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  • Sahar Abdulaziz

Back, –But Different


Taking the month of August off from writing my blog was a brilliant blunder. I’d like to say it was my plan all along, take the credit and then try to convince others to do the same, but that would be a total bold-faced lie of gigantic proportions. So here’s the real deal.

I had become lazy. Emotionally physically and even a bit spiritually, I felt lethargic and sluggish. Out of touch with myself. I began to forget who I was and where my goals were heading. And I find that anytime I feel off-kilter like this, I tend to turn inwards for answers, intentionally closing myself off from others to self-protect, especially from outside stressors as much as possible. I do this so I can find a process to rejuvenate and put what is psychologically draining me to rest.

Interestingly, the methods I have used before don’t necessarily or automatically work again, so I have had to become quite creative and be willing to jump out of my comfortable box. Do the unexpected while expecting nothing in return. I call this my ‘personal accountability sabbatical,' –The tendering to all the accumulated frayed endings of my inner being, while systematically making decisions on how best to proceed in my life moving forward, or at least in the immediate future.

I posed questions such as these to myself:

–Where do I need to tie up loose ends?

–Am I genuine with those I say I care about?

–Am I respecting my Creator and behaving in ways that are pleasing or am I being a jackass?

–Have I purposely hurt anyone or said anything to make someone else feel less?

–Have I been generous in spirit or miserly?

–Am I living my authentic life or am I allowing myself to be swayed by the tug of insanity that has seemed to permeate the world’s population to such a mind-boggling and damaging degree?

–Am I doing more talking than listening?

–What have I learned recently? –AND, have I put what I have been blessed to learn into action?

Too many of those above questions produced answers which were embarrassingly remiss, but I expected that. My soul was hurting, my heart weighed heavy, and so my body -not to be left behind physically rebelled. FULL Mutiny. Walk the plank stuff and don’t look back! And just for the record, if your heart and soul are unhealthy your body will fight back big time. It has no choice but to wake you up and force you to take notice, and this quite frankly, is because sadness, uncertainty, stress, anxiety, and accumulated disappointments take their physical toll no matter how hard you try to ignore them away. Your body listens even if you refuse to pay attention. Think I’m kidding? Try not eating or drinking healthy foods and liquids. Try not sleeping enough. Better yet, be around toxic individuals and see how you feel when you get home.

But remedy doesn’t always have to be in the form of an expensive or exotic cure. Sometimes it simply means going off by yourself, perhaps hiking the mountains or drawing closer to the sea, allowing your thoughts to drift away with the pull of the waves while giving your soul permission to bask in the glorious sunrises and sunsets. Others may decide to go on a set vacation…to leave for the moment what is –in search of what could be. Still, many others will enjoy ‘staycations’, making their home their healing oasis. The 'where' isn't necessarily the 'cure' unless you remember to pack your heart, soul AND honesty while you search for the you that got temporarily got left behind.

So, exhausted, spiritually drained, and emotionally spent, –what did I choose to do?

Nothing.

Yup! NADA. A whole lot of nothing wrapped up in a ball of major somethings.

I woke each morning with no plan other than to exist. I was not on vacation per say, nor was I working. Just existing, and in the moment. I didn’t meditate in the strictest sense or any sense actually, but I did think. And prayed, and talked with my Creator, not at Him. I asked for advice and took His.

But, at the same time, I also didn’t ignore scheduled obligations. I made sure to keep my word and do what needed to be done, but even then, I did so with the mindset to accomplish my task to the best of my ability, and then get back to doing 'nothing' as soon as possible.

I purposely wore the most inappropriate and ugly –yet most comfortable ‘sandal’ known to humankind- even when it rained out. SO MUCH FUN! My toes were free and happy.

I also let my hair be. Gave that part of me a vacation of nothingness as well. Other than the regular wash and conditioning, a single daily comb-through sufficed. I preferred during this time to let it stay natural and untamed. When necessary, I twisted my glorious mess into a bun, or pulled it into a ponytail or just let it be. When I left the house I plopped on the hijab and called it a day. The point was, who cared? Not me.

Time was mine, so that included eating meals that to many would have probably made no sense. I didn’t feel like spending time in the kitchen. Too hot most days and on others my appetite waned. I indulged in finger foods, salads, water, coconut water, tea and more water. I tried to eat ONLY when hungry, grabbing a handful of this, a sip or forkful of that, but nothing spectacular. The only rule I applied to my eating was- it had to be healthy.

But rules are made to be broken, right? So, for fun, whenever I went out to eat I made sure to order a decadent dessert even if I couldn’t finish it. This is something I rarely EVER do. Calories and sugar be damned! I wanted to taste new and exciting things, wake my tastebuds up too. However, because I had been eating only what and when I needed, my stomach naturally shrunk, but hey- so what if I wound up having to bring these yummy morsels home and eat them for breakfast? –Although, I can now say from experience that ingesting Lava Cake at 6 am is a bit rough on the system, but like I said, it was a new experience, and that was what I was aiming for. Out of the box, try innovative stuff; break the rules I didn’t write in the first place, be my own boss… and in this case, have my cake and eat it too [despite pending indigestion].

And so now, my month of nothingness has drawn officially to close, even as I write, but I can report that the time was well spent. After a rough and tumble start, I began to bask in my inadequacies, own my fallibilities, and forgive my shortcomings. I also finally made some serious decisions that had been pressing on my mind, and even found time out of my schedule of nothingness to plot a new slew of others. I enjoyed conversations without feeling the need to rush away. I began to write my next book in earnest, finally 'hearing' my characters speak to me again. I tended to my flowers and in return, they blossomed magnificently. I exercised my body, my mind, and my spirit. Caught up on some reading for pleasure, and began to reclaim my physical space, which I did by purging thirty-five years of parenting. But most of all, I invited myself back into my life, the life I had let slip away, while I scoped out other interesting possibilities. The life I thought I was honoring all along, but in reality, only placating.

So, in closing, I know with certainty that the authentic life I choose to embrace and honor now, in this minute is not necessarily the life I thought I initially required, but if I am being honest, it is the life I am at my happiest, despite some of society’s missing sanctioned markers of success. And I’m more than okay with that. Matter of fact, I’m so okay that I think I’ll eat another slice of that chocolate, decadent lava cake and top it off with a handful of pretzels. Ghastly, I know… but so what, right? Some rules need to get broken once in a while...in moderation...the spice of life in chocolate technicolor.

I’m back…but different, and that too is okay.


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