Happy Mother’s Day!

It’s May 11, 2014; the second Sunday in May, which most of us know as Mother’s Day. Despite the beauties and celebrations of this day, I want to know why it is that just one day has been devoted to our mothers, and later on to our fathers. I am one of those typical daughters who like to wake up in the morning hoping I can make my mom feel special by make the perfect breakfast for her, with a bouquet of flowers and a balloon that says “Happy Mother’s Day” on the side. Now that’s just about everything you need to give your mother to confirm that it is indeed her day. Although the feeling of putting a smile on our mothers’ faces first thing in the morning is remarkable, I believe our mothers are worth so much more, that they should be appreciated, cared for, and treated in a loving way on a regular basis. 

Many of us have been raised in a culture where in our childhood classrooms, we would be asked to make Mother’s Day cards and draw pictures of hearts and flowers to add colour and character. While all that seemed to spark our creativity and allowed us to feel as though we were really doing something for our moms, I don’t think it was enough. Yes, children should be taught to love, appreciate, and embrace their mothers, but I’m hoping they do not get the idea that these emotions are meant to be expressed only on a single day. Our mothers should feel special every day; this is where the concept of “Mother’s Day is every day” rises from. From the moment we were inside our mothers’ womb, the blessings she provides us with are endless.  Our mothers have fed us, taught us our mannerisms, played with us, supported and guided us through our successes and failures, captured our most cherished memories, and so much more. The blessings are endless. Our mothers are patient, caring, respectful, honourable, genuine, strong, and wise. Much of our wisdom about how to live and act in this world is taught by our mothers.

What I’m trying to say is that one day is not anywhere close to the amount of gratefulness and appreciation we owe to our mothers. There are so many ways that we can show how much we love them on a daily basis. Whether it be making breakfast, helping in the kitchen, running errands, these are all acts of appreciation – to give back to the one who raised us and nurtured us every step of the way. While these are acts of appreciation, there are simple words and emotions that can place a smile on our moms’ faces. Say good morning or give her a call, say thank you or hug her, each of these are a way of showing how much we appreciate our mothers on a daily basis. 

Being a Muslim, I want to mention the importance of our mothers, or more generally, our parents in Islam. The Holy Qur’an says: “Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility and say, “My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.” [17:23-24]  The importance of our parents, and our willingness to appreciate them and be kind to them has been emphasized in our Deen, thus it is our duty, to cherish our mothers and fathers on a daily basis. Do not take your parents for granted, and do what you can to be kind to them, respectful to them, and show them your honest and sincere love and care. 

Mothers are to be loved and cherished each and every single day. Therefore, to all the mothers out there, thank you for everything you have done for your children and your spouses. Thank you for your care, your sympathy, your love, your strength, your patience, and your good nature that has helped bring many of us to where we are in life today. 

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How Will You Make the Most of Summer 2014?

I haven’t written recently, mostly because I spent a huge portion of the past eight months studying a field that is based primarily on writing, and that, dear friends, would be journalism. I have definitely gained immense insight about the world of journalism, and how it is evolving. But let’s make sure one thing is clear, the kind of writing we do in journalism is nowhere near to the writing we did in our high school English classes. Writing has become a regular part of my life. Have an idea? Write about it. Hear someone say something catchy or inspiring? Write about it. Experience an unexpected event? Write about it. Using words is a great way to release the thoughts and feelings that roam around in your head about the experiences you have, or the experiences you wish to have. Now that summer has arrived, a summer that will last four months long, it’s about time I use my ability to write as a way of sharing my thoughts and insight with those around me.

Summer, and by that I mean, summer break, summer holiday, whatever you may call it, is a time where many of our brains completely shut off. It’s as if our minds are not made for summer time. Instead of trying to learn or engage in thought provoking conversations, teenagers or young adults generally tend to shut their minds off and engage in activities that may weaken their growth and development as human beings. These may include watching television shows, playing video games, going to parties, or simply sitting at home and being a “loaft.” What does the term “loaft” mean anyway? Taking a while to get things done? Being lazy? Procrastinating? Not getting out of bed? And just like that, summer is over.

