Let’s make our 2019 Annual plan.

I did this painting last year, really want to do more work this year. 

Hi Everyone! I really hope you all had a wonderful year. Alhamdolillah, I’m sure you achieved alot. Mine was awesome too. (It wasn’t exactly as I had planned, I’d like to say, it was even better!) So, how was yours?

 Especially, I want to wish you this season’s greetings. So, before we get busy with all the fun of ending this year, and beginning the new one, let us do an important exercise.

 Let us plan out next year now.  

Why make the Annual plan now?

 This exercise won’t take more than fifteen  minutes.  If not, then even five minutes are enough for you to brain storm now and decide what you want to achieve next year.  Sit down and write the stuff you wanted to do, but couldn’t achieve this year. In fact, it can be the first point! 

So, when the year begins you are clear where you are going!

A quick round up of 2018:

Time to sit down and reflect.

First the 2018 Successes:  

Well, I’ve made a list of all the things that made me feel very happy this year. How many points did you make? (Be smart, write the sad ones in such a way that they may look like successes too!) For instance, my mother fell in February, and that really shook me. So, I just noted that when she fell, how wonderfully she recovered, in spite of it. See? So, it is more of a success in dealing with a crisis, than a setback.

Be kind to yourself during this process.

Of course, be your own trumpeter and wallow in all the successes this year, which were planned or unplanned. Yipppeeee! Keep it short and sweet. 5 to 10 points are enough. (- As you can imagine, mine went up to a hundred! (Do I exaggerate sometimes?) Well, if it makes you happy do it. But remember, we are preparing our next years’ plan! Stay focussssed!

  • The super best part was when my Waliya got engaged, and my third son-in-law to be got welcomed into our family. Alhamdolillah!
  • Then, the time Nadiya spent three weeks with us, before leaving for Canada. (I went to Lahore to see her off too.) Alhamdolillah, Haaris and Nadiya are well settled in Halifax now.
  •  The best parts were the gifts that my friends Sabahat, Shabnam, Shagufta, Ayesha and Fatima helped me in giving the CSS school.  ( it is a school for under privileged children) We did it for Eid-ul-Fitr. I even had an online donor Dr. Maira who paid for the teachers’ clothes. I realized how generous you all are. Also, there was Sana, from Australia who paid up for education of a student in Mashal. Nataliya and Bilal decided to pay for tuition of my domestic help and manager, Hasnain. I was also now able to pay for education of two students, one in Mashal and one in CSS school. It is a great way to give sadqa or charity. 
  • Then the tree plantation of 200 trees that we did with Shabnam Riaz of Arts and Literature group. It was awesome.
  • Yes, my friend Shagufta reminded me of the Rain water conservation project that I did too. The blog post on it is here.
  • The Screenwriter 101’ course, and now the Directors 101 course which I’m doing. (Learning is very important)
  • Workshops, art classes and meet-ups of writers at my Shireen’s Studio. (Teaching and sharing knowledge is very important too!)
  • The wonderful stay of my tenants, and the leaving of one, who is also in Halifax, and joined Canadian Airlines. The arrival of some wonderful personalities now. Finally, getting rid of one horrid tenant. MayAllah give them hidayat! Yes, I should have written one blog post on them! Grrrrrrr! Some people can be obnoxious, but why should I bother my pretty little head writing on them! (See?  How smartly I put it in successes?) 😉

Year 2018 Failures:

  • I wasn’t able to publish my second book, Allama Iqbals’ Message from the East,  this year.  Even though the work has begun, I’ve done more than half the work. I was unable to achieve the goal, due to several factors including my immediate family, and lack of finances. So, I had to postpone my goal. 🙁
  • Should have done more paintings this year, though I made quite a few. that was because I was unable to attend the art classes at Hajra Mansoor and Mansoor Rahi’s gallery. 
Choose your path carefully next time. 

 Forgiving others and oneself is important.

I don’t know why we expect perfection from ourselves? It is okay to not be able to do everything! Kutch nahi hota, jo hota hai, achay kay liye hota hai. (Whatever happens, happens for a good reason.) I really believe that one.

Best thing is we are alive and kicking right now.

