Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Two Weeks

Two weeks. Thats how long it has been since my last entry. Reading it made me smile as I reminisce the happy moments during my spiritual retreat. Rare moments when I was pain free, felt secure and calm. I'm also thinking of someone very close to my heart who is currently performing her Umrah and how I wish I could go along with her. To experience that peace of mind that can only be attained there in Mekkah. Sigh... I really miss Mekkah.

In my profession, I meet people from all walks of life who are undergoing some form of stress or other. They end up in my office because they can't cope anymore. Its not like they never tried to overcome their situation or take control of their stressful circumstances. Most often than not, it stems from an unhealthy body. A healthy mind is easier to attain when the body is healthy as well. We live among all sorts of stress causes. Some are external. These can be avoided and prevented. But the internal ones are almost impossible to run away from.

From my previous entries, its pretty evident that I have been experiencing some severe and chronic pains. And to top it all off, some mental anguish and anxieties as well. This is a typical example of how a body which is in pain causes the brains to go haywire and the nerves to go awry. My spiritual retreat to Penang was exactly what I needed to recover and recuperate. Alhamdulillah, that trip served its purpose.

Upon my return from Penang, I dove straight back to work. Clients in need of help were contacting me left, right and center. I am grateful to be useful and needed. However, my recovery was far from over. I still needed healing and cleansing.

Wounds incurred during my painful moments needed attention. I was lucky enough to have had some wonderfully skilled people help me with that. I am now, indeed, on my road to total recovery.

Some may view the way I cope with my situation as pathetic. How can I be so needy? It couldn't have been THAT bad...? Many were also curious as to what was the true source of my problems. Some not only showed their concern and prayed for my health and recovery, they even offered to help me heal! This is surely Allah's blessings upon me. Maybe He deems that I have gone through enough hardship for now and went on to send me one of His 'angels' to rescue me. Now, I am receiving help from everywhere. Ya Allah! Surely Your Love is so abundant that You literally showered me with Your Love through so many people in my life; some I have yet to meet in person! I am telling you, there are many 'angels' walking on the surface of this planet. We just need to open our hearts and receive.

To all my 'angels'... You know who you are... Thank you so much for being there for me when it matters. May Allah bless you with multiples of the kindness and empathy you have showed me throughout my hell on earth.

Where am I now? After all the terrible things I had to endure, I am still here. Standing tall. Each time I get beaten down, I will get up on my feet and move on. I refuse to play victim here. I am not the one with the survivor identity. I am a hero. I bleed daily for days and weeks on end. And yet, I am still alive! And if that doesn't qualify me to be termed as a hero, I don't know what would.

This is my life. This is my story. I am the main character in this scenario. I may not have had any control over how my life began but I sure as hell have control over how I'm gonna end up in this book. I am a hero. I don't care if no one else sees me as one. What matters is how I see myself. I am a hero because I'm still alive. I am a hero because I am.

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." -Ernest Hemingway

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Two Nights and Two Nasi Lemak Bungkus Later...

Wow! How time flies when you're in seclusion.... Hahahahaaa... Yes, I am enjoying the solitude and peace of mind. But my heart keeps flying back to my family back home. I miss hubby and my baby girls...

Falling asleep last night was pretty easy when compared to the many years of struggling with circadian rhythm disorder and anxiety. Although I have to admit that walking up and down Penang Road almost reminded me of Oxford Street of London (NOT!), my sleepiness was contributed by the cough syrup I was taking to get rid of the nagging phlegm in my chest. Nothing serious. Just the ordinary stuff that comes to visit me once in a blue moon.

Right around 5 am, I was awakened by my guardian angel, i guess... to perform my solat tahajjud, did some zikir and waited for subuh to arrive. I planned on going back to bed right after all these prayers and remembrances were done. But my mind had a different plan of its own. So I went on with my zikir and finally fell asleep again after sunrise. With my earplugs in place, I couldn't hear the snoring of the some chinese men next to my room. But I also missed a few phone calls and was late in replying some text messages. Apparently, by the time I looked at my watch, I realized that I had missed breakfast (which is only served until 10.30 am) and so I made a conscious decision to continue sleeping.

The zohor call for prayers from the nearby mosques woke me up from my precious slumber and I quickly said hello to God and told HIm how much I love Him and is grateful for another day to live...and sleep in... ;o) After reading some very interesting and relevant books pertaining to spiritual retreats, I dived deep into the subject matter until asar came. By then, my tummy was literally grumbling really loudly!

So, I scooted off to the mamak joint across the hotel and had two delicious nasi lemak bungkus and a glass of iced tea to wash it down. Wonderful simple pleasures deserving of deep gratitude to Alllah. Later, I took another stroll down Penang Road to do some shopping for my girls. What a great idea to walk off the calories I had just devoured!

