A Stranger That Inspires

I think it’s a bit weird for me to be talking about someone that I never knew. In fact, I never knew this person at all when she was still alive. Just right after she left this world, then only I got to know about her existence. A stranger that I couldn’t identify any mutual acquaintance between us, not even one. Nonetheless, the story of her life has gripped my heart in a very mesmerizing way.

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Photo Source : Instagram @nikidznidalila

 

The Late Nik Idzni Dalila Binti Nik Mahmud – a grown girl, 25-year-old when she passed on, a student then a doctor, a wife, a cancer-fighter.

The day that she passed away on 27th December 2016, the social media has gone viral by the news. I was first not interested with it but the level of “virality” was so high that everyone was sharing the posts with crying emoji and I kept seeing the husband and wife’s pictures with screenshotted captions crossing through my timeline. Too much, I thought…‘What’s the hype?’ So I clicked on.

From one article to another, one Instagram post to the next, scrolling and scrolling, I then became very perplexed! It’s so like a made-up story. This girl was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer, still wanted to continue study, stayed far away from home, found love to a very devoted guy, got married though she’s in that condition, finished studies, became a doctor, health got worse, resigned, came back home, passed away on the very first wedding anniversary! Are these all true?? I didn’t believe it’s a real story, did you?

I stalked all the pictures and was also directed to her blog. Days spent reading almost everything, it was first really heart-breaking but as I read and read, I found that this girl was truly a living proof of miracle! Her life, her illness, her very strong self, put together made one of a kind character that taught me so much real life lessons and impacted me in a way that left me thinking and reflecting about so many things in my life. I was like given answers I’ve been puzzling for so long. And what made me felt more touched was because all these things came through someone who’s no longer around. One whom I don’t and won’t ever get the chance to know in person. A stranger, but truly a godsend that had inspired me through her words she left visible.

I believe there were many other people in kinda similar situations like her but maybe she’s the one that Allah chose to flick my heart and send His messages to me. I learnt from her that being sick is truly a blessing from Allah, it’s not an unfortunate event, not a bad luck. That’s how we always perceived bad things – not just sickness but any difficulties. The way she treated this test from Allah was really extraordinary. She recognized every blessing she gained despite having the cancer and chose to be grateful for everything. When I felt like how lucky she was to be herself, I asked myself; ‘She’s sick, she got c.a.n.c.e.r, she died at only 25… How could I say she’s lucky for all that?’ From there I understand the true meaning of “blessing” in a way that I never deeply thought of.

She inspired me to blog. You know I’d been contemplating to blog for so long. I had long lists of things discouraging me from taking the plunge but most of all was because I feared that I’d regret of what I write myself. I was afraid that in future I realize what I’ve written was all crap. I was scared of being fooled by my own words. But in her blog profile she said this;

A single statement above was like resolving all my contemplations. She’s so full of courage to say this, I was so moved. I can read hundreds of blogs and get inspired, I can read fancy popular blogs and feel enthusiastic to do the same but nothing, nothing really beats my doubt to actually get started. 5 days after her passing, the New Year slipped in and I delayed no more. That’s how it started with many more blogging inspirations I obtained implicitly from her. Truly, she’s the reason for this.

In January this year, I went for Umrah and it was about a month after I knew about this wonderful soul. On my last round; I performed the Badal Umrah for her. It was just spontaneous when I was about to pronounce my niat, I thought of her in my mind so I dedicated the Umrah for her. After I completed the Badal Umrah, I was drawn with a sense of guilt in me. I doubted my action about doing it for her, who was a total stranger. I knew it was already my fourth round of Umrah, all our late relatives have been covered for Badal (by my mom and brother as well) but I still felt that I should’ve prioritized at least someone that I knew in person, not an unknown at all to me. But it’s all done, I wondered why must I still feel that way? I returned home with this unsettled feeling.

Back home, I told my husband about this ‘conflict’ within me. I thought I just wanted to express my feelings but finally my husband came out with something so relieving. He said; “It’s okay, you don’t have to feel this way. Maybe that was a blessing from Allah to her, through you. Maybe when the time you want to niat that, Allah made you think of no one else but her, though she’s just a stranger to you. It’s Allah’s will specially for her; I guess it’s nothing to be felt guilty of?”

