The End of an Era

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So yesterday was my last day at work, and what I like to think of as an end to an era.

Can an era be only two years long? Apparently it can, because as I hugged one of my managers goodbye at the end of my closing shift last night, that’s exactly what it felt like was ending as I walked towards my car.

Like many bookloving Canadians, I grew up dreaming of one day working at Chapters. As the only large bookstore chain in Canada, it was my favourite place as a kid. I still remember spending all of my Eid money on books every year and then making my list for the next year. I still remember the excitement I felt when my mom drove me to the store and let me browse the shelves.

Two years ago when I first applied to work at Chapters, I applied for any and every job that was available. The one that I ended up getting was a stocking job and started at 5 AM. I still remember the sense of excitement that filled me, regardless of the early start, when I found out I got the job.

While the 5 AM shifts weren’t exactly ideal, I was still filled with wonder and awe at the idea of working where I’d always dreamed of as a kid. Naturally, my wonder quickly disappeared and was soon replaced by being jaded, as the love of books became secondary to so many other things.

During my year at teacher’s college when I was just always stressed, work ceased to be a place of joy for me and just another place of stress. I no longer worked 5 AMs but did the same job on the weekends, because I was in downtown Toronto everyday. I was constantly tired and being around books didn’t give me the joy it always did.

Flash forward to the end of teacher’s college. I decided to switch from tasking (the stocking job) to a sales job. It looked like a lot more fun because I would actually be able to share my love of books and stories with other people, instead of just stocking the shelves.

Work became a place of escape at this point as I struggled to find my next steps after finishing a gruelling year of teacher’s college. I rediscovered my love for children’s books and bought every kid I knew my favourite books.

Over the past few months, I ceased to find joy in work again since my personal life became quite busy. As thoughts of my wedding consumed my mind and wedding preparations took over my life, I stopped reading and buying books obsessively.

After I gave my two weeks notice, I began counting down my days to my last day because I just had so much to do and couldn’t wait to be done. But last night, as I walked through the empty store for the last time at 10:30 pm, I wished that I had enjoyed it a little more before leaving.

As I walked through the Teen section, my favourite section, straightening up piles of books and shelves, I was struck by the fact that I had been so lucky.

As a kid, I had always wanted to work at Chapters. And my dream came true. Alhamdulilah.

We are often so obsessed with the dreams that don’t come true that sometimes we don’t appreciate the dreams that do (even the small ones).

Despite how hectic my personal life was in the past two years, despite how stressed out I was, I now realise that I was living my dream. And for that I’m grateful.

Even though I was counting down to my last day, I now realise that I’m definitely going to miss being around books and book-loving people all day. There are friends I made there that I normally wouldn’t have, just because we bonded over our mutual love of stories and books. There are moments that happened there that I will never forget, like meeting author Morgan Rhodes. And I definitely can’t forget about missing the wonderful discount I got!

It was a wonderful opportunity. Now onto the next adventure!

Thanks for reading,

Ikhlas

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On Letting Things Go

For those of you who know me personally, you’ll know that I’m kind of a control freak. Call it my perfectionist nature or my bossy older sister role, but I have a hard time letting things go. Planning a wedding with this kind of nature is kind of tough though, and I’m recently learning on how to just let things go.

Given the fact that I have a very short timeline to plan my wedding, the days lately have been kind of crazy. In a way, they sort of remind me of my teacher college days. Last year, exactly around this time, I remember feeling so pressed for time. I remember writing a short piece describing this feeling of never having enough time, and it perfectly paints the picture of racing against the clock. I spend the days on the phone, booking appointments, scouring the internet for research, and running all around town to various malls. Add on top of this working part-time.

I’m lucky because I don’t work full-time, but balancing everything has become really tricky lately. Things are falling through the cracks and I’m trying to just let them.

Keeping up with all the things I normally do has become more challenging lately, and it’s so hard to to just let them go. This blog and my other blog have recently taken a hit. The work I usually do for my other blog via social media has also taken a hit. I’ve stopped looking at The Muslim Girl’s Google analytics because they’re just so abysmal but I can’t do anything to keep them up. I’ve fallen so ridiculously behind on my book goal on Goodreads that I’ve just stopped logging onto the site. My goals of baking and cooking more have fallen by the wayside, and I barely have time to eat since there’s always something else I should be doing. I had to abandon my sewing classes as I met with the designer of my wedding dress.

In the beginning, I tried to do it all. I really did. But as the days went by, it got harder to catch up on things. And that’s when I realised I just can’t do it. No matter how much I try, something’s got to give. So I reorganized my priorities. Preparing for the wedding and spending time with my family are the most important things, and so everything else can wait. If I get time to blog, I blog. If I don’t, I try not to beat myself up about it (too much).

It’s so hard letting go, especially when I’ve always tried to stay on top of things and get everything done. For me, it’s like failing to complete assignments for which I’ve set myself deadlines. The guilt builds up and I end up feeling disappointed in myself.

