Welcome Ramadhan

My late post welcoming Ramadhan. It’s been a week now but still, ahlan wa sahlan Ya Ramadhan!

The first time I got pregnant, I got to fast during my first trimester of the pregnancy. It was quite hard if I could remember. The day part was fine but when it came to breakfasting, it was a real struggle. Fighting with morning sicknesses when the throat and tummy just didn’t wanna accept what I ate, I continued with hungriness till late nights.

My second pregnancy, I got to fast during my second trimester. It was totally smooth and steady, Alhamdulillah. In fact, I was even more energetic during the fasting month compared to the prior trimester. I managed to fulfil the whole month fasting, in both pregnancies.

Now I am in my third trimester of the third pregnancy and it’s Ramadhan again! I have already checked the calendar much earlier so I knew that I’ll be fasting in laden this time. Though I know fasting is actually not a big deal for normal pregnant mothers, according to doctors or at least to me based on the previous twos, I am still a bit worried because every pregnancy is different and I don’t know how this baby would be reacting. So I’ve practiced fasting biweekly since January just to prepare myself physically to perform in this Ramadhan. It helps a lot.

Alhamdulillah, it has been 7 days and I’m still okay, still fasting. I hope I can fulfil the month straight but won’t also force myself hard. Let’s see how it goes.

This year is the year that I hope I can spend most nights at the mosque for taraweeh prayers. The kids are already eligible for mosque trips so I can also leave the house together. Next year and for a few more years to come, insyaAllah, will again be that baby-years to me hence I don’t see the chance to do what I can do now. Babysitting will come first but now let me seize the opportunity I have.

Time flies fast as always but for Ramadhan, it’s triple fast! I wanted to make a welcoming post yet it’s already a week gone. I’m counting another 3 weeks left and in a blink of an eye, it’ll be Raya already. I am depending myself on reminders after reminders from all around to keep me alert that we’re in the month full of offers, not that sales offers, but it’s the multiplied reward offers from the Almighty! May we all gain all the goodness especially by our own effort to do more ibadah and deeds and may Allah ar-Rahim accept everything despite our imperfections.

Salam Ramadhan, everyone.

As ever,
SALZY

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How Tests Are Meant To Be

January delayed post

I was away from my country around these dates a year ago, I brought myself to the most grandiose place of worship in the world; Mecca. It has been a year?? It feels just like yesterday! Everything was still so vivid, so near to my virtual vision sometimes I don’t feel like I’ve left the place. But it’s been a year already I can’t believe.

My trip began on 20th January 2017, we were supposed to touch down Medina on the 20th itself, night time. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, we only arrived at noon of 22nd January. Two days of delay? Read here to know what’s happened.

Five times of flight delay with so many problems in between Astraghfirullah I couldn’t believe it happened. I’m not a frequent traveller, I never faced travelling issues and I’m not a flexible person. As much as I know everything is not under my control, I’m still very dependant to my plans and hard to tolerate uncertainties. Still with all these facts, things happened and became an experience to me. Now that “I’ve been there” for such cases.

My feelings throughout the first three delays were actually very okay. Because you know, we’re about to head to perform ibadah I was so in a peaceful vibe. I’ve cleansed my heart from hatred and dissatisfaction weeks prior to that and set to face everything with an open heart. So when things like these happened, I was so in control and kept faith that everything would be okay and we’d fly through eventually.

Even though we had to be waiting so long, even though we had to move back and forth to the hotel, I was all fine. I took everything as a blessing in disguise like we’re compensated with a nice hotel room, we got all day free delicious buffet spread and that we’re still safe in our country. Plus, I was all the time with my mom so when Mama is around, what else matters right? We spent our free time discussing about our schedules in Saudi, my mom recalled her experience and all that jazz.

Everything was initially, fine.

Until the 4th delay.
Until the fuss that went on with the tardy passengers.
Until I had to sleep on the floor at the waiting area.
Until the 5th delay.
Until we had to return to the hotel for the second time, with our checked-in luggage.
Until the system down for 3 hours on the 6th attempt to check-in.
Until the technical issue with the printed tickets.

