Saturday, 3 November 2012

Colouring in.

So I sat with my son determined to draw and colour and collage. I long for more uninterrupted moments like these where I can cultivate quiet in my mind long enough to sit close to him and breathe in his concentration and curiosity. I had to almost physically hold myself down from doing my usual 'picking things up around the house' dance, a habit I do often as it seems to be the easiest way to distract myself from sad thoughts. I'd like that habit to be replaced by making things with my hands, sitting at our dining table with a whole bunch of pens and paints and brushes and crayons, absorbed in a drawing as my son, sitting next to me, chooses which colour to use next. And in the end, i would hope that my habit for more colouring in time with my son wouldn't just be for the purpose of distracting myself,like so many of the things I do these days are. In the end, It would just be a very normal natural thing to do. I wouldn't be trying to run away from something that feels much bigger than I can handle.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Let me in.

What am I feeling right now? Ennui, a sense of being irreconceivably alone, feeble, useless, hapless, drawn to just sitting motionless, stare at the T.V, wondering, once snappping out of it, how to pulll away and come back to that joyful snese of consciouness where I can hear and see and taste and breathe. Where I can be mercifully lost in a state of normality and thrive there with the delicious presence of my children and there unrepentent love for what is real. The world, the lights, the sounds, the textures, filling themselves up with all of it. Let me in. I hate it when I'm locked out so many times,and like a punishment I can go back in out of choice just as I've been convinced that I have no choice. It's as simple as that. I don't have to be here, sitting silent and motionless, gripped by a heaviness that I can't explain, made heavier still because I can't explain it. And yet. I can just get up, take in a big deep breath of my life as I wish it could be, but is screaming back at me, it already is, it already is,it already is It already is as it should be, thriving beautiful and extraordinary in all its glorious normality. Let me in. Let me stay there.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Hey you world.

I have been away for an extremely long time, and I am not just talking about the blog. With some little steps, I hope I can come back to writing here again, because once upon a time, I really liked it. It has been a tough year, a tough few years, but I am determined to see myself through it and come out the other end. Blogging is my way of sharing it with you, the world.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Wandered off

but I am still here. I had a much needed vacation, spending time with my family, well rounded from all the lovely food cooked for me. Boy did I make the most of it or what.

Isaac can say lots of little phrases in English. He's picked up so many words during the week he spent with his cousins it's astonishing really.

Remember the oil pastel workshop I mentioned earlier in the month? Well, it was great! Just sitting amongst a group of 15 students around a huge table, drawing with such concentration. There were so many differences in confidence, some were very comfortable, others were petrified, but in the end everybody let loose there creative voice and Im so proud to have been a part of that.

The exercise itself wasn't exactly a lesson on oil pastel skills. They had to work in pairs, with one half of each pair describing a famous painting in order for the other pair to draw it, swapping roles half way through the class. In the end they got a chance to see the painting and compare with their interpretation. Many chuckles throughout.
I am after all, an English teacher, and this exercise seemed to be the best way to get them practicing their language skills, whilst doing something fun and relaxing at the same time.

Makes me wish I could start a creative workshop studio someday, but with the economy in such a dire state, Portugals not the ideal place to start such an idea.

One can only dream.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

A charmed life

There are so many things I am grateful for. My family, my home, my friends, the food in my fridge, my health. So many things that so many people would love to have and don't. I've always felt over the last few years, that something beyond my control, lent itself towards helping me along, what it is, I dont know. Luck? A guardian angel? whatever it is, it has always had to come up against my worries and fears-and we're talking fear of gigantic proportions (even if I didn't have anything to fear, my internal bully would think up a reason for me to be scared witless anyway)

The voice of Mr Fear tends to be at its loudest in the following situations.

1. Painting. There are people way better than you at doing it
2. Blogging. Nobody wants to read what you have to say. Stop being so selfish.
3. Expressing an opinion. Stop thinking you know everything. Nobody wants to hear it.
4. Being a mother. You can't do it alone. You're weak. Quit complaining.
5. Dreaming of being an artist. Don't even get me started on this one.

There you have it. That is the voice of Mr Fear and I have had to listen to its vitriol for years. and I mean years. It reached its peak during my first year of motherhood. That was a really tough time for me, because it distorted my own strengths, my perception of the world around me. It covered my real needs and the ability to articulate those needs, with a thick layer of vile neediness. No amount of tea and heart to hearts could have got me out of that. I ran to others with the mess of my emotions, followed by the mess of trying to fix myself better again, fix relationships that I knew deep down could never be fixed again. All the while Mr Fear chuckles at my feeble attempts to rise above it all. For the 6809845th time. It did it's job of creating an almighty mess. It did it's job very well.
Hey, Fear, Are you done with me now???

Deep breath. That was not easy to write. But I wrote it.
Hey I actually wrote it.
Was that Miss Long-Haired Book Reading Goddess whispering to me just then??
I wish her voice could be louder, stronger. Kick Mr Fear in the balls!

I think she wants to tell me something. I can't hear her very well. What was that?

Express those opinions.
Be the best mother.

Don't stop. Don't be afraid. Do it

Mr fear has outstayed its welcome in this little charmed life of mine.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Oil Pastel therapy

to get myself back in the creative groove again.
I'm planning a mixed media workshop event at the school where I teach. It's the first time I'm doing it, which is shocking really since I've been working there for almost 7 years now. But I've finally plucked up the courage to do it. I'm a little nervous but I'm going to see it as a valuable learning experience. Will let you know how I get on!


Thursday, 19 May 2011

crocheted stone

I have been wanting to try this for so long, in addition to a zillion other things. I haven't been crocheting for a while after attempting to construct a blanket out of several granny squares. Never doing that again. It took far too long to finish and I made the wrong choice of colours too. But having a look at the truly amazing work of this lady I got bitten once again, with the crochet bug.

So this was my first attempt. Really bad stitches here and there but overall I'm quite pleased with it. Definately going to do more.

Monday, 16 May 2011

life update

That boy of mine just won't stop growing. 20 months old and counting... He knows how to hold a spoon, dances to the tune of Thomas the Tank Engine, does a fake laugh when he sees us laughing, and is devoted to strawberries.

I'll be solo parenting next week because hubby is off on a business trip to China. Yikes!!!

Still going strong with the pilates. Wanna kill the instructor when doing it, but end up forgiving her afterwards.

One of my younger students said to me 'I don't know what it is about you Khairun, but people fall in love with you'.

Wowza. Speechless. To think that a young person, feels that way when I teach them. Just makes me feel like everything I do, the effort involved, the hesitation and self doubt, it's so worth continuing. Because its way more than an ego massage. Perhaps there was a time when it would have been just that, and It would have lifted me up when nothing else was would. Its more than that. I feel as though Im living from bottom to top, internal to external. And having a 15 year old girl with all the insecurities of the world on her shoulders, look at me with a huge smile on her face, is both product and reward of this.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Friday, 22 April 2011

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The long-haired book-reading goddess

Last year it was crochet, papier mache, dolls and wanting to meet more mamas. The year before that it was writing, poetry, and learning to be more sociable.

This year it's all about instilling healthier habits into my life. Habits that make sense for me. Ideas that don't make me feel crap, instead, they make me feel like I'm fulfilling a more authentic version of me.
Introducing the long haired book reading goddess! Well,my new name is open to modification. But for now, this fits me just fine.

So this year, I have managed to stick to a fewer number of projects, let go of some unhealthy thoughts and feelings, and learnt to really enjoy what's RIGHT for me because the real failure for me is holding on to things without doing anything to make it better. More constructive to let another person do a better job of it.
What I've stuck to
Pilates. I am feeling the burn and the burn feels goooood.
Blogging. Just have to tell myself to keep at it.
Reading. Exchanging books with friends, and ordered a few from Amazon.
Painting. Just completed a small watercolour as a gift for a friend.
Self work. I know it sounds cheesy, but through one of my closest friends, I've done a lot of soul searching and worked my way to a better understanding of how I relate to others.
Waking up Early. The ONLY way I can do most of the above. Or I sleep and do none of it. I think I made the right choice.

