30 Years, 30 Lessons


It was perhaps apt that the big 30 was ushered in on three continents. Celebrated simply but beautifully surrounded by loved ones.

Here are some lessons that I’ve picked up along the way.

1. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to be goofy and have fun. If it’s pretending to be the tickle monster with a set of 4 year old twins or 8 year old munchkins, do it. Chase them, tickle them and savor their uncontained laughter that emenates deep from their bellies. You’ll find that soon you will also be echoing their laughter. Watch cartoons. Play. Unapologetically. These are the moments that make you younger and bring out the kid in you. Don’t be afraid to experience them.

2. Have a bucket list. Write down the things you think are even far fetched and impossible. You’ll be surprised how the universe conspires to make your intentions come to pass. Especially when you speak (and write) them loudly to the universe.

3. The best time is often now. Don’t leave things for later or tomorrow. There’s a Hareri saying which I’m sure is echoed elsewhere that says, ‘later is the brother of never’ or something along those lines…later or tomorrow either don’t happen or are consumed by 101 other things

4. Breathe Beauty. By this I mean that one must seek and appreciate beauty in ordinary spaces and moments. Beauty is not perfection. It simply is. We must be awake to it. It’s all around us. It’s the rays of the sun streaming into a room and resting on someone’s face…it’s the petals of a bright flower…it’s a full or partial moon that seems to light up the sky…it’s a pattern on a dress…or a colorful street…or laughter

5. I’ve realized how happy it makes me to see (teenage) kids who respect, love, appreciate and honor their parents. As parents, we must treat our kids as though they are responsible members of the family whose viewpoints are sought, heard and acknowledged. As children, we must never dismiss the difficulty of being a parent, making decisions that are unpopular and living every day for the betterment of family. Keep family ties – there’s nothing like family.

6. There are friendships that are so deep and pure and real that they turn into family. Don’t take them for granted. They don’t come along often. Treasure them and feed and care for them. They are often what keep you sane.

7. Learn to spend time alone. No matter what kind of person you are, whether ambivalent, introverted or extroverted – this is important. Learn to be ok with silence when there’s no loud company or loud music or chatter to distract you from listening to and getting to know and be at peace with yourself. If we’re uncomfortable with ourselves, how can we expect anyone else to be?

8. Go with your first instinct. Don’t second guess yourself. This is true even when the contradicting voice is external and not internal. You’ll be happy you weren’t easily swayed later on.

9. Similar to the previous one, don’t be afraid to counter the dominant or mainstream. Don’t necessarily rebel for the sake of being different but understand that being different, holding an opinion that doesn’t feature very prominently is ok. Don’t change who you are or what you think based on the crowd you happen to be or find yourself with.

10. Someone’s always watching. Your words, your actions are being recorded and observed. Even when you least expect it and by those you least anticipate to be watching. Sometimes by young kids whose thinking and values are being shaped. Act and speak in a way that you would stand by at any time. This goes for your digital footprint as well.

11. Be conscious. Whether you believe it or not, your existence on this earth has an effect. Whether that effect is on the environment, or on a community or a family. You matter. Make your existence count. Make sure that at the very least, you have left the world a bit better than you found it. That could be as simple as not throwing trash on the streets. Or trampling on plants. Or harassing animals. Make sure that if those streets, or plants or animals could tell tales about you, it’s that you walked and existed on this earth with respect. Karma is real.

12. Make time to spend time with the elderly. They were born in a very different generation and have rich stories for days. There’s so much his and her stories captured in their brains and etched in their memories that one can’t get from books. Or anywhere else for that matter.

13. Perhaps back to #1 and #12, spend time with kids. They come with a different energy and bubbly enthusiasm that’s not dampened by life and jadedness. In the same vein, don’t be the one to dampen kids imaginations. It will serve them in the future and reduce limitations they put on themselves.

14. Love yourself. All of you. Flaws and all. Understand that you’re a work in progress, and you must work on those things that are in your power to change. But in the meantime, love, respect and appreciate who you are.