Until alllll those, my patience ground finally became uneven. My hopeless-self started to get into character. The positive vibes in me had scattered around the airport and evaporated nowhere. I was all annoyeddd…!

But what to do? What did I get to do when everyone was also facing the same thing like I was? I had my mom there, I had my relatives there and other pilgrims too I can’t be blowing up my anger right in front of them all, no?

Zikr, zikr, zikr….and reflected.

I know those all were tests from the very first delay. But when I think again, the first and second delays were actually not ‘real’ tests. Because it’s something I could easily face. It didn’t test my patience level, it didn’t break my hopeful heart, it didn’t even make me cry. Those were not actual tests for me.

Tests; are meant to be hard, are meant to shake us and are meant to suffocate our faith if it’s not too much for me to say this. When we’re in a ready position to face come what may, we could actually be tested with something out of expectation. And we cannot say things like “I can tolerate if things were the other way around but not this, particularly not this!”. We cannot say “It’s okay if  the delays happened on the return flight, not this!” No! We cannot design the tests, can we? It’s specially designated to us and we’re meant to feel shaken by that in the first place before we find the way out. That’s why it’s a TEST.

Tests can be in many forms but one thing is for sure, they’re meant to be hard. If it happens to be easy and we can face it with no or less trouble and feel that we’re strong enough, hold back; remember how tests are actually meant to be. Though we might feel that we’ve gone through a lot in life, always remember that was not the end. The end is yet to come; all that we hope for is The Help for us to go through everything well and bring us nearer to Him. After all, “Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity.” [Quran, 2:286]

It was so touching arriving in Medina two days from the supposed time after so many obstacles. We couldn’t rid from feeling sad of losing two days of precious time in Medina because schedules were not adjusted. But the very first thing that the Mutawwif reminded us was to remove any remorse and be all grateful that we finally made it there safe and sound. It made our journey became more meaningful and much treasured. Thank you Allah.

Life is a test. That’s what it’s meant to be.
Tests are hard. That’s how they’re meant to be.

As ever,
SALZY

A Travelogue of Flight Delays

delay

Day 1 ~ Friday, 20th January 2017

Flight was scheduled on 1:30pm. The moment we arrived at the gate, we’re told that the flight was not yet ready; we gotta wait for a while. (1st DELAY)

2:45pm. We were told the flight was delayed for 2 to 3 hours. We’re given a free Burger King voucher for lunch. (2nd DELAY)

Went to Burger King to redeem our food and the queue was? Let me just tell you that the whole passengers of the flight were given the same vouchers.

Got our food, sat somewhere and ate while eagerly waiting for the announcement.

5:00pm. Announcement – Flight was still not ready and the departure for today was cancelled. (3rd DELAY)

Being unsure of the next departure time, we’re told not to wait at the airport anymore. We’re given a hotel stay to check-in and rest.

6:40pm. Arrived at Everly Hotel in Putrajaya by bus, had free buffet dinner, and checked-in the room. Cleaned up, solat and rest.

9:45pm. They called to go down at the lobby at 10:30pm. We’re going back to the airport!

Day 2 ~ Saturday, 21st January 2017

12:00am. Arrived KLIA, checked-in. Departure time would be at 3:00am.

1:40am. Went through security, accessed waiting area, waited for boarding.

2:20am. Still at the waiting area, still not called for boarding and we heard a bit of a fuss going on – that some of the passengers were left behind at the hotel! These people; when others we’re rushing down with the hustle, they slept! Either they didn’t get the call to go down or they ignored the important call for being too tired maybe, I don’t know. But obviously, headcount was not done by the team (not our group).

40 minutes away to departure and this happened. And you know how long did it take to go back and forth from the airport to the hotel? 50 minutes times 2! Not including the time taken to walk in the airport from the gate to the check-in counter, security checkpoint until the boarding area. My God.