And heres what I've said farewell to
Crochet. Lost that cozy feeling. It went as soon as I realised how insanely old it made me feel.
Short hair. I had this sudden urge earlier in the year to go for the chop. I thought it would somehow bring out a more refined sophisticated, up to date version of me. But now I know,that would have been a version of somebody else. Not me. I was born to be a completely unsophisticated goddess with crazy long hair.
Being so damn introverted. I love this side of myself because I think my quiet natured self allows me to be more thoughtful, creative, and sensitive to beauty, love, happy things. But I've also realised that there is a side to it that just doesn't help me at all. And I don't want to identify with that anymore. It has made me make very bad decisions, lose friendships, and increase self loathing. The worst thing about it though is that it's prevented me from having more love for myself and for others. Not a good thing, no matter who you are.

There you go. lots of deep and meaningful stuff here. But that's who I am.
I'm a deep and meaningful goddess.
Long haired to boot.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Tough geeks rule

About three weeks ago I decided to do a pilates workout three times a week at home. I have no idea what inspired me to do it, and equally disturbing to me (in a good way) how I'm still keeping it up. All I do know is that its made me feel pretty superduper. I am naturally slim, and I say this in a totally unsmug way because I've been likened to an Eritrean long distance runner coming last in the Olympics, rather than Giselle Bunchen not a sultry slim, a very awkward geeky slim, so there is absolutely nothing to be smug about here. I never felt I needed to exercise because i didn't want to lose more weight, and because I didn't think i had an molecule of muscle power to do it anyway. But holy moses, how wrong I was. I had no idea just how much good it would do me in terms of building my toughness, well not building it, since I had zero toughness to begin with, but introducing me to a tough centred stronger me.
-Hello tougher centred stronger Khairun.
-Hello who the hell are you?

. I may be slim, but I am weak. I'm weak in so many areas of my life. The worst being in taking initiatives, standing up for myself, having a firm voice. My voice is not a voice. It's a squeak. When i get into any lengthy conversation, i jump from one idea to the next, I can never get the right word to express something, even when that very word is on the tip of my tongue. I have no sense of centre. Add all this to my Eritrean roots, and what do you have? a long distance runner who doesn't believe her skinny legs can take her anywhere. I've noticed something in myself that needs to be fixed, and it makes total sense to fix it. and all the strange pilates positions and stretches, have given my weakness a proper thrashing. I have no idea whats happening, but I feel like the geek in me doesn't slouch anymore, her back's straight and she can look at the world directly.
She's still a geek. But shes a tough geek!

Monday, 11 April 2011

A little piece of lemon..

I'm in awe of how easy it was to make this and how yummy it turned out.
This will be on the list of things to bake for my husbands birthday next month.

Lemon Meringue Tart


A packet of rich tea biscuits (or Donna Maria if you're in Portugal)
125g unsalted butter


A tin of condensed milk
125ml lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
3 egg yolks

Meringue topping

3 egg whites
125g caster sugar

Preheat oven to 180 degrees

1.Crush the biscuits. You can wrap them in a tea towel and release your new found passion for baking with a rolling pin.
2. Add melted butter and mix. Press into a pre greased tart tin or dish.
3. Put it in the fridge so that it can set.
4. Mix the condensed milk, lemon juice and egg yolks in a bowl.
5. With the remaining egg whites, beat and gradually add the sugar until white satin peaks form. You can also add a spoon of cornstarch to thicken it.
6. Start assembling! Take the base out of the fridge. Spread the filling first and spoon the meringue on top. You can use a pipe bag if you happen to have one. It would certainly make it look a lot prettier than mine.
7. Pop it in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the meringue is browned lightly.
8. Once done, allow to cool and eat it on the same day or pop it in the fridge and eat it the following day. But trust me, you won't wait that long.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Is it really possible?

Could anything be more divine, more beautiful, more heavenly, than this baby of ours?

He is the reason why I do what I do, why I keep wanting my life to be better. Because he's in it. He came into my unprepared, naive, hesitant life, making the mess that was me suddenly feel beautiful and joyful and full of possibilities.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Sunny day

It would be a shame to waste it!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011


This is a watercolour drawing for a friend. Not quite finished though. I'd like to add some white lines to the leaves but I need to get a better brush.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Homemade play dough

To make it you need

1 cup of water
1 cup of salt
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
food colouring or tempera paint

Mix the water, salt oil and paint together. Use as much paint or food colouring as you think you'll need in order to get the right vibrancy in colour. Then all you need to do is add flour and cornstarch to the paste until it gets nice and thick. Knead it like you would with dough until most of the moisture has been absorbed.

To store it, keep in any airtight container. If it gets a little sweaty, just add flour to it.

He loved it. Until he realised it didn't taste very good. Then he just poked at it with a crayon like it was some kind of hideous washed up jelly fish.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

There comes a time to start

Starting things is what I do best. Knowing the best time to start is what I do worst. Like getting enthusiastic about Pilates a week before discovering I was pregnant, buying art materials whilst moving into and renovating a house, painting a mural in Isaacs old bedroom, only to move out and painting over it, six months later.
The bad timing worked in our favour when we moved out. It looked terrible; me returning to my full time schedule at work, all three of us sleeping on a mattress, on the floor of Antonios old bedroom whilst waiting for our house to be ready. We ended up staying six weeks rather than the very optimistic five days.
But in the end, we couldn't have done it at a better time. And we are happier for taking that risk, of not waiting for the right time, as so many people often do.
I've learnt that there is a time, and there just isn't a time, there are things that need careful planning and things that don't, and it's taken me a while to discover what goes in what.

The Go Slowly List

1. Pilates.
I've started doing pilates three times a week. It's not to lose weight in mind, as I am already skinny. I just want to work on my strength and general well being.

2. Portuguese
I came up with a great way to practice. I speak a little everyday with one of my colleagues at work. It is tricky getting some Portuguese in, considering I am an English teacher in a school where speaking Portuguese is severely restricted, but I try to keep it discreet. I'm also doing the same with my husband, speaking to him when Isaac isn't around as I want to make sure my son only hears me speaking in English.
I feel like an Portuguese secret agent!

3. Minimalist skin and haircare routine

I've gone back to the joys of growing my hair long and strong again. That means fewer times using shampoo, lots of coconut oil to keep it in good condition and waiting very patiently to get it looking like it used to, LONG! Ive been using coconut oil for my skin moisturiser too. No more Clinique products. My skin has been a lot better since doing this

4. No T.V

Now that the weathers getting better, I feel I'm less tempted to switch on the T.V to keep Isaac occupied for short periods at a time. Instead, I've been listening to podcasts with him or going out into the garden. I rarely watch the box these days which I'm really happy about. There is just nothing more frustrating to me than to sit in front of it whilst thinking about all the better things I could be doing.

5. Drawing

Last night I had a look at some art blogs from my favourites and the fire in my heart just lit up again. I got all my art materials out and began drawing again. No objectives, no pressure. Just enjoying the return of this feeling which I haven't had in a long time. Hurrahh!! I have finally started!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Sifting through past blog posts like old photos

I forget how much I shared on this blog and how much of it is not as bad as I was telling myself.
I initially went into the archives to purge them of awful memories, bad writing, strange art work and odd Youtube videos. I was set on this mission but as I started reading my verbal attempts to understand the world around me and my feeble place in it, I started having a change of heart.
I actually don't think any of it is that bad. I don't know why I slam my efforts sometimes, maybe its just years of brainwashing myself into thinking I could not be very good at much. But there is a lot of good I did and a lot of good I would still love to continue doing. I know I just need to reestablish that personal drive again, to write here, because I do still want to keep writing. I guess i need to exorcise myself of the fear to return here because there is a fear. The fear of hurting somebody, the fear of looking like a know-it-all, the fear of being ridiculed, the fear of loneliness, because blogging, just like painting, is a very lonely experience for me and I've avoided these two activities because they embody moments and memories of loneliness at their peak.
But I'm pretty sure, in fact I'm positive, that all this fear I'm carrying around, is a figment of my rather wandering imagination. I'm afraid of myself. Maybe I'm afraid of what I can truly be capable of. Maybe I'm afraid of what I know I could lose by following my dreams.
This is a start though.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

My favourite poem

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

So heres the thing...

