Category Archives: flying

Singing, Swinging, and Walking Barefoot!

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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.

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The Replacements

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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.

Falling….or Flying?

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I named this blog “peace in the freefall” because I face a lot of challenges in life. I would even say I face more challenges than the average person, and part of that is¬†because of the choices I¬†have made and continue to make.¬† Sometimes it’s just because of circumstances out of my control. ¬†Most of the time, I experience these tests as falls off a cliff.¬† There have been instances where I actually am brave enough to face the challenge and “jump off” the cliff willingly, believing in doing so that I am submitting myself to Allah’s will for me at that moment and in that situation. Most of the time however, it feels more like I’ve been pushed off the cliff’s edge by the hands of Divine Decree, and the only choice I have is my response while falling until I land.

Sometimes, before I am removed from land (so to speak), it’s the idea of falling that is the most frightening.¬† Of course, it feels very similar to falling without a parachute or net to catch me.¬† I sometimes worry that the falling part will be too long, or that it will be too short and I will hit the ground hard before I’ve had the chance to adjust to the change in my reality.¬† Then, there’s always that part to worry about- the landing.¬† I’ve often feared it to be one that’s hard, painful, and difficult to recover from. Another reason I’m writing this blog is to remind myself that so far, none of my landings have been as hard as I feard.¬† In actuality, all of the worst things I’ve gone through have had tidy and complete resolutions or restorations.¬† I would compare them to landings where I am captured by a pool of water, or even landing on my own feet as though the fall were a mere jump! Forgetting how Allah has resolved my past troubles, is what often keeps me from feeling peace when I am facing new ones.

Last night I had a dream that I went hang-gliding. In real life, I’ve never done this; nor have I had the interest (or aversion) to.¬† In my dream, I remember being on a high cliff with my glider.¬† I remember that it was my choice to go ahead and jump off, or to walk back down the slope and let the adventure go.¬† I remember feeling that I needed to do it, that I wanted to do it so I could learn to be more at peace with being “out of control” and learning how what I do have control over in a situation like that can help drive its outcome.¬† I remember walking to the edge of that cliff several times and looking over it, worrying about things like, “what if the glider doesn’t catch air and I go straight in a nosedive and crash at the bottom? What if I can’t steer it away from the other walls of the canyon and I crash into one? What if I have to pee while I’m in the air?” (Yes, I actually wondered that, funny how I would’ve never worried about that if I had been truly awake!) Yet, while I was debating all those fears, I was also curious about what it would be like to fly, to be weightless and careless and experiencing something I never would unless I did this.

I decided to take the chance.¬† I ran down the slope toward the edge of the cliff and jumped off. I remember feeling a sick feeling when I jumped, a feeling of imminent peril, that was immediately erased by the reality that it was “too late now” once my feet left the ground.¬† That fear, the fear that had been swelling in me for moments before I acted, was now replaced by the reality of being in the air andd having to pay attention to what would actually happen next.¬† Indeed, one of my fears started to come true- I started to nosedive. Yet, I realized it was still a long way down, so I thought I had time to reverse the course. I jostled around until I felt air lift under the glider and it’s flight go from vertical to horizontal. I felt more than relieved….and I realized then even though I was scared and my worst fear might have come true, I was able to influence the situation so that it did not get any worse…and in fact became better.

Once my fears melted and I felt safe in the air, I could really take in the experience. It was not a frightening experience, it was actually very liberating and empowering.¬† I felt that I had faced the worst and found a way to make peace with it and even find benefit in it.¬† As I began to land near an ocean beach,¬† I realized immediately that the new problem of landing would need to be worked out. I didn’t want to have a hard landing, but I was feeling more and more that the previous fears I had were never necessary. I thought about how everything I needed to take off and fly was with me, and so everything I would need to land was also available to me. With this confidence I made it to the ground and then went back to the sales office and threw away my receipt for the glider rental and the sunglasses I purchased. I felt that I had learned how to do something I’ve never done before, and it made me feel like I could do it with anything that came my way.

Waking from this dream I realize how much it teaches me about the freefalls I find myself in with every new test and trial.  I see now that I am not freefalling without any protection, as though each fall were a haphazard accident.  I realize that I am not falling, but flying.  Sure, I may be off the cliff, off the ground.  I am in the air, and gravity is pulling me.  I will be back on the ground again.  Instead of it being a chaotic spin to the final resolution, I am actually given the chance to soar, to master the winds that I am thrown into and to enjoy the sensation of being at the mercy of something greater than me.  I am given by Allah everything I need to fly, to see things in a new way, and to land gracefully.  What I thought there was to fear, was really nothing to fear at all.  It was a blessed opportunity to be taken to a level beyond normal human experience.

Because of this dream,  I will be looking at my circumstances much differently.  I will be approaching the freefall with more courage.  I will remember that I have done this all before and made it down safely, in dreams and real life.  And it will be true.