Saturday 8 January 2011

Word for 2011

There is an interesting challenge I have seen going around the blog world (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) - to choose One Little Word for 2011. This is a word that you can focus on, mediate on, and reflect upon as you go about my daily life.

I had a little think about this and decided my word for 2011 should be "COURAGE". A few days and much discussion with my husband and sister later, I thought of another word which really just requires the first - downsizing.

The public sector is undertaking massive job cuts and our office is no exception. Our managers have been given notice that only half of them will be retained and will all have to re-apply for half of the jobs they currently do. Once they are in place (or made redundant for half them) sometime in late February all of our jobs will be reviewed and cuts will be made. This has kind of become the norm in the public sector, particularly local government, where everyone seems to come under some kind of review every two years or so. But this time it all feels so much worse.

When the managers got their notice this week, I felt bad for them, but I also thought alhamdulillah, at least I have my faith and my belief that Allah (SWT) is the provider of sustenance and not any job or career.

I had a long discussion with my husband, every year or two we make plans to move, to buy a smaller or cheaper place so that we can reduce the financial burden on us. We have also been looking for something in the catchment area for the high school I want my children to go to. So once more we have had this discussion. We have explored how we can live in less space with three children and extended family and keep some amount of privacy considering I wear hijab and abaya.

We have had to accept that the conventional way of living we daydream about: nice bedrooms for the children, walk-in-wardrobes and endless space for all of the things I seem to accumulate/attract, plenty of extra guestrooms to contain out in-laws and visiting guests and relatives – it’s just not going to happen. It’s not sustainable or affordable. And it’s not necessarily the best way to live for us either. I knew when we made the choice not to have a television in our home, to make Islam the love of our lives and our homes and our passion, when we started to focus on dawah and travelling as we did last Ramadan (1 and 2), that our lives would be different. We have come in for stick because of this from both of our families and from numerous other people who think we are extreme, or too religious or can’t see why we are not doing what everyone else’s son/daughter/friend is doing it. But travelling and exposure to different people has really taught me there are different ways to live and the conventional one is not always the most satisfying one or the one that pleases Allah (SWT) the most.

We talked with the children about finding a smaller place to live, so even if Mum does keep her job, she can work fewer days and spend more time with them. In terms of space it won’t be such a big change initially because they have always had to share and have their grandparents in with them for half a year too. My only concern was as Little Lady gets older she will need her privacy. I thought of something I read a while back about Palestinian families (I have no idea where) which described how parents and daughters get their own bedrooms and boys sleep in the living room with bedding they can roll up and stash away. I don’t know how accurate this is, but it sounds workable in the future for me.

A smaller place would also mean that I would not be happy to having all my in-laws staying with me. My husband’s parents are my parents and I would be happy to have them with me, but after almost five years of having brothers-in-law live with me, I am not able to accommodate them and their new wives if they return to the UK – so they will have to either find somewhere else to stay or move into some kind of annexe or something.

Moving could also mean a much larger garden than the little one we have now, and in true desi fashion, my husband has already dreamed up plans for an extension and a room at the end of the garden with a built-in kitchenette and bathroom (where the brothers-in-law would be installed if they came back). Sounds daft? It’s actually been a growing trend in East London and people even rent these little “Studio flats” out to families (probably illegally).

Anyway, I am getting waaaay ahead of myself. We will be looking for somewhere in the area we want to move to. Hubby also has a cab licence which he may have to make use of (although I don’t like the idea of seeing even less of him). So deep breaths, perspective and COURAGE!

Other thoughts for the coming year are to do with travelling around the UK with the kids once the weather improves, hopes and prayers for Umrah (pilgrimage) with my children this year. What little redundancy money I get will probably get eaten up by the house move, but if it doesn’t, there is a hope for investing in some further study for me (possibly to do with counselling and Muslim women insh’Allah). This year is also turning out to be about food, with cooking becoming a major interest and finally about business. If I do lose my job, I will be helping my husband with his business and looking at how to channel my energy into making it grow.

So lots of plans and happenings in 2011 already and one little word – COURAGE leading to another – downsizing. Let’s see how things pan out. What is your word for 2011?

image source


  1. u dont have a tv either sis?? how does your family react to that? we havent had one since we got married... its basically for the same reason, although hubby now wants to get one purely so he can play on an xbox that we dont have ;)

  2. Assalam-alaikaam Sis,
    we decided to do one thing different when we moved to our first place and that was not having a TV, it improved the quality of our life and of our family life no end alhamdulillah. Be strong and insist on not having the tv sis(or the xbox if you can, I soooo dislike them), use the time for more fulfilling and useful things insh'Allah.

  3. Marshallah - love your blog. It is v. inspirational. I can so identify with what you write. I may be losing my job post March, so have been really trying to cut back, and I must say it feels good.
    We have recently moved, again for better schools, and I have an annexe/bedsit in the garden!
    I am also trying to improve my cooking, and venture beyond tried and tested recipes. I had a little chuckle about your observation about a spice cupboard. LOL, so true!
    May you find lots of courage in 2011, and may Allah SWT help us to fulfill our goals - amin.
    P.S my word for 2011 is DO IT. I know, it's two words, but it sums up my need to stop procrastinating and worrying, and try to take positive action every day in every sphere of my life.

  4. Assalam-alaikam Zenprincess,
    sounds like I have found a kindred spirit in you in many respects. You are so welcome to share my journey this year and let me know how you are coping with all of the changes - any advice would be welcome too, but yes it does feel good to downshift, simplify and reign back - I find I don't think enough before I spend, and this climate has really made me focus on what is important.

  5. I think my word should be "gratitude". I've always felt I was grateful to Allah for what I have but it's funny how little things can start to add up and eat away, nibble by nibble, at your happiness.

    Tired of living in a cramped apartment with 6 people? Yeah but alhamdulillah we have a warm home. Stepchildren difficulty? Yes but I have a unique opportunity to do more to earn hasanat from Allah. Making a marriage work? It can take some elbow grease but I AM married and no longer alone in this big world.

    Anyway I've had alot of changes this past year and while I love my husband very much some of the changes have been harder for me to adjust to than others. I think at the root of it isn't merely "acceptance" but to truly but GRATEFUL for everythings Allah gives us.

    Please make du'a for me that I am successful in this venture. Amin!

  6. Courage is such a great word! It's foundational to almost any other.

    Thanks for the link!