beyond boredom

 

“beyond boredom lies the true self” (Gill Edwards)

ice coffee schoggi

here I sit, with a cup of iced coffee, some chocolate
and in my head I ponder on the wonderful books I read and sources of inspiration for family-life and self:

Gill Edwards “Pure Bliss”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh “Gift from the sea”
Amanda Blake Soule “the creative Family” and “Rhythm of Family”
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Brooke’s beautiful Jewellery

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the simple yet lovely necklaces Brooke made for me

Today I have the honour to introduce you to my dear friend Brooke and her work.
I met Brooke online through this blog about 6 years ago when she was still living in Alaska.
In the meanwhile she moved to Morocco and lives since two years in my neighbourhood, with her Berber husband and their six children. We became friends and if time allows (which is not as often as we’d like to) we sometimes have coffee together, do a little walk or simply meet to have some exchange from expat Muslim woman to woman.
Brooke is a homeschooling mum, a writer, a famous editor for Sister’s Magazine and a maker of beautiful things. Recently she came to offer me one sweet little necklace she created, alhamdulillah. Over the last fifteen years I haven’t worn any jewellery at all, except my simple straight sliver wedding ring. But I immediately felt in love with the boho-style piece she offered me and I wear it since then day and night. I liked it so much and really began to enjoy wearing a necklace that I even asked her to make me a second one – I think I became addicted to her wonderful work, mashaallah, I love to browse her etsy-shop or to visit her and go through all her tiny little beads, pearls and supplies; and I might even begin to wear bracelets and earrings though it still makes me feel like a decorated Christmas tree, but who knows, maybe this changes one day…

Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty – so why not beautifying ourselves sometimes a little more, just for the sake of beauty itself?
‘Id el kebir is coming soon and maybe you want then to offer some beautiful Muslim-made gifts for your beloved ones or offer something to yourself…
So here I invite you to read a little interview I had with Brooke and to have a look at the stunning pieces in her etsy-shop or follow her facebook page for special discounts, like this coupon for 20% off (enter FANDF at checkout).
Itto: Salam aleikoum dear sister, first I would like to know what brought you to jewellery-making?

Brooke: Aleikoum salam sissy, Hmm, I’m really not sure. My earliest memories of jewellery making are making fancy hair clips with flowing ribbons and beads, and selling them in the school yard. Maybe it was all that Camp Fire Girl crafting that looped me in! From then on I was always trying to make something, gathering up beads and findings, making a mess with glue and using a butter knife to set sequins into prongs on my shoes and clothes. In addition to jewellery making, I love embellishing- I mean adding little details to otherwise plain things.

 

Itto: what do you especially love about working on so tiny detailed things with your hands?

Brooke: It’s pretty amazing when you become so familiar with the materials and can do these seemingly complicated things that other people say, “Oh, I could never do that” but of course I think they could. And beautiful things- I love making beautiful things that please the eyes and the soul.

 

Itto: Many of your pieces are very colourful, in one in a different way, so what is your favourite actual colour scheme and style?

Brooke: This is a hard choice. My colour scheme ideas have pretty much exploded the last couple of years. I blame that on the influence of living in very colourful and artistic Morocco. But if I had to choose… ok I love grey striped/blocked with other colours, especially green, orange and pink.
But my favourite for these days I would have to say is blue with orange, especially paler sky blue like Amazonite, but brighter and deeper blues like Turquoise and Lapis Lazuli are also appealing. It’s a contrast that is both vibrant/warming and calming/cool at the same time.

brooke bracelet

Style is much harder for me to pin down. I like big chunky pieces because they really showcase the gemstones and beads… but… lighter pieces are easier for daily wear, so I also enjoy making delicate little things that add just a pop of sparkle to people’s adornment.

 

Itto: Oh yes, like the wonderful pieces you made for me, Alhamdulillah!
Brooke, you are also a Muslimah and dress fully covered; nobody in public comes to see the beautiful pieces you wear, so why do you think it is important for Muslim women to beautify themselves anyway?

Brooke: I have had many non-Muslim women make similar comments, such as “Oh, it’s such a shame no one can see your beautiful jewellery.” But the thing is, I don’t wear my jewellery for other people to admire, I wear it for me. I am a beautiful creation and Allah tells us to enjoy his creation and even adornments (with moderation of course), so I do- no guilt!
The things that I make are truly only reconfigurations of Allah’s beautiful creations. In a way they are little praises and definitely inspire me to ponder on His magnificence. Bracelets are my very favourite thing for this reason, they are easiest for the wearer herself to see and enjoy them. Though I have also started making long necklaces for the same reason…

 

Itto: Great, I think the next piece I order from you will be a bracelet, inchallah.
What do you think of the metaphysical properties of gemstones, metals and rocks? Do you believe they can help to heal or better the energy of a person? Like amber for example that is said to be able to help reduce the pain of a teething baby.

