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I’m still talking to Allah

I’m still talking to Allah

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Dear Sabriye,

You have no idea how happy I felt when you gave me that reply two nights ago when I asked why you’re still up though in bed when it was already way past your bedtime. I had to control the urge to break down and cry and hug you right then and there–after all, you were having the most important conversation anyone could have.

I’m sorry I couldn’t help but eavesdrop when I laid down beside you. You were mentioning the names of those you wanted to be with you in Jannah, in shaa Allah. Thank you for including me and your baba, too. But, you know what made my heart smile even more? You included your occasional playmates though I know you feel sad that they keep hurting you. I know it’s hard, and even when you say you’re ok, I know it affects you. I can’t help but remember that was the first thing you blurted out to Lola and Tita Naida when we videocalled. But, thank you for praying for them, for including them. Thank you most for reminding me that a person of Paradise is one who never goes to sleep with any ill will in his heart towards anyone. You’re my three-year-old teacher and classmate, you know. Alhamdulillah.

Life has been predictably unpredictable, I know. But, thank you for bearing with me when I’m overwhelmed, and for being protective of me especially when I’m sick and your baba’s not around. You guys are doing a great job, mashaAllah. 

One day, when you can read already, in shaa Allah, i’ll share this log with you. In shaa Allah, we can read it together, the way you make me read my logs of your baby adventures. But, more than reading, I pray that you will remember the lessons you imparted to me and continue to actualize it, in shaa Allah. I know the world’s tough, and it seems easier to just be like the rest, right? I remember your Why’s when we remind ourselves we’ll keep doing good even when others are and do not. But, thank you for listening and for allowing me to guide you, too, mashaAllah Alhamdulillah.

May Allah continue to give you the steadfastness to hold on to what’s right in this journey. May you be a wonderful and blessed reflection of your name. And, whatever happens, may you always find your heart comforted when you converse with The All-Loving, Most Merciful One. Ameen.

Love you much, always for His Sake,

Anne

 

 

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Posted by on December 9, 2018 in I + You = WE

 

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It’s all very temporary

This statement from Vibha Arora, one of the inspiring speakers at this year’s Happily Family Online Conference, struck me. She was actually referring to the tough parenting times, but my mind registered it as parenting as a whole. It may sound funny to parents of teens or young adults because my child is just three years old yet upon hearing this statement, I couldn’t help but tell myself “time’s flying so fast!” There was this sense of urgency to know more and apply what I learn as much as I can—then of course, I reminded myself to calm down and pause.

Positive parent-child connection has been highlighted much in most of the talks, and I couldn’t agree more. And, I love how the talks, the studies mentioned, complement what I’m learning in Islamic Parenting. It’s actually inspiring me to write an integrated version of them, in shaa Allah—one of the reasons I’m logging this here, too (to commit myself to writing it, in shaa Allah).

It’s all very temporary. I truly believe that while most, if not all, of the parents probably joined the conference because we have parenting challenges to address, the underlying reason is because we want to connect in the best way possible to our children, those fellow works-in-progress who have been given to us both as a gift and as a responsibility…with the limited time we have. Our treasures in this transient world.

May The Most Loving Guide protect our homes by protecting and enriching our faith so that compassionate servants of His can grow and develop through us, in shaa Allah. And when times are tough, may He allow us to see opportunities instead of obstacles to connect lovingly with one another, to see setbacks as successes waiting to happen, and to see that things fall apart so that life can beautifully fall into place—according to His Perfect Plans, for His Perfect Reasons, in His Perfect Time. Ameen.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2018 in I + You = WE

 

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Passenger Seat (Ride Four)

(Looking back, 2012 was one crazy adventure for this ‘nene’ that helped me find inner peace even more. And, oh, here in Turkey now, I still look like one to everyone though i’m in my late 30s.)

Nene. That’s the Filipino term for small girl. And sometimes, it is even shortened to ‘ne.  Personally, it is a term I have learned to live with as a commuter, because often, it is what jeepney, bus or cab drivers (and conductors) would use to refer to me—imagine, a 31-year-old nene! :-s

Admittedly, on some days (when my faith is low and life’s challenges are getting to me), it can be quite annoying—don’t they know how much time it took me to dress up like a “Miss”?!, my evil-commanding soul would tell me, harhar!  But thankfully, I never really found the need to actually correct them.  Interestingly and more often, being a nene in their eyes has also led me to great reflections on this on-going journey, Alhamdulillah…

Rainy ride home
When I lost all my valuables at a peace event in Manila last summer, I was so emotionally vulnerable and penniless that my brother and sis-in-law agreed that I should just get a cab to take me all the way to their place in Cavite.  Of all the cab drivers I would meet, however, it just had to be one past 60 years old who’s had passengers who actually took off without paying him once they got to their respective destinations.  And, it didn’t help that he also had bad impressions of Muslim communities.