Given the fact that I don't come round here too often, I'm back to that age old question again 'To blog or not to blog?'
I can't say I've been rushed off my feet or anything. I've simply decided to get through my to do list for 2011, most of which focuses on a clear-up operation after Hurricane Beinganewmama. Thankfully, I've managed to rescue the most important person amongst all this, that is, me. I may have survived it, but man did I make a big mess of getting myself back together again or what. Like doing a jigsaw puzzle with the lights out. I've kinda ignored the way i look, ignored a lot of people in my life, gone on the defensive, given up on me in a way thats just totally unforgivable, and just been abit crap to the world really. Incase you were wondering. I had a close run in with those ghastly post natal depression goblins. They didn't quite suceed in taking up residence here, but they certainly left me with a hell of a lot to clear up. I kinda see them as the extended family of the last lot of goblins that came into my life when i was 17. Those ones stayed so long i was practically the landlord of a goblin B and B.

so, I'm still blog or not to blog?
I hate being such a lame blogger.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

How my love for teaching started by not teaching very well.

I've been an English teacher for six years. Those six years have been more of a learning experience than a teaching one because there was so much about the profession that I wasn't aware of. I've lived abroad for those six years, so unsurprisingly,it was not only a lesson on teaching but a lesson on creating a new life for myself. As time passed, I realised several important points that have changed the way I approach teaching.

1.Being native doesn't make you a good teacher The first lesson in humility was that being a native speaker didn't mean I could teach. Being curious didn't help my credentials either. Nor did an impressive South London accent. Or great stories about my move from London to Lisbon. It certainly made class activities bearable to me. But what I realised was that I just had lots of students finding me pleasant without learning anything new. Plus I was running out of stories. Which leads me to the next point.

2.Talking about your pet Iguana, your travels to Nepal, and crazy members of your family will eventually tire you out.As it did with me. I don't disagree with sharing personal stories. It is a way of engaging students into relaxed conversation that don't focus on stiff grammar exercises. It increases the confidence of students not to mention making it fun. But here's the but, and it's a significant but. What happened to me over time was that some students forgot what their objectives were. They forgot to ask me questions about the language because I gave little opportunity for them to do so. Talking about my terrible morning at the post office was what did it. Some students asked for more guidance, more structure, more actual teaching, which, when given the cue, I was happy in having a go at being a 'proper teacher'.These were the students that were fully aware of what they needed to learn in the x number of months they had paid to study here. It was a reminder to me that I really had to be more considerate of this fact. That not all the students wanted to simply chat.

3.Lavishing too much praise.
I became aware that lavishing praise on students without them knowing why was not only insincere but disregarded the students particular weaknesses and strengths. Not only that but some students went on to have a distorted perception of their language skills. Some thought they were better than they actually were which I think is more damaging in the long run than those who think their language skills are worse than they are. I've since found that it's a lot easier to improve confidence in a student by helping them through difficult grammar points, than finding a sensitive way of explaining to advanced level students that they need to study the tenses again. It embarassed me when I knew that a number of my students from previous years went out into the world with questionable language skills. All because of me not having an honest teaching approach.

4.Teach with confidence.
I followed lesson plans to such precision, that I may as well have not been physically present. Other times I tried ignoring the lesson plans altogether, but that left me with nothing to guide me except a hesitant desire to do my best. Whatever that entailed. This created a haphazard teaching style, an inconsistent appoach that reflected my lack of confidence as a teacher.
I finally faced up to things once I returned from my maternity leave, that I had to be more accountable for my work, since it was after all where I was spending the majority of my time. I looked at ways to manage my time, so that I could read more, write more, and plan lessons of my own. This brings me to my final point.

5. Teach what you know, not what you don't.
By getting back to my old reading and writing habits, I understood what I needed to learn in order to improve my teaching skills. I also reminded myself of things I already knew too. I think it's essential for anybody, no matter what field you're in, to excell in it in whatever way you can. It puts you in control, makes you think about how much of an impact you can have on the lives of others despite the bad pay or lousy office space. it demonstrates resilience and most of all, getting involved makes the working day fly by. There is no 'making it through to the end of the day'. There's less resistence or struggle when you are willing to be good at what you do.

I love what I do now, because I started to try out new things, learn about them, rather than find new ways to make it through the day. I never saw myself as a teacher until I had no choice but to, given the language barrier and being an Art History graduate when arriving in Lisbon. Art History, if you don't know already, is the most useless degree ever. Enjoyed it, but completely useless. Six years later and I am still here, still not sure what my 'calling is' and I'm not sure I ever will. In the meantime, I'm helping a few individuals get a step up in life by providing them a valuable skill; learning a language. My parents moved to England in the late seventies. . I grew up in a home where three languages were used daily; Bangla,Arabic and English. It is what I know best and what I have to know better if other people are depending on it.

So I think I can assume, I've got a little soft spot for teaching. I never thought I'd say it, but there you go, I said it.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

What counts and what doesn't.

If it weren't for some of my wonderful students.
If it wasn't for my baby and his little hands tugging at my earlobes.
If it weren't for my husband's efforts to make me laugh.
If it weren't for my best friends efforts to make me laugh even harder.
If it wasn't for our cleaner who comes once a week and spends more time singing to my baby in Romanian than actually cleaning
If it weren't for all of these things.

I don't really think I could manage. No way.
Just goes to show. Not being a people person doesn't mean I don't need anyone. Everybody does. The difference between the few in the picture and the majority that aren't? The few know you better than the rest. Sometimes even more than you'd like. They'll be there for the long haul.
Live well.
Have fun.
Just don't lean on people who can't be there for you after the party's over. How do you figure that out? The ones who care are usually the ones helping you clear up long after everybody else have upped and left. That's when you know. That's when you also know, particularly in the case when nobody stays behind, which can happen,that you are your own closest ally too.
Which is why I shouldn't forget this very important point.
If it weren't for me, just plain old me, keeping pretty much true to myself, I really wouldn't be as happy as I am today.

Monday, 10 January 2011


I've always struggled with solitude. I've not known how to benefit from it without letting it overwhelm me. There are two sides to solitude. It isolates you and makes you difficult to reach. You keep to yourself for long periods of time and people start forgetting to call in once in a while. But it can also give you the environment needed to rest, to tend to things with care and attention, and to retreat from the daily demands of work and family. Since I'm a little on the quiet side, I've noticed that Im sensitive to solitude on both ends. It means that I can really enjoy solitude fully, but I tend to feel the isolation of it after long spells. I guess that explains the struggle really. I look for ways out when I've spent too much time in. But this all starts with me wanting time in, first and foremost.
Perhaps its not a struggle at all. It's just a case of knowing which side of me wants to be alone most. The reading writing thinking in me, or the sad and lonely in me. Solitude in small doses for the latter, and an abundance for the former.

Thats a view from outside our home. That's the best visual definition of solitude I could come up with.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

2011.The year that is

and this year will be a great one. It really will.

I wrote about my bookreading goal last week. I have two books winging their way from the land of Amazon and they should arrive at my doorstep next week. I'm looking forward to reading them. Writing down exactly what books i want to read left my mind free of the responsibility to grasp onto passing interests and desires. The amount of books that caught my eye, only to be forgotten again are countless. I've given my mind a bit of a vacation in that respect.
There are other specific things I would like to do too, and I'm going to stick to them no matter what it takes. It's interesting when a lot of people may consider the act of goal writing as lacking in spontaneity (for the carefree) or devoid of realist thinking (for the pessimists) I appreciate both spontaneity and realism. Its true that there is so much to enjoy in the world without needing to plan for it. Its also true that there are unexpected obstacles that we can never fully prepare for. I realise this. But the greatest feeling I've encountered eversince I started thinking about the future ahead of me, was the sense of clarity mentally and emotionally. Instead of restraining me to a set of rules I needed to abide by, its actually felt very freeing. I have energy to be spontaneous. But I had to organise random stuff in my head to feel that fully. Its also made me feel very humble too. I know there will be setbacks and unexpected events, but I always have a choice - and so many people around the world categorically don't. Unless something catastrophic happens in my life, I can recover from obstacles with a calmer more thoughtful perspective.
I have a baby boy sitting near me. He's my direction in life. If I get lost, I just need to keep him in sight to remember how privelaged my life is.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

2010 the year that was

There may have been so many things I could have done better, but there are also plenty I achieved. Heres what worked out well.

