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. 🙂

 

 

 

Eid greetings to all!

 

Eid Mubarak Everyone!

I’m sure your Eid was as wonderful as your Ramzan. As I write, it is Sunday night. Ramzan is over, and so is the last day of Eid holidays. You all are nicely tucked into your beds, ready to start a ‘normal’ week tomorrow.

So, who reads a blog post about a brisk round up of Eid and Ramzan?

We must be grateful for an awesome Ramzan. Spending the next eleven months of the year, fully devoted to our physical, financial, intellectual, social and emotional well-being… so one month was necessary to be devoted to our spiritual selves.

It is this spiritually enlightened self which will actually last us through  both our life times.

Come to think of it, within this month, we are polishing ourselves:

  1. Spiritual:  grooming our spiritual selves,

  2. Physical: Intermittent fasting is what it is all about, done properly, you can feel the difference!

  3. Social: the iftar gatherings, are nice, but don’t over do it. It is better to send trays of goodies in your neighborhood, and give food for the poor.

  4. Emotional:  you feel so much better when you give to the poor with your own hands, and meet them. This is true inner strengthening. – You actually feel happy for no obvious reason!

  5. Intellectual: You get plenty of time for studying in detail), and financial growth. Yes, giving zakat  actually, increases one’s wealth!Mine certainly did increase, ever since I started giving it.

A Ramzan, I’d never seen before….

  • Free food being served for iftari on islands between roads and highways in Islamabad.
  • Every mosque gave a sumptuous iftari every day of the blessed month.Rations were distributed among the poor families.
  • You all’s help, made it possible to help two families to prepare to marry off their daughters. I’m sure you remember, we married off two girls earlier here. Yes, we were able to get them clothes, kitchen ware of dinner sets, tea-sets, pots and pans etc. We were able to give an amount so the family could give a nice meal  to the wedding guests.
  • With your help (Rimsha, Hafza, Ijlal, Jawad, and Shagufta Zafar,) over one hundred children of CSS school received gifts of clothes, (and sweets courtesy Inam Illahi) for Eid. They were also given the time of their lives with magic shows, cotton candy, balloons and popcorns, with Myra’s team.
  • At the same time, My friend in Canada and her husband (who wish to remain anonymous,) along with my mother, and daughter were instrumental in providing a hearty meal for each child and family of the hundred children and staff of CSS school for underprivileged children.
  • Your help (My Mother, Mrs. Sarfaraz) made it easier to give more things to the elderly in Old People’s Home at Bint e Fatima.
  • Allah made the fasting easier somehow. One didn’t feel thirsty or hungry at all.
  • Everyone was able to read more of Holy Quran with translations.

Iftar parties:

Personally, I avoid iftar parties like the plague. While loving sending out and receiving trays full of goodies at home, I prefer my own home iftari.

However, going out to be with ones’ loved one’s is always a pleasure.

Missing our loved ones on Eid 🙁

A day before Eid, Waliya and I visited the army graveyard, in Rawalpindi. Yes, it was sad, but also felt good to see that so many others were there too. Later, I shared my daughter’s stories on my Instagram account also, as it said exactly what I felt too. I’m sure you too must be feeling the same way about your loved ones.

Alhamdolillah, a nice Eid day:

Inviting one’s dear family and friends on Eid day is the best way to make one feel better. So, we had Haroon, Uzma and Daniyal for lunch, along with Ayesha, her mother and children.

We had new clothes to wear too, and I happily wore the one sent by Aliya Janjua. 🙂

The tradition of ‘Eidie’ was carried out in a humerus way. It is a sweet way to do it!

Stay blessed and keep smiling! 🙂

Unmentionable feelings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 So, I put myself at peace with it.

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

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

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

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

My mentor Mahjabeen:

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

So, she said,

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

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

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

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

Spring had crept into our city…. 

I was flooded with ideas:

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

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

Alhamdolillah.

Stay blessed lovely and handsome ones. 

Women’s day 2019

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

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

Together we can go far.

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

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

We have come a long way.:)

Every successful woman has a successful man who supports her.

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

It isn’t about them.

It is about us. Being together is the key.

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

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

Happy Women’s Day!

Self-talk to heal

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

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

So, let us heal together.

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

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

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

How to get back to normal life:

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

More self-talk points:

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

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

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

Financial:

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

Social:

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

Cultural:

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

During your self-talk…

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

Keep up your good work:

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

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

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

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

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

Social Media & My Playlist

A better entertainment alternative to television …

You need oxygen from flowers too!

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

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

 I knew she would be going a long way.

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

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

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

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

Very few people learn to control it.

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

How to find ways to succeed with it.

Ask yourself:

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

Honest answers to these questions will help you.

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

Positive impact of social media:

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

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

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

Personal experience of yesterday:

How I found our cat through social media.

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of my favorite tunes while working on these blogs. 

Success stories of saving lives:

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

So, it has saved lives.

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

Where genocide of Muslims had crossed all limits.

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

Policemen have been caught and so have the crooks.

Yes, Social Media is powerful and can save lives.

