Saturday, November 21, 2015


and excited. We moved into our house finally. 

It feels amazing. I woke up the first morning and got ready for the day, but everything was new. I didn't know what the light switches operated or which way to turn the handle for hot water.  It sounds annoying, but it forced me to pay attention to every detail.  Everything is so new. I'm noticing so much and I'm so aware. Taher, it shouldn't take moving houses to feel like this. 

The house is so beautiful. It is the nicest place I've ever lived and things are coming together so well. EVERYTHING inside is just like I want it. The location is in between all the places I go. The house is set up for all the stages of life. It's perfect.

It's fantastic and I appreciate this whole house experience so much. But it's made it really clear to me that it doesn't matter much. I already had all the things that really matter. Taher, don't lose sight of that. 

Nooriya lost her first tooth tonight and we moved into our new home just in time;)

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Happiness, Boredom, Little things...

I have some random thoughts on happiness, boredom, little things, and other miscellaneous "stuff" I want to write down and remember.  This may be more stream of consciousness than anything.

I have been super busy lately.  I can't really articulate what has been keeping me busy.  I guess that's just indicative that it's not that important.  I've been too busy to really even write this down.  I was reflecting on boredom as part of being so busy.  Ironically, I've been too busy with stuff and mentally busy to be bored lately.  Lately, I feel I've been filling the time so that I can avoid being bored.  That's dumb.  It's good to be bored and know how to deal with that.  Dealing with being bored is something we teach the kids how to deal with.  Be bored more Taher.

Despite my best efforts, lately it's been difficult to pay attention to the little things. I've at least been aware of this deficiency. I've been lucky to have the reminder  of the kids asking me, "abba can you [fill in the blank] with me?"  It's tempting to answer with something other than YES!  Sometimes other stuff gets in the way, but far more often than anything else the response should be YES!  Before long the kids won't ask much. Taher, this is life and don't let other stuff get in the way.  

I've been learning some stuff about happiness.  We are somewhat predisposed to be happy. This "equilibrium" is roughly half of our happiness or unhappiness. It's not that exact, but it's a lot. Fortunately, there's half or so that's not predisposition.  New meaning for seeing the glass half full. Taher, the glass is half full. 

Also, I learned that kids who have happy parents are more likely to be happy. That's pretty awesome motivation to figure out how to be happier. Do it for the kids Taher;)

Saturday, October 31, 2015


I'm rereading a book I read long ago.  It's by a physicist and one of my favorites.  This time I'm taking away two main points from the book I think the author is making - things are random and humans are not made to understand randomness.

The book opens with a perspective on randomenss that's quite beautiful.  The author writes it really well, "the outline of our lives, like the candle's flame, is continuously coaxed in new directions by a variety of random events that, along with our responses, determine our fate."  He starts with a story about how his parents may never have met if not for some "chance" event.  The story is beautiful and results in me reading this book, but I don't...can't accept his descriptions of events as random.

This last couple weeks for me have been filled with stuff that has ranged the spectrum from unbelievably good to tragic.  This last couple weeks included the family getting to be with Moula during ashara and the terrible news of people close passing away.  Lots of feelings and words come to mind.  A lot of things came together, but never have I felt it was random.

Recent events have forced me to block out distractions and think about what's important and how I got here.  It's not an accident; it's not random.  Today's experience at masjid helped me see that clearly.  A stranger was there to help mumineen when they needed help.  He selflesssly helped them.  He came to masjid today and saw how many people's lives he touched with his actions.  You get what you give Taher whether you see it or you don't.

I disagree with the author's premise that things are just random.

The author's second point that humans are not made to understand randomness.  Our brains just aren't wired to understand.  The arguements are specific to making decisions and using the available information, but I think the point is more universal.

Humans are not made to understand.

Taher, remember your priorities.  Love is part of all the important ones even though love is someting you'll never truly understand.

Monday, September 07, 2015


This morning was pivotal.

Nooriya and I have our Saturday morning tradition of making pancakes. I love it and I don't even like pancakes.   We've been doing pancakes together on Saturdays for as long as I can remember.  Long before we started making them.