1. I struggled through a depression spurred by a complicated birth in a complicated country with complicated issues. But I got through it.
2. I have raised a wonderful child alongside my brilliant husband with very little dependancy on anyone to assist us. Not needing to ask for help gave me a real feeling of self-sufficiency.
3. There was so much I could do despite the biggest of obstacles. We renovated the house of our dreams and spent months living in chaos with an infant who was sick through much of the winter, in order to achieve that. We could have given up but we didn't.
4. I took my work into my own hands and became much better with my time management.
5. I spent more time thinking about the people I love, even when not being able to see them, it really helped me dwell less on feelings of loneliness or not being understood. I became a lot more accountable for the kinds of relationships I invite into my life.
6. I got back into reading again
7. I got back into blogging again.
8. I did things that felt right for me even if it wasn't the norm, like closing my Facebook account. It worked for me and I'm proud to stand by this fact.

What was your year like in 2010?

Friday, 31 December 2010

Book list for 2011

Nothing will stop me from reading the following books this year. Nothing will stop me from doing this because some of these books have been living in my Amazon search history for so long that I'm surprised Amazon even bother, given the fact that I hardly buy online anyway.
I would really like this year to be about just enjoying little things, within time and financial reason of course, and just do them for Gods sake.It feels awful knowing how much putting off I do, just because of not having an envelope handy, a telephone number, or enough welll-managed time. I hate that about me. So enough hating and more lovin.
Leaving the World Douglas Kennedy
Garners Modern American Usage Bryan Garner
The Use and Abuse of the English Language Robert Graves
The Highly Sensitive Person Elaine.N.Aron
John:A Novel Niall Williams
The Continuum Concept Jean Leidloff
The Infinite Jest David Foster Wallace
The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything Sir Ken Robinson
Getting Things Done David Allen

This has been a resolution of mine since 1997. I'm looking forward to actually doing something about it in 2011.
There are more unfulfilled goals from previous years that I'd like to share with you here. For now though, just enjoy my book list and marvel at what goes on in my head with those cheesy titles. Don't be a self-help book hater. Unless you already are one in which case you won't like me very much. Oh well.
Next post: other musings on goals unfulfilled from the past and staring them in the face once more. I shall make 2011 the year of transformation!
At least a little.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Clinique mascara and Coffee...

...are a girls best friend. Because those are the two things I have been abusing excessively before getting out to work each day-Isaac has been waking up in the middle of the night, every night over the last two weeks,at the kind of time most bars and clubs across Lisbon are closing. It takes almost two hours for him to settle, in between us, whilst I, semi-conscious but still retaining some use of my limbs, attempt to nurse him to sleep. To put it mildly, He's been a pain in the arse. Oh-and when I say pain in the arse, I actually mean it quite literally, because he's got some funky nappy rash due to a nasty combination of a food reaction with the wretched teething phase.

But other than this life is treating us well. Antonios on his third day of not smoking. I'm hugely proud of him. Despite him wanting to strangle me everytime I ask him if he's alright.
I've pretty much planned my year in terms of vacations and the days I'll need to take off work. Just knowing what I'll be doing in September makes the year itself seem so small. I don't think I've ever been this organised before. On top of my attempt at weekly menu planning (it's chicken soup today) I'm getting all this extra space in my head to think about things I like to think about,instead of having all these worries and that constant feeling of remembering something that I can't remember. I finally treated myself to a Moleskine diary, a new purse and got back into listening to my ipod again. It feels like bits of me are coming back to life again after having Isaac. I'm feeling things physically and mentally that were completely switched off over the last year. It's good to be back. And, in contrast to the warnings of how difficult Isaac would be once he started walking, I've actually found him much easier to manage. It's lovely seeing him walk around observing, picking up toys and just trying out new things. He's chatting a lot more too. I've found that I don't need to play with him so much, he's quite happy doing his own thing. It's great.
I just hope his sleeping pattern improves otherwise I'm going to end up looking like Dolly Partons make-up artist went psycho on me.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

A quote to remember....

On the occasion where things start getting a little quiet around here.

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself - Friedrich Nietzsche

Monday, 27 December 2010

Reaching for the stars...particularly the vertiginious ones.

Vertiginous (comparative more vertiginous, superlative most vertiginous)

1.Having an aspect of great depth, drawing the eye to look downwards.
2.Inducing a feeling of giddiness, vertigo, dizziness or of whirling.
3.Pertaining to vertigo (in all its meanings).
4.Revolving; rotating; rotatory.

I have a secret. I like reading dictionaries. It may seem boring to the vast majority, and granted, at times it is, but I've always had a fascination with new words and how many of them are out there, that I have never heard of and will probably never hear of in my lifetime. Instead of getting down about this fact, it only makes me more curious.The curious collector in me wants to write it all down somewhere in a notebook-preferably a pretty one with a ribbon for a bookmark-and feel that much stronger up there in my head-and a little below- in my heart and the pit of my stomach. Just from learning something new. Just from loosening the grip of being passive to what's beautiful out there.

2011 will be all about me. What I do best. What I want to do best. Over the last three years or so, I've constantly remained undecided about how to deal with hurt, loss, guilt and all that other stuff that life has a tendency to throw at you just when your'e thinking 'Hey, I think this year's gonna be great!' I've tried to toughen up, I've tried to be graceful, I had a go at the humility thing. All of it didn't work and I think I know why. I think I might anyway. There was always that underlying feeling that something about me needed fixing. A few tweaks here and there and hey presto. The new and improved super duper hot confident mama,teacher,wife,woman khairun. This meant having to ditch my little dictionary habit. And my nights in rather than going out and making lots of hot super duper friends. This would mean knowing how to converse and be funny and be memorable all at once. Aspiring to this actually made me feel bad about myself. It was like I was punishing the me that doesn't do any of that stuff, that doesn't like to do any of that stuff. I was punishing the me that was a pain in the arse for being so quiet and unsociable.
I think a useful exercise for anybody, particularly at the begining of another year-would be to ask themselves if anything they set out to do differently this time round is out of a kind of disappointment in themselves. I'm trying not to be happier out of a disappointment in myself for not being happier enough. Last year, and the year before that, and the year before that one too. I should just try stuff without fixing what was. I wish I had known this before. Self-improvement is a terrible word. Be curious, playful, interested-sure. That sounds like a far better idea than to improve something because you failed the last time.

Anyway, heres to 2011. Just enjoying stuff. Having a go.Vertiginiously difficult to reach or not. It doesn't matter. As long as I'm not letting the Mr Positive Thinker bully me into change.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Planning away.....

