My stress management strategies.

Every family goes through stressful phases in life; We too, have been through our fair share. Recently,  Rammal Mehmud and Sajida Waheed asked me on Facebook to conduct a workshop on my stress management techniques. Since, the workshop cannot be done right now, so I’m doing my next best thing – a blog post.

My stress back ground:

Setbacks faced in last eight months:

  • Financial: Starting with wedding of my batman and cook in Dec. ’18, and Jan. ’19 there was a financial strain on me already. In February, while my one tenant had to leave, repairs had to be done, and loss of rent of the month was faced too. All this cost me double, as the new tenants had to be removed three months later. (Don’t ask me why!) More loss, more repairs.
  • Deaths in my home: End of February, I lost my father and my strength.  So naturally, I had to manage his burial arrangements, and guests. Hardly a month later, my cook Abdul Rahim died. (He had been with me for twenty years, and literally a family member for us).
  • More Emotional setbacks: Dissolution of my youngest daughter’s engagement in Jan.
  • Intellectual challenges: The horror stories of going through the paper work that goes with a death. (Still buried under the last part of it!)
  • Attending to all condolences and guests: While they are a source of great comfort, it can become quite tiring when you have to attend to each person.
  • Settling my mother into a life without her husband for the first time.
  • Helping my daughter and mother in coping, being there for them.
  • My own grief. – Last, but not the least:

My stress coping strategies:

  1. Complete faith. The moment something happens, I say two naffals. I speak with my Allah Mian. Just to let Him know, that as it has come from Him, I’ll take it. He will take care of me through the process. Know that He knows you can cope or Allah wouldn’t have dished it out to you. By now, I know He always does everything for a reason.
  2. Gratitude: In case of death, it just means that a life just got completed. I was deeply grateful for the opportunities to serve my father during his old age. Same with Abdul Rahim, my cook. He came happily to cook at my home, singing as he cooked. He came till the last day before he died. I say, a big Alhamdolillah. I accept that Allah took my father away, before life got more difficult for him.
  3. Be prepared and well organized:  I knew that when the time comes, I’ll have to cope with death of my parent. So, I had already found out what burial arrangements are available for residents of our colony. They have a good graveyard and a smooth system. So, I knew whom I’d have to call for arrangements, and what it would entail. MPCHS has a highly motivated team affiliated with their office and mosque. As far as condolences and guests were concerned, after first week, I kept visiting hours, so when a person asked, I’d ask them to come between these time slots. (Usually, between 5.30 pm and 7.30 pm in evenings, 10.30 am and 11.30 am in mornings.) This was kind on my staff, without spoiling my mother’s routine either.
  4. Take help from sincere people: When the time came, I was helped by army officials and specially Gen. Ghulam Qamar and my cousin Hasan, and Col. Zahid and many others. Everyone got together to share my tasks, and took over most of them. You have to be in Pakistan to know, how our people help each other. I’ve written about that loss here.  
  5. Problem solving: A good meeting with myself first. Sit alone and do it. A writing exercise of all issues with solutions. A page divided in half; headed with Problems on one side, and Solution on other half. So, one by one I write it down, with each solution. Short and crisp.
  6. Shared vision: Once decided, I’ll share it with my family and staff separately, in a crisp meeting. (Remember, they are stressed out also.) Clarify all aspects with each family and staff member. For instance, security is a big issue. Our colony personnel provide a guard at our gate. I gave cash to each staff member to be able to handle any ‘emergency’ food or other requirements. I made sure there was clean drinking water and basic provisions for all. I accepted help of having waiters offered by friends.
  7. Calm and in command: Know that your temperament will set the trend; My enemies had sent me a message that they would like to come over, I said, fine, as long as they do not come to hug me. (Why pretend feelings you don’t have? In private you mean harm, and publicly you behave very loving.  So, no hypocrisy please.) However, they were welcome. One came, and stayed away from me. Others sent me appropriate messages, I replied nicely too. I spoke to their spouses when they called. (I have nothing against them.) I want to improve relations too, yet it has to be candidly done.
  8. Screen out the crooks: I’ve known folks to misappropriate realities and say untrue things on such occasions. Let them know, that my being under stress doesn’t give them allowance to make untrue statements. Thanks to this behavior of mine – I never suffer fools gladly- people are more careful now. It was the same with my Dad, he never let a person get away with hypocritical behavior.
  9. Diligently reply to well-wishers’ messages: No one has free time. If a person is taking the trouble to give your time, writing a message for you in your time of grief, the least you can do is to answer their message. So, you can make a simple reply which you can ‘paste’ on to most messages. This is basic courtesy. Keep a time aside every night or morning to do this, half an hour or twenty minutes can be enough. Also return unanswered calls in the mornings. Write thank you notes to those who went out of their ways for you.
  10. Cut off time and getting help from professionals: Have a cut-off time. Judging by the fact that the iddat period for a widow defines the maximum time for grief which is medically proven. So, around four months is enough. It is vital to get back to normal life. If you still need help, then going to a psychiatrist, psychologist or counselor isn’t a bad idea at all. Go ahead and make an appointment and take help.  After all, how long have we got? So better get on with life!

Having said all that, I’d like to add: Don’t forget two factors that can help you recover:

  1. Morale boosting friends.
  2. Activities which help you recover.

1.     Morale boosting friends:

  1. Friends and well-wishers: Make time for them. (Don’t expect those ones to be with you, whom you had helped during their times.) If they are, wonderful. If they aren’t, it is okay.
    1. Notice how much grief they have suffered. Everyone who came for condolences had suffered in their own ways; No one was unscathed. Some came in spite of being cancer patients. I realized, you can just sit and listen to them.
    2. Pray for your well-wishers and yourself. As you pray, say special words for those who gave their time for you. Pray to Allah for their unique problems.
    3. Accept all kind gestures: You would do the same for them if you could. Be a taker at such times, it is all right. Accept offers of help, food, and support. Learn from kind gestures.

2.     Activities which help you recover.

Activities which make you feel better must be continued.  Try to get back to normal routine as soon as possible. Especially not to let happy activities (you can reduce them but not exclude them).

  1. Art classes: I continued with art classes my students Shabnam, Shagufta and Daniyal, kept coming 3.00 pm to 5.00 pm twice a week.
  2. Learning something new: I’ve found Marie Kondo videos on YouTube to help me re-organize my home. It is thrilling. 
  3. Watch videos of dramas you love: MAKE SURE YOU WATCH COMEDIES AND NOT TRAGEDIES.
  4. Get new stuff: I got ‘joy box’ so we all could watch YouTube together.
  5. Get a new pet: My mother and I got a cute puppy which we thought was a cocker spanial. But now we love this little mongrel who is very well behaved. (So far.)
  6. Social work: the twelve marriages, the clothes for CSS school underprivileged children, Old people’s home, and rations for poor people. All these gave me greatest happiness. The process diverted me, gave me something to do. (It was good to know, my brain still works!) It was the best way to use my time. I’d even go late nights for the stuff for the brides. Now, the shop gives me home delivery. So, this is my happiness formula written about in my blog post here.
  7. Home changes: It thrills me to do up my home, so I indulged.

