Wednesday, 26 August 2009

30 days for 30 years

I turn 30 this month which is really no big deal for me, but I have been promising myself for a long time that 30 would be my cut-off point for failing to take proper care of myself. I look at my mum and mother-in-law in their 50’s with their health issues and although no-one is promised tomorrow, if I do get to live a long time, I want to look and feel good for as long as possible.

With this in mind, I have decided to take 30 steps or make changes which will help me in the long-term.

1. Do an iman check. My best friend recently told me about a question and answer session she had watched on the Islam Channel with a scholar called Abu Hanifah. The caller-in asked about what she could do to improve her iman and he suggested that as our iman fluctuates during our lifetime, we should look back to the time when we were strongest in our iman and take note of what we were doing at the time. Praying extra nafl prayers? Taking classes? Attending lectures? Make a checklist and then add some new things to it. Start working on them.

2. Improve my Diet – The one thing I promised myself is that I would be more conscious of what I eat. Not eat till I am stuffed and eat less junk-food. This is going to be the hardest for me as I love my food – pizza’s, burgers and naan kebabs being at the top of that list. I hope to drink more water, eat more fruit and veg and more raw food and have smaller meals which leave me not too full, but more alert and awake insh’Allah.

3. Start using miswak. I keep meaning to, but never get round to it. This is the tooth stick which the beloved Prophet (PBUH) used all the time. I used this when on hajj and I was shocked that it was more effective than powerful antibiotics at clearing the phlegm in my throat when I caught a nasty bug out there. It also has numerous other benefits, the biggest one being that it is sunnah.

4. Order some bee propolis supplements. Over the years I have tried multi-vitamins and royal jelly for my skin. But the one thing that helped me to get from 6.30am to 12pm each day without feeling shattered was Bee Propolis which I used after I developed problems with my teeth and eyes after I had my son (It is a natural antiseptic). I can no longer find the veggie brand I used, so have sourced this one. It’s not cheap, but really did me a lot of good.

5. Learn some Surahs. I keep telling myself I will, but haven’t. Well it’s about time I got started with the short ones at the end of the Quran insh’Allah.

6. Learn some masnoon dua’s or prayers. I learnt lots of these when my kids were small and then tailed off. Fashionista says she is buying a laminating machine, so insh’Allah, I will create some pretty dua cards on the computer and print and laminate and stick them up at relevant places round the house. The mirror one on the mirror, the sleep one above my bed and so on.

7. Better skincare. I have found a toner I like (Clarin’s), but was yet to find a moisturiser I could agree with. I wanted something natural as I found that although my skin is the opposite of sensitive alhamdulillah, many creams still sting or make it feel uncomfortable. I am hoping some research on one of my fave sites, Earth Clinic, will help me find something I like.

8. Inspire Myself. I have been longing to make myself an inspiration board. Well I have the board, now I need to put together the images and words to inspire me and put it where I work. I will take a pic when it’s all done and post insh’Allah if it turns out half decent.

9. Refuse to feel guilty about “me time”. I’m old enough now that I shouldn’t care what people think. I would not be doing my children any favours by fretting every minute about how much Quran they are learning or how much maths or English lessons they are getting through and what I could be teaching them right now instead of doing my own thing. In my experience kids like to be left alone to do their own thing for a bit, and I am an much more positive and attentive mother when I have been left alone for a bit to do my thing.

10. Lose a little weight. I have always told myself I am fine as I am at the same time as being convinced I will fit into pre-motherhood that size 8 dress again. I am fine as I am, but it’s good to be healthy and to be honest with myself I would like to look slimmer. So I will be pestering my husband (whose pec’s incidentally seem to have slipped from his arms to his belly since the time we married – and you can’t even blame it on my hit-and-miss cooking) to go walking daily.

11. Learn to Say NO. Now that I am old enough to know my mind and know better to not care what people think, I have to learn to say NO to things I don’t agree with, whether that is removing my hijab, wearing something I don’t like, eating somewhere I don’t want to go, or doing something that I am not intesrested in (does housework count?). I have always kow-towed to others and let others have first choice over me because I didn’t want to offend anyone or look greedy or because I want people to like me. So now I will still let others have first choice/say, but because I want to not because I feel obliged to. So not LEARN to say no, have the GUTS to say no insh’Allah. This leads to:

12. Have the guts to be honest. I know I don’t need to please anyone but Allah (SWT) insh’Allah, but if I think what I say will hurt someone, it kills me to say it. I will either avoid the topic or stall. I also hate confrontation, so again, I keep schtum when I should say something. As a fully-paid up member of the supposedly grown-woman club, I will try to have the guts to be honest and assert myself where necessary insh’Allah.