What I'm currently doing

1. Menu planning. As boring as it sounds,it's not really that soul-destroying. I hope i still have friends after they read this. My working hours are from 3 to 9pm weekdays, which means our dinnertime is very late. It means I've had to seriously think about how I manage my time in the mornings. So here's what I do. I drop my baby off at the nanny around an hour earlier than I used to (I used to drop him off on my way to work which was a mad circus act that usually involved me running out with an apple in my mouth as a means of preventing hunger, and a baby who's hanging off my leg)On Sundays, I try to figure out what I'm going to cook for the week with what we have in our fridge. So far so good. I'll be really boring and write more about my menu planning parade in future posts.
2. Saving money. With my husbands imminent plans to quit smoking, we both decided to put €3.50-the price of a pack of Marlborough lights here in Portugal, in a jar, every single day. We hope to have around €500 by next summer.
3. Getting back into reading again. I have a colleague at work who lent me a book by Hugh Laurie-pre Dr House. One of the advantages of public transport is that you can actually read. You couldn't do that in a car. Especially if your driving. Obviously. Good job many people are aware of this. The book is hilarious by the way. Thoroughly recommend it.
4. Learning to respect my sensitivity. I can't change who I am. May as well take care of myself by not having to tolerate things that I can't tolerate. Like large crowds of strangers. Like loud music. Like chit chat. Like bright lights. Like shopping malls.Like being away from home for too long. Be around my element instead. Like tea. Like my closest friends. Like books. Like blogs. Like my family. Like the great outdoors.
5. Back in the pre-internet I used to write letters to my best friend all the time. It was this little ritual we had. It started at 13, back in 1993, when I lived in Bangladesh for a year. During that time I would regularly write letters to her. Like 8-page letters! I would decorate the envelope and include little drawings. What teenager does that these days! Noone! When I returned from Bangladesh to my hometown in London, we still kept on writing letters to each other. Even though we lived nearby. At that time, growing up in an asian community was tough. We didn't have the freedom that a lot of our English friends had. No jeans. No going out at all. And definately no boyfriends. Including boys as friends. So our letters and sleepovers (which was the only privelage given to us) was our way of feeling normal. I love Yasmine to bits. She's like a sister to me. And we speak on the phone to each other regularly despite living in different countries with very different lives. We rarely use email or Facebook to keep in touch, because we don't have a problem keeping in touch the old fashioned way. Everybody should know what its like to have a friendship pre-Facebook!

That's it for now. Hope some of these have given you something to think about.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Friends are your second family...

well, that's the hope anyway. After years of supporting this ideal, I have discovered that the friends we gather to fill up our lives, in order to encapsulate the Sex and the City dream, have their own families too.Many of my friends are getting married. They have new jobs, live in different cities,in different countries raising children. I've realised from my experience,that to have a perfect idealistic notion of a second family, a 'family of friends' I've had to go back to that flawed dysfunctional first one. The one I forgoed to make way for more interesting social groups in my life. The one I fell out with practically every other day, the one I saw as a hindrance in my search for more adventure in my life. The one I reduced to a mere backdrop of who I am. In the late 90's i went on a mission to replace my family, my childhood friends, with an updated better version in the form of university intellectuals, colleagues, friends of friends, aquaintances at parties. I filled up my contact list with people I tried to find a connection with, and in turn tried to do the same with me but in the end, for whatever reason, the efforts to form a 'second family movement' fizzled out by the time we all graduated and left the all important university social scene.Then came Facebook. I facebooked my way into a world of socialising that I had never experienced before in my first family. It was great for a while. But not for the reasons I thought it was. Because with the hugely uncool inconvenience of being a mother, combined with my hugely uncool first family suddenly making me feel loved and less lonely, I've suddenly stopped trying so hard. Putting an end to my 'creating your own family Movement'
We all need special connections in our lives. I don't think having 260 Facebook friends does that. Not for me anyway. It leaves me feeling very drained. Like being in a room filled with people who don't really know my hopes and fears. If I was a social bee, Facebook would be an endless source of amusement. Sharing my happiness with people I keep in touch with facebook 'friending', but kept at a non-commited distance too. It's not just a second family. It's an endless number of families. Your family of friends, your family of colleagues, your family of classmates. It's a family of families. I'm not a social bee. I like to keep in touch. But I hate the idea of managing an ever expanding social circle. And so it is. That is who I am. I can count on one hand how many adult friends I have. My husband, my baby sister, my best friend, my mum and my dad. My other hand (I should include my toes too) is for future inclusion of my siblings who I rarely keep in close contact with,but I hope to one day,my son when he can string a few words of joy together, and other close friends who may come and stick around abit longer to share their hopes and fears with me. For now though, that one hand is my family. First, second, always.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Still here

I know it's blogging suicide to not post for so long, but I've essentially been unplugged for the last month or so, due to the recent move. All the time offline has given me a valuable glimpse of how my life could be, how I would like to spend my time, and the simple changes in my day to day routines needed to keep my happy self fulfilled.
All of the offline pondering led me to cancel my Facebook account. I just had to do it; it took up more of my time than I had liked and I could never get my head round the 'Facebook way' of keeping in touch. Maybe I'm too old-fashioned for my own good, but it suits my way of living life and a person should always be true to that.
I'll be spending most of whats left of this year unpacking, and setting up a space for my artwork and teaching material. Isaac is growing up so fast I can't keep up with him. He inspires me to be joyful about everything I do. My love for him is endless, but of course, what mother wouldn't say that about their child?

Got to go now. I have no idea when I'll post again. I will. I miss blogging very much.


Thursday, 23 September 2010

I've got this new thing going on

I'm not quite sure what it is, but it appears to be doing me the world of good. Whatever this feeling is, one that I can't explain, it's making me want to hug random people, smile incessantly, drop my guardedness and act a little silly. I am pretty sure it has alot to do with us moving, which is a huge positive in our life. But combine that with the running around like a chicken on coke, the sleeplessness, and you've got this kind of spinning wild positive rush of, well, positivity. Can't wait to find out what this rush will create once it has officially moved in with us in the new abode. I hope it manifests itself into more art work and a more settled feeling of creative domestic bliss.
All is good. We're taking Isaac to the zoo tomorrow, and then some old fashioned cake splatting to celebrate his first year on this earth, our first year of pure wild love. His gift will be the new house. Not many babies get a house for their first birthday do they? Well, its our way of looking at it. The reality is, his birthday happens to fall during a humungous time in our life right now. We're just trying to put a positive twist to the fact that we cannot go all out on a birthday party for him. Definately not now. He's not fussed anyway. He's too busy enjoying everything around to notice he's a year older. Us grown ups could learn a thing or two from babies. I certainly have.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Im tired. But Im not going to disappear on you dear blog.

Should i keep going on? Yes I will. It's not an emphatic yes I will. More of an exhausted whispering yes I will. But a yes I will nonetheless! Because I know, and those of you, my dear friends who read this blog knows, things have been wilting ever so slightly over here in the last few months, save for a precious drop of a post whenever I can for my blog to survive on. I have been terrible at looking after things here, which in other words means, looking after me. And when I think of it in that way, I feel compelled enough to want to write about it. Because I'm drawn to doing so. It's me after all. And why wouldn't I want to take care of me?I know deep down, that the last two years of doing this has been a big deal for me, in a way that many non-blogging, folk might not get. That's okay by me of course. I'm just acknowledging this very real fact. There are people who get it, there are people who don't. All this self obsessed personal writing malarky. Jeez, get over yourself woman! I hear that phrase ringing over and over in my head sometimes when I read some of my posts. I feel like im indulging too much in the world of ME. But who else could do that but me? Why would i want anybody else to do this but me? It can only be me! I get this. Writing, and writing publically as a means to meet people who want to meet me, help people who can be helped by me, and deliver a kind of loyal support through regular posts, to those who return the loyalty by reading my blog, me. That's what sets blog writing apart from writing privately. Writing privately is a bit like wanting something to change in your life but keeping this desire forever locked away in your heart. Writing publically is a bit like allowing that change to roam free and actually get things changed. This has happened to me. My blog helped me set free my artistic wants and needs. It has helped me get more comfortable with who I am and the wants and needs that make up who I am. It has helped me create a narrative for my story and I think every story deserves to be expressed and read, and needed, by those who want to read it and feel the need for it.
Yes I will!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Dreaming of a more natural way of life

Nothing involving chickens though. Or carving wooden spoons. Reusable sanitary towels (I'm not joking, they do exist) and smelling like someone who's not accustomed to soap.I don't want to treat my London roots like weeds that need pulling out. But there are days, many many days, and especially now that we are moving, that I long for a far simpler flow to my life. One that involves raising a family, getting creative, cultivating time for education and experience, without worrying about the wheres and the hows. How can we afford this? Where are we going today? What's for dinner? Why are we watching Americas Next Top Model? Why does my hair look like this? Questions questions questions, thrown into the void of Isaacs nap time. Sometimes it feels like, when we have a glorious opportunity to bathe in the art of simple, we spoil it by throwing in all these questions, and general fidgety mood as to how to spend the time constructively We end up looking at Isaacs baby photos and missing him. Even though five minutes prior he was sitting on the living room floor, post-bathtime, fiddling about with his peepee and laughing his head off at the absurdity of such a thing.
I see all these boxes around me and it feels like we've unburdened our apartment, our home over the last three years, of a huge weight. Like one big pile of box poop. What a relief!! We were living in a severely constipated home! We never truly took the time to enjoy our possessions. It was more a case of putting it in places so that Isaac couldnt reach them, or in a place where we'd figure out where to put it in the future ie. the guestroom with no guests aka the room with no purpose except to put things we couldn't decide what to do with. Long name for a room i know.

