Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Some self-appreciation

Today, my hands helped me press snooze on my alarm. They helped me take ablution for prayers. They helped me eat so that I can have the energy and nutrition for a healthy body. My eyes —although they need glasses—helped me read an interesting book. They helped me navigate to the bathroom, to my workplace. Today, my untoned arms hugged my little brother. They helped me carry my bags to work. Today, my mouth helped me consume food. Being a lover of food, I enjoyed the mixture of flavours in my meals. Can you imagine how dull our meals would be had we not been able to taste? Had we not been able to feel the different textures of our food? Can you imagine not being able to feel how smooth and fluffy our beds are after a long, hard day at work? Imagine not being able to dance to  our favourite song whenever it comes up on radio, imagine not being able to HEAR music. Imagine not being able to talk, laugh or tell someone about your day because you couldn't speak. How awful it'd be to not be able to smell your favourite scent. I for one, love the smell of roses, ylang ylang and hot chocolate. 

Thing is, we may complain about how we look. We may look in the mirror and wish we had it all: a slim body, clear skin and stunning facial features. But I've learnt that a perfect body is one that is healthy and functioning well. Do you know someone who's ill? Who's bed ridden? Who's confined in the hospital? Do you know what they'd do to trade bodies with you? 

No doubt about it, We have made man and woman in the best of forms. (Surah At-Tin: 4)

Certain people can point out 'your flaws' but be grateful that your 'imperfect' body helped you live today. Not everyone has the privilege to live normally and enjoy all the things that you take for granted on a daily basis. If people can't accept how you look then they're just shallow.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Notes From My Travels by Angelina Jolie

Notes From My Travels is a journal written by award-winning actress Angelina Jolie, 39, during her visit to refugee camps around the world with UNHCR. The talented star is a goodwill ambassador to UNHCR, and was also recently presented honorary damehood by Queen Elizabeth II. 

When I posted the above picture on my Instagram, a few people commented and privately messaged me saying they never knew she had a book. Yes, it's one of those underrated reads out there but trust me, it's life-changing. In this book, she writes about her trip to Ecuador, Africa, Cambodia, Pakistan/Afghanistan and Colombia. 

In her introduction, she mentioned beforehand that she's not a writer and this was simply her journal but that's what makes the book so special. Her writing is raw and unpolished. It's effortlessly honest so you get to experience how she felt without any exaggerations.

The most common theme in this book is gratitude"I realize more every day how fortunate I have been in my life I hope I never forget and never complain again about anything," she writes. Not only was she grateful, she also mentions how grateful the refugees were with what little they had. 

Today when you grab your smartphone and get into your air-conditioned car to get to your air-conditioned office, remember that there are people who do not even have a pinch of what you have and yet they appreciate and embrace life more than you do. 
Taken by Marco Di Lauro during Angelina's trip to Afghanistan
In regards to God and religion, she writes: "You would think these would be the last people on earth to believe that, and yet you realize they have a deeper understanding because of all they went through." This is true, in my experience those that live in poverty and extreme hardship are blessed with profound wisdom.

They practise their faith with such love and devotion. They do not suffer from a holier-than-thou complex. They are loving and their hearts are brimming with gratitude. We can learn a thing or two on how to improve our spirituality based on their way of living.

Cambodia is where she met her adopted son Maddox therefore it's no surprise that she has a great love for that country. "These people live in such poor conditions, and yet they have such a beautiful spirit. Everyone is working, and their children all seem so happy," she writes. 

"Past the sadness and self-pity these people accept the reality of their lives and are grateful for all they have." How amazing is that? 
Taken by Marco Di Lauro during Angelina's trip to Afghanistan
During her trip to Pakistan, she met Afghan refugees and the women she met spoke of their lives before the Taliban. When describing Afghan women, she said: "Their eyes smile through their veils."

"I want to get a list of what the Koran actually teaches compared with the Taliban's interpretation of the Koran's religious laws and sacred teachings. I think that it is important for all of us to understand and know the difference."

I find it despicable when people oppress others in the name of 'religion'. The taliban, KKK, the Burmese monks persecuting Rohingya Muslims and ISIS all do this. It's cowardly. It's weak to want to control others due to your ego and prejudices and then hide behind the name of religion. I know that for many people around the world, their faith liberates and empowers them as it does for me.
Taken by Marco Di Lauro during Angelina's trip to Afghanistan
At times when I read this book, I couldn't help but weep. It's unfair that there are millions around this world with little to no access to clean water, food and have to flee their countries due to war. Angelina herself summed it up quite nicely: "The imbalance of funding in the world makes no sense to me."

But I suppose, despite lacking in wealth, freedom and basic resources, these refugees have something that a lot of free people do not possess. Their eyes twinkle with gratitude and their smiles are sincere. They know that life is valuable therefore they live in a way that makes life so much more meaningful.

