Emotions Behind a Thousand Photos3:44:00 PM
Happy New Year everyone! This is my first post of 2017, and I wanted to finalise this blogpost sooner. But something amazing happened. My prayers were answered at the end of 2016. A miracle. A gift. And it has taken me away from everything that I have been used to doing. It has made me spend more time with the family. I've been sleepless too! In a good way, of course. All praises to the Almighty for all His blessings that He has showered upon us all.
I actually wanted to blog on the first day of the year about my reflections and thoughts of the year that has passed and coming in into the new year. And one of my new year resolutions was to blog more consistently and especially throughout everyday of the first week of 2017. Yeah, resolution failed. But with good reason!
I wanted to publish this blogpost about 2016 in summary much earlier but time did not permit. I didnt even have a few hours to spare and sit down to write this post even though I've been wanting to since the first day of this year, until now. How did I spend my new year's? At my parents' home, in my lazy pyjamas, spending quality time with my lil family. And feeling grateful and excited for 2017 which personally will be absolutely different from my 2016. I know so.
Anyways, 2016 has been colourful and been a roller coaster ride for me personally. Filled with so many adventures, I didn't have the time to share all that has happened even though throughout each of my travels and events, thousands of photos were captured for each moment and event. 2016 was a whirlwind adventure, things just kept coming hard and fast one after another.
From having a quick getaway to Langkawi with the Husband on the very first day of the year in January, to attending aere's first pop up event at Avenue K, and then going to Shenzhen and Shanghai for work, coming back just to give a talk for TV3 that I had already committed to, and before I could even unpack, I travelled back to Shanghai for a trip which was the prize for aere winning the Best Womenswear Award in March. When I was in Shanghai, I found out I was selected for a sponsored trip to Western Australia in early April, and I was also invited to travel to South Korea the same day after I was scheduled back from Western Australia. I would've really loved to have gone (with Shea Rasol who is always so fun) but I had to say no to that because of the schedule.
But I then had to prepare like a maniac for aere's Raya fashion show in May, went for a long overdue family trip to Phuket in July, and when I was in Phuket, I was invited for aere's first trip to my birthplace London which was also confirmed in July! It was last minute but I couldn't say no!
When I got back, it was full focus for aere's second show at KLFW in August and then aere's first show at Jakarta fashion week in October! Squeezed in a trip to Singapore for Singapore Fashion Week and my birthday celebrations and then focused on aere's #aereTURNS2 celebrations in November and December. Phew! I think I didnt mention a few more highlights but maybe I'll dedicate a separate post for that. I said, maybe. So it really was one after the other and lots of plans coming or confirmed at the last minute. So while I was at one place or in the midst of an event, I was actually preparing for the next. While it sounds like a lot of fun travelling (and it was!) there was also a lot of untold stress, exhaustion and tiredness behind the scenes - to prepare, to ensure work was completed, to arrange and re-arrange schedules due to last minute opportunities. Looking back, God really is the ultimate planner and 2016 was a really eventful and satisfying year for me that I really had no idea what was awaiting for me when January greeted me.
On the side of all this, I was dealing through my own personal griefs but instead of being in a cocoon I poured my heart and soul into my work, aere and also travelling since the very beginning of the year. When I said I poured my heart and soul, I literally mean that I gave everything. Almost all of my 7 days in a week 24 hours in my day. I lived and I sleep aere. I wear aere. I metaphorically breathed aere. I remember a lot of times last year skipping breakfast and lunch for aere as I was so shorthanded at some points in time that I didn't even have time to eat. Not to mention all the sleepless nights too.
I lost something so dear, so very personal at the end of the year before that, 2015. It was a really tough loss for me too. It affected me emotionally. But instead of dwelling on that loss, I decided to just focus on work, escape and run away. In the beginning of the year, there were those close to me that said that it was unhealthy for me to do so and I should be taking some time off from work and just chill a bit as they were concerned about my well-being but I didn't listen and continued to work, work, work, work, work. They were saying that I was fighting fire with fire. Fighting my grief and filling it with work stress which wasn't healthy but I continued to do so anyways. At the beginning of my loss, I didn't let myself grieve properly. I remember that I did not even cry for over a month after my loss. Maybe that was what phase number 1 out of the 7 phases of grief was all about. Being in denial. Prolonged denial? Maybe. Maybe it was just me trying to be strong but not letting myself grieve.
Once I was out and about, there were just so many triggers and I finally cried and broke down. (Sometimes in front of people which was so embarrassing). After that, I became 'normal' and pushed my hurt and loss away and to distract myself, got really engrossed in work and pushed myself to the core.
I didn't mean it was easy to do that. I had my moments of unexpected breakdowns which I wish didn't happen but the ones who saw and who were there reminded me that its only natural as it was a significant loss in my life.
