December was a tough month. With so much suffering and death around the world, very little brought me joy. There were a few days I had to take a break from reading the news and consuming social media because it was just too overwhelming. Then I felt guilty for turning a blind eye. Why should I get to just walk away because I couldn’t bear to see another picture of bloodshed in Allepo? I wanted to stay connected without drowning in the sorrow.
So I tried to find a way to recuperate spiritually at the end of the day. I made it a point to look for daily moments of happiness. I looked for ways to consciously be grateful for my blessings. I wanted to share a few moments from this month that helped me to feel like myself again.
- Quran: Recitation of Surah Yusuf by Shaikh Misary. This Surah from the Quran has a way of bringing peace to your heart. I listened to it the nights I was especially upset about the situation in Syria and my inability to do anything for my brothers and sisters other than make dua for them.
- Charity: Donate! This is a link to 5 ways we can donate to help the humanitarian crisis in Syria and support our brothers and sisters inshaAllah.
- News that inspired: Master Ayub’s Park School in Pakistan. This is a clip from Al Jazeera’s coverage of a simple man in Pakistan who started educating poor kids in Pakistan during his free time. I found this clip on a particularly bad day and was grateful for the glimmer of kindness and hope this man’s efforts provided. May Allah reward him for his efforts. Ameen
- Comedy: Darth Vader Goes Rogue. I must of watched this one video more than 10 times! I laughed out loud each time. It’s an impression of Darth Vader, “MD” who is apparently having a mid-life crisis. Even if you’re not in the healthcare field, i’m sure Darth will get a laugh out of you! #thosebiscuitstho
- Documentary: Seymour, an Introduction by Ethan Hawke is a beautifully constructed biography of famous classical pianist, Seymour Bernstein. Through his interactions with Seymour, Hawke attempts to answer his own question, “What is the purpose of an Artist?” Seymour Bernstein was an inspiration to watch. For anyone interested in understanding the mind of a great artist whose passion and discipline are unparalleled, watch this documentary.
- Podcast: The Tim Ferris Show. One of the best podcasts currently on learning, self-mastery, and personal growth. Enough said.
- Book: Presence by Amy Cuddy. It’s difficult to explain how much this book has helped me in exactly the way that I hoped for and at exactly the time I needed. I first heard of Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Psychologist, during her emotional TED talk: Your body language shapes who you are (check it out here: TED Talk). In her book, Presence, she shares her personal journey to developing self-confidence and thus the ability to be fully present in every moment of life. She highlights dozens of stories of similar individuals who have found the courage to embrace their talents with confidence, especially during the most stressful moments in life. Her book has taught me how to recognize and humbly accept the gifts I am blessed with. Did you know that simply channeling your ultimate wonder woman can instantaneously boost your confidence. Seriously! So let’s see those poses!
- Blog: Brain Pickings. Maria Popover’s blog is genius! Her weekly posts inspire me to re-visit all my experiences from such unique and interesting perspectives. For the pragmatist, definitely check out this article.
- Hiking in Rockefellar State Park Preserve! Despite the cold days this month, I needed to get out and clear my head. I needed to be in nature. Long walks have been proven in several studies to reduce stress and anxiety. They’re also a great way to get in some exercise when you’re not feeling inspired enough to hit the gym. My husband and I try to head out to Rockefellar State Park Preserve in NY at least once a month. Find out which parks near you have natural trails and go exploring!
- Holiday Lights in NYC: Being in NYC during the holiday season is a treat, even for a native New Yorker like myself. While I don’t celebrate Christmas, I look forward to the festive lights and holiday store displays every year. Rockefeller Center of course is the best known attraction but I also love the skating rink and shops in Winter Village at Bryant Park.
- Dessert, Gajar ha halwa to be exact. I tend to crave comfort foods when i’m feeling sad. Which girl doesn’t! I know I know, it’s not healthy to eat my feelings! I’ll be better in January, I promise! Gajar ka halwa, a traditional Pakistani dessert made from carrots, is my go to comfort food in the winter months. I bought mine from a dessert shop in NYC but here’s a link to a recipe if you’re feeling ambitious. Recipe for Gajar ka Halwa.
- Cooking with my mom. I’ve been spending some of my Sundays in the kitchen with my mom, trying to master some of her best recipes, enjoying her company. So far, i’ve learned to make her famous Masala Chops, Kheer (rice pudding), and Eggplant with Yogurt sauce. Cooking under her guidance, I realized how much I still needed to learn from her, how many more conversations waiting to emerge. I finally understood why every girl, at least once in her life, should become her mother’s apprentice and soak up her wisdom.
I was excited to read some of the things that kept you guys going this month!
Aisha shared, “I’ve been embracing my mom’s heritage a bit and learning to make Egyptian food.”
Henna shared, “I’ve been reading everything I can get my hands on! I recently read The Dressmaker of Khair Khana By Gayle Lemmon and recommend it to everyone.”
What inspired you this December? Share in the comments below!