Category Archives: blessing

Do I Really Have to Go?


A bittersweet day it has been indeed, being that it was my last one here. Tonight I am solemnly contemplating my return to Atlanta, and as always I wish I didn’t have to go. Indeed, the entire drive back here to LA county I wished I could turn the car around and return to the previous places I’ve visited, and never leave.

I spent most of my morning at Pismo Beach. After departing from San Luis Obispo, I wanted to have some final time to reflect on some things before wrapping this trip up. I pulled off the road and wrapped myself in my black wool abaya, and cautiously walked down to the shore. I listened to music, singing here and there, while I slowly strolled the length of the beach to its rocky cliff walls. The sun glistening off of the dancing waves soothed me, and I thought about how problems in life are often like this: out in the distance, they seem so frightening and overwhelming. They keep coming and coming, like the frothy breakers yards away. Some are so high, it seems as though they only will knock us down when they reach us.

But as the tide races toward shore, those ripples become smaller and smaller, until they are merely a gentle lap upon the sand crowned with glistening white bubbles. The water recedes leaving the beach shimmering like glass, with the sun’s reflection refracting off it like a dazzling laser. The streaks of iron decorate the shoreline like sparkling scars….scars not unlike our own after being tested.

I ended up staying out on the beach for about two hours. As I walked back to the car after praying dhuhr, I gazed up at the sun. The sky behind it was nearly black, and with the wafting cirrus clouds flanking it like miniature galaxies, it appeared as though it was actually guarding the entrance to eternity.

I drove the rest of the way to the valley along the coast, reluctant to reach the inevitable. Unfortunately, doing so put me right in the middle of rush hour traffic in downtown Los Angeles. The traffic didn’t bother me, though, as I spent the time replaying all the memories recently made. Now that the day is finished, I will do the best I can to prepare for my return flight, hoping that my next visit here will be very soon in shaa Allah.


Singing, Swinging, and Walking Barefoot!


I couldn’t have imagined what fun I would have today. I woke up early again in Fremont (I guess there’s part of me that’s still on East Coast time), wrote, read, and returned to sleep. When I woke again to get ready to check out, I decided it would be neat to stop by Casa de Fruta, a place I frequently visited as child. It wasn’t too far off the route I planned taking back toward Los Angeles, and I always had fond memories of playing all over the grounds when I accompanied my grandparents to the swap meets that occasionally were hosted there.

I arrived at my destination a little before noon. I was surprised -thrilled in fact- to see that the place looked virtually unchanged from the last time I remember being there…which must’ve been when I was at least 10 or 13. That’s one of the things I love about California- that things don’t change so quickly. It always comforts me to see the familiar landmarks.

So I parked, took my prayer rug and purse, and decided to start by following on foot the miniature train tracks heading back behind the RV park section. I was looking for an area of track I used to call the “slanter”, which used to be so close to a cliff that it felt like we were going to fall off as we rode along. I didn’t find it, but perhaps that’s because the tracks were brought in away from the cliff (I did manage to find that)…..either that or I just remember it being much more frightening than it actually was.

As I rounded the curve where the tracks passed by the second playground near the RV hookups, the adhan for dhuhr played through my headphones. I was already near a grassy clearning, so I went ahead and made it there. I continued my path along the tracks when I noticed a lone steer laying in a pen. I walked over to him and gave him salaams. He didn’t seem interested in me, but I kept talking to him. I told him I understood how lonely he must feel and asked if he got many vistors. As I was chattering, “Always be There” by Maher Zain began to play. I know I was the only one who could hear it, but no one was around and I went ahead and started singing it to old Mr. Steer. Then, he decided to get himself up and come over to where I was standing near his fence. He just kept watching me as I sang. I started to walk again slowly ahead, singing all the while, and the steer “followed” me. I guess he liked my company ūüôā After the song was over, I gave him salaams again and proceeded to the playground area where the carousel was.

Even though they had installed a new playset next to the old one, everything else was exactly as it was when I was a child. I had a sudden memory of losing a glitter bracelet in the pond from throwing bread crumbs at the ducks there, and I was surprised that such a recollection would float through my mind after so many years of being forgotten. As I was pondering this, a crew of peacocks paraded through and I giggled in delight just to see them. It was almost as if I was a child again, and all I wanted to do was swing.

