Year Of Yes

(Written September 14th, 2016)

Yesterday was my oldest brothers birthday. Today is my mothers birthday. I am currently sitting in William P. Hobby Airport as I write this. Leaving my mother. In 12 days, I will be turning 24. My Kobe year. That realization is really starting to sink in.

My Jordan year has been very eventful. I got married and traveled more in that year that I have my entire life. I turned in my  first official letter of resignation.I can’t count moving to Jamaica in my list of accomplishments since it will actually take place while I am embarking on my Kobe year.

There is always this debate on who is greater, Jordan or Kobe. Their numbers are 23 and 24. I don’t know much about basketball, but I can’. But I have enjoyed adding these two remarkable players as the guiding light of my yearly journeys that I am haphazardly recording.

Recently, I was suckered into downloading audible because I wanted to read, “Year of Yes,” by Shonda Rhymes, but couldn’t find a copy in Lubbock and couldn’t justify the shipping price. 6 bucks.

In this “book” she tells us of the year that she spent saying yes to the things that scared her. Listening to it, really made me evaluate a lot of things in my life, and how I’ve allowed my fear to say no to so many opportunities that presented themselves in front of me. Ask any of my students, when that come to my office and say they have a questions, my first response is “No!” Before I’ve even heard the questions. I think to myself, I have already said yes to too many things, I do not have enough time, I’m busy, I’m tired, or I just want to watch TV. I was holding myself back because I had convinced myself that I had met my yes quota for the month.

In honor of Kobe, moving to a new country, and the wonderful new journey that I have said yes to, I have decide to embark on my own year of yes. Saying yes to the things that truly scare me, apart from things that would put me in harms way. Let’s see where it takes me.

 

 

The Inner Struggle…

Often times we have difficulty in trying to decipher to who we are. I’ve come to the realization that you never truly come to a conclusion. We are an evolving people who are far more complex that a string of sentence that try to define us. There is the person who we want to be, the person we are afraid to admit that we currently are, and the person that we are trying to run away from being.

I fall under a lot of different categories and identify with a number of values, experiences, and opinions. On the surface, I am a black, Muslim woman. I am an American-Nigerian hijabi. A Texas Tech University Alumni, born and raised on the South side of Houston who secretly loves sweet tea, chopped and screwed, slabs and swanging, grills(gold ones with lots of diamonds), and dreads. I also have a slight obsession with bow ties, glorious beards, men in suits, people who speak proper English, and higher education.

I love turbans on hijabis, I think my collar bone is the most beautiful thing on my body and sometimes I want to share it with the world, I love skinny jeans but don’t own a single pair, and would rock a crop top every single day if I could (I’m working on the abs). I love being “woke” and staying aware of what is going on in the world, but I hate watching the news. I enjoy trap music but I cannot stand the ignorance that it spews(it’s a constant struggle with the inner hood rat inside of me).

I want to give Dawah about Islam but I don’t like discussing religion because it can become heated and turn into something so much worse, but I want to share the beautiful religion that Islam is. I believe that Arabic is the most beautiful language on the face if the earth, but I’m so lazy when it comes to learning it and memorizing the Quran. My husband says I make up a bunch of different excuses, but I know it’s because I would feel obligated to give up music. The more woke and religious I become, the more my inner hood rat dies.

I am lazy with learning Arabic because I feel guilty that I am not learning Yoruba, my father and husbands native tongue. I feel guilty picking up the Quran because I’m not picking up my text book to finish this graduate course that I have an incomplete in.

I guess the question is, how do you know which aspect to influence you in each moment? How do you know which part to give up and which part to give in to?

These are my inner struggles. I want to be religious and woke. But there are many moral conversations to be had with yourself in making this decision.

Can I be a hijabi that walks around with an ankara turban on her head, nose pierced, a grill on her lower teeth, in a black and white striped suit, with dhikr beads around her neck, a prayer rug under her arm, a baby on her hip with his afro blowing in the wind, jays on her feet, an Infinity FX 35 in the driveway and a candy apple green slab with spinners next to it for the weekends, sipping on an Arnold Palmer, with multiple degrees, red lips with a tint of poetry, smelling of incense and Chanel, fluent in Arabic and Chinese, changing the world, crushing one stereotype at a time?

 

If I could be who I wanted to be, I think that is who I would be. Or closest visions of myself that I would want to see today. For now, I am going to return to packing so I can make some of these things a possibility.

 

Moving…

Jamaica. I am moving to Jamaica. It’s hard to wrap my head around it. I’ve never been out of the United States for longer than 6 weeks. And now I have this amazing opportunity to be with my husband as we move forward in our life together, in this new country that I knew very little about prior to meet him.

