This first month of the new year can bring many changes, or few, depending on the weather. Mostly in the past, I have found myself hibernating--wrapped in a cocoon of muffin aroma as I bake happily while Faramir and the children are out in the snow. This year, I have simple pleasures to make me appreciate this cold and temperamental month. So here are a few good things:
--finding inspiration to take back my own mind from the hegemonic discourse at play in my own country, from the Islamophobe machinations of the media. I ran across this brief talk by Dr. Tariq Ramadan and it was so refreshing to be reminded that I as a Muslim am living as a minority in the dominant culture of American society, a culture that informs me everyday that my value in life is as a consumer. I am realizing a lot of my happiness depends on whether or not I have the money to make my dreams come true!! On the one hand, we all need to get by on some basic income, and I wouldn't say that it is materialistic to desire good, healthy food for your family or a comfortable, safe home. But it is so critical to remember that we are AT WAR with consumerism, with the idea that we must embrace the dunya and find our value in accumulating things, achieving a certain image, all at the expense of our own fitra, the true nature of our souls. I feel so grateful for Br. Ramadan's words b/c they feel like a shake to a dozing soul: wake up and reclaim mind from being colonized! Wake up and take back the power to think, to serve others, to choose what is good for myself instead of going along with a dominant culture that wants to lull me to sleep!
--finding the joy of work! and reminders of simpler times...
Growing up, Little Women (1994) was one of my absolute favorite movies for the moving story of four sisters trudging through mild poverty during the Civil War and meeting their every day challenges with such strength of spirit! I also loved the soulful, bittersweet music score!
I thought I knew the story well until I ran across the book on CD and began to listen to Louisa May Alcott's little masterpiece during any commutes. It has been such a wonderful story in which I could loose myself for hours--the every day details are fantastic. It has been such an inspiration to me to really value work as a tool of worship and improving our lives. And by work, I mean the kind that feels unimportant in today's world: house work. Tonight, I was inspired to confront one of my long-time enemies: the ironing pile. I have dreaded ironing for years, and the mountain of dress shirts growing quietly in the corners of my laundry room speaks for itself. But tonight I felt so different about my task, and approached it with energy and determination, wanting to emulate the innocent girls of the March family who put their heart and soul into the little tasks that were before them. I'm grateful for anything that makes me enjoy taking care of my home and feeling industrious!
This is definitely a book I want my girls reading when they are older, inshallah.
--people who help your dreams and ideas become reality!
I am an idea-generating machine sometimes, but have the hardest time making them come to reality. Inshallah once things get rolling I will share more what I am working on, but right now, alhamdulellah I am so grateful for the chance to see something from my head gain flesh and a physical dimension!
--finding forgiveness and grace in my heart so I can move on with my life!
It is so freeing to not hold on to a grudge. Sometimes it helps to distance ourselves from "toxic" people. Sometimes, it can't be helped, we see them everywhere. It is such a gift from Allah if we can just have that toxic element be neutralized!
--Trader Joes mini mint ice cream mouthfuls!
These little babies are light, refreshing, but not too overpowering. I have NEVER been a fan of mint chocolate chip ice cream but I think I put away 5 little minis in one setting!!
--crafting with the chilluns
For an artsy person, it seems strange that I have avoided crafts with my children until now. Perhaps I've just been afraid of all the messes I would have to clean up. Perhaps I felt too overwhelmed with cleaning up other necessary messes to even speculate about making unnecessary ones. But here I am, my babies are asking and enjoying the creative process, and I am loving being by their side!
--Woman Code goodness
There are so many mysteries wrapped up in the menstrual cycle: random cramps, late starts, early finishes, strange new colors. Throw in any kind of hormonal contraceptive or IUD and you've go a surefire cookbook in German, as far as I'm concerned. Totally unguessable! So I'm really thankful that I ran across Alisa Vitti's Woman Code via Ted Talks. I signed up for the free, super informative newsletters and was so impressed with all the period decoding that I ended up buying the book. It has tons of natural ways to work with your body in all 4 of the phases we experience in one month (I'm embarrassed to say I didn't even know the names of all 4! Or that they existed!). So here I am, eating the right foods for my phase, and I think I am seeing results, folks!!
And now, I hope to have some time to return to one of my favorite pastimes, and create some new muffin recipes!
What are your favorite things this January?