Your turn:

  1. Just roundup year 2018 with its’ successes and failures’ round up, along with lessons learnt. (Keeping it short, sweet and to the point!) Remember to forgive yourself for all the shortcomings. 

Special thank you to my readers:

You know? I can feel that you all pray for me. My family and I wouldn’t be very far but for your prayers for us. In the same way, I also pray for you all’s well being too. I wouldn’t be here now, if it wasn’t for that! So we are here for each other. Thank you so much!

Your plan is actually the choices you plan to make!

We are ready now to prepare for the coming year:

2019 Annual plan:

Why can’t we make an Annual Plan for ourselves, just like every institution? If you are a working person, you know how detailed it is. That is why they get so much done.

How many of us do it for our personal lives too?

As the quote from Quran says: Allah will  help those who are ready to change themselves to get something done!

I love this quotation:

Work as if you were to live a hundred years, pray as if you were to die tomorrow.

 You can’t work unless you have a work plan!  If your plan is ready, the majority of the work will get done. Especially, plan the financial aspects of it. As you know,we did the weekly plan here, and the monthly plan here. Now, our annual plan can be in the same pattern.

Goals of the 2019:

As you did for the monthly plan, just make a random list of what you want to achieve in 2019 :

Sr. no. Goal/ project Time required
1. Physical:
Financial:
Social/emotional:
Intellectual:
Spiritual:  
 
2.    
3.    
4.    
5.    
6.    
7.    
8.    
9.    
10.    

Like semester system in institutions, let’s keep it in four batches of three months each:

Annual plan of 2019

Sr. No. Months: Remarks.  
     
  Jan:    
  Feb:    
  Mar:    
     
  Apr:    
  May:    
  Jun:    
     
  July:    
  Aug:    
  Sept:    
     
  Oct:    
  Nov:    
  Dec:    
       

Ever thought of making a five or ten year plan?

The other day, I heard Bill Gates saying that people do not realize the value of the ten year plan;  People do not realize how powerful it can be. So, we are going to go for it too.

As usual, we are doing everything in reverse order. Chronologically, one would sit and plan out one’s lifetime goals. Then put them into the ten year plan, then the five year, then the annual one, and then the monthly and weekly ones. – If you know what I mean! Those of you with small children, would be able to do it noting the ages of your kids at that time too!) It is fun.

I’ve done five year plans. It is even more fun, when you look back on it later on.

Stay blessed my Readers. I’ve grown very attached to you all. You rock! 🙂

The joy of driving in Pakistan or anywhere else!


My driving back ground:

Start your drive with a well adjusted rear view mirror.

Driving  is a thrill for me. It makes me feel as if I’m having my ‘me time.’ I love being the boss with the steering wheel in my hands! my first car was bought (yes, a Suzuki Mehran of course) from my first savings. (What else can you expect from a teacher and writer?) My husband felt it wasn’t needed as I used to drive our car, while he drove the official car.

My experience of driving all over Pakistan, has been for over thirty five years, by now. So,  I’m qualified to write this post. I’ve driven in most cities, in most conditions, (that includes with small children too,) so I’ve gone through villages, highways, busy roads, and good roads. (Also through storms and  floods!) 

My husband taught me how to drive the manual gear car while we were still ‘engaged’, (that is the best time to learn!) Afterwards, I’ve driven the automatic car for many years. Now, suddenly, I felt like driving the manual gear car again. So, that’s what I’ve got these days.)

My father was an excellent driver and so was my husband. Watching them, it was natural for me to love it too.

Here are my rules for driving:


I’ve wanted to be a good driver always. Getting compliments from my father and others means a lot to me. I believe, it is quite an art. 

Before you start regular driving:

You see, it is important to be confident, and that can only be if you have done your ‘home work’. The ability to concentrate on the driving can only take place if one is in a good state of mind. So do be clear about the following points:

Have a driving license.

Pay the tax on time.

Have a good mechanic on call.

Learn how to change a tire.

Also learn how to check the oil, and if it needs changing.

When you like to drive, you take the responsibilities too; so be prepared to get car serviced and the oil-change done by yourself. Do write the mileage to know about the next time. Do not let them tinker with the original mileage of the car.

I’ve got the repairs done myself whenever possible. (I’ve been spoiled hollow by my garage mechanics and engineers. Daniyal owner of a garage, and an auto engineer, takes my car, does it up, and drops it home.) I’ve written about his garage here, though now he has opened another one next to it.

