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.

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Desiderata

by Max Ehrmann, 1927

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy. 

RAMADAN Bites

[7/30]
Verse in the Quran about a mirage in the desert: “The thirsty man takes it to be water until he comes to it and finds it to be nothing, and where he thought it to be, there he finds God.”

[9/30]
“You see, Faith is called faith because you just feel it in your heart. I can’t really prove to you that God exists. The only truth I can tell you is that we are all going to die at some point. But all I can say is this…once I’m dead and God just happens to be on the other side, I’d rather say that I was a believer than not!” ~Wala

[13/30]
Always seek the good that is in people,
And leave the bad to Him who made mankind
And knows how to round off the corners.
-Goethe’s Mother.

[14/30]
The very first verse that was revealed to Prophet Muhammad PBUH was ‘Iqra’ or ‘Read’. What dies that tell us about the role of seeking knowledge in Islam?
“I started reading, there and then. In the dust. On the ground. No time to waste! I was hungry!” -Ahmed Deedat

[15/30]
Seek & Spread. Truth. Beauty. Love. Peace. Knowledge.

[16/30]
Here’s to journeys and not knowing where they’ll take us – but knowing that the ALMIGHTY is with us every step of the way – and as we take one towards HIM, HE takes two towards us.

[17/30]
There is no substitute for the truth

[21/30]
Reflect inward. Strive for better in every way and in every day. Revolutions begin from within. ‪This is Jihad.‬

[23/30]
Injustice Anywhere is Injustice Everywhere.

[25/30]
‘Don’t waste a drop of water, even before a flowing river.’
-Prophet Muhammed (PBUH)

Infinite Possibilities

THIS IS IT.

I am creating the possibility of being.
The possibility of being authentic.
The possibility of being a person of integrity.
The possibility of being an extraordinary person.

And if we break that down,
Who I am is the possibility of
Being Powerful
Being Present
Living Outside My Head
Living in Reality
A Changemaker
A Person of Action and Results
Being Transformed
Being Transformative
An Extraordinary Mother, Sister, Friend, Wife, Daughter

Being Constant
Being Unstoppable
Being Persistent
Being BIG

The purpose of declaring and sharing is that I create as I say (Abracadabra), and for the rest of my days, I must be big enough to live these possibilities.

And I need your help to keep me accountable.

Mental Feng Shui

Mental Feng Shui

Perhaps some life lessons and guiding principles for 2012 & beyond…

ONE. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
TWO. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.
THREE. Don’t believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.
FOUR. When you say, ‘I love you,’ mean it.
FIVE. When you say, ‘I’m sorry,’ look the person in the eye.
SIX. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.
SEVEN. Believe in love at first sight.
EIGHT. Never laugh at anyone’s dreams. People who don’t have dreams don’t have much.
NINE. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it’s the only way to live life completely
TEN. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.
ELEVEN. Don’t judge people by their relatives.
TWELVE. Talk slowly but think quickly.
THIRTEEN. When someone asks you a question you don’t want to answer, smile and ask, ‘Why do you want to know?’
FOURTEEN. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
FIFTEEN. Say ‘bless you’ when you hear someone sneeze.
SIXTEEN. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
SEVENTEEN. Remember the three R’s: Respect for self; Respect for others; and Responsibility for all your actions.
EIGHTEEN. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
NINETEEN. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
TWENTY. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.
TWENTY-ONE. Spend some time alone.

DISCLAIMER: not my words, sourced from elsewhere

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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