Thursday, October 27, 2016

hearts apart

there are two
two places apart from one another
two years longing to be in the other

two inseparable hearts
one divided by distance
opposite, naturally, to the other at peace with resistance

there's a place of belonging
not far from the present
it's a $150 flight
to the one place I feel most rested

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

That one moment that sends you soaring

I get this feeling a lot... I’ll be at work, sitting at my decorated desk, wondering what more I should be doing. I keep a journal nearby for when I’m so inclined to jot down some dreams. That happens probably once a month though. Usually when I’m over-caffeinated. 

I always hear about people who have this crazy out-there dream in the back of their minds that would’ve been impossible had they not contracted some deadly unexpected health thing. People seem to chase the dream when there’s the legitimate fear of not living long enough to accomplish it later

I’m not talking about a person who was in third grade, read about the universe, fell in love with astronomy, committed to astronomy, was encouraged by everyone around them that they were good at astronomy, excelled at astronomy, and achieved their dream by getting their first adult job at NASA. I honestly envy the people who have known what they wanted to do for such a long time that no obstacle is big enough to stop them from getting there.

I’m talking about the people who live normal lives and have accepted not doing exactly what they think would be the coolest job in the world, until they’re triggered by some unusual life event or sudden monumental realization.

I’m always an inch away from taking the very first step towards something that sparks my curiosity enough for me to obsess over it. I think I have the greatest idea in the world, the key to success, something that will lead me to be happy every single day that I’m a part of it. And then I don’t do that thing. It happens all the time. I don’t take the first step because I eventually lose excitement by feeling overwhelmed at the idea, focusing on the challenges, and simply feeling like I can’t do it.

If I really think about it, I know what I’m capable of. I know that I can literally do whatever I set my mind to. You can, too. We all can. That’s the “sudden realization” that it can take to make your dreams come true; it’s the fact that you’re capable and worthy of taking the next step. After the first step comes the next, and soon you’re on top of the mountain you didn’t think you could climb. We don't need to wait for that deadly unexpected health thing to realize that later isn't promised.

Every day I say I’m going to start a vlog. Here’s me committing. It’s written. I’m holding myself to it. Hashtag, accountability. The future is what you make it. “Do something today that will make you feel good tomorrow”.  Let's go.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

a few months late, but...

I can't wait to spend forever with you
September 26, 2015

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Facing Fears

From now on, if something scares the crap out of me... I need to do it. As long as it's lawful and not going to kill me, there's no reason I can't face it. I want to be real with myself about what I can do, and the truth is, I can do anything. I just don't believe I can.
I'm going to stop myself from getting in my way and start chasing goals rather than avoiding them for fear I won't live up to expectations.

Other peoples' expectations of me really don't matter all that much. It's the expectations I have of myself that I need to pay attention to. If someone else reacts to me a certain way, or hurts me in some way, that's actually their problem, not mine. That has nothing to do with me and who I am, so it shouldn't affect how I live my life. And it won't.

I treat everyone around me very well. I respect people, and I would never tell someone they can't do something. So why do I tell myself that? And I do it without even knowing it! It's all these subconscious ideas surfacing themselves in the most inconspicuous ways that are creating barriers in my life.

This post is for me, and a promise to myself. I will love myself more, and believe in myself more. I'm completely capable. I'm a leader. I'm a change agent. I'm intelligent. I'm creative. I'm all the things I think I'm not. I can do anything.

So there, old self! You're history.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Life & Finding Purpose

came across this, had to share.

Friday, August 14, 2015


The first time I went to Colorado, I hated it. I was there for a week on business, and there were literally three blizzards during my stay. I remember eating every single meal in the hotel for about 4 days straight. Not the most enjoyable experience. But ya know what? You make the most of it. I met the Muslim community and found some of the most dedicated and aspiring young people of all the places I've been. Before the blizzards, I attended some programs they had put on for Black History Month, and I was really impressed by how diverse and accepting the community is. I'll share some photos eventually of Minkailu and my adventures in trekking through the blizzard but for now, a photo of summer:

from our ride up to Mt. Estes earlier this year - Abdullah, Nunu and I
Colorado is SO BEAUTIFUL. Living in California really makes me miss the greenery I was blessed with in Virginia my whole life, so it was nice to see such lush hills and mountains, and rivers and creeks flowing nearby. This trip was a vast change from the weather and conditions I experienced on my past trip. I can't wait to continue exploring the next time around :) I don't think I'll go back in the winter unless there's a 4-wheel drive car available at the car rental!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Grandest of Canyons

a few days ago i took a short trip to the Grand Canyon. how crazy is that to be able to say?

