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The Aram

with Tahmina Begum
Yesterday, I woke up to the feeling that 'life is for the living'. Every once in a while, I get this gust of energy that reminds me that being carefree tends to solve my problems just as much as worrying through 'the process' does. It's usually after a period of heaviness and stress; perhaps, I'm tired of crying over that thing that's usually worse in my head.

That shift in the air tells me that we don't get any do-overs; and frankly, being so obsessed about how life will turn out if I make decisions A or B is a scam. How will we ever really know what's a good life if we're too busy trying to create the perfect one?
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"Life is for the living," is a phrase I heard Tolani Shoneye say on The Receipts podcast years ago. It stayed with me because of its sheer simplicity. It's so bloody true. Life is for the living. What else are we doing? 

Although the lockdown has eased over, the past few months have felt burdensome for everyone. There have been so many silent and subtle transitions, the kind of changes that aren't always visible but tell you, even if you're not ready, your life will be moving on for you.

This liminal stage where we are working out what normality looks like because the old normal won't do and we can't stay in lockdown forever has meant the shedding of old skin. And sometimes, when that happens, we get too close to the painting. We become too focused on the small details and weary of what's to come: it becomes difficult to do the living part.

But you know that old 'you' you're trying to carry around? Let that person go. It's impossible to force all the versions of who you are through the door — how on earth can we do any living if we're so consumed by ourselves? 
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Sometimes, I think as adults in this generation, we do too much of a good job. My parents didn't walk around pondering about self-growth and where on the barometer they fell when it came to being a good person — they just got on with it. If they messed up, I doubt they ever made themselves feel guilty for taking two steps backward when trying to take three forward. And though we live in a world where many of us are trying to change the narrative on how things have always been, I think there's something in my parent's ability to do and be. There's a lot of living in making mistakes and getting back up again. A lot of living when you're not thinking about how you look or who you should be and so on and so forth. 

It's no surprise that depending on yourself so much, as many of us do in the name of growth, is tiring. Whether that's 'manifesting' a new project or trying to keep up on social media in order to remain relevant, it means being on all the time. Again, I don't know how much space that gives to just be. Sure, you should put the work in but it's in times like these, as Elaine Welteroth writes, you need to trust both your ebb and flow. You need to trust that you've done enough of whatever it is you've set out to do and if you haven't, then you know what needs doing. I'm not trying to prove myself to myself as much anymore because I can now respect how much I've always done for myself.
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In the past two weeks, through the act of seeing loved ones I haven't seen in months to spontaneous bike rides, it's taught me once again that that thing I was so sure was going to kill me, didn't. That sometimes, joy is a rush but it's just as healing as taking the right supplements and getting your eight hours in. 
Because I ask you this: as an adult when do you actually make time for fun? If you look at what you want to do for the rest of the month, does it include joy for the sake of joy? I mean that running-so-fast-it-makes-your-legs-tremble-Phoebe-Buffay kind of joy? That this-is-why-I-have-preserved-my-peace kind of joy? And if it doesn't, why not?

As my mum always says, you're not going to get this time back (we'll ignore the fact that she means this when it comes to finding a husband) so, go! Life is for the living and I pray you all continue to do so.

Sending ease while eating Pakistani mangoes in this care-free garam gyal summer inshallah, 

The Aram is a bi-monthly newsletter that explores our relationship with ease and joy. In "Getting Aram With...", I ask a woman of colour and/or Muslim woman I admire, three questions surrounding her comforts.

#15 is Brooke DeVard Ozaydinli, host and creator of the Naked Beauty podcast.

A podcast I've now listened to for years, Brooke interviews women of colour about their beauty experiences and all the ways in which beauty shapes their lives. From Black and brown founders of beauty brands to those who are reclaiming wellness, I love how the Naked Beauty podcast advocates for the imaginations of women of colour to soar while making space for all our stories to co-exist. 
What's currently bringing you aram?

Spending time with my baby! When he laughs, it just makes my entire day. I love being able to slow down and connect with him. He's 9 months old and everything fascinates him!
From hosting Naked Beauty and speaking to dozens of Black and brown women about their beauty, skincare, hair and wellness routines, what would you like Black and brown women to know when it comes to looking after themselves? 

I hear from so many Black and brown women that they wished they had embraced their features earlier. That they had loved their curly hair when they were young, that they realized their features or curves were indeed beautiful even though their image wasn't reflected in the media. I want all Black and brown women to realize how beautiful they are right now!

Spread the maya and share a platform or person you'd love to shout out. 

I love what Erica Chidi is doing with Loom! It's launching in the fall and aims to teach women about their own bodies — a resource so desperately needed for so many of us. 
Things That Have Bought Me Aram Lately 

Conversations On Love. I've been reading this slowly for two months and it's my new contemporary favourite. Natasha Lunn killed it with this debut.

A Story of Two Halves. I interviewed Annabelle Gely on Muay Thai, motherhood and enjoyment. 

Kiss Me More by Doja Cat ft SZA


Why 'Don’t talk about politics' is impossible for me" by Alya Mooro 
Grief, strength and letting go of labels by Liv Little
Hola! I'm Tahmina Begum 👋🏾 I'm a writer, editor and creative consultant. The Aram is currently free to subscribers but it does take a labour of love to write and produce, so if you'd like to support, you can buy me a digital Ko-Fi. If you'd like to commission me for any work, feel free to check out my website

Images courtesy of @
tishkbarzanji, @rajovilla, @meetmyproject and Brooke DeVard Ozaydinli

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