It's THAT time of the year folks. Over spiced fruit salad, lights aligned all along the staircase, familiar faces every night, that tingly feeling after a night of praying... it's Ramadan. But along with the islamic holy month of Ramadan arrives the need for major adjustments to our daily lives: replacing Kanye West's "Gold Digger" on your iPod with Zain Bhika's "Give Thanks to Allah", ditching your morning black coffee for a 4:00 am glass of "chaah", and praying on a tuesday night instead of watching Pretty Little Liars. But change, according to president Barack Obama, at least, is good. Change adds a dynamical element to our daily lives. It switches things up, and makes life worth living. It allows us to enter an atmosphere of uncertainty, which, whether we like or not, that is exigent in order for us to healthily function.
Now, let's go over a few changes that I wish to include in my day to day life. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Ramadan resolutions.
But before I begin my list, let it be known that these are my personal resolutions; opportunities to improve myself before anyone. If you agree with some of the things I have mentioned, awesome! If you do not agree with some of the things I have included, awesome! (except a little bit less awesome). I don't mean to send hate, harm, or large cherry pies at anyone or their egos or personal goals.
0. Pray all 5 times a day. On time. Including sunnah.
As basic as this sounds, das rite. I always try to pray all daily prayers, but sometimes it slips my mind, or procrastination strikes. (ex:" I'll pray after I clean my room" or "I'll pray after I feed my sheep, Bob Billy Bob Billy!") But during and after this Ramadan, I'm going to try and "git all dem deeds" by praying as soon as the Sheikh that lives in my iPhone opens his throat.
1. Becoming an overall better person.
The hardest part of Ramadan for me isn't fasting, or even not listening to music. It's second to waking up for suhoor: following the actual meaning of ramadan, which is to overall become a better person who is patient enough to wait in line at Forever 21 on Black Friday, and to be respectful, compassionate, and kind. Although typed out they sound as easy, breezy, and beautiful as Cover Girl, they are no doubt the hardest in practice. And that's not a bad thing. That's what Ramadan is for: improving your character, behavior and moral system along with knowing how much you can possibly fit into your stomach in 15 minutes.
2. Understanding the meaning of the Quran.
If you're standing in taraweeh for 2 hours every night with the comprehension ability of a 10 year old kid in Arabia as to what the Imam is reiterating......welcome to the club. Going to an islamic school for 99.9% of my life (the other .1% was spent in the womb) has taught me a lot, including a handful of arabic vocabulary words such as worship (ibaadah), mercy (rahma), women (nisaa), door (baab), and booger (barboora), and for this I'm blessed, but there is always room for improvement. I'm going to spend more of this Ramadan actually understanding the Quran opposed to blindly trying to finish reading it. And don't get me wrong, if you are trying to finish reading Quran, that truly does take a load of persistence, but try and know what you are reading so you don't end up forcing yourself to cry during the duaa (not judging).
3. Pay attention during Salah.
This resolution of all the those listed above is most definitely the hardest, mainly because I have the attention span of a 3 month old baby. Whenever I pray, study, or try to sleep on time, my mind always seems to wander about the most randomest of things. This especially happens in prayer; from noticing how cute the aunty before me's shalwaar kameez is to mentally suffocating the screaming child behind me. Starting now, I'm going to focus more on paying attention in salah and try and heavily prevent my mind from wanderin.... SQUIRREL!
4. Not overstuff myself during iftaar.
You've been waiting for this moment all day. You've replayed the scene of you biting into a steamy, flakey, crunchy chicken patty with crumbs falling all over your dupatta hundreds of times. You've imagined the sweet, silky sound of Ruh Afza splashing across the dark abyss that is your mouth. Clearly, iftaar is a joyous time for us muslims. But the issue with iftaar is when you simply can't get enough. You fill your stomach with heaps of colorful fruit chaat, dozens of spring rolls, and mountains of dahi baraay, and even though your stomach is full, your heart continues to long for more. We've all been there, and it is truly a pulchritudinous place. But the question is... how do you get out? It's clearly not healthy, and the only option is limiting yourself. You should practice restricting yourself when it comes to food for two reasons: firstly, because moderation is a key aspect of islam, and secondly, because...that way, there's more for me.
The bitter truth. The "beautiful" lie. No, not that I love you, because you're gross. I mean... I'm just kidding! Or am I... anyway, today's blog post will be something quite different. Today, we are going to dissect the definition (implied and literal) of the word "spoiled".
What exactly does being spoiled mean to you, to me, to Chuck Norris, or to Steve Jobs? To me, spoiled means receiving whatever one desires, whenever one desires. To you, it may mean a heavenly substance that comes from the udders of cows that has long passed it's expiration date. And, if you really think about it, why is being spoiled such a bad thing?
I'll admit it.
I'm totally spoiled. Ever since a young age, whatever I have wanted, (by the grace of god) I have gotten. This was a result of the policy my parents enforced based on the pragmatic notion that if a child received high marks in exams, exhibited exemplary behavior, didn't stick his/her boogers on the couch, they deserved whatever item/promotion they got. And even though I'm the biggest beneficiary of this, I can't help but think...is it always the right way to go?
