Amaliah Posted my Book Review!

There’s no feeling quite like having your work published

I can still feel the thrill of my 23-year-old self when I saw my first ever published piece of work appear on Matchmaking website, Pure Matrimony.

I couldn’t believe that something I had written, was worthy of being shared and read by others…Insane!

Since then, I’ve had a plethora of published work, and have even worked with reputable broadcasters like the BBC and The Guardian, but the thrill has never left me.

Thankyou to Amaliah for publishing my piece. I enjoyed ‘The 40 Rules of Love’ sooo much, it’s truly wonderful to share my opinion with many many more.

Read the piece on: https://www.amaliah.com/post/62393/bookshelf-40-rules-love-book-review

My Highlights From Ramadan 2021

Contemplating the beautiful month gone by.

As I sit here, with my steamy dreamy tea in hand, I am steeped in contemplation. A simple pleasure, such as tea in the afternoon, has a renewed sense of delectability after fasting throughout an entire month. 

Every year as Ramadan ends, I’m left with a feeling somewhere between gratitude and sorrow. Grateful to have lived to see another Ramadan and reap the blessings of the month. And sorrow…because I miss it ☹

Ramadan is unlike any other time in the year, it breathes life into the night and worship is of highest priority. Intentions align and we are left we a spiritual surge in faith that is almost addictive.

Ramadan Goals

If you read my previous post, you know that I outlined a set of goals that I wanted to reach this Ramadan. Alhumdulilah, I was able to achieve pretty much 80% of what I wanted to achieve, and it feels great.

Quran Recitation

This year, I feel I can honestly say I built a relationship with the blessed Quran, unlike anything I have felt before.

I was in awe of the language and the sheer magnitude held between the pages. I hope this lasts throughout my entire life Insha’Allah.

Memorisation

I set myself a goal to memorise 2 Surahs of the Quran to add more variety to my Prayers and to increase concentration, and I did!

I now have a renewed interest in my daily Salah and a new passion to continue to memorise as much as I can Alhumdulilah.

‘Meeting Mohammed (saw)’

This year, I was blown away by a short YouTube series by Yakeen Institute called ‘Meeting Mohammed (saw)’.

Within this 30-day series, Sheikh Omar Suleiman narrated intimate stories of the life of our beloved Prophet (saw) and I was honestly moved to tears most nights listening. It was truly profound.

Might be the new me soon Insha’Allah!

Fasting

Of course, one cannot forget the actual act of fasting. It still amazes me that starving yourself of food, is one of the best ways to nourish your heart.  

Still, even after 20 years, fasting serves as a perfect reminder to remember those whose lives are so unlike our own. The luxuries we are privy to should not be taken for granted.

Prayers for Palestine

I cannot reflect on Ramadan 2021, without mentioning the atrocities and the plight of the innocent Palestinians who are suffering endlessly under the Israeli regime.

During the holiest time of the year, the beloved site of Al Aqsa mosque has become a war zone, and the societal outcry of those around the world is resounding.

Social media is ablaze with horrific portrayals of the outright injustice occurring in Palestine, and although it is so difficult to see, we are mere spectating the evil that is taking place in today’s world.

This is one of the reasons I left the profession of journalism, the double standards of those within the media is horrendous. The nuanced language and the intentional blind eye are enough to make your skin crawl.

… May Allah (swt) provide for all those who are in dire need, remove the oppressive forces in the world and protect the innocent souls that are being harmed by a cruel and calculating oppressive force. We have but only our efforts and prayers to offer…

Looking forward to next year Insha’Allah…

May Allah accept all our efforts this Ramadan and allow us to reach the next one Insha’Allah. ❤

Watch my mini vlog to see what we got up to on Eid day!

xoxo

A sneak peek at our food parcels this Ramadan!

Gifting food to our nearest and dearest this Ramadan.

Giving out cute and curated food parcels during Ramadan, has swiftly become a small family tradition. Seeing as we didn’t manage to give anything out last year, I was really eager to get something out this year. Through sheer family effort, we all pulled together our skills to give out this wonderful box of goodies!

The contents:

Home-made Pilau and Zarda (savoury and sweet rice)

Fresh Home-made Channa Chaat (Chickpea Salad)

A selection of mini samosas

Hand-dipped strawberries

Home-made Mini Trifles

I have a super passion for presentation. I love my gifts to be wrapped immaculately and parcels to be packaged beautifully #OCD! Soooo I wanted everything to look pretty while still being functional.

All the packaging was purchased on Amazon, including the beautiful window gift boxes that were all painstakingly assembled by hand (bottoms and lids!!) but it was worth it for the overall effect. 

Packaging used:

Cardboard gift boxes

Cardboard food trays

Ice cream cups

Mini dessert pots

Mini spoons

Cut out lantern tags provided by the wonderful Label&Co. Whose service was a dream! Quick and concise, they delivered exactly what I was after! (Find them on Instagram!)

These parcels were given out to our family, friends and neighbours, and we’ve had such a lovely response! There no better feeling then giving away something knowing you’ve put your heart and soul into it.

Here’s to many more cute parcels to come Insha’Allah!

Why you should be keeping a Ramadan Journal!

What is it?… and why you should do it!

Yay! Ramadan is upon us, the most blessed month of the Islamic calendar. A time when families come together and enjoin to break their fasts over sweet dates and delicious food.

This social, spiritual and of course dietary detox has become such a staple in our lives. The older I get, the more I realise the true power and significance of this beautiful and serene month.

Personally, Ramadan has always been one of my favourite times of the year, despite what my work colleagues may think! It symbolises to me, strange and interesting daily routines, family unity and an unearthly surge in spirituality.

There’s just something different in the air, a new sense of hope, tranquillity or spiritual surrender. Whatever it is, I just love it and I rely on this month to give me the divine high I crave all year around.