So why and how did I work even harder for aere during those times when the easier thing to do was to give up, lose hope? One of my interns working with me at that time told me that she knew someone who lost a child too but literally gave up on life, stopped work and just cocoon-ed herself in the memories of her little angel and child in heaven. I can totally understand the feeling and anyone who has suffered the same pain will too, only God knows the heaviness and emptiness of the heart when you lose your children. But I guess, I'm very blessed to have the few people around me, my husband, my family and my closest friends who were there to support me without judgement. To prevent me from falling in that black hole that just sucks everything out of you. I had my own escapisms too. To put in a way that might be easier to understand, aere and my work too, kept me sane. Nothing will bring back my 2 children so the acceptance has already been there since the very beginning so though I was thinking about them all the time I turned those feelings of pain to strength. But at times, even though I was physically present, there is always an emptiness inside me that can never be filled. An empty shell.
How did aere keep me sane? It drove me to further live and to do more and more each day. It sounds cliche, but also really sincerely loving what I do. The satisfaction after all the stresses and exhaustion. The responsibilities that I had to continue what I've started over 2 years ago. The life-changing decision that I made when I decided to switch career from law to fashion. Wanting my parents and husband to be proud of me. Hoping that my 2 children in heaven will be proud of their Mama. All that and more, were also my drive and motivation.
I shared a little bit on the surface of what that significant moment at the end of 2015 I was talking about in my post MY SECOND PREGNANCY : ADIK JIBRAEL and MY SECOND PREGNANCY 2 : MISUNDERSTOOD. In 2016, I also lost my Atok who was also my last grandparent alive at the time. That was in August, at a time when I just got back from London and it happened just before KLFW 2016. I spent some time with him before he passed away and I'm thankful that I did.
Writing this, I'm just going to share some thoughts that sometimes creeps in my head. I know its bad bad bad for me to say 'if'. But, if I didn't lose my pregnancy in 2015, life would have been really different in 2016. The second pregnancy that I had was a complicated one. I was on strict bed rest. Not only was I told not to travel, I was told by the doctor to just lie down except if I really need to go to the washroom. I prayed sitting down to minimise the bleeding too. At that juncture, I remembered, I was willing to let go of all mobility, taking a break from work if it meant that my second baby would be safe from harm. Nothing else was important. But at the same time since I didnt have a permanent team member for aere, I worked while lying down. Even when the doctor and nurses told me not to. They said I wasn't even supposed to hold the phone while being on bed rest and let others see to it if its really that urgent. When this hit me, that was also the moment when I realised that aere was growing so fast and I needed more team members on aere's team. That I couldn't do it on my own. Currently I'm grateful that aere's young team is growing with new team members joining the team a few months ago and also this month.
Being on strict bed rest is not new to me. During my first pregnancy I was also on bed rest till I gave birth to Jibrael for 3 months. (It will be 4 years since I gave birth to Jibrael this Saturday 14th January 2017, my daughter's 4th year in heaven) It seemed like during that second pregnancy if I wanted to fight for it, I had to be on bed rest till the very end (estimated in June 2016) as well as it was so fragile. No matter, if that was what it took, that was what I was willing to do.
But back to what I said earlier, 'if' I didnt lose that second pregnancy, 2016 would have been very different for me. I wouldn't be able to work as hard for aere and the collections and the number of designs might not have doubled as how it was in 2016. I wouldn't even be travelling here and there for work or even for the family trip that I had. It would just be different. Better or worse, only God knows.
But that's why there shouldn't be any 'ifs'. It shouldn't even exist in our vocabulary. Our faith teaches us that everything happens by the Will of God. 'Ifs' and 'buts' create doubts and tests our faith. I don't usually say it out loud when I'm conscious or really think before I speak. As mentioned above, they were just thoughts that came when there are trigger moments. But this is me saying some of my thoughts out loud. (Well actually not talking, it's so silent on my side here. It's just me 'typing out loud') Because at the end of whatever, God has determined life and death and fate and sustenance. We wouldn't know what would be better or worse. What we think would be good for us, may not be what is best for us. But I believe that God has determined what's best. There are momentary grief moments that I may forget but when I'm awake and conscious, I realise that everything has been determined and I just have to keep the faith and trust God.
I have every reason to be depressed, to be sad, to mourn and I do not wish whatever that I go through, the losses of my children, on anyone else. I do not want anybody else to understand the on-going pain, but in truth only those who go through it will understand. I do not wish it upon anyone as losing your child, not once, but twice is something unimaginable and unexplainably painful. Though I have every reason to be depressed I chose to fight it in 2016. I fought out of it through my work and through aere. I expressed some of my feelings through my collections as well. Through FEEL and HOPE. It was metaphorical I suppose but those who understood will understand. Art is not meant to be understood by everybody anyways.
