Curiously conscious

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Over the past months, I've been somewhat more curious than I could ever remember, taking notes about normal daily life, I do think that's a result of me trying to keep a slow rhythm in our life it made me look closer to things and observe what would have passed me before. 
So I have been doing a lot of reading and research in between work, it all started very slowly a few years back around when Joud was a couple of months old, I read an article about Johnson and Johnson's case in court and claims of usage of talc and asbestos in their powder and its relation to cancer.  I have been since then using only natural toiletries for myself, Joud and Adam, I believe that was my very first step in a more conscious lifestyle but never really planned it? so from that time on it just followed like a waveform (food, clothing, toys, waste and daily swaps I made in my design business) small steady steps made me confident enough today to share with you all the things I learned to do to make our lives as conscious and sustainable as possible! 

At times I felt overwhelmed and can’t ever share anything as I’m far from perfection in this matter, but a few weeks ago I had some work I’ve done eight years ago about (wildlife trade) being reshared by The Libyan Wildlife Trust I ended up looking at all my previous work with them and how much passion was in it, it did spark something back in me, and made me get back to the things I do enjoy in life and love to protect, along that I decided to join in #plasticfreejuly this year so this post was born! 

With that change I came more aware of what we eat, in result I have been on a clean food diet (mostly) for three years, I do get off tracks at times, after years I concluded that the definition of "clean diet" differs from what we believe is clean, personally I see it as (whole foods, fresh produce, lean meat and healthy fats), that's a daily challenge that keeps me busy! and there is no such thing as super foods its just nonsense we've been fed into believing! 

I have been more curious about other things as well, I sometimes ask myself why have I never thought of this before? why was I so blinded? can I make a change? can I actually apply my new found beliefs in my crazy life? can I sustain it? I started this wave of new knowledge of who made my clothes? was it a nine-year-old Bengali girl? was it a poor widow whose getting underpaid? or was it an old man working in poor conditions to sew me up a £20 shirt? but thats a very huge topic I would love to address soon. 

I'm quite positive that if we all had a look back at our daily lives back in the nineties we'll remember so many good things about waste and the usage of natural products in our daily life and how eventually plastic invaded our lives polluting almost every water body there is in this world! killing thousands of animals along the way, with things we can live without unnecessary things like plastic straws!!

So looking back since being very young I remember my father may Allah have mercy on his soul, using a cotton bag for bread, in Libya bread is sold freshly baked you can smell the bread from miles from the bakery, he hated how the condensation gets collected inside the bag wets and ruins the bread he says, so we used the cotton bag for a very long time.  He used to always keep plastics especially non-reusable ones and put them separately, he knew fully that they will not get recycled in Libya though in the 2000's there were attempts of introducing recycling waste in Libya and can vividly remember three bins orange blue and grey in front of Hay elandalus's post office. 
But somehow it made him happier to do so, he used to fold any cardboards to make space for other rubbish in the rubbish bag to save money and save use another plastic bag more often! this all subconsciously set me to work in conservation (wildlife in particular) for almost five years! thanks, baba!
Living in Scotland for the past years made recycling and composting a piece of cake! but choices are up to you, to actually pick up loose peppers or the ones in a plastic bag? to throw your leftover food in the rubbish or in the compost bin? In Libya I know it is different and can be challenging but being a Libyan myself I do know how much resilience we all have, I've linked up some inspiring accounts to have a look at down below. 

So what I now know is that sustainability means the action made to avoid anything that depletes natural resources or harms the environment. Upon reflection I wanted to share with you some positive changes I've been making hopefully this will help inspire you too, so here are some tips to incorporate sustainability and consciousness into your daily life.  I've listed the swaps I've made throughout the years for you to consider, the main key is to focus on reusable instead of disposable (think long term) natural instead of synthetic.

Little changes do have a very good impact in the long run, so try not to worry about what you own now, instead try to make conscious decisions in the future. We need as many people working and talking about all these topics as possible. You can't replace everything you own at once, or teach yourself new habits at once. But I do recommend to start conscious swaps as soon as possible. Start little using a reusable shopping bag instead of a plastic disposable, things you do daily those changes are the ones that make a huge difference! 

