Dealing with Distance

Ever since I moved to Texas last April (2016), I’ve felt a deep homesickness. I had a lot of changes in my life at that point – getting married, starting a new job, and moving to a completely new state. I’m going to talk more about my moving experiences and how I stay positive (when I do!) in future posts, but for now I just wanted to give two big tips on how I keep in touch with my family and friends in my home state, Virginia. This is not a sponsored post, these are just really great services that I personally recommend!

Tip #1: WhatsApp. This app is my saving grace, for two reasons;

CHAT | I use the chat feature daily to connect with my family. If you don’t have it already, I highly recommend downloading it and creating a family group. It’s worth it to spend an extra few minutes to teach older adults in the family how to become more whatsapp-savy. We text updates throughout the day, send photos to one another, and make plans for visits. My sister will send photos and videos of my niece and I feel like I’m close-by watching her grow up!

CALLS (VIDEO/AUDIO) | The second feature I use is the audio call feature. I personally have an iPhone, but half of my family doesn’t! We can’t FaceTime, so instead, to improve call quality, we use the WhatsApp audio calls. On the weekends, we sometimes catch up with the video call feature. It’s way better than the direct mobile calls simply because the sound is so much crisper! This is especially true when you’re on wifi.

Tip #2: Southwest AirlinesI rarely travel via any other airline. This is for several reasons;

POINT SYSTEM & CREDIT CARD | Knowing my home-base (and heart) is in Virginia, I knew I’d be traveling there often. Sticking to one airline makes the most sense to me because I can accrue points and travel using these points. At a previous job when I was traveling 85% of the time, I quickly earned A-List status which allowed me to board in the first set and also to skip the security line. Talk about a game-changer! With the credit card, I easily earn points through my purchases. They had an offer that got me 50K points in 3 months, and Nunu (hubby) and I used those to fly to SF for our Hawaii trip! Without that boost, we may not have been able to make the trip happen at such a good deal.

CANCELLATIONS | I had a nightmare situation with a different airline one time – They wouldn’t refund my ticket cost when I had accidentally booked the wrong date. To make matters worse, it was a work booking. The entire situation put this fear in me of booking with other airlines. Southwest Airlines does not charge when you cancel or change a flight. Depending on the type of ticket you purchase, the funds will remain on your account for future purchases. This works for me because I’m obsessed with traveling and I know I’ll use the funds.

BAGGAGE POLICY | Two free carry-ons and two free checked bags (at 50lbs max each)? Unbeatable.

When you live away from the place you consider home, it’s hard to feel connected to that place and the people. I’m always looking for ways to see my family, and WhatsApp and Southwest Airlines have made my living apart from them a whole lot less difficult. If you have any questions about my experiences moving away from family or home, drop a comment and let’s connect. If you have your own tips, I’d love to hear them! 🙂

 

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.

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.

Colorado

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!

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 😛 hope you’ll have the chance to visit!