Womanhood

Amphigory Number 1

I am restarting.

***

I have a deadline tomorrow. I also have a deadline next Tuesday. And the next Thursday. And I have at least three more essays waiting to be written.

I feel like I have no time to breathe.

And always, always at times like this I begin questioning the whole purpose of me putting myself in this position, when I could easily walk on a calmer path.  Why bother thinking and thinking and trying to find solutions to the neverending stream of problems in this world, when I could easily confine myself to thinking no further than my little life?

Why bother with preparing for a presentation, structuring and re-structuring my essays, reading articles over articles, squeezing whatever left of my brain juices when there is always a way out while making sure the children are all showered, clean, and fed? I could, at these moments, I told myself , settle with laughing with my children, truly enjoying them without suffering even the tiniest speck of worry, wait for my husband to come home and enjoy his company over a film or two?

After all, my doors to His Jannah are opened when I perfect the Prayers I offer, fast in Ramadhan, protect my chastity and faithfully obey my husband.

But then again, my other side of refuses to agree.

And that part keeps reminding me of a time – just a few months back – when I had nothing on my plate other than looking after my two kids and devoting myself to the family life. I remember feeling like I was losing my mind that I could not wait for September to come so I could begin again working on my degree. I could not imagine going through what I did during that period day by day, week by week, year by year and stay sane. I could not.

I resolve at that point that it is down to my nearly primal need  for movement. I need movements. Movement of some sorts. Perhaps of any sort in which I could see myself progressing. Achieving milestones that I set. Just something. Something of my own.

If my sanity of any importance at all to the family, I should keep doing this. I should not surrender to this temporary slump – this I need to be telling myself more often than I do now.

I do not know what exactly causes my restlessness when it comes to the idea of focusing solely on homemaking. Certainly not because I see it as a worthless or undervalued enterprise.

Possibly because it doesn’t satisfy me intellectually. At the end of the day, I always find myself exhausted of any physical energy, but upon lying down my brain can’t stop working and thinking – that’s when I knew that part of me has not been satisfied.

Maybe because it offers me less possibility of meeting new people – those who would inspire, those who would challenge me (not that my husband doesn’t) to move out of my comfort zone. Perhaps it is the thought that some parts of me will be left underutilised should I focus all my energy only for that trade. Maybe, just maybe.

I don’t know, really. I am yet to discover the root of my uneasiness, which appears whenever I toy with the idea of doing ‘nothing’ after completing my Master’s degree.

But I am certainly lucky that my husband needs no further convincing on this. Very, very lucky in fact. He has his own ideas on what a woman, or maybe, his woman should and should not be, and I am just happy that up to now our views are still parallel.

This is me, mentally vomiting. Till then.

 

 

 

 

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The Scar I Keep Hidden

*(Day 2 of NaBloPoMo)

I have a scar on my right foot.

It is in the shape of a slice of tangerine, or so I thought when I was smaller. The scar grows as my foot widens, and now it is nearly 2 inches length.It has been there as far as I remember.

As much as possible these days I would hide it from being seen by my parents. Now that I’ve become a parent myself, I come to understand how they feel when they see this, especially my sensitive dad. My dad often mentions of it with a tone full of guilt when he sees it.

You see, the scar came about when I was not yet two years old, according to my dad. I accidentally ran onto a still hot electrical iron my mom had just used, and forgetfully put on the floor. My dad would recall how I would limp a few days after the accident, often regretfully.

After nearly 30 years you can say that they are probably over it by now, but judging from how I’d feel whenever I see a mosquito bite on any of my babies (which will have some scars imprinted) , I’d rather keep doing what I’ve always done. This kind of things give a punch to a parent’s heart, a pang of guilt to add to the existing, neverending list of things ‘I should have done and not done’. It is the kind of guilt which elicits the well-known advice to parents: ‘Forgive yourself’.

I hold no grudge. The scar has never bothered me.

On Being 30

Me, less than a month old .

I celebrated my 30th birthday two days ago, Alhamdulillah. 