I felt like a heavy load in my heart was vanished at all. That was really, really, really calming. Because true! I did not plan that? Her name instantly crossed my mind at that very moment. Indeed it’s Allah’s will, I feel so overwhelmed to be clarified this way. Because if really that’s how Allah blessed her for the strong faith she kept through her tough times in the dunya, isn’t it an ultimate success? Think that, if everything that we have to go through in life is to promise Allah’s blessings for us in the hereafter, what else matters? T_T

I just hope that my Umrah obligations were all valid and accepted and from up there, she would gain the rewards too. May Allah forgive her sins, grant her Jannah and reunite her with all her loved ones one day. This world is indeed temporary; we all will be there too.

It’s been exactly a year since the day she returned to the Creator, and it’s been a year too I’m living life through her wisdoms. If I were to be asked; who is one person that has changed my life in 2017? I’d say it’s definitely her. On earth, we’re two total strangers that had never met eyes, never crossed paths. But in two different worlds, I feel so related to her and this connection I believe comes from Allah as spiritual guidance for me to cruise this life more wisely. Thank you Stranger, for all the things you had done.

Rest in peace, Allahyarhamah Nik Idzni Dalila Binti Nik Mahmud (1991-2016)

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Photo Source : Instagram @nikidznidalila

Innalillahiwainnailaihiraji’un

Till the next post,
SALZY

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I Want To Remind Myself

13th October 2017 marks 8 years anniversary of our love relationship. On the same day itself, my husband went for his company’s Annual Dinner event and brought home a lucky draw! Since when he became so lucky? Haha. It’s a Free Lunch Buffet Voucher for 2 pax @ Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside B’s Restaurant. Yeay… We consider this as our anniversary gift, then. Alhamdulillah.

pullman

Today we set to utilize the voucher. Didn’t wanna delay the pleasure and also to celebrate our son’s birthday which was two days ago. Actually, I’d been planning to organize a birthday party for him since early of this year. I’d been saving money, outlining the stuff and listing to-do’s for the event. It’s one of my important agendas for 2017 because we haven’t done any parties for him before. We did one for Dhany but none for Ayash. It’s not that it’s really a must for us do party for every birthday, but once in a while would be nice, right?

Alassss, my plan turned to no avail. Due to? Budget constraint. Haha. This year our financial goes on a roller coaster ride. I thought this is the year that we could save more for more big things upcoming. But it turns out to be just a funny thought. So many more unexpected things came rolling into our pockets and rolled out loaded. At this time, we’re just so broke! Huwarghhh…

And so I cancelled my plan to organize the birthday party for Errasy. We just couldn’t make it, baby. But with this free voucher that dropped from the sky just in time, we seized it for a little celebration with our little family.

cakes

boys

The cakes! Haha…call it a “DIY”. As long as there are candles on it, it is a birthday cake! What a cheapskate parents we are…haha. ‘Desperate time calls for desperate measures’ so mind us okay. Creative mom I am. Lol. Happy 3rd Birthday my baby Errasy! We loveeee you.

We spent two hours indulging the foods and later sightseeing around the hotel area and went home with happy tummies. Free meals are always extra delicious, right? Hehe. Thank you Allah for today and I’m taking some time now for a gratitude moment.

At this moment, I want to remind myself that even in time that we can call ‘hard times’ like this, we still have the opportunity to have fancy meals at a lavish place.

I want to remind myself that at the time we thought we couldn’t spare any money for self-reward like always, a lucky draw decided to reward us with something of our favourites (buffet dine).

I want to remind myself that my plan was unsuccessful but it’s replaced with something more meaningful.

I want to remind myself to be thankful with whatever I got and not whine over insufficiency.

I want to remind myself to be grateful and Allah will increase.

I want to remind myself that with every hardship comes ease.

I want to remind myself to not be hopeless because The help is near.

I want to remind myself that keeping faith in hard times is most rewarding.