    • Upholstery work: You can see how I transformed my Mum’s room here, and how I did more of the work here. Ayesha Chaudhry insists it changes the spirits in your home by removing old vibes and stains.
    • Plants and flowers: These can transform the vibes instantly!

I’m still healing, you know. Why do I cry that He took him away, why don’t I thank Allah for all the years He blessed me with a father like him? So, I thank Him more. Alhamdolillah!

So here is my answer, Rammal and Sajida.

What do you do? What works for you?

Stay blessed. 🙂

 

 

 

Sleep is vital for vitality.

‘Sweet dreams!’ – They say, that you can only have dreams if you are in deep sleep. 

My sleep was always great. No matter what happened. But during last few years, I go to sleep and wake up every couple of hours. So, I wasn’t getting that straight six hours’ sleep.

As a result, I’ve  developed health issues. I’ve somehow managed to avoid the big knee replacement operation, but  when I sleep well the pain fades away.

Realizing how important sleep is for one’s health; after the loss of my father a few months ago, I made great effort to settle my mother’s room. I wanted her to be able to sleep well. I changed the ambiance of her room so she could find peace and rest. You should do the same with your own room. Make it very pleasant, charming and peaceful.

Sleep – solution to health problems:

You can get out of many health issues through good sleep.  So, whatever health problem you have, first check your sleep patterns. Try to get your sleep in control first, and then see if you still have the problem. Sleep itself  is a ‘treatment’.  There are chemicals of all sorts inside our bodies; these get activated  to heal and repair while we are in deep sleep.   So, it can only happen when we sleep six to eight hours straight.

  1. Cancer cure: Remember my blog post on best cancer video here? Sleep is one of the six points. So, a good sleep can save you from cancer.
  2. Normal weight: It helps in keeping weight as normal. When you sleep well, you do not have those wakeful nights with trips to the ‘fridge.
  3. Helps solve problems: ‘A good nights’ sleep’ is the cure for most problems’. This is what my friend Farzana Ikram would say.   Every problem seems more manageable once you’ve ‘ slept on it.’

How do we lose our sleep?

  1. Purely our own fault. It is our attitude to sleep as if it is a waste of time. Sacrificing our sleep hours at the slightest upheaval. late nights work and  late night meetings. We make commitments by putting aside our bedtimes. If we  are conscious, we will plan according to our sleep times. Making sure we have a ‘cut off time’.
  2. Our phone,  laptops and television sets are  the biggest distraction, before sleep.
  3. It is due to these distractions that during the day while working too,  our work doesn’t get completed on time. As a result, our sleep time gets pushed beyond bedtime.
  4. The social occasions also play havoc, specially weddings. In such cases, be firm. Attend one of the many occasions. I’m telling you, your true friends and relatives will understand, the others really don’t matter. When my children were small, I’d attend the event on  Saturday.   I would inform the host,  I shall not be attending the other events. It is okay. They can invite someone else then.

Tips on how to be well slept:

1.      Control the mind and body:

  1. Saying things like, ‘I cannot do it.’ Instead, say, ‘I can sleep on time, if I try.’
  2. Don’t take agitated thoughts with you to bed. (This is why they say make up with your spouse before sleeping.)
  3. Deal with  ‘to do’ lists earlier, before getting into bed.
  4. Do make sure that you walk or exercise for thirty minutes daily. You can do this five times a week. This will ensure excellent sleep at night.

2. Maintain a bedtime routine:

  1. Help your body clock to work, by sleeping at the same time daily.
  2. Early dinner is essential. In Pakistan, 7.00 or 7.30 pm is a good one. (Then you can watch drama hour from 8.00 pm to 9.00 pm!)
  3. Unwind with family/spouse: Share your days’ events with family members and plans for next day with rest of family.
  4. Avoid any heavy talk or thought. (We had the whole day for that, remember?)
  5. Change your clothes, relax, take a glass of milk or a bowl of yogurt. Say Isha A little ‘me time’ would be great too.
  6. Best is to be in bed by 10.30 latest. Ok, I know, it isn’t possible for many of us to do this. So, make it eleven.
  7. Relax with music, dim lights, scented candles, read your favorite book or magazine.
  8. Prayer timings: Try to sleep on time, so you get your eight hours of sleep and be able to say Fajar prayers. Try to get six hours straight sleep and make up for the other two hours in the afternoon nap, (- if you can afford that luxury. So, the biggest incentive for sleeping earlier is to say Fajar prayers. On the other hand, If you regularly sleep late, then say Tahajjad prayers, before sleeping.
  9. Zikr is the best way to put yourself to sleep. Saying different names of Allah are a great way to fall asleep. You can also try to remember all the Surahs you have memorized. It is a sure shot way to go to sleep. 

3.      Break the routine on weekends:

  1. You can break the routine to sleep late on Friday and Saturday nights otherwise, there is no point.
  2. Try to sleep on time on Sunday night, to start your coming week properly. ( It is a good thing to back out of social commitments of Sunday late nights. )
  3. Many wise Instagram bloggers take a break on weekends.
  4. Keep  phone away:

  1. Specially at bedtime leave the phone in another room.
  2. Specially if it is on charger.
  3. Definitely, do not keep the phone under your pillow or next to your body.
  4. Keep a chit pad nearby to write any ideas that pop into your head.

Ensuring a good sleep:

It doesn’t start at bedtime. It is an attitude and a lifestyle. You need to guard your sleep-time. Simply accept that just as you guard your ‘Keto’ diet and all that, in the same way, guard your sleep, which is an all-inclusive element of health.

Watch your cat, and see how relaxed he is most of the time.Watch the power nap.

Only, yesterday I met someone after some years, and she said, ‘you are looking so fresh!’ I told her, ‘I’m taking care of my sleep hours now.’   I’m telling you, being well slept is the key to all-round well-being.  You will notice how the quality of your physical, emotional, social, intellectual and financial life will improve with it.

Yes, you will stay blessed, if you are well slept.

Note: All photographs taken by author, except the one taken by Nadiya Najib in Seattle, of mine with A. 🙂

Drive into the clouds

Drive into the clouds

All my life, I’ve  loved mountains. When I look at them, my heart skips a beat. I feel so much gratitude, and happiness. Just looking at them, makes me feel happy. The closer I get to them, the happier I get! Is it the same for you too?

Every few weeks I want to be out there in the mountains either driving or walking in its trails.

So, when Danyal asked me to join them this weekend, I was more than thrilled. Of course, I was in the middle of so many things to do, but still managed to go along. As far as I can remember, it was always like that; I’m doing lots of different things. So, it is difficult to untangle ones’ self from them.  They also, know, I’ll do my best to go along, as I really love these trips. God bless them.

It was a real treat; While walking, you happen to come across a fruit laden tree, it is a happy surprise. 🙂

These days, with the Monsoon rains, the greens are lush green. The clouds are heavy and low.

The pipeline trail in Doonga Gali is right next to Ayubia. Yesterday, I went there for the first time. It appears, my daughter Nadiya and Haaris, her husband, have been there when there was snow.

So, the moment we reached, we met everyone and decided to go for the walk on the pipeline trail. Otherwise, after lunch it may get difficult. The weather was perfect as we walked, along the curving trail, all at the same level. As father and son went ahead, I decided to walk back, feeling that it may get too long a walk for me.