Here are some of my swaps 

Baby and toddler
- Using bamboo utensils for Joud and Adam, with the addition of stainless steel cutlery we already own. We're not big fans of straws anyways, but Joud loves o drink her cup of milk using a straw.
- Using only reusable snack bags, I only owned one plastic lunchbox for Joud and recently purchased a bamboo lunch box.
- Buying only ethically sourced sustainable whenever possible and only wooden toys.
- Using bamboo and stainless steel reusable drinking cups.
- Making more all-natural homemade craft projects with Joud and Adam that I would love to share! but not attempting beeswax and carnauba wax homemade crayons anytime soon haha! so bought some beeswax ones instead.
- Continuing with all natural toiletries, literally, I only use for both Joud and Adam Burts Bees Shampoo, bubble bath, and homemade natural balms and oils and the best nappy rash treatment is my trusty corn starch! 

- Getting rid of plastics from my kitchen one at a time (the Tupperwares are my ugliest enemy) I hate them and hate to know they will end up in the landfill, replacing them with stainless-steel, glass and bamboo one at a time!.
- Using all bamboo utensils in addition to our existing stainless steel ones.
- Reminding my husband to avoid plastics as possible when shopping he does almost all shopping. I like to make him feel bad when he does come home with plenty of plastics or when he forgets to take our shopping gouffa (natural basket).
- Using my lovely homemade beeswax wraps ditched the cling film, I used this time some old cotton sheets, hanging there to dry, one of my favorite swaps!
- We almost have now a paperless kitchen, so we stopped buying paper towels almost a year ago and just use kitchen cotton towels.
- Trying to use natural homemade cleaning products as much as possible instead of all the nasty chemicals, my favorite ingredients are white vinegar, baking soda, and lemon for the kitchen, I would love to make my own dishwasher soap sometime in the future.
- I've been enjoying using my natural cleaning brushes instead of the old plastic brushes, plus the heads can be replaced yay!
- Wooden pegs instead of plastic pegs I just love this swap so much, plus they look so pretty in pictures!
- Not kitchen related but wanted to share how easy it is to make this swap. I have been using linen fabric for wrapping gifts, any reusable fabric would do really. when I run out of it I use paper wrapping, though I learnt my lesson will stock up more this time.

Food to grow 
So I can only give total credit to my husband for his idea to have a small greenhouse and plant some veggies and herbs! he had planted rocket, parsley, chili, and mint so I will keep you updated if we get to make our home-grown salad any time soon.

Some pages organizations and individual to follow for inspiration and education, though I'll always strongly recommend scientific research and documentaries.
1- Libyan Wildlife Trust starting with the trust I worked with for about five years. Mainly focused on wildlife conservation but are actively engaged in environmental campaigns , you can see a lot of my work if you scroll down in the albums.
2- a very informative page on Instagram I've just recently found about, they regularly share educational material educating people in a very friendly way! they need all the support possible.
3- Plastic free july a global annual movement that takes place in July the aim is to reduce plastic waste, its possible very much so!
4- Lets Do It Libya amazing guys, have been working in Libya for a long time!
6- Libyan Youth Climate Movement another lovely organization, incredibly passionate and driven, I wish I had more hours in my day to join them.
7- So much inspiration and strategies these guys share regularly Lessplasticuk
8- Zero waste Libya a really great project by Amiramade you can follow along and support this cause and share your knowledge and awareness of zero waste, use the hashtag #zerowastelibya.
9-  Jourys.mermaids is not a typical beauty blogger, alongside sharing her expertise in skincare she shares many of her recycling projects she also makes all-natural handmade skin care products  Joury's mermaids products one of my favorite Libyan bloggers.

Other accounts that I enjoy following and did benefit so much of :

Arabic translation will follow soon.