My Ramadan Journal

For the last few years, I’ve started doing something a little different during Ramadan. I have started using the Bullet Journal Method to log my Ramadan progress and actions, and it really has elevated my productivity and level of engagement during this significant month.

By outlining the goals that I want to achieve and prayers that I want to learn, my whole perception of Ramadan has changed. It’s not just a passive process, whereby you don’t eat for a couple of hours. It is a chance to truly engage with the words of our Lord, and build a deep connection with the Quran.

Something amazing happens when you take the time to define your goals, once the destination is set, you can work towards them in small incremental steps. Using this method, I track and enhance my Ramadan by creating the relevant spreads that are specific to my goals.

If you’re like me and like to structure your days with to-do-lists and targets, this is a must!

Why should you try it?

There are so many benefits for journaling and logging your Ramadan activity. Here are just a few:

  1. Defining your goals

Have you ever heard the saying “You can’t manage what you don’t measure?” Identifying, outlining and defining your Ramadan goals is the best way to give yourself direction. Once you know what you want to accomplish, you’re more likely to take the steps needed to achieve it.

2. Measuring your progress

Who doesn’t like to see progress in their efforts? Once you have set your goals, you can use your journal to ensure that your hitting the targets on the way to what you want to achieve.

For example, I’ve set myself the challenge to learn Surah Falaq and Surah Khafirun. I have stuck the transliterations in my journal, so I know that when I’m ready, I can begin my memorisation progress. Once you have a target, you have a destination to move towards.

3. Keeping track can provide a sense of accomplishment

Logging and keeping track of things like your prayers and the amount of Quran you have read, will give you a sense of great achievement. Once you’ve memorised the Surah, or listened to an entire lecture series, you can revel in the accomplishment of having achieved your goal!

Remember, for every bit of worship you do within the month of Ramadan, your reward is multiplied, so you don’t want to waste any precious time during this month.

4. Being intentional about your day to day activity

Planning ahead can ensure you start your Ramadan in the best way. It all begins with an intention, but cementing everything into a plan-of-action creates a way to hold yourself accountable and acts as a reminder to yourself every day of the goals you’re gearing towards.Being intentional with your daily habits will ensure that Ramadan won’t just pass you by without you making the most of it.

My Journal from Last year

What can write about?

Your Ramadan journal can be completely tailored to your needs. I have been doing this for 3 years now and every year, I takeaway spreads that I didn’t find useful or add things that I realised I needed. Here are some examples of topics to get you going!

  1. Goals that you want to achieve during Ramadan
  2. Write a list of Duas – Things you want for yourself, Your family & friends and the Ummah
  3. Take notes from any inspiring lectures you listen to.
  4. Track your food and sleep habits – see what combinations work best for you
  5. What you can do while not fasting – During that time of the month
  6. Your Zakat calculations
  7. Charities you would like to contribute to
  8. A good deed a day list
  9. An Eid to-do-list to ensure you’re super prepared
  10. A gratitude list
  11. An exercise log
  12. Your Ramadan reflections
  13. What habits you would like to continue after Ramadan is over

Creating and using a Ramadan journal will definitely help you to benefit from this amazing month. It can be a digital log, a physical bullet journal (like me), or even bullet points on your phone, it really doesn’t matter. But if you take the time to actually use it, I guarantee you will have a Ramadan unlike any other you’ve ever had before!  

Go ahead, give it a try this month!

May we all have a blessed and fulfilling Ramadan…Ameen

Ramadan – The holy month of fasting in the Islamic Calendar

Surah – Equivalent of “chapter” in the Quran

Eid – Celebration for Muslims

Zakat – the obligation of a Muslim to donate a certain proportion of wealth each year to charitable causes.

On My Bookshelf: The Time Traveler’s Wife

By Audrey Niffenegger

Evocative, heart-breaking and agonizingly Intense. A love story that defies time and space as we know it.

Synopsis

This novel begins with the introduction of our protagonists. The two meet when Clare is 6 and Henry is 36 and marry when Clare is 22 and Henry is 30… confused yet?!

Henry Detamble is a relatively normal 28-year-old living in Chicago. A young man in the throes of an alcohol infused life, he is Involved in a toxic relationship and just about managing to keep his job at the Newbury Library. That and…he has a genetic abnormality which causes him to time travel.  

What could be a pretty interesting situation is darkened by the fact that he can’t take anything with him when he travels. Anything that is not a part of his own body is left in a heap where he has vanished in the present moment. That includes, Clothes, shoes and money. Often, Henry is thrown into a different decade, bare and in a race against the clock.

We also meet Clare Abshire, a 20-year-old bright eyes student. She ventures into the Newbury library in hopes of finding information, but ends up running into her lifelong love Henry, who has no idea who she is. You see, Clare has known Henry since she was six, when he stumbled, naked and hungry into the field behind her lavish country house. After years of visits by him from the abstract future, Clare finally meets Henry in the present day and now it is he who has some catching up to do.

Throughout the novel, we experience the high and lows of a marriage that must contend against the very hands of time…. get your tissues ready 😥

My Thoughts?

Usually, I am not drawn to novels that belong to the Magical Realism or Sci Fi genre, It’s all a little unrelatable for me. However, when browsing the shelves of Waterstones many years ago, I was drawn to this sepia toned nostalgic looking novel, and I’m glad I picked it up.

Magical Realism

From the very beginning, The Time Traveler’s Wife had me gripped. There is something about the way that Niffenegger handles Henry’s tendency to traipse through time, that makes is seem less sci-fi and more personable. By painting it as a rather believable genetic condition, readers can believe the pain of being sucked out of the present into an unknown time, with little more than the breath in his lungs.