So I chose the one that seemed highest off the ground and turned around to face away from the pond, so I could take in the better view of the lush, green hillsides and puffy clouds. I had nasheeds playing in my headset, which I sang to (yes, aloud) as I swung. I tried to go higher and higher, not caring about the little Spanish girls giving me curious smiles as they played nearby. I closed my eyes and blissfully absorbed the pure freedom that came from such a simple pleasure. I leaned back and wished I could just fly away.

After about an hour of that, I decided I should go ahead and be on my way. I decided to stop in the store first to get a caffeinated drink, as I felt the swinging had tired me a little and I didn’t want to feel that way while driving. I perused all the produce offerings, and palmed one of the avocados which was scandalously ripe. I purchased a Starbuck’s Frappuccino and returned outside, where I noticed the “haunted” train tunnel. I walked over to it to take a closer look, and saw the stairs leading up to a seating area atop its “mountain”. I decided that was a nice enough place to drink my caf√©, and I spent a few minutes there feeling grateful to Allah for the beauty all around. I felt like I was beginning to find myself, little bit by little bit.

When I finished, I began walking back toward my car. I passed by “Casa de Candy”, and thought I probably shouldn’t pass that up, which was a good thing because there they were selling the ever elusive U-no candy bars I had been trying to find the entire trip. They don’t sell them in Georgia, and I promised my sons I would bring them back several. I thanked Allah for giving me the chance to keep my word, and then got back on the road.

The drive to the coastline was breathtakingly gorgeous. The gentle, verdant foothills all around seemed to mark a path for the billowing clouds to follow in their celestial hijra. Driving the winding coastal highway made me feel like I was gliding over the cresting waves, through the azure sky and right into the unhidden sun itself. Sometimes I think these amazing drives are the best part of the vacation. The only disappointment was that there was not an opportunity to access the beach well enough to make salat until I reached Cambria, right before Asr was to go out.

I pulled off and exited the car as I caught my breath at the endless expanse of sea before me. I had always wanted to make salat on a beach, and use the saltwater for wudu. The wind gusted around me as I walked down to the pebbled shoreline. I timidly approached the ebbing tide, which seemed to retreat from me even with its influx back upon the beach. When I finally thought I was close enough to lean down and begin washing my hands in the saline foam, a rush of tide came at me forcefully. I tried stepping back from it to avoid my shoes getting soaked, but I only managed to stumble backwards and nearly fall. Before I could fully escape another small wave licked around my shins and drenched everything below my knees. I laughed riotously as I chased the waters back toward the sea to catch another handful of it to finish my wudu. I couldn’t stop laughing, actually, even as I finished washing and began to make my salat safely away from the tide.

When I returned to my car after prayer, I peeled off my “cheap” Chinatown shoes and kufs. I threw them on the passenger side floor, and kicked on the heat full blast and set it to blow on them, hoping to mostly dry them and my wet pant bottoms. I cracked my window to offset the temperature and continued my drive barefoot.

I decided to stop for the night in San Luis Obispo. Whenever I look for a room, I try to find something that looks like a cheap hole in the wall. I usually expect such places to be kind of flaky, but the truth is every place I have stayed at has actually been pretty nice once I get in the room. Tonight I have a plush king sized bed and tasteful d√©cor, with a nicely tiled shower. I do kind of miss the little room I had in San Francico, though. When I finished bringing all my luggage in (still barefoot), I realized I hadn’t eaten all day and thought it would be a good idea to finish off the leftovers I had brought from Fremont. I needed something to drink, however, and since my footwear was still drying I decided to drive barefoot again to a local fast food restaurant so I could just order a beverage in the drive thru.

I thought it was kind of strange that the first place I passed -a Taco Bell- had no drive thru at all. I thought maybe it was just fluke and continued on until I saw a Jack in the Box…but it also had no drive thru. I drove a couple more blocks and sure enough, none of the fast food restaurants had drive thrus. But I needed a drink, regardless of being barefoot. I ended up heading back toward my hotel and stopping in a gas station (barefoot, of course) and grabbing a bottled soda. I asked the clerk if there was some kind of law against having drive thru’s here, and he actually said there was! I laughed my barefoot self all the way back to my parked car, thinking there could not have been a more humorous ending than this to such a joyful day.