As I move past my sadness of leaving my babies(students), my family, my friends, and the two cities that have been my home for many years, there is this blinding light at the end of the tunnel. And my husband is standing at the end in that light with a fruity drink and a beach towel. While I know that I will not be on the beach every single day, or every week at that, having the option is quite nice compared to Galveston water.

I am nervous. But I am happy. My birthday is around the corner, shortly after that I’ll be hoping on the plane that will take me to the next step in my journey.

I am not typically one who embarks on something new. I am anxious to see what happens next. I pray to Allah that He puts barakah in it for my family and that He guides me with every step that I take. Ameen.

Mind crippling fear…

I’ve realized that new things terrify me. This is not something new that I have just stumbled upon. It is something that I discovered when I turned 20, my junior year in college when  my anxiety was through the roof,  I had just begun studying for the GRE, and I was overwhelmed with the decisions I had to make at the time.

The fear of the unknown. I hated it. I hated that bubbling feeling deep down in my stomach that felt like butterflies trying to force up my dinner, giving me the sweats and the chills at the same time, and that feeling when you are at the top of a rollercoaster and you have decided in that moment that you want to get off the ride. This is what fear does to me.

I graduated from Texas Tech University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a double minor in Legal Studies and Arabic in December of 2013, a semester early. I am supposed to be half way done with my Ph. D by now. But Allah and the 10 Ph.D programs that I applied for and didn’t get into, knew better. I was not ready. I realized that a few thousand dollars later, before my first rejection letter came in, that grad school wasn’t for me. Not just yet.

So I bought a ticket to Africa, praying that it would open my eyes to what I was supposed to do next. And it worked, kinda. I recieved a job offer while I was there. So I headed back to Lubbock, TX, the only other place I have ever lived aside from the city I was born and raised. I was happy, because I was going back to a place in which I was familiar.

I tried the whole grad school thing again, soon realizing that it was still not something I was ready for. Nor something that I wanted. I did it because people said, “Get a masters degree. It’ll be partially paid for. Just do it” So I applied, 3 weeks later I was accepted. 4 months later, I quit.

I have had ups and downs, but mostly growth in my position. 2 amazing years with such amazing colleagues, students, and friends.Especially the students. I took this job because like 2 of my most favorite people Shay & Doc say, #ChangingLives. In the division that I work for, we are in the business of changing lives, not realizing that our lives are the ones that are greatly impacted by the students that we serve.

I have had my tantrum and crying fits, and I have had time to console myself (my poor husband), but after submitting my letter of resignation 4 months ago, it still was not easy. Now that my students know, have had their fights with me, cried multiple times, determined that I am not allowed to go anywhere, given me the silent treatment, helped me pack my office, and given me the permission to move forward with my life without seeing their beautiful faces everyday, I feel comfortable in sharing it with everyone else. I have passed on the knowledge that I have to those who I am now entrusting my babies.

I have less than 3 weeks left with the most incredible souls I have ever had the pleasure to know. And my heart breaks everytime one of them gives them a dirty look, or hugs me, or starts crying, or hands we an early going away present, or simply walks into the office that is no longer mines. I am moving into the unknown and that sickening feeling that I first spoke about has started to make itself comfortable in the pit of my stomach. But after 2 months of reading self help books, listening to TedX Talks, discussing the possibilities to anyone who would listen, training my replacement and leaving my babies in capable hands, I can finally say that I am ready.

I am ready to embark on this new journey. I hope that I can use this platform to take everyone with me on this new journey. I am moving. And that is okay.

Insha Allah.

 

The house is on fire…

Regardless if it’s a conspiracy.

Dead bodies still lay cold on the ground.

Families now have holes that can never be filled,

like the holes in his chest

and the holes in her back.

Like the hole my heart that mourns for the lives lost.

No more value placed on a human beings life.

No more lives lost.

No more mass shootings.

No more killing.

No more murdering

No more innocence and peace lost.

My heart cannot handle it.

 

Gone are the days where we walk down the streets,

thinking that we are free.

Paranoia is the zip code that our minds now live it.

Distrust fills our heart and anger clouds our judgement.

These are not peaceful times.

As a Black (strike one) Muslim (strike two) woman (strike three),

Am I supposed to be out?

Those that I identify with are harassed, discriminated, oppressed,

and murdered in cold blood each day.

These things are getting closer and closer to home.

No one has the luxury of pretending that everything is okay anymore.

Racial profiling, systematic oppressions, false accusations, wrongful deaths…

Wrong is wrong and there is no justification for that.

 

Will my father or brother or husband be next?

Will I?

Will you?

 

What is left of this world?