I thought he’d stop asking questions when I told him he could just drop me off at Waltermart (so no worries on his part of being ‘in danger’ in a Muslim community).  But, it got to a point when I just had to tell him my unfortunate experience to make him understand why it would be my brother who’d pay when we arrive in Cavite. Then, of all the most unexpected things that could happen, he went into his ‘father’ mode and started to reprimand me! “O ayan, leksyon ‘yan sa’yo. Magtatanda ka na n’yan. Naku, ‘ne, masyado ka kasing magtiwala sa tao. Delikado ang mundong ‘to, hindi ka dapat nagtitiwala.” (That’s a lesson for you. You trust people too much. The world is a dangerous place, you shouldn’t trust people.)

It makes me laugh now when I recall how I started to cry like a kid when he did that and how I started to explain things to him so he’d understand.  The frustrating way I lost my valuables, the fact that he just gave me a glimpse of how my protective parents could probably react, my mind stubbornly telling myself it’s still okay to trust, and the rain—perfect combination indeed to get me sobbing…which finally got manong Roger to empathize.  “Ne, wag ka ng umiyak. May mga tao lang talagang ganun siguro…” (Stop crying. Maybe some people are just really like that.)

It got really better.  He started sharing his happy experiences with other passengers and his happy encounters with Muslims in Mindanao when he was still in the military service.  I smiled when he finally said people can really vary—some good, some bad.  So I guess it’s his way of telling me the world isn’t really that bad, right?

Manong Roger even volunteered that I use his mobile phone so I can tell my brother we were still on the road and we’d be arriving past 7pm given the heavy rain.  I even ended up reading some of his messages for him, which were from his son.  Oh, yeah, it turned out he has a daughter, too, and when he finally learned how old I was, he apologetically told me he thought I was just around her age.  So now we know why he got into his ‘father’ mode back there!

Thankfully, we finally got to Waltermart where my brother waited for us.  Mang Roger drove us to my brother’s place and kuya did pay the fare. It wasn’t raining that hard anymore when we finally arrived. Alhamdulillah. 🙂

Hindi Estudyante
A  nene is also often viewed as a student.  So it sounds a bit funny for some passengers to hear me at times say, “Bayad po, hindi estudyante.”   But one fun ride home with two soul sisters, we realized there wasn’t really any rule that bus conductors could only ask one question (their “saan?” or where?).  After one of us said “estudyante”, this particular conductor automatically computed fare for three students.  Hence, I had to tell him I wasn’t a student.

“Bakit hindi ka estudyante?” (why are you not a student?)

All three of us were caught off guard.  Here was someone who broke the routine!  Philosophically, maybe I should have said “I am a student but not a student”—but maybe that would’ve confused him.  After all, I think he wasn’t really thinking of a student of life, but a student in our society’s educational system.

It took me a few seconds before I ended up saying I stopped already.  Maybe it wasn’t the best answer for I believe he misunderstood it and probably pitied me.  After giving my friends their student discount, he also decided to give me at least a Php5.00 discount, which I said was not needed but he insisted while moving away.  Hence, I couldn’t help but just joke, “Ano ‘to? Pang-senior citizen?” before thanking him. :-))

Interesting, don’t you think?  An act of charity right there…when I least expected it…when it was not even required.  It was a priceless five-peso surprise that reminded me how we can break free from our mechanical lives and do more than what is typically expected of us in a society of faceless people.  InshaALLAH.

Patience, little one
This one was a nene passenger experience I will not forget…perhaps, due to the timing back then.

Some JAM Bus Liner drivers and conductors knew that for a time, I took the bus to go to DLSU.  One night, I was so sleepy after an event that instead of waiting for another bus at the terminal, I decided to just sit on the aisle near the driver (they had cushions for those situations, so don’t worry).  I didn’t know he remembered me until he just suddenly asked,

“Nene, tapos ka na ba?” (Have you finished [studying]?)

I grinned and admitted, “hindi pa po eh.”

“Aba, tapusin mo na ‘yan!  Sayang mga araw mo.” (Finish it! Your days are getting wasted.)