The passage of time is so delicately portrayed within the novel. It could have potentially been so jarring and confusing, but again, I think Niffenegger is cautious and clever enough to keep the rules of Time simple. In Henry’s world, there is no Butterfly Effect, things always happen and always will happen exactly how they always have and did. I think this is oddly comforting, to know that there is only one true fate and it cannot be altered. Despite travelling back to traumatic times in his childhood, like the tragic decapitation of his mother during a horrific car crash, he is never able to prevent it, but only witness it, again and again, from different angles. He is there, at different ages, in different places, but always the same grief.

There is no linearity within the plot, sometimes we are in the past, sometimes in the future, and sometime in the mundane present day. But it works, each day strung together to make the continuous and looping chain of their existence.  


“When I am out there, in time, I am inverted, changed into a desperate version of myself. I become a thief, a vagrant, an animal who runs and hides. I startle old women and amaze children. I am a trick, an illusion of the highest order, so incredible that I am actually true.”


Time Together

Despite being a huge component in the plot, time travel really does come second to the deep and evolving relationship forged between Clare and Henry. It’s so difficult not to fall in love with their love story. There seems to be this inexplicable magnetism that fights time and space to constantly bring them together… it’s just beautiful. The introduction of Clare into Henry’s life changes him from a maverick alcoholic constantly chasing the next high to a doting, present and connected person.

We hear from both Clare and Henry in first person perspective, meaning we not only see what Henry experiences and learns on his chronological escapades, but we also hear first hand from Clare, what its like to be left behind, to truly be the wife of a time traveller.

I find it especially haunting, that the times that Clare would wait in the field as a teen, for Henry to appear, the visits that is in her past, are in Henry’s future. What she has gone through with him over years, he is yet to learn. It’s like a paradox that moves in opposite directions.

Present Clare is left waiting for him and is almost jealous of her former self for the stolen memories she is making with him in some other time loop. The times he is whisked away and brought to her in the field, are stolen from her future self…like an infinity loop that just keeps going.


“It’s hard being left behind…It’s hard to be the one who stays…Why is love intensified by absence?”


Time Apart

Despite their beautiful evolving relationship, I find myself sympathising with Clare. It hasn’t escaped me that her whole life has revolved around her meetings with Henry, and the race to the next date where he would appear. The spaces in between, when he was not around, they must have felt colourless to her.

I find myself wondering…had we known who we would end up with, would we opt to go through the experiences that teach us so much and ready us for the one? She spent her whole life in waiting, consumed by the very idea of Henry and his whereabouts. I would want more for her, for her own development away from her relationship with Henry. Shaped by more than just what he tells her.

This was not as apparent to me the first time I read this book, although I’m aware that was almost 8 years ago. At 22, I’m sure I had a divine all-encompassing view of love as a defining concept. Now …not so much.


“I want to tell you, again, I love you. Our love has been the thread through the labyrinth, the net under the high-wire walker, the only real thing in this strange life of mine that I could ever trust.”


Conclusion

Its been so long since I have had a crush on a book character. (My last crush was Michael Moscovites of Princes Diaries!) but there is something about Henry’s benevolent love of Clare and his intuitive and protective nature that is so heart-warming. Charm, eloquence and keen prowess. I find myself taken by him.

For me, the real clincher in the plot is their mutual, ever-entwining love, which surpasses both life and death…The final stage of their relationship and Henry’s perfectly-timed untimely death left me morose. I was at a loss for how such a deep and ingrained love could be wiped out…how could Henry, knowing he would not return from his next travel, surmise years of love into one last statement? How could Clare, who has waited all her life to have him, say goodbye to Henry? Utterly heart wrenching…

I’m left with this feeling…I want a Henry! One that I know will appear at some point in my life and be the ultimate ending to my love story…The surety and calm that comes with knowing he is already on the way.

Rating

I give this book a heavy

8/10

It is heart breaking in the best way…definitely worth a read! Have your Kleenex handy!

Unfiltered: Happy Birthday To me – 30 never felt so good!

I am officially 30…yikes! That sounds so grown up!

With my 20’s coming to a roaring end, I’ve been reflecting on how much I’ve experienced. This decade has been full of love, heartbreak, births, loss, weddings, friends, graduations, jobs, quits, fights, weight loss, weight gain, tears, belly laughs, self-love, growth, gratitude, acceptance, creativity and most importantly… surrender …to God, to fate, to everything that lies ahead.

It’s crazy…when 20 year-old me pictured myself at 30, I conjured images of an established journalist, married, maybe a child, with years of savings and something seriously grown up… like property?!…(wth even!)

Well…that is not who I am. I may have some elements of this fictitious Zaima that has her shit together, but there are definitely elements that haven’t gone quite to plan, or not to my plan perhaps….

So here are my goals and reflections of what I endeavour to achieve for the next 10 years of my life!

Love

After setting myself the goal last year of actually getting “out there” (eew)…I have learned that low self-esteem and an incredibly shallow pool of acquaintances does not make for a thriving love life! We all know what turn the year took, and trying to find the love of your life in a pandemic is not easy! Last year I came to a very real conclusion…You cannot seek love, it has to find you.

The weird thing is, it turns out that somewhere throughout last year, I found little nuggets of the love that had been missing from my life and guess what …it wasn’t from some tall handsome rugged poet after all…it was from me.

Through my gratitude practices and self-work, I nurtured a very new sense of self love and self-worth…it turns out that this is what I was looking for after all.

Over the years, my inner bully had beaten me down, and I just didn’t believe I was worthy of any attention or love. I was ashamed of myself, of the way I looked and everything that constituted me. Do you know how heavy that baggage is to cart around? Even if someone found me an appealing prospect, I berated them for not having better standards…that is messed up!

I was so depleted of self-love that, had I even found Mr Right, I would have been Miss All Wrong. I was a living metaphor of how NEVER to enter a relationship. Waiting to be given value by anyone who chose me. But I needed to be the one to give myself value, I needed to choose me first.

