Friday, October 22, 2010

Happy List

"If you would count up the favors of Allah, never would you be able to number them: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (Al-Nahl, 18)

There are so many things to be thankful for in my life right now.. but this is not a list of those. That list would be endless. These are a few things that make me happy/smile/feel fulfilled. Inspired of course by this happiness-inducing blog...

1. Finding the one. My sister is engaged. I found out through a text while driving; I must have looked like a complete retard driving with a huge smile plastered to my face for half an hour. And really the rest of the day.

I remember thinking at that point that good/awesome/fabulous/screaming-for-joy things do happen. You make dua, you try to be patient, you put your hope in Allah.. :) And one day, it just does. Anyways, this recent event has just opened up a new hope-filled mentality for me.

2. Being thankful to Allah. Did you know that sincerely thanking Allah for His blessings will cause you to recieve even more blessings? This past Ramadan, I`ve been trying to read more of the meaning of the Quran, rather than just the Arabic. One of the recurring themes in the Quran is to thank Allah for all His favours:

And remember! Your Lord caused to be declared (publicly): "If you are grateful, I will add more (favors) unto you; But if you show ingratitude, truly My punishment is terrible indeed." (Abraham, 7)

Basically, be grateful, sincerely say Alhamdulilah for the blessings you have in your life. If you do, Allah promises to add more favours, and give you more blessings. This topic actually requires a separate post. But for now, I'll just say that this is absolutely true and I have experienced this recently. I shall not share all the details.. but know that at this point, it keeps me happy and sane to saying Alhamdulilah.

3. Coffee, I love you. I'm sorry but this list wouldn't be complete without good, hot, fresh coffee. I don't have my own coffee maker for fear of becoming a coffee-addict. But I've always been a fan.. unfortunately, I'm always on the hunt for freshly made coffee. By the time my caffine cravings kick in, it's after 11am and it seems that all the good coffee has already been finished by the early-rising-work-going-crowd. Damn them. Damn them all. But still, Coffee, *insert facebook heart here* when you're good and hot, I'm happy.

p.s. For any of you that watch "The Marriage Ref"; I am that woman who is ridiculously picky about having fresh coffee at a restaurant. Ok, I'm not as rude as her, but I get it. Old coffee is just disgusting nasty crap.

4. Driving and Autumn. Together. Driving around during the day while all the early-rising-work-going crowd is stuck in cubicles all over the city makes me giggle inside. It's my secret pleasure to drive along on empty streets that are beautifully adorned by the colours of fall.

5. Being able to (kind-of) afford not working. And being a bum for a while. And a housewife. A housewife who really doesn't do dishes or cook as often as she should. But more the watch-tv-all-day-and-get-crumbs-on-the-couch kind of person. The kind of person who takes free art classes at the local library. Who cares if I'm the only one who isn't a senior citizen? It's liberating to be able to do things during the day.. who knew that turpentine can be used to blend in the colours of pastels?

6. Working-out. And lounging on the couch for the rest of the day. I've been pretty consistent with  my working out. I haven't lost the weight yet but at this point it doesn't really matter. I've got my endorphin-addiction back and I love it. Plus I'm getting stronger, faster, and hopefully will continue along that path. Nothing beats pushing yourself to the limit until your body can handle no more.. (ie.hunger/exhaustion) Followed this order 1. Hot shower 2. Driving home along empty streets 3. Food that is prepared in under 5 mins 4. Watching TV episodes and lying around for the rest of the day just being extra lazy.

7. That deciduous tree outside my window. It's just so calming to sit quietly and stare at you swaying in the wind. It calms me to look at you and just soak in all your coloured beauty. I know that soon you will be leaf-less but that's ok. I've watched you turn yellow and now orange, and you're beautiful.

8. My sisters. You know when you were little and you hated them and you wished you were an only child? Your parents told you that you would all appreciate each other when you got older. They were right. I'm so blessed to have sisters who are just as crazy as I am.

9. New Running Tunes. When I hear a new song that I like, I always look forward to adding it to my running playlist. I look forward to downloading, playing, and running hard to its words. Maybe it will turn out to be one that inspires me. I'm currently looking forward to running to these two: and.. (I'm sorry but the actual video is just insane and does no justice to the song, hence only the lyrics for this one)

10. Subway Naps. There is something so annoying about being on the subway. So it's no surprise that one of the best feelings is to sleep and suddenly find yourself awake at your destination; 45 minutes later! Daytime naps are fabulous, and if they help you avoid the tediousness of your subway route, even better!

11.Mizunos. I have big, wide, flat feet. So basically, my feet destroy any shoe that they come into contact with. Running shoes are no different. It took me a while to find a brand that I'm comfortable in; so ever since I found them, I haven't run in anything else. They are usually darn expensive, so I usually wear my old running shoes until I'm actually in pain (due to the lack of support/destroyed mid-sole). Anyhow, Mizunos, you keep my ridiculous feet happy, you make running easier, and therefore you are on this list.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

With or Without You

Running brings back many memories. I can distinctly remember certain runs and everything that was around me at the time. The cool breeze, the leaves rustling, the night sky.. it comes back to me these days while I am getting back into my running routine. And when I feel bored/tired/annoyed/sick to the stomach, I try to picture that time when I felt light on my feet.

This brings me to the topic of music. My tastes for my running tracks have not changed throughout the years. My favourites being anything by Coldplay, U2, and the Killers. Mind you, I will not listen to these songs if I'm not at the gym or track. I'm afraid that if I do, they will lose the power to get me energized and pumped. So, I save them for when I need my endorphin kick.