As far as I’m concerned a good deck is a must. I can’t move without good music!

The rules I follow while driving

  • Read the ‘safar ki dua’ or prayer of travel before starting.
  • Check all the mirrors, and put on the seat belts. Make sure the passengers are properly strapped also, otherwise, refuse to move. You know, their safety is your responsibility.
  • Specially, keep children at the back in a seat, properly strapped. (I followed this, even when it wasn’t compulsory in Pakistan. Why not follow rules of safety? I mean it is stupid!)
  • After that, put on the music.
  • Singing in the car is highly encouraged. 😉
  • No tension talk.
  • No problem-talk either. Relax! Enjoy the drive.
  • Enjoy the view. (Stop looking at the gutters and garbage, look up at the sky, trees – and traffic of course.)
  • I do give way, to those who deserve it. Even to those who don’t. You may be right. – But no need to be ‘dead right!’
  • Always follow all traffic and safety rules.

Use of mobile phone & google map:

  1. It is best to have a system in the car where the phone call can be used on the screen. Have any hands free system. However, whenever you ‘answer’ a call, do tell the person that you are driving, so you keep it short.
  2. However, in the case of any important phone use, do stop your car on the side, and take the call if it can’t be avoided. Otherwise DO NOT USE THE PHONE. Nothing is more important than yours and others’ lives.
  3. No filming or photographs while driving. I have to confess it is very tempting. (I even got a shout from my daughter Nadiya for doing so!) She was right, so I’m never doing it again. No one has the right to put other’s lives in danger, or one’s own. 
  4. Use a mobile stand: If you want to make videos while driving or use the google map then it is best to get a ‘mobile phone stand’ attached to your car’s dashboard, so you can easily do it.

Acts of kindness while driving:  

  •  In case of a bad traffic jam, get out and help untangle traffic jams, instead of sitting and cursing the government!
    • Yes, give a lift, to people carrying heavy packages. Especially old women or men. (I often watched my father do this.) Once, I gave a lift to a man who was obviously in great trouble during a bad storm.
    • Offer to give a lift to people who are obviously in need. (Yet do remember it can be a fraud too!)Listen to your gut feelings.
    • I also give sadqa, to a beggar if it is genuine. Otherwise, try to keep sweets or water or something to eat instead.
    • Give way to a person stuck in middle of road trying to find a way out. (- But do not stop suddenly, of course.)
    • Happily offer to pick or drop friends. 

In case of accident:

Many people don’t drive because they are afraid of having an accident. Well, you can be in one, even if you aren’t driving! So, what will be, will be. But, if you do have an accident, follow these rules. Then get back to driving as soon as possible. Otherwise, you will never get out of this fear of driving again. Remember, setbacks are only opportunities to learn. Nothing else. Here were go:

  •  Generally speaking, you won’t have a problem. Many bystanders will be eager to help. You will find people going out of their way to help you. Occasionally, you will find a nasty creep. Then be prepared to handle such guys too. 
  • Be cool and try to handle it yourself. Call 15 police in all situations.
    • Just drive off, if it is a small brush. Standing and arguing is pointless. After all, it is only your car that is damaged. It can be done up. There are people who do this on purpose to make you stop, then try to kidnap you or steal your car. So, it is best to drive off if you can.
    • If someone else is hurt, take the person to a nearby chemist shop where they usually have first aid facilities. If more serious, do take to hospital.  
    • When the other car is damaged: Give number of your mechanic and offer to pay for any damages to your mechanic. (I’ve done it, it works.)
    • If the person is misbehaving, be quiet. Once a guy took my car keys. So I went up to his car and took his, then came back and locked myself into my car to wait for the police to come. Yes, call the police at once. (Even if it was your fault.) Tell the police if you are to blame, but don’t take any nonsense from anyone. The crowd can be helpful. 
    • Call your husband/brother/ or friend when situation is getting out of hand.


