Thursday, December 15, 2016

Back with a Bang (And a Book)

Holy criggity crap. Boy, has a lot happened since I last posted here. I took my quarterly laziness hiatus from blogging and when I returned, Donald Trump became president, Dave Chappelle came back to television and Glenn got his head bashed in on The Walking Dead. I'm glad I'm taking a seat.

Things are getting crazy and rather than be in on the action and share my thoughts and opinions and rants like everyone else has been doing, I've been laying low and just focusing on getting accustomed to my new work schedule. However just because PhilAsify hasn't been churning out fresh content doesn't mean I haven't been writing. In fact, soon after the election I went into hyperdrive mode to finish publishing my very timely and relevant first book, Vicegerents: The Divine Responsibility, The Importance of Muslim Civic Engagement and Social ResponsibilityIt's available right now on Amazon so please feel free to check it out (It's only 99 cents). It's a smooth and short read and definitely packs a punch.

Buy It Now on Amazon

I had this on the shelf in limbo for a while since I at first was writing this for a possible publisher but once I stopped hearing from said publisher, I decided that I'd eventually self-publish. With the twists and turns of life, I just put it on the backburner to focus on other pursuits (namely a job to take care of my family). But Trump winning the election and the racist Youtube Commenters that supported Trump becoming emboldened and coming alive out in public to attack and unleash hate on Muslims at an alarming rate made me swiftly get this book published.

To put it bluntly, this book is an educational tool about Islam and Muslims to the average non-Muslim reader while also serving as a kick in the ass of the passive and timid Muslim living in the West, namely in America. It's a wake-up call for Muslims to get it together and be part of the change they want to see in the world. Muslims are under a microscope and we're being grilled from all sides and most of us are the problem because we are not engaged enough in the fabric of society and even our own neighborhoods to be known and change the erroneous perceptions people have of us and of Islam as a faith.

In Vicegerents, I break down the various aspects where we are lacking and rather than just air grievances on where we as an Ummah (community) are falling short, I present practical solutions to those issues. Some topics covered are what a vicegerent is, what our role is in society, voting, local community engagement, how to use media as a tool, and addressing the issues we have at our mosques.

So please give it a read and a review. It'd be much appreciated. It's my first officially published work and I hope it will not be the last.

Monday, October 24, 2016

How Things Can Turn Around On A Dime

So here marks another one of my unexplained hiatuses from blogging. What a big surprise. While I tried to hold myself to writing weekly through thick and thin, I just couldn't write until now because I was in the middle of a transitional period. I was hired for a job! Alhamdulilah (All praise goes to God). More than one actually so, of course I was really busy.

I wanted to check back in to give you that update and tell you all that things can turn around on a dime, bad times don't last. There I was struggling for months unemployed, just barely making it and the future was totally uncertain. I didn't know whether I'd have enough to pay the rent at the end of the month, I didn't know when things would get better. But that just reminds me that it's not my job to know the future. I'm just a player in this script of life and I can't turn the page until I get to the bottom, when everything on the current page has played out. That's on Allah's time.

Waiting for the 180

For months I was just doing my best to tie my camel in the form of filling out job applications and shooting my resume around and then praying and hoping for the best. Months would go by without any responses from jobs, but I kept on churning and do the only thing that was in my control, which was to keep blasting out resumes for jobs I found.

When the time finally comes for Allah's plan to come alive, things move FAST. I shot out a job application as was the norm for me daily and suddenly, BOOM. I get a response from the job, like truly within hours wanting to set up an interview. I go to the interview and I do the best I could to make sure to convince them I was the best person for the job. I later discovered that nearly 50 people applied for the job which intimidated me a bit. But within days, I was informed that I had been selected!

