Season 4 Ep 1

The Productive Muslim Podcast


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You're listening to the productive Muslim podcast, season four, Episode One.

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productive Muslims. Welcome to the show. I'm your host, Mary, and I am back here with season four of the productive Muslim podcast hamdulillah. I'm happy to be back and I'm happy to present to you another season filled with amazing gifts and topic. So before I get into today's show, I want to answer the question about questions. So let me explain. Some of you have been wondering me for how do I send in my questions in order to get them featured on the productive Muslim podcast. And so I want to tell you exactly how that works. So for the podcast, there is a special website called productive Muslim And then when you head over there, you can find all our episodes from

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our past season. And from there, you can also find the section in which you can submit in your questions. So you don't need anything fancy to submit in questions just a microphone on your phone, on your laptop or any other device that you have. And then you hit the record button. And then from there, we receive your questions and we select a question to answer. So inshallah in this season, we'll be having a few of these episodes in which will be dedicated to your question. So I invite you all to submit in your question so that you can have them answered on the show. So now to get into today's show, what I have for you is a productive Muslim interview. So these are interviews in which

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we speak to amazing individuals from all walks of life. And we get an insight into their productivity and takeaway lessons that we can implement. And today joining me on the show is sister Lily s Martin. So Lily is a part time therapist and a spiritual speaker. She's currently pursuing another Diploma in Islamic psychology and is a contributing writer to a number of educational and inspirational blogs, one of them being productive Muslim. So if you've been on our website and have been reading the articles, then there's a really good blog series happening right now called Who are you defending the truth about self defense mechanisms. And this is written by none other than our

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guest today, sister Lily, so I am happy to have her on the show today. And without further ado, let's get started. As lovely can really welcome to the show. Now Alec over psyllium. What about low water kettle? How are you? I am good. How are you? I'm hungry Lahontan. Let's let's start off with what we asked all our guests. Tell us about yourself and what you do.

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I am Lily, a small son, you forgot to mention the US. And that's very important. That's my dad's initial and I take it very much. I know that. I take it personally. And I don't know why it's like more important than my own name. I'm an I'm an author and a therapist and a single mom. That's basically in a nutshell. And what I do is, I'm a person who believes that people can change. And that's what I do I try to help people change. Does that sound corny?

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Well, yeah, that's what I do. I try to help people

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face their past and accept their past. And, yeah, tough hope for a better future. And I revolve my life around that, as a writer, and as a therapist and hamdulillah Al Hamdulillah.

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Allah has been very, very merciful and very generous with me. I've seen transformations throughout the past six years. And and it's been very fulfilling. Yeah. Yeah. I wouldn't say that's corny at all, because I think all of us inside want to make some some sort of change in our own capacity. And, and for you, it's in a path of a therapist and in writing. So I would love to hear more about it. Which brings us to our next question about goals and accomplishments. And so I want to know more about that in your life, and particularly the ones that like, which one would you say that you could look back and say, I'm proud of can you tell us about that? Well, that's a difficult question. You

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know, when I was 11 years old, that's the same year I wear the hijab, by the way. Yeah, I remember. Yeah, I remember. I think me too.

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You weren't like, yes. Oh, somebody like that. That's, that's a nice coincidence.

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Okay, so I remember that day, I made a diet from the heart and I asked God to make me special and make me do something special with my life. And I had no idea how my life will turn out. But then

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I guess with time and you know, the journey of life. I found that

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What makes me special is helping people. You know, I tried everything I went into photography when I graduated. And that didn't work out. I worked in a company with, you know, accounting and stuff that was really boring. And I kept on, you know, trying and failing until I found my path and humbler and it is I think my my greatest accomplishment is seeing transformation in people's lives and seeing them get their acts together and fixing their relationships. And, you know, a lot of people are so lost, and they're looking for inner peace. And that's, I guess that's what everyone is looking for. So, yeah, that is, I guess, I would say that's my biggest accomplishment is helping people change,

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change. Yes. It's quite interesting how you actually got into that after like, a long journey, like, as you mentioned, that you went through photography, then you went through accounting, and then you started therapy therapy, and actually want to know more about that. Because I know, a lot of fun listeners actually struggle with this. It's like, hey, I want to make a change. And it's just, I can't seem to kind of find that thing that I want to go towards in a, you know, in a way that complements the strengths that I have in each person. So how did you find that personally, like, how did you just get get yourself into this field in which now you're, you know, making so much change