Car repairs and maintenance:

  • In the case when my car got damaged, I had the car repaired myself. Later on in the evening, I’d confess to my husband what had happened, then explain that all the repair work is already done, or in the process. He’d raise his eyebrows, in surprise. 
    • A time came when my mechanic was tried out by hubby dear, and he even liked him. (I had got to know of him through my friend Naila’s driver!)
    • By now, I just sit in the back seat enjoying a cup of tea and reading while the work is getting done.  Of course, I dress very appropriately, and am respectful. I find them very courteous. I also make sure to sit in crowded areas, not in some room inside. The bad weather is no issue. It really doesn’t matter. 

So, driving is no big deal. Just be prepared to follow all security rules, and to rough it out when needed, and enjoy the drive! 🙂 

Note: I’m sharing some pictures from my recent drive to the mountains. Last sunday, I suddenly felt like going for a drive,  so I picked up my friend Naila, and we went to have a cup of tea on the expressway, near  Murree. It was lovely. We came back fully rejuvenated. 🙂 

My Work life balance

How I became an artist, educationist, and writer.

 

In this post I’m showing you how I did the ‘work-life balance’. My childhood was fully inclined towards art. My parents didn’t let me go to NCA for its ‘open’ environment, and my mother put me in College of Home Economics. I was the typical daughter who studied there, on the promise that I’ll go to NCA, after graduating. That didn’t materialize. I ended up with an MSc degree in Related Arts, and got married to a PAF aerospace engineer.

 

Do a job which you love:

As far as my husband was concerned, he left it to me to decide whether I wanted to work or not. So, I did a job when I was in a position to give it my best, and didn’t do it when my family commitments were more. I believe that when you do a job, and it should be what you love. Only then can your work can be good.  Also, one shouldn’t work when you are already under pressure when the children are too small, or any other reason. So, when my children became school going, I’d work only if I liked the job. Believe me, when you are going for that interview, it is not  only them sizing you up, it is you  sizing them up too! It has got to be a mutually beneficial situation, otherwise, it isn’t worth it.

Continue reading “My Work life balance”

Monthly Plans inspired by Iqbal.

How to achieve our monthly goals.

Somehow, I know that you have a talent, or an objective in life. If you do, then you have to give it time and space in your life too. On an important day like Iqbal day,  I am choosing to write on the subject of Monthly Plans. It is all about achievements. We can see the achievement scale of Iqbal and many others like him. It has to do with good self management skills.  Iqbal wasn’t a struggling poet who was down in the dumps. He was a member of the elite society because he chose to manage himself and his resources properly. Isn’t that what you would like to do too?

I’ve shared my thoughts with you about Iqbal here on how I got interested in his work, and why. Then I’ve written about Allama Iqbal’s  Tulip of Sinai, a book which I have illustrated and published here.

It is a fact that he stuck to his own creative work in spite of being a well- known lawyer like Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Iqbal planned his month in such a way that he instructed his manager (munshi) to tell him when he has got enough cases to cover  his monthly expenses. After that he took no more cases, and concentrated  on his poetry. This is how he planned his month. He did it with the objective in his mind.

Why can’t we do that?

Continue reading “Monthly Plans inspired by Iqbal.”

Four Secrets of Success

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– I love it when a deep point is simplified!

The other day, I saw this video of a sermon by Tariq Jamil. It has the secrets of success in both worlds. It is based on the sayings of Holy prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It gave me the answer to the secret of success of my parent’s lives. They’ve never been into religious rituals. So, I’ve always wondered what it was. Listening to this sermon by Maulana Tariq Jameel made me realize the true secret of success in their lives.

Continue reading “Four Secrets of Success”

How to Make Life Exciting.

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Almost every person I meet, he tells me he wants to do something special in his life. Something that will make him feel more satisfied and fulfilled. Believing in his talent, he finds its hard to pursue one’s interests due to lack of time. Often I’m asked, how I do it. There is nothing special, except having a few tricks to stay refreshed even when one is extremely tired. To find ways to do what one really likes, in spite of being busy. The trick lies in finding ways to get fresh and remove feelings of fatigue.

I mean, just look at Allama Iqbal, he  had two wives, children and a full time law practice. Yet, he came out with the greatest poetry and thoughts of his times. How did he do it? By making space for it, along with providing for his family through his profession. This blog post is all about how to make space for your passion in your life.

You do it – because your happiness depends on it- that’s why! 