Going into my 30’s, I choose to see no stigma about being single, or about being in a transitional process. There are so many people I know who entered into hasty marriages without the luxury of being able to work on themselves first, I have that opportunity, and I’m ready to take it.

Friendship

For this upcoming decade, I endeavour to invest in the relationships in my life.

It’s so strange how many friends fall off the radar throughout your 20’s. I was always someone who had a large group of friends. Friends from school, college, incredible friends from University, and all the different jobs I’ve had.

Through my fault entirely, I’ve let go of some amazing people, just because I felt like I was behind…withdrawing from friends inevitably cuts them off…and I’m so guilty of this.

Old friends can’t be made, they are nurtured, and I vow to nurture my existing friendships and relationships and maybe even invest in making some new old friends.

Career

My 20’s saw me take my very first step into journalism, which was my dream from the age of 15! Free concerts, high profile interviews, and the cutting edge of some of the most trending stories. I loved it, but I was always acutely aware that something felt off.

After years of wanting this, I realised, it wasn’t my dream career. I would much rather have a quiet cosy life full of cosy fun, than jet setting around making a name for myself. I’m grateful for that realisation, because it gave me direction. Isn’t that what your 20’s are all about? Finding out who you really are?

I’ve set my goals high for my 30’s and I know I’m going to achieve some super awesome things, and the best part, they’re all going to be on my terms!

In my feels..

Now that I’m actually on the precipice of my 30’s, I realise something…. Time is so arbitrary…

I’m never going to hit a point in my life where I’ve achieved everything I want, and that’s ok. The goal posts will always be moving, that is what growth is all about. We are always a ‘work in progress’, never the finished article…I will continue to guess my way through life and create the most amazing memories with the most amazing people.

They say hindsight is 20:20, looking back, I wouldn’t have done a single thing differently. Here’s to another 10 year of joy, learning and a hell of a lot of fun!

30 Things I’ve Learned in my 30 Years of Life

Tomorrow I turn 30…(eeek!) This impending date has made me feel rather contemplative and so I felt compelled to compile a list of things that I have learned up until now that have benefited me and may help you too.

Here goes….


  1. Soulmates don’t stay forever

As cliché as it sounds, I’ve learned that just because you feel intrinsically connected to someone, that doesn’t mean that they’re your forever person. Sometimes people come into our lives, teach us a hell of a lot, and then leave. That was their role, thank them for the lessons and let them go.

2. God’s delays are not Gods denials.

Truer words have never been spoken! Something I have always struggled with is trusting in God’s timing. I often have to remind myself that just because I haven’t received the blessings that others have in their lives at specific points, it does not mean that I am cast aside. It means that I have so much more to focus on right now. Now I find solace in knowing that everything is planned out with God’s infinite wisdom.

3. My energy creates my reality. What I focus on grows.

This is something I have only recently learned and understood. I think for most of my 20’s, I fit into the ‘Glass half Empty’ category. However, I have come to learn that the good has always been there alongside the bad and you can choose to see which ever one you want.

If you choose to see through the filter of negativity, you better believe you’ll only find more. But, if you train yourself to constantly pick out the good, then even more good will bloom before your eyes and you’ll see that this life of yours is sooo full of abundance.

4. Letting go doesn’t mean it didn’t matter…

If you’re like me, and struggle to let go of significant times and memories, it’s important to know that saying goodbye to a time doesn’t mean that it wasn’t important to you.

Letting go only gives you more space to allow new blessings and opportunities into your life. You cannot open the next chapter if you keep rereading the last one.

5.Your loved ones cannot heal you

I have always been so close to my family, and since we are all empaths, it’s not uncommon for us to sit around for hours discussing how we feel. But it took me a while to understand that, although my family love me and care for me endlessly, they cannot fix me. They have numerous roles in my life, but they cannot be my crutches. In fact, it is my duty to fix myself, to be more present and available to them. A half empty cup has nothing to pour

6. Therapy is worth it

This follows on from my previous point. Despite having a huge support network, and exercising self-help, sometimes you just need a little more guidance. I believe in the counselling/ therapy process to push you forward when you feel your self-slipping. Not as a long-term solution, but at least to kick start your healing journey. 

I have tried Talking Therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with qualified therapist, to help me break down some difficult things and some long-standing negative beliefs. They were able to provide me with the support I needed when I felt myself drowning in my sadness. If you need a little extra help, there’s no stigma in asking for it from professionals who can help you.

7. You are not your thoughts

In the words of Eckhart Tolle, you are not your thoughts! This is something that took a long time for me to grasp. I had such a negative inner voice that constantly berated me for not being pretty enough, skinny enough or successful enough.

Since dissociating from that narrative and identifying that voice as a foreign entity, I’m able to actively choose not to listen to that voice and to just pick a thought that feels better.

8.There’s no such thing as the right person at the wrong time 

This is simple. If it’s the wrong time, it’s the wrong person. With the right person, things will come naturally, there are no obvious hurdles and things just unfold with ease.

9. Less is more

Recently, I have learned to value space more than possessions. I had a nasty habit of buying more than I could store. This led to an extreme hoarding type situation in my bedroom, with piles of shoes handbags and jewellery… A mess!

But, after a thorough clean out, I’ve realised that sometimes there is more joy in the clutter free space then in the possessions themselves. So now, I’m sure to really evaluate whether this new item will bring me joy before I buy.

10. A place for everything and everything in its place.

I recently decluttered and organised my living space and it has changed my life! I have finally created for myself, an ergonomic system for all my things. This same level of organisation is permeating into other factors of my life… It honestly feels great! Do yourself a favour and buy those drawer organisers!

