Friday, December 13, 2013

Finding hope in times of grief.


picture by my sister, Waliya.

I can't begin to thank you enough for all the comments received when I shared the story about losing my daddy here last year. My sister and I have received messages from countless people who shared their own stories of loss. Some said they understood the pain, some asked for advice on dealing with their own tragedies. I wanted to share some of the things that gave strength and hope through our grief specially in the first year. 

When we go through a tragic time in our life and once the realization has set in, you need some kind of motivation to go on. You need some hope that you're not alone and that your heart will feel less broken someday. Here are some of the things that helped heal my broken heart a little bit at a time.



'To Him we belong and to Him is our final return' just said it all for me. And just reading these words makes it easier every time just like so many other verses from the Quran. They just put it all in perspective. That this life is not all we are striving for and we all must go one day, it's not such a big surprise is it! As well as knowing that God is all powerful and knows what is in the hearts of people, He knows cruelty, He is more fair than anything else, and the ones that have continuously tried to hurt us after Papa, thinking we are helpless, Allah knows.

Having faith that even when we doubt being able to smile or laugh again, Papa will want us to be happy and that he in in a much better place now iA. Believing that Papa will be proud of us knowing we stood on our feet and stood up for each other through this tragic time.

Believing that this had to happen, the way it happened, and when it happened and we could've done nothing to change even a small part of it. There will always be days when you go over it in your head, wishing for things to be different, but reminding yourself every time that it happened the way it was destined to. It breaks your heart a little less knowing that.

Family and Friends


taken by my sister, Waliya

My daughter was the biggest strength for me. And without her, I really don’t think I or my whole family would've been able to survive like we did. Babies have no idea of the enormity that has happened, and for them you have to continue to live. Just like you have to go on for the sake of your loved ones. We lost one of us, and it makes the rest of us that much more precious to each other. Anything can happen anytime and our families are our most important asset. With and for each other we slowly started smiling and laughing and finding strength because NO ONE understands this pain the way the four of us do.

I went through a phase where I found it hard to be around some of my friends. My relationship changed with some friends, and I made many new friends. Going through a tragedy is a hard time for your relationships. I had become a different person and my perspective on so many things just changed. I became more sensitive in certain ways. I tried to be around people that made me feel happy and tried to stay away from the ones that didn't understand my pain or expected me (or I got the feeling that they did) to just laugh and smile and be normal again. In retrospect, I have learned that loss and death is an uncomfortable subject for many people so talking to just anyone about it won't heal your heart.

I was also lucky to know friends that had experienced loss at some point in their lives and just being around them made me feel better and stronger. I talked about it here once. My network in Seattle helped me in many ways, the playdates, the coffee with friends, the normalcy of life despite it all, even though seemed pointless specially in those early days, made me get back to normal life little by little.


Music/Movies and Books


Songs I had listened to so many times before without feeling anything, made me weep like a crazy woman, because suddenly I felt like I could connect to them. Somewhere in that pain, it felt like I wasn't alone. So many people go through tragedies and it takes courage to put these into words, in art, in songs, in any kind of creative medium. And that inspired me or made it bittersweet. In some way it made it a little easier to feel the pain. Two favorites became, Without you by David Guetta and Pee Jaun by Farhan Ali Khan.

I read a lot of memoirs during this time, sad books, but all that spoke of hope and living through the challenges and tragedies that touch our lives. Some of my favorite became Two kisses for Maddy, Three weeks with my brother and The rules of inheritance.

I love reading inspiring words and have a collection of inspiring quotes on Good Reads and Pinterest, many of them bittersweet and sad, but inspiring at some level. Many of you follow my sister Waliya's page on Facebook where she combined many such beautiful sad words with her images to tell her story.

Writing, Art and Creativity


taken by Waliya

I got back to blogging in April of 2012, less than three months after my dad left. For me it became a place where I could find hope in that pain, share my thoughts and stories. All three of us sisters, have put our dad's life and the way he left us in words in one way or another. There is catharsis in writing and painting and art and in finding a way to express that pain. Waliya and I found a whole different meaning to our photography. We both chose to share our story with the people that followed our photography on Facebook and are immensely grateful for the love received through there.

For me, another thing that helped was keeping a little journal of my dad's memories. I find it heartbreaking that my dad wasn't able to experience being a grandfather, and that Anya will never know him. A friend gave me the idea to write down memories in a journal, and I try to jot down the most random-est of memories of my father. I can tell Anya all these little stories over the years about him, so even if she wont know him, she will know lots about him. And that makes me feel a little better.

Everyone’s recovery through grief is different and these are a few of the many things that have given me hope and strength. You also pass through different stages and each person’s journey is unique. If you have experienced tragedy and are struggling to stand up again, I hope some of this will give you some sort of encouragement.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

And its time for a little break.



Hey guys, just wanted to let you know that I’m going to be taking a break from regular posting for a couple of months. I might be dropping in here and there with some posts that I had already been working on but no regular posts for a bit. Every once in a while, a creative mind needs a break to be able to just live life instead of worrying about your next project or picture or post. I think this is that time for me :)

I would love to do some guest posts though. So if you have an idea for something that would go with the feel of this space, please go ahead and send me a message on nataliyanajibAThotmailDOTcom.