It is already 1.02 am here and I can barely keep my eyes open. But because I promised myself to blog my progress and activities during my retreat, I diligently pound away my fingers on the keyboard of my macBook to relate my relatively un-interesting and rather dull day. What am I grateful for today? The nasi lemak bungkus and the sleepiness it has induced in me. Bliss! I can't wait to see what Allah has in store for me tomorrow. I shall end this entry with something I read in a book that resonated within me throughout my day today.

Love of the World
An Islamic tradition attributed to Jesus a.s. states, "The world is a bridge; so pass over it to the next world, but do not try to build on it."
- Purification of the Heart by Hamza Yusuf.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Still I Rise

Shattered, but I'm not broken
Wounded, but time will heal
Heavy the load, the cross I bear
Lonely the road I trod, I dare
Shaken, but here I stand
Weary, Still I press on
Long are the nights, the tears I cry
Dark are the days, no sun in the sky, yes

Yet still I rise
Never to give up
Never to give in against all odds
Yet still I rise
High above the clouds
At times I feel low
Yet still I rise

Sometimes I'm troubled, but not in despair
Struggling, I make my way through
Trials, they come to make me strong
I must endure, I must hold on


Above all my problems
Above all my eyes can see
Knowing God is able to strengthen me
To strengthen me

Yet still I rise
Never to give up
Oh, Never to give in against all odds
Yet still I rise
High above the clouds
At times I feel low
Yet still I
I need to know which way to go
Yet still I
At times I feel low
Yet still I
Oh Oh Oh I rise
Yet still I rise
Oh yes I do, yeah yeah

Smiling Faces and Tears of Closure.

Alhamdulillah! Gratitude for another day to live. I woke up bright and early, feeling very much rested and refreshed. Washed up and went to have some breakfast. Simple feast that filled a hunger acquired during slumber. Toasts, eggs and coffee. And I was ready to face the day and determined to be as adventurous as possible.

I took the initiative to venture out from the cave of my seclusion. As I stepped out of the hotel and onto the streets, walking down the rows of quaint shop houses, I was greeted with many smiling faces. Its amazing at the amount of honesty a smile of a stranger can give you when you open yourself up for everything that is good and optimistic.

However, being rather 'new' to exploring the town on my own, I was very much surprised to find myself looking at a familiar sign. Line Clear Nasi Kandar! Mad's favourite joint from before. He was the one who introduced that place to my family and me. After fulfilling promises to myself to get all my needs purchased, laden with bags full of goodies, I dawdled slowly to Line Clear to have my very late lunch. A plate of Nasi Kandar, with some fish roe, fish curry gravy, salted eggs and rice. Wonderful! Downed the delicious food with a quench of iced tea. Perfect! Heaven on earth!

Tomorrow is another day. I hope I get to see and experience life again. One day at a time. Ameen!
With a full tummy, I walked back to my hotel to unload my shopping bags and perform my asar prayer, I got ready and waited for my friend Yasmin to come fetch me. She was taking me to visit Mad's grave. I was glad I have the Garmin in my mobile phone so I could mark the location for future return visits.

As I stepped into the mosque, I whispered a salaam to the grave dwellers at the cemetery located behind it. This is Mad's new home. After looking around the grave site, I suddenly realized that I can't seem to remember where Mad was buried just 2 years ago. I called Zubair, Mad's younger brother, frantically asking him for some indication as to where Mad was laid to rest.

Tears rolled down my cheeks as I whispered out to Mad, "Where are you, Mad?" And then, as if on cue, a soft whisper of a breeze caressed my face and in my head, I heard Mad's voice saying, "I'm no longer here, Ana. I am wherever you are, whenever you remember me. You don't have to come here to look for me anymore." I sat on the soil and bawled my heart out. After saying some prayers for the dead, I began talking to Mad. "Mad, I am not well...." Its a hard habit to break... He has always been the one I would tell everything to. And he always knew just the thing to say to make me feel better. I miss him terribly.

After leaving Mad's home, Yasmin took me to Masjid Makbul. It is believed that this mosque is uniquely special. Whatever you ask for in prayer to Allah, He will grant them almost immediately. So, I sat in the mosque and fervently prayed for the well-being of everyone I love and care for. I know He heard me. I know He can and will answer my sincere prayers.

Over all, today has been a wonderfully fulfilling day, although it was laced with a few crying spells. But one thing I know for sure... For as long as I can cry and feel sadness, I am indeed alive. And that in itself is a blessing from Him. Alhamdulillah!