I also enjoyed my solitary walk back to the lovely place where they had been staying. I made these few videos for my Instagram and took close ups of butter flies and flowers and the view.

There were these beautiful hydrangeas growing in the place.

We had a delicious lunch and then sat and had a lovely chit chat with rest of their family.

https://www.facebook.com/shireen.gheba/videos/pcb.2701457053220903/2701471666552775/?type=3&theater

 

https://www.facebook.com/shireen.gheba/videos/pcb.2701457053220903/2701474723219136/?type=3&theater

https://www.facebook.com/shireen.gheba/videos/pcb.2701457053220903/2701460116553930/?type=3&theater

https://www.facebook.com/shireen.gheba/videos/pcb.2701457053220903/2701462249887050/?type=3&theater

 

The treat of Cappacino at the Second Cup, on our way to Doonga Gali, was really good.

You see, everything I wanted, was granted. But then, you also have to make the effort to agree to go. First you wish for something,  then Allah will send you some angels….. 🙂 Cant thank the Haroon family enough!

https://www.facebook.com/shireen.gheba/videos/pcb.2701443303222278/2701440983222510/?type=3&theater

https://www.facebook.com/shireen.gheba/videos/pcb.2701443303222278/2701442303222378/?type=3&theater

 

https://www.facebook.com/shireen.gheba/videos/2701433283223280/

A childhood filled with butterflies… and now seeing just one or two sporadically. Where did we go wrong? We had large gardens full of flowers. Lots of space for groups of these beautiful God’s creatures going from flower to flower. Large and small butterflies in the most amazing colors and patterns. Will our great grandchildren see them or not?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fighter pilot’s beautiful home.

 

 A home in Islamabad built with pride and love.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always loved interior design magazines, and books. More than that, one loves visiting beautiful homes of friends and acquaintances. It just makes you feel great.

As you know, I’ve been writing on different homes in Islamabad. You can see my previous blog posts here and here.

Love to share Pakistani homes:

I find such pictures of homes in Pakistan, more inspiring as these are made from local materials and by Pakistani architect, contractor and laborers. Totally home spun. A place built with pride, and lots of love.

I met my friend Nabila in 1994 when my husband was posted to Sargodha Base. We had just moved into our house, when Nabila walked in with a beautiful stain glass on mirror wall hanging for me.  In those days she made stain glass miniature paintings on mirrors.  So, our mutual interest in arts was an immediate bonding factor.

Her children are equally talented and doing well in their lives now.

 

Today, I’m taking you to my friend Nabila’s home. We were neighbors, in the year 1998 when we lived in the air force colony in Islamabad.  We’ve known each other for the last twenty four years. Every home of hers held these qualities of grace, beauty and comfort. Now that the couple has built their own home, I asked her, if I could share it with you all, my readers and followers. Happily she agreed.

Nabila’s husband was a fighter pilot in the Pakistan Air Force.  He flew aircraft in the busiest Bases in Pakistan Air Force, including the F-16, When I met them first in 1994, it was in Sargodha Base. Now, they are settled (after retirement) near my home in Islamabad.

So, when I visited her yesterday, I saw many things in her home which I’d always wanted in my own home, especially those brick walls in that color. So, in a way, her home reflected many of my dreams too. It feels good to see someone accomplishing your dreams too!

 

As far as I’m concerned, I’m happy in all states. If one can complete one’s plans, fine. If not, then its fine too, as you have achieved other things which you wanted, in the mean while – yes, my MBA, books and a few more stuff.

So, each one of us makes their home what they want. It is not just the finances, but also the other elements like good planning, management and timing. I know, they waited a long time and worked hard to get to this point in their lives.

What I love most about my friend is her candid responses. She has no false airs and graces. This is something, I find extremely charming and endearing.

Pervaiz Vandal, a prominent Lahore architect said ‘the time spent with your architect communicating your personal requirements, is never wasted. It is the most important.’ How can an architect build your house without knowing what you want? A home is a very personal thing and it needs your personal time and full attention. In fact, the moment you step into a home, you know, how much communication there has been between the architect and the client. Also, how much the whole family was involved in the process.

So, I knew the moment I walked into the home of the AVM and his wife, that here was a house that was well thought out. Each nook and corner, very carefully planned and worked out. Both husband and wife have managed with mutual support and love.

The Exterior :

Frank Lloyed Whright the great architect believed that the house should look as part of its environment. It should look as if it is growing out of it. That is why local materials looks wonderful. Here are some pictures of it.

 

 

The garden:

 

Details in nooks and corners:

 

The philosophy while building a house:

 

In Karachi  I interviewed Aqeel Bilgrami for an article on architecture for Dawn newspaper, he said, ‘while planning you should plan for  ten years, life changes, so planning beyond that isn’t wise..’ Ten years. Now, I can see how right he was!

Even you aren’t who you were ten years ago. How can that same house be fine for the new you? So, just plan for the next ten foreseeable years.

The kitchen.

Special touches in this house:

Spaces have been utilized for easy maintenance and maximum value. The windows have been made to enjoy the views from every vantage point. I love the way the staircases have been made so interesting.

There are no curtains in the entire houses. Instead, there are special wooden Venetian blinds. The other thing I love are the book shelves in most rooms, which is something I love also. Every room was designed to enjoy the view of the mountains, even the stair case. The first floor balcony has a lovely garden where a barbecue has been planned on the terrace nearby.

The brick accents in every room, give a personality and charm to the rooms.

What about you?

So, what do you think? If you are still planning on building your own house, how would you plan your dream home? I’d suggest, make a Ring bound folder scrap book of your dream home. Keep adding your ideas in it. Put in pictures, drawings, and things, it can also be a folder in your laptop. The most important thing is to be  open to fresh ideas.

This house is truly something beautiful that came out of the couple’s efforts. I pray that they find happiness, family strength and peace within it’s walls.

 

Domestic violence

What do you do, when the world’s best relationship turns into the worst?

Suddenly, I feel impelled to write on this topic.

As I write, the Mohsin Abbas Haider and Fatima Sohail case is blazing on our screens.  Yes, this is the ugly side of a toxic relationship. You are getting a demo of how it can end up.

So, how does such toxic situation happen? What could have been done to prevent it? (Believe me, it is very easy to tell others what to do, till one is oneself in such a situation.)

So, we are not being judgmental here. – Just using it as a learning experience, for all those who are in a similar crisis. Many couples are  going through similar situations.  So, this blog post is for them.

Preventive steps:

Your best bet is to keep your relationship as good as it can be for as long as possible. Do all you can to keep it great. However, when a violent act takes place, know that this is the ‘cut-off’ point in the relationship. In Fatima Sohail’s  case, she had been beaten previously too. That is when she should have walked out. Because when a partner hits you – this is the point of no return.

Your smartness lies, in not allowing a relationship to come to that head; if you can help it. The fact is that domestic physical violence always begins with verbal abuse.

