Ushered out of my job, my mental health spiralling, reputation in shambles, I felt a deep, cavernous sense of loss for my once optimistic self.
Subhanallah, another year has past.
Change, that was the overwhelming theme of 2014.
New city, new job, new focus...
Change brought many a new beginning.
It was also a year of lots of movement.
150 flights, all over the world. Humbling, really.
All blurred into one long cassette tape of memory.
New people, new perspectives.
What did I learn?
I learnt that the older I get, the greyer things become.
That we cannot judge what is in another person's heart, and it is not our place to do so. What should be of concern with is getting our own heart in order. Controlling our reactions and responses to events is the only choice we have; a powerful choice and realisation.
I learnt silence is okay, and sometimes time-out is okay too, even though the adrenalin junkee inside may shout otherwise.
These things are important, for idleness can always been a poison.
However, thinking, real, deep, critical thinking doesn't happen when we're on the go. It didn't happen when I was binge watching The Good Wife or dancing in my bedroom when I got up in the morning.
It happens when I find silence and let my thoughts wander. When I choose to reflect consciously...
I realised my way of thinking is through writing. All the silence in the world is futile for my clarity without a way to record it, have it played back to me and be able to reflect on it again and again, until it makes some sense. The very act of writing, of seeing the words articulated on a page or screen gives them a legitimacy that the fleeting nature of my thoughts lack. The fact that I didn't write enough this year perhaps contributed to the feeling of not-being-present... and so I resolve to return to the habit of writing in 2015 inshallah.
Every new year brings the opportunity for reflection, refocus and recalibration of who we want to be and where we want to be at.
I cannot say with any certainty where I want to be at the end of this 365 day chapter inshallah.
What I do know is that I hope, with the grace of Allah, I find humility, the space to think and write critically, the ability to impact, influence and hopefully, inspire towards a world of greater equality of opportunity and diversity of voices in the public domain.
Who knows what 2015 brings. All we can try to do is be truly present for it.
Every year I start with a song. 2014 was started with Pharrell's Happy, before it got overplayed on the radio. This year, I chose Bluejuice's 'Work'.
Affirm Press will be publishing an anthology later in the year called "It happened in a Holden", and I am honoured to be one of the writers contributing to the book!
It should be a great compilation and I am honoured to be a part of the project
Here is a sneak peak of what I wrote...
"‘Hey, you,’ the portly figure across the road called in my direction.
I looked around, was he talking to me?
‘You, over there!’ He was now pointing at me through the throng of people walking across the road, intermittently blocking my view.
‘Who, me?’ I mouthed, pointing at my chest, bending the vinyl Summernats logo printed on the shirt.
‘Yeh, you! Come over here!’
I hesitated. The man was bald, sporting a biker’s beard and a t-shirt with a naked lady on the front. The market store he was standing next to wasn’t much better, and cheeky sloganed t-shirts were just the beginning. Every piece of Summernats paraphernalia from stubby holders to novelty pens seemed to have found its way into this guy’s tent.
Oh, what the hell, I thought, as I made my way across the road, ignoring every ‘don’t talk to strangers’ lesson ever taught. Weaving in and out of the crowd, I passed a gorgeous Camaro parked by the store, and only just resisted the urge to stroke its bonnet. Control yourself, girl! I reprimanded myself silently. The last 1960s model stirred something in my chest that gave me the jitters. "
What is your favourite Holden?
The Sydney Writers' Festival looks insanely awesome this year!! Are you going to be there?
There are the likes of Barack Obama's Chief Digital Strategist, Anne Summers, Ruby Wax, Slam Poetry... ahhhh! I am so excited!
Are you going to be there? Who are you excited to see??
Should be fun ;)
Remember how I mentioned I was lucky enough to be contributing to this month's edition of the Griffith Review? Well it is out today! (I am pretty sure...not sure if you can get it in bookshops yet), but here is a sneak preview of my piece, I hope you like it!
Pick up the Griffith Review at good bookstores near you :) In fact, you can buy it (print or digital) on the Griffith Review Website tomorrow!!
ACCEPTING THAT YOUR twenty-one-year-old-Muslim-daughter is going to work on remote oil and gas rigs is not easy. I am fortunate to have parents who understand (although perhaps not always share) my interest in adventure and not being ordinary. Their view is simple: as long the rules of Islam are followed and there is a coherent and beneficial reason for me doing the things I chose, they will support me.
