your mindset first. Brain storm how you can make a difference in our society. The need is to change the mindsets of people, specially educated and uneducated ones. Each one of my readers is now at a place in society where you can make a difference in one way or another. 
  2. Do campaigning for planned-parenthood at every level. All of you are in contact with people of lower socio-economic groups, influence them to not have more than two or three children.
  3. Give bonus for education of two children only. (That will send a silent message to others.)
  4. Organizations should facilitate parents with fewer children: 
    •  Give warnings to personnel having third child.
    • Facilities of health and education in factories for two children of workers.
    • Schools offering free education of two children to teachers and employees.
  5. Organizations offer good accommodation facilities to employees with two children only.
  6. One or two maternity leaves only.
  7. Health workers and contraception facilities to be offered free of cost to every home in country, whether it is in rural or urban areas.
‘Whenever I walk in a room,everyone ignores me.’

At personal level each of us must convince and facilitate staff at home and in organizations, about family planning. Be totally, unsympathetic to persons talking about having had so many children.

I know of the village of Tamman where people have few children. They are conscious of this fact, and it is done for many generations to reduce division of agricultural lands.

Stay blessed, my wonderful reader, we’ve got to stop producing like rabbits and think at a national and international level now. 🙂 

Closure


A closure helps you to move on….

‘Ever tasted a bad-tasting chalghoza (pine-nut) – or any BAD nut for that matter?’

What do you do? Keep it in your mouth to savor the flavor, or quickly spit it out?’

Spit it out!

What actually happens, is that you tend to keep it in your mouth longer. You can’t believe it isn’t that tasty nut that you were getting earlier. The previous ones were really delicious. This one isn’t.

You are wondering if I’m talking about that bad nut – or that bad thing that happened in your life.

Both!

It’s about that shocking development in life, it may be getting downsized from your job, or ending a relationship. I’m talking about the closure that is necessary to move on in life, and how to do it. It is usually, a loss of some sort.

Whatever!

Treat your wounds:

Ever been injured? You have. So you know how it is: you need to recuperate. You go into hospital, get treatment and also get a lot of attention.  So, what do you do with an emotional injury? Do the same! Take a break. You need time to recuperate from it.

So, try to treat it like a wound, and treat it.

Look,  I don’t know your problem. But I do know the process of closure to move on. This is how you do a closure:

It is a simple ‘one, two, three’ process:

1.     Face it and accept it:

 Once you have recognized it and realized it, please do not stick around there for too long! (Or you can damage yourself in the process.) Then take the steps needed to close it. Take out your personal journal and write down, all the points which have convinced you where you are. Please do not get carried away. Try to keep it crisp and short. I know it is hard. The point is to get out of it,not get more into it!

2.    Learn your lessons.

Sit down again. Write down what you are going to take away from this experience. Yes, you are going to come out brighter, shinier and wiser. Believe me, there was a reason why Allah Mian put you through this process. Say two naffals and ask God to to show you why He made you go through this experience. If you can’t understand any of it now. Still do ask Him. It will come to you in time. Write now, you just have to sanely walk away from this pain-zone. 

‘Pray that you may find out what it is that Allah is trying to explain to you through this experience.’ My friend Seema always says. Good point!

3.     Fill in the gaps in your life.

Always when suddenly, you find yourself out of a job or out of a relationship, you realize how big a chunk from your life, you were giving to it. Now, there is this huge gap in your life where that ‘chalghoza’ stood! Ummm lets call it something bigger…. What can it be? An Alien.

Of course, it was an alien, because actually, it didn’t belong in your life, and you had given it that space. So, all those times that you gave to the alien will now need to be filled up with some other wonderful activities. Make a list of all the wonderful things you will be able to do now. Starting with all the friends who were getting neglected, all the trips you had not gone to, and all the parties that you couldn’t attend earlier. Look at the bright side, now you can finish that book and watch that movie!

See?

Not so bad at all!