I want to remind myself that despite all these we’re still blessed, we’re always blessed.

Things I’ve known so well but at this moment, I just want to remind myself.

Alhamdulillah ‘ala kulli hal.

family

Till the next post,
SALZY

Forgiving When Not Even Sorry

The past week was depressing to me. I was hurt, I was offended. Something happened that didn’t only make it a bad day but a bad week as a whole. I think I haven’t felt this kind of feelings for so long. Problems come and go but rarely it’s about something that makes me feel so offensive. This time, it was just frustrating enough.

I was so down, I tried to control myself and told myself to forget it and not to feel so bad for what’s happened but I just couldn’t keep it silent. I’ve learnt to let off things but this; I couldn’t just ignore the issue so I confronted the person. Sadly, badly, the person was not even sorry for what I felt and it’s just taking my anger to another level – depression!

For days I’d been agitated. Life has been a bit challenging lately but I maintained positivity with me but this thing was just making things worse. After a week or so whining in this gloomy feeling, I told myself to stop and deal with it. Deal with this feeling because dealing with human did not work. At least I tried.

In my quiet time, I self-talked to understand myself. I made it clear of what I was so sad about it and why. I knew the root cause that triggered my anger and I knew the solution was to confront and I was all ready to forgive but…………..the person was not even sorry! Just how could it be? That was actually the reason for my lengthy despair. Yes, a week spent in tears is long okay, I’ve been wasting time.

And so I told myself to forgive, forgive without an apology. Honestly I felt so hard to do that cause I was so hurt so again I made it clear for myself as to why do I have to forgive?

First, I wanna do this for Allah, Lillahi Taala. Taking the person aside, this thing was a test for me on how I would react to it and for it to be a test; of course it’s hard. Allah knows I feel tough about it so when I try to fight this feeling, He looks at my effort. May He have mercy on me and make it easy. Istighfar a lot!

Second, I wanna do this for myself. This pathetic state shouldn’t last for long. I have a lot of things to attend to and time is ticking. This year is reaching the end so let’s get busy as always! Not just by forgetting about it but forgiving it. Trying to forget the hurtful thing is a method of ignoring but no this is not my way. How can you tell yourself to just forget it when you’re not senile? I want to forgive this in a way that I acknowledged my feeling, I entertained it for a certain reasonable period and I expressed it out – through cries and through this; writing. Writing is my intangible medication and by writing about this, I got a clearer vision of my reasons to forgive and may this also serve as a reminder for me whenever I am recalled about this through evil’s whispers. Oh God, please keep it away from me.

Lastly down to karma. No, I don’t mean for karma to happen to the person who has hurt my heart but rather, it might be a karma that’s serving me back for what I’ve done. Maybe I did this to other people; the same exact thing or anything that played with someone’s feelings too. I must have, and I did not apologize. Always we heard when one was being mistreated or betrayed, he would say ‘oh wait for karma to pay you back!’, not realizing that what was happening might be the karma to him, actually. So yeah, this may be the reason why I don’t deserve an apology. I’m sorry…

Spreading these whole things cloudless, I see it’s very little to associate the person and the apology that I demanded as the matter-of-fact. Majorly, it’s about me! Our problems, our disappointments; more often than not they’re about us and how we deal with it. The people, the surroundings, the other little problems that we thought making things worse are all just the characters in this episode. And again it’s a test. We may say that “I forgive people every day, every night, I live with no grudge.” But when the real test strikes, you know it’s not that easy this time, not as always. Just remember, this is when our faith is going to be leveled up. Stay strong inside!

To know this, I then separate the offence from the person who’d hurt me so now, the person is standing free from the mistake. Things happened, it did what it did so now what’s left is just me to spell out my forgiveness.

And so I forgive this person, with all my heart.

i forgive you

 

End of my forgiving-without-an-apology process, you’re welcome =D.