So yeah guys, if anything can be taken from this update it's that no matter what sort of crap you are dealing with or what difficulties your struggling through, things can turn around and get better and when the times comes for it, it will move so fast it'll make your head spin. It doesn't matter how tough it is, how much it hurt, how sucky things get, how big the obstacles, how hopeless it feels (in that moment) because God said so Himself:

I'm living proof of the phrase and it's a humbling feeling. Now for me the struggle now is finding consistency in my spare time to invest in posting updates and blogs here as well as my creative endeavors which I do not want to put on the shelf due to laziness. Yeah I have two jobs I have to keep up with to put money in the bank and food on the table but I can't let my creative outlet which gave me so much solace be neglected nor should my ideas and plans (books, screenplays etc) remain just that, ideas and plans.

So while I work on finding that consistency zone, bear with me, because if I go on a roll, big things will be poppin'. Of course, it's all if God wills it, like He willed it for me to finally get out of the hole I was just in.

Keep striving, ya'll.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Overcoming Negative Inner Voices and Realizing Your Potential

For some reason this title  can't help but make me be reminded of Randy Orton's entrance theme:

But I digress. This is not really the video I wanted to share with you, the video below is. I came across this video on YouTube a couple of months ago titled "Overcoming Negative Inner Voices" and boy was it tremendous and really made me ponder life and just how your mind is the biggest thing holding you back from achieving the life you want to live and do the things in life you want to do to be fulfilled. Here I will post the video and then come back with my thoughts after the jump.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Sprained Knee With a Side of Bruised Ego, Please!

So I didn't get to write an entry last week. Big surprise huh? Aside from being consistently inconsistent, your trusty old PhilAsifer is also consistently getting hurt. This time it wasn't a phantom injury from coach potatoing it up, however. I decided to dust off my sneakers and played an impromptu game of pick-up basketball.

Here's some news for you: I Injured myself, AGAIN. I injured myself because I'm out of shape. Meaning I'm overweight at the moment. Meaning I'm too overweight to be playing basketball. 

Hey But Wait a minute, Asif, look at this!

Maaaaan. Number 1) That guy is about 6'10. I'm 5'6 on a good day. Number 2) He's DEAD! (RIP Escalade) He died from heart disease which I'm positive had to do with his unhealthy weight. and Number 3) Thanks a lot for making me feel like a schlub when even immobile obese heavyweights can ball better than me. 

Back to the subject at hand. What I mean by being too overweight to play is that I'm too overweight to play the way I like to play. My problem is the way I play basketball has not evolved from the way I played it when I was 16 basically. Which needs to change! I resort to trying to be quick and high energy and going hard in the paint trying to do acrobatic layups and And1s. When you're about 50+ pounds overweight, your knees are going to hate you for that style of play, which in my case, they want me dead.

So I was playing basketball and I was feeling myself, having a good all around game. I decided to get a little fancy, went for a pump fake. The guy bit on it and I glided into the paint for a driving layup when, CRUNCH! I came down on my leg and yelled "OH, SHOOT!" (This was a masjid/mosque playing area) and went down on the pavement. I got flashbacks from when I was 17 and I tore my ACL the exact same way. I got up and my knee buckled. I couldn't put weight on it. I was helped back home by some brothers at the mosque and went immediately into RICE mode. The way it felt, I was sure I tore something. I don't have the funds or resources to go get it checked at the moment so my doctor became Experience and Google working in tandem.

I come to the conclusion that it isn't a serious tear and can be anything between a bad sprain to as serious as a partial meniscus tear. I hope to God if it's the latter, it doesn't require surgery. So I'm recuperating at the moment and trying to heal up.

What I've learned:

  • Give Basketball a Break: And I mean a break as in a break from it being my main source of cardio. I have been trying to lose weight and basketball has been my go-to which I am learning is a bad idea when I am overweight. My knees need a break and doing all this high impact cutting, twisting and jumping with all that extra weight is just asking for stuff like this to keep happening. The fact is that I bore easily when it comes to jogging and ellipticals and crap. But I need to invest in changing my routine so I can play ball WHEN I'm at the optimum weight to play and when that extra pressure is taken off of my knees.