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into people's lives, I had no idea that I could be a good psychologist, actually, it was my friend pointed it out that I was a natural psychologist. And that's how I started seeing it at first, with the photography, I loved that it was a really interesting career. But then I got a problem with my eye. And I couldn't take the lights in the studio. So I had to stop and penalize there was a shift in careers. And I started writing, I found that I'm very passionate about writing and not you know, the, the textbook, how tos, and what what if simply, you know, no, I just wrote from the heart. And I wrote about stories and about, you know, like matters of the heart. And I usually love writing

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stories that people can connect to, and people can see themselves in the characters. Sometimes I wait months for the characters to talk to me. And it was really weird. I have imaginary friends. And they talk to me, and I just hear voices. And I see people and I write it down. And that's how it started started with a writing. And then

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a lot of things happen in my life, I got divorced. And my kids suffered because of that. And that's when I started taking psychology seriously, that's when I started studying really hard, because I wanted to help them first. And, and that's how it started, I got a patient and then another one and another one, and it's sort of rolled out. And I, it's, it's been just, it's been a blessing. It's really been a blessing, helping people. And it's like, I feel like I live a double life. Because as a writer, I'm very dreamy, and I'm very, I'm a loner, and I'm, you know, I stare at the wall for hours listening to voices in my head. And, and then when I'm a therapist, I have to be more

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realistic, I have to be more, you know, try to solve problems, try to be there in the moment, very mindful. So yeah, it's kind of liquid living a double life in one way. I'm very dreamy. And another way I'm very realistic very downturn. So and I just I love both cards very much. It's been really a blessing. Oh, wow. Like, amazing how you're kind of like driving in two different parts in a big city? Like, polar opposite? I mean, how do you kind of make, say, make peace with that?

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I know, you know, I think that whatever you're passionate about, is never random. You know, everything that excites us never random. It's part of your purpose in life. You know, I believe that life is just meaningless. We give we give it meaning, and the things that we're passionate about, especially if they're connected to a bigger purpose, or connected to, you know, pleasing Allah. That's, that's how you start finding the journey. And that's how I don't feel like I work really I do it from the heart and it's very fulfilling, I don't feel like I, I have a job from nine to five and I have to finish it and like, get it over with, I'm always working. You know, even when I'm not

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with patients, I'm thinking about their problems. Even if I'm not writing I'm talking to the characters that imaginary characters in my head. It's

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I think when you really want something and you make you make that decision decisions are very powerful.

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You know, we all have dreams, but now you must wake up in the morning and make the decision that I'm going to make a change because nothing too

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If nothing changes, I always say that I always put that quote, nothing changes, if nothing changes. And once you decide to make a change, anything can happen. I believe that I've seen people who have been depressed and have been on the verge of a breakdown and have been failing, and all sorts of, you know, in all parts of their lives. And I've seen them turn their lives around with just one decision to be better, they made that decision, I'm going to be better, I'm going to do something about my life and turn it around. And I've seen people do that. And it's just amazing.

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So in that transformation that you've seen in people, what has been the most inspiring one that you've seen in which they decided that, hey, I am going to move on.

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And one of my favorite cases was this girl who came,

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she was married to a drug addict. And she, she really couldn't handle it. So she left him. And then she felt bad about it. And now she goes home. And she finds out that her brother is also an addict, so and then she comes back to me, and she says, You know what, I have to, I can't sell forever, I can't be depressed forever, I want to do something about this. And I want to help them, I want to help myself, so that I can help them. And we started from there. And this was really inspiring, because I'm Hamdulillah, they both got cured, and other sponsors. And she's living a very, you know, a peaceful, happy life. And I've seen her change, I've seen her become less judgmental, I've seen

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her pick herself up. And she's, she's one of my favorite patients. She's a very, very strong person. And, and it just, it makes I it's just a big proof that people can change. I believe that people can change. And a lot of people I see, you know, they're just, we give ourselves excuses. You know, I don't have enough money, I don't have enough time, I don't have enough energy. I don't have husband, I don't have kids, I don't have friends, everyone is putting