11. Hold on to your friends even when it feels hard, you’ll thank yourself later.

I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t make the effort with my friends that I should have over the years. Withdrawing into myself during a difficult time, I cut off so many great relationships and friendships that could have been with me now. Even if you feel out of place, if you feel left behind, know that this feeling is fleeting and afterwards you’ll need these amazing people in your life. They have a special place in your heart and you in theirs.

12. No time lasts forever – appreciate it while it is here

You may be unhappy with how things are right now, but nothing lasts forever. Appreciate the time you are living with your parents and siblings under one roof, it doesn’t last. Appreciate the laborious weekend job you have, you will miss the simplicity one day. Be aware that the moment you are in right now, will never come back so appreciate it all while it’s here.

13. Someone’s criticism of you is just a reflection of their own heart

Have you ever heard the saying ‘People don’t rob from empty houses.’ If someone constantly criticizes you, there is something in you that makes them uncomfortable, something they wish they had themselves.  Thank them for their input and know that everyone is fighting their own battles, and this has more to do with how they feel about themselves, and less to do with what they feel about you.

14. A life without gratitude is an empty life indeed

As someone who very rarely saw the good in life, I was constantly down and always plagued by what I didn’t have. That was until I started gratitude journaling. This activity has been the catalyst that has changed me from a pessimist to an optimist. I have become someone who takes pleasure in the journey and not just the destination. I fully believe that not every day is all good, but there is certainly good in every day.

15. Don’t be afraid to have your heart broken…the pain is worth the memories

Heartbreak sucks, but oh my, are there some amazing memories before the pain. Focus on the joy and know that you cannot admire the starts without a little darkness. Don’t let the pain of heartbreak stop you from wanting to be loved again.

16. Rock bottom truly is the foundation on which you can rebuild your life

Not everyone has to hit rock bottom to know they need to change, but I did, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Hitting that low place was the springboard that I needed to start rebuilding myself and my life. sometimes you have to hit your lowest to push yourself to improve your state and your life. I had so many toxic thoughts and opinions about myself and about others, hitting that low allowed me to address and change what needed to go.

  1. Your energy is currency. Spend it well, Invest it wisely.

Anyone who endeavours to maintain a high vibe knows how hard it is to be around people who suck that energy. Your energy is your life force, don’t be around people who hurt that. Not everyone deserves a seat at your table. Be patient and your loved ones will eventually see how high your flying and want a piece of the action.

18. No one teaches you how to love yourself, you just have to choose to do it

There are no lessons in self-love, no one tells us how we must invest in ourselves first and foremost to have something to give. Find out what recharges your batteries and implement these things into your life daily. For me, my gratitude journal, my affirmation practice, a cosy mug of coffee and a relaxing bath with a book at the end of the day ensure that I am at my peak state for those around me.

19. No-one can complete you – you are already a complete person

Isn’t it bizarre, all the most famous romance movies tell us that we are incomplete, that Mr right will come along and give our lives meaning. It could not be more false.

If you feel incomplete, you will enter into that relationship thinking this person owes you something, and they don’t. You are your own person. YOUR happiness is YOUR responsibility, and THEIR happiness is THEIRS.

Don’t wait for someone to complete you, be the whole complete version of yourself and see how many people want to add you into their lives.

  1. Health truly is wealth

Early on in my 20’s, I was hospitalised for over a week. To date, it was the worst experience of my life. The lack of control you experience in hospital can be easily likened to prison, at least that how I felt. I couldn’t leave, I had to take whatever medication was given to me and worst of all, my family could not stay with me…I was truly alone. This experience taught me that health is the most valuable gift we are given. With health comes freedom and it is a blessing. We owe our bodies a great debt and should look after them appropriately.

  1. Don’t be afraid to chase your dream for free

When you have a dream, be willing to put the work in without getting the gratification. So many of my best experiences occurred when volunteering for local papers as a journalist. Free events, press passes and even some goodies. I wouldn’t change it for the world! Build your experience and then find that killer payed role doing what you love!

22. You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.

I think so many of us struggle with people pleasing. Everyone in a room can be taken by you, but the one person who seems indifferent is the one that will stick in your mind. Something I’ve had to teach myself is, not everyone is going to like your unique brand of weird, and that’s perfectly fine. Never change yourself to fit others perceptions of how you should be. Just be yourself and endeavour to feel good. Opinions are so subjective anyway!

  1. Comparison really is the thief of joy

This one still trips me up occasionally and it is one of the lowest vibes you can give off. Sometimes it’s hard to see people effortlessly receive the things that you have always wanted. Doesn’t it always seem like everyone else’s life is sooo easy and we are the only ones struggling.

With the introduction of social media and overexposure to other people’s circumstances, it’s even harder to try and stay in your lane. Something I tell myself often is ‘Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes to someone else’s best-bits-reel.’ We don’t know what people are struggling with privately. And I guarantee that someone out there is looking at your life and wanting the blessings you have.

  1. You must hold firmly to the rope of Allah (swt)

This is a lesson I have learned fairly late in my life…we have so little control over things, its so much easier to accept when we leave everything in God’s hands.  The only real path in life is the one that God has outlined for us. I readily accept this.

  1. Discipline will get you where motivation cannot.

So many exciting endeavours have begun in a flurry of motivation and excitement, but keeping that momentum going is the hard part. I have tried to apply discipline to so many aspects of my life so I won’t lose the motivation. I have a theory, the harder it is to do, the more you need it. I apply this to my prayers, my exercise routine, my blog and even my self-love journey. The more resistance there is, the more reason I have to do what needs to be done.

  1. There is no set timeline to life

The South Asian community is full of Aunties telling you what you should be doing and when. Marriage, Child, 2nd children, Working, cooking and cleaning. Life has no set timeline, and you are not bound by what society deems appropriate timing. Spend your 20’s discovering you and don’t worry about what others will say.

