Monthly Archives: November 2007

Forgiving the most important person in your life: YOURSELF!

I was reading an article in this month’s Essence called “Just Between Us Girls” which features actresses Nia Long, Gabrielle Union and Sanaa Lathan. In one section of the article Nia Long talks about something that has been on my mind lately- forgiveness. She says, “One of the things I think is so important for all of us, everyone reading this too, is that you forgive yourself, you have to be kind to your spirit.”

Lately, I’ve been on this whole self-reflection journey. I’m thinking about a lot of things; what I can change about myself, what I need to work on, which things I need accept about myself and how to really love myself without becoming self-important or conceited. I think step one in my journey is to make peace with the past and forgive myself for the mistakes I’ve made along the way. If Allah, Lord of the Worlds, can forgive me for my mistakes then I need to be able to forgive myself. Like a lot of Black women, I tend to be hard on myself (especially when it comes to Islam.) Now I’m learning to cut myself some slack. Alhamdulilah, I’ve come so far from where I used to be. I’ve grown so much. And I have to thank Allah for my success first and foremost but I also have to give myself some credit for following through.
1) I forgive myself for two failed relationships. Insha’allah these experiences have lead me to a better one. I’ve certainly learned some things about myself. I have a clearer idea about what I want from a relationship, what I don’t want, my capabilities and what not to do next time. Alhamdulilah, I feel like I’ve finally found someone who “gets me”. As far as I’m concerned, that’s half the battle.

2) I forgive myself for not being where I thought I’d be Islamically. Yes, several years ago I was riding on a spiritual high. I felt like I was at a good place in my deen. Then I moved to a new city, entered a new marriage and things started to slide downwards. But there’s hope for me yet. It can happen again by the grace of Allah. I just have to start from where I am now and not continue to think about where I was at then.

3) I forgive myself for not always being perfect. I don’t always say the right things, do the right things or think the right things. And it’s okay. Making mistakes is part of the human experience. I just need to seek Allah’s forgiveness, if it’s a person I’ve offended then I need to seek their forgiveness, learn from my mistakes and move on. The next time it happens (because it will) I need to repeat the same steps all over again.
A final thing I’ve come to realize is sometimes people can prevent you from forgiving yourself if you let them. Oh, people love to bring up what you did in the past or how wrong you were! All of that can start to weigh on you if you let it. Insha’allah I won’t. Some people don’t like change. They want you to stay the way you are (or were) so that the dynamics of your relationship can stay they way it is (or was). Insha’allah I won’t let anyone keep me a prisoner of the past.
This may sound corny but here is a healing exercise I plan to do ASAP. I’m writing down every single mistake I’ve made on a piece of paper. (Every mistake I can think of anyway). I’ll allow myself to reflect on those mistakes only for a few minutes. I’ll acknowledge that each of those mistakes has helped me to grow in some way. Once I finish doing that I’m going to take the paper, tear it into tiny pieces and throw it in the garbage. Then I’m going to move on with my life, insha’allah.
Let it Go Gyal!
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What’s going on?

Work:

So, I didn’t quit last week- much to my own chagrin. Since we decided to push the wedding back until January, I have to wait a little while longer before I can do that. I’m okay with it for now but I stand by my decision to get out of the domestic violence field (at least full time). And I’m still thinking about what’s on the horizon for me though. Insha’allah it’ll be something rewarding. Yesterday I got a call from the county of the city I’ll be moving to insha’allah. (Does that make sense?) They wanted to interview me for a position working in the court system. Unfortunately, they wanted me to come in for an interview tomorrow or Friday. Since there is no way I can hop on a flight and be in the city by tomorrow or Friday I had to turn it down. Oh the pain! But I have to let it go. There’s nothing I can really do about it anyway. I can only hope that something similar or better is on the horizon.