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obstacles on why they refuse to be better. But now, everyone has something missing. Everyone has a challenge. Everyone has an obstacle, life is not supposed to be a fairy tale. Now it's time to it took me some time to admit that I thought life was a fairy tale. Until I, you know, was struck by reality. And I realized that we make our illness fair, and he will never give you something that you can't handle, you'll never give you something above your capabilities, you just have to expand your capabilities and believe in yourself, and believe that you can do it, and have that pure intention of living a good life and being a good person. And you just, you know, you take it from there. And,

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you know, it's the inner strength and the psychological strength. That's what, you know, pushes you through. Hmm, that's true. You know, one of the things that I noticed with regards to your writing part of your your life is and how you've actually wrote a book, in which you ventured into the Arab world, because normally you write, you say, write for children or children series and stuff. So tell us about that. And that actually did something different. I was surprised to.

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When that book came out, I was surprised to because now you see how I live a double life when is

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when is in the fairy tale and what is the real world? So yeah, when I'm in the fairy tale world, I can write for children, no problem. And then when I get out of that world and go into the real world, that's when I write for adults. So I guess the double agent thing has helped. All right, I love I don't see it as writing really, if you read the articles, or if you read my book, it's, it's more like, the conversation I'm having with you. You know, it's not I have to textbook I can't write by the rules. I just taught from the heart and it sort of rolls up. So

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yeah, I know. It's It's weird to be both. But I think hamdulillah that God gave me that gift. And I tried to use it to the best I can. Yeah, I could relate on some levels to that because like I find myself being able to have decided which I'm social and I'm like speaking and like getting to know people and stuff. And then there's this side of me. That's very, very technical.

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Very like, Yeah.

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Like, at that point, I want to speak to anyone besides

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Yeah, and I'm like the I'm like the same person. It's just weird. Like, you know, when you're comfortable with being here.

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selves. Amazing things happen. When you're when you when you stop trying to, you know, change a life or you're trying to

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you know, when when you adjust your expectations, and you're just you accept who you are, and you accept your life for what it is, and you're grateful for what you have, you sort of get this inner power, you know, this inner motivational energy that drives you to do things that are really,

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that are really different you can be, you know, like a strict mom. And then on another day, you can be like, very fun while like, I'm known to be a very strict mom, and I have rules, and I make my daughter work and and I have a special needed, son. And sometimes I have to be strict with him. And also, you know, we'll be dancing around and baking and making a mess. You know? Yeah. It's, it's, it's good to be, you know, yourself, not put too much pressure on yourself. You go with the flow, and as long as you're not doing anything wrong, and you're pleasing Allah. And that's the core of it, I think, how did you come to that realization of just letting go and accepting who you are?

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Well, I wish I could tell you. It was easy. Yeah, really, it really wasn't I've, of course, the divorce was difficult on me and my family and having a special needs son was also very difficult. And there were times when

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I was broken. And there were times when I didn't think that I'd survive or make it another day. Yeah, and but I have a very supportive family and humble and I have very supportive friends. And it was this one time when I sincerely asked God for help. I think we don't ask Allah for help enough. I think we struggle alone. And, and we complain alone. And you know, and secretly complain, like, why, why? Why is God punishing me? But then you sit and think about it. And I've realized that everything, every difficult thing I've been through is what made me who I am today. You know, without all these struggles, you can't grow without struggles.

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You know what I mean? Yeah, yeah. So it's because I've been through pain. And it's because I've been weak that I want to help people find the strengths in them. And I want to help people see that. It's, it's a mental state, it's when you look at things differently, the things you look at change. And that's how it started with me, I, I stopped smoking, and I stopped complaining, and I just did, my kids needed me to be strong. So I, you know, got my act together. And ask God for help. This is how it started. I went, you know, right down on my knees begging for help. And a lot always listens. And he always responds. I know, sometimes it doesn't seem that way. But when it's from the heart

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there, I have no doubt that he will always respond to anyone who's asking for help. And sometimes, I can't say that, you know, it was me. And yeah, that was me. And I, I got myself out of it. Because I'm smart, or strong or whatever. No, no, no one can do it on their own. Really no one can. And, and when people complain, like, I can't do it, it's true. We can't do it. Unless we ask for help. And when you do, the help comes from them. Whether you know it or not, it's always from them. We're all the same, and we're all weak. And we all you know, get our ups and downs. But when you ask, sincerely ask for help. This is when life changes, and this is when amazing things start to happen.