We have our routine down.  She helps me get the stuff out.  She helps me mix.  She no longer needs her handy instructions.  I look forward to it and so does she.  The first thing she says to me on Saturday is, "Abba, can we make pancakes?".  She asks not sure what the answer is going to be.  Nooriya, should you ever read this the answer will never be no.

Today, she blew my mind.  She dubbed me the "helper" and herself the "baker".   What?!  I thought I had like 10 more years!  It was mostly the same, but it felt different.  One of the many times I have had to let go a little and one of the, hopefully, many times to come.

She still needs me and Yusuf still needs me.  Taher get out of their way and be their "helper" while they need you to.  One day it will be their choice.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Pissed off 2

It's been a couple days.  I'm not angry anymore.

I'm over it, but I wish I could say that I don't spend any energy on what made me upset.  I wish I could stop thinking about it completely.

This morning Yusuf and I were sitting together and noticed something right outside the window.  A small bird was wrestling with what looked like a blade of grass.  The bird was so small and insignificant.

I took a closer look and noticed the blade of grass was actually a smaller and more insignificant bug that the bird was having for breakfast.  It is gruesome to think about, yet so natural.

This scene had layers and gave me good perspective.  I'm small and insignificant and so are the two jerks that set me off.  My experience, while unpleasant, was natural, small, and insignificant.  And it happened and now it's over.  Move on Taher.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Pissed off

I got so angry today.  More angry than I can remember being.  It has been awful feeling like this.

I confronted the two jerks that set me off.    I lost it.  I was so angry that I was shaking.  I literally could not control my body.  I was aggressive though I didn't yell or scream.  The whole thing lasted maybe 10 minutes and afterwards I wished I had been more aggressive and meaner.  It's been hours, but I'm angry as I write this and it's still easy for me to see that my previous sentence is just ugly.   Meaner?!

I'm not proud of my behaviour today.  I'm not proud of my inability to calm down right now.

This is the part I want to remind myself should I ever feel this way again.

I have tried to calm down though; I've tried to focus on the positive.  It's been hard to focus, but it's important for it to be hard sometimes.  There's as much to be thankful for as when it is easy to focus, alhamdolillah.  Remember what Zahra tells the kids, if someone is mean that's their problem.

Also remember Taher, stuff happens and being angry sucks.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


I've been thinking a lot about milestones.  I've been thinking both about what mine are and what they mean.

School is starting and it's making me nostalgic.  I'm thinking about the reference points in my life so far graduations, meeting Zahra, the kids' first steps and more.  I quickly come up with a long list.  I count the kids' milestones as mine too:P

I put this list together and quickly see that there are almost no milestones I count related to work.  There are two - both times I quit:P

I want to remind myself is that I've already been lucky enough to have lots of positive milestones and hopefully many to come including our soon to-be-ready house.  Almost none of them come from work.  Yet, work gets a disproportionate amount energy from me.

Taher, even when work seems to be so important remember that it barely makes the list of important stuff.

Saturday, July 25, 2015


I don't love eating pancakes, but I love making them. Every Saturday and sometimes on Sunday too Nooriya and I make pancakes. It's wonderful. I'm up early, it's peaceful, and it's something the kids and I look forward to. I'm not much of a cook but Nooriya tells me I could be a chef at IHOP;)

We've developed this routine and it makes me feel great. I have come to realize that it's not the pancakes or the making the pancakes with Nooriya or even the routine; I crave the good feeling, the high, I've been lucky enough to associate with the feeling with the kids and Saturdays. 

I want to more consciously associate this feeling with the things that are really important to me, Zahra and the kids. I don't want to waste that feeling on things like work or other "distractions". 

At work I have a twice yearly process I have to write down my goals and priorities for the year and assess them.  I usually think of this as HR BS and office drudgery. 

My goals should be simple and I will do well to read this at least twice a year. 

This is Nooriya's pancake recipe. I love it!!!

(Pancake mix

Saturday, July 04, 2015


It's been a long day. Tonight, Yusuf is giving bags of candy to some friends. It is wonderful to watch I can't help but smile. 

Smile Taher.