  1. The morning hours are blessed

This is something I have only recently learned, and it is true. Waking up for the morning prayer has been incremental in my healing journey. Create a good morning routine for yourself and follow it daily. I’ve been doing my newly implemented routine for about 6 months now and it honestly feels great. I’m down for 11pm and up fresh and early at 6am in time for my productive morning routine. I have to say, I’ve never felt so alive and alert!

  1. The night is always darkest before the dawn

Sometimes is can seem so easy to give up and throw in the towel. But I’m here to tell you that right when it feels like it will never get better, somehow it just does. Know that when it truly hurts, it can only get better, and it will.

29. You have to start thinking of yourself as the main character in your life.

I have spent so much of my life so far telling myself that I am inferior to others, not pretty enough, not special enough, just not enough to be a significant person in anyone’s life, let alone my own. I’m done with that. From now on I vow to be the protagonist in my own adventure, because that exactly what my life is.

30. You are worthy of everything you desire

This is the lesson that has taken me the longest to learn. I now know…nothing is out of my reach. If I can believe it, I will see it.

My Heartbreak Toolbox

Heartbreak…is there anything more painful…? Lately, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the last time that I was completely and utterly heartbroken…It hasn’t happened to me much in my life, but there are a few occasions where I have felt that familiar and universal searing in my chest, that feeling that someone has just sucker punched you right in the gut. …so much fun…!

So many ‘Life Gurus’ say you shouldn’t revisit the bad things you have experienced in life, because your body can’t tell the difference between what your imagining in your mind, and what is actually happening in reality.

That’s why, when recollecting sad times, your breath will become shallow, your palms become clammy and your eyes sting with tears, like your sitting in that same seat you were in all those years ago.

But …the weird thing is, so much good comes from heartbreak…so much growth and power. I literally had to pick myself up piece by piece, and you know what, before that, I didn’t know I was capable of healing myself…but I was. I now have a tool box of self-help techniques that can push me through anything.

So, I’m writing this, in case the future me needs to read it, and in case anyone needs reminding that there is life after what is perceived as ‘Love’. You may have changed, but you’re like the 2.0 version of yourself, with minor improvements. Own it and find the things that make you come to life.

My Heartbreak Toolbox

1. Prayer

If you’re a religious or spiritual person, you now that nothing quite compares to the feeling of speaking your hearts truth directly to God. I found immeasurable amounts of solace in the morning prayer, Fajr. So much so, that if I had missed it and slept in, I knew I would struggle that day.

The morning hours are truly a blessed time, and catching that morning prayer made me feel like I was enveloped in an aura of protection, from the world, from sadness and even myself.

Also, reading religious passages were like a balm for my heart. Shedding tears whilst reading The Quran was the most cathartic thing for me. My pain drew me close to God, it was so transformative.

If you don’t subscribe to a religion, try using mantras and meditation. Meditation is such a cleansing exercise, it replicates that same feeling of catharsis.

2. Journal

I also ways talk about journaling (like a bit too much… I know!) but the amount of good that I have derived from this reflective practice is just unfathomable. When your stuck in heartbreak and you don’t understand why someone you love soooo much, would hurt you so deeply, journaling is a great tool to rationalise your thoughts and unload everything from your head.

I found it too difficult to talk to anyone about what I was going through, so my journal became my closest confidante. It never told me to pull myself together, or to get over it…it was there for me when I needed to download.

Journaling for me, helped me to process whatever I was going through and helped to ease the anxiety I would wake up with every morning.

3. Yoga

I cannot tell you how much yoga saved me in my time of need. When I was in the thick of it, I would wake up after a terrible night’s sleep and automatically be submerged in this anxious energy.

All the thoughts would come back to me, the trauma, and the sensation that everything was different to what I had known…I would experience palpitations, shortness of breath and even nausea…it was horrible. But, there was one thing that would get rid of this terrible energy, and that was yoga.

I would roll out of bed onto my yoga mat and follow an insanely relaxing yoga video on Youtube. (My preference was Boho Beautiful’s Yoga for beginners.) The calm of the yogis voice and the soft splash of the waves would calm me down from any emotional precipice I found myself on.

The measured intake and exhalation of breath, takes you right out of your head and brings you right into the present moment, helping to anchor yourself. It’s the one thing I would suggest if you’re experiencing post-traumatic anxiety like I was.

4. Pursue Your Passions

I know, this sounds crazy.

At a time where getting out of bed is an achievement, how is it even conceivable to create any momentum with your passion? Just hear me out.

During my lowest point, I received an email that changed my life. The BBC were offering me a 2-week placement at the BBC Asian Network Headquarters in London….like what?!

I was gobsmacked! Earlier in the year, I had applied for a coveted position on the BBC ‘s Journalism Trainee Scheme and missed out at the last hurdle, so this was unexpected and a courtesy 2nd prize, but I was ready to take it.

This took me from wallowing, to a state of action almost instantly. I threw myself into planning my 2-week stay in London and mentally preparing myself for the challenge. I was so excited to be in a different place and being in such a stimulating environment, it honestly was one of the best things that ever happened to me. My sister joined me out there and we galivanted around London for 2 whole weeks…amazing! Shopping, Theatre and that London buzz helped me come back to life.

I think, you have to throw yourself into something, plan a holiday, start a new venture. Do something different that has no connections to the person you’re deviating from. Make new memories, you’ll thank yourself later.

Time heals all wounds…

They say time heals…isn’t that so cliché? I don’t think the passage of time heals, but it does familiarise you with this new version of yourself. Everyday you wake up, and the foreign entity that has nestled into your chest that wasn’t there before, becomes more and more known to you day by day.