You see, life is going to be crazy anyway. Do you think your life is less difficult for not doing all the ‘extra’ things that talented people do? Even if your life is nice, stable, routine but then there is this element of ‘missing’ excitement in it. You find yourself saying ‘I wish’ very often. So, I’d suggest you develope a life with more granting of your own ‘wishes’ (too).

One just needs to make an effort.

Plan better, and get going! Once you are on the road, you will feel better. As they say ‘himmat to karni parti hai.’ You cannot get anything without making the extra effort or cherry on the top!

So, if you are in a hurry, I will share my secrets first, and go on with my blog post for those who have more time to read.

Here are tips for all ‘normal’ activities:

Quickly go over the important responsibilities in your life, to make space for your passions in life.

  • Stop doing your work, ten minutes earlier. This will conserve your energy and give you more time in the end.
  • Try to ‘end’ your ‘work day’ by 5.00 pm every day. (if it is not completed, drop it.)
  • Make an effort to do something wonderful afterwards, at least once or twice a week.

 Refresh your self like this:

These will help you to keep going for it!

  1. Break: Take a ten-minute break and relax completely. (Mentally and physically.)
  2. Prayer: Best is to do wuzzu and say prayers – nothing so refreshing. While praying ask Allah to make things easy for you. (According to the Chinese acupuncture method, you touch points during wuzzu which will relax your nerves.)
  3. Shower: A quick hot or cold shower can do wonders. Unconsciously, you are giving a massage to your whole body like this, extremely refreshing.
  4. Make up and change of clothes: fresh clothes and make-up do wonders to your spirits.
  5. Perfume: you’ve heard of aroma therapy, it really works.
  6. Meditate: do it as you drive, or while lying down, or after prayers.
  7. Visualize a place: you can visualize being in a place that you love, (for me walking in a running stream in my bare feet is the best.) Specially visualize yourself doing what you are going to do now. Imagine how wonderful you will feel while doing it.
  8. Drink tea, coffee or lemonade: Any one of these can get you back on the road!
  9. Fifteen to twenty minutes: is all you need to get refreshed.
  10. Power naps: This can be ten to twenty minutes. One hour is the best. It will make you completely rejuvenated.

On Septemeber 25th evening, I was literally on the point of collapse, by 4.45 pm. I knew I had to wrap up the endless work of the day.  Then pick a friend and drive off to Rawalpindi for an event. A headache was coming on, and I could feel my neck’s left side muscles feeling strained. (Later on Ive found out it was due to high blood pressure – income tax returns does that!) So, I tried to get out of the event, (for a change.) The trip meant at least a three to four hour sojourn.

I rang up  Mrs. Gen. Saeed uz Zafar, who had invited me.

‘I’m so sorry, but I’m really not feeling well.’

‘It’s fine, you can come slightly late, but it will be worth it’ she said!

So, I refreshed myself by a few of the things mentioned above, and drove off. I have a theory, ‘once you have decided, then don’t think about it.’ That’s what Iqbal says:

 

 

Naila and my drive to Rawalpindi Garrison Mess: 

The moment Naila sat in the car, she said, ‘put that off! It will distract you while driving.’ I looked at my innocent DVD player in the dash board. I wanted to ask:  ‘Why do you think I bought this car???’- Yes for this dashing dashboard of course! –  So, I put off the screen, but kept the music going… telling her ‘I can’t drive without music.’ Which is so true.

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I took this pic while the lecture was on. My apologies to my friends sitting next to me! 😉

Naila and her family have just returned from attending a wedding in UK, so it was interesting conversation. She told me she had visited Daphne du Mauriers’ Jamaica Inn location in Cornwall. She even saw the desk where she sat and wrote. It is an actual Inn, in Cornwall, UK. I’ve literally grown up reading her books. Though I’ve loved Rebecca a lot but my favorites were Jamaica Inn and Scapegoat.

This is the conversation  we had as I drove on the signal-free highway. Then through the heavy traffic of Rawalpindi to Garrison Officer’s Mess. We got there, after parking the car literally in the ground near it, as the parking was full. (It used to be the cricket ground.  In 1980 I saw Imran Khan fielding near the pavilion. My friend Samia Khan and I were sitting in the VIP enclosure next to it. For the first time I had seen Imran Khan from close (about thirty feet away – and yes, he did look like a Greek god, like people had said. He did beat up the Kiwis the next day with his six sixes.) No wonder all the girls were so crazy about him!