3:00am. The time we’re supposed to fly already, an announcement aired – the flight was delayed to 4:30am. This was sure because of the late people! With all the hassles since the day time, I started to become tired physically and mentally already. Not giving a damn about those people, I decided to sleep on the floor spreading my brother’s sarong and covered myself with a sweater. Zzz.. (4th DELAY)

4:10am. My brother woke me up to get ready to board as it’s almost 4:30am. 20 minutes to fly, the gate was still closed.

4:30am. The time we’re supposed to take off already, another announcement aired – that the flight was AGAIN cancelled. We’re not flying today due to – technical and safety issue on the plane. T_T (5th DELAY)

And again, we’re told to return to the hotel again and worse, we had to retrieve our entire luggage that we checked-in the first time and bring them together to the hotel. Imagine the trouble guys.

We arrived at the hotel at Subuh time and the whole day until night we were just there, stranded. Not knowing whether we’re actually gonna make it for umrah or not…….tsk tsk tsk

10:00pm. An announcement to gather at the lobby, we’re heading back to KLIA!

Day 3 ~ Sunday, 22nd January 2017

12:00am. Arrived KLIA, waited for check-ins. The flight was scheduled at 4:00am.

2:00am. Still not checked in – system down!

3:00am. System was up and running, but there’s a technical problem – wrong date stated on the boarding pass for all passengers! We’re still not checked-in, including all the luggage.

3:30am. Problem solved, we’re checked-in! Runnnnnn to the gate and, on board!! We’re finally seated on the plane!

4:45am. TOOK-OFF! Flew to Madinah Al-Munawwarah.

As ever,
SALZY

Errasy’s Birth Story

Earlier this year, I went through some tough times raising my 2 year-old toddler who was in the terrible twos phase. It was a real struggle to face his tantrums almost every single day and night when anything I did couldn’t settle his cry. Once he got disappointed just for a tiny thing, his tantrums would last up to more than an hour with non-stop crying and screaming. Can you imagine?

I was so stressed and felt like giving up. One night I isolated myself away and decided to blog about him and his current temperament so I poured all my unhappy feelings in a note book for me to type later. Today is his birthday. I flipped the notes that I wrote months ago and somehow, it curved a smile on my face. The tough motherhood phase has passed; my baby is now a happy boy! At least most of the time, not like before Alhamdulillah. So I cancelled my intention to write all the things in my notes because today is his 3rd birthday, I wanna reminisce the sweet memories of me giving birth to him.

Errasy was born through a planned C-section. I was all awake during the operation waiting for my baby to be pulled out from my tummy. It was a different experience, scary because when I delivered my first born, I was unconscious. This time, I savoured every moment in the operation theatre (OT) in my nervousness.

The atmosphere in the OT was quite relaxed even though everyone was moving around, here and there. I think I heard music being played if I was not mistaken but that was not my focus. During the operation, these people were having conversations with each other like there’s nothing going on in the room when actually, they were cutting my tummy layer by layer okay. In my mind thinking, maybe this c-sect operation is just like cutting onions to them especially for non-emergency case like this. Haha, my God! What a creepy thinking while on the surgery table.

Now comes the most thrilling part to me. When the ‘cutting’ process was completed, they informed me that in a little while they will pull my baby out. My heart was pounding fast, excited and nervous at the same time. When they took a peek at the baby who was still positioned in my tummy, the doctor’s assistant instantly said to me – “Emmm…..the baby is just like you.” She said it in a very casual way making me feel so curious. What did she mean? What did the ‘like-you’ like? I wanted to ask but I felt so weird to be talking when I knew my tummy was wide open and bloody so I kept it to myself, wondering in silence.

In less than a minute, Errasy was safely born and immediately shown to me. Such a beautiful moment and again the assistant said to me – “See…he is so fair! Justttt like you!” Awww….. Was that what she meant earlier? I was soooo over the moon the second I heard that. Having to see my baby fresh from the oven was already wonderful, the remark from her beautifies the moment even more I was so speechless!