What future are we giving our children?

What future?

…if we’re all dead in the streets

 

 

 

 

Melanated Child

Dark skin

Coconut oil

Weaved crowns

and crowns grown straight from the roots that stand straight up and defy gravity.

Beautiful melanated children

how sweet you are.

Dreaming sweet dreams of the summer sun on Juneteenth.

Swinging,

Singing,

Playing hopscotch and double dutch,

standing on the side lines,

watching Bubba dunk on Ray Ray.

The innocence of childhood flies past you

as you play on the playground.

Indifferent to the realities in this world.

 

The horrors of Tamir Rice flash before your tired mothers eyes,

another baby, another life,

another black boy whose body lies cold in the ground.

His name forever intertwined with the memorial of every single black boy

whose life ended a moment too soon.

While your granny makes silent prayers over you each night.

Praying that you name doesn’t join the ranks.

 

Brown eyes.

Full lips.

Sweaty palms.

Melanated child

hold on to your innocence

firm

because soon, your hands will become tired and you will loosen your grip,

and they will try to rob your innocence from under you.

 

The days of diabetic causing kool-aid and seed spitting watermelon

as the juice runs down your cocoa butter skin, are numbered.

Because even if you make it out alive,

you will still have to hold firmly to your roots,

for that too, they will come for.

Even is the revolution is televised,

it will forever be intertwined into your history.

For them, it’s just another documentary.

 

Melanated child know this.

You will have to work twice as hard for simply half of what they have.

But no matter how hard you work, at the end of the day,

the only thing that they will see is

a melanated child.

Human…

What does it mean to be human?
Sir, why so you ask me these questions
That I do not know the answer?
What does it mean to be human?
Think.
You are more than a brain and blood vessels that being oxygen to the heart.
You are more than lungs that fill with sweet air, with nostrils that filter out the tantalizing smell of hickory smoked chicken on the grill at your grandmother’s house on fourth of July.
You are more than  a student in a classroom who stares at the white board, filtering out the Read More

Ramadan Lonesome

as ii sit here in this big apartment that is made for two, all by my lonesome

surrounded by things because quite often ii don’t like being surrounded by people

at the beginning of this blessed month

ii sit with tears in my eyes

for 5 years ii have been on my own

away from my family for Ramadan

despite thinking that wouldn’t be the case again this year

a week ago

ii sit with these tears in my eyes because Ramadan is the greatest time in my life where

Read More

thoughts from my prayer rug

Thoughts from my prayer rug…

This morning as I was praying Fajr, I read Surah-al-Fatiha like normal. Then I read Surah-an-Nas. And this thought popped into my mind. That is how short this life is. That’s how short this whole world is.

It was kind of like that notion of the tombstone.

“Khabirat Abioye-Tijani. 1992-2992.”

That dash represents your entire life and accomplishments. (Obviously I’m not going to live a thousand years. But I didn’t want to sell myself short.) But as a Muslim, reading the first and last Surahs of the Quran, it really made me think. That’s how short this world is. The beginning of the Quran till the end.

My life is fairly insignificant compared to the trillions of people who are living and who have passed. Everyone had a dream, everyone had things that they wanted to achieve, everyone had a mother (except Adam and Hawwa/Eve, unless you believe in evolution. But that’s an entirely different story.), everyone lives no matter how long or short and every died.

They all lived.

They all died.

And that is the only thing that is promised.

I think what I’m trying to get at here is, what will your dash be comprised of? No one will know unless they lived in your lifetime and Allah. No one will care about your fancy clothes or shoes. How big your house was. What type of car you drove. What fancy school you got your 6 degrees from.

What will matter is you role in society. How you treated people. The charity you gave, and not necessarily monetarily. Were you kind and gentle or stern and rude?

Your good deeds and bad deeds will be the only things that matter on the day of judgement. There is this video of Muhammad Ali that is circulating around the internet when a fan asked, what will he do once he retires. His response was, “Get ready to meet my maker.”

He recently passed, but that interview was many years ago. We all think that we have time. I’ll pray later. I’ll go to the Masjid later. I’ll call my parents later. I’ll read Quran later. I’ll fast next year. Excuse after excuse because we are caught up in this duniyah/worldly life.

If you died today, would you be ready to meet your maker?

 

If your answer is no, then you better start today, right now, preparing. Because it could happen at any moment.

 

Ramadan Mubarak!

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I wonder if you think of me…

I wonder if you think of me,

As much as I dream about you.

Praying that you’re not a figment of my imagination.

I wonder if you think of me,

Leading me in Salah 5 times a day,

Building us a home in Jannah.

I wonder if you think of me,

Rubbing my belly as it grows Read More