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Hmm, yeah. Because I know that like as, as we progress through life, like there's the time when we're young, and then we're living in a fairy tale. And then it's like, just life just strikes at us and just kind of like, wake up and you're like, What on earth has happened? And then just just kind of piecing everything together after that is something that is a challenge. And it's a struggle, and it's like some sometimes you you kind of think, oh, why did this happen? To me? You're like, No, these are really bad thoughts to entertain. But that's what happens when you like, break away from that fairy tale. Most of my patients who come to see me, they have everything, and they can't put

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their hands on what's wrong, they're just sad or they feel lost. And they don't know why. Like they have good family, they have good jobs they have and and yet, they're still sad, deep inside, or they're still lost or confused. And usually, it's because their brains and their hearts are not on the same page. You know, you believe something in your heart, and then your brain knows something good. The brain thinks in black and white, and the heart thinks in colors. And now you need to blend them together and make sure that they're both on the same page. And this

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When, when when when they stop arguing, you know, this is when you find peace.

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Do you know what I mean? How? How would you put him on the same place, brain and mind. Like, for example, when you know, you're doing some, like your heart tells you that you shouldn't be doing this, like, you shouldn't be yelling at your kids that way or

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getting, you know, angry or you shouldn't be ungrateful. And but your brain tells you, like, Look around you, or, you see, you have all of these problems and all these challenges, and other people are out and having fun and being, you know, whatever. The brain says something and the heart says something and the heart knows what's right. And then they start, there's this back and forth conversation, you know, you hear yourself having this conversation every day.

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And you know what the brain can be right and the heart can be right. But the trick is to find the middle ground, it's like, I always put it that way. It's like a child and the parents are fighting. You love your dad, and you love your mom, you know, and you don't want to take sides, you know, what would be the best case scenario, if they both agree on one thing. This is when life becomes peaceful. So most of the time, the patients who come to see me are just looking for this inner peace of doing what's right and doing it from the heart, doing what makes sense to you logically, and also doing it from the heart with passion. And that's when you find inner peace. If you're doing

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something out of an obligation, because it's an obligation, but you're not from the heart, you'll still feel bothered. And you'll still feel like you can't suffocated, like you can't breathe, and the other way around if you do something from the heart, but it makes no sense. You'll still be struggling, you have to blend them both. And that's how, you know, you find that inner peace. We're all creepy. Yeah, yeah.

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So like in that time of confusion, and like just the feeling down and stuff, like, how did they know at that point? What is the next step? Sometimes, like the next step is very unclear.

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That makes sense. At the point where you're, we all get those, you know, moments of total confusion. And, you know, you're like, lost. But I think it's when you accept reality for what it is and stop twisting it around. Sometimes we take our own insecurities, and

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you know, our own faults or our own negativity, and we twist it into our relationships or into our lives. It's when we stop making excuses. And when we realize that life is not designed to be easy. It's designed to be difficult. And it's us who have to deal with it and accept it. And you know, the resistance to change is the problem. The resistance to the solution is the problem, not the solution itself. Because we all know what's right and what's wrong. Right? The resistance to the problem. Know the resistance to you know, when you know you we all know what's right and what's wrong, right. Yep, yep. Yeah. And there's a difference between knowing what to do and actually doing. That's the

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tough part. Actually, you know, I know I should be patient. I know I should be calm. I know I should be disciplined. I know I should study I know, you know, I can't do it. I'm just too lazy to do it. I'm not motivated to do it. And this is when you need to push through. Sometimes we just need gret really to push through. Not a lot of people. And then we start making excuses. It's when we stop making excuses. And realize that life is supposed to be difficult and that we should push through and discipline ourselves. This is when a breakthrough happens. Just accept life for what it is. And stop imagining fairy tale scenarios that will never happen.

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We all obsess about things that will just you know what, it will never happen. So yeah, your fairy tale.

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I wish you know, and sometimes in the middle of the session like okay, this will never happen.