15. Enjoy the present. And the journey. Celebrate the small steps and the milestones.

16. Don’t get stuck on plan a. Life often throws you surprises … and what you think is certain is not. Learn to be flexible like bamboo, which means that you’ll bend rather than break.

17. Don’t ever forget your infallibility. And your mortality. And who is really in control. It will keep you grounded and humble. Although this shouldn’t be an excuse for a laissez-faire attitude on life.

18. There’s a time for patience and a time for impatience. Learn to know the difference.

19. Impossible is nothing. Don’t be afraid to dream. And dream big. But don’t stop there. You must be ready to execute and wake up in order to realize those dreams. As a friend once reminded me, impossible itself is telling us, ‘I’m possible’.

20. God is the ultimate judge. We mustn’t condemn or critique others’ actions for we know not what is in store for us. Let us focus on improving ourselves first and foremost and that in itself is a big contribution to society.

21. Don’t underestimate the power of faith. At times it is the one thing that gets us through the night or a difficult situation.

22. Love. Deeply. Don’t be afraid of pouring your love into another. It has the power to transform and doesn’t drain your reserves.

23. Don’t underestimate the power and medicinal properties of laughter. It’s good for the soul and keeps one radiant and young. It reduces stress and adds spice to life.

24. Don’t give power to ludicrousity. If such a word exists. Don’t feed, react to or dignify nonsense.

25. Put the Almighty first, always. Stand by your faith, unapologetically.

26. Be curious. Yes they tell us that curiosity killed the cat. We don’t often hear the second part of that, ‘satisfaction brought it back’. Curiosity leads to exploring, learning and discovering.

27. Take on challenges. It leads to tremendous growth but also makes one realize just what one is capable of.

28. Feed and cater to your creative juices. Read, write, draw, imagine. Beautiful things can be created through this process.

29. The monster is often bigger in our minds than it is in real life, if it even exists. The sooner we face it, the sooner we realize it’s not spooky or insurmountable.

30. And one last one for good measure. Your best benchmark is previous versions of yourself. May we always strive today to be better than yesterday, and tomorrow to be better than today.

Disclaimer: you may have read these lessons elsewhere, or at least something similar and so am not claiming they’re original…perhaps some are lessons I’ve been told or read about and implemented along the way…but all are lessons I find to have worked in my life…hope you benefit from being reminded of them.

Night at the Mosque

image
Last ten days usher in all nighters
In search of the Night of Power
Reprimands and laughter
Communal bitings and conversations
Brief sleeps urged by monitors
Impromptu classes
Arabic and etiquette
Quran and enunciation

Strong personalities clash and coalesce
Prayer mats turned to temporary mattresses
Awoken from deep slumber by faith and devotion
Feet stand and rest follow
Beauty in humility
Submitting body and self to a higher Being

Allahu Akbar!

Upright bodies, side by side
Straight rows
Gaps mitigated with touching toes (sometimes incessantly so)
Waning concentration with wandering minds
Constantly being brought back to present
By melodic, rythmic verses

Ameen reverberating through the entire mosque
Countless voices
One chorus
Many bodies
Single movements
Diversity despite/amongst uniformity

Viewing through Geometric dimensions

Assalam u alaykum we rahmatullah…

You’ve Reached the Couple

You have reached the man
Who is not afraid to give it all up and start afresh
Who persists tirelessly night & day
To build an empire of his making
The man who puts family first and himself last
Who is not easily deterred nor easily fazed
You have reached Nebil

You have reached the woman
Who is full of soul
Who lights up a room
With rays of her high-pitched laughter
The one who stands tall
Regardless of how many times she falls
The woman who never ceases to be anbessa ye anbessa lej
You have reached Siham

You have reached the couple
Who have criss-crossed the earth
Sought the pearls
Beat the drums to their own rythms
And chose home

May love be your waking greeting
May respect cradle your every conversations
May joy never cease to be your constant companion
May blessings line your every paths
May understanding make up your very foundation
May progress be a daily ritual
May compassion dominate  your parting moments
May peace be your evening lullabies

May you put the ALMIGHTY at the centre of all you do
For if GOD is for us, who then can be against us?