Remove the debris:

All those things, which remind you of –you-know-who just chuck them out. Give to a charity, or your staff. Or go and return it to the person or organization. Remember it is all now a debris of all that it was in your life. So, when a building falls, you remove the debris, to build a new house there. Simple! Right now, you are ‘removing the debris.’ Do it ASAP.

Do, not be condescending of all the good times. Don’t. Keep your perspective. Remember the good times as good times, and bad times as bad times. It was great when it was great. Now, it is bad.

So make a quick closure and get on with the rest of your life. I mean we don’t have much time to waste here in this world. Hurry up and get on with it!

Recovery process:

  1. Recognize the five stages of grief: Whenever there is a loss of any kind, one is bound to go through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, blame, depression and finally acceptance.  Try to start with acceptance. (Then you can skip the rest, hopefully.) By the way, these stages aren’t always in the same order. It is different for everyone. But starting with acceptance makes you go through the rest very easily. ‘Allah ki marzi thi!’ (it was God’s wish!)
  2. Say a big ‘Alhamdolillah’ and ‘Thank God!: Count your blessings.  Just count everything you have. You can stop at five, ten or twenty. Hurry up. You have things to do…
  3.  Go out and give something to a less fortunate person: Do it with your own hands. Don’t just sign a check, or give online. Okay, do that first, then take a meal and go and give it to someone yourself. That will give you the greatest happiness. (It will give you the greatest happiness even when you are already happy!)
  4. Meeting with yourself: You are now ready to embark on your new life! Jump up and down and do some exercise, then get that journal, and plan your whole life out, (without the – you-know- who-or whatever-organization- it-was). Remember: it has now got to be a BETTER life for you! Also, pray for the well-being of the unfortunate organization or the you-know-who, too. We are being very magnanimous here now!) jokes, aside, this is important also. 
  5. Decide to do no foul mouthing: You cannot go fast out of that zone by talking against the person or management. Remember, it was never all bad. So, keep it that way. Go out into your new life, with your honor, dignity, grace, poise, peace-of-mind, happiness, all intact.

I’m dying to say something that I said when I was very small and my mum gave me a good beating.I said, ‘phoo makhi baitha!’ – apparently, someone had taught me that. So, I got another whack for that! Now we sit and laugh about it. I’m sure I didn’t find it funny then, at the age of four!

Now, I do.

So, a time will come when all this will be a thing of the past. You will be into your future.

You will look back at this time, and thank Him for His blessings. So, Stay blessed, my dear one. You are great. 🙂

Over three trimesters of life.


 Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

Ever since Prime minister Mahatir became the head of state of Malasia, I’ve been pondering. I mean, he is ninety three years old, and is elected as prime minister for four years? Till the age of ninety seven? (He was born in 1925!) 

Here is a man who has completed three trimesters of life and now starting out as a prime minister?! He is on to his 90-plus years already – along with his wife. He isn’t existing , he is living it out! 

I’m wondering if it can be like the nine lives of a cat?  With each ‘life’ a decade?

All my life I’ve been reading books and taking support and guidance on many topics including ages and stages of one’s own and children’s ages. I noticed that there is  a lot of  guidance and support in early stages and adulthood. Later on, we are left on our own.

First trimester of life – 1 to 30 years:

One to ten years:

Each and every month and year has loads of books written on every stage of these ages.

Ten to twenty years:

Lots of books and videos would be around for how to care for teenagers, and their social, emotional and physical needs.

Twenty to thirty years:

This one is considered to be the peak of life, and has a great deal about becoming an adult. There are many books on how to take care of yourself, and your body. Your social, emotional life is also dealt with, and specially finding the right life partner. All data is freely available. All fiction, movies, and videos are full of this prime time of life.  (As if no other life is really worth having, or worth documenting!)

Second Trimester of life – 30 to 60 years

Mixed ages here!

Thirty to forty years:

Most of us dread turning thirty. As if it is the end of youth or something. Once over the tip of 29 into 30 years, one realizes it isn’t bad at all. The starting years of career, ending of education and specialization in fields of interest, and the growing family are all well documented in books. You still feel great. You feel physically, socially, emotionally and intellectually fine, actually, quite on top of the world!  (I discovered I could write in my early thirties.)