Minkailu and i spontaneously drove up from Phoenix after work, took a short hike down Bright Angel Trail in the wrong shoes and just stared out into the never-ending twists and turns of the canyon imagining what kind of life the valley below held.

looking into the canyon gives you such a strange feeling. your eyes can't quite take in the magnificent views. it seems almost 2-D with all of the sediment layers and the extensive depth. if you have the chance, this is a site worth seeing in person.

we had a difficult but doable hike back up to the top and we walked over to a look-off point to see the sunset, an indicator of iftar. not too long after i squeezed through the crowds to sit on the ground by the edge did we start to see lightning in a distant thunder storm. it was incredible to say the least. everyone was oohing and aahing at the intense strikes of lightning and counting the seconds between thunder.
yep, that's a rainstorm.
the sun finally set and we made our way back to the car while downing water and chomping on delicious beef jerky, as the storm grew closer.

alhumdulillah. i've now experienced the canyon twice. the first was with my family on a cross-country road trip. next time i'll hike down to the valley and explore for longer than a few hours, inshallah!

side note: i should really start using my camera. excuse the quality of my phone pics. no photo could do the canyon justice anyway :P hope you'll have the chance to visit!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Pink in San Antonio, TX

my excuse for this looking the way it does is... I was wearing jeans? 0:)

I left my heart in Texas... next time, I'm bringing it with me back to California :)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Letter to Pine Bush High School

I, like many others today, stumbled across an article about the Pledge of Allegiance recited in Arabic at your school. I thought it was a beautiful idea that students would be allowed to share their language and cultures with the rest of the student body through reciting their loyalty and commitment towards the U.S. I guess the school disagreed because of the immediate apology that was issued.
I think the apology teaches individuals that diversity is ONLY OK in some cases. How do you think the Arab students felt? Or the other students who come from homes where other languages are spoken? Their voices aren't important, they should forget where their families have come from because it's offensive to intolerant parents. Diversity is OK if you're not Arab, or Afghan, or Pakistani, right? What a disgusting and un-American message to be spreading to our children.
The fact that families who had loved ones spend time in Afghanistan were offended by this shows me that MORE cultural educations need to be done in this school. Arabic is not the language of Afghanistan. Why were Jewish parents offended? Have they heard the stories of Arabs protecting Jews during the Holocaust? Or other stories of Arabs and Jews working together? I think this conversation could turn into something extremely valuable for the students of this school, and this entire community!

You have the power to create change - it's right in your hands! You have the power to unite communities. It's not by issuing apologies or press release, it's about issuing knowledge and love and talks of inclusion. It seems that the student body at your school is divided. Why was an Arab student made to feel excluded and now probably targeted for his/her race? It's truly saddening that a school cowardly gives in to intolerance of parents and ignores the best interests of the children.
I'm not Arab, but I am different. I look a little different, and I feel a little different. I represent multiple races and my ancestors fought for this country's foundation. Would someone know just by looking at me? Absolutely not. But I will tell them why I look the way I do at any chance I get. I share my cultural experiences because I don't want little boys and girls to grow up in a world of misunderstanding and hatred towards different.
Your Vision talks about "a global and changing society", but the board's apology for promoting dialogue about the changing society contradicts that vision statement. Please consider promoting cultural understanding at your school. It will change lives.
Thank you and all the best for you and your community.​
Anisah Khan
Freelance Superhero 

 *This was a letter in response to Pine Bush's apology after a student recited the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic.
Articles on this can be found here and here.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

This is Strong

Today I'm wearing my "THIS IS STRONG: Mudderella" t-shirt to support Futures Without Violence and to remind myself of my own self-worth. There are so many warning signs for an unhealthy relationship that you may not recognize until it's too late. If something doesn't feel right, don't ignore that feeling. A healthy relationship should feel GOOD to be part of. If you feel inadequate, guilty, or like you're walking on egg shells all of the time, chances are you are not with the right person. If you've stopped telling your family and friends about the person you're with because they're convinced he's an asshole to you, chances are you're not with the right person. If you need help leaving an unhealthy relationship, because it's often extremely difficult to leave despite what people say, it's OK to seek professional help.