I smiled—was it a broken one?  I honestly can’t remember.  Did he mistake me for an undergrad?  I honestly don’t know.  All I know was that ride was during a particularly challenging year for me.  I ended up saying, “Ang hirap pong pagsabayin eh…pagod na rin sa trabaho.” (It’s difficult to do things simultaneously…also tired from work.”)

He gave me a second look before pausing for awhile.  Then he said, “makakaraos din…tiyaga lang yan, ‘ne.”  (You’ll make it…it just takes patience.)

I didn’t answer, but we did smile at each other and that was one of the most peaceful rides home I’ve ever had.  Was he a working student once?  I don’t really know.  But, he did remind me that we don’t really have to know another person’s name or be friends with a person for a long time to be able to offer kind words.  Alhamdulillah for everything.

“Verily, along with every hardship is relief.” (Holy Qur’an 94:6)

The passenger seat.  Alhamdulillah for getting to be in one often for such opportunities have always provided great learning and re-learning experiences.  Being in one also reminds us that we actually do have the capacity to trust—trust like a small girl or boy…trust that life’s a great ride…trust that the driver will get us to where we need to be.  Wait, let me correct that…I should not have used often:

The passenger seat.  Alhamdulillah for getting to be in one every day, every hour, every moment of our lives, with HIM as The Driver.  May we be able to trust The Driver and allow HIM to take us to where there is eternal happiness, love, and peace. Ameen.

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2018 in I + You = WE, reach UP

 

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Passenger Seat (Ride Three)

March 2012: Jeepney rides that reminded me of that journeys are better when we’re with those we love…

 

Life is a journey.  And, spiritually, it’s what what we do during the journey that would determine whether we’d be getting to the right destination in the end.

Journeys can be rough at times. Unpredictable often. And there are ‘burdens’ which, no matter how heavy, are meant to be carried throughout the journey.

Today, a fellow passenger had an epileptic attack and had to be brought out of the jeepney.  His wife calmly held his head and waited for his seizure to end as they sat on the sidewalk–with some spectators starting to panic.  It’s honestly sad to see someone go through that.  He’ll most probably be disoriented for a few minutes once he regains consciousness.  I couldn’t help but wonder what’s on his mind whenever he leaves home knowing that he has this condition–will I have an attack today? Am I actually going to survive the next one? Will I cause others distress?

Then again, isn’t it inspiring to see someone continue life as normal as possible?  To not allow his condition or fear of what could happen get in the way?  How many of us can actually say we’re able to conquer our fears?

I couldn’t help but admire his wife, too, mashaAllah. It is tough to see someone you love go through pain…to not be able to do anything to take away the illness. There are moments she probably wants to give up…but she’s still there, Alhamdulillah.  And suddenly we’re reminded of the “in sickness and in health” part of vows, right?

Let me add that perhaps she was also like one of the spectators in the beginning (say, first few seizures of her husband)–in a state of panic, not knowing what to do. She probably cried and felt scared that she might not be able to handle the situation. But today, she was calm. Amazing how HE never gives us something we can’t handle, don’t you think?

………….

Last jeepney ride home also got me admiring a working mom who had a bag, an umbrella, a big plastic bag full of groceries, and a sleeping daughter in her arms. Waaah! The challenges of commuting with a kid, indeed. She could’ve decided to wake her kid up. But no, not this mom. She carried her and asked for some patience with the typical, “Sandali lang po ha, may bata.” (Wait a second, there’s a child.)

Supermom right there. Perhaps there wasn’t a nanny or a family member at home to look after her little girl that day. Looking at them, it was tough I bet for her to be in that physically challenging situation…but it’s where her heart would feel at peace the most. Alhamdulillah for moms, for dear parents.

Life can indeed be a tough journey. But, those ‘burdens’ we end up carrying can actually be blessings in disguise–opportunities to get to the right destination, inshaAllah. Yes, life is a journey, and it’s usually those who are travelling with us, who bring us closer to HIM, who make it all worthwhile. Alhamdulillahi Rabbi’l Alamin.

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2018 in I + You = WE

 

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Passenger Seat (Ride One)

(A post on Facebook reminded me of old notes I had there, particularly the Passenger Seat series…going back and re-reading them made me smile. Alhamdulillah for life. My husband asked, “Why don’t you publish a book?” It crossed my mind before, but I guess transferring them to this wordpress account would suffice. Passenger Seat Rides One – Four are old ones.)