But I’ve realised that I can’t keep beating myself up over things that I just can’t do, especially at the risk of tiring myself out.

So if you don’t hear from me in awhile, I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth. I’m just letting things go.

Wish me luck!

Thanks for reading,

Ikhlas

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The Big Secret

hello lovely

Hello friends!

So it’s been quite awhile since I’ve updated here, and for those of you who have been wondering, I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth. I’ve just been quite busy!

Busy doing what, you ask? I’ve been busy planning my wedding, my friends!

So I’ve debated a lot whether or not to share my news on my blog. I’m quick to share poems and daily qualms but wasn’t sure how I felt about sharing something so big on here, which is why I refrained from sharing the news of my engagement a few months ago as well.

For those of you who know me personally, you know that I’m a pretty private person. I don’t like to flaunt my life on social media. And so that’s why I didn’t post any pictures or make any announcements on my personal accounts or on here.

But with the wedding date being decided and then coming up so close, hiding it felt strange. Even hiding the engagement felt strange over the past few months (if you noticed me talking about being distracted, that was why!), especially since some of you have been reading this blog since I started it in the summer of 2011 when I was fresh out of university and in my creative book publishing program. Some of you were there when I wrote about struggling with my decision to not go into book publishing. Some of you were there when I wrote about completing my third and latest manuscript. Some of you were there when I wrote about deciding to go back to school again. And some of you were there when I struggled through a hectic year of teacher’s college.

And so I realised I wanted to share my news with you all. :)

The past few months have been kind of crazy and exciting and wonderful. If you remember me talking about the summer being life-changing, you now know why! And now looking forward to the next few months seems like it’s going to be another roller coaster ride.

After being newly engaged, I kept thinking that one day I would wake up and it would have all been a dream. But the wedding is only two and a half months away, and my new reality is finally dawning on me. It’s not a dream and I feel like the luckiest girl ever, alhamdulilah.

I haven’t really checked in with my emotions yet. I’m just so crazy busy with wedding planning that the reality of what’s going to happen hasn’t really hit me yet. I’m so caught up with the details that I haven’t really thought about the big picture. Saying goodbye to life as I’ve known it over the past twenty five years to embark on a new, unknown chapter is both so scary and so exciting.

As a writer, being able to express myself in the written word has always been tantamount to me. But as wedding jitters have taken over the creative parts of my brain, being able to share my thoughts with you all on this blog is such a blessing.

But if I start sounding like a crazy bridezilla as December approaches, not you know why! And please forgive me in advance.

As always, thanks for reading,

Ikhlas

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Review: While Beauty Slept

while beauty slept

Elise Dalriss is shocked when she overhears her great-granddaughter reading the tale of the beautiful princess who slumbered in the tower and of the handsome prince who awakened her, for she knows the story is not that simple.

And so she begins to recount the classic tale of Sleeping Beauty to her young great-granddaughter, warning her that it is not nearly as happy or glamorous as the fairytale.

Elise is not the heroine of the tale, but instead the daughter of a poor family who sought work in the castle after the deaths of most of her family. It is there that she catches the attention of the lonely, beautiful Queen whose barrenness makes her cry every morning, and the King’s powerful aunt, Millicent, a calculating, magnetic woman. It is at the castle that Elise rises in the ranks until she is a powerful lady’s maid to the Queen, gathering secrets along the way.

As Elise recounts her tale, it becomes clear that she was no mere bystander in the classic tale of the sleeping princess, but an active participant in the destruction and saving of a kingdom. (more…)

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Book Funk

I have a confession, dear friends: I’m in a book funk.

This is definitely not the first time this has happened, but it seems like the longest book funk I’ve ever experienced. Usually I whip through my pile of library books and am constantly on the search for new books, but lately I’ve sunk so deeply in a book funk that my pile of library books just sits unread on my desk.

For those who aren’t readers or book lovers, you might be wondering what exactly a book funk is. Let me explain.

A book funk is when you don’t feel like reading. You begin books but don’t finish them. The plot excites you initially, but when you start reading, it fail to grab your attention. You’d rather watch TV (gasp!).

Yup, my book funk has reached such awful depths that sometimes I’d rather watch TV than read. I’ve never preferred TV to books, but lately, all I’d rather do is marathon episodes of The Mindy Project (which I have finally finished) rather than read.

Working in a bookstore makes this book funk infinitely harder, especially since there’s so many new and exciting books being released in Fall, yet I just don’t have the attention span to begin and finish a book these days. So I add them to my ever-growing ‘to-be-read’ pile but make no attempts to chip away at it.

So I’m turning to you, wonderful readers, to ask for book recommendations. Is there any book that recently had you staying up into the early hours, turning pages? If yes, please let me know!

I am currently reading While Beauty Slept, a Sleeping Beauty retelling which I am LOVING so far. But I’m afraid of regressing into my Book Funk after finishing it, so I need recommendations! Let me know if you have any book recommendations.

Thanks for reading,

Ikhlas

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