Turning 30 certainly makes me think about a lot of things. Over my morning coffee that day, I had the time to reflect about my life – on the worldly aspects to be specific.

When I was 19 and doing my International Baccalaureate, I remember telling myself that I would only get married when I am 30. I also found written in my journal (one I wrote during the first year in university) the then life plan, which consist of something along the line of ‘get a job in environmental/sustainability field, pursue an MBA on the third year of working, achieve certain position at 30 and then get married’.

And here I am, thirty and unemployed, by choice if I have to add.

Thirty and married to a wonderful man nearly four years ago. 

Thirty and blessed with two beautiful children.

Thirty and pursuing a higher degree which has little commercial value, if any. 

And yet, despite deviating from my original plan, I am content and at peace with myself more than ever, Alhamdulillah. My old self would have a hard time believing how I came to make these decisions, but that is life. The only thing that is constant is change itself they say, and it is true.

People change, and there is no point in mourning about that. I’ve taken up new roles upon new roles over the years. With those roles that I CHOSE to commit to come responsibilities, and I have my own ideals on how I should fulfil these responsibilities. Hence all decisions made along the way – life-changing decisions some of them – which basically is me staying true to what I think and feel is right.

So that’s it. A rambling on my birthday.

30th.

May Allah bless.

On Appreciating Life

Yesterday I received an email notifying the fourth anniversary of one of my private blogs. I went to check on it for the last time I thought, and today I am glad I did that instead of ignoring the email. The blog was created when I was just being proposed by my now-husband. Essentially it was a period of time when I was so in touch of my deep thought and self, and that connection shows in the posts that I made. I was more alert with what I really felt. I guess it is true that the newfound affection for my then prospective husband softened me, and revealed the emotional side of me.

It was heartwarming to read the posts. I can tell the difference between my condition now and back then.

It gives me the long forgotten perspective of one who was about to embark on a life-long journey, pretty much fuelled with hopes and expectations. And look at where we are now as couple. We both surely have changed, after that four years (and three years of married life) – not necessarily in a bad way though.

I thought too much about this last night I could not sleep.

My days have been reduced to things that are practical and useful.

I know I have some undeveloped talents for arts which I have 99.9% neglected to use it. I don’t draw anymore. I don’t even doodle (it is a waste of ink), I ceased to reading non-fiction only these days because I think my life is so limited (it still is nevertheless) that I should only read things that are not just imagination of someone I do not know. I refused to decorate my house beyond functional things.I cook, but stop short of making my dishes visually pleasing. I stop dwelling on my inner thoughts, and can only dive superficially – and my written words are proof of such void. They were all bland and flavourless.

When I was in school, I was so pressed with time to do such things. When I was in uni, I did attempt crafting, and going back to drawing and sketching, but failed because I, again, was so pressed for time with all my activism. When I started working, I was stuck in my cubicle for 9 hours, and whatever left of my time was spent resting and reading. When I got married and now have a child, I am juggling between that and my day job, and whatever me-time I could have should never, I thought, be spent on such tedious labour.

In short, I have become boring. It is all straight lines. No curves, no floral.

Maybe 2015 could be a start for something different.

I have at least nine months before I continue my master programme, that I could concentrate on doing things I have long forgotten.

To live life slowly. To savour the beauty around me, and truly appreciate the Creator of such beauty. To take time and do thing as good as I could. To not rush and worry about the next item on my to do list. To enjoy every moment I spend with my son. To get in touch again with my long-lost creative side. To not worry about deadlines. To learn how to breath slowly and remove my anxiety – learn to slow down of my Alpha A traits.

Maybe those are good enough 2015 resolutions? Nothing concrete, nothing S.M.A.R.T this time, it is just a progress that maybe I could FEEL.

And that is, the most important thing.

2014: Year in Review

Whenever I look back into the past, I recognise that there are some years which were more momentous than the other. Most often, these years were the year in which I could not predict what could happen due to the life-changing events that would occur in that year. Take 2003 for instance. At the end of 2002, I sat for my O-Level equivalent national exam (or SPM), and the coming of 2003 was full with uncertainties – what would my exam result look like? Where would it take me? Similar with the year 2009, in which I graduated, and I remember living by month (and for someone who loves to plan, like me, it was such a headache) because I truly had no idea what would I do after I graduated.