Negative impact of Social Media:

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

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

Watching motivational videos:

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

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

Entertainment is a serious business.

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

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

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

Keep these sanity points while using social media:

Just for your peace of mind:

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

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

My favorite playlist of music and other videos:

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

Classic Plays by Haseena Moeen:

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

Sameena Peerzada interviews:

  • Ushna.
  • Mohsin and many others.

Self help and motivational videos:

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

Music:

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

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

Love this song!

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

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

Good memory takeaways

Looking back and taking wonderful things forward…

A bonfire for writers and poets’ meet-up of Arts and Literary Guild at Mazhar Nisar’s house. 

When we look back, it depends on our present mood, whether we remember the ‘good’ parts or the ‘bad’ ones. If I’m in a good mood, then I’ll only remember the wonderful things in my past. When I’m in a bad mood, only sad things will be remembered.

Why is it?

 I think it is physics.

 It is a wavelength which we ‘connect’ to. So, make sure your present feelings (and wave lengths) are good. Then whatever you recollect, will be good too.

How’s that for a theory?!

Anyhow, I feel like sharing some recent happy events, and share what we both can take away from these. 

1.    Aroosha’s baby’s birthday:

(Teacher and student’s takeaway.)

‘I’d love to see my student as grown ups!’ I often thought, while teaching my little students, specially these forth graders. – In fact, every grade I’ve taught was the same. Of course, I knew, it wasn’t possible. But I did tell them:

‘If you ever see me, do come and meet me.’ I would add,

‘Remember that you will be changing a lot with time, I won’t be able to recognize you. So, you will need to tell me, and reconnect.’

Many of them have done so.  They came up to me at different times in my life and I can’t tell you how happy I’ve felt seeing them, all grown up leading successful lives. Naturally, my Facebook is full of many of my old students.

I always say that ‘Teaching is the next best thing to motherhood.’

So, when Aroosha invited me on December 31st. 2018, I was able to attend the party, and it was great. I also met several other students, and her brother.

My student and his mother. 

Student’s  take-away :

  1. Stay in touch with teachers.
  2. Do involve them in your life events.
  3. Do ask them if ever you need any mentoring later on in life.
  4. Please do understand, if they cannot accept every invitation.
  5. Also, understand, if a teacher attends one student’s function and cannot do so with others. It isn’t about you, it is something happening in their own lives, which they can’t share with you.
  6. Whenever you have an old students’ gathering, do invite your teachers.

Teachers’ take-away:

  1. It is easy to be connected with students these days. It is a good way to see how the students are doing in life.
  2. Assuring them, that you are there for them is vital.
  3. While teaching, keep a time and space to reach out to your students. Be available. Money isn’t everything. These beautiful human beings are far more important.
  4. Students need our mentoring, in their lives.We know, there are few counselors here.
  5. Many of our students come from broken or breaking homes. Our few words of support can make a big difference.
  6.  Perhaps, you can help if a student is in depression or harboring suicidal thoughts, you can change their minds.
  7. I’ve had students helping me later on in life too. Just as I was there for them, they have been there for me too.  I had helped a student once. Later, on I had to leave due to surgery. This same student would ring me daily and keep me cheered up. Another student, Mahru sent me prayers to help me heal. Many of them sent me cards. So, it is definitely, a two-way relationship.Once, a student Roheen was in UK when my husband passed away. She asked me hows he could help me. I asked her to be in contact with my daughter there. So, now they are friends too. Recently, Gul Noor and Taha Asif reconnected with me. Oh I could go on and on…. 

Writer’s Bonfire Meet-up 

(Writer’s perspective and being a guest.)

Imagine having a bonfire in the cold drizzle?

How could it be?

It was amazing!

This bonfire was there in the drizzle as we sat around it. Yes, it was very warm. 

The Bonfire was hosted by Mazhar Nisar, who is a PTV World newscaster, and a wonderful poet. He is a member of Arts and Literature Guild  of Shabnam Riaz. As you know, we have these meet-ups and we join each other’s group events. A bonfire was much talked about, and we all were looking forward to it.

The date fell on a cold, rainy ‘dismal’ day. But thanks to everyone’s determination, especially that of Mazhar, and Shabnam, it turned out awesome!

Sahil Faraz singing his composition. You can find his songs on my Instagram. 


 Mazher had asked Sahil Faraz to sing some beautiful songs. There we sat and enjoyed his melodious and heart -warming songs.  I specially loved his own composition. The food, the music, and finally each writers’ and poets’readings was really heart warming.  Mazhar had ordered delicious barbecued food for us, and of course we ate well.

It turned out to be a real memorable evening.

Your take away:

  1. When someone invites you, try to accept.  Even if you have apprehensions of distance and weather. Just go well clad. Put on really warm clothes and keep good shoes in your car. (Trust the host to manage. Otherwise, help.)
  2. Remember, if you don’t go, probably, others wont be going too, and it could spoil the party.
  3. Once there, get into the mood of the event. Be sporting and help the host.
  4. Yes, you will get plenty of memories to takeaway!