I remember replaying "With or Without You" by U2 over and over and over. It was actually all I had on my favourite casset tape that was loaded into my yellow and grey walkman (The old days, when you had to lugg around a cd player or walkman.. before mp3 players and fancy phones). This song brings back a distinct memory of running under the moon along a bridge over the highway. My cotton black hijab pinned perfectly for the windy day. My loose navy trackpants, my ghetto oversized t-shirt. It must have been 6 years ago but I will never forget that night. And if it slips my mind, all I have to do is replay it and I'm there again.

"Smile like you mean it" by the killers is another. Everytime I hear this one it reminds me of the time when I was away from home. I struggled to workout in dingy women's only gyms in a third-world-country. I was really the only runner there. Running was something that women of that country just didn't do. They did their aerobics classes then stood around yapping and drinking tea. Which was good for me since I didn't have to wait long for the treadmill. And let's not forget that these women would bring their kids with them; and then yell at them when they picked up the weights or tried to climb the stationary bike - so jokes. The odd times when they would strike up a conversation with me they showed confusion. Why was I running? Why was I at the gym in the first place? Surely this was only a place for fatter women. I didn't really bother explaining to them that exercise is really for everyone; that I ran because I loved it; because it took me away and brought me back a stronger and better person. I just put on my headphones and was taken away from it all.

Try it yourself. Next time you go on a run, a run, a bike ride, or whatever.. take some upbeat tunes with you and try to push yourself a bit harder. Go farther or faster. It'll work. You might even enjoy an endorphin rush while you're out there.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Can you handle it?

I just found this awesome cooking website/blog. It's awesome because..

1. It's about food
2. She takes beautiful pictures at each step while cooking
3. It's witty.
4. It's about food.

This post is still making me laugh. I imagine using this on one of my students and getting a blank stare from them as they quietly walk back to their desks.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Neatly tucked away

I remember reading a study that said "one in four teacher quits within the first five years of teaching".. or something along those lines. Basically, teaching is one of the hardest jobs out there. If you make it past year five, you might just have a career on your hands.

So, I've completed year five (yay!) and I still feel excited about teaching and working with kids. No desire to leave my amazing classroom. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the job, teaching kind of gets in the way of other things worth pursuing. It's not a 9-5 job. Yes, The school day ends at 3:30pm but any teacher will tell you that the work NEVER ends. No matter how prepared you are or how much planning you've done, things always pop up and drag you to the bottom of the deep end. And if you do ever feel like you're on top of things; you're always thinking and reflecting on all the additional things you could be doing with your class.

The past few years have been amazing, Alhamdulilah. Things are always fun and interesting when you're in a room with 20+ 7 or 8 year olds. The excitement and energy in the room keeps me excited about teaching and that's something I'm thankful for. However, teaching took over my life. Getting home at 6pm everyday and then having to continue working on prep or marking or report cards was sometimes unbearable.

It has been a struggle to maintain balance in my life and not let teaching take over.

So I decided NO MORE! For now anyways :) I'm officially off for the year!! I'm currently working on a list of things to do with this newfound freedom (Suggestions?). As my collegues return to work this coming week, I will be in bed stretched out listening to the creaks in the walls and my heafty neighbour as he walks above my head. Bed at 9am = Bliss. I will secretly smile when I walk past the "Back to School" displays at the mall or watch some cheesy commercial trying to sell me backpacks and school supplies.

I went into my old class today to get my resources that I had neatly locked away for the summer. I had no idea how much stuff I had! When I was finally finished going through everything (4 hours later).. I packed it into my trunk and shut the door (with difficulty).

I still can't believe how many resources I've collected throughout the years. Mashallah, it's pretty awesome. It feels good to have something to show for all your time and effort. I'm glad that it's now tucked away waiting to be reopened in the future when I decide to come back.

And yes, I will miss teaching. Definately. But I'm excited to be able to do things I couldn't do and just relax for a while. But to all my Art projects, Math games, Science centers activities, Author studies and other fun-filled-ideas I say: "Stay neatly tucked away for a little while, and you shall be re-opened soon (inshallah). And children will be in awe and will be excited and will fall in love with learning once again!"

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A long way to go rant

Years ago, while doing my undergrad, I fell in love. Running came into my life slowly. I don't remember exactly how, but I became hopelessly addicted. I became one of those university students who skipped their 8 am classes because damn it, it was way too early. Instead I would go to the gym. It was a dingy and sometimes stinky location with an indoor track, but armed with my ghetto cassette player, I would just run.

Then came graduation. Running continued. I was back at home with much better facilities (i.e. outside in the fresh air). I would still go out at odd times to get my endorphin fix. Sometimes even late at night, when running was so much more amazing. When else would it be cool, quiet and peaceful? I knew it wasn't smart or safe to run at 12 am but I was an addict and I just didn't care.

Then came teacher's college and full-time teaching. I tried to run, tried to exercise, but somehow never got to where I wanted to be. I became tired, stressed, and eventually lost my running spark. Instead I gained lots of fabulous experience on how to write report card comments and meet hideous deadlines (barely).

Then came marriage. Oh marriage, you've been good to me but you've been horrible to my waist-line, thigh-line, and whatever-else-line I refuse to measure.

So last month, I celebrated  my 4 year wedding anniversary. I still love the idea of running. That's what it's become now, an idea or passing thought. I miss it and ache for that endorphin rush I used to have years ago.

I've owned a gym-membership for the past 9 years and sadly came to the realization that I've gained over 7 kgs since I got married.

That's life. You have your ups and downs. And your pizzas and fries and ice-cream and awesome-expensive-chocolatey-gifts from your students that make your teaching life that much more enjoyable. And don't forget the delicious home-made delicacies that make it to my desk every few weeks.

So I hereby pledge to lose that 7 kgs that I've accumulated over the past 4 years. I will no longer comment on it being the "perfect running weather" and go vegitate on my couch.

Oh endorphins, I want you back. For good this time.