Thursday, 31 May 2018

Diaries of distraught 
Greatest loss 

.VOID. 4.Oct.2017 Tripoli- Libya
Twenty-eight days in Libya, marks thirty days since my mother passed away, she's no longer here, I can't call her, talk to her whenever I want to, see her beautiful face and smile, and admire her always rosy cheeks.  I can now no longer taste the delicious dishes she makes, I can no longer talk my heart out to her and get a hug and feel her warm hands stroking my hair telling me it will be alright, I now can never ask her for parenting advice, no longer can we make memories together anymore.

I couldn't sleep tonight, I had to go into my sister's room, we talked together we cried, we talked again she tried to calm me and convince me to sleep.  Joud and Adam are sleeping, the house is quiet and calm, which just makes everything stir up again. 

Our home, my parent's house lost its soul, a feeling I just had since I came.  I left almost four years ago as a newlywed excited about my new life with the man I love. I never knew God would give me so much yet to take the most precious people in my life away.  I read my last post and remembered all the feelings when I was in denial that my mother would ever leave and that God will never put me through it again "losing my parents and not to be able to meet for years" yet he did make that happened again.  Why am I writing here on my blog? I don't know.  I didn't bring my diary here, this will be a place I write in and might share.

.MERCY. 20.Oct.2017 Tripoli- Libya
Is this torture I sometimes ask myself? or is it mercy? I have been forced into saying thank you God since the moment I landed in Libya.  I ended up screaming this to someone who insisted on forcing me into saying thank god! her insensitive comments made me extremely upset forcing her opinions on me. Thank you for taking away my mother, thank you for ripping my heart out, thank you for not letting us meet, even though you knew how much she wanted to meet her only grandchildren, thank you for not giving me a chance to hug her that hug I dreamed of and waited for, thank you for straining us so badly these past years and making visiting impossible! 

Thank you for the longest and hardest most miserable long trip home, I arrived at my parent's house not see my mother nor father but to see an empty house, full of people I don't even recognize coming to pay condolences! people that remind me in every second of their presence that my little Joud was my mother's sweetheart and how badly she wanted to meet her, and the most unreasonable most delusional questions asked again and again and again why didn't you come before?

At least just try to choose proper words while speaking to someone that had just lost their mother in such a way, could you also just never ever use the word I understand! don't lie to try to show how much you feel for that person because it is simply untrue, so have you lost you, mother? no, have you gone through all this? no

Or is it thank you raby for not letting us know about my mother's cancer only at a very late stage! so we all would suffer less, thank you for not letting her take chemotherapy and go through all that suffering! thank you, god, for making it very quick! But now I believe it's thank you for stopping my mother's suffering, her head now doesn't hurt anymore.

.10 YEARS OLDER. 28 Oct 2017 Tripoli- Libya
"Life goes on", I hated this when people said that to me after Baba passed away! I felt like I disappointed my self, I caught myself at times enjoying a moment or smiling and say to myself how can I do that when I just lost my father?

I now feel that I am 10 years older, I know people now like never before, I believe I understand their intentions, I no longer get disappointed. I am not interested in pleasing no one anymore, and not explaining myself ever again to any uncaring soul! but that's no surprise I now have lesser people in my life lesser forced social relationships, lesser hypocrisy in my life I feel lighter and pleased with those left as is, I have also found out I have less of a filter to my words I have almost zero patience with less important things of life, so do excuse me not being able to choose my words sensitively when you express loss in a way I think is very ignorant!

.DEPART. 1.Nov.2017  Tripoli- Libya
Life goes on, seasons change, we age, we grow, our life cycle continues until the day we are set to depart this world the ending world.  As a Muslim I believe that hardships are for those who believe, we were tested when we lost both our parents in a very short time in-between.  This life was never fair nor it will ever be, the life after will be where the good will get good, I pray to remeet I sometimes imagine the scene, what will I tell them about? what will they tell me? will they have the chance to meet their grandchildren? baba never knew about Adam he was born almost one year and a a half after his passing, will they ever get to hold Joud and Adam in the afterlife?

Its very hard to settle at one point, to understand a hardship to believe that it carries any good! what goodness is in my parents passing? why now, the timing? and so on, questions I am not able to answer that keeps me awake at night! me and my sister hated this when people told us "it's all good" كله خير

Grief makes you incapable of carrying the compassion you had in your heart once, I now only sympathise with severe illness or death. I can't cry at something that I think or imagine is less in pain than losing a parent or yet watching from far as illness takes them away! I've changed a lot and the hardships I've gone through shaped the new me.

