I've been thinking a lot about Ramadan this year, with a lot of trepidation and self-questioning. The sheer length of the peak summer days, north as I am in now in Europe, has seemed daunting. I have, admittedly, been ticking down the days to the holy month with some reservation: spending more time wondering whether I'll be able to handle it, rather than reflecting on why this is important to me.
So, to get back in a strong mindset and reaffirm my commitment to the month of fasting, I'm putting together my list of goals I want to accomplish this year.
Remember, these are entirely personal and I am far from being a strong practitioner of the faith. But, as my modest goals will show, I am always committed to bettering myself in the small ways that I can.
I will hold myself to my same prayer schedule as last year: Fajr before sunrise with suhur, Dhuhr midday, wherever I am, and Maghrib before iftar at sunset.
I want to make sure each day, I dedicate time to let go of any negative thoughts or attitudes toward other persons. So every Dhuhr, I will remember to pray for my 'enemies', and make dua for those where my thoughts have been unkind, and replace ill-will with sincere prayer and gratitude.
3. Letters to Soldiers
Last Ramadan, I started my weekly Friday workplace tradition of taking our leftover bagels, spreads, fruit and juices, and packaging them into meals to hand out on the corners of 6th and Mission St. It was one of the best things I started that year, and lasted through the rest of my time at AdRoll. Roughly, I estimate that we (shout out to my various co-workers who would join from time to time!) made 850+ meals distributed over several months in this way (saving food that would otherwise be wasted in the process!)
This Ramadan, I hope to start another tradition, in 'adopting' a US soldier. I've signed up with two different organizations to do so: Soldiers Angels and Adopt a US Soldier, and will report back on each! My goal is to write one letter a week.
3. Memorize 4 new surahs
4. Offer weekly free language lessons
Since I've started to learn French now and have found it QUITE the challenge, I'd also like to commit to 30min / week of free Mandarin lessons for people trying to learn Chinese. So, if you're trying to learn Chinese, you can now book with me on Verbling for this month :)
5. Connect with Family
While my family and I are very close in spirit, we don't always keep up with each other's lives. My dad and I, for example, will only text or call once every two or three months! This Ramadan, I'm going to make a big effort to change that. I've added aunts and cousins on WhatsApp and WeChat, and moved both to my home screen so I can see when texts come in. My goal: check in with my dad, grandma, sister, aunt, and cousin at least 1/wk.
6. 5 minutes a day reading new passages
Spend just five minutes every morning after suhur to read the Quran or Islamic poetry, and reflect.
7. Stop cussing.
Just gonna have to wing it with that one...
Hm. I actually think now I can't wait for Ramadan to begin! :)