Here’s wishing you a lifetime of bliss
May your today’s be beautiful
Your tomorrows bright
May the heavens smile upon your every days
Wishing you all the happiness and blessings this life has to offer.

With lots of love,

Nebila

Excerpts of the Fifth Mountain


By Paulo Coelho

P15
But most of the prophets, who roamed the streets flagellating themselves and preaching the end of the world for its corruption and lack of faith, had accepted conversion to the new religion.

P19
Criminals, prisoners of war, fugitives were usually accepted as mariners because it was a profession more dangerous than the army. In war, a soldier always had a chance to escape with his life; but the seas were unknown, populated by monsters, and when a tragedy occurred, none were left to tell the story.

Pg 21
Souls too, like rivulets and plants, needed a different kind of rain: hope, faith, a reason to live. When this did not come to pass, everything in that soul died, even if the body went on living; and the people could say: “Here in this body there was once a man.”

Pg 28
“It was part of your apprenticeship. When a man journeys toward his destiny, often he is obliged to change paths. At other times, the forces around him are too powerful and he is compelled to lay aside his courage and yield. All this is part of the apprenticeship.”

“But no-one can lose sight of what they desire. Even if there are moments when he believes the world and others are stronger. The secret is this: do not surrender.”

Pg 33
“..I have never seen the ocean but I know it is like the desert: it slays those who challenge it….”

Pg 53
“Every man hath the right to doubt his task, and to forsake it from time to time but what he must not do is forget it.  Whoever doubteth not himself is unworthy—for in his unquestioning belief in his ability, he commitheth the sin of pride. Blessed are they who go through moments of indecision.”

Pg 75
“The best warrior is one who succeeds in transforming an enemy into a friend.”

Pg 121
“I shall not live a second longer than the Lord desires…It is He who decides, not you.”

Pg 127
“The best [at using a sword] is the one who’s most like a rock…without drawing its blade, it proves that no one can defeat it.”

Pg 128
“All life’s battles teach us something, even those we lose.”

Pg 135
“…the Lord demandeth of people only that which is within the possibilities of each of them.”

Pg 137
“no one dieth. The arms of eternity open for every soul, and each one will carry on his task.

There is a reason for everything under the sun.

“There is no tragedy, only the unavoidable. Everything hath its reason for being: thou needest only distinguish what is temporary from what is lasting.”
“What is temporary?”
“The unavoidable.”
“And what is lasting?”
“The lessons of the unavoidable.”

Pg 149
Courage is fear that preys.

Pg 180
“…they had not found what they were seeking, for they carried with them, along with their bags, the weight of their earlier failure.”

“If you have a past that dissatisfies you, forget it now…imagine a new story of your life, and believe in it, Concentrate only on those moments in which you achieved what you desired, and this strength will help you accomplish what you want.”

Pg 183
“Everything that could have happened but did not is carried away with the wind and leaves no trace…

Life is made of our attitudes. And there are certain things that the gods oblige us to live through. Their reason for this does not matter, and there is no action we can take to make them pass us by.”

Pg 204
From heaven, God smiles contentedly, for it was this that He desired, that each person take into his hands the responsibility for his own life. For in the final analysis, He had given His children the greatest of all gifts: the capacity to choose and determine their acts.

Pg 206
God was infinite in His mercy, and implacable in His severity with those who lacked the courage to dare.

Pg 212
“…a warrior is always aware of what is worth fighting for. He does not go into combat over things that do not concern him, and he never wastes his time over provocations. A warrior accepts defeat…after all this has passed, he licks his wounds and begins everything anew.  A warrior knows that war is made of many battles; he goes on.”