.ALONE. 17.Nov.2017 Tripoli- Libya
The feeling of being alone is just felt when you no longer have a mother! I refuse all others trying to mother me, I still need my mother, my own mother! I couldn't go into mama's room alone for weeks, every corner reminds of a memory long lost, her hairbrush, her clothes, her watch I bought her before I travelled, her bed her robe, the white hairs I found and kept, her clothes folded, her scarves, photos of my grandparents and cards I made her every birthday and mothers day she kept all.  Today I went in by myself, tried to be calm but couldn't, I felt alone for the first time in my mother's room.  Folders of scans, piles of papers from the hospital, bags of medicine that my sister put away to give for those who need them, were there staring at me as I did as well.

.HURT NO MORE. 18.Nov.2017 Tripoli- Libya
The days go by, we get on with life businesses, but at least mama's head doesn't hurt anymore!
I still have long hours where I cannot be but mad and resentful from everything and all the circumstances we have gone through. Me and my sibling's loss is great! greater than a heart shall ever bear.  But God doesn't burden a soul more than it can bear. God had other plans, at least my mother's head doesn't hurt anymore.

.A PRAYER. 20.Nov.2017 Tripoli-Libya
I prayed اللهم مس امي الضر وانت ارحم الراحمين, I think that mercy meant she had to leave, my mother the greatest women I ever knew, the strong kind-hearted human being, the mother that sacrificed so much for me and my siblings for nurturing us each and every day of our lives, for taking care of us, protecting us feeding us love and compassion.  
I owe you mother so very much, I owe you for all your hard work for each second you spent making our lives easier and happier, for all your care and love mama I miss you and baba very badly!
We all have a story, it started one day and shall end in another, we are all heading away, departure can be any time, as for now, I fear the moment I will have to leave my home and siblings and all the memories that keep me sane.

. STOP. 24.Nov.2017 Tripoli- Libya
I get constantly reminded that I need to stop being sad, I try to explain that my heart is not something I can't intentionally control.  I wish I could so I wouldn't miss my mother so I wouldn't attach myself to everything that she bought me, so I stop sulking staring at her last photos, our last FaceTime call, especially that one where she was blowing kisses at Joud. 
How can you heal? do you ever? how can you stop an open wound getting tangled with everything in your life?  I don't know just leave me alone you're not helping.

.BABY DAUGHTER. 26.Nov.2017 Tripoli- Libya
Today is like any other day except it marks 2 months since my mama passed away, four months since diagnosed, one grilling month of tests and the second being very ill.  Four months passed since the day my sister called telling me the very bad news.  On the day of her diagnosis my sister and I were talking, as my mother came in she said how is Shoumousa doing? after hearing? I burst into tears telling her even now you're still looking after me? even at this moment, you're still checking on me, mama?? she replied, of course, you're my baby daughter!

Looking back I remember lots of bad moments all the fear and anxiety it carried all the pain and tears.  But with it came some happy moments, like when I talked with my mother for the very last time, how I hid my tears and choked every single time we talked, and how from day one I knew this is her fate it's her destiny and end in this world, this disease came to her at a very young age both my parents were in their 60's!!

. EVERY CORNER. 2. Dec.2017 Stirling- United Kingdom
Every single corner here in our house in Scotland reminds me of those days. That first day of my mother's diagnosis, where I was, when Ahmed came to tell me Shoumuos say La ilaha illa Allah your mother is unwell she was diagnosed today, I had Adam in my arms nursing him.  When I spoke to my siblings, how my mother was laughing it off.

Every single store I went to grab all the last minute gifts from I wanted to give mama years ago, all the gifts I bought her and packed weeks before she passed, our bags that I packed weeks earlier while waiting to be allowed to go see my mother!! when we were destined to never meet.  Why god? istghafer Allah, you broke us ripped us apart ya rab.