13. Take stock of my finances. Despite my best efforts, I never did get into the habit of household budgeting or meal-planning or various other money-saving routines. I have never worried too much about saving and I always tell myself, don’t worry, you’ll get paid next month. So I think it’s about time I grew up with regards to my finances. I will be doing a basic checklist to ensure I don’t have any outstanding debts and can think of ways to save. I will also be scanning my bank statements to see where I am being thoughtless with my spending. Personal Finances Checklist and monthly household budget worksheet

14. Take charge of my household routine. Because I (still!) work full-time (and because I am a bit lazy), I often lag behind on household chores and everything I do in the evening is undone the following day by the kids. With the intention of taking charge and with the yearning for a clean, neat home, I am putting together a household organiser where I can store my daily chore routine, weekly menu, kids appointments and routines and to-do lists. The question is whether I can stick to the planners and get some control over things.

15. De-clutter my home. This is harder to do with children but not impossible. I am realising more and more than we accumulate way more than we need and then kill ourselves trying to contain and take care of it all. We also hold onto things we no longer need because of our sentimental attachments to them (“one day I will be a size eight again and those jeans will fit”, “my mum bought me that frame on my anniversary”). Insh’Allah I will try my utmost to clear the house as far as possible and donate, give away, recycle or sell what I don’t use or need – one room or cupboard at a time.

16. Increase my knowledge of Islam. I am desperate to attend tajweed (Quran pronunciation) classes, study circles or lectures but this never seems to happen anymore. I’m going to make the intention and see if there is one I can go to on weekends where I can take the kids with me or Little Lady at least.

17. Read more Islamic books. I love to read, but I am very aware of the pile of books on my bedside table of an Islamic nature which are half-finished and have been neglected for various works of fiction. Isnsh’Allah this Ramadan I hope to have a go at attacking some of the seerah’s (biography’s of our beloved Prophet Muhammad) and books of knowledge and giving my iman a boost in the process.

18. Let go. During my early twenties I was ambitious and very competitive. I had to be the best dressed, progress the fastest and achieve the most. As the decade wore on and I married, had children and the role of faith became more important in my life I have found that my priorities have shifted. I’ve come to realise that we aren't what we do and we sometimes just need to be and accept how we are, that our value doesn't lie in our qualifications or job, but is innate regardless of what we do.

19. Have more fun as a mother. I drive myself crazy trying to get everyone fed, bathed and in bed on time, making sure the kids are keeping up with Quran lessons (and failing miserably on occasion) and homework. As time goes by I find myself shouting at them less, finding it easier not to smack them (I am losing the desire to respond to irritation this way) and giving them a bit more space to make small choices for themselves (although the result of this in the outfits Little Lady chooses for herself are questionable.

20. Learn more Sunaan. Insh’Allah it would be good to learn more of the sunnah of our Prophet (PBUH); the things he did and the way he lived and implement them in my life.

21. Review my relationship with my parents. I have gone through phases of being very close with parents and periods if being far less so. Right now I feel like as I grow, my relationship with them does too. I have a renewed desire to be on the best possible terms with them and make sure I do all I can to take good care of them. This is a route to Paradise insh’Allah and hopefully my children will learn how to treat me one day.

22. Learn to cook. Even if it kills me. I’m not a horrendous cook, I’m just not a great or very adventurous one. My in-laws are very much the type of people who place a woman’s value by what she looks like or how well she can cook. This upset me for a long time and made me feel inadequate and resistant to learning anything new. But it’s about time I got over caring what anyone thinks. After all, I like food, and I like feeding people. I like the thought of my guests enjoying my food and I like the thought of me in the kitchen effortlessly rustling up gourmet treats. Okay, so that’s getting ahead of myself. But I will learn to cook well insh’Allah. A site that has helped me quite a bit has been Fauzia’s Pakistani Recipes. Anyone with any other suggestions, please do let me know.

23. Accept. As I grow older (and a bit wider), I need to accept that I will never look like the slim teenager I was, even if I am still 18 in my head. I will never have the flawless face, the perfect figure or be any taller. In fact I will probably get wider, wrinklier and darker (I’m not sitting in the house to keep pale for anyone!). I have to accept that it is okay to be this way. It is okay to look like you have children when you have had them and not feel pressured to look like a perfect (airbrushed) model. The extra space in your lap is needed to fit all your children in anyway. I have to accept that my face will age (although it was flattering when a Roma knocked on the door looking for my husband the other day and asked where my dad was – although he would have pitched a fit if he heard!). If I live a good and interesting life and I am ready with a smile for everyone, then insh’Allah I hope to age well anyway.