Brooke: I am really on the fence about this. I am very drawn to certain rocks, while others will have little or no appeal to me and I have to remember to use them as they may work with certain colour schemes, but otherwise I would never pick them up. There is also a hadith (a saying of the prophet) about a rock that interacted with the Prophet (sas) and another in which a tree wept for the loss of being able to view the Prophet giving his sermons… so this makes me wonder about the unknown with relation to what we have been told are inanimate objects. But, I also need to have a healthy dose of fear of shirk (worshipping others than Allah), so for now I leave off this aspect of metaphysics… but if any of your readers know more about Islamic views of these things, I would love to hear about it.

Itto: thank you Brooke, barak Akllahu feek for these insights, I really appreciate your faith–related thoughts and your careful Muslim attitude, mashaallah! May Allah bless and make successful your work and accept the Ibadat (divine worship) you wish to offer through it.
And thank you for the wonderful idea and recent efforts you’ve made to gather all the Muslim sellers on etsy. I think this is really a great idea and I hope it helps the Muslim-ummah to support each other and I hope it even acts as dawah and shows non-Muslims how incredibly creative, modern and stylish Islamic and Muslim art is.

A mother’s summer survival guide

sommeralltag kueche

Ramadan is over and the second half of our summer holidays began. That means for me to be a full time, homeschooling, and stay-at-home-mom again.
It also means that I have to redefine those roles for myself because I haven’t really had them since we opened the school in 2010. So it is for me now quiet a new challenge to care 24/24h for four children (including a teething toddler) without babysitter help.
It was important for us as a family to have now some private time without other people at home; it was important for us to enjoy the new house exclusively as a family and to keep out the different energies non-family-members sometimes bring into home. So it was a conscious choice to spend the holidays without maid and babysitter and to take on again the role as a housewife. I mostly enjoy this, alhamdulillah, and most of the time it really feels good.
But I have to confess that there are moments when I really struggle with all the duties and the energy-level fulltime mothering requires. After one day of past Ramadan extra-fasting I quickly gave up the idea to make up the missed days from last year because fasting in Ramadan is a blessing but outside the holy month it asks for a lot of extra effort and strength which I fully need now to put into my mothering-role in order to stay sane and positive, inchaallah. So at the moment our days are a constant changing, up and down, inhaling and exhaling, feeling well and exhausted, a mixture of happy-relaxed-summer-moods and a yelling-crying-arguing-bored-fatigue, mashaallah: Carrying the whining baby a LOT and not having free hands; trying to respond to the many different needs and interests from children of different ages from one to eleven who are with me the whole day, preparing food for everyone everyday nearly five times from scratch, fighting the never ending piles of laundry and dishes and a house to clean…while feeling guilty not to spend enough quality time with the little ones but at the same time feeling frustrated not to work down my “have-to-do-list“ or not to be able to have me-time and to do something of my “want-to-do-list”… – mothers, I think you know what I am talking about – we have the hardest job on earth!

To stay positive I’ve put together some of the things that help me going through the hard times and to find bliss in the everyday – I thought it might help some of you as well.
Happy blissful mothering to all of you! Take care and never forget to be good to yourself!

 

10 ideas that help me surviving these summer-holidays-at-home:

  1. Aiming to complete every day ONE thing of my to-do-list:
    I don’t aim for more, but also not less. My aim has to be achievable beside all the things that have to be done during a day with four little ones (all the mundane household chores). So when I succeed in doing one thing of my personal list it gives me a feeling of deep satisfaction to strike through at least one thing every evening instead of looking at five things I wanted to do but couldn’t.
  2. Taking breaks:
    we take them often during the whole day, to stop, to inhale and to recharge my batteries, with iced coffee, tea, homemade frozen lemonade, waffles, cake, melon or some other yummy thing.
  3. Accepting that piles of laundry and dishes are a reality and never will end:
    I try now to see these chores as worship and as the important and blessed work of a housewife.
  4. Going out at least once a day:
    going into nature, leaving the house, breathing fresh air helps me a lot to keep a good mood, even if it is only for ten minutes. And going on adventure every now and then, gong on a longer walk, an expedition, a trekking, swimming or fishing…
  5. Surrounding myself with beauty:
    it fills me with infinite joy to live in a beautiful environment and to keep my home nice, alhamdulillah. To use natural, handmade, crafted everyday objects nourishes my soul and gives me positive kicks throughout the day. Serving drinks in an antique glass jar instead of a tetra pack, or using a wooden bowl instead of a plastic basket, to use the nice linen table cloth and the good old porcelain from grandma, to put on a nice dress, to decorate the table with fresh flowers and to give the kitchen a new look with fresh colours on pillows and candles, all of that is bliss!
  6. Setting the right priorities:
    I have to remind myself to focus on the real important things of holidays and not getting distracted by unimportant mundane stuff: the kitchen doesn’t have to be swept every day and my water tabs do not have to be polished… I try to spend quality time with one of my little ones instead. The dished do not have to be washed right away when baby just felt asleep and when the bigger ones play outside – I can use that unexpected free time to read a book or to sew something for myself which makes me happy and helps me being a more patient mom afterwards…
  7. Staying offline and unplugged:
    one thing I’ve learned over the years is that switching the computer on to go online, trying to read or respond to an email during day and while being with the kids just doesn’t work for me: Because I don’t work well nor am I a good mum then, I either get angry with the PC or with the kids… So I decided to go online only when they sleep, which is by night or in the early mornings.
  8. Rhythm and structure:
    Holidays have to be different, the living has then to be an easy one and days feel best when we are able to flow with the moment, to relax and to live free without all the duties of normal life. So I try not to structure our days too much: We sleep after fajr until we wake up without an alarm clock, we eat when we feel hungry and we simply decide every day to do what we want to do… but to keep some rhythm and some structure helps me to benefit even more from these lazy days, to stick to some routine and some family rules makes the easy living much easier for everyone and helps me to stay sane.
  9. Praying:
    I pray everyday for guidance and ease, for Allah’s help in all the responsibilities I carry and for wisdom in all things I have to do and think about.
  10. Being thankful and trying to see the positive in everything, especially in the gift of being allowed to have so many beautiful little souls under my care, subhanallah!

Maybe you have some other ideas to add?

sternkissen machen  carpe diem
sternkissen neu
new pillow – new colour scheme –  carpe diem – enjoy the moment.

A simple remedy

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The last days of Ramadan pass and we are approaching the end of this special month.
While trying to spend the nights mostly in prayer, with Quran reading and sometimes looking towards our brothers and sisters in Mecca, I heard one of the sheikhs on Huda TV talking about happiness in Islam.
He said: if someone depressed, fearful or despaired would follow, instead of a normal medication, the treatment-order „ pray five times a day“, the person would most likely heal, would become happy and hopeful again, mashaallah.
I wouldn’t say that devoted Muslims never get depressed and never need psycho-medication, but chances are that life becomes much easier and more positive by following a pure Islamic way of life, by following religious orders, by staying patient and putting trust only in God our creator.
You know, the life of a Muslim is good, it is in any case a happy one, because everything that happens to him is good for him, Alhamdulillah. Even if the Muslim is tested with a calamity, no matter how hard it might be, he puts his trust in Allah and says:”Alhamdulillah, thanks God that You test me with this” – so the Muslim gains Allahs pleasure and in fact gets a double reward in this life and in the hereafter because of his gratitude, patience and trust in Allah.

So I want remind myself and you to stay patient, to always show thankfulness and a positive and hopeful attitude with our fate.
Happy last days of Ramadan to you!
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Last Ramadan-week and ten mundane facts

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Ramadan 23rd:

  • feeling a bit tired and dizzy during day;
  • being amazed by the strong intention and selfcontrol of my two fasting boys who did already so many days, mashaallah;
  • sometimes being quickly exhausted myself by little mundane tasks and doing only the minimum of it;
  • coughing and sneezing a lot because of the very dry and dusty weather;
  • trying to benefit from quiet devotion time by night, which starts for me very late because rhythms totally changed and baby recently doesn’t sleep until nearly midnight…;
  • eating cucumber-yogurt-sauce (without garlic) and pizza-bread for iftar;
  • loving this beautiful shop the beautiful pictures and the owner herself (for the sake of Allah);
  • reading the Quran here and learning this sura again;
  • dreaming to sit in this or that rocking chair;
  • but generally having very deep thankfulness for all the blessings in our life, alhamdulillah.

salam aleikoum and peace with you during these last blessed days and nights!