Till the next post,
SALZY

Teach Your Kids at Home

Yesterday, we attended a pre-school’s briefing for parents who planned to enroll their children next year. They organized the briefing to explain about their programmes, syllabus, learning techniques and so forth. Our kids are going to kindergarten in less than 3 months! I’ve been feeling so overwhelmed this whole year and now, at this very moment, this feeling bounced triple. It’s the decision making time. Too many things to be taken into account and everything is crucial. But I’m not gonna talk about that because we’re almost there. A bit more things to be finalized and there you go kids. Hopefully it’s the right decision.

During the briefing, when the principal talked about children’s outcome from the learning, she advised parents to be involved with teaching at home; not just depend on the teachers in school. Well, it’s common, right? In today’s world; everything is on the fast lane. Primary schools’ exam questions are not like our time before they’re much advanced. And so to catch up with this, parents must also teach their kids at home, revise what they’ve learnt during the day and keep track of their development. For a fact, it’s our responsibility anyway. Oh my. Did you just load bricks on my shoulders?

Heavy, and hefty. That’s definitely the feeling every time I think of this particular responsibility. But yesterday, the way the teacher put it in her words when reminding us to do teach our kids at home was so uplifting. She didn’t simply say; “Parents, you must must must teach your kids too. You can’t expect only teachers to do our part and expect your kids to excel.” Typical reminders we heard yet so weakening. She had this message in her speech but this is how she worded it;

“Parents, do teach your kids at home too. Why? Because we want you to also gain the shares in the hereafter, not just us. For every word and every letter in the Quran your kids will read all their lives, there will be rewards to the ones who taught them since they started to know Alif, Ba, Ta. Also A, B, C. Should all the rewards go only to the teachers in school? We want you to gain your shares too. Teach your kids at home, okay?”

Such a beautiful perspective. Focusing on the benefits rather than warning the cause of failures when this is only a beginning. Reminding us on the essence of teaching reward on top of sending-to-school reward and paying-the-fee reward. Telling us the true purpose which is not merely to grow clever kids but to gain as much rewards for the hereafter which is also correcting our intention towards Lillahi Ta’ala. Hinting us that this heavy responsibility is one that we won’t want to cease.

The words lighten my shoulders that were dropped just now. This is my new journey as a parent and this graceful encouragement is one that I will keep close to my mind in holding this responsibility. All the best to me and all parents out there. Let’s do our part!

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

Arranging My Bookshelves on Goodreads

I think I’m funny. I played around with the Goodreads apps browsing and adding books only to know that I created 10 shelves in total! Haha… Who on earth needs 10 virtual bookshelves when you can actually load thousands of books in only one default Read shelve with no-collapse assurance? Me, and I have my own justification. :p

Here’s the list of my shelves :

bookshelves

Four Read shelves labelled by years? That’s triggered by my date-oriented nature that really thinks I need to group my books based on the year read. If possible, I wanna sub-group them by months, hehe. But of course it’s not necessitous and as years pass by; it’s gonna be so messy to have these 2018, 2019, 2020 and so forth. I think I will just cancel the rest and only maintain the current year and the default read shelve for older books.

Just for now, I wanted to see my collections since 2015 – the year I revisited this hobby after abandoning it for quite some time. My God I’m so good at abandoning things even they’re some sort of entertainment to me. How could it be, self?

Well, I can say that was since I got married or more factually, married to a no-bookworm. My husband, he doesn’t read books! We still remember a moment in the beginning of our relationship; the ice-breaker phase. On the phone, we talked about our favourites and I told him about my reading pastime. I went on and on talking about my favourite books, this book and that book. And he was like.. clueless. Didn’t know what to reply vis-à-vis books and so he tactically diverted the topic into movies. So then we talked about movies. No more books. Haha. It’s funny to recall it now yet funnier to realize that I didn’t grasp that hint telling me that we’re so contradict so why did I marry this man?! Hahaha..

And so 2015 was the year I returned to reading as I was setting up my goals for the New Year, I searched for things that could activate my brain other than just fulfilling my to-do list with the never-ending house chores and life errands. My current collections are all starting from only 2 years ago and it’s growing I’m loving it!