I can't wait to breathe a more simpler way of life. One where we don't question the hell out of the precious time we have to be together as a family. One where we can appreciate and enjoy and be proud of our home and our carefully filtered possessions.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

A very fine house indeed...

Well thats the idea anyway. Over the last few months we have finally succumbed to a yearlong fantasy of buying a home. I guess with a baby in the picture the notion of building a family nest suddenly pushed itself up further in the ranks of things we want and need.
As of now though, we've been living in a spacious apartment in a quiet area. It's just not very child-friendly. Carrying my heffalump of a baby, with bags of shopping up two flights of stairs is not a hugely enjoyable task these days. It's not a very child-friendly home either, with an attractive steel stair case leading up to our loft bedroom, and large ornaments dotted around the house like a diggeridoo and a wood carved African mask. All remnants of Mr Ts travelling days pre-heffalump, pre-easily impressed moi, pre-having no worries in the world except to prance about the world collecting stuff. What impresses me now is his magic ability to sing Incy Wincy Spider like a lullaby. Knocks Isaac out in 30 seconds flat. I can never do it.
So the image of a back garden instead of a balcony 30 feet up in the air with the constant threat of my undies raining down on innocent bystanders, home grown tomatoes and cucumbers instead of wilting basil and coriander in my 57th attempt to pot plant a herb garden, opening the door to my home without having to climb up stairs with sweaty baby in arm to get to it; It all finally took its toll. Somewhere in a land far far away,there was a rundown house in need of our love and attention. And an owner of course. We found that house. It's in a stable condition but with abit of planning we hope to move in and make it our home, by the beginning of October.
In the meantime, we have been packing boxes and moving random pieces of furniture every weeknight like two deluded individuals, shushing each other everytime we make a loud noise, even if that loud noise happens to be the result of having a box of Chinese teapots rest on your little toe. All because we don't want to wake up Isaac or our otherwise very understanding neighbours. Every night, we have sacrificed our guilt-free vegetative state in front of the T.V, for some much required elbow grease. Hard work, lots of angry shushing, broken finger nails and odd combination of clothes being worn due to not knowing where our clothes are these days since there are so many boxes it's blocking our mirrors.
Things just get done faster when you don't worry about how bad you're looking.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

i want to be do I Greta, so do i.....

FB update:Yesterday the lady at the pharmacy made the intelligent observation that by me holding my baby instead of keeping him strapped in his stroller screaming his eyeballs off, he would be spoilt. Theres a fine line between expressing an opinion and being a complete asshole. Welcome to motherhood Khairun.

I don't have the luxury to be quiet these days. Greta never had children of her own. Perhaps because she knew that a miniature version of Greta would have her screaming those famous words instead. Miss Pharmacy Lady saw to it that I never retreat to my cosy self made shell again. And she wouldn't have been on a mission to put my blossoming parenting skills down, without there being a baby in my arms.So it was Isaac who got to the job at hand, that of holding his podgy hands up to my face, to stop me from retreating back into the closet of Thinking everybody is Nice and Thinking everybody thinks I'm Nice-Land.
Before motherhood went and shoved my creative free time high up where the sun don't shine, I had the luxury of having my quiet moments uninterrupted, my boredom free to roam and wander and multiply. Me and Mr T secretly delighted in being occasionally ignored by the more talkative parent scene at random get togethers. Add to the bag the fact that I'm usually surrounded by non English speaking individuals, it was even more of a pure unashamed indulgence of mine to slip out of the conversation, which I didn't understand anyway,about various schools and the funny things my child says which I also didn't have much to add to accept a smile and and a reallllllyyyyy??,and instead would find myself jiggling someones baby on my hip or smile at random children whilst they imitate my mute condition by staring back at me, before running off to find someone slightly more entertaining. It didnt bother me in the sense that I didn't pressure myself as I did in my uni years, to get out of my shell and cure myself of this crippling
. It meant I never had too many kids wiping their noses on the back of my skirt and asking me lots of questions. I just figured, why fight the very essence of what makes you YOU? I was grateful for feeling confident enough to be quiet, to go with the flow, to not give a hoo haa what other people think. Us quiet folk are often misinterpreted as being rude, unsociable, selfish, insecure, cut off from what is supposed to be the basic human prereqhuisite: communication. Not to say that there aren't any quiet mean people out there. I just like to think I'm from the quiet and nice variety!
Try being quietly nice with a baby then Khairun. It worked for Greta because of 1.Being childless and 2. Being what you call, sassy.
Sassy Khairun is an oxymoron. Sassy Khairun sounds like swahili for wimpish. My wimpish temperament combined with motherhood, meant an inevitable facewipe from complete strangers who think they know how to be a better mother than me. This smiling mute condition doesn't hold up so well in the face of unsolicited advice and the very real changes that have to take place in order for me to take it on the chin. I cannot be chinless anymore. I created my own version of self confidence out of something that, for as long as it remained untested, which was my feelings and ideas, I was doing great. My own personal manifesto on how to survive a very loud opinionated world with a very quiet,chinless and totally unsassy soul. Smiling in the hope to win over peoples hearts with my ditsy ways doesnt work whilst jiggling a baby that is very much mine and will always be mine and nobody elses. I need to know how to take hurtful comments with a firm hand. I need to know that keeping myself to myself, isn't going to do much for me anymore. Im touching upon an issue i wrote about recently, about how I've spent too long defending a shyness that has now proven to not work in the real world. Being a mother has suddenly made the world very real to me.
There is a me somewhere in all of this. Its through the writing, the painting, the way i love my son, the things that make me laugh, the things that make me want to be a better version of the current version. I love all these things about me. i love that I want to know so much without ever feeling that I know it all. To see that I am still the same person to those who matter, whilst knowing that I need to change so much of that person. The acknowledgement of this has been a real joy for me.

It's good to give a voice to these things.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Getting back in the blogging groove.

FB update: Last night I accused my son of destroying the universe because he refused to sleep like normal people usually do at 5am. But then i woke up with him sleeping on his tummy, face squooshed against my side, with his butt in the air. I forgave him.

I've been reading several mummy blogs over the last few days and feeling really inspired by the level of brutal honesty and overall fearlessness of these women. It brought home to me even more just how sad it would be for me to feel that blogging about my life, my thoughts, my feelings is a no go area. I think the key to writing honestly so publically is the intention behind it. If its to deliberately piss people off, like your mother in law, then its not cool. No matter how uncool your mother in law may be. But if the intention is to make people aware of something,consider a new perspective to a problem they might be going through, then blogging is really a cool thing. If it creates informed, thoughtful dialogue, if it touches a nerve without pushing a button, then it is more than cool! Theres so much that each and every one of us have inside ourselves, that could provide an abundance of inspiration for others. Why keep it to yourself? Why confine your thoughts within your heart? Its no use to anyone in there. Let it out. See what happens. It might not go down well with some. But then again, it might help someone going through very tough times.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