Allah is The Answer


My middle son misses me. He called at all hours of the morning (the time difference did not help), crying and crying. I felt so helpless, being so far away, but I completely understood what it feels like for him. The best I could do was stay with him on the phone until he was able to calm down and put his mind on other things.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from today. It was important for me to find my mom’s old house, and the apprehension in what may lie ahead kept me from getting restful sleep. When it became apparent at 9 AM that there was not going to be any more opportunities for me to go back to bed before I had to check out, I went ahead and gritted my teeth and got ready for the day. I mapped out the street she lived on, then went to the nearby garage and retrieved my car. I drove from Hyde to Mission to 24th, and found a side street to park on.

Just as I remembered, Lilac St was nothing more than an alley. I wasn’t sure if I would remember her door by seeing it, but I was going to give it my best shot. I slowly walked toward the alley, uncertain if it was a good neighborhood or not. There were a lot of trendy places on Mission just around the corner, but alleys always seem kind of scary. I proceeded cautiously, and was relieved to see there weren’t many people around. Some guys were just taking a smoke break from the back door of the restaurants that lined the alley, and others were residents unloading things from their storage spaces.

The alley itself was colorfully painted with one graffiti mural after another. One one telephone pole were three faces of middle eastern looking men, and on the next were three women in hijab. Most of the alley was lined with sliding doors that led to either garages or storage areas. There were not many entry doors, and as I looked at each one I could not hone in on which might have been hers. What was clear was that this seemed to be an area where artists congregated, and that explained why she -with painting being a consuming passion of hers- would’ve chosen to live there.

I walked the entire length of the way searching for the impossible. I recalled that my brother had told me once that the building itself used to be a train station that was converted into living units, but none of the structures appeared to fit that description. When I reached the other end of the alley, I felt disappointed and lost. I turned back around, hoping that the alternate view might trigger a flash of memory to help me find what I was looking for, but that didn’t happen.

I returned to my car feeling defeated. This was something I felt I needed to do, and I couldn’t even do it. I sat in the driver’s seat and began weeping profusely. Something so simple, yet so elusive, can hurt so deeply.

“It’s only natural to want to have a mother in my life…”
Yes, it is.

“I didn’t deserve what happened…”
No, you didn’t.

“I didn’t do anything wrong!”
You couldn’t have.

The tears wouldn’t stop. The confusion burrowed deeper. The pain painted pictures before my eyes, and I hated it for being the very thing that was chaining me to the unhealthy habits I am struggling to break even now.

“Ya Allah, please show me how this loneliness, this constant loneliness that’s been a part of my life since birth, is really the best thing for me!”

I sat, trying to figure out a way forward. A way to heal and find peace from these deep scars. I kept thinking that finding my future was the answer, but the future is uncertain…..except for one thing: Islam.

Islam would be my way forward. Islam will help me find myself, and find my peace. It already has in so many ways, but the more I focus on it the more Allah will meet me where I need.

And so that’s where I wanted to go from that place, that empty alley which had no answers or comfort. I sent a message to a friend trying to find the way to the Muslims in San Francisco. While awaiting the response, I tried to find the information myself via and Google. Both were inconclusive, so I was glad to get a reply with a general direction to move toward.

As it turned out, I ended up scouring the area I was pointed to block by block. I didn’t see any cluster of shops with signs in Arabic to indicate what I was looking for, so I thought I would just make due with popping into the nearby masjid to make dhuhr and from there go on my merry way. However, there was some type of event going on in that area, so the streets were being blocked off one by one. I couldn’t find a place to park by the masjid; in fact just getting out of the area and back toward the interstate was nearly impossible due to gridlock traffic and took almost an hour.

In the end, I drove to nearby Fremont to attend a zikr which was scheduled for this evening. I originally had planned not to go, but I felt like I needed something like that right now. I got into town and mapped the venue, which was located at a park. I decided to make my dhuhr there, and kill the time by eating a late lunch at a local halal restaurant. After that, I drove to the closest masjid and made asr, then returned to the park center for the night’s activities.