Supposing a man is being verbally abusive. So, what you can do is,

  1. Let him know (later on when his mood is better.) Tell him, that you found it hurtful. Give him a chance to apologize. These days the Hum channel. play ‘Khaas’is highlighting this. His constant ‘shaming remarks in front of everyone,’
  2. Successful examples:
  • Jokes at her expense: I personally know a friend whose husband makes jokes at her expense. She always smiles and takes it. (I’d think I’d hate it!) However, her patience is rewarded by the fact that she lives like a queen in her home. He is a loving and giving husband. So, in certain cases, you can let it go, and laugh it off too, if otherwise, he is a good husband.
  • Verbally abusive husband: It is possible, that what you consider verbal abuse may be ‘normal’ in your husband’s family. Yes, I’ve got another friend, whose husband has always used abusive language. He also kept her short on cash all her life. So, when you think about it, the abusive language is ‘normal’ in his family, so he doesn’t mean it badly, just that he is angry, and keeping short in finances is because he has a lot of responsibilities and cannot afford. Understanding this, she chose to ignore this and contributed to her family by her jobs. He was a good father to their children. He was good to her friends and relatives too. She valued his good qualities. In the end, she won by having a loving home for her children, and they all have lived successful lives.
  • Counting his good points: If his good points are more, perhaps you can live with a few bad ones. If he is able to give you what is important for you, then you can overlook. Supposing you’ve invested too much showing patience now, will help you reap the harvest.
  • Have faith. Allah is always there, and something will come out of it. You’ve got to be clear. Whether to stay or to leave should be a well thought out decision on your part. So that you won’t regret walking out on him, later on. (Remember, it won’t be easy out there either.)

Different Types and phases of Domestic violence:

You can get information about these types of domestic violence; check which one you are facing right now:

  1. Passive aggressive behavior: He doesn’t hit you, he doesn’t say anything bad. It is just that he makes sure your life is hell with him. So, there is nothing you can tell others. Hidden agendas here.
  2. Stonewalling: When he treats you as if you don’t exist. He literally looks through you, behaves as if you haven’t spoken or he hasn’t heard you.
  3. Gaslighting: Playing mind games. He is making you believe you are at fault.  It is your fault that he is having to beat you, or be nasty. This is a carefully planned mind game.
  4. Verbal abuse: when he constantly insults you, and your family.
  5. Physical abuse: Yes, and beating too!
  6. Torture: Mental and physical torture. Actually, this is the extreme case!

Know your own threshold:

Each human being is different. While physical domestic violence is unforgivable, the other types depend on you. Can you laugh it off in your own life? Your best bet is when you make it clear to him by your behavior that he isn’t succeeding in what he is trying on you. Let him try. I’ve known women just laughing it off, and managing to find ways to avoid such situations. They are smart. To remain unhurt and pretending to be blind to it all; Till he realizes you aren’t affected, so he stops trying.

There is hope that with time he realizes. Perhaps it is influence of some individual in his life. But he is to blame even then.  You need to be vigilant and aware.

Sometimes, it works to call his bluff, let him know that you are aware of what he is trying to do. You are the best judge of your situation. Please take care of yourself.

What you can do:

  • Carefully, analyze the situation. Keep a journal, so that it can help you keep your sanity. Know what it is first. Only then you will know how to deal with it.
  • Have one confidante or two. Go to a counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist or spiritual guide. At least he or she can help you analyze the situation properly. Do not go to a person of opposite gender.
  • Concept of communication doesn’t work: Know that the concept of ‘dialog’ or ‘communication’ has been disproven. It invariably takes things totally out of context and on to a different path. Adding more problems. Honestly speaking – do you think a passive aggressive person will accept that he is being that? Or that he is stonewalling you? No! By the way, there are sites online which can regularly send you emails helping you to deal with a passive aggressive partner.
  • Use spiritual strength: Prayers, Tahajjad prayers, ask Him for help and guidance. Mostly, ask for patience and inner strength.
  • See your situation from all aspects: which family member can be of help? What will happen if you take any of the options that you want to take. Can you take the consequences? Are you financially and emotionally strong enough?
  • Carefully check out your situation in both cases, whether you decide to stay or if you leave.
  • Speak to someone your husband respects a lot: He may heed to someone he holds in great regard.
  • If you have children, then know how your decisions will affect your children, in the near and distant future also.
  • Youtube videos on relationships by BK Shivani are amazing. See if they help.

You both can go for counseling together:

  • Though the success rate from counseling alone is not very encouraging. Yet it is worth trying.
  • The fact that you both are going together for it, itself would make a difference.
  • Ask someone to intervene and help.

Never forget the third element- your children:

How will they take it, and how will they be affected? Right now, our society doesn’t help the children cope. In the West, they are way ahead in this. You can have stable children even outside a marriage.

Ask your children and yourself:

Can your children live in this bad marriage?

Would it be better, if you walked out?

Be clear, what you can do, if you walk out?

So, you decided to bail out!

Once decided, be cool and plan well. Involve a few people who are wise, preferably not from either families, or one each from both families. Take things into control. Do, not let domestic violence become the norm by taking it. Move away first. I’ve written about divorce in this blog post here.

Have faith in all situations:

Whether you choose to stay inside or outside the relationship, know that Islam has no problem with divorce. Except that it advises you avoid it, if possible.

Have faith in Allah whether you choose to stay inside or outside the relationship.

I believe very strongly that whatever course you choose to take. Do it with mutual grace, dignity and respect. Remember at all times, that you are talking about the child’s father, or the child’s mother.

Just remember that.

All this media hype will die down. But one fine day, this child will search and find all this information online on YouTube or whatever ‘system’ there is then. How will this child feel about his mother and father?

Just calmly think about it from that silent baby’s point of view. The worst thing is that everyone will be knowing about it too.

Walk away with grace, and take up your life. Some things do not have to be said, they are a silent statement. Yet, they keep a pardah or veil.

As the verse in Quran about marriage partners is: They are a raiment unto each other.

Be that raiment, and protect the other from the public eyes. Whatever happens, forgive, and move on. Do not take domestic violence. Walk out or do whatever you decided.  Let things happen in a way that is respectful and condones towards a peaceful future for both of you.

As far as I can see, a divorce is like a ‘hijrat’ or migration. It is necessary when your functioning as a human being becomes distorted. Therefore, move on with dignity and get to the next step ASAP.

As Dr. Phil says in his book Family First, ask yourself this: is the pain of staying more than the pain of moving away?

Know that in both cases, it is a painful journey. (No, I cannot say ‘Stay blessed’ here!)  But if you aren’t in this situation, You are blessed!

Note: All photographs are courtesy of Waliya Najib Khan.

Promises to myself

Do know, that I’m still fulfilling promises to myself, made several decades ago?

Actually!

This is how long it can takes, if you get too busy elsewhere, living your life.

Two promises:

1.     Help improve lives of poor people:

‘As God is my witness, I’ll make a difference in the lives of these poor people.’ I was nineteen, and witnessing the beating up of a poor man. At that time I was helpless, and unable to stop it. But inside my heart, I made this pledge. You see, it was a ‘crime’ for which the poor man was being beaten. His goat had been caught eating up a newly planted tree.

Most of the time, it is lack of knowledge, or plain ignorance, but then who is to blame for their ignorance? They are so poverty stricken they need help in every way. It is our obligation to raise them out of their ignorance, and provide skills to help them get out of their poverty.

We need to value their contributions in our lives. Especially, if they are so punctual!