No more Mrs Nice Girl

Now that ive hit the big 3 0, ive decided to be painfully predictable and create a list of things that are in dire need of change. Ive stopped befriending my sensitivity, aiding its nonchalant attitude towards life, supporting its futile cause, wiping its tears for the last time. It doesnt do me any favours, it doesnt help anybody else. It just sits in a corner like a child who refuses to smile, wanting to leave the party. Theres nothing endearing about being sensitive. It doesnt make me a good person. It tires people, tests their patience. Im sick of it. I know there will always be a slight fragility to my personality: completely normal for an introverted soul like me, but im tired of having its back, when its never had mine. I have to speak my truth more, step on a few toes if thats the case, i have to accept that thats all a necessary part of being couragous, of being present in the world. Im tired of wanting to please, or worrying if i hurt another persons feelings by not pleasing enough. Im always questioning my motives. Thats it. No more! Everyday, im going to do something, no matter how small, that expresses my truth with courage and commitment. Im going to experience the exhilaration of not being nice. Of being judged. Because thats the only way i ll know how committed i am towards supporting myself.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Im 30. Gotta start acting like a lady

I spent much of my twenties woofing down chicken burgers and chocolate cookies with a 'somebody smack me for getting away with eating junk and still being skinny' smile. Now that Im a mother of a hefty heffalump of a baby, my body aint all that forgiving anymore. Its in dire need of a change. And the change has to start from me. It pains me to say it, but I have got to start eating better. And whats even more excruciating, I have got to go to that faraway place called The Gym.
But before I start anything, i really have to get my hair looking like this.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Seeing life through art

Pierre Bonnard. One of my absolute favourite artists.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Monday, 12 July 2010

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Moving on

He's an extension of me. An extra chunk of Khairun.My love, my soul, embodied in his fat squishy legs and big sad eyes.
Leaving him for those few hours everyday makes me feel as though I've forgotten my doorkeys, my umbrella, my mobile phone. All these things at once (which incidentally, has happened.)
Something always feels missing.
We spent the whole morning talking. In between us in our bed,trying to master the art of conversation. I swear I thought he was telling me to not leave. But I think that must have been my imagination. He probably wants me to get a move on. Yeah yeah, you love me...GO TO WORK!I've already taken two sickies this week. But I'm going back today. I HAVE to go back today. Even though it's pouring with rain outside. Even though I still have the sniffles. Even though I'll always feel like somethings missing. Because I'm so busy missing him.
I have to move on.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

This little blog of mine in a forest of much bigger blogs....

I've always loved writing. Not being particularly good at it has never put me off either. I used to jot anything and everything down, in cheap notebooks, on blocks of A4 lined paper from Woolworths, the back pages of my school exercise books.I kept diaries religiously, writing into the wee hours of the night with exact and therefore incredibly boring details of who said what on the bus to school that morning.
Reading them now makes me want to sandpaper my eyeballs.
I was a closeted spotty muslim girl, whose life rotated around dreaming of being more popular, more beautiful, more free.

Nowadays, those dog eared notebooks have morphed into this blog, in the same way that Ive morphed into someone more happier about herself. Happy enough to let other people read abit about her, happy enough to feel comfortable in her own skin and go out into the world with it.
And when the passing blogestrian, the friend,the colleague or relative, reads the mental blurt-out of what amuses me, makes me ponder, makes me annoyed, Im always fighting the need to pack it all in and go back to keeping my thoughts in a shoebox under my bed, strictly for my sandpapered eyeballs only.
All I know is that my anonymous readership, those who leave comments and those who dont, those who acknowledge it, ignore it, forget about it, do whatever they want with it, it all makes me feel more present in the world. Despite the awkwardness, the worry that my presence lacks merit of some kind.That there are other bloggers who do it far better than me. Making my posts visible on Facebook for instance, whilst it does leave me feeling like I've just walked into a convention for Farmville enthusiasts in my pyjamas, It helps me fight my demons of unworthiness.

You know that age old question -If a tree falls in a forest and noone is there to hear it, does it make a sound?
I ask myself the same thing about my blog. If there is noone to read it, if what is better, more popular, more fun, continue to make me wonder What am I doing here?, is it still worth doing? Can my voice still be heard?

Ill always feel like running off into a corner and hiding under a blanket everytime I press the publish button. Ill always get that nagging feeling that my friends and family on Facebook may not want to have 'Khairun's feelings' thrown into their face,(image of me in pyjamas and saying 'I need a hug'in said Farmville convention springs to mind) But there is a stronger part of me that is doing a sort of grassroots appeal for more genuine, human, meaningful dialogue online, particularly on social networking sites.

But anyhow. Thats me.

Enough of the blogging. I have a baby nearby babbling away. He certainly knows how to make his voice heard. Perhaps I should take a few lifelessons from him.

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Back to Work

After almost six months at home, I went back to work last night.
Five and a half hours of trying to not think about him.
It was not easy. But I know it could have been alot worse.

He wasn't particularly happy. We're trying to wean him off the milk by giving him solids during the time I'm out. It has worked. He loves the mushy stuff, and he wiggles with glee when he sees a spoon of orange gloop coming his way. So that has worked. But alas, he meltsdown at precisely an hour or so before I'm able to get home. By that time, Antonios with him and he has to put all 10kg of sleepy orange-stained fussiness into the Babybjorn.

It will get better.Thats what I'm saying to myself constantly.
And I will find the time for my creativity.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

The Invisible Book

It's invisible because it's in my head.
It's in my head because the dirty dishes and laundry folding are outside my head.
My invisible book has a lovely front cover, contents, bad photo of the author on the back. ISBN code. Even a couple of bad reviews about it online.
But you can't read it. Because it's invisible.
That's not the only thing invisible in my head. I also have an invisible etsy shop of all my papier mache bowls, pendants, art prints, crocheted brooches.
I have an invisible illustrated collection of my poetry.
I have an art exhibition of all my collages and mixed media pieces. But guess what? It's invisible.

I am on the verge of becoming invisible myself if I don't learn how to turn away from the very visible reality of chores, bills, worries, distractions, stressed out for not having time, then feeling guilty for having time,then feeling guilty again for not using that time constructively, and then waking up the next day with lots more guilt for whatever comes to mind. Fun fun fun.

It's more than just a kick up the rear end, I need. It's the fact that I have a book with bad reviews, a shop with things that perhaps three people might like, and all sorts of other wierd and wonderful things taking up residence in my body, and whether or not this is okay by me.

It clearly isn't.
I'm going to open that awful etsy shop and write a book that nobody wants to read.And make Isaac laugh by dancing to Blondie on VH1.
(I do the latter already)
After all, if I can write a blog for this long, then I know i can give it a shot.
I just have to stop convincing myself that my day to day life won't fall apart just because i have a pen and paper in front of me. And accept that I will never be able to get dressed nicely either.

Back to work next week. Eek.
But I have a feeling this will suddenly make that invisible book in my head feel alot heavier. Along with everything else up there.
I'll have no option but to get them out.

Will keep you posted on my very random burst of motivation.

Heres a picture of Mr Giant Cheeks.

Have a lovely day!

Friday, 12 February 2010

I-m still here

My computer appears to have a language settings bug, so excuse the absence of punctuation. I-m determined to write a post before yet another reason not to. And a misbehaving computer isn-t the only reason. Theres the lack of inspiration to write, the mental space taken towards gearing up for work next week. Then there-s Isaac. Of course. He loves daylight. So much so that he doesn-t like napping much, except on the odd occasion. Like today. So my blogging has basically become dependant on the odd occasion that my baby puts his head down for a few minutes, and the odd occasion that i-m not thinking about handwashing carrot puree off my tops, calculating how much we-re gonna be paying our nanny, and Isaacs spectacular bowel movements.

But despite the lack of time spent here in cyberspace, I still feel productive, quietly working away in certain areas of my life, one at a time. Accepting that things can-t be fixed overnight.

Back in January i made alot of plans. I stared eagerly at the fresh blank pages of my newly aquired journals. I followed through for most of the month. February though, seems to have slipped through my fingers. I think its because its such a short month. And also for me, even shorter because I see its end coinciding with the last day of my maternity leave.

i need to see how I will incorporate my work schedule into last months enthusiasm to fulfill objectives, have more clarity, and create opportunities for myself and my little family.

Last month was also about stamping down old anxieties surrounding my life here in Portugal. The loneliness, the lack of confidence, the fear. I want to really focus on the positives of being here.