At the end of the year, I realised that God blessed me through a beautiful year for my career advancement with aere and also blessed me with travels everywhere. Plus, Adik Jibrael is also a gift from God and it means Jibrael has a younger sibling up there in heaven to be with her anyways. They're both waiting for us in heaven and I'm blessed and lucky to be granted two children who are both already in heaven waiting for Abah and Mama. And lastly but definitely not the least, the gift and blessings that I received in December as mentioned in the beginning of this post.
Eventhough I enjoyed the travels and the events and all that in 2016 I must admit that I did have times when I said 'ifs' in my head. When I forgot that its wrong to think that. And I did cry once in a while alone or with the ones who are closest to me (mostly Khubayb the husband). But it was at most only 5% of my 2016. I'm extremely grateful and felt great every time I travelled no matter how exhausting it was going from one place to another, but during all those travels as much as I avoided it, I did have moments, and sometime I even broke down at the thought of I might not have been there if I actually had my baby/babies. But, thank God during those travels mostly after I let it out and go through the whole moment of triggered breakdowns I then rose back up and reminded myself of how everything is a blessing in disguise and this life is just a temporary place. And both my children are at the place that we should all strive to go to.
Looking back, 2016 has been amazing and good for my work, my new found fashion career and aere. Alhamdulillah. It was a great year overall. I'm grateful that I had the time, health and energy to build my label, aere. I'm blessed by all the love and support all around. And above all, I'm thankful that God granted me another year for me to live, to breathe.
But when I looked back I felt that 2016 wasn't so good for the relationships around me. I realised I was just so engrossed in work that I neglected those around me including my family and friends. I didn't realise I was in a cocoon of my own that isolated myself from the friends and family around me who cared. Some relationships were affected because of this. I know that. Sometimes, I might be physically present but I was too focused on my work. Either always on the phone or in front of my laptops if not in meetings or at events. Always on the phone replying to work messages, communicating in groups, thinking of what to post next on aere's IG or my IG, replying comments, messages and many many more but neglecting those right in front of me and around me.
In a way though, I feel that 2016 was much better than say, 2012. Back then I was also a workaholic but I didnt even have time to be physically present. So now that I realise that, I'm hoping that in 2017 as much as I won't stop growing aere I will give more effort to those who have been there with me through think and thin. My family and friends. At the end of the day, without these relationships all the success in the world means nothing anyways. They are the reason that I'm still here, able to move on with life without any of them judging me or them directly telling me to "just move on". They allow me to move on by just being there for me.
I know this is not something only I personally feel but I'm sure a lot of working wives/mums feel this struggle too. Finding that balance to juggle between work and family life. For all of you ladies who are working, may you be able to find that balance between family, friends and work. I'm still searching for it and still learning to do so, one step at a time. May 2017 be awesome for all of you! And since it's still January, I think it's not too late for me to wish you all a Happy New Year!!! Thanks for reading and to many more blogposts this year (hopefully). :)
Also, although I am ashamed to disclose this (but I do so only so that this will be a reminder to myself when I read this post later on) I realise that there are a number of times when I either missed some prayer times and had to replace it at the next waktu because of exhaustion or just too engrossed in work till I slipped. It's my personal goal this year to not let that happen again this year.
Anyway, I was looking for relevant photos for me to put here to summarise this entire post or my entire 2016. But, I couldn't find any. So, here are the collages that I posted on my Instagram on the last day of 2016. The best 9 photos are based on likes which I generated through the #2016bestnine website. And the rest I made based on my travels and the one with Khubayb are for our 11th year anniversary post.
They say a picture is a thousand words. But sometimes, and specifically in this case even a thousand photos won't be able to describe the high and lows and the extremes of feelings that I had. And even a thousand words can't convey it. But may these words that I write rekindle the feelings and my memories of the year that I went through.
As described in my post LIFE IS ABSTRACT :
"It’s been a somewhat balanced mixture of emotions for me: love and pain, happiness and grief, ups and downs, extreme stress and also major satisfaction. It’s really been a rollercoaster of highs and lows. It's been such a beautiful year filled with so many beautiful moments and memories."
Sometimes, you just can't say more than what you write. I happily and patiently can't wait to see what 2017 has in store for me!
#rnadiaTRAVELS in 2016 for work and also with family. Langkawi, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Suzhou, Perth, Western Australia, Phuket, London, Jakarta. All photos captured by @kneok.
1.1.17 Happy 11th year Anniversary to my best friend, lover and the husband @kneok. Must say our 2016, our 11th year has been pretty exciting with different kind of adventures. To many many more years with you I'm beyond blessed and grateful to have you by my side through the rollercoaster rides and all. All praises to the One who created Love. Alhamdulillah.
Photos in Shanghai in April 2016 all captured by Khubayb.
My #2016bestnine. Reflection. Family. Work. Love. Pain. Joy. Grief. Travel. Miracle.
2016 was a really special year for me, even with its ups and downs. Blogged about it. Thank you for all the love and the likes the past year! May 2017 be a great year for everyone around the world.
PEACE & LOVE!
PEACE & LOVE!