Errasy was then taken by the nurses and the operation continued but I couldn’t stop smiling in bliss. It was one beautiful moment throughout the delivery process that will forever stay in my memory. The words “the baby is just like you, he is so fair just like you” stuck in my mind repeatedly whenever I throwback my second maternity journey and even every time when I look at my baby who now has turned 3 years old, today.

errasy newborn

Excuse this vain mommy people! Haha… the same comment if uttered at any other time wouldn’t make me feel flattered like this. It’s just because it happened at that very time, it created an unforgettable mommy-moment to me and I gotta record it in words, mind me. Hehe.. And I believe every mother also has her own exclusive cloud nine moment when giving birth to each child, right! *Care to explain. Ahaks*

My second baby, my second pregnancy. His coming was a surprise, I didn’t expect that I’d get pregnant again when my first born was only 10 months old. Such an unexpected gift, enlivens our lives with his funny characters I called him an entertainer in this family.

ayadean

Dear Errasy Eddean,

Happy 3rd Birthday my baby! May you grow healthy, wealthy, wise and lucky. Be a good boy now and rise as a good man in the future. Thank you for bringing so much happiness to us, we’re so blessed to have you as that cutie little brother. Stay close and clingy to Mom as you always do, I may seem annoyed with your childishness but please know that, deep inside my heart I’m loving every bit of it!

Mom loves you so much, Ayash Ayadean.. Always, and forever. Happy Birthday. 

Till the next post,
SALZY

Toastmasters : Ice Breaker Speech

This is a continuation post from the previous one. Feel free to read it first – Finding the Old Me

1st speech1

First and foremost, let me make an important disclaimer here. In the speech Finding the Old Me, I actually added a spoon of seasonings to enhance the flavor finely. Haha! Actually, the part that I said I spoke in front of many people – no, I did not speak in front of many people back then. The part that I loved to volunteer in class – no, I never volunteered in class. Hahaha…I exaggerated! Yes I was active with clubs and societies but I was just a regular committee and I just led small teams once or twice. And yes I enjoyed class presentations and yes my work life was right as described. My point was actually to distinguish these two positions so I exaggerated the U part a bit. Just a bit, mind me! Haha okay done with my confessions. Let’s move on to a more constructive discussion.

SPEECH WRITING

Ice Breaker speech is very basic. It’s talking about yourself so in terms of the contents, you don’t have to climb the Google mountain. The difference is how it’s being delivered. Through my observation in the meetings :

  • They talk about their lives based on chronology –  from the time they’re born to the present, highlighting significant facts along the way.
  • They pick only two or three things about them and they elaborate further.
  • They tell a story about an incident or an experience they went through and what they learned that made them who they are today.

I was interested with the second one and I also wanted to tell a story. And so that’s how it turned out.

PREPARATION & PRACTICE

I practiced a lot! Within two weeks prior to that, I acted in front of the mirror every single day. At first, I wrote my text and memorized it line by line but I found it so hard to flow. I sought advice from my hubby and a friend who are very associated with this speaking thingy and they told me not to memorize everything but just remember the points and structure and keep on practicing. I did just that! Thank guys.

TIPS & IDEAS

Okay these are random tips and ideas I scooped out from here and there that might be useful for you :

  1. Volunteer to speak during Table Topic sessions prior to the day as a practice to overcome your stage fright.
  2. Have a mutual interaction. Throw a question and self-answer. That would spare a pause for you to hold a moment.
  3. You may want to use the projector. Display interesting pictures of yourself and share the story behind them (e.g : pictures of you travelling to other countries)
  4. Describe yourself based on astrology, chinese zodiac or favourite colors.
  5. Tell the meaning of your name and elaborate the elements that make you you.
  6. Begin or end your speech with a quote.
  7. Conclude yourself in 3 words.
  8. Don’t forget to relate your stories with the audience. Offer something for them to take home.