Rashid, son of Abdul Rahim’s wedding. 

(Domestic help relations.)

Abdul Rahim whom I’ve known for twenty years. 

It was Rashid’s wedding, the only son of Abdul Rahim; who has cooked in my home for last twenty years or so. He has always been there for me. He lost his wife, four years ago, a little after my husband passed away.

He is the one who said he needed no pay, when I had no money. So, naturally, I went to attend his son’s wedding, just as I’ve attended both his daughter’s weddings in good times too.

It felt wonderful to see how much Rahim has taken care of his Bhabis who lost their husbands – (his brothers). Both were there, being given prime respect and place in the event. So, goodness is in the nature of humans, being rich or poor doesn’t matter. He of course, had me sitting on the stage with the bride to have the food with her, and his daughters.

They gave me so much VIP treatment. Rashid’s boss too had helped him with this event. It was Rashid who had called me when my husband died, asking me, ‘How much money do you need?’ I said, ‘what does it matter?’ He said, ‘my boss is very rich, he will help you. Just tell me how much you need, I’ll get it for you!’

Rahim’s daughters with the bride. 

Of course, I wasn’t going to take from him, but his saying it was enough for me.

This is the kind of people they are.

Your take away:

  1. Always keep staff who is recommended. Be straight, fair and just with them.
  2. Be kind and supportive with your staff.
  3. Do attend their life events. It means a lot.
  4. Naturally, they too will attend your life events.
  5. Understand how hard it is to manage in these times. Do as much financial support as possible. If cash isn’t possible, then give gifts. For instance, whenever they go on leave, hand them a gift to give the wife, or mother, so they don’t have to go home empty handed. (I’m sure most of us have so many things lying in our homes.)

Mansoor Rahi and Asrar Farooki gifted me paintings: 

(Mentors and colleagues)

Paintings gifted by Mansoor Rahi 2018 and 2019 . 
Mansoor Rahi, gifting me his painting on his birthday. How could I not have him as my mentor? I’m blessed by such great mentors. May I learn more than their art from them!

Yes! Actually. I’m so thrilled. Here I am so happy with them. Sir Mansoor Rahi gifts us with his paintings every year on his birthday on 1st January. It was the same this time too.

Later, on Asrar Farooqi who is known for his Rawalpindi cityscenes, offered to gift me a painting. It was too good an offer. 

Asrar gifted this painting to me. He also helped me so much during my painting exhibition. 

Your take away:

  1. Stay connected with your mentors, give them their due respect and regard.
  2. Do help your colleagues whenever possible. (Always do it for Allah’s sake.)
  3. So, if they gift you with their blessings. Take it happily! 😉

Alhamdolillah, life can be good. So, keep thinking of these parts, while you get some nasty bits to bear in life.

Koi baat nahi, sab theek ho jata hai. Insha Allah. (Don’t worry, everything will be fine, God-willing.)  If nothing else, there would be plenty of takeaways in the form of lessons to be handy for rest of one’s life! 😉

Mansoor Rahi’s painting gifted last year. 

Stay blessed, my wonderful Reader. I’ve really grown to love you all. More so, for reading my blogs, even when they are soooooooo long!

Over three trimesters of life.


 Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

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

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

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

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

First trimester of life – 1 to 30 years:

One to ten years:

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

Ten to twenty years:

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

Twenty to thirty years:

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

Second Trimester of life – 30 to 60 years

Mixed ages here!

Thirty to forty years:

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

Forty to fifty years:

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

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

Fifty to sixty years:

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

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

Third trimester of life – 60 to 90 years.

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

Sixty to seventy years:

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

Seventy to eighty years:

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

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

Eighty to ninety years:

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

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

Ninety years onwards to hundred!

My father literally walked out of the ICU last month. 

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you!

Enjoy the Beauty of Every Age

20180808_191434.jpg

It was my birthday last year, and daddy asked me, ‘what age are you now?’ So, I didn’t say, ‘you should know!’ Instead I asked him ‘which age? My spiritual, Intellectual, emotional, physical one, or my experiences’ age?’ That gave me enough time to slip off as he was trying to figure out the complications of this question!

20180726_165626 (2).jpgThat’s what I mean.

We are not just our chronological age.  We are so much more. It’s how we feel that really matters!

Continue reading “Enjoy the Beauty of Every Age”

How to Keep Your Energy level High!

‘How do you get so much energy?’ I’m often asked. I’m nothing, I know people who are far more energetic. It is all a matter of focus, interest, and flow. It is a matter of knowing where you are going, and not letting other things/people get in one’s way.

In 1997, I had asked the same question from Dr. Farhat Hashmi. We were sitting in her office, in F-8/3. Her little son was moving around us. There was the sound of students outside, the hustle bustle of a typical Al-Huda Academy was on. I was interviewing her for my article in Dawn. I had spent a full day, at Al-Huda, with my friend Seema. I could see what a grueling time Dr. Farhat would be having managing it all. Yet, she looked serene and in control.

Continue reading “How to Keep Your Energy level High!”