Everyone does it, even me, but summertime is the best time – hands down. Growing up, we couldn’t wait for that final school bell to ring and summer to begin. So why waste it? It’s the one time we have absolutely nothing to do, but also absolutely everything to do. Summer is meant to be enjoyed, despite whether we have work or summer courses, but it is also something we should use to our advantage in terms of being productive. If you don’t make the most of summer while it’s around, you’re really doing yourself injustice.

Below is a list of a few things you may want to consider squeezing into your “lazy” schedule:

1) Keep a journal: I am certain that each of you have had an experience, easy or hard, that may need some reflecting. A happy memory or a bad decision. Maybe it wasn’t an experience you had, but rather something you look forward to. Perhaps even an idea or thought that you had. With all your free time, it’s worth writing down the things going through your head. Let your journal be the safe place that you can say, think, or imagine whatever you wish.

2) Read: Read the newspaper, read a book, read a magazine, heck, read the headlines on your local news channel, read anything! Reading is a source of knowledge, a way for our minds to think critically and step outside of the box and imagine things that we would have never thought of before. Reading makes us aware, it develops our vocabulary and ignites our imaginations. There is an endless number of books out there to read. If not at home, then take a book and read outside or by the lake for a more peaceful atmosphere.

3) Travel and explore: Don’t be a couch potato and sit at home. If you drive, grab a couple of friends and consider going on a road trip. It doesn’t have to be very far, maybe to another suburb, maybe to another city and if you can really afford it, take a plan and travel to another country. Travelling is a great way to learn about other cultures, other people, and best of all, try new foods for those who love to eat. Explore your own neighbourhoods too. There must be parks, shops, and restaurants that you may have never encountered before. Explore!

4) Cook: Everyone loves trying new dishes, so make it your goal to try making new and diverse foods. Trial and error is always something that helps you get better at cooking. Don’t just limit yourself to regular foods you would eat on a daily basis. Challenge yourself and be spontaneous with your cooking, and try recipes of diverse foods such as Thailand’s Pad Thai or France’s croissants. Once you have mastered a main course dish, try baking new desserts to fulfill your sweet needs.

5) Volunteer or Work:  Find a local organization that you can allocate a few hours of your week to in order to serve others. For students, volunteering is a great way to get your community service hours, build on your work skills, and have something useful to put on your resume. Adults can also volunteer if they feel their contribution to the community is lacking. On the flip side, get a job and make some money. It’s great to save up for future education or vacation. Having a summer job will certainly keep you busy but it will also help you learn what your interests and passions are, while also build on your resume.

6) Do a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Creative Project: Pinterest is a great website where people post many creative ideas that you can do on your own. Want to change up the decor in your home or try a new craft? DIY projects are exactly what you need to get your creativity flowing, and the best thing about them is, they are cheap and affordable with the use of items and materials you may have lying around your house.

While there are many productive tasks you can do over the summer, don’t let yourself miss out on the beauties of this summer. While being off from school, enjoy yourself in the glistening sun and hot summer heat:

7) Go to the beach: There are many great beaches that might be a few minutes or a couple of hours away from your home. Get into your summer gear and go to the lake or ocean, depending on where you live, for a swim with your family and friends.

8) Shopping: Summer arrives with the presentation of new styles of clothing. Save up and pick a day to go on a shopping spree. Whatever the latest trend may be, treat yourself to hats, sunglasses, shirts, tanks, dresses, and more. Try outfits you wouldn’t dare to try before; summer is the best time for this!

These are just a few of many great things you can do this summer. Just remember, summer isn’t a time to be lazy and watch it end in front of your eyes. Make the most of it, be happy, and embrace the few months of freedom you have.