24. Read a tafsir (commentary) of the Quran. Insh’Allah I am planning to get hold of some Quran tapes with translation in Urdu and English and a commentary on the Quran to work through this Ramadan. I should have done this a long time ago, but haven’t got round to it. That’s one good thing about this blog, if you announce something to the whole world, you can’t then sneak your way out of doing it.

25. Improve my salah (daily prayers). This is something I have struggled with for a long time. I mentioned this on my blog and some sisters gave me some very good advice. I also noticed at times my concentration has been better than others. I need to take the time to understand what I am praying, reflect on it and take my time with the cations of the prayer. I need to stop a moment and think about the enormity of what I am about to do and the greatness of the One I am about to stand before in prayer. I also notice that I feel hurried because I have other things to do, so I have to remember my purpose on this earth (to glorify Allah (SWT)) and think about how important what I am about to do is compared to all of the small tasks I find myself. Also I need to study and gain knowledge about salah insh’Allah.

26. Study further. I have wanted to study further for a long time. I didn’t want to take away more time from my children though. So in the coming year I want to clarify what I want and where I want to go, although I might wait until my children are all at school before I apply anywhere.

27. Pick up some new skills. I want to learn more about policy work, diversity work and project management. I am lucky that my current job is in this area and is helping me to gain some of these skills and I am looking towards arranging some training. I also want to get better at doing henna. I’ve gotten lazy at practising on Little Lady, so will step this up (I am sure to her delight). My office are offering free henna courses at the local college but during work hours, so need to find a way to benefit from these if possible. Otherwise private lessons from a sister are an option.

28. Work part-time. I’ve worked part-time for ten years through three pregnancies and now with three kids. I am really very keen to go part-time. I’ve been hinting at hubby he should get richer. I’m also angling for promotion. Insh’Allah at some point in the coming year I would like to start discussing this with my employers and family. Even one day less would be a nice.

29. Be Grateful. After being ill earlier this year and suffering the most horrendous nausea which left me unable to do much, I am truly grateful to Allah (SWT) for giving me my health back. I can eat and enjoy my food again, I can get things done, I can take care of my children again. Insh’Allah I hope I remember this every day and am able to show gratitude to Allah (SWT) for all he has given me.

30. Remain young at heart. Just because my age and responsibilities have increased, that doesn’t mean that I have to grow up. At all thank you very much. I learned this from my dad-in-law who is 65 but still thinks he is 21. He is still up for every new trip, adventure and experience whether his body can handle it or not. He made me realise that youth is not about an age but about a particular attitude.


  1. Love this list! You've inspired me! I'm going to steal it but since I'll be 35 this year I have more stuff to work on.

    ma'a salaamah,


  2. Are you sure you are not sneaking a amall space in my head? I echo your sentiments. I've said it before and I am going to say it again - your writing is par excellence. You manage to say so much so succinctly. It is always a treat to log on and read what you have written and again you did not disappoint. Kudo's to you on writing so well. Again big love to you, the kids and family. Farzana

  3. Mashallah sis! I really love reading your blog. I have really enjoyed a lot reading this particular one as I am also going to be 30 this month insha-Allah. I also hope to do lot of the things you are planning. May Allah swt reward you for sharing your lovely thoughts with us. I have a feeling that you might be living very near to my place :-)Insha-Allah hope to know more about you. Keep it up sis, Ramadan mubarak !

  4. Love your list sis...insha'Allah may you fulfil most if not all of them :-)

  5. Fashionista27 August, 2009

    Good list, im sure you'll be able to do all these things and more super sis ;o) x

  6. Wow! I could've written this myself! I think you have so eloquently put what most working mums are feeling these days. Trying to keep he balance to keep everyone happy. Insha'Allah you will succeed, sister. Insha'Allah we all will.

  7. Assalam-alaikam,

    Sister HA,
    I can't wait to see oyur list insh'Allah.

    Sister Farzana,
    thank you for your kind words, I look forward to catching up with you when you have a moment.

    Sister Sumaiya,
    I'm curious now, where do you think I live? I'd love it if you e-mailed me. I'm amazed I haven't come across your excellent blog before, I'll be catching up with reading it when I get a chance.

    Sister Washi,
    Ameen to what you say, I'll give it my best shot.

    Hope so, with LS spending money on me, Kooks keeping my wardrobe up to date and you driving me everywhere, I've got a better chance at it haven't I?

    Sister Asma,
    Ameen to what you say, one step at a time with our intentions clear in front of us right?

  8. LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! I just turned 33 (eek!) last Monday. Might be nabbing some ideas from your list. Btw, finished Tuck Everlasting. Still deciding what I think of it.

  9. Belated happy birthday?

    Are you setting too many goals and 'to-do's for yourself? I don't mean to be a wet-blanket but I found your list intimidating.