Monday, August 08, 2016


Alhamdolillah that I get to go on vacation.  I get to see and experience things which make my faith more solid. My eyes open to more wonders which make me even more certain there is something more. 

Each trip away is special and enjoyable in different ways, but the one thing that every trip has in common is I come home at the end. And I appreciate coming home each time. 

One of the best parts of vacation for me is coming home at the end and rediscovering and re-appreciating everything that was there beforehand. 

Taher, don't wait for vacation to appreciate what's at home. 

Tuesday, August 02, 2016


The day before the weather was rainy and windy and just unpredictable. We told the kids "we'll see" over and over. The weather didn't clear up and we did take them to the beach. We immediately assessed that it wasn't the right conditions to be at the beach and headed to the the rain and wind. 

As we made the best of the beach-audible Nooriya and I played "catch the bracelet" underwater in the pool. There was a moment I saw her smile under the water through my goggles. I'm so lucky to have seen it so clearly.   I'm so lucky to have noticed the one of probably many smiles in the moment I wasn't able to see or do or hear anything else while under water. I think about the attitude to make the best and the little it took to elicit that smile...just being there. 

In contrast, the last 24 hours have been full of amazing experiences. They have been true vacation gold. We saw more stars than I can remember seeing last night. All the while we were in kayaks with glass bottoms seeing the amazing plankton in bio bay lighting up when the water moved. I couldn't stop looking at and admiring the water until I was distracted by the amazing sky...and then I was distracted by the water. 

Zahra captures it way better than I do. 

Today, I had the most idyllic beach experience I've ever had. The water was the perfect temperature, gentle, and crystal blue.   The weather was perfect and we had a small stretch of beach on this hard-get-to island seemingly just to ourselves. 

I hope these are the experiences Yusuf and Nooriya will remember forever. I will. 

But as I reflect on the last couple days, I realize this may not be what the kids remember.  This was an amazing experience, but it did require the kids to wait and be patient a LOT. And that's not the thing that comes naturally to them. 

They complained and complained loudly, but they also made the best of it. Despite the what must have seemed like random instructions to wait and to "not do that" and the many "talks" I gave them about attitude and shukur, they sometimes figured out how to have a great time doing whatever with whatever they had.  

I will remember the make-the-best-of-it attitude they made so clear to me. And I'm pretty sure they'll remember me being with them on vacation as much as the amazing experience we were able to give them this last day. 

Thanks Nooriya for smiling so much and alhamdolillah for letting me see it so clearly. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


I was up early and tired at the thought of going to work.  Imediately I was thinking about all the stuff I have to do once I get to work.

I rushed through my morning routine and started my drive to work.  I saw a rainbow.  It was faint at first and then became clearer as I focused on it.  It was beautiful and a great reminder to look a little closer.

And then...I saw a second rainbow!  Taher, sometimes you just have to open your eyes and look for the rainbow.  Look closely and there'll be more than one.

Sunday, June 05, 2016


I've read and learned some things and that have had me thinking about what I want to focus on this year. I'm having a hard time finding a single word to describe it. The closest I can think of is "steer". It does a good job of helping me frame my thoughts about another topic, control. 

I recently learned about the importance of the perception of control and how that influences the brain. Specifically, the perception of control influences the ability to motivate ourselves. Basically, if you think and reinforce your thinking to believe something is not in your control then it won't be. For example, if I say to myself, "I'm not able to climb that mountain because I was born without being able to" I won't try to.  Instead, just framing this a bit differently, "I took one step, I can become strong enough to take another" can give me the motivation to be to be stronger.  If I believe I did it then I can do more. This realization has changed the way I will interact with Yusuf and Nooriya when trying to motivate them. 

The perception of control is an exercise in framing a situation. I'm realizing more and more that so much is in my control. There ain't no mountain....

I've also read a book that had me thinking about time and how we think about it. It also forces me to think that once we didn't count it at all. There are some words of the author I want to remember 

Consider the word “time.” We use so many phrases with it. Pass time. Waste time. Kill time. Lose time. In good time. About time. Take your time. Save time. A long time. Right on time. Out of time. Mind the time. Be on time. Spare time. Keep time. Stall for time. There are as many expressions with “time” as there are minutes in a day. But once, there was no word for it at all. Because no one was counting...And [then] everything changed.

As with so many times before in my career, I'm bogged down with work and I'm climbing out of some mental cave to get perspective on what's more important. Recently, I was witness to something in some one else's life that was way more important. He even showed me the state of his work and reminded me that wasn't very important. 

I've spent a couple days thinking carefully about what's more important and it's in my control to steer my thoughts to what's more important while I have time (since I can't help counting the time).

Sunday, March 13, 2016

washing the dishes

Last night we had a bunch of our family over for dinner.  It went great and it's so nice to make the connection to family stronger.  It's also great to have more people come to my house and make stronger the association that this is is where Zahra, Yusuf, Nooriya and I live.

I woke up and found a sink full of dishes.  I started washing them.  All I was doing was washing them.  Not so we could use them again, but JUST washing them.  The last several weeks have been full of planning for this or getting ready for that.  I spent so much energy preparing one way or another for the future.  I was always on the move mentally or physically or both.

Then I started washing the dishes this morning.  It anchored me in time and I was so appreciative of dirty dishes.  Thanks dishes.

I need to wash the dishes more often.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016


I thought my bracelet wearing days were over.

A couple weeks ago, though, Nooriya made a rainbow loom bracelet.  I had thought her rainbow loom days were almost gone.  I thought she had moved past bracelets.

She came to me and gave me the bracelet she made using pink and green rubber bands.  As she gave it to me she explained, "Pink is my favorite color and green is yours."  I've been proudly wearing it since.

It's on my wrist now and it reminds me that I have this strong bond with the kids even though they may not show it the way they used to and that they're not "too" old yet.

Thanks Nooriya.  The bracelet is one of the most meaningful possessions I have.