2023: A Year In Review
As we bring another year to a close, I am reflecting on what a whirlwind of a year it was. From my husband running for mayor, to our son graduating from college, and me winning the USAP National Masters Gold Medal for powerlifting.
My year in review: We began the year in grand style with my husband, Shafiq, running for mayor. We learned what community means and why having a voice truly for the people matters. Unfortunately, we also learned about the dirty side of politics and how much it needs to be reformed from the inside out. [Certainly, another topic for another time.] But through it all, we have no regrets. I watched an amazing side of my husband emerge that I never knew existed and couldn’t have been more proud of him. Sometimes success isn’t in achieving the goal but in who you become in its pursuit.
As I delved into the sport of powerlifting, I relearned what commitment means. There were so many days towards the end of my training that I didn’t want to go to the gym and put my body under or over 300lbs of weight, but I did it anyway. The consistency paid off with winning The USAP National Masters Gold Medal for powerlifting [with a 358 lb (162 kg) Deadlift and 351 lb (159 kg) Squat] and being invited to be a part of a 6-person team to represent the United States in Europe.
We had amazing growth within our family with our youngest son, Ihsan, graduating with a dual bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies and Arts & Humanities with a focus in film. Watching my grandchildren (I have three and a half now) go from turning over to running, from one-word communication to full conversations, was a joy. Seeing each of my children flourish as adults in different ways, in their careers, their roles as adults, and their deen (religion), I am reminded that being proud of my children isn’t defined by one thing and every child’s growth is unique to them.
I invested more money in my business than I ever had. I signed up for another year with my coach and business mastermind, investing in new projects and people. I took risks in ways I never have. I learned to listen to my gut and my head at the same time. I’ve hired, fired, failed, and grew sometimes simultaneously. But in the end, I am exactly where I needed to be. Ever see one of those videos where they throw a ball and it bounces off the most unusual objects in unexpected ways and still lands in the basket? That’s what business felt like for me this year.
My travels took me to Turkey and Saudi Arabia. I learned the difference between vacation traveling (my husband’s style) and adventure travel (my style), and merging them together is in itself a labor of love. In Turkey, I ventured alone on a tram to the mall, a small but significant milestone in my travel adventures. In Saudi Arabia, alongside Shaykha Ieasha Prime, I co-hosted a delegation of women in Medina and Mecca for a spiritual retreat aimed at "Reawakening the Soul of Womanhood." This experience was transformative; I not only heard my heart beat but felt my soul resonate in a way I had never experienced before. Shaykha described this as "expansion and contraction," symbolizing the ebbs and flows of spiritual growth and the inevitable challenges that accompany them.
True to Shaykha's words, the year was a mix of expansions and contractions. It wasn’t all successes. My journey included enduring a rotator cuff injury and undergoing three months of physical therapy. This period taught me the significance of small, consistent efforts in achieving greater progress. It reinforced the idea that sometimes, stepping back is essential for making a leap forward.
As the year wound down, we are witnessing the ongoing genocide in Palestine, a situation that often leaves us feeling powerless. Yet, even in this there have been lessons. I faced bullying and saw Islamophobia firsthand in my community. Friendships were lost as I observed individuals I once knew align themselves with injustice. However, within these challenges, I’ve also seen love and support from the most unlikely places and people, and made new friendships through shared values and solidarity.
I learned the power of giving voice to the voiceless and amplifying the muffled cries of those unjustly victimized. This experience underscored the belief that even small actions matter: a call, a social media share, an email, a conversation or a donation. We are never completely powerless. A reminder of small consistent efforts leading to greater progress. Reminder: Continue to talk about Palestine until Palestine is FREE.
As we make goals, plans, and prayers for the coming year, I pray we both find success in the pursuit, consistency in what matters, and more periods of expansion than of contraction.
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