Samirah sent me this article on some of the characteristics of a manipulator. I highly recommend reading this and similar articles on signs of manipulation and abuse.

And the article talks about guys, but I think it's important to note that girls can be just as manipulative as men.

"Emotional manipulators have no sense of accountability. They take no responsibility for themselves or their behavior - it is always about what everyone else has "done to them". One of the easiest ways to spot an emotional manipulator is that they often attempt to establish intimacy through the early sharing of deeply personal information that is generally of the 'hook-you-in-and-make-you-sorry-for-me' variety. Initially you may perceive this type of person as very sensitive, emotionally open and maybe a little vulnerable. Believe me when I say that an emotional manipulator is about as vulnerable as a rabid pit bull, and there will always be a problem or a crisis to overcome." -cassiopaea

The article can be found here. And yes, I've linked it three times in this post because it's THAT important.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

my blog rules

I love looking back at my blog posts and seeing where my mind was at at different points in my life. I've grown so much, but still some things never change.

tip - music can make all the difference in your day. today, I recommend Marina and the Diamonds - I am not a Robot.

side note: i love andrew ward. ride or die.

hey, that's me!

sometimes I look back at old posts in my blog and think, damn, i'm a writer.

maybe i'm a mediocre writer, but i'm a writer.

Friday, January 16, 2015

the Duke Chapel Bell Tower Controversy

Wow, the comments on Duke's initial decision to have someone announce the call to prayer from the chapel tower AND the comments following their change in heart are just plain mean...

It's crazy because for the last two days my Islamic Relief USA team and I have been traveling between about 14 different nonprofits in Southern California in the past two days (it's been a jam-packed schedule) that are doing beautiful work with people of all faiths. We visited food pantries, social service organizations, domestic violence help centers, schools, and a clinic, among others, and it's been amazing to see how a group of dedicated, kind individuals can work together to bring up their communities. They started these beautiful projects to serve those in need, regardless of faith, and with those goals and open arms, people of all faiths have joined in and brought change to these communities.

I was excited at the decision to broadcast the athan (call to prayer) at Duke, and I'm sad that they changed their minds. I was born and raised in the US, and growing up we went to assemblies at public school where Christmas carols were sang and it was normal despite the class diversity. Being approached by strangers with the sole intent of converting me is something I'm used to (and BOY do I have stories!). There are so many different examples of how I've felt excluded from my community. On the flipside, there are the beautiful people who have asked me genuine questions about my faith when they didn't know something, made simple accommodations for my religious needs, or simply just made an effort to understand. I would say I have a really good mix of friends who come from all faiths, and no faith. Everyone is a diamond to me, but I want to focus on the broader community - the community that includes people who wrote hateful words in response to Duke athan (I won't provide a link because the comments are deeply offensive and I'd rather not give any more attention to them).

What if ALL faith anthems became normal? What if all students felt included because of it? What if news networks had a positive agenda, like unifying people based on acts of kindness, rather than creating a dichotomy fueled by hatred and fear of the unknown?

Get to know your neighbor. Learn about cultures that differ from your own. Join in efforts to uplift communities based on similarities with people of all backgrounds. Turn off the TV and use your own judgement based on real interactions with people. Learn to be OK with expression of faith, or lack thereof. Be considerate and respectful when discussing faith-based topics because yes, it's a sensitive topic. If you have an intense hatred for an entire group of people, then I really don't know what to tell you. That's a disease of the heart that can only be cured by opening up.

This is NOT a melting pot. Let's work a little harder to make it one, shall we? :) Let's extend that model internationally.

I know I'm a bit of a dreamer, and sometimes I feel hopeless. After my meetings today and yesterday, I'm confident that we're moving in a good direction. I hope and pray that I'm right.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


We're moving. I came home from work one day last week and found a Coming Soon sign posted up in my front yard. I didn't expect to feel anything when it finally happened, but I had this strange knot in my stomach, and I had to take a second to breathe before getting out of my car and walking into my home.

On Monday morning I walked out of my house for work and I saw a family of three pointing at the windows around the house. We looked at each other, and they awkwardly started walking away. I called out, "Hi!", they returned the greeting, and stood in place to stare and point some more. It's a really strange feeling moving away from the house you've lived in for most of your life. It doesn't really seem too much like our house anymore, though, since we've been renovating it for the last few months and we've had to move all of our stuff around.