Family:

On Thursday my cousin had Thanksgiving dinner at his house. Initially I was opposed to the idea because my mom usually does Thanksgiving (and she’s a much better cook). But then my cousin wore me down when he talked about cooking halal so that I could eat (unlike the last family BBQ where I ate salad while everyone else downed chicken wings and burgers). In the end we all had a nice time. One of my cousins came by with his new baby. The crazy part is she looks just like me. If I was walking around with that little girl people would think she was mine. I guess it’s kind of cool to get a glimpse into the future and see what your baby could look like! Since she took to me so well, I have gave my cousin a break and held her for most of the night. I can’t believe I’m saying this but after holding my cousin’s baby and looking into her little angelic face, I’m starting to feel the baby itch. As I was holding her I was thinking, I could do this. Why am I so afraid? Why am I running from this? My sister was watching my interaction with the baby and she told me that she could see me as a mom. Allah truly knows best on this one though…

On Saturday I went to hang out with my sister for most of the day. We didn’t really do anything we just sat around her apartment and watched the episodes of The Boondocks that I didn’t have the opportunity to see since I don’t have cable. It’s weird to see my sister so grown. I keep having to tell myself that she’s an adult now. She lives with her boyfriend an has her own life. Yet, since we’re 13 years apart I still look at her like she’s a little girl. (Course I would never tell her that because she is adamant about being grown now).

After spending so much time with my family this weekend, it dawned on me that I’ll really miss having them around. It’s been great spending time with them and doing things together. I didn’t realize how much I missed them until I moved back here. When I’m with my family I feel like I can truly be myself. It’s not like being with the women from the mosque or with my co-workers. I can be the old me with a new twist and no one feels any way about it. And now I’m leaving again, insha’allah. I suppose that’s what airplanes are for…but it won’t be the same.

Tomorrow’s the big day (insha’allah)

Insha’allah, tomorrow I’m putting in my two weeks notice for my job. I can’t believe I’m actually taking the step. It seems surreal. I’m nervous but also excited. There have been a lot of crazy things that have happened at my job. My boss is a real piece of work. She shows little respect for my religion, is very judgmental and gossips about her employees (with other employees.) In addition to that she shows favoritism to certain employees. There are a lot of other unethical things that take place in the office. It’s unfortunate because I think the organization does some really good work. I love my job but the office environment isn’t cool. Lately, I feel like I’m dragging myself to work. My heart’s just not in it anymore. If I wasn’t getting married and moving, insha’allah, I’d be looking for another job with every fiber of my being.

Now I need to think about what I want to do with my life. I’m a little burnt out on domestic violence work. (At least full time anyway). Today I went to court for a murder case. The defendant murdered his child’s mother in order to get out of paying child support. Shot her in cold blood with his child in the back seat of the car (in a church parking lot of all places!) As I sat there (fighting back tears) while listening to the victim’s family members talk about how the murder of this young woman affected their lives, I said to myself, I need a change. I’m ready to do something else. I’m definitely committed to the cases I’ve been working with for the past three years- sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse cases- but I can’t do it full time anymore. Maybe I can volunteer a couple of hours in the evening.

I really miss working at the university. Aside from the benefit of getting to take free classes,
I miss the energy and vitality of university life. I liked the fact that a university is kind of a middle road between working for a non-profit and working for a corporation. It’s as big as a corporation but has a non-profit feel (depending on which department you work in of course.) Insha’allah we will see what is in store for me. I’m just welcoming a change…

My Top 10 Favorite CDs of all time…


1)Faith Evans- Faith. I still play this CD like it was released yesterday even though it dropped in August of 1995. The entire CD reminds me of my junior year in undergrad. I used to play this CD everyday while I worked night security in my dorm. (Yes, night security). It was actually one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. Fave tracks: “Fallin’ In Love”, “Ain’t Nobody”, and “You Don’t Understand”.


2) Mary J. Blige- What’s the 411? Ahhh the memories! This was the first CD I could listen to front to back, not skipping over any songs. One of the many reasons why I love Mary J. is the raw emotion and honesty which she never fails to deliver in her music. Fave tracks: “Reminisce”, “You Remind Me” and “Sweet Thing.”


3) Beres Hammond- Love from a Distance. This man remains the king of reggae/lover’s rock for eternity. His raspy voice, poignant lyrics and creativity don’t disappoint. Fave tracks: “Black Beauty”, “Can’t stop a man”, and “Much have been said”.