Ain’t Nobody Worryin’

Lyrics for “Ain’t Nobody Worryin” by Anthony Hamilton

Aint nobody worryin, when the shots fly high and the sirens start to ring,
aint nobody worryin, when the kids die young and the mothers are suffering,
aint nobody praying, when they kneel down low
all they doin is tyin their shoe strings,
aint nobody worryin no more, no more, no more, no more

The homeless have no where to turn when their stomachs start to burn
cause they aint got food to eat,
and how the children gonna learn, when they gotta take turns
cause they aint got books to read,

then our babies turn to crime, started gettin high
cause the job trades kinda slow,
Cause aint nobody worryin no more , no more, no more, no more

When the tears start to fall, and you can’t see your way,
the just will carry on come on judgement day,
you don’t have to moan, helps on the way,
cause aint nobody worryin no more no more no more

These are our precious times, diseases takin lives,
medicaid ran out, showed me a weapon line,
there’s a mother on her own, tryin to beat the drought,
tell me when will this end, all the sufferin,
my faith is runnin low,
aint nobody worryin no more, no more, no more, no more, no more

Aint nobody worryin no more no more no more no more no more
When the tears start to fall, and you can’t see your way,
the just will carry on come on judgement day,
you don’t have to moan, helps on the way,
cause aint nobody worryin no more no more no more

Aint nobody worryin, when the shots fly high and the sirens start to ring,
aint nobody worryin,
when the kids die young and the mothers are suffering,
the black man doin time and nobody cares for him,

the governments on the grind, and tryna fence him in,
(our babies are gettin high) while drugs in the school
we need to pray again, when will it end will it end will it end, will it end
Cause aint nobody worryin
shots fly high and the sirens start to ring
Aint nobody worryin
when the kids die young and the mothers are suffering
Aint nobody worryin (prayin)
when they kneel down low all they doin is tyin their shoe strings,
aint nobody worryin
no more no more no more no more no more no more

All is from Allah … and a little from Abdullah

#1 in the forthcoming Ramadan Series…RAMADAN KAREEM! May we make the most of every minute of every day during this blessed month, for we know not if we will live to see another one… may we maintain the good behaviours we adopt during this holy month throughout the years..may we also practice humility and empathy and as we fast, may we be mindful of the millions who don’t have the option of breaking their fasts as the sun sets…

All is from Allah … and a little from Abdullah
Excerpted from “The Inner Journey” essay by Carol Ring.

Kullu min Allah… u’shwaya min Abdullah. (All is from Allah… and a little from Abdullah.)

The first part of this saying is frequently spoken by elder Bedouin, usually in cases of misfortune, and is accompanied by a shrug of the shoulders. All is from Allah: fortune and adversity, joy and suffering, life and death. All is determined, all is written. There is an Intelligence at work that keeps this vast universe in order and determines the role and path of each particle of its infinitude. Like the cells in a body, we live and die in service of something incomparably larger.

And yet, we have become an odd type of cell that believes unshakably in its own existence as apart from the whole. Today, the “Kullu min Allah” view seems quaintly fatalistic and a disclaimer of personal responsibility. We have come to value above all else our power and our right to determine, if not the outcome of what we do, at least the direction and content of our lives. We believe firmly that we form our own fate. If things seem to go contrary to our wishes, it is because we have not been vocal enough in asserting them, or strong enough to conquer obstacles.

We are not ones to trust in blind forces, and certainly not in any divine representatives of those forces.
If “Kullu min Allah” were the whole story-and until about the end of the Middle Ages it seemed to be the whole story-the only empowerment that could manifest in our lives would come through the all-powerful One, and, on a lesser scale, through His representatives on earth: kings, priests, and other beings high in the hierarchy. When these were true representatives and their moral influence spread throughout society, the earth flourished, and presumably humankind’s suffering was alleviated (although a large part of our suffering seems to be inevitable, no matter how well the earth is yielding). But slowly humanity removed the crown from the hierarchy and placed it on its own head, giving consummate authority first to human will, and then eventually to human impulses, unhampered by either reason or conscience. And so, from the old belief in fate and invisible forces, we have swung around to a belief in ourselves as the sole force at work in the universe.