Thank you so much for reading and stopping by. Have a cozy, memory filled winter.

Be back soon. Xoxo.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Inspiring me lately.

Hey beautiful people, here is the November edition of things that have been inspiring me. Enjoy!



Clay pottery. I have to try this.


Adorable whimsical little bird.



Two ways to style printed silk pants in colder weather.

Crafts for Kids


Love this adorable craft party painting plushies. Such a great idea.


Adorable little leather pouches for kids.



Family picture walls.


Elsie’s adorable Kitchen.



This cozy winter inspired Ruche Lookbook.


These words from a piece by Matt Walsh

Of course not all women can be at home full time. It’s one thing to acknowledge that; it’s quite another to paint it as the ideal. To call it the ideal, is to claim that children IDEALLY would spend LESS time around their mothers. This is madness. Pure madness. It isn’t ideal, and it isn’t neutral. The more time a mother can spend raising her kids, the better. The better for them, the better for their souls, the better for the community, the better for humanity. Period.’

Go here to read the full piece.


How to raise creative kids by my favorite blogger.


‘Because she had a natural sense of modesty about her that has been stripped away by today's culture and we need to bring it back. .. We need to teach girls that modesty isn't about covering up our bodies because they're bad. Modesty isn't about hiding ourselves, it is about revealing our dignity. We were made beautiful in his image and likeness. So the question I'd to ask is this, how will you use your beauty?’ - Designer, actress and Christian Jessica Rey.


Love these words from this beautiful video that has been going around on the truth about bikinis and why to dress modestly.


Lessons every woman can learn from Jane Eyre to live well.


Love the introduction of this beautiful new magazine aimed at Muslim women, called Identity.

‘It is obvious that this magazine is for Muslim women, but I don’t want it to be like anything out there that’s targeted towards us. As in, I don’t want t to be the typical mélange of hijab styles, marriage tips, and generic Islamic advice. We have plenty of that out there, Alhamdullilah. I want Identity to be able to really speak to people and listen when they respond. I want it to be a dialogue. a complex dialogue. I want it to be about things relevant to us, large and small. Whether that is soul-searching, places we want to go, people we want to meet, clothes we want to wear, or who we are and who we want to be, identity is an attempt at reflecting every intricate layer within us. We are far more than what other people see in us – our religion, our headscarves or lack thereof. We are daughters, students, professionals, mothers, wives, and most importantly, human beings. We are even beyond both of those lists of definitions and what we simplify ourselves to be. Which is why I could never pinpoint to you exactly what Identity is all about. Because how do you simplify the life of a diasporic Muslim woman? You cant.’

Baby/Kid Fashion


Loving faux fur vests. (Left) from RUUM (Center) from Little Maven by Tory Spelling at JC Penney (Right) from Mini Boden sold at Nordstrom


Loving the new lines at JCPenney for kids specially Joe Fresh and Baker by Ted Baker. Definitely a must check out.

Being Muslim in America


Love this effort by a library system in Milwaukee to to fight myths against American Muslims.


Winnie Datwa, the amazing Egyptian-American fashion blogger.

Another Pakistan

11_ Girls, credit Saad Sarfraz Sheikh

this quick tour of Lahore from Vogue India.


This amazing product line out of Pakistan. Read the story behind this brand here.


An Indian-American’s writes about his trip to Pakistan.

None of the pictures are mine and clicking on them will take you to the source links.

Hope you are inspired and thanks for reading.

Monday, November 11, 2013

What we wore. Another fall evening.


Anya wears: Coat from Old Navy (also worn here), Skirt from RUUM (also worn here), Tights from Target, Shoes by Old Soles via My Habit

I wear: Sweater from H&M, Pants from Gap (also worn here), Boots from Target, Scarf from one of the shops in Islamabad, Pakistan, bought many years ago.



All pictures taken by the husband:)


Friday, November 8, 2013

Baby when the lights go out


Last weekend, because of a wind storm and fallen trees and power lines, there was a power breakdown for half a day at our place. Because everything at our house is electricity related, life pretty much came to a stand still. It turned out to be the perfect opportunity for the first fire of the season and a simple fireside picnic of yummy cold roasted chicken-and-almond sandwiches by the husband and some cold orange juice.

It reminded me of my first winter in Seattle and one of the biggest storms I have seen in this area. We were out of power for a few days in the freezing cold. But it ended up being one of the most memorable few days of our life. We loved gathering at friends houses playing Ludo, telling scary stories in the candlelight and screaming our hearts out, getting creative with what to eat that we didn’t need to cook or warm up, and at nights bundling up under all the blankets we could find in our house. I remember my mom always telling us about her childhood and how people spent their evenings talking and playing board games and just being with each other. Those three or so days actually felt like that. So much so that when the lights finally did came back, I felt sad for a second (Of course, nothing can beat hot water and heating when its freezing outside, so the nostalgia didn’t last for any longer, wink).


Thanks for reading and stopping by!