Although I’ve healed now, there will always be scar tissue to remind me of what my heart has endured. Something I tell myself regularly is…” What is ahead is surely better than what has gone by…” I hold on to this truth.

These steps might not help everyone, but they surely helped me, and still do when I feel that all too familiar feeling erupting within me…before you know it, the difficult times will ease and you will be a new, improved version of yourself.

I have learned and grown so much from every heartbreak experience I have had, as I’m sure we all have… Find your toolbox for feeling good and stick to it.

Be strong…

Mindful Night-time Routine: Wind Down with Me

You can’t have a great morning, without a restful night. Here are some tips and techniques to help you wind down for a night of great sleep!

Anyone who knows me, knows I am the perfect antithesis to a Morning Person. (Those two words used to give me shudders!) I am such a night owl, I just seem to gain this insane energy after midnight and that’s when I get some of my best ideas and inspiration.

I would spend my nights catching up on my socials, watching random Youtube videos and squinting at my phone until the early hours of the morning, and have the worst sleep ever. Then, wake up at around 12pm, having missed nearly all the action of the day. It was horrible!

This repetitive schedule of being out of sync with the rest of the world was starting to get me down, I knew something had to change.

So, in order to join the living, I developed a 7 step mindful night-time routine that ensures that your mind and body are in a restful state before venturing into bed.

If you’re in the same boat and ready for change, keep readying!

10 pm

1. Remove makeup/skin care/ brush your teeth!

This step truly signifies for me, the start of my winding down routine. Once my makeup is off, I know that nothing too adventurous is going to happen and my day is officially coming to an end. There’s something so cathartic about removing the layers and products from your face to reveal squeaky-clean skin.

At this point, I also like to brush my teeth. I’m always tempted to get a midnight snack when I feel a little peckish. But, I’ve noticed that a quick brush acts as a deterrent to keep me away from that pesky snack cupboard. This also means that my body isn’t working hard to digest food while I’m trying to sleep.

2. Yoga stretches & deep breathing  

I used to find it really hard to fall asleep. I would toss and turn until day light hours, waiting for sleep to take me. The thought of the long dredged out night ahead was enough to give me anxiety. That was until I began doing a little bit of yoga before bed, and I haven’t looked back since.

Focusing on your breath and doing some mild stretches can work wonders to help you get to sleep. Breathing in slowly through your nose and exhaling slowly through your mouth, can centre you to the present moment and help shift your focus form anything stressful that might plague your mind while trying to sleep.

I honestly cannot preach the benefits of yoga enough! it has eased my anxiety and helped me drift off easily into a restful slumber. This is a must try!

3. Do your gratitude journal for the day

Gratitude journaling is such a wonderful activity to do before bed. The act of recalling your entire day and picking out the very best moments, is such a warm and gratifying feeling, it sends me to bed with a warm heart and a positive outlook ready for the next day.

Start by writing down 3 things that you are grateful for that day, and increase that number as you feel more comfortable.

This small practice at the end of my day has become a staple for me, and it’s something I do habitually, because I know how much better my day-to-day life is with this routine in place. You must give this a try!

4. Listen to an affirmation playlist

If you’re dealing with self esteem issues, imposter syndrome or you just want to live your best life, mantras are the tool to help. Studies show that listening to a 10-minute affirmation playlist every day, for 21 days, is enough to impact our deepest thoughts and challenge the lingering negative beliefs we have about ourselves. To really absorb the messages and mantras, listen at the same time every day.

I’ve been listening to a self-esteem mantra playlist while I write my gratitude journal and it’s honestly amazing how quickly some of the affirmations have sunk into my conscious and even subconscious thoughts.

5. Plan out the next day

Every single day, we make thousands of decisions before we’ve even left our beds. ‘What should I have for breakfast? What’s my plan for the day? It’s exhausting!

Researchers have actually proven that making too many decisions in the morning can directly impact our ability to make well thought-out decisions throughout the day. I mean, there is a reason Steve Jobs wore the same outfit every day.

So, to combat decision fatigue (Its actually a thing!) I have begun planning my day the night before and its revolutionised my mornings.

Every night I take 10 minutes to outline my plan for the following day, and then the Zaima that wakes up in the morning has a few less decisions to make!

I don’t need to wake up and talk myself into working out, because its already in my schedule. Plus, it helps to be prepared for any meetings or deadlines I have coming up the following day.

6. Charge your phone away from your bed

This one’s a little obvious, but omg, it is one of the most difficult. We all know the deathly effect of Blue light on our unprotected eyes. Any usage of an electronic device at night, significantly reduces our ability to fall soundly into a restful slumber.

I try, at least an hour before I lie down, to put my phone on charge and forget about its existence. I have spent night after night after night scrolling and it really is a black hole that inevitably ends in weird places on YouTube!

But, since doing this, I have fallen asleep out of boredom without my phone to keep me occupied. Do yourself a favour and put it away!

7. Read your book

There are few joys that compare to lying in soft sheets and reading a delightful book just before bed! Reading can be a great way to unwind from the stresses of your day and ease your mind into a relaxed state for a restful sleep. Studies have even shown that just six minutes of reading before bed, can reduce stress by up to 68%, crazy!

I love reading my book as the last thing I do before bed. It’s a thrilling combination of wanting to know what happens next and getting to tired to continue, the sleep sweet spot! Since doing this, I feel like I fall asleep on my way down to the pillow, revolutionary!

So, find a good book and get reading!

I’ve been doing this newly implemented routine for about 6 months now and it honestly feels great. I’m down for 11pm and up fresh and early at 6am in time for my productive morning routine. I have to say, I’ve never felt so alive and alert!

Pick and choose the bits from this routine that will help you to prepare for a restful night’s sleep in the best way and let me know what you think!

Happy Sleeping!

On My Bookshelf: Ceremony

Written by Leslie Marmon Silko

A thrilling tale of Native American connection and the returning to oneself, nature and the land to heal the wounds within.