Forty to fifty years:

Bilal on the right turned forty, and has worked in Microsoft. Loves music, books and inventing. 

Suddenly, with a bang you are forty!That is quite shattering, but then, you again realize it isn’t bad at all. All that ‘propaganda’ wasn’t correct. Forties can be pretty cool too. You are beginning to get a bit of a paunch, but never mind! You’ve most probably found your life partner and are well adjusted in career and children who are well settled in schools. Life is really good. You are getting to middle and senior posts in your job scene. Yes, books are getting fewer now. More books are there about illnesses and ‘how to reduce’.

Fifty to sixty years:

Every decade of life you enter with apprehensions, as it is a ‘no-mans-land’ with few well known personalities to help you through them. Thanks to internet, now we know ages of most actors and we know Ellen, Opera Winfrey, Bushra Ansari, Saba Hameed, Humayun Saeed, ShahRukh, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan and many others are in this range too. Look at them, they are amazing!

Mostly, one is at the peak of one’s career at this time of life!

Third trimester of life – 60 to 90 years.

Now, its beginning to get scary, isn’t it? All those folds cannot be hidden anymore. You realize, you’ve got to move those muscles or else! Either ‘move it, or lose it!’ So, stay active and do everything that you’ve always wanted to do now. 

Sixty to seventy years:

I’ve known of Kentucky chicken guy who began his first franchise at the age of sixty two years. I’ve known of a publisher beginning her business at sixty five. Also of an artist who began painting at this age, and continued till she was over a hundred. Sixty has been the ‘retirement’ age too. You turn senior too. If it gets you to the front of the queue, then its okay! Also, it means you can be your own boss now on. 

Seventy to eighty years:

Mansoor Rahi and myself the instructor at the studio. He is a living legend in the field of art today in Pakistan. 
Hajra Mansoor and myself in her art gallery and studio. 

My mentors Hajra and Mansoor Rahi are in this age group. Both are blooming with good health. They are living legends in the art scene of Pakistan, and live in Islamabad. They are living in their own home, running their own art business, travelling abroad and within the country. They regularly hold exhibitions and hold art classes twice a week. They have a daily routine of working on their art work from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm daily. I find them going for walks, drives, traveling, and leading an active successful life. Only last week they went over a thousand kilometers by train to Karachi, for an art exhibition with their students. 

Eighty to ninety years:

My mentor Shahida Azeem, a great philanthropist lived to eighty-eight years of age, working on her organization Mashal, for the under privileged children. I’ve written about her in this blog post. She walked independently right till the end. In fact, I could hardly keep up with her activities. All the time she was organizing private or Mashal functions and inviting me over. I’d often have to excuse myself from her programs. (So, she would send me my share of food, if it was a dinner at her place.) She was just lovely. 

There are no books to help one through these years, today. You are on your own.

Ninety years onwards to hundred!

My father literally walked out of the ICU last month. 

As I write this blog post, and reach this point in my writing, I want to share these current personalities:

  • We all know of Dr. Mahatir Mohammad (ninety-three years old,) the current prime minister of Malaysia, and his ninety-one year old wife.  He recently took office, so he is looking forward to taking care of his country for four years at least.
  • Then there is this 106 year old blogger in Sweden who lives alone and takes care of herself.
  • I know a Ninety-five year old lady who lives alone in F-10 Islamabad. She invited me to tea with her literary friends. Loved it. She has a staff who takes care of her, a driver who drives here around too. She moves around with the help of her walker.
  • My own father was driving around till age eighty-seven years, here in Islamabad.  
  • Ninety-eight years old yoga instructor:

Just remember, all these are persons who did what they wanted to do. They stayed involved with activities and kept their minds (and bodies) active in constructive ventures.

Now, get ready to make your new-year resolutions, keeping all this in mind. Plan out your life like the nine lives of a cat! Lots of love and best wishes to all of you, my amazing readers. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you!