Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Ashura #4

Ashura was yesterday and I'm thoroughly exhausted. It's a good exhausted accompanied by a sense of accomplishment.

#4 because it's Yusuf's fourth ashura. I can remember his first way back when we measured his age in weeks. Now I measure my life by how many ashuras I've had Yusuf with me.

Four years ago we brought this tiny baby to the masjid to show him off. I was so proud to have him. This year I am SO PROUD of him. It was a long, long day for me and probably many more times for him. This year he didn't play; I didn't entertain him. This year he did fakoh the whole day. He did matam the whole day. He said "ya Hussein!" the whole day. And we got to watch two moulas doing vaas together!

I can remember being exhausted that first year too being a brand new parent, a different kind of exhausted, but still exhausted and still comparable. I spent much of ashura this year trying to make Yusuf as much a part of it as I could. I was exhausted then, this year and hopefully many years to come being a parent to Yusuf on ashura.

This year more than others, the bayaans about seizing opportunities and not letting time pass waiting for the 'right' moment resonated so much with me as Yusuf was there with me making me proud.

Taher, spend your time wisely.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Risk and Reward

Stupid title, I know. I'm sure I'll think that when I come back to read this.

Reminder to myslef - these posts are a snapshot of how I feel and I write them down to remind myself later.

Today I feel great. I feel like I've taken a first real step, a big one for me, towards the job situation I really want.

I've written a lot recently about my job and my job situation. I have to be honest with myself here; it's been on my mind more than just recently. My job situation is great with lots of choice, stability and comfort. I've always thought it would be great to work more independently and one day for myself. But in the past this thought got quickly dismissed. Afterall, my job situation is great so it is just not worth the risk.

Lately, I've been unhappy at work feeling a lot of limitations at work and more importantly, restrictions about how work fits into life. It has become very clear to me how little that fit is in my control at the moment.

Not a whole lot has changed since yesterday other than I have a plan and made some decisions. I have decided the reward of working independently and more on my terms is worth the risk. I don't know what it will be like, but I have decided I want to find out. I have a ton of support to do this. I just need to have a little faith.

It feels great to have a plan.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bumper Sticker

I spent much of my drive home from work yesterday behind somebody who had a bumper sticker that read

"If you could ask God one question, what would it be?"

I spent the ride thinking about what was most important to me. And then I was home:P

I think my exact answer is not improtant and it will probably change over time. But I hope to come back here and read this post whenever I need to focus on the sometimes elusive bigger picture and what's important.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

So fast...

I asked Yusuf, "Will you stay in Chicago with us forever?"

"Yeah. Look...that's a big frog."

Very convincing:P

I wish I could freeze them both at this age for a little while longer.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Being important

I want to write down and capture how I've been feeling about my job change.

I still have the same thoughts as I did when I made the change and I still know in my heart of hearts I made the right move. I have more time with Zahra, Yusuf and Nooriya, a shorter commute, a less stressful job, I don't bring work home with me; basically I'm getting paid more to do less. Lots of stuff on the pro side; this is great, what more could I ask for?

I need to be realistic; I went from working for one corporation to working for another. I didn't start making the world better (or at least better off than in my other job). This is awesome though, I know it is. But I still have this nagging feeling I can't shake. I feel unimportant at work, I'm of little consequence. I used to be important. People used to ask for my opinion and my perspective on things. Now, I don't feel like I'm spending my workday usefully and I'm bored.

Monday, October 17, 2011

No phone, no lights, no motorcar; not a single luxury...

My phone broke last week, or more accuartely I broke it. Since then, I've been without a phone and now have a phone that pretty much only makes calls.

At the risk of sounding old and this post being a "I remember when gas was only ..." post. Here goes...I remember when phones were just phones. I even remember when phones were only connected to a wall. Oh what did I used to do in this wired, non-touch screen stone-age?:P

The past little while has been frustrating, a bit boring and refreshing at the same time. I realized I don't know how to drive anywhere new without a gps telling me turn by turn where to go, email is not that important and the internet is even less so. I'm sure I'll read this sometime later and roll my eyes.

It's also been refreshing to not use my phone to occupy every 'free' moment I have. It's been nice, in a way, that I haven't been able to take a picture of Yusuf and Nooriya, but had to remember what we were doing and how cute they are. It is wierdly awesome to have my mind wander about this or that and not attempting to be productive in some way all the time.

I have to be honest with myself, I am looking forward to getting another phone in a couple weeks and rejoining the 2011s. In the mean time, I'll try to enjoy being relatively less connected.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

My morning

With much trepidation I've made a change leaving my really good job earlier this summer. I haven't exactly taken a step down, rather I like to think of it a step slower. Up to this point my career has been moving fast; in hindsight, so many opportunities have opened up for me. I wanted to slow down and go at a slower pace. I decided to make a move and see how things would be.

I've gotten used to having a reputation and all the resources and benefits that came along with it. I've been in my new job for over a month and all those things are gone. I'm still in an adjustment period, a difficult one. I got the slow-down I was looking for and it has been tougher to deal with than I expected.

This morning though was perfect. I got up early and went out for a bike ride. I came home to lounge with Zahra, Yusuf and Nooriya in Yusuf's bed as everyone woke up. A little while later, a fully dressed Nooriya came and sat next to me for ten minutes as I did some morning reading (she preferred sitting with me to breakfast!). After getting ready for work, I came down to have breakfast at the kitchen table with Yusuf as he told me a dinosaur story. A short drive later, I'm here at my even lower stress, slower-paced job.