"... if you've met them [refugees], they are also some of the strongest, most beautiful, most capable people in the world. Amazing survivors. 
Taken by Marco Di Lauro during Angelina's trip to Afghanistan
Angie's experience with the refugees was sobering but it did impact her state of mind. "The mind wants to forget because it hurts and weighs so much on the heart and soul." Now isn't that relatable? Unless you're incredibly lucky to have never experienced heartache, I can assume that we all know how it feels like to want to block out pain whatever the reason may be. 

I have the utmost respect for Angelina Jolie because humanitarian work requires a lot of emotional and mental strength. She left the comforts of her luxurious lifestyle to visit these places to spread awareness. 

As a woman we have our maternal instincts; I know it's hard for any woman to see others, especially children and women suffering. It's a natural inclination to want to protect and nurture others that are vulnerable. I think Angie took a brave step by visiting those refugee camps. 

Overall, this book is highly recommend to fans of the movie star and those who want to know more about what's happening in UN refugee camps around the world. All proceeds from this book are donated to UNHCR so you're helping the refugees with every purchase. So worth it. 

This blog post is 1 of 2 new series I'm putting on my blog called 'bookworm series' and the second one is 'hiking series' - check them out under the labels at the bottom of this blog. Since I read and go hiking quite often, I thought it'd be worth blogging about it especially since reading and hiking are two things that I looove doing. I honestly can't remember if I've ever reviewed or recommended a book on this blog but this post will definitely be the first of many. InsyaAllah!

Hope you guys enjoyed this first entry of the 'bookworm series'.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Long Distance Friendship

From a book my friend gave me
I'm jetlagged and feeling unwell as I'm writing this. In fact, I've been feeling unwell for a week now but I've been ignoring whatever that my body's feeling so that I can get through the week. I was in UK for a couple of weeks thus the absence from my blog. 

It's funny because I mentioned in my last blog post that I won't be travelling for a while... life's full of surprises isn't it? Those 3 weeks away was just what I needed to get me feeling buzzed about life again. I was reunited with my best friends from uni and that's always a good thing. 

Although we talk everyday via WhatsApp, it's just not the same as meeting someone in person. My friends always make it a point to buy me a gift whenever I come to UK and without fail they always get me things that I love; silly little trinkets and books.

My trip to UK this time round reminded me of the beauty of friendship. Being able to connect with someone on a spiritual and intellectual level can have a positive impact on your life. It can help you grow as a person and in my experience, sometimes they give you the push you need to achieve great things.

Although sometimes I feel that life would be much simpler had the internet and social media not be invented, I'm grateful that it has kept the bond between my friends and I quite strong. Our daily exchange of voice notes, stupidly captioned selfies and internet memes make us feel as if we're really just down the street from each other. 

Entering early adulthood can be quite nerve-wrecking. Like embarking on a journey, you always want to know you're heading in the right direction but with life it's a little tricky. You don't really get a map to navigate through it. Heck, do you even know where you're headed? 

But when you've good (and very supportive) friends who's on the same boat as you, it does give you that confidence knowing that someone is going through the same thing. It's funny, when I first came to the UK I never thought I'd leave with friends who would become my sisters.

I didn't think I'd meet people who'd change my life forever but that's exactly what happened. Good things do happen when you least expect it. Trust me. 

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Travel Journal

Many months ago, I blogged about my love for vintage things; anything that looks like it's not from this era is my cup of tea. So I bought this one notebook while I was in England last winter and have yet to use it. I posted a picture of it on my instagram asking for suggestions on what to do with it. Someone said it should be a travel journal plus an album for my polaroid pictures. 
It's big notebook with plenty of pages so it would possibly last me for a long time! Also, I highly doubt I'll be doing much travelling in the next few years. I've work and other grown up duties that'll keep me tied down but I do plan to use it even for my travels around Malaysia.

But it'd be interesting to look through the pages when I'm, let's say 30! That's why I love writing so much, everything that gets jotted down is forever archived. Trust me when I say writing is a remarkable gift. There just aren't enough pages and ink for me to jot down all the thoughts and emotions I've.

When you look back at all that you've written in the past, you feel like you're reading the writing of someone else's because whether you realise it or not, you're never the same person that you are a year from now. Some traits of yours may remain but your interests, the way you view things and who you like and dislike will inevitably change. 

P.S: I don't purposely include Sprint in my pictures but she tends to pop out of nowhere whenever I'm trying to take a picture of something. Pfft. Vain cat. 

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Weekly Post-it #1

I've realised that I find it quite difficult to write a whole blog post regularly these days even though I don't think I've been that bad at updating my blog. But to make my blogging more consistent and to please my impatient readers, I'm going to compensate the lack of 'lengthy' blog posts with what I'll call 'Weekly Post-its'. 

Every week on any given day, I'll write something on one of these post-its I've drawn that's either a reminder, a thought that popped into my head or a quote I like. You get the gist. Here's to the first Weekly Post-it Series. :) 
Don't get distracted by how others are living their lives. Focus on YOU and the right kind of people and opportunities will come your way.