My parents say they weren’t sure what to expect when they immigrated to Australia almost twenty years ago, fleeing the oppressive political regime in Sudan. They may not have had a concrete idea of where it would lead, but I certainly inherited from them the gene that makes us willing to seize opportunity and embark on adventures. That may explain how they found themselves with a daughter who boxes, designs racing cars, and while visiting family in Sudan last year, got wrapped up in the attempt to overthrow the same oppressive government that forced them to leave.
They came to Australia looking for a new beginning, now they are parents of a female, Muslim rig hand.
As part of my faith, I wear the hijab (headscarf), and have been doing so since I was ten, as a personal choice. It is truly something that has become a part of my identity, and I like to be quite flamboyant and creative with colours and styles. My head covering on the rig is a little less obvious and obtrusive though, mostly because it is convenient to combine with the hardhat and a little cooler. In true Australian fashion however, religion is one topic that is fastidiously avoided, and people don’t always realise the significance of the head covering. It does make for some interesting conversations.
‘So when's that tea cosy come off?’
I turned around to my colleague and chuckled to myself.
‘Nah, it doesn't come off, I was born with it aye!’
His jaw dropped slightly and he looked at me in confusion. ‘Wha-a-?’
I laughed out loud. ’Nah mate! It's a religious thing. We call it a hijab, I guess this is the
abbreviated hard-hat friendly version...’
‘Oh yeah righto’...
He nodded uncertainly, shrugged and went back to his meal.
When I retold that story to my family at home, my father couldn't get enough of it.
‘Let's call you tea cosy now!’
Hi all! Just wanting to share some exciting news with you all. I have the amazing fortune to be a contributor in the Griffith Review’s awesome 40th Edition of Women and Power! It will be available in late April.
The empowerment of women it is one of the most remarkable revolutions of the past century. But like all good revolutions it is still not settled.
In a generation women have taken control of their economic fate, risen to the most powerful political positions in the land and climbed to the top of the corporate ladder. Just when it seemed there was general acceptance of this change, a misogynist backlash persists.
The impact of this revolution extends across the whole society – from homes to schools, politics to the military, marriage to media – challenging long held verities.
In Women & Power, Griffith REVIEW will bring an international perspective to these dilemmas, exploring the changing relationship between women and power in public and private spheres, here and abroad.
Have social changes caught up with economic changes? Are children paying a price for the rise of the two-income household? Can women have it all? Does it matter whether Julia Gillard's fruit bowl is empty or full?
Women & Power will bring provocative and insightful perspectives on these questions. The empowerment of women was one of the great changes of the past 50 years, handling its consequences remains a pressing challenge.
The piece is a short memoir about my life so far on the rigs… it comes out in late April! I will also be at the Sydney Writers Festival speaking on this, so quite excited indeed at the opportunities, Alhamdulilah!
The Griffith Review, edited by my amazing friend and mentor Julianne Shultz…
…celebrates good writing and promotes public debate. It steps back from the issues of the day and gives writers the space to grow on the page.
Essays reflect on the underlying significance of events and trends, explain the details that get lost in the news and examine the unintended consequences of public policy.
I am really excited about contributing to this wonderful edition, so stay tuned – and maybe even get the edition!
It’s been a big week and these links have been sitting ‘to be published’ for a while now – hope you enjoy nonetheless! The photo above is of the UNAOC Youth Forum that I had the honour of being a part of…
How was your week? If you’re not sure yet…take some time to think while reading these awesome pieces!
"Though there is inevitably a focus on the constant tug-of-war between work and life for women, I don't think our feminist dream is a simple binary equation. Maybe it would be better if we had a more nuanced view, of a triple bottom line - professional, personal and public."
Former Attorney General
A fascinating and very Godin-like interview with the one and only, Seth Godin. Worth the read. I particularly enjoyed this line:
Do you believe in “writer’s block”? If so, how do you avoid it?
This is a fancy term for fear. I avoid it by not getting it. Because I write like I talk and I don’t get talker’s block.
I keep coming back to this article on making this year count.
All that stuff's nice — but entirely besides the point. Of life. For the simple, timeless truth is: You'll never find the rapture of accomplishment in mere conquest, the incandescence of happiness in mere possession, or the searing wholeness of meaning in mere desire. You can find them only — only — in the exploration of the fullness of human possibility.
Are you a political influencer, or want to be? Check out this new tool also being started by a friend, BiPolitico.
I disagree with this analysis of the demise of Google Reader. I think I will write something about it. It’s something that I am not looking forward to indeed…
Something a little light hearted – 27 signs you were raised by immigrant parents. Too many of these made me laugh…because it’s true :)