Throughout the ages the debate on fate versus free will has been ongoing, and each tradition has had its say on the way things work. Most have struck a wise compromise, giving the individual a chance to improve his or her lot by doing good while leaving fate in place for the big questions. But the compromise suggested by “and a little bit from Abdullah”-an addition uttered after an appropriate pause, and in a lower voice, generally by younger Bedouin-is particularly apt for all of us. First of all, it gets the relationship right. Everything is from Allah–not most things, not only the important things or the good things, but Everything. The grandeur and omnipotence of the Invisible retain their priority: we are under the influence of forces that we neither control nor see, but we have our place as an integral part of the whole. But though everything is still determined from above and perfect submission is our role, there is the addition of “a little bit” that is our own theater of action. It is as if the Everything expands just a little and makes room for a personal effort, which still remains part of the All. The exact nature of the little bit is not specified; each can project his own understanding.

And who does this little bit? Abdullah. The name is a joining of two words, “abd” and “Allah,” and means “servant of God.” It is not just any one of the myriad personages that inhabit our bodies who is called upon to contribute his share, but the part of us that truly tries to serve something higher.

It is difficult to know whether or not our lives have been determined in advance, whether it is foretold where and when we will be born, when and how we will die, and what we will do in the interim. Some believe, some guess, and some ignore the question. It is even more difficult to stand at one of life’s many crossroads, or even one of the little alleyways that are always running across our paths, and wait one second before turning left or right. Is there someone steering the course? Is it the winds of fate or only a momentary impulse? Perhaps it is Abdullah who holds the compass.

Carol Ring has a doctorate in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. She lives and works in the hills of Galilee.

Quarter of a Century

Quarter of a Century

Today marks my quarter of a century on this earth. And I feel blessed. Though it’s often taken for granted, I try to be conscious and remember to thank the ALMIGHTY for another day, and ask HIM to keep the blessings coming and help me to find my way as I rise every morning, and as I lay to sleep every night. A quarter of a century is no joke, and I feel blessed with health, with sight, with a satiated belly, for my clothed body, for the roof over my head, for warmth on a cold day, for the breeze on a warm day among many other things, not least for the love and support of dear ones and the opportunities each day presents.

In reflection of the 25 yrs I’ve been alive, I have 25 goals for the rest of my life…however long that may be. And as my dear Daddy used to say, may his soul rest in peace, “may we be of tomorrow’s people”.

1. Have faith, in the MOST HIGH first and foremost
2. Be happy
3. Be content
4. Be kind, even to animals
5. Be ambitious
6. Be innovative & progressive
7. Don’t compromise on your values
8. Follow through with commitments, keep your word
9. Don’t make excuses for not reaching your goals
10. Make time & space for the people and things you enjoy & love
11. Add love & passion to all you do-this makes all the difference and is a key ingredient
12. Don’t wait for later, or tomorrow-neither may come
13. Take chances-nothing great ever happened without risks
14. Don’t let opportunities pass you by-they may never come your way again
15. Be true, to yourself first and foremost
16. Seek knowledge, everyday
17. Follow your instincts
18. Be confident but humble
19. Have respect, not least to the earth
20. Love unconditionally, yourself first and foremost
21. Believe in the beauty of your dreams , believe that the only limits are those you set for yourself
22. Be appreciative, even of the little things, such as the songs of birds
23. Be conscious, of your thoughts, your words, your deeds
24. Be the best you can be, in all you do
25. Fear nothing but GOD

All in all, live your life in such a way, that at the end of it all, you have no regrets, and you’re ready to meet your maker with a clear conscience. Leave behind a legacy for future generations so that when you die, they can say that you have truly lived!

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