  • I'm Not Invincible: This injury made me reminesce on an older and more serious injury I had when I was 17 and tore my ACL and meniscus in my left knee. At the time I was probably in the best shape of my life. I was weightlifting, doing cardio and at my athletic peak. And yes, I had a little bit of a big head about it. I was feelin' myself. And feelin' myself led to lots of irrational fantasy thinking. I felt like I could stop bullets, beat up 20 guys at once like Jackie Chan and prevent 9/11 from happening with my glorious pecs. I tried dunking constantly at that age but couldn't quite get there and it took a toll on my knees. I felt like I was unstoppable. And reality hit me that fateful day I tore my ACL. Sucked the arrogant right out of me. That "other people get injured, not me" way of thinking. God has ways of humbling people and that was his way of doing that to me and I feel that he was giving me a refresher course even though I'm not in prime physical condition like I was then.

  • I'm not 16 Anymore: It's just reality. Even if I get in shape again and drop all the excess weight, it's true. I need to suck it up and adapt an "old man" game when it comes to bball. That means stretching a bunch before I play, covering myself in knee supports and sleeves and taking jumpers and passing mostly. Hero ball, my sweet comfort, must go by the wayside. Let the young boys do all the work and I just park at the three point line. I don't get paid the big bucks to play a child's game and there are no cameras so what am I trying to prove?
So boys and girls, that's where I am right now. As I sit here finishing up typing, stinking of Icy Hot and guzzling down some Ibuprofen, my ego has conceded to the truth. We are all fragile human beings, we are not masters of the universe and we will be humbled from time to time to remind us in case we forget. Basketball, we will keep seeing eachother, but it isn't going to be intense and passionate like old times. I will miss the feeling but, it's for the best.

Better start YouTube'ing a low impact alternative for me to get back into shape. Oooh, this looks intriguing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

It's Hard Out Here for a Pim-- Err...Freelance Writer

Hey gang. A little bit late on my goal for a weekly post, that's because I'm still trying to figure out a way to make a decent living as a freelance writer. As I expected, it's no walk in the park starting out. 

Before I even lost my job, I was looking into freelance writing as a possible next career option because my job hunting had fallen into that terrible catch 22 conundrum. All the writing based media jobs I wanted were looking for someone with 2 to 5 years experience and there I was wasting my life away shuffling papers at a tax firm NOT GETTING EXPERIENCE. Freelancing looked to be the best option to 1) write , 2) build a solid body of work with a portfolio and 3) eventually get noticed by those same media based jobs that were denying me because of  my lack of experience.

Getting into the freelance writing game, I faced pretty much the same trouble because I needed to show experience as well and show that I've written and had things published in various arenas. Even with the little experience I've carried in that realm, despite my efforts to draw up enticing proposals, no one wanted to give this ol' guy a shot. I felt like with each rejection letter and notification that a potential client had gone with someone else, I felt more and more discouraged. It was coming to the point where I wanted to go to these guys and just bust out that A Capella like I'm Andy Bernard and sing "Take a Chance On Me"

All the experts and all the blogs I wrote stated that if one was to make the jump from working the typical 9 to 5 and get into freelancing full time, they would be wise to save at least 3 to 6 months of monthly expenses in case a dry spell occurs. Being terminated of course kinda took the attempt to create that luxury for myself, obviously so it's a pretty tough racket right now.

I'm confident things will come around though and I'm grateful for all those generous hearts that have helped me along the way as I work to make the transition. I may have to get a part-time job someone just so there's some steady money coming in but I at least have found my calling. Now I just need to put the work in to get myself noticed, be patient and leave the rest up to God.

Until next time gang.

Monday, August 8, 2016

"I'm Getting Old" Says The Man Under 30

So for over the last week or so I've been getting over a really painful hip injury. A sharp, nearly unbearable pain has been shooting from my right hip, making it hard for me to lift my leg, walk or even get into bed without groaning in agony. Sleep has been terribly uncomfortable and I had a few days of sleepless nights because of the stabbing pain and discomfort caused by my ailment. At first, I thought it was just some freak injury and the pain would disappear in a couple of days after implementing the RICE method. When the pain didn't go away, I went to look up the injury online and listed the symptoms to find out that it may very likely be a hip strain which is typically a sports injury or caused by a fall.