Passenger Seat.

That’s where I’ve always found myself whenever I travel in my 30+ years of existence.  And, while I’d love to be driving my own car one day, the passenger seat–be it on a car, jeepney, bus, boat or plane–has always offered me an opportunity to reflect on one the greatest blessings in life: human relationships.

Some memories are quite funny, while others are terrifying that they still get me thanking The Almighty even more for His mercy.  There are also those that got me challenging my values and outlook in life, and then there are those that just quietly make my heart smile.  Here are just some:

Reach Out…to the Roach?

Yes, I am afraid of roaches.  The idea of one touching my skin just gives me goosebumps.  And, if you’re unfortunate enough to be seated right next to me, you’ll see how “feeling close” I can be just to shoo a roach away.

It was a good traffic-less ride to Makati until a roach appeared.  Of all the places it could have chosen to go site-seeing, it just had to choose my window.  T’was a good thing the curtains were loose, hence, i was able to trap the roach between it and the window.  I didn’t have any intention of killing it, really–just wanted to make sure it wouldn’t fly or take a nap on my bag.  Anyway, it was just a few minutes before my stop.

BANG! Without a word, the hunk (he looked like a gym instructor) next to me decided to hit with his hand the portion of the curtain where the roach was–to my shock! (Well, it was only after that I realized who wouldn’t do such a thing when you see a small veiled girl facing the window with both hands glued to the curtain with a roach in the middle.)

Hala! ‘Wag! lalabas yung ‘juice’ nya tapos kakapit sa kurtina! Ayaaan! Gumagalaw na sya tuloy! (Don’t! Its ‘juice’ will spill and stick to the curtain! Now (because of what you did) it’s moving!)

It was obvious that I was now frantically trying to contain the roach which panicked because of that unexpected hit. Realizing further how big a deal it was for me, the guy placed both hands on the curtain to help me trap the roach while offering to exhange seats with me.  I decided to move out and stand on the aisle.

Uy, wala na. Umupo ka na…Uy, bumalik ka na dito. (Hey, it’s gone. Come back and sit.)

Ok lang, bababa na ako. (It’s ok, I’m going down already.)

One more round of him trying to convince me to sit then we suddenly both started to laugh-giggle.  Why?  Seriously, the other passengers were looking at us and yes, it looked like we just had a bus LQ (lovers’ quarrel) right there.

Ok lang talaga ha. Salamat! (It’s really ok. Thanks!)

Amazing how we find ourselves lending a hand to a stranger without being asked for one, don’t you think?  Empathy. Kindness.  Blessing.

Want it…Risk!

Tinatanong mo ba’ko kasi naniniwala kang ibibigay ko talaga sa’yo o tinatanong mo lang ako para malaman kung dapat mong subukang hingi’n sa’kin?”

(Are you asking me because you believe I will really give it to you or are you asking me just to know if you should try asking it from me?)

That’s a jeepney driver asking his dispatcher/conductor who was jokingly asking about his share for the day.  It was a rainy ride home but they got me smiling and reflecting.

Have you ever asked yourself a similar question?  Are you fighting for your dreams because you want them that bad or are you just doing it because you were given the assurance you’d get them?

We’re all the same in that we all have dreams in life.  What makes us different is the willingness to pursue our dreams no matter what, with faith.  Sadly, we at times only pursue those that won’t really get us out of our comfort zones much, which makes me ask next: how much of a winner would we really feel once we get those dreams?  How positively changed are we, really?  Had we not known the outcome would be certainly good or had the situation been more difficult, would we even really try with all we have? If not, then maybe such dreams were not really what we needed, but merely…just what we wanted?  Need vs Want.  The former gets you thinking of self and others…the latter, well, can get you stuck with yourself.

What do we want?  Is what we want truly what we need?  If so, how willing are we to go the extra mile?

Try.  Try with all of your heart, with faith that The Almighty listens and helps those who help themselves.  Truly try, because, as a line in Meet Joe Black goes, “If you haven’t tried, you haven’t lived.”

All-Garbed, Half-Naked EVEs

As a hijabi (read: ‘veiled’ Muslim woman), I’ve grown used to second looks or stares whenever I travel.  One Sunday bus ride, however, got more interesting when a woman straight from Paulo Coelho’s Eleven Minutes sat right next to me and tried to get some sleep.