The walk to the Garrison Mess became my evening walk. The building is charming and well kept as ever.  As I looked at the people playing tennis in the courts on my left, I remembered how  I had played tennis here too. (The coach was very impressed by me.) He didn’t know that I’m only doing it to reduce my weight, after the birth of Nataliya. Though she was only six pounds, I had gained a lot of weight. So much so, that my father-in-law joked with me saying, ‘khoda pahar, nikla chooha!’ It is a popular proverb meaning that we had to dig up a mountain to get a mouse! Don’t worry, I did get my weight back to normal.

Event by OAKS on Claiming Spaces from the Whirlwinds:

We entered the Fine Dining hall, which is more spruced up every time I see it, and the program was on.   Shama Apa came over to receive us. OAKS, Rawalpindi chapter had organized the event. They are a group of ladies who studied in Kinnaird College, Lahore. This event was based on three extraordinary women writers: Ismat Chughtai, Hijab Imtiaz Ali Taj and Quratulain Hyder.

It was a spell binding event. Touching upon the history of Muslim Women Writers of Sub-Continent of Indo-Pakistan, the speaker Salman Asif was fluent in Persian, English and Urdu. His accent and vocabulary in all languages was a treat to listen!  The presentation included many writers and it opened ones’ eyes to a world which was so modern and progressive! The women were of course mostly belonging to the elite and upper class, one was a pilot too! Some were queens and princesses during the Mughal era, which included the famous Queen Mumtaz for whom the Taj Mahal was built. Among the later ones Hijab Imtiaz Ali Taj, Ismat Chughtai and the famous author of Aag ka Darya: Quratulain Haider. The time span was between the sixteenth century till the late nineties;  the  hour passed in minutes, as we were in a trance. I’d love to invite him over to speak to our writer’s groups in Islamabad.

It isn’t possible to write about the lecture which was so amazingly done. Nor the inspiring women writers. How well versed they were in more than one language, one of them was even a pilot! Their skills in writing were matched by the lifestyles they had which were more modern and progressive than most of us today. I was so glad I went.

It is moments like these which make life so worth it. What I loved was Shama Apas’ tradition of gifting the speaker with a baby-tree of Silver Oak tree in a flowerpot. The group of ladies meet every month or so and call themselves the Silver Oaks.

Making space for passions in my life: 

In the same way, I’m so happy somehow I’ve managed to hold art classes at my Studio for select persons. Really enchanted with my student’s work.

Meanwhile, my daughter Nataliya came from Seattle. So, that was a lovely and busy spell. She also held a very engaging and well-designed workshop.  We all learnt a lot from her style of work and the way she managed the workshop. Of course, Waliya and I helped  her too.

https://www.facebook.com/shireen.gheba/videos/2168838996482714/

 

Through it all, I’ve read out the Holy Quran to my mother daily. In fact that is how we start our day, along with a cup of tea.

Screen writing Course by Mian Adnan Ahmad: 

These days I’m attending a  Screen Writing course in The Hive.  I’m just loving these. I’m so glad I went for it. By now I’m used to people asking me, ‘Why?’ and my response is: ‘why not?’

Why am I doing this course? So I can make films for the upcoming books in my pipeline. To make is easier to communicate ways to better our lives in this world. How we can be more productive and useful to each other.

When you put it into hours, days and weeks, it is very do-able.

So, why not start doing what you love to do? You are the captain of your ship. Go ahead and pamper yourself. (Remember, we do it without compromising the needs of our family members!)

We only get one life – lets have an amazing one.  No regrets, Baby!

I’m so happy my daughters also manage to get their passions fitted into their lives, just like their father did.  Here you see Waliya at work. Nadiya is a wonderful blogger and organizing expert too.

Note: Most photos and videos are mine, except the ones of Nataliya’s workshop which are courtesy Waliya Najib Khan. The picture of mountains and lake is by Nataliya (I think, or me!) Also, group photos of event in Rawalpindi, provided by Mrs. Saeed uz Zafar. The pictures of Daphne du Mauriur from Google search. Hope it is okay with them. i’m extremely grateful for these.