Thats as much as I can think of writing right now. Last months enthusiasm may show up in the coming months. I know it will.

He-s woken up.

Have a lovely weekend. A happy Carnival and Valentines day to all!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

This is where I need to be

That has been my personal mantra these days. This is where I need to be, this is where I need to be, this is where i need to be....

Sitting here, sleeping baby in my arms, typing with one hand,looking down at his face every now and then,thinking about my sister.She's coming over from London for three days. Reading a few blogs here and there.

Or, I could paint a different picture entirely.

I'm sitting here, my arse hurts from sitting on a cold hard chair, I've got pins and needles in my arms because of a baby that refuses to nap in his cot and is the size of a pygmy elephant. I should have eaten lunch by now so I'm starving, instead I'm just sitting here, waiting for the right moment, to get up and get on with stuff that i have to do before my sister comes.

I'm happy with the way the first picture turned out.

It is no fun being miserable, on a day that looks miserable. So I'm just going to accept things as they are.
Because this is exactly where I need to be. Even if it means resorting to eating the arms of this chair for lunch.
This is where I need to be. And when I think about things in this way,something inside me slows down.
That can't be a bad thing at all.

Papier mache bangle

Friday, 29 January 2010


when I'm going to get into the swing of working, creating and taking care of Mr SlushyCheeks.
In all my gusto for planning I completely overlooked the dire state of my body, my hair, my wardrobe. To put it quite simply, me. I haven't thought about my eating and exercise habits. I don't want to get so immersed in my creative projects that I forget to look in the mirror.
I don't want to stay in my pyjamas all day as I have been for more weeks than I care to mention. To the point where, when Mr T asks me if I feel like going for a walk around the neighbourhood with Isaac, I panic at the thought of opening my wardrobe and actually getting dressed for the day
This week, I decided I needed to sit myself down for a serious talk. I realised that a part of my need to plan this year was in some inadvertant manner, trying to deny how much looking and feeling good means to me. I want to not care about it too much. But I also don't want to let myself go completely. The alarm bells rang when, a couple of days ago, I actually considered the idea of being a little overweight for a while, slobber around a little, quit brushing my hair. Some absurd notion of mine to let go to the point where I just didnt care what people thought.

But theres letting go and theres letting go. I was intensely self conscious of my physical appearance growing up. Absolutely tore myself to pieces with endless comparisons and self loathing. With time, I managed to be less negative and learned to appreciate myself better, but there was always that lingering anxiety underneath it all. The longer I inspected myself, my face, my clothes, my figure, the more things I saw that needed to be fixed.
So the near-conclusion I came to recently, was to stop looking altogether. It made sense at the time.
That's how my hair is in the state that it's in right now. From not looking.

I have to learn how to look at myself, without wanting to fix everything. And learn to not look, without letting myself go completely.

So now that we have a nanny, she's coming next week for a trial run to see how Isaac handles five hours without his boobmachine that sings 'Incy Wincy Spider' when requested. During this time, I'm going to have a much needed haircut, buy a pair of good fitting jeans and a decent skin concealer.

I just made the mistake of turning towards the direction of the television and seeing a news report on Haiti. i feel so shallow right now, Isaac could swim in me.

So whilst I sit in my warm apartment with all my basic needs tended for and my baby fast asleep, safe and sound in his cot, I better start thinking about how much I have in my life to be thankful for.

I might miss my family sometimes, I might have it tough being alone at home with a baby, with terrible hair and a flabby belly, but at least I have what I need. At least I don't feel cold, hungry, afraid, desperate. in my book, I'm doing okay. Alot of us are. We might not think we do, when theres so much planning and re planning and figuring out lifestuff. But when we see the utter hell that goes on in places far far away, we need to reassure ourselves. It's not all that bad. We're doing okay.

I have been thinking about giving away one of my papier mache pieces. I'm in the middle of finishing a bangle and another doll. Let's see if I can get the time to do this.

In the meantime, have a lovely peaceful weekend.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Beautiful things

I have had a crazy old week, taking in every little amazing thing Isaac does. He's giving me the biggest lifelesson ever. Learning to be patient with him, with myself. Learning to balance the need to get things done and let things go, and trusting in myself and in this learning curve m on as a mother.

We've been rearranging things around the house, turning our guestroom/junkroom into a diningroom and taking my studio space into the bedroom. Everythings all over the place, but our objective is to create more of a family space in the main living area. More space for the pitter patter of baby feet, easier to clean and get around in general. I really need to learn to give things away more. I'm abit of a hoarder. This habit isn't very compatible with my liking for a more zen-like interior.

So with all that going on, I haven't had much time to be here on my blog. And when I do, which tends to be in the evening, I am too tired to think of anything interesting to write.

Well, heres something interesting. A few links that are truly beautiful.
Beautiful things. If you can't think of anything to say, just share something beautiful.

1.Sophie Blackall -Missed ConnectionsI am in love with her work. Touching, moving, and oh so gorgeous. Creating illustrations out of notes left by strangers on the subway.
2. Letters of Note. Fascinating collection of letters and postcards
3. Photographer Peter Funch spends weeks taking photos on Manhattan street corners and then pastes them together into single photographs. Mindblowing collage technique.

I'm off to do some serious babyfood research. Enough of the boobjuice paradise for my little buddy, instead it's going to be pear and mango mush heaven!

Monday, 18 January 2010

Before my very eyes

He grew! I've had so many blah days, but one look at him is all it takes for me to feel much better. My star.
And when I think of the horror that's unfolding in Haiti now, I hold him that little bit closer.

Managed to make this as part of my on going commitment to do something creative each week. A papier mache doll.

Not much to say right now. I wanted to go out for a walk with Isaac but it looks like its going to rain. Says the lady with no car.
Got to sort that out at some point.

Hope you had a lovely weekend.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

In spite of it all

I like living here.The beauty of Lisbon didn't hit me at first. I had to search for it myself. It all depends on the time of day, the season, whether or not there's yet another monstrosity of a shopping centre being built within walking distance from it, how much dog poop I have to dodge to the point where I look like I'm walking on nails and of course with me, how much I let living away from London, my home, get to me.
And for a while, living away from London really did get to me. The Portuguese healthcare system made sure that I let it get to me. The lack of local services, the lack of community, the lack of neighbourly friendliness let it get to me.
But i'm responsible for all of this too.

I teach English, yet I am the worlds worst language student ever. I have not made any effort to learn Portuguese. A few half hearted attempts maybe, but I've never stuck with it. If I did, I wouldn't have felt so frustrated about being here. I can pin the blame on my job and my English speaking Portuguese husband and my English speaking Portuguese friends, but I shouldn't. It all came down to me, and me not wanting to do anything about it.

With abit of planning, I could have got out and about more, perhaps frequented my local coffee shop more often, said hello to the neighbours instead of avoiding eye contact. I could have built more bridges for better relationships with people in my community. But I didn't. Instead I just moaned about the dog poop outside our front door and the never ending circles round the block every weeknight to try and find a parking space.

I could have taken driving lessons. Period. Having a car would have helped me get around, felt more independent.

I sense I'm being hard on myself. Talk about writing to get things back ON my chest. A major detour from the positive here.
I'm going to make a sharp turn to my right. To what is RIGHT for me.

I'm letting go of the last few months and the heaviness of it, gently. Putting it away without destroying it. Because it's still important to me. Like a big chest of old letters from a previous life. It's still a part of me. I just can't keep lugging it around thats all. I want to feel light again.

So I'm giving myself a new pair of eyes. Look at things differently. To take the digital dust off these photos and discover a new reason for wanting to be here. To appreciate the Portuguese way of doing things. The language,the culture, the lifestyle, the habits. And just the fact that I have a lovely home here.

Im trying to be more of a planner this year. I want to have my ideas laid out in front of me so that I can not only see what I need to do clearly, but remember what they are (because I always have so many ideas in mind) and why I want to do them in the first place.

Perhaps, as part of my creative-making plans for the year, I could also incorporate learning Portuguese somewhere. Learning a language is a creative challenge isn't it?

Not quite sure how creative driving lessons are. Worth a try though!