 Just a reminder. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

First namaz

Yesterday in our soon to be house we did namaz for the first time. The house was still very rough around the edges and there was construction debris covering much of the floor. 

It was amazing. It was the first of hopefully many to come with family. I was overwhelmed with the feeling that so many things had come together in life. It was the culmination of all that and the beginning as well. 

Since I was "young", I've had the feeling that the best stage of life was just starting and was just around the corner as well.  


Taher, don't rush to get around the corner. 

Monday, June 22, 2015


Iftar today was Madeleine cookies, a kind Yusuf and Nooriya love. Yusuf is a big kid now and he does namaz with the other kids now which is a bit sad for me that he's getting bigger and bigger.  But he still comes back to do Iftar with me. 

I watched him enjoy his cookie. He was focused and really enjoyed what he was doing. I doubt there was much else on his mind. He was in the moment and distracted by nothing. I wished I could feel what he was feeling, but I'm so glad just to watch and notice. Alhamdolillah. 

There's too much that's almost always going on. So much that I feeI I need a vacation from it all. Yusuf and Nooriya remind me that I don't need a vacation. Sometimes just a cookie;) 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


I get a lot of time to think during Ramadan. There's so much peaceful time just sitting.  Just sit more often Taher.

I've been thinking about the many things going just right. I'm often reminded that it's not that way for everyone and I think Alhamdolilah. I also think "I wish it could just be like this all the time". 

Things are good, but all this time spent reflecting in Ramadan so far is helping me remember it's still relative. I'm remembering I can be better and it's not good enough to just be the same, whatever that may be.

Don't be complacent Taher, there's always room to improve. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Adjacent Possible

My involvement with the Casualty Actuarial Society recently started.  I'm on a council tasked with changing the professions culture to be innovative.  I've spent the last couple months learning about what innovation is and all the companies out there that have this illusive quality.  It's really a pretty cool job; I'm helping change the whole profession to be more relevant and shed the image of the stereotypical actuary that is nerdy and is not effective because they lack some important social skills.  I'm the perfect person for the job:P

There's good reason the innovation quality is illusive. There are many "experts" and I work with a consultant who I assume is pretty expensive.  I've read a lot.  It sounds like lots of buzz words so far and not much substance.

I changed my mind all of a sudden.  Well sort of; innovation is pretty intangible. I read something that resonated and I want to write it down.  I've spent much time thinking about taking things step by step and how that gets me to a place far from where I began.

I read about an idea the author coined "the adjacent possible".  The author barely referenced coming up with ideas and innovation buzz words.  He talked about nature.  It's about how things don't just *happen*.   It's rare in nature and in ideas that things "ahead of their time".  There are steps that need to happen to get from one place to another.  "Doors" need to be opened for other "doors" to be reachable.

There's no skipping.  Taher, keep opening doors.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


The Hubble telescope just celebrated its 25th anniversary. It's being hailed as the greatest scientific achievement. I've been reading about it in the many news stories commemorating it. Some cool facts I've learned are:

It can see a dime from 25 miles away
It's public and anyone can request to use it
It can see 13.4 billion miles away
It takes pictures in black and white 
It's moving at 5 miles per second 

In short, it's amazing. Coincidentally, I'm reading a Sci Fi book written years before the Hubble went into space. It has awesome and beautiful descriptions of space and things that we can only imagine. The book describes well things that we don't know are there. 

The Hubble has let us see things we didn't know were there. There are moons and planets and galaxies we didn't know existed that we can see now. The Hubble inspires belief that just because something isn't apparent yet it will be. 

Both the imagination of the author and the science inspire me to wonder. Taher, don't forget that because you may not understand or see there's more to it. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Just this week Yusuf started texting.  I'm happy to be on his shortlist of contacts:P

I don't often get to check my messages during the workday.  I checked at lunchtime and I found this gem waiting for me.  If his message is any indication I'm focusing on the right stuff.  Also, I will do well to be open to what Yusuf and Nooriya have to tell me.  Their logic is sometimes simple and flawless.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Ground Breaking

Last week the site of my eventual home was cleared.  There used to be a house there and now it's gone.  Construction has started and now this new house which I've been thinking about and imagining for a while has taken a step that makes the whole thing real for me in a way it wasn't before.

