NOVEMBER 2017 – Share Your Goals, Accomplishments & Published Work!

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Dear Readers,

At the start of each month, I’m creating a post for you to share your latest projects, goals, challenges, and accomplishments. I hope you will participate by leaving comments and sharing any relevant links!

On my part, October was a month of highs and lows. Alhumdulellah, it was a great month for freelance work. First, I continued translating the biographies of Islamic scholars and other figures in Islamic history. As of today, I have translated approximately 150 of these articles. Translation almost always requires a great deal of research, and I have certainly learned a lot since beginning this project. One thing I found out was that the female equivalent for “weaver” was once “webster” in English, which reminds one of spiders spinning their webs.

Origin and Etymology of “webster”from Merriam-Webster:

Middle English, from Old English webbestre female weaver, from webbian to weave; akin to Old English wefan to weave

This “-ster” ending was also used for female bakers, who were once called “bakesters,” eventually giving rise (pun fully intended) to the surname “Baxter.”

Ultimately, I decided against using the word “webster” in my translation as it sounded too archaic, but these little tidbits I encounter from day to day are part of what make writing and translation extremely enjoyable to me.

In addition to the above, I also completed numerous medical translation projects, which involved different health conditions, including multiple sclerosis, hives, and asthma. I could not help feeling a sense of irony with the asthma project, as asthma revisited me in October after a long absence from my life. Part of it is the fall weather, but it was also a stressful month – and stress can be a trigger for asthma. I pulled a few all-nighters (which is bad for work-life balance), but there were other things, too, including the death of my friend Widad as well as the death of my last remaining grandparent – my grandmother, who died suddenly at the age of 102.

You know that hadith that tells you to plant a tree, even if it is your last deed?

This is what I think of when I remember my grandmother. A few weeks before her death, my father sent me a series of short videos showing me her daily routines. When you think of someone who’s 102, you probably imagine someone confined to bed or a wheelchair, unable to do much for herself.

This was not my grandmother at all, despite the fact that she suffered a stroke about two years ago, resulting in extra challenges.

First of all, she drove well into her 90s and preferred to take care of her own errands and needs. The videos showed her exercising, making her own lunch, folding her own laundry, and reading – all with the great attitude and smile that brought me so much comfort whenever I had the opportunity to spend time with her in years past.

I do not ever remember my grandmother getting angry, even when she disapproved of someone’s actions. She always dressed nicely and did her hair, nails, and makeup – even when just staying at home. Although she took naps, there were no “lazy” days that I ever noticed (which is more than I can say for myself!).

My grandmother was a voracious reader and often read up to a book a day when she was not cooking, traveling or engaged in other activities. If she was watching television, her hands would be occupied with some task – usually knitting. For many years, she sewed all of her own clothing and was also a professional seamstress at one point. I have in my possession a piece of table linen that she embroidered when she was just 9 years old – and the level of detail is amazing. According to my mother, my grandmother was required by her mother to start the work over several times before “she got it right.”

This was my grandmother – always striving to give her best to whatever she did, starting from when she was a young girl.

My grandmother had a great love of culture and exposed me to many cultural experiences that I would not have otherwise had as a child. She lived through the Great Depression and was part of a generation that had no need for the Internet, social media, or most of what occupies people today. If you have someone like this in your own life, I recommend you get to know them on a deeper level. They are truly from a different era.

This life is much shorter than we imagine, so always try to make the most of your time. Use your intellect, and do not be idle. If you are reading this, chances are that you are a writer, or that you are interested in writing. Writing is one important way to preserve your thoughts and ideas for your children and others.

If your parents or grandparents are still alive, you may also wish to preserve their thoughts, ideas, and memories. If they are still able to write, consider giving them a journal like one of the following:

I sent journals to both of my parents and was delighted when my mother filled hers out. It was a heartwarming and important gift that I will treasure forever. I chose the yellow one below for my mother.

The truth, though, is that unless they enjoy writing and actually have the time, motivation, and desire to share their memories, many people will find it a difficult task to fill out a journal of this type.

You can help along the process by sitting with your parents or grandparents and recording their stories in your own hand. You may also consider making voice recordings to help you with this task. I sent the below “voice” journal to my grandmother a couple of years ago – but I don’t believe she made any recordings.

Still, I really like the idea of these journals and would encourage others to experiment. You can also make journals for your own kids.

(Note that some of the journal prompts in some of these books may require modification for Muslims.)

Hmm…I guess I went a bit off-topic here (memoirs are a special interest of mine). But let’s get back to the point of this post. Tell me about your latest writing activities and adventures. I’m all ears!

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Amel is an experienced freelance writer, editor, and Arabic to English translator. She started the Muslim Writers Club as a means of sharing useful information about the art (and business) of writing.
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