Many  wealthy, educated and corrupt people get away Scot-free for such great crimes in this country. So, the justice system is also only for the weak, whether it is women, or poor people. So, I made a pledge, that day – yes, a promise to myself – to be fulfilled. Of course, I did whatever I could, whenever I could. But nothing spectacular.

Currently, the small scale of social work I’m doing is actually– fulfilling that promise to myself, made so many years ago.

2.      Bring Iqbal’s work to the youth:

This promise was made just a few years ago, when I was praying at the tomb of Allama Iqbal.  I felt so small and worthless. So, I promised myself, ‘I’ll use all my capabilities as an artist and writer, to bring Iqbal’s work into the hands of the youth.’

It is my belief that Iqbal’s poetry is great, and we are so small and unworthy. Yet, Iqbal  gives confidence to each one of us, to be the best that we can be, because we are Allah’s creations and our capabilities are awesome. How much of those capabilities are we using? So, as a teacher, writer and artist, I felt I was bound to do the best I can to bring his works into the hands of the youth of our country and the world. It is the best thing which can take us forward.

Just imagine, poetry to change lives. That powerful.

Promises:

We are very concerned with broken promises of others, what about the promises we make to ourselves? If we cannot keep our promises to ourselves, how can we expect others to keep theirs to us?

 

What about you, and your promises?

Did you make any promises to yourself? How well have you fared so far?

This is why, we should be careful with our promises, as we have to keep them.

Pari jab nazar apnay aibon par,

Nazar mein koi bura na raha.

 

(When I looked at my own faults,

Now, no one is faulty in my eyes!)

Stay blessed my dear Reader, Friday is a day to ponder.

 

Girls, Financial Planning is crucial

This subject is very close to my heart.  So, when a follower on Instagram Yumna Sardar  asked me to write on finance, I was thrilled. Dil ki baat kardi jenab!

How I realized my plight:

When I was hit on the head with it!

Actually, all my life, my husband asked me to take interest in his files etc. I’d say, ‘you are there for it!’ (Meaning, ‘why should I bother my pretty little head with it?’ He was more fit than me, and had a great head for numbers. Yes, he remembered every imaginable number  – including number plates of cars under him in his unit! So, I knew I was in competent hands.)

–  So, when he suddenly, died of cancer, I had Rs.1000 only, and literally a thousand bills! That’s how I was hit on the head with it.

  1. Meanwhile, at that time, I was enrolled in my MBA… When I failed twice in my Financial Accounting paper, (finally passing in my third attempt, thanks to Irfan Ahmed, my class fellow.) While I was among the toppers in other subjects, in this subject I failed. So, I’m really talking from experience.
  2.  I was at zero point. My real life was a financial mess too.
  3. I faced the horrific challenges that only total lack of money can bring. Especially at a time, when you need it the most. For instance, husband dying of cancer, and house construction needing finishing touches, and money ‘locked’ by out-laws, and court cases, as cherry on the top! (So, don’t think, ‘how does she know?’ Believe me, I know! )

Law of the Worlds:

  1. Very early on, I learnt, that you get exploited by others, when they know you lack funds.
  2. You get marginalized by society, people downplay  your efforts in all fields.
  3. People believe they can take what is yours, because you can’t defend yourself, or your things.

So, how did I survive?

  1. My faith in Allah never wavered. I was sure He had chosen me for better times, this was the ‘exercise’ part of it. So, I remained firm. I was able to smile, and laugh – something my Waliya taught me –  I knew I was in the Best Hands, anyways. (Yes, I cried in private while praying to Him.)
  2. The moment the ground started slipping from under my feet, I looked up at Him. I made a pact with Him, I’ll ask no one for help except Him. So, He did.
  3. You must be wondering why my parents didn’t help. My dad was going through a financial crisis of his own, that’s why.
  4. Also, I was too proud to ask anyone for help. I believe, that after eighteen years of age, we have to manage for ourselves. Our parents have already done enough for us.
  5. My family, close friends and total strangers, were like His angels in plain clothing. They helped me from sources I could never have imagined. Total strangers came out of the blue helping me in ways, I’d never thought possible.

Learn Finances properly:

  1. My travel bags have been heavy due to books: My trips to USA had me reading about finances. (I was already realizing how weak I was.) So when the crisis hit me, I was able to make sound decisions at the right times.  I used to laugh at myself for choosing these books when I hadn’t a penny. But I went ahead, because my heart felt like it. Only Allah knew how much I needed this information.
  2. Grab and read all about finance, anything you can digest : Read: Suzie Ormans’ books, as many as you can get your hands on. Specially her latest ones. One of her best is Women and Money. Rich Dad, Poor Dad, is amazing, and you need to read it several times to digest it fully.  Napolean Hill’s Grow Rich with peace of mind, is the sum total of this millionaires’ life lessons on money. (It is pretty much the Islamic methodology of it, i.e. to not gain it through exploitation of others, or through games of chance, to use it to serve people, and get it through serving people too.)
  3. Watch videos on YouTube about these books, if reading is a strain, watch videos on the subject. Study Financial Accounting and other such subjects, and see how you can apply the principles in your own life.
  4. Listen to podcasts on the subject. (You can get Suzie Orman’s also!) I’ve watched amazing weekly programs on television in USA of this brilliant expert, who can help you at all levels. She says, that you need to spend an hour daily in sorting out your finances.
  5. Attend workshops on finance, even if you can’t understand much, one day you will.
  6. Pinpoint your own bad habits: You must know why you got where you are, by taking full responsibility.
  7. Learn from your tough times. If you don’t do it, and sit comfortable by blaming others and society, then you will never learn, or improve.

My Principles of Finance:

So, Napolean Hill became a millionaire three times in his life. His block buster book Think and Grow Rich made many millionaires too. However, when he found many of them unhappy on their death beds, without family or friends, lonely.  He realized that acquiring money is worthless, without peace of mind. That is when in his nineties, he wrote the book Grow Rich with Peace of Mind, with over seventy years of experience with money.

Halal and honestly gained money:

No compromise on that. None. You know when a thing is haram, when it is acquired by lying and cheating others, or when you are taking what does not belong to you. So, keep it legal and honestly earned. Never compromise on principles. Never.

Interest free money:

You can say what you like, I’ve faced the worst financial crisis but never went back to interest based banking. I don’t regret it.  I used to keep interest based banking, when I didn’t understand the verses in Quran about it. Afterwards I said my ‘toba’.  All subsequent accounts  opened have been current, at all levels. In fact recently, I went and closed the ‘savings account’ too. Call me stupid, but this is something between me and my God. He has clearly said, that usury is haram, while profit is halal. Even while living abroad or in other countries, you have the option of having a current account.

Success stories:

Shabnam (name changed for privacy)  had been gifted with a National Saving Center saving account benefit of a sizable sum by her parents. However, not believing in interest based investments; she moved the cash out and bought a small plot from it. Her investment has already doubled in value within four years.  Now, she was informed, that this National Savings and Behbood isn’t haram, however, her intent was to keep her investment as halal  and interest-free as possible.

I know another case in USA where a person named Saad, didn’t buy a property due to the heavy mortgages involved. He lived in rented apartments. When the famous financial crisis occurred, he was among the few who weren’t affected.