And the coming of 2015 gives me the same feeling. It is full of the unknowns, to a level that I feel slightly uncomfortable about that. My last date at work is 31 December 2014, and 2015 is really the beginning of a chapter in my life – as an unemployed full-time home maker and a part-time student, who is expecting a second child in less than two months.

I wish I could make a proper plan like I always do.

I wish I could make proper resolutions like I did for every other new year in the past. But I don’t exactly know how I would fare being at home, and how will it be taking care of TWO kids instead of one.

Nevertheless, I’ll attempt to review my achievements with regards to my 2014 resolutions (I wrote about them here) – and see if I could carry forward some of them to 2015.

Alright, I was impressed with an article I read, where a woman looks 10 years younger by drinking more water. In her case 3L of water as prescribed by her doctor. I can't promise 3L, but I'll try 8 glasses. That's 1.6L.   It is such a wonder how hard it is to make such a simple thing a habit. I know there is a debate on how much our body actually needs, but the bottom line is - I need to drink more. I notice that I drink less on weekends, which causes constipation! I hate that bloated feeling, so at least for this particular reason I must drink ENOUGH water.   Also, I can't wait to look 18 again!

Alright, I was impressed with an article I read, where a woman looks 10 years younger by drinking more water. In her case 3L of water as prescribed by her doctor. I can’t promise 3L, but I’ll try 8 glasses. That’s 1.6L. It is such a wonder how hard it is to make such a simple thing a habit. I know there is a debate on how much our body actually needs, but the bottom line is – I need to drink more. I notice that I drink less on weekends, which causes constipation! I hate that bloated feeling, so at least for this particular reason I must drink ENOUGH water. Also, I can’t wait to look 18 again!

Verdict : FAILED. 

However, since this is such an important habit to instil, I’ll definitely carry it forward in 2015 InshaAllah. After all, I really need to be serious about this given the fact that I am going to be 30 next year God willing, and will be breastfeeding my second baby too. It will definitely be more challenging since I realise that I drink water less when I am at home, compared to when I am in the office.

In support of #9, maybe that this one is included in the list. It's really a love-hate relationship I have with my smartphone. It helps me to find recipes easily for instance, but it could consume my life! I always feel the need to check my FB, Instagram. It is harmful, and we know it.    So bring it on - No-Phone Weekends!

In support of #9, maybe that this one is included in the list. It’s really a love-hate relationship I have with my smartphone. It helps me to find recipes easily for instance, but it could consume my life! I always feel the need to check my FB, Instagram. It is harmful, and we know it. So bring it on – No-Phone Weekends!

Verdict: FAILED, miserably I have to add.

Of course, I will carry this forward with more constraints (Since I am going to be a stay-at-home mom) – off the phone most of the time except when the child(ren) are sleeping.

That little brain needs stimulation, and I am all for it! I know it should not be grand every time (little things count, right?), but this one would require me to prepare ahead and think. While I am lucky to live in a big city where all I need is to be resourceful, the challenge here is really to maximise Isa's exposure to nature.

That little brain needs stimulation, and I am all for it! I know it should not be grand every time (little things count, right?), but this one would require me to prepare ahead and think. While I am lucky to live in a big city where all I need is to be resourceful, the challenge here is really to maximise Isa’s exposure to nature.

Verdict: Uncertain.

Since I didn’t properly record (in the form of blog posts) as consistent as I wished, I could not track this, though I am pretty sure that even if I failed, it was severely lagging behind my target. As I am going to stay at home with my children soon inshaAllah, this point will be carried forward in other forms of plan.

I am a blogger since 2007, and only recently I realised that blogging, apart from being an outlet for my never silent mind, has been beneficial to me in many ways. It helps me to structure my ideas and opinions, and evidently makes me more articulate.  And now that I am a mother, I would like this blog, in its way to record my life playing that role. So that someday, when I am no more around, Isa would have some memories of me - written.