For those in Pakistan, being without power might have lost its charm (!) when it’s an everyday, every-hour-or-so – story. But maybe every once in a while, when your UPS chooses not to work, you could turn off your cellphones and huddle around a candle and just share memories and stories, reminisce and maybe laugh your hearts out? I am sure of it, it will feel good. You might even want to turn off the UPS yourself once in a while ;)


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Your words will guide me.


My dad wrote me this email. I was returning from Pakistan after attending my sister’s wedding. Because of some visa issues I had to return the very next morning after the Valima1 and I left the event early to pack for my flight the next morning. I had a huge lump in my throat throughout. It had been an emotional and stressful couple of months because of my dad’s sudden job loss because of the government change in Pakistan, planning my sister’s wedding in Islamabad while living in Karachi2 and just the emotional baggage that comes with a wedding, and just the Pakistani summer heat that makes everything harder.

Just a few hours after Papa and Mama dropped me at the airport the next morning (and a painful goodbye as always. I am terrible at airports!),  I stood at the public internet terminals at the Dubai airport and read the words that will stay with me forever. I still don’t know when he found the time to write the email in all that pre and post wedding chaos. I stood in the middle of the airport, reading Papa’s words as tears just flowed. Like most dads mine was also not very expressive but he had the gift of words and whenever he did express his love for us, it went straight to the heart. What I didn’t know then was how much more this email would mean to me a few years down the road!

Three and a half years later, when I returned from Pakistan after Papa passed away, the first thing I did was print that email and put it up on my refrigerator where I could see it all the time. Reading it in those early days felt like he was talking to me, and it gave me motivation to go on. It guided me through those painful early months. It is so amazing the impact of our words. When we write them we don’t really know the places they will reach and the time barriers they will cross. Even when my father isn’t there, the words he wrote remain. Every time it is feeling especially hard to get through the realization in my head that I cant talk to him, I read these words and I feel peace in my heart. It is like he is talking to me, it is like he knows, he understands how hard it has been, and in a strange way, he is guiding me on how to get through this.

Though he wrote them years before he passed away, it seems like they were written for right now, for this time for our fears and tears, and the struggles we face today. Papa you were and always will remain our hero and our guide. Thank you for everything. May you always be in God’s best care. Ameen.


Thanks for reading and stopping by.


1Valima is translated as a marriage feast and the second of the two traditional parts of an Islamic wedding and its arranged by the groom’s family.

2Islamabad, the capital, and Karachi, the largest city, are almost 1000 miles apart in distance and are very different cities in their own ways.

Friday, November 1, 2013

7 years.

I realize that I share a lot about motherhood here but not as much about the man in our life that makes it all possible:) My husband and I celebrated 7 years of marriage this year and it already seems like we have spent most of our life together. In some ways I was a completely different person when we started our life together. Without even realizing it I guess, he has changed me in so many ways. I was lost in my career choice and scared of stepping back into the office environment. He helped me dream for brighter things, made me rethink life and faith and so much. Where I'm at today, would not have been possible without him and I’m so thankful.

I have to admit something here, the thing that gets most affected once you become a mom, is your relationship with spouse. You're plain tired and exhausted by the end of the day, and would rather just slouch in front of the TV than communicate. And that is one of the scariest things for me because at the end of the day, your kids are just going to be with you for a limited number of years and each other is all we have at the end of it.

And even though you fight and argue and have days where you think 'if only he/she did/didn't do this', if you both have the same values and beliefs, you’re amongst the lucky ones. It is such a huge blessing to share the same ideas about life, faith, family, raising kids, finances etc. with your spouse. You might not have a decent conversation in days in the whirlwind and exhaustion of daily life, but when either of you is down, if the other knows just exactly how to put things in perspective, you've got a great thing there:)


If you’re married or about to be, here are some inspirations.

This book is one of my most favorite books on marriage because it just inspires you to be a better spouse and person more than anything else. This article on why it is good to be a loser in your marriage. These 15 tips on making your marriage work.

Thanks for reading. Have a lovely weekend.

Monday, October 28, 2013

An outfit post and some gorgeous weather.


Hi lovelies, it is absolutely beautiful outside these days. I’m a spring person mostly as it signifies bluer skies specially this side of the world but there is something about this fall that I am particularly enjoying. We wake up to foggy mornings with the slightest hint of sun rays streaming through and as the day goes by they turn into these bright sunshine filled evenings of the prettiest type. And not forgetting the beautiful shades of yellows, orange and gold everywhere. Sigh.

For once I am actually excited about all things cozy and signifying winters. Coats and sweaters and boots and scarves and sipping hot tea as it snows outside. Beautiful. I cant wait!


Anya wears: Sweater from Old Navy, Jeans from Osh Kosh, Shoes from Old Soles via MyHabit.

I wear: Shirt (also worn here and here) and Cardigan from Gap, Jeans from Old Navy, Boots by Bear Paw from TJMaxx 


How is fall like in your corner of the world? Are you excited about anything in particular as the days get colder?

Thank you so much for reading and stopping by.


The photos with both of us in them taken by my sweet friend Nabila.