Saturday, 12 January 2019

Word for 2019: Acceptance

My words for last year were Quran and Khidmat (Service), I wrote here about how well I did with these as inspiration.

This year, the word was easy to choose, I have been moving towards it for a long time: acceptance.  Sounds not very ambitious and perhaps a little cliched but the reality for me is significant and encompassing.  It relates to everything: myself as a person, my faith, my parenting, work, my place in the world, my weight, ageing, everything.

This year as I turn 40 and I have decided to be open and honest about my age.   More than ever I went to move into the next decade of my life with acceptance. This is the age that women start to feel embarrassed about ageing and try to hold onto their youth. I believe we live in an age where youthfulness is idealised and ageing demonised.  Rather than valuing women’s wisdom and experience as we age, middle-aged women start to become invisible. I want to accept my age, accept ageing and actually revel in it.  I have learned so much in the last few years, I have tried to use my time well and live my life well insh’Allah. Perhaps it will be nice to be treated with a bit more respect and authority than younger woman sometimes are.  I think this is an age where women can move into their power and strength.

I also accept my body and weight.  I have gained and lost and gained some more weight.  I have been running 20-30 minutes on the treadmill every morning and still managed to gain a little weight because of all the chocolate and carbs I have been eating.  My target this year is to lose two stone. It’s in the front of my Filofax, its in my journal and it’s on my mind.  It’s in my prayers and dua’s.  I will keep on running every day, I will try to eat well and rest properly.  But I won’t get annoyed at myself, engage in negative self-talk or dislike the way I look.  As I teach my daughters: be grateful for what you have, look in the mirror and say to yourself “alhamdulillah, not bad!”. In any case, the running has made me strong and given me a massive energy boost alhamdulillah. 

I will accept my parenting.  I tried my best, I have castigated myself for not being strict enough, for being too strict, for working, for being a bit of a day dreamer and not paying attention enough, for shouting and losing my temper, for not being religious enough, for not putting them in Islamic boarding school, for not sacrificing enough like the mothers of the great and pious.  I love them all, unconditionally, always.  I need to remember if my mum is a great blessing for me, I am a blessing to them too.  Even if they don’t see it that way.  I will try my best, but I will accept my parenting, even my mistakes and that I am not a bad mother.

I will accept that I work.  This has been the hardest for me.  After years of questioning whether as a Muslim I should work, whether I was damaging my children, whether I was committing sin.  I held myself back at every turn.  I avoided the limelight and never took credit for my work.  I lived with tremendous guilt.  I still question myself.  But to what purpose and benefit?  I am done with it, I think.  I can see myself working for the next ten years or so and then I will see.  I am enjoying myself at the moment and I might as well step into it and make the most of it.

I will accept where I am with my faith.  I have struggled for years with the fact that many of friends in my faith community wear niqab and I don’t. I have struggled with the fact my prayers often lack the quality of concentration and devotion they should.  But I know my heart is in the right place.  I love my faith, my beloved Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and my Creator (SWT).  I love this ummah with all of its faults.  I think sincerity is a good place to start.  I will try to build my iman (faith) every day, and especially improve the quality of my salah.  I will try to do better each day.  But guilt and self-criticism are not much use to anyone.  Perhaps this requires an exercise in stepping back, reflecting and starting again each day.

Part if this is also about being in the moment and conscious and mindful.  Not being caught up in my emotions that then turn into a whirlwind of guilt and anxiety.  I don’t want to rush through life looking for more and more or the next thing to tick off my list:

“You are nothing but a number of days, and whenever a day passes away, a part of you passes away” - al-Hasan al-Basri (RA)

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. ~ Annie Dillard in the Writing Life

So my word for this year is a acceptance – of what is, of what might come my way and of who I am alhamdulillah.



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