I am a blogger since 2007, and only recently I realised that blogging, apart from being an outlet for my never silent mind, has been beneficial to me in many ways. It helps me to structure my ideas and opinions, and evidently makes me more articulate. And now that I am a mother, I would like this blog, in its way to record my life playing that role. So that someday, when I am no more around, Isa would have some memories of me – written.

Verdict: FAILED, which is pretty obvious.

I am not sure how I would manage blogging once I stay at home full time, but I will try to post maybe once a week next year. I don’t know yet, could not even do I trial run as I did this time last year.

Enough said. This item needs to be in this list, because it is such a headache to see them piling up. Doing this on a daily basis may not be the greenest thing to do (best to wash your laundry on full load) but it helps. It helps me from getting stressed out and overwhelmed with folding and putting them back into the wardrobe.

Enough said. This item needs to be in this list, because it is such a headache to see them piling up. Doing this on a daily basis may not be the greenest thing to do (best to wash your laundry on full load) but it helps. It helps me from getting stressed out and overwhelmed with folding and putting them back into the wardrobe.

Verdict: FAILED. 

Because I am tired all the time, and I have found a better way to manage my laundry. We’ll see about next year, but this item would not be big anymore I suppose.

While every mosque in Malaysia would definitely has its schedule of weekly religious classes, studying different topics/books on different days, I sadly could not commit. At this stage, what I knew I need is more than just 'tazkirah', but in-depth studying of a topic. Inflexibility in the schedule is really a problem now that I am a mother (never mind how lame this excuse is), so I know, I need to find alternative for structured study sessions if I really want to widen and deepen my knowledge.  I found that Seekers Guidance provide good courses for free (students are welcomed to give donations), and I enrolled for one course before and found it really beneficial. I have enrolled for one more which will begin in January and hopefully many more to come - and I am sure that Resolution #5 will support this one - early morning should be a great time to study.  I also included in this resolution, attending live classes, perhaps attending courses organised by al Kauthar at least twice a year. I love their courses because they are structured excellently and only last for one full weekend.

While every mosque in Malaysia would definitely has its schedule of weekly religious classes, studying different topics/books on different days, I sadly could not commit. At this stage, what I knew I need is more than just ‘tazkirah’, but in-depth studying of a topic. Inflexibility in the schedule is really a problem now that I am a mother (never mind how lame this excuse is), so I know, I need to find alternative for structured study sessions if I really want to widen and deepen my knowledge. I found that Seekers Guidance provide good courses for free (students are welcomed to give donations), and I enrolled for one course before and found it really beneficial. I have enrolled for one more which will begin in January and hopefully many more to come – and I am sure that Resolution #5 will support this one – early morning should be a great time to study. I also included in this resolution, attending live classes, perhaps attending courses organised by al Kauthar at least twice a year. I love their courses because they are structured excellently and only last for one full weekend.

Verdict: FAILED

I enrolled myself into a course TWICE because I could not discipline myself to finish one in the allocated time. Boooo!! Nevertheless, I am a Master student now, so I suppose that counts as 6 informal causes 😛

I often wonder why it was so much easier for me to wake up at 4.30 AM during my school years to do revision and stuff, while it is so difficult to do so nowadays. Perhaps the bed has become comfier. Or now that I have a partner, nothing is fancier than to cuddle up. Whatever the causes are, I need to fight the temptation and wake up earlier.  An extra hour or two is precious. Time is life. Wasting time is wasting life.   By waking up earlier I could do more things: perform supererogatory prayers that are much loved by God, read, clean the house, or just watering the plants.  All of this, however, are only possible if the morning bird in our family i.e. Isa doesn't wake up too.