Why not interest?

  • I’ve watched my parents suffer when they took a loan from the bank of Rs. 300,000/- and that compounded into Rs.15,00,000/- When my father didn’t have sufficient money to build his house in Lahore. I know the prices they paid for it, and the ones’ I’ve paid for it. It isn’t fair to exploit people who are in a weak financial position. But then, it is your own choice whether to take it or not.
  • A person working in London, in a call center providing loans has informed me of how much exploitation is done of persons who are already facing financial crisis.

How to survive financially:

Earn your money :

 

Yes, do a job, from home, or in an office. Have a lifestyle in which you are busy serving others (through your work), staying busy, and having that extra cash to save too. If your pay isn’t that good, have an extra source of income, or keep committees. Control your family and your own spending habits.

Save your money:

Do not waste it, but save it: You need to save first, and then spend the rest of the month on the rest of the money after savings. When you save it, keep it out of your own reach also. Like many people join committees – which is an excellent way to save – and then reinvest it in something else, like shares, or even property. When you get the amount, use it wisely, you haven’t saved all year, and sacrificed to splash it wrongly, ending up again at zero point.

Lead a debt-free life:

Make a pact with yourself to never get into debt. If you have to, then return asap. Make it your priority to return immediately. This applies to whether you borrow from friends, relatives or from a bank. Just leave all else, and return asap.

Enjoy your money:

In fact it is the money which you have used, which is yours. The rest may never be yours anyway. But let’s say, get what you can’t get normally from your extra  earnings. In my case, it was gifts, books, travel, and outings with family and friends. Also, I loved getting things to beautify the home, like plants, carpets, curtains or lamps.

Fight for equal financial rights for girls:

  1. Disparity in pay scales: Realize the fact that today, women do not receive the same pays as men in any department for the same work.
  2. Property ownership: This is mostly avoided, or totally ignored.
  3. Inheritance laws are distorted: The fact is that the larger share for males is solely for the added responsibility on them for caring of females in their family, for life; which means to provide food, clothing, education and shelter to the women in the family, specially widows, divorcees and orphans. This aspect is completely ignored by most men today, which is extremely un-Islamic, while the part of usurping her property is followed diligently.
  4. The point to note here is, that if Shariya Law is important, which it is, then it must be followed in totality. All the rest of the  Shariya laws also must be followed first; Especially, cutting of hands for thieves (and corrupt persons – which is theft of the worst kind), capital punishment for murderers, kidnappers and rapists, and lashes for adulterers. Till all that isn’t implemented also, the inheritance law must be done with ijtehad and the portions should be equal for all. This is suggested, because women have to fend for themselves in today’s world. Almost no man is taking care of the women in his family, as per Islamic responsibility.  A bill needs to be passed for this immediately till the rest of the shariya laws aren’t implemented too.   The present scenario is totally unfair to women, in letter and in spirit of Islam. The present interpretation has weakened women financially. In original Islamic times, Muslim women were the strongest.
  5. Remember, when you will entrust your rights and control to others, you are bound to suffer. That is what you are doing girls, so wake up.

Invest your savings:

Knowing the state of affairs in present world, and especially in Pakistan, women need to be even more aware of the importance of taking control of their financial planning. Here is where you’ll get tips from Suzie Orman and Robert (of Rich Dad, Poor Dad fame) about how to invest it. Best is to invest in property and live on rents. So, your main investment is safe and you are living on the above stuff.

Charity percentage:

So, give a percentage, that makes it easier to calculate. Give zakat first, and then sadqa too, as and when required, preferably 10 % and least 2.5 %. I’ve heard, that Jews, give 10 % , no wonder they are so rich!

My message to girls:

  1. You have to prove to your man, that you are capable of handling finances.
  2. Show your competence in other matters of the household.
  3. Know your rights and your duties.
  4. Speak up when your brothers are trying to swindle you out of your share of inherited property.
  5. If you aren’t good at Financial Planning, get better. Do indulge in committees and savings.

Message for men:

  1. Help your women understand the fundamentals of finances.
  2. Trust your wife, mother or sisters in financial planning. Let them participate with the workings. Let them do some of your work too. It will lighten your burden too. This will give them a better idea.
  3. Be transparent about your financial investments. So they know where they stand.
  4. Know that whatever Allah has ordained for them, they will have anyway. Isn’t it better if it comes to them with your name to it?
  5. Be just and fair with your wife, sister and mother, and family members, specially while dealing with inherited property. To keep your property joint with your wife.

So, tell me were these points useful for you? Yes, you knew most of them anyways, but didn’t realize how important they are, for our own well being. Also, you can support your husband achieve your mutual financial goals. Just as he can support you with your goals. Do you have any planning ideas? Do share with me in your comments.

If you follow the above points, you will stay blessed in so many ways. 🙂

Note: All photos provided by author, except last one by Waliya Najib Khan, and one provided by Nadiya Najib.

 

Solving traumatic ‘office procedures.’

– Sorting ourselves out and helping the offices out of their ML and DFM work ethics. 

Life is so very short. We all have so much to do, before we leave this world. (I’ve just returned from the funeral of a person known to me. She died suddenly, last night. She was fine.) So, is it fair to prolong simple jobs for the public, due to inefficient methods, or prehistoric ‘systems’ ?

No, it isn’t!

We’ve got to find ways to make systems efficient, so the work is completed within shortest time.

It can be done, through our collective power of intentions.

If by any happy chance, you are working at any of the offices of Government or private,

where there are ‘procedures’ and ‘rules’. Then,  please read this blog post with an open heart. Know that and your efforts (in the form of reduction of steps-to-get-a-job-done for your client,)  may help you too, in the end.

End??? Oops!

First, correct your own faulty papers:

We need to look at ourselves first. Many of us have faulty papers in hand, which we ourselves know that these have to be corrected. The NADRA CNIC cards of most persons were filled, with many mistakes. When we read, we realized many things were not correct. Or with time, these became incorrect because we moved houses, or cities.

My husband and I had gone for a correction to the NADRA office in Rawalpindi once.  On visiting the office, we found out that Waliya was written down as son, Wali. So, we corrected that. Similarly there were many more mistakes, like place of birth, names of family members etc. When we change address, we have to get it corrected in the CNIC card also.

When I protested to the management, about the lengthy processes, he said, ‘you all had these cards for so many years, why didn’t you get it corrected earlier?’ He was so right!

Realize, it is for your benefit:

Try to be as patient and cool headed as possible, during the process. Be methodical, and take your bottle of water, chewing gums, goodies, in purse.

Give yourself a treat, at every step. – Yes, celebrate!

When I was furious, at the time of going to pick up my mother’s corrected CNIC card, I told the person in charge , I’m going to write a blog post on this!’

He  said,’ I’m only doing it to secure it for your mother! Please appreciate that.’ Yes, he was right. Finally, he agreed to talk to my mother on video call and get her permission to let me collect her card – this is what I mean by using modern methods -I  had also put the FRC (Family registration certificate with pictures, in front of him.) So, he could recognize my mother properly. I told him, it is difficult for her to come, every time. So, he agreed. So, try to see the problem from their position also.

Maybe they are just doing their job!

Present conditions:

Right now, in every office you visit; you will find two types of works going on.