I am so glad I went. Being able to only focus on Allah and my iman was just what I needed, and it changed my state completely. Masha’Allah, they even served us a free dinner. The nasheeds lifted my spirits and I felt lighter than air after it was over. As I walked back out to my car, I looked up to see the wispy clouds sifting past a brilliantly shining full moon, beautifully set in the starry, cobalt sky. Alhamdulillah!

I located an affordable room for the night in town, which is where I am staying tonight. I like Fremont; it reminds me of the San Gabriel Valley where I spent half my childhood. In shaa Allah I will begin wending my way down the coast toward Southern California tomorrow. My trip will be coming to an end soon, so I hope I can make the most of these last opportunities toward self-discovery as I continue exploring the land I love.

Mawlid An-Nabi


Today is reportedly the day that Prophet Muhammad SAWS was born, a momentous day indeed. Today is also momentous for me, as it marks my 10th anniversary of taking shahadah and becoming Muslim (if I were counting by the hijri calendar; the Gregorian anniversary for that will be on May 13). I realize that there is a division amongst Muslims about the conventions of “celebrating” this day. In fact, I found out about it first hand when I naively wished a group of my close friends “Happy Mawlid” last year. Until then, I assumed every Muslim recognized the occasion, as that was the only thing I had see from Muslims until that point.

While I understand that many groups and cultures have taken celebrating Mawlid to the extreme, and have made a dunya mockery of what should be more reflective occasion, I also feel that those who believe that celebrating Mawlid is a biddah have also run to their own extreme. They seem to want to ignore that today WAS actually the day our human example an the most perfect of men came into this existence, as though it were a shameful thing. They want to treat it like any other day, astaghfirulllah. While I agree that every day should be one of zikr and following the sunnah, I don’t understand what purpose it serves anyone to try to turn their minds and hearts away from the fact that today was one of the most magnificent and significant days of all time.

For me, today will be a day of meditating upon the unbelievable, life-changing events that transpired years ago on this same date. Not only will I give my thanks to Allah for bringing us the complete and perfect guidance that came through Prophet Muhammad SAWS, but I will be thinking about the way my life has been forever changed by confessing that he is in fact the Messenger of the only true God- Allah a decade ago. I tear up, even sitting here in the gate lobby as I await my flight, when I even briefly think of the beauty and peace Islam has brought -and continues to bring- into my life.

There could be nothing more fitting than beginning this next decade of my “real” life with a time of soul-searching and refuge in my home-state. Everything I’ve suffered truly has aligned to create a greater and more splendid purpose for my life, and who I was meant to become is yet closer still….and she’s so beautiful, inside.

That’s the true gift of Mawlid An-Nabi, may Allah be praised.

Grounding Moments


This evening I slowed down enough to savor the subtle moments that will define the steps along this course. My oldest son’s friend and basketball teammate had come over to spend the night, and I was making home-made lasagna with the best store-bought garlic bread.

The steam from the boiling noodles began to film the kitchen windows, and I smiled at how nice it is to actually have a kitchen window. How nice is to know that no one will be drawing the shades on my windows at 2 AM, keeping the dawn sunlight from flooding these expansive rooms.

As I gently folded the garlic, parmesan cheese and egg into the mass of ricotta I realized that these simple things, the collection of these peaceful moments are what will stay me from endlessly swinging back from my sorrowful past and forth to my terrifyingly unknown future.

I slowly lined the casserole dish with a layer of pasta, and carefully spread the ricotta blend over it in a thick layer. I listened to the boys watching Percy Jackson and the Olympians downstairs as I sprinkled the mozzarella shreds slowly and evenly over the sauce. I noticed how calm everyone seemed, how content. Tonight we don’t have to worry about someone being called a douchebag, or a retard, or an idiot, simply because they turned the TV up too loud.

…and it was a bit too loud. So I left the unfinished dish on the counter under the too-watchful eyes of Nya the cat. I padded to the balcony overlooking the den in my worn, black kufs and simply said, “That’s up a little too high. Turn it back down to 35 and keep it no higher than that.” The fading symphonic strains from the movie evidenced their compliance, and I wondered how anyone could think parenting needed to be more severe than that.

Dinner had been cooked, and laundry was being changed. When I finally took my plate to the dining room to join the boys I saw my oldest son had already cleared his first helping. His younger brother offered the piece of garlic bread he was too full to eat for Jed’s second serving as our guest told me he had never had lasagna before; that his mother only made spaghetti. I felt sad inside for him, but grateful that he was able to at least try it once here, in my serene home.