First, Taher you can't think or say Alhamdolillah enough for being able to do this.

I read Zahra's thoughts about this and I feel very much the same.  It got me thinking about all the house stuff I've focused on recently.

Zahra and I have spent alot of time and energy over the last several years talking about and thinking about this home.  It was an idea and all of a sudden it became real for me.  I was aware, on some level, throughout, of thinking about this home and the future.  I would pause and remind myself that I didn't want to focus too much on the future, on the "finish", for fear of not really being present.  I'm happy to realize I wasn't actually focusing on the "finish".

Now that this house is more real I should be more excited.  Just for the record I'm mega excited.  But I've realized now I will miss my time with Zahra thinking about this part of the future.  I will miss making these tiny decisions about small details in the house.  I will miss doing this project with Zahra.

I don't know that I've written down effectively what I want to be reminding myself.  I guess it's simple.

Taher: It's not about the finished product, enjoy the project.

I plan to enjoy the rest of this project.  And then, Zahra, I promise to think of another one:P

Monday, March 23, 2015


I'm "going through" something that's out of my control.  I'm in my head and I'm pretty sure I'm the only person who cares or really even notices.

I've tried to "solve" the problem many different ways, but I haven't really been successful.

This is good reminder to me that there are many things that seems like a problem I can solve, but they're not really in my control.

It IS in my control to decide what I focus on.  I can spend my energy focusing on my "problem" or I can focus on other stuff.

Friday, March 20, 2015


I am reminded today that there's lots of distractions and other stuff in life.  The most important things to me are connections with people.

My strongest and most important connection celebrates an 11 year milestone today.

Zahra, thanks for helping me see the difference between important stuff and everything else.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Man in the Mirror

This is one of my favorite songs.  I've heard the lyrics so many times I don't think about them as much as I used to.  I read this and the sentiment was fresh again.  Hopefully, writing it down helps internalize it a little more...

"Wishing to regulate their families, they first cultivated their persons. Wishing to cultivate their persons, they first rectified their hearts. Wishing to rectify their hearts, they first sought to be sincere in there thoughts. Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts, they first extended to the utmost their knowledge."

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Game of inches

I've been reading about the criminology Broken Windows Theory and it's made me appreciate a perspective I've tried to stay away from.  Basically, the idea of Broken Windows is fix the little things and big problems will get better.  In New York, the theory was put into practice a while back to clean graffiti and make sure people paid for the subway.  Little things as far as crime in New York goes.

There's lots of statistics that are attractive and lots of data out there saying that this was a good idea. The evidence-based thinking appeals to me a lot.

For a long time, I've been trying not to 'sweat the small stuff'.  I've tried to focus on the big and material things.  Figure out what's important and don't worry too much about the rest.  I am rethinking that.

This theory obviously extends beyond criminology.  The things that stay with me and probably everyone else are the little things.  Every interaction is a chance, an opportunity, to have a great interaction...or a not-so-great one.  Each interaction like a possible baby step to something better; each one a chance to be a better husband, dad, and person.  After a bunch of baby steps I can end up in a very different place.

Maybe the better way to think about everything is pretty much the opposite, 'sweat the small stuff'.

Saturday, January 31, 2015


Zahra has written about our morning routine a couple times.  It's had me thinking more and more about my routine...

I have read about the physical and mental health benefits of kids having a routine.  There are many.  I'm very happy to help make a routine for them.  I try to do many things with them regularly and even daily.  It seems to be working.  The kids know what to do and what's expected.  We've made it pretty structured.  I've watched them grow and enjoy the routine.

I've become aware lately that I really appreciate this routine.  Making a routine for them has become as much a part of my day as theirs.  It compartmentalizes the parts of my day and gives me the ability to focus better on what's happening now.  I look forward to the parts of my day that I get to share with Zahra, Yusuf, and Nooriya.  Compartmentalizing the other parts of my day lets me truly be there more.  That makes it even better.

I get routine in a way that I didn't before and it makes me realize how important it is for me to be a part of their routine.