After living away at college for 4 years, I'm pretty used to packing.. but I always knew I'd come back home. I think once you leave a place you've been for so long, it doesn't really sink in that you'll never revisit it. I remember the night before I had to move out of VCU. I cried uncontrollably knowing it was all over. At some point I'll probably accidentally make a turn onto a street leading up to this old house when I move away, but I don't mind.

I'm a little bit of a hoarder, too, so I have a lot of old stuff like journals I've kept while growing up, and my old Raggedy Ann doll. I like to keep a physical copy of my memories so that I don't forget them. I'm so grateful for all of the experiences I've had while living in this house, and it makes me aware of every remaining moment I spend here with my parents and my family. It's like leaving high school. You know you can always visit, but the desire to go back eventually fades because the people have changed, and you're all of a sudden a stranger. You can't visit an old house like that... it'd be weird to knock on someone's door to tour a place you once lived in, or to show your kids where you accidentally punched a hole in the wall that one time.

It's bittersweet. I'm really excited that my parents are moving to Florida because they'll finally get to relax without the burden of their "four little brats" :) I'll miss them a lot but it means more to me that they're happy and stress-free, soaking in the much-needed Vitamin D. Hey, I guess this means a ton of trips to the beaches and a warm escape from the cold Virginia winters. I think they'll enjoy it quite a bit. Home will be a daily vacation for them.

I remember when I was younger I was kind of embarrassed because a lot of my friends and classmates lived in huge houses that had more space than their 4-person family could ever need. Imagine, though - I had heat, running water, a roof over my head, a fridge full of fresh food, clean clothes, computers, and comfortable furniture to relax in after a hard day of school. I had everything my dad worked for - from being a class clown at his school in Karachi, Pakistan, to being successful in his job, community, and family. I had all the care my mom put in - from taking jobs that would allow her to spend as much time with us as possible while we grew up, to STILL making sure we get to work on time. I'm so thankful for this home, and everything and everyone in it.. because it really isn't the roof over my head that matters as much as the nourishment that happened beneath it.

We call several places home throughout our lifetimes, and I'm so thankful to have lived here, in this house, with the crazies... my family.

a portrait I took of my dad on the roof of the building he ran - last week of work before his retirement :)
my mom - waiting patiently as I take portraits of my dad at work :P

Monday, September 8, 2014

Brothers 'til the End of Time: A Brief History

This is Ben.
Ben is my best friend.
Ben and I have been friends since we took a Spanish class together our sophomore year of high school. One day we added each other on AIM, and the rest is history! We've remained close since then despite being told that all friendships fade as you grow older. When we were juniors, we were lucky enough to have had English together, and sat in the back and spent the whole period laughing. We obsessed over Harry Potter and casted spells on our AP Psychology teacher with our pencils (maybe that's something that shouldn't be publicly announced, but whatever), and Ben carried my backpack up the steps between classes because I was so out of shape. I remember one day just randomly going to his house and meeting his mom and embarrassing the crap out of him because he had never had a female friend over.

During our senior year we both bonded over not wanting to drink or smoke weed with most of our other friends, and in the summer that followed, Ben stuck by my side and helped distract me from what I considered then as heartbreak. In college we grew apart briefly but it was like old times whenever we got back in touch. He visited me at VCU, and I FINALLY visited him at CMU during my last year. Now that we're both done with college, and over a year has passed since then, we text daily and keep each other in check when it comes to decision making. All this and he's on the other side of the country! He's the only guy in my life, outside of family members, who has been there for me for as long as he has. He's literally the one person who doesn't seem to fade; he's a constant.

He's one of the smartest guy I know and I'm always impressed by the things he knows or is trying to learn, and he actually takes time to explain things that are completely foreign to me, which I appreciate very much. And he's the FUNNIEST person in the world, which I also appreciate very much! :P

We are really N'Sync (LOL) with one another - we have both had similar things happen to us around the same time, and we've leaned on one another to deal with it. If he wasn't an Atheist Jew, and I wasn't a Muslim, we agreed that we would totally be married right now. That being said, if you want this handsome guy to be yours, hit me up. All interested parties must be screened by me.

Thank you, Ben, for always being there for me.. and for just being you. You're the BEST BEST BEST.
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