  1. The ‘good’: smooth, efficient work methods and ethics being followed.
  2. The ‘bad and the ugly’: too many complicated ‘methods’ and ‘rules’.

Yes, in many lucky cases, the process is smooth, and free from unexpected and horrifying hassles. Your work gets done almost immediately.

If you are veryyyyy lucky! (One of the officers confessed, that if I do this work on same day, I’ll be asked by the audit team, why I completed it so quickly?)

Otherwise,  the personnel at every office, are combining old and new ways to torture their client (that’s you,) by asking for all types of attestations, affidavits, ‘ishtamp’ papers, and whatever else methods of torture they can think of. – Especially when you are aggrieved, hassled and driven through courts by your beloved outlaws.

In short the ML and DFM treatment.

What are ML and DFM procedures?

ML : in Punjabi language there is a terminology of saying maghron laiye this means that you should ‘get off our head’! So, they send you off on another wild goose chase.

DFM: Another technical term in Punjabi: Dhur fittay moon! I doubt if there is a parallel to this term, which means in brief, ‘to hell with you!’!

My message in a nutshell:

If you are working in any of the organizations, please…. Just sit down for a few minutes, and look over what you are doing to your clients. You can:

  1. SIMPLIFY rather than to COMPLICATE the procedures.
  2. Give exemplary punishments to the criminals that try to mess with your systems in office and publicize these cases.
  3. DO NOT PUNISH INNOCENT PEOPLE FOR CRIMES COMMITTED BY CRIMINALS. Most of the criminals have got away with it, and you are busy punishing the innocents.
  4. Also know, that no one from outside can do a criminal act without help from an ‘insider’. So, when found out, again an exemplary punishment is vital, and the person must be made an example for rest of staff of that organization.

In short, for the crimes of about 5 % of your clients, you are punishing 95 % of your clients!

Distorted ‘justice system’ – by punishing the innocents:

I remember, that once in the PAF Officer’s Mess, (a long time ago.) it was found out that the person in charge was swindling the cash. So, he was posted out, while everyone there, was asked for extra funds in Mess Bills to adjust the mismanaged finances!!!

Masha Allah!  This is our sense of justice.

Here, Nawaz Sharif, Zardari and their clans swindle the country, and everyone else has to pay for it.

Correct justice system:

The correct way is to catch the criminal and make him pay for all the extra expenses that he swindled or incurred.  In Pakistan, the system of justice is to punish the innocent – while the crooks get away scot free.

Wait a minute!

It is so, the world over.

If you just look at the visa’s applications, they have become so grueling; It is for the same reasons. Everyone is paying for the crimes of a few. But in some ways, they have become very technically updated and upgraded.

We are mostly in the stone age!

Solution:

  1. Have grueling punishments for those who do things wrongly.
  2. Facilitate the good guys.

In a school where I worked, we had a very good administrator. But when it came to the results of the classes, she wanted us teachers to have the results of each class handwritten three times. (I was teaching English to five classes then!) So, I suggested, we write one, and have three photocopies of it, for each class. She said, ‘no, it all has to be handwritten three times!’ I was ready to fight it out, till the Math teacher, (God bless him,) opted to write them three times each for me. Why!!???

Simplify, get real. Be in the 21st century!

My proposals for procedures:

Check out all present ‘rules and procedures’:

 

  1. Keep the process brief and crisp. Do away with affidavits, stamp papers and attestations, and specially grade 17 Magistrate signatures.
  2. Ask yourself, is the rule still applicable?
  3. Are there simpler alternatives? How can we reduce these procedures to a minimum?

Before making any new rules/procedures:

Find out:

  1. Firstly, which previous ‘rule’ will the new one replace?
  2. How effective can this be, for how many? (Is it necessary?)
  3. Use latest technology to have effective ways to resolve issues. Can this be done online?
  4. Death certificate: Hospital document, should be enough for NADRA to discontinue the CNIC card, and allot the death certificate, why should one have to go to the Union Council also?
  5. Pension: Death certificate and CNIC card of nominee: it is written there if she is wife. That is all that is needed.

To make my point clear:

If the present rules were so great, why is there so much crime today? – Because, my dears, most of the crime takes place with help and direction an insider from the organization. So, in fact, they have to improve their own induction processes, and human resource management.  

Five benefits of simplified ‘procedures’:

  1. Everyone will follow the rules and procedures. The lessor steps there are, the more people will follow it. The same applies to income tax procedures too.
  2. There will be less crime.
  3. Since each ‘application’ process will take lessor time, more work will be achieved in lessor time. Hence the pressure in offices will decrease. The’ flow’ will be fast and efficient.
  4. More work will get done in everyone’s personal lives too.
  5. Better work done, at all levels due to less disillusionment, frustration and hopelessness.

A fresh mindset is the answer. The citizen of Pakistan must get priority. We all have better things to do, than to run round and round the Mulberry bush for sorting out crazy, obsolete and irrelevant ‘procedures’ of almost all offices.

As Ashfaque Ahmed would always say,

Allah ap ko asaaniyan bantnay wala banaye! May you be able to make life easier for others.

Make this happen in your own place of power, and stay blessed. 🙂

Note: All photographs are taken by author, except the one of Ashfaque Ahmad, which was taken from internet. All the  quotations were taken from internet also.

Facing Traumatic ‘Office Procedures’.

 

Survival tactics in Pakistan – or anywhere else! When the going gets tough, the tough get tougher. How much tougher? Hmmm … lets find out. 

 So you know, life has been basically fine. But the office procedures, after my father’s death, have been literally killing me.  

When my Dad passed away in February this year, naturally it was traumatic for us all. Having to manage everything, single handedly was tough. Thanks to my personal enemies, I’ve got to stay strong at all times. Which is good too. May Allah bless them ! 😉 They keep me alert. They keep me happy, they make me value all that I have in spite of their futile efforts.

Alhamdolillah.

I discovered, no  one has to be mean to anyone in our country (or any other.) The ‘system’s and ‘procedures’ make sure you are tested and tried at every nook and corner.

See other’s pain:

Right in the middle of constant stamp papers and affidavits,  I stood up and looked.

I realized, my problems are nothing, compared to those of so many who came to console us. So many who stood by me,  (online and in my life,) had real life horrific issues of their own. Yet, they came. Some fighting cancer, some just recovering from their own losses. One had the loss of twins, after going through so much to have the babies.

So many things.

So, what am I getting at? Knowing you are not alone, helps. Seeing people worse off than yourself, makes you realize, how silly you are being! Also, it leads to giving more sadqa and charity -which is even better.

Thanks to the help of my amazing followers on Instagram, website and Facebook pages, I’ve had donors providing for persons who really needed help. I had done my homework. This smile on the face of Shamim from Kanewal, mother of three daughters, made my day. She made me forget my aching body that day, when you all had given her things for her daughter’s upcoming marriage.  Every mother would like to see off her daughter in nice clothes, taking a few nice necessities with her. (Yes, I had put oil in my hair, and when my helper Hasnain made this video call, I was thrilled to see all your contributions had reached her safely.) She lives alone, supported by the pay of her one working daughter. Her mother lives with her, her husband passed away, sometime back.