 

The book of light and my personal way to Islam

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Twelve years ago, it was in autumn/winter 2002, I’ve spent six months in Marrakech for work. At that time I still was a practicing Christian. I have ever been a seeker and was always interested in religion and faith; I always believed in God, in Jesus and all that. So, during that stay, while having been in close contact with Muslim colleagues, I had my new testament as a shield with me and a strong portion of preconceptions against Islam; but I also had a lot of questions and was very interested in that other religion and in what Muslims believe.
My colleagues were all very respectful and educated, yet simple and almost poor Moroccan people. They lived and shared their faith, they all seemed to be very attached to their religion and they practiced it in the everyday.
They, like most of the Moroccans I met, were very proud of their Islam, proud in a touching way, not like being vain, but more like being satisfied, happy and sure to have the right faith. They all liked to talk about their religion and I loved to ask questions to learn more about it.
So we discussed a lot during work. I often asked them about all the preconceptions in my head; I asked questions about the role of the women, about polygamy and all the forbidden things and why they follow such traditional orders without adjusting them to modern circumstances.
They patiently listened and then peacefully responded. They always had explanations based on the Qur’an and on what their prophet said. And I often had then to nod my head and to agree. I often was very surprised to hear about things I knew from the Bible and I couldn’t argue against most of what they told me. How they explained the things just sounded to me very reasonable, it made clear sense and it often seemed to be a continuation of my own faith; it seemed to be a development of what I’ve learned in Christianity, with new answers to what I’ve always looked for.

Then the month of Ramadan came. I decided to fast with my colleagues; simply to share the atmosphere and to be really able to feel and to understand what they experience.
The fasting wasn’t as hard as I expected. Even to pass the whole day without water wasn’t that difficult and after a few days I felt very comfortable.
During that holy month I found a copy of the German translation of the Qur’an – Now I wanted to know more about the source of this exotic yet very familiar religion.

First I almost feared to open that book. I feared to learn more about a religion of which so many of the people in Germany had warned me about. I feared to get brainwashed or enchanted.
But I also felt a strong power and attraction to it.
Before I began to read I decided to pray to my Christian God first, I asked Him to protect me against the evil of Islam and to guide me to the truth.
Then I opened the book and started to discover with eagerness and a healthy portion of distrust.
Wow that was a huge thing: a simple yet difficult language spoke to me; a literary style that switched from the first to the third person all the time; so many harsh and brutal expressions; so many strong orders and clear warnings about hell and the hereafter.
But there was also an equal amount of loving and merciful sayings, of beautiful parables and wonderful examples of paradise and God’s care for humanity. Many verses spoke about the bounties and blessings from God. There were the stories of all the prophets I already knew: Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Joseph and all the others, and there were a lot of scientific explanations and proofs.
The more I read, the more I was fascinated.
I didn’t get brainwashed, I got convinced.

Every time when I didn’t understand something, I went to work and discussed it with the colleagues. And again: How they explained things sounded very reasonable, it made clear sense and it often seemed to be the continuation of Christianity.

Slowly I turned towards Islam. It took me a while until I really was ready to bear witness that I can accept Mohammed as the last prophet of God the Almighty. There were still many things I didn’t really understand.
But more and more I felt that the Qur’an is the ultimate truth. I felt that this is the real and original word of God. I strongly felt that these are not stories from our ancestors, told and written by man and changed over the centuries to please the people.
I began to understand that Islam is a perfect concept for a good life that provides all the guidance humanity needs.
Suddenly I could say “yes”, I could now trust in God’s wisdom behind everything and accept even those things which my intellect didn’t get at that time.
So my journey as a new Muslimah began, Allahu akbar, and my whole life changed, subhanallah. Living became much more meaningful and the direction of my life got a real purpose: to worship and to please my creator and to always give my best.

Since then I am on a learning path. There are still many things I don’t know or still cannot understand, but I try to climb the ladder and I believe in the wisdom behind everything.
And every year during Ramadan I remember this beginning of my journey, that turning point of my life, subhanallah. Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an and it is then when I concentrate again on the fundamentals of my faith.
Ramadan is the month when Prophet Mohammed received his first revelation of the Qur’an by Archangel Gabriel. So every year, during the month of Ramadan, we remember this. Then Muslims honour the holy book by reading, reciting and praying out of it every night. The Qur’an is for Muslims not only a book with old parables and stories, no, for us it is our main source of knowledge and truth. It never loses its actuality and represents the law and the guidance for our whole life. For us, the Qur’an (the original in classical Arabic language) is the direct word of God which is universal and eternal and we totally believe in every single word written in it.

Today we enter the last ten days of Ramadan. And those ten nights are said to be the most sacred and important nights of the whole year. Worship gets more serious now, as I’ve already explained a few years ago.
A good way to gain the most out of these nights is to go with the three R’s of Qur’an-connection: Reading, Reflecting and Reciting in prayer.

“And We send down of the Qur’an that which is a healing and mercy for the believers” (17:82)
I wish for sacred and blessed nights for all of us. I wish for the energy to stay awake and that our faith increases. Ameen.

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