Let me break it down to you in the least "omg she's totally bragging way" I possibly can. Being the younger and I-guess-not-really responsible sister, my parents usually bought everything for my sister in doubles (except for cell phones. They always hold up on the cell phones!). Most older sibling would be upset about this, but my sister? Naaaaahhh. She really just...didn't care. How? I cannot possibly imagine.
But....the thing is...should I feel..guilty? I truly hate it when people marvel at my belongings like "when I was your age, I was happy to receive a grape, forget a coach bag!". Like...okay? Good for you. I eat fruit salads four times a day, chick.
But in all seriousness, why do we do that? I've done it before to an toddler I saw cruising the lanes of Walgreens with an iPad.....but, c'mon? Maybe it's the generation gap to blame or something. Maybe its because of Barack Obama's healthcare policies. Either way, I am beyond tired of this whole concept of "judging because of material possessions". If you deal with a similar problem, here are a couple of ways to deal with this issue:
1) Acknowledge it. Say, "I know I'm spoiled. But at least I'm not a brat". And then, (this is the hard part), don't be a brat. Stop waving your iPhone around. Stop opening and closing your macbook. Stop jingling the charms of your Juicy Couture bracelet. These couple of assets do not make you superior to anyone. Know that you are blessed to own these items, and be sure to thank your parents and the lord almighty for his blessings.
2) Use all of these possessions to their maximum potential. Make the most out of everything. If you have a camera, take videos following around homeless people in urban areas and upload them to Youtube to raise awareness. If you have a smartphone, participate in the Unicef Tap Project. If you have a fancy s'mancy computer, write a blog that deals with consoling cancer victims. The possibilities are truly endless.
My Geometry classroom has a poster at the front of the room that portrays a young boy kicking a soccer ball into a goal with a caption along the lines of "It's better to try something new and fail, then to never try it". Well, it either says that or some glorious pun that goes like"Pi Jokes Are Irrational!". Also, if you did not get that joke, please exit this browser and pick up a first grade math book.
Anyway, the topic of discussion today is the power in trying new things, something, if, you're anything like me, have a hard time doing. I, frankly (or bob-ly. Whatever mid forty year old white male name you prefer), have always disagreed with the notion of what's written on the math room poster (not the Pi pun. That's bloody gold). If you try something once and fail at it, you will live the rest of your life avoiding scenarios that deal with that specific thing you tried. If you never try it, you become comfortable trying things that relate to that act, because you really don't know what's to happen whether or not you commit that act. Read that paragraph twice and then let me know if you have any questions via email, text, or pigeon.
My thoughts on this issue of trying new things has however, changed. This summer for me has been quite eventful, which is interesting because for many, it hasn't even begun. I have tried plenty of (mainly creativity oriented) new things: from MC-ing my cousin's wedding event, to making a video for that same cousin and her husband, to being the first ever person in my family to write and facilitate a comedy skit. Now that I list that all out, I should really ask my cousin for a bonus. The point is, all of these are new things that I have tried, and loved! In fact, another cousin who is getting married (we're huge..) later this summer has requested the same for her wedding, and I am so determined to beat my records.
I know a lot of people are too shy to break out of their shells, but trust me, you will be so surprised at all of your abilities and talents, you'll strengthen them and they'll get stronger as time progresses. I once read a quote that said "life starts where your comfort zone ends". The truthfulness of this quote is insurmountable. Once you begin trying new things, you realize your strengths and weaknesses and go on to become a stronger person.
Now, one may wonder, how exactly do I stop being shy?
Dear one, honestly, it's hard. That's why I've listed 2 tips that have changed my outlook on life.
All of these tips are derived from personal experience...I've loved and I've lost, kids.
1. Know your goals.
Know what you want to do, and why you want to do it. Do you want to be an amazing artist? A scientist? A writer? A kabob maker? Knowing what you want to do will help make your goals appear reachable and cause you to believe you can achieve them. Everything you do, make sure it relates to your goal. Get off Instagram and rent a book on different types of meat. Go to an art museum and be inspired. Read Pulitzer prize novels. Memorize the periodic table.
2. Increase your self esteem.
This is probably the easiest to say, and the hardest to do. Firstly, think about why your self esteem is so low. Is it a physical issue? Do you have some chub all up in your tub? (Sorry...I had to.) Do you have tomatoes sprouting off your forehead? Perhaps an ugly haircut? A pakora-ey nose? Stop sitting around and feeling bad about yourself. If you're overweight, don't read e-hows on how to find dresses that give you an hourglass figure (I speak from experience). Exercise! Join a dance team. Do yoga. Make Jillian Micheals your best friend. Stop eating cupcakes, you cow! (It's for the better). Learn to contour your nose. Look up "cute hairstyles for ugly haircuts". Stop feeling bad for yourself and stop highlighting your flaws.
A few years ago, I was really chubby. I used to feel bad for myself and mope around and cry and ask the lord why a second chin was necessary. Then a few weeks after my moping got really bad, my dad forced me to join a track group. The instructor required that we walk 4 miles every other day, assigned workout homework, and make us run up hills in Texas heat. He wasn't a bad guy or anything. He just wanted to help out. And now, because of that track group and his support, I lost 10 pounds.
All in all, you can do whatever you set your mind to. Just try.
Disclaimer: Don't get me wrong though, I still cry about my weight like every other teenage girl, mainly because it's fun to do.