I often wonder why it was so much easier for me to wake up at 4.30 AM during my school years to do revision and stuff, while it is so difficult to do so nowadays. Perhaps the bed has become comfier. Or now that I have a partner, nothing is fancier than to cuddle up. Whatever the causes are, I need to fight the temptation and wake up earlier. An extra hour or two is precious. Time is life. Wasting time is wasting life. By waking up earlier I could do more things: perform supererogatory prayers that are much-loved by God, read, clean the house, or just watering the plants. All of this, however, are only possible if the morning bird in our family i.e. Isa doesn’t wake up too.

Verdict: FAILED. FAILED. FAILED.

I have no idea how my routine would be next year (though I do have a tentative routine in mind) but I know this will be a part of it. Some days of the week at least.

This has become my current obsession recently, as I started doing this nearly two months ago. I wrote about this in another post, and doing this satisfies the diarist in me. Though I am studying verse and verse, I am really challenging myself to get the verses to speak to me directly - to relate them to my life. It is a very slow process studying one verse could take me a few days, jotting down my reflections and thoughts on that along the way while referring to many tafseer available to me. Slow as it is, I am reminded that it is exactly the way the Prophet's Companion studied the verses of the Quran. They would learn ten verses at one time, and would not move to the next ten unless they had fully digested, understood, and implemented the verses in their lives.   I really, really encourage my fellow Muslim readers to start their Quranic journals.

This has become my current obsession recently, as I started doing this nearly two months ago. I wrote about this in another post, and doing this satisfies the diarist in me. Though I am studying verse and verse, I am really challenging myself to get the verses to speak to me directly – to relate them to my life. It is a very slow process studying one verse could take me a few days, jotting down my reflections and thoughts on that along the way while referring to many tafseer available to me. Slow as it is, I am reminded that it is exactly the way the Prophet’s Companion studied the verses of the Quran. They would learn ten verses at one time, and would not move to the next ten unless they had fully digested, understood, and implemented the verses in their lives. I really, really encourage my fellow Muslim readers to start their Quranic journals.

Verdict: Failed halfway.

This is one of the most satisfying introspective thing I have done, and I could not deny the need to start doing this again. May need to improvise the system though.

There are times when laziness gets the best of me. And at that time, all those visions of preparing healthy food for my family will vanish. But I am more determined than ever to prepare homemade meals. What comes with this might be the need for me to prepare meal plans (this doesn't work before, but maybe I can try again), and going to the market more often, but I am up for that.   My husband is a fan of my (lousy) cooking who rarely complains, so really, why should not I cook more often?  Oh yes, breakfast at home too. On weekdays.

There are times when laziness gets the best of me. And at that time, all those visions of preparing healthy food for my family will vanish. But I am more determined than ever to prepare homemade meals. What comes with this might be the need for me to prepare meal plans (this doesn’t work before, but maybe I can try again), and going to the market more often, but I am up for that. My husband is a fan of my (lousy) cooking who rarely complains, so really, why should not I cook more often? Oh yes, breakfast at home too. On weekdays.

Verdict: Uncertain, since I lost track. 

I may not cook exactly 4 times a week (on certain weeks I didn’t cook at all, and on the other I cooked everyday) but I guess on average I cooked 3-4 times a week. Not bad, baby!

Phew. I really need to get back to reading. I feel more and more stupid each day without doing this. I put a very minimal target - one book a month. Of course, non-fiction doesn't count. I want Isa to see me reading more often, and hopefully ignite the love for reading in him.   The good thing is I have a brilliant husband with whom I can discuss things I read about.

Phew. I really need to get back to reading. I feel more and more stupid each day without doing this. I put a very minimal target – one book a month. Of course, non-fiction doesn’t count. I want Isa to see me reading more often, and hopefully ignite the love for reading in him. The good thing is I have a brilliant husband with whom I can discuss things I read about.

Verdict: Successful! Alhamdulillah.

So here’s the one and only part that I manage to carefully track and fulfill – I am yet to update my full list, but InshaAllah by end of December it will be 12 (non-fiction) books in my read list. That is largely contributed by the fact that this one was integrated into the ‘personal goal drive’ at work (I wrote about it here ) and that the module I took this semester requires a lot of reading.