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You can't say that. No, no. Yeah, yeah. That's true. Because like it's just I've I've had a lot of conversations with friends in which like, they've had the same experiences like all they've grown up with this fairy tale. And then it's like, then life itself and they're like, what happened? I was like, like, I don't feel like how I was when I was in my 20s. Oh, yeah. Like, I had so much excitement and passion for life. And it's like now it's like, you know, they say the 27 2018. And they're like, I don't know where it all went. Yeah, yeah. Because now every phase of your life will demand a different version of you. were willing up or needs or

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Changing, our views are changing. And we just, you know, have to evolve, we don't really change, we start seeing things differently, we start becoming more wise, we start becoming,

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you know, our needs change. So, well, sometimes some people are holding on to the past, and you know, that rush of the relationship or how the kids were younger, and everything was fine. And now everything's so complicated, or how I was so excited about my job, and now it's mundane or whatever, we evolve, and we need to go with the flow and stop resisting the change. Because everything changes, changes constant.

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You know, so is it. Would you stay? Sorry? Would you say that it's too possible to get that excitement back to your life? Or is it just something that's God?

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God with your childhood? I think No, I think,

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you know, I asked myself that question every day.

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Well, I think that, you know, that inner child inside of you, that's giggling and wants a lot of candy and eats a lot of chocolate. Yeah. Keep that child and let that child have space to grow. It's okay to be you know, a mom, or even a grandma and still have that inner child inside of you. And that's the passionate part. And as you grow up, to be passionate about different things, and little little things will excite you. Be yourself and get excited when you don't feel your feelings. Yeah, it's because we reminisce about the past, we don't allow ourselves to get excited about the little things in life, we stopped noticing them. Because we're too busy thinking about the what ifs and

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what could have been, you know, we don't allow it, we just little things like the children's laughter or, you know, chocolate chip cookies.

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Little things can can can make us happy, but we were too blinded to it, because we're obsessing about what we need and what didn't happen, and what's going to happen. And we're always looking for what's next. You know, we're always looking to fill that void. But we don't realize that void is already filled. You know, we're always I get a lot of people, if this happens, I'll be happy. If I get married, I'll be happy. If I find a job, I'll be happy if I have kids. And it's always like that they're always running through something. And then what, and when it happens, they start looking for the next thing.

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No one, you know, when we when we accept what we have, and we start finding the gratefulness for what we have. That's what I'm teaching my daughter, by the way, every night, I asked her what are you grateful for? And she asked to list three things. This is mindfulness. This is living in the now. I don't ask her what you wish for. I asked her what are you? Or what are you grateful for? And she has the list three different things every day.

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And I've seen a difference in her. And now you know, after she sleeps, I do I go and list my three things, too. And it has really, really helped me. Stop looking for the next thing and focusing on what I have right now in my life that's making me happy.

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That's true. You know, I've heard so much about like, you know, listing what you're grateful for, or like remembering it every single day. And it's just something that you serve regularly. And it's just you just don't do it's just an example of what you know, you should do and don't do. Exactly, exactly. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly what you've mentioned. Yeah, that's true. You know, we're actually getting close to the end of the interview. And but

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yeah, you did, that was actually really good conversation we're having. And I just want to ask you some of our final questions that we have here. And so

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just going to the productivity aspect of yourself of your life, actually, how does a typical day look like for you? Like we'd say, your writing and your therapy and family and everything else in between it everything else that life asks for? You gotta be?

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Okay, so first thing well, my days are usually my mornings are usually in sessions session after session after session. And then once the kids come back from school, that's it. I forget about everything I am, and I'm just a mom, and I've lived them out as a mom, and it's family time until they go to bed. We either see my parents or, you know, it's homework time or just, you know, family time. And then when they sleep. I usually write or I study and I have some, you know, meantime I try to meditate. I'm not really very good at that, but I'm really I'm starting to build up it's, it's very important to take some time to you know, just not think just not just breathe and not do

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anything except be for what four or five minutes

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Just let your brain stop thinking and give it a rest. And that's what I'm trying to do. And you guys pray for me. But I get there. So yeah, that's basically a typical day.

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So all of those articles and writings that you right out to the world pretty much come out in, like the night hours, the night hours and more than

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five days I write on Fridays, when, you know, during a Friday prayer, I sit and I write, and even if the kids are around, I, sometimes I wouldn't be writing, I'm just I close my eyes, and I listen to the characters talk. And then I write what they say. And that's it. Sometimes it's an hour sometimes takes weeks.