. WINGLESS. 2. Dec.2017 Stirling- United Kingdom
To you, you took her and my baba, I'm wingless my god you know?, I'm little in this world, I'm shivering and cold.  I'm alone in the middle of a room full of people and I cannot be heard.
"Taleef" my mother's close friends gathered for praying and reciting Quran, in the same room we took photos in every Eid, the same room where Ahmed asked my hand for marriage from baba, where I had my engagement party, she bought and organised eveythig in that room, everthing matching and in lovely pretty colours that she loved..the room was so full, so scary so loud, I was looking for my mother,  her voice to call me, but instead, they called her name in the prayer, they wept they all loved her but not like me I needed her I was scared.

. STOP GRIEVING. 24.Jan.2018 Stirling- United Kingdom
You need to be strong, your children need a strong mother you have to... ok, one second let me turn that switch off! pff, its that easy thank you for pointing it out. A result of sharing a poem I wrote about my parents and shared on fb.
It's today two years since my father passed away and went to the most Merciful.

MOTHERS DAY20.Mar.2018 Stirling- United Kingdom
You don't include anyone that lost their mother very recent in your celebrations with your own mother, I don't need to be tagged in your gift to your mother or see the cake you made her, and express how you can't live without her etc...It's just common sense like you don't tag someone that has been struggling for a child in a post saying what are you getting your kid this Eid? like you don't tell someone that dropped out or failed in school what are your future academic goals?.  You have the right to celebrate your mother every day, just keep me out of it! as simple as that. 
I'm also only Joud and Adam's mother so I don't appreciate the most iconic Arabic song about mothers sent to me to listen and weep! thank you but I'm not your mother.

MEH!. 23.Mar.2018 Stirling- United Kingdom
So I've learned that your circumstances and what you're going through won't be fully understood by most.  You will also see that many people genuinely don't really care, so you'll meet them and talk and talk again and they will not say anything about your loss, it does baffle me a bit really! 
You'll get to see some that are the first viewers of your Instagram stories and religiously follow you everywhere but never had the time to send even at least a message of condolence?.

. DISTRACT. 27.Mar.2018 Stirling- United Kingdom
Being creative is my only outlet, for now, distract to conceal, to conceal the pain from my own self.  Overworking at times just to keep the float. Alhamdullah for Joud and Adam they keep me busy, make me giggle and Joud would forcibly come lick my tears off.

ENTITLED. 1.Apr.2018 Stirling-United Kingdom
"I'm entitled to ask you every personal question I can possibly make in my unoccupied brain!" said every annoying person I know exists.
" What tests had your mother taken? did she feel any pain?
"How come? all ca patients feel enormous pain and scream from it"
"That doctor is crap go to another"
"Oh, so she doesn't have cancer?"
"But my cousin lived with cancer for 12 years"
"Why haven't you taken her outside of Libya?"
"No, you shouldn't do that try another treatment"
"Just try to come as fast as you can!!!"
Entitled to stick my nose in your life ... entitled to ask you insensitive questions ... make you extremely upset and emotional then chill and watch tv!

JOUD'S THREE12.Apr.2018 Stirling-United Kingdom
Mama,, please tell baba, his little Joudy is now three, remember last year when you called wishing her a life full of happiness, and the year before? her speech is getting along much better now mama, potty training is alright but quite bad at times, I need patience like you told me much more patience. She calls you mama Mesha whenever she kisses your photo and baba gdeda. We shall meet mama we shall meet. "

FOR THEM18.Apr.2018 Stirling-United Kingdom
Life is so much difficult without your mother, nothing is the same.  I can't feel anything as I did before, all feelings are muddled up.  I can't plan anymore, I don't dare to dream I'm just living to take care of my kids, I don't have any strength in me left to battle this life as I knew it.  

A HEAVY DREAM. .29Apr.2018 Stirling-United Kingdom
Before my mother's diagnosis with a couple of days, I had two very bad dreams in a row, I looked up Ibn Seren's interpretation and my heart sank. I remember one wasn't very clear but I knew it was bad, it was me and my siblings carrying something heavy on our shoulders altogether at once, and our feet sank in deep sand while there were strong stray winds, we had to look down of the sand coming in our eyes.  After months I had a clearer vision and knew that heavy thing we were carrying was my mother's coffin.