The Replacements


It is said that Allah does not take anything from a person except to replace it with better.¬† I can say, with every fiber of my being, that my present¬†life shows this reality.¬† This week has made manifest a qadr I’ve hoped for, and I am humbled that Allah saw fit to bring it to fruition in my life.


On Monday we closed on the house.¬† Yes, it was anticipated, but there is something about actually walking away with¬†the physical confirmation of what one has worked hard for. Imagine what Paradise will be, when such exhilaration comes in this life! I have to admit, one of the more challenging things about having the house is the deep longing in my heart to share it with my soon to be ex-husband. I can’t erase the fact that the main reason I toiled for this very thing was for his sake, and now it is being with-held from him. Allah knows best.¬† I have been struggling with a sentimental sadness and longing to “fix it” by taking him back into my life, but unfortunately the character he’s been showing these last few days indicate he still is not going in the direction I need¬†my husband to go in…or the direction I’m trying to go in myself.¬† Fortunately, today I am feeling less emptiness about this and more focused on the purposes Allah has to help me further develop my sincerity and taqwa.


I have been thinking about all of the places I’ve lived since I moved out from my grandparent’s home; and surely this is the best place so far. I love the house, the floorplan, the windows, the feel.¬† I can only hope in shaa Allah that a good man may share it with me someday…whether he is a transformed version of B, or someone I’ve not yet met, or even perhaps a friend who becomes more than a friend.¬† Allah knows best what I need, even if it means having the rest of my life to contemplate my duties to Him. He is to be praised because He shorts me nothing. Ever.


My little one is doing well. He completed his day treatment and will be returning to school tomorrow. He also is excited about the new changes with the house and all, so I hope it can boost him to where he is not overwhelmed with the pain of what is being lost.  I will do my best to continue to help him in shaa Allah.


I have a new car as well, masha’Allah.¬† I went on Friday and bought my 2013 Dodge Challenger.¬† It is like my own little piece of California for as long as I stay here in Georgia.¬† I intend to take the best care of it so it in shaa Allah will last me for decades to come. I have never financed a car before, and up until now I have been adamantly against such things and would rather save a few grand and buy something older and used. However, I know that I’ve made a lot of sacrifices for others. There have not been a lot of “things” I’ve wanted in life, but that Challenger always had my eye. I wanted to do something nice for myself so that I could experience the reality that I am just as valuable as anyone else. I wanted to buy a car and never have to worry about buying one again for the rest of my life, because it will remain in shaa Allah in good condition and it is what I have truly wanted. Every time I drive it I try to make a point to be thankful to Allah for giving me the opportunity to make such a dream come true and helping me to do so, and remind myself of the value I have no matter what others think or what I’ve experienced to prove otherwise.


And masha’Allah, excess money with each check. Even with the new car and house,¬† I will be having more surplus from my pay than I’ve ever had before. What a queer feeling to know that I¬† could buy drapes, plane tickets, clothes, or any other ‘stuff’ whenever I want. It doesn’t even seem real, but the truth is I am not really interested in doing any of that. Sure I will probably buy a few curtains for the house simply because there are more windows than curtains I currently own; and a few other decorative things, but after that I would probably just give in charity, save, and pay down any debt I have.¬† The only point (in my view) in having nice things is to remember Allah by them.¬† Surely I remember many times I got something nice or pretty and just was so grateful to Allah for beautiful things to enjoy as long as He allows, always reminded that nothing comes except by His leave.


I guess for me it’s easy to see that even though all these things are very nice and enjoyable, they are just transient. Anything can be lost at any time, and I certainly know what being on that side of the fence is like. I remember a time when I was starving and pregnant with my youngest son. We had no money and were literally living off the cans of salmon given to us by a local food pantry.¬† All I wanted was a tomato to add to it, and I remember how frantically we tried looking for enough change to buy just one.¬† In those days,¬† I don’t even know how the bills got paid since I wasn’t working and not getting child support, and it seemed my husband couldn’t keep a job.¬† Masha’Allah, Allah brought me through that and so many other trials. He brought me here, and He can take me anywhere He likes. My only goal in life is to become who He meant me to be regardless of where He takes me, either good or bad, in this life.