I don’t know how I would manage my time with two kids later on and find a window to read, but I may put an additional 6 books into my reading resolution next year, making it, maybe,  ‘to finish 18 books in 2015’. We’ll see.

We have a free gym one floor down my office, so I really have no excuse. The major target is to get fit. The bonus point is I get a better body.  I am going to be 29 March next year, and I am pretty sure my metabolism by now has started to slow down.    Oh yes, I want to get healthier before I try for the next baby. No more back pain, no more iron deficiency.

We have a free gym one floor down my office, so I really have no excuse. The major target is to get fit. The bonus point is I get a better body. I am going to be 29 March next year, and I am pretty sure my metabolism by now has started to slow down. Oh yes, I want to get healthier before I try for the next baby. No more back pain, no more iron deficiency.

Verdict: FAILED, as early as March.

Then I got pregnant in May, so this eventually stopped. I was as heavy as I am now (30 weeks pregnant) in March this year. 57-58kg. The heaviest non-pregnancy weight I ever had in my life. Can’t wait to get skinny again with the coming of the second baby 😀

****

So that’s it. A review of my performance this year – with regards to my resolutions. How was your year?

Of a Secure Man

What constitutes a secure man? I have come across not few instances of men who act out of their insecurity in their relationship and I cringed each time. That is partly because I married to the most wonderful, secure man in the world – Alhamdulillah – and because of these men I met who are so different from the man I marry, I am able to list some traits of what I think manifest a man’s security:

  • is unafraid of what others are saying about his choices
  • allows his woman to grow, not just as a wife, but as a person
  • not confined by standards set by the society in terms of beauty – including about himself
  • unafraid of his woman’s achievements and strength
  • leads, not demands and controls
  • educates, not forces. After all, force can only ensure a one-off compliance, while education induces self-initiated change which lasts longer (though may take time to see the results)
  • allows his decisions to be challenged and improved as he values truth more than he values the notion of man as the absolute decision-maker
  • doesn’t sweat the small stuff in a relationship
  • confident with his woman’s choice – that’s him as a life partner – which entails him not being overly jealous and controlling. If he believes that his woman makes only the best decisions, why would he doubt her decision to choose and marry him over other men?

What do you think?

p.s. Nearly a month ago,  my husband cum soul mate cum best friend cum ultimate sweetheart cum intellectual sparring partner cum love of my life who is undeniably – I have to reiterate here – the most secure man I have ever met, has turned 27. If you are reading this, please know that I thank you so much for being that and saves me from all the headaches. Happy birthday love!

 

The Coming Soon Chapter

Yesterday was the 1st of October. Yesterday marked one of the biggest steps I have taken to reinvent my life.

I have submitted the letter tendering my resignation, after working for five years (five this coming November) in the company.

It was true what people wrote about resigning. Even if you hate the job, to actually write the letter and meet the superior to tell him you are quitting could be something you don’t do happily. What more if you have no reason to hate the job, like in my case.

I chose to meet my head of department half an hour before the end of working time is over. I told him I am resigning, and his first question was “Where are you going?”

I told him I am going nowhere. I am just quitting. I need more flexibility in time and would like to spend more time with my family.

A family man himself, he quickly understood.

“I’m sad. You are very promising, but I know I can’t be selfish. I totally understand why you need your time-off.”

I told him I am still happy with my current job, but I have priorities. He was even delighted, strangely,  to hear that I am pursuing a higher degree.

“It’s really great that you are doing that. “

Then he said something of the effect that someday when I am back to the workforce, a higher degree might be a prerequisite, just like when he was somehow forced to leave his previous position as Head of the company’s R&D leg because he has no PhD.

He agreed that children is the most important part in life, and he agreed that in a balanced marriage there should not be two person rushing to climb the career ladder. I told him my husband is a brilliant man who’s doing great at work and I have a lot of other things and interests I’d like to do and pursue, so quitting is just a natural thing for me.

He smiled. I smiled even bigger.

There. That’s it.

Should the new year come, it will definitely be a great new chapter in my life.