So what was the cause of my hip feeling like crap? Nothing. I have no friggin' clue why it's been hurting like the dickens. I haven't been outside playing sports in Houston's sauna type heat, are you kidding me? It's hotter and more humid than the undercarriage of a sumo wrestler out there! I've been a couch potato lately. The only thing I could think of is that I went to sleep after doing absolutely nothing active and woke up to feeling like Hulk Hogan after dropping 90 patented leg drops on cement.

Usually these type of ailments and pains leads to my wife teasing me that I'm an old man. It doesn't help my cause that I've been reeking of Icy Hot all week and been popping Advil daily. But I guess it is true. It's life's wake-up call that I'm not an invincible 17 year old anymore. When I'm feeling like a cripple when all I did was watch several episodes of "Louie" on Netflix, change my daughter's diapers and ate Taco Bell--I AM getting old.

Boy back in the day I felt unstoppable. In my teenage years, I was finally getting my fat butt into shape, weightlifting a ton, playing lots of basketball, trying to be a Pakistani Nate Robinson by trying to work myself up to dunking on a 10 foot rim. I was full of myself. I was stuck in that fantasy sort of thinking--as if I were some heroic He-Man. All puffed up with pride from gaining muscle mass, I dared someone to challenge me to a duel so I could bodyslam them on the pavement. But then one fateful day, I tore my ACL at the tender age of 17 playing hoops and the recovery process brought me to the realization that the human body is fragile. 

Is that teenaged John Cena in the middle there?

On top of that, another reality dose of me aging is my once thick plentiful mound of hair thinning out. I'm most likely going to be bald a lot sooner than 40, probably by choice because I don't want this terrible patchwork of thin balding spots and thick hair. I've read about it long before I had to even worry about it and I thought at the time I wouldn't really care but yeah man, losing your hair is a really humbling experience. Like geez, I'm literally seeing my youth fading away every time I shampoo and see follicle after follicle get caught between my fingers. 

I get that I'm still very young and ideally have a lot of healthy years left. I'm only 28 as of this post and I'm ruminating about this crap that's really insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Aging happens to everyone, some faster than others. Some people mask it well or take care of their bodies and intake to the point where they can postpone it, but it hits us all sooner than we'd like.

In the end, I'll take it as a reminder that this life is temporary and that our spirits will outlive our bodies. After all, we are spiritual beings and our body is just a temporary vessel in this life. Just like our favorite whips (cars to the non-hip. Or maybe that term is outdated and it's something else) paint starts to wear off and get scuffed up and engine eventually fails on us, our bodies will do the same and show us our fleeting mortality.

So I'm at peace with the fact that I'm going to be a baldy sooner than I'd want and Icy Hot may very well be my cologne in the very near future. It's cool, at least it's gonna be fun crapping on all the stuff that the youngins are into and telling "back in my day" stories.

Friday, July 29, 2016

College: The Unnecessary and Avoidable Evil

I'm a little over two months into my freelancing career change and at the moment it's not going all that well. I haven't been hired for any steady jobs and the jobs I have been hired for haven't paid all that well--though I'm grateful to have gotten them, something is better than nothing.

However, I am in pretty good spirits and I am learning a lot about freelancing and a lot about myself. I still couldn't be happier and I am positive things will get better.

I have been listening to podcasts and reading blogs and articles about how to make it as a freelance writer and it's mind blowing how a lot of these folks share my mindset when it comes to college institutions. All of these freelancers want the same thing: they want to be their own boss, run their own life, make money the way they want to make it without being a slave to a corporate paycheck.

So Naive I was...

Sooo not worth it. Keep your diploma, I'll take that money back.

I WASTED four years of my life to get a Communications degree. Don't get me wrong, I am somewhat proud to have graduated college. I was the first in my family to get a diploma. (Well actually I still don't have it, it's in a vault with my school because I have to pay $150 bucks to get it out. Just to stick it on my wall? Nah.) If I could do it over again though, I wouldn't have gone at all or at least not go on my own dime.

