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Friday, January 10, 2014

WESTGATE: The Tale of a Survivor by Tashmin Kassam Khamis

Today is my Rozy Mumma's birthday.  She would have been 73.  She left us in October 2012 and she is missed.  Today, I am feeling thankful that I had a strong female role model like her in my life.  Her influence is evident in her children, my cousins, Tashi and Faisal.  Both are intelligent, hilarious, mischievous and compassionate, like their Mom.

Every year, on September 11th, we wish Faisal a happy birthday.  He escaped the horror of the World Trade Centre that day in 2001 and Rozy Mumma coined it his new birthday.  What are the odds that his sister would have to face a similar horror?  Tashi survived the September 2013 terrorist attack at the Westgate Mall.  Unfortunately, my father's cousin and her daughter did not.

Tashi has always used poetry to express some of her most private thoughts. Here is her recently published account of  surviving Westgate.

WESTGATE: The Tale of a Survivor
The shots firing a barrage of confusion in my mind
To run, a safe hiding place to find.
Hunted rabbits crouched upon a floor
Is there any point in locking a glass door?
A group dynamic begins to form
Of six strangers amid this crazy storm
No room to lie down, they’ll see our feet!
In the silence we hear our own heartbeat.
The shots non-stop ring in our head
Phones, a life-line or to ask ‘Who’s dead?’
We pray fervently, Muslim, Christian, Jew
His Hand upon us feels so True.
Alas, as time passes we lose our faith
Is help coming before we become bait?
They are in, KDF – the GSU!
The battle begins, who will get who?
The first scream is heard, a profanity
Calls himself ‘Muslim’ – how can that be?
“Allah hu Akbar”, we hear a cry
I plan my death whilst I’m still alive.
Five hours pass, more shots more shouts
Men running corridors, chaos about.
Finally, the dreaded knock on the door
Do we answer or hide some more?
As I approach a Somali face
Beckoning me out, Haji’s embrace
‘Put your head down and run’
A rabbit once more, we are not done!
For six weeks later, every loud sound
Makes me feel once more I have been found
The dreams of cousins who have passed
Of being hunted –they continue to last…
Will I ever be whole again?
My old self –a grieving pain.
To clutch that distant memory
Of whom I once used to be.
But then I draw upon a strength
Did I not feel the protection of His Hand?
A time to reflect of why I live
And realize what more I need to give.

Tashmin Kassam Khamis, A Westgate Survivor amongst many.

Throwback pic of Tashi and Rozy Mumma.

On my Mumma's birthday, I am especially thankful for Tashi's safety, the bonds of family and Mumma's love. It remains even though she is gone.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

January

Continuing to have a terrific 2014!

My bestie came over for dinner and brought this awesome calendar. Each month offers a wonderful intention. Wishing you an amazing January!


Finally! And now I procrastine...

Anyone else still have their Christmas tree up? Ours is so warm and sparkly! I'd like to keep it up all year. A neighbour in the building across from mine still has their tree up and they turn the lights on every night. Our windows face each other and unbeknownst to him or her we are engaged in a sort of Wild West standoff while I wait for them to take their tree down first.

This is my first Christmas tree. It's special because every year since I've known Micaela, I've poured over her annual Christmas Ornament swap accounts. I watched my various blog friends exchanging cute ornaments and loved all the thoughtfulness and care that went into each exchange.  I always wanted to participate but I never had a tree of my own.

Enter my love, who makes all my dreams come true.  We put up our first Christmas tree in our first home together and FINALLY I could participate in the swap! Behold my pretty tree!

Erin organized this year's swap on behalf of Micaela who gave birth to the beautiful Noel days before Christmas.  I signed up and got a great swap partner named Whitney.  Follow her on Tumblr. She is extremely talented and artistic.   After reading a few posts of hers that celebrated gorgeous pin up women, I sent her this ornament.

She kindly sent me these cute ornaments whom I've nicknamed Bell and Noel. 

My Mom also got in the spirit and added this beauty to our tree.

Micaela and Marianne sent us a vintage mistletoe ornament. I told them that we would make good use of it!

And sweet Nicole brought this beauty over the day we put our tree up.

Almost cried when I opened the mail on Christmas Eve and found this stunner from Sheba who I miss all the time.

My neighbours just turned on their Christmas tree lights. Grateful that I can hurry up and enjoy the tree a little longer...

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Evolution of Gratitude


HAPPY 2014!

The end of the calendar year and the beginning of a new one always inspires me to reflect on the 12 preceding months that I was lucky enough to be a part of.  My love gave me a new computer for Christmas. While digesting this generous gift in a state of shock, I immediately thought about how much I missed blogging.  I created this happy place just over four years ago to capture the people, memories and moments that give me a multitude of reasons to be grateful each and every day. It was Sheba who introduced me to blogging.  She was a new Mom at the time and had just moved back to Toronto. We connected over the various blogs we came across and some of the mutual new friends we were making.  Many of these connections blossomed off line through snail mail, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I have been lucky enough to meet a few of my blog friends in person.  We have taken vacations, shared meals and even been to baseball games together!  What began as something very personal turned out to be a way to connect.  I found a new community online and made some amazing friends.

This blog began as an expression of gratitude. I love capturing images and stories here that I can share with family and friends.  I love going back through old posts and smiling at memories made.  A funny thing happens when you recognize and appreciate and acknowledge gratitude in your own life.  It pours out of places unexpectedly and you move from one marvelous moment to the next at top speed.  My blessed life has been a series of these amazing instances. Somewhere along the way, I got so caught up in moving from one magical moment to the next that I forgot to reflect and record them here.  I found other ways to be grateful that have been meaningful and purposeful but I have missed this space dearly.  Hope to spend more time here this year.

Looking ahead to a blessed 2014 and 
the reflections of gratitude that I know I will be so lucky to remember.