EVALUATION

I was evaluated by the Mr. President himself. One good point I want to remember is that he said I began my speech with a big smile. Some people forgot to smile when in nervous state. So yes, smile! And these are some rooms of improvement for me to note :

  1. “Too much hand gestures.”
    This is the most obvious. That’s my habit anyway but during the speech, I even overdid it. Gotta watch these hands next time. The evaluator said, every gesture should be purposeful.
  2. “Too static.”
    I did not move.  I purposely did not move. When practicing, I tried to casually move a step or two but the risk is that I would get distracted and go blank at all. No way! So I glued my feet on the ground. Will practice on this later.
  3. “Less pauses.”
    Those who knew me in-person surely know that I naturally speak like a train. So this is what happened live. Actually I controlled this in my practice. I timed myself and every time it was all reaching 6 minutes. But on real play, my time recorded was only 5 minutes 17 seconds. I was speeding obviously. He reminded us to use the power of pauses for the audience to absorb what we say. Okay!

EXPERIENCE & FEELINGS

All in all, well done, self! I’m so glad I did it anyways. For once I broke through my fear, my self-doubt and timidity with this challenge and what I can say is, knowing my level and competency, I’m pretty satisfied with my first performance. Thank God, Allah eased my say. I’d less fumbles and most importantly I didn’t forget my script because I didn’t bring any notes with me. Because this is the first one, this is the best so far. Hahaha. Now, I’m on to the next. Bring it on!!

Till the next post,
SALZY

Toastmasters : Finding the Old Me

Hello everyone. On 29th of August 2017, I’ve done my first Project Speech at the Toastmasters. Here I’m presenting the text of my speech for anyone’s reference on Ice-Breaker topic and also for my own keepsake. After reading this, you’re welcome to continue reading my next post as I talked about my experience, tips learnt and some ideas for Toastmasters newbies to kick-off your shot. Click here.

Thank you Toastmasters of the Day and Good Afternoon everyone.
My Name is Saleha, and this is my first speech. It’s on ice-breaker, so I’m gonna tell you a little bit about myself.

First, let’s have a flashback to a time when I was in university, 10 years ago.
When I was a student, I was a really active student. I joined clubs and societies, I involved in events and programmes.
And these activities required me to speak in front of many people, give speeches and lead a team.

In class, whenever the lecturer said; “Anyone wants to volunteer?”
I would go… “Me!” I loved to volunteer in class!

And I loved doing presentations! You know in every subject we have assignments and we have to present our assignments? That was the time I looked forward to in every semester!
Well, not saying that I was so goood. But it’s just something that I enjoyed doing.

So… that’s a little bit about myself when I was in U. But that’s an old story. 10 years ago.

Later, after I graduated, I worked. I worked in a position that was….not presentation-oriented.
I didn’t have to speak in front of many people, I didn’t even involve in open communication.
Most of the time, I worked with the computer. And it was really busy it was all about work, work, work.
I didn’t have time to really join events or be a committee in programmes or be active.

So you can see the difference about myself and my life – when I was studying and working.
And I can say that, in about 8 years of my working life, I never really did a proper presentation.

Except one day. That was… in BP already. There was a group of Graduate Trainees, you know..some of you are GTs here.
So this group of GTs, they made rounds from department to department and they were coming to my department.
So my boss asked me to prepare a presentation for them regarding our job scope.
Just to give them a little exposure about our roles, what we do for the company and all.

So I was like… “Okay, no problem, I can do this.”

Buttt….on the day when I was about to present… I tell you, I was so nervous! So scared I was shaking so bad!
It was only 5 minutes simple presentation but my voice was like cracking all the way I couldn’t speak properly!
I tell you… It was a really, really baddd presentation!

So after the meeting I was like… what happened to me?? Why did I present like that?
I was thinking…these people are GTs. They’re juniors. I am senior. And I was just talking about my daily job so what’s the big deal??
It’s something that I know of, of course I’m good at it so why was I so nervous?? What’s so scary about that??

I felt so embarrassed with myself. I felt so embarrased with my own self!
Because, that was the time I realized that I have change… a lot…
From someone who was confident, well-verse. Now I become very timid and… not convincing at all.

So I thought…. I gotta do something! I gotta change myself I can’t stay this way. I wanna improve myself. I wanna find my old self!

But I was thinking… What do I do? What do I do to improve myself?

And suddenly one day, I met Alex (the TM President) at the Career Fair event that day and he explained to me about Toastmasters.
He explained to me on how it works and what it’s all about.
And I was like… oh, this is good. This is what I was searching for! This is the place I can improve my skills. This is the place… I can find the old me! Right….