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It's just I asked, I asked a lot for inspiration. And I feel that whatever comes to my head is what Allah wants me too, you know, is the message that Allah wants me to communicate to people at that time. Sometimes it would just be very random. Like, I started writing something, and then I ended up writing something else. And I know, I know that it's because I asked a lot for help. And for humility. That's very important. Like, please Allah, what do you want me to tell people and like, help me write it. Thank you.

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And then naturally, yeah, usually on Fridays, it's, I feel like it's a blessed day. So that's nice. You reminds me about how I had another guest I was interviewing before and like, before we started our interview, she was telling me like I was just telling, okay, these are the two is going to be and just a rundown and stuff. And then and then asked, Oh, do you have any questions? And she's like, you know, whatever I'm gonna say, is what I just want to tell you to say I was like, wow, that's such a really nice way to look at it. And yeah, very likely what you're saying in your writing. That is That is very true. That is very true. Because there was one time when I got this,

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you know, feeling of, yeah, that's me. And while I swear, I couldn't write for seven months. Just because I got that feeling of you know, I'm so smart.

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And then

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complete blockage. I could not write one word and I had deadlines to meet. I just couldn't write. Okay, so like, sorry, please, please forgive me. It's not me. It's all you I'm sorry.

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Yeah, that was that that was a humbling experience. I'll never forget that. I was like, actually living that. You see how we'd like lectures, we hear about how at the end, the speaker would would move would be saying, you know, any anything good is from a law name, anything bad is from myself and the shape. So it's like actually leaving that? Yeah, you know, that's anything that's good, that's gonna come out, it's gonna come from our last one, fella. So it's like,

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it's a really nice way to just kind of like, let go and not put too much pressure on yourself. You know, when we start thinking, it's it, everything's coming from me, then it's like, we just really press ourselves to get words out or get, you know what, whatever we're trying to create. So that's right. That is true. That's so true. So our final question that my like a few final questions that we have here is, what would you say is a book or article or some video they came across recently that's helped you in your personal growth? Anything by nominalism? I am his biggest fan. Really? Yeah.

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Yeah, I am his biggest fan of any lecture. I'm reading his book right now.

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He has really, really changed a lot of lives. And I'm one of them. And also recently, I read the Hammad Ferriss book, the productive Muslim, I was working with him on a project and part of the project was reading the book. So I read it, and I'm usually not into, you know, technical information, but this book, it helped me not procrastinate. It helped me take exercise more seriously helped me look at look at life differently. It's a really, really good book.

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So speaking about productivity, then how would you define a productive author?

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I think it all lies in being honest, being honest with you know, being true, being true to Allah being true to yourself, because a lot of people can be productive now, like they're not Muslims, or it's like a business deal, or they do something to get something in return. Right. And there are a lot of Muslims who are not productive. But I think that when you're true to yourself, you will think about this dunya and you think about the Hereafter, and you will, it's when you're true to yourself, and you put action with that. This is the meaning of being productive Muslim is pure.

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Attention plus action, and being true to yourself and not thinking, you know what, what am I going to get out of this, like when you go and help people, and you do it for the sake of Allah, that's being beneficial and being productive, and it's very, very fulfilling. I remember when I was when I was younger, I was 11. And I asked I, when I wear the hijab, and I was just really excited about being a good Muslim. So I went and asked my mom, what can I do to be like a good Muslim. And she said, the best thing you can do is to give from what you love the most, like spend from what you love the most. And of course, at that time, the thing I love the most is chocolate. So I started

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giving out chocolate to orphans, and will lie, it's, I don't think, I don't think I felt such joy. As when I saw those little orphans eat chocolates. It's when you help people and you want nothing in return. That's being productive. That's being a productive.

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Alright, so that wraps up our show for today. I hope you enjoyed this interview. If you'd like to connect with our guest, or if you'd like to read more about any resources or references that we've mentioned in this show, then you can be able to do so by heading over to our website, productive and then from there, you can be able to also leave a comment which is great because I get to hear from you and let us know things like what you'd liked about the interview, what you learned from the interview, or what kind of topics you'd like to see in the future. Everything that comes to mind please do leave it there. So that pretty much wraps up our episode for today. Thank you again

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for joining us and inshallah I hope to see you all in our next episode. Until then, remember, be sincere and work hard.

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Woke up with the light