As expected, people gave us a second look.  This time, it wasn’t curiosity, fear or apprehension that I saw…but amusement. First glance, look away, second glance, smile or contain a giggle.  Not surprising, really, considering the stark contrast in how my seatmate and I looked.

As she travelled to dreamland, however, I looked at her.  She was indeed pretty.  Five or seven years younger than me. I couldn’t help but wonder what got her to do what she did.  A sister at the ICU?  Food for the table at home?  Escape from an abusive father?  Drugs?  Nymphomania, maybe?

I would be lying to you if I told you I didn’t pity her.  I did.  But, she also got me thinking: do I have the right to feel that way? Had I been in her place, how sure am I that I would have done differently?  Do we really always have the opportunity to stay out of trouble?

The questions got me silently wondering even more about the passengers.  The passengers who looked at us.  What was going on in their minds?  Will the girl and I forever be remembered as a mere amusement on one of their many bus rides to Manila?  I suddenly wished I get to ride a bus with her again.

Life.  We can never tell what’s in store for us.  And, we can’t control what people think. All I know is, we’re all given our own set of challenges to overcome.  All events happen for a reason…for HIS perfect reasons.  And, the best we can do is seek HIS guidance and ask HIM to make our journey here and beyond a successful one.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2018 in I + You = WE

 

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IF

If words were all we had to make others understand, then we’d best choose the ones that capture who we are and what’s inside our hearts.  After all, while it is true that actions speak louder than words, sometimes the situation makes it impossible to see what we actually do; hence, the other is left with no choice but to rely on what we say.  John Mayer singing in my head, say what you need to say.

If indifference were a “zero”, then it would be the only one with a negative sign.  Experiences can make us feel numb. We might think it’s cool…we might seem unaffected…but deep inside, we are affected. And, the more we allow ourselves to get stuck here, the more we deny ourselves a chance to fully live.

If we believe that people have lost the capacity to change, then we can’t say we’re truly giving it our best when we try to engage them in a genuine dialogue.  Admit it or not, that seemingly small belief at the back of our mind leads us to judge them—“they won’t listen to us, they just won’t”…some resistance and we abandon the dialogue, rationalizing what happened.  Self-fulfilling prophecy personified right there.

If everything was spelled out for us, then we’d never really learn to move out of our comfort zones.  We’d never learn what it means to risk…and, unfortunately, we’d never really reach our fullest potential.

If we don’t learn to let go of anger, we’ll end up feeling and looking a lot older than we look.  It’s draining to be angry.  But for us to let it go, we need to have the strength to accept it first…after all, how can we let go of something we never acknowledged we had?

If we fail to put others before ourselves, we’ll never learn what it means to love.  We’ll never get to appreciate that which is both a responsibility and a fulfillment of who we are.  To love…to be sensitive to their needs, without being told…after all, to care for them is to care for ourselves.  Their happiness…our happiness.

If we always bail out when things get rough, we’d never understand what patience means.  We’d never really get to see how far we can go and how much we can endure.  But, similarly, if we mistake pride for patience, we’d end up arriving at the wrong destination.  We did get somewhere…only to realize that it’s not where we truly want to be.

If life was made up of only one chance to do the things that matter to us most, we’d probably do our best not to allow things to fall apart…but life’s made up of chances, which is good in a way because it gives us the opportunity to make things better.  Then again, we take life for granted, realizing things only when it is too late.

If we’re too afraid to let some chapters end, then we’d never get to live the ever after HE wonderfully prepared for us.  It reminds me of a friend’s story…how can the master give his pet a steak when it doesn’t want to let go of the bone?  If we learn to spend days faithfully letting go, wishing that day comes, we’ll wake up one day no longer just wishing…we already have.

If our faith has weakened, then we’d be spending too much time thinking of the best strategy to get a big boulder out of the road…forgetting that God never said we’d have to be the one to make it move…all He wanted was for us to try with all our might while believing with all our heart that He will move it for us.

Live with all of your heart…always for The Most Loving.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2018 in I + You = WE, reach UP

 

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Stepping forward

To be at peace is to be able to look at chaos calmly, seeing beyond the ‘what is’ the beautiful ‘what can be’ when we synergize to make things better through The Almighty.

To be great is to be able to forgive others, keeping in mind our own countless moments of weakness that The Most Merciful forgives repeatedly.

To be faithful is to walk with courage in the dark, knowing The Guide will lead us to where we’ve always wanted to be, right where we’re meant to be.

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Posted by on May 21, 2017 in I + You = WE, reach UP, wOrK = pLaY

 

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