So… this is why I’m here today. Speaking, in front of you, for the first time.
Taking the challenge, and making a pledge that I will improve myself.

This is my new beginning. Do you think I can do thisss? *Smile wait for the “YES” =D*

A little bit before I end my speech.

In life, always we hear people say that we have to move forward, move forward, never look back.
But to me, at some points of time, we really do have to take a break, pause for a moment.
Look back, and reassess ourselves. And see, how much different have we been?

Better? Or worse?
If better then good.
If there’s any quality in ourselves that we cherished, that is good… Keep it. Never lose it.

But happened to be, because time passed by and life changed from one phase to another. And we also changed.
We’ve become a different person. Someone we’re not proud of. Not like before.

So what do we do?
We do something, to gain ourselves back!

That’s all for today. Thank you very much everyone. Back to you Toastmasters of the Day.

Till the next post,
SALZY

Caesarean is a Gift

I feel called to write about this. Caesarean, a way to deliver a baby that’s usually a second option, the least preferred, the most avoided. Always, caesarean is perceived as an unlucky event for mothers not getting to birth the normal way. Always, we hear in our community, delivering normal is a rizq, a blessing for the mother so when another gives birth caesarean-ly, it’s really common for her to say or people say to her, “It’s okay, no rizq (chance) to give normal birth this time.” Or, we’re “thankful that it was all safe ‘even though’ it was through operation.” Always the case, right? I was also accustomed to that up to a point somehow I don’t feel right saying it that way.

Caesarean mothers, can we stop saying it that way anymore? Saying no rizq or even though… is like focusing on the things we don’t get and marking our labor journey as less fortunate than it should be. When actually, after being told that the operation was successful and our baby has been safely delivered, isn’t it a huge blessing from God? Of course. So when we’re feeling unsettled about not giving normal birth or they (the doctors) shouldn’t rush to decide to cut us open or they should’ve waited a bit longer so the baby might be out vaginally; isn’t it like we overlooked the actual rizq that God has given us which – the chance to go through caesarean process?

Yes, giving birth by caesarean is a rizq. It is a chance for us to experience being cut open to welcome our baby to the world. It is such a wonderful and miraculous process happening on our body while we’re lying safe and sound. In a matter of an hour, the world is shined with the arrival of our baby, our tummy is closed back and we’re forever marked with a golden scar of love. Of course after that we have to endure the post-op pain and restrictions but to me, either it’s SVD (Spontaneous Vaginal Delivery) or Caesarean, each has its own fair share of ease and pain. So when we’re chosen to undergo this process, this is our precious journey and we should be grateful that it happened the way it happened. And for that, rather than saying “It’s okay, no rizq for me to give normal birth”, I think we should be saying; “Thank God, this is a rizq for me to experience caesarean process. Allah has blessed me with the chance to give birth through caesarean. Caesarean is a gift.” Can feel the difference?

Am I trying to say that Caesarean birth is more special than another? No. SVD is definitely wonderful and miraculous. It’s a blessing, it’s a precious journey and it’s also a gift, absolutely. Know that I’m not differentiating these two. I’m differentiating the way we look at things. This is just my opinion and this is what I’ve been holding to myself since a while after the post c-sect of my first born. If you can see, the difference of saying “It’s okay” and “Thank God” is the reflection of acceptance and gratitude; redha and syukur. Acceptance is good, but gratitude is another level to please Allah The Almighty for what He has planned for us. Indeed that how our labor journey took place was all already in His plans, right? Doesn’t He know best?

When I chose to be grateful on top of accepting this, my mind was brought to recall more and more blessings related to the birth of my babies. First was the blessing of getting married, and then getting pregnant, having smooth pregnancies and finally, the arrival of the new bundles of joy that I got to see, kiss and hold. There certainly were ups and downs but still this entire journey is too beautiful to be scratched by the little frustration for having been operated. We mustn’t want to scratch our precious gift, right? And there, a little change in our utterance makes a whole lot of difference.

Till the next post,
SALZY