Moral is, even though we don’t marry someone who shares the same interests with us and even if our spouses are more dominant in influencing us to follow their stuff, it doesn’t mean we have to give up things that we love to do. Sometimes we tend to abandon them just because we donned our head with multiple hats. But hey, don’t let our concerns toward others steal the concern over our own selves, okay? While my husband is not a book lover like I am, that wouldn’t space a distance between us.

Till the next post,
SALZY

A Ride Full of Messages

grab

Since a year ago I guess I can say I am a regular customer of the increasingly popular public transport – GrabCar, or UBER sometimes. Not a routine but quite frequently I’d rather ‘grab’ than drive just because I’m lazy. Do you usually chat with the driver? I usually only take short trips around 10 to 15 minutes to arrive so normally it doesn’t really spare time to chat. Being in cars without having to concentrate on the road is the time we should steal to do our little things or just – scroll the phone, right? But today’s experience was completely different.

Today I took the longest trip in my record – a 50-minute ride involving highways so I had set to read a book all the way to kill the time. But then, after 10 minutes of muteness I felt really awkward because it was so quiet, the radio was low volume and the driver seemed bored. It’s still a long way to arrival so I thought let’s say a word just to break the silence if it’s cold, I can continue with my reading. Little did I know, from just a typical question “Hey do you do UBER as well or just totally Grab?” it turned into a conversation about life!

It went on and on to talking about doing it full or part-time, to his current other job, to his job prior to this, to why he’s doing this. This guy was really a talking personality he talked talked talked so openly. Haha. But of course because I also kept asking from one question to another just to relate anyway. He told about a major accident he involved years ago and that now he’s wearing an artificial backbone! It was so incredible that he broke his spine and not paralysed? MashaAllah.

After the accident, a series of drama happened in his life from having to quit from a governmental job, on how unfair the employer treated his situation, the tough recovery process, the devastation of not able to do his favourite thing before – cycling, he was an active cyclist by the way. After he somewhat recovered and found himself jobless, he went to Perth, Australia to find luck. With his brother and cousin, first they got cheated of 15 thousand dollars, which was another drama, but still managed to get there. The trials of getting a job there was another hardship so his brother and cousin couldn’t survive, because they have families, so they went home leaving him alone. It was really a rough journey he even told that sometimes he cried in shower. Erp, my God. An astonishment not because of the crying-in-shower thing but for telling a stranger so!

He managed to secure a job, and worked and lived a life for I’m not sure how long but earlier this year he returned to Malaysia to urgently settle his insurance case pertaining to the accident. It involved lawyers to fight for his rights but in the end, for what he’s gone through since then it only compensated an undeserved amount of money for him. How awful.

So there he was. Starting over in Malaysia with this GrabCar service almost full-time and also another job. With GrabCar was another challenge as well but I’d rather not continue here or it’s gonna be a novel, haha.

The ride was one of a kind. It left me reflective with a deep thought that how life can be so tragic for some people. Everyone in this world is tested, we all are. But for certain people we somehow would say they’re the chosen ones. Some tests happened once and they changed the person’s life completely after that. But some tests happened in a way to generate problems after problems like a never-ending story. Either way, that’s what life is! This life is a test for the believers and from time to time it will be difficult. And for as long as we live we in fact don’t know when actually the turning point of our life is. We could think we have been tested enough and that made us stronger but do we actually know Allah’s plans on us? Who might not know for one day people will look at us and say we’re ‘the chosen ones’? Honestly it’s scary to think of.

It was coincidence that we, husband and I, came across this ayah just two mornings ago so when I had this conversation in Grab, it instantly reminded me to what we just tadabbur. Allah mentioned in ayah 214 of Surah Al-Baqarah; “Or do ye think that ye shall enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those of faith who were with him cried: “When (will come) the help of Allah?” Yes! Verily, the Help of Allah is near!” – Telling us how difficult the trials of the believers (may Allah bless them) were for Allah to let them into paradise so what about us? Wanting such an easy life with a trial or two, getting over and expecting paradise? Shame now. We actually just forgot what we were here for.

2,214

To the driver, I may be just another passenger that came in and out of his car like the others. But to me, the ride was full of messages that still left me thinking about life.

Till the next post,
SALZY