4) A Tribe Called Quest- The Low End Theory. A classic hip hop album and no one can debate it as far as I’m concerned. I still remember the video for “Check the Rhime”. That was back when hip hop was real. Fave tracks: “Jazz (We’ve Got)”, “Check The Rhime”, and “What?”


5) Square One- In Full Bloom. The best soca band EVER. I was sad when they broke up but I’m still an Alison Hinds fan all day. When I’m in a soca mood this CD is sure to be on the list.

6) D’Angelo- Brown Sugar. Another undergrad favorite of mine. Another classic. I think this CD came out at the right time. I was in need of something creative, innovative and most importantly “fun”. Secretly, I always felt “Smooth” described me perfectly. *smiles* Fave tracks: “When we get by”, “Lady” and “Smooth”.


7) India Arie- Voyage to India. What more can I say, this CD restored my hope in love songs and artist creativity. This is her best CD as far as I’m concerned. The healing and healthy love it promotes are refreshing. Fave tracks: “The Truth”, “Interested” and “Little Things”.


8)John Mayer- Heavier Things. I’m not much into light rock but I love me some John Mayer! I think he’s a true artist and is very talented. You can also hear the soul influence in his music. Fave tracks: “Something’s Missing”, “New Deep”, and “Split Screen Sadness”.


9) Buju Banton- Til Shiloh. Buju is the best dancehall artist out there. He can belt love tunes but he can also provide the conscious lyrics and talk the truth. “Til Shiloh” is my favorite CD but I like everything else he put out afterwards. Years ago, during my “pre-Islam life”, I went to his concert and I have to say, he puts on one helluva show. I was hoarse for three days afterwards! I’m hoping that one day he’ll play outside at a university or some other venue where I can actually go. Fave tracks: “Only Man”, “What ya gonna do”, and “Champion”.

10) Chrisette Michele- I am. Ahhhhhh! Smooth tunes, a voice that is reminiscent of old school jazz singers, and a modern neo-soul twist. That’s my girl! Now here is a contemporary singer who can actually sing! I like to put on this CD and just chill with a cup of tea. Fave tracks: “Mr. Radio”, “If I have my way, “Best of me”, and “Let’s rock”.

Back on the Block

Yes, I simply couldn’t take it any longer. I had to create another blog where I can just talk about life. My other blogs discuss fashion and the search for marriage. But I wanted a space where I could talk about whatever is on my mind. Sometimes politics, sometimes my day-to-day stresses, sometimes social issues, sometimes religion and whatever else I’m feeling. Writing is therapeutic…

I’m currently reading the book pictured above by Amy Dubois-Barnett. So far I’m feeling very inspired. When I think about it, I’ve often played it safe and never took much risk in pursuing my dreams. In the back of my mind I didn’t think I had the luxury to do so. As a Black woman (and a Muslimah) I always feel like I have certain responsibilities that I need to tend to first. I tell myself that I need to be practical. And if I’m honest I can admit that it’s scary to make major life changes, it’s scary to start over and it’s scary to step into the unknown. I have started asking myself, what do you really want? What are your dreams? And what obstacles (self-imposed and otherwise) are preventing you from pursuing your dreams? Most importantly, WHAT DO I WANT?

I want:

(1) To study under a learned, balanced Islamic scholar who has an understanding of the challenges American Muslims face. He or she also has to be able to relate to a woman like me. If that is not possible then I want to take a class online or travel to weekend classes.

(2) To work for an organization that has a serious commitment to social justice and unlearning racism. Alhamdulillah, I currently volunteer as a facilitator for small group discussions through the YWCA Racial Justice Program. I really enjoy hearing how people feel about race, racism, and ethnicity. More importantly, I’m so committed to this issue and really want to do more in the way of learning and teaching other people.

(3)To have a mentor. I feel that I could benefit from the advice, direction and wisdom of an elder. I’m not sure where I will find one but I really need a older sister whom I can trust and will be there as a sincere friend and adviser.

These three things are all achievable. I’m not asking for the moon. I suppose the question is, what will I do to make these dreams a reality?