So, let me share what I’ve learnt:

Three ways of dealing with rough times:

  1. Do what has to be done methodically:

    • Restrict timings allotted to the added chores resulting from the trauma. Believe me, Rome wasn’t built in a day or two! No matter what people say, it will take time.
    • So, do one thing at a time.
    • Keep it all in a box in your mind. Do not let it spill into your entire day/life.
    • Do not get upset when it takes longer than expected. It will.
    • Know, that it is not just in Pakistan, everywhere, there are a lot of hassles.
    • I had allotted one month for the chores. It’s now over five-months, still the work isn’t done.
    • Prioritize wisely: for instance, my mother was most important. So, at first I just focused on her, and making her feel better. Then in conserving her valuables. Then doing what had to be done.
    • Give a daily time-slot to the added chores, after that take a break or get back to your own life.
    • Forgive yourself for any mistakes.

2.      Keep your faith in humanity and systems:

  • Know that there are good people everywhere, and sometimes it is our own fault. Learn the systems going on in the organization, and go accordingly first.
  • We have to get in sync with the ‘system’, learn as much as we can about it. Follow their rules first. For instance, hospitals have an operation day, and OPD day and so on. No point in getting angry if you went on the wrong day to see the surgeon.
  • Yesterday, I had a tough time, I had gone about 28 km to Rawalpindi for second time. It was a real suspense thriller situation. The work wasn’t getting done, instead of getting personal with the man in charge, I just mentioned, that there is some problem, even though he isn’t to blame, nor was I to blame; but how to solve it? He was trying his best to help me but problem wasn’t getting solved. I was being shunted between two offices. Finally, he thought of something, which cleared out everything within minutes. Otherwise, I was to go to the courts. (That’s equal to saying, it won’t be done.) Alhamdolillah. Just keep praying in your heart.

3.     Don’t leave morale boosters!

  1. Things that give you a boost: your prayers, siparah, meeting friends, doing artwork, reading, music or whatever.
  2. Your normal good-deeds which you used to do, before the big trauma happened. Do not stop these because now you are extra busy, or financially challenged, even then. Allah is there to take care of you. You can reduce the time, or amount if necessary, but don’t stop.
  3. Repeat gratitude list: Thank Allah for the trauma also: Firstly, know that God knows better than any of us. We are human and cannot see far enough. Accept His verdict. Find reasons why it is better this way. For instance, in my father’s case, I know, Allah saved my father from some very unpleasant surgical incisions which were being planned. He is in a far better place now. Also, Masha Allah he led a full and worthy life. Fought for his land and offered his life for it, twice: during 1965 and 1970 wars.
  4. Make time for giving relief to yourself: Since it is going to take time, if you give up your happy meals, your exercise, your meetings with friends, sacrifice everything, and you will end up depressed, suppressed and miserable. I’m telling you the ‘systems’ are so lethal everywhere, that you have to keep your nerves, your morale and your spirits high. Pamper yourself: Do, that pampering which you’ve never even done before. (My sweet follower and donor Alia Janjua pampered me in such a sweet way that it truly boosted me up at a time when I really needed it.) I guess, she knew I’d never do it for myself.
  5. Stop all negative thoughts or talks: Just don’t allow this within your own self, nor with your friends. Be positive, you will get out of this phase in life.  There will be more problems later on also, so keep your stamina for that too! 😉

Believe me, keeping our own sanity and spirits high is more important, than any ‘work’.

Stay blessed!

An only child!

 

What you don’t have, you don’t miss.

Hello Everyone! I’m wanting to explore the ‘only child’ situation today. The idea came to me through a remark by someone. So allow me to enlighten you. As a second generation only child. I guess I’m qualified.  I mean, my mother was an only child, and so am I.

Why not an only child?

I’ve learnt that there are about 47% only children in USA. I’m sure that isn’t the case in Pakistan. Here, an only child is never planned, so usually, it is a medical situation.

Anyhow, we aren’t concerned with how it happened. We are sharing tips on how to manage this scenario.  Also, we can include those rare couples who really want an only child.

The sour grapes approach first:

Too many siblings can also be a drain and a strain for a child. It can shatter your own nerves, your pocket  and your sanity sometimes! (I’ve known siblings actually trying to bump off their own brother, or even sister – for property of course – so it is nothing to be so joyful about.) History is full of it, starting from our mutual dad, Adam and his two sons!

In my case:

  • I met very few only children in my life. There was one in my class once, (I’ve changed many schools,) she wasn’t very happy, and was lonely. So, I found out that the saying that ‘An only child is a lonely child’ maybe true for some cases.
  • In my parents’ case, there was the Rhesus factor due to which every other child born would have died. My parents decided not to have another child due to the fact that my mother had complicated deliveries. So, my father didn’t want my mother to go through so much complications again. It was the same for my grandmother. So, my grandfather didn’t want her to go through it again.  Thank God, they both had loving husbands.
  • So, it maybe any reason, but one ends up as an only child. 

Tips for parents of only children:

  • Do not spoil your child. (As my parents would say, ‘with one child there is no margin of error!’ So, they brought me up with strict rules, and lots of love. They didn’t spoil me at all.
  • Give a lot of time, attention and company.
  • Do not be too protective with them. Know that they will have to fend for themselves during their life. Remember, they won’t have any siblings to help them out.
  • Just give normal treatment: Why treat a child as if she or he is an exception? Just treat them normally, and they will grow up normal too.
  • Encourage solitary play: this child needs to be able to be happy with one’s own company.  It isn’t always possible that you have to have someone to give you company or entertain you. I’ve known only children to be more self-sufficient.
  • Develop hobbies: Reading habits, hobbies, and keep busy in healthy activities.
  • Special warning: Do not give too much attention, the world doesn’t do that. So, why make the child the center of everything all the time? Otherwise, the child won’t be able to cope in normal situations.
  • Encourage independence: Let this child be self-sufficient, independent and encourage him or her to go on her own, or do things being in-charge of it all. So, do not help out, he will learn from his own mistakes within your own sight.
  • Encourage friends: specially inviting them over, and meeting their families and siblings whenever you can.
  • Problem solving: Let them deal with issues themselves. Don’t offer to help, try to let them get out of it themselves. This will give them confidence. Keep a watchful eye, but let them figure things out themselves. Do, help out if it is very serious. Do, give advice when asked.
  • Never be protective: Know that he will have to fend for himself for the rest of his life. You won’t be around always. He better learn it now. Prepare them for a time without yourself, while you are with them.
  • Don’t facilitate: Never do any ‘sifarish’ for them.
  • Strict pocket money : Build money spending and saving habits.

Tips for you, if you are an only child:

  • Just remember one thing, it is Allah who actually takes care of you. If He didn’t give you a sibling, He will surely give you several substitutes as per requirement. So, don’t worry. Remember, He didn’t give you, because He knew you won’t need them.
  • Be confident, do whatever you like to do.
  • Your time on your own is a God send. Most prominent personalities were only children. You get more time to clarify your own thoughts.  You also get lesser interfering bodies in your life. Believe me!
  • You are closer to the love of your parents, who have the purest love for you.

Yes, you will stay blessed, anyway. So, keep that smile!  🙂

PS: Just say a big ‘Alhamdolillah!’ in every situation. 🙂