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The Aram

with Tahmina Begum
@TheAramNewsletter is now on Instagram! 🍒 Welcome to the mood board of my brain and an extra place to Inshallah spread some ease. 
Most evenings this week, I've finished work earlier than usual just to sit in front of the TV. I've welcomed in the sluggish feeling and every so often stretched to push away the fatigue. Only to then listen to my body and realise this is what I need. 
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Being gentle with yourself is something I pen quite a lot on The Aram. It's a habit I've tried to form, especially over the past eighteen months. Knowing that I shouldn't judge myself on the days where I don't feel one hundred per cent while holding in the same hand the idea that all the different versions of me, are me. But all well-sown habits take time to form. 

Elif Shafak once said, "Inside us as women we have a little harem of female voices, coexisting and competing," which makes me wonder which parts of us, during what feels like a never-ending lockdown, are trying to win. Is it the random bouts of inspiration that show me the work I need to do to get to where I believe I should be? The parts of me that addresses the life I have in front of me and at the same time tries to make the best out of a situation? Is it in the practice of taking it slow because who knows what we'll forget when this is all over?

Maybe it's all of them, and perhaps, it's neither. As I said, there are times when all I need to be doing is to not be thinking (a feat when living in the confines of four walls) hence the necessary window shopping online and eyes locked onto the TV. 
All that to say, and this is something I do say out loud to myself, even when I am feeling most uninspired and not my best: I am exactly where I need to be. Alhamdullilah. Fighting with myself that 'I should be doing this' or 'I should be here' when it concerns this dream or that, accomplishes nothing.

Solely trying, something I was not taught as a child of immigrants, is more than enough these days. It's important to recognise what you're working with and what you're working against and why. If I'm working hard because that's who I've always been without taking into account, who I need to be for me today, then the intention is truthfully tone-deaf and possibly even pointless.

The great thing about uncharted territories and the unknown is that it gives us permission to rewrite the rules on what actually means most to us. What is it that I have realised I really want and how do I pull my priorities to where my being needs right now? Reinvention isn't solely for popstars or the famous, we do it all the time anyway, so why don't we do it intentionally with ourselves in mind?

If the sound of new ideas and thinking about your identity sounds exhausting, then I say, leave it for now. Pop your feet up and watch some bloody TV. As valuable as it is to think about who you are and what you bring to the world, not every day should be the unconscious act of unlearning versus living. Who has the time? Today I'm asking you to just be.

With all the aram,
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As it's my birthday month, there will be a weekly edition of The Aram in February inshallah instead of fortnightly. In honour of my late grandfather, I'm also raising money for those who can't afford their own funerals. You can donate here.

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.

#9 is Cat Sarsfield. Marketing and Project Manager at Sonder&Tell and creator of Since No One Asked, one of my favourite food-related newsletters. Cat has a way of capturing the familiar in-between moments with such homely familiarity. 

What's currently bringing you aram? 

I think what’s bringing me aram and ease is returning to books I’ve read before, especially those centred around food (no surprises there). The one I always come back to is Stephanie Danler’s Sweetbitter, a bildungsroman about a young girl from the Midwest who arrives in New York City at twenty-two and quickly learns about hunger, appetite, sex, lust and love, all while navigating the underworld of the fine dining industry.

I’ve always seen so much of my younger self in the protagonist Tess, and now with fresh eyes, with a heart that’s more steeped in real love, I can see all those flaws of past relationships and it makes me feel grateful for what I have now. Also, the TV show is killlller. 

In your newsletter, Since No One Asked, you really cement the cacophony of feelings we're all going through and then give us a recipe to essentially warm ourselves with. Can you share a recipe or food item you've been going back to time and time again in order to *feel something*? 

Thank you for so eloquently summing up what I always hoped SNOA would do for anyone kind enough to read it. Over the last few months, I’ve definitely found myself obsessing over rituals like roasting a chicken once a month, making a stock the next day and then using that stock to slow cook beans which I’ll eat at all times of the day. But I think pasta is always the dish that’s on rotation, so I’ll link to the first recipe you get when you sign up for my newsletter, Sad Pasta — a simple take on puttanesca that has a 100% conversion rate of sad feels to smiles. 

Spread the maya (love) and tell me about a platform or person you'd like to bring light to. 

I recently connected with Mehlaqa Khan, a doctor and amazing recipe writer whose food always makes me want to dive in (it helps that she’s extremely handy with a camera). She’s also just generally a super babe, wears excellent pyjamas and we’ve already committed to a biriyani date (she’ll be making it and I’m so very excited) when the lockdown is over. She’s got a great website with wonderful recipes so definitely check her out if you’re in need of some food inspiration. 

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Things That Have Bought Me Comfort Lately
My February Column
Are We Becoming Desensitised To News On Death And Grief?

Brene Brown with President Barack Obama on Leadership, Family and Service
Bookshelfie with Pandora Sykes and Zing Tsjeng

Namaste Wahala
The Light Between Oceans
Notting Hill
Support Independent Bookshops

Everyone knows buying books off Amazon isn't great for authors, or actually anyone involved, so launched in the UK to support independent bookshops with every sale.

You can 
shop for my recommendations here (I get a tiny commission fee). You'll find reads by Muslim women, my favourite titles, and the books that continue to shape my work. Mwah, mwah. 
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Hola! I'm Tahmina Begum 👋🏾 I'm a writer, editor and consultant. If you like The Aram, feel free to support my work and buy me a digital Ko-Fi. If you'd like to commission me for any work, feel free to check out my website

Images in order: @rowsebeauty @c_l_o @catsarsfield and Jim Marsden

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