A HARD DAY.21May.2018 Stirling-United Kingdom
One of those long days! Joud was having quite a tantrum on our way to nursery, she called me awful and that hurt me so badly, her personality is shaping every day, yet I fail to understand my little girl is growing to be her own self, she might only be three but she's always had a mind of her own. I wanted to call mama to ask her how to deal with this, raising four children with different personalities and characters made my mother quite an expert. But, I had to remind myself again that I can now never hear her voice back.  
It's days like these that send you back to the bottom of it, to show you how real and raw your loss is, how you need your mother, how you never thought of asking her all these questions before, what can I do mama? You just never stop needing your mother in your life! not ever...
It's the first Ramadan without mama and third without baba,  missing them and the huge void left behind gets too much at times. 

RAMADAN.31May.2018 Stirling-United Kingdom
We're now in the long-awaited blessed month its day 15 already, it will be soon Eid mama! I will just linger in and hold those memories we had in every previous Eid hold them tight and pray for mercy for you and baba's soul, and for me and my siblings to be patient until we meet you again. 

In this holy month my only prayer is for Allah grant you the highest place in heaven, may you be rewarded for all the good you brought into this world, for every second of your pregnancies, in labour, every time you fed us, every single act of love and care you made for us, every single sacrifice you made, and every time we came first and you left yourself at the very end.

I can't believe I'm writing this again, see you in a better place mama 


A change in rhythm

Sunday, 17 September 2017

It has been a while since I've been here, blogging gets pushed aside when life gets crazy and so it has been for the past couple of months, I quite miss pouring my heart out and attempting to take good photos!

Almost three months ago we welcomed our baby Adam to the world, my heart melts every time I see his pure smile and eyes lighten up with joy to see mama coming for him.  I believe Adam's arrival was the happiest moment me and my family were blessed with after my father passing away last year.  It's been very hard and unmanageable at times to say the least, I have talked about this matter here on my blog and wished and prayed our heart ache might stop for some time.  Adam was less than a month old when my dear mum was diagnosed with colon cancer IV, since that very moment our lives changed, my mum changed, the disease had the upper hand and there were so many moments nothing could be done but watch and pray.  The fast and sudden change of rhythm had shaken us all very badly, nothing of what we expected happened, fast spiralling is very scary!

The feeling of helplessness can be very bitter, me being very far away made me feel the guilt I always carry! why? I have always been very close to my parents, they both have been the most caring and loving parents I could ever wish for.  But guilt gets me, I feel that at their most vulnerable times of life I could not be there for them, the circumstances were against me and a visit home the previous years was literarily impossible.  At the end of the day I always get reminded to not be so hard on myself and that we were not built to control everything nor we can!

Trying to cope with that, as an attempt to control my anxiety I tried to set myself for some challenges and keep my mind busy, as reading cancer scholar researches was turning into a toxic addiction carrying very dark thoughts, with my biology background I wanted to read it all, know it all and get ready to face it all! but that's never how it normally goes ...

I tried to start a new hobby and worked very hard on my Etsy shop, challenged myself and pushed very hard, even attempted potty trying Joud "such a bad time" when you need patience the most!. Resumed eating clean and jumped into a whole new workout routine that I enjoy and probably helped me the most!
I failed a few of my new distractions, and went on with others very well, until the day my mum got very poorly and was hospitalised, time stopped and the bad thoughts started to rise once again.  

While I'm writing this today, I've started packing up to go home, to where I last saw my father and my mother closed the door after me kissing me goodbye wishing me luck in my new life with my husband and pursuing my academic dreams.
To the place I love and spent much of my younger years in, I'm praying and trust the most merciful's plans and can't but imagine cuddling my mum like never before telling her all about the 3 years and 9 months I lived far away from her, cook her favourite meal and talk about good old memories we lived with dad.  That's while Joud is running around planning her mischief,  and Adam holding on to auntie Zeina's hand, chatting away with my backbone of a sister Arwa and goofing around with Kariem!