I got exactly what I was looking for and I'm so glad I made the change.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Favorite Thing

Every year we ask each other our favorite thing that happened in the past year. The last several have been easy for me, usually Yusuf or Nooriya. Found out that we were expecting, one of them becoming real or some milestone for one of them.

This year is different. Equally awesome (even more so), but different. I can't think of just one thing or two or three or four even. The last year has been filled with tons of moments (including dancing and screaming in the kitchen right now) that are the four of us spending time together.

I knew that I had a ton of love to give to everyone before starting this journey with Zahra, but what I didn't know to expect and what I've realized this year more than ever is how much family would mean to me. Knowing that a little more is my favorite thing this year.

(the dancing has turned into fighting...and we're back to playing together:)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Namaz time

My masala is full!

Namaz time at my house is awesome. Yusuf does namaz with me and pretty well I'd say for a 3 year old. He stands next to me, does niyaat, ruqu and sujud and even understands that we do namaz to do shukur. And in his words, "Shukur means 'Thank you'" All this while Nooriya "does namaz" too. Her idea of namaz is to do sajda and roll around pretty much everywhere I can possibly put my head down for sajda. Then we all do Ya Husein! and Ya Syeda Shohadai matam. After namaz is over we taught Yusuf and Nooriya do salaam to us, a great tradition we saw friends do with their son.

I'm pretty sure I'm at a low for focus and concentration during namaz, but it is awesome! I hope this namaz time stays with Yusuf and Nooriya for a long time (and hopefully it counts a little too!)

I need to get a california king-sized masala:)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fish is Fish

There's a children's book out called Fish is Fish. It is a fable about a fish who is friends with a frog. The fish wonders what things are like on land and the frog explains and describes the different animals on land. All the fish can do is imagine a fish with the same description.

The frog describes a bird and the fish imagines a fish with wings.

This image moved me. I hope to keep the appreciation of my lack of perspective all the time.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Big Boy

Some huge Moula news this weekend. Like many, I imagine, I received it with mixed feelings. It took lunch today with Yusuf and Nooriya to put it in perspective for me.

"Can you feed me abba?" Yusuf said to me in his sweet persuasive voice. Usually, the response is, "you're a big boy, eat". But I just couldn't say anything other than, "sure!" I fed him happily, as he counted the number of bites, told me a semi-nonsense story as he made it up and drew a rhino upon request. Right next to us Nooriya was babbling some words, mostly nonsense and gesturing for me to feed her too. It wasn't long ago that was Yusuf, and not too long from now Yusuf won't want me to feed him.

This froze me; I couldn't stop myself from thinking of all the potential on both sides of me. Nostalgia describes how I was feeling, but nostalgia for the future not the past (I'm sure there's a word for that). And then time started to pass again. I was jolted into the present by the Yusuf and Nooriya screaming for me to appreciate what was on either side of me.

This is helping me process the news. An awesome, exciting future is ahead. There is an awesome and exciting right now to be cherished. Mubarak!

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Unfortunately, I've been to the cemetery too many times lately.

The qabrastan is a very cathartic experience. I stop what I'm doing and make my way to the masjid and cemetary. Interrupted from whatever I was busy doing and thinking about, I am jolted into thinking about what and who are ultimately important and realize how unimportant whatever I was busy with might be.

The burial is intense. I have never been so directly joined with anyone, but I feel profoundly connected without a deep sense of loss. I see someone I've known for a very long time barefoot and in the grave saying goodbye to one of their family.

I don't think about my own mortality, rather I think about how many times it will be me in the grave saying goodbye. I imagine what that loss will be like; I am happy to wait to know exactly.

I appreciate getting this feeling absent the deep sense of loss and I find the cemetary a great place to find focus and remind myself of some things that aren't always in my thoughts. I am reminding myself with this post to go there more under circumstances that don't suck.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I have been struggling to figure out what I want to do with my career lately.

Recently, I've tried finding other opportunities that are out there. My career path is bright, clear and easy to see where I am; I'm not unhappy for any lack of opportunity. I'm trying to figure out if I want to make a change.

It's not quite this simple, but in my mind it's coming down to prioritizing family and career. For me I've always thought that's an easy one; family is number 1 and career is somewhere much lower on the list.

Unexpectedly, it hasn't been that simple. But then I was reading my very infrequent blog posts over the last few years. And I was reminded that it IS and ALWAYS will be that simple, family number 1 and everything else some other number. Thanks past self for writing down those thoughts and you're welcome future self when you come back to read them.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I Speak for Myself

Congratulations! I am so proud of Zahra that I can't find the words to express it. This project has so much potential and I hope it ALL gets realized.

I was very eager to get my hands on a copy of the book to see exactly the words that would be reaching hopefully many, many people. I have been reading the essays all week. I started the book in part because I am so closely connected and I expected to be engrossed and am excited as I had a good understanding of the book's purpose.

What I didn't expect was to be one of the people whose mind was opened so much. Having a Muslim American experience, I naively thought I already knew what that meant. I was surprised by realizing the diversity that existed in just these 40 women's stories.

I am very comfortable with my identity, almost complacent. The book has pushed me to grow and rethink what being both Muslim and American mean to me. It has made me be a little more thoughtful about myself both my inwardly and outwardly.

I hope that this book and its ideas reach a lot of people. It will help many, including me.