I can’t help but feel, though, that seeing what He is giving me now…anything else I’m losing or giving up will have a better replacement as well in shaa Allah. I think the hardest thing has been the ending of my marriage, but I really do trust Allah will either satisfy me with being alone in this life, or He will bring me a suitable partner who is better than the one I am losing. It’s as He likes, and I’m merely grateful for anything He chooses.


I am going to spend the next few weeks transitioning everything from this apartment to the house in shaa Allah. In addition to that, my plan is to eat healthier and try to become a little more active so I can begin in shaa Allah to lose some weight. I am hoping that when I take my vacation after MLK day I will be in a healthier condition, and also have some habits I can continue until I am a little trimmer and eating as I should for my diabetes.

I can, and I will


I was thinking, as I was driving home the other day, that if one were to deduce my motto for life based on what I actually do in living it they might believe it is “rise to the occassion”.¬† I don’t sit around thinking of all the ways I want to grit through life, or all the lofty goals I hope to achieve. But, when trouble comes, I play defense passionately. Sometimes I laugh to myself because, being as un-inclined to athletics as I am, I probably would’ve been most suited to tennis because of the way I like to lob back every difficulty that tries to assault me.


My youngest son is thankfully home for the hospital. He ended up staying in the acute setting for a full week, and they discharged him down to the day program which he began yesterday.  He seems to do be doing better than he was when I had to take him in, but I am getting lots of opportunities to work on my patience as I again train him on what are the appropriate ways to speak to me or manage his own frustrations. In a couple of weeks I hope he will be ready to go back to school and finish out the semester unremarkably. In  the mean time, I am trying to give him a lot of focused attention and structure.


This upcoming week is going to be a very eventful one for me.  Monday morning we are scheduled to close on the house,  and as soon as that detail is out of the way I plan on working toward getting a new car. I had mentioned before how I planned to get a Challenger anyway, but now it is needed because the wheel shaft on my Hyundai cracked off from the chassy and the car had to be salvaged.  I am currently driving a rental, and I want to be able to return that sooner than later. I am glad that I will be off the last two days of this week to start working on my transition and fixing up the new house, and of course spending some meaningful times with the kids.


I also just completed the first third of my iddah.¬† It certainly has been a roller-coaster so far, but all the niggling doubts that I was having that led up to the divorce are quiet. That’s my marker to know that I made the right choice, no matter how often I long for old times. I decided to plan a trip out of town once my iddah is complete so I can refocus back on my own goals and values and start my new life with a renewed sense of meaning and purpose, insha’Allah. I have already purchased my plane tickets and requested a full week off from work. I am taking this trip alone, and I plan on trying to use it to really reflect on the things that matter most to me and what things I want to start investing my energy and creativity into.¬† I think this is the first vacation I’ve ever taken where I didn’t make a point of visiting people; for once I just want to get in touch with myself.


All in all, I do have a lot to look forward to. I have dreams to nurture and responsibilities keep me occupied and challenged. I was thinking yesterday of what my future might be like….if I will be spending more nights alone weeping what I’ve lost or thankful for what I’ve gained…and I realized there will be both. There will be nights I will miss the best parts of the “us” I had with B.¬† There will be days I will be glad that a particularly stressful situation with the kids wasn’t met with an explosion by him, too.¬† There will be plenty of times I will despair over the fact of never having another baby and living with the incompleteness my daughter’s departure left in me, but there will also be circumstances that will show me how much more difficult things would have been if I did have a young one to factor in.


Granted, things are not ideal. If I could create an ideal situation it would first have me living in California and not here lol.¬† I would have a healthy marriage and emotionally healthy kids. I would be a more balanced person myself, and I would have positive and uplifting relationships with others. I would perhaps even be free not to have to work. When I think of a scenario where all this fits in, it seems impossible to achieve in the near future…but one can never guess the sudden change of terrain that Allah might put before us.¬† I certainly never anticipated that I would be getting divorced after everything I went through with my husband, but here I am. I never thought I would be buying my first home alone, and getting a new car that I actually like, but it’s happening.¬† There is no telling what else can happen, and I truly am excited to see what each day brings to make the tapestry of my life that much more beautiful.