When I signed up for college, I was truly I naive fool. Although I received some grants and scholarships, I still had to take out loans to help pay for the tuition costs because I chose to go to a terribly expensive private college that I just on a whim decided to go to because I liked the way the campus looked, not knowing that the campus was so pristine and beautiful because it was built off the blood, sweat and tears of gullible undergrads.

I wish that I had thought about work-study programs and additional scholarships, but I was only 18 years old. I didn't have a friggin' clue what I was doing, and my immigrant parents weren't savvy enough to point me in the right direction. There was no one around to evaluate the wisdom of the decisions I was making, and no one making sure I actually understood the borrowing process and the clusterfudge I was getting myself into.

College to me really just brought me nearly $50,000 of debt that could've been avoidable had I just invested my time in google searches, YouTube tutorials and Wikipedia to learn what I wanted to learn rather than pay an institution to teach me (poorly).

The degree is utterly useless to me. The only benefit it brings is to my resume and even that is pretty insignificant. No employer effing cares about what degree I have or where I went to school or my damn GPA. Employees only care if you know how to make them money which you can't really prove by telling them you've been in a classroom for 4+ years.

It's NOT a Safety Net

People and even kids these days are practically brainwashed to say that college is, "a safety net so you could get a job." I bet if I were to ask them who told them that, they would be flabbergasted.

I read today that employers are caring less and less about degrees and there are companies that post jobs that are not putting a college degree as a requirement to be hired. Google has stopped looking at degrees and other companies are following suit. So what's the friggin' point of getting one now?

So What Should We do instead?

Eventually my kids are going to get to the age where they are going to contemplate going to college. Heck, society will still implant it in their naive brains that it's a MUST if you want to be successful even though a lot of highly successful celebrities have done without it. So I will give them this advice that I will give you.
  • Do what you love. Figure out what your passion is and figure out the best way to pursue this passion. You'll likely find that college is actually an obstacle and not a prerequisite to doing what you want to do in life.
  • Study, study study. You don't need to be in a school setting to study. Study things you enjoy. The internet isn't just there for social media, porn and other distractions. Like I said above, Google search, Wikipedia and YouTube tutorials beat the crap out of college because you learn the same stuff in a BETTER and QUICKER way for FREE.

  • Work or Intern in your field. You wanna be a lawyer? Work or intern at a law firm and see if you'll really enjoy it. Whatever you want to do, find a place in your area that does it and inquire about working there even if its to fetch donuts. You'll see how things are, people may be willing to teach you a thing or two and you'll be a 100 steps ahead of those undergrads that are stuck in classrooms.
  • Read every day. Five pages a day of anything. I read in an article that after college "80% of people never pick up a book again." If you don't want to read, listen to podcasts about things that interest you. The mind needs to continously develop and you can't do that sitting in a cubicle doing crap you hate for 40 hours a week.
  • Learn the following skills which are crucial in every aspect of life but are never taught in classrooms:
    • a. Sales (particularly selling yourself)
    • b. Negotiating
    • c. Self-care/Self-love (Positive self-thinking)
    • d. Interpersonal Communication

Now I'm not ruling out college completely. Some people do actually benefit from college and enrolling in a program that they are interested in. But that's few and far between. If you do go to college and I will tell my children this too, don't PAY FOR IT. Make it fully covered via scholarship so you don't pay a cent for it. If you can't do that, DON'T GO.

As a child of immigrant parents, I know how much parents try to influence you to do things you don't give a flying freak about doing. College is the holy grail for these unsuspecting parents. Here's an interesting tidbit from a blog I read:

I was at a dinner once. Someone who was working for Mayor Bloomberg asked me, “Would you let someone who didn’t go to college give you brain surgery?” 
I said, “It’s not about me. Would you let your son who has no interest in being a doctor, go to four years of school and another 4 years of medical school just so he can operate on my brain even though he hates every minute of it and gets a million dollars into debt?”

Enough said.