Synopsis

Set in the Laguna Pueblo reservation in New Mexico, we are introduced to Tayo, a World War II veteran, who has been left in emotional and physical turmoil, following his participation in the war.

Experiencing extreme waves of sickness and nausea, Tayo is in the throes of post-trauma, grief and suffocating regret over the death of his cousin Rocky who had joined him in battle.

Returning home to his grandmother and aunt, who raised him in place of his absent mother, he continues to be haunted by the past, and whipped into flash backs of the atrocities he experienced.

When modern medicines and hospital halls fail him, Tayo realises he must partake in a traditional Native American ceremony, that interweaves and connects his past, the war, and the Laguna Pueblo culture in order to heal both himself and the land.

Interlaced within the plot, are old Laguna stories that have been shared by word of mouth for centuries. Tayo’s journey is mirrored in these stories as he draws closer to his Native roots, and sees beyond the Western infiltration within the country.

My Thoughts?

Whist at university, I studied Native American literature, and it was one of my favourite topics. A contemporary Native American perspective, writing back to the narrative that had been thrust upon them many years ago, I found it awe inspiring.

I have always had a deep ingrained love for the Native American Culture, which I must admit, began when I first watched Pocahontas 🙂 There is something so beautiful about the oneness of indigenous people with the landscape on which they reside. A mutually reciprocal relationship of respect with the natural world, in which they do not seek to disturb the environment, but to grow with it.

Fragmented Identity

There are so many poignant themes within this novel, it really is so rich with metaphors and lessons, but I think the idea that resonates with me most is the concept of fragmentation of identity, and the encroaching of the Native American culture by the new and emerging Western way of life.

Within the novel, we meet many indigenous characters that have distanced from Native clothing, beliefs and traditions, and instead, opt to assimilate to more Westernised notions. Tayo’s cousin Rocky was a prime example of this, turning away from their traditions and believing them to be superstitions and stories. This signifies the stark disparity, between the old ways of the Indigenous culture and the usurpation of the Western expansion, that did its best to displace Native American history.

Tayo himself is a perfect metaphor of this clash of identity. Being half indigenous and half white, he struggles endlessly with the juxtaposition of his two halves and is at odds with other in the community and himself.

Even our first introduction to Tayo signifies his misalignment with the Western way. We meet him within the stark walls of a Los Angeles hospital, writhing with pain and anguish. There is special attention paid by Silko, to the whiteness of the sheets, the interiors and even the faces within the hospital. It’s so clinical, the epitome of white wash sterilisation of all other beliefs and ways of life, where nothing else may grow.

The Old Ways vs New

Tayo finds little solace within Western treatments and the waves of nausea, fever and grief only grow stronger with time. Eventually, his grandmother suggests calling a Medicine Man who may help purge him of this unknown sickness, what we now know as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.

Through his meeting with Medicine Man, Old Betonie, it’s clear that the only way for Tayo to restore his health, is to reconnect with his heritage, history, the land and above all, himself.

Through his hybrid ceremony, which is a mix of old and modern methods, Betonie helps Tayo recount the colonization of their people and navigate the internalised racism that they have come across time and time again…In turn, helping him to see with the clarity of his ancestors.


“His sickness was only part of something larger, and his cure would be found only in something great and inclusive of everything.”


Man-Made Disaster

A factor that I find extremely symbolic, is Tayo’s participation in the World War, after being urged by his cousin Rocky to enlist. We’re all well acquainted with the rhetoric of Uncle Sam and how much he needs YOU. This call to action was enough to seduce the youths, who were always on the fringes of society, to want to be wanted.

 For a short while, this act of selflessness for a country that refused to acknowledge them, bought them the respect they rightly deserved. However, once the war was over and uniforms were off, Tayo was confronted with the notion that Rocky gave his life for nothing, in a man-made war made only to appease the egos with destruction. It only caused him, and other Native American veterans like him to feel even move disconnected from themselves in the aftermath of war.


 “The war was over; the uniform was gone. All of a sudden, the man at the store waits on you last, makes you wait until all the white people bought what they wanted. . .they blamed themselves for losing the new feeling; they never talked about it but they blamed themselves just like they blamed themselves for losing the land the white people took.”


Conclusion

Ceremony is a story of purging, of removing physical and mental illness, as well as social and environmental ills. It’s also a story of healing, returning from the precipice of death to reinvigorate the landscape of the heart, and emerging with renewed patience, gratitude and stillness.

Interwoven within the text, is the concept of oneness and interconnection. We are not separate from the world we live in, nor are we separate from one another. There is a lifecycle to all things and we are not superior to the birds, plants and even the bugs. We all have a part to play. This is why I love the Native American culture, it rings so strongly with my Islamic beliefs.

Ceremony is wonderfully written. Each word is so clearly intentional, Silko Truly has a way of plunging you right into the scene, with cataclysmic motion.

Finally reading this book for me is very cathartic, and I feel a strange sense of peace after completing it. I was first introduced to this book in University, by a very passionate and engaging lecturer. Due to deadlines and time constraints I didn’t actually have a chance to read it then, but I’m so glad, almost 10 years later I have had that opportunity…it takes me right back to that time in my life when I was happiest. 😊


They see no life
When they look
they see only objects.
The world for them
the trees and rivers are not alive
the mountains and stones are not alive
The deer and bear are objects
They see no life.

They fear
They fear the world.
They destroy what they fear.
They fear themselves.


Rating

5/10

I think from an academic perspective; this book is a goldmine full of fascinating ideas and portrayals! But… I would probably think twice before recommending it, simply because at times I found it very difficult to piece together and the narrative isn’t as linear as I would like. I think this is a very niche text, although, it really is a masterpiece in its own right.